Lessons I’ve Learned While Blogging

Blogging is a never ending journey. It’s a place to always learn and create and always have lessons to share. So, here are some of the lessons I’ve learned so far after five months of blogging:

Consistency-I know this one of the things bloggers struggle most with (and I have too in the past). So, how I’ve found to combat this is to pick a day or two to write my posts. For me, those days are on the weekend. If I have a weekend with no plans I’ll spend the morning running errands, working out either in the morning or early afternoon, cleaning, laundry and then in the early evening I’ll sit down to blog. Because I’m mindful of knowing that I’m going to blog on the weekends, in the evenings when the house work is done, it helps my mind to be calm. I can focus on getting my blog content written and know that anything I still need to do can be done another day.

The other thing that helps with consistency is to know what I want to write about. I have my week planned out based on the topics such as: motivation, food, shopping, lessons or blogging. I then pick a day for each of those topics and write the article (this is where a content calendar would come into play). Within each topic I’ll think about a post I want to write. Sometimes I’ll write down what I want to say on paper and then transfer it over to the laptop-transferring makes the process fast because you’re just rewriting everything without thinking too much (just be mindful of errors or changes you want to make). Otherwise, I’ll write the post on my laptop.

Put the phone away-I have a rule when I blog and it is to leave my phone in another room. This helps to keep distractions limited because my phone’s social media and email notifications go off all the time. When this happens I normally click to: read the email, see who liked my post, who is now following me, etc. I also leave the phone on silent which really helps from having no distractions.

Be positive-The best part about blogging for me, is to show people a positive message in the world. I love to share that it’s okay to struggle with things as long as you come out of it with a positive message to say that something was really hard but this is how I made it out of that time in my life.

The blog is yours-I realized today that the reason I love my blog is because it is mine. I don’t have someone telling me, you should do this or change this to read like that. I love being able to choose my own topics and have others be interested in the same subject as me. Blogging provides a space of freedom for anyone looking to embrace their talents, let other’s learn from you and you learn from others. I never thought I’d love learning as much as I do from reading blogs, listening to podcasts and writing my own blog content. The best part is to make it your own, show who you are and help others.

You can choose your environment-During the spring/summer/fall months I write at a desk surrounded by pretty flowers, my favorite blogging mug, notebook, pen and a nice message written on a chalkboard to motivate me. During the winter I’ll write in my living room with the TV playing music to help motivate me. I also love working from coffee shops, being around other people motivate me to do work.

New blog post ideas-When I have an idea for a post my mind never stops thinking about it until I’ve written it. Normally, my ideas are titles for posts and then one or two ideas of content. I’ll write these in a notebook and come back to them when I’m ready to write. Once I begin writing the post all comes together and the ideas start flowing. I’ll stop either when the post is complete or when I need a break. Sometimes it’s good to come back to content either a few hours later or the next day to read from a new perspective.

What are lessons you’ve learned while blogging? I’d love to know! 🙂

 

How to Resist Foods-And Why I’m Giving Up Chocolate for the Month of June

Here’s why I decided to take on this challenge-I want personal growth of not relying on chocolate to be the only satisfying food in my life. Immediately after dinner I’ll want chocolate and it doesn’t matter if I’m full from dinner or not, I just want it, so I’ll eat it regardless. However, I’ve realized that the foods you don’t have in your home means you can’t eat them. It’s been YEARS since I’ve walked down the cookie and soda aisle to pick up a box of cookies or bottle of soda. I realize now I can incorporate this same method into buying healthier items instead of something chocolatey for after dinner-like ice cream, chocolate ice cream sandwiches, etc. Last year, I realized that every time I bought a regular size tub of ice cream I’d devour it in a LESS THAN A WEEK. Once I caught on to doing this, I stopped buying it, again, I didn’t walk down the ice cream aisle.
I’m not saying I’m never going to buy or eat chocolate again. I’m doing this experiment to see how much will power I have to go without chocolate for one month and to make myself eat healthier options after dinner and on the weekends as a snack.
Here are my tips when it comes to self-resistance of chocolate or any food you’re trying to avoid while shopping at the grocery store:
1. Have a positive mindset-Tell yourself that you’re taking on this challenge for a good reason. Decide what you want to substitute chocolate (or any food) for. For me, this is fruit-raspberries, grapes, blackberries or blueberries. While I know fresh fruit can be pricey, it’s also substituting for the chocolate I’m not buying, which ultimately costs the same price.

