If It Makes You Unhappy…Unfollow

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Many of us are looking forward to the end of 2018, which will forever be branded under the word “tumultuous”. I am one of those people.

But before this year of truly trying our patience ends, maybe think about also saying good-bye to what doesn’t fill you up, and I am specifically speaking to our tenuous hold concerning social media.

I know this is not a light bulb moment but you actually get to choose the accounts and people you follow on social media. Yes, I am stating the obvious, but just because someone “follows you” doesn’t mean you have to follow back.

Mind-blowing, I know.

Here’s the thing: social media can be a good thing in the right doses. But when you follow accounts and/or people who bring you down or don’t make you feel good about you, it is time to clean house with these accounts.

For example, I know that no matter what part of the world we are living in, there seems to be some upheaval. Do you really need to follow several media news outlets on Twitter? Do you need to constantly see what so-and-so is tweeting about in regards to said issue? Do you find after checking your Twitter feed and seeing that the same crap is happening, it is just a different day, feeling low?

Unfollow.

This doesn’t mean sticking one’s head in the sand and pretending that everything is fine, but you don’t need to follow EVERYBODY. The world will keep spinning without you needing to know what is going on every single minute. Your well-being will thank you. And if unfollowing all the news people, news outlets and people advocating for change is way too difficult, that is fine. Start with unfollowing one or two people/news outlets once a week and see how you are getting your information. See how it is making you feel.

Then keep pressing forward the next week with that unfollow button.

Say it is people on Instagram or Twitter or Facebook who are constantly talking about how much money they earn and you are over here wondering if you should turn on the heat or throw on another sweater and tough it out. You look at their fabulous lives and wonder why yours isn’t fabulous and then the cycle of feeling crappy rears its ugly head again.

Unfollow.

Seriously.

If these accounts are making you feel bad about yourself, feel good about yourself and unfollow.

If there are people whose blogs you used to follow but don’t anymore, but are still following them on social media, maybe that is another avenue to explore in regards to unfollowing. Maybe you used to be a mom blogger and now you are a personal finance blogger but you still follow all these mom bloggers/blogs from your past life, consider clicking that unfollow button.

Because here is the thing: social media, in theory, is supposed to make us happy. It is a medium for us to communicate with others and be happy about it.

If social media and the accounts you are following are bumming you out, take a good hard look at what and who you follow and what you are occupying your time with.

Really look at all of your social media accounts and think about 2019: do you really want to start the new year following people and/or businesses that you are truly not getting any value out of?

Less is more. Always.

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Looking For Wisdom In All The Wrong Places

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I am writing this post for you as well as myself…

There is a dissatisfaction permeating the very air around us. This isn’t a menacing thought or one stated haphazardly, but something that I have been thinking about.

You reach a certain point in your life and start looking backwards. “I should’ve done this differently” or “gee, I have not accomplished AT ALL, what I thought I would have at this point”.

Fruitless ruminating.

Social media doesn’t help because it seems that everyone else has it together. Fabulous lives with fabulous homes and fabulous families and fabulous kitchens with just the right amount of subway tile.

“What am I doing wrong?”, we think. “What is wrong with me?”, we wonder.

The answer of course, is nothing. Nothing is wrong with you. You are more than fine.

The problem isn’t necessarily social media either. I have met blogging friends in real life whom I consider friends, and that never would have had happened without social media.

I feel that as people striving to try and find our “why”, we are trying to find answers from people and things and gurus and everyone and their mother, when the answer is really within ourselves. No, I am not spouting some new-age mumbo jumbo, I am saying that we ignore our gut feelings and what we really want out of life because we are doing things because that is what we are supposed to do.

Take myself as an example:

Growing up, I was a smart kid. I got good grades, took an AP class when it was merited, got into college, graduated from said college with a Bachelor’s degree, followed the blueprint that was my life. What precise job I was supposed to hold, I am not sure. I took a mediocre job after college graduation, got raises that barely covered my cost of living, and eeked out an adult-this-is-supposed-to-be-what-it-is-like living.

In my spare time I read voraciously and occasionally wrote.

But all I really wanted to do is be a mother.

I had this epiphany the other day when reading a post from a woman who always knew she didn’t want children and how people keep hounding her about it and at the end of the day, it is her choice.

