How to Find Joy During Social Distancing

Are you struggling to stay happy during the COVID-19 outbreak? You can still find peace and contentment even during these tough times. Here is how to find joy during social distancing.

How to find joy during social distancing

Fear Is the Real Infection

I don’t fear the virus so much. I have a father who has major heart disease and complications from that. I have a son who has severe reactive asthma. I certainly fear it for them. I will be secluding myself in my home for likely the next twelve weeks. But that isn’t what really scares me. The truth is, many will get it and the great majority of us will be just fine.

To be honest, I fear people. I fear their hysteria and panic. Already videos are starting to emerge of people fighting in stores over toilet paper. Toilet paper! The world is not ending. At least not by a virus. People need to calm down. The biggest threat to society is not the virus, it’s panic.

Like all pestilence, Coronavirus will run its course around the globe. In fact, most of the world is already fully involved. Let the bug do its thing. Social distancing will flatten the curve so as not to overwhelm our healthcare system all at once. This bug will never go away. It will make its rounds every year now, much like the flu. Get used to that idea.

Don’t forget that out of all the countries in the world, we in the U.S. have a great advantage. We have a robust health system, some of the top minds, ingenuity, and some of the greatest resources. In twelve to eighteen months, we can even expect to have a vaccine. Already some medications like those used to treat HIV and Malaria look promising in treating Coronavirus. We will be just fine. This will pass. It will not last forever. Stay calm.

Focus On What Really Matters

That said, I want to share how to find joy during social distancing. You know, in some ways, there are silver linings in all of this. I’ve lived in other countries before. Americans are very busy! At the very least, this is causing our busy lives to slow down. Over the next few weeks, we will all be forced to take note of the things that really matter in life.

When this is all over, we will appreciate a lot more. We will appreciate being able to go straight into a store and being able to pick up a pack of toilet paper. Every restaurant will be packed with people. Pews in churches will be full. Things like this show us what we take for granted.

How to Find Joy During Social Distancing

Turn Off the News

Seriously, turn it off. I found myself doing that this week. This will only bring on feelings of doom, panic, and fear. You already know what you need to know about the virus. You really don’t need to know much more than that. If you want to start feeling “normal” again, turn off the news. The media has already poured gasoline all over this and lit this thing on fire. They’re responsible for inciting the panic we are seeing. Reject it. Choose calm.

Don’t Panic Buy

Like I said, I don’t fear the virus, I fear the hysteria. Most people don’t think of themselves as being hysterical. Hysteria is really just acting out of extreme emotion. Its letting emotion determine your actions instead of common sense, logic, and reason.

You see things disappearing from the shelves and you think, “I better buy some now or there won’t be any left when I need it.” So you grab one. Then you think, ” I better grab two or three. There won’t be any for me.” This fear of missing out is a self-fulfilling prophecy. People overbuy because they fear there will be a shortage. Shelves are empty. So they attempt to buy more fearing there is nothing more coming. Now a shortage grows and it drains supply chains. And the cycle continues. Stop the madness. Decide that from now on, you will only buy what you would normally buy. The only way this cycle stops is when people decide to return to normal.

Don’t just do your part to flatten the curve. Do your part to end the insanity. Choose which emotion you will feed – peace or fear.

Photo by Joshua Rawson-Harris on Unsplash

Connect With Someone Everyday

Text your friends. Reach out to relatives. Take advantage of FaceTime and other video chats. Connect through Facebook or IG Live. Utilize the tools we have to stay in touch virtually. I even took some time this week to write some letters to family. I challenge you to reach out to at least one person every day. Check up on people. It’s very important to maintain socialization even though we are physically distant. Its the heart of what it means to be human. Now is a great time to focus on maintaining and investing in relationships.

Photo by Alexa Suter on Unsplash

Get Outside

Did you know your body’s brain chemistry responds to sunlight? When your body detects sunlight through the optic nerve, your melatonin levels decrease (the neurochemical that makes you feel sluggish and sleepy) and your serotonin increases (the neurochemical that elevates mood). If you have a backyard, spend as much time as you can in it. Go for a walk around your neighborhood. If you are in an apartment, take your laptop on the balcony and work outside. We aren’t stuck indoors. We are just trying to stay physically distant from others. Take a hike in nearby hills. Grill out and eat dinner outside. Have your kids ride their bikes. Garden. Spend some time outdoors and you won’t feel so cooped up. Remember we aren’t avoiding the outdoors, we are avoiding crowds.

Move Your Body

Staying active can do wonders for your mood. Try to stay active even while we are at home these next few weeks. Take a walk. Exercise. Just move your body. It increases serotonin levels, makes you feel refreshed and gives you more energy. These days, there are lots of home workouts you can stream. You can even find free ones on YouTube.

Stay Grateful

Part of the panic buying is because we are afraid we “do not have.” One way to stay grounded during a time when others are fretting and worrying is to remember all that we already have. We have already been given much. I challenge you to take five minutes out of every day and write down five things for which you are grateful. Alternatively, you can do my Gratitude Journal Prompts and answer one question a day. Staying grateful helps you stay positive. Focus on the positive!

Encourage Others

Over the last couple of days, I’ve seen people on Facebook asking for posts that aren’t virus-related. The constant bombardment of the panic, hysteria, and fear-mongering posts is stressful. I admit I was sharing a lot of that stuff. But as I scrolled through my newsfeed and saw people begging for something else – anything else – I decided that I will start turning the tide. I’m going to start posting normal, everyday things. Happy things. Encouraging things. I’m going to be a light in the darkness. I will remind people that it’s going to be okay. People need to hear that.

I challenge you, go out and be a light. Be encouraging. Be uplifting. Spread peace. Invite calm. Don’t engage the fear, the hysteria, and the madness.

Take Breaks From Social Media

That said, take a break from social media. I know it can feel like a lifeline right now, but its also flooded with virus-related negativity, debates, and fear-mongering news. I’m not purposing that we stick our head in the sand when I suggest avoiding this. I’m suggesting balance. Take breaks and get your mind off coronavirus for a little while. The truth is, social media hasn’t connected us the way we’d hoped. If anything it made relationships more hollow. If you really want to know what is going on in someone’s life right now, pick up the phone and call them, FaceTime, or text them. Today I avoided social media and it felt amazing! I had no idea how much anxiety was being driven by Facebook.

Pray

I once read something that described anxiety as a fear-centric TV show that we produce and direct ourselves. We take snippets of images and themes in our head and turn it into a fear-centric show with ourselves as the star. We imagine and play out our worst fears over and over again as if it is really happening. Prayer is effective because it makes God the star and not us. God becomes the hero. Exactly one year ago, I created a 30-day scripture reading for anxiety and fear. You can follow along by doing one verse per day.

I highly encourage you to pray when you start feeling overwhelmed by feelings of anxiety, worry or fear. God promises never to leave us in times like these. More than any other phrase in the bible, the “do not fear” mantra appears more than 300 times in scripture. God knew how scared we would be about the unknown, but he tells us over and over again that we are not to fear, not to panic and he is always with us. Scared? Pray. Worried? Pray. Anxious? Pray. Ask the Holy Spirit for his peace.

February Scripture Reading

Create & Stay Busy

Most people don’t idle well. When our brain isn’t engaged, sadness and boredom can set in. Stay busy. The biggest silver lining in all of this is that we are being forced to slow down. We are normally so busy and this is forcing us to cut out obligations and events. Take a week or two just to rest. Then get back to keeping active. Treat it like a staycation. Attitude is everything!

  • Find a way to volunteer virtually.
  • Try new recipes in your cookbook.
  • Bring out your craft supplies and create something.
  • Play virtual games with friends.
  • Declutter / reorganize your home
  • Mix cocktails at home.
  • Play games as a family.
  • Read or Host a Virtual Book Club
  • Write short stories
  • Stream exercise videos (there are lots on youtube)
  • Take some online courses.
  • Learn a new language
  • Garden
  • Binge watch some movies
  • Keep a journal
  • Wash your cars
  • Learn a new skill
  • Do a crossword puzzle
  • Do woodworking
  • Get some DIY projects done. Fix things you’ve been meaning to fix.
  • Take virtual tours of museums, national parks, etc
  • Put your Christmas lights back up to add some cheer.

