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A Fresh Lens

A Fresh Lens

A few weeks ago, I went out with my camera to capture some of the early blossoming trees. During the pandemic, it has been easy to miss some of the beautiful things going on in the world as we are confined to our homes for longer periods of the day than usual. I was in awe as I soaked in the blossoming Spring even in the midst of worldwide difficulties. Since then I’ve been reflecting on what about photography feels so meaningful to me. It’s not just about having nice pictures to display or have as my iPhone background. The process of taking photos is what means something to me and as I’ve gotten more into photography over the past several years, I’ve noticed my perspective on life changing. Although this pandemic is anxiety-inducing, dangerous, and confusing, it also presents new opportunities to see things through a new “lens” and with new perspective. (more…)

Seeds of Hope in the Age of COVID-19

Seeds of Hope in the Age of COVID-19

The Carr Fire: Redding, CA, July 26, 2018

In the summer of 2018, the Carr Fire struck my hometown of Redding, CA, destroying well over 1,000 homes and taking nearly a dozen lives. The city shifted from a hot summer day to a hellscape in minutes. Skyscraper-tall towers of flame engulfed forests and neighborhoods, forming actual tornadoes of fire. The roads backed up as thousands fled the city, many losing their clothes and hair to the embers. (more…)

Puppies & Patience

Puppies & Patience

What a crazy world we are living in right now! If you’re like me, I’m finally starting to settle into a good COVID-19 routine, but I am really missing my friends, my co-workers, and being out and about. It’s been difficult for me to stay in a relatively small space all day (I see my clients, study, eat, watch TV, read, work, sleep, etc. all in the same place!) Before this global pandemic, I never would have imagined a time where going to the grocery store once every few weeks would feel like a luxury and a treat!

One thing has helped keep me excited and looking to the future during this quarantine. My boyfriend, John, is getting a new puppy this week! I am so excited for a cutie little furball to keep us entertained and bring some new amusement into our monotonous days. John is very committed to making sure this pup has a good home and is given lots of structure so he can learn and grow. This means lots of play, lots of training, lots of potty breaks, and lots of close supervision and patience. I didn’t grow up with animals, so this feels like completely new territory to me. Truthfully, it kind of seems like a daunting task, but I am also really looking forward to the challenge. It’ll be fun to see our efforts pay off as the puppy learns new things (you know I want to teach him to fetch and play dead). Plus, it’s not like we’re going anywhere anytime soon and this will be a welcome distraction.

To prepare for this little guy to come home, John and I have been watching lots of YouTube videos from expert dog trainers. Well, mostly John has, but I’ve been trying my best to do my share of puppy prep as well. In almost every video I’ve seen, the patient and understanding dog trainer emphasizes again and again that the puppies he’s training are just babies, many of them only on the earth for the past 10 weeks or so. Each video discusses how important it is to be patient with the pups as they’re learning. They don’t know how to regulate their bladders or what is and isn’t okay to chew on or how to self-soothe when they’re scared at night. When we pick up the puppy this week, I’ve committed to doing my best to remember that he’s just a baby and needs me to help teach him, give him structure, and help him understand how to interact with the world. He’s not a bad boy for getting off track or making mistakes, he’s just figuring things out and needs me to be understanding of that!

As I’ve been thinking about puppy training, I’ve thought a lot about how in a lot of ways, we, as humans, are just like these new little puppies, still learning how to interact with the world. Why do we expect to know how to handle a global pandemic? We’ve never experienced this before! Why do we expect to move quickly through eating disorder recovery? We’re just babies and haven’t dealt with something like this. Why do we expect to know how to engage healthily in romantic and other relationships? We’re still just newbies! Even if we’ve been facing challenges and issues for years, this is our first crack at being human and no one really gave us a blueprint as to how to do this and make it through all of the new experiences that will be thrown our way.

Brene Brown, a prolific researcher and therapist, talks about these first time experiences as opportunities to: normalize our emotional reactions, put things into perspective, and reality check our expectations (Brown, 2020). With a new puppy, I might need to normalize that it makes sense that he is having trouble understanding some commands and puppy training takes lots of time (and furthermore, it is normal that I am struggling to figure out how to teach him!) I might then put things into perspective by trying to think about how scary and strange it must be for the pup to be in a new home, without his brothers and sisters or mom, with a new routine and new people around him. Finally, I might reality check expectations that I have of this little furry baby. I might also reality check expectations I have for myself in being patient, attentive, regimented, etc.

During this uncertain time, I’ve found it extremely helpful for me to take some time to be gentle and patient with myself as I stumble through knowing how to be quarantined, work from home, etc. Hey, this is my first pandemic! Even though we’ve been at this for about a month now, I’m still trying to figure out a solid routine, keep myself productive, enjoy and embrace rest, and stay connected to my friends. I’m only 4 weeks old when it comes to dealing with pandemics, so I think I can cut myself some slack and offer myself oodles of grace.

