Friday, January 3, 2014

New Blog Redirect

Hey all , so here's the link to the new blog!

A few changes.

1. I have changed up the topic of the blog a bit, from politics to more of a broad advocacy with a focus on mental health. It was heading there anyway toward the end, so you won't notice it to be too different. :)

2. My own domain name. (so exciting)

3. Regular posts. Below is the schedule. I'm a structured girl, so this helps me a lot, and helps you, as a reader know what to expect! Are you following me because you want to know more about Mental Health? Great! Check in on Mondays. Interested in hearing about my faith/life journey? Check in on Friday.

Mental Health Mondays: This is where I explore a mental health topic. I do my best to keep them related to seasonal events, or something new I have come across in my own work. (No groundbreaking scientific discoveries, just a student who has discovered something new for herself.) Simple. Relevant. Informative.

Encouraging Wednesdays: This is the day that I post a small graphic I have created or will re-post from another site to provide encouragement to both myself and you for the midweek!  I don’t know about you, but Wednesdays are the most difficult for me to stay motivated and stick to my goals.
Wild and Free Fridays: This is inspired by Naptime Diaries Wild and Free series. It is based on the idea, that where the Lord is, there is Freedom. So Fridays will usually be a story from my life as a social work student, wife, Jesus lover, or anything wild and free!

Monday, December 23, 2013

This is what happens when you can't keep a secret.

Ok, ok. So like most excited holiday gift givers, I could not wait to deliver all the new blog surprises at once!

So I'm opening one 'gift' on the blog right now...

(drumroll please...)

Here is a photo of me working on elements for the NEW SITE. I can't reveal any other details, but it is going to to be kind of a big deal.  LOTS of design changes are coming, and it is going to be SO pretty- I promise you will like it. Maybe even love it.

Also do you like my blanket cape? Omar snapped this photo without me knowing. But hey. This is how I keep warm in my chilly house in real life.

Ok, back to work  having lots of fun!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Merry Christmas! (and planning for some changes)

Sweet readers and friends!

I will be taking some time off (well, truthfully, I will still be working on the blog, but there won't be any new posts to read!) as I dream, plan and prepare for some changes to Strength to Love. I am researching some things, praying for more things, and really searching my heart for what I want this space to be and bring in the next year.

Don't worry, nothing too drastic will be happening, but there are some fun new things in the works for this space in 2014, and I can't wait to share them with you!

Check back Friday, January 3 to say hi and to keep in touch with the blog in 2014.

See you then!
Merry Merry Christmas y'all,


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Why do we feel exhausted when good things happen to us?

For me, the winter season is usually one of intense introspection, writing and general creativity. When I look back over old journals, the sections of winter months are always much longer, which is also how they feel to me: long. Waiting for spring. Waiting for something. I am hoping for the green and 'new', while putting up with the white and gray 'everyday' around me. 

But no bursts of creativity seem to be happening this year for me. I feel tired. Dry. Exhausted down to my bones. And a little bit confused as to the reason why. I was talking to my mom today, and she validated some of my concerns. "This was a big year for you," she said. It was really comforting to hear. Sometimes I forget. 

This was a huge year for me. It was a huge year for Omar and I. 
December: We were married. 
January: We left the country for two weeks to visit Omar's family and to honeymoon in the Dominican Republic. 
February: Omar became a citizen. 
April: I was accepted to grad school
June: I left a gallery managerial job I loved for three years to start a new adventure in adolescent research at a school of medicine. 
July: I received health insurance for the first time in six years.
August: I graduated from undergrad.  
December: I completed my first semester of my MSW.  And so many other things. All of the things listed above are so good. Many of them pivotal life moments and transitions, all of which happened in such a short period of time. And again, this is just the good list.




(scholarship dinner for grad school with Omar and my mom.)

This semester in a mental health class we talked about a concept called 'eustress'. It is technically stress, but it is the stress caused by good things happening (ex. How can I explain this run-down exhausted feeling that I have when essentially everything is good around me?). It sounds 'crazy', and I think many people don't talk about it because it might have a tendency to make a person sound ungrateful. But it is real. It affects our minds and bodies in various ways. 

And it makes sense.

Stress is a mental and physical response to change, whether that change is happening now, or is anticipated in the future. There is positive and negative stress. Eustress, or positive stress, provides fulfillment in our lives. (And we all know what negative stress is like.) And here's where it gets interesting. With either too much positive, or negative stress, our bodies can't tell the difference between to two. It reacts in the same way.

In both positive and negative stress, blood pressure and heart rate become elevated. Cortisol, the stress hormone, is released in small bursts. In the right amounts, cortisol actually improves immune functioning, and the ability to respond in dangerous situations (ex. volunteering can be a positive stressor that makes you feel good, and produces the right amount of cortisol). An overabundance of cortisol, which gets produced in highly stressful situations, can impair immune functioning, and create ineffective mental and emotional functioning (ex. being in a car wreck).

Eustress can frequently occur in busy multitasking people who are succeeding, and enjoy their work, but are always wanting to do more (to all my Type A's- this is us).Eventually, with too much of this stress, the body will begin to wear out. 

