Thursday, April 28, 2016

An Artist is Born

At four-years-old, Reina stood her ground as an artist the day she demanded the whole package of paper. Rather than accepting her grim lot of being doled out a single sheet of paper at a time, my little artist took her stand, knuckles on hips and all, by giving in to no less than the entire ream of blank paper. With both awe and admiration, I handed over the ream and knew then that I gave birth to an artist.


Ever since she could hold a pencil in her hand, she delighted in drawing sketches of people, animals, and objects. In 7th grade, new opportunities for art classes in middle school propelled her gift forward and she began to win contests. In high school, her dad and I committed to driving her 30 miles to a private art class once or twice a week. Finally, last Sunday, she made her debut as an artist at an open house art show. And starting now, she is taking commissions. This has been in the works a long time, but the accolades and family support she received from the art show this week motivated her to take the plunge into making money with her art.

My girl has blossomed and mama’s so proud. And inspired. 


She's been planning this for a year, but the art show gave her
the boost to take action by launching her commissions. I'm
excited to report that she's already made some $ from her art this week!

The whole family came out to show their support.
That meant so much to her. Love you guys!

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Building Rest and Renewal into Your Busy Life this Spring




For the last 4 years since I bought my house and became a first time homeowner, I’ve been going, going, going. So wrapped up in a whirlwind of to-do items, I honestly did not even think about this day coming, but I finally pooped myself out and finally faced my own limitations. Think of a car engine that you keep revving but fail to tune up. Eventually, the car will go kaput and collapse. That’s what my body started doing a few years after I became a homeowner with the endless outdoor and indoor chores that go along with it, not to mention raising a teenager, managing a pet for the first
time, and staying on top of the increasing demands of my full time job.

My first stressed-related issue occurred practically to the very day of my turning 40. Acid reflux. Yep, I had to give up coffee, Italian, Mexican, and even chocolate as well as cease eating by 7 p.m. every night to give my body enough time to properly digest my dinner. Thank God I can still have my favorite (Indian cuisine) as long as I eat it early enough in the day. Thankfully, I discovered 3 miracle remedies along that way that save my life and preserve my sanity.

Mediation

While I was trying to figure out what the heck was going on with my digestive track, I kept hearing from various folks about the healing powers of meditation and knew God was trying to get my attention. One friend kept insisting that it helped her, then a coworker echoed that advice, and finally my eyes kept fixating on the benefits of meditation every time I so much as glanced at a magazine cover or online article. Clearly, the Universe was giving me the green light to travel down the meditation path.
But I was scared.

Truthfully, I thought when I stopped my busyness to finally meet with God in prayer, I’d get spiritually whacked for not showing up sooner—or not doing it perfectly the first time. Nothing could have been further from truth given the beautiful experiences I’ve experienced on my meditation journey since then. As a result, my heart opened up to evenings with my front door wide open to pink cotton candy sunsets and morning breakfasts on my sunny porch accompanied by deep breathing to my favorite meditation mantra, “Let God” (breathe in) and “Let Go” (breathe out).

Yes, I’ve meet with God and not only survived, but felt His love and acceptance embrace me as He spoke to my heart, reassuring me my loved ones and I are on the right track. That I’m exactly where I am supposed to be in life and everything is not only okay, but good.

And remember . . . all you have to do to meditate is breathe. Slowly. Then learn to clear your mind.

Massage

Since I carry stress in my shoulders, which is quite symbolic considering I feel the weight of the world is literally on my shoulders at times, I also signed up for a monthly massage program. Rather than allow the stress to build up into a migraine, I chose to splurge a little on regular massages—and they really help with stress management, so the nominal monthly fee is well worth it. Besides, massage is a must for single moms because gentle touch is so relaxing. And let’s be real—some of us aren’t getting much of that! During a massage, you can escape from the chaos to clear your mind and get those tight areas unblocked. I purposely found a massage place just a few miles from my home. That way, when I drive home after my massage, feeling like a spaghetti noodle, I don’t have to go far and can jump straight into a hot bath and then right to bed. Amen.

"Me Time"

“Me time” is now one of my favorite aspects of the week’s end because I get to engage in fun, solitary activities that re-energize me, something I used to feel guilty about. My inner dialogue used to always go like this, “Nicole, you can have fun IF you get all the work done.” (Who did I think I was, Cinderella’s step mom, or what?) Besides, the work is never done when you are a homeowner. Fortunately, my house taught me I have limitations, and I’ve learned to let go of the nonessentials, so I can do things I enjoy that make me happy. Take, for instance, Art Journaling (oh, yes!). . . that really gets me into the zone. To make it easier to fit a little art journaling time into my busy life, I gathered my necessary supplies into a clear box with an attached lid that snaps so I can pull it out after the dinner dishes are washed and the lunches are packed, even if I only get to do it for 10 or 15 minutes that day. If you are serious about sneaking in some “me time” to work on your craft or hobby, figure out a way to make it portable, so it actually becomes doable. Of course, "me time" can also take the blessed form of a quick manicure and some sales shopping . . . 


Now that I’ve shared an all new meaning to 3M (Meditation, Massage, and "Me Time"), take what you like and explore what works for you. Building rest and renewal into your life is essential in order to function at your full potential. Remember, you are worth a daily investment in yourself, so start making it happen today! 

Thursday, March 31, 2016

The Perfect Coloring Book {yes, for adults!}




Adult coloring books are the ideal way to wind down after a stressful workday and add some playtime into your life. Reverie: A Coloring Retreat, by Mysha Denson, includes uplifting themes about FAITH, LOVE, and PRESSING FORWARD that will surely sooth your tired soul. Picture this at the end of your hectic day: walking in the door and signing with relief as you spot the coloring book and markers (left on the couch) calling you to a relaxing 10 minute retreat. Recharge your spirit this spring by taking some "me time" to enter the world of adult coloring. Yes, you have permission to invite your kiddos to join you, too, even though coloring isn't just for kids anymore!





