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Do you ever feel like you are barely keeping your head above water? Like you are treading water and can barely take a breath? You aren’t alone! I have been feeling that way a lot lately. I don’t even feel like my head is above water…maybe just my nose so I can take small little breaths. Heck, sometimes I feel like I am drowning because I am so overwhelmed by my long to-do list.

I did this to myself though. I chose to go back to college to complete my business degree. I chose to take on four online classes while I take care of the kids, the house and try to be a good wife. I am not quite sure what I was thinking! I know that it will be worth it in the long run but this mama is overwhelmed!

These past three or four weeks have been the most trying ones I have had in a long time. It started out with me being sick the first week. Luckily my husband was able to step in and take care of the kids as well as care for me. Then my kids got sick which meant a week home from school. So now I was trying to catch up on my house and school work while taking care of sick kids! This was NO EASY TASK! My classes have a lot of work for each one and typically I spend the whole day, every day they are at school doing homework. So trying to do that while having two sick kids was beyond draining. Then last week both kids were on winter break from school. So here I was with another week of trying to get everything done.

Let me be honest, I FAILED! I totally dropped the ball on dinners and laundry and cleaning the house. Heck, I became really good at falling asleep on the couch at 7 pm from being so exhausted. I am incredibly grateful for my husband who did what he could when he got home from work. He really has become the chef of the house lately because I just don’t have anything in me by the time dinner rolls around.

While having my husband’s help has been awesome, he’s tired when he gets home too. There is still TONS of laundry to get done and the floors haven’t been mopped in God knows how long (gross right)! I haven’t seen the gym in weeks and I have three carloads of old clothes and toys to take for donation. Oh, and then of course we have an upcoming PCS (permanent change of station #moving) looming over my head. There literally aren’t enough hours in the day! Being this overwhelmed can really start to affect me, especially with my anxiety disorder. Most of all, it makes me feel like I am literally failing at being a mom and a wife.

So how do I overcome this feeling of being overwhelmed? It’s a question that I have been pondering for the last month. Finally, I sat down and said that I am one person. I told my husband when I started school I would need more of his help and he agreed so I shouldn’t feel bad if he has to make dinners because he felt me finishing my degree is important too. As for my kids, I had to realize that them seeing mommy work hard on her schoolwork isn’t failing them. I am teaching them the concept of hard work and showing them that setting out to achieve your goals is important. I am showing them that school is important. That’s not failing them; it’s setting them up for success. I am not failing at taking care of the important stuff. Everyone is fed (thanks to my husband), we all have clean clothes to wear…they just aren’t hung up yet and we all spend time together as a family in the evenings when daddy gets home. I can’t let the little things overwhelm me.

I had to learn these last few weeks to ask myself, is all the important stuff taken care of?

Did my kids get some time with me? Did my husband get some time with me? Did everyone get fed and bathed? Does everyone have clothes to wear tomorrow? Did I get to put my kids to bed and say prayers with them? Is everyone happy, healthy and safe?

If I can answer yes to those questions then I am doing a darn good job! I had to go back and read my previous post because I doubted myself. I was starting to feel like I wasn’t enough!   These deep-rooted issues don’t just disappear. It’s a daily struggle and your self-talk matters. At times of feeling overwhelmed, those struggles and negative self-talk sneak through. So pay attention ladies!

Now, I may not be feeling as overwhelmed but exhausted has been huge issue for me. I feel so drained by the time 3 pm rolls around that I could go to bed for the rest of the night. I don’t like that feeling and I know many of you deal with this issue too. I have found a product, well more like three since it’s a three-step program, which has helped with my ability to focus as well as my energy levels. I have used this product before but stopped because I felt it was too expensive. Now that I have so much going on, I would literally pay a boatload to get through the day without passing out on the couch. This product has definitely helped with that. If you are wondering what product I am using, it’s called Thrive. It’s a three-step program that you take in the mornings when you wake up. There are two pills, a shake (that doesn’t have to be blended in a blender) and a patch you wear. Now please note, I am NOT a promoter. I am simply a customer, as is my husband, and we use the products. If you are interested then you can head over to my referral link and check out all the information. I am only sharing this because if you are overwhelmed like I have been and are in need of energy and focus, this product actually does help. I don’t share products I don’t believe are worthy so please note that again, I am simply a customer and not a promoter.

So let me leave you with this….

You are not failing your family if you don’t get it all done! Can you answer yes to the questions above? If so, then you are ROCKING it! Pat yourself on the back!

The post Overcoming Being Overwhelmed appeared first on Heart & Stripes.

