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5 Forms of Self-Care

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Self-care is more than just candles and face masks. Now don’t miss understand, we LOVE candles (preferably gardenia-scented) and have a drawer full of face masks and scrubs, but learning how to take care of yourself goes beyond this. We’ve spoken to many women who say that they will schedule routine manicures appointments or grab a Starbucks drink twice a week but, for some reason, they still don’t know why they find themselves tired and depleted at the end of each week. And then of course the weekends are packed with errands that you can’t seem to be able to fit into the weekdays, making your weekends feel like “just-as-busy” extensions of the week.

When it comes to really taking care of ourselves, self-goes beyond just physical care. Self-care comes in many forms, and the most ideal situation is having a healthy balance between these multiple forms of care. These next 5 dimensions of self-care help to support various parts of who you are!

Physical Self-Care: This first form of self-care is probably the most recognized one. It involves activities that you could do to care for your physical body. Many of these activities are associated with eating healthy, exercise, and sleep patterns.

Mental Self-Care: This second form of care include activities that relate directly to your thoughts, reflections, and understanding – recognizing thought processes, ideas, and responding in a healthy way. You might be familiar with the term mindfulness, the act of being aware of your thoughts and reflections of the present moment. Mindfulness activities can help you develop a more positive mental state.

Emotional Self-Care: We are capable of expressing an endless number of emotions on a daily basis, and sometimes we even feel more than one emotion at a time. Talk about confusing! There is a phrase that is commonly used in day to day language to convey the negative impact emotions can have on oneself: feeling emotionally drained. Emotions are very powerful influencers on our overall health and so it is in our best interest to be aware of our feelings.

Spiritual Self-Care: Spirituality can be defined in many ways but underneath this broad topic is a fundamental dimension that covers the personal values and meanings by which we live our lives. Spiritual self-care includes activities that allow us to focus all that’s beyond this physical world; things that can oftentimes be very stressful and demanding. The awareness of these transcending experiences can positively impact our personal lives and relationships with others.

Social Self-Care: No matter our personality type, Myers Briggs score, or temperaments, we all have one thing in common…we are relational beings. How much we actually love being around people may vary (lol!) but, at some level, interactions with others is a vital part of who we are!

So here’s a challenge for you! Arrange these 5 forms of self-care in order, from “yep, got that down pack!” to “yeahhh….ummm, I need to get on that.” Which 2 forms of self-care do you practice the least? Now, identify one thing that you can do to incorporate them into your life.

Are you one of our subscribers?!? If so, guess what?!? February’s box will include ideas for all 5 areas of self-care!

Not a member yet?? What are you waiting for?! Join our tribe! We have subscription options for every type of girl. Visit our website: Click Here.

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The Importance of Identifying Your Brand

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Have you ever looked at your visual brand with a super critical eye? Assessing the way it looks, how it feels and the impression you’re trying to make? You have less than 7 seconds to grab a person’s attention – is your visual brand doing this for you and is it appealing to your dream customers?

When it comes to creating an identity for your business, there are a few things you need to consider.

Dream customers

Brand values

Positioning

Future goals

Dream customers
This is an extremely important factor, which a lot of business owners overlook. Or, it could be they know their dream customer is a ‘female entrepreneur’, for example, but that’s about it. The first thing I would recommend you do is spend some time looking at your dream customers in more depth. Really look at their characteristics and demographics, but go really deep into who they are as people. What’s their occupation, income, location, do they have children, where do they hang out online, which brands do they love? What are their values? Knowing all of this and more can give you a real insight into what they like and dislike. Armed with this knowledge, you can think about what is going to appeal to them visually.

A common mistake I see all the time is business owners creating their brands to their taste and in a way, you do need to love and feel confident about your brand, but it also needs to have your dream customers in mind. It all needs to be in alignment with one another.

Brand values
As a small business, you ideally need to have five brand values and you need to be able to infuse your brand values through your products and services. Some questions to ask yourself – what’s important to you? What’s important to you when it comes to your customers, suppliers, employees?

There are SO many brand values out there, but I would choose the ones that appeal the most to you. Having researched big brands, they all ensure their values are on their websites together with a mission statement. I adore the brand values from Kikki K, DREAM. DO. ENJOY. SHARE., because you can see these values being reflected through everything they create.

Positioning
Have you ever done a competitor analysis? This is where you take your top 3 competitors and analyze their branding, website, social media. This can be really insightful as you can identify the threats they pose within your marketplace, if any and you can also see any gaps that you could potentially fill.

