5 Best Books to Read With Your Book Club

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Do you love to read? Are you part of a book club, or do you like to read on your own?

Here is a small list of 5 of my favorite books to read with a book club.

I have always loved reading, and now that I am a stay at home / work from home mom of 2 kids, reading has become an important part of my ‘self-care’. Just like I make time for exercise and my own physical health, I also need to make time to read regularly.

At night, it’s my time to unwind – after a full day with the kids, it’s my favorite way to relax and clear my head. In the morning, it’s a great way to start my day and take some time to wake up and start my day on a positive note.

Let’s be real – some days I can read for 30 minutes or more, and other days, I’m lucky if I get 10 minutes or 10 pages in. Sometimes life gets crazy, or I’m just so tired at night that I’d rather sleep than fall asleep with a book in my lap. ;)

One thing I know for sure is that I feel my best when I make time for reading. I was part of a small book discussion group for a few years before we had kids, and now I run a small Facebook book discussion with friends and family.

Here are 5 of my favorite books that we’ve read, and a few that I’ve read on my own. All of these books have great topics that your group would enjoy discussing.

 

1.     Me Before You by JoJo Moyes – Our online book club read this a few years ago, and I loved it!  I instantly found myself caught up in the unique love story of Will, who is wheelchair bound, and Louisa, his caregiver. Their story will make you think about your own morals long after you have finished reading the book. This is also a popular movie – have you seen it?

2. Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult – I read this book quite a few years ago, when it was new. It tells the story of a small town devastated by a high school shooting. What I found interesting was the story of the shooter’s past – something you don’t normally read or hear about. I still remember the ending of this book, years after reading it.

3. Still Alice by Lisa Genova -  This is the first book I’ve read by Lisa Genova, but it definitely won’t be the last. Still Alice tells the story of Alice, who is diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. What I found most interesting about this book is how it is told from Alice’s own perspective. Oftentimes, we hear from those living with someone who has the disease, but rarely do we get in the head of someone directly affected by it.

Still Alice
By Lisa Genova

4. The Help by Kathryn Stockett – This is another book I read quite a few years ago, when it first came out. Set in Mississippi in the 1960s, it also tells a unique story from the perspective of Aibileen, and ultimately many other women who are known as the “help” to wealthy families.    

The Help
By Kathryn Stockett

5. The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty – This book was part escapist and part ‘can’t put it down until I find out what the husband’s secret is…’. This was the first book I’ve read by Liane Moriarty, and I was hooked. I would keep it next to my living room chair and read while my daughter was sleeping or while I was nursing. It was the perfect juicy story that touched on different marital and family issues. and I couldn’t wait to pick it up to read more. Next on my list is What Alice Forgot.

The Husband's Secret
By Liane Moriarty

Again, these are just a few of my favorites. Have you read any of these? What are some of your favorites? I’d love to hear about them!

Happy reading!

Pam

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6 Books to Boost Your Confidence and Build Self-Esteem

Here are 6 of my favorite books for building more confidence and self-esteem. They have been just as helpful to my health and fitness as they have been to my mind.  

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“The hard part isn’t getting your body in shape. The hard part is getting your mind in shape.” (Author Unknown) 

It’s a pretty scary thing to take on a new fitness or nutrition plan, especially when you are just starting. It’s really easy to let self-doubt creep in and rule your mind, telling you you’re not ready for this, that you can’t do it, or that it will just be too dang hard.

I know this because I’ve had similar thoughts myself. When I first started clean eating, I stood in my kitchen feeling completely overwhelmed. I thought to myself more than once, “what am I doing this for? What’s the point? I won’t be able to eat anything.”

Get your mind in shape before getting your body in shape.  

What helped me the most during this experience was filling my mind with positivity from books.  It didn’t matter what shape my body was in – what mattered more was what shape my mind was in. My brain needed to be trained just like any other muscle in my body, because that was going to keep me going every day.  A strong mindset was going to help me get started, and then keep me from quitting.  

 

Fill Your Mind with Positivity from Books!

Here’s the truth…At first, I thought this whole thing was cheesy, and just for people who really had ‘problems’. But…it didn’t take long to realize that I was starting to soak up the empowerment and confidence from the books I was reading every day. Just 10 pages of a book – every day – was enough to retrain my brain to think more positively and improve my confidence. I started to realize I CAN do these things that seem impossible.

My biggest piece of advice is to go into this with an open mind – I’m going to suggest some of my favorite books below. I encourage you to give them a try and find what works for you. If you love reading, start with a book that looks good to you. If you hate reading, look for a good podcast to listen to while you are driving or at night before you go to bed. Stay consistent – read or listen for 10 minutes in the morning or at night, and you’ll be amazed at how your outlook starts to change.    

