What I discovered during a month without social media

What I discovered during a month without social media

I’m wrapping up my month without social media, so I thought I would check in and give an update. I thought this would be a difficult month, fighting the urge to check in on friends on Facebook or get my fix of visual happiness on Instagram.

Instead, this has been quite a transformative month for me, and it really didn’t have much to do with the goals I set for myself this month. The biggest change that occurred for me this month is that without the constant lure of social media, I freed up a ton of prime retail space in my brain to pursue other things.

I also relieved a lot of stress and anxiety that comes with keeping up with social media. My brain on social media is kind of like having a radio playing all day long. It’s background noise that occupies my thoughts and inhibits my ability to focus. Flipping it off for a while has been so refreshing. It’s been a relief to separate myself from the political conversations, not to mention the constant barrage of food related posts, DIY ideas and product marketing.

Here are a few other things that have happened as a result:

  1. Speaking of “product marketing,” without the ability to promote my blog on Facebook, my readership has dropped by about 98 percent. That was discouraging at first. It was hard to publish a blog post and look at my stats to see I only had three readers. “Hi, you guys!!” But I get it. I know that most people don’t really incorporate blog reading into their daily schedule, and if they do, they are going to jump onto a blog with relevant content that’s right in front of them. It reminded me of why I write, and how therapeutic it is for me!
  2. I’ve really enjoyed the daily devotional that I’ve been doing this month. It’s called, “I Am,” by Michele Cushatt. Each day helps replace negative self talk and comparison with the truth of who I am as a child of God. I have fallen behind on my reading a few times, but for the most part, I’ve been keeping on track. Each day’s passage is short and engaging, and it’s been great to start my day with this encouragement.
  3. The biggest change that has occurred for me in February is once again with my diet. (Just when you thought I was done talking about this!) When I finished Whole 30 in January, I was feeling great overall. But I couldn’t figure out why some of my autoimmune symptoms were actually far worse than they were when I started. Through my research, I found something called the Paleo Autoimmune Protocol. I’ve been diving in with both feet, gathering information, listening to podcasts and incorporating this way of eating into my lifestyle. I’m planning to write about this in much greater depth in the next few weeks, so if you are one of my three remaining readers, I hope you will come back!
  4. If you thought Whole 30 was an intense diet adjustment, that’s because you haven’t heard of Paleo AIP (autoimmune protocol). It focuses on removing all inflammatory foods from your diet, so your body can start to heal from autoimmune disease. Back in June when I went gluten free, I thought it was hard. Now I’m also grain free, sweetener free, soy free, legume free, dairy free, nut free, egg free, seed free and free of nightshades, which include potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant, chili powder, paprika, red pepper and all other spices made from nightshades. The diet also eliminates all processed food, food additives, refined oils, refined sugars and alcohol. Needless to say, I have spent a ton of time researching recipes and figuring out what I can eat. I go to the grocery store at least once a day because I consume so much produce!

I seriously can’t wait to write more about all of this. It’s really making a big impact on my life, and I’m excited to start chronicling my journey.

I will be reintroducing social media in the month of March, and I’m working on a plan to do that gradually so it’s not like flipping on hard rock music at full blast.

Until then, let me know you stopped by! I would love it if you would say “Hi!” in the comments and let me know one thing that’s new with you in the month of February! 

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The gift I give to myself

The gift I give to myself

My husband and I aren’t coffee drinkers. Hot tea is our caffeinated beverage of choice.

But at the beginning of winter, I started getting into a habit of making myself a cup of decaf coffee mid morning. It’s a nice way to warm up on a cold winter day, and let’s be honest. It’s more about using coffee to water down the cream, right?

Because I’m the only person who uses the coffee maker, and I only use it to make one cup of coffee every other day or so, I would usually forget to clean it. I would let the old coffee and coffee grounds sit there until the next time I made a cup. Then, I would have to rinse it out before brewing my single cup of coffee.

A few weeks ago, I had some extra space in the dishwasher and decided to actually wash the coffee maker. I know. Gasp! The next morning when I wanted some coffee, it was such a nice surprise to find a sparkling clean coffee pot and a filter basket that wasn’t full of old coffee grounds.

Huh?

I smiled. It was like a gift I gave myself. 

Since then, I’ve been putting the coffee pot in the dishwasher immediately after I use it. Each time, I think, “This is so nice of me to give myself the gift of a clean coffee pot.”

Eating clean and Whole 30 is the gift I give to myself

I was thinking about this concept the last few days as I’ve been learning more about nutrition and health. Since I changed the way I’ve been eating, I’ve become a little obsessed with the topic. I started listening to a Paleo podcast, and I have a long list of books I want to read on topics like fat, sugar and nutrition.

I’ve noticed that my mindset also has started to change about the food I eat. When I found out I had Celiac Disease last summer, I was really angry at this invisible force that had robbed me of my ability to eat gluten. How could all of my favorite foods just be taken from me without any warning?! I revolted by overindulging in chocolate, ice cream, candy, ANYTHING that I COULD eat.