Positioning is also in regards to where you want to be positioned within your marketplace. What do you want to be known for? What experience do you want to give your customers? Think about pricing, quality, qualifications, experience, customer service, brand experience.

Future goals
The way you visually brand your business can also depend on your future goals. Are you wanting it to just be you within your business and stay as a solopreneur, or are you wanting to create a global empire with team of employees? Where do you see yourself and your business in a year’s time? How recognizable a brand do you want? How well known and visible do you want it to be?

Once you have these four aspects clarified, then you can start to look at your visual brand. There is so much more to the aesthetics of a brand than just making it look pretty. It involves all of the above and everything needs to be in alignment.

Visual brand – what will yours look like?

Well, your visual brand is made up of your logo (giving your business an identity), colors, fonts, photography and graphics.

You first need to consider the look and feel you want to create with your brand, taking into account all four elements above. Are you wanting your brand to be light and airy or dark and moody?

A great exercise to do here is grab a notebook and pen and write down 10 words for how you want your brand to look and feel, then choose 3 non-negotiables. These are 3 words that truly represent how you want your brand to look and feel on a daily basis.

Now how can you reflect all these elements through your visual brand?

Vision Moodboard
You’ve heard of vision boards right? Well, why not create a vision board for your brand! This can really help you determine the look and feel you want to achieve with your brand and using a tool like Pinterest can help you do this. You could create a secret Pinterest board and think about all of the above and start searching for images that relate and start pinning! There are loads of vision board examples on Pinterest where you can gather inspiration on colors, fonts, imagery and more.

Once you’ve created this, leave it and go back to it after a week and unpin anything which you don’t like the look of and see if there is any commonalities between your pins – it could be specific colors but in different shades, style of fonts you like etc. If you can start to narrow your pins down to certain shades of color, a certain look and feel then you know you’re on the right lines.

The stage from here would be to talk to a graphic designer to help you create your logo, palette of brand colors and more.

So why is it so important to give your brand an identity?

Well, this is where it really ties in with your future goals and how recognizable and visible a brand you want to have. Giving your brand an identity which is all the visuals brought together and used in a consistent manner creates a professional, cohesive and recognizable look. If your goal is to create more brand awareness, give a real and memorable experience, attract your dream customers, help more people (I could go on), then having a cohesive and professional looking brand is of utmost importance. It means you can stand out from your competitors and within your marketplace with a distinctive looking brand. You can position yourself as an expert within your field and the go-to person by having a distinctive and professional visual brand for your business.

A logo, brand elements, even colors and fonts can create an association with your brand. So for example, if I said what’s the first color you think of when I say ‘Coca Cola’ I bet you said red within seconds. If you’re wanting to achieve instant recognition of your brand like this, then the visual side of your brand is just as important as the content and service/products and brand experience you provide.

I would recommend spending some time working through the above, getting really clear on each area and start pinning!

Hollie Ellis

Hollie is a freelance graphic designer with over a decade of experience working within the design industry. Specializing in premium branding services. Hollie works closely with success driven female entrepreneurs to ensure the visual brand for their businesses is distinctive and recognizable so they can start to get their name out there more and attract those dream customers from the very beginning. You can find Hollie hanging out on Instagram most of the time or within her community!

www.instagram.com/hollieellisdesign

www.facebook.com/groups/bringabrandtolife

www.hollie-ellis.co.uk

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Improve Your Relationship

I was recently standing in my bathroom, straightening my hair when it happened. I jerked as I burned my finger with the straightener, and I thought, “what?!? I thought I was going in the right direction?!” And in this moment I realized how often we all fall prey to this struggle – man, woman, those with straight hair or those with curly hair like myself. This problem is no respecter of persons, because it’s a problem involving something we all have – perspective.

See, as I looked in the mirror it seemed (from my perspective) that my free hand was going in the right direction – away from the heated object. How could I be wrong? I was looking at myself in the bathroom mirror?

And how many of us go through life, thinking that people, situations, interactions, and occurrences are exactly how we perceive them. That REALITY = PERCEPTION? Or would it be more accurate to say that the way we perceive something may not be exactly as perfect of a reflection as we might originally think?

I will sometimes present this equation to the clients that I counsel:

(LIFE EXPERIENCES+KNOWLEDGE) + REALITY = PERCEIVED REALITY

The way that we experience a dispute with our spouse, an interaction with a co-worker, or a simple look from our employer may not always be the most accurate depiction of what really occurred.

I was recently counseling a married couple who have been married for 17 years. There are some concerns with the behavior of one of their sons and the wife made a comment during the session that sent her husband into a semi-controlled rage, accusing her of undermining his authority. A simple question posed by me opened the door for deeper communication and understanding. I asked the husband, “What did you hear her say?” As I had expected, what he reported “hearing” was simply his wife’s words filtered through a few of his personal assumptions and feelings.

