I wanted to share the outfit I wore on Valentine’s Day because I’m wearing PINK. And that doesn’t happen very often. I tend to gravitate towards wearing lots of grey, black, blue, or white. But lately I’ve found myself liking pink more and I’ve been making a point to add more colors into my wardrobe. I love the blush shade of this top along with it’s gold accents and I know I’ll be wearing it many more times to come. I also wanted to share the great deal I got on it because it’s so nice to be able to update your closet without spending a lot of money.

ross, dress for less, valentines day outfit, valentines day outfit ideas,

I went to Ross the other day and bought the top for $12 and the jeans for $13. I really needed some new jeans (as in, my favorite pair of jeans is almost getting threadbare!), so I was very happy to find these for such a good price.

As for the boots, I got them at Target around four years ago, haha. I wear them a lot because grey goes with pretty much everything. I paired this outfit with my grey cargo jacket, but I didn’t get any pictures of that because we needed to leave so we would be on time for our reservations. It was also slightly chilly and I wanted to get into the car. :P

You can find so many good deals at Ross. I walked out of there last week with five tops, two pairs of jeans, and one pair of PJs for around $90.

We had a good Valentine’s Day. We had a nice, laid-back dinner at Colorado Mountain Brewery (which is a great place, for you Colorado Springs friends). John’s gift to me is taking a train ride on the Royal Gorge Railroad through Canon City, CO tomorrow. It’s something he and I have been wanting to do for quite a while. As I’ve talked about on the blog before, Canon City is one of my favorite places in Colorado, so I’m excited to spend the day there.

I hope everyone had a great Valentine’s Day spent in person or in spirit with loved ones. Until next time. <3

cats and christmas tree, cat looking at christmas tree

I love simple joys and I don’t think there’s a season filled with more of them than Christmas time. I enjoy driving though neighborhoods decorated with Christmas lights, buying gifts for loved ones, and baking Christmas cookies. One of my favorite aspects of Christmas is the decorating. I have fond memories from my childhood of decorating our house and tree, along with my brother and I (to my mom’s dismay) “playing” with our very fragile Christmas village. And yes, one of the ceramic men unfortunately had his head broken off due to our antics. But don’t worry, we glued it back on!

Ever since John and I got married in 2013, I’ve always wanted to decorate for Christmas. But with the busyness of moving multiple times over the past few years, it never really worked out. We moved over the holidays in both 2014 and 2015, so it didn’t make sense to spend much time decorating. We had a mini tree with tiny ornaments and I would decorate the railing of our apartment porches with lights, but I wasn’t able to do as much as I wanted. The main thing I dreamed of was a full-size tree. Thankfully, we’ve lived in our current place for almost a year and don’t have plans to move anytime soon, so this year we felt like it was finally time to buy a tree. I’ve enjoyed decorating so much that I thought I would give you a quick tour of what our house looks like right now.hope-ornament

 We don’t have many ornaments yet, but I actually like that because I’m looking forward to gradually filling up our tree over the coming years with meaningful ornaments.

our-first-xmas-ornament

I bought this one after John and I got married in 2013.

engaged-ornament

Speaking of marriage, this is an ornament my family and I made to give to our family members after John and I got engaged in 2012. I know it’s not professional looking but it’s a special one.

camper-ornament

This is a cute one that John’s parents gave us in honor of us buying our camper last year!

oliver-ornament

As you can imagine, we bought this one in 2013, which was the year we adopted Oliver. :)

joy-k-ornament

John’s grandma Kay is super talented at all things craft related, so a few years ago she gave us this ornament that she hand-sketched.

hawaiian-santa-ornament

We bought this cool windsurfing Santa on our trip to Hawaii last year!

And now onto my other Christmas decorations!

christmas-stockings

We put stockings up for the first time this year! We bought the “E” and the “J” last year but didn’t put them up since we were in the process of moving. Throughout last year, I wanted to find an “O” stocking for Oliver that matched ours, but could never find one. This year, I was able to snag one back in November. I love our little stocking set up (and Oliver’s only knocked them down once so far, haha).

cheerwine-decorations

Last Christmas, I drank Cheerwine for the first time (it’s a yummy soda, you should try it). I thought the bottle looked festive and I had the idea that using it as a vase for a few cranberry sprigs would be a cute Christmas decoration. So I held onto it and went to Hobby Lobby a few weeks ago to buy the cranberry springs, along with these two shiny, silver trees. Super inexpensive decorating, guys! But I like how it looks.

sparkly-reindeer

Speaking of shiny things, I also bought this reindeer at Hobby Lobby. I thought it was so simple and pretty.

