Back to School, Schedule, Work, or Just Anytime Stress

Back to school time for parents and kids can seem like a lot of hustle and bustle. Gotta get a new backpack (or clean up the old one from last year), get the million things on the school supply list, new clothes perhaps so cuteness can abound, get to bed earlier, plan lunches, talk to teachers, fill out paperwork for hours…

I could go on for days about stress of getting ready for school. Not that I’ve ever had to get a kid ready to go back to school, but I sure did that for myself many, many years.

The hustle and bustle can be stressful. I kinda think of it as similar to the hustle and bustle at Christmas time too: presents, food, traveling, managing money, Santa, pictures, family, tree, church…

I could go on for days about this too.

It seems no matter what’s going on in our calendar our culture does a really good job at making us stressed out about it. We set expectations on ourselves, others, the schools, our homes, families, friends… And for what? So, we can be the cutest, give our kids the best, look like the perfect family, be the perfect student, have the most or best stuff?

What if we took a moment to step back, breathe, and refocus?

What if we could de-stress these stressful times by taking pressures off ourselves that our culture tries to drown us with?

What if we could focus on what was the most important thing?

At Christmas time of course the most important thing is Jesus. So, can we focus on showing His love and sacrifice to others? (I’m not saying we can’t give gifts, but I am saying we have the ability to simplify.)

At Back-to-School time the most important thing is also Jesus. So, can we focus on our kids and helping them feel loved and cherished – like Jesus would? (I’m not saying we can’t buy them things, but again I am saying we don’t have to keep up with the Jones’s – or what the culture says we have to be and do and have.)

It’s so easy to lose our focus when there are so many distractions every single day. Think tv, cell phones, radio, billboards… These things on their own don’t seem so overpowering, but when we look at our cell phones for over four hours a day, watch tv for over five hours a day, and listen to the radio for about two hours a day (these are average amounts for Americans according to google) our time is nearly filled up. That’s about 11 hours of marketing that we’re getting per day. People trying to get us to buy, buy, buy so we’re happy and more fulfilled.

Jesus tells us in Matthew 6:20,

But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.

If we’re so focused on what our culture tells us we should do and what we should buy we are storing up treasures on earth. We’re trying to keep up with everyone else, and causing ourselves endless stress in the process. All. Year. Long.

So, how can we reduce stress and refocus?

I might invite for us together, to reduce the amount of media we’re taking in during our personal time.

I might invite for us to resist the temptation to be the same as all the others, feeling the need to buy all the things and go all the places, and focus on what is MOST important.

I also invite for us to put Jesus at the center of our focus. When our eyes are trained on Him, no matter what comes He will provide us His perfect peace. BUT, we must keep our eyes trained on Him. (See Isaiah 26:3)

We can’t get rid of stress in this world today. But we can do things to manage how we deal with stress. We can start with reducing how much hustle and bustle we allow during each the seasons.

My Ear Story

This month is all about ears. So, I thought I’d tell you my own personal ear story.

When I was little I had a ton of ear issues. Ear infections all the time, pain, and fevers. Probably worried my parents sick. I would get an ear infection, finish the antibiotics and then get another ear infection. By the time I was eight years old I had too many ear infections to count, three sets of tubes put in my ears, and my tonsils and adenoids removed. Plus, my hearing had begun to decrease in my left ear. I did hearing screenings regularly. You know push the button or raise your hand when you hear the beep. I knew I was missing several because there was too much time between the ones I was hearing. And I tried to hear so hard. Because I wanted to be good at hearing.

I loved to go swimming as a child (even thought I was certain a shark lived in the drain of the pool). While swimming, I always had to wear ear plugs because if I got any water in my ear I got an ear infection. I had to really battle this being an embarrassing thing for me. I hated wearing ear plugs. Plus, you can’t hear very well with them in. Two things going against my hearing.

