Boudoir For-Sure

So recently I did a thing. One of my friends is a professional photographer and I finally scheduled a boudoir session with him. Yeah, I have photographed dozens of boudoir photos, but never have I ever been photographed in one of those sessions. I was terrified. I felt like all of the photos he posted were of people who had “perfect” bodies and I knew that I would never look like them in my photos. I almost chickened out of the session a few days before, but Tracy (my photographer friend) convinced me to keep our appointment. He showed me some photos of women who had similar body types as me and they looked amazing! They looked so beautiful that I instantly realized that everything was going to be okay.

When I first got there, I was nervous. But then, after a few minutes, I felt completely comfortable and confident! He let me see the photos right from his camera and when I saw how things were going, I was super excited to continue shooting. We took photos for about three hours and by the end of it I was tired, but i was also feeling really great about myself. I have always struggled with confidence issues and hated having my photos taken, so it was amazing to see how getting these photos taken changed the way I saw myself.

Since then, the photographer has sent me a photo (or two) each day that he edited and it is an awesome confidence building surprise for the end of my day. I did this for myself and it was one of the best gifts I have given myself. The gift of self-esteem. It helped me to realize that although I have stretchmarks, thick thighs, wide-set hips, and don’t look the way I want to, I am still beautiful. I am glad that I didn’t continue to put off photos until “my body is ready” like I said for years. I realized that my body would never “be ready” and I would always have issues with my appearance and feel that there was room for improvement regardless of how much weight I lost.

You are beautiful right now. In the body you have in this moment. You don’t need to lose weight before you start appreciating yourself. The sooner you love yourself, the happier you will be. It’s not about loving a result, it’s about loving a process. Don’t spend your life waiting, enjoy every day and every stage of your life.

I’m taking baby steps in the right direction. One step closer to self-acceptance and self-love. No apologies and no regret.

Love Always,

Elizabeth

It’s All About Perspective

The outlook you have on situations in your life speaks to the kind of person that you are. I have been trying to focus on being a better person and a large part of that for me is changing my mindset. Today one of the nurses that I work with had an emergency and had to go home early. We desperately needed someone to cover her later hours and it didn’t seem like anyone was going to volunteer. Instead of thinking “why me?” I deliberately chose to think “why not me?”. If I can’t change the outcome of a situation, then my only option is to change my outlook on the situation.

When you have a bad day, try to remember that the bad days are what make the good days so magnificent. If you didn’t have bad days, you would’t appreciate the good days. This mindset goes for a lot of things. For example, I was in a very unhealthy relationship before I started dating my now-husband. It was my first exposure to a drug addict and I was completely unaware of what his behaviors signified.

Looking back, there were so many warning signs. He was stealing my seizure medication and selling it – when I approached him with my suspicions, he accused me of abusing my meds. I would wake up in the middle of the night and he would be gone (we lived together) and I would have to go out searching for him until he decided to come back. His stories never added up and he made me feel like a worthless human being. I lost my mind when I was in that relationship and I ended up in a psychiatric hospital due to a suicide attempt that December. Those moments were heartbreaking, but they also changed my life.

When I was admitted to the hospital, the guy I was with relapsed and went to prison for parole violation. I now know that was the best thing that could have happened to me at that point. It was just the thing I needed to wake me up and get me out of that situation.

This is when I starting hanging out with Blake (my husband). We worked together for a while, but I was in a relationship at the time. After I got home from the hospital and eventually went back to work, we became friends. I told myself that I wasn’t ready for another relationship, so we just stayed friends for a while. But then we fell in love, I went to nursing school, we got married, and the rest is history.

For a while I was angry. I didn’t understand why I had to experience the things that I did. I thought about how “unfair” it was and wondered why God would let something like that relationship happen in my life. I did a lot of “why me?” thinking.

As my relationship with my now-husband blossomed, I realized why I went through the emotionally abusive relationship that tore me apart. It’s because those bad days and bad experiences make me appreciate my husband and what we have so much more. My husband is such a kind man and if it weren’t for my relationship with my ex, I don’t think I would have appreciated my husband the way he deserves.