 

Here are some of my favorite books:

1.          You are a Badass by Jen Sincero (because you know you are! ;) - This is the first personal growth book I read, and it was the perfect pick because it made me realize that whatever I believe in my mind will become my reality.

2.          I Am That Girl by Alexis Jones - This book shares experiences from different women in different businesses who tell their stories of how their lives have grown through struggle.

3.          The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown – While reading this, it became clear to me that no one is perfect, and that what makes us great is embracing our imperfections and letting them help us, rather than hurt us.

4.          Daring Greatly by Brene Brown – I am in the middle of reading this right now, and it has made me realize that allowing yourself to be vulnerable will actually lead you to being stronger.

5.          Failing Forward by John Maxwell – This book put an entirely new spin on the idea of “failure”. Failing isn’t a bad thing and it certainly doesn’t define you as “a failure.” Instead, see it as an opportunity for growth.

6.          The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod – I loved this book, because it gave me an easy framework for starting my morning off on a positive note. If you are looking for a better way to start your day, this book is filled with great ideas!

These are just a handful of my favorites. I encourage you to check them out, and see what you relate to the most. If you’ve read any other favorites, please share them below! I would love to check them out.

Thanks for reading!

Pam

If you enjoyed this post and are also looking for more helpful information, fill out the form below to subscribe and receive my free Clean Eating Basics Checklist!

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5 Ways to Embrace your Flaws and Love Yourself

"Flawsome": (adj.) An individual who embraces their "flaws" and knows they're awesome regardless. (themindjournal.com)

Here are 5 ways to embrace your flaws, love yourself for who you are and become "flawsome". 

I didn't create the term "flawsome" but as soon as I heard it, I knew it was fitting for myself and want to pass that inspiration on to other women who might feel the same way. 

There isn't a single person in this world who is perfect in every way. Perfection is an impossible ideal, but unfortunately it is easy to see other people who appear "perfect", compare yourself to them and then feel bad about yourself because you're flawed. 

The truth is that we are all flawed in some way, and awesome regardless of them. I've found that the key is truly believing that for yourself. How do you do that? Here are a few tips that have helped me:

1. Read an uplifting book - Carve out 15-20 minutes to read a book that inspires you. Once I started doing this, my mood and outlook changed dramatically. I started to believe in myself more, accept that I am not and never will be perfect, and generally just felt happier. 

2. Stop comparing yourself to others - this is huge. It's so easy to scroll social media and look at someone and play the comparison game.

Why do they have ripped abs and I don't? How can they look like that? I should look just as perfect as they do. How can I become as good as them? 

These are all things that have run through my mind in the past, but the truth is that I know nothing about these people I'm comparing myself to, and why does it even matter? My happiness and self-worth has nothing to do with how someone else looks or acts - it's about me being happy with myself, regardless of my flaws.

3. Focus on the inside, not the outside - Happiness is an inside job. As much as we are led to believe that having the perfect looking body, or the perfect life will make us happy, what really matters is what is going on inside of us. We could have the most sought-after body, but still feel like an unhappy mess inside. We could also have a body that isn't "perfect", and feel completely happy and grateful for our lives. Focus on being a true, genuine person, and start each day by taking a moment to be grateful for all of the wonderful things in your life. 

4. Surround yourself with people who lift you up -  I think we all have people in our lives who we love to be around because they make us feel good, and those who always seem to make us feel bad about ourselves in one way or another. The more your chose to be around the supportive and caring people in your life, the more confident and empowered you will start to feel about yourself. Start to slowing phase out the negative people in your life, and focus on those who make you feel good! 

5. End your day by celebrating what you love about yourself - for every thing about yourself you are self-conscious about, think of one thing that you are proud of. For example, I have always been self-conscious of how unshapely my legs look in shorts. But instead of focusing on that, I'm going to be proud of the new pair of shorts I got for the summer and wear them with confidence. Write it down in a journal at night and read it in the morning again when you wake up. These simple positive affirmations go a long way in training your brain to think positively.

I hope these 5 ideas are helpful and inspiring to you! If you enjoyed reading this post and want more related content, click the link to subscribe below and also receive a free Clean Eating Basics checklist. 

Pam

embrace your flaws and love yourself

5 Budget Friendly Home Gym Essentials for a Great Workout

5 Home Gym Essentials for a Great Workout that are budget friendly!

You do not need an elaborate home gym to get a great workout at home. I’ve been doing it for over 10 years, and I love it. With two young kids running around, and a short timeframe to get my workout done in, it is so nice to just walk downstairs to our basement. No driving to the gym, or having to arrange childcare. 30-40 minutes and I’m done!