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Our roles as wife and mother are not easy ones. I often times struggle and feel as though I am failing my husband and kids. I know I am not alone in this feeling because my friends tell me they feel the same way. So why is it that no matter how hard we work or how much effort we put in, we always feel like we are failing? When will we feel like we are strong, capable, independent women? When will we realize that we are enough?

I am very open about my struggles. It’s no secret that I have PTSD and suffer from anxiety. It’s also no secret that I see a therapist regularly. You see, while my PTSD and anxiety are much better thanks to my self-care plan and working through many issues, I still have some lingering fears. Mainly I have a fear of abandonment or losing those close to me. That of course stems from my biological father walking out on our family when I was a young child. Then again walking out on me when I chose to make a decision for myself.

Then there is a deep-rooted issue of believing that I am not good enough, that I am not capable of doing things on my own. You see my biological father, whom I have not spoken to in over 10 years, was an extremely controlling man. Everything was to be done the way he said and thinking or doing for yourself would end up in trouble. I was always the “good child” who didn’t challenge my parents and especially not my biological father. That is until the second semester of my senior year. I was living at his house and he was often gone. I was left to fend for myself and as a senior in high school I wanted to worry less and have more fun. So, I made the decision to leave his house and move to my mother’s. It was the first time I challenged him. I made a decision for myself and because I was 18 years old, I was able to do just as I wanted without his permission. That decision caused me to loose my biological father. While I spoke to him every so often after that, he did not attend any of my important events and the last time I spoke to him was in 2005. He has not met nor does he know about my husband, my kids or any other part of my life.

Those issues or fears have caused some deep-rooted negative beliefs about myself. I have been working hard at reversing them too. I am putting in the work to try and change my way of thinking because on the surface, I know they aren’t true. I know that I do right by my kids and husband. I give all I can into being a good wife and mother. If I’m doing that then I should be able to feel like I am good enough. When my kids tell me I am their best friend and the best mommy ever, then that should tell me that I am enough as a mother. When my husband tells me I am his Wonder Woman then that should tell me I am enough as a wife. If they think I am enough then I SHOULD TOO!

After a lot of work and quiet a lot of therapy, I think I am finally reaching the point of believing it. I am finally letting go of the baggage I have carried around due to my biological father. I had let go on almost every level except deep down in my unconscious. I was still carrying it around unconsciously. That is, until I had a dream the other night. Now, I know that sounds weird but in the dream things were extremely vivid. I won’t go into full detail (maybe that will be another post) but in the dream I was comforting a baby. My biological father was there and so was his wife. I woke up remembering every single detail of that dream and was able to talk to my therapist about it that afternoon. Going through the dream and describing it all to her I felt like a weight had lifted. It’s like I finally felt free. My therapist confirmed my thoughts that this was because I was finally letting it all go. I am finally becoming who I want to be and not letting my fears or issues from my childhood weigh me down.

Can I tell you how amazing that feels?! Honestly, I can’t even put into words how, even in just a few short days, my overall attitude and self-worth has changed. There were so many important details to my dream that gave me the knowledge that I truly believe I am a good mom. I do believe I am a good wife. Most importantly, I REALLY BELIEVE I AM ENOUGH! It’s a feeling I hope every person gets to feel! I never knew what I was missing until I finally was able to feel enough.

Knowing I am enough doesn’t mean I won’t make mistakes. No one is perfect and I fully understand that. Knowing I am enough means that even though I make mistakes, it doesn’t take away from me being enough. It means that when my husband actually text me and tells me I am his Wonder Woman, I can text back with a confident response. It means that I can finally feel like Wonder Woman….even without the lasso, shield or bada$$ super powers!

So today and every day after, look at yourself in the mirror and say, “I am enough”. Just keep doing it! One day, you just might wake up and believe it! I did!

XoXo <3

The post You Are My Wonder Woman, You Are Enough appeared first on Heart & Stripes.

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Valentine’s Day is right around the corner and if you are like me, then you are stressing out a bit. Trying to find a good gift for the man in your life is a difficult task. Normally I get sappy and make something but I started to notice that those gifts, while meaningful, sit on his nightstand without a second glance. So this year, I vowed to get him a gift that was useful. I want to get him something he would enjoy. A nice homemade dinner by me can fill in the meaningful part of the gift. The question is, what to get?

I knew I couldn’t be the only one wondering this so I decided to put together a list. These are items that any husband or boyfriend could enjoy. I know that my husband would never buy these things for himself but would enjoy them so they make the perfect gift! Check them out below and if you want to check out where to buy them then simply click the picture.

