Redefining Gratitude

Here’s the thing about gratitude… we find all the pretty things to give praise for. The beautiful homes, the comfy jobs that support our families, health and wellness, and all the lovely things. It’s easy to be thankful for those things, it’s easy to receive them. But what if we challenges ourselves for the not some comfortable things. The difficult moments: fights with our family, being unfairly treated at work, or even friendships being broken or worse? Why would anyone want to be grateful for those awful moments that made us sad or cause anxiety? The thing is you can either be grateful for them or resent them- which in turn continues to give those negative moments more negative energy.

Personal story and maybe I’ll elaborate in the future: I found myself in the middle of a terrible situation that I could’ve easily left due to the stress iI was under. Like it was unnecessary, caused by jealous and unhappy people. It could’ve been worse, yea, but it was awful none the less. It was defeating, I was angry. All the same thought it was empowering. Personal attacks can be quite easily both. Depending on how you look at it. Was it happening to me or for me? At first, I couldn’t help but entertain thoughts like “why is this happening to me?” “when is this over?” “I want to leave” and trust me, ALL of those things I wanted to just rest in but the truth is, they didn’t help. I had so much anxiety. I felt nauseous. I wanted to react with telling them off. Literally everyday it took all the energy I had not to say what I really wanted so instead I acted as though they didn’t exist. But all that was just immediate gratification and I’d probably feel the same if not worse in the end. So I changed my thoughts. Instead of the “why me”, I asked myself what I could learn from this moment (that lasted for-freakin-ever!). I was completely over it, I could’ve left, but I stayed. I pushed myself through an incredibly uncomfortable time around unhappy people. I saw them more than my own child….but that’s another story for another time! I stayed, I channeled all the grace and dignity in the world every single day and conquered. I didn’t want to leave because I was angry and couldn’t handle it. I wanted to rise above be better take in whatever reason it was that I was experiencing this.

Why am I sharing this? Because I know I’m not the only one who’s felt trapped in negative thoughts because of things that are happening around or to me. I want to help you while I help myself rise above and be better. I made the choice not that long ago to be grateful for some difficult times. Looking back, had I not experienced this crap…having uncomfortable conversations with the people closest to me, I would never have taken on a personal understanding of the incredible value of experiencing challenges. The lessons behind every experience contribute to who we become. To wish them away with immediacy is to take away the opportunity for growth.

So in this season of joy and gratitude, I want to challenge you to be thankful for all those less than favorable moments. Thank them and send them away with gratitude because it is in the hardest times you’re refined and made new. Made whole. Made a better version of you.


Now you know I’m not gonna leave you without some tips! How to change your mindset to express gratitude for even the most uneasy times. Redefine how you experience adversity! Redefine gratitude.

  1. Acknowledge it sucks and move on! Don’t dwell. It’s happening and accept it.
  2. Ask yourself what you can learn. There is always a lesson. Look at everything as a means to teach you something. You’ll learn to naturally appreciate whatever happens.
  3. Talk positively about it. Speaking negative words out loud just feeds and allows animosity to grow. I was doing this every. single. day. Until I was literally sick about it. Instead, I told myself, i am going to be a better person because of this experience. I said it over and over in my head until I believed it.
  4. Remember, negative experiences are an opportunity to grow. Don’t you want to grow as a human? Especially if you have little ones. Don’t you want to show them how to handle conflict and develop coping mechanisms that are healthy? Lead by example.

Wishing you growth on your gratitude journey!

 

XO,

Gi

 

The Sweet Spot

I have been on a slight rampage clearing out all rooms of unnecessary belongings. Very intentionally though. I find inspiration from just waking up to a clear surface as means to make me feel as though my mind is also clear.

“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” -Williams Morris

And so I set out on a clearing of the space mission. Post-Simplicity Parenting. After being active in the motherhood space for 3+ years now, I have gathered little bits and pieces of information along the way to help in my decision making processes. As I’m positive I have much more to learn and more challenges to face on this journey, early on, I began to notice within myself feelings of inadequacy simply based off of the reports of other moms on social media or Pinterest recommendations.

