Blogging: 4 Reasons Why + 3 Tools to Get You Started

Blogging: 4 Reasons Why + 3 Tools to Get You Started

Do you ever wonder why some people blog? Or what about getting started with a blog, what do you need? Blogging serves everyone differently. Some people write to write, others try to make money, and others simply do it because they enjoy it. These are all great reasons! I personally have three motives for blogging and three tools to help you start on blogging.

What does “Blog” even mean?

According to Google, a blog is a “web-log”. Some say it serves as a personal diary or platform for personal opinions. Yet, businesses write blogs to support their products, and people write blogs to teach about their talents or interests. In other words, it is informal writing compared to published books. You do not have to have a degree in English to write a blog, you don’t even need to have a high school diploma, anyone can write one.

Why do I write a blog?

Back in 2009ish, I started writing a blog. Frankly, I had no idea what I was doing. Blogging was fairly new back then. I could have taken many angles with my blog; my first intent was to teach people about joy. Then somehow it transformed into wanting to share the lessons I’ve learned in life to help others save time. Since then, I’ve pretty much kept with that theme.

1. Gives you a voice

The main reason I started a blog was because I wanted a voice. When I’m in a conversation I tend to listen more than speak. I have learned a tremendous amount about people just by listening to them. However, at times when I do speak, others see it as a chance to speak too. Interrupting others is rude, in case you didn’t know that.

Listen up, speaking is not the only way to be heard in this world. People can voice themselves through music, dancing, drawing, cooking, and frankly any hobby or craft. Blogging gave me an instant voice through writing without interruptions.

2. Processes information

Writing to me is like therapy. It forces me to think about what I want to say and how to say it. When I get thoughts down on paper, it helps me see what really is going on in my life. Then when I blog about it, it helps me figure out what I want to say to others in order to help them in a similar circumstance. Blogging assists me in processing a challenge I am facing.

People learn through stories. If I can share a story of a challenging time in my life where I learned how to navigate through it or something miraculous happened to me to solve it, I want to share that information with others! Testimony is powerful. When we can relate with other people, things happen. Healing happens. Inspiration happens.

3. Remembrance

The other reason I blog is to leave a part of me on this planet. I know that sounds kind of corny, but thinkg about it. A lot of the time when I blog I think about my family. When I’m long gone I still want them to be able to see me, hear me, and learn from me. Whether it’s through a blog post, YouTube video, or social media post, I want my family to be able to see that even though I am in heaven, I am still here with them.

4. Make extra money

Many bloggers blog to make some extra cash. If you can make money on your blog, I see it as an added bonus. There are A LOT of blog posts that tell you how to make money and how easy it can be. But don’t be deceived. Making money by blogging isn’t going to happen overnight. First and foremost, keep your day job. For dollars to roll in, it’s going to require time, energy, researching, and lots of testing. I’m not writing to deter you, I’m just giving you a heads up that it can be harder than people protray…in which they are probably selling a blogging course. Some people make loads of money and I give them a total high five!

I have spent some bucks on a few courses and found them helpful. Did they put me at the top of Google or give me the magic secret to making money? No. But they did give me an education on how it all works, which is super huge to understand. Just know, that there isn’t one course that covers all. Blogging is fairly new and it’s always changing. I highly recommend YouTube and courses that have had many positive reviews.

3 tools to get started blogging

If you want to get started writing a blog it’s going to take a little money. You can try to go free, but at some point, it’s going to require some dollar bills. The amount of money you spend depends on what you want.

Here are some things you’re going to want to think about:

Domain name.

This the website’s address. It must be unique. Think of a few ideas then head over to Domain.com and check to see if it’s available. You can buy your domain at domain.com.

Publishing platform.

This is where you make the website or blog. The platform allows you to design your site and blog on it. WordPress.org is the most popular and it’s free! However there are some plugins (these are like apps on your phone) that can cost money, yet, most are free. Other publishing platforms are Wix, Squarespace, or Blogger. I personally prefer WordPress.org.

Hosting.

This is what connects the domain name to the publishing platform and puts it out there for the world to see. Hosting will cost you money. I highly suggest Flywheel. The people are way cool and it’s easy to use. Hosting is paid for on an annual basis.

Connecting the domain name, publishing platform, and hosting all together can be tricky. If you can’t figure it out on your own, you can hire a webmaster to do it, or you can watch videos on YouTube. Just like that, you’ve got your blog or website for that matter!

Wrapping it up

Keep it simple. Only get what you need. You can always add things later. First and foremost, understand why you want to start a blog. After you have that figured out you’ll have a better idea of what you need and who your audience will be.

By CT Copyright © 2021 Simplify Firefly. All Rights Reserved.

Weight Loss: 5 Effective Questions You Need to Ask

Weight Loss: 5 Effective Questions You Need to Ask

footprint in the sand

To be successful with weight loss and the management thereafter, it’s going to take some understanding of how important it is to you. There’s more to weight loss than weight. That’s why the first step in your weight loss journey should be to answer some questions. Clarity gives you a pathway. This can be a total game-changer for you!

My Story

In 1992 I was 20 pounds overweight. I wanted to lose the weight, but all the things I was trying to drop pounds weren’t working. It was like walking in the sand; every step seemed so hard and it barely felt like I was going anywhere!

What gave me solid ground was an Indiana Hoosier Basketball game. At the time, I was a freshman at a small private college. As months ticked by in this new setting, the weight inched on. However, what I noticed was that it wasn’t the sitting and studying that made me fat, it was depression! This college was more clicky than high school, and if you can remember high school, it was the mecca of judgement. Living in that environment is toxic. And this place was worse! Something had to change. I wanted to be happy, to find me, to be free.