My home gym – if you could even call it that – is super simple. Over the years, we’ve collected different sets of dumbbells and a weight bench, but you can get an awesome workout done at home with just a handful of essential items.  It doesn’t have to be a huge financial investment, especially if you’re just starting out and trying to find what you like best. Most of the items I use are very budget-friendly – under $30 each.

Here are my top 5 favorite home gym essentials:

1.     Dumbbells –  You can find a nice set of dumbbells at any retail store like Walmart or Target. If you are just starting out, a set of 5, 8 or 10 lb dumbbells is probably all you will need for most programs. I love the C9 brand from Target because they don’t slip or irritate my hands.

If you think you might want heavier weights in the future, adjustable dumbbells are great because you have one set of weights to pull out for everything. Then you just spin the dial to the weight you want and it adjusts it for you. (Confession: I wish I would’ve bought the Bowflex adjustable weights right away.) The only downfall is that they are significantly more expensive than a regular set of dumbbells.

2.     Resistance Band and Loop – You can get a kick butt workout with just a resistance band and band loop. I was surprised…these things really provide a lot of resistance and are great for travelling. You can modify almost any exercise that uses dumbbells with a resistance band.

3.     Stability Ball – This is a really nice option if you don’t have a weight bench. All of the exercises I’ve done that required a bench I was able to do on a stability ball. Sometimes they can be more challenging because you have to use your core or glute muscles to stabilize your body on the ball.

4.     Yoga Mat – I’ll be honest, I choose my yoga mat based on the color and design. ;) There are some that are thicker and more cushioning, but overall, I’d say buy the prettiest one.

5.     DVD / Streaming Service / App -  There are tons of ways to work out at home by using your own training program you put together, or something you found online, but I prefer to follow a DVD or use a streaming service. My favorites are:

Beachbody on Demand - access to tons of amazing workouts with professional trainers. If you've heard of Insanity, P90X, 21 Day Fix - this is where they are! 

I also love Cathe Friedrich’s fitness programs – her programs are very polished and she is geared more towards intermediate to advanced exercisers. You can find her at www.cathe.com

My third recommendation for fitness programs is the “Transform with Chris and Heidi” app. It is a comprehensive app that includes Crossfit, Physique, or Weight Loss fitness programs, as well as customized meal plans, tips and life lessons. It’s pretty amazing. You can find it in the App store.   

I hope these tips are helpful for you. If you enjoyed this content and are also interested in learning more about Clean Eating and living a healthy lifestyle, fill out the form below to subscribe and receive my free Clean Eating Guide and Checklist!

5 home gym essentials, budget friendly

Best Motivational Quotes for Working Out

Here are some of what I consider to be the best motivational quotes for working out.

I love quotes!  Especially when they motivate me to do something that is good for my body and mind. 

Sometimes I lack motivation because my body truly needs a day off – and not only is that ok, it’s essential for recovery and muscle growth. But sometimes, I am just tired because it’s cold, the kids didn’t sleep well, or I’m just not feeling it…you feel me on that? ;)  On those days, I always look for quotes to motivate me - and they work every. single. time.

I’m going to share some of my favorites here – I highly encourage you to pin these images, or take a screenshot and save them to your phone for days when you need a little extra motivation.

Let’s do this!

If you're also looking for some ideas and tips on Clean Eating, fill out the form below to subscribe and receive my free Clean Eating Basics checklist. 

Thanks for reading!

Pam

Motivational quote for working out
fitness motivational quote
motivational quotes for fitness
quotes for fitness motivation

Clean Eating for Beginners, 5 Easy Tips to Get Started

In my previous post, I covered the basics of what clean eating is. Now you know what it means and the types of foods you should be eating and avoiding, but how can you actually get started?

I don’t know about you, but completely overhauling my diet all at once is a recipe for disaster in my world. I love change, but the idea of taking everything I’m used to and totally throwing it out the window makes me totally uncomfortable – and want to throw in the towel because it’s too overwhelming.

So, rather than making a million changes all at once, I suggest focusing on one or two changes at a time. It might not feel like anything is changing at first, but small changes every day add up big time over the course of a month, 6 months or longer!

When I started my clean eating habits, I took baby steps.  I made one or two small changes each week, and just focused on those things. Each week, I would try to add in one more thing and by the time a couple months had gone by, those little changes added up to quite a difference in how I was eating.

