Posted in books, Christian, happiness, moms, motherhood, selfcare, Uncategorized, What I'm Reading

The Best books to read in Quarantine – according to me.

The Best books to read in quarantine – according to me. I’d like to say there’s some science behind this to prove how correct I am, but there isn’t. I just love books.

So, I guess the best books to read in quarantine may be a stretch, since they’re all a matter of opinion, but I’m giving it a go anyway. It’s been awhile since I’ve shared what I’ve been reading so this seems like as good of a time as any. As always – I want to know what you’re reading so can add it to my list 🙂

My top 5 favorite reads right now

  1. Untamed by Glennon Doyle – It’s no secret I love her. She is real, she is full of love, and she has overcome some serious things to find her happy place. This book is no exception. I am currently reading this and its taking me a bit because I’m so busy underlining things and drinking in every word. If you’re feeling like life isn’t what it should be or that you aren’t feeling how you “should” about life, this one is for you. 
  2. It’s Not Supposed to Be this Way by Lysa TerKeurst – I seem to suggest this book constantly but that’s just because it’s so freaking good! There’s no denying life is going to get messy or mixed up and not always turn out how we planned. This book walks us through those hard times from a Christian perspective. My poor copy is full of my handwriting and highlighting , which tells you how great it is. 
  3. My (Not So) Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella – sometimes a light, humorous, “chick-lit” book is what is what life needs. It’s not a style I read often but this one is good. What happens when you get everything in life and it all seems to be going perfectly before it all comes crashing down. We all know that feeling right now, don’t we? But of course, good things can come from change and do. 
  4. A Perfectly Messed Up Story by Patrick McDonnell – yes, it’s a picture book. Yes, its meant for kids. I started reading it because my daughter loved it and asked for it at bedtime. Now, I think it applies to us all. Young or old, get a copy and embrace it.
  5. Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng – Honestly, I haven’t read it yet. I’m starting it soon. This looks so good AND there is a Hulu show to start watching too. But read the book first. Always read the book first.

What am I missing?

These are some of the best books to read during quarantine according to me. I could go on, but then you’d have no time for reading books! Get lost and inspired in a book to ride this out. What else should I read?

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Posted in Anxiety, books, Christian, Depression, healthy, longreads, Mantras, Meditation, moms, motherhood

Mirror Mantras

Update Feb 10, 2020: a lot of people are asking me about positive thoughts and mirror work. Here’s a piece dear to my heart!

I live with anxiety and depression.

I used to hate thinking or saying that out loud. Its not like its something that I’m proud of, but its part of me. I also live with red hair, lots of freckles, and about 20 extra pounds I wish I could lose. Its all just a part of what makes me, me.

It took me a long time to get to a somewhat comfortable place with that. I think its hard for a lot of people to talk about because its been kept in the dark so long. We’re all just supposed to be “ok” (whatever that means) when lots of us just aren’t. But just because you’re not meeting someone else’s definition of “ok”, it doesn’t mean you’re failing at life. Which is exactly how I have felt in the past.

I would tell myself that people who make more money, take more trips, do more work, or have more things are more valuable to society and successful in the world than me. The same went for anyone taller, thinner, tanner, sportier, or with less wrinkles than me. They had clearly figured out some easy way to have everything while I felt I was barely treading water.

I was literally telling myself every day that I was the problem. I wasn’t good enough. I was my own worst critic and enemy. Some days I still am. The nagging, negative words in my head became how I saw myself, no matter how many people tried to tell me otherwise.

This was a major argument I had with my therapist. She would tell me, “just change how you talk to yourself. say nice things.” Uh, yeah, if it was that easy I wouldn’t have been paying her out the nose to try and help me get there. We debated this for weeks, with me leaving her office in tears and frustrated at times. I could not “just do it”. So I decided to really start looking for HOW I could try to do it.

Then, something I had rolled my eyes at (and that you may be rolling your eyes at right now) fell into my lap in all my searching: mantras.

When I first thought of mantras, all I thought of were hippies and bald monks reciting uplifting words while meditating in the woods somewhere (no disrespect to hippies, bald monks, or woods intended). Or, someone staring at themselves in the mirror saying it over and over to get pumped up for the day. It felt too weird and forced for me. Fake even. I mean, I’m pretty good at telling when someone is lying to my face – especially when its me. Faking it to “trick myself” into believing the words wouldn’t cut it.

