Battling Depression · Monday Mantra

Monday Mantra: You Are a Piece of Art

This Friday, I submitted some of my drawings into my college’s art show (which was, you know, the first time I’ve ever publicly displayed my drawings…ever. No big deal haha). The part that really stood out to me was that Thursday afternoon, however.

I walk in the door, and it’s a flurry: people at desks, in chairs, whizzing back and forth between tables, materials strewn everywhere. I only knew one girl there (bless her beautiful heart, she literally helped me with everything). So, I walk in to this artistic madhouse and–while Emma cuts foam board and matting to frame my drawings–curiously observe these artists, people-watching from my own little corner of the room.

And I notice something.

It started when I had to hand over my drawings to Emma and then a girl I didn’t even know. Now, again, I’ve never done this before. So, I wasn’t expecting the maternal instinct to kick in over a piece of dead tree alright, but boy did it ever. If you’ve ever created anything (art, poetry, a book, your blog even) and had to entrust it to someone else, you know what I’m talking about. You suddenly realize, “This is my baby” and don’t want to let it go. You worked hard on your baby. You hand-crafted it, you shaped it, you molded it, you designed it’s very being.

In order for the world to see my babies, my drawings, I had to let them go. I had to conquer fears of self-doubt, unworthiness, vulnerability, and remind myself that they are worthy.

Which was scary. But it opened my eyes in a way I never would have imagined.

As I handed over my drawings, and watched as dozens of other artists prepped their pieces for display, I saw the enormous love each one had put into his or her work–the same love I had put into mine. Watching all of them sweat over and perfect their art, I realized, this is how God must feel for us. He uniquely and individually crafts every single one of us, and then lets go of His beautiful creation into a crazy world–a world that judges and tears down and hurts. We even judge ourselves, nitpicking and degrading the parts of ourselves we hate, like God somehow messed us up.

I started to compare my work to other drawings, I won’t lie. The doubt started nagging in my head that maybe mine really weren’t good enough and why was I even thinking about entering them into the show? But looking around at the art, I stopped.

Every single piece was different. And to its creator, every single piece was beautiful.

To the Creator, it doesn’t matter what one person might look like next to another, like when I compare myself to another girl or when you compare yourself to someone else. Because to Him, each piece, each person, is art anyway–there’s no “better than” or “more worthy than”, we’re all just art.

Beautiful, worthy, special art.

You’re art. You are beautiful, you are worthy, and you are loved. I just want you to know that. ❤︎

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Battling Depression · Finding Purpose · Monday Mantra

Monday Mantra: Life’s a Fairytale, Just Don’t Forget the Dragons

As a professed Disney lover and fan of Happily Ever After’s, too often I hear the sarcastic reply that “Life isn’t a fairytale” by friends and family members.

I beg to differ.

Because you guys seemed to like my “Monday Mantra: Fairytale Edition” post, I thought I’d do a sequel of sorts. (And because, you know, when aren’t fairytales post worthy?)

When people commonly argue that life isn’t full of Prince Charming’s or fancy palaces, I think it’s because they look at it from a strict, story book perspective. So, yes, if you’re expecting to see Princess Aurora on your doorstep, asking for somewhere to crash and take a nap, you’ll be waiting a long time. (Unless you live near Disney World…)

That’s not to say that life doesn’t have other fairytale aspects, though.

Now, I understand that most of us don’t face fire-breathing dragons in the literal sense (but hey, if you do, I’m expecting an invite!). But how many of us battle obstacles every single day? They make not come with scales or wings, but they are obstacles nonetheless:

  • Rude boss
  • Messy kids
  • Bills
  • Marital discord
  • Class stress
  • Uncertain future
  • Need I go on?

So, chin up buttercup. You’re a knight in shining armor, facing off some serious dragons, just without the uncomfortable chain mail and heavy sword. And better yet, you’ve got something the story books didn’t have when fighting their dragons: a God who is fighting for you at every step.

You are beautiful and you are loved ❤︎

College · Counseling

Shaking the Nerves: 7 Tips to Prepare for Class Presentations

Good evening! 🙂 I hope the week has treated you well–I’m currently bundled up in a blanket, wondering why Winter has suddenly reclaimed control over the weather lol. Due to a bout of anemia this year and just a change in personality, I’ve gone from loving all things cold weather to “Bring on Summer!!”, so these 40 degree days have lost their appeal. Oh well, it was still a gorgeous, sunny day!

