Sunday, November 24, 2013

What Happy Women Know

A Thursday night read...

"In the end, I learned that happiness is far more than a mood or an emotion; it is a way of being, a way of knowing what is right and good, and living true to that."

On Thursday nights I am home while Chris closes down the store so I am always thinking of different ways to spend my spare time. Tonight's plan includes reading some of my books I had sent to the library since they finally came in today!

Tonight's book of choice is What Happy Women Know written by Dan Baker, PhD.  Something about nonfiction books written by intelligent and experienced writers catches my eye. 

The idea behind the book:
  • Dan Baker is a medical psychologist dedicated to the study of human behavior. He carries out his studies at Canyon Ranch in Tucson, Arizona. His idea behind this book is to provide tools and information that works specifically for women. It is supposed to provide skills to develop a greater sense of purpose, reconnect with love and appreciation, recapture a sense of adventure, and achieve emotional well-being. Teaches you to look on the bright side and enjoy a richer, healthier, more enjoyable life. (Can you tell I pulled this from the back cover? lol)
The focus is on Positive Psychology. The idea that looking ahead does not mean repressing memories of the past, but embracing your past experiences and moving forward into your future with emphasis on possibilities. The following quote I think sums it up extremely well-

"Identifying a person's virtues, strengths, and character and then building on them is far more helpful than pointing out a person's weaknesses and trying to fix them."

This outlook is so attractive to me. I have always been big on positive outlooks but this quote makes perfect sense to me and sums up the idea perfectly. This takes my train of thought directly to my students. It is an awesome outlook for teachers. Sometimes it is easier and feels better to point out a person's flaws and make them understand what they did wrong to prevent them from doing it again. But for whatever reason, the opposite works so much more effectively. The more you point out a person's positive qualities, the better they feel about themselves, and the more they want to do good.

I wanted to point out some noteworthy points that I have come across in this book! They make you think.

1. Skiing through the trees- First of all, skiing through trees sounds like a terrifying experience. However, it serves as a great metaphor. When skiing down a slope through trees your defensive instincts want you to focus on the trees. However, you literally move towards things you are focused on. Having said that, you would want to focus on the space between the trees. While yes, you are more tuned into threatening forces, that doesn't mean you need to spend the majority of your time focusing on them. 

2. The Joys of Getting It Wrong- Perfectionists fear this outlook and have a hard time accepting it. However, the happiest most successful people face getting it wrong head on. In fact, they embrace it because with being wrong comes the undeniable fact that you are one step closer to getting it right. There's something to be said about having:ownership of knowledge that can only come from experience of failure.

3. Its About Priorities-At one point in the book it talks about people-pleasers. While doing things for others is an amazing thing, it should never get to the point where you put yourself on the back-burner. The people who have so much to take care of often say "how could I make an hour for myself" but the question is how can you not? Especially if people rely on you, you need to first make yourself the person you need to be. This struck me because I have said it myself and have heard so many others say they don't have time for themselves, but Baker says it perfectly. "Here's the truth: You have the same amount of time everyone else has, so it's never really about time; it's about priorities."

4. If Not Now, Then When? - The main thing I can say about this is that it stood out to me because I struggle with it. Why are beds and couches so comfy and inviting? I DONT KNOW! But, the reality is we have the make the most of our time because when all is said and done we really don't have a whole lot of it. Especially if we want to do what we are here to do- whatever that may be, we aren't going to get their on the couch. "Happy women understand that today is all we can be sure of, and they know how to make the most of it."  Below is a video I ironically watched earlier today that supports this idea. Mind boggling. 

5. Downtime- "Happy women know that downtime is not a luxury, it is essential to well-being." I am adding this to the list because it was a moment in this book where I kind of patted myself on the back for always somehow having realized this. It also correlates with the last point- always making the most of your time. Don't confuse making the most of your time with going going going 24/7. If you live a crazy chaotic life, using 30 minutes for downtime is one hell of a way to spend those 30 minutes if you ask me. It isn't a luxury but something one must to do look out for their own well-being. 

