Featured

Work Hard or Hard Work?

Lately I’ve been dealing with the feeling of quitting.  Due to health circumstances that impact every aspect of my life, I’ve had to change my mindset, and will be changing my lifestyle even further than it’s been changed in previous years.

I was raised with the mantra, “Listen to your body.”  It’s my dad’s repetition that causes me to be so sure of my gut reactions.  I don’t take them lightly, and I work hard to make decisions that are best for me, not easiest.  I am highly aware that life takes work of all different kinds.  I’ve seen many quotes circulating on social media as of late, that all boils down to the same sentiment, if you want to accomplish anything, you have to put in the work.  It makes perfect sense; my issue is the application of said work.

It is incredibly easy to fall into the mindset that the only work worth doing, is the kind that leads to professional accomplishments or acknowledgement.  I’ll admit I fall into that mindset constantly.  Anything that isn’t valued by society becomes hard to classify as worthy of work and therefore falls by the wayside.  What has become abundantly clear to me this week is that you should work hard on things that are personally worth it.  Currently for me, that’s my health.  I will work my absolute hardest to get better.  I will attack my new diet and supplement regimen with a vengeance, pouring my all into being healthy again.

I will not, however, force myself into unhealthy situations of hard work.  Working for the sake of societal and cultural approval in aspects that don’t have value for me right now or in some cases, will hinder my other priorities from being accomplished.  It’s okay to not force yourself into situations just because you think that it’s expected.  Just because you don’t strive for an academic or professional achievement, doesn’t mean you aren’t working hard.  And taking yourself out of an arena that’s going to conflict with you accomplishing your goal, Does Not Make You A Quitter.  That last sentence is more a reminder to myself, but I’ve learned that if I need to hear it, someone else probably does too.  Be kind, especially to yourself.  Spread love.

xoxo Helen

Featured

24

Birthday’s are weird.  I was recently watching a comedy bit on Youtube and the comic was talking about how as an adult you can easily stop caring about birthday’s, because you don’t actually do anything for your birthday to come.  It’s going to happen every year without fail.  His bit was funnier than I’m describing, but I felt like he spoke to something I had been feeling for a while.

I didn’t do anything big for my birthday this year, and I loved it.  My birthday happens to be on Halloween, so the whole of the U.S. celebrates my birthday.  The last couple years have been really lowkey though, and I accepted this year, after 23 years of trying to be a party person, that I’m not.  I enjoy going to basketball games, having bonfires, doing photoshoots in costume, and just hanging out with friends.  I have no desire to overload my senses in an atmosphere filled with people I don’t know.  I’m pretty proud of myself for coming to the conclusion that there is no point in feeling bad about not wanting to do anything.

My birthday was great.  I was flooded with messages of love and support and just overall happiness that really filled me with joy.  My best friend and I had decided to dress up as characters from The Office (U.S. version) and surprise each other.  When I went over to her house, so we could see each other’s costumes and take pictures of them, she had decorated her house just like Dwight decorated the conference room for Kelly’s birthday when Dwight and Jim were in charge of the party planning committee!

   

If you aren’t a fan of The Office, it probably looks passive aggressive, but I promise it’s not and I was so excited to have a legit Office party.  Below I’ve decided to include some of the pictures from our photo shoot.  Shout out to self-timer for making it possible to take photos hands free.

 Mose Schrute and a Scott’s Tot

 Album coming soon

Mose gets on a dating site and claims Dwight’s farm is his.

 Kelly Kapoor seeing her ‘party’

Be kind.  Spread love.

xoxo Helen

Featured

Nature

I spent an hour laying on a rock in the middle of rapids in a creek today.  It was absolutely fantastic and the most relaxing thing I’ve done since Tuesday, which is the last time I laid on that same rock.  Laying on my back looking up at the trees arching over the creek and the clear sky, listening to the rapids was just perfect.

The national park that I go hike at has no cell reception in my favorite part of the park, which I realized today is probably a contributing factor as to why it’s my favorite part of the park.  I usually spend my alone time listening to music, and while I had my headphones on me, I didn’t listen to any music as I hiked or laid on my rock.  I didn’t feel the need for anything.

Walking through the woods seeing deer grazing (once they saw that I wasn’t a threat and would keep a wide barrier), I thought about how much time I spent outside as a kid.  Throughout elementary school I lived close enough to all the schools I attended (three), that I got to walk to and from school every day.  I had friends to ride bikes and scooters with, and trees to climb in our front yards.

From 4th to 6th grade, the house we lived in had an empty acre behind it and then a forest with a creek that ran through.  I got to walk all the trails and play in the creek on a regular basis.  Spending several hours this week hiking and laying on rocks reminded how much I enjoy being outside and miss having all of those amenities at my fingertips.  There is no description that I could write to bring justice to the environment I got to hang out in this week, so I’ll leave some pictures of it here.  Be kind. Spread love.

  

xoxo Helen

Featured

Perspective

Church was great today!  The sermon was on the story of Job.  If you’re not familiar with the story, the Devil and God talk about how faithful Job is and then the Devil starts testing Job by killing Job’s children, killing Job’s crops and making Job horribly physically sick.  It sounds like a real downer, right?