I wish my ex all of the happiness and health in the world. Just because he is/was an addict doesn’t mean that he is a bad person. But I will say that I am so incredibly grateful that the chapter in my life that included him is long gone. I learned so much about people and myself during that relationship. I have decided that instead of dwelling on the terrible and scary parts of life, I will focus on what I learned from the experience and how I have grown from the challenges that arise.

I can’t change what happened in my past, but I can decide how I will use those experiences to better my future.

I hope that you can find the strength within yourself to do the same.

Love Always,

Elizabeth

Silent Nights

A lot of people in the world struggle with depression. The winter season especially affects people who deal with mental illness (and even those who typically don’t). It gets dark earlier and is bone-chillingly cold out there. With less vitamin D intake, some people struggle to keep their moods stable. This would contribute to seasonal depression. Don’t forget that the holidays aren’t a happy time for everyone. For some, the holidays are a remembrance of loss. There are people who don’t have families to celebrate with or homes to celebrate in. Some people have lost love ones this past year and will be experiencing a slew of firsts without their beloved family member or friend.

December has always been a difficult month for me. I always find myself stuck in sorrow and negative self-talk during the twelfth month. It’s almost like clockwork. I have family to spend the holidays with. I have a home to spend the holidays in. But yet, I can’t get out of the December funk.

Here are some things you can do to help your mental health this month (and every month):

  • Start your grateful journal: List 5 things that you are grateful for every day.
  • Exercise: Go for a walk around the block, jog on your treadmill, go to the gym, do some push-ups and sit-ups, jumping jacks, jump roping…whatever you do, get that heart rate elevated and those endorphins flowing. They are the natural mood boosters!
  • Eat healthy meals: There is nothing worse than feeling bloated and gross after binge-eating all of the holiday sweets you could get your hands on.  Sure, those things are fine in moderation, but don’t forget to eat your fruits and vegetables too! (Oh, and Vitamin D fortified foods such as almond milk and tofu)
  • Positive Self-Talk: Spend a minute each morning when you are getting ready for your day to look in the mirror and say a positive affirmation to your reflection.
  • Meditation: Spend at least 5 minutes per day meditating or enjoying silence without activity. Take a few deep breaths and enjoy the quiet. Listen to your body and feel it’s energy.
  • Communication: If you are feeling overwhelmed, don’t keep it bottled up. This is something that I struggle with at times. I sometimes feel scared that if I tell someone how I feel, they will not understand or they won’t be able to handle what I’m saying. Be vulnerable and let out your thoughts and feelings to someone you trust. It’s okay to cry and speak your mind; you will feel so much better afterwards.
  • Give a loved one a hug: long hugs release hormones that lower the levels of cortisol in the body and, in turn, decrease your stress. The same thing goes for cuddling! So hug your loved ones!
  • Do something you enjoy: Spend time every day doing something that you love. Whether that’s reading a book, playing a video game, crocheting, baking,…spend time making yourself happy and relaxing.

 

I know that this is a tough time for a lot of people, but we can do this. We can make it through this and you will be so glad that you were strong. We are in this together.

Love Always,

Elizabeth

Anxiety

Chances are that somebody in your life is living with anxiety right at this moment (whether you realize it or not). If that somebody is you, I hope that what I will write in this post will help you. If not, this post may be able to help you relieve stress from your life.

Anxiety is something that I have lived with for about ten years now. There are a ton of different kinds of anxiety and I am not going to pretend that I know how everyone with anxiety feels, but I am going to list things that help my anxiety below.

