Is it as simple as Webster’s definition?: 1a : a state of well-being and contentment : joy.
Sure, but how do we achieve it? Once we have it, how do we maintain it?
It is a common mindset to think we are just missing that one elusive thing. “If I just had my soul mate, I’d be happy” “If I just had more money, I’d be happy” “If I was skinnier, I’d be happy”
I feel it is misguided to wait for happiness to happen to us. Happiness is something we create not something we find. If that one elusive thing you have been dreaming of finally happened for you, you might be surprised to find that you still aren’t truly happy.
So, how do we achieve true happiness? I’m going to make this series all about the area of life we need to focus on in order to create our own personal happiness. I won’t be talking about how to find your one true love or how to lose forty pounds, those are band aids not a path to true happiness. This series is about creating and maintaining true, life long, happiness through attainable mindset and life style changes.
From the Native Americans to ancient Celtic Pagans, sage in all it’s glorious forms has been used for thousands of years. Sage is more readily available now than ever before. You can venture to your local new age store or check out your everyday grocery store, wherever you go pick up some sage to change your life!
Now you’re on the look out for sage, but what do you do with it? You have come to the right place! There are are a few main areas that sage is great for but within those categories the options are limitless!
Medicine: Digestive system: Suffering from gas, diarrhea, bloating or heartburn? Sage to the rescue! Chewing on sage leaves would be a bit intense in flavor so a tea or tincture is a great option. Skin: The anti-inflammatory properties of sage are very useful for many common skin conditions. A sage salve can help fight against eczema, psoriasis, acne, cold sores and even sunburns. Menstruation: Thousands of years ago sage was thought to increase a woman’s fertility. Now we better understand how sage aids in regulating menstruation and can even help alleviate painful period and menopause symptoms. A tincture or tea made from sage leaves as needed can help us all get through this natural but often painful time in our lives. Do not use sage if pregnant or breastfeeding. Sage can assist with reducing an over supply of breast milk but should be used with caution. Mental Performance: Consuming or inhaling small doses of sage daily appears to improve focus and memory. Research included in the Journal of Clinical Pharmacy and Therapeutics even found sage helps treat mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease. Asthma: Inhaling sage can be a wonderful natural treatment for asthma but always consult your doctor before changing medical treatment plans. Immune System: Sage contains powerful anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties. A sage salve can help treat arthritis and gout. Incorporating a topical product containing sage to your daily routine can also help protect you from cold and flu season!
Food: Sage is a common herb that can add powerful flavor to any dish. I just recently discovered the tasty benefits of sage in the kitchen but be warned, it is a powerful herb! Less is more! Cooking with sage is an excellent way to reap those medicinal benefits mentioned previously. Similar to rosemary, the peppery flavor will add a fresh note to savory dishes. Best used in meat dishes, especially fatty meats. Alternatively it can be finely chopped and mixed with melted butter to be stirred into pasta as they commonly do in Italy.
Home: Household cleaners: The anti-microbial and anti-bacterial properties in Sage make in an excellent choice for natural for household cleaners. Mix sage with vinegar and you have one heavy duty all purpose cleaner! Smudging: Sage smudging is an ancient practice from many cultures all over the world. There are so many benefits to smudging I will have to cover them in more detail in a later post. Here I will just list my favorite reasons to make smudging a part of your household routine. Purifying the air both from illnesses and negative energy is the biggest reason to incorporate smudging into your life and space. Smudging can help alleviate respiratory issues such as asthma or allergies. It can remove negative energy or even spirits attached to spaces, people or objects. Sage can help improve your mood and reduce stress or depression. Even if you just need a little pick me up in mood or energy, sage is a powerful go-to tool. Soaps & Cosmetics: Sage is popular choice to add both fragrance and health benefits to soaps and cosmetics.
Spirituality: Sage can be a powerful tool for meditation and your overall spiritual well being. In meditation, sage can be use to take you deeper within your consciousness and can also assist with solving and reflecting on internal dilemmas. Sage can help cleanse your space or you of negative energy making self exploration and discovery easier and more enjoyable. If you use crystals within your home or on your body (see my post about using crystals for relief of stress and anxiety) they will likely need to be cleansed and recharged every once in a while. Sage is an amazing tool for cleansing your crystals, so they can get back to work for you and your well being.