I quickly found out that gaining almost a pound a month wasn’t going to be a good long-term solution for me. As January approached, I knew I had to make a change to my eating. I carefully researched several different options to determine which one I liked the best. “That one says I can’t have fruit…. This one lets me eat potatoes and caffeine,” I thought. “That sounds good to me.”

Now that I’ve been eating this way for almost 45 days, I can really tell how foods affect me. Certain foods make me feel really full. Others seem to make me crave something sweet. I started drinking milk and then decided to go back to almond milk because cow’s milk made me feel so heavy. Just because I CAN have something (like potatoes) on a certain diet, it doesn’t mean it’s the best choice for me.

I’ve realized that my food choices are my own. I can’t just pick a diet because it gives me options that sound good to me. I have to make the choice based on how healthy I want to be and how I want to feel.

There’s not some unseen force that is making me give up certain foods or eat others. No one else has to live with my bloated stomach or my sugar cravings. It’s all up to me. I can choose to give myself that gift.

I’ve realized it’s great to wake up to a clean coffee pot. And it’s even better to take the time to chop some veggies and snack on protein. It’s the gift I give to myself.

So, what about you? I would love to hear your reaction in the comments. Have you made any lifestyle changes that feel like a gift to yourself?

 

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The powerful motivation of a before shot

The powerful motivation of a before shot

At the beginning of January, I did something I had never done before. I put on my workout clothes. I stood awkwardly in front of a blank wall, and I asked my daughter to take a photo of me.

It was weird.

I don’t love having my photo taken in general. But when I do, I make sure to at least wear a cute outfit. My tightest workout clothes definitely don’t qualify as cute!

But more than that, it was scary.

Taking that “before” shot was a vulnerable moment for me, not just because I hope no one stumbles across it in my camera roll and sees my flabby self. It was scary because I was making a statement to myself. This is the before.

That means, I’m committed to an after.

The magical motivation of a before shot

I can’t believe what a big impact that before photo had on me during the month of January. I looked at it several times, wondering if I would notice a difference at the end of the month. I thought about it when I wanted to eat sugar or grains or dairy. The before shot reminded me not to eat a bowl of ice cream before bed.

That before shot was helping me commit to the after.

This week, I took my after shot to compare. I had completed the Whole 30, and started working out more regularly.

I doubt that anyone but me could see the difference. But I could definitely spot the changes. Now, I’m happy to have my February photo as my new before. As I look ahead at this month and those to come and my plans to live more intentionally, I’ve been thinking about other types of before photos I need to take.

In February, I’m giving up social media, and adding in “truth.” My “truth” is an effort to seek affirmation and acceptance from God, rather than people (in the form of social media). This month, I bought a new journaling Bible, and I’ve been journaling my way through the Psalms. Writing down my thoughts, highlighting important phrases and copying verses in my Bible is one way I’m taking a before shot of the state of my heart.

In future months, my before shots might look like:

  • a photo of the clothes in my closet before I start the purging process
  • a printout of our budget before I take steps to reduce my spending
  • a copy of our calendar before I institute a day of rest into my schedule

As I looked at the two photos of myself this morning from the first day of January and then the beginning of February, I had to smile. The photos were proof that I’m a little bit closer to where I want to be. That before shot had a motivating power I didn’t expect. I’m more determined to keep working on my after until it becomes my new before.

What about you? Have you ever taken a before and after photo? Was it motivating for you? 

Hey, if you liked this post, make sure you don’t miss the next one! Enter your e-mail address to the right and you’ll get an e-mail when I write something new. 

 

 

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Using freezer paper to paint a custom t-shirt

Using freezer paper to paint a custom t-shirt

How to use freezer paper to paint a custom T-shirt for the 100th day of school

One of the craft projects on my to-do list has been to paint a custom t-shirt using freezer paper for a stencil. I bought all of the supplies back in the summer, but I’ve been too intimidated to give it a try.

A few weeks ago, I got the motivation that I needed. My daughter’s first grade teacher sent home a note that the kids would soon be celebrating the 100th day of school. She suggested we send our kids to school in a shirt with 100 objects on it. They would have a fashion show to display their 100th day attire.

I searched Pinterest for ideas and found lots of cute ones, but I wanted to think of something original. I must have had Trolls dancing on my brain from how many times we have watched the movie on repeat since it was available to purchase on iTunes. (I seriously LOVE that movie!) All of those marching little Trolls gave me the idea to paint 100 footprints walking across her t-shirt.

Here’s how we used freezer paper to make an easy stencil. I used my Silhouette CAMEO to cut out my footprint design. However, if you don’t have a Silhouette, I’ve seen lots of ideas on Pinterest on how you can cut out your stencil using an Xacto knife.

Step 1. Download a footprint design from the Silhouette Design store.

