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

 

Just A Thought or A Million

Women think a lot. About everything. All the time. We think while we talk. We think while we’re quiet. While we’re getting ready for the day we’re thinking about work or whatever and while we’re at working we’re thinking about dinner and what’s happening with the family. While we’re getting ready for bed we’re thinking about tomorrow and the list goes on. Sometimes, the thinking alone makes me tired more so than the doing. Managing thoughts is like herding cats. Damn near impossible. I feel like most women, especially mamas are just web browsers with a kazillion tabs open. And sometimes it’s humorous and sometimes quite impressive, but sometimes it’s neither and can feel quite isolating.

We tend to overwhelm ourselves with the thoughts of it all that it just becomes so difficult to manage that we become tired and exhausted and irritable, when really we have to learn to organize it and turn it off. Yea easier said than done, but there are ways to give that highly functioning gray matter some rest. Self care for the brain. Brain care. Too far? Ok ok. But I’m preaching to the choir here. I’m the reigning queen of thinking, overthinking, and everything in between. So I have an extremely hard time even keeping a planner let alone a to do list.


Here goes my tips for management:

  1. Go outside. Alone. Breathe in slowly and just chill for 10 minutes. If you don’t have 10 minutes, you have a bigger problem!
  2. Journal. However this looks keep a planner, bullet journal, whatever. Writing thoughts is high therapeutic and many therapists recommend this for people struggling with anxiety.
  3. Drive with the music off. I know this one is weird. But sometimes as a mom, driving to and from work is the only quiet time I get these days.
  4. Pray and meditate for guidance throughout the day. This can look very different for everyone, but for me my prayer is very conversational and my meditation and just repeating something i need. Strength, serenity etc.
  5. Ask for help. Ask for time. Ask for what you need. Say what you need. Don’t expect your man to be a mind reader and then get mad that he didn’t just know you needed whatever it was you needed. Speak up! Being the gardener is hard work… it might be time to be the flower.

I honestly hope this helps and I hope this lets you know that if you’re one of those that can’t seem to just pull it together sometimes, you’re not alone.

Gi

3 Day Weekend Roundup-Sans Joshua

It has been quite the week! Remember that post about me getting all the Noah snuggles since Josh is gone for the week? Well i’ll just go ahead and say that snuggles were had but not to the extent I had planned. This morning we flew almost literally out of the house because Noah had to be dropped off with his Titi and Uncle in Reche Canyon. Quite a bit into the mountains for those of you who aren’t familiar.

I hate rushing. Espcially with Noah. he gets anxious obviously because I am and he just doesn’t know what to expect next since we’re running around crazy so I have to stop myself in the middle of the chaos and sit down. Even for just 5 minutes and tell him I’m sorry for rushing. Even those few minutes sitting down with him immediately calms him. If you parents take anything away from this post, it should be try not to rush with your kids. They can feel the anxiety.


I’m really happy though because I feel like Noah and I are gaining traction with our bonding time. Since I work a full time job, it can be difficult for baby and I to find little things for us to do just us. Him and Josh have PLENTY of things that they do together because they have all day.

My thing with him? Making sure he knows he’s included in the home rhythm. Traditionally it is up to Mom to include children in the home rhythm but I’m not home! So these times are so intentional!


Weekend Round Up:

Lake Arrowhead and Sis/bro in law time was had and Noah got time with his cousin. We sat by the water, went to the park and ate all day! We did nothing. It was quiet. No traffic and all the stars. Everything I needed to detox from in the city.

Birthday brunch was had for Koko! Happy birthday best! My best and God mama to Noah and most recently new roomie for the next year! We’re both going to buying our first homes next year so this year it’s time is triple up on savings!

First day of homeschool curriculum. We are using Habitat Schoolhouse. Read their blog on this wholesome concept. I’m so excited to integrate this into our rhythms at home. How will I homeschool when I work FT? Good question! I’m still figuring it out but I’m gonna make it work. I’ll make a post on our progress once we get into the swing.

We tried Plant Power for the first time. They opened one in Redlands so holla! We were stoked. That chicken and waffles sandwich though….

All this followed by a 3 hour nap and some park time.