I always come away from it thinking that God could have/should have stopped the Devil.  It leaves me thinking that God let Job down.  My great cousin did an illustration of Job while he was recovering from surgery and it’s incredible.  My friend found great perspective in the sermon, he’s had a rough couple weeks and the sermon reminded him that he’s just one person and God has a bigger plan that involves him.

Sometimes we have a hard time seeing the bigger picture through our own eyes, but in talking with others and hearing how they see it, we can gain a better view.  I still feel bad for Job, but I see how his story can be helpful in more ways than one and I have a wider view of it now.  Be kind.  Spread love.

xoxo Helen

Social Media

In the past couple weeks especially, I’ve heard many comments on whether social media is a good thing or a bad thing.  Many people have expressed its usefulness while also expressing disinterest and disdain for it.

I can see how social media sites, just as everything else in the world can be used for both good and bad, but I think social media gets a bad rep.  If you choose not to use social media and that works for you, that’s great!  Do what’s best for you.  However, if you constantly use social media and talk about how necessary it is, but then dog it* in the same breath, I think you have an issue with your usage of it.

I love social media.  I use Snapchat the most because it’s my main line of communication with a couple of my friends, but I love Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and Youtube.  The main reason I love social media is because I am very careful about who I’m following and interacting with.  I will not hesitate to unfollow someone on any site.  I don’t care if you’re someone I know in real life or not, I don’t take no mess.  Part of taking no mess, means not involving yourself in things that will rile you up for no reason.

A couple of years ago I did a bible study, and we got to a verse about false idols and the question came up, “Whose feet do you sit at?”  That really spoke to me.  I went through and cleared out everything from music to people I followed on social media that I didn’t feel influenced me in the way God would want.  I still hold to that, I look up lyrics of songs, especially the ones I like in other languages, so I know what exactly I’m singing along to.  I use social media to follow people that are positive and of uplifting others, supporting others, and I have a policy of leaving love.

That doesn’t mean I can’t be honest or real on social media.  It means my words are measured and kind because I want to be treated with kindness and respect, so I do the same for others.

Don’t feel obligated to follow that person on your Facebook page that always starts arguments, follow people who post content that makes you smile and feel good, whatever that is for you.  Be kind.  Spread love.

xoxo Helen

*talk badly

Support

This has been a long, turbulent week.  There have been life changes made, and some added factors have only increased the stress level throughout the house.  Reflecting on the past week in all it’s hellish glory, I keep thinking about how grateful I am for all the support I’ve gotten.

My friends have been so incredible.  Even though midterms are coming up and everyone can easily get caught up in their own worries, they’ve reached out to ask how I’m doing and share funny links and memes.  I’ve spent the past two mornings fishing with dad, just hanging out and enjoying the river.  I’ve spent this afternoon on the couch watching Alaskan Bush People and scrolling through social media, just truly taking some introvert time to release the stress of the week and move into next week ready to be productive and healthy.  Be kind. Spread love.

xoxo Helen

Time Management

This has been a long week.  Some weeks you get it all done and feel accomplished.  That’s not the kind of week I had.  Several variables coalesced to just slow things down and create speed bumps in my productivity.  I’m just taking it one day at a time until I catch up, and here’s how.

Self-care has been the name of the game this week as well as extra sleep.  Face masks, bath bombs, comfort food, etc.  I updated my phone and with the update was a feature where you can set time limits for using different apps or when to use your phone in general.  This was such a helpful option to have.  I put a limit on my social media account usage, so after I’ve spent an hour collectively on any of my seven, yes seven, social media apps, I’m locked out for the day.  The one social media app I don’t have a lock on, is Snapchat, because I use it all day to communicate with my friends.  The phone also locks from 10 pm to 6:30 am when I’m supposed to be sleeping.

It’s been less than 24 hours using the limiting app and I’m already in love with it.  I’ve been thinking about how few books I read for pleasure lately and how I miss being excited to read new stuff or research interesting studies, but I’ve been wasting time on my phone for no reason.  I actually have a list of books that I want to read, and I don’t allow myself to do school work on Sundays, so within the next couple weeks, I should be weaned off of mass social media use and using my time more wisely/efficiently.  I’ll let you know how it goes.

xoxo Helen

Push Yourself

“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”  I don’t know how many times I’ve seen this quote or something like it on social media in the last few weeks.  Usually I roll my eyes at sayings that I feel are obvious statements, but this is one I really like.  As a kid, there are less responsibilities and until you hit middle school, you usually don’t think about other people’s opinions of you.  As an adult, however, you have daily responsibilities, and are hyper aware of how people perceive you.  Additionally, as an adult, you know what you like.

It can be so easy to fall into a routine and rarely step out of your comfort zone unless you’re forced to.  It’s really a shame.  Now that’s not to say routines are bad, when there are tasks to accomplish, your routine can put you in the right mindset to be most efficient and prepared, but the days go by so quickly.  A whole summer can pass without doing anything fun or new as you might have wanted.  I think people get lost in the perception that risks must be planned out, as if they’re going on a road trip.  It’s so easy to take little risks though.