  1. Essential Oils: I don’t know what it is about them, but lavender in particular will help me to relax if I am having a stressful day or feeling a little extra anxious. Orange is another great scent that will help me to feel energized and leave the house smelling so clean and fresh. There are a ton of different brands of essential oils out there and I’m honestly not sure how to tell which are better quality (although it is something that I want to do more research on), but I have bought some from MLM companies, Big Lots, Amazon, and even Walmart. I have a couple diffusers in my house and all i have to do is fill them with water, put in a few drops of the oil of my choice, and turn it on. I learned recently that some essential oils can have negative effects on pets, so talk with your veterinarian or do your own research if this is something that you have to consider. I have also been gifted essential oils that are in a diluting liquid (I’m not 100% sure on the process) and can be rolled onto my skin – I typically will rub it into my wrists – but I wouldn’t advise putting regular essential oils on your skin, especially if you have sensitive skin like I do.
  2. Deep Breathing Exercises: When I find myself getting worked up and increasingly anxious, I tell myself to take ten deep breaths while closing my eyes and count them as I go. (inhale through my nose – hold for a moment – exhale through my mouth – “one”) By forcing myself to focus on my breathing, I am momentarily distracting my brain from what it was being anxious about. I usually feel much better after ten deep breaths. Going to new places is one of my sources of anxiety. I know that the longer I procrastinate getting out of the car, the harder it will be for me. I allow myself to take one deep breath and then quickly open the door and get out of the vehicle. The more I let myself stew about the “what if” possibilities, the worse the situation will be and the worse I will feel. If you meditate, this is another awesome idea. Meditation on a regular basis is like a stronger and more effective form of deep breathing exercises. It forces you to release what tension you have and return yourself to a peaceful center. Meditation is something I am new at and still working on, but I have already found it to be helpful.
  3. Do a Craft: Art is a great outlet for frustration and anxiety. By forcing my emotions out through creativity, I am not only releasing tension and distracting my brain, but I am creating something that can be useful or is beautiful. Some examples of this could be crocheting, coloring, drawing, poetry, photography, wood burning, calligraphy, or any other craft/hobby that you like. It is so important to find your outlet and realize when you can benefit most from practicing your craft.
  4. Read a Book: I love to read. When I get into a good book, reality slips away from me. Having a break from the real world is sometimes just what I need. Pro tip – although there is nothing like the hard copy of a book, e-readers are great for people who are working on minimizing their possessions and living a simpler life. You can also find coloring apps and much more on most tablets, phones, and computers.
  5. Cleaning: I know that this sounds really cliche. I also know that this actually works for me. I think it’s partly because being around clutter and knowing that I have a long list of things that need to get done is subconsciously a huge source of my anxiety. By cleaning my house, I am able to get my frustration out while working on fixing what is making me so on-edge.
  6. Exercise: I used to be a runner. I’m not saying that I did track in high school or ran marathons or anything, I just used to run every day to get my stress and frustration out. This is something that I hope to pick back up again because it worked so incredibly well for me. It was like I was running away from my anxiety. Not everyone enjoys running, but just about any form of exercise can release endorphins in your body and help with your mental/emotional well-being.

I wish that I could guarantee that if you do these six things, your anxiety will be cured and you will feel great. That just isn’t reality. You need to figure out what works for you and go with it. If that means you need to turn music up loud and sing at the top of your lungs, do it. If you have to write out letters telling yourself that you are going to be okay and get through this, do it. You need to do whatever it is that is going to make life easier for you. Anxiety can be a real pain in the butt and affect a lot of your life, but it only has as much power as you give it. Don’t give up and keep working on your coping mechanisms.

Make yourself and your mental/emotional well-being a priority.

Love Always,

Elizabeth

P.S. There is nothing wrong with talking to a trained professional. They can be incredibly helpful in targeting what your anxiety triggers are and figuring out how you can deal with them.

Just Say No

I have a challenge for you. This will be your first step toward minimalism and a simpler life. Pick one surface in your home that seems to collect clutter easily. For us, it is the top of our cabinet near the front door. When we get home, the things in our hands and pockets tend to get placed there. Keys, pens, mail, change, and water bottles are the typical culprits. For one week I want you to focus on only having 3 items on that surface at all times. If you have  a dish to put your keys and such in, that counts as one item. All other things need to be taken care of or put in the space that they belong. If you can accomplish this for 1 week, you are on your way to a less stressful life.

 

Today I want to talk about minimizing your stress and responsibilities. If you are like me, you have a hard time saying no when people ask you to do something. There is nothing wrong with that. If you have the ability to do something when someone asks for help, it’s great that you are one of the first to say yes. But I want you to learn that it’s also okay to say no sometimes.

