Natural Living

7 Little Steps for Pep

Bad days are the worst. Even more annoying, when a bad day turns into a bad week, nothing goes right, you’re stressed up to your eyeballs and all you want to do is binge Netflix and eat junk food. Little steps for pep aren’t going to solve all your problems, and, disclaimer, these little tips aren’t going to cure anyone’s depression or illness. But I can also almost guarantee that these steps will brighten your spirit, even if just for an hour or an evening. And everyone could you use a sunshine break when their head is full of clouds. Consider this your bad-day restart:

  1. Turn off the TV. Put away your phone.
  2. Brush your teeth, brush your hair, put on real human clothes (PJs don’t count.)
  3. Turn on your happy music. You can find My Happy Music right HERE.
  4. Clean up. Set the timer for 15 minutes and tidy up your home or your bedroom. You’ll be amazed what you can get done in 15 minutes and you’ll already feel so much better with a made bed, clear surfaces and washed dishes.
  5. If it’s a nice enough day (read: not blazing hot, snowing or in the middle of a hurricane) open the windows, let some fresh air blow away all those netflix-inducing cobwebs.
  6. Light a candle. Stare at the flame for at least 15 seconds, take a few deep breaths.
  7. Take your time as you brew some coffee, a cup of tea, hot chocolate or whatever beverage you love. Something to make you two hand sip and go, “Mmm…” In fact, I want you to actually two hand sip that drink and give me a verbal, “Mmm”. Close your eyes, savor the heck out of that moment.

Not that you’re pepped, here’s a few great, healthy things you can do:

  • Go for a walk.
  • Call your mom, best friend or sister for a chat.
  • Cook up a yummy, nourishing meal.
  • Bask in some sunshine (always a win in my book!)
  • Write in your journal.
  • Do a fun project, embrace your DIY side and don’t even think about worrying if it turns out perfect or not.
  • Organize a drawer, your closet or even a whole room.
  • Read a good book.
  • Draw something, even if you think you’re bad at it.
  • Go out with friends!

Take some time for self-care on a bad day. You don’t have to be a tough guy all the time, sometimes it’s ok to step back, step down and truly pause.

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Meaningful.

12224518_999926390027468_1319818625_nThe word “meaningful” has been tottering around in my head for the past couple weeks. (tottering?)

Sometimes words and their meanings just stick and won’t go away until I’ve properly dwelled on them. Pondering and dwelling and constantly thinking about stuff is basically my life. Some might call me an introvert, but I decided that I actually am not a big fan of labels. So I’m decidedly a: “whatever the heck I want to be at the moment.”

Back to that word: Meaningful.

The term is deeply personal. But incredibly important.

Living a meaningful life means you live your life with intentionality and purpose. Living on purpose. If you read the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Covey you’ll know it by the term, living pro-actively instead of re-actively.

A huge desire of my heart is authenticity. And that takes true effort. A proactive lifestyle means you aren’t constantly putting out fires and reacting to problems. Instead choosing proactivity, meaningfulness and authenticity means that you are ready for the curveballs and the changes, you’ve prepped your heart and life to get the most learning and joy out of everything you can.

Life I said, a meaningful life is a personal thing. I can’t tell you what it looks like for everyone. But to give you an idea for yourself, here’s what mine looks like:

Time set apart to spend with Jesus every day. A focused prayer life and prayer journal. A decision to be a blessing. And a commitment to go and do where the Lord leads.

And organized priority list. The other day I made a chart of the things that are important to me and the main things that I need to focus on right now. For whatever reason, some things that I was doing didn’t make the list. Maybe they weren’t important enough. Maybe they didn’t put me in the right mindset. Maybe I was spending to much time on them instead of the things I deemed more important. Whatever the reason, away they went. Seeing those decisions on paper solidified them, even if just for this season.

Once I have my priorities, let everything go. I tend to be an easily stressed out person. Definitely not something I’m proud of. However, I’ve accepted this about myself and decided that a big part of my life needs to be letting go. Take a breath. Don’t worry about it. This keeps me focused on the here and now, instead of worrying about tomorrow’s problems. It’s a constant practice for me, but it definitely helps me create that meaningfulness in my days.