And then here are a few of our outdoor decorations, which I’ve already talked about on my Instagram.

christmas-wreath

polar-bear-decor

Guys, I’m OBSESSED with our polar bear decorations. I’ve always wanted something like this and they make me happy whenever I see them.

oliver-attacking-ornament

Also, this happened last night. If you know Oliver, you know this isn’t a surprise. But so far nothing has been knocked down or broken, so let’s hope it stays that way!

As you can see, we don’t have a ton of Christmas décor yet, but I’ve been enjoying collecting things gradually and I love what we do have. The Christmas season has inspired me to start decorating our house more and our living room has started to feel like the cozy nook I’ve always wanted it to be. Until recently, I didn’t have any decorations hanging on the walls and I think part of that was because we’ve moved a lot over the past few years and I was feeling a little burnt out from constantly reorganizing everything. But once the Christmas season started to roll around and the time change had us spending more time inside, I started feeling inspired to do a little decorating. I’ve started envisioning some things I want to do with the house after Christmas is over and I’m excited to work on it.

Between 2013 and 2015, we moved four times. That many changes within such a short amount of time was stressful. I think the fact that we didn’t have a Christmas tree felt almost symbolic to me of how hectic things had been. After going through our third year of marriage without having a Christmas tree last year, I set my sights on December 2016 and said that this year would be the year it finally made sense to get one. So really, our tree wasn’t just about having a pretty decoration, but also about the fact that our living situation was settled enough that we could have a tree. That doesn’t mean that our lives are suddenly super calm right now. We still have a lot going on. But I’m grateful that we’ve been able to have the comfort and fun of a Christmas tree this year. Sometimes it’s the small things that mean so much.

Thanks for reading! I’m linking up with the Ember Grey blog for the Grateful Heart Monday linkup! Check out the link here to visit the linkup.

running-shoes

About two months ago, I excitedly announced that John and I had started the Couch to 5K Running Plan. Ideally, we would have been able to do the plan’s nine weeks consecutively, but life got in the way. Since January of 2016, I had been dealing with horrible pain in the left side of my face (sinus headaches, tooth/jaw pain, etc.). I had a cracked wisdom tooth, an impacted wisdom tooth, and a sinus cyst, along with my usual TMJ problems. Not an easy combination. If you follow my Instagram, you’ve probably seen some of my posts about this situation. I had been told that there was a good chance that getting my wisdom teeth out might alleviate some of my symptoms, so to make a long story short, I had wisdom teeth surgery on September 7th. I won’t go into too many of the details because I’m planning on writing a longer post about my surgery experience soon (that may include a video of me when I was loopy after anesthesia!).

The first week and a half of my recovery went really well. Then, while on a trip to visit my mom’s side of the family in Tennessee, I caught a chest cold and started having symptoms that matched the symptoms of internal bleeding. Which was scary. We thought maybe I could have internal bleeding from all of the antibiotics and ibuprofen I had to take pre and post-surgery. I continued having these symptoms for over a week, so I went to the doctor to get tested for internal bleeding. The tests came back negative. However, I still kept having the same symptoms for the next few weeks (even during our recent vacation to New England). It’s scary to not know what is wrong with your body. It’s only been within the past two weeks that I seem to be back to normal. We still don’t understand exactly what happened and if it’s connected to the medications, but regardless, I’m so grateful that I seem to have gotten over whatever it was.

With all of that going on over the past two months, I had to focus on getting better, so we weren’t able to do Couch to 5K for a while. But the good news is, I was finally able to jump back in and we just finished Week 2! We also signed up for two upcoming 5Ks: the Turkey Trot and the Jingle Bell 5K, which both benefit the YMCA!

After all the worry about my health over the past year, it feels really good to be able to run and get back into a routine. Whenever I was trying to keep running during Week 2, I reminded myself of how grateful I am that my body is healthy enough to be able to run and it gave me some motivation to keep going. So without further ado, here’s my Couch to 5K Week 2 Update:

[Week 2: Brisk five-minute warmup walk. Then alternate 90 seconds of jogging and two minutes of walking for a total of 20 minutes.]

