Mindfulness Flow

In this video, I share with you tips for living life more mindfully to reduce stress, lose weight, and increase creativity.  Whether you think of mindfulness as a habit or a discipline, practice truly does make perfect.  You’re not going to get it completely right the first time, and that’s OK.  Give yourself the grace to mess up and to embrace the fresh opportunity to start over with the next day.  Start with one minute and go from there.  Remember, we’re flowing like water.

If you have questions about the effects of our emotions on our bodies’ chemicals and what that has to do with health, feel free to ask them in the comments.

Did you try it?  How was it?  I still have to work to bring my mind back to the now or to keep it from straying to the then.  How do you feel after practicing this mindfulness exercise for a few minutes?  Please let me know in the comments below.

DIY Stress-Relieving Bath Treats

When things get stressful, we all need a bit of time to chill out and relax.  When you can’t escape town or get away to a spa, it’s nice to have options for relaxing at home.  I’m sharing with you three simple formulations for easy bath treats you can whip up yourself in just a few minutes.  Check out the video, then scroll down for the ratios.

Fizzy Bath Salts

1 T. corn starch

2T. baking soda

2 T. citric acid

3 drops essential oil

Mix all together, stirring to get out clumps.  Pour into bath.


Bath Salts

2 T. epsom salts

2 T. coarse sea salt

3 drops essential oil

Mix all together.


Chamomile Oatmeal Tub Tea

2 T. dried chamomile blossoms

2 T. colloidal oatmeal (or regular oatmeal)

Mix together and place in a cloth bag or empty tea bag.  Bring 3 cups of water to a boil.  Place filled bag into pot.  Remove from heat, cover, and let stand 20 minutes.  Dump into bath water, being careful to adjust water temperature to allow for the temperature of the tea.  Discard contents of bag (if using cloth) after bath.

Which one of these sounds the best to you?  Comment below to let me know which treat you made and how you liked it.

This Knee Brace Wasn’t What I was Thinking

Back in October, I pulled the troops together for a family meeting.  The gist of this meeting went something like this:  “I’m tired of being so busy during December, running my business, chauffeuring kids around, doing all the cooking, teaching, and keeping the house running.  I never get a chance just to rest and relax.  While y’all are playing games, watching specials, and reading, I end up worn to a frazzle.  Things are going to change this year.  We’re going to work as a team and get things done together so we can all enjoy the season.”  And work we did.  We started doing the Fly Lady thing every weekend, and with tremendous results.  Fifteen, thirty minutes of cleaning as a family followed by standing back, admiring our work, and patting ourselves on the back.

Things were going along rather swimmingly.  We were knocking out the cleaning and the cooking, preparing to decorate and for our trip to the Crystal Coast Christmas Flotilla.  We had food in containers and food in bags in the freezer.  Then a crisis hit.

It’d been a good day.  It was the Monday before Thanksgiving, and I’d taken the girls into the closest city to shop for their Christmas dresses and to return a certified pre-owned Nook to Barnes & Noble that the company had sent me by mistake.  I guess it’s not nice to mess with the minds of low-wage retail workers (“You want to return this?  I need to talk to my manager about this.  I haven’t ever had a situation like this before.”), because doing so must’ve been bad karma or something.  The girls and I returned home with our purchases, and as I was walking across the kitchen floor, I slid down and dislocated my knee.  Oh, sweet heavens, was THAT a new and unique kind of pain!

The girls were amazing, I met some pretty nice EMTs and emergency room staff, and I finally came back home around 8:30 that night with a shiny pair of crutches and a referral for an ortho follow-up.  The next day I went for the appointment and left with a sexy black peek-a-boo knee brace (the perfect accessory to all my holiday wardrobe essentials)

The latest in sexy holiday accessories
The latest in sexy holiday accessories

and instructions to wear it for the next 6 weeks, 23/7.  When you dislocate the patella, there is damage to the soft tissue where it lands, and there’s also damage to the soft connective tissue that holds the patella in place.  These tissues, the ligaments especially, take a long time to heal, but with proper care and attention, they heal fine.  I’m about halfway through my healing process.  Oh, plus there’s the addendum to those instructions regarding the brace:  “Stay off of it as much as possible.”

Squee!  That means being still and resting all through Advent!  That means staying off my feet and letting people take care of me.  So far I’ve gotten to play on NORAD every day with my youngest.  I’ve knitted.  A lot.  I’ve done Christmas cards; blogged; and spent some very valuable time brainstorming, reading, and preparing for some amazing changes in my business in the New Year.  This has been incredible!  Sure, I’ve missed making soap and baking, but perhaps the Good Lord knew that I wouldn’t stop as planned without something major happening to me.

