• Everything Else

    Being Authentic in a Counterfiet World

    *authentic:
    1. not false or copied, genuine, real
    2. representing one’s true nature or beliefs; true to oneself
    3. reliable, trustworthy
    4. authoritative

    Easy ways to live your life more authentically, without feeling like you are trying too hard.

    Have you ever encountered an authentic person?

    Somehow we just know when we are in the presence of an authentic person. They are aware of their limits but live in spite of them. They don’t let the things that aren’t perfect about them slow them down. We feel really good when we are around such a person. We even start to act a little more authentic. We say more meaningful things and we are kinder to others. It’s a good thing to be in the company of an authentic person. 

    So how do we become an authentic person?

    I am not an expert. I’m not even very knowledgeable on this subject. I am however very interested in living an authentic life. This is very closely related to contentment, but not in the “what type of possessions do I own” sense. It’s more of a “how is that person so content with who they are even though they struggle with this and that” sense.

    I know this is going to be a really personal topic. There is no one like you out there so whatever your strengths, weaknesses, and struggles are, they going to be much different from mine.

    My plan with this post is just to list some observations I’ve had about authentic people that are not specific to circumstances or social standing. It’s more like a very brief and very basic outline of some characteristics of authentic people. I hope you find them interesting and maybe even the nudge needed for you to live your own authentic life.

    That being said, I do believe that being authentic is more than wearing a risky outfit or a bold lip. It’s more about personality and attitude and belief than it is about body image.

    Traits of an authentic person.

    The first thing I noticed about authentic people is that they really don’t care if you think they are weird or not. They don’t appear to be worried whether or not their humanness is going to deter you from being friends with them or not.

    Being authentic is about saying what you want to say even if it will rock the boat. It’s not about being intentionally rude, or bossy, or mean. It’s about saying the right thing at the right time regardless of the repercussions that may result. Basically it’s about being a kind human and allowing others to be human in all their beautifully messy ways. 

    Fear doesn’t stop them.

    Another thing I noticed about being authentic is that it’s not being fearless. It’s about being aware of the fear, pushing through it and still doing whatever is causing the fear anyway.

    It’s also about admitting that you are struggling and asking for help. That I think is the biggest and the best way to be authentic. If you doubt me, go to a close friend and say, “Hey, I’m really struggling with this and I need help. Do you have any ideas on what I should do?” That angsty feeling you get just from thinking about divulging a secret to a friend, that’s called authenticity.

    None of us like to admit that we have limits. We believe that we can do it all and be it all. Deep down we know that isn’t true. From the moment they were born we’ve been telling our kids that they can be, do, and have anything in life. This is a lie. We all have limits. Some of them are under our control and some aren’t. But there they are stopping us from doing certain things. Or at least stop us from doing them well. 

    My biggest takeaway.

    We live authentically when we realize our limits, play to our strengths, and let others fill in the gaps. That’s being an authentic human. Being willing to get in the trenches and do life with other imperfect beings, letting them see your messes and you get to see theirs. That is a beautiful picture of an authentic life.

    The first step to being authentic: Admit you have limits. Don’t be afraid of the backlash. Let’s be honest, some people will hate you for daring to be real, for daring to admit that you aren’t perfect. And they will only hate you because they don’t want to see someone living the life they want but feel they can’t obtain. 

    Go ahead, take that first step. Even if you admit it to yourself, you will be thankful that you took all the pressure to be perfect off your shoulders. It was never your burden to bear.

    Until next time,
    Alicen

    P.S. What else have you noticed about people who live authentically? I’d love to know in the comments!

    P.P.S If you found this post interesting you might also like to check out this postΒ about comparison.ο»Ώ

  • Everything Else

    Instagram Ruined My Life

    Have you ever found yourself not taking pictures of your family because you didn’t think it was Instagram worthy?

    I realized that Instagram was ruining my life. Here's what I did to stop it.

    Our Photos are our Memories

    I have this fun thing I do where I keep the photos I take on my phone in an app called Google Photos. (If you have a Google account you get 15 GB of storage space for free) At the beginning of every month, I download last month’s photos to my computer using Google Photos to do so. (Because it’s available on any platform this makes transferring my pictures almost effortless. No Bluetooth, SD card, or USB cord required)

    This month when I downloaded July’s pictures I downloaded maybe 10 pictures. For the entire month. And maybe 5 of those were kid pictures. I Only took 10 pictures of my life for the entire 31 days of July. 

    This made me really sad.

    My boys are almost 2 years old and 5 years old. I took barely any pictures of them for 31 days. 

    It didn’t take me long to realize why.

    Instagram Worthy Moments

    For the past 31 days, I had only been taking pictures of things I wanted to post on Instagram. If it wasn’t Instagram worthy I didn’t take the picture.

    Um, what?

    Why on earth was I only taking pictures of my boys and my life that I wanted to put on Instagram? Why was I allowing Instagram to dictate which moments of my life were worth capturing?

    I felt sick to my stomach.

    I had been sacrificing memories because they weren’t Instagram worthy. Most of those moments will never be remembered. Not without a picture to trigger them. 

