All the Feels

The holidays…sometimes loved, sometimes dreaded.

Yet ALWAYS, for me anyways, a time for “all the feels”.

Seriously.

I cry.  I grin.  I reflect. I plan.

christmas-magic

Crying

I cry because all the animals in the shelter look extra cold and lonely this time of year.  I cry because there are kids being bombed instead of waiting for Santa.  I cry for the “perfect” holiday moments that I will never have.

I cry at EVERY. SINGLE. PUBLIX. COMMERCIAL.

Sometimes I know it’s coming, and other times (usually because of those sneaky commercials) ….BAM, floodgates open outta nowhere!

Grinning

When I’m not tearing up, I find myself grinning like the Cheshire cat.  I look at the kids and their eyes sparkle just a little brighter this time of year.  The expectation and miraculous wonder that this season embodies just emanates from kids around Christmas time.  I watch them sleep and I swear I can see those dancing sugar plums…

I stand there, creepily staring as they sleep….and begin to reflect…

Reflecting

not-a-season

There is nothing better than the holidays to put me in a reflective, “What’s the meaning of life” kind of mood.  Reflection is a good thing sometimes.  I just tend to go into reflective hyper-drive in the months of November and December.  It is during these months that I find myself reflecting on ALL things…. GREAT and small.  Yes, I said ALL things.

Pick a topic…chances are I have reflected on it during November or December.  And if I didn’t get to it this year…I will work on it the next holiday season…

I reflect on Christmases past. Nostalgia takes over.  I remember the excitement of my grandma’s house on Christmas Eve.  I see my grandpa laugh and smile as he opens his gifts (he was always a big kid at Christmas).  I smell oodles of Christmas cookies my mom and I baked in our overly-decorated, yet oh so cozy home.  I sleepily listen for reindeer and hope I to catch a glimpse of Santa.

There is nothing like Christmas through a child’s eyes.

I love that I get to experience this magic again through my own children.

Yet amid these heart-warming reflections, this year I also find myself reflecting on the state of our nation and the rampant hate that seems to have such a vice grip on it.  The state of our planet and the lack of regard for her. World-wide chaos.  Priorities that seem flipped upside down.

I reflect on my life, on past mistakes and past successes. On what I thought life should look like at my age vs. reality.  I reflect on people that have come and gone.  I reflect on the person I was three years ago, five years ago, ten years ago.  So many changes I have undergone…so many truths I have unearthed, so many people I have been.

Change

The one thing, the only thing, all my reflections have in common….

Change

Regardless of whether they are the best memories or the worst memories, the one thing they all have in common is…they don’t last.  Change is the one constant in our lives.

After all the crying, grinning like an idiot and being uber nostalgic, my reflecting turns to a focus on change.   What changes do I want to see happen in my life?  What changes are key to my success?  What changes can I make to get me closer to my goals?

Planning

While some people REFUSE to make one New Years resolution, I tend to make a LIST.  Go big or go home right?  Somewhere, in the middle of crying, grinning, and reflecting, I begin to plan.  My list is sometimes beautifully handwritten (those are my favs, all swirly and artsy, colorful and fun), sometimes it is typed, sometimes it is scrawled in barely legible handwriting on a legal pad, it has even been a journal entry once or twice.  It is normally at least 25 items in length…sometimes WAY more, sometimes a little less.

There are just so many things I want to do.  So many things that I want to remind myself to make into daily habits.  So many ways that I feel my life can be improved.

I have so many interests, so many goals, so much I hope to do with my life!  I can be a little scattered at times (which drives my husband crazy…sorry honey…).  This scattered thinking leads me down many rabbit holes.  Some of which I am glad I went down, others not so much…but live and learn, right?!? I am a believer that life is meant to be lived.

For too long I have let life live me.  I’ve gone along for the ride.  My planning this year is all about changing that.

I have plans to take charge of my life.  I have plans to make my dreams a reality.  I have plans to live MY life, MY way.  I have plans to be able to contribute in ways that matter.  I have plans to surround myself with people who are doing these exact things.

The magic of the holidays, the magic of possibility.  Love it.

Maybe I’m the only one who becomes emotionally unstable during the holidays?  I am sure there are others out there just like me…sniffling through those pesky holiday commercials, remembering Christmases past, planning for what is coming next.  Is this you?  What do the holidays bring out in you? What “feels” does this time of year bring to the surface for you?

