Make Time for the Holidays: Be a Kid Again

I love Halloween. I have absolutely adored it ever since I was a child. I’m the type of person who begins picking out next year’s costume on November 1.

That said, I definitely struggled during those odd teen years around Halloween time. Was I supposed to go trick-or-treating? Was it OK to buy those Leg Avenue costumes if they didn’t look overly scandalous on my short 14-year-old frame? There were a lot of questions—and, honestly, that lasted up until last year for me at 23 years old when I finally decided to go all out on a costume for the first time in years.

I have a very kid-like mentality toward holidays. Holidays, in my opinion, are supposed to be fun. I’m talking plastic reindeer covering the yard, fake bunny footprints in the yard, kiddy Valentine’s Day cards, and holiday Spotify playlists. The older we get, the more complicated life seems to become, so I find it so odd that, on top of becoming complicated adults, we lose our childlike joy when it comes to holidays.

Your level of enthusiasm depends on your own personality, but don’t get so lost in the “I have to be cool” mentality or the “I’m just too busy” mindset that you forget to enjoy the holidays that you loved as a kid.

We grow up so fast. Slow down, and enjoy life. If you want to go trick-or-treating, grab some friends, or join a younger family member. If you want to dress up as an obscure character or reference but fear no one will know who you are, just do it. Dress up is dress up. You don’t need to be the 10th Wonder Woman at the Halloween party—and, that said, if you want to be Wonder Woman but fear too many others will have that costume, just go for it! Life is too short not to make such silly and fun decisions.

Last year, after years of living hours away from close family and friends, I threw a Halloween party from some of those friends. I bought decorations, made way too much food, and spent way too much on costumes my husband and I will probably never wear again. But I had a blast planning it, and I had a blast hosting it. It is one of my fondest memories of the last couple of years.

This year, my husband and I are once again far away from those friends and family. There’s really not anyone to dress up for. There are no parties for us to go to. But we’re going to make the most of it. We’ve planned and made costumes for ourselves and our dog. We’ve put up the Halloween decorations left from last year’s party, and we are for sure going have a blast handing out candy to kids while settling in for another year of watching Hocus Pocus and Hotel Transylvania (we aren’t really scary movie type of people).

If something means a lot to you, make sure that you make the most of it—even when it seems like there’s no point. If it will make you happy, just enjoy it. Don’t worry if it’s too childish or uncool.

Life is far too short not to enjoy one night of silly fun. Enjoy the excuse to be a kid again.




 

10 Little Things to Do When You’re Sad

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We all have those days. We’ve messed up at school or work. We’re fighting with friends. We just feel low. In those moments, we need to take time to appreciate the small things. These little pieces of joy are not going to heal our hurts or fix our problems, but they can give us comfort and remind us that life isn’t so bad. Here are some of my favorite go-tos.


1. A bubble bath and a good book

If I start to feel “blah” or finally have free time after a stressful week, nothing beats a warm bubble bath and reading a good book. I, unfortunately, never seem to have bubble bath soap in the house, so I usually make do with body wash—it’s not quite the same, but it does the trick.

2. A favorite childhood movie

I’ve talked about this before in a similar post, but nothing quite comforts you as well as a favorite childhood film. It wraps around you like a hug from an old friend. Pop some popcorn, make some hot chocolate, wrap yourself up in a fuzzy blanket, and let your problems fade away as the Disney theme starts to play.

3. Going for a walk

Sometimes we just need some fresh air. At the end of the workday, I’m always surprised at how good it feels to walk outside and feel the wind on my face. It also does wonders to clear your mind. If you need a new perspective or feel like you’re hitting a wall with a problem, go take a walk. See what you come up with when you come back. Sometimes your brain just needs a break or some inspiration.

4. Painting your nails

When I was a freshman in high school, this was my go-to “feel better” activity. I’d binge-watch Gilmore Girls episodes and change my nail color about once a week. My nail polish collection was never so bright and cheery as it was that year.

5. Prettying yourself up

Maybe you’re a better person than I am, but I start to get grumpy if I don’t feel good about my appearance—even if I’m just hanging out at home. For me, doing my makeup and hair is something I need to do to feel productive, and it’s an instant way to improve my mood. Plus, it’s nice to feel pampered, even if you have nowhere to be.

6. Working out

“Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands; they just don’t.” – Elle Woods

Enough said.

7. Practicing a favorite hobby

Playing guitar gives me a real peace. I don’t get to play often anymore, but it always makes me feel more relaxed. If you have a hobby you enjoy, take time to practice it—especially on days when you’re looking for something to cheer you up.