    After I got over the horror of this revelation a new question popped into my head: Why do we fell our moments need to be social media worthy to be captured?

    I mean, what drives us to feel that it’s not worth snapping a photo if we don’t feel like it’s Instagram worthy?

    • comparison
    • not exciting enough
    • not perfect enough
    • not relatable
    • making someone else feel less than
    • afraid of what people will say about you or your life

    I’m sure you can add your own reasons to the list. 

    It doesn’t matter what your Instagram feed looks like.

    Because it’s yours. It’s yours to fill up with memories of things that are important to you and not to anyone else. Anyone who follows you is ok with what you put there. You don’t have to be perfect. In fact, you should try to be imperfect. It makes you more relatable. Because you are a human just like everyone else and we all mess up. We all have crazy days. We all have crazy lives.  And not every moment of our lives is going to live up to this idea of being Instagram worthy. Most your moments won’t. Take the 10 photos I took over 31 days as an example. I only thought 10 teeny moments out of 31 days were Instagram worthy.

    Have you ever wondered what the cost is when you only capture Instagram worthy moments?

    I know what the cost is for me: Moments I’ll never get to relive because I failed to pull my phone out and snap a quick picture. 

    I’ll never get those moments back.

    And that makes me really sad.

    Our Moments are Capture Worthy no matter if they are Instagram Perfect or Not

    We don’t have to keep our followers happy. In fact, we can’t. We aren’t supposed to. They will come and go and there isn’t anything we can do about it. Don’t worry about what your family thinks about you. It’s not their life you are making memories of. Same with your friends. Love them but don’t let them dictate what you choose to remember. 

    When I look through my Instagram feed I feel so happy remembering those moments. It’s like a memory book you can access any time. 

    There’s a picture of our 2nd son the day we brought him home from the hospital. There are pictures of my 5-year-old when he was two.😭 I don’t remember taking those photos, but the joy in my heart and the tears in my eyes when I look at them tells me that they were worth capturing. It doesn’t matter if they got 10 likes or 10,000 likes. The miracle is in the memory.

    So don’t pass up the opportunity next time. Take the picture. Even if it doesn’t end up on Instagram, you’ll have access to that memory forever.

    Here’s to the memories,

    Alicen

    P.S. If comparison is something you struggle with please read this blog post all about how to beat comparison and this post where I tell my personal story of how I ended the cycle of comparison in my life. 

          As always, here are my current book recommendations.

    Disclaimer: All cover photos and book descriptions are from Goodreads.

    book recommendation
    A collection of humorous autobiographical essays by the Academy Award-nominated actress and star ofΒ Up in the AirΒ andΒ Pitch Perfect.

    Even before she made a name for herself on the silver screen starring in films likeΒ Pitch Perfect,Β Up in the Air,Β Twilight, andΒ Into the Woods, Anna Kendrick was unusually small, weird, and β€œ10 percent defiant.”

    At the ripe age of thirteen, she had already resolved to β€œkeep the crazy inside my head where it belonged. Forever. But here’s the thing about crazy: It. Wants. Out.” InΒ Scrappy Little Nobody, she invites readers inside her brain, sharing extraordinary and charmingly ordinary stories with candor and winningly wry observations.
    book recommendation


    At one time Corrie ten Boom would have laughed at the idea that there would ever be a story to tell. For the first fifty years of her life, nothing at all out of the ordinary had ever happened to her. She was an old-maid watchmaker living contentedly with her spinster sister and their elderly father in the tiny Dutch house over their shop. Their uneventful days, as regulated as their own watches, revolved around their abiding love for one another. However, with the Nazi invasion and occupation of Holland, a story did ensue. 

    Corrie ten Boom and her family became leaders in the Dutch Underground, hiding Jewish people in their home in a specially built room and aiding their escape from the Nazis. For their help, all but Corrie found death in a concentration camp. The Hiding Place is their story.
  • Everything Else

    My Favorite Curly Hair Products and Resources

    *When I was a little girl I hated my hair. It was always a mess and it never did anything but be frizzy and hideous. I would dream about having straight hair because I thought I was ugly with curly hair. If you’ve ever been in the same boat as me, read on. I’m about to drop some hope bombs in your lap.

    The Best Curly Hair Products + Tips

    I used to flat iron my hair every day when I was in high school.

    no curly hair

    Mostly because I had no idea how to make my curly hair look beautiful. I had been given tons of terrible advice on taking care of it and it was just a frizzy mess. So, for around 4 1/2 years I straightened it almost every day and I liked the way it looked. I mean, it’s bad enough to be a red-head. But to be a curly red-head is even worse. Especially if it’s a bona fide disaster 98% of the time.

    Somewhere along the line, I got sick of flat ironing my hair. I have really thick hair so it would take me an hour or more every morning to straighten it. Not my cup of tea, or coffee for that matter.

    It was just way easier to wash it and let it be its wild unruly self. But it would just be great if it could be a beautiful wild and unruly. You know? Couldn’t it look like Beyonce’s or Taylor Swift’s hair (you know, back before she started looking like a drowned poodle)? Instead, my hair continued to look like a giant frizz ball no matter what I did to it.

