self

The Hunger Game

This past April, my husband and I celebrated one year since we joined together with friends and family and publicly became man and wife. While I find it so cliche to say I was not ready to be married the sentiment just fits. Perhaps marriage is just one of those things, like I would imagine people feel when they start a family, or buy a house. It is one of those big things that make you realize your life is making progress, you're growing up;  these things, for whatever reason, make us feel overwhelmed and under prepared. In the past year of my married life I have focused on one common thread. Through each disagreement and each celebration, I realized that we are hungry individuals. Relationships evolve and naturally we evolve with them. We change preferences, we mold to be more likable, less contrary, and while I hate those articles that make women seem like weakling sidekicks to their bread winning husbands, it seems easy to sucucmb to this marginal population after so long. I have found that dreams or goals that I held years ago have been pushed to the side for the sake of stability. I have seen my once strong will and independent streak become more reliant on agreeability. In standing back to reason with these self discoveries I had to reconcile with the fact that while I have always been independent, I have also been needy.

We all are.

That's okay.

In examining my own petty arguments or frustrations, I realized just how hungry we are.  Single, married, divorced, dating, these terms become irrelevant, we  all crave the approval of those we love. First I thought it was my warped sense of love. It must be me, this can't be normal, but alas, it is! It is normal and it is okay! We are creatures made for relationship; the give and take, the pretty and ugly, we are hungry for connection, for accountability, for something beyond total agreeability or lonely solitude.  We were made for the knock down, drag out fights, as well as the make up dinners and apology notes. Our image of love has a lot to do with how we have been loved but it also has a lot to do with how much we are willing to learn. What we know is not the end all be all and we could never sustain a relationship with that mentality. The sooner we realize that we are all hungry for the true existence of love-- affirmation, kindness, patience-- the sooner our relationships can grow boundlessly.

The Greatest Love of All

With February being the month of LOVE, I wanted to write an article titled “Taking the Time to Love Yourself”.  The only problem, I couldn't find a scripture to back it up.  I mean really, nowhere in the bible did it talk it about loving myself. It was all about loving others.  So I sat in my bedroom, with all of my bible books, stumped.  How can God expect me to love others when I feel as though I have no love to give?  My cup does not always runneth over. In fact, my cup at times runneth DRY!  And then I came across this…  “If then there is any comfort in Christ, any help given by love, any uniting of hearts in the Spirit, any loving mercies and pity.  Make my joy complete by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in harmony and of one mind.  Doing nothing through envy or through pride, but with low thoughts of self, let everyone take others to be better than himself.  Not looking everyone to his private good, but keeping in mind the things of others.  Let this mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus.”  - Philippians 2:1-5

A practical use of this scripture would be to pitch in on an office project that you weren't assigned to.  Not because it looks good on your resume or because the team leader is influential with Senior Management, but because it’s good for the company or for the people impacted by the projects results.  Kindness & compassion are expressions of love.

I was reminded that even when Jesus was broken and His cup was dry, His thoughts were only of love for us.  Dang!  Who are we to be so concerned with ourselves?  That being said, God wants us to be whole.  He wants our spirits to be aligned with our bodies and it’s okay to pray for that.  It’s easier to show kindness and compassion when we're overflowing but, understand, it’s not always going to work that way.

Our character is shown in the face of adversity.   And what better time to showcase God’s love, The Greatest Love of All!

Still Hungry?  Corinthians 13:4-13 and the short book of Ruth are LOVEly.

Stoplight Prayer:  Father in Heaven, thank You for making me whole and showing me how to love those around me.  When my cup is dry, give me the strength to continue showing Your love.

Welcome to Mommy-hood

  Officially I have been a mom for 13 months. Being a mom has been by far one of the most challenging hats I've had to wear. The first couple months friends reassuringly let me know that at the 3 month mark "It gets better." Oh how that little statement rung in my ears. As smart as I like to think I am, I never realized being a mommy would take so much out of me. I mean I have been around plenty of children new and old. I knew how to change a diaper, make a bottle, put a baby to sleep, make silly faces, and not to mention calm a crying baby in my adolescence. I considered myself a pro long before I even met a man who was qualified enough to give me his little swimmers!