 

Here are 5 of the steps I took:

1.    Replace one soda per day with a glass of water.  It’s embarrassing to admit, but there was a time when I was drinking 4-5 sodas per day – and little to no water. I eliminated one soda each day for a week, until I wasn’t drinking it at all. It took about a month to completely wean myself, but doing it gradually kept me from craving it and ending up back at square one.

2.    Replace regular coffee creamers with natural brands, or other ingredients. I never really realized how many unusual ingredients were in a regular bottle of coffee creamer until I actually read the label. I started using Coffee Mate Natural creamer right away – it has a small list of ingredients including milk, cream, sugar and natural flavor, and my taste buds got used to it right away. (I wrote a post about a few other alternatives to coffee creamer here.)

3.    Replace processed snacks, such as chips, cookies, or sugary granola bars with a cleaner option. For me, this meant eating things like Greek yogurt and fresh fruit, hard-boiled eggs, apples and natural peanut butter, Triscuit crackers, cheese and nuts instead.

4.    Add in vegetables to meals wherever you can. This can be as simple as mixing in tomatoes, spinach or peppers in with your eggs in the morning, or tossing a bag of frozen veggies into a casserole.  My biggest tip for this is to start with vegetables that you like. Don’t force yourself to eat vegetables that you can’t stomach, because that won’t be satisfying to you at all – and you definitely won’t look forward to your meals that way. Choose vegetables that you like!

5.    Make your own salad dressings -  Many salad dressings are full of salt and preservatives. I was amazed at how flavorful and easy homemade dressings were to make! Most of them are a simple mix of olive oil, vinegar or lemon juice, and spices. Pinterest is a great place to search if you are looking for recipes for homemade dressings.

This is just a start to all of the simple changes that you can make to clean up your diet. As time goes on, start to add in different habits gradually, and you will be amazed at how much of a change you’ve made! 

In my next post in this series, you will learn about why our nutrition matters - physically and mentally. I'll also give you some easy ingredient swaps and meal prepping tips.  

Looking for more tips and food recommendations? Fill out the form below to subscribe and receive my free Clean Eating Basics checklist pdf! 

Clean Eating for beginners, 5 tips to start
5 Easy ways to start eating clean

Health Benefits of Exercise and Nutrition (beyond just looking good)

Health benefits of exercise and nutrition

I've spent a lot of time focusing on eating well and exercising to be healthy, happy and strong...but up until now, I never thought about what I really meant when I said it. It just meant "being healthy."

The meaning became crystal clear last week, when I found a small breast lump during a self-exam. It's really easy to freak out in your mind and think the worst is about to happen. My heart started pounding, and I said to myself "please, no. I can't deal with this. Please don't do this to me right now."

I made an appointment to visit the doctor, and up until my appointment, I told myself over and over every day "if there's ever a time that my healthy habits are going to help me, please make that time be now."

I was able to clear my head and have faith that the lifestyle choices I have been making - eating well and exercising - were going to work in my favor. And thankfully, the lump ended up being nothing serious...but it hit me hard that I could so easily have walked out of that doctor's office with a very different situation in front of me. 

I'm not a health professional, but I know there are some factors, such as genetics, that are out of our control. But, I also know there are so many factors that we can control - such as the food we put into our bodies and the lifestyle choices we make every day. 

So, what did I do? I researched which foods have protective properties against cancer and other diseases. It turns out many of the foods we eat every day - especially leafy green vegetables, berries and brightly-colored produce, are very beneficial. I also learned that many diseases thrive on sugar, refined and processed foods. 

I did more research on Shakeology, the superfood shake I drink every day, and learned that most of the ingredients fight inflammation in the body, which is at the root of many diseases. So, now I know that every time I drink that shake, I am filling my body with disease-fighting nutrients. I now also know that committing to a regular exercise routine and maintaining a healthy weight helps with disease prevention. 

This isn't about perfection - but rather about the purpose behind the lifestyle choices we are making. Now I have a much deeper purpose behind why I make the choices that I do. It's not just to look good in a bikini or tank top in the summer, or to feel happier and less stressed. All of those things are great, but now I am being more proactive about my health and disease-prevention as much as I can. I really hope these choices help me in the long run. 

Thanks for reading!

Pam

If you are looking for more information on how to get started eating clean, please fill out the form below to subscribe and receive my free Clean Eating Basics Checklist!  

Clean Eating – 7 Easy, On the Go Snacks

In my previous posts, you’ve learned about the basics of Clean Eating, the types of foods to look for, and how to get started with a couple changes at a time.