2. Do not walk down the grocery aisle that the food you need to avoid is in-This is simpler than it sounds. If you’re trying to avoid eating cookies, don’t walk down the cookie aisle. IF YOU DON’T HAVE THE FOOD IN YOUR HOME, YOU CAN’T EAT IT. This is why it’s important to make substitutions instead of going cold turkey. Because I’m use to eating chocolate after dinner, my rule is to either make dinner portions big enough so I’m full or subbing chocolate for fruit.
**If for some reason you have to walk down this particular aisle, be mindful by telling yourself not to stare at the items and keep walking.

3. Give yourself a timeline-Make this sustainable-not too long or too short. You want to give yourself enough time to really explore how you feel about the challenge. Do you have cravings or is the fruit you’re eating keeping you satisfied?

4. Think about the benefits of why you’re making this change-Mine is for health and mindfulness reasons. After graduating college, I received my first cavity. I was convinced it was from two things, becoming older and years of eating whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. During college I drank lemonade (hello, sugar overload!) like it was my job. Once I got that cavity filled, I only drank water. I switched my mindset of allowing myself to ONLY drink water. I also want to be more mindful of what I’m putting in my body and knowing when to stop after being full from dinner. I started a workout routine and since then I’ve noticed my body tells me when it’s time to stop eating. Also, the healthier foods you put in, the more energized your body will be!

5. Don’t give up-If you’re going to commit to a challenge for a certain timeframe, make sure to stick to it! Tell your loved ones too, so they won’t tempt you with the foods you’re trying to avoid.
Any of these tips can be useful for changing your lifestyle in many different ways. Create goals and timeframes to accomplish what you’ve set out to do and they’ll become a positive way of life.
What food would you give up for an entire month? Have you ever used any of these tips to accomplish your goals? Please let me know in the comments below!

Motivational Monday-Start Mindfulness Now

Being mindful starts with having a clear mind. So, how do you achieve a clear mind? By making time to do so and by not thinking about what is bothering you but rather acknowledge it and do something mindful for a while. Mindfulness is also being present of your surroundings and of your own self. If a situation you’re in is difficult-a hard workout routine or a difficult time in your life-try to remind yourself you’re going to get past it by remembering that it won’t last forever. In the end whatever you’re going through is a lesson and will make your mind stronger.

You can achieve mindfulness by telling yourself that you’re going to do an activity at a set time. This should calm your mind down from any stress you’re currently having.

Some of the things I enjoy doing to clear my mind include: taking a walk, working out, listening to podcasts, reading books or blog posts. While all of these do clear my mind of stress or negative thoughts, I’m also learning along the way. Listening to a podcast while doing a mindless task like washing dishes means I can focus on what the podcasters are talking about.

I know that some people love working out in the morning and I can totally see why, it’s a great way to get energized for the day (I do this on Saturdays)! I’ve always loved working out at night because I go directly from work to working out. This means I can focus my mind on things like: what the teacher is showing me to do, what everyone around me is doing and what I’m doing. The workout routine is difficult, but being mindful that it won’t last forever and that the results will show my hard work helps to keep my mind positive. Working out helps to clear my mind of work stress that I would have otherwise carried with me on the drive home. For the nights that I’m not working out, I’ll come home and put on a podcast to listen to, to relieve my mind from work or stress.

Any way that you can become more mindful of your current situation is going to make you have a stronger will power to get through anything. When this happens, you’ll be more determined to take on new challenges.

How do you stay mindful? Do you have any tips on being mindful or what you enjoy doing to clear your mind?

How to Organize Your Closet-Part Two

Last week I shared How To Organize Your Closet-Part One

This week I’m sharing the way I’ve kept my closet organized for over two years and it works! It’s not difficult to keep up with and once you master the easy technique, you’ll have it down packed. Having an organized closet saves you time in the morning getting ready. It means you don’t have to think about what to wear as much as you would if your clothes were everywhere. Also, it means you’ll know exactly what you own, what you need to enhance your wardrobe and what you no longer wear.

