What Happened When I Let Go

Go on road trips

Sometimes I forget.

I forget to be mindful, relax and enjoy life, and remember that everything will be fine.

My husband Alex and I have been making some big business and financial decisions lately, and I admit, it’s stressful. It’s a roller coaster — I go from being calm and excited one minute, to anxious and worried the next.

I prefer life to be simple and unchanged. Alex is more of a risk taker (although a very careful and logical one), and he enjoys change. I fully trust him and know I need to step out of my comfort zone more often.

I’m confident it’ll all work out. Change is good and inevitable. There’s a time to remain stagnant and a time to move forward.

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Okay, I know all that, but still… I’m nervous.

This past weekend, Alex and I decided to go out for the day in a convertible. We wanted to have a Sunday Fun-day, like we didn’t have a care in the world.

At first I was all uptight about too much sun and wind. I pulled my hair back in a bun, put on my favorite baseball cap, rubbed sun screen all over my face, and put sunglasses on.

Alex backed out of the driveway, turned on the music, and off we went. We headed down a twisty mountain and it felt wonderful to be so close to nature while driving. I’m not used to being in a convertible. Normally our windows are up and it’s like being in a metal box, closed from the outside.

The sides of the mountain were almost near enough to reach out and touch. I noticed how lush and green the hills were from the recent rains. Mustard weed and flowers dotted the landscape with bright color. Two rabbits hopped in the wild grass and I hoped they’d be safe from coyotes.

As we drove past agriculture fields, Alex asked if I could smell the cilantro and onions. I breathed in deep and sniffed in the familiar scents. But something else happened too. I relaxed. It felt like the anxiety and stress were melting away.

I felt free. Or at least, free-er.

She threw away all of her masks and put on her soul.

That feeling continued when we arrived at the restaurant for lunch. We laughed and chatted and savored a delicious fish meal. It was like we were on vacation. I wanted to bottle that feeling and keep it with me forever.

After walking around town, browsing shops, and licking every drop of an ice cream cone, we knew it was time to head home. I scooped my hair back and plopped the hat on top of my head.

We were half way home when I realized something. Here we are, in a convertible on a gorgeous spring day, blessed to be having a great time together, and I’m not taking full advantage of it. Loosen up, Jenny.

That’s when I yanked off my baseball cap and hair tie and let my hair fly. The wind whipped my hair and I didn’t care one bit if it got messy and tangled. Alex looked at me and smiled, then took off his hat.

I closed my eyes and let the wind take over. I laughed because it was hard to see with hair blowing in my face. The warm sun beat down and getting a sunburn never crossed my mind. I felt totally and completely carefree.

I let go.

I captured the moment in my mind, knowing I’d want to relive it again and again. I wished Alex would drive 100 more miles so that feeling could last longer.

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Just a Thought…

Your smile is your logo,

I recently saw this quote and it resonated so much with me. I strive to be that type of person, whose compassion and kindness brightens someone’s day.

It’s not just what we say but it’s how we act that makes a difference. It can be something as simple as a smile, holding the door open, or listening to someone’s frustration over how long the line is.

That warmth and goodness — those positive vibes — can leave someone feeling better than they did before they saw you. What an awesome quality to share!

When I come across people who are rude, coarse, or impolite, I think about how they leave people in their wake feeling bad. If you weren’t in a crummy mood before, you might well be, after your path crosses with a negative person.

Of course, we can’t be happy all the time. We’re human. We have a right to be annoyed, somber, disappointed, and upset. We can’t always be that bright light.

But for the most part, our genuine spirits shine through. Each of us has the ability to contribute to the goodness in the world.

Leave a positive and kind wake as you move through life — not a raging storm.

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Feed Your Soul: 12 Simple Ways to Be Good to Yourself

Every single day,

Whether I’m having an amazing, productive day or an overwhelming and stress-filled one — I always do something that makes me happy. It makes my good days even better, and my difficult ones a bit easier to manage.

It’s part of self-care. Being kind to myself and recognizing that it’s important to slow down and take comfort in activities that I enjoy. I don’t think of it as being selfish. It’s healthy.

Finding ways to de-stress is crucial for both my physical and mental health. On my journey recovering from anxiety and panic attacks, I learned how important it is to practice deep breathing and mindfulness. To take time out of the day to relax and not feel guilty for doing something I love and gives me a sense of peace.

That “something that makes my heart sing” doesn’t need to be extravagant or take up a lot of time. A small break during the day can rejuvenate me and clear my mind, leaving me ready to tackle the rest of my tasks and responsibilities.

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Be mindful of the things you love and incorporate them into your daily life.

