Brave Pants

Wednesday, April 16, 2014


If you've been reading this blog for awhile, well, for one thing, you're a saint. But aside from that you may remember a post I wrote awhile ago about the pants that made me cry. If you haven't the gist is this: I bought a pair of parachute pants in India that I thought were the coolest things ever. Then I wore them all the time. Then a friend laughed in my face and told me I looked like Mr. T. Then I cried because my self esteem is was that low.


Fast forward to a couple weeks before my first day of grad school.  I decided I needed a new outfit for the first day of classes because, really, it doesn't actually count as the start of a new chapter in your life if you don't have a new outfit. So I'm perusing H&M and my eyes land on these pants. So soft. So comfy. So exactly like the pants that made my self confidence melt into a pathetic puddle on a dorm room floor just a few years prior. Plus they were leopard print which I vowed to never wear again after a 7th grade photo day catastrophe. 


But there wouldn't be any harm in just trying them on... right? Bad idea. It was love at first sight. They felt like pajamas and sat on my waist in just the right position so that I could devour two Chipotle burritos and/ or be five months pregnant and no one would know.


But the voice of fear was telling me not to. "You'll get laughed at" it said. "None of the other kids grad students will take you seriously." I almost listened. 


But then I realized... If I'm going to be a therapist then these are the exact voices I'm going to be helping people to say no to.  The voices that whisper lies about your worth.  The voices that say "what people think about you is far more important than what you think about yourself and than what God thinks about you."  So I made a conscious decision to be brave, shut those voices out, and buy the pants.  I wore them with confidence on my first day, and during my last class I had a girl from Singapore tell me, "I love your pants! They are all the rage in East Asia right now."  Point, set, match.


Top & Pants: H&M//Necklace: Stella & Dot//Sunglasses: Ruche ( here!)  Shoes: Marshalls

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PumpUp App

Monday, April 14, 2014


Have you guys heard of PumpUp?  It's a free app that creates customized workouts for you based on your fitness level, goals, and available time & equipment.  I hate hate double hate gyms but I'm trying to be consistent about getting at least 20 minutes of exercise a day so finding this app was a major win!  It has over 500 exercises that can be done at a gym, at home, or on the go.  Each exercise is timed and since there is a lot of variety in the workouts they don't get boring.  Each exercise also includes an animated example in case you are like me and have no idea what a "burpee" is (please tell me I'm not the only one?!)  You can create a workout schedule and PumpUp will send you reminders when it's time to get your bum off the couch.  And, like pretty much every app these days, PumpUp also has a community feature.  You can share your progress with friends, but be warned; you will encounter about a million shirt-lift mirror selfies. 

You can download PumpUp here- add me if you do! My username is lov3austere (but don't expect any ab selfies from me)

This post is in no way sponsored by PumpUp- I just love it so much that I wanted to share!

Morning Meditation

Wednesday, April 9, 2014


Recently, meditating has become an integral part on my morning routine.  It helps to quiet my mind (which is usually in hyperdrive immediately upon waking) and focus me for the daily tasks that are ahead.  The word "meditation" used to conjure up images of cross-legged monks searching for enlightenment, but I've come to learn that meditation encapsulates a much broader practice than that.  One of the most common responses I've heard to meditation is that "it's not Christian" which, in addition to being a pretty narrow-minded view of Christianity, is just plain false.  The fact is that meditation brings me closer to God.  It allows me a moment to stop talking at God and simply listen.  It is a sacred time that allows God to pierce the anxieties that are so present in my heart and soothe them gently, breath by breath.  It doesn't come naturally, however.  I've had to be intentional about training my mind to calm down and not freak out about being "unproductive" for 20 minutes (which is also false, as this may be the most productive thing I do all day!)  Here are some of the ways that I've build meditating into my morning routine.

Find a comfortable spot: In most pictures of meditation the person is sitting cross-legged on the ground.  For me this is pretty uncomfortable so I like to sit in an armchair or on a pillow up against the wall.  Practice good posture and don't choose a spot that may cause you to fall asleep (like your bed.)

Limit distractions: Turn off the TV, silence your cell phone, and go somewhere that pets won't disturb you.

Start small: Start with meditating for 5 minutes each day, then gradually increase your time as you feel more comfortable with the practice.  Set a quiet, gentle alarm so that you aren't tempted to check your clock.

Close your eyes and focus on your breath: Take three deep breaths and then resume breathing normally.  Notice how your breath feels when you inhale and exhale through your nose.  Notice the rise and fall of your belly.

Don't beat yourself up: It is totally normal for thoughts to creep in. "What will I have for breakfast?" "What do I need to get done today?" Acknowledge those thoughts and picture yourself placing them in a box to be dealt with after your practice is over.  Don't feel guilty about having those thoughts, or about not being able to clear your mind completely.  It's totally normal and with practice you will find that they come less frequently.