Trying a new restaurant, or a new item off the menu at a restaurant you like, try a new hiking trail, learn about something that interests you but has no application to your current life.  There are always going to be options for little risks that won’t be a big deal if they don’t work out.  Stepping out of your box, in my own experience though has always been good, even when it doesn’t work out.  This week I tried a new pasta recipe, and I don’t like it, but I don’t regret making it.  I enjoyed cooking it and I tried something that I hadn’t before, and now I know I don’t enjoy the taste of red wine in my food.  I absolutely love cooking with white wine and always think it makes the dishes better, but if I hadn’t stepped out of my comfort zone I would be missing out on so much yummy food.

If you’re afraid to take a risk, I would advise asking yourself two questions.  What’s the worst thing that can happen if I do it?  Will I regret not having done it later in life?  Try to be honest and realistic with yourself.  Not every risk is worth it for every person, and it’s totally fine to analyze a risk and decide it’s not for you.  Just don’t miss out on the good stuff.  Those risks make the best stories, and the best memories.

xoxo Helen

Kitchen Essentials

I love to cook.  I meal prep almost every week and have no less than five boards on Pinterest devoted to food.  I really like elaborate dishes and recreating food I’ve had at restaurants that was particularly good.  I’ve noticed that when I look through recipes each week to figure out what to make, there are a lot of unnecessary kitchen utensils listed.  As I’ve worked my way through cooking and baking many elaborate foods over the couple years, I’ve learned what is actually useful and what’s not needed.

  • Cast Iron Skillet; if you’re going to invest in anything for your kitchen, this is my first recommendation. I cook almost everything in my iron skillet.  You can find one here , but I’ve also found great ones at thrift stores for $6.
  • Flat Rubber Scraper; I prefer a flat edged one to a rounded one because the flat edged one gets more of the batter or whatever you’re scraping out of the bowl. Here’s a good one.
  • Crockpot; I use my crockpot no less than once a month. It is the perfect way to prepare great meals without really doing anything.  Some of the things I’ve made most recently are; pot roast with carrots and potatoes, oxtails, stew, etc. My favorite thing to make with my crockpot is Butter Chicken. This is the recipe I use.
  • Mixing bowls; I have three, but I don’t actually need that many. I don’t think more than one is necessary, but they usually come in sets.
  • Tupperware; Even if you aren’t trying to do meal prep, there are likely to be leftovers when you cook. I’ve linked my favorite Tupperware for storing food here.

xoxo Helen

Grief

Grief.  It can be a scary word.  In a society where emotions are frowned upon, the concept of grief is cumbersome and unwanted.  The most accepted form of grief is over the loss of life; however, grief can be over the loss of anything.  When I was younger, before leaky gut or food allergies, I had an incredible memory.  I could cite the most minor details from books I’d read, I could repeat people verbatim from conversations I’d had years before, there was very little my mind did not store and save for a later date.  After getting sick, I lost that ability.  My memory now consists of short thirty second clips or still shots, I can’t place dates, I cannot easily retrieve information for fill in the blank answers.  For several years I assumed that getting better meant that one day my brain would suddenly work the same way it had previous to me being sick.  When I realized that it doesn’t work that way and I won’t ever be the same, I was crushed.  I had to grieve.  I had to feel that loss.  I still do.  It’s been two weeks and the average time line for grief is three to five years.

I didn’t plan to write about grief this week, but Mac Miller’s death hit me hard and now I’m grieving along with his family, friends, and other fans.  The Drake line, ‘I never cried when ‘Pac died, but I prob’ly will when HOV does’ from his song Fear, keeps coming back to me.  Mac Miller is the first celebrity whose death has caused me to feel a profound sense of loss and I’ve cried about it.  There are several reasons that his death has hit me so hard, and I prefer not to get into them on here.  My point in writing about it is that grief comes in different forms over a myriad of issues, and it’s important to acknowledge it.  Some wise advice given to me in the form of a question was, “And what’s wrong with sitting in that feeling and acknowledging how it affects you?”

Grief isn’t easy.  It’s work.  Laying something to rest in the healthiest way possible will be emotionally, mentally, and spiritually taxing.  There is no one way to grieve, each person feels and emotes differently.  Personally, I take time to be alone.  I put myself in a space where I feel safe so that I can express my emotions without feeling uncomfortable, judged, weak, etc.  I light a candle and listen to something nurturing (today it was the podcasts of Anna Ferris and Dax Shepard, as well as the large Mac Miller catalog), I make myself do something physical to increase the dopamine and serotonin released in my brain, and then I allow myself to be open and vulnerable.  If I need to cry, I give myself permission to do so.  If I’m angry, I give myself permission to be angry.  It’s all about processing the emotions in a safe, healthy way.

Unfortunately, we will all experience grief in this lifetime.  When a time of grief comes for you, please remember to be kind to yourself.  You are a human designed to attach yourself to things, to feel things, and that is more than okay, it’s good.  Be kind, spread love.

xoxo Helen