And by the time I was in eighth grade (I was 13), it was a problem. The hairs inside my ear – which are responsible for feeling the vibration of sound which creates hearing – were not damaged. However, I had a hole in my eardrum from scar tissue from all the infections. My doctor determined that he could replace it by taking fat from behind my eardrum (who knew there was even fat there?!?!) and graph a brand new drum for me (this procedure is called a tempanoplasty).

So, towards the end of my eighth grade year I went into the hospital for the operation. And I haven’t mentioned my phobia of needles yet, but it’s a real live thing. And while it has improved, I still am not fond of needles today. They had to shave about two inches of my hair around my ear. And honestly, at the time, this was perhaps the most detrimental thing for me. I was so embarrassed about it. And I also get sick after anesthesia. So, this wasn’t the most pleasant experience. I mean needles, puke, and shaved hair. What more could a teenage girl have to go through?!?!

After the operation I had to wear this plastic bubble over my ear to protect it for several days. And I wasn’t allowed to even get water close to my ear or do anything that would rupture or disconnect the delicate new eardrum. I had to be extremely careful.

And a few weeks after the operation my youth group went on a trip and there was a pool. I was told I couldn’t swim, but I just got in the pool and stood. Promise!

Slowly, but surely, my hearing began to return. And now, almost 30 years later, my ear is doing just fine. I can hear well even though I do hear better in my right ear than my left. And the scar is barely even noticeable anymore.

I tell you my story because this was hard for me as a child. There were several times that I felt shame (even though I probably didn’t know that’s what it was). I didn’t want to have this struggle. I wanted to be normal. Just like every kid out there. We want to fit in and not be judged or laughed at.

Hmmm… it also sounds like me as an adult too. I don’t want to be judged or laughed at either (unless I’m cracking myself up or making a joke – then please laugh – haha).

God actually reserves the right to judge others for himself. It’s not in our job description as humans. However, I think it’s one thing that we all struggle with – myself included.

I might invite for you today to notice someone you interact with – whether in person, on social media, or on the phone – and their differences. And just practice accepting their differences. Not judging it or trying to do anything with it. And you don’t even have to agree with their differences. Just notice and accept. If we all did this a little more I think we might be able to love more, have more peace, and deal with less stress.

I’d love to hear about you and your story of being different. Just comment below and let’s share our differences.

Safe Products for your Skin

I know, I know. I’ve been talking A LOT about skin and sun and products lately. ‘Tis the season!

They say you are what you eat. And while that is true, it’s also true that you are what you put on your skin. Because EVERYTHING you put on your skin gets absorbed into your body and is either put to good use or stored as toxins. Yikes!

So, I wanted to share some products that I use on my skin that are safe, non-toxic, and I’m happy to have them absorbed into my body.

LOTION

I use doTERRA’s unscented Hand and Body Lotion. I like this one because I can add a few drops of essential oil depending on what scent I’m in the mood for that day. My personal favorite to add is grapefruit! (Just don’t add grapefruit if you’re going to be out in the sun. It’ll make you burn.)

BODY WASH

The doTERRA Spa Body Wash is my favorite! It smells so good! Plus, it’s safe for you and your kiddos too!

SHAMPOO & CONDITIONER

You guessed it. I use doTERRA’s Salon Essentials Shampoo & Conditioner. The smell is lovely and it works wonderfully on my long hair. Plus, my husband and I both use the conditioner for shaving cream. Yup! Double duty! I purchase the large 32 oz bottles and they last us about six months. Very cost effective!

FACE WASH & MOISTURIZER

The Verage Skin Care Line is the best! In my opinion. I love how it moisturizes just enough and the cleanser doesn’t leave my skin oily or dry.

These are the daily products I use. Of course there are other things I use on my skin too. However, I do all I can to use non-toxic products that I trust the company where they came from. Have questions about these or other products? Send me a message! I’m happy to help!

Are you a perfectionist like me?

Hi. My name is Carrie. And I am a recovering perfectionist.