1. A Drone

2. A Poker Set

3. Whiskey Decanter Set

4. Fitbit Ionic

My husband has a Fitbit Ionic that I bought him for Christmas and he LOVES it!

5. QALO Silicone Wedding Ring

Being in the military, my husband doesn’t like wearing his nice wedding band to work. So I bought a QALO ring for him a while back and he never takes it off! Seriously the best purchase I have made for him. He can wear it working out, in the shower or sitting at his desk. I looks great and doesn’t irritate his finger.

6. Shaving Kit 7. Anti-Theft Backpack

8. Cell Phone Sanitizer/Cleaner 9. Wireless Headphones

This is another purchase I have made for my husband at Christmas and he uses them daily. I have even walked in to him wearing them while watching TV. He connects them to any of our Apple devices and it allows him to hear without the kids interfering. They are also great for when he works out.

10. What Do You Meme Party Game

There are extension packs available for this game and they include many different themes. You can find the general extension pack to add to the game here.

Bonus Gift Idea:

One way to combine a wonderful gift along with a meaningful aspect is to buy a cooler and make a lunch. Pack the cooler with some wonderful drinks and the lunch you made and head out on a boat ride or even just out for a picnic. This allows for some alone and romantic time while giving your man the perfect gift! I highly recommend the Yeti Cooler! I mean, look how beautiful it is and the quality is amazing!

I think I have provided a good variety of gift ideas that will be great for your husband or boyfriend. I know that my husband loves the items on this list that he has and highly recommends them to his friends and family. I may have even already ordered an item or two for his Valentine’s Day present!

As always, please feel free to leave other ideas in the comments section and..

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Marriage isn’t easy. Honestly, it’s pretty dang hard at times. Then there are times when it’s the most amazing thing in the world. Don’t get me wrong; the best decision I ever made was to marry my husband. He is the most amazing man and loves our kids and me more than anything. He strives every day to do the best he can for us and it never goes unnoticed by me. That still doesn’t change the fact that it’s hard!

I love my husband more than I can express in words. I know, that sounds super sappy and you are probably gagging but it’s true. I went through a lot of ups and downs before him. My dating life was pretty much a horror movie with the occasional romantic comedy scene. Definitely not an award-winning situation, that is, until he came into my life. The entire time we dated, not once did we argue. I know, that seems like a lie but it’s the honest truth! We clicked so well together that there really was nothing to argue about. In fact, we didn’t really have a disagreement until we had kids. Some how, those kids find a way to pit mommy and daddy against one another. Still, we found a way to have little disagreements without them turning into anything big.

That is until last week. Last week we had our first big argument of our entire marriage. That’s right folks, we are seven years into our marriage and we JUST had our first big argument. Now when I say big, it was more of the silent treatment on both sides. We aren’t the yelling type. There were some not so nice text messages on both side and many hours of no text or talking. Which I think was simply because we couldn’t work things out right away like we are used to. He was really busy at work, I was at the laundry mat and aggravated about that…so it was the recipe for disaster. What the argument was over is really irrelevant because honestly it was stupid. It was just both of us aggravated and busy which made everything seem bigger than it was. Needless to say, we both had a pretty crappy day after that.

Now, something we both discussed before we got married was what we wanted in our marriage. We both agreed that we didn’t want our marriage to be centered on yelling and arguing when we were upset or mad. We wanted to make sure that we took the time to calm down and then come together and talk about the issue at hand. We both knew, from either past relationships or from childhood, that if you don’t take the time to cool down then things get said that shouldn’t ever be said. Plus, I never want our kids to experience the yelling and fighting that I saw a child. So while him being at work and me trying to get things done made the argument bigger than it was, it also gave us the time to cool down.

So after work, my husband walks in with flowers (because he’s just that sweet and knew that I was upset over the day and argument) and he asked me if I would like to talk about things. So we set the kids up with a TV show they like and went into our kitchen. There were tears (on my part of course) but most importantly, we CALMLY discussed the argument, why it blew up and then the original issue that started it all. Within 20 minutes we had talked our way through it all and the understanding of what needed to happen in the future if faced with a similar situation.

Now that might seem easy enough but when you are aggravated, upset and overwhelmed…that’s a lot! It takes thought and purpose to control your reaction to yell or blow things up in your own mind. And let’s be honest, I am not perfect! I could have kept that whole argument from happening if I would have controlled my reaction initially but I didn’t. I had to take the time to chill out and so did my husband. Life is stressful and arguments are going to happen. The question is, how are you going to deal with those arguments?