6. Getting drug down by negativity- This part of the book talks about revenge, which I don't really know about- I'm not really a revenge type of person but he does bring in very good points. Negative thoughts in general- revenge, holding a grudge, etc. They are not possible to be had without negativity and until you let it go it will keep you there. Another awesome idea he had was- Victimization, entitlement, rescue, and blame- VERBS.

He starts by saying, he has never met a happy victim. It seems like an easy way out at the time. But really? Own up to whatever it is and don't play the victim card. "Happy women understand the importance of personal power, which means their life belongs to them." You have a choice to be the victim of a situation or transcend from it and channel it into something that grows you. 

As far as entitlement goes, the idea that the world owes you something. It doesn't. Entitlement is nothing more than a passive approach to life. And that's all I have to say about that. "Happy women know that taking responsibility for what they have and haven't done leads to a powerful and fulfillment way of life."

7. Forgiveness- "Happy women know that forgiveness isn't letting others of the hook, it's letting yourself off the hook."

8. Getting them to Zero- While it's definitely not recommended to go around hating someone, some people just can't shake someone who has done them wrong or even just someone who rubs them the wrong way. Think of a scale from -20 to +20. This is your personal scale. -20 being the most hate you can feel and 20+ being love. Anyone who makes their way into the negatives is capable of doing nothing for you but awakening negative feelings that bring you down. What is the point of disliking someone anyway? They are getting more out of you than they deserve. Why center your thoughts or maybe even your life around someone you dislike. That's where "getting them to zero" comes in. If you don't enjoy someone, then don't think of them. They aren't worth expending an energy on. Besides, negative feelings are bad for your health.

9. Be your own best friend- "Happy women will never be alone because they never abandon themselves." Now, this point is not something I have always had on lock. I have at time been completely wrapped up in a relationship that I was literally reliant on that person. I can't express enough how important it is to be your own best friend. At the end of the day this is the only thing that will ensure that you live your own life of happiness. Nurture your passion, do what you love, make your life meaningful, focus on yourself, and help others.

10."Happy women know that a good attitude, valued relationships, and a meaningful life are the central ingredients to happiness."

Toward the end of the book Dan Baker lists the 10 Qualities of Happy Women. Being a psychologist for 20 years he has worked with all scores of women and these are the most prevalent qualities of the happiest ones, despite what they've been through. He has also come across some of the most blessed women who are nevertheless unfulfilled. His 10 Qualities of Happy Women are as follows:

1. Believing in yourself
2. Finding Your True North
Find what makes you happy, and do it for yourself and by yourself
3. Taking Personal Responsibility
4. Having Courage
Doing things for your own sake despite how hard it is
5. Being Altruistic
Do unto others. 
6. Embracing Optimism
"if more people could just lighten up and see life in a positive way, they would find more inner peace.
7. Being ProActive
8. Appreciating Life
9. Being Wise and Sharing Your Wisdom
10. Persevering

This book just may have landed itself on my Top 5 favorite books. I would recommend it to anyone. And while it is written for women I don't see any huge points that wouldn't be beneficial for men as well. Dan Baker is a very down-to-earth and realistic psychologist and writer with a lot of experiences to share. 2 Thumbs Up! :)

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Shots of Awe

Jason Silva's Shots of Awe...

"Okay, so the idea is to believe in a more brilliant world. This requires a more child-like state of wonder. As Allen Harrington wrote in The Immortalist, 'we must all remain uncompromised as child voyagers, we must all maintain a child's eye view of what might be...'

What happens with adults is that we become jaded, you know? The 'been theres' and 'done thats' of the adult mind. It's a form of laziness, it's a form of dispensing with the here and now and jumping to the conclusions. It's a sort of impatience with lived life that we need to transcend. We need to reengage with the senses. We need to awaken the mind's attention from the lethargy of custom and the film of familiarity and redirect it to instead the wonders of existence."

"We're all born artists, we're all born ecstasy-seekers. And then it all just gets pummeled out of us, it gets like stripped away by banality."