    When I finally got sick of it not being beautiful I turned to Google and I researched a ton on how to take care of curly hair. 

    Below I’m going to give you my top resources, products I use and the one thing that made me quit using drug store shampoo for good.

    For a long time, my go-to resource was the book “Curly Girl” by Lorraine Massey. I read that thing about a dozen times. It really opened my eyes to what is in the products I use. I learned why curly hair tends to be frizzy and I learned that there are many different types of curly hair. If you want the low down on all things curly I can’t recommend Lorrain’s book enough.

    The one thing I learned from that book that changed my hair’s life forever is that regular shampoo is full of chemicals that are killing your curly hair. They are part of the reason that your hair looks limp, lifeless, and frizzy when you let it be natural. The main culprit is Sodium Laureth Sulfate. Sodium Laureth anything should never be near anyone’s hair, whether it’s curly or not. The reason this stuff is so bad for your hair is that its literally the same ingredient used in dish soap, hand soap, and laundry detergent.

    Um, what?

    Not all shampoos have these chemicals in them and it’s way easier to find a healthier shampoo and conditioner for your hair than it was back in 2010. Curly girls have to be so careful about what we put on our hair. Lorraine Massey’s book covers this in more depth than I can here, so if this bit of knowledge has piqued your interest you really can’t hurt to pick up a copy of the book.

    I also learned that the main reason curly hair is frizzy is that it craves moisture.

    When our hair gets dried out, by using harsh chemicals and flat ironing it, it gets super frizzy. If you think back to your science class you’ll remember that the air has moisture in it. So when we let our hair be curly for one day, it’s damaged and dried out and it’s literally trying to suck the moisture out of the air. When it does this it gets frizzy. Mind blown.

    In order to keep my hair healthy on a budget, I shop at T.J. Maxx a lot.

    By a lot I mean if I run out of hair products I make a beeline right for that store. I only buy hair products at other stores if I can’t find anything at T.J. Maxx. They have a good selection of natural hair products and they are usually at or below half price. They don’t always have the same products or brands all the time but that just means I get to try a lot of new things. My hair typically gets worn out if I use the same product for more than a couple months so this works out well for me.

    The most important thing to remember is to always check the label before you buy!

    Just because a brand claims to be natural does not mean that it uses ingredients that will nourish your hair. Once again, “The Curly Girl” book covers what ingredients to look for and which ones to never, ever put on your hair again. That book taught me how to love my curls.

    It’s officially been almost 9 years since I went curly and I have never straightened my hair since. Nor have I been tempted to. I finally love my hair and my only regret is not learning to love it sooner.

    curly hair style
    Here’s a super serious face for a lighthearted post. Lol! I just love the way my hair looks in this shot.

    Here’s my list of curly hair products/brands that I’m absolutely loving right now.

    *disclaimer: None of these links are affiliate links. I just love these products and I want you to know about them.

    Another product that I really love to use is an in-shower hair mask.

    I have two littles so I don’t have the time to put a mask on my hair for 30 minutes and then go take a shower to rinse it out. You leave the in-shower masks on for basically as long as you want but not less than five minutes and then you rinse it out and condition your hair. Easy peasy, and for busy moms essential. My favorite one to use is Maui Moisture! I haven’t seen much of this brand at T.J. Maxx but I’ll pay full price for it, it’s so good! My favorite product they offer is their Heal and Hydrate Shea Butter Hair mask! I loved it so much I buy it every time I see it. I can’t be 100% positive because I didn’t document or measure anything, but this product, in particular, may have caused some hair growth. Which is awesome for someone whose hair might grow 1-2 inches a year. Anyway, I can’t recommend Maui Moisture enough! Be sure to check out their website and see if your local drug store carries this brand.

    I know there are many more different kinds of products out there that work well with curly hair. If you have any more to add to the list please leave them below in the comments. 

    All the curly love,

    Alicen

    P.S.

    I want to know:

    Have you gone curly or does the prospect of taking such extra care of your hair stop you from being fully committed? Drop your answer in the comments! We can all encourage each other in our journey to beautiful curls!

    P.P.S.

    As always, here are my book recommendations for your reading life.

    All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

    I loved this book! It’s been on my TBR for a while, but what pushed me to read it was the fact that it took him 10 years to write it. If he spent that much time writing it then it has to be excellent. And it was. I adored the characters and I love historical fiction. This book is such high caliber that it isn’t full of romance. Historical fiction is my favorite genre, but if the book is too full of romance count me out. I know I will be reading this one again.


    Black by Ted DeKker

    This book is what I would consider a thriller. I’ve heard many people say that DeKker is his own genre and I think the same. If thrillers with alternate realities aren’t your thing then you can safely skip this one. I had the pleasure of reading his latest novel, The 49th Mystic, which is set in the same world as Black and the rest of the Circle series books. The reason I turned back to this older book is that The 49th Mystic is part one of a two-part story. The sequel, Rise of the Mystics, doesn’t come out until October 2018. So, I figured I would reacquaint myself with the Circle series and reread all the old novels. Even though I’ve read Black before it was still a page-turner and I was really surprised at all the things I did forget.


    disclaimer: Book cover photos are from Amazon.com or Goodreads.com

  • Everything Else

    5 Ways to Add Simplicity to Your Summer

    Simplicity and summer aren’t usually two words you find in the same sentence. They seem at odds with one another. This summer I’m paring them up and I’ve got 5 great ways you can keep summer and simplicity the best of friends.