I like things neat, tidy, my way, and perfect. And I prefer the people around me to be too.

However, that’s not real life.

Real life is messy, imperfect, unpredictable, painful, and way out of my control. (God is showing me this pretty intensely in the current season of my life. Sigh.)

I feel like part of being a perfectionist is feeling in control. And when life spirals out of control then we freak out, stress out, and our anxiety hits the roof (and perhaps blows it to smithereens).

Control is really an illusion. There are certain things in life that we can control such as:

  • What we eat
  • What we wear
  • What we talk about
  • What we think about
  • Our happiness
  • Who we hang out with
  • How seriously we take life
  • What we believe
  • Our priorities
  • How kind we are

Other than that, God has the ultimate say on what goes on in this crazy world of ours. We can’t control other people. We can’t control situations. We can’t control hate.

So, if you’re a perfectionist – recovering or not- like me, I invite for you to take a step back. Allow God to do His thing (He’s actually really good at it) and give Him control over all things. All things.

All things.

Proverbs 19:21

Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.

What Sun-Safe Products Does a Health Coach Use?

There are sooooo many stay safe in the sun products out there! How do we know which ones are actually safe and not toxic?

One way that I have learned is by using two apps:

The EWG -Environmental Working Group App

The Think Dirty App

These two apps rate products and ingredients on a toxic scale. Zero is non-toxic and ten is very toxic. You can scan bar codes or type in product names or ingredients. AND they are free to use! Score!

So, based off my research using these two apps here are a few products I use to keep myself safe in the sun:

HOMEMADE SUNSCREEN

I choose to make my own because it’s cheap and it works! I’ve used this recipe for years for me and my family and never get burned. Plus, the ingredients are safe and non-toxic! Here’s my recipe:

1/2 cup olive oil

1/4 cup coconut oil

1/4 cup beeswax pellets

2 Tablespoons shea butter

Melt ingredients in a double boiler while stirring with a wooden spoon or popsicle stick. Once melted remove from heat, let cool slightly, and stir in:

1 teaspoon vitamin E oil

12 drops helichrysum essential oil (you can get here)

12 drops myrrh essential oil (you can get here)

2 Tablespoons non-nano zinc oxide powder

Stir occasionally until solidified. Store in a glass container and apply liberally when going in the sun. Use high quality and organic ingredients whenever possible. I get some products locally and others from Amazon.

**Side note: It’s not safe to order essential oils from Amazon. Ever.

**Another side note: If you’re freaked out about making your own sunscreen and worried about it working- first of all try it! Second, if you don’t want to then Think Dirty has an excellent sunscreen guide with products you can buy.

LIP PROTECTION

Don’t forget to protect those lips! They can burn too! I make my own lip protection – similar to the recipe above with only a few differences. There are also many safe ones out there to purchase. Again, check Think Dirty for a great list!

SUNGLASSES

This might seem obvious, but protecting your eyes from sunburn is important too! Find ones that block UVA and UVB rays.

SPF CLOTHING

Long sleeves in the summer sounds crazy. However, they are very useful in preventing sunburn- especially if the fabric has UV Protection in it. And you might find it’s not so bad after all! Don’t forget a UV protecting hat! I got my long sleeves (see picture above) from the kids section at Target. HA!

ALOE VERA

Inevitably, I’ll forget to apply the sunscreen or leave home without it. (I’m not the only forgetful one, right?!?!) And when I come home a little red or charred I want something safe to soothe the burn. Aloe from an aloe vera plant is best. A little sticky, but feels so good!!!

If you have questions about other products or about what I’ve mentioned here, please reach out! I won’t bite! Promise! I’d love to be a resource for you in using safe products for you and your family!

7 Tips for Staying Safe in the Sun

It seems there is some confusion these days about being in the sun. How much sun should we get? (Gotta have that vitamin D, right?) Do we use sunscreen every single time or not? How do we avoid skin cancer?