I’ll write a separate post on all the things you can do at home, but here are some ideas to start with.

Help Others

Helping others has a dual effect. Obviously, it helps someone in need, but it also makes us feel all warm and fuzzy. It feels good to help other people. The panic buying? That”s selfishness. Reach out to those around you and see how you can help each other. Barter supplies. Do small acts of kindness for people you know. Check in with elderly neighbors. See if they need anything. In moments like these, the world needs our humanity, kindness, and mercy. If you are looking for a more corporate way of giving back, there are websites online that allow you to volunteer virtually.

Treat Yourself

I didn’t really get to celebrate my birthday because of all of this. Normally I’m not a big birthday person, but it was a milestone this year. I turned 40. So this week, I decided to treat myself to some art supplies that I wanted. A couple of nights ago, for example, I made a few dozen chocolate chip cookies for absolutely no reason. These days, you may feel very worried. Make sure to take opportunities to be kind to yourself. Treat yourself here and there to small, simple pleasures.

If you are feeling stressed over this, remember to take this one day at a time and reject worrying about the weeks ahead. Keep busy with your family and remember that this will all end soon. We will survive this.

If you are looking for things to do with your kids at home take a look at my post, Boredom Busters for Kids.

Boredom Busters For Kids

With kids being home during the COVID-19 outbreak, you may be wondering how to keep your little ones busy. I’m sharing some boredom busters for kids to keep you from losing your mind at home.

boredom busters for kids

With the COVID-19 virus, lots of schools have extended Spring break or suspended classes. While that might be fine at first, I think a lot of moms are intimated and maybe even a little terrified that cabin fever will set in.

For homeschool mamas like myself, this is just another day for us! But that got me thinking that a lot of moms out there are probably scratching their heads trying to figure out how to pass the time at home. Most of what we do is learning activities, but I’m sharing some ideas that are mostly just boredom busters for kids that you can do.

Boredom Busters for Kids

Indoor Tennis

Grab some old birthday balloons you have kicking around. Blow them up. Grab some spatulas from the kitchen and let your kids play indoor tennis or ping pong with them.

Laser Obstacle Course

Do you know those half-used paper party streamers that are at the bottom of your party decor drawer? Take them out and create an obstacle course. Cut various lengths of the streamers, tape across hallways, doorways, and walls. Let your kids crawl and maneuver around the course without touching any of the streamers.

Free Education Subscriptions

With lots of schools and daycares being closed, many education websites and apps are offering Free subscriptions for the duration of this outbreak. You can find a list of companies here.

Sock Fight

I admit I’ve got some rambunctious boys and one thing they love to do is roughhouse. Mama isn’t too into that, but I do love a good sock fight. There isn’t much to it. Take some clean socks, ball them up and have your own indoor “snowball” fight.

Dramatic Play

Dramatic play is a type of play where kids are assigned roles and then act it out. Typically, there are lots of make believe props to help kids immerse themselves in make believe. For example, if you child is playing vet perhaps you make their stuffed animals the patients. Create forms or pretend x-rays, give them a doctors kit. You get the idea. Create a simulated environment.

Dramatic play is great for vocabulary, building social skills, modeling adult behavior, sharing, taking turns, fantasy/reality, helps them use their imagination, etc. Here are some ideas for dramatic play. We do dramatic play and let me tell you that creating the dramatic play center is just as fun as playing. For example, if we are playing store, the kids select boxes in our pantry to be the grocery store items and they help me set up the “pretend store” and cash register. The setting up keeps them just as busy as the actual activity does.

  • Post Office
  • Bakery
  • Restaurant
  • Airport
  • Grocery Store
  • Doctor / Hospital
  • Ice Cream Shop
  • Camping
  • School / Teacher
  • Coffee Shop
  • Beauty Shop
  • Flower Shop

Here are some great ideas for dramatic play. Over the next few weeks, I’ll try to create some printable for y’all to use!

Get Painting

Watercolors, tempera paint, finger paint – it really doesn’t matter. Painting is fun sensory experience for any kid and it’s therapeutic. If you’ve got a small child and you are really worried about the mess, you can always do it in a dry bathtub then just give them a bath afterwards.

painting

Indoor Water Table

Use your bathtub. Fill it up with a little water. Add measuring cups, toys, and other water-friendly things. We actually use a long, shallow (under the bed) Sterilite tub. I add some colored bath drops to make it more interesting.

Build a Fort

Come on, admit it, you loved building forts as a kid. My older brother made some really elaborate forts with tunnels and we’ve always found that sheets work the best because they don’t weigh as much. If you don’t want to build a fort, you can use a small pop-up tent. Set it up in their bedrooms or in your living room and watch how easy it is to get them to go to bed!

Indoor Picnic / Pinic

Lay a comfy blanket out, find a comfy spot in the living room and turn an ordinary meal into something special. Or better yet, have an actual picnic outside. Put a quilt down on the grass and take your food outside. Afterwards, lay on the blanket and gaze at the clouds. It’s funny how just switching up everyday things can change the mood!

Moon Rock Toss

Gather some small waste bins or other containers and line them up at different distances. For added fun, label points on them. The farther away the more points. Then crumple up balls of tin foil and take turns trying to throw them into the containers.

Cardboard Box Play

Maybe you are like me and you have a ton of cardboard boxes in the garage that you haven’t had time to cut down and put in the recycling. Well, there are lots of ways your kids can play with them and it will keep both you and them busy. Just take a look at some of these really cute ideas.

Jigsaw Puzzle

Full confession – I’m a nerd and I love jigsaw puzzles. We actually love to do jigsaw puzzles and now that my oldest son is getting older he is starting to get interested in them too. We love Thomas Kincade ones because they are pretty challenging. They take a while, they kill time, and the whole family can do it together.

Dance Party

Music is not only great for getting energy out, it’s great for lifting spirits. I put music on all the time for me and the kids and it helps us get out of a rut. Put on some tunes and get you and your kids dancing. If you want to get creative, try looking up a popular dance on YouTube and learn the steps. Suggestions (Cha-Cha Slide, The Hustle, The Charleston, The Cupid Shuffle, The Thriller Dance, Texas Two-Step, The Moonwalk, etc.)

Homemade Bowling

All you need is a ball and empty plastic containers like water bottles. Set the water bottles up in a hallway or long room and try knocking them down. Traditional bowling uses ten pins, but you could use less if you wanted. Six works really well also.

Make Pasta Jewelry

You stocked up on a bunch of dry pasta, right? Why not let your kids use a little to make some pasta jewelry. All you need is a string and pasta with a hole like penne, elbow macaroni, rigatoni, ziti, etc. You can even dye it different colors. Here is how to color dry pasta.

Draw Self-Portraits

Get your kids to draw self-portraits or portraits of each other.

Keep a Diary

If you’re kids are old enough to read and write, why not have them journal about the COVID-19 quarantine day by day. Encourage them to pen their feelings and observations about all the things going on around us right now. If you doubt the value of doing this, remember how Anne Frank’s diary has become a treasured account of the horrors of World War II.

Kinetic Sand

One thing my kids really love is kinetic sand. If you haven’t used this, it is a lot of fun. It’s almost as if play dough and sand had a baby. It’s way easier to clean up than regular sand and its completely moldable. This can keep my little ones busy for hours. Sometimes I put little toys underneath the sand like little toy dinosaurs, plastic bugs, and seashells and let them excavate them in the sand. They absolutely love that!

Activity Books

We have a few of these that we pull out on rainy days. First, they are educational and they brush kids up on their alphabet, colors, shapes and early math skills. For older kids, maybe get crosswords, sudoko, mad libs and brain teasers.

Ages 3-5

Ages 6-9

10 and Up

Bingo

Bingo is a fun game the whole family can do. You can purchase one online or you can use the one I created in my post, Valentine’s Day Bingo Game. You can print it out on your home computer and play right now. For square markers, you can use dry beans or pennies.