Sending love and light

to you and yours

this holiday season!!

merry-christmas-to-all

 

 

 

 

Addicted To Thought

Confession

I’ve officially been MIA from my blog.  Not because I had nothing to say, simply because I couldn’t find the words nor energy to express all the things circling around in my head.  While my writing ceased, my thoughts grew.  That’s how it happens.  I begin going inward, getting lost in my own thoughts, lost in the worry of tomorrow and pain of yesterday.  It feels as if I lack the ability to get out of my own head.  I become trapped there. Fighting. Fighting through depression, fighting through sickness, fighting tiredness.  I become more and more unconnected.  I distance myself from friends, family, even Brent.  I feel alone in my pain, alone in my depression, alone in my cerebral prison.

Unfortunately, this experience is not new to me.  I have become aware of this pattern in my life.  The first step is admitting you have a problem, right?

Hello, my name is Kristal.  I am addicted to thought.

Cerebral Prisoner

I have become controlled by my thoughts.  This has led to being anxious, depressed, hopeless…I could go on.

So now what?  What do you do when your prison guard is with you 100% of the time?  How do you escape?

My quest begins!  I am hopeful that I will be able to break this habit.  I recently learned, I am not my mind.  Sounds crazy, right?  It’s not.  That statement alone has allowed me to climb out of the dark caverns I’ve been hiding in.  It has given me freedom to live.  I am not my thoughts.  Instead I am the keeper of thoughts, the watcher of the mind.

I am becoming more aware.  More aware of my thoughts, my emotions, my reactions, my anxieties.

The Watcher

So far, this has been quite a change.  It is changing the way I look at myself.  I am no longer defined by my mind.  I am the watcher.  I like it.  Just this slight change in perception has already helped to quell my anxieties.  Becoming the watcher has made me feel more at peace, more even tempered, more hopeful.

I have so far to go.  My mind is not the only thing that is in desperate need of change.  While hibernating in the darkness I have not been kind to my mind or body.  I know that.  Again…I am admitting…. As I become more and more identified with the watcher I am more aware of the need for balance.  Yes, balance (there’s that word again, my favorite word for quite some time now.  Balance in all things is what I’m after).  I must start feeding my body what it needs.  I must start moving more.  I must keep myself hydrated.

Begin Again

Stoked, to see what this journey is going to teach me.  Happy, that instead of becoming the definition of insanity, I am breaking those patterns in my life that aren’t working for me.

This is just the beginning.  I am retraining my brain.  Taking charge of my mind, which gives me charge of my life.  I WILL run my life, instead of life running me.

Recent Inspo

Women Who Run With the Wolves

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The Power of Now

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Live Your Legend

the-creed-of-living-legends

What are your thoughts?  Do you identify yourself solely through your thoughts?  Do you think the mind is powerful enough to control us without our even being aware of it?  

 

 

 

Boost Your Mood

I’ve been in a low recently.  Booo hissss.  Good news is, I’m climbing on up!  I’ve done some soul searching, some meditation, lots of reading…you get the picture.  My mind and soul are feeling much better, but I have still been lacking in the body department.  Since my goal is balance in all things, I’ve gotta get my butt in gear!!  Get movin’!

I made this infographic to share some much-needed motivation for myself & anyone else feeling the struggle.

Here’s to hoping this gives someone a little boost!boost

 

breathe, just breathe.

Today there is no silencing the darkness.  Today I am shrouded in a heavy, black cloud.

This cloud slowly sucking life from my body.  A storm cloud, thundering so loudly I am unable to hear anything but its booming.

Booming, booming, booming.  Silencing peace.  Silencing positivity.  Silencing all logic.

 

Physically, I hurt.  More of an ache, really.   Waxing and waning like the tide.  My hands and feet tingle when the anxiety comes.  The weight of my chest increasing 10 times when the feeling is at its worst.

I am tired, so tired (even though I slept from 11am Tuesday until 8am today, Wednesday).  In spite of this excessive sleep, all I want to do is go back to sleep (but even that thought brings anxiety about tomorrow).

I spent the morning drinking coffee as usual, although today, I retreated into the quiet darkness of my closet.

I close the door and quietly cry.  Floods of tears soak my face, no matter how hard I try to hold them back. Even when I gather the strength to leave the safety of my closet, tears continue to escape.

My mind swirls with thoughts and emotion.

Worry. Sadness. Confusion. Anger. Defeat.

Breathe, just breathe I tell myself.

Breathe, just breathe.

mind-swirls

The swirling madness slows. Still, I am unable to make it stop.

I go through the motions.  I put one foot in front of the other.

I should eat, but I can’t.  I should watch a funny movie.  I should meditate.  I should take a walk.  I should exercise.  I should…. I should…I should…

Instead, I remain frozen in my depression.  I disappear into the blackness.  Trapped in my own head.  I feel sorry for myself.  I feel stupid for the illogical thoughts that control my mind.  I feel like a failure at life.  I feel, and feel, and feel. I feel until the only feeling I have is numbness…. then I remember,

Breathe, just breathe.