A simple conversation before we got married has become the foundation of our marriage. We know that our marriage is worth fighting for but that doesn’t mean yelling. It means taking a step back, calming yourself down and then coming together and TALKING AND LISTENING! When my husband spoke, I listened. When I spoke, he listened. He had to know my feelings and what hurt or upset me. I had to listen to why responded the way he did. The communication helped us learn more about each other and made our marriage stronger. You will always be learning things about your spouse and communication is the best possible way to do that. Y’all, they are serious when they say, “Communication is key!”

At the end of the day, everyone wants a strong marriage. You have to be willing to put the work in to get that though. There will be great days and there will be some pretty crappy days. It’s what you do inside those days that matter. I highly recommend that you sit down with your significant other (you don’t have to be married) and talk about a plan of action for when the day arrives that you have an argument. I’m telling you, it has been extremely helpful for even our little disagreements.

I’m not claiming to be an expert but if it has helped us, it just might help you too; which is why I am sharing.

The post Marriage Is Worth Fighting For! appeared first on Heart & Stripes.

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Dinner time in my house is a dreaded topic. Even though I meal plan, I spend a lot of time finding recipes and deciding each dinner meal. I mean how many different ways can you make chicken?! (That happens to be our favorite protein in this house.) I personally could eat the same few recipes but I try find new and exciting recipes for my husband. If you are anything like me then each week you dread the meal planning process. Well today, I am helping you out a little bit. Here’s a recipe round-up for your dinner time meals.

*** This is a recipe round-up so all pictures belong to the blog in which I found the recipe. Each blog is annotated below the picture along with the link to the recipe. ***

Sweet and Sticky Chicken with Veggies

This recipe is brought to you by Don’t Waste the Crumbs.

One-Skillet Chicken Parmesan

This recipe from Kitchen Swagger is definitely on my “to make” list!

Bacon Pineapple BBQ Chicken

Where are all my pineapple pizza loving people? Julia’s Album has a great chicken recipe for you!

Honey Sriracha Chicken

I don’t know about you guys but my husband LOVES sriracha sauce! This is the perfect way to combine my love for chicken and not too spicy food with his love of sriracha. Creme de la Crumb knocked it out of the park with this one!

Slow Cooker Greek Chicken

This is a triple run for me (little baseball analogy for you). Not only is it a slow cooker recipe, it’s chicken AND it’s Greek chicken! I mean I have to be out of my mind not to add it to my rotation of dinners!! Well Plated did us a great service by sharing this recipe with the world!

Spicy Thai Basil Chicken

I spent some time in Thailand while I was in the Army. Thai food quickly became one of my favorites! The seasonings they used and the passion they put into the food made it like none other. I found this recipe on Leigh Anne Wilkes blog and I will definitely be trying it out!

One-Pan Eggplant Chicken Dinner

I love finding one pan recipes! Seriously, they are my all time favorite because I am a busy mom, wife and full-time college student. If it’s a one-pan meal that means less cleaning and less time spent in the kitchen without sacrificing taste. Lexi’s Clean Kitchen really knows how to deliver without sacrificing the flavor.

Cajun Chicken & Rice

Cajun, chicken and rice…what more needs to be said?! Kevin & Amanda brought us a quick and easy meal that packs a punch.

Chicken Tortilla Soup

My husband loves when I make this soup. There are a few different versions of this recipe floating around but Frugal Mom Eh! makes it the way that I do. It’s a tasty one so definitely give it a try.

Baked Chicken Thighs

Julia’s Album does it again with this one! If you want the perfect chicken thigh recipe then you HAVE to give this one a try. We have it once a week and always go back for seconds because they are just that good! Did I mention it’s super easy to throw together too?! It’s a win-win!

Don’t forget to check out my chicken recipes too!

If you have a favorite chicken recipe then post the link below so we can give it a try.

Sharing is caring, right?!

The post 10 Delicious Chicken Dinner Ideas appeared first on Heart & Stripes.

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Heart & Stripes by Christina - 1M ago

I made the commitment to workout, mainly run, at least 3 times a week this year. I haven’t been perfect these first couple of weeks but I have made it happen at least twice each week. That’s a huge improvement from last year. Granted, we are only a few weeks into the year but I am determined this time. I have made it a part of my self-care routine and I know that it helps me manage my stress. Which, by the way, I have a lot of thanks to my new full-time status as a college student. (I’ll save that for another post though.) However, in order to workout I have to have a great playlist! Music is the soundtrack to my workout! I know I am not alone in this feeling.