Memory Matching Games

Memory matching games are super fun for kids. You can certainly buy some online, however, I have a Halloween Memory Game you can download for FREE and print out on your home computer.

halloween memory game

Make Your Own Play Dough

You can make your own playdough at home. It really is very simple. Just a side note, homemade play dough out very quickly, so make sure to store it in an airtight container.

Here is what you need to make it at home

  • 2 Cups All-purpose flour
  • ¾ cups salt
  • 4 tbsp cream of tartar
  • 2 cups lukewarm water
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil (or coconut oil)
  • Food coloring (optional)
  • Quart sized zip lock bag or storage container

Make Birthday Cards

Have your kids make some birthday cards for your family members this month. Let them use glitter, stickers, markers / crayons, sequins and any other spare craft supplies. Then mail them to people!

Dominoes

I love playing dominoes, but my preschooler loves to set up dominoes to knock them down. Challenge your kids to set up a long domino fall. We love using this set below, because it has 91 dominoes in the set.

Make Fake Snow

We do this all the time as a winter activity. We don’t get snow here in South Texas, so we make our own. All you need is 3 cups of baking soda and half cup of conditioner.

Hopscotch

If you are doing this outside you can use sidewalk chalk. If you’re doing it inside, you just need painters tape or masking tape. All the jumping around wears them out and gets out their wiggles.

Make a Pretzel Log Cabin

We found this cute activity a while back on how to make a pretzel log cabin. All you need is some pretzel rods, confectioners sugar, and water. It was a fun STEM activity for my little guy.

Write a Soldier

If your kids are old enough, have them write a letter to a soldier and thank them for their service. Soldier’s Angels is one place to start, but it is more of a pen pal setup and they ask that you write to your soldier for at least three months. If you don’t want that kind of commitment, you can use Any Soldier. You can choose to send a letter or a care package.

Alphabet “Sand” Writing

My son loves to do this! Just get a mostly flat container, lid or tray and fill it up with salt or granulated sugar. Give your little one a pencil, paintbrush (use the pointy end) or another instrument and have them practice writing their letters in the “sand.”

Rice Sensory Bin

Make an indoor “sandbox” using colored rice. It’s very easy to make. You just get 4 cups of rice, 3 tablespoons of rubbing alcohol and food coloring. You can make batches of different colors if you want “rainbow” rice. Put it in a container and give your little one scoopers and any other toys they want. This keeps my toddler and preschooler busy for a long time! It’s very easy to clean up, but you can always do it outside if the mess bothers you.

Magazine Collage

Give your kids a stack of old magazines you have kicking around and ask them to make a collage of everything they like.

Balloon Toss

Blow up a balloon and challenge your kids to see how long they can toss is around without it touching the ground.

Board Games

This is is kind of a no-brainer, but sometimes, I think people forget how versatile this one is. There are so many board games to choose from.

Some of our favorites for young children (ages 3-5) are:

Ages 6 and up

Density Tower

This can be a fun STEM activity. Take various liquids of varying density and let your kids discover how the liquids separate. You can use liquids like water, oil, dish soap, honey, milk, rubbing alcohol, maple syrup, corn syrup, etc. As an added bonus, you can drop small objects like (a small ball, a cherry tomato, a popcorn kernel, a penny, etc.) and see if it floats or sinks through the different liquids.

Make Your Own Race Track

Don’t throw away the cardboard in paper towel roll. I save them for the kids to make their own racetrack. I tape some to the wall so my boys can put their hot wheels inside and see it come racing out. There tubes I cut in half lengthwise and we tape them all together to make a track. Don’t forget to add the dotted line in marker so it looks like a road. It’s funny. My kids have actual toy race tracks, but I’m always surprised at how making our own is so fun to them.

Take a Virtual Museum Tour

Lots of museums around the world offer virtual museums online. You and your kids can explore museums and their treasured works right from your couch! Take a look at these virtual tours.

virtual museum tours
The Van Gogh museum is just one place offering virtual tours

Take a Virtual Field Trip

While we are on that note, lots of companies are offering a virtual field trip. For example, Cincinnati Zoo is offering a live animal show at 3pm every day via Facebook live. Here is a list of websites that offer virtual field trips right on your computer or mobile device.

Have a Treasure Hunt / Scavenger Hunt

Hide some candy, a toy or anything else your kids might like and get them to hunt for it. Alternatively, if you don’t want to hide a single item, you can do a treasure hunt version of “eye spy.” Basically a scavenger hunt. Ask them to find the following:

  • Something red
  • Something round
  • Something old
  • Something metal
  • Something taller than you
  • Something you throw away
  • Something that starts with a letter ‘S’
  • Something that moves
  • Something you wear
  • Something that can’t get wet
  • Something that made of wood
  • Something brown
  • Something with numbers (but not a watch or clock)

You get the idea…use your imagination. Additionally, you can take this and give them an outdoor version of eye spy.

  • A leaf
  • Rock
  • Spider
  • Something with wings
  • Frog
  • Deer
  • Grass
  • Butterfly
  • Moss or algae
  • Spider web
  • Cacoon
  • Etc.

Give your kids a list and this will keep them busy for a while.

Marshmallow Building

Another fun STEM activity is to build sculptures out of nothing more than marshmallows and toothpicks. Stick the toothpicks into the marshmallow and keep building!

Draw Your Own Comic Book

If you have a child who loves to draw, encourage them to come up with a special character and have them draw their own comic book on paper.

Giant Tic-Tac-Toe

Use some Washi tape, masking tape or painters tray and make a tic-tac-toe board on the floor. Take paper plates and write X’s and O’s with markers. It’s kind of silly how just making it large makes it more fun for kiddos. Take the activity outdoors on the lawn too!

Sink or Float Experiment

Grab a glass pitcher or other large see-through container (like a storage tub). Fill it up with water. Then gather small objects of varying sizes and materials. (examples: cork, coin, rock, bottle cap, toothpick, crayon, plastic toy, etc) Have your child choose one object at a time and have them guess if it will sink or float. If your child is old enough, have them record their findings on paper. Take the opportunity to explain why an object sinks or floats. If an object floats it is less dense than water. If it is denser, it sinks.

Water Displacement Experiment

I did this with my oldest son when he was both three and four. It’s a great STEM activity that introduces fluid mechanics to your child. We talked about Archimedes and his theory of fluid displacement. Like the sink or float experiment, you will need a large container full of water. Leave some room at the top. I like to use dry erase markers if the container is glass or plastic. Gather household objects of varying weight and size. Insert each item individually and watch how much the water in the container rises. Get your child to mark where the water rose with a dry erase marker. Fluid displacement is all about volume. When an object is immersed in a fluid, displacement occurs as it pushes the fluid out of the way and it takes it’s place.

Make a Cardboard City

Take some of those empty Amazon boxes and food boxes and turn them into your own cardboard city. Use wrapping paper of construction paper to cover them up and draw on them. Then have your kids get their toy cars and people and let them play in their city.

Other Helpful Things

Maintain a Schedule

At our house, we maintain a schedule. It isn’t rigorous, but it ensures that we are mixing things up during the day. Here is a quick look at our schedule over the next coming weeks.

Read

This might sound overly simple, but reading is one of the best things you can do with your kids. Seriously, take this opportunity while we are all stuck at home and read to them! If your child is older, have them read classic literature. Great stories like Treasure Island, Call of the Wild, and Little Women never go out of style.

For More Ideas

Take a look at my other post, The Best Toys to Tame Toddler Energy.

Why Turning 40 Isn’t That Bad

This week I turned forty. So that got me thinking about why turning 40 isn’t that bad. If you are worried about aging, there are lots of perks.

why turning 40 isn't that bad

This week, I turn forty. Can I be honest? I was having a hard time with it. Seriously, what happened? I was just in my twenties. My thirties went by so quickly. As I approached my birthday, I started to feel old. So that got me thinking. What does being forty feel like? Or maybe more to the point, “how am I different at forty?” I began to realize, there are actually a lot of perks at this age. Here are my reasons why turning 40 isn’t that bad.

