Friday, September 27, 2013

Happy: 12 Things Happy People do Differently

I have been doing a lot of soul searching as of late; reading, meditating more, making goals and committing to them, etc... I am creating my own happiness and am always looking for more words of wisdom to help me a long the way. 

I saw this article on Huffington Post {via a friend share on Facebook} and immediately fell in love with it. It describes so much of what I feel, think and believe. I have been practicing most of these in my own life but now moving forward I want to REALLY practice them. Make them part of my daily disciplines. 

  1. Express gratitude. -- When you appreciate what you have, what you have appreciates in value. Kinda cool right? So basically, being grateful for the goodness that is already evident in your life will bring you a deeper sense of happiness. And that's without having to go out and buy anything. It makes sense. We're gonna have a hard time ever being happy if we aren't thankful for what we already have.
  2. Cultivate optimism. -- Winners have the ability to manufacture their own optimism. No matter what the situation, the successful diva is the chick who will always find a way to put an optimistic spin on it. She knows failure only as an opportunity to grow and learn a new lesson from life. People who think optimistically see the world as a place packed with endless opportunities, especially in trying times [3].
  3. Avoid over-thinking and social comparison. -- Comparing yourself to someone else can be poisonous. If we're somehow "better" than the person that we're comparing ourselves to, it gives us an unhealthy sense of superiority. Our ego inflates -- KABOOM -- our inner Kanye West comes out! If we're "worse" than the person that we're comparing ourselves to, we usually discredit the hard work that we've done and dismiss all the progress that we've made. What I've found is that the majority of the time this type of social comparison doesn't stem from a healthy place. If you feel called to compare yourself to something, compare yourself to an earlier version of yourself.
  4. Practice acts of kindness. -- Performing an act of kindness releases serotonin in your brain. (Serotonin is a substance that has TREMENDOUS health benefits, including making us feel more blissful.) Selflessly helping someone is a super powerful way to feel good inside. What's even cooler about this kindness kick is that not only will you feel better, but so will people watching the act of kindness. How extraordinary is that? A side note is that the job of most anti-depressants is to release more serotonin. Move over Pfizer, kindness is kicking ass and taking names.
  5. Nurture social relationships. -- The happiest people on the planet are the ones who have deep, meaningful relationships. Did you know studies show that people's mortality rates are DOUBLED when they're lonely? WHOA! There's a warm fuzzy feeling that comes from having an active circle of good friends who you can share your experiences with. We feel connected and a part of something more meaningful than our lonesome existence.
  6. Develop strategies for coping. -- How you respond to the "craptastic" moments is what shapes your character. Sometimes crap happens -- it's inevitable. Forrest Gump knows the deal. It can be hard to come up with creative solutions in the moment when manure is making its way up toward the fan. It helps to have healthy strategies for coping pre-rehearsed, on-call, and in your arsenal at your disposal.
  7. Learn to forgive. -- Harboring feelings of hatred is horrible for your well-being.You see, your mind doesn't know the difference between past and present emotion. When you "hate" someone, and you're continuously thinking about it, those negative emotions are toxic for your well-being. You put yourself in a state of suckerism (technical term) and it stays with you throughout your day.
  8. Increase flow experiences. -- Flow is a state in which it feels like time stands still. It's when you're so focused on what you're doing that you become one with the task. Action and awareness are merged. You're not hungry, sleepy, or emotional. You're just completely engaged in the activity that you're doing. Nothing is distracting you or competing for your focus.
  9. Savor life's joys. -- Deep happiness cannot exist without slowing down to enjoy the joy. It's easy in a world of wild stimuli and omnipresent movement to forget to embrace life's enjoyable experiences. When we neglect to appreciate, we rob the moment of its magic. It's the simple things in life that can be the most rewarding if we remember to fully experience them.
  10. Commit to your goals. -- Being wholeheartedly dedicated to doing something comes fully-equipped with an ineffable force. Magical things start happening when we commit ourselves to doing whatever it takes to get somewhere. When you're fully committed to doing something, you have no choice but to do that thing. Counter-intuitively, having no option -- where you can't change your mind -- subconsciously makes humans happier because they know part of their purpose.
  11. Practice spirituality. -- When we practice spirituality or religion, we recognize that life is bigger than us. We surrender the silly idea that we are the mightiest thing ever. It enables us to connect to the source of all creation and embrace a connectedness with everything that exists. Some of the most accomplished people I know feel that they're here doing work they're "called to do."
  12. Take care of your body. -- Taking care of your body is crucial to being the happiest person you can be. If you don't have your physical energy in good shape, then your mental energy (your focus), your emotional energy (your feelings), and your spiritual energy (your purpose) will all be negatively affected [4]. Did you know that studies conducted on people who were clinically depressed showed that consistent exercise raises happiness levels just as much as Zoloft? Not only that, but here's the double whammy... Six months later, the people who participated in exercise were less likely to relapse because they had a higher sense of self-accomplishment and self-worth.

Excerpt taken from an article on, you can read the full article here.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Start a Local Moms Blog in Your City!!

