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How Will You Wrap Up Your Year? {Some Tips To Make It Through The Holidays.}

Christmas Tree

There’s so much hustle + bustle out there, this time of year. Can you feel it?  I know I can.

Worrying about getting the right present or the perfect outfit to wear doesn’t interest me. Inviting in more peace + joy does.  I want to feel the wonder of a year coming to an end, and reflect on how amazing it has been! And this takes some serious intentional action.

The pressure of the holidays is real, friends, so I’m giving you a few tips on how to handle it.  We can all use some encouragement, yes? These are some of my favorite blog posts from the archives, to help you deal with this high-paced season without losing your cool:

I have to say, I’m looking forward to the clean slate a new year brings–the opportunities are endless. (Not to mention, I’m getting married!) But in the meantime, I’m going to focus on having fun + being dazzled by the excitement of the season, I hope you can too.


How Will You Wrap Up Your Year? {Some Tips To Make It Through The Holidays.}2018-03-29T20:23:13-04:00

Busy Does Not Mean Better

In the spirit of being adventurous and open-hearted, I’ve gotten into the habit of saying yes to a lot of things in my life.  In the beginning, it was an exercise in faith and trusting the universe, that what I needed would come my way.  It opened me up to new experiences and expanded my heart and mind–mission accomplished.

Purpose of life

But lately I’m just feeling really busy.  Do you know what I’m talking about?  When you spend time doing things that aren’t necessarily adding value to your life, but you do it just because you said you would?  Yuck.

So as a result, I’m making it a point to being more intentional these days with my time + energy.  I’m trying to set boundaries and create a framework that allows me to enjoy what I’m doing when I’m doing it.  Imagine that. And instead of feeling selfish about it, I’m looking at it as self-care.

I want to be intentional about my life and not let it just happen to me.

For example: I recently admitted to myself that I don’t love going out at night after work, during the week.  Once in a while is fine, but I’m trying to make it a habit not to schedule social activities at night during the week unless it’s something that I really want to do.

And being a social person, this can be hard–my actions conflict with my feelings.  I want to be that fun person who’s ready to go at a moment’s notice.  But….I’m realizing, I’m just not.  I need time to decompress at the end of each day.  And if I go out, I don’t get to unwind and it does something funky to my psyche.  I become irritated and tired Steph.  She’s no fun.

In this adventure of un-busying my life, I’m getting to know myself better and listening to my heart.  It feels really good to tune in to what I want, and just say no.  I acknowledge that trying to do it all doesn’t work for me.  And the more that concept sinks in, the lovelier it feels to let myself off the hook.

Here are some of the questions I ask myself to re-calibrate how I’m spending my time, maybe they’ll help you too:

  • What do I enjoy doing?  It’s such a simple question but sometimes we get bogged down in life by obligations.  Remembering my joy triggers each day are such a necessity–Reading, watching a movie, painting, spending quality time with Chris–and I want to do that as much as possible.
  • How do I want to feel? How I want to feel is the driver of all things in my life.  It is the fuel to my fire: content, calm and inspired.  These core feelings help me make decisions throughout my day.
  • What are my limits?  Knowing my limits allows me to set healthy boundaries.  I know I need no less than 8 hours of sleep a night, so I plan accordingly.  I also love weird, healthy food (I’m one of those) and need to sweat out my stress regularly to stay sane.
  • What do I want to accomplish?  Having a basic plan helps me organize my thoughts and actions throughout the day.  Whether it’s a new blog post or starting a new painting, I have mini goals that motivate me and keep me on track.

Being busy doesn’t mean getting a lot done.  It just means we don’t have time to deeply examine our choices.  Sometimes what we stop doing is just as important as what we start doing; how can you become less busy today and more in tune with yourself?





Busy Does Not Mean Better2018-03-29T20:23:15-04:00

Food Feast + Link Love

Lately Around here

This weekend felt like a week.  You know those kind?  They feel so loooonnnngggg and relaxing?  I don’t know if it was because of the rainy weather on Friday that set the stage to just chill out or if it was because I had 3 days off in a row with some of my favorite people, but it was an awesome time of rest and relaxation.

See those big smiles?  That’s me and my sister Liv, and we’re smiling because we know what’s ahead of us for the holiday weekend–lots of hanging out, laughing and eating delicious food.

Me + Liv

To start us off, Chris cooked an amazing Paiea feast.  This prep area was pretty impressive in my book–I wouldn’t even know where to begin to know how to do this.

The Paiea Feast

The next day for round two, we had lobsters at Chris’s parent’s house.  I want to be a lobster person, really I do.  I want to be someone that squeals with happiness when it’s on the menu, but…. I’m not.  Even still, it was pretty great to watch everyone go to town on them and enjoy every buttery-dripped moment.

Lobster Fest

Chris + I among the eating frenzy.

Me + Chris

My dad looking dapper…

Me + Dad

Sunday, I took a break from the eating marathon and sat down to paint for the first time in the new house.  I missed it so much and it felt so good to get back in the groove–I love, love, love my new studio (aka the back bedroom).  It’s a dream come true to have the space to explore and get lost in colors again.

studio shot

Link Love

Some of my favorite links around the web this week:

Here are some great tips on how to be the boss of your inbox.  I’m totally guilty of number 1.

Busy vs. productive.  Which one are you?

Here’s an interesting concept for Spotify users: The Long Tail creates play lists of the least played songs of your favorite artists.  It’s a great way to mix up your play list.

I am so fascinated by tiny houses and now I can see them all over the country!

An ode to you, the artist who dances on the edge.





