November 2015 Playlist

So, around this time of year, I primarily listen to Christmas music (yes, I’m one of those), but I’ve been stumbling upon some fantastic tunes lately, so here’s my good ol’ November playlist. Lots of chill, cozy, ready-for-cuddling type of songs. Enjoy!

 

 

5 years…and a playlist

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5 years ago, this guy started a crazy journey with Zo and me. So much has happened in those years. I’ve grown. He’s grown. And I’ve learned that…

Home will always be people, not places. And sometimes our journey to home is filled with stumbles and victories, but the journey is always worth it.

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I’ve learned that laughter and silliness add so much to life. And that if you can find someone who brings out your inner goof, you’ve struck gold. Life doesn’t last forever, spend it laughing.

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I’ve learned that families are forged, not pre-determined. You fight for family. Because family is home, and we all know that home is where we all want to be.

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I’ve learned that people grow and change. Growth takes patience. And patience is normally born out of trials. Trials that will test the deepest parts of you.

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I’ve learned that inside jokes keep people together. I know that sounds ridiculous, but when you let someone in, and you expose all your idiosyncrasies, you will develop your own little language. A language that no one else understands but you. And that can get you through really tough times.

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I’ve learned that having enthusiasm is one of the most attractive features a person can have. To watch someone live in curiosity and to share that with them is exhilarating

Our journey has been one of the biggest adventures I’ve experienced and it’s only the beginning. So, to celebrate, here’s my version of a lovey dovey playlist. Enjoy!

#20

Dear Zoey,

Sometimes, it’s all just too much.

Today, at least 120 people were killed in terrorist attacks over in Paris.

And I’m sorry.

I’m so sorry, baby girl. I’m sorry that you have to grow up in a world where hatred is rampant. I’m sorry that every week there’s a new story of senseless violence. I was in 4th grade (maybe 3rd?) when the Oklahoma City Bombing happened. I was in 8th grade when Columbine happened. I was a junior in high school when 9/11 happened. You were 4 years old when Sandy Hook happened.

And these are only the “big” ones in my history. Each of these times, the world has seemed so dark and evil. And sometimes, it feels unbearable.

But there is light. And there is kindness. And there is goodness. It sometimes feels impossible to attain or reach or grasp.

As you grow older, you will see scary things. You will doubt your safety in normal places. And “normal” for you will be much different from what normal meant during my childhood. And frankly, I hate that.

But kindness matters. Continue shining your light in all the darkness. Cling to our mission statement, “Have courage and be kind.” It is always braver to be kind. Always.

I’m not nearly as eloquent as I want to be. Mostly because this world is a scary place to be anymore. The paranoia is baffling to me sometimes, but we can’t succumb to fear. Hatred is born out of fear, and we won’t live that way, my love.

Love you,
Mama

“Gather” FREE printable

I’m obsessed with printables, especially around the holidays. Free printables can give you a quick and easy way to up your holiday decor game without paying the price. In the months of November and December, expect (at least) a weekly free printable from yours truly. Just download from the link (under the picture) and print to your heart’s content. (Please, don’t try and sell it…because that’s just icky).

 

Gather Thanksgiving Printable

Download your FREE printable PDF here.

Building a Thankful Tree

How to Create a Thankful Tree

I’m a festive person.

Alright, that’s an understatement.

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the holiday season. From Halloween to Thanksgiving to Christmas to the New Year, I’m a maniac. I constantly scour Pinterest for new ideas, and I’ve found a balance between having a Pinterest holiday and a practical one. I’ve found in my few years on Pinterest that I will never attain the perfection that can be found, but that I can reinterpret ideas I see to fit my life and skills.

A few years back, I found several ideas for a Thankful tree. Thanksgiving often gets shafted between Halloween and Christmas. And a lot of it stems from many of us realizing the origins of the holiday aren’t exactly the rosy circumstances we were taught as kids. However, I’ve chosen to make the holiday about being mindful and thankful for my life and the various people and things that make it what it is. You can’t change the past, but you can embrace the now and choose to make traditions that are meaningful. And yes, I know you should be thankful every day (and I try to be), it’s sometimes nice to have a season really dedicated to reminding you of that.image4 (1)

So, this year…I decided to bring down the Christmas tree extra early and decorate it as a thankful tree. I bought some fall garland on clearance from the local craft store, some fake leaves, pumpkins, gourds and such, and then some leaf shaped cards to write a thing to be thankful for every day.

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It’s pretty humble, but also convenient. Once Thanksgiving is done, we’ll be able to take the fall decor down, and already have our Christmas tree up! Every morning, we each write a thing we’re thankful for and place it on the tree. Super simple, super cheap, and a nice sentiment! Do you have any Thanksgiving traditions?

Taking Care of Your Mental Health as a Student

With the end of fall comes finals, winter blues, and darker mornings and nights. While this is part of the routine, it can cause a lot of undue stress, anxiety, and even depression. People mention having the “winter blues” which is also known as Seasonal Affective Disorder. It can be easy to scoff at that, but as someone that has dealt with anxiety and depression on and off for majority of my life, seasons definitely affect my mood, energy, and overall motivation. And of course that affects how I deal with schoolwork and class load. And if there’s anything I’ve learned since going back to school full-time, mental health is just as important as physical health.

This semester, I’m taking 18 credit hours. And being a mom while doing it can make me feel stretched extremely thin, most of the time. On top of that, I’m an extreme introvert, which means I need a lot of down time and alone time to recharge, and that’s near impossible with my circumstances. I don’t say any of this to wallow or have a pity-party. It’s exactly the opposite, really. I’ve found a few things that help me maintain focus and keep energy positive during the winter months (or any time when I’m struggling). I have to mention that I am no health professional, this all just comes from my own personal experience.