Week 2, Day 1: I was a little nervous about running again after not doing much exercise for almost two months, however it wasn’t nearly as difficult as I was thinking it would be. Since the last time we ran was in August, it was a little cooler outside now that it was mid-October, which felt great since we didn’t get as hot.

Week 2, Day 2: We ended up not having enough daylight to run outside, so we decided to go to the gym. I hadn’t run on a treadmill in forever and felt like I would hate it. But I actually ended up enjoying it. There’s something about the consistent pace of the treadmill and the climate control of the gym that made it seem easier, so that was interesting.

Week 2, Day 3: For the last day of Week 2, we decided to run outside at our usual park. Out of all 6 days so far, this was my least favorite one. I felt sluggish physically and my chest started hurting towards the end. Part of the problem was that we chose a route that went uphill towards the end, so that didn’t help things either. Regardless though, I pushed through and got it done. I knew if I stopped early I would be disappointed in myself.

So that’s my update for this week. Check back next week for my Week 3 update! Also, I’m linking up with the Ember Grey blog for Grateful Heart Monday. If you’re interested in joining a linkup filled with awesome people and positivity, definitely check it out!

couch to 5k, how to start running, running blog, couch to 5k blog,

Last week, John and I officially started the Couch to 5k running plan! I’ve read about many success stories coming from this program, so we decided to give it our best shot. If you’re unaware of what Couch to 5K is, it’s a gradual running plan that aims to get people from being non-runners to being able to complete a 5K in nine weeks. Will it work for us? I don’t know, but I really hope so! I thought I would blog about our experience as a way to hopefully motivate myself and others. Before I explain how it’s going so far, I thought I’d share a little about John and I’s fitness background.

John and I both love being physically active and it’s something that’s very important to us. Until starting Couch to 5K, we got the majority of our exercise from taking walks and/or hikes multiple times a week. In addition to our walking and hiking that we do together, we also love going skiing as often as we can in the winter. We belong to a gym, but haven’t gone very often lately because we’d rather exercise outside while the weather is so nice (gotta love Colorado summers!). When I go to the gym, my favorite things to do are Zumba/yoga classes or the elliptical. John normally rides the stationary bike there. John played football, basketball, and baseball in high school but hasn’t played competitively since then. I started dance when I was 3 and typically was always taking some kind of dance class from age 3 to my senior year of college at 22. So that’s some info on our fitness backgrounds.

Recently, I became interested in trying running for multiple reasons:

  1. Stress relief. I deal with anxiety, so I’m always looking for ways to reduce my stress level. Exercise helps to enhance the production of endorphins, which are your brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters (putting my psychology minor to good use!). Through the years, I’ve found that exercise (especially cardio) helps me feel better mentally, so I’d like to try to do it more often.
  2. Ability to run outside. Like I said earlier, when the weather is amazing, it’s kind of a bummer to go to the gym and be stuck inside. Plus, when you go to the gym, you’re in the same building each time. With outdoor running, you can do it anywhere, from a city park sidewalk to a dirt trail. Variety keeps things interesting.
  3. Charity 5Ks! I recently finished working as an event planning intern for Children’s Hospital Colorado Foundation, where I helped to organize the Climb for Courage Stair Climb Race that benefitted the hospital. I really enjoyed working the race and it was wonderful seeing so many people in the community come out to support a great cause. It made me want to be involved in more races like that. I’d love to combine my love of exercise with my love of supporting nonprofits.
  4. Toning/weight management. Hands down, the most reliable method for weight loss/management is eating a healthy, balanced diet plus regular exercise. Very few people will disagree with that (and the ones who do are often trying to sell something). Exercise burns calories, it’s as simple as that, so as long as you aren’t over-compensating for the lost calories, you’ll notice results. Also, I notice that after I work out, I’m less likely to want to eat something unhealthy afterwards. It’s a win-win!
  5. John and I can run together. Like I said earlier, John and I both love hiking, taking walks, and skiing together. Doing those things have always been some of the ways that we bond as a couple, so I’d love to start running together also. Plus, having someone to encourage you when you’re challenging yourself is helpful.

Ok, so now for the details of Week 1 of Couch to 5K!