Well, I think the key is balance. The sun is very important for our bodies and our health. And it’s the second thing God created in our universe. He put it in the exact spot for our benefit!

We must have vitamin D! It helps us feel happier, helps us fight off cancer, and helps our bodies work properly. And a lack of vitamin D can lead to serious issues such as cancer, high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, depression, fibromyalgia, and the list goes on and on. Yikes!

Skin cancer primarily isn’t even caused by the sun. It’s usually caused by the things we put on our skin and in our bodies and how those things react with the sun that causes the cancer.

So, here’s seven tips to help you stay safe in the sun this summer!

1.Eat foods that provide UV protection

Some great foods to help are omega 3 fatty acid fish such as wild caught salmon or tuna. You can also eat dark leafy greens and cruciferous veggies such as broccoli, cauliflower, or Brussels sprouts. In addition, add some red and orange fruits and veggies to boost your protection.

2. Drink green tea

This has been researched and has been known to help prevent some types of skin cancer. It’s full of polyphenols which also help prevent cancer development. Yay! I do recommend drinking organic hot or cold green tea (not the kind you buy at the gas station).

3. Eat the right oils

Healthy oils can do much to give you UV protection. Consume 1-3 Tablespoons daily of oils like coconut oil, olive oil, or avocado oil. These oils make your skin less resistant to sun damage and if you put it on your skin it can block up to 20% of UV rays!

4. Drink lots of water

Keeping your skin hydrated is super important when you’re in the sun often. I recommend to my clients to drink between 50% and 75% of your body weight in ounces of water a day.

5. Get 15-20 minutes a day of sun without sunscreen

Yes! Without sunscreen. This helps your body really be able to absorb the vitamin D it needs. Now, if you’re going to be out in the sun for long periods of time please take measures to stay safe and avoid getting burned.

6. Use shade or clothing protection

When you’re out all day in the sun at the beach, on the lake, or in the river you can protect yourself with shade, sun blocking clothing and sunglasses (don’t forget to protect your eyes too). I think these are underutilized tools to help keep us safe.

7. Choose a non-toxic safe sunscreen with an SPF of 15-30

The FDA has reported that 80% of sunscreens are ineffective and contain toxic ingredients. (And if the FDA admits it you know it has to be bad. EEK!) The Environmental Working Group suggests that sunscreen should be a last resort in protecting yourself in the sun. WOWIE. That’s a change in thought. They recommend that if you look at the ingredients and you wouldn’t eat it then don’t put it on your skin.

Have questions? I’m happy to help! Just ask!

Plus, stay tuned for the products I use and recipes for safe sun exposure!

To Love or Not to Love

Are you willing to potentially have a broken heart? Are you willing to be vulnerable? Are you willing to put your self on the line?

I heard this quote from a Brene Brown book. It struck me then and even more now.

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”

-C.S. Lewis

Sometimes in life we put ourselves out there. We risk being seen. We allow ourselves, our thoughts, our visions, our goals, our lives to be vulnerable. We risk it all.

For love.

This quote struck me intensely today because my heart is breaking over a situation. But this quote reminds me that giving love (a.k.a. time, energy, feeling, passion…) is taking a risk. Perhaps the biggest risk in life.

But if we choose to lock ourselves away, harden our hearts, and allow no one in then we’ll never experience what God intended for us. We might be stifling the greatest gift God has for our lives. And let me tell you I have hardened my heart before and it’s not a fun place to be.

Jesus tells us in Matthew 22:37-39:

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.

So, the question, “To love or not to love?” has an answer. Right here. We are told to love God and love people. All people.

Is your heart breaking today? Perhaps, you too have allowed yourself to love and you’ve been hurt in the process. Take heart my friend.

God is with us, and He is for us! There is nothing in this world that can separate us from His love. That doesn’t mean that life won’t hurt. God is very clear that we will have trouble in this world. But take heart, “He has overcome the world.”

Isaiah 26:3

You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast because they trust in you.