We all have filters through which we process situations, interactions, and conversations. This week, I would like to encourage you to join me in practicing to be more aware of our filters. It just might minimize miscommunication, disputes, or confusion. 🙂

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It’s That Time Again…

You take me in
You lead me out
You take me in
You lead me out
You take me in
You lead me out
Such a journey walking with you now (x3)

…the lyrics to a song that appear to have been written specifically for my life.
Some have asked where I’ve been, and so as I sit here and prepare my mind for sharing, the only words that come to mind are the lyrics to this Housefires song – “Mountain to Valley”. I think about all that has changed since I’ve last written – work, ministry, home – and am amazed at how life is. Everything happens in seasons.

You take me in
You lead me out

Over the last 10 months I have been in a season where God was leading me out – sending me out into this world to minister, lead, influence, help and I’ve done just that. I’ve stood back in awe of the way that the Lord has used my life to bring change to the culture of today’s ministry. It has, in turn, been a blessing in my life because I’ve had a taste of the goodness of God when I think of the ways that He’s called me to speak healing and restoration into the lives of the women that I’ve shepherded, but I’m pleased to know that He’s now taking me into a new season. This season is a season of rest, as I prepare to “just be”…to simply abide in Him.

In this season God is calling me to press into His presence. I look forward to sharing all that He shows me in this season as He takes me in.

You take me in
You lead me out
You take me in
You lead me out
You take me in
You lead me out
Such a journey walking with you now x3

Mountain to Valley – Housefires

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But, Why?

I was recently asked why I chose to title this blog: Life’s Uncertainties.

The quality of life lies in your perspective of it, I strongly believe. I love Walgreen’s motto: at the corner of happy and healthy – a place many of us want to arrive at, but only a few find. And I’ve asked myself why that is, after hearing my internal GPS scream, one too many times, “rerouting” as I’ve sought to find that corner in my own life.

See because the quality of life lies in your perspective of it.

I also love the show Big Brother and it’s motto: expect the unexpected. (Which has also always left me a bit confused because if you expect the unexpected, then that would, in turn, mean the unexpected is no longer unexpected…) But see for a person like me, the unexpected occurrences of life were anything but happy and healthy – instead they were moments that would leave me feeling unhappy and ill.

See because the quality of life lies in your perspective of it.

Brene Brown beautifully brings you to the corner of faith and unexpectedness when she says “faith is a place of mystery, where we find the courage to believe in what we cannot see and the strength to let go of our fear of uncertainty.” This left me then wondering how could one who proclaims to have faith in God fight so strongly to hold onto control over her life’s circumstances and occurrences? If I was to be honest with myself, I had to figure out what has brought me comfort over the years: the desire for certainty in life or the faith in a God who is constant and good.

See because the quality of life lies in your perspective of it.

I was recently asked why I chose to title this blog: Life’s Uncertainties. I’ve learned to use how I handle life’s uncertainties as a way to gauge the strength of my spiritual walk. I find that those times I choose to embrace the beauty in the uncertainties of life are the times that my focus is fixated on my faithful God.

See because the quality of life lies in your perspective of it.

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Moving Onto Better Things

I’m so happy to have found this outlet. I’ve often lived life ruminating on my thoughts and feelings, afraid to share them with people who may not be all that interested in the ebbs and flows of my mind and heart.

For as long as I can remember, I would struggle with what came naturally for me – a drive to always improve, move up, or move on. Work. College. Relationships. Hobbies. Cars. Physical Shape. Even hair color.

Religious, legalistic, people would always quote me Paul, who in the book of Philippians, was imprisoned and writing to the church at Philippi about being content no matter the circumstances. I’d often feel guilty striving for betterment and improvement, for I was left feeling that striving “for more” equated to dissatisfaction for the present day with which God has blessed me.

But don’t be fooled. The love for materialism, along with the love for self-deprivation, both lead to idolatry.

We serve a God who wants His children to live an abundant life, as long as it is Him who we remain serving. God Himself instructed Moses in Exodus to “go up to the land flowing with milk and honey” (Exodus 33:3). Abundant life.

It’s quite possible that Paul was doing what we are all called to do. To speak into our circumstances. To declare victory. To call forth what isn’t as if it is. To verbalize to the Enemy, who wants nothing more than to imprison you through passivity and insecurity, that we will not be kept down. To stand face-to-face with your Enemy and say “I’m not moved by your manipulation of my circumstances, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.” That’s very different than accepting the belief that life is what it is, and not deciding to actively strive for the great, abundant life waiting for you on the other side of your steps of faith.