For me, it is always been the complete opposite. I always knew I wanted my own family, I always wanted to be a mother, and even more to the point, I always knew I wanted to be a stay-at-home mother. I wanted to pick my kids up from school, bake chocolate chip cookies, go on field trips with the class, kind of mother.

This is what I always wanted.

And it clicked for me, why I never wanted some kind of professional career when I was younger, and why I don’t want one now. I think for the longest time, I kind of felt bad about that, like I had to hand in my feminist card or something, because I didn’t want to conquer the world. My generation was supposed to do it all, right? Well, I didn’t.

And the other day, after reading this woman’s post and her choices in life that had led her to this point in her musings, my epiphany non-withstanding, I realized that I have the life I have always wanted.

Yes, let me repeat that. I have the life I have always wanted.

It is not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, let me tell you. There is no sugar coating here. There are aspects of my life that I want to change and am putting in place, the proper tools to do just that. I still struggle with my depression, which is and can be, a daily battle. I lost my home years ago and still struggle with the guilt of that. My finances could be better, sure and living in a super expensive state comes with its own woes.

But at the core: I have the life that I want. I am married to my best friend in the whole wide world and I have two daughters whom I love fiercely.

Everything else will fall into place.

I have been, to quote a song that I love, looking for wisdom in all the wrong places, but that wisdom is really and truly inside of me. I have been on this earth for several decades now, and no one knows what is better for me, THAN ME.

Me. I know what is best for me.

And maybe deep down, I always knew.

Currently: The What Day Is It Edition

Seriously though… I can’t keep up. All the days are going by in some crazy kind of blur and I am a bit flabbergasted that Halloween is in less than a week. I mean, it seems like we just ushered in Fall with our obligatory Pumpkin Spice Latte, and now it is almost time to eat all the candy celebrate Halloween.

Good-bye October. You were swell  🙂

What I Am Loving:

The Pumpkin Patch!

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We went to a different pumpkin patch this year and we had such a great time! The weather was perfect (for Southern California, it definitely was. Going to the pumpkin patch when it is 90° or more outside is no bueno).

This one had rides, a train, games, food, and of course pumpkins. Oh, and also a haunted house and a hay maze. My older daughter won prizes at the games she played and she decorated a pumpkin. She had a great time  🙂 My ten month-old on the other hand, well let’s just say, I think she’ll enjoy it so much more on the next go round! 😉

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What I Am Absolutely Over:

Yes, you guessed it. The news. It literally is a $#@!show every day. Every. Single. Day.

What I Am Looking Forward To:

A day where I don’t have allergies. Seriously. These winds came in last week (they are called the Santa Ana winds here) and they knocked down trees, blew stuff around in the air, and my sinuses are still a wreck. I am hoping that once it is November and the temperature drops just a bit more, things will steady out. *crossing fingers*

In Other News:

We have almost completed our Fall Bucket List.

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In addition to watching It’s The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown and going to the pumpkin patch among other things, we made these Halloween Oreo Brookie Bars. Go to the store and make these things immediately. You won’t be sorry. You’re welcome.

All that is left on our list, is trick-or-treating. Mama is hoping there are some Three Musketeers bars in the ‘ol basket, because Mama loves her some Three Musketeer bars. And my girl loves to share, so… 😉

How have things been going for you guys? Are you doing anything special for Halloween?

Halloween Oreo Brookie Bars

Y’all… I came across this recipe on Instagram and earmarked it because I knew my older daughter would absolutely love to make this recipe with me, as well as absolutely love to eat it!

This recipe is literally brownies, Oreo cookies, and chocolate chip cookies, mixed together into some wonderful chocolate sugar-filled concoction

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This is what I had posted on my Instagram stories 🙂

I mean…c’mon, don’t you want to reach through the screen and eat them?

In the interest of full disclosure, I took a shortcut in making them. Because I was short on time, I picked up pre-made chocolate chip cookie dough. Normally, I would make these cookies from scratch as the recipe called for, but again, I was pressed for time.

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However you make them, the shortcut way or the original way, you will not be disappointed. We are literally eating these things for breakfast over here 😉

Ingredients For Chocolate Chip Cookie Layer:

  • ¾ cup butter softened
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 ½ cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 24 Halloween Oreo Cookies

Ingredients for Brownie Layer

  • 1 package of Brownie Mix
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
  • ¼ cup water
  • 2 eggs

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 350° F. Spray a 13″ x 9″ baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.