Now I’m sitting in bed with Noah who is in the lightest of sleeps. Josh should be home any minute and I think Noah is secretly waiting up.

How was your Labor Day weekend with your littles!?

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

Simplicity Parenting-Pt. 2

img_9863Okay so welcome back to Simplicity Parenting book review part 2! I split it up into parts because, well it’s easier to digest that way since the first part had so much information. To be honest with you, I became very overwhelmed when I read this book the first time. Yep, this was my second go with it because I quit 1/3rd of the way in. It literally makes you face a lot of what your home consists of and it shows you what adjustments that may or may not need to be made for the betterment of the child or children in the home.

Take aways here:

  • Food
  • Sleep

This second part we are currently working on in our home meaning these pieces are challenges for us especially food. I lose my mind trying to get Noah to eat. All he wants are bagels, quesadillas, and yogurt. Don’t get me wrong he loves fruit. Strawberries, grapes, etc. But he will not try anything new so the food fights-not the throwing of food, but the bribery to get him to try something new all of that is going out the window. Makes meal time a headache-can I get an amen? Concepts here are again simplifying food.

Simplifying Food:

  • Limit food choices: give them just a few whole foods at a time. Whole foods meaning un-processed foods. For Noah we try to keep everything plant based with the exception of yogurt and whole cheese. Everyone’s family diets are different so go with limiting choices.
  • Just as we tossed “loud and noisy” toys, do so with food. Ask yourself if the food is designed to nourish or entertain.

So how do you go about simplifying food? I needs steps so I made a list of steps we are taking starting this week.

  1. Wean them of processed snacks with little to no nutritional value. This I’ve read can take about a month or less to detox the palette.
  2. Introduce a new food weekly. No more than once
  3. Be Consistent. Hardest part especially if you aren’t home most of the day so here meal prep will be key. I have yet to meal prep. I know… I’m working on it.

Simplifying Sleep

    Quiet time begins for baby hops in bed. We try to keep blue light activity at a minimum. Crazy bright lights are off while we brush teeth and wash up.
      • Story time- something that can nourish his dreams. No action stories that invoke strong emotion. Right now, he’s into the

Mr. Panda series

      • . There’s 4, Please Mr. Panda (linked above),

Thank You, Mr. Panda

      • ,

Goodnight, Mr. Panda

      • ,  and

I’ll Wait, Mr. Panda

    • . He’s OBSESSED. One of his Uncles and Aunts get each version a year for his birthday.
    We do have prayer while a Himalayan salt lamp is on. So we’ve turned out all head lights or standing lights. Once prayer is done-lights go out. One of us always lays with him until he’s fully asleep.

The book did elaborate on where the child sleeps but we currently have Noah in our room. We’re advocates of attachment parenting. This is what works for us. We have loved implementing the warm lighting. Before it would just go from light to dark and kind of just expect him to shut off with the lights, but kids are humans too! I feel like we forget. If it takes us a while to “unwind” in the evening and we have routines that get us ready to relax, we should only expect our littles to be the same.

I hope this helps and I hope this encourages you to buy the book so that you can take some pieces away that suit your family. Please reach out for questions or further suggestions!

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

Simplicity Parenting-Pt. 1

I absolutely loved Simplicity Parenting! I have finally finished one of the best self-improvement parenting books on the market! Since becoming a parent and learning about who my child was I quickly began to realize we’re all just winging it. However, there are certain tools that we can all learn from each other or others who have studied children throughout careers. Of course we all have different goals and ways that we parent and how we would like our children to turn out so for us, we want to raise a well-rounded human, respectful of others, and loving, creative and all the things we see he has the potential to be. So it is our job as parents to nourish those abilities and there are certain things we can do to encourage them.

This was pretty lengthy and I took so many notes that I have had a hard time putting this together efficiently for you guys. But here it goes!

The most definitive take aways I gathered were the following:

  • Minimize Options: Toys, activities, etc.
  • Simplify Surroundings: Child’s space, food options etc.
  • Be as predictable as possible: Prepare the child let them know what to expect.

Now let me elaborate.


