Survival Guide for Holiday Peace

This year, we are entering the week of Christmas in a world that looks very different than others we have seen. Many of us will have a holiday celebration that does not resemble what we are accustomed to enjoying. You may have a smaller gathering or no gathering at all. You may have had a job loss in the family so your celebration is on a stricter budget. You may have lost a loved one this year and are facing the holidays with grief. No matter what your holiday looks like this year, you need to remember these things to survive with peace.


When it comes to the holidays, moms have a tendency to get worked up trying to make it all perfect. I have caught myself on way too many occasions holding my breath while giving my family everything they need. The advice on the airplane is true, “put your own oxygen mask on first before assisting others.” You will be no good to others if you don’t take care of yourself. That means you need to take a few minutes to breathe. If you have to lock yourself in the bathroom to get that breather, do it! They will survive without you for a few minutes. 


Whether your preference is coffee, tea, cocoa or cider, fill up a cup and enjoy the aroma. (This goes hand in hand with step #1.) Hot beverages are known to be comforting and calming. Sip slowly and feel the warmth as it travels down your body. Being aware of that sensation is part of a mindfulness practice. You deserve to enjoy a cup of your favorite beverage no matter what chaos is about to ensue. 


As I mentioned above, moms are often the driver’s of this thing called “family holiday happiness.” We try so hard to make things perfect for everyone. The truth is that no matter what we do or don’t do, our family will still love us.  Children’s emotions will still be on edge with the excitement of the holiday, no matter what we do. It happens every year. Your celebration may be Rockwell painting worthy or it may be so much more simple this year. The world does not rest on your shoulders mama! You can rest easy that a different holiday will still be a holiday. 

One of the most important things we can do is decide what is most important to us in the holiday season. What are your top three things that matter most to you? Is it the big family meal? Is it the gift opening process? Is it the games or movies that you share as a family? Is it reading the Bible verses? Is it making cookies together? Is it singing Christmas carols? Is it driving to see holiday lights? Whatever it is, throw yourself into that. Don’t try to do it all! It is okay to skip the things that are not as important to you. 

Can we talk mom presents for a moment? Moms, we need to check our expectations here as well. You know how it goes...the children open their presents and your spouse is just as surprised as they are at what is inside. I know, we do it every year. Mom’s take care of the gift purchasing and wrapping for so many people. Who takes care of Mom’s presents? No matter who it is in your family, you may end up with another bathrobe. (Did you see this on SNL?) I’ve decided that I will expect a bathrobe this year. If I get one, yay me! If I get something else, that will be an awesome surprise. Now it’s a win-win situation!


The holidays are all about the moments big and small that hold so much heart meaning for us. If your holiday has been downsized this year, that doesn’t mean there are not moments of joy along the way. I plan to savor all of those moments this year, especially. From the smiles and laughs as presents are being opened to the mirth and joy at discovering what is in that mystery package without a tag. We get to enjoy it all! Don’t forget to notice the little things. Count your blessings. They are so important.


Maybe you have a plan in place already to call or Facetime or Zoom with family and friends that are not joining you this year. If you don’t already have a plan, make one. This benefits you and the people on the other end of the call. Our sanity depends on those connections. Whether it feels natural or awkward, make the effort. We have learned that trying to do it all by ourselves is isolating. We can connect with others over the fact that things are hard and share some of our small moments that bring us joy. Everyone will be happier for it.

I wish you and yours a very merry Christmas! Take care of you and enjoy the moments along the way. 

Did you miss my article on mindfulness? You can read it here.

I have created a yearly planner that is a downloadable pdf file to help you stay organized in the new year. Check it out over here. 

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. 

Five Easy Steps to Journaling Success

Do you journal?

I've always wanted to be a great journaler. I loved my diary when I was in elementary school. It was baby blue and had a little lock on it. I had brothers, so the lock was imperative to my feeling like I could speak my mind in it. I would go through fits and starts of writing in it about my day or my friends or my infuriating brothers. I’m pretty sure that most of my diary was filled with the name of a boy I thought was cute in the 6th grade with hearts all around it. I mean, gripping stuff, I know, but it was important to me.

Fast forward to me as an adult. When we moved this summer, I recycled not one but FOUR journals that I found in various places in our old house. They all had something in common. I wrote in them no more than 3 times. The rest was empty. I really wanted to write in those beautiful journals, but I think I lacked the discipline. 

Why write in journals?

  • Helps control anxiety and depression

  • Allows you to put words to your feelings

  • Decreases clutter in your brain

  • Helps you let go of negative thoughts

  • Gives clarity for achieving your goals

So, I understand and desire all of those things, but I’m just not finding success in just buying cute journals and pens. 

Lately, I’ve been experimenting with how to make journaling work better for me. Try these steps to achieve journal perfection.

  1. Set aside time to journal. I used to think this had to be daily, but that just didn’t work for me. I have adjusted my expectations and plan for one day a week now. For me, that means I journal on Saturday mornings before the rest of the house wakes up. For you that may be a certain evening after you get the kids to bed. Whatever you do, set aside that time. It’s like a date with yourself. Don’t break that date. You are worth it! Besides, you can control the amount of time you use to journal. It can be anything from 10 to 30 minutes, or more if the mood strikes you.

  2. Find a spot where you will journal. It could be on the couch, in your bed, a favorite chair, the kitchen table. It really doesn’t matter, but it needs to work for you. I find I’m much more successful if my spot is not right in the middle of the rest of the family’s action or I get distracted. You know, the kids ask Dad where something is and he totally doesn’t know, but you try to let him answer anyway and then get distracted because you could have solved this problem much faster. That kind of thing!

  3. Have a place to keep your journal materials. This could be a special pretty journal that you want to use, printed prompts that fit in a folder or binder, or even a digital folder on your computer. Use what works for you! Keep your favorite pens or pencils handy too. I have a mild obsession with pens, so I love to keep my collection of flair pens and gel pens near my journaling spot.

  4. Use journal prompts. I have found that in times of stress, I have tons to write about, but I don’t always feel productive with those thoughts. By using journal prompts, I am able to focus my energy on one area in my journal. Sometimes those prompts lead me to lists and other times those prompts lead me to paragraphs detailing some idea that is holding up real estate in my head. No matter what, those ideas down on paper are a wonderful thing. If I stare at a blank page too long uninspired, I'm way too likely to give up.

  5. Rinse and repeat. Journaling once is good. I’ve done that many times. It is in the repeated process of journaling that we find those amazing benefits listed above. Plus, you are forming a new habit, so repetition is key to making it a part of your life. 

Interested in what journal prompts I use? I created a beautiful set of prompts to help keep you Journaling Through the Year. There are prompts for each week that you can use in any format that works for you. Check out lots more details here. 

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. 

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

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. 

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.

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. 

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.

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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