Browsing Tag

intentional living

Intentional Living

How I Choose Gratitude When I Really Don’t Feel Like It

November 24, 2015

I will be the first to admit that gratitude does not come easily to me. Blame it on my melancholic temperament, my fallen human nature, or some combination of both.

It’s just not where my mind goes, dagnabbit.

I’ve had to learn to choose gratitude just like making any other adult choice in life…like choosing to budget, do the dishes, or pray. I had to learn to choose it because gratitude is good for me just like those other things.

Why is gratitude good for us?

If you dig into the secular research, gratitude can seriously change your life. From boosting your energy and happiness levels to being less depressed and envious, it packs a positive punch when part of your daily rhythm. Being a grateful person will spill over its irrefutable effects into almost every area of your life.

From a spiritual standpoint, God encourages gratitude.

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, as in all wisdom you teach and admonish one another, singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. Col 3:16

He wants us to be grateful because it’s the only place from which we can truly comprehend and realize all the lavish gifts he’s given to us. It’s a necessary platform for receiving his grace and not taking anything for granted. In other words, it allows us to grow in deep spiritual maturity.

But why is it so freaking hard to choose?

Because brokenness.

Being grateful requires virtue, which our human nature likes to rebel against. It’s a whole lot easier to be envious, negative, jealous, bitter, fearful, untrusting, angry, and entitled than it is to be grateful.

Especially in times of trial! One act of gratitude while suffering is worth far more than numerous shouts of praise in a season of blessing.

Even if you aren’t suffering, reflecting on things to be grateful for is typically forgotten in the business of life. It’s easy to take things for granted, especially in our American culture that runs a million miles a minute. Being grateful takes intentionality and that requires discipline and sacrifice…again, something pretty tough for most people.

So how do I become grateful?

Just be strong and do it.

OK that’s great if we all had wills of iron but for us average folk, that just ain’t gonna cut it. What practical things do I do to grow in gratitude?

Start a gratitude journal. For a few minutes each day, write down the things, people, relationships, situations, etc. that you find yourself thankful for. Just this simple act of recalling ALL THE THINGS you have to be grateful for in your life will change your attitude and perspective.

Verbally express gratitude with others. Whether it’s with a friend, spouse, relative, or stranger, specifically verbalize your gratitude out loud for something they did.

Stop complaining!!!! Ugh. We all hate complainers and have to fight hard to not become one ourselves as easy as it can be. Airing your gripes every now and again is alright but the more it becomes a habit, the more it decreases your levels of gratitude.

Pray for it. Beg God to transform your heath to one that is grateful for all that he gives you. Ask him to help you notice the people, places, and things in which you can be grateful for.

Write thank you notes. Sometimes you don’t get the opportunity to verbally express your gratitude for a person, so why not write a thank you note to them?! It’s a good habit to get into and who doesn’t LOVE receiving a letter of thanks?

Become a student of gratitude. You can read about growing in gratitude in scripture, books, from the saints, or everyday mentors. For example, check out a video on gratitude by Zig Ziglar:

Doing just these simple and small things have had a huge impact on me (especially when we were going through the darkest phases of infertility and I didn’t think I had anything to be grateful for). It was easy to be upset and angry but I learned that through CHOOSING gratitude, despite my circumstances, I am much happier and joyful. 

This week is Thanksgiving…no better a time to begin making steps to growing gratitude and its effects in your life!

“No duty is more urgent than that of returning thanks.” St. Ambrose

Happy Thanksgiving!

Catholicism

You Don’t Need To Be Married With Kids To Start Your Life

November 9, 2015

Confession: In true Melancholic fashion, this topic is something I’ve been mulling over for two solid months.

What sparked this internal pondering?

I read this blog post from another Catholic blogger and the wheels began to turn.

Hold on though.

I enjoy Haley’s blog a whole lot and the things she has to say. I am not dumping on her post but rounding it out with a different perspective…because my life experience has been vastly different from her’s and because of that I interpreted her message differently than she intended. We can have different opinions from others while still wholeheartedly respecting them and holding them up with high esteem.

OK now that we are clear, let’s get back to what I’ve been ruminating on…

I get it.

Her post was a breath of fresh air for all the other women who also married straight outta college and began having babies soon thereafter. No, they absolutely did NOT waste their 20’s as the general culture might suggest…they got to experience some of the most meaningful things in life at an earlier age that most. But she essentially equates getting married and having babies as the rite of passage to “starting your life.” 

That’s what hurt.