But…the question I always asked myself when I was getting started was “what do I do when I am away from home?” It’s easy to make healthy choices when you have a kitchen stocked with good food right in front of you.  But when you’re away from home for most of the day? Not as easy.

Here’s the secret…and it’s something I’ve been doing religiously for a couple years now.

Always have your bag stocked with at least 2 healthy snacks.

It’s not really that profound, but it’s something I never used to do, and then I was always left starving and searching for anything I could get my hands on when I was out and about.  My husband actually chuckles at me, because I am always pulling random pieces of fruit out of my bag when we’re out.

Once I started keeping at least 2 on the go snacks in my bag all the time, it was so much easier to avoid the temptation of vending machines or a drive thru with less than ideal choices, because I could pull an apple out of my bag and eat it wherever I was.

 

Here are my top 7 easy snack ideas for when you are on the go:

1.    Piece of fruit and natural peanut butter – I love to pack an apple and small cup of natural peanut butter. You can even pre-slice the apple if you won’t have a knife to cut it with.  Other great options are a banana and peanut butter, orange or small cup of any type of fruit you like.

2.    Trail mix – I make my own trail mix with pistachios, dried cranberries, dark chocolate chips and pumpkin or sunflower seeds. You can really use whatever nuts, dried fruit, or seeds you like. I would just suggest being aware of the sugar content in the dried fruit – but in small amounts, I don’t worry about it too much. ;)

3.    Energy Balls – The options are endless with these also. I like to use peanut butter, oats, dark chocolate chips, seeds and dried cranberries in these as well. They are great stored in the freezer or fridge, and then I just pull out 2 and store them in a small Tupperware dish in my bag.

4.    2 Hard-boiled eggs

5.    Yogurt parfait in a jar – I love to layer plain Greek yogurt, fresh berries, pure maple syrup or honey and granola in a jar. This is a great option if you have a fridge nearby to store it in - then you can just pull it out and eat it right out of the jar!

6.    Fresh veggies and hummus – my favorites are sugar snap peas or small colored bell peppers with hummus.

7.    Protein Bar – there are endless options here, but some of my favorites are Rx Bars, Lara Bars, Square Organics bars, and Kind bars.

Other great options are pre-baking muffins, egg cups, or homemade granola bars and taking 1 or 2 each day for a snack.

I hope you found these ideas helpful.

If you are looking for more information, I would love to have you fill out the form below to subscribe and receive my free Clean Eating Basics Checklist.

 

Thanks for reading!

Pam

Clean eating, 7 easy on the go snacks

4 Reasons Why Nutrition Matters to Our Health

In my previous posts, you learned the basics of Clean Eating – the general idea of what it is, what types of foods to eat, and how to make small changes to get started on a path to cleaner eating.

In this post, I’d like to talk more about why all of this even matters. Why should we pay that much attention to our nutrition? What impact does it have on our overall health and well-being?

There are a few obvious reasons, and then a few not-so-obvious reasons why our nutrition matters to our health.

 

1.     Increased Energy – it’s true when you hear the phrase “food is fuel.” Food truly is fuel to our bodies – it’s our primary energy source, so eating an appropriate mix of complex carbohydrates, lean protein and healthy fats provide our bodies with the energy to get through a workout, fight fatigue, and maintain concentration throughout the day.

I also believe the phrase “if I eat like crap, I feel like crap” is true. I can always tell if I’ve eaten foods that are full of sugar, unhealthy fats, or processed ingredients because I feel tired, lethargic and generally low-energy. 

 

2.     A Strong Immune System – The nutrients – vitamins and minerals – naturally found in fresh fruits and vegetables, complex carbohydrates, lean protein and healthy fats help boost your immune system against things like the common cold, flu, allergies and other seasonal illnesses. Specifically - protein, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and Vitamin E all have very high protective properties.    

 

3.     Weight Control – I think we all can generally agree that it’s harder to maintain a healthy weight by eating greasy, fatty foods all the time. But, one thing I didn’t realize early on in my fitness journey is that our nutrition accounts for at least 80% of our results, with exercise accounting for the other 20%.

Think about that for a second … You can’t exercise your way out of a bad diet. Honestly, for many years, I thought I could. I can’t tell you how many times I would say to myself “I went running this morning, so I deserve this big bowl of ice cream” or “I worked out today, so I can eat this big bag of candy because they just cancel each other out.”  That isn’t really true. ;)

I should also say that I am a huge advocate of balance in your diet – meaning, not only is it ok to treat yourself occasionally, I think it’s necessary to staying on track most of the time. Deprivation is a recipe for disaster.