I hope you’ve noticed how much I have loved being a writer for East Valley Moms Blog. It has been such a great opportunity to develop my writing, play a part in connecting moms in our city, and to get to know the other women on our fabulous team. 

East Valley Moms Blog is an amazing resource for moms in the East Valley area and we are passionate about what we do! I’m proud to be part of something that is making a positive influence on both our beautiful city here AND on a national level! Did you know East Valley Moms Blog has over 30 Sister Sites around the country? 

These 30+ Sister Sites make up City Moms Blog Network. Each site is written and run by local moms, for local moms. They provide parenting information unique to their community, and to make things even more fun, they each throw fabulous events to get moms in their cities out on the town. 

This network of locally focused moms blogs has empowered women all over the country to start their own businesses. When someone joins City Moms Blog Network as a Sister Site owner, they are joining a family that is eager to encourage and support one another. Sister Sites are provided with assistance in the startup phase, ongoing education and resources for continued support, and a community of fellow site owners eager to share best practices.

With the help of City Moms Blog Network, these Sister Site owners are able to become entrepreneurs (mompreneurs) and local influencers, all while doing something they love and are passionate about. I have loved watching the founders of East Valley Moms Blog grow it into what it is today, and I am thankful and proud of the part I am playing in that!

Is there a City Moms Blog Network Sister Site in your area? City Moms Blog Network is currently looking for Sister Site owners in 25 specific cities in
California, Georgia, Indiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia and Washington. If you or someone you know might be interested in impacting moms in your community like East Valley Moms Blog is, jump at this opportunity to join CMBN with your own Sister Site. These ladies are passionate about what they do and would love to partner with YOU to do the same! 


Friday, September 13, 2013

Loving Yourself, Realization, and Taking Responsibility

**This is somewhat of a rant, vent, blur of words...don't judge**

My goals for the month of September shifted. Dramatically. The more I started reading again and running {which is another topic} I started to self reflect more. I went back to my counselor a couple of weeks ago after not seeing her for almost a year and a half. During that hour talking with her, I came to a lot of realizations, without even knowing it. 

Self reflection is important, almost as important as meditation. Who we are and who we see ourselves as is what keeps us going, gets us through happy moments and sad. The more I dove into myself, I was finding that I've gotten a little lost over the past two years, since tiny human was born. I've been taking time for myself, but was I loving myself? Am I able to get up in the morning, as happy as I may be and say, "I love who I am and who I am growing to be"? 

No, I could not. 

I realized that at some point I had gotten wrapped up in materialistic things again and wasn't focusing on the more important virtues. Yes, I eat healthy and I exercise but I also splurge and sometimes over-exercise {which really does NO good whatsoever}. I was worried about what we had planned for the upcoming weekend, what my hair looked like and if my outfit was cute enough

I realized that I don't know people as well as I thought I did. 

I realized that I am surrounded by a lot of negative people who don't love themselves enough to live a healthy lifestyle. They are so wrapped up in cosmetic and materialistic properties that their health isn't even a priority. With this realization, I have learned that I don't really want to be surrounded by people who don't treat their health as a priority. I want to be around people who are going to be dancing with me when I'm eighty years old, and traveling to Maui when we're 85. 

I realized I have a huge love for kale {random} and that making it a daily discipline to eat it at least once a day isn't that hard. 

Each day in September I am loving myself more and more. I am feeling free and happy and more in love with my husband than ever. I like to blame the fact that I am taking responsibility for my actions, thoughts, priorities and am moving forward instead of standing still. Despite my small hip injury {i hate that word} I am still getting exercise. I am changing my diet and I have new daily practices. I'm hoping that once I get everything more organized I can start blogging about it in a better fashion. 

I am remembering every day that health is wealth and you can't be healthy until you start with loving yourself and taking the responsibility that only YOU are capable of. 

Stay Healthy, 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Must have iPhone Apps for Moms

By now, I’m sure you all know that I think very highly of my iPhone. Last week I shared some Cool iPhone Apps For Kids that I absolutely love and approve of my kids playing with on occasion. While our kids are important and all, what about us? We need a break too sometimes, or something to help us stay organized, edit photos, track health and fitness, and once in a while, some mindless entertainment. There are thousands of apps available for free and to purchase, and these are at the top of my list on my phone.

Instagram & A Beautiful Mess, Free/ $0.99 

I love taking photos with my iPhone, and fellow contributor Erin would agree that Taking Great Photos with your Smartphone is the way to go. I always use the camera app that comes standard on my phone, since it takes really great photos but my favorite app for sharing them is definitely Instagram. You can customize photos, and now videos, with several different filter effects and share them with your friends and family right from the app, post to Facebook, Twitter or even email the finished product. If you wanted to get even more creative, you could use another favorite of mine, A Beautiful Mess to decorate the photos with text or doodles before uploading to Instagram.  Don’t forget you can follow EVMB on Instagram-just look for us under eastvalleymomsblog!