    5 Easy Ways to Add Simplicity to Your Summer

    Personally, I love summer. It’s (almost) my favorite season. I love the hot days, playing outside with my boys, ice cream trips. The list goes on.

    But I know that not all of you feel the same way. To you, summer is here and then gone, just like any other season. I know you would like to experience simplicity but you have so many things that you want to do, that your kids want to do, and that your extended family wants you to do. Well, I’m here to tell you that you don’t have to do them all. You can pick and choose which activities your family will be involved in. And I’ve got 5 ways that you can bring simplicity back to your summer.

    Simplicity is Possible.

    The first way you can bring simplicity back is to stop doing all the things.

    • You do not have to run around like a chicken with its head cut off.
    • You do not have to be perfect and have the perfect summer
    • It’s ok to stay home 4 days out of the 5 in any given week
    • Your kids do not have to power to drive you crazy. Give them something constructive to do.
    • You don’t have to do all. the. things.

    Simplicity=Not doing All The Things.

    If you think that you need to do all the things to keep your kids happy you will be unhappy and so will they. Yes, they are going to ask to go here and there and everywhere. But, you have the power to say no. I’m not saying be a dictator and not let them have any fun, but you don’t have to indulge everything that they ever get invited to. One thing that I am trying out this year is to pick at least one day trip for each month of summer. Some months we can do two of these day trips. I’ll talk a little more about this in a later tip on keeping summer simple. Just remember that you can say no to some of the things and your kids might thank you for it.

    I suggest letting them pick out 3 or 4 of the activities that they are excited about and put those in the calendar as concrete. They get to do those things. And anything else they ask about, if it’s too close to one of those activities, they have to choose between the thing they are really excited about and the thing that sounds a little interesting.

    Simplicity is not stressing about that dang vacation.

    I love going on vacations. Week-long camping trips were a staple in my childhood. I loved every minute of it. So, naturally, I want to take my boys on a camping trip. But in all honesty, I’m not going to cry and declare that my summer is ruined because I can’t take them camping this year.

    Here’s what I’m doing instead:

    Because we can’t enjoy a nice weeklong getaway I’ve picked out 5 ish activities that we can do as a family together. They are all close by and might take a day to get to. So they could be weekend trips. Or middle of the week trips. We’ll see how that turns out.

    Here’s a list of things you can do in lieu of the vacation of your dreams. Your kids will still have fun, I promise.

    1. Go to the zoo
    2. Visit a local county fair
    3. Visit an aquarium
    4. Go to a local beach
    5. Attend a nearby amusement park
    6. Go camping for a weekend instead of an entire week

    This isn’t an exhaustive list but get on your state government’s website. A lot of the time they have all the fun activities and local attractions listed right there for you. The possibilities are endless for providing your kids with a summer they will never forget. And you’ll love how simple and fun your summer is. Don’t forget to add these activities to your planner or phone. You don’t want to design the best summer ever only to forget when the activities are going on.

    Simplicity is not worrying how much fun your kids will have.

    If you are going on that big vacation, stick with local attractions the rest of the summer. You don’t have to go on an amazing vacation every month of the summer. You will start to miss your home and so will your kids. The list I provided above will get you started and don’t forget to check out your state’s website.

    Some things I like to do that are low key:

    • Nature walks
    • Ice cream shop trips
    • Visit local museums (You would be surprised how many small-town museums still exist!)
    • Do something fun at home like camping in the backyard.
    • Have a bonfire and roast marshmallows. (If you live in the city I’ve heard you can make s’mores in the microwave.)
    • The possibilities are endless for this list as well.

    Don’t focus on wowing your kids all summer. Yes, they will remember the big vacation, but they might just talk about all of the fun things you did with them right in your own hometown more often.

    Again, remember to put these in your planner. I know if I don’t write things down I forget all of them.

    Simplicity is having fun.

    My last bit of advice is simply to not dwell on all that you can’t do but on all the amazing things that you can. Your kids are going to have the best summer of their lives. The reason why is because they won’t have a mama who’s running around trying to please everyone. You have boundaries in place and you have a plan. Summer isn’t the boss of you. You may not be calm the entire summer, but you’ll be intentional about having the best summer ever.

    Here’s to your simplicity filled summer!

    Talk soon,

    Alicen

    P.S. If you’re a mom who loves to read then I have two great book recommendations for you.

    Cultivate What Matters By Lara Casey

    In this book Lara digs into what is really the most important things

    in our lives and then she helps us start cultivating our

    lives based on what we want to see grow. It’s a very individual

    experience and I have loved reading it. It’s helping me to see where

    I want to focus on in my own life.

    Beartown By Fredrik Backman

    This is a great story about how our choices really do affect other people.