This idea can apply to non-pandemic related areas of our lives as well. As stated earlier, this idea can even apply to things we’ve been working on and struggling with for years such as relationships, school, mental health, etc. Recognizing our relative youth and inexperience can help us be a little gentler with ourselves. Gentleness is not weakness or letting ourselves off the hook, in fact, I’ve seen gentleness be more helpful in propelling us forward than criticism and judgement ever have.

If you find yourself struggling through this pandemic, I am with you! It’s new to us and can be really overwhelming to navigate. If your to-do list is left undone, your exercise app left unopened, your dishes left unwashed, and your children’s “online learning” left incomplete …offer yourself some grace. You’re new at this pandemic thing…and new at this life thing! We’ll just keep trying and learning and soon we’ll get the hang of it. 🙂

 

Reference

Browne, B. (Producer). (March 19, 2020). Brene on FFTs. [Podcast]. Retrieved from https://brenebrown.com/podcast/brene-on-ffts/

 

Resources To Help You During This Pandemic

Resources To Help You During This Pandemic

I have heard talk and seen posts and articles comparing COVID-19 to the Spanish Flu. There is quite the debate about similarities and differences between the pandemics, but one thing that most can agree on is the wealth of resources we have now that didn’t exist in 1918. With all the uncertainty we are experiencing it is easy to let fear creep in. To help ease worry, anxiety, and to just improve mental health altogether we have a whole list of resources below to help. Unfortunately, you can no longer watch that “game” or go to that “party” so maybe you have 10 minutes to try a new meditation app? Or maybe you download a new online video course to learn a new skill set? (more…)

Thankful Three

Thankful Three

Starting at the beginning of this month I have been writing down three things that I am thankful for everyday. I didn’t have all these amazing reasons of why I started, I just started writing in hopes to jumpstart the holiday spirit in my life. (And yes, I am one that starts listening to Christmas music and watching Hallmark Christmas movies in October).

Also, in the back of my mind, I knew that I had read several articles listing the benefits of doing so and I thought “why not test it out?” My goal is to write 3 things that I am thankful for each day. My standard for the items I write down isn’t high, I just want to get something down on paper EVERYDAY; consistency is key.

Benefits

Positivity Boost

Each morning I write in the corner of my journal/planner “I am thankful for…” Doing that each morning just sets my focus to look for things that are good in my life. Some of the things I have written down include “crockpots” “cozy socks” and “the gym” just to name a few. These are not earth shattering items that should make me jump for joy, but just recognizing small highlights each day has definitely increased my positivity.

I had a crazy week of taking care of two family members and I was starting to feel stretched. I was bringing dinner to two different houses, other than my own, and was not feeling all that positive. When the power went out as I was leaving the house for work, I realized that my dinner would not cook and so I called an audible and dumped everything in my crock pot and brought it to work to cook for 8 hours. Instead of looking at the inconveniences of my day, I looked at the positive. I was thankful for crock pots, especially the kind that have a lid that locks to prevent spillage.

Confidence Boost

Do you have that one thing that just makes you feel like you have your sh*t together? Maybe it’s when your nails are done? Or when your laundry is washed, dried, and put away all in the same day? Or when your bed is made prior to you walking out the door? Whatever that “thing” is that makes you feel put together, writing a few things down each day that you are thankful for can give you that feeling that you have it altogether. When I feel like I have it together, I tend to hold my head a little higher.

I feel like my confidence wanes when I compare what I have to others. I look at what I don’t have and immediately feel less than. So-and-so has a pinterest-esque house. So-and-so has the cutest family. So-and-so has this and that; it can go on forever. BUT, since I have been writing my thankful three each day I have been busy looking for all the things that I do have in my life that I haven’t paid much attention to what I’m lacking. That doesn’t mean that I never compare myself, but it has lessened this month and my confidence has increased because of it.

Sleep Boost

Raise your hand if you are the person that lays down at night and starts to list the to dos and/or list what didn’t get checked off that day and has a hard time falling asleep because your mind won’t turn off. Well put that hand down and maybe try taking a few minutes before bed to jot down a few goods you have in your life. Instead of thinking of what you need to do, your mind is being directed toward things that you are grateful for. This can help settle that mind of yours, instead of ramping it up, so that you can get some sleep!

I used to be a list maker prior to heading off to bed in hopes that it would set me up for the next day, but I’ve learned writing my thankful three and reading a few chapters is the best sleep routine for me.

Thankful Thoughts

Three things a day. Just give it a try for one month and see if your positivity, confidence, and sleep are boosted. Each morning make a note to think about people, events, food, etc. that you are thankful for and finish your day off with writing what has come to mind. Maybe this will help jumpstart your holiday spirit?

 

Reference

https://www.goodnet.org/articles/5-reasons-keeping-gratitude-journal-will-change-your-life

Why you should become a BOOK WORM

Why you should become a BOOK WORM

When you were in Jr. High or High School and your English teacher gave you a sheet to track the amount of pages you had to read that term, did you moan? Or did you look at the number of pages required and think, “Oh, I could probably double that number!”? (more…)