Food Feast + Link Love2018-03-29T20:23:15-04:00

Enjoying Everyday Life. {Even When There’s Laundry To Do.}

live itI was catching up with a dear friend on the phone the other day, and after running through the latest news in each of our lives, I asked her again, “So how are you, really?  She took a deep breath and replied, “I have so many wonderful things going on in my life, but sometimes I’m just going through the motions and not even experiencing the moment.  I want to enjoy everything, but I’m so tired.

Although our lives are on different tracks right now, I understood completely–she has a house to run, a business to help, kids to raise–the list goes on.  They’re all amazing blessings, but understandably, she’s overwhelmed.

When did we become so busy that enjoying life became a chore?

We say yes to more, we take on more responsibilities and that’s part of growing–we naturally crave more of a full life.  But when it seems like we’re just managing another project, muscling through what needs to get done and not enjoying the process, it’s time to take a step back and look at the big picture.  It’s not realistic for everything to be fun and stress-free, but enjoyment should be the foundation of most of what we do.

What about having a periodic check-in process?  One that could ground and refocus our intentions–serve as a sort of barometer. When that feeling of overwhelm and stuck-ness creeps in, it’s a good time to regroup and attempt to trade stress for joy.

These are some ideas I try to remember when I check in with myself:

::  What if we said “no” more?  It feels so good to say no.  Sure, we may miss out on creating some memories, but prioritizing yourself first (yes, that includes you moms!) reminds us the world won’t go into a holding pattern if we’re not a part of every friend/family/work event.

::  What if  we didn’t do things out of pure obligation?  We would act more from the heart.  Sure, there are times when you just have to show up, but if that is the norm, perhaps it’s time to look at why everything feels like an obligation.  It’s a signal to re-prioritize.

:: What if we let go of the guilt?  We would feel more at ease with our choices.  Instead of the should have, could have and would haves, let’s focus on the can-dos, the hell yeses and the amazing opportunities to expand life in ways that work.

::  What if we followed our gut?  We would check in with ourselves more.  We would hone in on the things in life that bring us ecstasy and joy.  We would have more spontaneous dancing, visits with friends, trips of exploration, indulging in hobbies.  It’s simple: doing more of what we love brings us more happiness.

:: What if we made our feelings just as important as everyone else’s?  We would feel validated and cherished.  Making ourselves a priority is healthy and necessary.  If we’re always on the back burner of importance, resentment and frustration take over; if we make ourselves the number one priority, we can be more helpful and useful to everyone around us.

Life can feel like a treadmill or an amazing adventure, it’s your choice.  If you stop and smell the roses and take those breaks to re-prioritize, you give yourself time and permission to enjoy the life you’re living.  And trust me–the laundry will still be there when you’re done.






Enjoying Everyday Life. {Even When There’s Laundry To Do.}2018-03-29T20:23:22-04:00

How I Handle Overwhelm. {Lessons on Tending the Mental Garden.}

How to handle overwhelm + lessons on tending the mental garden


There are some days I wake up and feel completely overwhelmed for no specific reason.  It seems to happen when I have a lot of projects going on, and I don’t feel like I’m making much progress; it feels like I’m stuck in quicksand.

Even though I have a full-time job, this blog, a wonderful relationship, loving family and friends, an active social life and a healthy mind and body, I can still feel like I’m treading water and not getting anywhere.  I’m busy, but sometimes I’m just too far into the woods to see I’m surrounded by beautiful flowering trees.

Overwhelm can often come from living life fully.

The cycle of overwhelm is familiar to all of us; here’s the process I use for digging my way out.  (You have a process too but maybe these tips will help.)

1.)  My path back to solid ground starts by just acknowledging the overwhelm and giving in to it for a bit.  Rather than fighting the feelings, I wallow in it for a bit because the only way out is through; whether it’s sadness, fear, stress or anger, I swim around and let it wash over me.  It’s quite indulgent in a deliciously negative way, but in order to move on from it, I have to know what it is.

2.)  I begin to remember that the heaviness holding me down is not something I want taking root in my life.  I remind myself that overwhelm is happening because even though I feel stuck, there’s a lot of action happening in my life that is causing it.  A lot of action means that I am trying, I am taking risks and staying open.  And that’s a good thing.

3.) I continue digging myself out by mentally regrouping. I make lists and do some deep breathing. I pay attention to the part of me that really wants to grow + learn from my experiences, even when I’m feeling trapped and paralyzed.  I take a step back and have gratitude for what is good; that helps put everything into perspective.

::  I tap into the feelings of what is working in my life and make moves towards growing that area.

::  I begin to peel away the fear.  I don’t dive into things headfirst, I cautiously unwrap myself.  Gentleness and patience are my friends.

:: I look at things as they are rather than how I want them to be.

::  I set aside time to be quiet and listen to my heart.  I feel my way through the process of slowly climbing back up rather than muscling my way out. I trust my gut.

4.)  I make a mental list of how I can use these tricks for next time.  When I feel like myself again sans panic, I can step back and see what I’ve done–how I’ve untangled myself from a web of fears that probably don’t even exist to begin with.

When I take the time to slow down and reevaluate, I see that my overwhelm is usually 1/3  my imagination, 1/3 unorganization and 1/3 dread of tedious, but necessary tasks.  Picking it apart helps me see more clearly–It brings light to the darkness, levity to the heavy.  In the end, I try to appreciate my courage for moving forward and getting over that hump of overwhelm.

This process is a part of becoming more me;  just like soil that needs to be turned, the richness is under the surface.

How do you handle overwhelm when it takes over?




How I Handle Overwhelm. {Lessons on Tending the Mental Garden.}2018-03-29T20:23:24-04:00
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