Are You Whole Body Healthy?

If we are conscious about our health, then we probably have lots of knowledge about healthy things: what to eat, exercise, stress, sleep, etc.

What we do with that knowledge is what matters.

God says,


1 Corinthians 6:19-20

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.


 

When we think about being healthy we need to consider all three parts of the body.

First, let’s consider the physical body. There are many components here. Our weight, how toned our muscles are, our skin, how we feel inside our own skin, our internal organs and how they are functioning, our elimination system, how our immune system works, hormones and how they affect physical responses…

We could go on and on about the physical parts of our body as it relates to health. So, I’ll ask you- On a scale of 1-10 how healthy is your physical body?

Most likely, we all have room for improvement (I know I do!). So, what is ONE thing that you can do to move the needle 1% forward in your physical health?

Next, let’s look at our mental health. This component may be even more important than the physical body. What we think about ourselves, others, and the world can greatly impact how we act, react, and how our physical body functions.

If our minds have negative or toxic thoughts flowing through or stored up to replay at a moments notice then our mental health is affecting every aspect of our daily lives- whether you realize it or not. It also affects how your digestion functions as well as how your endocrine system works (your hormones). If you feel out of whack then most likely it’s time to check on what is going through your mind.

So, I’ll ask you again to rate yourself- on a scale of 1-10 how healthy is your mind? What is one thing you can let go of today in your mind or thoughts to help move you forward towards a healthier you?


2 Corinthians 10:5

We take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.


Finally, let’s look at our spiritual health. Research shows that people who have spiritual belief in God have more fulfillment in life and are happier. When our spiritual health is doing well we usually feel better about ourselves, our lives, and have a more positive outlook on what is happening in our lives and around us (even if it’s hard stuff going on).

Spiritual health means how much we realize we need Jesus and the extent to which we believe Him and believe in Him. Check in with your relationship with Jesus. How are you communicating with Him? Does He communicate back? Are you investing time and resources to further your relationship and knowledge of Him? If yes, keep going! If no, are you seeking Him with all your heart?


Jeremiah 29:13

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.


This may be the most important part of our health altogether. So, one more time I’ll ask- On a scale of 1-10 how is your spiritual health? What is one thing you could do to up-level your relationship with Jesus?

Which part of your body- physical, mental, or spiritual- needs the most work? What will you do to set yourself up for success in creating your body to be a healthier temple for Christ to dwell?

Our life is as fleeting as the flap of a butterfly’s wings. How can we make the most of it?

Need tips or guidance? Just ask!

10 Tips for Healthy Eating Without Rules

Psalm 73:4

“They have no struggles; their bodies are healthy and strong.”

Doesn’t healthy eating seem so complicated these days?!?!

There’s this diet and that one! There’s this rule that contradicts that rule. And who wants to eat tree bark anyways?!?!

Well, I’m here to tell you that healthy eating doesn’t have to be so complicated. There doesn’t have to be so many rules. Also, what is healthy for one person may not be healthy for you! Diets were created for one particular person in mind. You may have some similarities with that person, but you are most likely NOT that person.

Side Note: If you are on a particular diet for healing or overcoming dis-ease in the body that is a whole other ball game. I was on the very strict GAPS diet for two years to allow my body to heal. And there is certainly a time and place for particular diets. If you are not trying to heal and don’t have food allergies or sensitivities then there is no reason to deprive yourself 100% of the time.

I want to encourage you to start where you are. Take into consideration the following tips and take it one day at a time. And know that 75% of healthy eating is HOW you eat, not WHAT you eat.