So instead of saying them in the mirror, I took a dry erase marker and wrote my mantra across the bathroom mirror. I didn’t have to say it or recite. I just had to see while I was brushing my teeth, doing my hair, applying make up, taking a shower, or just using the bathroom. And instead of telling myself how great I already was, I decided to talk to myself like I would to a friend. Build me up slowly and support me. On the mirror.

Are your eyes rolling yet?

I started with a very simple one to start: “You’re doing your best and that’s enough.” I knew I couldn’t fix all of this overnight, but trying was at least a good start. And at that moment, about all I could do. That was up on the mirror for a few weeks. Until I got comfortable with seeing words up there. Then, they started to sink in. I felt calmer and a little kinder to myself – even though I still had a long way to go.

Over the last 12 months I’ve rotated through quite a few “pep talk mantras”. I change them when I feel I need to, to suit where I am in life, and they range from quotes to thoughts to Bible verses or notes from other books I’ve read. There are no rules.Here are a few examples I’ve used or love that you can try:

  • You are enough.

  • Its ok to not be ok.

  • Keep going.

  • Live in the Upside Down (a reference to the piece by Lysa TerKeurst in her book Its Not Supposed to be This Way)

  • You are loved

  • You are clothed in strength and dignity (a twist on Proverbs 31:25)

  • All good things take time

  • “Its been my experience that you can nearly always enjoy things if you make up your mind firmly that you will” (Anne Shirley, Anne of Green Gables)

Have you ever tried a mantra? Got one to share? I’m working on a running list and would love YOUR input. Need a mantra? For a specific place? Share that too. Together, we can all build back up.

Posted in books, Christian, guest writer, Uncategorized, What I'm Reading

What I’m Reading – November 2019

Another month, another list! Check out dinner of my favorite books and PLEASE let me know what I should check out next!

The Bible – by various authors

Ok, this is a bit of a “gimme” and stretch for my reading list. I get that. However, November is a month I really focus on taking the time to read and journal my Bible each year. I started this a few years back and have really learned a lot about myself with this method. You can follow a devotional, select a specific book, or find a guided study plan online (check my Pinterest board for lots of great ones!). Generally speaking, I read a few verses and jot down my thoughts. Some days I’m all done in 5 minutes. Other days I wind up writing pages for myself and digging way deeper into the chapter than I planned to. What you find will not disappoint you and I am excited to be doing this again. 

Click here for my Pinterest board to get YOUR start on an easy daily plan – FOR FREE!

Seasons in Hell – by Ed Vulliamy

Honestly, this book is not one I would classify as light, pleasurable reading. It’s dark, scary, intense, and horrifying. Worst of all? It’s all true. I remember hearing about violence and a war raging in Bosnia as a teen, but to be honest I never really gave it much thought. When you are 14 and something is happening on the other side of the world, it doesn’t exactly become important to you. Especially not before social media (because I’m that old). 

Fast forward 25 years and I work side-by-side with a survivor of this nation’s infighting. As I’ve watched scenes from our nation and others unfold on the news, I can’t help but see how lucky I am to live where I do – even if I’m not a fan of everything going on here. Furthermore, I grew up here. I have no idea what it’s like to fear for my life and see guns on the street – PRAISE THE LORD. I wanted to know more about where he is from and he recommended this book. 

Whether you read this book or another, I believe reading books about other cultures, places, religions, and nations is important for us all. We try to blend together and work together, but we all have different backgrounds that impact how we interact with the world. Taking a moment to glean some understanding about the people and world around us is the first step to being a part of a more unified world.

Transforming Your Thought Life: Christian Meditation in Focus by Sarah Geringer

I love meditation, mindfulness, and Jesus – this book helped strengthen my meditations in a Christian manner. If you have questions or are unsure about how this practice can be useful to Christians because of its Eastern religion books, you need this book. Sarah guides you through how to incorporate this practice in your day, step-by-step. 

And Riley Runs by N. Annette Knight 

Great news! This one is a short story. Which is great because is an addicting story that will pull you in. A teen separated from her class trip, a mother frantic to save her, and a dark figure lurking close by. 

Definitely the best deal on Amazon! You won’t regret your evening spent with Riley!

My list is slowly shrinking… whaaaat should I read next? BONUS POINTS for a Christmas Book recommendation! 