My ‘ah-ha’ moment came when my roommates and I were watching TV in the common area. We happened to be watching an Indiana University basketball game. One of my roommates said something that stirred my inner core. She said, “I’d love to go to Indiana.” I looked at her as she watched the game and asked, “Why don’t you?” She responded, “Because I don’t know anyone and I don’t think I can get in.”

Her answer triggered a fire inside me. You’re letting the fear of not knowing, stop you? It was as if I was asking myself that question. As I watched the game and the excited fans…I began to want to be a part of that picture. I wanted a large university experience.

Be true to yourself

In the fall of ’93, I was officially an Indiana University student. I was in a new setting, with new people, and new goals. PLUS I had season basketball tickets! I removed myself from a place of judegement and placed myself into a place of ‘who gives a rip of what you look like’. I did it. It wasn’t easy, but it was a game-changer.

Within six months, I lost 20 pounds and then some; all because I looked at my thought process first. On the surface, I wanted to lose weight, but deep down I wanted to explore who I was and be true to myself. When I understood my motives, the weight naturally came off.

Are you asking yourself the right question/s before you start your weight loss plan? Do you have a picture of what you want to be a part of?

To the core:

Which leads me to the core: it’s not what we’re eating or doing, it’s what we’re thinking. It’s not the weight on our bodies that give us frustration; it’s the weight we carry around in our minds that trip us up.

First off, I’m not going to tell you how to lose weight; you’re going to do that. Why? Because I want YOU to see results in more areas than one. I want you to live in harmony with your body, mind, and heart for the rest of your life…not just swimsuit season. And only YOU can make that happen, not someone telling you what to do.

Download the workbook and lose weight now!

5 Questions You’ll Want to Answer.

1: What is your WHY? Why do you want to lose weight? I’m not talking surface answers here. Peal that off, look under that. WHY?

2: What are you WRESTLING with? What’s blocking you from making this happen? What are you carrying around with you? Stress? A belief? Fear? Identity crisis? Loneliness?

3: What is your WAY? In other words, what method works for YOU to reach your weight goals? What are you going to do EACH WEEK to make this happen?

4: What will you WIN? By reaching your goal, what is it going to do for you? Freedom? Confidence? More energy? More outgoing? Motivation? Purpose?

5: What is it WORTH?

Wrapping up

I’m happy to say I’ve kept the weight off ever since my Indiana days; even after having a baby and going through steroid treatment for an ailment. I have managed the weight; not the other way around.

If you’re having trouble answering those 5 questions or want to dig deeper, I would love to walk with you and discover things you might have not known. There is no better feeling than saying, “I finally figured it out.”

simple happy wellness strategies

With Simple Happy Wellness Strategies you’ll find amazing strategies to wellness and weight loss! There are six strategies that are simple to implement and, honestly, it won’t feel like much change with my gradual approach. In this easy to read workbook, you’ll find stories, fun worksheets, and valuable resources. You’ll also learn some great ways to grow your relationship with Jesus.

Disclaimer: Consult your doctor before making changes with Simple Happy Wellness Strategies.

By CT Copyright © 2021 Simplify Firefly, All Rights Reserved.

4 Tips to Change Up Weight Loss

4 Tips to Change Up Weight Loss

The only way to change is to change. If you want to feel better and lose weight then changing-the-diet is in the cards. Here’s the thing, weight loss doesn’t have to be hard or daunting. I have a simple philosophy that will bring you relief and motivation. Get this, it’s back up by science. It’s easy: TAKE. IT. SLOW. Read my four tips to making the change and don’t forget the yummy recipe!

4 tips to change up weight loss
Eatingwell.com

Changing the diet isn’t something I could do cold turkey. In fact, I’m allergic to turkey! Hence the going slow part. With a gradual approach, you’re more likely to stick with it and for longer if not forever! Chris Kresser uses the words, “shrink the change“.

The 4 Tips

Change Tip 1

The trick to eating a healthier diet is to clean out the bad stuff, call me Sherlock-Homes. I repeat, when you take a gradual approach, this gives your body time to adjust and not be shocked. If you go too fast, it could backfire and you’ll be headfirst in the bag of cheese puffs…not to mention gain even more weight! The cool thing about gradually reducing the bad stuff, like sugar, is that your body will start to crave healthier foods. You’ll feel better and the sugary snacks will start to be too sweet. Interesting, eh? The bottom line is our bodies will feel cleaner and they’ll want more of that awesome clean energy.

Change Tip 2

Awareness. Sugar was my number one weakness. It still is, but I’m now aware of my consumption and I know my limits. I sound like an alcohol disclosure. When I adjusted my intake of the sweet stuff the ‘less is more’ philosophy kicked-in. My taste buds became more content and my body was a happy human. Did you hear that? I didn’t give up sugar completely, I just cut back immensely. With that said, I wanted to share with you what I used to eat for lunch and what I’m eating now for lunch.

What’s for lunch?

Back in the day of wanting to lose weight, I would only eat a salad for lunch. It contained greens, Romaine lettuce, cherry tomatoes, and maybe fresh broccoli. I didn’t have any protein or cheese. Just veggies. I chose whatever salad dressing sounded good, however, I would dip my fork in the dressing before I stabbed a helping of lettuce. Not too shabby of a lunch; but for me, it didn’t hold me over, which lead to a Snickers Bar in the afternoon, and then a hefty snack after work. Can we say blood sugar on the fritz?

Change Tip 3

First things first here, know your body. If you need protein, get protein with every meal. Whether its nuts, clean meat, or dairy (if you can tolerate it) make sure you get enough protein into your diet. There are a few reasons why. Protein helps you feel satisfied longer, it gives you energy, and need I say meat is an excellent source of B12, B6, zinc, and iron to name a few?

