The Pros & Cons of Journaling

Woman sitting outside journaling in a notebook
Getting some journaling time in!

Several months ago I posted about how I changed the way I journal to make it more enjoyable and meaningful. You can find that post here.

Today I want to talk about the Benefits and Downfalls of Journaling. According to an article on PsychologyToday.com, “Outcome research on the benefits of journaling shows mixed results. Sometimes keeping a journal of your thoughts, feelings, and experiences helps, but often it makes things worse. In general it is likely to hurt if it tries to help you “know yourself” in isolation and helps if it leads to greater understanding and behavior change in your interactions with others.”

“Know yourself in isolation” is an interesting way to describe it, I think. But I think it means that failing to connect with other people, and get feedback etc, is important as well. If you only look to yourself for improvement, solutions, and opportunities for growth, you’re missing out on a whole lot!

The article goes on to give a list of benefits and drawbacks of journaling according to research:

Journaling can have a positive effect on your behavior and well being if it:

  • Makes you step back and evaluate your thoughts, emotions, and behavior
  • Explores solutions
  • Brings your emotions and motivations into alignment with your deepest values
  • Converts negative energy into positive creativity and growth
  • Lowers your emotional reactivity to others
  • Increases tolerance of ambiguity, ambivalence, and unpredictability, which are part of normal living
  • Helps you see other people’s perspectives alongside your own
  • Makes you feel more humane
  • Helps you take a definite course of action.

Journaling can have a negative effect on your behavior and well being if it:

  • Makes you live too much in your head
  • Makes you a passive observer of your life (thinking about how you’ll record it instead of experiencing what is happening)
  • Makes you self-obsessed
  • Becomes a vehicle of blame instead of solutions
  • Wallows in negative things that have happened to you.

Sticking to writing in a journal can be really difficult too, which is why you need to make it enjoyable, and a part of your daily routine. My friends and I were talking about journaling this past weekend, and it came up that sometimes it can be hard to know what to write about. Especially if you are writing everyday! So one of my friends told us that he Grandmother always kept a journal and once told her, “If you don’t know what to say, just write about the weather.” You know what the weather was like so you really don’t have to think about what to say, you can just write it. And if nothing else flows out after that, then maybe that’s enough some days.

I really loved that idea. It gives you a way to stay accountable in a way, because you don’t ever have the excuse that you don’t know what to write.

I think another good rule for journaling is that if you only do one sentence on the days you have trouble figuring out what to write, that’s ok too. Sometimes I even will write down a quote that I really like when I have nothing else to write.

It’s important to remember that journaling is for YOU. Drop whatever preconceived ideas or beliefs about journaling that you have and create new ones! There are no RULES! You get to make up your own!

Do you journal?

Tell me in the comments– Do you journal? If yes, how do you make it enjoyable for yourself? Do you draw pictures? Make lists? Tell me everything!

FREEBIE!!

List of twenty Journal Prompts
20 FREE Journal Therapy Prompts

Interested in trying out my online journaling program? Let me know your email address in the comments or message me on Facebook, and I will send you more information.

Source: The Good and the Bad of Journaling: Use it as a tool to improve or appreciate, Steven Stosny, Ph.D., Psychology Today

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Improve the Quality of Your Friendships

Let’s be honest with each other here, it’s hard making friends as an adult. Am I right? As adults we are much more judgmental, hesitant, and picky about our who we choose as our friends.

Our social circles tend to get smaller as we get older and our lives change. We don’t see the same people that we used to on a regular basis.

However research shows that connection is necessary for living a fulfilling life. We need friends that we can share our lives with to feel whole. I’m sure you have heard the statistics about women’s life expectancy being longer than men’s. This is partly because women are more social creatures. We’re more likely to have a network of friends and therefore more likely to..

LIVE

LONGER!

If that doesn’t say something about how our friendships affect us, I don’t know what does!

So since it such an important aspect of our lives it’s something we should put more effort and intention into.

