Is Balance Really the Key to Happiness?

Is Balance Really the Key to Happiness?
If I could just find balance in my life, I'd be happy. 

Balance is a myth.

So many people are out there trying to find balance in their lives so they can be happy. Balance implies that there will be equal parts on each side. 

Often, this is seen as work vs. family. We try to put equal effort to our work as we do our family. I see so many people running themselves ragged trying to achieve that "balance". 

What if I told you that there was no such thing as balance between work and family or children and marriage or whatever things you are trying to juggle? I think we can focus so hard on trying to make things equal that we end up failing at everything. We end up not being a good employee because we are trying to cut back on work to make family a priority. We end up not doing a great job on the home front because we are trying to focus on that big project at work. 

Let's try this another way...

Maybe, instead of "balance" we can find our point of happiness. Sometimes this may outwardly look like the scale is tilted more in one direction than the other, depending on what is going on in your world. 

I know that there were seasons that I went through where my work consumed more minutes of my day than my family did. It didn't mean that I cared more for one than the other. It meant that for those days or weeks, I had to focus more on the work. If I had tried to keep my focus "balanced," I would have had more time at home where I was overwhelmed with feelings of stress and worry over what I should have accomplished at work. 

On the flip side, there have been seasons where my focus was much more developed on my family rather than work. I knew that during those times, I had to spend more time with my family or my work time would be consumed with worry about my family. 

Neither of these examples made me any less of a parent or teacher. They were what I needed at the time to find joy and happiness in life. I realized that I could thrive in both environments. 

Here's the trick for me... 

I focused my energy on what I was doing at the time. It sounds silly, I know. I stopped taking work home with me. How could I be present as a wife and mother if I was constantly working at home?  At work, I put my all into my job as a teacher. By focusing on what I was doing, I was able to find that point of happiness for me. When the lines started to blur, I had to take a step back and look at where I needed to refocus my energy to regain that happiness. It sounds simplistic, but sometimes the best solutions are just that. 

You need to find for yourself, where that point of happiness is for you, right now. This will change as things develop and change constantly around us. 

When I’m stressed about all the things, I love to spend some quiet time meditating and focusing on being mindful in my day. Check out my free guide for the top 5 essential oils for meditation

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Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. That means I may make a small commission from any purchases using the link at NO cost to you. All opinions are always completely my own. 

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3 Easy Ways to Take Back Control of Your Week

3 Easy Ways to Take Back Control of Your Week

There are some things you can’t control in your week. Work, kids, sports, they all seem to take over our lives if we let them. 

What can you control?

  • How you use your time

  • Your attitude

  • Your priorities

For me, I realized that I was being too reactive in my week. I had to clean the floors again because my mom was coming over and all the girls in my house shed our hair regularly so my floors look hideous. I had to go to the grocery store again because I didn’t have all of the ingredients I needed for dinner because I failed to plan ahead. I could go on and on here, but I digress. 

When I plan ahead, things go much smoother and I am much happier. We all know what happens when Mama’s happy, right? 

Here’s what I do to take back control of my week…

I meal plan.

In my house, I am the primary meal planner. Others have input. I delegate some meals to others, but I am definitely the shopper, so I know what is on the menu. I went into detail about my meal planning strategy over here, in case you missed it. By meal planning, I am able to avoid most of those “extra trips” to the grocery store and the impulse buys that always seem to happen. 

I have a cleaning plan.

I am a lazy housekeeper. I don’t like to do it. I am not gifted with the cleaning gene. I am better at tidying things when motivated by someone coming over. Those days have been few and far between around here, so I need a better plan. I discovered that my avoidance of cleaning probably has to do with the fact that when I get to cleaning, it turns into a huge project because there are so many parts that need to be done. This is where my cleaning plan comes into play. What if I didn’t need to do all of it all at once? What if I did a little bit each day? I know this is not rocket science and some of you are already on this train, but I’m a slow learner. Okay. 

What I have done is write down all the cleaning chores that need to be done. All of them. Not just the room that they are in, but the specific task. I need to wipe the bathroom mirrors, clean the countertops, scrub the toilet, sweep the floor, mop the floor, etc. You get the idea. Then I divided those up into categories for how frequently I really need to do them. Some are daily or every other day, like the countertops in the kitchen. Others are weekly, like the toilets. Next, I plugged those into days of the week for what works for me. I can adjust this as I see fit because it is my plan. That’s the beauty of it all. I do what works for me! 

So, by practicing this plan, I am able to keep up with things much easier and I don’t have to panic clean when visitors are expected. Do I cheat on my plan sometimes? You bet I do, because I made the plan and I do what I want, but at least I have a plan. I can check things off and move on with my day. I used to dread the fact that I had so much cleaning to do on the weekend because I had so much to do. Now, I spread it out over the week and I no longer want to gouge my eyeballs out with a grout brush. 