    Warning, there are triggers in this book so if you would rather not read

    anything that will make you uncomfortable then skip this one. For those

    that just want to find out what’s going to happen next, pick this one up and

    add it to your summer reading pile. The sequel just released on June 5. I

    haven’t read it yet, but it’s high up my list.

    disclaimer: Book cover photos are from Amazon.com or Goodreads.com

  • Everything Else

    How to Be Present (Almost) Every Day

    *Have you ever felt asleep to your life? Is it too hard to be fully present in your day-to-day? I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve been there. Here’s my story of how I had to wake up to my life.Β 

    Want to learn how to be present in your day-to-day? In this post I talk about all the ways I fight to stay present in my life.

    Being numb to your life is easy. It’s being present that’s really hard

    Sometimes it’s so hard to be present in our lives that we can get numb. Numb can mean a lot of things. It can be extreme like substance abuse. Or it can be low key like reading non-fiction books or browsing Pinterest. Or scrolling scrolling scrolling through Instagram or Facebook. It could be food. Or shopping.

    I think for most of us it’s the low key things that get us. Don’t get me wrong. I understand the serious effects of substance abuse. I know there are many people who suffer from drug addiction, alcoholism, pornography addiction, prescription drug abuse, etc. Both men AND women can get hooked by any of these things. But it’s not my calling to help people fight those addictions. There are already many great people out there who are more capable than me to do that.

    I do believe that I have been called to help you with the everyday vices. The common ones. The ones most people don’t look twice at because they seem harmless.

    I’m here to tell you they aren’t. They are not harmless and they are killing you. Not in a dramatic way like drugs or an alcohol addiction will. But in checking out from your life you are also shutting out any way that you can live your authentic, real you, life. If you don’t believe me, I’ll let you read my story.

    Before I chose to be present in my life I would spend hours and hours consuming.

    Between “window shopping” online and looking at every aisle in every store I was developing a serious addiction. I was becoming an addicted consumer. I was losing sight of what really mattered most to me.

    This was a serious case of consumerism. It was how I checked out from my life. Every time I bought something I would literally get a rush from it. Sad, right?
    As always, after that rush came the guilt. Guilt about the money I spent. It was worse if I used the credit card.

    The truth? I thought I needed all this stuff to be happy. Everyone else had houses full of stuff and they looked happy. So I needed stuff to be happy too. Right?

    Wrong.

    That thinking is so very wrong. I treated shopping like it was what gave me life. What I didn’t realize was that it was actually stealing my life. While I was buying all the things my family was paying the price. No, they never went without food or clothes, but they went without me. I wasn’t present. Mentally I was checked out.

    Consumed by the need to find more things to buy, I was missing out on my relationship with my husband and I was missing life with my son. As a stay at home mom, my job is to take care of my house and to take care of my family. Boy was I sucking at that. Every time I swiped that card or clicked that button, I was strangling our lifestyle. I thought that I was buying our lifestyle. What I was really doing was sacrificing my family’s freedom on the altar of consumerism.

    Wait. That’s not the life I wanted.

    If you had asked me what my ideal life looked like I would have said, “Freedom to be spontaneous. Lots of traveling and going on adventures. I want to give my family the world.”

    I would not have said, “I want to buy all. the. things. and fill my house with all the things and neglect my family. I’ll wake up one day and I won’t know my husband or my children. We’ll be strangers living under the same roof.”

    That’s not what I wanted. I wanted freedom, but I was stripping that away with every purchase.

    Something had to give.

    And it did. My husband’s hours at work got reduced. Suddenly the weight of all my buying crashed down on our heads. We were up to our ears in stuff that we didn’t even own. Now you’re probably expecting me to say something like, “I learned my lesson and I quit spending so much. I became frugal and I never used debt again”. Well, you’d be wrong. Less income just meant I had to buy fewer things right? No reason to get all frugal and not spend money and start paying off debt. I can survive. As a result of that thinking, I took my smaller spending allowance and I spent every penny. (Actually, you could say I just ignored the allowance and smiled my way through my overspending.) Yep, that’s me. Full blown buying addict.

    This is looking pretty bleak and it seems like there’s no hope for me. But there is a good ending to this story, I promise.

    My shopping and buying started out as a small way that I checked out from my life. Because, let’s face it, being a new mom is hard and being married is hard, and I just needed a way to relax. But what I couldn’t see was the monster that it would turn into a few years down the road.

    Just when things were starting to look the worst they ever had my husband and I were introduced to a networking company that helps people get out of debt and build a residual income. While we are no longer a part of that community, everything I learned about finances and leadership helped to kickstart my road to recovery.

    It’s been three years since I started the journey to my real self. To being present. It’s been quite a battle, fighting my way out of consumerism and into freedom. I’m not perfect at this, I still struggle tremendously with buying things. But I work very hard at consuming less and even doing less. Being present with my family matters more to me than having trendy pillow covers.

    One thing that has helped me the most in consuming less is minimalism. It’s helped me cut the excess stuff and the endless consuming.

    But minimalism isn’t the only thing that has helped me wake up to my life. Over the past two years, I have been reading books, listening to podcasts, watching YouTube videos and attending events. All of this learning has helped me to open up my mind to the truth that what I’ve been told about myself is a lie.