My family has been great about taking care of me and everything else.  Mary has been grooving on the soapmaking, really coming into her own as a soap artisan.  My best friend drove down last week to take the girls and me to finish our Christmas shopping.  Thanksgiving was awesome, because we were home with my parents.  I don’t care how old I am or how many boo-boos I’ve kissed myself; I’ve got a major boo-boo myself, and I needed my own Mom.  Even just having Mom air around is somehow healing.  My dad is a very well-respected physical therapist, so that just added another layer of incredible healing mojo to our visit.  I was slightly amused – and touched – when my dad offered to help me navigate up the two steps to their porch.  I’d been gimping up and down our stairs in our 2-story house for 3 days at that point.  But he’ll always be my dad, and he’s a physical therapist even off the clock, so such is to be expected.  I’m lucky as all get-out to have him, because he’s given me pointers, suggestions, exercises, and prayers for my patience.  He’s done more to help my healing progress than my orthopedist has.  When I go back to the doctor in a hair under three weeks, I’m hoping he’ll be wow’ed by my progress.

While a knee brace and crutches weren’t quite in my grand plan for this Advent season, I’m finding the blessing in being able to take it easy.  The family is getting a great learning opportunity as they experience my duties and responsibilities.  My best friend got the unusual opportunity to take care of me (generally, I’m doing the caretaking).  While the boredom really gets to me sometimes, I’m looking for the silver lining, and I think I’ve found it.

How do you take it easy in the craziness?  How do you make sure you get the rest and relaxation you need?

Just Chill!

One woman, many hats.  CEO.  Teacher.  Home manager.  Wife.  Minister.  That’s a lot for one person, and the potential for me to get super stressed out is high.  Obviously, stress is neither good for myself or for the girls, so I have to find ways to reduce stress in ways that don’t involve eating copious amounts of chocolate.  At the same time, I want to do things that are good for my brain, good for my body, and somewhat productive.  But not soap.  Ninety-eight percent of the time, making soap is for business, though I do enjoy playing with it occasionally.  I choose activities that can stand separate from soap.

For my body, I’ve been doing some resistance exercises daily, and in the past week or so, the girls have been joining me, so we can count that as part of school as we learn about how our muscles work and how these exercises help us.  I started out with planking, wanting to strengthen my arms and tone my core.  Then I decided to add push-ups to the routine so I can get rid of annoying upper arm dimples and tone the muscles there.  Next, I got this wild hair about doing crunches.   Like that’s not enough, a friend posted on Instagram a brief video of her doing roll ups.  If crunches are like a street gang’s tag artist, roll ups are Al Capone.  Yep, that much more evil.  Supposedly, each roll up is comparable to four crunches.  This is what they look like.


I started with where I was then, even though my counts were pitifully low.  However, I’ve steadily increased my counts, my seconds planking, and my strength.  It feels awesome!  My first goal?  Get these arms toned to look great with my red sleeveless dress before attending a wedding next weekend and the abs smoother so I won’t have to wear a body shaper under it.  My second and long-range goal is overall fitness and tone.

For my brain and body, I’ve been spending time knitting.  Studies have shown that knitting is good for the brain, as well as stress levels which positively impacts the heart as well.  I’ll knit about anything, and I’m constantly pushing myself to learning new patterns and techniques.  Last week I finished a long-term project – my first lace shawl.

Lace scarf made of a black wool-blend yarn spangled with multicolored sequins
Lace scarf made of a black wool-blend yarn spangled with multicolored sequins
2015-10-01 10.42.09
A close-up of the lace, both body and edge

Pair the relaxation of knitting with the absolute peace that comes from having a cat curled up next to you asleep, and that’s the way I end many of my days.  I’m so chill by that point that I can barely make it upstairs to bed.  This leads to a sound night’s sleep and a refreshed awakening, which is a great way to combat stress!

What do you do to just chill?

Unplug Yourself

About three weeks ago, my mom, daughters, and I struck out on our Epic Spring Break trip.  We told my daughters for over a year about this “beach trip” we were taking for our Spring Break this year and how much awesome fun it’d be.  I knew what the treat would be – a 3-day Disney cruise on board the largest cruise ship in the Disney fleet, followed by 3 days at Walt Disney World.

The stern of the Disney Dream.
The stern of the Disney Dream.
It’s a BIIIIG ship!

I left my laptop in the car, and while I took my mobile phone with me on the ship to snap some pictures to text to friends, I turned it off and stowed it in my purse before we left the port.  I could have paid for satellite access for my devices, but instead I opted to take advantage of the opportunity to completely unplug for the duration of our cruise.

This was such a great choice, because it forced me to focus entirely on Mom, my daughters, and the many fascinating things there were to see and do on the ship.  I got along splendidly without text, email, and Facebook for a few days.  Those who needed to find me in an emergency could, and everything else could survive just fine without me.

