6.13.2017

Use What You've Got

I was having coffee with a friend this morning who is in ministry leadership, and we were brainstorming how to best engage folks to get some critical tasks done that absolutely require delegation and more hands at work. It's really difficult to get people to commit these days. Everyone is so busy, and trust, I get it. 

But here's where my cookies get straight up frosted: when people don't step up because they don't think their gifts, their contributions are valuable enough to offer. 

Hear me, friends: don't downplay what you do well.

I firmly believe that God gifted each of us with different strengths. We can't all be strong at all the things, and even those who seem to rock pretty much everything are not going to be particularly strong at something (like, for example, saying no, or stepping back so others can step up and flourish).

If you're over the age of 20, hopefully you've reflected some on your skill set. (If nothing else, your resume isn't going to write itself, so you've at least flirted with this concept, one would hope.) Even if you assume that a strength of yours is unimportant, it doesn't change the fact that you do it well. Not to mention, given the culture we live in today, even something as seemingly rudementary as speaking well on the phone or the ability to  craft an email without a single emoji or hashtag is a very big deal. 

Are you great at taking notes? Many people aren't, but I bet you can imagine who is everyone's clutch resource when it comes time to recall what was a discussed at a given meeting or gathering. 

Do others seem to leave your presence invigorated and inspired? Then hey, guess what, you're a small part of whatever success follows in the wake of an environment you helped cultivate. 

Is balancing a checkbook and making spreadsheets your jam? Bam! You are the lynchpin in your family's or your company's ability to make a budget, stick to it, and plan financially for the future. HUGE! You wouldn't believe how many adults (we're talking senior executives) can't grasp this task. 

To the responsible, detail-oriented type: you're the crucial element that keeps a team of visionaries from steering their lofty ideas right off the edge of the horizon and into failure. You're not boring or a buzzkill. You're necessary. 

Don't forsake the incredible value of being "one of the little people." Nothing big comes without first being small. 

6.06.2017

Trying to Revel in the Mess

If I'm honest, I can't function well in a messy home. I don't like to throw around the term "OCD," because I know that's a very real disorder for some. But I do feel a high degree of discontentment and anxiety when my house is untidy. (I realize it's never actually that untidy, so I guess it's relative.) 

But having an eight month old? Yeah, it can get a bit cluttered here and there. Not to mention, now that he's crawling like it's his job, it's not at all uncommon to see dust bunnies stuck to his precious grubby hands and feet. (Oh, the joys of an 87-year-old house, which could be mopped and vacuumed five times a day and still manifest dirt and dust.)


Memories are being made, discoveries are around every corner, and he's enjoying the beauty of choice and learning to keep himself occupied in his own little world. I try to cling to this and remember that I serve him so much better as a mom by crawling on the ground with him than I do fixating on the less-than-pristine floor. 

But sometimes, honestly, I just see the stuff, things to be picked up, and chores that are begging for my attention. This is yet another area where I feel pulled in competing directions, and, as usual, I know that one direction is better than others in terms of honoring what truly matters. 

So rather than stressing out over wayward blocks, burp clothes and fuzzy friends strewn here and there (especially as Ash travels from room to room at will), I will try to remind myself that each of these "messes" are precious gifts. One day I'll look back on these relics and pine for the days of dirty knees and slobbery smiles.

And now I've made my own damn self cry.

#motherhood

5.22.2017

You Have to Check This Out: Be Natural Organics Skin Care

When I was recently diagnosed with Hashimoto's Disease (hypothyroidism), I learned pretty quickly that gluten and I were going to have to break up. Forever. (Forever ever.) While I still have a lot to learn in terms of living gluten-free, I was wholly unprepared to have to think about watching for gluten in anything other than my food. Turns out, it's everywhere. In everything. 

One of the areas my Integrative Medicine doc advised me to consider: my skin care. I had already been thinking about looking for more natural products given how close Asher spends to my skin 24/7 (and I'm not about to turn down those big, slobbery kisses right on my face). It was shocking to think about how gluten-laden products could be slowly delivering a steady stream of disruptive, inflammatory toxins into my body all day or all night, unbeknownst to me.