Sage is an amazing and diverse tool gifted to us by nature herself! I can’t think of a single reason for anyone not to incorporate sage into their life in some fashion. Whether you use it to aid your health, spice up your dinner or bring peace to your space, you can’t go wrong with sage!
Stress and anxiety, two words we are all too familiar with in today’s world. While it may feel like GAD (General Anxiety Disorder) is rapidly rising and society’s “progress” only leads to our stress increasing at an unmanageable rate, these feelings aren’t new. These have been common struggles for centuries and our ancestors had their own ways of coping with the daily stress of life. I’m a big believer in meditation and grounding yourself to the natural world around you to manage stress and anxiety. I also know the struggles of finding a quiet, secluded space in everyday life where if you drop into lotus pose and start chanting, your co-workers won’t gather around to stare as if you are a living art exhibit. I’m going to share with you the perfect solution, stones!
For thousands of years people have been harnessing the natural energy from stones to enhance and improve their lives. The incorporation of stones into my life has made such a dramatic difference that I’m compelled to share my knowledge and experience with you! While there may not be hard scientific proof of the benefits of stones, if you give it a try you might just be surprised! There are stones for every aspect of life but to cover them all at once would be information overload. To start, I’m going to share what started it all for me. I suffer from an anxiety condition and I found the medications being prescribed too harsh, with side effects I wasn’t willing to live with… I searched for alternatives and eventually stumbled into the world of stones and crystals!
Any of these stones can be used on their own as simple touch stones, carried in a pouch or worn as jewelry for constant effect.
There are hundreds of “what I learned in my… [enter age here]” on the internet and this is just one more. Each one is different and utterly unique because we all learn different things through life. This is mine!
This was me as I entered my 20’s, following is what I learned along the way.
What I learned In my 20’s
BFF’s Aren’t Forever That best friend in your teens and early 20’s is the most important person in your life! You just know you will be best friends forever and you plan how your kids will grow up together and be best friends too! You laugh about how when you’re old you will terrorize the nursing home together. At first when your careers take off you make sure to still make time for each other. Then before you realize what’s happening you each get married and start having kids. Suddenly your friendship has moved down the priority list. Just a few years ago you would have never considered moving farther than a few minutes from each other but now what’s best for your family takes you far away in different directions. One day you wake up and realize that you haven’t talked in ages and you only see each other a couple times a year. You will always be best friends but it means something different now.
Mom Was Right About Everything She tried to warn me about so many things but I was determined to learn life’s lessons the hard way. With each new lesson learned and each tear shed I came closer to admitting that Mom was always right. I should have believed her more but hind sight is 20/20.
Getting Drunk Isn’t Fun It takes far too many bad drunken mistakes to learn this lesson… I am ashamed to admit how long it took me to figure out. I suppose most 20 somethings indulge this way but the stupid decisions and painful hangovers are certainly not worth a night of “fun”. I hurt people I carried about, I put myself at risk and I made a fool of myself more times than I can count. This is one lesson I am incredibly happy to have learned.
Disney Movies Have Bad Moral Lessons Watching my favorite Disney movies now I see them in a whole new light! Why do the main characters always disobey their parents? Why do they almost always “fall in love” before they even know the other person. They make horrible, dangerous decisions but happily ever after is still always handed to them in the end. I still love these movies but lets face it, I wouldn’t want my kids to disregard my rules and run off with a stranger because they “fell in love” after 15 minutes.
Doing Something You Love As A Career Is Rare I never dreamed of becoming an accountant. Even now, if I had the opportunity to get paid to travel the world learning different cultures and histories or get paid to write, I would quit my job in a heartbeat. I have a great job, I’m good at it and it pays the bills but it’s not my passion. Most people don’t get to live their dream job, they get to do what they can to get by. If you have the opportunity to do something you love go after it because you are lucky!
