Happy Family, Happy Habits

Do You Dinner Stress, Prep, or Plan?

I’ve been following Stephanie from @whatsthefigidea and admiring her tasty and beautiful meals. She has been such a food inspiration to me, so I asked her to share her secrets for getting GORGEOUS food on the table. In this blog post she shares a bounty of tips and tools! Thank you for sharing your meal planning tips, Stephanie! Everyone else, enjoy! 


To think I used to go to the grocery store EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. for dinner makes me cringe. What a waste of valuable time that could be spent at home with my fam jam. I was spending so much money (hello impulse I’m hungry and stressed buys). Something had to give.

After a quick browse on Pinterest the shining answer was meal prepping! Figured out what meals I was going to pre-make, went to the store, got my items and came home and made a huge mess. I spent a good chunk of the day juggling a million different pots, pans and other a sundry items. I was so worn out after this. During the week we had our meals but ended up with a lot of waste. Not cool. 

Meal evolution part 3. I find something cathartic in being organized. Knowing how things are going to play out helps my inner peace. Upon more research I decided we were going to try meal PLANNING instead. My goal was to lay out dinner for every day of the week and shop ONCE. My original system was rudimentary and simple. I sat down and wrote out every meal I knew how to cook and things my family liked. To broaden my selection I made a board of “Recipes to Try” on Pinterest. This would add to my database of meals. On an index card I wrote out the days of the week and started plugging meals in. From there I would take my recipe cards and compile a grocery list, sorting it down to sections of the store. Below is an example week: 

Meal Planning

As The journey to meal freedom progressed, I wanted to be set free from breakfast and lunch. BLD freedom sounded bliss! {Fun fact: We spend on average $200/week on groceries. You eat 84 meals a month. This comes out to about 9.50/meal! That’s not even per person. 5 days a week we feed 6 people too! Not only is it healthy but big savings to your wallet.} I went on the hunt for an app that could take my meals I plugged in and create a grocery list for me. After a lot of research, I found Meal Plan. Best app purchase EVER. For $2.99 (it’s $3.99 now) I can import recipes from the internet, or manually add my own.   

meal plan app

So here is how we roll. For breakfast we pick simple, easy and nutritious. Eggs (you can make the night before), shakes (if I know I won’t have time in the morning to blend up a smoothie, I premix my protein powder in my shaker bottle and put in the fridge). I’m going to skip to lunch, we will come back to lunch.

For dinners I start with nights we have activities, give those guys the easy meals. Next I plug in meals that use similar items. One night we might be having Mexican Buddha Bowl that uses roasted sweet potatoes, and another night that uses roasted sweet potatoes as another ingredient. Don’t double do work! Knock those bad boys out once and then put the remainder in the fridge for the next meal. Same goes for things you use all the time like sautéed onions and garlic or even quinoa. 

Now back to lunch. Lunch is leftovers! Ok I know some people turn their nose up at the term “leftovers,” but hear me out. Remember the meal prepping idea? Leftover lunch is no different than those meals you prepped in advance. The key to success is presentation. The brain bases its likes off of look/color and smell. Start by doubling what you are making (I’ve tweaked ours since I also feed my mom and sister lunch during the week). This should make enough for dinner and then lunch the next day. Get a set of good containers (we recently treated ourselves to a set of glass containers). This truly helps to have a bunch of one type. 

Leftovers Look Awesome

Start small. Create your meal database, whether that be a stack of index cards, post its, or  an app. Keep a well-stocked pantry. Be flexible. Have fun with it! It may seem intimidating at first but the planning pays off! Getting one extra task off mama’s plate, makes for a happy mama. Next time when they ask, “What’s for dinner?” you already have an answer. If you have any questions, let me know! I’d love to chat. You can find me @identiteeshirtco or @whatsthefigidea

Much happiness,

Stephanie

Do You Dinner Stress, Prep, or Plan?

Caring For Yourself, Happy Family, Happy Habits, Limiting Beliefs

Meditating Like A Mother

So I want to pick up on my Mindfulness Made Easy post from last week, and talk about the same concept as it relates to meditation. As much I want to meditate, I struggle to fit meditation in. As a work-from-home mom with a preschooler and toddler around, there just isn’t a good and quiet time to block off for meditation.