8. Talking to your mom

My mom is my go-to person to call on bad days. She always listens and offers wisdom on whatever problem I’m facing.

You don’t necessarily have to call your mom—it can be any family member or friend whom you’re close to. Sometimes we just need to vent or ask for advice. Talk to that person in your life. If you don’t feel like you have anyone like that, consider if there are any groups in your community that you could join. Everyone needs support. You can also reach out to us on Facebook or Instagram if you need ideas.

9. Writing letters to friends

The best way to forget your problems is to think about others. Think about what and whom you have to be thankful for in your life. Write some thank-you notes to them. These could to be a teacher, friends, family, or whomever you’d like. It’ll put the good and the bad of your life into perspective.

10. Having a good cry

There are those bad days when there is nothing left to do but cry. Let it out. Cry as much as you need. Everything always feels a little bit better after you’ve acknowledged your pain.

There Is Beauty in Each Season of Life


Sunday was the first day of fall, signaling the transition from hot summer days and nights to crisp autumn air (well, in some parts of the country), pumpkin everything, leaves changing colors and falling, and the return of infinity scarves and adorable boots.

The changing seasons often bring the excitement of newness and the hope for potential opportunities on the horizon. In the same way that we go through the various seasons throughout the year, we’re constantly going through changing seasons in our own lives, as well. No, those changes might not always be as obvious as those of the seasonal transitions, but they are often just as meaningful and just as impactful.

Some of the seasons we face are like summer—bright and full of life, energy, and perhaps even a little adventure around every corner. Maybe school or your job is going really well, you’re content with where you are in your relationship status (whether that be in one or as single as they come), and you’re confident in who you are and where you’re going in life.

Then there are those darker days of winter that can create a deep chill and sorrow in your life. Perhaps your heart is broken, everything seems to be falling apart, you’re sad more days than you’re not, and you feel like you’ll never be able to crawl out of the hole you seemed to have found yourself in.

But remember this: Seasons change.

You won’t be in that dark place forever. It doesn’t seem like it now, but there is hope—real, true, lasting, promising hope. Just as winter turns into spring, and the cheerful pastels and flowers start to appear, the tough times that you’re facing can turn into much better days. Your tears will dry, and your smile and laughter will return. Your sorrow will fade, and joy will take its place. Your pain will vanquish, and your strength and renewed hope will prevail.

As much as we don’t understand why or how or any of those unanswered questions, personal winters have to happen in our lives sometimes. When those days of hurt and a season of trial seems to linger, just look to the actual seasons—the ones that God so perfectly planned out. Think about it: God planned seasons so that the entire year and earth could both function as they do, and plants and all life on earth could be exactly where they need to be when they need to be there.

Just as He has the perfect plan for you to be where you need to be and do the things that you need to do.

Like the seasons and all of their various components, your life will be filled with transitions—some of them difficult, some of them gladly welcomed. Regardless, know that you can make it through whatever season that comes your way.

Because, just like the seasons we all know, each season in your life has value and purpose and can lead to beautiful things ahead.

Finding Your Sunshine: Tips to Improve Your Mood

If you’re anything like me, sometimes you just get in a funk. You could be stressed about work or school or sad about a friend or family issue, or sometimes you don’t even know what’s wrong—you’re just not in a happy place.

Below are some tips that almost always improve my mood during those times.

The Three Day Rule: Health and Fitness

A lot of times I get in a funk because I start to feel bad about myself for not eating right and failing to exercise the way I want to. Sometimes it can be downright daunting to think about where you want to be fitness-goals-wise and how long it will take to get there—which can cause you to get in even more of a funk!

Luckily, I’ve found that all it really takes is three days to build back up your self-esteem. You don’t need to hit any goals; you just need three days straight of eating better and exercising the way you want. I guarantee you that just those three days will drastically improve your mood (probably from being healthier!) and build up your confidence. 

Get Out of the House

My husband and I are both introverted people, so sometimes we can spend a whole weekend just hanging out at home, and since I am not working right now, sometimes that means I don’t leave my house for a whole week at a time outside of grocery shopping or taking our dog, Cooper, to the vet.

I often won’t even realize how in a funk I am until I finally do get out of the house for a non-chore-related event and feel my mood improve. Make a point to get out and do at least one fun thing a week. You need it!

Do Something Productive

Ever heard the saying “messy room, messy mind?” It’s kind of true. If you’re feeling down, it may seem counterintuitive to force yourself to do chores, but when you’re done, you’ll feel so much better. It can be something small, like cleaning your room or organizing your closet. You could even do some virtual cleaning by cleaning up your computer desktop or organizing the apps on your phone.