[Week 1: Brisk 5 minute warmup walk. Then alternate 60 seconds of jogging and 90 seconds of walking for a total of 20 minutes.]

Week 1, Day 1 (Sunday, Aug. 21st): We had initially planned on starting the program two weeks before this, but we both ended up catching colds. John got sick first and then he gave it to me. Two weeks later and we were finally ready to officially start the program. I was proud of myself for not letting that setback decrease my motivation. I was able to do the first two running intervals without getting too tired, but after that, I was definitely feeling it. I allowed myself to go at a slow but steady pace. This run was in the middle of the day, so it was pretty warm outside which added to everything. I was tired afterwards but felt REALLY good about completing the first day!

Week 1, Day 2 (Tuesday, Aug. 23rd): Okay, so I was SUPER sore on Monday after Day 1. Much more sore than I expected to be. The kind of sore where every step hurt and going from standing up to sitting down was painful. By the time Tuesday came around, I was a little less sore but thought I might take another rest day and do Day 2 later in the week. I ended up deciding I would just try to run and see what happened (I planned on taking a brisk walk instead if I wasn’t up to running). Once I started running, I realized that I wasn’t too sore to run, which was a great feeling! I had a similar experience to how I felt on Day 1, except that on the last two running intervals, my chest started hurting slightly from being winded, so that wasn’t fun. It went away pretty quickly after I caught my breath during the cool down though.

Week 1, Day 3 (Thursday, Aug. 25th): This was my best run so far. It had just rained, which gave the air a nice refreshing breeze. It was ideal running weather. This was overall an easier run for me. I don’t know if it was the weather or the fact that it was my third run that week, but it was easier than the others had been. I definitely still felt winded towards the end of the running intervals, but my chest didn’t hurt and I felt less winded than before. After I got home, showered, and put on my comfy sweat pants, I felt SO GOOD. The endorphins had definitely kicked in and it was wonderful. I feel like I can breathe better after I do cardio. I just want to feel that way as much as possible. As a side note, I also haven’t been sore from running again since Day 1, which has been great.

Ok, so that’s my overview of Week 1 of Couch to 5K! I’ll be posting a new blog post on my Couch to 5K experience here each week as I go through the program, so I hope you’ll join me on this journey. Have you ever done Couch to 5K? Are you a runner? How did you get into running? Do you have any tips for me? I’m trying to learn as much as possible about running right now, so please share your thoughts with me! I’m really interested in hearing about other people’s experiences.

Until next time. Thanks for reading!

validation

This quote resonates with me because it’s something I’m trying to work on. It’s easier said than done.

I’ve given this topic some serious thought and there’s a lot that I could say. But I think the most important thing that I’ve learned is to not let other people’s opinions keep you from doing what you think is right.

I hope this quote has given you some inspiration today!

tunnel drive in canon city, canon city hikes, colorado hikes, hiking in colorado

Our weekend getaway to Cañon City was a few months ago now, but it’s still on my mind because of how much fun it was! That being said, I’m continuing my three part blog series on Cañon City today. Side note: If you didn’t read Part one (about a beautiful but slightly precarious drive we did there), you can check it out here. One of my favorite things we did in Cañon City was an awesome hike called Tunnel Drive. It’s now one of my favorite hikes that I’ve ever done. Keep reading to see why!

tunnel drive in canon city, canon city hikes, colorado hikes, hiking in colorado

For most of the hike, you’re able to see a beautiful view of the Arkansas river. We were lucky enough to see the Royal Gorge Route Railroad train pass by during the first part of our hike. If you look closely you can see people on the “observation deck” of the train. They waved at us. It was a nice moment, haha. One of the things on my Colorado bucket list is to take a ride on this train. They do a breakfast ride that I think would be fun.

tunnel drive in canon city, canon city hikes, colorado hikes, hiking in colorado

tunnel drive in canon city, canon city hikes, colorado hikes, hiking in colorado

One of the coolest things about this hike were the tunnels (hence the name, Tunnel Drive). As you can see, I was pretty excited about it.

tunnel drive in canon city, canon city hikes, colorado hikes, hiking in colorado

It was a hot day outside and it was interesting how much of a temperature difference you could feel when you walked through one of the tunnels. Especially this really long one below. You could do some really cool silhouette photography here.

tunnel drive in canon city, canon city hikes, colorado hikes, hiking in colorado All of the tunnels were concentrated at the beginning of the hike, but that didn’t stop the rest of the walk from being really unique.

tunnel drive in canon city, canon city hikes, colorado hikes, hiking in colorado

tunnel drive in canon city, canon city hikes, colorado hikes, hiking in colorado

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There were lots of Prickly Pear Cactus on this hike. Fun fact: the Prickly Pear Cactus is the state plant of Texas. As a Texas girl, I’m a cactus fan!

tunnel drive in canon city, canon city hikes, colorado hikes, hiking in colorado

There were also some gorgeous wildflowers along the way.

