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Time Flies and Time Changes…

February 13th, 2021 marked my 13th year of being a Mom. My oldest child turned 12.

At 3:13am on Friday, February 13th, 2009, my hubby and I were blessed with our gorgeous girl, Hannah Grace, at 6lbs 1oz and 19″ long. Those first few minutes were “interesting”. I knew something was not right. Finally the respiratory therapist said that her lungs had some fluid on them so they need to take her to the NICU. They let me hold her then she and Daddy went away…

Moments after Hannah Grace was born
Moments after Hannah Grace was born

Our first 5 days were spent in the NICU for 12 hours a day… bonding and loving our baby while their lungs strengthened and she had jaundice… pretty simple compared to other stories I know.

What a kid she was… well still is but I will get into that. 😀

Fast forward to grade 3… Hannah is 7 and things are starting to change. I am noticing things are starting to change. She is leaning more toward “boy toys”, not wanting to wear dresses and “girlie” colours. I start thinking “what if my child is gay?”

To understand the gravity of this question, you need to understand I am a born again Christian who believes Jesus Christ is my Saviour. Now, the church has had a bad reputation in regards to the LGBTQ+ community and I will admit, I was right along there with it for a long, long time. God placed many people in my life over my years who helped me to see that His love is the most important thing to remember in all of that.

As I contemplated the possibility of my child being gay, all I could think about was “what will people think of me? will they think I am a failure as a Mom? as a Christian? What will they think?” Looking at it now, it is incredibly selfish but it is exactly how I felt. That fear was so deep in me and I had no idea what do to about it. I wrestled with “what would the church say? Would they be supportive? Would we still be loved and accepted? Would we be kicked out? What would we do then?” Again, substitute all of the “we’s” for I because really all of my thinking was about me.

These questions went on in my head for 2 years on and off… I had no idea who I could talk to about it. Because, let me tell you, it’s not something that is talked about at all in the church, unless it is in the negative. I am sorry if that offends some of my religious friends but it’s the truth!

In grade 5, Hannah’s class had their sex talk in school. I told Hannah that they will probably talk about a lot of things that we have already talked about and that’s ok. That evening they came home and I am asked what they learned about. Hannah told me there is a difference between your gender and your identity – yellow flags went up in my head. I got the courage to ask her the question if she felt more like a boy than a girl. She though about it for a second and said NO. I told her if she did have that feeling that she could come and talk to us.

Gay, lesbian, and transgender were the limit of my vocabulary, at the time, when it came to the LGBTQ+ community. I knew about men loving men, women loving women, and people want to changed their sex that was it. So on my limited knowledge I continued my journey.

Well… that was about to change!

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Gratitude

I started a habit a few months ago that has changed so many things for me. I started writing a gratitude journal.

Every morning, I make my cup of bulletproof coffee (go to The Diet Doctor to learn what that is), sit down at my kitchen table and write in my journal.

I had NO idea where to start. I remember Rachel Hollis talking about her Start Today Journal so I thought I would start from there. Her journal talks about writing down 3 different sections:

  1. Gratitude: write down 5 things (I thought she said 10 so I just go with that LOL) from the day before that you are grateful for. She says not to look at things too big, like breathing – although I am really grateful to be breathing. She says to look at the little things – like my morning coffee. As you look at the little things, you develop an attitude of gratitude. You will see the good things in your life, no matter how hard things are.
  2. Dreams: next, you write down 10 dreams but write them as if they have already happened. She talks about writing the same dream down over 1000 times before it came true. You are believing that this is what is going to happen. What is going to make your best life? What dream are going to do that? One of mine is that I am running a successful virtual assistance business. I have finally made it official with Borealis Productivity Solutions. Am I taking it off my list? Not yet but as the dream becomes more real, so will that line in my journal.
  3. Goal: the final piece is writing down one goal that will make your dreams come true. She talks about how a person can really only focus on one goal per day. I have a health goal so mine usually revolves around that but sometimes it’s a business goal too.

When I told my counsellor about doing this and how much it has helped me, she decided to have me add a 4th part to the journal… Affirmations (ugh :D) I have struggled with negative self-talk my entire life. The crap that goes through my head… oy vey! She knows that so she suggested I do that as well. I actually had to look up affirmation statements on Pinterest to know where to start… seriously! Then each day, I think about what brought me down the previous day. What was that negative self-talk I had… I won’t be successful, I won’t find new clients for my business, I am not going to lose the weight I want to… the list goes can go on. The I change those around into affirmation statements. I will be successful, I will find new clients, I will lose the weight, etc.

People talk about putting pen to paper. I have thought about doing this on my computer as I find that easier a lot of the time but I know myself well enough that I would just copy and paste. When I put pen to paper I can’t do that. Yes, I copy the same dreams over but I am repeating them in my head each time I write them down.