You Don’t Care About Being Cool

I finally made it! I don’t care about being popular in social groups. I no longer feel the need to be hip or cool. I’m just me. My husband will poke fun at the fact that he has tamed me into a lame mom. At first, I cared, but now…I’m totally comfortable in this stage. Once you hit forty, you’ll realize that there is a lot more important things in life than popularity and fitting in. You find you don’t need the constant validation of the world. After all, that’s exhausting.

You Become Aware of Your Own Mortality

Now that I’m forty I am burying more people, particularly in my parent’s generation. Recently, I’ve become aware of my own fleeting life. Now, this isn’t all gloom and doom. Don’t worry, I’m not writing my own eulogy or making internment plans for myself. Rather, I’m aware that I am in the second half of my life and when that happens, things become more meaningful. Forgiveness becomes easier once you realize that time is short and that most arguments and misunderstandings don’t matter in eternity. Realizing your own mortality helps you make wiser decisions for the future and for your kids. I’m suddenly very aware of how time is precious.

You’re Quick to Kick Toxic Relationships to the Curb

I think by the time you hit forty, you generally lose patience for things that are toxic. That includes people and situations that just aren’t good for you. At this point in life, you’ve become more discerning about who you let into your inner circle. You have standards about how you expect to be treated and you aren’t afraid to tell someone to “take a hike” if they are poisonous or soul-sucking. You also become more aware of when someone is taking advantage of you. Getting older simply means you have no time for jerks in your life.

Being 40 Doesn’t Feel That Old

Being forty is such a weird feeling. I don’t feel particularly old, but I also don’t relate to twenty-year-olds. I find myself asking if I was that dumb and naive at that age! People in their twenties suddenly look and act like teenagers. When did that happen? I don’t feel as young as I did when I was in my twenties. I’m less energetic and not nearly as spry as I was and yet, I don’t feel old yet. I have a ton of grey hair sprouting all over my head that reminds me that I’m experienced.

You Wish You Would Have Saved More

When you are young, you think you have all the time in the world. Money? You have plenty of time to earn that! Wrong. You only have so many years you can work and as far as companies are concerned you have a shelf life. People in their late fifties and early sixties are pushed out of companies because of their big salaries and their productivity level. You want to leave your kids something and you realize that you may have to live off your retirement savings for decades. You suddenly realize how important it is to save money.

There is No More Condescension Because You’re Young

I can only think of one person who still treats me like I’m a child and that’s my mother, but I think its common for moms to always be moms. Everyone else treats me like the forty-year-old that I am. Experienced. Wise. Worthy of respect. At this age, you finally know a thing or two. You feel like you have more equality with peers and you feel well-rounded.

Your Peace Becomes a Priority

One thing that has changed as I’ve grown older is how much I value peace. I find I have no time for drama, nosy people, or things that stress me out. I detest busyness and value “me time.” I appreciate quiet time, a full prayer life, and personal relationships before anything else. I’m choosy about how I spend my time. You become more comfortable saying “no” to people and situations.

You Become More Practical

I’m not saying that you suddenly give up on dreams or goals when you become middle-aged. But what I will say is that you become more practical about goals. These days my goals are more realistic. Your priorities shift too. You become satisfied with the smaller things in life. The things that really matter. Designer labels and status symbols don’t matter to me anymore. I roll my eyes at fashionistas and I don’t care what shoes I have as long as they are comfortable. I’m happier at this age because I have found contentment in simple living.

You Become Kinder to Yourself

This may or may not be true for everyone, but it has certainly become true for me. At this age, I’m way kinder to myself. I’ve become better at taming my inner critic. It’s become easier to accept myself the way I am. I’ve learned to slow down and give myself time to rest and recharge. I give myself grace and room for mistakes, something I never did when I was young. I was harsh with myself. Some of the insecurities take a back seat and you discover a whole new kind of confidence. These days, I’m gentle with how I treat myself.

Good Health Becomes A Blessing

It’s true. I think around this age you stop taking your health for granted. People around you are having health issues and you begin to realize that good health is a blessing and something that requires conscientiousness. You start to realize if you want to see your children grow and have children of their own, you need to take care of yourself.

You Realize Most Problems Aren’t The End of the World

When I was younger, I fretted a lot more. I will always worry more than my husband, but I still worry a lot less than I used to. Experience tells you that most of our problems work out and often for the better. Many things we worry about never even happen. You gain perspective and learn to let problems play out. You realize that everything will be okay. Finally, you figure out that tough seasons don’t last. It becomes clear that disappointment isn’t the end of the world and that success is never a straight line.

Tell Me What You Think

As it turns out, turning 40 isn’t that bad. If you are over forty, I would love to hear about how you feel about your age. How have you changed as you’ve grown older? What is different about you in middle age?

30 Non-Candy Easter Basket Ideas

Don’t want to fill your child’s Easter Basket with sugary candy? I’ve got 30 non-candy Easter Basket ideas just for you!

30 non candy Easter Basket ideas
Some of the links below are affiliate links. Should you make a purchase through one of the links I provide, I may receive a small percentage at no cost to you.

Hey there, friends. Spring has arrived and Easter is right around the corner. We love doing Easter egg hunts for our kids while they are little. It’s so fun to watch them hunt and search for eggs.

I certainly allow my kids plenty of chocolates and candy. I even sneak a few Cadbury Eggs and Reece’s eggs for myself. I mean, there has to be some in perks in being a mom! Okay, so I’m not actually taking it out of their basket, I just make sure not to put the whole package in their baskets.

In fact, I try to keep most of the basket with fun activities and toys instead of just sweets. But remember you can always add non-sweet food like crackers, popcorn, goldfish, fruit and other things like that. Today, I’m sharing 30 non-candy Easter Basket ideas. In fact, there is no food at all in this list.

30 Non-Candy Easter Basket Ideas

  • Coloring Books
  • Crayons
  • Stickers
  • Bubbles
  • Easter storybook
  • Prayer Book
  • Children’s Bible
  • Windup Toys
  • Stuffed Animal
  • Sidewalk Chalk
  1. Playing Cards
  2. Balls
  3. Socks
  4. Jump Rope
  5. Flashlight
  1. Whistle
  2. Dominoes
  3. Watercolors
  4. Paintbrushes
  5. Bath Letters
  • Bubble Bath
  • Band-Aids
  • Color Bath Drops
  • Washi Tape
  • Diary, Journal, or Drawing Tablet
  • Sippy cups
  • Playdough / Silly putty
  • Movie / DVD
  • Lip Gloss / Chapstick
  • Bath Paints

I hope that helps you have an awesome Easter. Remember, there is no need to fill your child’s Easter Basket with junk. Less is more and stick to things that your child will actually use and enjoy. Don’t forget to check out my Spring Bucket List for fun Spring activities for you and your family! Happy Easter!

Lenten Journal Prompts

Spend time before Easter Sunday reflecting on your relationship with Christ with these 40 Lenten Journal Prompts.

Lenten journal prompts
Photo by Mary Lentz

Some hyperlinks may be affiliate links. By clicking on these links, I may receive a small percentage at no cost to you. See my full disclosure policy for details.

Welcome friend. Today, I’m sharing 40 Lenten prompts. Lent is typically acknowledged by Catholics as the 40 days before Easter in the church’s liturgical calendar. For example, in the Catholic church, this is a time to give alms and we fast on Fridays (abstain from meat) to align ourself with sacrifice. This small sacrifice serves as a reminder of what Christ did for us.

I think this goes beyond doctrinal differences of Christians. The forty days before Easter is also a good time to reflect on the health of your relationship with God.

Journaling

I love journaling. I’ve been doing it for years and really feel like it’s a beneficial tool of introspection. First, journalling helps document where you are emotionally and spiritually at a given time. Next, it serves as a timeline, gracefully depicting an arc of your emotional growth. Once you become accustomed to journaling, I know it will become a great tool for self-therapy.