 

Overwhelming yourself with commitments that you don’t actually want to partake in is a sure way to burnout. For years I have found myself working full time jobs while juggling school, my own businesses, and events that I felt obligated to attend. Eventually, I felt myself spread so thin that I wasn’t able to give my all to the things that I valued most. I didn’t have time to spend with the people I love. I didn’t have time to clean the house regularly and I definitely didn’t have time to take care of myself. Don’t get me wrong, I loved doing most of the things that I was doing, but when I was overwhelming my schedule, I started resenting those things that I loved because they became less of a passion and more of a task.

 

This is what happened to my photography. It started as a curiosity in high school.Then I became passionate about photography by the time I graduated. It began to take over any free time that I had. I loved how busy I was, but I eventually stopped photographing the things that I loved and only photographed what clients requested. Eventually I lost my artistic passion for capturing moments and began thinking of it only as a business. About six months ago I decided that I needed to take action. I have taken a break from my photography. By doing this, I had to say no to countless opportunities. But it felt good to say no. I was taking back my time and filling it with things that I loved (like family time, writing, and taking care of myself.) More recently I have had the yearning feeling to photograph again. Not as a business, but as a passion. I am now in the beginning stages of a project that I will be doing for my photography. Not because  I have to or because I was asked to, but because it something that I want to do. I want to continue to have passion for the things that I love most and I am excited that I am on the right path. No matter how many times that path may mean saying no.

 

Fill your life with things that you are passionate about and that you want to do. It is okay to help people or fulfill commitments, but never feel obligated to say yes if it means that you will regret your commitment or overwhelm your schedule.

 

Take care of yourself and find your passion.

 

Love Always,

Elizabeth

Journaling

Have you tried journaling yet? If not, what is stopping you? It doesn’t matter how good (or not good) you think you are at writing. It doesn’t matter if you think you don’t have anything important to say. I promise that it doesn’t matter how bad you are at spelling. Your journal is your sanctuary to voice your opinions, struggles, frustrations, and achievements without criticism. Are you stuck or wondering where to start your journey? Don’t worry, I have your back. Here is a list of things that I find myself writing about in my personal journal.

 

 

  • Gratitude: This is where my journal started last year. I was in a dark place emotionally and someone in my life suggested that I start a gratitude list. I wrote five things that I was grateful for every day. (It takes about 28 days to make a routine, so stick with it!) Sometimes I had to try hard to find those five things, but every day I made sure to complete my list. At times, my list included small things like leaving the house, getting a kiss from my puppy, or having food in the house to eat. No matter how pathetic I thought those gratitudes were, it helped me to realize how fortunate I am and I eventually got past those hard times. We all have a lot to be thankful for.

 

 

 

  • Hopes and Dreams: Sometimes I have a hard time talking about my hopes and dreams for the future. I get scared that they are far-fetched and that people will know when I fail. Journaling has been my way of developing my thoughts about the future without being scared that other people will find it silly. It doesn’t matter if my aspirations change over time, but journaling gives me the opportunity to look back at my plans and see how my dreams have altered.

 

 

 

  • Frustrations: Do you ever find yourself frustrated in a situation or upset with someone? I definitely do. Instead of continuing to talk it out with the people in my life, I tend get it all out onto paper. When I write things out and voice my frustrations in a private space, I can figure out how to handle the situation after de-escalating my emotions. It is one way for me to figure out how to talk through a situation without talking out of anger. This has, in many occasions, saved me from saying nasty things to others in the moment which has resulted in less stress and awkward situations. Next time you find yourself mad at someone, write them a letter. When you finish the letter, rip it in a million pieces or put it through your shredder. Getting those feelings out makes you feel better a million times better (even if they never know how your felt). Being angry and bitter toward people doesn’t affect them and only hurts you.

 

 

 

  • Sadness: Fergie was wrong, big girls do cry. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. Crying can be a healthy way to deal with things in your life that make you sad. It is not healthy, however, to bottle those feelings up. For me, writing out how I am feeling and why I think I might be feeling that way is a way to be more aware of my emotions and to gain closure. When I lost my pregnancy, journaling was a lifesaver. I was able to say how badly I hurt without feeling guilty for talking about it to others or putting them in an awkward situation. There is nothing wrong with being sad, but you need to take care of yourself and not carry those feelings around constantly.