Starting A Family Is Not Easy
Everyone in my family got pregnant on the first try, some on accident even. I expected to try for a month or two and BAM I’d be a Mom! Not so much… After a year of not getting pregnant we started having tests run. We couldn’t pin down what the problem was. After a few more years and three miscarriages we started seeing a specialist which means more tests and trying meds to help increase fertility. We were giving up hope and planning to invest in IVF when we finally succeeded at getting pregnant and made it through the terrifying first trimester! I really thought it would be easy they way you see it on TV and hear about from strangers. It isn’t always easy…
Nothing Goes According To Plan
I am an obsessive planner but my anxiety spikes when things don’t go according to plan. I am still working on this one but I have made a lot of progress in learning to go with the flow. When you have your entire life planned and things take several big turns that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I have made plans and re-made plans but life is constantly evolving and what is best for us is constantly changing. Stop trying to plan life because nothing ever goes according to plan.
Happily Ever After Is Hard Work
Every little girl dreams of their happily ever after (that may look different for each little girl but we all have one in mind). The society fed expectation is that once you find your happily ever after it’s smooth sailing from then on out. I was lucky enough to find my soulmate! But it isn’t enough to find the right person, it takes hard work every day to keep the happily part going strong. Life struggles can easily tear people apart if they don’t consciously make an effort to rise above life issues together. It’s hard work but it’s worth it!
Money Is More Important Than I Thought
Maybe it’s the Oregon hippy upraising 😉 but I never put much importance in money. I always said I would rather be happy and live under a bridge than have money and stuff and be unhappy… BUT as I got older I realized that having a house that works for our needs and a big enough yard for our dogs and reliable cars are incredibly important. Making enough money to support our desired life style is suddenly more important than I had ever wanted it to be.
Metabolism Slows Down At 25
This one may be a big fat duh but I unrealistically thought the days of eating whatever I wanted and never exercising would last forever. Surprise! It doesn’t… On my 25th birthday someone threw a switch and I started gaining weight like never before. It was a pretty big adjustment to start thinking about what I eat and making time to exercise but it’s a good life adjustment.
What Was Once Challenging Is Now Impossible
Physically speaking I’m aging too quickly. I used to be flexible and energetic and now it’s a struggle to get off the couch… I’m not entirely sure what the lesson here is but i’m sure there is one.
You Can’t Please Everyone
This is one that most young people have to learn but for me it was a life changing lesson. I spent far too many years trying to be what everyone else wanted me to be. All it ever led to was low self esteem and a few identity crises. I finally learned who I was and to let that be the person I share with others. This was the hardest lesson for me to learn; I like to make people happy. Sometimes at the expense of myself. It is more important to be you then to care what anyone else wants from you.
Going To Bed At A Reasonable Hour Is Amazing
There aren’t enough hours in the day to meet all the responsibilities of adulthood. I miss the days of going to bed when I’m tired. Now it’s a matter of is the laundry done? Or are the dishes washed? Is the baby hungry? I just want to sleep…
A Nap Is A Rare Dream Come True
Along the same lines, I learned during my pregnancy when I was unbelievably exhausted that a nap is a god send! Kid don’t know how good they have it. They fight naps with every fiber of their being while I fight to stay awake. Enjoy the opportunity for a nap when it comes along.
Teenagers Look Younger As I Get Older And Are Incredibly Annoying
Babies are driving cars and toddlers are smoking cigarettes. I hate to believe that I was that annoying when I was a teenager but I’m sure I was.
All Pictures Of The Past Bring Up “What Was I Thinking” Thoughts
The hair, the clothes, the makeup, I just can’t believe I thought I looked good like that. I’m sure 10 years from now I will look back at my current look and think the same thing. Looking back at some of my bad decisions give me new perspective when making style choices now.
I didn’t really get this one until I had my daughter. Time goes faster not as we get older but as we get better life experiences we want to slow down and cherish. As my baby grows and learns I realize just how fast time really goes… I want it to slow down so I can enjoy they way she is right now but at the same time I am excited to take part in her next adventure. I learned a lot of lessons in my 20’s but she is learning life lessons every day!