Towards the end of the hike, we saw a herd of unexpected animals…

tunnel drive in canon city, canon city hikes, colorado hikes, hiking in colorado

Look closely. Can you see what they are?

tunnel drive in canon city, canon city hikes, colorado hikes, hiking in colorado

Bighorn sheep! We even took a video of them knocking horns with each other. They were interesting to watch, but we decided to walk away as they started to get closer and closer to the trail. Probably a smart move!

tunnel drive in canon city, canon city hikes, colorado hikes, hiking in colorado

We also saw some less intimidating creatures too. :)

All in all, it was a wonderful summer afternoon. I’m so thankful that this spot is only about an hour or so away from us because it’s such a cool getaway. If you’re ever in southern Colorado, I highly recommend hiking through the Tunnel Drive Trail.

Today I’m linking up with the My Travel Monkey and Packing My Suitcase blogs for the Monday Escapes linkup!

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As always, thanks for reading!

As we move into August, I’m happy about the fact that here in Colorado we have a good two months where I can still wear summer clothes. Is it just me, or have the summer clothing trends this year been extra cute? There were so many styles that I saw on Instagram (and a few that I bought for myself) that I thought were extra unique and fun this year. Here are just a few of my favorite summer 2016 looks.

1. Off-shoulder tops

summer 2016 style, summer 2016 fashion, summer 2016 fashion trends, off the shoulder topsI’ve been seeing these off-shoulder tops all over Instagram this spring and I LOVE them. I think they’re a fresh alternative to tank tops, tube tops, and spaghetti straps. This one is from Old Navy and you can buy it here.

2. Fringe sandals

fringe sandalsThere’s something fun about fringe. Plus, being from Texas and living in Colorado, I like to add a few southwestern/western touches to my style sometimes. Pair these with a turquoise necklace and you’re good to go! You can buy these at Old Navy here.

3. Striped t-shirt dresses

black and white striped dress model

Okay, so this is one that I’ve actually already bought. I’m a huge fan of stripes (like, I cannot stop buying striped stuff, especially in black and white) and love this simplistic but cute dress. I’ve already worn this one a lot so far this summer and will probably pair it with a jean jacket/chambray shirt as we transition into fall. You can find it at Target here.

4. Things with pom-poms

pom pom purse

Pom-poms were everywhere this year! I thought they were especially cute on a straw bag as a beach tote. I think less is more with pom-poms though…I like them best when they’re just a small detail.

5. Tops with sleeve cut-outs

model cut out

 I’ve seen so many tops with cool sleeve cut-outs this year-they just feel extra pretty and unique. I actually bought this exact top and love it. You can check it out at Target’s website here.

That’s all for today! I’m curious, what trends caught your eye this summer?

I’m linking up with Mix it Mondays with the Fizz & Frosting blog, #HowISummer with the Pinksole blog, and Hello Monday with the Sincerely Jenna Marie blog.

Thanks for reading! :)

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A few weekends ago, John and I took our camper on a quick weekend camping trip to Cañon City, CO. As I said on Instagram, it was a much needed getaway. John’s job has been busier than usual and the big event that I’ve been helping to plan at my job is happening in a few weeks, so things are really starting to gear up. All the more reason to take a mental break for the weekend. We’ve had a lot of chilly, overcast weather lately here in Colorado Springs too, so we haven’t been able to get outside much. I’m one of those people that is happiest when I’m able to be out in the fresh air as often as possible, so it’s hard for me when I’m not able to do that. Thankfully, the weather when we went to Cañon City was sunny and in the low 80’s (F), so it was just what we needed!