Protein

It builds muscle mass, and it’s especially good after a workout. Add a little vitamin C to the mix and you’ve got a digestive helper and a hand at iron absorption. Listen up! The meat won’t make you fat unless it’s highly marbled or fatty, and your watch portions. Choose lean beef, grilled chicken, grilled or baked fish, lean beef, or pork loin. Don’t be scared to add it to your diet or your salad. Remember portion-control is king.

kale salad

Now a day my lunch looks a lot different. For a healthy powerful lunch, it’s best to make it with your bare hands. What’s the simple in that? Everything. Sure cooking can be a lot of work if you have that mindset; but if you switch your thoughts of creating an experience your meal will be a lot more satisfying. You may laugh, but I dare you to try it. For instance; I am constantly busy all day long, so lunchtime is a big break for me. My apron comes on, my mind turns off, and my hands focus on making a good meal. Making our own meals forces us to slow down and engage all our senses, which is part of the ‘satisfying meal’ experience.

Change Tip 4

Okay, okay, okay…you’re at work and can’t make lunch. That’s okay! You have a couple of options for a healthy clean lunch; the most obvious is to make it the night before. The other is to choose simple, limited, ingredient dishes when eating out. For instance, a 100% beef burger without the bun paired with a side of steamed veggies or a cup of clear broth soup, is a great lunch. It’s not heavy in carbs (bread or pasta) and it’s high in protein.

Keep it simple

Think ‘simple’ when at a restaurant and think portion control! As for drinks, you know what I’m going to say…water without ice. Hey, it may be a little boring, but your body will be quieter and happier. You may not even need to drink water with your meal. Too much aqua with food will cause a lot of vitamins to flush through your system, plus it will take longer to digest the yum yums.  

30 tips to slimming down

The new lunch

Let’s cut to the chase and get to the recipe. This recipe is one of my favorites. It’s low carb, high in multivitamins, and low in inflammation. I call it “Autumn Awesomeness”. There are only 6 ingredients! And it’s oh-so-good for your body. Enjoy!

kale squash recipe
Print

Autumn Awesomeness

This is an amazingly healthy yet tasty dish for lunch or dinner. The chard kale and roasted butternut squash complement each other, while the dried cranberries make it pop. This is gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, soy-free, and nut-free!
Course Main Course, Salad
Cuisine Mediterranean
Keyword dairy-free, egg-free, gluten-free, kale, low-fat, nut-free, soy-free, squash
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 7 minutes
Servings 1
Calories 598kcal
Author Christy
Cost 2.00

Equipment

  • small cast iron pan
  • baking sheet with parchment paper
  • knife and cutting board

Ingredients

  • 3 Organic Curly Kale Sprigs
  • 1 c Baked cubed Butternut Squash
  • 4 Strips of grilled chicken or 4 GF Chicken nuggets
  • 2 TBSP Dried Cranberries or Cherries
  • 3 TBSP Olive Oil 1TBSP for frying kale, 2 TBSP for topping at the end
  • 1 pinch Salt

Instructions

  • Heat cast iron pan on low.
  • Wash thoroughly, pat dry, remove stalks, and chop. Put chopped kale into the pan. Then add 1 TBSP olive oil. It might get messy and splatter if kale is not dried off. Be careful.
    kale
  • I pre-roast an entire cubed squash. 350 for 40 minutes. Just toss a little olive oil and salt in before baking. Tip: Costco usually has raw cubed squash. Do not use frozen squash! You can also peel and cube your own squash.
    butternut squash
  • After kale is charred and well cooked, wrap a dish towel around the cast iron panhandle and put kale on a plate.
  • Take leftover chicken, pre-cooked grilled chicken (Costco), or Gluten-free chicken nuggets. Microwave for the allotted time, or cook in your cast iron pan to warm. When done, put on top of kale.
  • Add squash to kale and chicken. Sprinkle dried cranberries on top. Drizzle olive oil and add a pinch of salt. Delish!
  • For added flavor, add thinly sliced red onion, roasted pecans, or crispy bacon!
    kale salad

Notes

Calories may vary on chicken type and the amount you use. 

You probably saw that you need a cast iron pan. That’s right. Cast iron all the way. Here’s why: it’s what the pioneers used; no seriously, they had some things figured out and cast iron was one of them. It’s nonstick, chemical-free, adds iron to your food…this is great for us who have anemia. It’s versatile, you can use it on the stovetop, in the oven, or on a campfire! Cast iron has a long life span, and it’s super easy to clean…they don’t require soap! Oh, and cast iron is less expensive; on Amazon, the small one is less than $10 and Prime! Plus you could probably use it to lift weights. Ha ha ha! Hands down, the best pan out there. My favorite size is the small one. You can get one here if you don’t have one. Or click on the picture below for more details.

As for Olive Oil, not all oil is the same. You gotta watch out for scammers. What I mean is that some companies claim it’s 100% olive oil, but in reality, it’s not. They add soybean or sunflower oil to it. Ick! So how do you tell? This can be tricky. The oil needs to be First Cold Press and come directly from the juice of the olive. And secondly, it must be the only ingredient. Easier said than done. I did the research for you and my favorite safe, real, olive oil is California Olive Ranch Extra Virgin Olive Oil (Everyday). I know what I’m getting and it’s delicious. You can get it on Amazon. Or click on the picture below for more details.

simple happy wellness strategies

Be sure to check out my new book: Simple Happy Wellness Strategies. It’s packed with tips, tricks, and proven methods to help you lose weight and keep it off. Check it out!

By CT Copyright © 2020 Simplify Firefly, LLC All Rights Reserved.

The Truth Behind “Can’t”.

The Truth Behind “Can’t”.

This post isn’t about a movie review; it’s about the message God put in my heart while watching this particular story. I had an epiphany and want to share it with you. With that said, may you find motivation and inspiration from the word “can’t”.