Because what about the rest of us? Those who God did not call to marriage or religious life that young. Or those who battled infertility for years if we were married. What were we dong with our 20’s? Wasting time and doing unimportant and frivolous things while waiting to “start our lives?”

No. Absolutely not.

Sure, I got to go on some seriously awesome adventures in my 20’s…many because I was not married for a majority of them and did not have children yet. But in no way did I ever sit back and think my life hadn’t truly “started.” I think that is the temptation in the Catholic world though, particularly for women.

It’s easy to think that we’re just cruising on auto-pilot, waiting for our vocation to arrive and then and only then will life really  “start.”

This isn’t how it works though, friends. Our life starts when we are given life in our mothers’ wombs. It doesn’t really begin when we cross a certain line or get to a milestone like marriage or children. And although I am speaking about generic “us” I’m mostly speaking to ME, who spent way too much precious time being jealous my life hadn’t “started” when we were battling infertility.

Your life is NOW and that is in whatever circumstances the Lord has given you today, in this moment. Your life has “started” and to do God’s will in the present moment is the best thing we can ever do – whether you happen to be married with several children by age 30 or not. Stop waiting for some external thing to happen to define the “start of your life.”

Our joy is in surrendering ourselves to God’s will in the present, not wishing it away for the past or the future. This is important because the more each one of us become conformed to God’s will for us, in whatever capacity that may be, the more we fulfill the Kingdom of God and our role in it.

We have to stop wishing we had “so and so’s life” and embrace the one right in front of us. The one that has very much “started” and is inviting us to dive all in. So whatever life is yours in this present moment…please know that is HAS started and embrace it! 🙂

Intentional Living

3 Reasons You Need To Read Money Making Mom

November 3, 2015

If you aren’t reading Crystal’s blog, Money Saving Mom, or following her on social media, you are absolutely missing out. This lady has helped me save money and live more intentionally on countless occasions. To say she is an inspiration to me as a wife, mother, and entrepreneur is the understatement of the century.

The past couple weeks have been really exciting because I had the honor and privilege to be on the launch team for a new book – Money-Making Mom: How Every Woman Can Earn More and Make a Difference. The book is all about how to earn an income as a mom, outside of the typical 8-5 job, and all the challenges, opportunities, and responsibilities that come with that.

Part of being on the launch team meant getting to read her new book early. The book was so great, I literally devoured it in under four days. I am so excited to share with you 3 reasons I think Money-Making Mom is worth your time as well.

one woman

1. Healthy Financial Perspective

Sometimes in the business world, you will hear things like:

  • Use debt to start and grow your business
  • Create profit, profit, and more profit for the sake of profit
  • If it’s what you want, pursue success no matter the cost

Well that is the opposite of Crystal’s book. She strongly suggests starting slowly and within one’s financial means without debt. That’s her own story of how she grew her brand and she wants others to experience the blessing and freedom that comes with being financially free.

She also highlights the beautiful opportunity to earn an income and be a blessing to your family but also to others. Giving is an entire chapter in this book and for good reason – we have a deep need to give to others and it brings us immense joy and satisfaction when we do. Earning money as a mom gives us the ability to be even more generous with others in our community and world.

Lastly, she stresses work-life balance and keeping your priorities in check. She doesn’t advocate chasing every money-making opportunity available, but discerning the right ones that fit your family and values.

grow

2. Get To Know Thyself

Earning income as a mom can come in as varied of a package as there are moms out there. How YOU may be called specifically to create income for your family (if at all!) is unique to your own gifts, talents, and desires.

In the book, Crystal actively guides you through self-reflection on this topic. In asking myself the big questions she poses, I felt like I was getting to know myself better. I was able to see how God uniquely crafted me and how he might want to use my gifts and talents in the world. She helped put me in touch with my passions and the reasons why I do what I do.

Knowing the answers to these questions will help make sense of any opportunity you are given to earn income for your family. Through knowing who you are, you will be free to pursue your work with passion and vision.

show up

3. How To Be Your Own Boss

Lastly, the book dives into the topic of some practical how-to’s and what business opportunities might be available for women who desire to work for themselves. What I love about this section is that it not only inspires but doesn’t shy away from the cold hard fact that starting and maintaining a business is HARD WORK.

I think it’s easy to glorify business owners or entrepreneurs as people who happened to be in the “right place at the right time.” That’s almost never true. It takes an unbelievable amount of energy and focus to get an idea off the ground and to grow it into a successful business.