Or so I tell myself. I have this belief (excuse) about meditation that’s difficult to shake — like mindfulness, I have to do it “right” or there is no point. I have a perfect meditation scenario in my mind — a silent chunk of time with my oil diffuser making soothing water drip sounds as a calming scent wafts over me. And I tell myself it has to be exactly this or I can’t do it. Sound familiar?

I have this belief (excuse) about meditation that's difficult to shake -- like mindfulness, I have to do it
Photo by Lisa Zoe on Unsplash

But why have I decided that meditation has to be perfect or nothing? Because I’m looking for an excuse not to practice? A limiting belief regarding how much peace I’m allowed to feel? I’m not sure. But this “there is no perfect time for meditation” excuse is a big one for me.

Meditation for some is the practice of noticing what bubbles up into the mind and letting it go by concentrating on breaths or a sound. This is the essential piece in my own practice. And once I realized that I could do the same with little people bubbling up into my meditations space — acknowledge them and let go of the loss of my “perfect” meditation environment — suddenly I had more space in my calendar for practicing meditation.
I wanted to share a video I took this week. My purpose for filming my mediation was to share a few deep breaths on Instagram Stories as a sort of calm motivation. But what happened while I was taking the video is so much more what meditating like a mother often looks like for me. Enjoy!
If you are interested in meditation, but never find yourself getting around to it, what excuses do you make to avoid practicing? Are they real barriers or limits and constraints you have made up? Meditate on that for a bit!

If meditating is something you are interested in, what excuses to you make to avoid practicing? Are they real barriers or limits and constraints you have made up?

Caring For Yourself, Happy Habits

Mindfulness Made Easy

Mindfulness is a big buzz word right now and everyone wants to be more mindful, including me, but it feels like this HUGE thing. Right?

What do you think of when someone starts talking about mindfulness or being mindful? I first imagine meditating in a dark room for 30 minutes — a goal I have set for myself so many times, but never get around to it.

When people start talking about mindfulness it makes me imagine somehow plugging into the world or the energy of the world in a way I don’t usually.

Mindfulness makes me think of mental exercise. Mental exercise makes me think of exhaustion. And then I think, well I already have enough EXHAUSTION (thank you very much) and I keep scrolling.

Mindfulness-2

But What If The Hype Of Being Mindful Is Distracting From The Ease Of Being Mindful?

What if we removed mindfulness from the hype and pomp and all the extra? What if we separated mindfulness from that gorgeous photo of that impossible yoga pose on the beach? What if we removed mindfulness from the 30-day Instagram challenges? What if we approached mindfulness from its core?

The most simple definition of mindful is:

mind·ful   (adjective)   conscious or aware of something.

Mindfulness is then simply a state of being conscious or aware of something.

Did your head just explode too? Yes, It’s just that easy.

You Can Be Mindful Anywhere!

You can switch in and out of mindfulness all day long! And, yes, that’s doing it right! Our brains help us plan, and contemplate, and sense danger, and feel joy just as much as they can help us move in and out of mindfulness.

It’s not an Instagram challenge! It’s not a 30-minute meditation. It isn’t impossibly difficult mental gymnastics.

Mindfulness Is…

  1. Being aware of the temperature of the water when you wash your hands. Noticing the smell of the water. The sound the water makes as it exits the spout and hits your hands and the sink below.
  2. Mindfulness is taking a minute to watch the rain fall outside. Watching the drops splat on your wood deck or form tiny puddles on the concrete. Smelling the rain. Feeling the dampness in the air. Being conscious of the size of the rain drops and the air pressure.
  3. Mindfulness is taking a moment to be conscious of the water falling on your head and over your body in the shower, how your sheets feel — crisp, heavy — when you wake in the morning, the smell of your morning commute, the sound of “quiet” when your kids are all at school — the fridge rumbling, the tinkle of the dishwasher as a glass rattles, the hum of the air conditioning. It’s coloring with your kids and noting the way the wax spreads across the area you’re filling in.
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Being Mindful

Mindfulness Is Simple

It is also rooting, grounding, connecting, heightening, a place from which to draw gratefulness, peace, and strength. It is all of those HUGE things, but it is also so simple.