Live life. Move on to better things with boldness.

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Some Call it Science. I Call it A Miracle.

It’s amazing how much we have complicated life as a people. We hear stories of miraculous things occurring and we try our best to use the finite human mind to come up with practical explanations – because of course there can’t be a supernatural explanation for some of these occurrences, right? I mean, surely probability, logic, and science hold the keys to all things real. [Sarcasm]

I recently watched an episode of The View talk show and listened intently as a man recounted a moment in time that forever changed the lives of two individuals: his and a teenage boy. Meet Kevin.

One afternoon, Kevin agreed to attend the local fair with a few friends. As he walked by a few of the food and game stands, someone who asked him if he would like to be a bone marrow transplant donor approached him. He thoughtlessly agreed, as he recalls the story.

Two years later, he receives a call during which he is informed that there is a teenage boy in need of a transplant and he was a perfect marrow match. Kevin shares during the show segment that he could not even recall signing up as a marrow donor, but felt compelled to say yes to the request.

The transplant was a successful one, and the boy lived. He is now 20 years old and forever grateful.

What is it that you long for? Desire to have? Pray without ceasing about? Petition for daily? Find yourself fluctuating between faith and despair constantly?

God knew exactly what this young boy would need one day, and had a plan all along for his life. There was an appointed time in history for Kevin to be the answer for someone’s prayer. God orchestrated that boy’s blessing and He hears your cries today. He collects your tears. As your Creator, He knows you intimately.

This same God who saved this young boy’s life, is your Savior as well. I hope you find comfort today in knowing that He is the God of miracles.

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My Confidence, Your Faithfulness

Recently stood in front of my peers and shared my testimony. It goes like this…

1 Thessalonians 5:24 reads “The One who calls you is faithful, and He will do it.” It’s amazing how one simple sentence can bring hope to hopeless situations, encouragement to discouraging experiences, and just enough energy to get through any day. See anyone who knew my story would recognize the life behind this verse. Me standing here is a testament to God’s faithfulness.

So the problem many times is that spectators show up at a chapter like this one, where it appears we have it all together – sitting under great instructors to gain more knowledge, insight, and education in hopes of expanding our experience base to then be catapulted to the next level. Sounds wonderful, free of struggle, pain, and distress.

But you know it’s only because “the One who calls you is faithful, and He will do it.” About 3 years ago I told a supervisor of mine that my #lifegoal would be to become a renowned motivational speaker for women, specifically in regards to educating on God’s blueprint for healthy, sanctifying marriages. She laughed. Not because I used the word renowned being a simple Tampa girl or because I used the word marriage being a single woman in my thirties, but because I chose the word speaker.

See I was the licensed mental health counselor working in private practice and counseling at church, who also saw her own counselor for severe, debilitating anxiety.

I was the one who organized an entire Summit at my last job, but then handed the main speech to my supervisor at the last minute saying I couldn’t go through with the event talk.

I was the youth leader here at Grace who led 7th grade groups year after year encouraging these young girls to never put limits on what God can do in their lives, but would then shoot down opportunities to speak at youth events and trainings.

I was the Honors College graduate who created a website for the entire city of West Tampa, but then visited the Dean of the Honors College to decline the invitation to present my work to students, professors, and community leaders.

I was the USF diversity consultant who created trainings for staff, but would then spend the two hours before each training in the bathroom sick and unable to go setup the training room.

I was the one who would do all of the work for group projects in exchange for not having to speak in front of the class.

I was the one who would sit in class taking up the entire period going over in my head how exactly to ask the one question that I was seeking an answer for.

You see on the outside I appeared to live a great Christian life: raised in church, paternal grandfather was the pastor of the church my parents met in, volunteered in the children’s ministry starting at age 15, traveled on two missions trips, baptized at the age of 24, never really straying from the good ol Christian path, my biggest vice being my coffee addiction.

But on the inside struggling to stay above the waters from my worry, fears, and endless play of negative mind chatter. Having every step be so calculated and avoiding any situation that caused me to feel tense or unnerving. See my life was anything but peaceful – driven 100% by fear.

Right after sharing with my supervisor a dream that seemed unattainable and was literally quite laughable, my mother shares with me a vision she received one day when praying for me, where I was standing on stage and speaking to an audience.

There is an implication wrapped in the words of 1 Thessalonians 5:24, “The One who calls you is faithful, and He will do it.” You see any healthy relationship is one that is two-sided. God calls us but the expectation is for us to answer to that call.