It’s not quite final exam season yet, but this is what I call “pre-finals” season (and if you’re in school right now, you know exactly what I’m talking about). It’s the in-between where teachers and professors throw in all the hefty projects, essays, and extra assignments they can before we have to start obsessing over finals.

Needless to say, I’m ready for the semester to be over lol.

However, there are some enjoyable parts about this season: I got to present my first-ever lesson plan yesterday! For those of you who’ve been reading my posts awhile, you know I recently switched my career focus from teaching to counseling–so, my EDU professor let me put together a counseling lesson plan for the age group I’m interning with (fourth graders).

As a sort of memoir for these beginning days in my counseling journey, I think I’m going to do a post specifically explaining the lesson plan, if you’d be interested 🙂 Even if you don’t work in the school system, maybe you could use it with your own kiddos!

The way the lesson plan went was that my EDU class (professor included, so about nine in all) pretended to be fourth graders while I gave the lesson. I’ll have you know, that this was my first time presenting–ever! Most of the other girls have all either been in internships before or are actually working in a daycare or school system already.

I don’t know about you, but I’m a shy introvert with a dislike for the spotlight. You may be the life of the party, but I think we can all agree that class presentations are nerve-wracking. I physically shake when in front of the class! My hands get clammy, my legs get shaky, and the very tip-tops of my ears burn an unbecoming shade of lobster red.

Sound familiar?

As unavoidable as the butterflies may seem, I’ve got a few tips I’ve rounded up from past (and present) experiences that I hope can help you out. Yesterday, I presented without the shakes and stumbles, and know you can too:

Prepared not unprepared 477805217

Preparedness:

I don’t care what my guy friends tried telling me in high school, “winging it” just doesn’t cut it. (Sorry men, I’m not trying to be sexist, it really was the guys in my class.) There’s no better way to make yourself nervous than to show up for a presentation, meeting, or interview with no clue what you’re going to say. Which leads me to my next tip:

Outlining

Outlining:

I personally try to memorize my speech before every presentation. I know this comes with the risk of sounding monotonous or like you’re on autopilot mode, but there are ways to help that like eye contact, hand gestures, and intonation. But back to outlining: whether you want to write out everything you’re going to say until you have it memorized or just want a brief “1, 2, 3”, go ahead and scribble something down. It’s better to plan too much and be able to drop information–especially if you’re like me and have this wonderful knack for blanking out.

Study room

Separate work and play:

I get it. This presentation is worth half your semester grade or could land you the biggest promotion in your office. You want to do the best and are willing to do whatever it takes–including pulling an all-nighter and arriving to class or work on a caffeinated adrenaline high.

But please, don’t.

Set aside time for your project, a little every day leading up to it, so that you can avoid cramming last minute. But more importantly, set an end time. An hour, three hours, half the day–just make sure that, when you’re done, you are done. (Oh, and get some sleep.) Take time to pamper yourself or just sit around relaxing, so you’re not so burntout by the time you present that you can’t think straight. This also applies to separating yourself from distractions when working (yep, that means the cell phone goes away. When boredom kicks in and your phone is out of reach, you won’t be able to start scrolling through Instagram for the next hour. You’re welcome).

Green tea

Have a warm drink:

It sounds small, but it can go a long way. When I was prepping for my counseling lesson plan, I ended up with a scratchy throat–the last thing anyone wants before a presentation. I found that having warm tea not only soothed my throat, but it helped me to relax, especially the morning of. To take it a step further, feeding yourself right is beyond important. I know it gets to be cliche, we’ve all heard it before, but that’s because it’s the truth: what you put into your body is what you can expect to get out of it. Stay hydrated, eat your greens, and enjoy a cup of tea.

Exercise

Exercise the day before:

Now, I’m no scientist or fitness expert. I can’t tell you all the specific, fancy mumbo-jumbo behind the endorphin release that comes from working out. But I can tell you that I’ve felt it and I know it to be true. (Again, this should really be a part of your regular schedule, just like eating healthier.) Ladies, trust me, I know getting sweaty the morning beforehand just ain’t happening, which is why I’m suggesting this the day before. Taking a brisk walk, going for a run, lifting weights–the choice is yours, just get the blood pumping and limbs moving. Sitting and studying is going to leave you crabby enough without the added stress of not moving all day long, I promise.