SO, I made a free 5 Day Course on Friendships! It includes:

  • Characteristics of Healthy Friends
  • 10 Tips for Being a Better Friend
  • Friends & Setting Boundaries
  • Healthy Conflict Resolution in Friendships
  • 5 Tips to Strengthen Your Friendships

If you are interested in my free course just click here to sign up!

Mommy Monday: Casey Kelley

To the Mama Who Let Herself Go

 

I can see the searching and quizzical look on the old friend’s face when I say hello in the grocery store. They’re attempting to place who I am. I feel my stomach drop and my heart pang when I realize they don’t recognize me now. I quickly throw them a life preserver, “It’s Casey! We went to (fill in the blank) together.” We both feel relief and they immediately try to disguise our embarrassment with a comment like, “Oh I didn’t recognize you with those glasses.” I’m grateful for their attempt to hide their disappointment, but I can imagine what they’re thinking. “She sure has let herself go.” They wouldn’t be wrong in thinking this, let me tell you why…

In typical fashion, I’m going to be really honest. I have had many false idols in my life. The image of perfection, youth and physical beauty have been mine for quite some time. They have been (and sometimes still are) my religion, my God. I learned at a very young age that physical beauty was valued in our society. If I could keep my physical body in a static state, that looks something like: thin, toned, tanned, perky, long shiny hair, blemish free, stretch mark free, wrinkle free, grey hair free, carefree — then I would never have to feel unworthy of love. So, I spent most of my time grooming, working out, shopping for the most flattering clothes and accessories, tanning, bleaching, waxing, painting — worshipping the idol of beauty and youth. I attended the church of celebrity gossip magazines and television shows. I took my worship very seriously. My thoughts about these things were all consuming, this was my religion and I was devout.

Then, the most terribly gracious thing happened, I became a mother on three separate occasions. My body was the home for three little souls for nine months each. My breasts and body nourished, and continues to nourish, three tiny humans. My beauty sleep became broken and instead was filled with nurturing brand new people. My hair became thinner and shorter because I no longer had time to spend hours each day grooming it. My nails no longer were manicured, my skin no longer stretch mark free. My taut tummy was replaced with something looser. I traded my sexy clothes for big t-shirts and yoga pants. My shiny idol was beginning to crack and crumble and in its absence was more love and beauty than I could have ever imagined.

Giving up my religion was not easy. The idol was the sacrificial lamb. She was the sacrifice. I absolutely let her go. I let her die, so true unconditional love could be born. The love that remains is so raw, so real, humbling, bring-you-to-your-knees-beautiful. It’s sacrificing sleep to hold a sick baby, it’s wearing pajamas until 6pm because the children needed you all day, it’s watching them learn new things, it’s in listening to them when they’re afraid or heartbroken, it’s in having long talks with your oldest child and realizing how amazing they are, it’s in the early mornings and endless chores.

 

Life has ripped every false idol from my hands. It has showed me what I think I need to be worthy and so graciously reminded me that I already am. So, when you think, “she has let herself go,” you have no idea how accurate you are. I did let her go and would do it all over again if given the chance.

 

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Mommy Monday: Chelsie Jordan

My dad has always told me “be where you’re feet are.” And I’ve always rolled my eyes and moved along. My dad is the one always trying to teach life lessons. Trying to teach me to be patient, to not panic in stressful situations, to not cut corners when I turn while driving. Blah blah. I didn’t appreciate every lesson I should have growing up. But now, as a mom, the “being where your feet are” has suddenly hit me.
I’m the mom that constantly worries. The one who has anxiety. The one who struggles with working while my babies are little because I feel like I’m missing so much. The one who still does panic in situations. I am bad about “babying” my children too much and really bad about planning and organizing. The mom who makes my lists at night and pray it doesn’t get lost or forgotten. I’m the mom who 99% of the time does not know our weekend plans because it’s only Wednesday and I haven’t thought that far. So if all these are my weaknesses, you can only imagine how I am never where my feet are.
When I’m at work I think about my babies, when I’m with my babies, I’m thinking about night time routines to get us to next day, and making sure I reserve my grocery pick up order. On the occasional date night, I’m picking the restaurant that doesn’t have a wait time, and where the food usually arrives quick because I need to get home to put kids in bed and start laundry. I’ve tried to be the other mom. The organized planner with suppers and meals organized for the week, or even the month. It just doesn’t work for us. It doesn’t.  Not in our current stage of life. It may one day. And I will look forward to that.