Additionally, if you’d like more ideas for journaling, please read my other posts:

All you need to get started is a notebook and pen. If you hate writing, don’t worry. There are plenty of digital options these days. Day One, for example, is a great digital diary that even allows you to post photos with your writing and is available in the cloud for all your devices.

Lenten Journal Prompts

  1. How can you help your spouse become closer to God?
  2. What do you feel God wants you to change?
  3. How can you help your children become closer to God.
  4. Describe a recent situation where God was clearly present.
  5. What verse gives you comfort in hard times and why?
  6. How can you better serve God?
  7. What do you need to leave at the cross?
  8. Who or what needs forgiving?
  9. For what are you asking God?
  10. With what do you need patience?
  11. Name three things you are grateful for this week.
  12. About what are you most fearful?
  13. What does the cross mean to you?
  14. What mysteries do you wish you knew?
  15. Delight in the Lord and give praise.
  16. How can you better serve others?
  17. Which bible character inspires you most and why?
  18. How can you be a better steward with money?
  19. Describe a prayer God has answered recently.
  20. Which deceased friend or family member are you still grieving? Which bible verse give you the most comfort?
  21. Who do you find hard to love and how can you pray for them?
  22. How can you become more humble?
  23. Have you ever evangelized? How did you feel doing it?
  24. What is your favorite verse in scripture and why?
  25. How can you make time for more prayer?
  26. Of the gifts of the spirit, which do you most like to possess and why?
  27. Describe a time God answered your prayer in a better way.
  28. In what situation do you need to praise God instead of complain? Why do you find it so hard?
  29. We all have a role to play in God’s world. What do you think your purpose is?
  30. The enemy loves to attack our joy and hope. Where do you feel like you’re being attacked and how will you fight back?
  31. Give thanksgiving.
  32. What does “following Christ” mean to you?
  33. When you reflect on your life, what hard time are you most grateful for?
  34. When do you feel God most distant?
  35. Why do you love God?
  36. From what do you need healing?
  37. Write a prayer for your enemy (I know this is a hard one).
  38. Confess something to God.
  39. For what God-given gifts are you most grateful?
  40. How do you think God sees you?

Before You Leave

I hope these forty lenten journal prompts help you understand your relationship with Christ better. Lastly, don’t forget to pin this post, so you can use this year after year.

At least once a month, I post a Christian themed post, usually rooted in Bible study. Finally, I invite you to join me by subscribing to my blog so you never miss a post. Thanks for reading.

Sign up to get subscriber only giveaways, freebies and your FREE menu planner

10 Life Lessons From My Grandmother

As I missed my grandmother, I began to think of all the wisdom and examples she set for me. Today, I’m sharing 10 life lessons from my grandmother.

10 life lessons from my grandmother

10 Life Lessons From My Grandmother

It’s been wonderful to watch my own mother with my children. The grandparent-grandchild relationship is so special and the loving bond between them is almost magical to watch. The burden of having to teach and discipline a child is set aside and the fullness of enjoyment between adult and child truly blossoms. As I watch them together, I wonder what my boys will remember about my mom, their grandmother. That got me thinking. What legacy did my grandmother leave to me? Here are 10 life lessons from my grandmother.

Start Every Morning With Prayer

Every morning my grandmother woke up while the rest of the house was still sleeping and began her morning prayers. Then once done, just about the time everyone else was waking, the smell of frying bacon and eggs would start filling the rooms. Except for Fridays which was pancake day!

Now that I am a mother myself, I finally understand why she rose so early to pray. Life gets incredibly busy and if you don’t make God a priority, you may miss the opportunity to pray at all. So these days, I follow her example. As much as I value my sleep, I wake early before the kids and pray before I do anything else. It sets the tone for my day and provides the strength and encouragement I need to get through the day. It’s an example my grandmother always set for me and one I hope to continue.

Be Your Own Teacher

My grandmother was one of seventeen children. Yes, you read that right. Growing up during the Great Depression, she left school in 2nd grade to go work picking cotton in the Texas heat. She left before she learned how to fully read and write.

My grandma was determined to learn how to read and write even if it meant learning it on her own. She taught herself arithmetic. The proverbial, “pull yourself up by your bootstraps,” that was my grandmother. She didn’t find excuses. Instead, she set out for what she wanted and she made it happen herself. She was a fighter. She was scrappy and I loved that about her. My grandmother was an amazing cook and was completely self-taught. She clipped recipes from the newspaper and wasn’t afraid to experiment in the kitchen. She didn’t wait for someone to teach her. Instead, she taught herself. I’m like her in that way. I teach myself how to do things just like her. Don’t wait for someone to teach you. Learn it on your own.

Marriage Is For Life

When my first marriage was ending, I was visiting my grandparents. She asked me how things were going with my husband (it was already known my marriage was on the rocks). My eyes welled up as I began to explain he had been cheating. Without missing a beat, she motioned me to follow her to her room.

Now, let me explain something. My grandmother’s room was very private. In her tiny house, her small bedroom was her private sanctuary. It was pretty well known that her bedroom was off-limits. So when she invited me inside, I was intrigued. She sat me down and shared with me how my grandfather (a man whom I idolized) had been unfaithful to her early in their marriage.

10 life lessons from my grandmother
Me and My Grandmother

Then she explained that this was still not a reason to cut and run. I know that will incense many people reading this, because today’s modern world says, “if someone fails you, get out because you deserve better.” But in her world, in her time, in her faith – it was not a matter of “if your spouse fails you” it was a matter of “when.” In other words, you can count on your spouse failing you because we are flawed people.

She explained that when you vow to be married to someone for life, you and your marriage will be tested in every conceivable way. Sickness. Infidelity. Financial trouble. Death. Miscarriages. Your marriage will be threatened by all of it – and marriage can survive it all. It’s a matter of choice. The hard times, she explained, they pass. You press on.

My ex-husband ultimately left me for someone else. There was nothing I could do to keep him from leaving and even after he moved out, I tried reconciling for nearly 24 months. In my second marriage, the difference is we both refuse to entertain divorce. We continue to be tested by those things and my grandmother was right. The hard times, they pass. You just keep holding on refusing to give up on each other. You choose your spouse every time, every day. Marriage is for life.

Stop And Dance

When I was a preteen, we were visiting my grandmother. We stayed in a room that had been converted from a screened porch. In the room, I found some old swing records of hers. At the time, the movie Swing Kids had come out and had ignited in me a love for big band swing music. My uncle Abel helped me play them on his stereo record player and my grandmother, who was working in the kitchen came over when she heard Benny Goodman echoing down the hall.

It was one of my fondest memories. My grandmother dancing with me in that little room. I still remember the sound her slippers made on the floor as she wiggled back and forth with the vigor of a twenty-year-old. Music made her feel young again and music was always there at her happiest.

From Mexican ballads to swing music, my grandmother loved music and dancing. She didn’t have the best singing voice, but that didn’t stop her from singing along. She was one of the hardest working people I’ve ever met, but she always had time to stop and dance.

My grandmother fixing dinner at our house

A Budget Is About Giving Every Dollar a Purpose

Dave Ramsey has got nothing on my grandmother! My grandmother was using the cash envelope system before Ramsey was even born! My grandmother managed the daily household finances and she ran a tight ship. On one occasion when I was very young, I was going to accompany one of my uncles to the grocery store. She motioned me to her room and I stood there as she opened her dresser. In her drawer, she kept envelopes filled with cash. Her scratchy handwriting labeled the envelopes’ purpose. She kept tallies of the deposits and withdraws on the back of the envelopes. Every dollar had a purpose and a place.

She clipped coupons and she planned meals. She never shopped out of boredom and she never ate out at restaurants. I even recall she wore the same purple dress to church for years and had one pair of dress shoes. She was willfully disciplined in finance. “Save your money, Mare Mare,” she said as she pulled money out of the grocery envelope. “Only buy what you need.”