You can do it.jpeg

Tell yourself you’ve got this:

You’re going to get a little nervous, plain and simple. It’s natural. However, how you talk to yourself during the butterflies can make or break your performance.

Thinking things like “I can’t do this”, “I’m going to mess it up”, or “They’re going to judge me” is depressing and disheartening–and certainly isn’t going to make the nerves go away! Instead, tell yourself you can do it: you’re beautiful/handsome, you’re an amazing human being, and you can rock this!

And one last thing… everybody else is just as nervous as you. You’re not alone. Before the awkward silence starts, share a few laughs with your classmates or coworkers about how one of you forgot your flashdrive, you’re already sweating, and this is your least favorite subject. Then, tell them they’ve got this too!

Bible study 1

Last, but not least, read a few verses:

It’s intimidating, I know. The Bible is a big book and it can almost seem to loom from the bedside table. If it makes it easier, just google some empowering verses on your phone–we all know your phone is already out anyway. Whatever way you go about it, I cannot tell you how much this can help you destress. Reading how God will not let you fall (Psalm 46:5), how God is always with us (Joshua 1:9), and that God Himself makes the way and fights for us (Exodus 14:14) can be incredibly encouraging when we’re preparing for something we know makes us nervous.

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-control.” 2 Timothy 1:7

Presentations can be a little nerve-inducing, but they don’t have to be scary! I let God show me how much he loves me and how he wants me to be confident, laughing without fear of the future, and because of thatI had the best presentation of my life yesterday! I want with all my heart for you to know that same love and confidence, in whatever you do, every day 🙂 You are beautiful and you are loved ❤︎

Monday Mantra

Monday Mantra: Today You Can

Good morning! I hope you had a wonderful Easter with family and friends! Does any other “adult” miss Easter egg hunts? I remember the exact year it dawned on me that I was “too old” for hunting with the little kids… (sigh). Regardless, Easter is such a beautiful day–for so many reasons, but I especially love how it brings us all together.

However, I know Mondays can often feel like a reality kick for a lot of you–and an unpleasant one at that. Your job may be droll, your kids may have been extra crazy this morning, and the dog might have left you a surprise in your shoe (mhmm, it’s happened to me too).

So, even if the day didn’t start out well, I’ve got a little reminder for you. I picked it up off of (surprise!) Google lol, and have been trying to live by ever since:

“It’s impossible to be depressed and grateful at the same time.”

I don’t know who quoted it first, but by goly, it’s powerful. You can always turn a bad day around, no matter the circumstances–and yes, I know that circumstances can vary a lot; and yes, I do mean no matter what’s going on in your life.

All it takes is you.

I come from a house of complainers, so this has really required a lot of work on my part. Even when I don’t feel particularly thankful, I still try to take a minute and say thanks to God. And with yesterday being Easter, I think we’ve been reminded just how much of our gratitude He deserves.

Here, I’m going to give you a little list. I’m not going to mention the “but”‘s, the “everything’s going wrong”‘s, or the “I can’t”‘s. I’m simply going to supply a list of thank you’s for when it seems like you have nothing to be thankful for, so that you can hopefully turn any day around for the better.

Today I can:

  • Today, my eyes can see.
  • Today, my ears can hear.
  • Today, my arms can hug.
  • Today, my hands can hold.
  • Today, my legs can walk.
  • Today, my lungs can breathe.
  • Today, my heart can love.
  • Today, my lips can praise.
  • Today, my life can be anything I make it.

What can you do today?

You are so beautiful and so loved ❤︎

Battling Depression · Body Image · College · Finding Purpose

Fitness Re-evaluated

It has been a hot, hot minute since I did a post that was fitness related–and with good reason. The past two months I’ve been doing nothing (physically speaking) outside of walking the pups or yoga.