Continuing stress, both positive or negative, affects our daily functioning. Your brain begins to forget things. I notice that I frequently forget where things are located, like my keys, or where I put my bank card when I am stressed. Stress causes us to make poor decisions. Our decision-making capabilities, literally cease to work.The brain just blocks these things. It doesn't see them as important. The brain and body can truly only endure so much stress, and they can burn out. But the good new is that  the brain is AMAZING, and it heals itself, with time and treatment.

There are a million resources on stress management, so I won't talk about that here, and I am still learning for myself what works best for me. Which may not work for you.

So perhaps this winter season will be one of trying to learning what rest is, instead of reflecting on the busy-ness.  Perhaps it will be a season of existing as a creation of the Father, rather than trying to create so much on my own. A season of being changed rather than creating change. To fill up and rest for the many journeys ahead. 

I pray it to be so. Amen. 

Information in this post retrieved from Ivey, A.E., Ivey, M.B., & Zalaquett, C.P. (2014, 2010). Intentional interviewing and counseling: 
Facilitating client development in a multicultural society, (8 th ed.). Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks/Cole, Cengage Learning. 

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

December Goals

This post is linking up with the Tiny Twig as we share our December goals. If you are new here, welcome. :)

For December I am focused on many projects in my personal and professional life. But my December goal is not a part of this long to-do list. There are no boxes to check off.  It is a process goal not a project goal, and that is important to remember as I gauge my progress. My December goal is to be present. 

I was inspired by Lara Casey's #Present December. This is such a simple concept, but a big one, with a potential to have deep impact in my daily life.

Here's why.
I am a project person, and I mostly work in large blocks of time on the things I have to do. For example, instead of breaking a research paper assignment into four or five small sessions I try to do it all in eight or nine or ten hours. If I am working on a batch of cards, I want to work on them all day, on my day off, instead of an hour here and hour there. I want the project to be finished once I start it. I get really caught up in projects, and become incredibly focused. It's a little bit unrealistic, but, that is my current modus operandi.

And here is why Present December is so important to me, and when it really hit home. Yesterday I broke ground on my wedding album (A big December project for me!). While I was beginning to work on it, hunched over my computer with a mug of coffee in hand, cautiously examining which of the hundreds of photos were going to make the cut, my husband walked in the door after a day of work and wanted to talk, asking me about my day, and telling me about his.  And it was obvious that I was only half listening. I was cropping, selecting and finding the perfect photo placement on the pages. It was an 'Omar please be quiet, I'm trying to capture the joy of our wedding and marriage in this page placement!'....The irony. 

THIS is what I want to work on. Being present and focused on the people I am with. Setting down my devices and vices more than normal and just BEING where I am. I've spent more time instagramming my pretty Christmas tree than actually sitting in my quiet living room just soaking in the joy of the season, and the way the warm lights add a soft comforting glow to everything around them. 

I'll be checking in as the month goes on. I think this is one of those things that we never truly perfect, like being patient, showing more grace, and timing the oven and ingredients just so, in order to bake that delicious chocolate chip cookie recipe so the centers are soft and the edges are crisp.  But we can do our best, and work toward it anyway, as we move forward on this long journey to attain grace instead of perfection. 

(photo from my tree)

Monday, December 2, 2013

Enduring the roadtrip

"Expect Problems and eat them for breakfast."
-Alfred A. Montapert

This. is. the. last. week. of. the. semester.

Feelings? Excited, excited, tired, a little crazy, but mostly excited. 

As I was whiningly (is that a word?) explaining to my eternally optimistic husband how I have four more days to go, and how I just want it to be over (in my saddest please-take-pity-on-me voice) he said, "but you've come so far, and done so much and you only have four days to go. I paused, thought about it for a minute, realizing I wasn't going to receive any pity. So I bit my lip, shrugged my shoulders and replied "Well...yeah, I guess you're right. (*shuffles feet and walks away*)

It just feels so difficult sometimes.

Indiana Sunset (taken on the road to Nashville, IN)

Road trip analogy
The only way I can explain it, is that this semester has been like a LOOOONG roadtrip. You are privileged for the opportunity to go on a road trip, to have a car to travel in and so much hope for your destination. But after being in the car for so many hours, it starts to wear on you. While you can fall asleep, you don't quite have the comforts of home. The food you eat, probably isn't the most healthy because you are on the go. And you lose touch temporarily with your community because you are travelling down the road. After you've been in the car for hours and hours your feet get cramped, maybe you get a bit carsick and you just want to BE THERE. But you have to keep driving. The destination will come. And it will feel SO good to arrive.

While I have to keep the end in mind, process is important. Being present is also important. 

So these next few days, I'm going to do my best to love my 'car mates' (classmates) a little bit more. I'm taking a few deep breaths for the endurance to finish strong, and trying to eek out a bit of joy, where I currently can't see any.  End of semesters are always difficult no matter how prepared you are, but it is almost done, I know that it can be done, and I can make it. 

Any other full time grad students out there? How are you hanging in there?

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Black Friday Shop Sale

Happy Thanksgiving! 

I realize that everyone is inundated with sales and commercialism on a day that is meant to be for family, but as a small business owner, I am thankful for customers and the joy of creativity! 

To express my thanks, I am offering 30% off everything in my shop, starting tonight at midnight through midnight on Cyber Monday (12am November 29 through 11:59p December 2).

Use the code: BlackFriday for 30% off!

Thanks for your support all year round, now go enjoy the day with your family! :)

A little preview of some cards on the site!