Here are some super simple, yet luxurious ways to pamper yourself:

  • Sit in a comfy chair, put your feet up, and read a book or magazine
  • Take a walk or hike and enjoy the nature surrounding you
  • Have lunch on the beach, near a lake, in the mountains
  • Make a cup of tea, latte or coffee and take a short afternoon break (a small piece of banana bread, scone or biscotti can make it perfect)
  • Browse around a favorite store or boutique (one of mine is Anthropologie), and take time to smell the pretty lotions and candles, feel the texture of the fabrics
  • Give yourself (or go to the salon for) a manicure and/or pedicure
  • Put on a face mask and take a bubble bath
  • Savor a piece of chewy caramel or dark chocolate
  • Light a candle while cooking dinner
  • Meditate and practice deep breathing, even for just 5-10 minutes
  • Use an essential oil diffuser while doing yoga poses or stretches
  • Take a technology break

I’m a list person, and love to cross off items I’ve accomplished. It’s so satisfying! But life isn’t all about racing to finish tasks and see how much you can get done in a day.

Life is meant to be noticed, appreciated, and  enjoyed.

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What’s the point of rushing through the day without doing something we truly love? 

Find what makes your heart sing, then do it. Allow yourself the time to be kind to yourself.

You deserve it.

Experience

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Just a Thought…

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I saw this on Pinterest today and it made me smile. Straight and to the point. If you want something different in your life, take the initiative to make it happen.

Easier said than done. The first steps are the hardest.

Since I had surgery on my foot early March, I’ve had a hard time getting back into exercising on a regular basis. I eat pretty healthy, but I’ve let that slide too. Sometimes it’s so difficult to get motivated. It’s easy to fall into the trap of being lazy.

Last week I finally took control. I weighed myself one morning and promised myself to get back to a consistent healthy lifestyle. I’d like to lose a few pounds, but it really isn’t about that for me. I just want to feel healthier. Stronger, inside and out.

I don’t follow a strict plan, I basically go by this motto: Eat Less, Move More.

I’ve been exercising every day. Sometimes it’s just for fifteen minutes, sometimes over an hour. Every little bit makes a difference. I go for walks and hikes, ride my stationery bike at home, or go on the treadmill. The next step is to get to the gym.

When I exercise, I tend to eat healthier. I love summer fruits, so this time of year is great. My favorite breakfast is Greek yogurt and granola with a ton of strawberries, blueberries and peaches. I’m trying to eat less bread and sweets (I love carbs!) and more veggies. I don’t deprive myself (especially if I want dark chocolate), but I eat in moderation.

I didn’t like where I was, so I took the steps to change.

I’m not a tree.

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Just a Reminder…

bunny quote final

I love bunnies, so when I saw this on @psychologythings Instagram account, it made me smile.

Sometimes we need this little reminder.

Be kind to yourself. Believe in yourself.

You are amazing and you’re going to be great today!

Have a wonderful weekend,

Jenny

Pay Attention

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Yesterday my husband and I went to lunch at a casual Mexican restaurant. There was a family of four sitting next to us — mom, dad, and two boys, around ten to twelve years old.

I sat next to the mom. She was looking at her phone. No big deal, I figured she needed to check a few things before she ate and chatted with her family.

Five minutes later, I was enjoying my burrito, chips, and guacamole, and laughing with my husband. I looked over. The dad and boys were quiet, concentrating on their food. Mom was eating and staring at her phone.

I couldn’t help but notice that the family was barely conversing. The boys talked a little. The dad ate and looked up once in awhile. Mom’s eyes never left her phone. I didn’t want to judge. Maybe she had an urgent work issue or an ill relative. I get it. That’s happened to me.

But she didn’t appear the least bit upset or bothered. I could easily see her phone from where I sat, and it looked like she was playing a game or checking social media. She was zoned out, lost in a fantasy world.

The family didn’t look like they were fighting. Just into their own thoughts — and phone.

By this time I was annoyed. So was my husband. I wanted to say, “Look at each other! Talk to each other! Why did you even bother going to lunch together? TALK to your kids, they’re sitting right there. Ask them questions, tell them something interesting or funny that happened to you. Laugh with them.”

A few minutes later, the dad got on his phone. Both parents sat with their heads down, sometimes smiling a little, probably at something on Facebook or Instagram. The boys looked uninterested and simply ate.

I got the feeling that was normal for them. Sad.

A man walked by, looked at the family, stared for a second, and shook his head in disgust. I felt the same way.

It had been about half an hour since we first sat down. My husband and I had cleaned our plates and were sipping our drinks. The parent’s faces were still buried in their phones. The boys sat there, detached and bored. I hadn’t heard the woman speak the entire time.

Eating out isn’t just to fill our bodies with nutrition. It’s an excellent opportunity to talk, laugh, and bond. Those parents wasted precious time with their kids.

Of course it wasn’t my place to tell them that. Even though I felt like grabbing their phones and yelling, “Pay attention!”

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Just a Thought…

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I’ve never been much of a risk taker, so I totally identify with this. Sometimes it’s hard to get out of my comfort zone. I’m comfortable there!

But when I try something new, branch out, and reach higher than I thought I could, life can be so much more rewarding.

Sure, there’s a chance of failure. But if I don’t try, I’ll never know. If I don’t climb the mountain, I’ll never see the stunning view.

My husband and I have tried to teach this lesson to our daughters. When Mackenzie and Talee were little, we encouraged them to try new foods, make new friends, and play different sports.

