Will You be Happy While?

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I am sure you are wondering what this blog is all about, right?  What does the bunny bin have to do with it?  They truth is I just think he is cute!

How many times I have you said or thought “I will be happy when (fill in the blank)?  Maybe it is when you lose weight or meet the perfect guy or get the perfect job.  Doesn’t all of that worry, wear you out?  I know it does me!  Then what really happens is I miss out on the here and now.

It’s an art to stay content where you are while you’re on the way to something better.  As you race to your goal, I’m sure you have heard it a million times “It’s the journey, not the destination.”, right?

What if you were to change the mindset and the words from “I will be happy when I get the new job/my kids graduate/I retire/I win the lottery.” to “I will be happy while I wait for the new job/my kids are with me/I’m blessed to have a job.”  Just a slight change in the mindset, allows you to enjoy the moment while you are racing towards your goal.

Here are a few questions courtesy of Valerie Burton to help you appreciate the value of the here and now.

1. What are you grateful for?

Contentment and gratitude are impossible to separate.  Gratitude empowers you to notice the blessings right in front of you.  It opens your mind to the possibility of what if the little blessings disappeared, they wouldn’t seem so little anymore. Stop talking, thinking, and complaining about what you don’t have and start noticing what you do have. SMACK!  I am so guilty of this but I am a work in progress so I am learning to be grateful for the little things.

2. What’s the most important lesson being offered to you right now?

When you’re too focused on the future, you can miss the lesson being offered to you today.  More important than reaching a goal is the person you become in the process of reaching it. What character traits are being developed? What destructive habits are being eliminated? What are you learning you would not have learned otherwise? Look for the lessons. Appreciate them. Embrace them.  Lessons can sometimes be hard, brutal even BUT without the lessons we would not learn and grow

3. When you look back on this time a year from now, what will you wish you had done?

UGH!  This question is HUGE!  I sometimes fall into the “what if” trap and believe me it doesn’t get me anywhere.  The frustration effects my attitude, and we most likely will make choices we’ll later regret. But when you ask yourself this question, you suddenly recognize the magnitude of the opportunity before you. What do you want your legacy to be? Rather than complaining or murmuring about how hard things are, you have an opportunity to face the challenges before you like a champion.  You can’t change the past BUT you can live in the moment and create your own future.

4. In what ways have you already made progress?

Are you like me – beat yourself up for mistakes you have made?  Stop taking yourself for granted. Maybe you (and I) haven’t made perfect progress, but who has? It is important we acknowledge what we have done. Focus on your milestones while they are happening. Celebrate them. Treat yourself. Tell the world. Life is happening right now. Rather than waiting to reach the finish line before you mark your progress, do it with every step you take.

I challenge you to be content where you are right now!

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Affordable and Fun Staycations

 5 fun and affordable spring break staycations

The weather has been crazy – some days it is freezing cold while others it is close to 60!  I love the warmer weather and I know many are thinking about Spring Break or those long weekends, right?

As a single mom, I didn’t have a lot of many for vacations and I wasn’t as creative as some of these ideas from the ThirtyOne blogger… We lived close to the shore so trips to the beach and boardwalk were always a easy and inexpensive way to take a break.  Check out some of these “staycation” ideas;

Spa day at home

Fully embrace the spring break spirit with a spa day in your very own home. First, gather the supplies. Fill a Double Duty Caddy with the scrubs, cleansers, mud masks and other items to make you feel relaxed and renewed. Make sure your Glamour Case has a variety of nail polishes so you can choose the hue which strikes you when it comes time for your do-it-yourself manicure and pedicure.

Light a candle, soak your feet and grab a refreshing beverage. Bonus: Now your caddy and case are ready and waiting, it will be easy to create your own at-home spa long after spring break ends, whenever you need a little pampering without the price tag.

Park and picnic lunch

Take in the great outdoors! You don’t need to visit a national park to stop and smell the roses. Head to your favorite local park or playground and relish a few hours under the sun. Hike the trails, spot some wildlife and make the outing a little more special by eating al fresco.