Cañon City is a small town with a population of around 16,000 people about an hour southwest of Colorado Springs. It’s known for having hiking spots, whitewater rafting, and the Royal Gorge Bridge (which is the tallest bridge in the U.S.!). In the spirit of keeping it real, it’s also known for having 9 prisons, including 4 federal prisons. Pretty crazy. Fun fact: Cañon City is one of only five U.S. cities to have an “eñe” officially in its name. It’s an interesting place that had been on my radar to explore, so I’m glad I got the chance to.

We were only there for two nights, but we did as much as we could while we were there. On Saturday morning, after fueling up with some McDonald’s breakfast (because let’s be real, who doesn’t like McDonald’s breakfast?!), we went on a scenic drive called “Skyline Drive,” which is listed as the 2nd most popular thing to do in Cañon City.

canon city, canon city colorado, dangerous drives, mountain drives, dangerous scenic drives, scary drives, skyline drive

 I can see why. It’s incredibly scenic and gives you views of the mountains and city that you can’t get otherwise. However, this drive is not for the faint of heart (or the nervous driver). It’s a narrow, winding, one-way road, so once you start the drive, you can’t turn around. It has a roller coaster type of feel, with steep inclines followed by drops. On many parts of the drive, there are sheer drop-off cliffs on either side of the car. If you read the reviews on TripAdvisor, people seem to either love it or are terrified of it. I didn’t feel too nervous, because John and I have done many other drives like this (the Road to Hana, anyone?) and John is used to driving on roads like this. The most important thing is just to drive slowly and cautiously.

canon city, canon city colorado, dangerous drives, mountain drives, dangerous scenic drives, scary drives, skyline drive

There were a few great pull-offs where we were able to get out of the car and take a good look at the views.

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 There were also a few trails you could do. Don’t worry, cars aren’t allowed on those!

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canon city,

Other than the beautiful landscape, one of the coolest things about Skyline Drive is the dinosaur footprints. Yes, you heard me correctly. It blows my mind to be in the presence of evidence that dinosaurs once roamed the earth. I took a picture of the sign that explains things in more detail.

dinosaurs canon city, dinosaurs skyline drive,

Here are the actual dinosaur footprints. They’re pretty big, so you can only imagine how huge the dinosaurs that these footprints belonged to were.

dinosaurs canon city, dinosaurs skyline drive,

While we were standing there looking at the footprints, a guy walked up and started talking to us about how his late brother had been one of the people who discovered the footprints. He said that his brother was a paleontologist who saw dinosaur footprints where most people just saw rocks. It reminded me of the Camille Pissarro quote that says, “blessed are those who see beautiful things in humble places where other people see nothing.”

While we were in Cañon City, we also took a beautiful hike and went to the famous (and basically terrifying) Royal Gorge Bridge, which I’ll talk about in the next two blog posts I write about Cañon City, so stay tuned for that!

Today, I’m linking up with the Packing my Suitcase and My Travel Monkey blogs for the Monday Escapes Linkup, which you can check out here. Go show some other travel blogs some love! Thanks for reading.

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productivity tips, productivity tips for creatives, are creatives easily distracted, are creative people adhd,

I relate to this quote: “I still find each day too short for all the thoughts I want to think, all the walks I want to take, all the books I want to read, and all the friends I want to see.” It’s a beautiful thought, isn’t it? That there are so many worthwhile things in the world that it’s challenging to experience everything that we want to?

john burroughs, john burrows quote, "i still find each day too short for all the thoughts i want to think"

On any given day, I have a list on my phone of around 20 things that I want to do. As a blogger/writer/avid Instagrammer, I’m always looking for ideas for my posts. I try to keep my thoughts organized on my phone or in Word docs, but as a creative person, I tend to find inspiration all around me (on good days at least). This means that my ideas don’t always come when I’m ready (or wanting) to write them down. Even when I’m trying to work off of to-do lists I’ve created, so many other ideas keep jumping into my head, fighting for my attention. I want to do everything at once. Since that’s impossible, sometimes I feel overwhelmed by all of my ideas, which is frustrating.