I discovered quickly that I was no pro, but a beginner. The statement is not a self defeating one, but rather a coming to terms with it announcement to self. What's the use in being in denial, right! I had been fighting the fact that I could not figure my child out, that is for the time being. After countless conversations with God on why he was not answering my prayers, and why he would not make it better. Not to mention the daily melt down in which I had not bathed, not slept, and attempted to eat, but my little eater decided he was hungry too... I had come to the bitter sweet conclusion that it would take time to figure out anyone, let alone my own child. Mommy-hood as far as I can see is all about cherishing the small accomplishments, literally living one day at a time. It's all about throwing a party when baby sleeps for 3 hours, and letting go. Letting go of all your preconceived ideas of what it means to be a mommy, and for me clinging to God for strength.

Most mommy pros will say to their child, "If you only knew." When my dear mom would make that statement, I am reluctant to say I would "gently" roll my eyes and think if you only knew what? Ha! Now I know mom, now I know!!! If you only knew the sacrifice, the patience, the joy, it requires to be a mommy. What a delicate and oh so sweet relationship God created between mother and child. I encourage any new mommy out there to remember you are not alone, God has not forgotten you. Mommy-hood is not easy but it is so worth it. After now 13 months of watching my little guy grow....although I might do some things a little differently given the chance, I would in a heart beat do it again. So don't just hang in there, take your time to learn and grow. And please give yourself a break we've all made mistakes. So cheers to sleepless nights, cheers to poopie diapers, cheers to not knowing everything, and cheers to you for being so brave! Welcome to Mommy-hood, God chose you.

Guest Contributor: Lisette Espinosa

What Do You See?

It is so fun preparing for our Spring Fashion and shopping for what is hot and new this season.  Picking out new clothes can make us feel good or can sometimes result in feelings of inadequacies about our body. In a recent survey of 16,000 Glamour magazine readers, 40% of respondents expressed discontent with their bodies. However, the good news is that engaging in regular exercise, regardless of any body changes, has been linked to improvement in self esteem.  The September 2009 issue of the Journal of Health Psychology combined several studies to find that women who exercised were less critical of their body.  Surprising, was that actual physical improvements were not necessary for them to feel better about themselves.

The author of the study, Heather Haunsenblas, exercise physiologist at the University of Florida, stated, “you would think that if you become more fit you you’d experience greater improvement in body image, but thats not what we found.”

I find this information very interesting as it supports another benefit of exercise which is an improved Self Image.  Having a poor body image is a major problem in women and has even been reported to begin as young as 8 years of age.  With so many women struggling today with body image, I think it is encouraging to realize engaging in just a short bout of exercise can improve self esteem and boost confidence. This can come in different forms of activities from going to the gym, taking a walk with a friend or playing ball with your kids.  Find something that makes you feel that you are taking care of your body. 

So if you want feel good in the dressing room, go for a walk before heading out to shop. It may change your whole perspective.

ENGAGED . . .

Several people in my life have become engaged over the last year.  It has been a beautiful experience watching each relationship advance.  Acquaintance moved to friendship, friendship blossomed to love and love motivated these couples to live out the sum of their days together. The engagement phase, in most cases, brings the couple even closer, as they busy themselves working through the details of the wedding, and are faced with the reality of being ‘together’ – forever.

One of the definitions of the word engage is to occupy ones self or to become busy or involved.  While this is an appropriate word for a soon to be married pair, there is a vast number of singles who are engaged – in other ways.  Engagement encompasses a great deal of our lives.

Today, most singles have the freedom to pursue personal interests and careers or spend time investing in friends, family and other life-opportunities.