Taking Care of Your Mental Health as a Student

1. Find time to breathe – Whether it’s taking a hot shower, staying up late to watch a show or read a book you really love, or taking a quick walk. Find at least 10 minutes in your day to breathe, cry, scream, or relax.

2. Know thyself. Be aware of your rhythms. I know that I focus much better earlier in the morning and that my focus is total crap in mid-afternoon. I know that I’m super motivated on Sundays, but Fridays are a struggle. I know that late-night cram sessions NEVER work for me, but then if I get to bed early and wake up early, I focus and remember a lot easier. And while I know that I won’t always get my ideal circumstance, the more I know about myself, the easier it will be to set myself up for success.

3. Know when to take a break. It can be really difficult to break away from the work when you have a lot stacked up against you, but you have to be kind to yourself. Whether it’s a 30 sec, 30 minute, or 3 hour break, know when it’s necessary. Sometimes, it will mean skipping a class…if you need to, do it.

4. A good laugh and a hot shower cure a whole lot of stress. Self-explanatory!

5. Know when to buckle down. At some point, you just have to buckle down and get it done. No excuses, no bitching, no complaining.

6. Remember that school is not the end-all, be-all. Life is bigger than a degree. Believe me, I know that it feels like everything hangs in the balance and is crucial to every move you make. Your career, your future, everything can seem extremely overwhelming around this time of year. Just try to remind yourself (even if you have to repeat it out-loud to yourself..) This degree does not define me. And life is happening and is much bigger than any of this.

Thanksgiving Printable

It’s been a goal of mine to start offering FREE printables on my blog. And with the holidays around the corner, you’ll be seeing many more. Print to your heart’s desire, and if you share it, please link back to me! (Also…don’t sell it…because…well, that’s just icky).

 

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Download your FREE printable here!

#19

Dear Zoey,

It’s no surprise to you that I love sports. You often tell me, “But mommy…you ALWAYS watch (insert hockey, football, baseball here)!” I get teary during the Olympics. I’m a sucker for a good sports movie. Sports have been ingrained in me since I was your age. And last night, a huge thing happened in Kansas City. The Royals won the World Series. And I know that’s a weird thing to write you about, but this whole season is one that is unparalleled to (almost) any other season for any other team, in any other sport that I watch.

Two years ago, if you would’ve told me that I would be watching an entire season of baseball on TV, I would’ve laughed at you. I prided myself on saying things like, “I like going to baseball games, but hate watching it on TV.” And then add watching the Royals, and I’d have really laughed in your face because…well the Royals sucked. They sucked bad…for a lot of years. They were a joke. A laughing stock. Absolutely no one (not even the real fans, honestly) took them seriously.

And then last year, they surprised us. They were the little engine the could. The underdog. The upset. And it was exhilarating. It was exciting to live in a town that was so fully invested into something together.

And they lost. And it freakin’ hurt. An entire nation, practically, was rooting them on, and in the end, it didn’t go the way we (or they) wanted. But since they were the underdog, we, as a city, accepted the lost and were proud of them regardless of the outcome. And even with all the hype and craziness of last season, I don’t think any fans could have anticipated the type of club they became this season.

See, this baseball team. This group of guys taught us a whole lotta lessons. They’ve become known as a team of resilience. When they find themselves in adverse situations, they dig deep and find a way to bounce back. Time and time again, just about every announcer said, “This is a team that does not quit.” And as this season has progressed I kept asking myself, “Why the hell am I watching a baseball game on a Wednesday night?” or “Who would’ve thought I’d have known the entire Royals lineup?” but most importantly, I asked myself, “Why is this team different?”

What made the Royals different from any other baseball team?

They were selfless.

Sure, you’ve heard the cliche “no I in team.” But the Royals lived it. Any one of those players could have been the MVP. Every single one of those players (starting or not) did something to push the team further. They showed, with more clarity than just about any team I watch, what teamwork is. They made baseball fun again with their quirky personalities and love of their fans. They created a team that people trusted. A team that put their heads together and got to work. The weight of the season was never on one or two players shoulders (like we see with so many other teams and sports). The entire team took that responsibility, and look at their result.

Baby girl, there is a lot to be learned from this team. They embody hard work, resiliency, humor, friendship, responsibility, kindness, selflessness. They play this game for the purity of it. It’s not about contracts or money or fame. Because for a long time, these guys didn’t have that (compared to other teams). And I can tell you, there is nothing better than seeing someone’s dreams come true after working so hard to reach them.

So, just remember, you may not be taken seriously. Your dreams may seem distant and impossible, but if you work hard. If you fight tooth and nail. If you are unwavering toward your goal, but flexible about your process, you can do anything. If the Royals could do it, absolutely anybody can.

Be Royal,
Mama

Royals World Series Champs 2015

September/October 2015 Playlist

As I mentioned in my blog update, September and October were definitely months of survival for me. Now that I’m more than halfway through this semester, I’m in a routine, and not feeling as overwhelmed. Because of that, my playlists will be joined for the past two months. I am LOVING Spotify’s new Discover Weekly playlist that they created. If you haven’t noticed, Spotify has created a “Discover Weekly” playlist for each individual based on their musical tastes. And I have not been disappointed. So, a lot of the music i discovered or was inspired by came from those playlists (they’re updated every Monday). It’s really a modge-podge of music that helped keep my creative juices going as well as helping me maintain focus. What do you listen to get your creative mojo going?