I have a reconnection plan.

This third secret to taking back control of my life is all about the social connections that I desperately need. If I feel like I am going through my life by my lonesome, everything starts to feel really heavy in life. I combat this by having a plan to reconnect with my family and friends. 

For me, this means a weekly Zoom call with my mom and brothers and all the cousins to just talk about life and update what is happening. Seriously, we have never been more in the know about what is going on with each other until now. The cousins mostly speak when spoken to, but they are mostly having side conversations on other devices, perhaps mocking the adults who make them do this every Sunday. But the truth is, that I love that time. 

In our immediate household, this also means scheduling movie night or game night regularly so we have something to expect and look forward to each week. We treasure these times, especially as my girls get busy with school. My brother and his family with two elementary age kiddos have a weekly bike ride that ends at a local place that has board games that they play together. It is good for the soul to schedule in some recreation. 

For you, this could mean one of these examples or maybe you need to set a regular time for checking in with a friend on the phone or Facetime. Whatever it is that helps you reconnect with other people in your life, just get something on the calendar so you can make sure that it is prioritized in your week. It is that important!

By taking these 3 easy steps, I feel like I have more control over my week. I am no longer chasing things, but setting myself up for success. If you can’t control it all, at least control these three things. You may still have times that go wonky, but if you had a plan in the first place, it is much easier to pivot to a new plan when needed. 

Which of these strategies is the one that you need to focus on in your life? Tell me in the comments below.

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Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. That means I may make a small commission from any purchases using the link at NO cost to you. All opinions are always completely my own. 

Want to subscribe to my blog so you don't miss a thing? Click here and I'll shoot you an email whenever a new blog post lands. 

Top Ten Ingredients Doing More Harm Than Good

Top Ten Ingredients Doing More Harm Than Good
I know that when I was younger, I went to the store intent to find the same products I grew up using. That’s what I knew at the time. Fast forward many, many years and I know a lot better. There are products out there that sound like a good idea…..until you do a little research on their ingredients. Then you find out the nasty truth. The majority of products available to you are filled with junk that is cheap to produce and has horrible effects on our bodies. We buy them because we don’t know any better, we grew up with those brands and we may feel like we are getting a better deal. 

As a mom, you are the gatekeeper to your home. You are the one who is deciding what products go into your cart at the store and which come to the doorstep of your home. It is up to you to decide what is best for your family. 

Here’s the truth. My house used to be filled with this stuff. We were getting sick all the time. As I started to slowly shift our products for healthier ones, we started to feel better more consistently. Now, don’t get me wrong, we are not perfect holistic crunchy folks over here. This is not something that happened overnight for us. We started with one product, then added another, until eventually, we were able to swap out most of the toxin laden products for healthier versions. It was all about baby steps for us. 

Here are the top 10 culprits that are worth avoiding (read - run far, far away!)

  1. Parabens

Parabens are widely used as preservatives that prevent the growth of bacteria, mold and yeast in cosmetic products. Sounds good, right? But, they do more than that... Parabens possess estrogen-mimicking properties that are associated with increased risk of breast cancer. 

  1. Synthetic colors

If you take a look at your product label and notice FD&C or D&C, they represent artificial colors. F — representing food and D&C representing drug and cosmetics. These letters precede a color and number (e.g., D&C Red 27 or FD&C blue 1). These synthetic colors are derived from petroleum or coal tar sources. Synthetic colors are suspected to be a human carcinogen, a skin irritant and are linked to ADHD in children. In Europe these colorants are considered carcinogenic and the European Union has banned them. Yet, it is perfectly legal in the United States. 

  1. Fragrance

What does “fragrance” mean anyway? This term was created to protect a company’s “secret formula.” In reality it’s a sneaky way that companies can slip in up to 3,000 chemicals that are hazardous to your health. According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG) Skin Deep Database, fragrance mixes have been associated with allergies, dermatitis, respiratory distress and potential effects on the reproductive system.

  1. Phthalates

Phthalates are used to increase the flexibility and softness of a product. The most common ones are dibutyl phthalate (nail polish), diethyl phthalate (perfumes + lotions), & dimethyl phthalate (hair spray). They are known to be endocrine (hormone) disruptors and have been linked to increased risk of breast cancer, early breast development in girls, and reproductive birth defects in males and females.

  1. Triclosan

Triclosan is a widely used antimicrobial chemical that’s a known endocrine disruptor — especially to the thyroid and reproductive hormones, and it is a skin irritant. Studies raise concerns that triclosan contributes to making bacteria in the body antibiotic-resistant. In 2016 the FDA banned its use in soaps, yet it’s STILL permitted to be used in toothpastes & deodorants.