Posted in books, What I'm Reading

What I’m Reading – SheProclaims.com

What I’m reading is always a very long, broad list. I am usually in the midst of two or three books at any given time. I know lots of people would say that’s wrong or they couldn’t keep track of them, which I fully understand, but I like having something available for whatever mood I am in when I find time to enjoy a book. 

It’s always a 50/50 shot if I’ll be reading a physical copy of the book or listening to the audiobook version (unabridged versions only). I can’t do e-readers for some reason. They’re neither as comfortable nor convenient as the other formats. Not really my jam unless its the only option available. Even then, I’m more likely to find a podcast to listen to than an e-book to stare at.

I like sharing about books and hearing about new ones to add to my list, so I decided that one a month, I’m going to share with you what I’m reading and I hope that you will, in turn, give me some suggestions as well! 

The September list

Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela.

I’ve been going through some personally hard times the last couple of years. I wanted to find a book about someone going through a long, hard struggle, but coming out better for it. Obviously, this book is right up that alley and I dove right into this book, in audio form, immediately. 

I completely underestimated the struggles, length, and magnitude of life in South Africa and apartheid. Like, really didn’t know how hard life was or how long Mandela and other freedom fighters tried to gain equal rights. I’m about halfway through this book right now and I have been blown away by their ability to remain calm in scary situation. His dedication to the cause, to peace, to justice, to love is all so inspiring to me. 

When I am faced with frustrating situations, I can choose to respond harshly but his calm, matter-of-fact approach for most of his protests is inspiring. He knows who he is, what he will accept in life, and does it all with dignity. I’m only halfway through this phenomenal book but getting so much from it. I really recommend it to anyone who isn’t aware of South Africa’s struggles or anyone who is struggling in a hard spot in life. 

Dodge City by Tom Clavin.

I’m a sucker for Westerns and this one is great because its based on two real-life Western heroes and the most probable truth of their time in Dodge City. The author does a great job pointing out how many exaggerations exist in the life stories of both Wyatt Earp and Bat Masterson, but does his best to find the truth. 

These guys came from rough, traumatic at times, early lives to become two of the most well-known players in the taming of the “Wild West”. They forged friendships and a brotherhood with people few trusted. They loved hard, lived hard, and longed for justice in the towns. They lived on both sides of the law, but still had a code of ethics they lived by. I’m halfway through this one also (hard copy, not audiobook) along with my husband and its a great read. 

Help me choose what I’m reading next!

My summer reading was kind of awful, but that’s ok. I did more living and doing than reading – which is exactly what summer is for. My list is looking short though, what should add to my “must reads?”

Posted in Anxiety, books, Christian, coffee, Depression, God, kids, longreads, moms, motherhood, nature, parenting, selfcare

When you look at me, I know what you see.

When you look at me, I know what you see. Your face and words say it all clearly: “you’re so fun! So crazy. So funny/strong/smart/organized/put together!”