The Picnic Thermal Tote’s zip-around closure makes it easy for you and your companion to pack a picnic lunch, or choose the Fresh Market Thermal when you want to carry enough sandwiches, sides and drinks for the whole gang.

Swim Outing

Swim outing (inside!)

Instead of a trip to the beach, stay closer to home! Find the closest indoor pool or water park and spend a day in your swimsuit, come rain or come shine. You might not be able to dig your toes into the sand, but you can enjoy the next best thing when your Essential Storage Tote is filled with snacks, goggles and water toys. Even better? No sunscreen required!

Movie under the moonlight

See the stars – on the big screen and in the sky. Planning an outdoor movie night add a little bit of pizzazz popcorn alone just can’t manage. Once you locate a projector (pro tip: check your local library), the rest is easy. A mobile movie screen (inflatable or otherwise) is great, but a white or cream-colored garage door or even a large blanket will do.

A Zip-Top Organizing Utility Tote is roomy enough to hold everyone’s favorite movies, snacks and drinks with space to spare for outdoor necessities. Keep the bug repellent close at hand in one of the tote’s exterior pockets. Or carry a Catch-All Bin outside, filled with enough candy, napkins and glow sticks to keep even the smallest movie buffs entertained.

Road Trip

Road Trip!

How far can you go on a tank of gas? Forget the overnight bag and instead explore some of those hidden treasures an hour or two from home. A Crossbody Organizing Tote can fit everything you need for a day on the road – books, toys, snacks, water bottles and even a few diapers for tiny travelers. Best of all, you can throw it over your shoulder and keep your supplies close at hand all day long!

What is your favorite type of staycation?  Share it with us…..

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Tasty Tuesday: Slow Cooker Butternut Black Bean Chili

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Thank you Hungry Girl for another YUMMY recipe!

Prep: 15 minutes     Cook: 3 – 4 hours on high or 7 – 8 hours on low  Serves: 8 FreestyleSmartPoints® value 0*

1/8th of recipe (about 1 heaping cup): 173 calories, 0.5g total fat (0g sat fat), 532mg sodium, 35g carbs, 9g fiber, 8.5g sugars, 8g protein

Ingredients:

One 14.5-oz. can fire-roasted tomatoes (not drained)
2 1/2 cups canned crushed tomatoes
2 tsp. chopped garlic
2 tsp. chili powder
1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/8 tsp. salt
Two 15-oz. cans black beans, drained and rinsed
4 cups peeled butternut squash, cut into bite-sized pieces (about 3/4 of a medium squash)
1 cup chopped red onion
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
1/4 cup seeded and chopped jalapeño pepper (about 1 medium pepper)
Optional toppings: fresh cilantro, light sour cream

Directions:

  • Pour both types of tomatoes into a slow cooker. Add garlic and seasonings. Mix well.
  • Add remaining ingredients, and gently stir.
  • Cover and cook on high for 3 – 4 hours or on low for 7 – 8 hours, until veggies have softened.

HG Tips: Look for pre-cut butternut squash in the produce aisle, or click here for squash-cutting tips. And when handling jalapeños, don’t touch your eyes (pepper juice can sting), and wash your hands well immediately afterward.

Tailgating season may be over BUT it won’t be long before the summer barbecues start…Why not grab a Fresh Market Thermal now?  The Fresh Market Thermal is a stylish, portable thermal large enough to hold two 9″x13″ casserole dishes. A must-have for family picnics, tailgating, trips to the beach, days on the boat, potlucks, grocery shopping or weekend camping. Its water-resistant Leak Lock thermal lining means you can add ice to this cooler bag to keep food and drinks cold. Need more room? The sides unsnap and expand to give you more space inside. Long handles allow you to carry it over your shoulder when you need to be hands-free. The Fresh Market Thermal also features a zipper closure for securing contents and an exterior front pocket to hold other important items. Monogramming and personalization options available.  Approx. 10.5″H, 15″H with top extended x 15.5″L x 10″D

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Spread Too Thin


Thank you Logan Wolfram  for today’s message.  