In 2018 the movie I Can Only Imagine debuted and has made over $85 million. The song I Can Only Imagine hit radio stations 19 years earlier. The movie is based on the true story of the songwriter, Bart Millard. When the movie came out, I personally thought it would be a boring movie. Two years later, I finally watched it and my emotional response shocked me.

Why did the movie grab me so much?

This past Sunday I was in a funk. We had just come off a 3-week vacation camping at a nearby campground…kudos to my husband who stayed there the entire duration, but for me? My busy brain came home now and then to get things done around the house, tend to appointments, and feel productive. It wasn’t until the last week I could finally sink into the vacation. Have you ever experienced something like that? I was actually mad I couldn’t submit to vacation. Anyway, I was grateful our trip was 3 weeks long, otherwise, I would have missed ‘vacation mode’.

My funk.

Since I did most of my chores while on vacation when we got back I didn’t have any motivation to do anything! In times like these I usually think about my blog, my creative projects, or simply go for a walk. But instead, I revisited my career path and asked myself hard questions; and frankly, I felt more lost than ever. It was a moment of dead space where you think about where you’ve been and where you want to go and feel you missed something. Ugh. Needless to say, I needed to escape and watch a movie.

As I was flipping through Hulu, my finger stopped at “I Can Only Imagine”. I vaguely remembered my family telling me it was a good movie and thought, what the heck; it’s Sunday, why not watch a Christian movie.   

From the beginning, I was into it. Multiple times through the movie I found myself getting emotional. My emotions were scattered and jumping from one character to another. One minute I was sad for Bart, and next I was upset about his mom in many ways. I was sad his dad was so confused and abusive. Then my heart ached for his dad when he was trying to figure out the Bible on his own. And then back to Bart of how he heard from God and pursued. But what was I really crying about?

The truth comes out

Deep emotions surfaced from my own past, and as I peered closer to the anchor which has kept me down, I saw a four-letter word written on it. Through my blurred teary eyes the word “can’t” became clear.

“You Can’t”

Throughout my life, I have heard “you can’t” from people I love and respect, from people I have trusted, and mostly myself. With ideas and dreams I’ve shared, I was hopeful for encouragement and instead got, “that’s silly”, “you know how hard you’d have to work?”, “you don’t want to do that”, “do you even qualify to do that?”… “you can’t”… these words not only were verbally spoken, but the Enemy whispered them in my ear too. They pretty much say, “don’t even try”.

Not only did I hear it from my family and friends, but I heard it on the media. “You can’t do that without this.” “You can’t lose weight without this system and support team.” And the list goes on.

To add more shine to the word “can’t”, my body was telling me I can’t! My digestive system got so messed up I’m unable to eat a “normal” diet. I actually have to think about what to order at a restaurant and make sure it’s safe for me to eat. Other aliments loitered and set up camp for months and then years crippling my ability to sit for long periods and walk without pain.

I was really starting to believe I couldn’t do the things I had ideas about. It felt like no one took me seriously or believed in me…even me. Do you know what that’s like?

When someone tells you it can't be done, it's more a reflection of their limitations, not yours.

Moving On

As I reflected on the movie and looked closer at the word “can’t” I realized something. You know how some people get motivated when other people tell them they can’t do something? Then you turn around and the next thing you know they’ve achieved that very dream someone told them they couldn’t do! From a Christian perspective take a look at the configuration of the word “can’t”. What do you see?

This movie showed me something I’ve missed for so many years. When you physically see how the letters of “can’t” are configured anything is possible with Jesus.

Simply by looking at the word “can’t” with merciful eyes helps us see life in a new light. Right now in my life, I am learning how to take the “can’ts” and give them to Jesus. This isn’t always easy, but it gives me the extra power to overcome and move forward. When I ask Him, He’ll give me the strength to sort through, persevere, and push on.

To get you started download my 30 favorite affirmations right now. And for more freebies head over to my freebies page and unlock numerous resources to get you moving forward.

If you haven’t seen the movie yet, whether you’re a Christian or not, give it try, you may just experience a breakthrough.

By CT Copyright © 2020 Simplify Firefly. All Rights Reserved.

Contrast or Compare? 3 Tips to be Yourself.

Contrast or Compare? 3 Tips to be Yourself.

To compare is so easy to do, yet it’s extremely damaging and paralyzing. How do we break free? I have 3 tips to help us reward contrast and to not compare. This is just a note from me to you, I thought you might like to hear it.

Lately, I have been reviewing my life and asking myself if I’m happy with how I’ve been living. In most areas of my life I can confidently say Yes, I love it. But in others, I can’t say yes. And when I can’t say yes, I start comparing myself to others in that particular area. Oh how I hate the act to compare, so I’ve had to train myself to admire the contrasts and find my own.

A good verse to memorize

I came across a Bible verse that really struck me, so I memorized it. The number of times this verse has helped me snap back in life has exceeded the number of digits on my hands and feet.

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world. Instead, be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is…His good, pleasing, and perfect will. Romans 12:2 (NIV)

This verse jumped out at me because I was finding myself comparing my pattern of life to others’ patterns of life.  Not good. The reason I started to even do that was because there was one area in my life I wasn’t satisfied with, my career. It was nonexistent.

The career compare game

Seeing other people climb the corporate ladder, own a thriving small business, and stay in the job for years on end, made me feel that I  had missed what God’s will was for my life. It’s funny that I have a tendency to base God’s will on a career even though I know it’s not that. I’m obviously still conforming to the pattern of this world in believing so.

3 Tips to help stop comparing:

  • I prayed for my gifts to be revealed and for my mind to be renewed.
  • I reminded myself that everyone is different. To stop comparing because it’s not helpful at all! And to work harder at digging deeper into my own identity and gifts. One way I did this was to read affirmations daily. There is a list of my favorites in Freebies.
  • If I want something to happen, I need to make it happen. I can dream all day, but executing those dreams are scary. But if I want it bad enough, I need to pull my big girl pants up and go get it.