Watch an Old Movie

Sometimes, if you’re feeling really down, the last thing you want to do is go out or be productive. If that’s the case, I recommend watching an old movie you loved from your childhood or a guilty pleasure. Watching childhood favorites brings back old feelings of comfort and safety, while guilty pleasures can just be pure fun to watch. Some of my favorite films to watch when I’m feeling sad are Lady and the Tramp, The Little Mermaid, and Something Borrowed.

Find Reasons to Be Thankful

Another way to bring some positivity back to your day is to take a moment to think of three things in your life for which you’re thankful. A lot of the times when we’re in bad moods, we just need perspective switches. You can read more about the benefits of gratefulness in our blog post on the topic. It might be the best mood booster on the list!

 

Life’s Seasons: Patience in the Hard Times, Joy in the Good Times

Life's seasons. Enjoy the good times, and persevere through the bad times.

It doesn’t take many years on earth before you start to realize that life has its ups and downs. It never stays up, and it never stays down. Sometimes it feels like the downs last longer, but the highs always seem to circle back around. Sometimes it can change day by day.

The hard seasons of life, while they can be heartbreaking and anxiety-filled, are the times we truly grow and develop. They’re the times when we have the choice to become better—better at friendships, better at our jobs, better with our families, and so on.

Maybe you’ve had a falling out with a friend. Maybe you’ve had your heart broken. Maybe there’s nothing specific you can pinpoint as being wrong, but you’re living in a fog. The best thing to do in these seasons is to find little ways to cheer yourself up and to better yourself. Get outside, and enjoy the sunshine. Read a good a book. Start exercising, or mix up your current exercise routine.

If you focus on new goals during the rough times, you’ll find the season ends much more quickly as you become more content and find new motivations and joys in life. Oftentimes, we can get too bogged down in sadness or focus too much on whatever event occurred that has led us into complacency. By adding new activities to your day (like exercise or even just getting out of the house), you break your old daily pattern and set yourself up for future success.

In contrast, it seems sometimes, in the seasons of joy, we can rob ourselves of enjoying that time by worrying when it will end. You know that feeling when you’re really happy, but you start to feel nagging anxiety about what’s about to go wrong? Surely you can’t be allowed to be this happy?

It’s a hard habit to break—and one I myself struggle with—but once you’re aware you’re doing it, you can try to bury those thoughts and focus instead on the present. Why spend time worrying about when something bad will happen? Why spend the joyful times miserable, too?

We can’t control everything in our lives, but we can control how we handle misfortune and times of crisis. We can control if we choose to enjoy the good times or worry when they’ll come to an end.

Enjoy the good, and persevere through the bad. You’ll be a better and happier person for it.

The Dangers of a Pinterest Life

Pinterest image collage.

I first discovered Pinterest sometime in my senior year of high school. I remember first signing up and having to wait for access (fantastic marketing—exclusivity definitely made me more curious) during its beta stage.

I didn’t use it much until the following year: my freshman year of college. Freshman year was not easy for me. While it was a magical time in some senses (falling in love with my now husband, newfound freedom, Taylor Swift’s Red album release, etc.), I struggled a lot that year. I was homesick, felt alienated and isolated from my peers, and was dreaming of an escape.

I spent most of that year dreaming of five years in the future. A future where I was finished with college, finished with the people I so greatly differed from, and no longer had to say goodbye to Nicholas at the end of the day (Wouldn’t it Be Nice by The Beach Boys was my mantra).

Pinterest became my escape. I had a “Future Home” board, “Future Apartment” board, the “Clothes-I-Want-to-Buy” board, and—of course—the “Someday Wedding” board.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not bad to have these boards—heck, I still use all of those boards (except the wedding one of course). The issue arose when I spent too much time dreaming, wanting, and wishing away the present, and Pinterest provided an easy outlet to take me from daydreaming to actually wasting hours and hours planning my “perfect” future life.

The danger of Pinterest arises when we start to spend time in constant want and eventually start to consider those wants needs. I want a winery wedding under a big oak tree. I want a breakfast nook in my house. I need to have that dress. I need to redecorate my room/apartment.

Pinterest can lure us into lives of dissatisfaction if we aren’t careful. Harmless pins of someday wants can quickly become all-encompassing thoughts. Constant pinning of future desires can rob you of your present and rob you of your contentedness.

Pinterest is a fantastic tool and one of my favorite social media sites (You can even follow Tower318 on Pinterest for inspirational and motivational quotes!), but anytime I start to fall back into my old habits of living in the future or suddenly needing a bunch of new things I pinned from there, then I know it’s time to take a break.