I hit up one of my favorite online resources to research potential brands/products to replace my current stash: EWG's Skin Deep Cosmetic Database. I was due for a new moisturizer anyway, so I started with that search, and one of the first items that popped up was the Hyaluronic Serum from Be Natural Organics. Not only was it EWG verified, which is a pretty big deal, but I had been considering a hyaluronic acid product to help my sad, tired mom skin. A visit to the BNO website and sample order later, I realized I had very quickly found the skin care line of my dreams!

Now let me remind y'all, I used to work for plastic surgeons and dermatologists. So when I say I'm picky about skin care, I'm PICKY. I'm also very cheap, though, so in absence of the insane discounts and free swag I used to receive while working in the industry, I typically have to sacrifice quality for price point. No mas! 

I love that you can order generous sample sizes or trial kits from Be Natural Organics and try something out before you buy full size (the Rose Hip Seed Cleanser you see pictured above is a sample), but even the full products are really affordable. And you guys....THEY WORK. I'm still old and tired, but my skin looks refreshed. Their Eye Repair Night Serum is honest to goodness the only eye product I've ever used and seen a dramatic difference. (Yes, even including those $150 itty bitty tubes of eye cream made with unicorn sweat.)

So you're intrigued now, right? Organic skin care...that works...that you can sample first...and it's affordable? I know! It get's better...

Be Natural Organics has graciously agreed to participate in a giveaway for my awesome readers! 

Enter below to win your very own full-size Hyaluronic Serum to refresh and restore your skin! Giveaway will run through Wednesday, May 24th, so get your entries in now. Winner will be selected at random and notified on Thursday, May 25th. US entries only.

You can also shop now and use code USEYOURWORDS to receive 20% off of the entire store!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

What's your current favorite toxin-free skin care product or line?

5.20.2017

So I Have Hashimoto's Disease...

It admittedly feels a little silly to share this here on the ol' blog because this condition is actually really common. However, since I'm making some lifestyle changes to address said condition, it's worth mentioning. And this will probably help explain all the #glutenfree going down over on Instagram since y'all know this body has been powered by carbs since I was a spunky, freckled-faced wee one. (#givemeallthedonuts)

Prior to conceiving -- well, to be exact, prior to knowing we had conceived -- I checked in with my PCP for a routine visit and bloodwork. Turns out, my thyroid levels were borderline out of whack (subclinical hypothyroidism), so out of an abundance of caution, I started a low dose of levothyroxin so that we wouldn't have to deal with a full-blown thyroid condition in the middle of pregnancy. Turns out, it was good timing because Asher was already baking in the oven.

Fast forward to after delivering Ash, I wanted to get off the meds as soon as possible. With my midwife's permission, I weaned off of the levo, was re-tested, and all was well for me to continue without meds. I was able to remain medication-free for about four months, and then one afternoon in the throes of sleep training, I noticed that my throat was really, really swollen. (And yes, I partially blame sleep training for this. Kidding...kinda.) I instantly suspected my thyroid, so I made an appointment for the following Monday with my PCP to check it out.

Yup, the thyroid was back on the fritz. The recommendation was to jump back on the low dose of levo that I was taking during my pregnancy, and my doc advised that I'd likely have to just remain on the medication for life. 

As luck would have it, I had been doing a ton of research at that time on immunity, inflammation, and general wellness in an effort to make an informed decision about Asher's vaccines (a topic that I have no interest in broaching here, but would welcome in person or via email). I asked her (my doc) if I was correct in my understanding that thyroid issues were generally autoimmune in nature. She confirmed that was the case, and I also asked if this meant that I had Hashimoto's Disease (or Hashimoto's Thyroiditis), which she also confirmed. 


This was the first experience in this journey -- which I will truly be on my whole life -- that reminded me not to assume that my general practitioners will take the time to explain a diagnosis or treatment, or even broach alternatives. Not liking the idea of taking a synthetic medication my whole life -- not to mention knowing that my body was so inflamed and out of sorts that it was attacking itself -- I set out to learn more and find supportive resources.