About a few weeks later I felt my creativity come back, I felt my imagination flourish like a child’s, and I took the first step in making my dreams happen, I wrote them down and saw them on paper.

All in all

Even though I don’t have a career like everyone else, I am learning how to embrace the season I’m in right now…being a mom, managing home and health, writing, and creating. God is with us every step of the way, He wants us to enjoy life and flourish, but he doesn’t want us to compare.

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, instead help the world come alive by being YOU.

By CT Copyright © 2016 More Than Existence All Rights Reserved

5 Stress Fighters that Most People Forget About.

5 Stress Fighters that Most People Forget About.

spinning sky with mountain stress

Stress got you? Two years ago I accidentally deleted my entire website. The uninvited hot, prickly stress-wave crashed on my face when I saw ‘File Not Found’. It’s in these stressful moments when we start talking out loud to ourselves, “WHAT THE? NO!!” Stress can make us do funny things with our actions, words, and even our bodies. But I’ve found some stress fighters that are packed with a punch. They’re so simple ANYONE can do it TODAY.

Building my own website and blog was my choice. I wanted the challenge. Doing something like this requires time, learning, and creativity. It had been a journey of gratifying moments and ‘oh crap’ sessions. That night was one of those sessions…OOPS. One accidental click, GONE!

Stress is like a leech that won’t detach.

It saps the life out of us. So how do we manage this life-sucking Jabba the Hutt from our bodies? First of all, I hate leeches. Years ago I went on a fishing trip in the Boundary Waters of Minnesota. It was an amazing trip, but guess what we used as bait? Leeches! I screamed every time I TRIED to bait my hook…the leech latched-on to my finger! Do you think vigorous shaking of my hand and screaming got the leech off? Apparently leeches don’t have ears. My husband had to pull it off for me.

What if we could see stress attached to our bodies? We’d probably do a better job at managing it. Stress is the cause of many ailments. It’s because cortisol, the stress hormone, has a hay-day in our bodies. Chronic high levels of cortisol contribute to IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), heart disease, anxiety, high blood pressure, hormonal imbalances, autoimmune disorders, sleep disturbances, the list goes on.

The way to detach stress is to naturally fight back with things that decrease those levels, right? Easier said than done. So get this…some people will use things to manage their stress that actually causes MORE stress! I’m talking about eating a pint of ice-cream, sugar-filled gluten-rich desserts, a bag of salty snacks, alcohol, smokes, or pills. Sure, in the short run those things might help; but in the long term the leech is feasting off those inflammatory substances.  All those foods inflame your innards. Without awareness or portion control, that inflammation can lead to physical issues = STRESS! It’s a vicious cycle. Believe me, I know!

I wanted to fix my website immediately.  But all I could do in that moment was intertwine my fingers and pray. I needed someone to pull the leech off. So why not ask God. As calmly as I could I prayed, “Dear Gracious God…wait a second, OH GOD. AH! I DELETED MY WEBSITE!! HELP ME FIGURE THIS OUT. PLEASE! AMEN.”

My Awakening

beauty and the beast hand

It felt as if my fingertips went numb. Whoa, what is happening to me?  God is that you? An angelic song filled my house as divine power struck my body. Light beams shot out of my fingertips. I started levitating. Wait. Wait. See how stress can make you think of funny things. As much as I wanted the Beauty and the Beast resurrection, I knew it wasn’t in the plan.  In fact, God did answer my prayer. But in a way I didn’t expect.  He nudged me to move. Christy, manage the stress, before managing the problem.  I closed my eyes. Inhaled a deep breath and exhaled slowly. I was afraid to touch the keyboard, so I took that as a sign to step away. My desire to go outside to sit next to my favorite tree was unstoppable. Strange? Eh. Kind of. But with good reason…

According to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, spending even just five minutes around trees or in green spaces, helps lower blood pressure, reduces stress, improves mood, instills focus, accelerates healing, increases energy, and improves sleep. And you wonder why I craved to get outside…

The article goes on to say, “Numerous studies show that… simply sitting looking at the trees reduces…stress-related hormones… Looking at pictures of trees has a similar, but less dramatic, effect.”

I trusted that instinct and sat next to my blue spruce. Its soft yet firm pine needles combed my sweaty palms. The sky was black and peppered with stars. My body relaxed. Heart quieted. I was reminded of how big our world was and how I was making this little mistake bigger than the world! Within a matter of minutes, a calm came over me. “Hi God, it’s me again… thanks for getting me outside. I needed that.”Have you figured out that one thing that everyone can do to fights stress today?

Here are 5 stress fighters most people forget about:

  1. Admit it. Say, “I’m stressed out. ___ is causing my stress.”
  2. Say a prayer… Your Creator may need to remind you of something.
  3. Find your happy OUTDOOR place and go there… the beach, woods, prairie, park, yard…Go barefoot a.k.a “Earthing” and SMILE.
  4. Create an environment at work that promotes peace. Pictures of the beach, mountains, trees, sunrise, a garden…whatever nature scene speaks to you. Put a picture or two in your office, cubical, or wallet. Have it handy.
  5. Start incorporating an outdoor recess at work or home, whether it’s exercising, reading the paper, walking the dog, playing with the kids, a lunch break, just get outside. J

This may sound too simple, but you’ll find it’ll make a BIG impact. The next morning I mended my website mishap. It so happened, I found a back-up on the server. But I wouldn’t have been able to figure that out without a clear head, a good night’s sleep, and a little time outside with my trees. Do your existence a favor, get outside. What is one thing you can do this month to make that happen?

Here is another post about stress you might enjoy: 4 Simple Strategies for You & Your Kids

By CT Copyright © 2018 More Than Existence All Rights Reserved.