The trends splashed across my feed, encouraging thoughts like “my home doesn’t look like this”, “I’m not a minimalist, my kid will grow up with anxiety”, “He watched an extra few minutes of TV, his brain cells are literally frying”. Like UGH. Stop. I annoyed myself. I was aspiring to have a picture perfect family, home, and child when I should have been been aspiring to be the best mom to MY child in MY home. Granted, there are bits of information as I go along i integrate into our home and family rhythms but that is now because i see them as a good fit for my family-not because it’s the trend.

That being said, I am not a minimalist by any means. But do I want to have less? Yes. Do I feel that outward clutter creates inward clutter? Absolutely. Do I consider myself holistic? YES. But do I reject Western medicine when necessary? Not at all. Just because I feel like we are slightly more on the whole and mindful living side of the spectrum. The way I dress may not seem so. I might have print or have a shirt or 2 from Forever 21. My point here is that we need to stop feeding into this all or nothing, mindset. We have enough to worry about with making sure our kids are safe in the car, at school, at daycare, at home or what have you. It is not all or nothing.

Parenthood would become a daunting chore robbing all of the joy and fluidity that it’s supposed to come with.

I have come home being proud of what I see. Sometimes there’s blankets on the floor from a fort earlier that morning, dishes in the sink, and maybe a little laundry piled up, but if I’m putting that off to have a dance part with my son, then I’m ok with that.

XO,

Gi

Cleaning Hacks for a Working Mama

I’ll be honest, I was at point in my life where I felt like I had no time at all to clean my house. Whenever I got home after, I literally felt feelings of discouragement, inadequacy, and just legit lazyness solely based on the fact that I had no time to clean. I would’ve rather spent those couple of hours with the baby and hubby than to spend hours cleaning so I hired a cleaning service. They came faithfully, every other week and all was well in the world. That is until I became aware of toxic chemicals in cleaning products and the implications that arise from inhaling them. (Thanks to the Colorful Eats Podcast for bringing me to this awareness!)  And aside from that, I wanted to involve Noah in a cleaning routine so I womaned up and told our cleaning crew that Mama was taking over!

 

 

Now by any means, my home is not sparkling on a daily basis. If anyone knows our home always has family or friends over for dinner just I mean everyone is welcome pretty much so there’s typically company. Also Josh has sleep issues worse than a baby so he’ll set up shop on the couch-down comforter, pillows and everything. It’s insanity. But I mean I love him so yea. The point is I kept seeing these homes on Pinterest and Instagram and I’m like how the eff do people have time to keep their home spotless! And while I realize that is simply a moment in time for them, I would still get in my feelings aforementioned. So I pulled out a notebook and wrote down each room in my house.

I also found a crazy cleaning product hack and subscribed to Grove.co for all non-toxic home products that get delivered straight to my door. This is in no way sponsored I just LOVE this service because if I don’t have to leave the house I’m into it. Anyway I wrote down each room in my house and all the things that needed cleaning for each room. If you reduce it to each room, it becomes less intimidating and then from there you can delegate what needs to be done.

Main Rooms:

Kitchen | Bathroom | Dining | Living

Kitchen:

  • Counters | Floors (sweep ups) : DAILY
  • Stove | Fridge : Sundays

Bathroom :

  • Counter  | Floors (sweep ups) : Daily
  • Toilet | Shower : Sundays

Dining: Wipe down surfaces

  • Floors (Vaccum or Mop Sundays)

Living: Wipe down surfaces

  • Floors (Vacuum or Mop Sundays)

I use this as a base and work my way room to room.

**MAJOR TIP** NO MEANDERING or WANDERING. Don’t float otherwise you’ll never complete a task. This will turn your cleaning into an entire day event which we do not want! Unless that’s you’re thing than do you!

 

**MAJOR MAJOR TIP**

Keep the cleaning product underneath the kitchen sink or bathroom sink. SOOO much easier to just grab, spray, and wipe. (we use method or Seventh Generation from Grove Collaborative-linked above and eco-friendly and sustainable paper towel also from Grove). This helps me especially because somehow I feel it is a major inconvenience to walk “all the way” to the laundry room to grab the cleaning basket….I sound super lazy I really am not though I promise! 

Also, just get a little wool duster. It’s easy to just swipe over everything as you go. Maintenance is key because you know I’m all about efficiency and using my time wisely, hence the deliver for Grove Collaborative products.

Oh and also, try a timer. Some people work well under pressure. Put that thing to 15 minutes per room-you’ll be surprised how much you get done.