    I can find the authentic me even though she’s been hiding for longer than I care to admit.

    I’m pretty sure the shut down happened between the ages of 5 and 7.

    Can you imagine living your entire childhood, adolescence, and almost your entire 20’s stuffing and hiding the real you? Over 20 years of acting like someone else. Someone you think that everyone else around you wants you to be, and maybe they do. Shame on them for asking you to hide because they feel insignificant next to the real you.
    Maybe it wasn’t someone else who wanted you to be someone you aren’t. Maybe you are the one who told yourself you had to be different to be liked, accepted and loved. In that case, I feel you.

    It’s painful to hide for so long. But it’s more painful to let the real me out. It’s easier to let the doors slam back shut and bolt those suckers so good that no one can pry them open. But you know what? If you could just fight through the pain you’d find something so beautiful that you would dazzle yourself and everyone around you. Like the proverbial butterfly fighting its way out of the cocoon. Letting your real self out would let just a little more beauty into the world.

    It feels amazing to be the real me. I’m still hard at work letting the true me out. I want to be authentic with myself all the time. It’s hard. It’s work. But it’s so worth the effort.

    There’s nothing sweeter or more beautiful than a woman living her authentic, brazen life where the whole world can see it.

    If you doubt that you could ever be that woman then you are believing a lie. Because, whether you’ve been told that or you’ve told it to yourself, it’s not the truth. When an authentic woman falls but gets back up, the world will forget her failure because they will be too busy applauding her success. And the best part is that world being your family and close friends. You don’t need to appear successful on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram. But if you are successful in being the real you for your family, then girl, you are winning at this whole life thing. Don’t ever give up on you because you are the only you there ever has been or ever will be.

    Chose to live your life wide awake.

    Be encouraged,

    Alicen

    P.S. 

    How have you struggled to be present in your life? What lies have you believed about yourself? If you are living your authentic life, what led to that discovery of yourself? Let me know in the comments!

    P.P.S.

    Here are my top resources for being present and becoming the real you:

    This is a lengthy list and most of these will probably surprise you. They aren’t your typical “get in touch with yourself”self-help stuff that’s flooding the market. (My personal opinion is that a lot of that is junk and feel good crap, it’s not actually helping to solve the real problem.) Most of these resources were lights on my path to realizing my worth. And that’s really the starting point for all of us. When you’re told that you have worth, that you were born worthy, you can’t help but start treating yourself like you are. And the real you will start cracking open the door to true authenticity.

    • Books:
      • Breathing RoomΒ by Leeana Tankersley
      • BrazenΒ by Leeana Tankersley
      • Begin AgainΒ by Leeana Tankersly
      • She’s Still ThereΒ by Chrystal Evans Hurst
      • UninvitedΒ by Lysa TerKeurst
      • The Road Back to You by Ian Morgan Cron
      • Anxious for NothingΒ by Max Lucado
      • CaptivatingΒ by John and Staci Eldredge
      • The Resolution for Women by Pricilla Shirer
      • The Life Changing Magic of Tidying UpΒ by Marie Kondo
      • The DNA of RelationshipsΒ by Gary Smalley
      • Perfect YouΒ by Dr. Caroline Leaf
    • Blogs:
    • Podcasts:
    • Youtube:
    • Hands-On:
      • Writing
      • Reading
      • Bullet Journaling
      • Listening to and reading other people’s stories
      • Introspection
      • Sitting quietly and just listening
      • Doing something you love that is not what you were doing to check out. (i.e. creating, exercise, an activity that brings true joy)
      • Watching or listening to someone talk about their story and how they fight to be present in their life.
  • Everything Else

    Paperless Meal Planning with Evernote

    Here's the rundown on how I use Evernote to plan a month of meals at a time.

    Today I am excited to share with you the system I use to meal plan an entire month!

    I never used to meal plan. I would routinely wait until an hour before dinner time to think about what we should eat. It really made meal time stressful and we would be eating at 7 or 8 pm. It took me a really long time to realize that this wasn’t working out very well.

    When I finally started meal planning it was a lot of work. I had recipes everywhere until I finally got them organized. At the time all of my recipes were printed off and kept in a huge binder. This worked really well for me. I actually loved the process of meal planning and grocery shopping didn’t seem like such a huge chore.

    But just last year I stumbled upon an outrageous idea, that I could go paperless. It was shocking and I resisted it for a while. But, like most things, it just kept popping back up. So one day I decided to take the plunge. And I can say, without any doubt, that I love my new system!

    So, here’s a quick overview.

    meal plan evernote

    I use Evernote, which is free, to organize all of my recipes and meal plan. Planning meals a month at a time gives me a great overview of what I am going to be making for dinner. It also allows me to pick easy meals on days I know we will be short on time. All of my recipes are found on Pinterest and I utilize the Evernote Web Clipper to save them into Evernote. The Web Clipper is synced to your Evernote account so it literally saves things right to your account! You don’t even have to think about it too much!