Here are three important areas of engagement that lead to a healthy single life:

  • Friends – Friends and family make life much more colorful.  Surrounding yourself with those who have common interests and beliefs and can relate to you is important.  Identify your need for friendships and relationships, and then embark on developing and maintaining healthy, lasting connections.
  • Fortune – I’m not referring to your bank account, exclusively. Time, talent and resources, combined, make up your fortune. It’s important that you continually develop and resource yourself so that you can give what you can to help others.  We were not created to keep all that we have to ourselves. You have a very significant and important part to play in this phase of life.
  • Future – A question for you – How will you be remembered?  When you cross over from this life to the next, what will you leave behind?  What will people say about you when you are gone?  You are building your legacy, daily.  With every choice you make, legacy is being created.  Ensure you are living your very best life, not just for yourself, but for those coming after you.  Remember the part you decide to play in life is important

Are you engaged, yet??

Be Our Guest

The Fun Part Among the many tasks of wedding planning choosing invitations is one of the most personal and creative choices to be made. It is one of the many things I was ecstatic about doing myself. A few short months after the engagement however, I realized time (and perhaps my lack of self discipline) would not allow for me to put my own invitations together. My original idea was a "story book" invitation. It would be a short story about Kristian and I, the engagement, and the invitation would follow. Although I didn't put my own invitations together, they are in fact being hand assembled by a much more patient and creative soul then myself, I am still infatuated with the idea of the invitation. My invitations will still be personal to me. I have chosen the wording, the font, the paper, and the envelopes. However, in having someone volunteer to help me with my invitations, I shaved down the specific details I first had in mind. Some brides however, cannot give up so easily on their design ideas and I tip my hat to them. Months have gone into some of the invitations I have seen. They are simply marvelous and the fact is if you are a bride and have a creative streak the possibilities are endless. Below are a few of my favorite invitations. Aside from this blog, I spend hours rifiling through DIY websites and other wedding blogs. And now that I think about it... I probably could have put my own invitations together with all the time I spend obssessing over others! Anyway, I hope you enjoy my finds and are inspired to try your hand at personalizing your big day!

This idea I found on stylemepretty.com

To make this adorable invitation:

1. Choose image and/or text to be printed. 2. Make a carbon based print of image/text (xerox copy or laser printers work) 3. Place image on gocco machine – make master screen using the gocco and gocco bulbs. 4. Once the image is burned into the screen, you can ink it.  Smear ink on the image burned into the screen, insert back into the machine, then press image onto paper invitations as desired.  Re-ink as necessary. 5. Let it dry fully before printing any other sides (let each side dry a full 24-hours).

This idea was also found at stylemepretty. Though the idea is very personal I like it because it can be changed. The creator simply created what was sentimental to her. She drew it freehand then took a picture and uploaded it to her Adobe Illustrator. It sounds a little complicated to me because I'm absolutely horrible wth computers. If you're tech saavy though this idea is precious! They were printed by a professional and 65 invitations were finished for about $150. Not bad for such cute and personalized invites!

Ok, so I hope the pictures do this invitation justice because I absolutely love it!  The ribbon, the tree, the deep colors... ahh, I'm in love.  I don't know that this one is a DIY. Even without explicit instructions though it seems like with the right tools it can be done without professional help.

The Details

I must admit invitation etiquette is a little foreign to me. While I love attending a good party I rarely ever throw one. With wedding invitations the formality is at a whole different level. I chose not to use inner envelopes so the wording of the outter envelope was a bit tricky. I used Google to figure out "Do I use 'and guest' on the outer envelope?" and "What about people with kids?". I also took advantage of the fact that our wedding is a bit informal. I have been extremely lucky with the help I have with my invitations. I haven't had to buy any of the materials except for the envelopes. With that said, I was a little surprised by the cost of envelopes! For those of you doing it yourself I totally reccommend Envelopes.com. I was able to purchase for 150 outer envelopes and 150 response card envelopes for under $100. After a little research I found that this is quite the deal! I did choose recycled paper so it isn't glossy but for me the cost difference was totally worth it. For a cute return address stamp (and to save yourself from carpal tunnel) check out thepaperwink.com. They have adorable stamps and labels at reasonable prices. I found one for about $20, which is so worth it to not have to handwrite my address 300 times. Another little detail we had to think about was the fact that our wedding is technically a destination wedding. Even though I'm from New Orleans, Kristian's family is in Texas, and many of our friends are in Florida. To accomodate people traveling for the wedding there is an insert with the invitation. It includes a few details about hotel and car rental options. More importantly though, it mentions our wedding website. This is so important. Even if you're not having a destination wedding, a wedding website just makes your guests life so much easier. I made ours at theknot.com but there are so many options out there I reccommend you explore and see what works best for you!