When I was in the Army, we weren’t allowed to listen to music while we did our physical training test. It made the 2 mile run the most boring task! To me, the playlist sets the tone of the run. If I want a leisure run then I choose music with a little less tempo. The days I am motivated I choose a faster paced playlist. You get what I am saying…the music I choose is the pace of my run. Plus, it’s like having friends on your run with you.

Since I am just now getting into running consistently, I went onto my Spotify account and started creating the different playlists. As much as I would love to share every song on each playlist, it’s just impossible. You would probably stop reading after the first 30 songs. Never mind the fact that each playlist has at least that many songs, if not more. Instead, I decided to rummage through each playlist and pull out some of my favorite songs. That way I can provide you with a condensed version of my workout playlist.

Some of you young ones might be wondering what some of these songs are. To tell you the truth, I am probably showing my age with this playlist but I just can’t help it! These songs are CLASSICS! If you don’t do well with curse words then please make sure you choose the “clean” versions of some of these songs.

Regardless of your age, these songs are sure to get you motivated! Just make sure you keep running and don’t stop to dance LOL. I will admit to having that urge a time or two! I mean who doesn’t want to stop and dance to Get Low, Yeah! or Stacy’s Mom?! Seriously though, why can’t running be fun too? The playlist you choose can definitely make it more fun!

So enjoy the songs I love to run to and if you have a favorite playlist or even just a favorite song you run to then please drop it in the comments below! I would love to add it to my playlist!

The post My Workout Playlist appeared first on Heart & Stripes.

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Let me ask you a couple of questions. What do you think Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is? What do you think it feels like to live with PTSD? Do you know someone with PTSD? I ask you these questions because there are a lot of misconceptions when it comes to PTSD. So many people believe that those who suffer with PTSD are rage filled and dangerous. There is a stigma attached to having PTSD which leads to so many people suffering in silence! It’s time to get rid of that stigma and start speaking out. That is what my ultimate goal is and it has to start with me!

I served in the Army National Guard for 8 years. Yes, I said the National Guard. However, I returned home from Basic Training and AIT in May 2003 and was informed of my fast approaching deployment by November 2003. We didn’t return home until 2005. It was a long and difficult deployment, especially since I was 20 years old and spent an entire year of holidays as well as my 21st birthday away from everyone I loved. I didn’t even experience life in the National Guard. I pretty much went from my initial training to almost 15 months of deployment. To top it off, I was a part of Operation Iraqi Freedom II rotation. That means that we were the first group in after the initial invasion. We were there setting everything up and the war was just ramping up.

As a 20-year-old girl, because I was still just a girl, war was traumatizing. To think that I wouldn’t come home with PTSD is almost laughable now. I was part of the initial war though, so PTSD wasn’t widely known or researched. Granted as a Nation we had faced other major wars prior to this one; however, those amazing Veterans weren’t treated for many of their ailments. Now, we know that those Veterans likely dealt with PTSD as well. It just took our generation to really bring to light that something isn’t right and it’s because of war.

I suffered in silence for a very long time. I returned home in 2005 but did not start receiving care for my PTSD until 2009. That’s 4 years of nightmares, moodiness, flash backs and unfortunately too much alcohol. Before I started therapy, I was moody all the time. Likely because I hardly slept due to constant nightmares. I would be driving down the road and freak out because I couldn’t find my rifle only to realize that I wasn’t deployed anymore and therefore didn’t have my rifle. I would see trash on the side of the road and almost slam on my breaks because I thought it could be an IED (improvised explosive device). To dull some of those side effects I would go out partying and drink. Some might say that I was partying and drinking because that’s what 21 year olds do but now I know better. Mix all of those issues together (plus a few more unmentioned ones) and it’s an obvious sign that I was suffering from PTSD but no one noticed. It wasn’t until the nightmares just became too much that I called Military OneSource and they referred me to a therapist. (I received 12 FREE session through that phone call so please call them if you are silently suffering as well!)

So why didn’t I catch it? Why didn’t my friends or family catch it? Honestly, I think I knew deep down but I was in denial. I had gotten a full-time position at my National Guard unit and I didn’t want to lose that. (I didn’t and Military OneSource is totally confidential!)  If I wasn’t at work then I was out partying with my friends who were young and doing what young 20 something year olds do. When talking to a couple of family members about it, they said that they just thought my moodiness was just who I was. That kind of hurt but I know that PTSD wasn’t widely known at the time and I was young so it could have just been hormones in their eyes. I gave them a pass on it. In reality I was suffering and I didn’t admit it or want anyone else to see it, so how could they have known?