Go ahead. Scroll my Facebook page. I’ve got all the “required” pics. Smiley, happy, spouse selfie? Check. Happy, well behaved kids displaying equal parts good behavior and precocious curiosity? Check. Yummy meals? Successful workouts? Got ’em.
Home based business? Got it. Great job? Sharing those company posts often! Pets? Theo the cat almost needs her own page. Don’t forget the amazing cakes, birthday parties, vacations, pretty house, DIY projects, make up looks, and amazing weight loss goals – I’ve got all that too!
What don’t you see? I am currently on the highest dose of Prozac a woman can take. This hair? Shoutout to dry shampoo and Bobby pins for the win! Cereal for dinner is a weekly occurrence here. I loathe the days my daughter DOESN’T want hot lunch. I got two separate emails at work today pointing out the areas I’m failing at. If I had one wish in life, it would be to stay in bed. For at least a month.
I regularly Google and price vacations I could take by myself. Just for a break from my life (which I am actually very happy for – even though I struggle to really share that everyday). Then, I check my bank account and remmember I am not a Kardashian and have a budget that doesn’t allow for such things.
I am a mom living with chronic, clinical, depression. I am a full-time employee, friend, daughter, sister, church-going, school volunteering woman who struggles to get out of bed some days. And honestly? I’m sick of it.
Why is this something we hide? Why are we ashamed of this? Why aren’t there more resources? Why do we spend so much time feeling alone and hiding our truth – when its so much more common than we could ever guess?
According to a 2016 study published by the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 16 million American adults (roughly 7% of our population for you number junkies) had a depressive episode within the past year.
That’s roughly 7 of every 100 people you know, struggling THIS YEAR ALONE. Look around your office, PTO meeting, church service, your gym, or merely on your Facebook feed.
Can you spot them?
Can you see their calls for help?
Or do they master blending into society while craving help so loudly on the inside that their needs and thoughts are all they hear?
I’ll give you a moment to take inventory. Though, if we know each other in real life or through social media, I bet you pegged me wrong. To quote a favorite show from my youth: “You think you know, but you have no idea.”
My alarm sounds at 5am. Why? Because I know that I feel better if I get up with time to myself, a cup of coffee, time with God, and time for my yoga practice. However, most days I just hit snooze for about an hour and a half.
I would love to tell you that every day starts with a nice warm shower for me, but most days it’s layers of make up and dry shampoo that get me looking presentable for the day.
I wake up my kids and devote every bit of energy that I have for the next hour and a half to making sure they are ready, have everything they need, and know just how much I love them before I drive them to school each morning.
I go to work each morning to a job that I have wanted for nearly a decade and finally managed to get. Then, I think about how badly I wish I were a stay-at-home mom. I propose selling everything and living in a cabin in the woods to my husband at least once a week. No joke.
Outlook reminders, to-do lists, and calendars are my secret weapons to presenting a very put together and organized front that manages to get 90% of my job done well each week. The other 10%? Well, it’s a mix of praying that I get good luck, my coworkers cover, or that the boss understands that I am seriously doing the best I can.
My lunch hours? They rotate between therapy sessions, volunteering at my kids’ schools, and running errands to keep our family aloat. There is no time and there are no resources for a mom to take a mental vacation. That is when things start getting real.
Why is there a stigma? Why are we expected to work like we do not have children and have children like we do not work? It is literally more than anyone should take on and a serious struggle for me, personally, on a regular basis. Why do we act like this is not a problem, not a national crisis, and not something we should be addressing as a society?
I know I have a good life. I know I am fortunate. I have amazing kids, a strong husband, a deep support system, and wonderful friends, but some days are still more than my heart can handle for no obvious reason.
I am tired of living in secrecy and shame. Those things which we cannot, will not, and do not name will continue to be our scariest demons until we stand up to them and say: no more.
I am done hiding from my truth. I am done with the “mom game”. I am done posting things portraying me as having everything figured out, when in reality I am one unscheduled softball practice away from everything falling apart.
We are absolutely all doing our best. I don’t care what your pinterest board says, you are just as messy as me. I am through hiding this any longer. I am coming clean to my kids, friends, and life that mom cannot do everything. And that’s OK. Life is a team sport. And we, as a family especially, are all in this together to make everything work.
I refuse to pass in legacy of burnout, over whelmed feelings, and inadequacies to my daughter. I also refuse to raise a son who thinks that women are invincible. That we can do all of the professional work, all of the children work, and all of the household work on our own.
There is no shame in needing a break. There is no shame in needing help. There is no shame in not being able or wanting to do it all.
My kids come first. Always. Whether or not the baseboards have been cleaned? Not even on my radar. Did I forget to work out this week? Well, my pants still fit so I don’t care. If our profit margins go down a percent or two over a month’s time? Nothing I’m going to lose sleep over. And yes, the Domino’s pizza app has saved our favorite order. That’s how I know everyone gets their favorite from time to time.
The ages of 25 to 44? Those are the most likely ages for any woman to experience depression. Smack dab in the middle of raisinsg kids. If that is you, like it is me, please know that you are not alone in this battle. We are in the trenches, mamas. Torn between raising babies, building amazing marriages, and forging successful long-lasting careers. No wonder we feel that we are falling short and find ourselves battling depressing thoughts.
But until we start being honest with each other and sharing our truths, this cycle will continue. Our daughters will be in the same spot that we are, which is exactly where our mothers were. But we have the opportunity today to be brave and stand up for what we need.
Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. It is the ultimate sign of strength. As Elizabeth Dehn said best ” You don’t have to do it all by yourself.”
So don’t. Don’t rob yourself or your family of the strongest version of you. Don’t hide the truest version of yourself to make sure everyone’s needs are met. You are more than accessory to everyone else’s life. You are a powerful being that deserves to be seen in all your mess and beauty.
Instead, remember that it takes an entire village to raise babies, grow families, and achieve a full life. Asking for help is nothing weak; if anything it is the ultimate sign of strength because you have looked deep within your self and seen what you can or cannot do on your own. That is where the real power of life lies.
I am a mom, wife, sister, friend, volunteer, and employee. I live with depression but it does not define me. I am calling it out, removing its power, and fighting to make sure future generations know that everyone has a struggle and that doesn’t make you weaker.
Please, love each other fiercely and completely. You never know what someone else is battling and how your kindness can help their fight.
If you need help, PLEASE contact one of these amazing groups:

