8 Things I Will Be Doing in 2018

Why would I decide to say "no" this year?!

Ah, a new year. A breath of fresh air! A new beginning!
Don’t you love it?

I don’t do resolutions.
They have never made sense to me. Why wait until January 1st to stop your nasty smoking habit or start going to the gym only to end up disappointed in yourself by February?

Don’t get me wrong, life changes are great! But why not change your life as soon as you decide to instead of waiting until the New Year?

SO, let me make one thing clear....
this is NOT a list of resolutions! This is a list of things I will be doing purposefully in 2018.

2018 will be a year of firsts for me!
First year married.
First year as a mother.
First year away from my baby sister.

I look at this as more of a reflection on the new year rather than some resolutions or something. So, let’s reflect!

Journaling My Year

For Christmas, my husband and my stepson both got me journals. I love journals! I usually end up filling them with poems and prose throughout the day, and I will always do that.

But I had a new thought… what if I journal my year?

It’ll give me something to look back on and when I’m gone, it’ll give my kids and grandkids something to get to know me by. I’m not putting pressure on myself to journal daily - just went thoughts arise. And it’s not so much about writing a play-by-play of my day. It’s more about taking time to put my daily reflections on paper.

Eating “Better”

I say “better” because my family already eats very good. We RARELY (like, maybe once every two or three months) go out to eat. We eat pretty wholesome for being on a budget. I stay away from feeding us canned things and processed foods are completely out of the question.

So what do I mean by “better?”

Well… the thing I’m really bad at is eating a “real” lunch. Sometimes, I’ll put some cheese and grapes in a baggie along with some crackers and call it lunch. I used to meal prep my own lunch and I really want to start that up again.

Keeping The Date Night Promise

My husband and I made a promise when we got married.

Every other Friday is date night no matter what. NO. MATTER. WHAT!

And we’ve kept that promise so far! Even when we’ve been sick, we stay home and have an on the couch movie night. It doesn’t always mean going out or breaking the bank. Sometimes we even just go somewhere that is free, like a park.

It’s just a matter of having that one-on-one time with no kids or other family members, no “double dates,” and no one else but us! I plan on keeping that promise throughout 2018 - our first year of marriage!


A recent date night selfie

Spending Time With My Sisters

Marriage has also brought me another thing - time away from the rest of my family.

It’s a good and bad thing.

Good because independence is always nice.
Bad because one of my sisters is only 14 and it’s tough to suddenly not be such an integral part of her daily life!! I don’t want to be the absent big sister, so I have decided to spend this year - my first year away from her - making an effort to be present for her.

My other sister is 22, so it’s a little easier to “hang out” with her and do grown-up stuff! Plus, it’s a tad bit easier that she is of driving age!


My sisters and I

Saying “No”

I have a problem. I say “yes” to everything. I overcommit.

And it makes me SO tired, y’all!

I am learning that it is ok to say “no” sometimes, and I’m finding out that people actually respect me for it! I’m spending more time this year watching out for my health, and saying “yes” to everything was proving to be very detrimental to my health.

So while I’ll always say “yes” to a very select few people (because they are my special people), I have welcomed the practice of saying “no.”

Working On The House

My husband and I started on this one last year. We gave his little house, which is now my little house, a bit of a facelift!!

While we have had a lot done on the interior, I’d like to have some stuff done on the exterior. In the Spring, I’d like to have some flowers planted! And maybe we could finally get to our bedroom with design stuff! Photos to come :)

Jesus Time

For a while, I was really good at reading a daily devotional every morning. Recently, with my new lifestyle of “momming” in the morning, it’s become difficult!! I’ve found that the afternoons, right when I get home, are the best time for this now. The child hasn’t come home yet, the husband is busy, and the Skyler could use some Jesus at the end of the day!
So, I have my favorite devotional, “Jesus Calling,” ready!

Reading

Other than daily devotional time, I’d love to take some time to read! I have always loved reading, and I actually prefer it as my method of learning. My mother-in-law has loaned me her copy of “Miracles From Heaven” to start with!

What are your 2018 plans? Let me know! I’d love to hear!

This Is What Happened When We Started Using Natural Soap

Have you looked at your ingredients labels lately?

I got back from my honeymoon in late September. While we were away, we noticed something. Our hands weren’t dry and the skin on my knuckles wasn’t constantly cracked like it usually was. Then we got home and used our normal household hand soap…

“Ew, this feels weird,” my husband said.
“Yeah, and it smells strange even though it is unscented,” I agreed.

We noticed that our normal store-brand soap, although unscented, left a nasty film on our hands and a disgusting smell that lingered all day. It was also drying our skin. It had dried my skin so severely that my knuckles were constantly cracked. We didn’t notice a lot of this prior to using the soap at our honeymoon spot, so what was going on here?

We realized that the soap we were using in the honeymoon cabin at the lovely Baron’s Creekside Resort in Fredericksburg, TX was natural soap , and we knew we had to get some!

Mrs. Meyers Lavender Hand Soap is our jam now. (We’ve also started using their cleaning products, along with doTERRA’s OnGuard products!)

So, why natural soap? What was going on here?

After some investigation, I decided we will never again be using “normal” soap again.

Let me tell you why…

Fragrance

Or should I say, “fragrance.”