I spent too much time at 18 dreaming away that year, when instead I could have been making healthier changes to better enjoy that time. Take it from me, and don’t miss out on your now. Dreams and plans for the future are very important, but don’t get so lost in those dreams that you forget to live in the present or find yourself thinking, “I’ll finally be happy when [blank] occurs.”

Live in the now, and enjoy every day. Work toward the future daily, but don’t think you’ll only find happiness once you’re there. Take a step back from desiring that perfect life you’ve designed on Pinterest; enjoy where you are now.

Comparison Leads to Destruction

Comparison Destroys Joy. Two very different looking friends pose for a photo together.

You’ve probably heard the saying, “Comparison is the thief of joy,” by former President Theodore Roosevelt. I know, for me, the first time I read it (on a Pinterest board, no doubt), the quote’s weight and truth immediately struck me.

There is no easier way to kill your joy than by comparing yourself to another. This is a sure-fire way to welcome anxiety and feelings of inadequacy into your life—yet we all do it.

Even in the midst of writing this, I fell into the comparison trap. I stumbled down a dangerous path, comparing myself to others on Instagram and to “untouched” models while online shopping.

Luckily, because this was on my mind, I caught myself and switched gears. Here’s the thing to remember when you fall into the comparison trap: the grass is always greener. Whoever you find yourself “stacking up” against, please remember that, yes, they may have some qualities that you lack, but the same can be said in reverse.

Perhaps you’re jealous of someone’s ability to be outgoing. I was never that girl who was able to make friends with ease or talk to any guy she wanted. I envied those who had that ability during my school years. But that outgoing girl has her own set of insecurities and things she wishes she could change about herself. You have your own talent, skill, or personality trait that she does not.

Your comparison trap could be body image or lifestyle related—God knows there are quite enough “lifestyle” Instagram accounts out there to envy. Social media has opened up a whole new set of anxieties for our generation. Deep down, we all know and recognize that social media profiles are just highlight reels of our friends’ and family’s lives.

Maybe you think someone else’s highlights are better than yours. Maybe you’re envious of someone who travels a lot or seems to always be on an adventure. Maybe you’re envious of someone who has had more career success. Maybe you’re envious of someone’s relationship. We all have those feelings—those sensitive areas where we wish we could improve.

Regardless of your particular desire, when you experience these feelings of comparison, take a moment to think of three things that you have in your life that the “comparable” person may not.

You’re not doing this so that you can feel superior to that person but, instead, as a reminder that nobody’s life is perfect. Nobody is a perfect collection of personality traits, looks, talents, or success. You may envy them, but I guarantee you they envy someone, too. It might even be you.

Friends, if there is something you’re envious of that is attainable, then I encourage you to make a plan to reach that goal. If it’s something that’s not attainable, I ask you to search your heart for what you should be working toward instead. Don’t let jealousy distract you from your own talents and awaiting successes.

Keep your joy; say sayonara to comparing yourself to others. You’re incomparable, after all.

Finding Joy in Gratefulness

My Post Copy (9)We all have bad days. Sometimes, depending on where you are in life, it can even feel like we have more bad days than good days.

But, I’ve found that even on the bad days, there is always some good. There is always some glimmer of hope and gratitude to be had.

Happiness is a choice. We can choose to continue on paths that make us unhappy or decide to make changes. We can choose to be in poor moods or attempt to spread joy to others (and, by consequence, spread joy to ourselves).

Making the daily choice to be happy begins by changing our hearts. And that occurs through gratefulness.

In the midst of a bad day, bad week—or, heck—even a bad year, it can be difficult to feel grateful, but with the smallest change of routine, you can make it possible.

Before going to bed every night, take a moment to reflect on your day. Try to come up with at least three things that occurred during your day that you were grateful for. It could even just be three people you are thankful to have in your life.

Even on your worst days, I guarantee you will find at least three moments of your day that made you smile. Maybe it’s as simple as seeing a sunrise or sunset, sharing a laugh with a friend, or seeing a cute dog on the street (mine are usually dogs).

Journaling three things I was grateful for every night was a habit I had during my high school years. I am so thankful for the joy and peace it brought me. It ended my nights on a great note despite anxieties from my day or worries for the day to come. It’s a habit I’m trying to reinstate back in my life now.

You don’t need to journal or necessarily do it nightly, but I encourage you to establish your own routine to recognize the good moments—especially on the bad days.

We could all use more joy. Find yours in gratefulness.   

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