My life was a disaster but then there was the light. The light of therapy, which I still do to this day. Don’t get me wrong, it has taken a lot of hard work and a long time…from 2009 until now, 2018…for me to get to a point where I can say that I don’t suffer from PTSD but that I do have PTSD. So, what do I mean by that? I have PTSD and will always have it. The difference is now I don’t suffer. Now I have a self-care plan and after spending years talking about the traumatic events, I have found peace. I VERY RARELY have nightmares anymore and don’t have flashbacks at all. I do still deal with anxiety, especially when in crowds but my self-care plan helps minimize that.

In case you didn’t catch on, I have been in therapy for almost NINE years! That’s a very long time and a lot of hard work on my part. It will be hard work but you can have PTSD and have a your version of a normal life. You don’t need to suffer anymore! If you want to read more about my PTSD then check out my post Living With PTSD – Overcoming Daily Struggles. Most importantly, the stigma needs to vanish. While some with PTSD may struggle differently, it doesn’t discount that their struggles are from what they experience in war. Instead of judging them, help them! And if you are one of those who is struggling then please know there is a better life available. You too can have PTSD and not suffer from it. I am always here to lend an ear or you can contact Military OneSource.

Stop struggling and start living!

The post PTSD – I Have It but No Longer Suffer from It appeared first on Heart & Stripes.

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I am a book LOVER! Seriously, ever since I was little I have loved reading. I was that kid that would stay up late with a flashlight so I could read after bedtime. Come to think of it, books got me into a lot of trouble in my younger years. (Who would have thought that?! LOL!) That love never faded but the spare time has. I never want to take time away from my family but there is just something about curling up with a good book on the couch, with a cup of coffee and a blanket when it’s cold outside. I even love cracking a good read when the kids and my husband are playing at the beach or pool. Reading is a versatile hobby!

If you love reading like I do then the number of books you get through each year is a goal. Every year you try to read more books than the last. I had set a goal last year to get through 52 books but that was not realistic for me. I ended the year with I think 15 books read. So of course, I upped the number to at least 18 this year. (Make sure you head over and check out my goals on my 18 Goals to Achieve in 2018 post.) I would love to reach 25 books read this year though. So, in order to do that, I came up with a list of 25 different type of books to read that might even get you cracking a book this year!

As I was creating the list, I started to think of the books I would read that fit each category. Of course, one book could probably fit into three of the categories but that’s not the point of the list. If you pick a book to fit into one of the categories then that’s the only one you can check off. I don’t have a book for every category but here is a list of some of the books I will be reading in 2018.

My Must-Read List of 2018
  1. Young Adult Novel – The Cruel Prince by Holly Black
  2. Series – The Harry Potter Series (I know, I am one of the last humans on earth that hasn’t read this yet!)
  3. NY Times Bestseller – Get Your Sh*t Together by Sarah Knight
  4. Recommended by Friend – Namaslay by Candace Moore
  5. A Classic – For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway
  6. Personal Development – Me, Myself and Lies by Jennifer Rothschild
  7. Audio-book – Find Your Why by Simon Sinek
  8. Romance – Sisters Like Us by Susan Mallery
  9. Made into Movie – The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
  10. Book Already Read – Grace Not Perfection by Emily Ley
  11. Can Read in 1 Day – Make Your Bed by Admiral William H. McRaven
  12. Memoir – My Life Among the Underdogs by Tia Torres
  13. Banned Book – The People vs Muhammad: Psychological Analysis by J.K. Sheindlin
  14. Published in 2018 – Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis
  15. Bought on Trip – (Can’t choose this yet)
  16. About Refugee – A River in Darkness: One Man’s Escape from North Korea by Masaji Ishikawa
  17. Been Meaning to Read – Quiet: The Power of Introverts In A World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain
  18. Biography – 12 Strong by Doug Stanton
  19. 500 Pages – Darker by E L James
  20. Chosen by Cover – The Rooster Bar by John Grisham
  21. Inspires Me – Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert
  22. Political Book – Sheep No More by Jonathan T. Gilliam
  23. Passionate Topic – Blessed Are the Misfits by Brant Hansen
  24. Published Year I Was Born – Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
  25. Female Author – A Simplified Life by Emily Ley

If you can’t tell, I am a planner. If I create a list then I plan out the books to go with them! It was actually pretty fun to come up with these books though. Some of them aren’t out yet but that give me plenty of time to read the others LOL. I have already marked off the book I could read in 1 day. I actually read that yesterday. Admiral William H. McRaven is to the point but his 125 page has some great advice tailored from Navy SEAL training and experience. I am also halfway through my Audio-book choice, Start With Why by Simon Sinek. After listening to it, I am even more convinced that I am not an audio book fan LOL. I like to hold the book, highlight, turn the pages and this particular book has exercises to complete in order to find your why. I’ll be purchasing the actual book here soon.