Letting go of those worries allows me to focus on the little moments. What is life without little moments?! Seriously. I don’t know. Need an idea of what I’m talking about? Read these posts on 10 Sweet Little Moments and don’t tell me that this mentality wouldn’t help a person live more fully. I have made lists of these moments since I was 12 years old. Even now, I could mindlessly be typing on my computer or I could get in tune with my senses and feel the soft sheets under my toes, hear my essential oil diffuser bubbling, see the soft sunshine come through my window and smell the coffee warm in my cup. For me, it’s these moments that give my day beauty.

Visualize the person you want to be and go be it. I like the way that The Avett Brothers said it in their song Head Full of Doubt/Road Full of Promise, “Decide what to be and go be it.” This visualization gives you a goal to strive for, it helps with decision making because you know what you want the end result to be. (This is definitely subject to change as the Lord leads.) For me, apart from the spiritual aspect (which is constantly changing and evolving), I want to be a healthy, artistic, creative mountain-hippie woman. || Someone who savors good food, good music, good health and the beautiful outdoors. Someone who brings sunshine and flowers into her home. Someone who takes the time to make homemade Christmas presents and yogurt in the crock pot. Someone who doesn’t have a lot of “stuff” taking up space, but revels in the margins. Someone who cares about the earth and the people in it, making sustainable decisions for her home and life. Someone who loves beauty, but doesn’t need perfection to enjoy life. Someone who dresses well, but doesn’t obsess about her appearance. Someone who cooks delicious healthy meals, but doesn’t freak out if she burns the quinoa. Someone who sits quietly on the mountain top to look up at the sky and feel God. || Now every decision I make today should point to this woman I want to be. Should I buy that $3 glitter phone case made in China? Probably not. A. glitter. yuck. B. doesn’t sound like a fair-trade option. who was hurt so I could buy a cheap item? C. Maybe I shouldn’t even have an iPhone, it sure does take up a lot of mind space. (I told you, I think a lot.) Having that vision in my mind helps me to make decisions that fit the desires of my heart.

Don’t be afraid to be “Weird”. Maybe you’re the only person you know without a facebook. Maybe you feel guilty for eating meat but everyone calls you crazy. Maybe you don’t want to go to college, but instead want to spend the next 4 years serving as an international missionary. Maybe you’ve researched GMO and now can’t let another non-organic vegetable touch your lips. Let me tell you a little secret, there are some really weird people out there who make decisions for their lives based on the convictions in their heart instead of what everyone around them is saying and doing. And I have mad respect for those people. Add that to my “visualization”! Be a person that lives with conviction.

I fail at these practices daily. I have a conviction to live sustainably and naturally, but I still drink hot chocolate from a non-recyclable carton and have been seen buying $3 shirts from H&M. Even though I fall short from the person I’ve decided to be, I still am closer to her today than I was yesterday because I have her in the front of my mind. Having that vision makes me google “healthy natural hot chocolate recipes” (even if I don’t end up making them) and keeps me searching thrift stores for second-hand shirts that aren’t screwing up the economic system. One step at a time, guys. Decide what to be, and go be it. Be a person that lives with conviction. Go out and live your most meaningful life. 

a guide to self care.

IMG_3568Self care.

Sounds so…selfish. Right? Especially for Christians as we are taught to sacrifice “self” and serve others.

Jesus is our inspiration and guide and even he took some time, spent with the Father, to recharge and fill up. And he is absolute perfection itself! So don’t you think we, as imperfect creatures, need to take the time to recharge?

++ If you’re one of those people that can serve + love + do life without burning out than CONGRATU-FREAKING-LATIONS. You’re ahead of the game so why don’t you just go ahead and advance to boardwalk. (excuse the sarcasm)

But for the rest of us, including myself, I get tired. I get worn. I get stressed. And I need to crawl into a little fox hole with God and R E C H A R G E.