For the Chocolate Chip Cookie Layer —>

  • Using an electric mixer, beat softened butter, brown sugar, white sugar, and vanilla extract together in a large bowl until creamy. Add eggs and continue to beat for another two minutes or until light and creamy.
  • In a medium mixing bowl, combine flour, salt, and baking soda. Use a spoon to add flour mixture into butter mixture in increments, stirring until dough is combined. Stir chocolate chips into dough.
  • Spread dough into the bottom of the prepared baking dish and use your hands to press it into an even layer.
  • Place the Halloween Oreo Cookies in rows over the dough.

For the Brownie Layer —>

  • Combine brownie mix, oil, water, and eggs in a large mixing bowl. Stir until well combined.
  • Pour the prepared brownie batter over the Halloween Oreos.
  • Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until toothpick inserted into the bars comes out clean. Allow to cool completely in pan and then cut into squares and serve.
  • Store bars in an airtight container.

Recipe Notes:

This recipe will yield 48 small bars or 24 larger bars.

Recipe courtesy of fromvalerieskitchen.com

 

 

As The Page Turns: September Edition

Getting this post up a bit late but that #momlife is no joke.

Here we go!

Sweet Little Lies by Caz Frear

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Saw this recommendation for this book by someone I follow on Instagram who writes awesome book reviews. Great mystery, great plot, and interesting characters.

The Masterpiece by Fiona Davis

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Meh…  A bit disappointing truth be told. I loved her previous book The Address and had such high hopes for this one but I just could not get into it.

A Forgotten Place by Charles Todd

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Charles Todd has two series that they write: one featuring a Scotland Yard detective named Ian Rutledge, the other series features a WW1 nurse named Bess Crawford. This book features the latter. This book was not terribly good and a bit convoluted which disappointed me to no end because I love this author to pieces. The series that they write featuring the Scotland Yard detective is sooooooooo much better.

Searching For Sunday by Rachel Held Evans

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I came across this author online and decided to give this book a whirl. I know it is not everyone’s cup of tea, but I found this book quite good. Her disillusionment with the church after growing up in it and then finding her way back, is definitely worth a read.

That’s it for now. I’ve read more books than these 4 in the past month but a lot of books were “meh”, not really worth mentioning. Have you guys read any good books lately? 🙂

Currently: It’s October Edition

September flew by in a blur, am I right? I feel as we get older, the months fly by at warp speed. If you need more encouragement on this, think about how many presidents’ terms you have lived through, lol  🙂

On to other things…

My No-Spend September:

It wasn’t 100% a no-spend month, but in our book, we did pretty good. Instead of going out to eat once a week, we only went to eat ONCE the Whole month. (insert clapping noise here). This is really good, y’all. I know we didn’t make it through the month without going out to eat for lunch, but one time versus four times in one month is a good thing. We paid a huuuuuuge chunk towards our medical bills and for that, I am thankful 🙂

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Fall Bucket List:

I made a list of things to do for fun for the fall season, and my older daughter is super excited about it! On this list that is not able to be shown in this photo, is us making a spooky Oreo cookie cake. This will be the first time we are making it and we are both super excited to make it 🙂

Also what I love about this list is that I made it using extra paper I had around, and it is super cute and super frugal. Win-win.

What I Am Loving:

That Football is back on my television!!!!! I have been a huge football fan since I was a kid. It is my favorite sport to watch, along with hockey.

What I Am Absolutely Over:

The news. As usual. I can’t….

What I Am Looking Forward To:

All. The. Holidays. October. November. December. Bring It.

What is going on with you guys? Let me know! 🙂

Direction

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My friend Tanya wrote a great post this week about feeling a bit lost right now with certain aspects of her life. She spoke about having ideas and wanting to implement them but also lacking the motivation to do so. It is hard when you feel like other people are accomplishing things and you feel like you are just languishing.

My other friend Tonya (no relation, ha!) has moved from Los Angeles to Boise, Idaho, looking for a new start to her life. She felt “stuck” here in California and thought a change of scenery would be just the thing to get her proverbial gears going and forge a new and interesting chapter.

I am totally rooting for my friends as they look to make changes in their lives.