But there is something perfectly imperfect with coming to the realization that your routine might not be your best friends routine. Or your sisters routine. That it’s okay  that my toy room looks like a F5 tornado went through It and I can’t pick it up because I’m almost 100% sure the bins the toys were originally supposed to go in, are broken. And my sister’s toy room looks like it belongs in a magazine. And right beside it, a family photo of them. And for a long time, a REALLY long time, all that bothered me. That I wasn’t that mom. I did a lot of comparing. A lot of crying. And then one day I actually heard my dads words. Be where your feet are. And I stopped. And I breathed. And I looked around at the toy room and laughed. And smiled at the laundry. And then played with the Kids. And read to them. And went on a date with my husband. And breathed. Because every stage of life is hard. Every stage. And it really is up to us to decide, and be confident, that we are enough. And if we want our children to also be confident in themselves, we must show them. We must not compare ourself to others. Because we don’t want them to do that.

Sometimes, in the stages of our life we don’t have the energy to BLOOM where we are planted. We only have the energy to BE where are feet are. And there is something so, so special about that.

Coming Soon: Saturday Stories

I want to hear from YOU!

Send me your story so I can share it here on my blog! Email me at thesmartlioness@gmail.com

“Share your story with someone. You never know how one sentence of your life story could inspire someone to rewrite their own.” -Demi Lovato 

Mommy Monday: Halley Foulds

Nearly four years ago I traded in my 8-5 job to be a Stay at Home Mom to my then one-year-old. Even though I loved my job and I loved working, the thought of staying home with my son was much more appealing. While I knew there would be a few challenges and hiccups during the transition, part of me also thought this would be a walk in the park. And it was……. Jurassic Park. (Just kidding!) Being at home definitely isn’t as easy as it looks or sounds though. You don’t just get to sit around all day cuddling the littles and watching soap operas (or trashy reality television in my case). Just like everything else, there are precious moments & hardships that come along with this job (see my post  ‘Surviving Two’ for a little more on that!). Here is a little glimpse into my life and some of what I have learned and experienced as a full-time Stay-at-Home-Boy-Mom.

I quickly learned that being a SAHM means that in addition to keeping your tiny human(s) alive and well, you will also be cleaning…pretty much all day long. When I started this job I had twice the house I have now. Naturally, I thought when we moved to a smaller house I would have less to clean (WIN!). Nope! That’s false. I still clean just as much and maybe even more because I have two tiny humans now and back then I only had one. If I’m not just doing general house cleaning (ie: vacuuming, sweeping, wiping of surfaces), I’m doing laundry, cleaning up toys (I’m ALWAYS cleaning up toys, pick one up and 4 more are tossed down!), cleaning up after a meal, cleaning up after the dogs, cleaning something I missed the last time I cleaned that area, cleaning fingerprints off of all the windows. ENDLESS CLEANING. It never stops. You would think with all that cleaning my house would be spotless all the time, too. Nope, more untruth. There are days that I vacuum the whole house and by the time I get from one end of the house to the other end, you can’t even tell I have vacuumed.  (I make cleaning fun by incorporating my kiddos. They are too young right now to realize that cleaning is a chore, it’s still fun to them, so why not let them help!)