“I know I don’t look it…but I feel thin, sort of stretched, like butter scraped over too much bread.”  Bilbo’s words from Lord of the Rings rattle in my head. You’ve probably felt the same way at some point too, right?

Even the basic demands of life can leave us feeling over extended and stretched out. You spread thin across jobs, spouses, children, church, extracurriculars, and whatever else wants to suck time and energy away from you. Sometimes what’s left of us is so thin it feels as if we have become nearly translucent. Eventually, to avoid anything that requires more, we began to avoid anyone who wants more too.  All the spreading thin will eventually scrape away even the good parts life. When you have nothing left to give, if you give at all, people just get whatever is left over.

But here’s the thing, you may look ok. The pieces that are visible from the outside appear put together. But instead of running your life, it seems more accurate that life is running you.

I know you get this. You’re living and loving and doing your thing and somehow find yourself in a place where you hardly even know what’s happening anymore. Life isn’t happening with you, it’s happening to you.  One day you’re doing the planning, and then something weird happens and all the planning is now the ruling factor of your life.  Jobs, kids, spouses, sports, carpools, church, friends…it is all too much and you become mechanical in your execution of tasks or you shut down completely.

I get it friend. I burned the candle at both ends for a long time.  Somewhere in there though the candle broke in half and I found myself burning both sides of the candle at both ends and whatever was left in the middle got burned up.  Which really means that I burned out.

And what probably burned me out more than anything else was when I inadvertently started burning bridges that I didn’t even mean to set fire to at all. I hurt friends because I didn’t make time for them. I felt alone because I was so overwhelmed that I disconnected myself from the people and activities around me that I loved. I stopped doing things that I enjoyed like art, or creative projects, even cooking dinners that tasted good.  But dinner wasn’t the only thing that had lost it’s seasoning, my entire life had begun to feel that way too.

When it comes to making extra space for neighbors or friends or even just one more person, sometimes it feels like you just can’t.

2 Corinthians 12:5 reminds us that we need not boast about ourselves, except about our weaknesses.  Because it is in our weakness, that the Lord makes us strong. In a very area of his life where Paul struggled and asked the Lord to remove the struggle, Jesus said to him “ “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” He goes on to declare that he would “boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.1

I know what it is to be worn out, spread too thin, stretched beyond my limits, and I know that’s not the way you want to begin a new year either.

Scripture is full of people who felt not enough and spread thin across too much. But as we begin to search the Word of God to find more in our thin places, it seems most often the greatest thing God asks is that we trust Him even (and especially) when we come up short.

He asks us to offer what little we have to him so that He can make much of our offering. And in doing so, He makes much of His goodness to us. In the places where we have little, he promises to make more. In the areas we feel weak, when we lean into Him instead of ourselves, he promises to make us strong. He takes the moment we come with little left to give and blesses us with a Kingdom kind of leftovers that aren’t so much all that remains, as they show God’s abundance, excess, sufficiency, and strength.

Maybe spread too thin is the very place that God wants to show us exactly how much abundance there is for us? That instead of trying to spread ourselves over the world around us, we can uncover what can be when we spread our lives across the abundance that is the Bread of Heaven himself.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

What is the Link Between Self-Esteem & Technology in Girls?

I am excited to tell you about a groundbreaking study of more than 10,000 U.S. girls which Thirty One Gifts cosponsored with Ruling Out eXperiences, Inc. (ROX).  It is the largest of its kind and revealed surprising information on the role of technology on girls’ self-esteem. I know we have all heard about cyber bullying or “the mean girls” on social media and for some, they say “it won’t be my kid”.  Well, I felt the same way many years ago, until I read something my daughter wrote about being bullied.  You can read the story on my very first blog post “Bullying – The Visible vs The Invisible“.