There are five reasons, I remain.  Five reasons, I keep going.  Five constant reminders to…

Breathe, just breathe.

One day the world may turn its back on them.  One day they may need someone in their corner.  One day they may feel as alone as I have felt.  As long as it is in my power, I will ensure that they are never alone (no matter the twists and turns they face, no matter their choices, no matter what).

I hug the little two, I look at pictures.  I write words the five may never read.  I find comfort in their goodness.  Peace in their innocence.  Hope in their potential.

Breathe, just breathe.

Brent stands by helpless, unable to pull me from the blackness.  He can’t. No one can.  I have to face it alone.  Yes, it helps to have support.  It is nice when someone reminds you they are there.  But ultimately, when the battle is with your mind, you are the one doing the fighting.

You are the one who must continually, tirelessly, each and every day, save yourself.  No one else can.

I know this will pass.  I’ve been here before.  Eventually the sun will shine again.  Light and love always win.

Even in this knowing, today I remain cloaked in my darkness. A familiar feeling.

Today, like many other days, I am my own worst enemy.  My mind and I at constant odds.

Some days I quiet my mind, no problem.  Other days, like today, my mind takes control and there is little peace to be found.

On the tough days I am thankful for my five reasons.  I am thankful for five reminders.

Reminders to breathe, just breathe.

breathe

 

 

100 Costume Ideas: Inspired by DragonCon 2016

It’s finally October!  Yay!  The countdown to Halloween has begun!

I love, love, love Halloween!!  My kids love, love, love Halloween!!

What do we love most about it?  Dressing up!!!

Although, so far this year, the kids  have changed their minds 152 times about what they will be and I haven’t decided either!

How about you guys?  What are you transforming into this year?

Need Some Inspo?

Typically, I scour the internet, and overdose on Pinterest, for costume ideas.  This year I didn’t have to do that.  The ideas just strolled right by…er, um…paraded right by…

Yep…Thanks to the 2016 DragonCon parade in Atlanta, I viewed thousands of costume ideas up close and personal!

If you have never been to DragonCon you are missing out.  It  has become one of my favorite weekends in Atlanta!  Thousands of people in AWESOME costumes?!? Yes, please!!

This was the first year we made it to the parade, and I CANNOT wait to do it again!  If you haven’t been…DO IT!  It was a little tricky to get there…the parade starts earlier than I would have liked, especially with kids in tow (you’re gonna wanna ride the MARTA if you ever get a chance to go), but totally worth setting the alarm for!

I thought it only fair to share some inspiration with you!  Without further ado…

100 Costumes (via DragonCon 2016)

#1- Waldo

#2-Scary Pig Man

#3- Carmen Sandiego

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So You Wanna Be A Super Hero?

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Four outta five of My Super Heroes 😉

 

#4 – Captain #Murica

 

img_1812 Love that trash can lid shield!!

#5 & #6 – Superman

IMG_1887.JPG SUPER never goes out of style!

Who wore it better?  

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#7 & #8 – Spidey Couple   #9- Spider Man:Workout Edition

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img_1959 Nice sneaks!

Robots Rule

We thought the robots were AWESOME!

img_1814#10 – This guy

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#11 – Check out the guns on this girl

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#12 & #13 – Robotics

img_1825Check out that gas mask!

 

#15 & #16 – We come in peace…Who says Robots gotta be mean? img_1826

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#17 – Policeman  Robot

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#18 – Iron Man (I guess he should have gone in the Super Hero category…don’t judge me)

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Who Needs Clothes We Live In GA*

*Warning: This category may not be helpful to you if you don’t live in the South.

#19 – Silver PeopleIMG_1907.JPG

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#20- White Haired Fiercenessimg_1813

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Love the BOOTS! 🙂

#21 & #22- GLADiatorsimg_1833

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Seriously…if you look like this, do us all a favor…wear this

#24 – Grecian Queens

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#25 – Classic Harley Quinn

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Always one of my favs…owing her revived popularity to the new movie, Suicide Squad (loved it).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#26 – Arabian Knight?

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While I applaud his commitment, as a nurse, I could not help but think about all the grossness he was stepping on while making his way down Peachtree…

 

Group Getups

Phoenix’s Favs!  WHO YOU GONNA CALL???

Ghostbusters!

#27- Egon Spengler  #28- Peter Venkman  #29- Ray Stantz  #30 – Winston Zeddemore img_1878

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#31-Janine Melnitz “Ghostbustas whadda ya want?!”  img_1873

#32- Jillian Holtzmann  #33- Patty Tolan “The power of Patty compels you!” 