So I now I am asking you… how do you start your day? Do you write in a journal? Do you have a habit like this? If not, I would encourage you to try it for a month. See how it changes your perspective on the world.

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Content Calendar

Free content calendar for February

Trying to figure out what to post to social media can be a huge challenge for small business owners and entrepreneurs. Being relevant and fun at same time while staying true to your brand.

I have included a content calendar for you. Yes this is for Thirty-One Gifts consultants but any company can use this calendar – just change the Thirty-One content for your own. This will give you a guide for your month.

One of the sites that I love to follow is Directly Social. I have worked with Melissa for years and she is a powerhouse. She has researched and looked at trends. Get her February Content Calendar here. This will give you some other great ideas too.

Use these calendars as a guide to what you can post for February. Create your own graphics, or have me do it for you, and have a really successful February!

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Meal Planning

We all gotta eat! Some days it’s easier to figure out what to eat than others. There are so many days when you come home from work, school, or other activities and you have no hot clue what to do for dinner.

Enter meal planning! For many years now, my husband and I have been doing this. We sit down on Friday or Saturday and plan out our supper menu for the week. We have a calendar on our Apple devices just for meal planning. undefined As you can see, I share it with him so that when we are separated on different trips, we can still work together to get it done. Then we build our grocery list around our meal plan and off we go – we’ll chat about groceries and different services later. 😀

One of the things we also started is our “T” Tuesdays… we have a different meal on a 4-week schedule that begins with the letter T – well kinda – that we eat:

week 1: Tacos;
week 2: Tuna casserole;
week 3: Tubular (some sort of tubular meat LOL: hot dogs, sausage, etc);
week 4: Tomato (tomato soup and grilled cheese).

We do not do this with every day of the week but it was something fun we developed with our kids.

Do you have picky eaters? Get them involved! I am thankful that my kids are not very picky. So we started to get them involved as well. I will ask them “tell me one thing you would like to eat this week”. They will provide me with their ideas and we will add it in. Now, they tend to be quite repetitive sometimes so sometimes we need to have them give us alternatives.

For example, this next week in Calgary, Alberta, it’s going to get COLD (-20 to -30 C OR -4-22 F) so we are in need of some warm comfort foods. Our girls have also discovered having leftovers in their thermoses as well. This week we are having soup, chilli, and stew in our menu. They are warm and comforting and very easy to put in a thermos for school the next day.

Now, with meal planning, there are days when you have something planned and you are just not in the mood for it… well then change it. We call it “audibling” – we usually have pasta on hand or sometimes we just order pizza. It’s not a perfect science but it definitely gives us a framework for the week… and a plan.

Now why would I talk about this on a virtual assistant blog. Well, I want to give you everyday solutions for your life. Not just administrative but other things that can help make your world a little bit easier. Even if you are not in a place where you want, or need, a virtual assistant, everyone can use some ideas on how to become more productive!

Let me ask you… do you have a meal plan? What recipes do you use? Please share in the comments what your favourite meal ideas are!

My Mental Health Journey

So many ways to look at mental health.

Bell’s Let’s Talk Day is January 28. I wanted to share my journey with you in hopes that it will help even one person.

I want to say my mental health journey started after I had my first child but I am pretty sure it was long before that.

Vector illustration of mental health concept with brain, flowers, helping hand

As I have thought about this post for a few weeks now, it is challenging to put it into words. I will start with… I have depression and anxiety and I am self ADHD diagnosed.

Being a child of divorce (at age 11), I am pretty sure it started there. Puberty is kicking into high gear, my emotions are all over the place, there are boys in my world… and then my world falls apart. I learn that my Dad isn’t the hero I thought he was and that my family is being split into two.

My family has a long history of depression but as I child I did not see it. I turned to food when I was younger (and still do at times) when I am feeling down or bored or anxious or angry or… I could go on. I bite my nails, I escape into music or books or movies… anything to take the pain away. I have not gone down the road of drugs or alcohol abuse and for that I am thankful.

I remember watching my sister go through horrible post-partum depression with her kids. When I was pregnant with our first child, I asked my husband to watch for the signs because he would see it sooner than I would. And I, of course, had my sister watching out for me too.

With our first child, I went back to work when they were three months old as my husband had been laid off. I was too busy working to see if any of the post-partum depression was hitting me – looking back though – I can see if. With our second child, I was off of work for the year – it was HORRIBLE! I love my kids with everything I have but I was so ANGRY all of the time. My sister would gently talk to me about post-partum depression and each time I would look up the signs and symptoms online or an assessment and none of them talked about anger being a sign… they talk about withdrawal, not wanting to be around your child, but never about anger.