Psychology was my support field (similar to a minor) in college. One of the things we learned about was the “fight-or-flight,” response, which is one of the body’s typical reactions to stress. Meaning that when someone encounters a stressful situation or perceived threat, they either decide to stay where they are and “fight” through whatever is happening, or they take themselves out of the situation and escape. Most of the time when people talk about fight or flight, they’re talking about it in terms of a more serious situation, like when someone is criticizing you or you’re being mugged. But I think that sometimes, I experience a little bit of fight-or-flight when I try to accomplish something important to me, such as a blog post. I sit down, ready to knock it out and then all of these competing thoughts pop into my head. “Maybe I should write about that other thing instead?” “Should I get a cup of coffee before I get started?” “What was that idea I had when I was walking around Target the other day?” “I should create a blog schedule for next week before writing.” I get overwhelmed by all of these thoughts and start feeling stressed. On good days, I push through the overwhelming feelings and get stuff done. On bad days, I get too distracted and take a break for the day.

Is anyone else like this? I would bet that quite a few other creatives are.

Here’s the thing: I believe in my ideas. I want to write and create and follow my passions. I don’t want to not do the things I care about because I was too distracted. I want to start really harnessing my creativity and learn how I can be more productive. This is something that has really been on my mind lately, so I’ve been trying a few different productivity techniques to see if they help. Thankfully, I’ve had some success with this and have found myself feeling more focused and being able to get into “work mode” easier.

Here are a few productivity tips that work for me:

1. Eat regularly

I’m much more prone to be distracted when I’m hungry. Sometimes part of why I have trouble getting focused is because I didn’t eat enough. There’s nothing wrong with having a little protein to help boost your energy levels! Your body needs fuel to do all the things you want to do.

2. Find background noise that works for you

For me, I’m more likely to be distracted by my own thoughts if I’m in a totally quiet room. But at the same time, I can’t really focus on writing (or other similar things) if I listen to music with lyrics-I get too emotionally invested in what’s going on in the song and can’t concentrate, haha. The happy medium for me is either instrumental music (like movie scores or piano) or even rain sounds. As I type, I’m actually listening to the sounds of a thunderstorm thanks to Amazon Prime (even though it’s bright and sunny out my window).

3. Set time limits

I’ve started giving myself set amounts of time to get things done. I’ll say to myself, “ok, you have until 4:30 to finish this and then you need to start working on something else.” I think this works for me because I do better when I can switch gears after a while and give myself a break from doing the same thing for hours and hours. I like to stagger the types of things I’m doing when I can so that I use different parts of my brain. I might go from writing, to folding the laundry, back to writing, and then to cooking dinner. Of course, sometimes you just get in the zone and want to keep working on whatever you’re doing, which is great. I try to not interrupt myself when I’m on a roll. But when I’m feeling antsy, setting time limits can help me get things done.

4. Make your to-do list at night

I’ve found that when I write my to-do list for the next day at night before I go to bed, I wake up the next morning with purpose. That’s a really good feeling. When I wake up with purpose, I’m more excited to get out of bed and start the day. If you write your to-do list at 2:00 in the afternoon, you’ve already lost a good chunk of the day that could have been spent being more focused. Also, in order to keep yourself from the overwhelming feeling of not knowing where to start, write your list in order of priority.

5. Be kind to yourself

I realize that I put an insane amount of pressure on myself to accomplish a lot during the day. I’m my own worst critic and beat myself up when I don’t get something done that I wanted to do. Lately, I’m trying to cut myself a little more slack. We’re all human and sometimes we have off days. Sometimes we can’t get focused no matter how hard we try. Sometimes we need a good cry, those extra hours of sleep, or that night of binge watching a show on Netflix. Take a deep breath. It’s okay. You might have had an off-day today, but you can try again tomorrow. I’m writing this as a reminder to myself as well as to you guys!

Learning how to be more productive is a work in progress for me. Do you have any productivity tips? Is there an app or planner that you swear by? I’m all ears, so please share your thoughts with me!

Side note: today I’m linking up with the Making our Life Matter blog for the Motivation Monday linkup. You can check out the linkup here.

Thanks for reading!