Overall I have started 2018 off right with a lot more reading and a lot less TV. Hopefully this will inspire you to pick up a book or two this year as well. As always, I’d love to hear from you. Drop a comment below with your favorite book and I can add it to my list! <3

The post 25 Book Ideas To Get You Reading In 2018 appeared first on Heart & Stripes.

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Self-care is a necessity for anyone but when you have anxiety or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) it takes on greater importance. While it’s extremely important for me to make self-care a priority, I struggle to do just that. I struggle to find the time to take care of myself because I am a military wife and mom to two daughters 5 years old and younger. For the past two years I have made it a goal to make my self-care a priority, however, I have failed to reach that goal both years. When I put this goal on My 18 Goals to Achieve in 2018 list, I became determined to accomplish it! I always say there is no better way to motivate yourself than to have accountability. You guys are my accountability!

This year I have already made if farther than any other year. I sat down and created a self-care plan…hello accomplishment! (LOL) Seriously though, I decided to split my routine up into morning, afternoon and evening. That makes it feel like I am not spending a lot more time on myself than I am taking care of all my other tasks. My morning routine is a bit longer but an early wake up means waking up before everyone else in the house. I should also add that this daily self-care routine is for weekdays. My weekends will include some of these but a few differing factors…like sleeping in because I LOVE sleep. So here is my daily self-care plan.

Now, the things listed are wonderful and will help start, maintain and end my day in the best way possible. Each of these things helps me reach goals as well as takes my mental, physical and emotional health into account. It’s no secret that even doing this routine won’t eliminate all of my bad days. I also know that the weekends will be a bit different so I want to share with you some other things that I will incorporate into my day or my weekends if need be. These are self-care ideas that you can incorporate into your day whenever you need.

30 self-Care Ideas You Can Incorporate Into Any Day
  1. Read a new book.
  2. Take a bubble bath (or just add epsom salt).
  3. Organize your closet.
  4. Color…you know those awesome adult coloring books.
  5. Buy yourself flowers.
  6. Go outside and take pictures of nature.
  7. Spend 10 minutes laying in the sunshine (if you are lucky enough to get it)!
  8. Pray! (I have this on my list but it deserves to be here too.)
  9. Start a journal.
  10. Fix your hair, like curl it and everything.
  11. Get your nails done.
  12. Create a life goals list.
  13. Have a glass of wine.
  14. Get a massage.
  15. Listen to a playlist that makes you happy.
  16. Take an afternoon nap. (Definitely took one today!)
  17. Write down 10 things you are grateful for.
  18. Unfollow negative people on social media.
  19. Say positive affirmations, out loud!
  20. Get dressed up for the day, for no reason.
  21. De-clutter three things from your office or home.
  22. Make dinner in the crock pot.
  23. Write a letter to release emotions.
  24. Do a crafty project.
  25. Watch your favorite movie for the millionth time.
  26. Write a thank you note to someone….just because.
  27. Go for a walk.
  28. Binge watch your favorite TV show. (Netflix, Hulu, etc.)
  29. Go through a room in your home and donate unused or unwanted items.
  30. Volunteer! Local shelter, soup kitchen, kid’s school….just give back.

This year is meant to be your best year yet and making yourself and your self-care a priority will help you accomplish that. Everyone’s self-care looks differently but hopefully laying my routine out there for you all with some extra ideas will get you started on the right path.

Peace, love and happiness is being sent your way! <3

The post Making Self-Care A Priority appeared first on Heart & Stripes.

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Let me start by saying HAPPY NEW YEAR! I always love the start of a new year because it’s a fresh start. Yes, you can actually have a fresh start every day or even every minute but there is just something special about January 1st. I’m not a resolutions type of person but I am definitely goal driven. Every year I set out goals for the next 365 days. Normally I simply post my goals to the board in my office (check out my DIY Goals Board here) but this year I decided I needed to share them with all of you. This will hopefully motivate you to make your own goals; however, it keeps me accountable as well.