Step 2. Cut your freezer paper to the same size as your cutting mat. Place the paper on the mat with the glossy side up. I decided to make my feet 1.5 inches long, and I cut out three rows of footprints on each piece of 12×12 freezer paper.

Step 3. Find a piece of cardboard. I unfolded a Cheerios box and it was the perfect size to fit inside my daughter’s Youth M t-shirt. You need to cover the cardboard in freezer paper with the glossy side of the paper facing up. I taped the edges with Washi tape.

Step 4. Arrange the footprints on the shirt with the glossy side down. You are going to iron the stencil to the t-shirt. It will adhere to the freezer paper that is on the inside of the t-shirt. Just remember that you want the two glossy sides facing each other.

Step 5. Paint! We used purple, blue and white paint on our footprints. The purple and white turned out great. The blue ended up looking periwinkle even after four coats, but it was still pretty. We were worried that our paint was going to seep underneath the stencil because my 7-year-old and I aren’t the neatest painters in the world. However, we were pleasantly surprised when we removed the freezer paper.

Step 6. Remove the freezer paper while the paint is still wet. It will pull right off.

Step 7. Once the paint has dried, place a piece of fabric or pillow case on the t-shirt, and iron. This will help set the paint.

We painted 50 footprints on each side of the shirt, so we repeated the process on the back side.

This was a really fun project, and I loved that we could do it together. I was surprised how well the freezer paper worked as a stencil. I can’t wait to try it again on another project! My other kids are already dreaming up other ideas for custom painted t-shirts! (And so am I!)

What do you think? Is this a project you would like to try? Leave me a comment and let me know!

By the way, if you want an easier way to read my blog, just enter your e-mail address in the box to the right. You will get new blog posts in your inbox!

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What I’ve learned so far in February

What I’ve learned so far in February

I was sitting at the table doing my devotional this morning, when I looked up and realized all of my materials were naturally arranged so photogenically! I didn’t even do this on purpose. They were just sitting in this configuration.

What I've learned from giving up social media and continuing the Whole 30

Of course, I had to take a photo when I was done reading. But alas, I’m not on social media this month, so I couldn’t even post it on Instagram. So, here I am, updating my blog instead, with a few facts that might normally qualify as my status update.

  1. Did you know there’s actually a name for this type of photo? It’s called a flatlay, and apparently, it’s considered an art form by some. People have Instagram accounts devoted to flatlay photography!
  2. Abstaining from social media this month hasn’t been as difficult as expected. I feel much calmer and less anxious. I do miss seeing what all of my friends are up to when we haven’t talked, but overall, this has been a very positive change for me.
  3. I love journaling in my Bible. I had pretty much gone paperless when it came to Bible reading. But I decided to reward myself for completing the Whole 30 and motivate myself for this month’s challenge by buying a journaling Bible. Since I love practicing my hand lettering and colored pens, this has been a bright spot in my day!
  4. I’ve been trying to decide what to eat since I finished Whole 30, and I thought Paleo might be a natural next step. I figured out that there are only a few differences between Whole 30 and Paleo. Whole 30 allows you to eat potatoes, Paleo does not. Paleo allows you to eat unrefined sweeteners, such as honey. Whole 30 does not. Whole 30 also guards against using foods that are Whole 30 compliant and making them into treats, like banana pancakes, pumpkin brownies, etc.
  5. So far, the only thing I’m eating that isn’t Whole 30 compliant is cream (that’s whole whipping cream!) in my decaf coffee and some milk. I’ve learned that I actually prefer drinking almond milk. Cow’s milk tastes much better, but I seem to tolerate almond milk better.
  6. I don’t want to go back to eating like I did before. I like this dietary lifestyle because I can eat as much as I want. I have a lot more solid energy and I don’t feel as heavy.
  7. I also learned this week that there is a subculture of people known as furries. My son was telling me about a girl at his school who is a furry. She wears cat ears and a tail to school everyday. I didn’t know this was a thing. Look it up if you weren’t aware.
  8. It’s really fun to see your children grow in their gifts and talents. Our 16-year-old is finishing up a video that he wrote, edited and produced for a film festival at school. It has been so fun to watch him do this all on his own! Our 7-year-old has started taking an acting class, and has decided she wants to be an actress. Our 14-year-old is growing a ton in his love for playing the drums. His band was one of only a few junior high bands asked to perform at a state conference for music educators. They are phenomenal for a group of 8th graders! I love watching all of our kids doing their thing.
  9. Women write blogs that are 100 percent focused on what outfit they wear each day. This seems ridiculous to me. And yet, I find myself wanting to read these blogs. I think I secretly want to write a blog about my outfits.
  10. See this adorable little snail on the edge of my cup? That is made to hold my tea bag. Isn’t it the cutest little thing? My friend bought it for me. Aren’t little tiny surprises from a friend the best?

Well, that’s what I’ve been learning so far this month. How about you? What have you been learning lately?

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