Today, I’m joining in on some fun Friday linkups, mainly for two reasons. 1: I always have a bunch of different topics for blog posts going through my head and this format lets me talk about multiple things in one blog post. 2: It lets me recap my week a little and I think that’ll be fun to look back on someday. So, let’s get right to it! These are a few things that have been on my mind this week:

1. Weekend trip to Lubbock

Last weekend we met up with my parents and brother in Lubbock, TX. We hadn’t seen my brother since January and my parents since February, so it was well worth the 8 hour drive from Colorado Springs! My parents drove up from Austin to meet us in Lubbock. It was a weekend filled with Tex-Mex, Hawaiian BBQ, movies, games, beautiful spring weather (I wore flip flops for the first time this year!), and west Texas sunsets. Side note: I fell in love with this rosebush outside of Chuy’s, one of my favorite Tex-Mex places. One of my friends told me that it’s called an “Aloha” rose bush. I really want one for my yard now! chuys flowers

 

2. This vintage phone

I love vintage stuff (especially from the 50’s and 60’s), so this cute rotary phone on Etsy caught my eye. I love the color. I’m in the process of decorating my new desk in John and I’s home office, so I’ve been imagining how cute this would look there. Fun fact: in high school, I was dying to have my own phone in my room, so I begged my mom to let me have her old rotary telephone. It looked just like this one, except it was tan. Whenever I called one of my friends, I had to use the rotary dial to make a call. Talk about old school! The novelty of it was fun and my friends always wanted to try it out when they came over. I’m sure any people who lived in the 30’s-70’s would be laughing at the thought of that. It makes no sense at all for me to get one, especially since we don’t even have a landline at our house. BUT I still think it would look cute on my desk and I might keep my eyes peeled for one similar to this. rotary phone, vintage blog, retro blog, turquoise rotary phone,

 

3. Good news from the doctor

During my senior year of college (2012-2013), I discovered a cyst on my scalp. Anytime you find a random bump on your body that’s not supposed to be there, it’s scary. After worrying about it for years, last summer I mentioned it to a family practice PA during a physical. She didn’t think it was anything but said to keep a watch on it in case it grew bigger or became painful, etc. Over the past year, I’ve noticed that it’s grown a little bigger. Three weeks ago, I decided to make an appointment with a dermatologist so that I could have a specialist look at it. I had my appointment two weeks ago and to be honest, I was nervous. The main thing I wanted to find out was if they needed to surgically remove it and then do a biopsy.

I was relieved to find out that the dermatologist didn’t think it needed to be removed. She said that cysts like the one I have are generally benign and that I wouldn’t need surgery unless it changed more significantly. So I’ll definitely still be keeping a watch on it, but let me tell you, I was so relieved. If you ever find anything unusual like that on your body, my advice is to go to the doctor immediately and get it checked out. If it’s nothing, then you have peace of mind (which is worth a lot!) and if it’s something more serious, then you were able to catch it early. I’m just so thankful that at the moment, it’s fine. I’m also thankful for the friends and family who prayed for me about the appointment. I just can’t stop thinking about how thankful I am.

4. Joanna Gaines’ testimony

I’ve been watching a lot of the HGTV show “Fixer Upper” lately. I was first interested in it because it’s based in Waco, Texas (which is just an hour and a half away from my hometown of Austin) but after watching it more, I’ve come to admire the Gaines’ family dynamic. Something that stands out to me about the show is the mutual respect that Chip & Joanna have for each other-I think it’s great that their kids (along with TV viewers) are seeing that. Like Joanna says in this video, God told her that she would be given a platform someday & it makes me happy to see the positive things that she’s doing with it. I came across her testimony video the other day and there’s just so much truth in it, so I wanted to share.

5. My cat doing some meditating

The other day I brought out my pillow and blanket so that I could sit on the floor with my laptop and still be comfortable. We have a perfectly good couch, but I’m one of those people that likes to sit on the floor sometimes. Maybe that’s weird? I don’t know, I just like to switch it up occasionally! Anyways, once I got up from my spot, Oliver decided that it looked pretty comfortable too. It looked like he was meditating, so of course I had to take this picture. So, here’s a picture of my cat in relaxation mode. meditating oliver

 

For this post today, I’m linking up with:

Five on Friday with A. Liz Adventures

5 on friday link up, five on friday link up, friday blog link up, friday blog hop, a. liz adventures

Oh Hey, Friday with September Farm

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Friday Favorites with Meet at the Barre…and last but not least:

Little Friday with The Grits Blog.

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Take a moment and go check out the other bloggers who have also shared their posts on these linkups! Linkups like this are a great way to meet new blogging friends. :)

Well, that’s all for today. Thank you for reading and I hope you have a happy weekend! If you’re new here, I hope you’ll say hi and introduce yourself!