Minimizing Options. Many of us have toys on top of toys. Some from grandma, grandpa, aunts, uncles, collections form birthday’s etc. We accept graciously, child is happy for maybe 24 hours to a week and then interest is lost and quite possibly so is said toy. Parents this is the hard part-parting ways with the unnecessary. So how do you determine what is not needed?

  • Remove age-inappropriate toys. If your kid is 3 and there’s a teether in their room. TOSS. You get my drift.
  • Reduce emulating toys. Toys that look like cartoon figures are discouraged in this book because it can replace the space for creativity, but it’s based on preference which is why I say reduce and not remove.
  • Remove toys that make noise or light up. These are highly stimulating. Stimulation is good, over-stimulation can have effects later to where kids learn to expect entertainment at all times. Besides, I have yet to meet a parent who adores their baby’s toys that play the same jingles over and over.

When minimization is occurring you may be wondering, well what will entertain my child? The answer I found is you. Your home. Involving the Noah in the home rhythms has helped exponentially. Invite them to help with the dishes, picking up around the house, make it an activity. Children enjoy being apart of something. Ever notice how they start getting psycho when you’re on the phone or cleaning up in a frenzy, they suffer from FOMO!  ItHelping a child learn his/her place in their home is settling. Gives them a sense of belonging. Instead of saying “you need to clean the dishes now!” I invite Noah to help by saying, “would you like to be my special helper with the dishes?” Telling him he’s my best helper is music to his little baby ears.


Simplifying Space. This might’ve been the toughest spot for us. Noah’s space is a full room right now, yet his bed is in our room, yet we co-sleep for right now. Noah’s room has a small bookshelf, chalkboard eisle, toy box, and a closet. That’s it. which we have turned into a reading corner. Simplifying the room just making things accessible and minimal helping the child learn to focus. What we did: we turned the bookshelf into a reading corner. We have removed MOST books and have left 5.  Those 5 are in the rotation for story time. (More on stories later)

The toy box is full. We, to be honest, are still working on this part of simplification. Stay turned. The idea is to have age-appropriate toys etc (refer to toy minimization above).

When you are simplifying, ask yourself evaluating questions.

Evaluating Questions:

  1. Is it developmentally appropriate?
  2. Is it based on a product or TV show? (Keep an “ad free” zone. Kids are 80% the target audience for products)
  3. Does it tell an unfolding story or is it all over the place? Does it nourish the child’s dreams? Does it encourage the child’s positive play.

Predictability.

Family rhythms are key. Children thrive off of the expected. This has been and is currently the absolute hardest piece of our daily lives because of Josh’s school/clinical schedule and me working full-time, it has been incredibly difficult to determine predictably. This is the reason I picked up this book, because our family rhythms were off and I could see my little boy being shuffled about, from daycare, to my mom, to godparents picking him up, I needed help. So I’m here to tell you no matter how busy you are, this is possible! The busier your life is, the more they need YOU the parent to be transparent.

  • Start at any point to develop a rhythm. Find points in the day that they can learn to expect. For example for us one was waking up and having prayer and saying what we’re grateful for. He expected this.
  • Create visuals. Help them pick out their outfit for the next day. They will be prepared knowing what they’ll wear this brings comfort. Tell them who is picking them up. Include them in the process. Noah is only 3, so this is slightly less of a conversation, but for an older child this will bring less anxiety.
  • Recap their day in the morning. We tell Noah, what’s happening from the point I’m dropped off at work to the point of when I get home. He asks A TON of follow up questions-questions I now call comfort seekers. Try not to get frustrated (I know it’s hard), but remember he is just trying to understand his day. Involving Noah in dinner process helps as well because he KNOWS he is needed.

I have 2 more  points to address: Sleep and Food. These points are the most sought after pieces of advice that I have personal sough as a parent so I’m sure many other parents are just as curious. How can we make both of these very vital pieces of our children’s lives, simple and efficient? Part 2 will be saved specifically for these two bad boy topics. Please do not hesitate to reach out with questions or how we’ve implemented some changes in our home. We’re all in this parenting thing together! To purchase follow link here and enjoy the learning process of raising tiny humans!

XO,

GV