Another thing I quickly learned, my days of getting dressed up and “ready” were mostly over. Kinda. I still straighten my hair most days and get blush and mascara on. However, if you find me in something other than a velour jumpsuit or yoga/workout pants, consider yourself lucky! In my opinion and as the ‘doer of all the laundry’, there is no need for me to get dressed in pants or jeans and a cute top and then later that evening when I go to workout, change into my workout gear. I’m not going to see anyone except for my husband and kids so I’ll just dirty up one outfit with snot and lunch particles and save the other for a day when I am out in public trying to blend in with the rest of the world. I call this life lesson, Embracing the Yoga Pants and I challenge other SAHM’s to this as well. You will thank me later!

Playing off the last lesson, I’m also guilty of doing this with my kids. Yeah, I said it. On the days that my oldest doesn’t have preschool and we don’t go outside of the house, I may or may not change my kids out of their pajamas! They don’t seem to mind and my thought is, “why dirty up another outfit and create more laundry?!”. Many of our days are pajama-casual days!

I learned that there would be plenty of days that NOTHING gets accomplished. Some days I had intentions of being so productive and the stars just weren’t aligned in my favor. I’m really hard on myself on these days because I have my own expectations of what I should get done and I’m a creature of habit, so when things don’t go as planned it makes my head spin and throws my whole day off. Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter how crazy those days make me, they still happen.

In all the madness, I have learned how thankful I am for my friends. I am especially thankful for the friends I have that are in similar situations as me and know the struggle. You know the one(s). The one you can take the kids over to their house, pop open a bottle of wine and vent to in your yoga pants while the kids play in the other room. THAT friend! Friends are essential in getting through not only motherhood but life and I feel so blessed to have great ones.

I also learned that panic and anxiety doesn’t stop when you become a SAHM. I suffer from anxiety and panic attacks and I was sure when I left my 8-5 job I would be leaving that behind as well. Wrong again. I still have anxiety and panic attacks, maybe not the same way I did when I was working outside of the home, but it hasn’t gone away completely and why would it? I’m still working… I still have a job. I just went from servicing insurance policies to full-time housekeeping, chef, teacher, accountant and chauffeur to my much younger bosses. The lesson: every momma has breakdown moments and a SAHM is no exception.

The most important lesson I learned is that this time with my children is priceless. It’s not always going to be perfect. Crankiness, teething, diapers and meltdowns (seriously, Surviving Two <– Read it) will get in the way sometimes. But still, occasionally, everything goes according to plan and we have our perfect days. What seems hard now will be over in an instant so do your best to cherish every moment!

To follow Halley or get in touch with her:

Halley@Momatello.com

Mommy Monday: Bree Downs

Mommy Lesson #8 (Laughter)

 

 

Laughter is one of the many keys in Mommyhood that holds me and my kiddos together. Everyone pretty much knows I’m a pretty silly person, and I’m so glad my baby girl and baby boy inherited my sense of humor. No matter how bad of a day I’ve had I know my lil minions will say something or do something that will bring my whole day back to life! And the same goes with me for them I always want my kids to not only think of me as someone they can talk to but also someone that they have all these awesome, awkward funny memories and moments with.

From the store runs where my son announced in the frozen food section that I, quote “I JUST POOTED BOOOM!”

To my daughter telling me at the mall while shopping that “That shirt was not approved by Madison ?” Lol

And so many more stories I could share about them and their always punctual comedic timing. I live to make them laugh!

You will find that there is nothing more funny or sweeter then the sound of your child’s/children’s laughter! It’s the greatest thing ever! I am a believer that laughter is one of the many keys to parenting that will keep you and your kids with a healthy and joyful heart.

Bree❤

Hello Mama!!

Well friends, it has been a while since I have posted! I apologize for being MIA for so long! It has been a crazy couple of months recently!

Christmas day, my husband and I found out that I am pregnant! It was a total surprise! We were not planning it, but are so happy to be expecting! If I’m honest, my husband has been ready for kids A LOT longer than I have! The thought of having my own kids has scared the shit out of me for a long time! I teach Human Development and am a counselor, I have seen the many, many things that can happen when a couple has kids too early, or for the wrong reasons, etc. PLUS I just realize how big of a life change the whole thing is and again, if I’m honest, I wasn’t ready to not be selfish!