13 Reasons Why You Need a Hobby NOW!

13 Reasons Why You Need a Hobby NOW!

A hobby is more than just a hobby. Have you ever gotten overwhelmed, in a funk, or frustrated about the pace of life? Who hasn’t? It’s going to happen and repercussions may bellow; however, a hobby can help quiet the roar and make you feel human again. But wait! I don’t have time for a hobby! I used to think that way, but after a little experimenting, I found my hobby to be a superhero.

paints

What exactly is a hobby?

It’s an activity that someone does for pleasure when they are not working. The hard part is knowing when to stop working! With a hobby, time is not ticking in your ear. You’re not looking at the clock to see when your shift is over. It’s your gift to self, so you can be yourself. When you’re under heavy stress our bodies produce more cortisol which can be harmful to your health. But when we’re engaged in, let’s say, a hobby, you’re producing the ‘feel-good’ hormones…more on this

A hobby is a type of recreation that rejuvenates your spirit. It’s an activity that challenges you in a way in which you want to be challenged. You see, your hobby is YOUR hobby. No one can tell you how to do it unless you welcome the suggestions.

13 Reasons why you need a hobby now

Top 13 reasons to get a hobby:

1. Helps enhance meaning in your life.

2. Gets the creative juices flowing.

3. Increases personal satisfaction.

4. Builds self-confidence and self-esteem.

5. Relieves stress.

6. Gives you something to talk about other than work.

7. Helps you meet new people.

8. Contributes to society or the community.

9. Boosts brain power and cognitive function.

10. It has the potential to create extra income.

11. Gateway to happiness.

12. This is a big one: helps prevent boredom when boredom can be harmful to you. Let me expand on this one: overeating, depression, drug use, looking at things you shouldn’t, or alcohol use usually come into play when we’re bored. Boredom and its adverse effects are going to get the best of us at times, but when we have a hobby we have an easy way out and can focus on that.

13. The icing on the cake about a hobby is that it actually helps you do a better job at work. CNBC posted an article about how a hobby can improve your work performance. For one, it helps prevent burn-out. As said earlier, it helps inspire creativity and problem solve. And here’s that word again, stress. A hobby helps reduce stress. 

Back to hormones.

silhouette standing in start

Hormones are a love/hate relationship. Can’t live with them, can’t live without them. As said earlier, the most damaging hormone is cortisol which is produced in our bodies when we’re under stress. The good news is that happy hormones do exist, but to get them we must do a few things. There are four major blissful boostersendorphins, serotonin, dopamine, and oxytocin. Each hormone serves a different purpose, in a nutshell, this is what they do:

  • Endorphins are essentially the body’s pain killers. Vigorous exercise or even eating spicy food releases endorphins.
  • Serotonin is the mood mediator. Get outside. Being in the sun helps our bodies produce vitamin D, which helps produce serotonin. Or even low-intensity exercise helps.
  • Dopamine is a gratifying hormone, in terms of goal achievement. It’s all about goals and achieving them to bring on the dopamine. We set an achievable goal and go after it, when we reach it, dopamine is experienced.
  • Oxytocin. This is the love hormone. I think my husband has an abundance of this one! LOL. Physical contact, hugs, massage, and sex release this hormone.

When it comes to your hobby, aim to achieve one of these hormones. Now if you want to experience all the bliss boosters at once, you might want to look into “R5HHPJ” as your hobby: Run 5 miles while holding hands with your honey, drinking hot pepper juice from your water bottle…now that’s a hobby! Sorry had to throw it in there.LOL!

What are some great hobby ideas?

This is a loaded question because you can make a hobby of your own; the trick to finding one you love is to try some on. Here are some ideas of hobbies:

Knitting, exercising, reading, couponing, writing, music, woodworking, organizing, auto work, boating, horseback riding, hobby farming, candle making, photography, dance, winemaking, cooking, traveling, wilderness survival, Bible memory, drawing, painting, decorating, gardening, hunting, fishing, camping, running, kayaking, cycling, walking, surfing, sewing, essentially any sport, home brewing, collections, puzzles, and pretty much anything other than work.

FYI – watching endless episodes on Netflix or being glued to social media is not considered a hobby, nor is it something that can harm you. Remember a hobby is something that gives YOU personal enjoyment yet still a little challenge to enhance your well-being. This could very well be the peacekeeper you’ve been looking for to help balance life. What’s stopping you?

By CT Copyright © 2019 More Than Existence All Rights Reserved

5 Easy Ways to Build Courage & Confidence

5 Easy Ways to Build Courage & Confidence

In 2007 my courage collapsed and my heart panted for fullness. My independence, which I held on to so tightly, attached to others. The attitude to do more than exist went to merely existing. But most of all my confidence and courage seeped further away from my core. Have you ever felt this way? Did you wonder how you were going to pull through? Our adversities are not only confusing but paralyzing. However, there are five antidotes to help resurrect us.

white dog running across bridge with courage and confidence

A little background

My hardship started in September of 2007 with a pregnancy disease that birthed at five weeks and proceeded to torment me for 31 weeks thereafter. During that anguish my skin was pale green, my mind a twisted mess of nausea, and relief was too far to be seen; I literally was fighting to just exist. Being dependent on others to help me function, let alone trust, made me feel like a failure. Things like I can’t even take care of myself, swarmed my thoughts. Any physical excursion or consumption, or even water, was a cautious and fear-provoked decision. My ribs pierced from wrenching, and dehydration was the foremost threat.

The instant my healthy 7.1 pound baby boy was born, the sickness disappeared. Yet, the mental anguish was far from healing. Have you experienced an event like this in your life? Was it an illness, an unexpected break-up, a massive hit to your bank account, or a loss of something that meant so dear to you? I think the worse of it all is when it’s done, when we think we made it through, after-shocks sucker-punch us with unforeseen triggers we didn’t see coming.