 

 

 

  • To-Do: More recently I have been writing recipes that I want to try, blogs I want to read, and errands I need to complete in my journal. Writing these things down not only helps me to remember them, but also makes me more apt to do it. If I take the time to write out a recipe in my journal, I get excited about making and eating the food. If I write about the things that I need to get done after work tomorrow,  I am more apt to make sure they get done so I can reflect on it later. Even if that simply means I feel more accomplished about what I completed, it’s time well spent.

 

 

What do you like to journal about? If you haven’t started journaling yet, what is making you hesitate? Go to the contact page to answer. Even ten minutes of journaling a couple times a week can offer you closure, acceptance, and peace in your life.

 

Love Always,

Elizabeth

Where Healing Starts

I bet you are wondering what I could possibly talk about regarding to healing. I am definitely not a doctor and I will definitely not be selling you some insane new medical craze. What I will do is tell you what new things I am trying and what I am learning to help heal myself. Hopefully you will find something to help you heal along the way too.

 

There are many moving parts in health and the healing avenue of my blog will focus on non-physical aspects. By that I mean social, emotional, and spiritual well-being. No, I am not going to preach to you or have you read a lengthy book with testaments in it, but I will try to expose you to new aspects of your life that you maybe didn’t realize needed tending to.

 

But to keep it (semi) brief, this post will list the five things that I am currently implementing in my day-to-day life that may bring you some stress-relief.

 

 

  • JOURNALING. I know what you are thinking, “This girl is so cliche to say journaling is going to help me in any way. I don’t have time for that and it wouldn’t help anyway.” I said that for about ten years. In the past year I have started journaling semi-frequently and more recently I have been journaling almost daily. Here are some tips to get you started:

 

    1. Buy a pretty journal/notebook. If it is visually appealing, you will be more likely to want to pick it up and start jotting down thoughts.
    2. You don’t have to just write out things that are bothering you. I started by listing five things every day that I was grateful for. After a while I started writing other things such as ideas, problems, and plans.

 

  1. MEDITATION. This is a newer thing to me. I have always been interested in meditation,      

but didn’t start trying it on my own until a couple months ago when a doctor I work with

took the time to teach me a little about it. She meditates regularly and told me that it helps a lot of people with anxiety (like me). I was sold. I use the app “Headspace” currently and I LOVE it. Meditation has brought me so much peace and the more I do it, the more productive and happy I become. Try it out for five minutes to start and go from there.

 

  1. NON-WORK RELATED HOBBIES. Don’t get me wrong, I love taking care of people and

helping people as a nurse, but it takes a lot out of me emotionally sometimes. I can tell

when my brain craves something creative that it’s time to start a project. Working on

something non-work related helps me to de-stress and recenter myself Don’t have a

hobby yet? That’s okay! There are so many awesome options out there. Keep an eye

out on the minimalist tab on my blog for some awesome minimalist-friendly hobby ideas

that don’t take up a lot of space, but can be a lot of fun.

 

  1. FRESH AIR. This sounds like a no-brainer for some people, but living in an urban

environment has me finding myself at home a lot. If I start spending a lot of time going

from work to home and back again, I always try to tentatively make plans to go out for at

least a few hours. Regardless if that means going for a walk through a shopping mall,

taking my dog for a walk to the park, or just going for a ride around the countryside with

my husband, I always feel recharged after I get out of the house for a bit.

 

  1. UNPLUGGING. This is something that I struggle with. My phone is normally attached to my

hip and when it isn’t I either have my laptop, Amazon Echo, Television, or all of the

above. It’s hard to not get caught up in the instant gratification of “likes” and “comments”

that send bursts of endorphins in my brain. But I have found that social media leads me

to negative self-image most times and having unrealistic expectations about what my life

should be. Seeing other people’s highlights of their life sometimes ends in me feeling

poorly about myself and that is not the path toward healing that I am trying to achieve.  

 

Healing and health isn’t just about eating right and exercising your body. It is about mental well-being and taking care of your emotional self. I hope that one day, both you and I, will find unfaltering health and happiness.

 

Love Always,

Elizabeth