Now, I don’t regret this time off from exercise whatsoever. Taking the focus off of the workouts allowed me the necessary time to re-evaluate my meal planning and the food side of things (which, to me, is more important than any workout anyway!). I’m working on a post that goes over how God’s been working through my meal prep, but what do you think: do a general spiel or maybe provide an example of what I eat in a day? I could even do both if you’d like 🙂

Anywho, as I mentioned in my post “Fitness… or Fun?“, I have tried a lot of different workout routines in the past year and a half. When you’re starting a health journey (notice that I didn’t say diet or weight loss; this is your body, for life, not a fad’s get-fit-quick scheme ❤︎ ), I think it’s important to test the waters. Even if you don’t like it, at least you tried it! There’s all sorts of workout options out there: running, weight lifting, yoga, karate, zumba, hiking, sports, and many more. The important thing is that you give it a chance–say, four weeks or so, before deciding you don’t like it or that it’s not your style.

So, after my recent reprieve from all things exercise, I’ve once again turned back to lifting. When I started lifting for a few months this past summer, I was towards the beginning of my health journey and honestly didn’t really know what I was doing. Now that I’ve experimented and taken time out to work on form, I’m ready and excited for the growth ahead.

“She wraps herself in strength, carries herself with confidence, and works hard, strengthening her arms for the task at hand.” Proverbs 31:17

The further I get into this renewed fitness journey, the more I’ll share about the Biblical reasons I believe God wants us to exercise our bodies, but right now I want to share my former mindsets about exercise–in case you have ever shared similar insecurities.

As I’ve been putting together a weekly lifting schedule, I realized that in the past, I was holding myself back from giving my workouts my all out of fear.

Fear I wouldn’t achieve my dream physique.

Fear I would become obsessed with my appearance.

Fear that God would give me an injury if I started obsessing over my body.

But fear comes from a misunderstanding of God’s love for us.

I didn’t see working out as a form of worship when I started this journey. I didn’t understand how I could grow in Spirit while I was growing in physical strength. So, I never gave it my all because I feared that our Heavely Father would smite me where I stood.

Oh, how he must have sighed at me.

When I drew closer to Him, spending more time reading the Bible and praying, He showed me how askew my rationalization really was. He loves me–He hand-crafted this very body and is delighted when I want to take care of it. He’s not going to punish me for exercising it. The more I know Him, the more I know His will.

And if I’m living for His will, I don’t have to be afraid of anything. Because when I’m constantly in communication with Him, I’m not obsessed with outward appearance.

Sure, the temptation’s there. Do I want sleek, toned muscles? Who doesn’t haha?! But I can balance my goals–God already knows I want a stronger physique. If I believe and put in the hard work, the victory is already mine, not because of me but because He’s the God of all.

Physical training is good… Spiritual training is even better.

It’ll take time. It’ll require hard work, patience, sweat, discipline, and dedication. But doesn’t our faith require the same things?

God can use your body and workouts as praise. Just ask Him to show you the first step you need to take.

I’m still tweaking my new workout routine, but I can tell you I already feel SO much better! Sitting all day doing homework and going to class just takes a toll on my body, so adding a half hour to an hour of movement is incredibly rejuvinating. I’d love to provide extra encouragement or tips if you’re just starting out on your healthy journey! Know, however, that I am by no means a professional and I’m still learning, just like you. I wish you the best my dreamers! You are beautiful and you are loved ❤︎

Monday Mantra

Monday Mantra: Open Doors

Happy Monday to you!

In the spirit of new beginnings (it is a Monday, after all), I want to encourage you to be bold today. I know, I know, easier said than done–hey, I’m a shy introvert, I get it! But God’s been opening my eyes here lately to what can happen when you don’t let fear stand in your way.

So here are five quick quotes I want you to come back to, today or any other day, when you’re starting to feel like you can’t achieve your dreams or that something is holding you back:

  1. 1 John 4:18 “But perfect love casts out fear.”
  2. “Be bold. Be brave. Be you.”
  3. “If your dreams don’t scare you, then they aren’t big enough.”
  4. “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”
  5. “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

Learning to cook

On the subject of conquering fears, this may not be a big deal to you haha, but I’m finally getting past my fear of cooking! 🙂 If you’d like to know more about how God’s been conquering my overeating, let me know and I’ll do a post specifically for it!

You are beautiful and you are loved ❤︎

College

Life Happens: College 101

Hey guys!