Breathe

While I get all girly thinking about my invitations and planning all the details, I still get a little overwhelmed. With the invitations I wanted a certain font but it didn't work out. I wanted a particular style but I couldn't get it done. I have had a few bumps in the road but I could not be any happier with the way they've turned out. I have entrusted my limited vision to someone who has just run circles around my ideas. The invitations are beautiful and all of my stress had nothing to do with their outcome! So remember, relax, breathe, enjoy the process. Don't let the little things take away from the plesaure of the big picture-- your wedding!

October Monthly Wrap up

Every Year the month of October turns Pink.  Everywhere you look pink products line the shelves of stores, celebrities walk pink carpets and pink ribbons flaunt everything from t-shirts to fingernail polish.   No matter where you live, all sorts of fundraisers and benefits pop up all around the city to help find a cure for the disease that has affected every woman. October is known nationally as Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Austin

In Austin, the 2nd annual Stiletto Stampede for the cure benefiting the Susan G. Komen Foundation dashed off on Saturday, October 16th.  Hundreds of women met at the Hill Country Galleria for the high heel dash (100 yards) with a mission to encourage young women and men to know and understand the risks of breast cancer and empower them to prevent the disease by utilizing overall Breast Self-Awareness through early detection, screening methods and education.

http://www.stilettostampede4thecure.org/

Hollywood

Celebrities showed up in droves a month early in September for the Stand Up to Cancer Telethon.  The star studded benefited raised resources for breast cancer as well as all kinds of cancer.  Christina Applegate who is a breast cancer survivor was just one of the celebrity survivors who answered phones for Stand up for Cancer this year.

Nationally

But one of the biggest fundraisers happens all year round.  The Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure takes place all throughout the country and it’s not too late for you to register for one.  For over 25 years, The Komen Race for the Cure Series raises significant funds and awareness for the fight against breast cancer, celebrates breast cancer survivorship, and honors those who have lost their battle with the disease.

If you would like to register for a race near you, click here for all the races throughout the year.

Think Pink!

Waiting for it

Just recently my daughter had her two front teeth fall out, and thank God they did! It was pretty traumatic for the both of us, because these weren't your typical loose teeth, these suckers where stubborn! As her new front teeth started to came in, her old front teeth were pushed straight out, so every time she would close her mouth you could see them sticking out. They were really loose and ready to fall, but still held on for dear life! It was when I learned that kids at school started to make fun of her, that I felt I had to do something to speed up the process. So I asked her if she would let me try to pull them out, and she said "NO WAY! I will just wait until they fall out by themselves." I couldn't believe she didn't even want to try, especially since kids at school were being so mean about it.  It was really neat to see her choose between waiting, or taking easier route. Who knows what could have happened if she took the easy way and risk doing some damage. Well, her teeth eventually fell out and amazingly right before school pictures. How awesome is that! She was such an example for me. Her success story made me realize that it's not always pleasant to wait for things to happen at the right moment, but just think of the damage we can do to ourselves, physically, mentally, and spiritually, if we don't wait. What may usually seem like a "good idea" is not always a "God idea". We have our integrity and self value at risk when making desperate decisions and taking the easy way out can lead to painful regrets. Yes, God restores painful regrets, but why not spare yourself that. As difficult as it is to have to wait for that something or someone to happen to you, be encouraged that we never have to wait alone. God knows the timing of everything and he is NEVER late. He sees and knows your every thought and in his time he will give you the desires of your heart....plus a bag of chips!