I got through the year at home and went back to work. I started to feel like myself again but something was still wrong. As a Christian, I remember thinking “I am not praying enough”, “I am not giving my problems back to God enough”. If was doing those things, I would not need medication. Well, I put God in a box and He busted through it. In a matter of 2 days, he sent 3 different people, at 3 different times, who are believers and who I trust to share their mental health stories and how medication helped them. Mental health issues are not talked about in the church enough if at all! This needs to CHANGE – but that is another topic for a later time.

Then it was the humbling visit to my doctor. My doctor is amazing! We have been through so much together. I remember going into her office and my body language was so closed off. She handed me the assessment and I said “I should be honest, right”… oh was I scared! After she came back and looked at the assessment, we started me on a low dose of an SSRI (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor) – these are the types of medications typically used in mental health. She told me I would probably not see the effects for 2 weeks – I took 2 DAYS… the voices in my head stopped, I could breathe again, I did not freak out over every little thing.

Fast forward a couple of months, I asked my husband if he saw a difference. He told me my moods are no longer up and down but much more steady. That was music to my ears!

After being a nurse for 30 years, you would think I would remember to take my meds… NOPE! I would forget and then the anger would come back… oy vey! I do not like what I am like when I am not taking my meds.

Fast forward again to March 2020… COVID-19 hits and the world is changed forever. Cities and countries are locked down; people have to adjust to work from home; and healthcare is changing on the daily. I was handling that OK. Adding my mother’s sudden death in July 2019 on top of that… I was doing OK as well. Then my child comes out to us as non-binary and pansexual and then I think I am doing OK still.

BUT… I am starting to have pains in my chest, my shoulders and my back… hmmm, what does that make you think of? Yeah… me too. Did I do anything about it… of course not. I am a nurse and I ignore stuff (dumbass that I am at times).

I finally call my doctor’s office to get an appointment but she is full. I speak to her nurse, get in serious crap from him, and get sent to an urgent care centre for tests. 6 hours later and my heart is fine – WHEW! I followed up with my doctor and she asked me how my GUT was doing? I’m like… mmmm, fine? She diagnosed me with esophageal spasms and put me on a PPI (protein pump inhibitor) and doubled my anti-depressant. WOW, what a difference that has made.

I write this to share with you that YOU ARE NOT ALONE! Mental health still has such a stigma around it. People do not want to talk about it at all. Well… I do!

If you are comfortable, I would love to have you share your mental health journey with me.

Peace

Each year I choose a word, or I wait to see what God lays on my heart. For 2021, He has told me my word is

This does not surprise me at all.

2020 was HORRID… so much happened personally and professionally. I remember so many days just withdrawing into myself (or a book or video game) because I could not handle it. I remember waking up with blinding tension headaches from clenching my jaw so tight at night. I remember waking up in the middle of the night and not being able to go back to sleep. I remember my anxiety pain being so severe sometimes that it hurt to breathe.

Is it a wonder what my word for 2021 is?!?

COVID-19 made my RN world spin out of control somedays – or it felt like it. Daily, and sometimes hourly changes. Having little to do while management tried to figure out how to handle this. Then, being asked to catch up on 6 weeks worth of work in 4 weeks. Although this “new normal” is getting easier, I still miss being able to drop in to see a client when they are on my mind – yes I can still call but there is just something about face-to-face.

I have been very blessed to find clients for my virtual assistant business and have been able to keep them – thank you, Lord! It was to the point where I was feeling quite overwhelmed at times. Did I take on too much? Quite possibly. It would not be the first time or the last, I am sure.

Now saying that, one of my clients and I had to make the difficult decision to terminate our business relationship. It was not an easy decision to make but the peace I felt after it was done has been amazing. I learned a lot about myself as well as what I want for myself in my business through working with this client and for that I will always be grateful.

The challenges personally will be brought forward in later blog posts. My mind, body and spirit as a person, a parent, and a Christian have been challenged, stereotypes have been brought forward and have challenged me unlike anything else.

All I know is God is still in control and He is giving me more “…peace that passes all understanding…” (Phillipians 4:7) than I have ever known and He is asking me to remain in that peace no matter what gets thrown at me.

Do you have a word of the year? Share it with me in the comments.

Dreams

Do you remember what it’s like to dream? Do you remember sitting and staring off into the distance and just letting your imagination run wild? Yeah… me neither! 😦 We really need to find that again! We need to find that place – that safe space – where we can dream.

Part of my gratitude journal is dreaming (you can read more about my gratitude journal HERE). What I love about this is you write the dream AS IF IT HAS ALREADY HAPPENED!! Seriously, it’s a game changer! In the past I would use language like… I will or I want to run a successful virtual assistant business. Now, I am writing… I AM running a successful virtual assistant business. I am not giving it a time limit either. I write the same thing over and over again. I have been writing the same-ish ten things for over three months. This is not one of those “name it and claim it” things (any of my Pentecostal peeps remember this?). It is sending it out and projecting it into the future.