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
1-800-273-TALK (8255)
http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

International Foundation for Research and Education on Depression
http://www.ifred.org/

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA)
1-800-826-3632
http://www.dbsalliance.org/

National Institute of Mental Health
866-615-6464
www.nimh.nih.gov

American Psychiatric Association
703-907-7300
www.psychiatry.org/

Anxiety and Depression Association of America
240-485-1001
www.adaa.org

Posted in Anxiety, books, Depression, kids, longreads, motherhood, selfcare

The top six books to read when you’re depressed

When life is hard, I like to disappear into a book. Sometimes fiction, sometimes non-fiction, sometimes self-help, religious, or motivational. The point is, I need an escape and books provide that to me. I meant to only write about 5, but I couldn’t narrow it down that much. So here’s my top 6 books for when you’re feeling down or overwhelmed.
Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery. I know, not exactly the most thought provoking writing of all time – but that’s exactly why its easily one of my top books to just disappear into when I’m really feeling low and can’t tolerate anything heavy.
Did you wake up today an orphan? Only to hear how sad everyone was you weren’t a boy when you arrived because that’s what they ordered? That your hair is ugly? Your manners are terrible? Then you’re doing better than her and she makes it out alright. Even ends up marrying a doctor.
Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson. I only bought this book because I think Beyonce the metal chicken is hilarious and I re-read it every few months on her blog (Google it, you’re welcome) then I saw she wrote a book. And the raccoon on the cover looked exactly what I’d look like if I were a raccoon. Then I started reading, checked with my parents to make sure I have no other siblings I was not aware of out there, and realized I am not alone. I may be depressed and totally nuts sometimes, but I’m still not completely crazy because I’m not the only one and there are books and support groups dedicated to people like me. You are NEVER completely crazy if there’s books and support groups. You’re good enough.
That is NOT a Good Idea by Mo Willems. Kids books are great when you’re down. They’re short, they’re pretty direct, and you can read it to your kid while also letting the words help you. Bonus points if, like me, your kid is big enough to read it to you! This one is a good reminder that no matter how evil a plan is someone is plotting against you, you can always get through it and out smart it. And have a full belly. I like eating.
The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris. Any book about the holocaust kind of puts things into perspective for me, personally. I have problems, but no where NEAR these problems. This book had me re-evaluating my situations with every page. Then *spoiler alert* you find out its a true freaking story? Nope. I’m good. Maybe not perfect or where I want to be, but good. I’ll get through this.
You are a Badass by Jen Sincero. I think its just healthy for you to have something around you that is screaming how great you are, so this is pretty much the best book title ever. I also love this book because its the complete pep talk you would want someone to give you, if they knew you, to help you start to see yourself in a better life. If you’re an introvert like me, you know we don’t have those people in our lives but we can still use the boost. Even if you don’t read it, just get it and stand it up on your counter and look at it daily as a reminder.
Its Not Supposed to be This Way by Lysa TerKeurst. Sometimes I swear and I don’t always do things the most proper way, but this book (and really all her books) are staples in my house. Filled with bookmarks, sticky notes, my handwriting, and highlighted parts (I need to own books because I just have to write all over them and make the good parts look pretty for next time). My guess is, if you’re struggling like me, this is NOT what you had planned for life. But here you are. Now what? Another good girlfriend book.
I am an AVID reader, my interests span the library – no topic is really too weird, too boring, too old, too new, or too anything for me. If you need more recommendations, comment below! And if you’ve got a good book to share (whether is makes you feel good or just makes you feel good enough for now) PLEASE share! I’m always adding to my reading list!