I still remember her advice. Now financial gurus, like Dave Ramsey, make millions showing people how to utilize the cash envelope system to stay within a budget. But my grandmother with her 2nd-grade education figured this out with her own common sense. Her rules:

  1. Save before spending.
  2. See what you spend.
  3. Only spend only what you need.

Frugality has been lost in recent generations. I find it sad that generations today can’t even tell the difference between a need and a want. You don’t need a cell phone. Really you don’t! Eating out? That’s a luxury. That’s why young people today haven’t figured out how to buy a house in their twenties as my grandparents and parents did. Save your money and give every dollar a purpose.

Cleanliness is Next to Godliness

My grandmother was clean. Actually, I don’t think there is a word clean enough to describe her. I’d trust eating from her floor before eating off my counters. I mean, who washes their windows every week and scrubs the driveway and patio with Tide? My grandmother, that’s who! One thing I will always remember about her house it was immaculate. There was order and a place for everything.

As a homemaker myself I strive to be like her but admit I fall horribly short. I comfort myself with the fact that she didn’t have a 4,000 square foot house to clean like me. She did, however, have six children. Yet, she fixed three full meals a day for a family of eight and not just any meals, comfort food and hearty dishes.

She is my example of what a homemaker should be. I honestly don’t know how she did it. She may have been poor, but her home was so pristine and orderly, that her simple things looked incredibly tasteful. Her house always seemed peaceful and it was due to her organization and cleanliness.

Play In the Dirt

As busy as my grandmother was in the home, I remember her equally busy on the outside of the home. In fact, I was remembering that for years her washroom was outside in a small room on her back patio.

In my garden, I have her Irises. Over the years, the bulbs have yielded new bulbs and I even have an offspring of her redbud tree. Every time I see them bloom I think of her.

She was an avid gardener herself and loved to grow flowers and vegetables. Even though she’s been gone for around thirteen years, her flowers still bloom in my grandfather’s garden. She taught me to get outside and play in the dirt. It’s so therapeutic.

10 life lessons from my grandmother
My grandmother’s Irises blooming in my yard

The Heart of the Home is the Kitchen

Kitchens are for bringing families together. I underestimated that idea in my youth, but it’s true. Stories are relived around the kitchen table. Wisdom is imparted over dessert. Laughter so hard you feel like you might choke. The feeling of being so satisfyingly full that the most comfortable position is reclining in the dining chair. Memories are made at dinnertime.

My grandmother was an amazing cook, but an even more impressive baker. I miss her washing dishes at her sink. I recall the sound of her slippers clapping on the linoleum floor. The pies cooling on the window sill. The smell of coffee emanating from the tin percolator on her stove. Her 7up cake standing proudly on her kitchen table. The fragrance of freshly baked oatmeal cookies as you entered the front door. The fluffy boiled icing in the stand mixer. The scents and tastes immediately take me back and also one of the things I miss the most.

Share your recipes. Don’t hoard them. When someone passes away, a little piece of them is left behind when you recreate their recipe. Sure, it’s never exactly like the way they made it, but when you’re missing them, it’s a little slice of heaven on earth. Cook a homecooked meal. Pass down recipes. Don’t underestimate the memories that are created in the kitchen.

The Best Diet is Moderation

I’m not sure my grandmother ever topped 110 lbs her whole life, even while pregnant. My grandmother was a tiny little thing. She was only about 4’9″ and she never dieted. Instead, she enjoyed everything in moderation. A small spoonful of everything is how I remember her plate. I never saw her deny herself a dessert. In fact, she had quite a sweet tooth. But I do remember her small portions. She was never indulgent.

Her dinner plates were small and as my Aunt recalled, one loaf of bread would last their family of eight an entire week. The secret to her being thin wasn’t a fad or crash diet. It wasn’t Keto, Whole 30 or Paleo. It was moderation.

And exercise? She never went to a gym. She never worked out to get rid of the postpartum mom bod. Housework was her exercise. She earned her flat tummy by scrubbing windows and floors, making beds. Going all the way outside to load her washing machine and hanging clothes on a line. Gardening and vacuuming. I never recall her sitting until it was time to eat or sleep. Sewing was probably the exception. I don’t even recall her sitting down to fold clothes. She was pretty clear she didn’t think it was work if you were sitting.

10 life lessons from my grandmother

Hard Work Builds Character

My grandmother was the hardest working person I’ve known. I have a lot of them in my family. My father and brother are extremely hard workers. I myself, am a work horse. But my grandmother worked herself to the bone for her family.

I never asked her why she worked so hard. I’d be curious to know what motivated her every day to such perfectionism. She worked from sun up to sun down and I rarely saw her sit down to rest.

What I’ve learned from modeling her work ethic is that hard work builds character. When things don’t come easy, we appreciate them more. It molds an attitude of sacrifice and perseverance.

Until We Meet Again

I miss my grandmother more than I expected to. There are so many things I wish I could ask her now that I’m married and have children of my own. There are some days when I miss her dearly. It’s easy to cry at certain times when I consider how long she’s been gone and how much longer it will be until I see her again in heaven. But I’m so grateful for the memories and the life lessons my grandmother taught me.

10 Happy Planner Essentials

Just getting started with the Happy Planner? Here are 10 Happy Planner essentials to help get you started with decorative planning.

10 happy planner essentials
This post contains affiliate links. Should you make a purchase through one of the links I provide I may receive a small percentage at no cost to you. Your support helps me offset the costs incurred with this blog. I only link to things I own or absolutely love.

On this blog, you may know I share my love for all things Happy Planner. It is my very favorite tool for staying organized and having a creative outlet in just a few short minutes a day. You can read how my love affair began in the post, “How Happy Planner Changed My Life.”

Recently, I’ve had lots of friends convert over to the Happy Planner and I always get the same questions. What are the best supplies I need to start Happy Planning. Well, I finally made time to write out a list of my favorite planning tools. Here are 10 Happy Planner essentials.

10 Happy Planner Essentials

Washi Tape

If you are unfamiliar with Washi tape, let’s start out with the basics. Washi tape is Japanese masking tape, but it’s decorative and comes in all kinds of colors and prints. It even comes foiled or glittered. Washi tape is a great, inexpensive way to decorate your planner pages. That’s because Washi tape has many feet of tape on one roll making it a great addition if you’re on a planner budget. If you want to know how to decorate with it, take a look at my Planning On a Budget Series below.

washi tape
washi tape

Sticker Books

Stickers are kind of the quintessential ingredient to a decorative planner. Stickers are generally what you’ll be using to decorate your planner pages. In a YouTube video, I share my favorite sticker books that I think new planner girls should start with. Some of my favorite starter books are:

Watch my video below.

Highlighters

One thing that most Happy Planner babes love is highlighters. But the hands-down favorite brand of planners is called Zebra Mildliners. These highlighters come in an array of colors. They have a dual tip (fine and chisel). The nicest aspect of them is that they aren’t fluorescent. They do have brights but they also have muted tones that are easy on the eyes.

Lots of us use them in our spreads along with stickers. In fact, you can actually decorate your entire planner spread with nothing more than these awesome Mildliners. Take a look at my first episode of “Planning on a Budget” series where I show you how to decorate with Mildliner Highlighters.

Pens

Pens are one of the few necessities when using a paper planner. To me, a good pen is like an instrument. I love the feel of a really good pen. I’m currently filming a video of my favorite pens and I’ll update this post as soon as it’s uploaded to YouTube. But for right now, here are some of my favorite pens:

Notepaper

Notebook paper is available in a variety of sizes and styles. There is graph paper, lined paper, and dot grid. They are available in all three planner sizes and they are in full sheet and half sheet sizes.

Additionally, there are to-do lists, grocery /shopping lists, hourly schedules, and a variety of other styles to help you meet your needs. I love these for brainstorming and for making lists that would otherwise take up too much room in my planner.

Full Sheets (classic)

Half Sheets

Sticky Notes

Sticky notes are a life saver for me. Personally, I hate seeing things scratched out in my planner. Let’s face it, sometimes plans fall through and when that happens, I love sticky notes. Happy Planner babes will tell you that some love to plan weeks or months in advance, while others don’t. This is where I think sticky notes are really helpful. You can “dog ear” a date in advance with a sticky note as a placeholder. If plans fall through or change, you can simply move or throw away the sticky note. Voila! You haven’t lost any real estate on your planner pages. I use sticky notes for everything that might be subject to change.

sticky notes

PRO-TIP: Store prepunched sticky notes on extra rings.