But I also root for them not just because they are my friends, but because I can and do relate.

I feel like my generation (Generation X), was told that we needed to work hard to get into college. After college, get the super well-paying job, find the person you will marry forever and ever, buy a humongous home, have some kids, live happily ever after. The end.

Oh and throw in some female empowerment because The Spice Girls told us so.

Well, fast forward to the here and now and all of us Gen-Xers are in our 40’s and for many of us, we are saying what the hell happened? What am I doing? This life has not gone at all like I expected.

I did everything right.

I followed the rules.

I trusted my intuition.

I did what I was supposed to do.

Why am I unhappy?

And if unhappy is too strong of a word, why do I feel unfulfilled?

This is the part of the post where I say that I do not have the answers nor do I know anyone who does.

But I am putting this all down in writing because I need to get this out. I need to speak what is rolling around in my brain when it is not being diluted by super-happy images of people living their best super-happy lives on social media and/or television.

Because the truth of the matter is that life is not all unicorns and rainbows and I am sure by the time you are old enough to remember watching Molly Ringwald movies in an actual movie theater, you know this.

I think as women, we were sold a bill of goods. We are supposed to have a fantastic career, fantastic husband and children, fantastic home, fantastic friends and family, fantastic coming out of the wazoo, if you catch my drift.

When one of these supremely awesome fantastic things doesn’t happen, we wonder what went wrong with the plans. Here, let me look at that blueprint again, and see where I messed up, so I can course correct and get back on track.

But that is not how life is. That is not how life works. And it doesn’t take into consideration things that happen that are out of your control. We have had happen to us or know someone that it has happened to them, things that occurred that were out of their control, whether it is a job loss, depression, debt, infidelity, infertility, substance abuse, etc… These things that happen to people, are not in the blueprint that we created for our lives.

And yet they happen every day.

For me personally, I feel bad that we lost our home 8 years ago. When the recession descended upon our country, it took my house right along with it. I feel bad, not every day, but most days, that I do not have an actual home for my girls to grow up in, and that we are in an apartment and do not have a backyard. It kills me as a parent that I am unable to provide this for my girls.

And yet I know that losing my home does not define who I am. It does not define me as a person. But some days, the shame washes over me and I feel baaaaaaaad.

Just as having depression does not define who I am, neither should not having a home. I am blessed in other ways and I know that. But my point is, plans go awry. And that is where the lack of motivation, the inability to move forward, and the feeling of ineptitude to overcome, just come roaring in.

If you feel like your life’s blueprint has gone missing, I am here to tell you that you are not alone. I am here and I hear you.

I too, feel lost.

I too, feel unmotivated.

I too, feel unqualified.

But deep down , I feel the flicker of a flame. I feel this thing that just won’t let go. I feel this voice inside me that is screaming for me not to give up and to implement Phase Two, whatever that is.

Direction is moving forward.

My steps may be tiny, but my inner voice is mighty.

We can do this. Who’s with me?

 

No Spend September

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September means back to school and a renewal for many to turn the page. With that in mind, I thought September would be a good month for finances to be re-worked so to speak.

Quick Backstory: Because of the kind of health insurance we have, it didn’t cover all of my needs as well as the baby’s when I was pregnant. In addition, there were extra tests I needed during my pregnancy and more doctor’s appointments than usual and so we are still paying on medical bills from last year. Add to that, my husband had an emergency room visit during that time last year due to an allergic reaction he developed from taking a doctor-prescribed medication. ER visits are a cost onto themselves.

Suffice to say, we have all these 2017 medical bills that we are still paying for and we would like to make more headway with these. So a few weeks ago, I brought up the idea of a “No Spend September” to my husband and he was on board!

Basically, we are only spending money on “needs”, not “wants”.

We are spending money on:

  • Rent
  • Utilities
  • Insurance (car, health, etc…)
  • Phone
  • Internet
  • Groceries
  • Other bills not listed above

We are not spending money on:

  • Eating out
  • Random purchases
  • Anything else that is not a need

Any money saved this month, will be directed towards these medical bills.

Anybody else doing a “No-Spend September”?  🙂

I Don’t Know Who I Am Without You

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Really feeling the need to share what is on my heart right now…

As most of you know, I had a baby back in December. All was right in the world. I had my family, I was starting to eat right, I even managed to get in a few blog posts! I thought, hey, I got this! I can manage all of the things and I am Superwoman.