Sorry, but if the soap won’t tell me what the fragrance is in the ingredients, I’d rather not put it on my skin.
After looking at the Mrs. Meyers website, they clearly state what is in their fragrance. In fact, they have an ingredients glossary and tell you what each ingredient is, what it does, and why they use it.

doTERRA states that their OnGuard hand soap is made with essential oils, and after checking the ingredients in my Modern Essentials book , their claim matches their ingredients list.

Dr. Bonner’s is another favorite of mine. I love their liquid castile soap - remember to dilute!! They are so proud of their natural ingredients that they post a photo of their label spread out for each product for all to see. Their products are so real that they don’t even have the word “fragrance” on the ingredients panel. They simply have the oils used listed.

Dryness

I’ve always suffered from extremely dry hands, until our switch to natural soap. Why?
After looking at the bottle of, let’s call it “yucky,” soap, we were using prior to our awakening, I realized there are NO REAL moisturizing ingredients , despite the container’s claim that this was a moisturizing soap that is gentle on hands!

Let’s compare the natural soaps…

All of the natural soaps I looked at had some kind of moisturizing ingredient. Aloe vera was a popular one, along with various carrier oils, primarily coconut oil. Coconut oil is known for its moisturizing properties on the skin and hair.

But why do I want a moisturizer in my hand soap?

Think about it…
Your skin is your largest organ, and it is also the most vulnerable. Skin takes the dirt for us - sometimes literally.
You know those tiny cuts in my knuckles that I was talking about earlier? Those are a doorway for germs. Any cut in your skin (your body’s protector) allows for invasion, infection, and illness to happen. I’m sure you know that dry skin cuts pretty easily while moisturized skin just kind of “goes with the flow” when it comes in contact with an abrasive surface.

With this in mind, I would do all I can to protect my body’s best defender!

Chemicals

So, what else is in nasty soaps? Unfortunately, chemicals.

Take a look at this and tell me what ingredients you recognize.

I don’t know about you but the only ingredients that I recognized (and the only ones I can pronounce) are water, fragrance, sodium chloride and citric acid. So what is all that other junk?
It is, you guessed it, junk.

Let’s start with sodium laureth sulfate, also known as SLS. There are many people sensitive to SLS that don’t even know they have a sensitivity. This has been found to be the cause of many “mystery” skin conditions people have, and it is known to be toxic in even a small amount!
I don’t know about you, but I don’t really want to be putting anything that toxic on my body.

Another scary one is Cocamidopropyl betaine. This is found in many hand soaps, as well as household cleaners, and is known to cause eye irritation and skin blistering. The purpose of it is to make products produce more foam.

These are the 2nd and 3rd ingredients on the soap my family was previously using. The first ingredient was water, like most other products.

Check out this list of ingredients in Dr. Bonner’s Castille Soap - Hemp Almond:
Water, Organic Coconut Oil, Potassium Hydroxide, Organic Palm Kernel Oil, Organic Olive Oil, Lavandin Extract, Organic Hemp Oil, Organic Jojoba Oil, Lavender Extract, Citric Acid, Tocopherol

I bet you know what all of those are, except for tocopherol. After some research, it is pretty much Vitamin E - a moisturizer!

How about this great statement on the Mrs. Meyers website:

“Ingredients are at least 98% naturally dervied.”

Check out “ingredients” on that web page as well. Anything considered “questionable” is explained and usually turns out to be pretty safe!

The Moral of the Story

Know what is in the products you put in your body or on your body. Some things considered “safe” could do some serious damage in the long run, or could even be doing damage that you are unaware of while using the products!

Do your research and take note of how your body is reacting to things - our bodies are much smarter than we think ;)

How I Learned To Surf

It's not what you think...

About a year ago, I was in Jacksonville, FL at Mayo Clinic for multiple health concerns that I still battle today. My mom and I took a break from the doctor visits and went to the beach one day. The beach was a wreck, and most parts were closed. This was after one of the big hurricanes tore through Florida in 2016. But surfers were still surfing, shop owners were still running shop, and the doctors at Mayo Clinic seemed unaffected despite all of the destruction around them. Some told me about the destruction in their own home while I was getting blood drawn, tests run, and x-rays taken. The resiliency of the town left me in awe.

I watched this particular surfer for a very long time. And I can honestly tell you that it was this moment that my outlook on chronic illness changed drastically.

The surfer stood still and waited. He trusted the waves. He waited for the perfect one. He waited with patience and didn’t rush the process. After all, it was not a process that could be rushed. And when the moment was right, he took the first step and everything fell in to place. Sometimes he fell, but he let the ocean catch him. He would float for a bit, then get back up and start over. Never frustrated. Never angry with the waves. Always patient.

Patience. That’s what I was lacking. And I’m sure this surfer didn’t always have patience. He practiced it.

You can’t stop the waves but you can learn to surf.
I can’t stop this particular illness. So I “learned to surf.” I’ve learned patience with my body and with my mind. Patience with doctors when they can’t quite help me as quickly as I would hope. Patience with others as they learn how to understand my illness.

I’ve learned to just sit and watch the ocean rather than catching every wave. It hasn’t been easy. But it’s been worth it and honestly, I wouldn’t change a thing.