"We need to strive to reenter these spaces because these are the only spaces that have ever led to visions that have reformed the world. And that my friends, is that."

Jason Silva is a film maker who has made a series of videos on his YouTube channel called 'Shots of Awe". All of his videos are only 2-3 minutes, but they all result in me sitting at my computer in awe. They really make me think and have a sense of legitimacy behind them. He is obsessed with the idea of life being a masterpiece and is blown away by the fact and idea that we have no limits. That when we step outside of our comfort zone we really start living. To tie into this philosophy of his, he says it is only possible if we maintain a child-like way of thinking. His favorite video of mine is "Ignite Your Child-like State of Wonder". 

I don't know why this idea is so provoking to me. It may be because my career is centered around children. Or maybe that my passion in life is to teach children. Either way..this idea is something that I have not only thought of before, but have actively explored in my own life. Like he says either in this or another video..they're all starting to blur that it takes effort to put ourselves into this mindset. As adults, we consequently become jaded. We experience life and in return we build walls and barriers between the world and ourselves. Most likely as a defensive mechanism. This way of thinking, Silva calls a form of laziness. I think what he means by that is it takes effort to get ourselves to step outside the drawing of conclusions and look at the world in a child-like light.

I love this idea. He talks about how we are all born artists. As children, before we built those walls we were all dreamers and if we can get back to that way of thinking we can reform the world. 

Now don't get me wrong, I know that it's not realistic to go out into the world everyday without your defenses. But, you have to's definitely a cool idea. Something worth thinking about. And if you're like me, something worth striving for..

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Christmas To-Do List!

Covering all my Christmas bases...

Every year I make it a point to get a list together of everything I want or need to do for the holidays! 1. Because making lists is what I do. 2. There are just too many things to keep straight in my head when it comes to Christmas!

So I have it written all down on a sheet of paper- It is in the making and growing every time I remember something else to add, but I would like to share it with you all so you can add some Christmas cheer to your lives and make sure that YOU are covering all of YOUR Christmas bases! 

Christmas 2013 To-Do List

1. Put a tree up in my bedroom

2. Put up all holiday decor

3. Buy new stockings and stocking holders

4. Put garland up on mantel

5. Buy ornaments for living room tree

6. Cut down a real tree

7. Buy a tree topper

8. Put up a "Kissing Krystal" a.k.a Mistletoe with a crystal

9. Buy holiday mugs

10. Make cutouts and Christmas cookies

11. Make green and red chocolate dipped pretzels

12. Make and put out ornament advent calendar

13. Put up lights

14. Visit Santa with Chris and little man at the mall

15. Shopping trip for gifts at an outlet mall with Chris

16. Go on a "Stocking Stuffer Date"

17. Ice Skate

18. Have a Christmas movie marathon with hot chocolate

19. Ugly Christmas sweater party

20. Make crock pot hot cocoa with candy canes and mini mallows

Creamy Crockpot Hot Cocoa   1.5 cups heavy cream  1 can of sweetened condensed milk (14oz)  2 cups milk chocolate chips  6 cups of milk  1 tsp vanilla extract    Stir all the ingredients together in your crockpot. Cover, & cook on low for 2 hours - coming back to whisk it every so often.
21. Make a door wreath 

In de kleuren wit, zilver en oud roze, is deze ook erg mooi om binnen te hangen voor een spiegel bijvoorbeeld. In other words.... In White, silver and old pink, this is also very nice to hang out in front of a mirror for example.

22. DIY gifts for family members

23. DIY gift tags

24. Buy a special ornament that says 2013 somewhere on it

25. Take Christmas treats to a fire station, nursing home, etc.

26. Listen to Christmas music- literally all the time.

27. See the lights at the zoo

28. Read "'Twas the Night Before Christmas"

29. Listen to my dad's Christmas CD he made of himself on guitar
30. Get Christmas-y nails done

Not usually the salon nail type of girl but I love these ones for the Holidays! :)

31. Build a snowman if weather permitting

32. Order personalized gifts online

33. Simmer Potpourri

Simmer recipes to make your house smell great
34. Elf on the shelf

35. Drink lots of Peppermint Mocha (skinny of course)

This is all I have on my list for now, but I am sure I will be adding more as they come to me! If you have any traditions you cover every Christmas that I don't have on my list leave a comment and let me know what they are! Thank you! :)

xoxo, Bethany

Baby Shower Madness!