When things don’t go our way

Those days still impress on my psyche today, how can it not? Yet immediately following the birth of my son, the fear of pregnancy halted our family plan. Two years later I knew I had to fight it. I knew I had to give it one more try; after all, every pregnancy is different. This is where I’d like to tell you the second time around was easier, but friend, it was far from that and left our arms empty.

Answers to ‘how was I going to recover my confidence and courage’ slowly inflated my hope. Those answers didn’t come from a special diet, therapist, or medical doctor. The true answers came from one source, Jesus. He had a plan that didn’t match up with ours and I had to trust Him.

You see when I prayed before our second pregnancy, I didn’t hear a “Yes” as I did with our first. With our first baby, my husband and I waited eight years before I drummed up the courage to even pray about it. And when I did pray, I heard a clear “Yes!” But the second go around, I heard a solid “No”. Of course, I didn’t want to believe it, a no to another child? That doesn’t make sense! So I took my destiny into my own hands. And it didn’t turn out as planned

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Subtle answers

Bit by bit I had to rebuild my confidence and courage using my anguish as building blocks and my faith as mortar. Jesus didn’t come down from a cloud and profoundly say, “You are healed child”. I certainly would have accepted that if He did! It was through His followers who physically passed His love on. He used other people in subtle ways to comfort my broken heart and body. Jesus equips us to love, and honestly, that’s all he wants us to do, is love. In 1 Corinthians 13:7-8 Paul says, “It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” (NIV)  

I needed to not only learn to love who I was now, but I needed to learn how to use love to become the confident and courageous person I sought out to be. Moving from just existing to living a life of fullness isn’t about accomplishing amazing feats or earning a special degree, and so forth; it’s about loving others the way Jesus does. It sounds easy, but it’s the doing that’s hard.

You are much more than your feelings. Joyce Meyer

Five easy additions to building courage & confidence

Since God is love. Who do you think we need to connect with to learn how to love? Rick Warren says, “When you are disconnected from God, you’re not really living; you just exist.”

So, how do we connect with our Heavenly Father? How do we hear clear answers? I go to church. I pray. Isn’t that connecting? Yes, friend, it is. But there are some easy additions which can lead us to live a do-more-than-exist kind of life. Let me share with you what I have learned so far in this journey:

1. Emotion

When clarity is the question, I don’t hold the emotion back. I pray with strong emotion, whether it be anger, sadness, joy, or excitement. Expressing it to Him helps keep things real. Emotion develops a relationship with Him, a trust.

2. Music

Listening, singing, humming, and dancing to music that is good for our souls, brings us closer to our Creator. In this day and age Christian music isn’t just hymns. It has developed to feed all our genres. The writers and bands have done a great job at helping us fend off the Enemy and open our hearts for answers and comfort. Give it a try.

3. Nature

Our beloved Anne Frank says, “The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely, or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quite alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy amidst the simple beauty of nature. …I firmly believe that nature brings solace in all troubles.”  Numerous studies show that… simply sitting looking at the trees reduces stress-related hormones. And the University of Minnesota says there’s “a growing prevalence of depression caused by ‘nature deprivation’.” Maybe we should think about spending more time in God’s creation.

4. Church

There is something to be said about being around other Christ-followers. It’s kind of like a family reunion. Being surrounded by a common denominator encourages us, comforts us, and brings us closer to Him. We all have the same goal so-to-speak. The hard part is finding a church that fits you and your worship style. Keep hunting until you find it, you’ll know when you found it.

5. Gratefulness

Being grateful changed my game. For me to love myself and to pass the love on to others, I had to learn how to be grateful even when it didn’t make sense. Gratefulness brought me out of adversity. Before we move forward, understand I’m not grateful for the hardships we face in life. I’m talking about the little things that surround us, those things we don’t even notice; like clean water out of our faucets, cozy beds to rest our bodies, medical help at our fingertips, and grocery stores to feed us. I’m talking about the love He gives us in delicate ways like music, flowers, and comforting smells.

Yet, what about those moments when you step-out and help someone? When you smile at someone even though you don’t feel like it…and they smile back? Sometimes to get what we want we have to give it first. I’m grateful for those promptings where we use our gifts to brighten someone’s day even when our life is a mess. It takes courage and confidence to make those things happen. And I’m grateful for our time He gives us and the freedom to choose how to use it, especially if it involves our calling.

In conclusion

If you’re hurting in a specific area of your life I encourage you to begin with being thankful for each comfort you receive every day. When we recognize the little things, the small achievements, the flickers of love passed hand to hand, then our courage and confidence surfaces and we begin to see what life is all about…love.  Download my favorite affirmations to help make you stronger. You can get them here.

By CT Copyright © 2019 More Than Existence All Rights Reserved. 

I Screwed-up a Friendship, How to Mend Your Heart.

I Screwed-up a Friendship, How to Mend Your Heart.

rose garden

My heart was a month, so I went to my garden. November is not the perfect month to be blogging about a garden…at least where I live. But it is the perfect month to blog about what my garden DID for me. Not too long ago I found myself walking to my garden, but I didn’t go there to do my normal tending of it. I went there to sit in the dirt.

I had a troubled heart and felt like dirt, so why not sit in it too? If you don’t have a garden, don’t think this post isn’t for you. Each and every one of us has and needs a ‘garden’, maybe for the sole purpose of why I needed it on this particular day. Let me explain:

My heart was disturbed

I was completely dumbfounded by how I got myself in this state. Remember, as a kid, when you got in trouble from your parents…the flush of prickly heat bursting from your heart like a firework going off? Yeah. It’s that feeling when you know you really messed up.