But the reality is, is that nothing was really okay. I thought it was and maybe on the outside, it looked like that, but it wasn’t.

It took my husband to point out to me my mood swings and constant crying and dark thoughts were all symptomatic of post-partum depression. I didn’t realize it because I didn’t have post-partum depression after the birth of my first child and also, I already suffer from depression as it is, and didn’t realize the volatility of my current situation.

If you are a new reader, then yes you may not know that depression is a part of my life.

I wish, from the bottom of my heart, that this wasn’t the case, but I know, it is true.

I don’t know who I am without you…

I had a tumultuous childhood. I had a lot of stuff happen in my life at a time when the real world shouldn’t intrude the way it did. I am not going to go into any kind of specifics because they are private and personal. But needless to say, I found myself “retreating” from others for reasons unbeknownst to me, and feeling sad for days at a time. These feelings would “magically” go away, until the next time they came knocking at my door, and I felt the sadness envelop me once again.

This cycle had been the blueprint for my entire life until one day, I broke.

In every way possible a person can mentally brake, I did.

And I realized that this thing, whatever it was, it was bigger than me. The beast needed to be tamed, and I needed help in doing just that.

With the help of my wonderful husband, a caring psychologist, and medication, I began to put my life back together.

This was years ago and there have been dark days since then and that is the truth. Depression doesn’t just “go away”. It is always there, for lack of a better term, “lurking”.  As people who deal with depression, we have to have tools in place, so that when the dark days come, we can better cope.

I don’t know who I am without you…

My whole life, whether I was aware of it or not, I have dealt with depression. I don’t know really, who I am, without it. It is a part of me, like an extra appendage.

All this to say that when I was made aware of this different kind of depression, this un yet mitigated for me post-partum variety, I was defiant and also at the same time resigned.

“I don’t have post-partum depression. I am fine!!!!”

“Oh no, not another depression. Why is this happening???”

Suffice to say, I realized that everything I was feeling, the everything is off-kilter feeling, the everything is wrong feeling, the uncontrollable sobbing, it was all true and I acknowledged it and attempted to move forward.

I am here.

It has been a tough road, I’ll be honest with you.

I have had to dig deep into reservoirs I didn’t even know I had. I had to trust myself and trust God. I have had to make changes in my life that are still new to me.

But I am here on the other side.

I just wanted to share a bit of me and who I am because I feel it is important. Blogs and social media tend to show the highlights and glossy side of life, but there is always an underbelly.

Thank you for reading ♥

As The Page Turns: August Edition

Hey y’all, long time no see! 🙂 This post is not a comprehensive list of everything I have been reading but I didn’t want to go another month without hopping on the #booknerd train and linking up with Jana and Stephanie.

How To Stop Time by Matt Haig

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Excellent, excellent book. Science fiction-y kind of books are not my thing nor my usual genre, but I had heard nothing but wonderful reviews for this book and I heard they are making this book into a film, so I decided to give it a read. I found this book well-written and it kept me involved even though the story went back and forth between present day happenings and the past.

Reasons To Stay Alive by Matt Haig

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The author Matt Haig suffers from anxiety and depression and at one point, tried to commit suicide. This book he wrote, Reasons To Stay Alive, is his story about how he came back from the edge. He also shares “reasons to stay alive” not just from him personally, but from other people who suffer from anxiety and depression and what their reasons are to stay alive and keep fighting.

You guys, I cannot recommend this book enough. As someone who suffers from both anxiety and depression, I felt like finally, someone wrote down the words that constantly swirl through  my brain. And if you don’t deal with these issues on a day-to-day basis like some of us do and don’t know if this book is worth the read, let me tell you: IT IS. If you want to find out more about the subject because someone you know suffers from anxiety and/or depression, this book is a must-read.

A Steep Price by Robert Dugoni

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This book is the latest in the Detective Tracy Crosswhite series. Normally, I like my mystery novels to predate the computer, where detectives had to rely on old-fashioned means to catch the bad guy. That being said, the series is ah-mazing. The series takes place in present-day Seattle and is just so well-written and truly leaves you guessing. Start with the first book in the series and just go from there. Promise, this series is definitely worth your time!

What have you guys been reading? Let me know in the comments!  🙂