  1. Choose as many fruits and veggies as possible. In fact, try to make over half your plate vegetables – fruit if desired.
  2. Eat until you are about 70% full.
  3. Eat before you’re so hungry you could eat a horse.
  4. Take 10 deep breaths before eating. This turns on your digestive system and turns off your stress response.
  5. Chew your food. Yeah, like 30 times each bite.
  6. Focus on eating while you’re eating. Try not to eat in the car or while you’re watching tv.
  7. Choose foods that make you feel good and give you long-sustained energy.
  8. Plan what you will eat and be prepared.
  9. 80/20 Idea: 80% of the time eat as healthy as you can. 20% of the time eat whatever you want. (Including chocolate cake! Whoop!)
  10. Be grateful. Gratitude changes more things than we realize – and for the good!

Do you have questions about these tips? Or need more info? Send me an email and I’d be happy to explain or guide more!

How Effectively Do You Use Time?

Our health is directly related to how we deal with stress. And time is one of those stresses that affects all of us. How effectively do you use your time? I know I am not always the best manager of my time.

So, I’ve been reading this book called The Deborah Anointing, by Michelle McClain-Walters (she also wrote The Anna Anointing and The Esther Anointing). In it she says,

“The quality of your life is determined by how effectively you use time.”

Notice she says, “time,” not “your time,” Hmmmm….

We feel most stressed when our calendars are so full and we feel like we have to get it all done NOW! So, how can we practically understand time and manage it better?

Ecclesiastes 3:1

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.

Michelle goes on to describe four spiritual seasons of time in our lives. We experience:

Spiritual winter – a time of death to self

Spiritual spring – a time to embrace the call

Spiritual summer – a time of revelation

Spiritual fall – a time of harvest and fulfillment

In the midst of our busy schedules it’s important to keep Christ as our focus. It is sooooooo easy to allow ourselves to focus on things of this world – money, status, reputations, ourselves… (God has been working on my heart on this very thing lately. Sigh.)

Our life here on earth was meant as a preparation period for our eternity. God created each of us perfectly and for His purposes. If what we’re doing isn’t glorifying God in some way, we might need to reconsider if we need that thing. What spiritual season are you currently in? And how can you honor and accept where you are?

Let’s look at 5 ways we can practically keep our focus on God and use our time wisely no matter what spiritual season you might be in.

1.Adequate time with God daily

This is the most important part of our day. Think about this: You have about 8-10 hours of time during the day that are most likely dedicated to someone else – work, kids, whatever. That leaves you with 14-16 hours of time for yourself. Hopefully about 8 of those hours are sleeping. And that gives you 6-8 hours to do whatever else you desire. What are you doing with that time? Cooking and eating, exercising, playing, chores… What can you do so that time with God is your number one, non-negotiable priority?

2. Make a list of our top 5 priorities

I encourage you to take a moment and write down the top 5 priorities in your life. These are the MOST important things. This list will help you prioritize what you say yes or no to. Then use this list. Don’t just make it and put it aside. Allow it to help you make decisions.

3. Take time to breathe

You might be thinking, Carrie, I breathe all day long. I know, I know. But, I’m talking about time to focus on your breath. Every time you breathe in oxygen God is breathing into you His breath of life. Take time for 10 deep, focused breaths a day (at least) and watch your stress melt away. There are many different breathing techniques for different things. If you need help with this please let me know! I’m happy to give you more details, information, or tips.

4. Say no

This might be one of the hardest things for us. Saying no – especially when they are good things! But, it also might be what needs to happen to clear some things out of your calendar to make room for your top 5 priorities. I invite for you to inquire of God first to see if it’s something He wants you to do or not. Is there anything you can say no to today? And I might add – that if you have kids show them how to say no to things too. You will help set them up for success in so many ways.

5. Make a plan and be flexible

It’s important to not be willy-nilly all the time or just live by the seat of our pants. We do need a plan. But it’s also important to be flexible with that plan. Life is uncertain and when we hold on to our plans like a tight fist then we are only causing more strain and stress on ourselves. (Take a moment and make a tight fist. See how that would feel in your entire body to carry that around all day every day.) Make a plan, and allow God to infuse, change, and direct you – even when His way seems way out of the way. His plans are always good!

So, what is one thing you can do today to be a better manager of time?