It feels like an eternity–and then some–since I got to truly sit down and bask in the feeling of blogging. Anyone else had those days (cough, weeks, cough), when you’ve been so busy and you finally get to come back to your blog?

Well, that’s definitely me right now. First off, I’d like to apologize to anyone who has commented and I’ve been–severely–overdue in responding. I know it’s no excuse, but that phrase in my header: “Life happens”? It’s been happenin’.

College students are probably familiar with the term “senioritis”, a passionate desire to get the heck out of dodge and leave all things high school behind.

Yeah… I never got that.

What I have now is some ironically twisted college-itis. I’m at a community college currently, and was accepted into the university where I’ll be transferring in the Fall this past October… so now I’m feeling a severe case of unmotivated lol. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still the overly-studious individual I’ve always been–I’m just so ready for this stage of the game to be over. (And who wants to go back after Spring Break and then consecutive snow days anyway, right??)

Rather than being the behind-the-scenes man we typically see Him as, God’s been peeking His head out from behind the curtain a whole lot for me lately: Career planning (I absolutely have not forgotten that post! I’m waiting for God’s leading on the timing, I thank you so so much for the patience!). Applying for housing. Surveying potential summer jobs. Preparing for my first trip to Radford (this Saturday, ahh!!!). Significant meal prep modifications (might be a post soon?). Juggling my schedule. Trying to truck through the final legs of this last semester.

It can seriously put your brain on autopilot.

If you’ve been through the “senioritis” phase (or are going through it right now), this may sound familiar. However, it’s pretty darn foreign to me and I’m not sure I like it haha. Half of my brain is going over all the reasons I need to stay focused and get back into the swing of things and the other half is somewhere in Guatemala, lounging in the sun (Maggie, this was for you xD).

So how do we get past this?

I’ll be honest, I’m not entirely sure–I obviously don’t have everything perfectly put together! I like being open with you guys though, and to me it makes a person far more real when they don’t just “grin and bear it”. So, while I offer up these tips, know that I’m in the exact same boat trying to follow these myself, friend:

  1. Take a break: Spring break coming up? Do not fill it up with extra homework you can get done–I know, this sounds like the opposite of helpful, but hear me out. Your poor brain can only handle so much late-night studying and caffeine comas before it melts. Productivity is good; overexertion is not. God instructs us in the Bible to care for ourselves–mind, body, and spirit. Caring for yourself may very well mean setting a curfew on homework, free time or no. And I’ve often found that I do even better after letting myself rest than if I’d tried white-knuckling it.
  2. Get organized: In a former post of mine, I talked about the benefits of using a planner or bullet journal or the like. When I’ve got three million things coming up, taking a few minutes to simply jot down what’s coming up when keeps me from getting overwhelmed. (Bonus: it helps prevent total brain shut-down because you’re not trying to remember Granny’s birthday cake recipe, if your brother’s soccer game hours conflict with you and your bff’s dinner plans, and who replaced Pierre-Charles L’enfant during the urbanization of America.)
  3. Me Time: While it sounds similar, I want to emphasize that this is not the same thing as taking a break. Whereas a break could be an allotted amount of time or a vacation or even just ten minutes between study sessions, “me time” is different. Think of it like a business meeting with yourself, if you will: you wouldn’t cancel on your boss, would you? This time has to have the same priority level–write it in bold in your planner if you need to. My typical “me time”, for example, can be my Bible and yoga time first thing in the morning or maybe working on my book manuscript (if writing stresses you out though, opt out on this one). Half hour, hour, or a whole day–whatever you need and whatever is rejuvenating to you. Oh, and no rushing it!

As a side note, I want to say that, though my schedule has been loaded and I am looking forward to the things to come, God has been beautifully reminding me to stop and smell the roses. These past two years, but these past two months especially, He has been cultivating my mindsets, my heart for Him, and my body in ways I’m only beginning to understand–and I couldn’t be more at peace. No, everything in my life’s not perfect. No, I don’t have it all together or know what’s ahead. But I know that, whatever tomorrow brings, God’s already there.

To all my brave college and school friends, I salute you! I know that you can make it through–even if it seems to take forever haha! I hope that these tips will help you, whether you’re in school or not, to approach the reality of life with the joy of a child and courage of a giant. God bless you, you are beautiful and you are loved ❤︎