1. First, organize by category and sleeve length-these are items you’ll hang in your closet.
Categories: Shirts, cardigans, dresses and pants.
Sleeve length for shirts, cardigans and dresses-sleeveless, short sleeve, three quarter and long sleeve.
Dresses and pants can be hung up after these items or in a separate space of the closet. Put them the same way you would with the sleeve length.
2. Organize clothes by color-the rainbow. Within each color put the clothes lightest to darkest.
Example: Hang light blue to dark blue-Exception: If a light blue shirt has white lace on it, hang it before the first light blue shirt. I hang white cardigans before the cream ones and a black cardigan with white before an all-black cardigan.

Tip: When adding new clothes to your closet, follow the first two steps.
For some room savers in your closet-hang up accessories like scarfs and belts on a scarf hanger-the belts can hang on the hook of the hanger. If there is an accessory you wear with a specific item (black belt with a black dress, hang it on the hanger of the item).

Tip: Every morning when I use a hanger from the closet, I’ll put it in the front of the tank tops then after doing laundry I can grab all the hangers and hang up my clothes exactly where they need to go. This solution has helped me to not search for hangers throughout my closet.

The key to having an organized closet is to maintain it. Hanging clothes up after they get out of the laundry is super easy if you maintain your closet this way. Why? Because you’ll know exactly where everything goes. Again, you’ll know exactly what you own, what pieces you need to buy and what you no longer reach for and can donate or sell.

Do you have any closet organization tips? Please let me know in the comments! Or on social media-@stylestomakeyousmile

What to do When Your Meal Goes Unplanned

You know those nights where you have dinner all planned out then something happens and your “planned meal” goes unplanned? The tomatoes you planned to put in the pasta aren’t good, you planned a fun night out but it got cancelled or you just weren’t in the mood for the meal you planned? Whatever your situation is, try to selvage any food you have in your kitchen to make a meal work.

Here are my tips on what to do when this happens…

Tip 1. If you’ve already begun cooking dinner and one ingredient is bad, mix in something similar. This literally happened to me tonight-hello post inspiration! I was planning on making pasta with chicken and tomatoes and found that most of the tomatoes I had bought three days ago went bad…so instead I replaced them with spinach and mixed it into the pasta. Cooking with fresh ingredients can be challenging because you don’t know how long the food will truly last-I have trouble using avocados all the time because if I don’t check on them regularly to see if they are ready to eat they can go bad pretty fast.

Tip 2. There have been many times where I will take out chicken to unthaw it and think it’s going to be ready to go the next night but turns out it’s not. When this happens my whole dinner game is thrown off. Also, the opposite has happened where I’ll forget to take the chicken out of the freezer to unthaw then I have to wait until it unthaws for dinner the next night. So what then? I’ve learned this year that it’s best to keep the freezer stocked full of food you can cook on the stove in less than twenty minutes such as turkey and chicken burgers. These are perfect substitutes when things go unplanned because you were planning on cooking anyway.
Tip 3. There is ALWAYS something in your kitchen you can cook for dinner. You might need to be creative-try mixing ingredients, looking online for inspiration (search for recipes where you already have most of the ingredients), cook something simple like pasta but make your own dressing. Or try my favorite, have breakfast for dinner-this can be anything from eggs on toast to an omelet with cheese and veggies. Don’t overthink the recipe and don’t get overwhelmed, as long as you’re grocery shopping on a regular basis and stocking up on food like pantry or frozen foods, you’ll always have something you can substitute when dinner goes unplanned.

Tip 4. For the nights when you thought you weren’t going to be home but your plans changed-instead of running out to the grocery store to buy food (since you were planning to spend money anyway on dinner) see what you have in the kitchen that you can cook up quickly. My mindset when this happens is that I’m not in the mood to cook because I was planning on having a fun night out, so if I can quickly cook up something in the microwave, in the oven or even make a sandwich I will. If all else fails, do what my grandmother would do and have a bag of popcorn! She always said that a bag of popcorn counts as dinner!
Tip 5. When you had a meal planned but you aren’t in the mood for it. This happens to me when I’ve made a big batch of something like pasta, and have eaten it for the past three days, it means it’s time to eat something else! Mood and cravings are everything when it comes to food, so ask yourself what are you REALLY in the mood for? If you can’t quiet figure it out, just make something that comes to mind or if it’s something you have in stock make that instead.