    Here’s the link to the Chrome Extension:

    https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/evernote-web-clipper/pioclpoplcdbaefihamjohnefbikjilc

    Oh, and before I forget, here’s the link to download Evernote:

    https://evernote.com/

    Please note that all of these instructions will only work on the Google Chrome Browser. It’s the only browser I use so it’s all I know! πŸ™‚ If you don’t have Chrome you can download it here.

    When I find a recipe on Pinterest that I want to try I will open it in another tab and then use the Web Clipper extension in Chrome to save it to my Evernote account. The black box on the right side is what the Evernote Web Clipper looks like in action. You can leave it as is and save it or you can change what content saves to Evernote under the “Clip” section. I usually stick with the “Simplified Article” option because it takes away all of the extra stuff on the webpage. I also save it to my @Inbox notebook (Learn how to create a default @Inbox notebook here) in Evernote so I can easily categorize it. When you are ready just click save and it will sync it to your Evernote account.

    Once it syncs with Evernote I locate it in my @Inbox notebook. From there I can move it to a different notebook to categorize it. In my case I would move this one to my Dinner notebook.

    Now that it’s in Evernote it’s super easy to reference. But my favorite part about Evernote is how I can meal plan an entire month of meals!

    Here’s what a completed menu plan looks like for me.

    First I created a new Note in my Weekly Menu Notebook and then I put the weeks and days into the notebook. You don’t have to do it this way, I just find it makes it easier to copy and paste the recipes if I already have the days listed.

    To get my recipes linked in my Weekly Menu Note I locate it within my Dinner notebook, right click on the note, in this case Low Carb Buffalo Chicken Soup, and select “Copy Note Link“.

    Then I go back to my Weekly Menu notebook and Paste the Recipe onto the proper day of the month. Here I’m putting that recipe on the first Monday of April.

    When you are ready to make dinner, just head back to your Weekly Menu Notebook (or whichever name you decided to give it) and click the “link”. It will take you to the original source within Evernote. In my case it will take me to the recipe contained in my Dinner notebook. Easy peasy!

    I really hope you enjoy using Evernote to organize your recipes!

    I know it saved me a lot of hassle before dinner. Before I started to use Evernote I was using Pinterest to store my recipes and I honestly would forget which board I had pinned things to! It was a nightmare.
    But now that I have all of my favorite recipes in Evernote they are easy to find and I’m less stressed around dinner time. Well, unless you count the nights I attempt to make a complicated new recipe. Stress levels are definitely high and I might be getting hangry. πŸ™‚

    If the above made absolutely no sense to you, here’s a video to help guide you through the process.

    Happy Planning,

    Alicen

  • Everything Else

    How to Set Goals the Right Way

    January is pretty much over and I just sat down and wrote out my goals for the year.

    January is the worst time of the year to set goals. I know, I know. That is sacrilege in the planning community. But really, who wants to make plans in January? We are all recovering from the holidays. We might be a little stressed. Personally, I spend the majority of January getting back into “work” mode. I also feel a little like I might never get back on track after the holidays.Β There might also be some stressing about the fact that my skinny jeans don’t look as nice as they did three months ago.

    the only way to set goals

     

    I just don’t like to plan in January. Planning in December is way more fun. I really like to plan in February. (What else is there to do when it’s so dreary out?) So what did I do in January? I attended a ton of planning webinars hosted by people like Whitney English from Day Designer, Kalyn Brooke of kalynbrooke.com, and Abby Lawson of justagirlandherblog.com.

    They were really great and informative. They helped me get a good idea of what I want to accomplish this year. The problem was that I had about 50 different sets of notes in about 10 different places. So I decided that I needed to go through my notes and get everything on one page. I did this in my bullet journal. It turned into something like this:

    It’s really good to see that my goals are pretty consistent throughout the different notes I took. At least I know I’m on the same page with myself!

    What I learned the most from all of those amazingly great planning webinars was that in order for my goals to become a reality I need to make sure I have a plan for getting them done. Go figure! Sometimes we just need someone awesome to tell you, “Hey, if you want to accomplish all of your amazing goals you need a plan! And then you need to actually do the plan!”

    Which makes so much sense.

    So as you sit down to write out your goals for 2018 make a plan to actually get them done. For instance one of my goals for 2018 is to read through the entire Bible. My first step was to find a Bible that made it easy to read through the year. I ended up going with this one.Β It’s beautiful and it motivates me to actually read it.

    My next step in accomplishing this goal is to actually read it every day. In order to keep myself accountable for this, I added it to my habit tracker in my bullet journal.

    I’m still not sure what motivates me more; the beautiful Bible or the fact that it bothers me if I don’t color in the square for my Bible reading that day. I can see when I missed a day very easily because the empty squares show up really well.

    (Please ignore the fact that my “Workout” habit kinda just stopped around the 4th. I injured my neck so I was down for the count for about 2 1/2 weeks. I have yet to convince myself that I need to start doing it again.)

    It’s really cool to set a goal and then to see how well you are going about accomplishing it. That’s why I think the bullet journal is the best thing that’s happened in my life, as far as keeping my life from falling apart that is.

    What are your goals for the year?

    Do you have a favorite method for getting them done?

    When you are setting goals, make sure you write them down where you’ll see them. If it’s one you really want to accomplish write it down every day if you have to. Until you have it memorized and every decision you make gets you closer to its completion.