#34- Abby Yates #35- Erin Gilbert  #36- Dana Barrett

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#37 – Captain Jack Sparrow Ghostbuster

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#38 – Gray Ghostbuster

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Suicide Squad

#39- Harley Quinn   #40-Deadshot  #41- Joker  #42- Enchantress  #43- Rick Flagg

#44- Captain Boomerang  #45- Katana  #46- Killer Croc

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Power Rangers

These guys been kicking butt for a LONG time!!

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#47- Black Ranger  #48- Pink Ranger  #49- White Ranger  #50- Yellow Ranger

#51- Blue Ranger  #52- Red Ranger  #53- Mohawk Rockin’ Axe Swingin’ Pig Man

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Mystery, Inc.

This was my jam growing up! I still LOVE Scooby Doo!!!  #greatdanelove

#54- Scooby Doo  #55- Norville Shaggy Rogers  #56- Daphne Blake  #57- Velma Dinkley

#58- Fred Jones  #59- Scrappy Doo

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Hungry For Brains?

#60- Zombie Psych Patient  #61- Guy Pushing Zombie Psych Patient

#62 – Photobomb Zombie

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#63- Zombie Pysch Patient’s Zombie Doctorimg_1857

#64- Zombie Psych Patient’s Zombie Surgeonimg_1859

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ok, those great!  Zombie is never a bad choice for Halloween!

Maybe you are looking for something a little more…sparkly?

I Feel Pretty

#65- Cinderella  #66- Prince Charmingimg_1849

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#67- Cinderella v.2.0img_1847

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#68 & #69 -Anger & Joy

(Don’t miss them in the background.)

 

Secretly raising a princess near you…

#70, #71 & #72 – Flora, Fauna & Merryweather (The Three Good Fairies)

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#73- Mad Hatter  #74- Alice (not pictured)  #75- Cheshire Cat img_1846

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Feeling the Force?

May the Force be with you this Halloween!!

#76- Not sure who this guy is..img_1919

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#77, #78, #79-  Coolest Storm Troopers eva!  img_1905

#80- Pimp accompanying the coolest storm troopers eva

#81- Han Soloimg_1908

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

img_1916

 

 

 

 

#82- Darth Vader

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#83- Chewbaccaimg_1918

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#84- Chewbacca’s Flight Crew

 

#85- Storm Trooperimg_1915

#86 – Classic Storm Trooperimg_1913

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#87 – The Force is strong with this one…Not sure who he is…..

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I spy a sexy bald man in the background of this pic… xoxo

Rando

This costumes, like me, are a category all their own…

#88- Pipe Carrying Crazy Ladyimg_1829

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#89- Creepy Little Girlimg_1830

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#90- Her friend

#91- Tardis  #92- Dr. Whoimg_1837

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Not sure who this character is…but he’s cool…

 

 

 

#93 – Mr. Top Hat

#94 – Undertaker

Love this costume…If you want to see it up close and personal, head on over to Netherworld!!!

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Speaking of Netherworld…

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#95- Stone Angel  #96-Demon  #97- Voodoo Priestess  #98- Hades

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#99- Psychotic Nurse

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#100-Deadpool

You can even be Teletubby Deadpool!

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Hope you leave here with a little inspiration!!

Which ones are your favs?

What are you and your tribe dressing up as this year?

Happy Costume Hunting Everyone!!!

 

Mindfulness: There’s An App For That

What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness defined by Merriam-Webster:

1: the quality or state of being mindful

2:  the practice of maintaining a nonjudgmental state of heightened or complete awareness of one’s thoughts, emotions, or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis; also :  such a state of awareness

william-blake

Ever gotten in your car, arrived somewhere, then thought, “How did I get here?”

Sat down with a bag of Milanos turned on your fav Netflix addiction, suddenly look down only to realize the bag in your lap is empty?

Found yourself, anxious, mind racing, worrying about a situation that may or may not EVER happen?

I can’t be alone here! Right?

We lose ourselves in the noise.  It seems to be the norm these days. Have you ever met anyone that is just naturally mindful? Aware?  I haven’t.  I am sure they exist, heck maybe you are one of those people.  Good for you!  For the rest of us, mindfulness takes practice.

Practice Makes Perfect?

Practice?  Practice mindfulness?

Yes, that’s right.  Practice.

As for perfection?  I really [don’t] hate to break it to you, just in case you didn’t know already… You aren’t built for perfection. None of us are! Don’t expect your meditation to be.