 

4.     Boosts Mood – Large fluctuations in blood sugar can affect your mood. High blood sugar can lead to irritability, and low blood sugar can affect anxiety and lethargy. Deficiencies in vitamins and minerals can also cause mood swings and fatigue. Many of these can be regulated by eating nutrient-rich foods.

From a more subjective point of view, I’ve found I feel happier and better about myself when I am eating foods that are good for my body. It’s totally a subjective reason – and everyone has their own opinion on this – this is just what I’ve found to be true for myself.

I hope you’ve learned some new things and found this Clean Eating series to be helpful.

If you’re interested in more information- please fill out the form below to subscribe and receive a pdf of my Clean Eating Basics checklist!

Thanks for reading!

Pam

 

Clean Eating, Why Nutrition Matters

Take the 30 Day Happiness Challenge!

How can you bring more happiness into your life? 

Join us in our first 30-Day Happiness Challenge! 

There are so many easy ways to increase your overall well-being. This challenge is really simple: read through the graphic below, choose one habit to focus on each day (it doesn't have to be in the order listed below) and write down each day what you choose. You don't have to do every item on the list - feel free to repeat what works for you! 

Maybe there are things you love to do that bring you happiness that are not on this graphic - that's great! Use this graphic as a way to brainstorm and form new habits that make you feel good, and see how you feel after 30 days. Comment below if you are joining the challenge! 

30 Day Happiness challenge

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Positive Energy - 5 Ways to Bring Positive Energy into Your Home

Energy is a powerful thing. You know that unspoken feeling you get when momentum shifts during a sporting event? That's energy. It can be amazing when positive energy is flowing, but really uncomfortable and awkward when negative energy is in the air. 

How can you bring more positive energy and happiness into your life?

Maybe you feel like you’ve been in a funk and don’t know how to “snap out of it.”

Maybe you are overwhelmed by work, family, or life in general.

Maybe you are just looking for some positivity in your life.

I was all of these things as a new stay-at-home mom. Life with a colicky newborn and a toddler was overwhelming, and I curled up into a ball of negative energy. It was affecting my whole family, and I didn’t know how to snap out if it.   

I’ve learned from experience that these feelings begin with you. It's a choice you make. 

You are responsible for the energy you bring into your life. If you sit and dwell on the negative things in your life, your life will be filled with negativity. If you focus on the positive things in life, your life will be filled with positivity.

The best part? Those feelings multiply. The more positivity you seek out, the more you will find. Those around you will feel your energy too, and feed off of it. I’ve learned this from experience.  

So, how do you start? What can you do today to bring more positive energy into your life? Here are 5 easy ways to find more happiness in your life:

 

1.    Make your happiness a priority in your mind. The first step for me was recognizing the value of myself and my happiness. Make a decision in your mind to put yourself at the top of your priority list again.

2.    Make a list of the hobbies or activities that you enjoy. Choose 1 or 2 from the list, and schedule time for those during the week. It doesn’t have to be a long time – even 30 minutes once or twice a week will make a difference. What can you sacrifice to make that time? TV? Mindless scrolling on social media? Make that time a priority.

3.    Schedule time just for yourself. Go for a walk outside, enjoy nature and the sunshine, take a relaxing bath, read a book with a warm cup of coffee, treat yourself to a shopping trip – anything that settles your mind and makes you feel good.

4.    Stretch, meditate or practice simple yoga before bed. This can be as short as 5 or 10 minutes before going to bed – it’s a great way to unwind, calm and relax your mind. It will also put you in a positive mindset for the next day. 

5.    Make your exercise and nutrition a priority. The connection between a healthy body and healthy mindset is really strong – if I am putting healthy food into my body and exercising regularly, it boosts my endorphins and makes me feel better overall.

 

The more you choose to focus on the positive things in your life, the happier you will feel. I’ve found that happiness and gratitude really is a practice – the easiest way to feel it is to look for things that make you happy.

 

How do you bring positive energy into your life? Comment below with your thoughts!      

motivational quote for life
yoga for relaxation
How to bring more happiness into your life

Historical Fiction - 5 Best Books to Read

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I’ve been a book nerd my whole life. As a kid, you could find me sitting outside in the backyard on a warm, summer day, reading in a lawn chair for hours. Sometimes, I would sit in the car and read my book while waiting for everyone else in our family to get ready to go somewhere.

Now that I am a stay-at-home and work-from-home mom to our 2 young kids, I don’t have as much time to read…but, I also realized early on as a mom that reading was part of who I was as a person. It was an outlet that helped me keep my sanity!