Easy Handmade Watercolor Cards


Love how the instructor
taught us to make a
card holder, too! 
While watercolor is not an easy medium for me, I decided to sign up for another Michaels class this month in the spirit of learning something new. Even better, this papercraft card class was absolutely FREE, so I came away with 4 beautiful greeting cards and a holder to keep them in. What a nice gift this would make . . . except I want to use the cards for birthdays and other occasions this year--spread out the joy, you know? Being creative is such a fulfilling escape from all the chaos and hectic demands of my single mom life. No matter how the project turns out, just the very act of attempting it pushes me out of perfectionism and into a peaceful zone. 
Adding a little sparkle with glitter glue, I wrote "courage" on one card.
Using ribbons on cards is another creative idea I stole from the class.

Why, yes, let's add a touch of pink!

The demo cards from the class are in the background, but
I wanted to be free to do my own thing.  

Linking to: Katherine's Corner Thursday Favorite Things

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Got Courage?


Like the cowardly lion in The Wizard of Oz, I've hung up my banner of courage. As a daily reminder to face those fears that loom nearby lately, I placed my homemade banner on top of Grandmother's vintage handkerchiefs across my dresser. Although my key word for the year is "resolve," I realize it takes courage to come to a firm resolution about certain issues in order to move forward, so that's why I chose this word when I recently took a paper craft class at Michaels and came away with some banner know-how. Yep, I'm simply delighted because I learned to make banners for holidays and celebrations of all occasions. In fact, the totally helpful and sweet instructor gave me the banner template she made from this fancy papercrafting machine so I can, indeed, make future banners. All this for $6 . . . what a deal! The irony in the situation is I was almost too afraid to attend the class since it forced me to face the unknown since I had no idea what to expect. Just goes to show that when you dig inside a little, you can find the courage to do the things that both scare you, yet bring you joy.

All you need is a template to cut out banner shapes on scrapbook paper,
some letters, ribbon, and flowers if you like. 
Pick your favorite scrapbook paper and get creative!

Linking to: Katherine's Corner Thursday Favorite Things


Thursday, March 3, 2016

Do You Know You're Already Amazing?

The wisteria is blooming, the days are growing longer, the calendar is marching nearer to spring. These coming weeks as we head towards Easter are an opportunity for spiritual housecleaning and personal growth, and Holley Gerth’s You’re Already Amazing LifeGrowth Guide is an ideal companion for your journey. An interactive study guide to Holley’s bestselling book by the same title, the LifeGrowth Guide features six lessons including a companion DVD that allows Holley to speak directly to you as she boosts your strength to face the spiritual lies that have kept you stuck until now. The life-changing lessons include:

*Who God Created Us to Be
*What's True No Matter How We Feel
*Our Amazing Journey with Jesus
*God's Plan for our Relationships
*God's Purpose for Our Lives
*How We Can Thrive for a Lifetime  


Working through the You’re Already Amazing LifeGrowth Guide alone or in a group, you’ll learn to battle perfectionism, anxiety, and self-doubt by leaning on God’s truth, no matter how you feel, as Holley cheerleads you on. My own journey through the LifeGrowth Guide revealed that perfection is merely a mask; I felt such relief to have Holley’s permission to take it off and be authentic. For each lie women face, such as the lie of perfection, Holley offers a Scripture to help us reground our minds in the truth. By turning to God’s perfect love and acceptance, you, too, will replace negative thinking patterns and experience a life transformation. The LifeGrowth Guide will propel your spiritual growth as you identify and work through the deceptions that hinder you from blossoming into your God-given potential. Journal prompts, personal quizzes, and creative projects will also help you uncover buried dreams to reveal God’s purpose for your life. Yes, you’ll dig deep, but also have fun in the process as you discover the woman inside who is already good enough. 
Holley is more than an encouraging writer; she's a cheerleader for women everywhere. In the words of her website, Coffee for Your Heart, I really DO feel as if I get to pull up a chair next to her with my favorite latte each time I read another section of the LifeGrowth Guide and watch the DVDs. Through Holley’s encouraging words, both on page and on video, you’ll discover who God made you to be—a woman who’s already amazing!

P.S. I CAN'T WAIT for the online book study that begins March 21st!!! Join me on this adventure as our lives are transformed. For free videos on the six lessons and freebie poster graphics, check out Holley's Coffee for Your Heart.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

{kick off the month of March with} 31 Days of Proverbs Prayers

Months with 31 days motivate me to open my Bible to Proverbs and read a chapter each day for inspiration. This March is the perfect time to start such a spiritual practice, especially considering the Lenten season’s focus on spring cleaning of the soul in preparation for Easter. Join me in this spiritual exercise with bestselling author John Mason’s new book as your guide. Proverbs Prayers: Praying the Wisdom of Proverbs for Your Life unearths kernels of wisdom from each of the 31 chapter of Proverbs and weaves these insights into prayers for your quiet time application. Concise chapters will allow you to use this book as a daily devotional and help you to gain understanding about the many principles found in Proverbs such as discipline, humility, and trust. As you read and pray the prayers found in each chapter, you’ll grow spiritually and discover these Proverbs principles coming alive in your life.

Need a little kick-start to get you going? Consider this encouraging excerpt about Proverbs 24:3, “By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established.” Mason provides a unique perspective on this verse with the following challenge to his readers, “Opportunity is all around you. What matters is where you put your focus. Ask God this question every day: Where should my focus be? Where you focus your attention, you create momentum.” Resolve to let go of distractions this Lent, and let it begin with Proverbs Prayers so your life can be transformed by God’s wisdom.    

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