It can be HARD to reign in the mind.  It feels unnatural to sit quietly…DOING NOTHING {GASP}. Even when I conquer the guilt, there are days my brain just won’t cooperate.  Insisting on going 10,000 directions, the mind refuses to be leashed.  Then, other days I have focus. I leave those meditations feeling like a BOSS, feeling like I can sit in Atlanta traffic without swearing, like I can solve world hunger (I’ll let you know if any of those happen).  Ups and downs.  So while I can’t promise you will suddenly find yourself sitting underneath the Bodhi tree.  What I will promise is, the more you practice mindfulness, the easier it becomes.

I’ve been finding more time for me. And guess what? The more time I spend in meditation, the more I find mindfulness in my every day life. I’m becoming more and more aware of my NOW.  Of this very moment. Of the breath giving life to my body.  Of the sounds and smells around me. Of my thoughts and emotions.

Mindfulness brings awareness to who you TRULY are.  

Who you were MEANT to be!

Where Do I Start?

Maybe you know all about meditation.  Maybe you know NOTHING.  Either way, mindfulness is achievable.  If you can breathe (if you can’t, I’m pretty sure you have bigger problems than how to be mindful…just sayin…) you can meditate.

The secret of meditation?? Meditating.

Just DO IT!  Start right now, wherever you are.

It’s as simple as taking a moment, closing your eyes, finding your breath and focusing on only that.  Breath in, Breath out.  That’s it.  Repeat.

Connect to that life-giving breath.  Really feel it.  Take some deep breaths.  Breathe normally.  When your mind begins to wander, gently bring it back to your breathing.

That’s it.  That’s meditation. That’s mindfulness. You did it!

It’s seriously that easy.  You don’t have to fold yourself into a pretzel, you don’t have to become a Buddhist monk.  You don’t even have to sing Om.  Nope, none of that.

And you know what I love?? Mindfulness meditation can benefit EVERYONE.  It makes my heart happy.  It doesn’t matter how old you are, your religious affiliation, your culture, your sexual orientation, your ethnicity.  None of that matters.  Meditation is for everyone, mindfulness helps us all!

I don’t know about you, but in this crazy world, I need all the help I can get.

You Said There Was An App For That!

Ok, ok so the point of all my ramblings…

If you wanna dig a little deeper into this mindfulness business, or maybe you already have a meditation practice. Doesn’t matter… Either way, I made a discovery for you!!!!!

I am SO STOKED with this new app I downloaded a few weeks ago!!!!  Yep, I am a weirdo.  Yep, I do get excited about random things.  This is one of those things.

smile-on-your-mind

Smiling Mind

On my quest to find some new guided meditations I found TONS of apps.  Lots of them say FREE!  Yay!! Right???!?!

Nope.

With most of the apps I downloaded, you got one measly meditation for free…that’s it…ONE…really!?!?!! Grrrr….Ain’t nobody got $$$ for that!!! 😉

So I was getting a little disappointed with my options…Until…

SMILING MIND 🙂

Wooohooo!!

First off let me just say, it’s completely FREE!  No in-app purchases, no pay to unlock, nope, none of that! F-R-E-E, free.

Smiling Mind is a non-profit who’s goal is bringing mindfulness to ALL! This app was designed by psychologists & educators who are on a mission to bring mindfulness meditation to the Australian NATIONAL curriculum. Yes, national (A whole country full of mindful kids?  Sounds Awesome!).

8yr

It is full of programs for everyone.  There are categories for kids, adults, classrooms, workplaces.  Whoever and wherever you are, you will find something here that fits.

There are also REMINDERS!  I love reminders.  (Even with them I tend to forget stuff…lots of stuff…) You can set the app up to remind you to meditate at certain times of day, or to remind you that you haven’t meditated in a certain time frame (1 day, 2 days, 1 week….it’s up to you).  I’ve set mine up to remind me if I’ve gone longer than 24hrs without meditating.  Although, I haven’t needed it thanks to Phoenix (he’s the youngest member of the Tribe).

 

Are We Going To Do Our Breathing Tonight?

I hear this EVERY night from my youngest, Phoenix.  We made the app part of our bedtime routine.  I love that they love to be mindful!!  It has made a difference in our bedtime routine!  After we do our short 5-10 minute guided meditation, the kids are relaxed, peaceful & ready to hit the hay!!!  Struggle-free bedtime??  Yes, please!! Sign me up!!!

Mindfulness is helping in their everyday lives as well.  They are finding ways to calm themselves, discovering emotions, making wishes,  appreciating the work their bodies do for them each day.  Spending those few minutes meditating at night brings us all more peace, and who doesn’t love peace?

So, what are you waiting for?

Check this app* out, and let me know what you think!!

*Smiling Mind also has a website.