 

Adulting is hard without kids! The thought of adding a baby to the mix terrified me, but I knew that I wanted to be a Mom eventually so, I didn’t rule them out completely! And really, is anyone ever REALLY ready for the big jump into adulthood?? (DON’T ANSWER THAT!)

So anyway I’m so incredibly happy to share my good news with you all now! I’m almost 13 weeks pregnant, so I’m still early in my pregnancy. I’m almost into the second trimester, which I’m so happy about! I have been nothing but TIRED the whole first trimester, but also happy to say, no morning sickness or any kind of sickness except for some pretty brutal headaches here and there.

My wonderful family and friends have been so supportive and helpful though throughout all of this so I am SO thankful to have them all in my life! I definitely couldn’t do it without them!

Which brings me to my next topic of conversation, the Hello Mama Box!
This awesome company sent me a free Hello Mama Box in exchange for my review about it! First of all, I LOVED IT!! The company’s motto is, “You can not pour from an empty vessel. We take care of Mama so she take care of everyone else!” Which I of course immediately loved, because I COMPLETELY agree, it is one of the things that I try and teach my clients, whether they are Mom’s or not!

A little more info about the company…

Hello Mama Box, was created as a labor of Love to allow Family & Friends to support “Mama Moments” that promote self- care through the use of organic & natural non-toxic products. We seek to transform society’s view of self- care for Mamas while creating a safe place to explore maternal wellness!
The box that I received was curated for me, since I am pregnant! It included: stickers for every 2 weeks of pregnancy starting with week 8 for documenting the progress of my growing belly, (I’ll post pics of that later!) Preggie Pops – for morning sickness, Bath Bombs (for 2nd trimester), Tummy Butter- which has to be my favorite thing in the box (it smells SO GOOD!), some nail polish and 2 quotes for encouragement/motivation, and finally an eye cover for beauty sleep!
I can’t wait to use the Bath Bombs SOON because they smell absolutely amazing! And like I said the Tummy Butter is my FAVORITE thing that came in the box, I’ve been using it daily to help avoid stretch marks (fingers crossed)!
I found out about Hello Mama Box from an online friend, Ashley Dunham from Bossfidence, who suggested I check them out and see what they were all about! So I did! I followed them on Instagram, and was loving everything that I saw, so I contacted them to see about it and now here we are! I’m hoping my Hubby will ok, a monthly subscription to the box in the very near future!! Because if not, I might cry! I love it!!
If you aren’t already following them on Instagram, GO DO IT NOW! And if you are a Momma or a Momma to be, they have options for both for monthly boxes to help you get your self care routine up to par! Because we all know that self care is INCREDIBLY important but it becomes even more important as a Mom because you now have other live humans depending on you! And you need to be at your best! And there is only ONE way to do that! TAKE CARE OF YOUR DAMN SELF!!
So make sure you go check them out!! And if you have any questions, feel free to ask me! If I don’t know the answer, I can find it out for you!

Mommy Monday: Megan Rix

Mommy Monday: Megan Rix

from the Blog, “This Anchored Life: Measured by Love & Spoons”

This blog post goes out to all the moms raising strong willed child. Anyone who has a sweet, kind toddler, who sits quietly in a restaurant coloring or plays alone while you get things done will probably not understand this at all and will most likely think I am a horrible mom. But, I’m willing to lend my sassy pants beauty over for a trip to the grocery store in case you’re curious. Or just go to my google search history and see how many times I’ve typed the words, “activities for a strong willed child” and maybe that will give you some insight.

It’s funny. We say “strong willed” because calling your own kid an expletive that starts with an a and rhymes with shmashole is frowned upon in society. Don’t get me wrong, I love my little human so much it hurts. I would never try to coerce her strong willed character out of her. I know that it will make her into an assertive, brave, and confident young woman one day. But that doesn’t mean I am oblivious to how much she will test my human will on her way to becoming that strong young woman.