Extra Discs

If you are a newbie to Happy Planner you may realize that as you add accessories, your planner will run out of room on the medium sized discs that come with your planner. You have two choices. You can remove items or you can simply change out the discs to expander discs. Expander discs are larger and hold more. If you need more durable discs, you can move from plastic discs to metal ones.

Additionally lots of Happy Planner accessories like sticky notes, dashboards, and note paper are pre-punched and can easily be stored on extra discs.

Punches

One of the best things about the Happy Planner’s disc-bound system is that you can completely customize your planner. This includes being able to punch things and put them on the discs – even non-Happy Planner stuff. For example, whenever I get a paper invitation to a party or wedding, I punch it and put it in my planner so I don’t lose it. I’ve punched business cards, bills and other things I don’t want to lose.

Punches are available for both the big and classic-sized planners. There also box punches. With those, you can use scrapbook paper to create your own boxes for your planner. A word of caution though: the box punches are just ever so slightly smaller than the current boxes. This is because, in the early days of Happy Planner, the divider lines between the vertical boxes were much wider. Over the years, the lines have slimmed down creating a small gap, so they may not fit perfectly. I make it work though.

Stamps

Stamps are a great alternative to stickers. Some people prefer using stamps for things they do all the time. In my video below, I share how you can use stamps instead of stickers to decorate your page.

The nice thing about stamps is that they are reusable. Meaning, you purchase once and then use them again and again, unlike stickers where you use once and they are done! Using stamps can be an inexpensive alternative too stickers.


Pocket Folders, Envelopes & Dividers

One of the nicest things about Happy Planner is the ability to completely customize and organize your planner and the Happy Planner has a number of accessories that can help you do that.

Pocket Folders

The first is pocket folders. You can find them sold separately and also find them in the accessory packs. These are really helpful for helping tame the odd pieces of paper all over your desk and counters. I use my folders for anything I need to deal with – a bill, something I need to drop in the mail, you get the idea.

Envelopes

I love the little punched envelopes that the Happy Planner has. They offer them in a variety of sizes and I use them to keep small, loose things in my planner. Things like postage stamps, business cards and other small things I don’t want to lose. I use their larger envelopes for a cash envelopes system and it makes budgeting very easy.

Dividers

Dividers are great. For instance, I run a playdate group. I don’t need to dedicate a whole other planner to it, so I simply created a section in my planner for the scheduling, member contact numbers and to do lists. I simply created a section using a divider so to keep it separate from my other stuff. You could use one for anything – church activities, bible study, names and addresses, budgeting, etc. Dividers are typically sold in packs .

That’s it friends. I’ve hope I’ve narrowed down the best 10 Happy Planner essentials for you! Be sure to PIN this post for later and don’t forget to check out my other Happy Planner posts. Also, don’t forget to subscribe to my YouTube Channel were you can get lots of planner tips, tricks, and inspiration!

Other Planner Posts

Subscribe to My YouTube Channel

For more Happy Planner ideas, tutorials, tips and inspiration

How to Make A Fitness Vision Board

Have you recently started a fitness or weight loss journey and are struggling to stay motivated? I’m going to show you how to make a fitness vision board to help keep your goals in front of you.

how to make a fitness vision board
This post contains affiliate links. Should you make a purchase through one of the links I provide, I may receive a small percentage at no cost to you. Your support helps offset the costs with this blog. I only link to things I love, own or want to own.

What Is a Vision Board

Experts will tell you that the best way to achieve goals is to write them down. Writing them down gets them out of your head (a day dream) and creates the first step of becoming real. When you write your goals down. In my post, 100 Goal Ideas for the New Year, I break down how to set goals into manageable tasks.

A vision board is simply a goal list with imagery instead of just writing. A vision board helps you to envision your goal, your journey and the steps you need to take to achieve it. Some people are inspired more by visual goals instead of a checklist of sorts. If that is you, then a vision board may be what you need!

How to Make a Fitness Vision Board

Place

The first thing you need to do is pick a place for your vision board. There are no rules except that it should be in a place you will see every day. The point of the vision board is to come face-to-face with your goals every day. For me, this place is in my Fitness Happy Planner. I love my planner and I work in it every single day. I want it to be the first thing I see when I open it up every day. The Happy Planner offers a Fitness Planner. They also have a Fitness Planner Companion that comes with a blank vision board, so I’ll be using that. If you’d like to see a flip through of what else comes with it, you can watch my YouTube video below. I’ll also include a video of how I set up my fitness planner for success.

For you maybe it is posting it directly on the fridge or pantry door so when you are tempted to cheat, you’ll see it. Or maybe you just put it in a high traffic area in your house. Put in your bathroom so you see it first thing in the morning when you are getting ready. The choice is yours and experiment by moving it around to see what works.

Supplies

For you, you may choose to do it on a bulletin board, a shadow box, a poster board, or even just some paper. Your vision board should be what inspires you and doesn’t have to look like anyone else’s vision board. Here are some things you may want to gather and use for your fitness vision board.

  • Old pictures of yourself
  • Pictures of healthy food
  • Fitness stickers
  • Motivational quotes
  • Markers and pens
  • Highlighters
  • Magazine clippings
  • Pictures of “goal outfits”
  • Anything that reminds you about your goal.
vision board quote

What to Include

Your vision board should include the answers to three questions:

What

What is your goal? Be specific. Is it a specific weight? Write down your goal weight. A dress size? Add an old tag, a picture of a “goal outfit” or simply write down the dress size for which you’re aiming. Maybe you want to get back to a previous weight. Find pictures from that time of your life and include them! Visualize what your end goal is. What does it look like and how will you know you’ve achieved it?

How

Next, you will include how you will get there. Maybe you put pictures of healthy, clean, wholesome food. Cut out some exercises or motivational quotes from magazines or sticker books. Maybe add a glass of water as a reminder to drink or a picture of a pedometer to remind you to wear it. The “how” is important to visualize because you will need reminders about the everyday habits you need to build. Remind yourself what needs to be done to achieve your goal.

You may even want to include a “focus word.” A focus word is a word that sums up your journey in one word. My focus word is “discipline” because that is my biggest problem when it comes to losing weight. Other good focus words might be:

  • Energy
  • Self-control
  • Determination
  • Transform
  • Balance
  • Committed / Commitment
  • Consistency
  • Dedication
  • Grow
  • Finish
  • Focus
  • Habit
  • Freedom
  • Heal
  • Confidence
  • Journey
  • Fearless
  • Overcome
  • Persevere
  • Progress
  • Reclaim
  • Self-care
  • Strength
  • Unstoppable

Why

Lastly, include your reason. Maybe you want to get healthy for your kids. Then include a picture of them. Maybe it is getting off medication. If that’s the case, cut out the label on one of your prescription bottles and add it to your vision board as a reminder that you don’t want to live on medication because of your weight or eating habits anymore. On days where you feel like giving up, you will need to remember why you are doing this. This is crucial especially if you experience a setback. When you’re discouraged, go back to your vision board and remind yourself of your “why.”

how to make a fitness vision board

If you would like to see me put together my vision board, step-by-step, take a look at my YouTube video below.

I hope this helps you plan for success. You can follow my fitness progress on my personal Instagram. Don’t forget to PIN this post for later so you have it when you get started making your vision board.

Discovering Your Self-Care Love Language

Stuck on what kind of self-care routine fulfills your emotional needs? Today we’re talking about discovering your self-care love language.

discovering your self care love language

Self-care is not about being selfish. It’s about being kind and gentle with yourself. It’s about recharging your soul, mind, and physical health so you can be there for others and keep up with responsibilities. Self-care refills your well! So today we’re going to talk about discovering your self-care love language.