To give you some ideas for yourself I’ve come up with a list of “10 Self-Care Tips” that I abide by. It’s a personal issue and everyone is different, so don’t feel like you have to fit in my version as an anxiety stricken introvert. My husband is an easy-going extrovert (bless him), so his list would look more like “Hang out with the guys. Buy a new cool toy. Watch my favorite show while cuddling with Elisa.” And that’s totally ok :)

10 Self Care Tips and Practices

by Elisa Cobb

  1. Spend time with Jesus. NUMERO UNO, guys. For me, this looks like cuddling up with my Bible, journal and a cup of coffee. Quiet time. Alone with Jesus.
  2. Go for a walk. Like I said above, I’m an anxious person (it’s not something I’m proud of). Going for walks helps calm me down and get my perspective straight. I like to put in earbuds and listen to inspiring music. Sometimes it’s worship, sometimes its Jonsi and sometimes it’s classical. Worship is the best, though. Nothing centers me more than a walk with worship music.
  3. Take a bath. Make this intentional, not just utilitarian. Use epsom salts, candle light, music, your favorite book.
  4. Sit alone with your back up against the wall and your legs crossed indian style. Stretch your back up the wall and take deep breaths. Close your eyes. Focus on Jesus. Focus on your blessings.
  5. Write or Draw or whatever-artistic-thing-you-do. I have a million journals filled with rambles and thoughts.
  6. Make a “nest” with pillows and blankets and cuddle up in it. Watch a show that makes you happy or read your favorite book.
  7. Give yourself guilt-free permission to say “No Thanks” to that volunteer request or invitation to a night-out. I promise you, IT’S OK. But know the difference between a good opportunity to stretch yourself, learn + grow versus an outing that is just one thing to many on your schedule.
  8. S T R E T C H. Do yoga. Move your body.
  9. EAT. Preferably something ultra healthy (scrambled eggs + sauteed veggies + potatoes, for me!) or even a piece of dark chocolate. This isn’t a chance for you to eat your feelings, this is an opportunity to nourish your body. Also make a cup of green tea for yourself, drink it slowly.
  10. Listen to your body, listen to the cry of your heart. I hear you all now, “The heart is deceitful…” And yes, it is. I agree, obviously. George MacDonald once said, “You do not have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body.” That soul is eternal, so take care of it. Confess when you need to. Bask in God’s presence when you need to. Be with people when you need to. Be alone when you need to. Be gentle with yourself.

 

How do you practice self care?

10 Tips: Green Cleaning on a Budget

I love cleaning green. There are so many harsh chemicals in cleaning products, and it’s a beautiful thing to clean naturally. Especially because that means saving money!

green cleaningI own a cleaning business, Polished Cleaning Services, and we put a HUGE emphasis on natural products. I’ve used both natural and chemical cleaners, and I find that when I stick to the natural stuff I’m a happier healthier creature. Chemical products give me a sore throat and a grumpy spirit. Chemical laden cleaners are also EXPENSIVE. So to me, natural products are a no-freaking-brainer.

There are a LOT of very specific cleaning recipes out there, and I’m here to tell you, it’s really not supposed to be that complicated. Natural cleaning products are truly a dream team, a triple threat of easy, cheap and natural. If you find a recipe that asks you to pull out your measuring spoons then say “See ya later” and re-read this post.

PRODUCTS:

1. White Vinegar. Guys, you can buy one gallon for $4 dollars at Wal-Mart. That’s right, 128 oz for 400 pennies. Pour it in a squirt bottle to clean surfaces, windows, toilets, bathrooms, walls and kitchens. Consider this your all-purpose spray.

– If you hate the smell (and I don’t blame you if you do), add a little bit of Meyers counter spray to your vinegar spray bottle. Honeysuckle is my favorite. Though Lavender is also heavenly. Oh and basil is amazing. Ok, they’re all great. You can get 16 oz in a spray bottle for $3.75. Or add lemon juice for it’s disinfectant properties.

– Pour a bit it in your washing machine as a fabric softener (without the Meyers, of course. I promise the smell will go away.)- Oh and one more thing, HERE is a list of things that you should NOT clean with vinegar

2. Baking Soda. A true queen of green cleaning/household/beauty. I’d love to tell you how I use this to make my own tooth paste but that’s a story for another article (also EXTREMELY EASY). Here’s how to use Baking Soda while cleaning your house: Ask yourself, “Do I need something abrasive to remove this scum/crud/mold?” If the answer is Yes — USE BAKING SODA. Typically one small box is under $1.00 so stock up!