To begin, there’s consistent use of the word no. I’m not talking about the average toddler use of the word no. I’m talking about this being my child’s favorite word. A word that is used hundreds of times a day in defiance. A word that is said with brute force, attitude, and bellowed at a decibel that once again makes my neighbors (and anyone in public really) question my ability to parent. If you are a parent to a strong willed child, you know exactly what happens when you try to win the battle of “no” and challenge them to do something they have clearly indicated will not be done. I like to follow up these challenges with a bottle of champagne.          

Then there are the facial expressions. Little miss thang has a WTF face that literally makes me slightly afraid of her. It’s like she’s flipping you off with her eyes. It is even a running joke in my circle of friends that Mack is going to need Botox soon, because the wrinkles between her eyebrows will be so deep from frowning by then that she’ll have no hope by the time she’s 30. You receive this look anytime you try to initiate a conversation within 30 minutes of her waking up. When you get her juice-to-water ratio wrong. If you ask her to climb down from something or hand over a sharp object. If you try to stop her from eating dirt, marbles, plastic, legos, or prevent her from licking the sliding glass door. Or simply if she doesn’t like your face. Want to know what goes along with those facial expressions? Reread the paragraph above this one. 

 

 

No one is exempt from her attitude…most especially her big brother. My kids could not be any more opposite and what Mack possesses in sass, Grant carries equally in sensitivity. He’s the boy you’ll want your daughter to marry when they’re older, but right now he’s just an easy target. Mack knows exactly which buttons to push and spends her day antagonizing poor G by stealing whatever he’s currently holding, pulling his hair, kicking him in the face from her carseat, and my personal favorite, lying on the ground fake crying when he’s having a meltdown. No, not for attention. Because at 2, she is making fun of him by mimicking him.    

Mack is also fearless. To date, she has climbed the refrigerator, walked into my room with a butcher knife which she retrieved after scaling the cabinets with her toes, jumped off of every tall surface in our house, tipped the dining room chairs over a dozen times as she tried to tightrope walk across the backs of them. Fallen off the trash can. You get the idea. Daddy also had to build her a special frame on the floor for her crib bed to sit on because she could crawl out before she was a year old. 

Research you say? Yep, I’ve done that. I’ve read tons of mommy blogs and online articles. Basically the most consistent advice for not losing your mind is to put your seatbelt on, hold on for dear life, and harness patience from Tibetan monks. Oh, and love them like crazy, because one day that strong will is going to serve them abundantly in life. Until then, I will find the joy in watching her chug her sippy cup of “appy juice” and then hurl it to the ground like a viking warrior.

Because there is also an incredibly sweet and cuddly side to Miss Mack. One that melts your heart and leads you to cover her chubby little cheeks in kisses. She loves exclaiming that she loves you at random times, with as much gusto as her exclamation of “no!”. She loves when you read her books. She loves to share her snacks (on her terms). She loves to be rocked to sleep and while this can sometimes take up to an hour at night, I relish this time because in those quiet moments, when she’s snuggled in my arms, all is right in the world. I remember that the years when she will too big to sit on my lap will come fast and furious, just like her current attitude. I remember that even though she came at me with a right hook when I tried to put her hair in a ponytail, one day we will do all the things I still love to do with my mom. Even though I am married with my own children, my mom is still my best friend. I hope Mack looks at me that same way too.

So if you have a strong willed child, I see you. I understand you when other parents try to give you advice you’ve already tried, or tell you that it’s a phase, or that all kids are this way at some point. Side note, they’re not. I see the expression you make when people say, “just bring the kids with you, they’ll be fine.” I’m with you eating at home because restaurant trips are like the odds in Vegas. Not good. I feel your pain when you get looks of disapproval from strangers…because why yes, perfect stranger, I absolutely train my child to have epic meltdowns every time they come in contact with other humans.

One day, we’ll all sit back and smile when our strong willed children become CEO’s and professional athletes. The one thing I know for sure is that when people ask me if I am having any more kids.

My answer is one word.

No.     

SHARING IS CARING