Cozi Family Organizer, Free
Have you ever made plans with your friends only to find out your husband has also made plans with his friends on the same day? This was a frequent problem in my house until I found Cozi Family Organizer. A calendar, shopping and to-do lists are just a few of the great features this app has to offer. Each family member can download the app and since it is shared everyone uses the same log in. You can add or edit appointments and grocery lists and everyone in the family can see it! I still love to have my calendar hanging on the wall, but this is a sure way that I know my husband will see my appointments and weekend plans. Now, if it’s not entered in the app? It’s not happening! Calorie Tracker, $2.99
Looking to shed weight? Track what you are eating or track your daily exercise? I have downloaded several health and fitness apps over the past few years and while My Fitness Pal used to be my favorite, – Calorie Tracker has taken over the #1 spot on my iPhone. I love the ease of being able to track my water intake each day and keep my food journal up-to-date right on my phone. It’s always fun to get little daily reminders to help keep me on track too. While I usually don’t like to spend money on apps, keeping a food and water journal is important to me so spending the $2.99 to get this app didn’t bother me.

Lift, Free
My most recent app find is this amazing little personal trainer called Lift. Several of us use sticker charts for our kids to keep them doing their chores and developing habits, right? So, how about a sticker chart for your iPhone? For YOU to maintain consistency and help keep accountability for activities you might often ignore. You can add habits like brushing your teeth or set reminders to stop and enjoy life for a few minutes. I have been using this app for a couple of weeks and I’ve already noticed more of a consistency with things such as flossing my teeth and reading more. I like having to “check-in” and jot down a little note each time I complete a goal I’ve set and it’s always fun getting “props” from other users when you have marked something off for the day.
Those are the top five apps on my list. Of course I love the Notes app that comes standard on the phone, FacebookNike+ Running to track my runs and set challenges with friends,Pandora, and of course ESPN Fantasy Football to watch the scoreboard each week to see how I’m doing in the East Valley Moms Blog Fantasy Football League. What are YOURfavorite apps to stay organized and take a break from mommyhood?

***Originally Posted on East Valley Moms Blog as a contributor post***

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Cool iPhone Apps For Kids

Entertaining our children today has become so different from just ten years ago. It’s no question that some two-year olds can maneuver their way through an iPhone much better than an adult and I have often found myself turning to my fourteen year old for help with changing a setting on my iPad. Smartphones can be a helpful tool for parents when we just need those few minutes to fold some laundry or mop the floors. Little eyes are so mesmerized by videos of their favorite cartoon characters, learning apps that can teach them letters, or even just scrolling through a photo album of family members. My iPhone has come in handy more than once while strolling the aisles at Target or doing my weekly grocery shopping and I want to share some of my favorite children’s iPhone apps with you, because yes, I am THAT mom.

Endless Alphabet, $5.99 
This one is my absolute favorite for toddlers. Children can interact at their own pace, there is no score or level to complete. It helps with vocabulary and learning the ABC’s while engaging the child with interactive puzzles of moving the letters to their missing places. It’s so simple for little fingers to use and the animations are fun and exciting for them! It’s definitely worth the $$ for this one! Endless Alphabet is available from the iOS App Store.

Angry Birds, $0.99 (or there is also a FREE version)
Any time that I have had a conversation about kids and iPhones with another parent, the mention of Angry Birds almost always comes up. It has been one of the top apps since 2009 and with more and more levels always being added, kids will never get bored! While this app is geared more toward older pre-school and school aged children, there are plenty of teenagers and parents playing as well! Angry Birds is available from iOS App Store andGoogle Play Store.

Color Drops, FREE 
Of course children love to color with markers, pens, crayons and paint but this is a mess free way for them to create beautiful artwork! My favorite animated coloring book with so many different categories of drawing fun. Toddlers and older children can create artwork starting with a blank page or choose a coloring page such as princesses, dinosaurs, numbers and letters. The sound effects are super fun for the little ones but might be get a little annoying for the older kids. While the app is free it only includes one coloring page for each category, additional pages are available for purchase in the app. Color Drops is available from iOS App Store and Google Play Store.

Toy Story Read-Along, FREE
Everyone loves the Toy Story crew, right? This app is an interactive reading experience that my son just absolutely loves! You have the choice of listening to the story being read or you can cuddle up with your child and read it to them. There are also games, a few pages that you can draw and color, and a music feature that plays everyone’s favorite “You’ve Got a Friend in Me”.  The app is rated for four and up, but my son is two and absolutely loves this one. Toy Story Read-Along is available from iOS App Store.

Some other great children’s apps are Toddler StampsMy PlayHomeDora’s Dress-Up AdventuresNick Jr Draw & PlayWATCH Disney Junior, and a great app for all ages,Candy Crush Saga. There are SO many great apps out there and more are always being added. I feel that smartphone use should be limited and parents should always monitor usage and apps, so make sure you are consistently checking that they are age appropriate. What are YOUR favorite children’s apps?

***Originally Posted on East Valley Moms Blog as a contributor post***

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

{Wordless Wednesday}

"Train yourself to listen to that small voice that tells us what's important and what's not." -Sue Grafton