The findings of this study is heartbreaking.  While they give us a glimpse into the raw truth about girls fifth through 12th-grade and their perception, it is also an opportunity for us to look for ways to be mentors and be a positive influence in their lives.

The mission of ROX (Ruling Our eXperiences, Inc.) a Columbus, Ohio-headquartered nonprofit organization is:

TO EQUIP GIRLS WITH THE KNOWLEDGE AND SKILLS NECESSARY TO LIVE HEALTHY, INDEPENDENT, PRODUCTIVE AND VIOLENCE-FREE LIVES.

ROX announced the findings of their study from The Girls’ Index: New Insights into the Complex World of Today’s Girls a few months ago.  This national survey was taken of 10,678 fifth- through 12th-grade girls with the sole purpose of capturing the girls’ perceptions and experiences around fitting in, body image, peer pressure, academics, friendships and relationships. The report is a comprehensive picture for parents and educators on the thoughts, beliefs and behaviors of girls across the country.  The demographics are from every walk of life – cultural, ethnic, socioeconomic of the school district, and the type for school for a broad spectrum of girls.

The findings of The Girls’ Index include:

#1 Most girls like to be in charge, but self-doubt can impact their pursuit of leadership.  A surprising 46% of the girls reported they don’t say what they are thinking or disagree with other peers.  WHY?   Because they want to be liked with 1 in 3 girls being afraid to be a leader because they don’t want others to think they are bossy.

#2 30% of the girls with the highest grade point averages (4.0 or above),  don’t think they’re smart enough for their dream careers. Despite their high academic achievements, they are still filled with confidence issues.

#3 Girls who spend the most time using technology (8 hrs./day) are 5x more likely to be sad or depressed nearly every day compared to the girls who spend four or fewer hours.  If this isn’t a reason to restrict technology time, I don’t know what is.  Technology and social media greatly impact girls’ relationships, achievement, confidence, mood and school engagement.

#4 By high school, sexting is common and prevalent with 2 out of 3 girls reporting by 12th grade they have been asked to send a sexually explicit photo to another person.  I am so grateful cell phones weren’t popular when my daughter was growing up.

#5  Girls who have strong and trusting friendships with other girls fare better and report significantly lower levels of sadness and depression.

ROX concluded “girls who have strong and trusting friendships fare better, it is crucial girls receive the opportunities and tools they need to forge the positive friendships which safeguard their emotions and experiences.

This study shakes me to my core.  I grew up lacking confidence.  I had friends but not the kind of strong trusting friendships which helped me to battle sadness and depression.  Those emotions and experiences traveled with me through my college years straight through to my years of addiction.  My goal was for my daughter’s life to be different.  She was blessed to have one or two strong, trusting friendships growing up yet on the inside she lacked confidence despite the outward strong appearance.

The bottom line is we as parents, teachers and coaches are missing out on at least half of what girls think, know and believe.  YIKES!  We are losing the creativity, contributions and impact these young girls can make on the world.

As these studies become public, as awareness grows, we have an obligation to do better and a responsibility to make the world a place where girls can feel confident and capable.

Thirty-One Gifts proudly partner with ROX to provide girls with opportunities to talk candidly and openly about their experiences, while arming them with tools to positively and safely use social media, navigate relationships and manage pressure to ultimately develop a positive self-concept. Learn more about ROX, including ways you can get involved, at rulingourexperiences.com.

Share some of the products from Thirty One’s URU collection.  The Be the Give! Littles Carry-All Caddy comes with a special message “Love who you were born to be”.   A great way to encourage and celebrate the young girl in your life for Valentine’s Day or Easter or just as a “thinking of you” gift.  It is also the perfect solution for organizing the little things in your life. From office supplies to eating utensils and cosmetics, this caddy helps keep your life in order by keeping everything right at your fingertips. Great for gifts, small toys, crafts, office desks and candy.

Won’t you help to make a difference in the live of a young girl?

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!