The Countdown to Baby C!

Today is November 10th which means...BABY SHOWER TIME! I am going to be an aunt in 5 short weeks and I am beyond excited! My brother and his wife are expecting Baby C on December 13th.

I have always been drawn to children and babies melt my heart- but I was sitting at work on Friday and my sister- who is also pregnant, sent me a video of her baby's heartbeat via home baby doppler. I felt like I could cry and I realized that when you have someone like a brother, sister, etc. having a baby it's 10x more awesome than any other baby. This was some huge revelation to me for some reason lol. I didn't know I could be so excited and love someone so much that I've never met yet! GET OUT HERE ALREADY!

Anyways! This post is going to be dedicated to Baby #1's baby shower. 
To prepare for this shower we delegated the work up among my mom, myself, my sister, and my aunt. 

The mommy to be!

Step 1.
My sister and I set out to Pat Catan's and got tons of cute things- Pink streamer, baby shower confetti, tissue paper balls, a pin for the mom to be, snack bags with twist ties, pink chocolate, pretzel rods, and a baby shower banner. 

Step 2.
We had to find the gifts to give out for the game winner prizes. My mom, sister, and I ended up finding an Aromatique brand set of 4 candles and it came with 4 little gift boxes to match each candle. We only needed 3 but I needed a gift for my friend's new house so I used the 4th for her! (see  It worked out perfectly! The candles are from Sam's Club and they smell amazing.

Step 3.
The day before I popped the popcorn for the snack bags so it would be fresh for the party. The snack bags were a mix of candy corn, m&m's, peanuts, and popcorn. I also prepared the pretzels the day before. I bought pink vanilla chocolate wafers at Pat Catan's and some tiny white sprinkles and went to town. 

Disclaimer: If you purchase these chocolate wafers do not expect them to melt into a runny consistency. It only gets to about the consistency of frosting. My sister was making chocolate covered strawberries and burnt her chocolate because she tried to heat it up to make it runnier! (See the How To at the end of this post!)

Step 4:
Decorate! We held the shower at my parent's house so I made my way over there bright and early that day. My dad was hard at work setting up the bassinet my mom and sister got her, my mom was getting the food together, and I was setting up the decorations!

The desert table (before my aunt showed up with the cupcakes! See below!)

The Mom To Be's gift opening seat!

No helium =  balloon fail! They just kinda sat around. Still cute I suppose :)
The gift that I got her- such a cute bag! "Hello Little One" -From Target
Cupcakes from Sam's Club!
The topper from the cupcakes- So cute!

Fruit punch, 7Up, and Orange Sorbet- delicious!

Prizes & Games

My sister-in-law has a huge family and a ton of friends, so having said that..she is pretty much over the super long showers and all of the trademark baby shower games. So we focused this day on mingling and just having a good time. However, we did do one game! Everyone ripped off the length of pink streamer that they thought would wrap around my sister-in-law's belly! It was really fun and simple!

We asked everyone to fill out their address on a pink envelope for thank you cards and Kim pulled two envelopes out of the stack and those two names received the other two prizes! Super simple and our guests did not seem to mind at all!

My cousin KayKay- modeling her winning streamer!

My grandma getting her measurement ready! She's the cutest



My sister-in-law, grandma, mom, me, and sister. They're my people.



My sister, best friend, and mommy to be

My cousin Kayla 

Overall: Baby #1's shower was a complete success, stress-free, and a great time with friends and family! I couldn't ask for better people to fill my life. Very blessed and thankful, I am! 

Comment or contact me with any questions! :)

xoxo, Bethany