I was fortunate to find two amazing resources to help guide my path: a local Integrative Medicine doctor who specializes in autoimmune conditions, and a veritable handbook for managing my condition via diet and lifestyle, The Autoimmune Solution by Dr. Amy Myers. Equipped with these tools, M and I started making some critical changes to help improve my health for the long haul. We've cut out gluten (donuts...I miss you, but you're literally killing me), most dairy, grain, legumes, nightshade vegetables, caffeine, alcohol, most processed foods, and sugar. Given these limitations -- which are admittedly strict, but only for the first month (which I just completed) to allow my body to "reset" and get a break from all the inflammatory factors -- I decided to start eating organic, pasture-raised poultry and wild-caught fish. After almost 20 years of no meat, I've tolerated it surprisingly well, so hopefully I can sustain this diet and my body will learn to run on healthy fats (versus carbs upon carbs sprinkled with grains, like previously).

We've also removed toxic products from our home, even more so than before. (I had cut out anything with synthetic fragrance just before getting pregnant.) We've started cooking on cast iron (not nearly as difficult after some proper seasoning), invested in organic bedding, learned to check for gluten in everything (including personal care products), and overall became much more in tune with how our body is functioning. It's amazing how many symptoms we can learn to ignore because they just seem commonplace: hair loss, fatigue, brain fog, generalized aches and soreness. Our bodies are often trying to communicate to us, but there's just too much noise in our culture of "Go, go, go!" to hear it. 

There's so much to learn and a lot to share along the way, so without this becoming a health and wellness blog, I will share tidbits I learn along the way. And, of course, email or leave a comment with any questions or feedback. We've all got different tools and perspectives, and I've really enjoyed learning from others who are thriving with Hashi's and learning to take the best care of their bodies for the long haul.

Be sure to follow me on Instagram for lots of health snack ideas and exclusive content. I'll be using the tag #lifewithHashis for posts specific to Hashimoto's and this whole new lifestyle thing on IG and my Facebook page.

5.12.2017

Boho White Top with Denim and Booties

This post contains affiliate links and I may be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on any applicable links.

I think I could live in white shirts. In fact, I predominately do. There's just something so clean and classic about a white top. (Well, until you drip coffee on it. #reallife) My daily go-to is a white v-neck tee (ordered in a size up and tall length so it hangs how I like it), but my other favorite white tops in warmer months are airy, flowy tunics that feel feminine and comfortable.



This is one of those outfits that I feel like I could wear on repeat day after day. Vary up the pants to include some fun denim (like these rustic skinnies), change up the shoes with sandals or wedges (like these bright espadrilles), and grab another white blouse with unique details (like this one-shouldered cutie or this asymmetrical boho look). It's a simple, clean combo that works equally well for running errands with the little one as it does for meeting up with friends, going to church, and cooking-out with the fam. (Or in this case, grabbing some coffee with M at one of our favorite local shops. Holla, Craftwork!)






I also love how easy this top is for nursing. It look me a bit to figure out that it's much easier to pull down the neckline to discreetly feed Ash, versus pulling my whole shirt up. I will sometimes throw a light scarf in the diaper bag to wear when we're feeding out-and-about so that neither of us have to sweat to death under a big blanket.

And can I just take a quick minute to give a big ol' e-hug to shoe makers who embrace the chunky heel? These TOMS are so easy to wear, even when I'm standing and carrying Ash for hours at a time. (We've yet to sit during a whole church service, but I ain't even mad about it.) Plus, tassels. I'm eyeing these beauties for my next shoe splurge.



And here's some free advice: when you find a perfect piece that you know you'll wear to death (like this top)...buy two(I am wearing the medium but will likely order another in small for a slimmer fit, too.)



Top: Tobi (On Sale!) c/o // Denim: Ann Taylor // Booties: TOMS // Necklace: Kendra Scott // Pochette: Louis Vuitton