Do you have any solutions to unplanned meals? Let me know in the comments or on social media! @stylestomakeyousmile

Motivational Monday: Replace the Words, “I don’t have time” with “I’ll make time”

There is always something that we wish we could do more of but people will tell you they don’t have time to do so. So, how you make time to do the things you love?
Replacing the words, “I don’t have time” to “I’ll make time” can help anyone get in the right mindset of making positive choices for their life today. The things you put off because you don’t have time, try to put into perspective, how long is the thing you don’t have time for really going to take? Fifteen minutes? A half hour? An hour? Once you’ve recognized how long it will take, figure out a time frame that fits into your day.

Decide today that tomorrow you will wake up and do whatever it is you claim you don’t have time for. Whether that means you need to wake up earlier, take a break from the TV or social media, do whatever it takes to get it done.

Today, you can write what it is you want to get done in your calendar for tomorrow which will hold you accountable because you’ve written it down-this is all about visualizing that what you’ve planned for tomorrow IS GOING TO HAPPEN. Visualization is a key component to realizing your goals.
Lastly, hold yourself to your promise that you will spend the time it takes do what you’ve written down. Making time for yourself is so important because it shapes who you are and who you want to become. You then go from a vision of saying this is what I keep claiming I don’t have time for, to I’m making the time to do it, and look what I just accomplished! Keep writing down things you want to get done in your calendar so you can achieve more of your goals.

What are some things you need to make time for? Please let me know in the comments!

How To Organize Your Closet-Part One

When I was growing up I would organize my closet twice a year, once at the end of each summer to get ready for new fall/winter clothes and at the beginning of the spring for summer clothes. Before going shopping, I would go through everything from last year’s previous season styles and put away the opposites seasons clothes.

Here’s a checklist of how to organize your closet:

Go through your closet-Really look at the pieces in your closet. Figure out what it is you are and are not wearing and why. Once you do this, you’ll realize what you have in your closet and what you need to buy. Do you need more cardigans, pants, or shoes? Knowing what you have and need are half the battle when it comes to shopping.

Try It On-Just like you would try on clothes in a store, try on anything you are unsure of fitting. This is key for any pieces you have not worn in a while. Once you have it on, ask yourself if the item still fits, if so, are you still going to wear it this season? If the answer is yes, great! If no, make a donate pile and if it’s a maybe, then keep until after you’re done shopping. Remember those “maybe” items while shopping, so you can fit them into your new wardrobe.

Make Piles-Once you’re done trying on clothes, make three piles, yes, donate, maybe. Of course, throw away any items with holes, stains, rips, dirty underwear or socks. Put any donate items in a bag or bin. Also, since the seasons are changing, store the previous season’s clothes into a large bin. Inside the bin, store like items together. This will create ease when the seasons change and you have to take everything out again. This cuts down on closet clutter, out of sight out of mind. If you have room in your closet or another closet available, put any larger seasonable items, such as winter jackets, to the back of your closet or in another room. This will lessen the space for this season’s wardrobe.

Donate-Anything I grew out of as a child I donated. When my cousins were younger, a lot of my clothes went to them, which was a great way to keep cute outfits in the family! Today, I offer my friends and family clothes I no longer wear and they do the same with theirs. My friends and I even make it fun by bringing the items we want to give away to a girl’s night and show the clothes after dinner. I also donate to charities such as the Rescue Mission and Salvation Army. Back home we had a store called The Pink Door, which is where a majority of my items went. Donating clothes as a child was a great lesson to give back to others and it’s still something I continue to do and would encourage anyone to do the same. My rule for donating-if you haven’t worn it in two years, donate it!

Overall, the main point of organizing your closet is for you to keep track of what you have and what you need. Go through your closet twice a year and be honest with yourself about what you want to stay vs. donate. If you feel like you are stock piling items you never wear, donate them. If you’re struggling with buying too many clothes, try reading this article on The Art of Browsing Clothing Stores I hope these tips help to reduce clutter in your closet and helps you have a more organized closet in the future ❤

Stay tuned for Part Two of How to Organize Your Closet where I’ll share the ultimate way to organize inside your closet. It’s a fool proof way that I’ve used for over two years and I can’t wait to share with you all!

What are your tips for organizing your closet? How do you keep it fresh every season?