    Think up with a plan to get it done. Write that down too. You don’t want to leave your best-made plans to the whims of your mind. I don’t know about you, but I am super forgetful. So I find that writing everything down, and making a note of where I wrote it in my Bullet Journal, is really helpful in remembering it and keeping me on track.

    Happy Planning,

    Alicen

    P.S. Here’s a link to a short blog post I did on Bullet Journaling. If you’re at all interested in starting one, go check it out!

     

  • Everything Else

    3 Easy Steps to Stop Comparison in Your Life

    Do you find yourself constantly looking at other people’s lives and comparing your every day to their social media approved lives? This used to be a big source of pain for me and I want to show you what I do when the comparison bug starts creeping around my mind.

    3 Steps to Help You Stop Comparing Your Life to Everyone Else's

    We all fall into the trap at one point or another.

    It’s the comparison trap. That little game our minds like to play on us when we scroll through Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, etc. We always see beautiful images of houses and we feel that ours will never sparkle like that. Or we feel guilty that we fed our kids frozen pizza for lunch. Again.

    We see the mom who looks amazing but all she ever seems to do is snuggle with her adorably obedient children all day. Or there’s that couple, you know who I’m talking about. They are so in love with each other you feel like you might gag if you see one more “My husband/wife is so amazing!” post.

    I know I do this. Sometimes more than once. In the same feed scrolling session.

    I am guilty as charged. And I know you do it too. And when you’re done, you feel awful. You think you can never measure up. You’ll never be able to attain the perfectness of so-and-so’s life. And that, my dear, is okay. Why? Because you were never meant to. You were never meant to have that person’s life. Because you have been blessed with your own life.

    We are so concerned with what everyone else is doing, having, and being that we forget that we have our own beautiful life that we get to do, have, and be in.

    All this comparison nonsense needs to stop. I know it’s so hard to look at someone else’s perfect picture and be happy for her. Yes, her, that one that you can barely stand but you continue to look at her posts day after day because you just can’t help yourself. Be happy for her, but then, please, take a look at your own life and see all the beauty that’s already there. Just for you.

    I’m going to tell you a little secret. I bet that girl you have such a hard time being happy for has the same exact problem as you when she looks at her social feed and sees your pictures. It’s true. She might be wishing she had your single life and your freedom, while at the same time you are wishing you had a family like she does.

    So you see, it goes both ways and the only thing it accomplishes is resentment in your heart for all the things you can’t do, have, or be. You begin to lose the satisfaction you once gained from all the good in your life. And this leads to resentment, which leads to neglect. Neglect of your life, your responsibilities, and the things that once brought you joy.

    Here is my goal for this blog.

    I don’t want to be the reason you start resenting the wonderfully amazing life you get to live. But I am only responsible for my side of this bargain. I can’t control what you think or feel when you visit this space. Because of that, there are a few reasons that I may, unintentionally, cause you to compare your life to mine.

    1. Fear of judgment. I don’t want to be judged by anyone. (Who does?) So because of this natural human tendency, it is likely that I will post pictures/write about things that I’m comfortable sharing with the world.
    2. We all love pretty things. So it makes sense that I will mostly post the pretty parts of my life. But, I will work really hard to post the ugly too. You know, just to keep it real.
    3. It’s so easy to think that the other person has it way better in life than you do. Or that I do. Remember I’m just as guilty of comparison as you are. And as a fellow human, I find that I think this about a lot of people. Until I get to know them. Then I realize that they are just as messed up as me.

    So there are my three reasons why I might (not on purpose!) cause you to fall into the comparison trap.

    With all of that said there is one thing I do to combat this awful pit of comparison.

    (You totally have my permission to copy me!) It was my mantra in 2017 and it’s continuing in 2018. I tell myself this when I hear those nasty voices in my head telling me that I’m not good enough. So I yell this back (Mentally. I don’t need to add, “Talks to herself.” to the list of things that are odd about me.) to those nasty voices:

    “I am Enough!”

    And so are you!

    You are more than enough for your current life situation. You don’t need to compare yourself to someone else. You were made for your life. I’ll say it again. You. Are. Enough. Beautiful enough, strong enough, courageous enough, determined enough, smart enough.

    You were made for the life you live right now. And if there are parts you don’t like, you can change them. We all have a certain amount of control over our lives. Maybe not over all the things, but the things we can’t change externally, we can change internally by changing our mindset. Just changing the way we think about our lives can do loads of good in keeping the comparison bug where it belongs, outside of our lives. (Or down the toilet, or in the trash. Whatever it is that you do with the bugs in your life.)

    The next time the comparison bug comes crawling, you know what to do.

    1. Be happy for the other person.
    2. Look at your life and find one thing to be grateful for.
    3. And remember that you are enough.

    Be encouraged,

    Alicen

    P.S. What are some things you do to combat comparison? I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments below!

    P.P.S. Looking for some hands-on advice to combat comparison in your life? I’ve got you covered in this post I wrote about my personal story and how I learned to be more present in my life. At the end of the post, you’ll find my list of resources that have helped me the most.