  1. Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) / Sodium laureth sulfate (SLES)

These surfactants can be found in more than 90% of personal care and cleaning products (anything that produces foam or suds). SLS’s are known to be skin, lung, and eye irritants. Worse yet, SLSs can bind with other chemicals to form nitrosamines, which are known carcinogens which can lead to other issues like kidney and respiratory damage. 

  1. Formaldehyde

Formaldehyde and formaldehyde-releasing preservatives (FRP’s) are used in many cosmetic products to help prevent bacteria growth. This chemical was deemed as a human carcinogen and has been linked to occupational related cancers nasal and nasopharyngeal. It is known to cause allergic skin reactions and it may also be harmful to the immune system. 

  1. Toluene

Toluene is a petrochemical derived from petroleum or coal tar sources. You may see it on labels listed as benzene, toluol, phenylmethane, methylbenzene. Toluene is a potent solvent able to dissolve paint and paint thinner. It can affect your respiratory system, cause nausea and irritate your skin. Expectant mothers should avoid exposure to toluene vapors as it may cause developmental damage to the baby. Toluene has also been linked to immune system toxicity.

  1. Propylene glycol

Propylene glycol is a small organic alcohol commonly used as a skin-conditioning agent. It has been associated with causing dermatitis and/or hives even when containing only 2%.

  1. Butoxydiglycol 

Butoxydiglycol is highly toxic and can disrupt the hormone system. It can be commonly found in household cleaners and degreasers. It is toxic to aquatic life. The European Union has banned this solvent in concentrations above 3% in aerosol cleaners. It is known to irritate and inflame the lungs.


I was shocked to see this list when I started to look at labels in my cabinets. I could not believe that I was bringing those hazards into my home. Do not despair! There are products out there that are much safer for your family. Knowing is half the battle. It’s impossible to avoid every single synthetic chemical, but we can do our part in limiting the amount of toxins our bodies are exposed to by using personal care products that do not contain these toxic chemicals.



I made an Ingredients Cheat Sheet for you to take with you when you are shopping so you can have a quick place to double check before you buy. The Cheat Sheet includes these 10, plus others that are commonly found and well worth avoiding.  I used the same list in my own cabinets as I started to swap out my products. Before buying new, I would look at the ingredient list and compare it to the list. If it didn’t pass the test, I knew that Iwas going to have to look for something new with better ingredients. 


Get the Ingredients Cheat Sheet here


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Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. That means I may make a small commission from any purchases using the link at NO cost to you. All opinions are always completely my own. 

Want to subscribe to my blog so you don't miss a thing? Click here and I'll shoot you an email whenever a new blog post lands. 

A Beginner's Guide to Mindfulness

A Beginner's Guide to Mindfulness

There is so much going on in our lives, the overwhelm comes too easily. We are constantly multitasking and working five steps ahead of ourselves. Those things serve a purpose, don’t get me wrong, but practicing mindfulness can help reduce stress, improve relationships and bring back joy to the everyday things. 

We drive the kids to school, while thinking of our grocery list and fielding questions from the back seat. We eat our meals while watching television. We exercise while listening to a podcast or watching a show. 

What if we slowed down a little and did just one thing at a time? Your mind needs rest to serve you well. You could actually be more efficient at things if you did only one at a time. We can get so scattered if we try to do too much at once. This is where mindfulness comes into play. 

What is mindfulness? 

a mental state achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.

Here are some examples of simple things you can do to practice mindfulness today:

  • Focus on your breathing. Sit still and just breathe. Notice how your body feels as you breathe in and breathe out. Fill your lungs with a deep breath and hold it for a few seconds before releasing. 

  • Practice eating or drinking something while really concentrating on that action. How does the food feel in your mouth as you chew it. What particular flavors are most prominent/less prominent? How does it feel as you swallow it? By focusing on our food we can learn to really enjoy it more and be more mindful of what we are putting into our bodies. How many bags of chips have you eaten while watching t.v. without really noticing? I know I have!

  • Put your feet on the ground outside and notice the feeling of being grounded to the earth. This is awesome to try barefoot in the grass. Just stand there and notice what your senses show you. 

  • Sit quietly in a busy room and just notice that moment. Watch how your children play. Notice their voices and their movements. Those moments go by so quickly, you would do well to take time to feel those moments.

  • Take a shower and clear your thoughts to just be aware of the present moment. Feel the water cascading over your body. Notice how the water feels. Pay attention to the bubbles your shampoo makes. Listen to the sound of the water. Immerse yourself in just being present.

Now, I’m not going to tell you to do all of these things every day. That is not realistic. I am going to tell you to try at least one of these daily. It does wonders for your mind, body and soul to find rest in the present time. 