Instead of trying to be mindful today, I ask that you notice the times you are mindful today. I guess I’m asking you to be mindful of being mindful. All those mindful moments are a practice. There is no right way. There is no set amount of time. There is no trying to be mindful.

You Are Mindful Already.

Caring For Yourself, Real Talk

Moving Beyond The Meme

Had I had more sleep, that incident in the library last week could have looked very different. I would have still left feeling Other, Outcast, Less-Than. All those moments leading up to that conversation in the library would have still hit me like a ton o’ bricks, but I would have pushed them away as I usually do, made a joke to my husband or had a chuckle with a friend that evening, and kept moving.

Because I can’t react the way I did last week each time I’m reminded what my skin color means to others. I would be exhausted and pissed all day long, as I was, actually, until Tuesday of this week.

And humor in the face of adversity is a great healer and release from tension. A joke, memes, a good dose of cynicism has it’s place. As a former positive psychologist who researched humor (“humor researcher,” if we’re being causal), I can say that humor is absolutely helpful in maintaining well-being in the face of stressors. But your responses to my post last week were a reminder that we need to move beyond humor, now more than ever. Even if it is exhausting and tiresome and extra work.

This blog and community was born from my desire to move beyond the tired mom meme of “wine-o-clock” that I see constantly on social media. The joke is funny and it has that “we’re in this together, friend” quality. But as I talked about in one of my early posts (You Need To Stop Treating Yo’ Self), after you have a laugh and pour that wine, you need to take another step to address that exhaustion. Make changes to break the cycle of kids/life leaves you exhausted and stressed so you’re waiting for wine time. Go to bed earlier, set some boundaries, workout, meditate, eat better. Treat yourself, yes! I had two PopTarts for breakfast yesterday. And a glass of wine with pizza delivery the night before. But care for yourself too. I also ran 2 miles, ate a bowl of broccoli and rice for lunch, and read myself to sleep.

Treat Yo Self
Proof author believes in treating yo’ self

So I did the extra work last week. In reality, I did it because I didn’t have the humor in me to fortify me and move me forward. I wrote about some of my experiences present and past — trying to leave out buzzwords that are divisive — to help people see what it is like to be in my shoes. And that extra work was met with more readers in one day than this little blog has ever had in a month!

And more importantly, my post resonated with you. And boy was I flooded with your responses! I spent a good part of Friday last week responding to your messages on social media. You showed me empathy. You showed me sympathy. You told me you will rethink how you approach POC with curious and well-meaning questions. You told me that you knew someone who needed to read that post — your friend, your son. And I was blown away.

One of the many replies that really hit me straight in the heart — in a good way — was from a truly well-meaning, curious-about-the-world woman and friend of mine. She returned my post with a vulnerable and honest response of her own. You can read it in the comments section of my last post, It Isn’t Even About That Conversation At The Library. It was a gift to see someone truly hear me, rethink, and share her thought process in such an open way. And gifts like that come from doing the work. They come from moving beyond the meme, the joke, the headline, the troll responses. They come from sharing our stories.

So thank you for reading and sharing and responding to my post last week. As someone who overthinks how to respond to troubling situations to the point of not responding at all, every single one of your thoughtful replies meant the world to me. You did the work too by reaching out back to me. And if even for a brief moment, it changed our thinking, made us feel connected, and that is real positive change. That is breaking a cycle.

Happy, Limiting Beliefs

The False Stories You Need To Drop Now To Find More Happiness

If you follow me on Instagram, you might have caught my IG stories or posts about this book I’m reading called The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks. It’s about how FALSE stories we have constructed, or were constructed for us, in childhood limit us from realizing our full potential in many aspects of life.

And for many of us, maintaining/pursuing/enjoying happiness is an area that is constantly undermined by limiting beliefs. Somewhere inside of you, perhaps barely noticeable under the rest of everything, you are likely holding onto a false story about the amount of happiness you are “allowed” to experience. And when you go beyond that allowed point, you unconsciously pick a fight with your partner, get sick, worry about something out of your control, all in the name of returning to “normal” levels.