So, it was easy to make my favorite books a part of this blog. Starting this month, I will be featuring “Pam’s Virtual Book Club” – a collection of some of my favorite books.

This month features my favorite Historical Fiction books. This is one of my favorite genres – I love books that tell a fictional story about a serious and emotional time in history. All of these are specifically World War 11 books, because once I read one, I couldn’t get enough and sought out as many as I could. I would re-read all of these books if I didn’t have such a long list of new books waiting for me. ;)

Here are 5 of my favorites:

1.     The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult – Jodi is one of my favorite authors, and I started reading this book on my kindle one night, without knowing what it was about. Needless to say, I was pulled in immediately. It tells the story of a unique friendship between baker Sage Singer and retired teacher Josef Weber. The story transitions seamlessly between present day and World War 11.  Their relationship is woven together in a very powerful way, and even though I read this book a few years ago, I still think about it.

The Storyteller
By Jodi Picoult

2.     The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah – I’ve read a handful of her books, and this was by far my favorite. It tells the story of two sisters during World War 11 France, whose paths turn in very different directions during the war.  This is one of those books that you can’t stop thinking about when you are done reading – the story is so well-written that I still have pictures of it in my head.

The Nightingale: A Novel
By Kristin Hannah

3.     Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay – This book tells the story of Sarah, a 10-year-old girl who is arrested with her family in Paris during the war. It weaves together the story of Julia, a present-day journalist who is researching the time period and Sarah’s experience. There are a few specific passages from this book that are so vividly written, they will stick in my memory forever.

Sarah's Key
By Tatiana de Rosnay

4.     Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum – This is another story that weaves the past and present together with the story of Trudy, a history professor and her mother Anna. Anna’s powerful experience during World War 11 transitions from hiding her affair with a Jewish doctor, to an abusive affair with a Nazi officer.

Those Who Save Us
By Jenna Blum

5.     All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr – I am currently reading this book during the time of writing this, but I can add this to my list of favorites without question. Set in Paris and Germany, it tells the story of Marie-Laure, who goes blind at 6 years old, and leaves Paris after the Nazis take over the city. During the same time Werner, a German orphan, becomes skilled at fixing radios and eventually crosses paths with Marie-Laure. This is a beautifully and vividly written book about such a raw, emotional time in history.    

There are so many other wonderful books I could add to this list. Have you read any of these? Comment below with some of your favorites.

Happy reading!

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Lessons learned from little children

'Look to little children. Watch them play and crawl and be. Does any child believe there is something wrong with himself?  No. Do small children experience the onslaught of negative emotions like insecurity, doubt, sadness or depression? No. 

You see, you weren't born feeling badly about yourself, you were taught to feel that way.'

This quote from 'Life's Golden Ticket’ by Brendon Burchard blew me away. How true is this? Kids spend so much of their time happy, playing, having fun, pursuing joy. 

It is the messages from society that make us question ourselves. If I don't have the perfect body, car, house, job or relationship, then there must be something wrong with me that needs improvement. 

It is my purpose to challenge these messages from society and empower others to be happy and confident with themselves - without the need to be perfect. 

Others' opinions of us and our lives do not control or define us. Let's be proud of who we are and empower each other. It starts inside of each of us - find that place where we are happy and confident with ourselves, and it’s easy to pass that feeling on to others. 

We are all perfectly imperfect – and that’s exactly the way it should be.  There is always something to be proud of. 

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Meal Planning Tips for Busy Families

How I Meal Plan and Prep for the Week

Meal prepping was a Greek term to me before having kids. I honestly didn’t even know what it was, really. As goofy as it sounds, I didn’t start doing it until after I decided to stay home with our kids.

Seems kind of backwards, doesn’t it? You’d think I would have more time for that stuff now that I was home. 

What I can say for sure is that we would have saved ourselves tons of time if I would have started meal prepping while I was still working. You can spend as little as 2 hours on a Sunday afternoon getting everything ready, and save tons of time during the week.

There are a few different ways to do this, depending on your lifestyle and schedule. I am home during the week with our kids, so I have my own system for getting things ready for the week that works for us.

 

The most important step: Plan out all of your meals for the week!

We used to aimlessly wander through the grocery store, buying food with no idea what we were going to make with it. Can you imagine how much time – and food - we wasted because we didn’t have a plan? Yikes!

Now, we write out our meals for the week, grocery shop, and then either the same day or the next, prep the major ingredients so we can make the meals more quickly throughout the week. One thing that has made this easier is planning a few meals with overlapping ingredients. This means:

-       Cook large batches of quinoa, rice and/or oatmeal. These things can easily be stored in the fridge for a few days and used in different ways.