Comfort Over Fashion
My Mom once told me that some day I would value comfort over fashion. At the time I was 21 and wearing short skirts and stiletto heals everyday. I spent hours on my appearance and never could have imagined a day when I wouldn’t care about that. That day sneaks up on you… I don’t even know when it happened but suddenly my closet was fully of flats and tasteful slacks. I can’t imagine wearing those old clothes and would probably break an ankle in those old heals. I barely have 20 minutes to get ready in the morning now and I would never want to sacrifice any of my other morning time for doing makeup and hair.
Alone Time Is Vital
I used to be afraid of being alone, now I crave a little me time. I wish I could have known sooner the bliss of an afternoon alone reading a good book. The heaven of a couple hours in a hot bath and a cleansing face mask. Even just uninterruptedly watching a girly show without hearing complaints. I love my family and wouldn’t give up a minute of the time I spend with them but I appreciate alone time more than I ever could have imagined.
It’s Ok To Be Selfish
I have never been one to think of myself first, or second, or at all… But I have recently learned that the advice of putting your own oxygen mask on first before assisting others is now joke. You can’t be a good spouse or parent or employee if you don’t take care of yourself. This is a hard one to accept, especially for women but we have to take care of ourselves too!
There Are Different Depths Of Love
Again I didn’t truly learn this until my daughter was born. I love my parents and my siblings and that love is real but there is a deeper love. I love my dogs like they are a part of me. I don’t want to even consider the day they won’t be here anymore. I love my husband unlike I have ever loved another man. He is my soulmate in every way. The love I feel for my daughter is unlike anything I could have ever imagined. She is my whole world and has opened my eyes to the true depths of love.
These are the biggest lessons I learned in my 20’s. I know I have a lot more to learn and I am excited to see what my 30’s bring!
I knew I wouldn’t feel like cooking for a little while after the baby was born. So I had this great plan that I would pre-make and freeze several meals so I could just pop them in the oven and have real meals without the work. What I didn’t realize was how hard it would be to stand in the kitchen for hours prepping these meals while eight months pregnant…
If I had the opportunity to do it over, I would still make the meals (even more of them) but I would make them earlier, maybe during the blissful second trimester!
I started by picking the recipes I wanted to make (meals I know my husband and I like). Then I hit Costco with a list of supplies I needed.
Here are the meals I decided to make to freeze for after the baby came.
Sausage, Potatoes and Peppers:
Your choice of sausage (I picked mango jalapeno chicken sausage)
Cut sausage, potatoes, peppers and onion into bite sized cubes.
Season all evenly and mix in a medium bowl.
Vacuum seal and freeze.
Meal #2 Bacon, Egg and Cream Cheese Bagel Sandwich:
Scramble the eggs, season to taste.
Spread cream cheese on each side of the bagel.
Layer bacon and egg and place the other half of the bagel on top.
Wrap in clear wrap and foil.
Preheat over to 400 degrees and place bagel sandwich in over for 30 minutes.
Meal #3 Cheese Stuffed Meatballs:
Combine all ingredients except the cheese.
Grab a chunk in the estimated size of the desired meatball.
flatten meat in the palm of your hand, place a square of cheese in the middle and roll into a meatball.
Vacuum seal and Freeze.
Meal #4 Breakfast Burrito Filling:
Shredded cheddar jack cheese
Cut potatoes into cubes
Tear bacon into small pieces.
Season eggs and potatoes to taste.
In a vacuum seal bag layer salsa, eggs, potatoes, bacon and cheese.
Vacuum seal and freeze.
Thaw ingredients and warm up in the microwave for 3 minutes. Spoon filling into tortillas for breakfast burritos.
Meal #5 Chicken Enchiladas:
Cheddar Jack Cheese
Cream of Chicken Soup
Boil chicken breasts and shred and cool.
In a medium bowl, combine soup, sour cream, salsa, onion, tomatoes, Rotel and chili powder.
In a separate bowl combine chicken, cheese and 1/3 sauce mixture.
Fill six tortillas with chicken filling and roll into enchiladas.
Place rolled enchiladas in a tin disposable casserole dish.
Pour remaining sauce evenly over enchiladas.
Top with additional cheese, chopped onions and diced tomatoes.
Cover with tin foil and freeze.