When we practice mindfulness, we are training the brain to focus on the present moment while observing and accepting our feelings without judgement. We just let the thoughts flow without ascribing judgements as good or bad. Meditation can be a big part of this. There are some amazing guided meditations out there to help you get started. Mindfulness boosts creativity by training the brain to focus on just one thing. Mindfulness strengthens neural connections increasing concentration, flexibility and awareness. Just think of your interpersonal relationships if you practiced mindfulness while you were having a conversation. Your concentration and focus on the moment will allow you to be a much better listener.

Which of these mindfulness practices will you start with? Just choose one to try today. Try something else tomorrow.

I love to incorporate essential oils into my mindfulness and meditation practice. If you want to know my top 5 oils for meditation, click here and I’ll send you my guide.

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Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. That means I may make a small commission from any purchases using the link at NO cost to you. All opinions are always completely my own. 

Want to subscribe to my blog so you don't miss a thing? Click here and I'll shoot you an email whenever a new blog post lands. 

Lunch Packing Two Ways

Lunch Packing Two Ways

When my girls were little, packing lunches got old really fast. I mean, they wanted to eat lunch every single day. Sheesh! After finally getting the kids to bed at night, I would spend way too much time in the kitchen trying to pack up lunches for the next day. There had to be a way to make things easier. Here’s what I settled on that worked for me.

Bento Boxes 

Now, if you go to Pinterest and search for this, prepare to be overwhelmed. There is an over the top insane way to do this and a real mom version way. I’m talking about the real mom version here. I loved being able to find little latching lid containers that were small enough that I could pack in the nutrition without lots of wasted food. 

I loved packing a pretty lunch for my kids. They were proud to open their lunches and enjoyed seeing surprises inside. The usual items included: rolled up turkey, cheese sticks, grapes, baby carrots, apple slices, pretzels, snap peas, nuts, dried fruit, crackers, pasta, rice etc. To make it fun, I would cut out their initial out of a slice of cheese and place it on top. Super easy, but they loved it! Sometimes, I would make a fun shaped sandwich to include with the finger foods, but they were just as happy using the little toothpicks to eat their munchies most of the time. I think the novelty of having a lunch that was different than others but still held similar elements made them eat more. If I was feeling extra, I may even throw in a small wrapped candy for fun. 

Bento box packing tips:

  • Pack it tightly. If you are going for visually appealing, you want to pack in your ingredients, put the lid on and your child will see the same thing when they open their box at lunch. If there is too much open space, things will shift and you don’t get the same effect visually. 

  • Watch out for moisture content. If you pack crackers next to the grapes, the crackers will likely lose their snap by lunchtime. You can avoid this by using sectioned containers and keeping dry ingredients in one section. I have been known to build a cheese “wall” to create the same effect. It was a matter of trial and error. My kids were never shy about reviewing my work, so I could improve. 

Full disclosure here...I was really good at packing bento boxes when I was home full time. When I went back to full time, that was a lot harder for me to maintain. Mondays were the best day for me, because I could prepack most of it on Sunday night before the crazy of the week set in. Then, I transitioned to the next method of lunch packing. 

Prepacked Bins

This method streamlined my efforts to pack not only two lunches for the kids, but my own lunch as well. It really changed how I organized my pantry/fridge space to minimize my time making lunches. I used to have all the cracker boxes together on one shelf and all the dried fruit in another area. I found that by pre-packing lunch size portions of our favorites into a few bins in the pantry, I could speed things along. 

If I was making sandwiches, I could just grab a crunchy snack and a sweet snack from the pantry. Then I’d toss in a fruit or veggie snack bag from the fridge and the lunch was complete. I didn’t have to get out all the bags and package everything on a daily basis anymore. Switch out that main dish for pasta in a thermos and the same categories apply for a complete meal. 

One of the added bonuses of this method was that when my kids got older and developed preferences of their own, they started using the same method to build their own lunches. I could feel better about them getting some semblance of nutrition while not losing my mind. 

I loved being able to tailor our lunch ingredients to what worked for us at the time. Lunchables were expensive and not the best as far as nutrition went. They were a treat for an occasional lunch. I may have snickered a little when my children decided that the meat and cheese in those tasted funny to them. They preferred to do homemade lunchables instead. I preferred it too! I could control those ingredients with versions that were better for them. Sometimes, you have to let them discover those things for themselves. 

Packing lunches doesn’t have to consume your every evening. By putting some simple systems in place, you can streamline your efforts and spend your time the way you want. 

Another way I have organized my life is with meal planning. Check out my weekly meal planner here

Want to subscribe to my blog so you don't miss a thing? Click here and I'll shoot you an email whenever a new blog post lands. 

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. That means I may make a small commission from any purchases using the link at NO cost to you. All opinions are always completely my own. 

Want to subscribe to my blog so you don't miss a thing? Click here and I'll shoot you an email whenever a new blog post lands. 

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