-       Cook or grill meat in large batches. Again, these can be easily stored in the fridge for a few days to use in meals.

-       Make ahead soups and/or casseroles for the week.

-       Hard-boil eggs

-       Make muffins for breakfast

(Note – I don’t cut veggies or fruit ahead of time because they lose nutrients when they are cut. But, if you are really short on time, I would do it so that they don’t go to waste.)

I suggest experimenting with a few different ways of prepping and find what works best for your life and schedule. Good luck! 

Interested in learning more about clean eating? Fill out the form below to subscribe and receive my free Clean Eating Basics checklist! 

Meal Planning and Meal Prepping Tips for Busy Families
Meal prep tips for busy families

Being Present in the Moment

“Hi Grandma, it’s Pam. I’m your granddaughter.”

I never expected to say these words, and they are some of the hardest I have spoken.

I had prepared myself for a blank stare in response, and confusion over who I was. Instead, a sweet moment followed.

“Yes, I know you. Where are your little ones?” Hearing those simple words were such a nice surprise.

Visiting a loved one with Dementia is something I never expected I’d have to do, and am admittedly not very educated about. I’ve tried to learn as much as I can, but honestly, the best learning has come from sitting across the table from my grandma.

It’s about love, listening, answering, understanding and caring. Nothing has to be perfect, memories don’t have to be crisp – or even clear – but finding a few moments of connection make the visit completely worth it.

One day – one moment – at a time. Cherish the moment with them, because that’s all we have for sure. 

Fitness Motivation for Beginners

Are you just starting a new exercise program or healthy eating? Or are you starting again after a long break?

Here are my tips for starting and staying motivated!

1. Make Gradual Changes

 If you are new to exercise, you don’t need to start exercising 6 or 7 days a week. Your body will need time to adjust to your new routine, and to prevent injury. When I re-started after an almost 4 year break, my goal was 3-4 days a week for 30 minutes. That was more than enough to make me feel great, and gave my body time to adjust!

If you are starting to eat healthier, the same idea works. It’s really hard to completely overhaul your diet all at once and not have any physical or mental side affects from it. Your mind and body also needs time to adjust to new foods and a new way of eating, so gradual changes over time will still add up to big changes.

Start by replacing one soda per day with a glass of water for a week. The next week, you could focus on replacing your not-so-healthy snacks with a healthier option. From there, focus on making healthier dinners, then lunches and breakfasts.

You’ll be amazed at how these changes will add up over time!

 

2. Schedule your workout into your day and treat it like a meeting

If you want to see changes, make your workout a priority by scheduling it like an appointment. Look at your daily schedule and see when you can sacrifice 30 minutes of time for exercise. 30 minutes of sleep? 30 minutes of TV at night? 30 minutes of mindlessly scrolling social media?

 

3. Think about why you started and how you feel when you’re done

It’s not always fun when you’re in the middle of your workout, sweaty, out of breath and feeling exhausted.  But the feeling of accomplishment when you are done is amazing and for me, makes it all worth it. Try focusing on that “reward” when you are struggling, or on days when you just don’t feel motivated.

What was your reason for starting a new fitness program or way of eating? Use that reason as motivation to keep going. Visualize what it feels like to see changes and positive results – really think about how that will make you feel.

4. Find a Workout Program that you love

Nothing is more motivating that loving what you are doing. If you absolutely hate your workout, of course you won’t be motivated! I wouldn’t be, either! It’s so much easier to find something you love and look forward to doing to keep you going. Do you like dancing? Pilates and yoga? Weight training? Running or walking? Experiment until you find something you enjoy.

5. Find an Accountability Partner or Group

This is huge! It’s so much harder to skip days or slack off when you know there are other people waiting to hear from you. This can be as simple as texting your friend, asking them to hold you accountable to your workout at a specific time; or joining an online group of people who are supporting and checking in with each other. These people are also there to help you when you’re struggling or have questions. 

You are doing a great job! Keep telling yourself that!

 

motivation to exercise and eat healthy
fitness motivation for beginners

Free Valentine's Day Card Download!

It's hard to believe that Valentine's Day is only a week away - and if you're like me, I'll be running to the store at the last minute to buy a card (or making one with the kids the night before). 

If you're looking for a nice-looking card for your loved one, here is a link you can use to download and print out your own card. 

 

 Download and print this card out on a regular size sheet of paper, fold in half, and write your own message on the inside.

Download and print this card out on a regular size sheet of paper, fold in half, and write your own message on the inside.

Valentine's Day Card printable