Preheat oven to 375 and place enchiladas in oven still frozen (DO NOT THAW). Cook for 45 minutes to an hour or until warmed through and bubbly.
These meals worked out great for my family! It was so convenient to not have to worry about all that goes into creating a meal or running to the store for missing ingredients while trying to figure out this new tiny human I had just brought into the world.
When we bought this house I knew right away which room would be the nursery someday. We had already been trying for four years so I didn’t know when we would need a nursery but I knew someday we would. While I waited for that day, that room belonged to our cats and our clutter…
When we found out we were pregnant nothing changed in that room. After three miscarriages I wasn’t getting my hopes up. Then suddenly the first trimester was over and it was safe to believe we were actually going to have a baby. We rolled up our sleeves and got busy! Once we cleared out the cats and junk we started thinking about paint.
We changed out the old 70’s light fixture and put in a cute mini light/fan combo fixture.
We decided on a three different shades of purple. White with a light purple tint for the top part of the wall, a medium purple gray color for the bottom half of the wall and a dark purple for the center chair railing. First we taped off the room and painted the top and bottom portions of the walls.
We decided to save some money on chair railing and make it ourselves instead of the expensive stuff. We bought pine planks and measured to fit and cut to size then painted in our dark purple paint.
We used a nail gun to seamlessly attach the chair railing to the walls. It turned out amazing!!
The only thing left to add was furniture…
Oh and a baby of course!
I could not be happier with how the nursery turned out! It’s now my favorite room in the house! Baby Mazi and I spend a lot of time in there!
Some say there are Dog lovers or there are Cat lovers… I am both!!! being such an unbiased animal lover has it’s challenges… Anyone who has had both dogs and cats at the same time can attest to this.
We haven’t had to worry about them getting along. Our dogs and cats play together, cuddle together and beg for scraps together…
One of our biggest challenges has been keeping our dogs from eating the “delicious kitty treats” out of the litter boxes. They just can’t seem to help themselves. The way we have done this up until now was to dedicate an entire room in our house to the cats. A baby gate in the door way (and lots of training of the dogs not to jump over it) has kept the litter boxes safe from hungry canines. This was working fabulously for the last five years, but now a baby is coming… And the cat room must become a nursery.
We debated for months about where to move the litter boxes… The guest room?Our out of town guests don’t want to share a room with our cats. Plus they would not be able to close the door for privacy because how would the cats get in to use the bathroom? The office? The downstairs access to the backyard is through the office. The dogs need that door available for their own potty needs.
Finally we realized we would have to get creative. With help from Pinterest and supplies from Lowes we created the perfect solution! We created a cat box cabinet that fit right under the stairs. This solution solved everything! The dogs can’t get to the litter box but the cats can and it looks pretty nice if I do say so myself.
Cat box setup before
Cat box setup after
This project was so easy and turned out so great, it surprised even me!
Here is what we bought: 1. A stock kitchen cabinet insert (in the size to fit our space and the style of our house)
2. A sheet of unfinished pine board
3. Finishing screws
4. Waterproof clear finishing spray
5. A medium cat door insert kit
6. A stick on “pop it” light
Here is how we did it: 1. We cut the pine board to fit the top of the cabinet (with a small lip over hang).
2. We treated the pine board with the finishing spray and let dry.
3. Using the instructions and cut out sheet from the cat door kit, we cut a hole in the side of the cabinet and installed the cat door.
4. Next we cleaned out the shavings from cutting the hole for the cat door.
5. Using the finishing screws we secured the pine board to the top of the cabinet.
6. For convenience we added a “pop it” light to the ceiling of the lower cabinet to provide light while scooping the used litter box.
7. We moved the cabinet to the desired permanent location under the staircase.
8. We put the litter box in the cabinet space, the scoops and plastic bags in the drawer and the food and water bowls on top.
We did have to teach our cats to go through the cat door to find their litter box. We found treats and desirable wet food as motivation to go through the scary new contraption helped a lot.
Now we have a beautiful way to hide the stinky side of having cats while also keeping our dogs from helping themselves to the “kitty treats” they so desire. We did all of this in one afternoon and still had time to clear out and clean up the soon to be nursery!