Maybe you constructed a false story in childhood that you didn’t deserve to be happy. So when you start to feel happy, really truly, undeniably happy, you start deflect that positive energy. You push that happiness away with worry, anxiety, doubt, even fear because, under the surface, you don’t think you DESERVE this happiness. True Story: You are an amazing human being who deserves, and can receive, unlimited happiness.

Shedding Limiting Beliefs

Maybe a long time ago, someone told you, or subtly indicated to you, that you should never outshine others. And feeling happiness triggers this false story. You believe that your happiness is bringing others down, and you don’t want that. True Story: Your happiness raises other people up. Makes them feel good. Your happiness is warming and kind and generous and giving.

Maybe you carry a false belief that good things bring big burdens. So it would follow that happiness is just a sign that a bigger bad is to come. So you shut the happiness out before you can fully feel it, lest the big bad around the corner senses your happy feels and comes for you. True Story: Crappy things happen sometimes but not because you let positive energy in, or basked in the glow of happiness. Allowing yourself to feel happiness generates more happiness in yourself and others. And in fact, happiness makes you stronger and more equipped to handle stressors. Happiness is strength for your immune system, mental well-being, physical well-being, and interpersonal relationships. Happiness brings big bounties. 

Happiness brings bounties

But instead of feeling fully happy we worry, we look for things to criticize in ourselves and others, we deflect happiness and positive energy, or we find ourselves getting sick or hurt right after something amazingly good happens.

This happened to me after I doubled my all-time high sales month in my handmade business last year. In July of all months, known in retail as the “summer slump,” I more than doubled my previous highest sales month which had been during the holiday shopping season. I was totally ecstatic, blown away! And then I had sinking feeling of dread for no reason, followed by a debilitating migraine. It was the worst migraine I’ve ever had. For two days I couldn’t get out of bed, talk, eat. I had hit my self-imposed ceiling. Yet I had no problem fulfilling orders on time and nothing about the increase of sales was unmanageable. Nevertheless, my body was shaken to the core. Perhaps it was a freak migraine with bad timing. I can totally hold space for that. But perhaps it was my body reacting to this sudden surge past my limiting beliefs and false stories about finances, my worth, and what I’m deserving of.

I have limiting beliefs about pretty big things in life — finances, my potential. And even though I’m still wrapping my mind around the idea of UNLIMITED happiness, I do allow myself to feel huge amount of happiness, before going into guilt and anxiety, but it wasn’t always that way.

When I was first married to my husband, I found myself waiting for things to get “REAL,” to confirm my belief of what my relationship had to look like. The story that was crafted in my childhood was that personal relationships had love, but were also tense, argumentative, fraught, upsetting, and dramatic. And the longer my marriage didn’t look like that (despite my attempts to make things argumentative, angry, tense — shout out to my unflappable and calm husband — thank you!), the more confident I became that relationships could be loving without the tension and anger and squabbling. That felt good and eventually turned into my TRUE story.

And that’s what it takes to turn off these limiting beliefs. A new TRUE story.  Like the ones I wrote in italics above. You can start by re-writing the false stories in your life that are holding you back. Create the story you want about happiness; the story with the best outcome. Make that your new true story about the abundance of happiness. Write it in your journal, reconstruct it in your mind, or act out that NEW TRUE STORY daily, for years even, until you believe it.

What NEW and TRUE story can you write to help you receive more happiness in your life?

The False Stories You Need To Drop Now To Find More Happiness

Goal-Setting, Happy Habits

4 Happy Habits I Should Work On (But Won’t)

Many of us have that list — whether it’s formally written, journaled out over time, or jostling around in our heads. We hold a list of things we should change, or try, or do to make our lives easier, happier, and/or healthier.

But is that Should Do list helping? Or is it just taking up much-needed mental resources and energy? I have a Should Do list, but recently decided to let go of most of it… for now. So let’s say goodbye together to my shoulds, shall we?