Money-Making Mom: How Every Woman Can Earn More and Make a Difference explores the details of how to take your ideas and turn them into something bigger. You can follow the action points provided and walk towards taking what’s in your head and creating an opportunity with potential to earn income. Whether its blogging, an online business, a brick-and-mortar storefront, or direct sales – there are questions in this book that will get your wheels turning about how to get started or take what you currently have to the next level.

And there you have it.

Although I am currently a stay-at-home mom-ish (I do still work for FOCUS – Fellowship of Catholic University Students on special projects) this book got me really thinking about other opportunities to earn some income for our family. Time will tell where it takes me but I am very excited about some current ideas that are brewing. 🙂

What’s even more exciting is that TODAY is actually launch day for this book. If you are thinking about earning money either part-time or full-time as a Momma, check this one out and explore where God might be calling you.

I would love to hear your feedback as to what you think of it, so keep in touch as you read it!

Intentional Living

Is This Book Revolutionary or Just A Useless Fad? The Wrap Up

September 29, 2015

Here’s my final review post on the amazing book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. 

life-changing-magic-of-tidying-up

In case you are just joining us, check out the first post in which I discuss the book and provide a general overview. Next, I started tackling categories in our house using her tactics. Lastly, I wrote about how to fold clothes according to the KonMari Method. Here in this last post, we will wrap it all up with a few last minute pointers and my overall thoughts on the book as a whole.

What other nuggets did I find in the book?

Once you have tidied, she encourages everything to have a designated home. “The point in deciding specific places to keep things is to designate a spot for every thing.” She says this part of tidying will take far less time than the actual process of tidying. I am finding this to be true. Once I know what I’ve got, it’s pretty easy to give that object(s) a home.

Now…making sure I always put it in its home is another issue.

She says that, “The reason every item must have a designated place is because the existence of an item without a home multiplies the chances that your space will become cluttered again.” I see the wisdom in this. Things like loose change, mail, papers, bobby pins, etc. have a habit of making their way all around the house on dressers, desks, and table tops…AKA cluttering up my surfaces. By making sure they make it to their homes, I prevent clutter from every occurring again.

She then goes on to discuss storage and to keep things simple. 

In reflection,once I applied her methods of tidying by category and not location, I gained a sense of control. It’s as if I finally knew what I had and where it was located. Truly a freeing task! I was able to see duplicates and items we no longer needed that had been stored away collecting dust.

Discarding things that did not “spark joy” was my favorite part, since it felt like a weight was lifted with every bag filled for donation. Knowing we are surrounded by items that bring joy and we need is wonderful. It’s a simple way to live and I don’t want our home any other way now. I can see why she claims that no one reverts back to their old ways once she’s done with them! 🙂

Although we are not done tidying our home (she said it takes an average of 6 months to do!) we eagerly await the day when we’re finished. I don’t believe this book is simply a fad. I think it will be revolutionary in America, where we typically have so much excess in our homes.  We’re on board and hope to keep living according to most of the Kon-Mari principles as the years go by!

If you end up reading this book, let me know what you think too!

Intentional Living

How to Fold Clothes with the KonMari Method

September 22, 2015

Wow.

Wow. Wow. Wow.

(If you don’t know where that phrase comes from tune into this commercial and wait for 1:50 where Jonathan has his breakout acting moment / a catch phrase was born.)

This tidying up has been tough work. In America, when we discuss tidying, most people think of dusting and picking up some toys. That’s not what  The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up means. In the book, when KonMari talks about tiding, she really means “gutting your house” which is far more extereme…and necessary if one is actually going to see results and make permanent changes.

We tackled clothing this past weekend. It’s fairly easy to discern which clothing “sparks joy” but it just seems like there is so much of it! We started out by sorting Josephine’s clothes and that took us several hours. Doing our own wardrobes was even harder (especially since I am still nursing and haven’t worn or fit into several items in close to a year because of weight gained thanks to the meds I take for induced lactation).

In this post, we will discuss KonMari’s methods when it comes to tidying your clothing and storing it. Let’s do this thang.

First things first, you must ask yourself, “What things will bring you you if you keep them as part of your life?” Once you get into that mindset, you are ready to begin.

KonMari recommends gathering every. single. item. of clothing you own and piling it all in one place. Don’t leave any piece out of the pile, since she says if you find something after you’ve done that category, you must discard it since it wasn’t important enough to remember in the first place. (Unless it’s in the laundry.) So grab all your winter coats, old t-shirts, bins in the attic of off-season attire, etc. Get it all together and thrown into a giant pile to start sorting.

mountain clothes

(That’s not ACTUALLY our clothes. You would’ve seen our clothing pile but Wrigley, our dog, ate the photo memory card.)