When we arrived back in Florida, I turned my phone back on to face the bombardment of messages, particularly as my husband was heading to Orlando to meet us (another surprise for the girls).  I didn’t bother with emails or FB, though.  Even when we settled at our Disney resort, I got online just to check my personal email, because some soccer-related things had come up that needed my attention as coach.

For an additional three days, I avoided social media completely, save for the occasional picture posted from my phone.  In the meantime, I made some incredible memories with my family, my mom, and my friend Marci.  This was the first cruise for my daughters and me, and this was my younger daughter’s first trip to Disney World, and it was more important to watch the magic come alive for her than it was to check in on my social media accounts.

This video perfectly encapsulates the value of putting down the phone and paying attention to the people around us.

I put this into practice yesterday as I spent time with my friend April talking about everything under the sun.  My phone vibrated in my pocket off and on for five hours, and I studiously ignored it.  When one of my friends asked where I was, honestly believing that “meeting for coffee” would only last an hour or so, I asked him, “When you go out and are looking around, how many people are buried in their phones?”  He replied, “Way more than I like to see.”  I was determined not to be one of those people, and it left me able to enjoy the face-to-face time.  After all, chick time without kids is rare, but I can check my phone any time.

How do you unplug?  Can you unplug to spend time with loved ones?


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The Value of Relaxation

English: A young girl taking a break in a swim...
English: A young girl taking a break in a swimming pool, grabbing on to a rainbow-coloured styrofoam flotation device. Français : Jeune fille s’offrant une pause dans une piscine, s’accrochant à une planche de polystirène expansé aux couleurs de l’arc en ciel. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m a busy woman.  I’m not bragging about that at all.  I don’t use my busyness to get out of things if I can help it.  I don’t take pride in my busyness.  If anything, I feel ashamed of it sometimes, because I think, “Maybe I can manage my time better.”  But, the fact remains that, between running my business, teaching my girls, chauffeuring them from Point A to Point B, managing the household and coaching soccer, I am very busy.  But not for long.  Those running around days are coming to a close.  The soccer season won’t last forever.  And our Summer Break starts at the end of May.  There will soon be time to breathe.

Given all this busyness, all these responsibilities, all the minutiae of things that need my attention, it is very hard for me to stop to chill.  I have two children who demand that I stop to play with them every so often.  Last week after their swimming lessons, they asked if we could do free swim some.  I said, “Sure.”  OK, in my mind, I was saying, “But I’ve got to type that blog post and take those pictures and get through our academic lessons…”  The “Yes” won out, and we enjoyed an hour-and-a-half or so in the pool together, swimming and playing…  and laughing.  By the time we got home, I was feeling very mellow and relaxed, which set me up for a very productive afternoon.

Last Wednesday, I blew off a small group study on raising better kids to enjoy coffee and smoothies with an acquaintance-turned-friend.  I was looking forward to it with a little trepidation.  Would April and I have enough to discuss to fill the hour-long break we had from motherhood?  Oh yes, plus some!  When the time was coming to a close, neither of us was ready to get back to the demands of motherhood, having enjoyed getting to know one another better and discovering all we have in common.

Last weekend, I took time to liberate myself of all responsibilities.  My best friend and I had planned for me to come for a visit after our soccer games were over.  My heart blossomed as I spent time with his daughter, and he said a few times, “She opened up to you more than she had the whole time she was here!”  We shopped; spent time with his mom, who’s one of my dear friends; went out to a great dinner; attended church (can I get an AMEN for rich spiritual nourishment!); then chilled with Netflix for a while.  We talked and laughed and cut up, and I left feeling completely recharged.  Not once did I check my business email or worry for a second about the batches of soap awaiting production.

Then came yesterday.  So much to do, and only one car between hubby and me (his died last week, so he’s been using mine for work).  Swimming lessons and hair appointments and necessary Easter shoe shopping for the girls and…  A rain day.  That meant he didn’t have to work, so I had the car to get things done.  Unfortunately, the timing never worked out with the girls’ swim teacher, but Hubby worked with the girls on their techniques, our youngest, especially.  I was going to sit and watch, using my phone to catch up on emails, blog posts, and so forth, but at the almost last minute, I grabbed my suit and towel and decided to swim myself.  How wonderful it was taking this opportunity to exercise and play in the pool!  We also managed to get everything else done.

I needed these breaks.  I needed the mental breaks with my girls, new friend, and bestie to play and laugh.  I needed soccer and yesterday’s swimming time to exercise.  I needed to fall asleep on the sofa last night to refresh and rejuvenate my mind and body.  I needed to stop for a while, because it was only in allowing myself to stop that I could once more go full speed ahead with fresh ideas, goals, motivation, and agendas.

What do you do to stop yourself in order to get a fresh start?


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