Believe me, this wasn’t an easy post to write; in fact, I wasn’t going to write it. But it dawned on me that when my human-self learns something hard and valuable, I should probably tell someone…maybe it will help them in some way.

So here it goes. I unintentionally hurt a dear friend of mine…I messed up. I screwed up a valuable friendship! Part of me wanted to crawl into a cave, but the other half wanted to go to a place that knew me. So I went to my garden. As I looked over the rows of flowers and herbs I wrestled with scenarios. I tried to foresee the future. I played back my actions. Why did this happen? How did this happen? This came out of nowhere! My identity jolted.

In my garden that day, my gut was a trembling mess. My heart was anxious. I paced the walking paths and hid my face from my neighbors. As I dug for a tissue I knelt down and stared at the dirt. “Dear God, forgive me. Help me see the root of this action.” I blew my nose, took a deep breath, and got my hands busy. As I plucked little weeds and churned up the soil, layers of thoughts peeled off and exposed the truth. Wow, I didn’t see that coming. How juvenile. We all have our adolescent times, this was one of mine.

The answer

red rose garden

His presence in the garden that day was strong; there is no doubt. I felt His comfort yet discipline. “What must I do to mend this mishap?” I asked Him. As I walked to the other side of the garden, face a dripping mess, Jesus’ words “the truth will set you free” squeeze my heart. But I don’t want to tell the truth, I’m embarrassed, I said.  “If its freedom you seek, the truth will set you free”. After I wrestled with it for about 20 minutes, I dusted myself off and wound-up the courage to do just that…tell the truth. What do I have to lose that I already have lost? As soon as I expressed the truth-of-the-matter to my dear friend; my stomach stopped tossing, my mind stopped spinning, and I felt the imprisoned shackles unlock. I exhaled and knew I made the right choice. Thank you.

Why you need a ‘garden’

A ‘garden’ is a place where we get our hands busy. It’s a place where we can be alone. It is a moment in time where our soul is unguarded, where we can let it free and know it’s safe. A place where we cradled the unique ability our Creator gave us. So what’s your ‘garden’? What place knows you? A woodshop, craft table, mixing bowl, knitting basket, sketch pad, garage, what is it?

me in my garden

When we’re feeling troubled where do you want to go?

Our ‘garden’ opens her arms. She knows that when we get on our knees, we need her touch. She knows we need to get busy, so little projects present themselves. It’s quiet. We’re focused. As we work, the surface looks brighter. It feels good. But as we move throughout the ‘garden’ and dig a little deeper we find a few deep-rooted invasives. These weeds have been there awhile. Seeds from their fruit are ready to plant themselves. Is that what we want?

The thistles on the stalk pierce our touch. We may step back for a bit, but find that if we gently grab the very thing that hurt us, we’ll then have the power to wrench and wrestle it free.

Our garden understands the pain that comes with breaking free. So she prays. And because our soul is defenseless to her love, we feel the hope she prayed for. It’s in our garden where tears nourish her beauty. Where truth is told. And where strength and might persist. It’s a place to rejoice when we pull the weeds out and plant new life in its space.

Our next step

Our ‘gardens’ do more than entertain and strengthen our talents. They listen, they heal, they comfort. I’ve got some questions for you: What is keeping you captive? When are you going to do something about it? Who do you need to talk to?

I encourage you to visit your special place this week. When you’re there, whisper loud enough for you to hear, and talk about what imprisons your heart. All you’re doing that day is getting the frustrations out. Then revisit your place again later in the week. Get your hands busy. And ask God for help. You may not hear anything right away, but as you live your life over the next couple of weeks be aware of your surroundings, open your senses. He’ll talk to you and give you the answer.

By CT Copyright © 2018 More Than Existence, All Rights Reserved.

Running Can Do What?

Running Can Do What?

woman running in sunset

It was the first day of track practice. I was a freshman in high school. This year I was going to run the 800 meter. But today I was in for a surprise I would carry for years to come.

My track coach guided us to dirt trails in the woods behind the school. He said, “Ok guys, we’re going to do the three-mile loop before we practice on the track.” I looked at my friend with wide eyes and whispered, “I’m a sprinter. I’m not sure I can do this.” My stomach fluttered. I took a deep breath. My coach instructed, “Pace yourself.” I had no idea what he meant.

How running changed my life

That day was the start of a new habit I would use and apply to my personal life, work, and spiritual arena. Who knew running would be so beneficial for not only the body but for the mind. My legs were definitely tired that day, but more so I was amazed I was actually running a long-distance!

runhs

My self-doubt turned into self-confidence. As I practiced long-distance running I began to feel it change me. It changed not just my physique, but how I thought.

I learned how to think about nothing; yet also how to think and solve problems. Nature was more noticeable. Creative thinking came naturally. I gained more confidence in school, and I had more courage… all because of running.

The Pastor had it wrong

Just knowing I had an outlet (running) for hard days, was comforting. I knew that running may not solve all my problems, but it would get my blood flowing and mind working on how to understand my challenges.

My Pastor preached awhile ago about how we can help the world. He mentioned during his message that he was a runner and how much he depended on his runs. He said running helped clear his mind and solve problems. I could relate.

But he said something I disagreed with. Nonchalantly he slipped in there, “Running doesn’t help the world”. Well, that caught my attention and I wasn’t going to let that fly.

Slight correction

That afternoon I e-mailed him and said, “Pastor, you say a lot of things that are right, but today you got something a little wrong…about running. It may not be the activity that helps the world, but it’s what the activity does for the person who can change the world.”

If you’re not a runner or can’t run due to injury that’s okay. Any activity outside will work. Try walking, cycling, hiking, or even gardening. These simple activities do more than you think. Keep at it, you’ll see.

By CT Copyright © 2016 More Than Existence All Rights Reserved.

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