Do a body scan: Rather than trying to focus on "nothing" I like to focus on my body.  Starting at your toes, try to focus on all of your muscles and picture them relaxing.  Move up your legs, back, torso, neck, head, arms, hands, and fingers.  Notice any tension that you may be holding and focus on relaxing each part individually.

When all else fails, return to your breath: It's amazing how simply focusing on your breathing can relax and rejuvenate you.

Have you ever meditated? What are some tips you have?


Image credit

Beer Tasting Party

Monday, April 7, 2014

In honor of Tyler's birthday we threw a little semi-surprise beer tasting party on Saturday.  I say semi-surprise because he didn't know it was happening until a few days ago. I knew that there was no way I could get him out of the house long enough for me to set up a party without him figuring it out, but I held out telling him for as long as possible.

Fun fact: Tyler is a homebrewer.  He has brewed over 15 batches of beer (that's 75 gallons!) and has become quite good at it.  We really enjoy visiting breweries and tasting all the different types of beers so I thought it'd be fun to throw a little tasting party of our own.  Ty picked out 6 different types of beers for people to try (one of which was a home brew of his!) and we covered up the labels.  I made up tasting cards for people to write notes and rank their favorites.  It was a blast!  I didn't get any pictures of the actual party- I was too busy stuffing my face with queso and tres leches cake.







Get this free printable here






We had a packed house and full hearts.  We are blessed with such fantastic friends and there's nothing better than getting to celebrate with them all at once!


Happy 25th Birthday, Ty!

Thursday, April 3, 2014


Ty,

You are the strongest, kindest, and most loving man I've ever met.  I am constantly amazed by your selflessness and the way you show love to me when I'm feeling unlovable. You have taught me what true Joy looks like, and I have come to know Jesus more deeply just by knowing you.  

Happy birthday to the love of my life!

Xo,
Manda

Hug It Out

Wednesday, April 2, 2014


In one of my classes last quarter our professor told us that the quickest way to shorten an argument with your spouse is to stop, take a deep breath, and hug for ten seconds.  Ten seconds! Have you ever tried hugging someone for ten seconds?? It's a long time, even when it's with someone you love.  But hugging is proven to lower stress, increase levels of oxytocin (the "love hormone"), and promote bonding between two people.  Here are some other benefits that come when you hug it out:


  • The brain releases dopamine: aka the "pleasure hormone"
  • Your muscles relax
  • Your self esteem is boosted
  • Your blood pressure is lowered
  • Your immune system is given a boost.


Virginia Satir, who is known as "the mother of family therapy" said,

"We need four hugs a day for survival. We need eight hugs a day for maintenance. We need twelve hugs a day for growth"

So grab your partner, a friend, a family member, or heck- even a stranger and hug it out.  None of this side hug stuff- give em a full, frontal, all-up-in-your-business hug.  You'll both be better off for it.

Sources: 1//2

Tropical Chocolate Bon Bons

Monday, March 31, 2014


I am so excited to be linking up today (albeit a few days late) with Cooks in the Kitchen!  Samantha and Cristina have put together this wonderful project and I had such a blast finding a recipe to share with all of you using this month's featured ingredient: semi-sweet chocolate!


I have an aunt that lives in Hawaii and whenever she visits she always brings us a box of Hawaiian Host Chocolate Covered Macadamia Nuts.  They are, hands down, my favorite candy so when trying to figure out what to make with this semi-sweet chocolate I knew I wanted to incorporate some macadamia nuts in there.


While searching for some semi-healthy dessert options I came across this recipe from Nom Nom Paleo.  I made a few minor alterations and the result is the most heavenly tropical bon-bon substitute I've ever tasted.  Plus it's even kinda-sorta healthy so I don't feel the least bit bad about stuffing my face full of them.


Making the banana "ice cream" is super simple but to be honest it's a bit time intensive for me.  I'm including the original method here but in my opinion these are just as delicious of you simply use banana slices instead of frozen puree.

 

Tropical Chocolate Bon Bons
Makes approx. 15bon bons
Adapted from Nomnom Paleo

Ingredients
  • 2 medium ripe bananas, cut into chunks and frozen
  • 1 4 oz semi-sweet chocolate baking bar
  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/4 Cup unsalted macadamia nuts, finely chopped
  • 3 Tbsp shredded coconut (optional)
Instructions
  1. Blend frozen banana chunks in a blender until the become a smooth puree.  Scrape into a bowl and freeze for one hour.
  2. Melt the baking chocolate in the microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring each time.  Once chocolate is completely melted stir in coconut oil.
  3. Using a small cookie scoop or melon baller, scoop out the frozen banana puree and use your fingers to form it into a small ball, if necessary.  Dip in the chocolate/ coconut oil mixture and set on a sheet of parchment paper.  Immediately sprinkle with macadamia nuts and shredded coconut.  Allow to freeze for 30 more minutes before eating.