She then places an emphasis on every item needing to be handled. By picking up each item individually you can more readily discern if it bring you joy.

Once you’ve sorted your way through the pile, take a brief rest because the hard and satisfying part is about to begin. It’s time to begin implementing the KonMari folding technique. She’s very specific about how to fold and store your clothes to get the most from your space but also more easily visualize your items.

The key to storing things in to stand them up as opposed to laying flat in the drawer. 

Mind. Blown.

I don’t know why we never thought of this before but immediately upon folding and storing per her instructions, I could feel order being restored to our dressers.

Let’s go over how to fold your clothes, KonMari style:

tshirt-folding

pants-folding

And now how to stack them in the drawer:

DSC06636

Once you’ve mastered the dressers, where she encourages most of your clothes to be, she moves on to closets. KonMari suggests that clothes go into the closet according to their category. Tops are with other tops and pants are with pants, etc. Overall, the clothes should rise to the right, creating a more comforting feeling.

There are a few other small tips, such as never ever balling up your socks since it stresses them out….but we’re just not implementing that one. I like to fold socks by balling them up and that’s how it will be. I’ll get a shoe box and keep them neatly contained but we are a sock balling family for life.

And that’s how to tidy your clothing. Intense but very freeing once it’s done. Knowing I can now go to my closet and find only things I love is incredible. No more “hating my clothes” like I used to say. And being able to have breathing room in my closet and drawers is amazing. Goodbye are the days of crammed up closets and drawers stuffed to the point of overflowing.

I can see why she calls this stuff “life-changing magic!” 🙂

Intentional Living

Is This Book Revolutionary or Just a Useless Fad? Tidying Up Our Junk

September 17, 2015

Welcome back!

In case you missed my first post, this week here at True Good and Beautiful, we are reviewing the book  The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up!

It’s been a good read thus far, despite a few cultural differences here and there. For example, in America we don’t really talk to our clothes or think about how they “feel” about being folded. With those little things aside, the content KonMari shares is insightful and practical.

What are some golden nuggets I’ve gleaned so far?

To get inspired, she encourages readers to start with the end in mind.  She says, “Think in concrete terms so that you can vividly picture what it would be like to live in a clutter-free space.” This activity alone really got me excited. Our house is fairly neat to begin with but to image every ounce of clutter being GONE? What a peaceful thought.

Then before beginning the work of tidying, you must reflect on the question, “Does it spark joy?” This is the yard stick you are supposed to use in helping you choose what items to keep and which to discard.

With these things in mind, we began tidying by category. Thus far we’ve tidied our paperwork and all kitchen items. She recommends getting all the items relating to that particular category you are tidying out on the table. This way you can see everything you’re working with and actually handle and feel each individual item to ask yourself if it sparks joy.

Below is our kitchen, before and after:

kitchen

As you can see, we had a lot of stuff…

We didn’t follow her advice exactly since we left our pots and pans in their cabinets. We knew they sparked joy and didn’t want to move them. Pretty much everything else was on the table and counter tops. It took about 2 hours,to sort through every item and place the ones we loved back in their drawers. Per her advice, we folded our napkins, towels, hot pads, and wash clothes upright so they are visible upon opening the drawer. MUCH easier to find what we need!

There were two full bags of donations and one full bag of trash. It’s pretty cool knowing that everything in our kitchen is something we actually love and use on a regular basis.

Then it was onto paperwork:

paper

KonMari says that when dealing with paper, she always leans towards discarding it…unless it falls into one of three categories: currently in use, needed for a limited period of time, or must be kept indefinitely. 

She also then encourages to, “Make sure that you keep all such papers in one spot only. Never let them spread to other parts of the house.”

So we gathered all the paperwork. Boy was there a lot! We even had receipt paper…for all those times we’ve never printed receipts. We had paperwork from almost 8 years ago spread across three different acordian folders. It was a mess. Thanks to KonMari, we filled an entire trashcan with paper clutter. Oh, and we found our social security cards that I’d misplaced! Oopsies!

Whew!

In the book she states that on average a proper tidying up takes on average of 6 months. There is definitely part of me that was like, “We’re going to tackle it all in ONE WEEK!” And then reality smacked me upside the head and I remembered that other little human living in our house who likes attention every now and again. 🙂 So we won’t be going as quickly as I’d hoped but we’re making progress!

Next on the list is cleaning out our clothing, stay tuned, since she has a really awesome way to fold and store clothes!