My dreams have morphed into different categories too, which I thought was weird. I am writing about business, my life and my health. These are what are important to me right now.

I am writing this sitting at Starbucks looking at the table where it all began… sigh! LOL! I was sitting there without my laptop and just a notebook. I did look up what to write but then I let my dreams take me. The things that came into my head were very odd but powerful at the same time. I had no idea they were in there.

If you are struggling with this, I want you to sit down somewhere quiet. Think about what your life would look like when you are DELIRIOUSLY happy – like pure joy exuding from every pore of your body. What would it look like? Write down the 10 things that come to your mind but write them in present tense – like they have already happened.

If you are brave enough, I would love to see what those dreams are… or even one or two. Leave a comment below!

Affirmations

I have been debating all week about what to write… gotta love writer’s block. I keep coming back to Affirmations and what they mean for me.

According to dictionary.com, affirmation is: (noun) the act or an instance of affirming; state of being affirmed.the assertion that something exists or is true.something that is affirmed; a statement or proposition that is declared to be true.confirmation or ratification of the truth or validity of a prior judgment, decision, etc. Law. a solemn declaration accepted instead of a statement under oath.

What does that mean for you? What do you hear when you hear that word?

When my counsellor had me start writing those in my gratitude journal, it was to help counter the negative thoughts in my brain that have been there since childhood. Well, they still are but so much less since I have starting doing this daily.

If you have heard any kind of motivational speaker, they will get you to “shout these from the rooftops”. Which is great, while you are surrounded by a few thousand people. But what happens when you are back home in day-to-day life? What do you do when your kids are screaming, the bills need to be paid and supper needs to be put on the table? That, in my opinion, is when the rubber meets the road. That is when you need to find it within yourself and DO IT!

This is not an easy practice for me! I am beginning the throws of puberty with my daughters (not to mention junior high orientation last night) and peri-menopause for me – not a great combination – my poor husband. 😀 I am finding that this is when I need this practice even more! I need to remind myself who I am in Christ (one of my FAVOURITE Bible studies I have ever done), what I can accomplish that day, who I am as a Mom, and so much more.

Do I spend all day writing out affirmations? Um… nope – I ain’t got time for that! But I believe that when I put them to paper, they will stay within my mind and be there when I need them.

Where do you start with this? I went to Pinterest. The challenge with that is not get sucked down the rabbit hole that is Pinterest – soooo addicting! I needed to make a point to look up those affirmations and keep to them. There are many different graphics and memes made for you to look at. Find the ones that speak to you that day! Or look for a daily calendar that will give one to you to meditate on during the day. It could be as simple as find a Scripture verse that speaks to you that day and meditate on it (Phillipians 4: 6, 7 are my favourites).

This is my challenge for you this week: write out five affirmations daily! Write them down on paper, put them in your phone, tablet or computer, and see them over the day. When you are having those negative thoughts, and I know you have them, look at them or find new ones that counter what you are thinking and renew your mind!!

Calendar Management

Let’s chat about calendar management today! Whether you are a paper calendar person or a digital calendar person, figuring out how to manage your schedule is really important.

I love colour coding. I love it on paper and I love it digital. Our kids are still young enough that their schedules are not too crazy – I am thankful for that. As they started to get into different activities, I decided to create a different calendar for each of us. As I mentioned last week, we meal plan every week and that can get confusing in all of our calendars so I even made one for that.

Some people may find this a little much but there are days when we have multiple things happening and our phones are very colourful. It is a way for us to communicate and keep our life a little more organized. If we are invited to an event, we can look in the calendar to see if anything is going on and accept the invitation or not.

If you are using this for business, you could created a calendar for each project, course, or client. I worked with a client who uses Google Calendar. She is the one who introduced me to organizing this way. I found it easier to see what her day looked like and if I could schedule something in for her.

Do you use a calendar? Do you like paper calendars? Are you a digital calendar person? What tips and tricks do you have for me?

Productivity

Productivity: the quality, state, or fact of being able to generate, create, enhance, or bring forth goods and services

When I decided to embark on my virtual assistant business, Borealis Productivity Solutions, I considered what productivity really looks like. What does it mean to me to be productive. What helps me get the most out of my day? I am going on my own ideas, at the moment, but I would love to hear yours as well.

If I could take, or suggest how to take, some tasks off of your plate to make your day more productivity, what those items be?

For an entrepreneur, it may be calendar scheduling, email management, or posting to social media accounts. For you personally, it could be meal planning ideas, calendar management ideas, or housekeeping hacks.

What does productivity look like to you? Share your ideas and thoughts with me!

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