– Sprinkle onto pet throw up/poop to dry it up for easy cleaning (nasty.)

– Use it in your washing machine (or see below where we make our own laundry detergent).

3. Hydrogen Peroxide. I have to tell ya’ll a secret. I was at our local “organic market” the other day searching for a bleach alternative. (I confess, my husband and I have been married almost 2 years and I finally bought my first bottle of clorox bleach.) Being the focused shopper that I am, looked on the back of this “chlorine free bleach” selling for $12.99 and realized that it was nothing more than watered down Hydrogen Peroxide. Guys. IT WAS NOTHING MORE THAN HYDROGEN PEROXIDE. CVS sells that stuff at $1.77 for 16 oz. Water that down and use it, baby! (I also use this to whiten my teeth…but that’s another story.)

4. Dr Bronner’s Castille Soap. I’ve seen this from $15-$20 a bottle – ouch. But, two things to remember: 1. It’s concentrated. So take one third of your bottle, mix it with equal or double parts of water and you’re golden. 2. It’s fair trade, organic and amazing.

– I put a squirt of Dr Bronner’s in the toilet, scrub it with a toilet brush and let it sit. Smells amazing. (Remind me to never again use “squirt” and “toilet” in the same sentence again.)

– Warm water + Dr Bronners to clean out the fridge, wipe down counters, clean floors. This is definitely another “all-purpose” option, HOWEVER, since it’s soap you need to be careful that it doesn’t leave a residue.

CONCEPTS

5. Buy natural hand soap (Meyers, Honest Co., Method) and water it down, 2-to-1. Sounds cheap and tacky but who cares? That stuff is expensive (though natural, which I appreciate) and I’m not here to flush $$ down the drain.

6. I have a story to tell you, I tried and tried to make my own laundry detergent. I bought the ingredients and tried a recipe and it wasn’t my fave (it used shredded Fels Naptha, and apparently I didn’t shred it enough so I had chunks of it in my laundry every time I put it away). I had some leftover stuff from those previous recipes (Washing Soda, Baking Soda, those yummy smelling Downy tablets that make your laundry smell like heaven, Borax…) but I didn’t have the correct ratios for the recipes on Pinterest. Being the crazy free spirit that I am, I dumped everything I had left in a pretty jar and used it up. Seriously – BEST EVER. And you know what was the best part? I didn’t stress and it STILL WORKED. And I have a landscaper for a husband, so the fact that the detergent worked on his muddy work-pants means that it’s a miracle. The moral of this story is, go to Pinterest for a concept and adapt it to your life with as little stress as possible. Next time I make detergent I’m just going to buy probably two boxes of baking soda, a box of washing soda, a box of borax and a container of those yummy smelling things (not natural, but I’ll make a sacrifice) and just mix them all together. No bigs, guys.

7. Make your own dryer sheets (See Pinterest), or do as I do and just don’t use them! I ran out of a purchased pack a couple weeks ago and really haven’t noticed a difference since I’ve not used them anymore. Zero waste and budget friendly is a total WIN in my book!

8. As we said above:
Vinegar + Water = All Purpose Spray.
Hydrogen Peroxide + Water = Bleach.
Dr. Bronners + Water = Yummy smelling clean.
Baking Soda + Water = Scrub

9. Buy a scrub brush. Elbow grease is cheaper than an ultra-intense chemical filled cleaner.

10. Re-use old rags. Say “Goodbye” to paper towels. (You can find cheap rags at thrift stores).

+++ So, in a nutshell – Don’t complicate things. Just make good, natural, simplifying decisions. I promise I am not some ultra-energized Susie Homemaker (only in my dreams) who makes everything from scratch and goes a mile a minute. I want to do more than just make cleaning products all day – and these are the tips that I use in my own home. I hope they work for you! +++

What tips and tricks for Green Cleaning do you use in your own home? I’d love to hear!

xo!