Before I get started, it’s important to know how I lay out my goals. I start with the main or big goal. Then I follow that with the smaller goals related to achieving my big goal. It’s important to break your goals down into smaller ones so that you don’t feel overwhelmed in achieving the main one. Each small goal achieved puts you that much closer to the big goal. Now, lets get down to business!

Here are my 18 goals for 2018:
  1. Spend more time with God! Spend at least 15 minutes each morning in prayer and working through my yearly devotional. I will utilize The One Year Praying Through the Bible book to help me with this.
  2. Create a self-care plan and make time each week (or day) focusing on my self-care. Once I create the self-care plan then I will share it here on my blog.
  3. Write articles and submit for publishing for my top two magazines. I will write an article for Bella Grace Magazine and submit it by the September 15th I will write an article for Military Spouse Magazine and submit it by April 15th.
  4. Complete 8 college courses towards my business degree. Complete the courses with grades of B or higher. I have to be realistic here since I am a mom and wife first! My push goal would be to get all A’s but I will be just fine with a B as well. I will take 4 classes during the Spring 18 semester and 4 classes during the Fall 18 semester.
  5. Plan and have one date night a month with my husband. Plan the first 3 months now in order to ensure child care.
  6. Create products for military spouses and make it available here on my blog. Create the eBook, eCourse and binder that I have dreamed up. Bring it all to life! Work on the eBook first and make it available by March 30th. Make the eCourse available by September 30th. If possible to make the binder the way I envision, then make it available December 31st. (I may not be able to achieve the binder this year because I won’t compromise on how it’s put together!)
  7. Run 800 miles this year. That breaks down to just over 5 miles 3 times a week…. totally doable! The goal is to run Monday, Wednesday and Friday. If schedule and location allows then I would like to sign up for the Disney’s Wine & Dine Half Marathon in November 2018. (They even have the kid races I could sign the girls up for!)
  8. Start asking and accepting help with household chores! I may be a stay at home mom but I have college courses to do, a PCS to get ready for, kids to take care of and a blog that I love writing for. It’s okay to outsource or ask my husband for help! Make a list of household chores that I would like my husband to complete and how often I normally do them. Start listening to him when he says, “make me a list of what needs to be done”. (I have an amazing husband who offers often but I always feel like I need to do it myself since I am the stay at home mom.)
  9. Put it in high gear to get ready for our PCS. Start going through stuff and donating/selling whatever I can. It’s time to lighten the load! Each month I will tackle one or two rooms. I will also utilize the Give Back Box organization to donate!
  10. Make yoga a priority. The days I don’t run then I will practice yoga. I will utilize the book Namaslay to help me with this.
  11. Make this year my healthiest yet. Meal planning, meal prepping and healthy meals are a priority. Meal plan on Thursdays, shop on Fridays, and meal prep on Sundays.
  12. Progress my photography skills! Take an online class (or two), read tutorials, watch YouTube videos and practice, practice, practice! Spend time getting to know my new DSLR camera and trying out using the different functions and lenses. Carry my camera with me when leaving the house and if I see a photo opportunity then I stop and take the photo.
  13. Write two blog posts a week and be consistent with it. Plan out at least 3 months in advance and use weekends and evenings to write the posts in advance. Try to stick to Tuesday and Thursday posts.
  14. Read at least 18 books this year. I will push to read 52 books though. Create a list of books (or type of books) I will be reading and share it in a blog post this month.
  15. Limit my time on social media. No more looking at social media first thing in the morning. I must have my prayer time, kids to school, and workout done before signing on. Allow only 10-15 minutes of scroll time at each time when I am signed on.
  16. Set a weekly schedule and STICK to it! My life runs a lot more smoothly and I am less anxious if I schedule out what needs to be done. I will utilize my planner and the Errands To-Do List App to schedule out homework, housework, appointments and shopping necessities.
  17. I will stop watching so much TV. If I have free time then grab a book instead of turning the TV on. I will limit my TV time to two or so hours in the evening with my husband.
  18. I will start focusing on my sleep. Make sure I get to bed at an early enough time so that I can get 7 hours of sleep. I also need to start waking up earlier. So, early bedtime and early wake up time. That means I will be in bed no later than 11 pm and wake up at 6 am.

So, there you have it, my 18 goals for 2018. I know that some of them are some pretty hefty goals, especially as a military spouse and stay at home mom. We have a busy life and adding to that busyness with these goals will be an adventure. Isn’t that what it’s all about though? There is no need to coast…it’s time to achieve!

I’d love to hear about some of your goals for 2018! Drop a comment below with your biggest goal this year! <3

The post My 18 Goals To Achieve In 2018 appeared first on Heart & Stripes.

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