It’s taken me many years to answer God’s call – His call to a greater relationship with Him, one that is completely dependent on His abilities, not mine. Recently the last part of that bible verse hit me straight between the eyes. “He will do it.” My fears and insecurities were driven by my own imperfections, flaws, and weaknesses. The impossible had remained impossible because I was fixated on my own inabilities. But His promise for all of us is that “He will do it” if we just answer yes to His call.

See anyone who knew my story would recognize the life behind this verse. Me standing here is a testament to God’s faithfulness. I don’t know what the next chapter looks like, and that’s okay. My eyes are now fixated on Him. I give glory to God for where I’m at in my story now because “the One who calls you is faithful, and He will do it.”

“My confidence is your faithfulness.”

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Wrestling with Weariness?

Tired?

As I sit here I’m confused. How can someone who has experienced so much in the last week stare at a blank page and not be able to think of anything to write about. Let me assure you, it is not because I don’t have any content: I could easily write about the 5k run I have this Sunday, one that I haven’t properly prepared for, and could use this as an example of how people often do what I’ve done with this race…not properly preparing spiritually for life’s obstacle course, finding themselves struggling the day life is suddenly upon us. Or I could begin to share how my dog loves to stand on my knee while I drive and look out the window as if he is on the highest peak of the largest mountaintop, and equate that to how we sometimes think our obstacles are the largest of mountains but yet to God are the small knees of Life.

So I ask myself once again, how is it that I feel like I’m aimlessly searching for a story to tell or a question to ask, as if nothing has transpired all week? I believe it’s because I feel tired. So today this will serve more as a lesson to share.

In today’s life, we all live full-throttled lives. Yes, although some people’s plates may be larger than others, all of our plates are full – full of endless demands, unrealistic expectations, imperfect relationships, the stretches marks of personal growth, and the constant evolution of purpose and passion. Tiredness is usually the warning sign that more attention is being given to completing, accomplishing, and “crossing off of the list” than enjoying this day, hour, and moment.

God could’ve easily completed all creation and then sat back to admire it all upon completion, but instead He created in intervals, and marveled in intervals. After creating the light “God saw that the light was good.” After creating the land and the seas He “saw that it was good.” And so on…

Tired?

Take the time today to stand back, admiring life as it is, and see that it is good.

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“Where Are You God?”

Is it just me or do you also not trust anyone who says they’ve lived lives free of struggle, hurt, or discouragement? Individuals who claim to have lived perfect lives receive, from me, the same response received by couples that say they never argue – a rolling of the eyes. So this post is only for those who have some battle scars left from scuffles with Life, herself.

One of my favorite books growing up was “Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret,” but it’s not until adulthood that I think back to my teen years, when I read this book, that I’ve realized I did not quite understand what just happens to be one of the largest similarities to cross racial, religious, political, and gender lines – the questioning of God’s existence.

“Are you there God? Why do I waste my breath on what appear to be unanswered prayers?”

When I started out as a Christian counselor I found myself fearing that moment when my clients, people who would find themselves broken and struggling to pick up the pieces, would ask me THE dreaded question: “Where is God in all of this mess?”

“My daughter is hurting and filling her void with men who are just using her. Where is God?”

“My husband is detached from the family and prefers to work late hours to spending time with our kids. Where is God?”

“I was taken advantage of night after night by my stepfather. Where was God?”

“She just walked out on me with no explanation. Where is God?”

“My mother was the godliest woman I know. Why didn’t he heal her? Where was God?”

“I’ve faithfully tithed week after week. How could He have allowed me to get laid off? Where is God?”

And see if I was to be completely honest, I feared that question because it was one that’d remained unanswered for me. When asked that question by a client, family member, or a non-believer, I’d automatically play back my mental footage of all of those moments I’d asked the same thing – unsure of the answer to the question “Where is God in all of this chaos?”

And my question for you today is, “Where are you?”

“Where are you in your unwavering faith?” Matthew 21:21

“Where are you in your steadfast belief in a loving God?” Romans 8:37-39

“Where are you in your hope for God’s promises for your life?” Isaiah 41:13

But see where are you when life happens? We expect God to be consistent, reliable, and stable (which He is), but then don’t act consistently, reliably, and stable ourselves when trials collide with our day to day lives. How is it that, with an attitude of entitlement, we expect God to be faithful, yet we are so quick to doubt His faithfulness when we don’t receive the answer to our prayers in the exact packaging that we’d hoped for?

We often ask, “Where are you God?” while He is simultaneously asking us, “Where are you?”