Now that they’re older, we support the girls in their decisions to travel and experience the world. We’ve always tried to instill a sense of adventure and a zest for life. That happens when they push the limits and go beyond their boundaries.

It’s not just about participating in a new activity or eating a dish they’ve never tasted. It’s also about speaking up for themselves and not backing away from what they believe in.  That can be really hard to do.

It’s scary to roam and test unfamiliar waters. There will be times when we fail, but that’s okay. We need to allow ourselves to stumble and fall, and then get up and try again.

Because that’s when we find out that we can do it.

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In Need of Motivation

Two weeks ago, my husband and I went to the gym. It was momentous because we hadn’t been since early March, before my surgery. See my post about recuperating here. It felt really good to go, even though I’m definitely out of shape. I rode the bike for about 25 minutes, did stretching and abdomen exercises, and that was it. I was tired and energized at the same time.

I told Alex, “I’m so glad we went. We’re back at it, yay for us!”

We haven’t been back since. Uh oh.

I walk every day, so it’s not like I’m not doing any exercise. It just isn’t enough, I know that. Here’s one excuse: our dog is getting older and can’t walk nearly what he did before. So I take him around the block, which is plenty for him. Not for me. I often tell myself I’ll go home and ride the stationary bike. But I get busy with other things and don’t do it. No excuses, the bike is in our house, right downstairs!

I don’t need to lose weight (well, it’d be nice to lose five pounds). But I do need to tone my muscles and more important than that, I want to feel better and stronger. When I work out, I tend to eat healthier. Exercise is good for my mental health, not just my physical health.

Okay, so I know what I need to do. Get off my computer chair and get on the bike. Or take a longer walk. Or go to the gym.

Every day I have good intentions of doing those things, but the day slips by and before I know it, I’m making dinner. By then I have zero desire to exercise. Last night we were eating fajitas and I was complaining about not going to the gym. Alex said, “Let’s go after dinner.” What? No! That was the last thing I wanted to do.

I need to get out of this rut. Which makes me wonder how I can get motivated. I wonder what motivates other people.

I always think of the Nike ad, “Just Do It.” That’s exactly the advice I need to follow. I’m starting to talk myself into it.

Maybe this afternoon…

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Tending Our Gardens

talking to plants

I smiled when I saw this quote, because I definitely can relate. When I was about twelve, I started to love house plants. Once a week, it was my job to water and mist the fern in our living room. I loved that chore (much more than the vacuuming and dusting I had to do).

My mom saw how much I liked caring for plants, so she bought me some for my room. At one point, I think I had eight, which now seems like a lot for one bedroom. When it was time for watering, I’d carry each plant to the bathroom and put it in the tub. It looked like a jungle in there. I’d get a large plastic cup and sprinkle water over the Boston Ferns, Spider Plants, and Peace Lilys, and let them drain.

There was something I didn’t want to admit. I talked to my plants. I would’ve been mortified if my sisters or friends heard me. I’d sit on the edge of the bathtub and tell my “friends” how pretty they were and how well they were growing. I told them I loved them and that I loved taking care of them.

I’ve always heard that if you talk to plants, they’ll be happier and healthier. Even now, when I’m deadheading my roses and perennials, I whisper how beautiful they are.

I was just noticing that what I’ve said to my plants — you’re beautiful, you’re doing so good, I love taking care of you, I love you — they’re all words and phrases that people in my life want, and need, to hear.

And I do say those things. Often.

One thing our world needs is more kindness. We can never have enough.

So yes… “If speaking kindly to plants helps them grow, imagine what speaking kindly to humans can do.”

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Precious Treasures

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I’ve always loved to read. For me, it’s one of the best forms of escape. Books take me to places I’ve never been. I get to travel back in time or to the future. I meet people and am exposed to cultures I never knew existed.

This past weekend I watched a video that inspired me. It was by Danny at Dream Big, Dream Often. You can watch his vlog here. He talks about how crucial reading is, in order to learn and grow. One habit of successful people is that they read. A lot. Whether books are educational or entertaining, they expand your knowledge about the world.

Danny mentioned something that stuck with me. He quoted Mark Twain, who said, “The man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read.”

What that means to me is that since I can read, I have no excuses for not continuing to learn. There’s a wealth of information waiting for me in books.

I started taking Mackenzie and Talee to the library when they were very young. It was a fun and free activity. As they got older, around five and seven, we made a trip to the library every few weeks. They’d browse the shelves and once they had a huge stack of books in their arms, we’d settle into comfy chairs to look at them.

When we were ready to leave, the girls would hold their library bags that were stuffed with books, audio tapes, and puppets. I can picture the huge smiles on their faces. They’d practically run to the car because they couldn’t wait to look at their new treasures.

It was like I  bought them a bunch of toys or outfits from their favorite store. They’d be that excited. It warmed my heart and made me smile. It still does.

Now that they’re in their twenties, Mackenzie and Talee still love to read. One day when they’re both home for the weekend, I should take them to the library. I bet they’d love that. I know I would.

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