Helen

Raising Confident Children, pt. 3

Parents play three distinct roles as mom or dad, teaching, coaching and cheeringWhen children are young, our every action teaches them what we believe . As they grow, we teach then stand on the sidelines and watch them practice. At some point in life, every child makes a decision or a series of decisions that are the exact opposite of what a  parent would choose for them.

What to do? What to do?  When your teenager, young adult or adult child is off-roading  and you, the parent can see there's an easier way to arrive at the same destination, how do you advise when no one wants your advice? I'd like to submit to you the idea that this is when we put on our cheerleading uniforms and begin to "cheer" them through the game.

Sound,independent decisions are what we want to see our children repeat over and over. One definition for sound is sensible. What is sensible to a man or woman in their 20's might not be to one in their 40's. Because of experience, a parent can usually "see farther" than their child but it doesn't change the fact that most of us are who we are because of the mistakes we've made, and our children will become the men and women they are destined to be through their good and bad decisions.

If your child isn't interested in your words of wisdom,  it's okay to let him/her know you would do things differently, but don't stop there. Do your own self a favor. Look at the attributes your child possesses and verbalize them. "I admire your ability to commit," "Your creativity amazes me," "You're such a risk-taker!" Hearing you speak positively  will let your child know 1) your love is unconditional 2) you believe in him/her 3) you are a safe place to run to if things don't work out. Hearing your own words can assuage your fears because you can visualize the characteristics you name out and when you do, you'll realize your child is many times, better equipped than you think.

Finally, human beings are like a garden. There are all kinds of flowers. Some require direct sun and some flourish in shade. We can be comforted in knowing  there is a Gardener that waters daily and guards it day and night, ensuring the care of each individual flower.

Quit Trying to Quit

I need to quit! I know I should not do that anymore!” These are the words so many of us say as women.  We beat ourselves up for the things we do in every area of our life.  How depressing. How about changing that way of thinking by asking “What Can I Do”. Many times if we concentrate on what we can add to our life, it eventually takes the place of the very thing we want to quit. Recently, I was faced with a personal situation that caused me worry and grief.  I continued to dwell on it which solved nothing. I wanted to give that worry up and quit thinking about it, but it continued to pop up out of no where and there I would be dwelling on a situation that led to nothing but self pity. I have always loved sending cards to friends who I knew needed a word of encouragement, but of course never really had the time. I finally realized the time I used to worry and feel sorry for myself could be used more wisely. So it became a trigger for me.  Self-Pity equaled send a cardBy placing my focus on others, the self pity was alleviated a lot quicker than just trying to quit on my own.

Our health can be the same way.  We try to use will power or self control to stop eating certain things, cut our calories or try to give up unhealthy behaviors that may add unnecessary calories.  But if we try to think about adding more of the foods from our daily nutritional requirements such as having 5 servings of fruits and vegetable a day or 25 grams of fiber , it eventually leaves little room for the foods that should be a “sometimes” food only. One of my favorite things to do in the summer is see how many new fruits I can add in for a lunch time salad or what new protein could be used as a topper. Instead of saying I can’t have it anymore, identify something new to replace it.

Is there an activity that has become a habit for you that you know is not the most healthy physically or mentally?  Quit trying to quit! Put into practice an exercise or healthy behavior that could take its place, even if it is for ten minutes. If we have an idea in mind to fill its place, we can create a new healthy behavior instead of just trying to quit an unhealthy one.

Remember when you want to add something new, don’t get over ambitious.  Think about one thing at a time and break it down in small increments.  Here are a few ideas.

  • Add a new fruit for an afternoon snack
  • Add one new vegetable at dinner time
  • Add one glass of water before you leave in the morning
  • Take ten minutes to stretch
  • Carry a journal with you to jot down your thoughts during a stressful moment instead of eating

Trying new things can lead to a lifetime of good health

To learn more about  Wellness Coaching or receive a free session with me as your Personal Wellness Coach

contact me at Crystal@crystalclearchange.com or 409-550-7606