  1. I should stop swearing. I know, it’s hard to imagine that a hand-sewing, all-things-BBC consuming, essential oil using, wannabe yogi is over here swearing like a teenager who just decided swearing sounds cool. But I do. I swear. I have tried to NOT swear 1000 times. But I’m now coming to terms with the fact that my heart isn’t in this goal. So until it is, I’ll be dropping the occasional f- and s-bombs. Not in front of your kids though!
  2. I should try to put myself together before leaving the house. Well, I actually WANT to do this one, but I won’t anytime soon. Time is precious to me and between maximizing playtime, downtime, and working on my handmade business, I don’t leave much time for getting my kids ready to get out the door, let alone myself. One day I’ll wear mascara and maybe a lip color again. For now, “natural mom getting sh*t done” is my look. (OMG I just swore again!)
  3. I should buy a quality piece of art to hang over the fireplace. Another one I have to shelve. If only so I don’t waste energy and time obsessesing over art pieces that I can’t realistically get for a few years. Our house still feels very new-to-us and there are tubs to replace and porches to repair, a driveway to re-pave and drain. Art will have to wait for some more foundational things to be put in place. But we’ll get there.
  4. I should learn to garden. I am embarrassed to admit this. It may ruin any woo-woo Earth cred you may have assumed I have, but I have an irrational disgust of bugs. So gardening al fresco is a source of panic for me. I want to get over the disgust so that I can plant more with my girls and landscape our yard. But this is something best left to the professionals for another year at least.

You guys, taking things off my “Should Do” list has made me one million times lighter. It doesn’t mean I’ll never get to these things, but it does mean they are no longer taking up my energy and mind space right now. What shoulds can you drop now to make space for what is important to you today?

Let me know in the comments below! Or over on Instagram or Facebook!

And if you haven’t already, and you want help planning out a goal to make your life happier today, check out my TOTALLY FREE Happy Habits Workbook to start making the happy life you want today! This workbook will also help you drop those shoulds and concentrate on what will make YOU happy today!

4 Happy Habits I Should Work On (But Won't)

 

A Question, Happy Family

You Know What I Could Use? Another Lecture! Said No Mom Ever.

Soooooo… I came across a blog post during an insomnia Facebook scroll called Why Are Kids Impatient, Bored, Friendless, And Entitled? And you know what the implied answer is here, right?

Right?

THEIR MOMS ARE DOING IT ALL WRONG. And I got so angry.

And, to be fair, I  think the author, Victoria Prooday, a Registered Occupational Therapist, does mostly blame parents generically and uses the term “we” to soften the blow when relating all the things WE are doing wrong, but I have never in my life heard someone say, “That little kid is so impatient, her dad must not make her wait for things.” I’m pretty sure I know what “parents” means in these articles. These articles are written for an audience and that audience is moms.

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Doing it wrong since 2012

And as I skimmed this list of things I should and should not be be doing, I thought, this is so recklessly harmful, but EVERYONE does this. Do moms really need another list of EVERYTHING we are doing wrong and EVERYTHING we need to be doing to fix it? SPOILER ALERT: We don’t.

And why is everyone, women included, so quick to give a mom, an adult person, a lecture? Please Stop.

But I would like to answer the question proposed by the author of this blog. Here we go!

Why are kids so impatient, bored, friendless, and entitled?

Kids are so impatient, bored, and entitled, because being otherwise is learned behavior. Being otherwise means mastering these base reactions and acting against them. Children are still learning and still mastering. And so are adults, by the way. Have you seen a Baby Boomer waiting in a line? The very picture of impatience, boredom, and entitlement. I’ve heard these same words used to describe Millennials too, and Gen X and Gen Y…

Maybe a more accurate questions is why are humans so impatient, bored, and entitled? But it’s harder to blame mothers for a 40, 60, or 70 year-old person’s impatience, boredom, and entitlement.

I haven’t mentioned the friendless bit, because I don’t even know what this means. Perhaps today’s kids’ friendships look different than they did when the author was a kid? But from where I’m sitting, in my part of the world, friendships look very similar to my upbringing. I see my kids playing and negotiating and compromising and standing their ground. Playing nice and playing rough and figuring it all out.

But I have a question. Why do people feel so entitled and justified in lecturing parents (moms) and vilifying children?

This mom is tired of it.