I hope this simplifies your cleaning process like it’s done mine and maybe you can fire your cleaning lady too if you had one 🙂

What quick and easy cleaning hacks do you have? I’d love to hear!

XO,

GV

 

 

Chapter 32

It’s kind of crazy turning 32. I distinctly remember feeling that this particular age was so far away so I basically felt like I blinked and here I am: grad school graduate, married 5 years, and baby boy that’s cuter than I could’ve ever asked….and turning 32. When I thought about my 30’s I always imagined, I’d have it all together. That there was this grand plan that plateaued at 30 and that was the epitome of being a grown up. Boy was I wrong! And I’m so glad I was wrong.

I am still growing, but I will say since I did enter my 30’s, I’ve learned the art of self-reflection. This is a difficult piece of maturity that can be chilling when we search within to find out who we really are and sometimes we come face to face with the fact that we need to change. I never thought I’d be in my 30’s and be a completely different person and in many ways I’m still that 22 year old girl who can get wild when the mood strikes. But those raw parts of me, the parts that never allowed vulnerability, seeing it as a weakness, yet self-criticism was a ritual for me, I not too long ago was faced with challenges that forced me to look at who I truly was and really just started asking myself, “Giana, is this who you want to be?” The answer was no for the most part, so I changed my habits, my thoughts and perspectives. I realized the power of choice and my GOD was that freeing. We all know we have the choice to do or be or say things we want, but have we really ever taken advantage of those choices and actually made them? So what choices have I made ushering me into the 32nd chapter.

  • I have made the choice of happiness. I am choosing to be happy, regardless of circumstance and situation.
  • I am choosing my husband-everyday. Because that’s what marriage is. The choice to love that person every damn day until you die. And I happily make that choice. (We’re renewing our vows soon btw! Stay tuned.)
  • I choose freedom in faith. My unwavering faith in God knowing He’s got me. No questions asked.
  • I choose to create time, instead of complaining that I don’t have it.
  • I choose to be present. Making eye contact when my son calls my name, leaving my phone in the other room while I play with him or put him to sleep.
  • I choose to pour myself into every facet of life where my passion leads.
  • I choose to share. I choose to share my experiences, lessons I’ve learned, the times I’ve fallen. Because mistakes are what make us great. And hiding those mistakes in shame does no one any good.
  • I choose to learn. I choose to accept that I don’t know everything and that every moment is an opportunity to grow.
  • I choose to be brave-standing firm in who I am, drawing boundaries, and demanding self-respect. From strangers, friends, and family. It’s important to see that there are limits to what we accept into our spaces.
  • I choose to see each road block as a redirection to something better instead of using my energy to move it.
  • I choose to see every person I meet and everyone in my life as a teacher with a lesson. Whether they see it that way or not. I choose to ask myself what I can learn from every encounter.
  • I choose to let my curls be crazy sometimes and not really care.I choose to see make up as an addition to beauty and show my son a woman’s natural beauty.
  • I choose to accept the responsibility of being a mother and understanding that sometimes it means putting myself, my well-being, and mental wellness first.
  • I choose to be my best everyday and I choose to understand that my best each day can look different.

That being said, hello 32!

XO,

GV

Meet Your Veggie Meat

A couple weeks I posted a question on IG stories-well a vote really asking what people thought was healthier-veggie meat or free-range organic meat. The results reflected that a majority believe free-range meat to be a healthier choice more so than the processed veggie meat, but there were quiet a number voting that it’s opposite lead the pack. But I’ll be honest, I was raised on meat, just chicken and turkey, and made a choice to go vegetarian at 25. There were a few periods of wings and tacos sprinkled in there, but for the most part I said adios to meat. Reasons ranged from health to mercy for animals.

Whatever the reason, choosing a meat substitute, many meat-free people believe they are choosing the healthier option much like I did when I went vegetarian, but even then those savory veggie meats some of us grew up with are processed and contain some pretty questionable materials. I took it upon my self to flip over the bags of some common veggie meat brands and noted what I found. Some surprisingly disappointing and some pleasantly surprised. So what to look for if you’re going meat free?

  • Textured Veggie Protein or Soy Isolates. Secret word? Hexane-a toxic byproduct of gasoline basically that is literally approved by the FDA to give veggie meat that meaty protein. Uh no thanks.
  • GMO Soy. If you aren’t aware by now of what Genetically Modified anything does to your body go read Shape Magazine’s article on possible risks with GMO.
  • Pretty much anything you can’t pronounce would be a good sign to avoid intake. I mean just a suggestion.