What Is a Love Language

Dr. Gary Chapman wrote the book, “The Five Love Languages.” In this Christian-themed book, Chapman explains that people have five ways that they give and receive love. These are ways that we feel loved and appreciated. All people experience all five. However, there is normally one or two that really resonate with you. More specifically, you may feel unloved or that your emotional needs are not being met if you don’t receive love in your primary love language. When people have different love languages, there is often a disconnect. Knowing the love languages of your spouse, children and other close people help to make them feel loved and encouraged.

Chapman also suggests that we tend to give love in the way we want to receive it. For example, one of my primary love languages is words of affirmation. I want my husband to tell me he loves me, tell me I’m pretty and verbally thank me when I do something. Receiving this makes me feel secure, respected and cared for. My husband needs no such praise. He is unmoved when I tell him how handsome he is. His value and love are not wrapped up in words they way mine are.

Let’s take a moment and learn about the five love languages.

The Five Love Languages Explained

  • TOUCH – Touch is the sensory experience of love. Hugging, kissing handholding, massage, and otherwise being physically affectionate
  • QUALITY TIME – Spending uninterrupted, undistracted quality time together, having fun / creating memories
  • ACTS OF SERVICE – (e.g. showing love rather than telling) Serving and otherwise showing practical physical gestures of service. For example, doing the dishes after dinner, gassing up your spouse’s car for them, preparing their morning coffee, or taking care of responsibilities)
  • WORDS OF AFFIRMATION – Verbal affirmation, praise, and verbal appreciation, compliments, encouragement.
  • GIFTS – this is not always about being spoiled or even materialism, but rather the gift tells them they were thought of and the more personal the gift, the more meaningful to the recipient. Additionally, the gift should not be an attempt to cover up past failures.

In all languages, the recipient also doesn’t want to have to ask for what they need, otherwise, it proves less meaningful. Ask yourself, what makes you feel loved and special? What do you need most out of relationships?

discovering your self care love language

Discovering Your Self Care Love Language

So today, we’re going to talk about applying these principles to yourself. This is how you can meet some of your emotional needs on your own and treat yourself the way you want to be treated. Here is what self-care might look like in your love language.

Touch (Sensory / Physical)

  • Get a massage
  • Create a skincare routine
  • Take a long hot bath
  • PJs all day!
  • Cuddle with a pet
  • Exercise
  • Stretch
  • Cut out sugar and junk food
  • Enjoy candles or aromatherapy
  • Take a walk outside in the sun
  • Listen to Music
  • Play an instrument
  • Dance
  • Sunbathe

Quality Time (Present / Mindful)

  • Take a nap (with or without an alarm clock)
  • Schedule a lunch date with a friend
  • Mediate
  • Pray
  • Detox from social media
  • Do an act of kindness for someone
  • Sleep in
  • Journal
  • Do something crafty
  • Go to bed early
  • Setting boundaries
  • Spend time learning something new
  • Wake early

Service (Do)

  • Make a budget to give yourself more financial freedom
  • Declutter
  • Delegate errands
  • Book a therapy appointment
  • Garden
  • Change your scenery and redecorate / rearrange furniture
  • Create a routine for things you find stressful

Words of Affirmation (Mental)

  • Write a love letter to yourself
  • List out your positive qualities
  • List your favorite physical qualities (challenge yourself)
  • Write a gratitude list
  • Read
  • Listen to a positive podcast
  • Avoid toxic people and people who make you feel bad about yourself
  • Write a goal list
  • Keep a compliment list, refer to it when you’re blue
  • Read some inspirational quotes
  • Forgive someone

Gifts (Immerse)

  • Invest in your dreams
  • Treat yourself to something special
  • Dine al fresco
  • Give yourself a facial
  • Take a vacation
  • Get a mani/pedi
  • Treat yourself to dinner out
  • Take a staycation
  • Enjoy a spa day (Pamper yourself)
  • Buy some fresh flowers
  • Buy a new outfit
  • Go wine tasting
  • Enjoy a cocktail at a swanky bar
  • Treat yourself to dessert
  • Hire someone to clean your house

If you want to be loved, it starts with you. Others notice how we treat ourselves. Self-respect, giving ourselves permission to rest, and developing a positive image of ourselves are all forms of self-care. Make yourself a priority so you can be there for others.

Right Now I’m Just a Mom and That’s Okay

Motherhood has changed how I think of myself. Right now, I’m just a mom and that’s okay.

right now I'm just a mom

I’ve done all kinds of things in my life. In my twenties, I modeled and worked in local theater productions. I even had a small stint as a regular occurring extra on NBC’s Friday Night Lights. For fifteen years, I worked as an insurance professional, handling major claims and being deposed in lawsuits. I’ve also worked as an artist and later an art curator. I’m a multifaceted woman, but before motherhood, I always staked my identity in my career.

After the birth of my first son, I decided to become a stay-at-home mom. Those first few months were hard. Honestly, I cried every day. Being a mom was so stinking tough. Being a stay-at-home mom meant I’d never get a break from my child. Everything landed squarely on my shoulders. The house. The chores. The baby. It was all me. I didn’t know who I was. I mean, who was I if I wasn’t the career woman? Who was I if I wasn’t being creative? I had no idea who I was anymore.

My life had turned into a mess of poopy diapers. The only conversation I had was with a babbling little boy who lovingly stared at me, while I toiled with emotions of regret. Had I made the wrong choice? My whole day suddenly centered around feedings and naptimes. I lost my identity. I wondered if I could handle the solitude, the isolation that comes with being a stay-at-home-mom. I literally, had no one. Co-workers soon forgot me. Childless friends moved on.

I hadn’t counted on the feelings of regret. At first, I was happy to leave the stress-filled job I had. Happy to – what I thought – was going to be a break from hard work (I know, I was naive). I thought motherhood was going to be nothing but joy, laughter, and contentment, and while those moments exist, there are just as many moments that have tears, and frustration, and sacrifice.

At about nine months postpartum, I realized I needed to stop wishing for my old identity and instead create a new one. But doing that would require a whole new mind-shift. It would require me to value what I was doing. Or maybe more precisely, it would require me to see this season as my most valuable. A season that utilized my gifts and past experiences in a new, precious way. That everything I had accomplished before now wasn’t actually for my sake, but for my sons.

I am now four years into being a stay-at-home mom and I’m not going to be done anytime soon. You see, I’ve decided to homeschool. So with that, I resign myself to many more years at home. Many more irreplaceable days where I get to watch my babies grow, learn, and become gentlemen. But these days, I love my new identity. I love being “just a mom.”

In this new identity, I have realized that I traded in an important job for the most important job. Any career I’d have would pale in comparison to what I’m accomplishing with my sons. (That’s not a dig at working moms. Every mom’s journey is valuable.)

Not long ago, I reconnected with an old friend. She scoffed at the idea of staying home with children and asked plainly, “don’t you regret wasting your education and talents at home?” Oh friend, if only you knew how intimately my talents and education gets utilized while I’m being “just a mom.” My oldest child is four and he can find Egypt on a map. He can identify the inner anatomy in the human ear. He uses musical terms like “fortissimo, accelerando, and crescendo.” He can identify the systems of the human body and describe their purpose. Trust me, my knowledge isn’t being wasted. It’s being passed on. My talents flourish here and my kids are the joyful recipients.

And likewise my wisdom and my faith. Being a stay-at-home-mom creates a uniquely intimate bond with a child because we are a witness to each other’s lives. We share the daily breathtaking surprises and unexpected adventures. The terrible. The mundane. The funny. The wow moments. Mom and child do it together. An “odd couple” team of sorts.

Those sweet babies? They see me fail. They see me fall short. They watch to see if I forgive first and love first. They watch me cling to Jesus and watch me praise Him in the storm. They’re watching to see how merciful I am to others and how I make friends. They are taking it all in, modeling me in every way. That’s a lot of pressure! I’ve realized this “dull existence” suddenly has a lot of meaning… and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

My identity was forever altered when I became a mom – and it will change as my children grow up and need me less and less. One day, I’ll be hoping they pick up the phone and call me in the midst of their busy lives. Right now, I’m just a mom…and that’s okay.