Guys, just take the time to flip over the package. Meat isn’t abysmal, yet what it does to your body whether free-range or not is DEFINITELY for another post entirely and that’s not to run down the ethical challenges with “organic” or “free-range” meat as highlighted here by PETA. Read up on the meat industry. Be educated on what goes in your body whether it’s meatless or not.

So anyway, what’s a good sub? My two favs are Beyond Meat  and Amy’s Organics. For more things to look out for on the veggie meat front, you can also check out Food Babe’s post for more keywords to look for in your next purchase. Hope this helps answer the questions from last week!

XO,

GV

Open Letter to You Pt. 2: From Daddy

As a kid you always think to the future and imagine what kind of life your going to have. You envision a life full of dreams, love, and happiness. I grew up holding onto those and  when I found out I was going to be blessed with you as my son, it was the happiest day of my life.

Over the past 3 years I’ve had the blessing of seeing you take your first steps, speaking your first words, and smiling at the world each day. Your full of life, fun and joy. I never get tired of waking up each day to your instant demands or watching you sleep with the peaceful dreams you embrace at night. Your energy and unimaginable love for me as your dad pushes me to be the best I can be.

Your surrounded by people who love and adore you. No one in this world will match my love for you my son. I could never imagine myself with another child, because I would never want to share my love for you with another. You have been the biggest blessing ive ever received and can’t imagine my life without you. These past 3 years have gone by so fast and I’ve seen you grow so much and I wish that I could stop time for a moment because I know I will never get this time back. I will be here every step of your life and will support you in all paths of life.

Your my best friend and the pride and joy of my life. I’m proud to call you my son and to hold you everyday. Your mother and I will never get over the fact of how blessed we are with you. Whatever her and I do in this world will only be to make it a better place for you and because we love you.
XO,
Daddy

Take Away Time and Why You Need One

We are currently in a state of seasonal bliss. (exhibit A: Us in a standard prom pose)

I define seasonal bliss as moments and time periods in life where you just feel at ease and everything has aligned. I rarely like to get super comfortable in this type of season, but I do by all means enjoy the peacefulness. Post graduation offers us some solitude in the fact that we can expect no major schedule changes, baby is with daddy during the day and at night Josh studies for the boards. I go to work and come back home and our weekends are for recharging and adventure. So here we are. We can expect things to change slightly once he’s on-boarded with his new job and new schedule and then we will need to revamp the setting again. But what can we learn from the last couple of years where we’ve had to adjust to one income, learn to parent, and still stay happily married? I always like to look at take aways whenever the dust settles and seasonal bliss is the perfect time to do so. They help gain perspective and they’re actively setting yourself up for success the next time chaos ensues.

 



♦♦A few aways from the last 2 years♦♦

1. Expect everything and nothing at all. We expected things to be structured and pretty much laid out and they most certainly were not. It was crazy how caught off guard we were and then just forget it when I started working again I think that’s when our whole world just did a 180. So that being said learning to just expect things to happen along with slight inconveniences. The element of surprise won’t be as strong and you’ll be more apt to respond instead of react.

2. Make peace with the process. This happened later on in the game because literally every 10 weeks when Josh’s schedule for class or rotations changed it honestly enraged me. Illogically of course I realize that now! But I really had to force myself to just accept this is what we chose when we agreed for him to go back to school so that was it. Either I could be psycho and complain or just shut up and figure out the next move. I’m actually annoyed at myself thinking back about what I complained about.

3. The tribe is everything. We really wouldn’t have been able to make this work without some very important and key people. From picking up Noah from daycare to watching him and feeding him just most of it surrounding the care of our baby they helped so immensely. And then there’s the ones that were there for us for meltdowns and disappointments not to mention tears and desperate calls. We all need a tribe that only works to support each other without judgement. The eminence of these few is immeasurable.

4. Be a team!! Oh my goodness the most obvious yet difficult component in all of this! Instead of fighting together we often fought against the other. Of course this came from stressors from work/school and frustration and the overall climate of life at the time, but it is counter productive if not done properly. Always remember you and your partner are here for the same thing working towards the same goal. Never forget that. Be attentive. Be mindful. Be supportive.