Guest Post Sunday: “How I came to be” by Jane Love

This Sunday I bring you a lovely short story by one of my favorite people and adoptive blogging daughter, Jainey. The story is just so good, I’m sure you’ll love it as much as I do. You did wonderfully, my beautiful girl.

How I Came To Be by Jane Love

The invasion arrived on a very normal day. I woke up that morning to a lively neighborhood. Kids were playing around, my brothers and sister teased themselves the best they could and I, as usual, overslept.

8am. I was wrenched away from the adventure of my favorite book by the sound of sirens. Big, loud sirens. As if that wasn’t enough, an annoyingly high-pitched voice screeched over every radio around.

“ALERT!! ALERT!! OUR SECURITY HAS BEEN BREACHED! WE ARE UNDER ATTACK! BUT PLEASE DO NOT PANIC.”

Utter silence. The heads that paused to listen continued their activities as though nothing was going on. We were used to such announcements anyways. And to be honest, I was sick and tired of these stupid drills. Just then, the voice was back.

“OH, I FORGOT TO MENTION THAT THIS IS NOT A DRILL. SO, YOU CAN PANIC NOW”

As one, people began to run helter-skelter. Siblings locked themselves indoors. The streets emptied within the blink of an eye. Everyone activated their defense schemes. This was our first invasion yet. No one knew what to expect.

“Get away from the window,” my sister ordered. “It’s not safe.”

It was then I realized that they had all bundled themselves inside. All but one.

“Where’s Francis?” I asked.

“He will be back soon. He’s in charge of the city’s main defence, remember? Once he activates the system, he’ll come back. Don’t worry.”

I guess that put my mind at ease. Only that he NEVER returned. And no body was found. No sign of a struggle. Nothing. He was just gone. 😱 😱 😱

Perhaps he was abducted. Or maybe he got lost. Or… hmm. What’s the point of giving myself false hope? He was gone and that was final. 😟😟

All his responsibilities fell on Calvin now. He took care of us. Made us forget our pain. Until, he too was taken. A few years later, another invasion and he went missing.

The next year, it was my sister. And the next in line, my last brother. Now, all that was left of my family was ME.

There must be someone out there who had it in for us. Or perhaps their argument was with me and so they singled me out. I want to say I was brave and not afraid but that would be a lie. There’s nothing scarier than knowing that you are definitely next on the list of a possible serial killer. Except, of course, not knowing when he would strike.

I spent each day like it was the last I had. Just over a year after my final brother’s abduction, we were invaded again. By this time, I had had enough. I could let these people terrorize us in this manner. It was highly unacceptable. I decided I would put a stop to it once and for all. Or that I would die trying.

I travelled to the edge of the city to face our invaders. I had never seen creatures of their kind before. They moved in a snake-like manner. And all of them appeared menacing and freakishly scary. I shook with fear but tried not to show it.

One of them must have noticed and was softened by my demeanor. He stood out from the rest with his mesmerizing eyes (👀) begging me to let him in. To accept him. My heart spoke for me and before I knew it, he was inside. Yet I made no attempt to open the gates for him.

Taking me by the hand, he faced his companions.

“This land is deserted. There’s no one left. I have claimed her and so you must try elsewhere.”

As he spoke, he gaze went across them – daring anyone to defy him. Gradually and somewhat reluctantly, they all left, leaving me with my captor/savior. Turning back to me, he gave a smile that made me weak at the knees and said:

“Hello, beautiful.”

And that was it. I knew from then that I was in love. That was the start of our beautiful relationship. I never bothered going back to the city – I was happy enough just being with him. Plus they would never accept an alien. Months flew by and our love grew stronger. But when three-quarters of a year was up, we just couldn’t hold back anymore. We got married and set off to spend our honeymoon beyond the edge of the city.

A dangerous move for sure but somehow I no longer cared. Because I felt safe with him.

Pretty nice story, huh?

Well, that’s just how I saw it. Here’s what actually happened.

  • A married couple decided after a few years of marriage that it was time to have a baby. They tried and ended up with a bouncing baby boy whom they named Francis.
  • A few years later, they thought it would be nice if he had a brother. Hence, Calvin was born.
  • The next year, they asked the two brothers if they would like a sister.
  • Two years later, they realized they missed hearing baby sounds around the house. So, they had another baby. This time, a boy.
  • Finally, they saw that their daughter needed a play mate and decided to try one last time. A few months after their decision, they rejoiced at receiving this popular line from their doctor.

“Congratulations!! You’re two weeks pregnant.”

They could barely contain their excitement. Nine good months they waited for the arrival of their baby. But she sure didn’t make it easy – always kicking and disturbing Mama (hey, I couldn’t help it!! Every couple sometimes fight 😛 😛 ).

But eventually, after an hour of labor, one bright Saturday, she was born. So cute, so adorable – so different from now – wailing her head off (why wouldn’t I? Where in the world was I? 😰😰). With a smile and eyes full of love, the mother kissed her forehead and said:

“Welcome to the world, Jane.”

If you ask me, I prefer my version of the story, though. It’s so much more exciting. Hope you like the narration of MY birth!!

P.S. All other names are code names. And not actually the names of my siblings. That’s it for now. Byeeee.

Guest Post Sunday: The 5 Ways To Happiness by Maggie (Dreaming Of Guatemala)

Dear readers,

This Sunday I bring you a post by one of my favorite bloggers and a dear blogger friend, Maggie, who blogs over at Dreaming of Guatemala.

If you don’t already know her, take this chance to stop by her wonderful blog. She writes about her faith, her family (she’s a proud big sister of 3), her Spanish studies (she’s learning on her own!) and her daily accomplishments, among a few other subjects. I’m so happy that she has agreed to guest post for me and she has come up with such an amazing and helpful post about positivity, something we all need to focus on.

The 5 Ways to Happiness 

Hi everyone! I’d like to start by saying thank you to Cheila for this awesome opportunity to guest post on her blog! It was so kind of her to think of me, and I’m really excited to get into this. ❤

Alright, so today, I’m going to be talking about positivity! Sometimes, it’s so hard to stay happy and positive, no matter what’s going on in life. Whether everything’s fine, or we’re having a tough time dealing with everything that comes our way, there are times when we need an extra positivity boost. I’ll have days where it simply takes an inspirational post or quote to get me back on track! That’s why I’d like to share my happiness tips with all of you. I have compiled together things that I recommend to you when you’re feeling down and need some encouragement, as well as things I do myself when I need more happiness in my own life. Feel free to sit back and enjoy!

  1. Figure out what is causing you to feel down. If you can do something about it, then by all means, do your best to change it! Sometimes, we don’t even realize what we’re doing to ourselves. For example, I’ll end up feeling awful on occasion simply because I’m dehydrated. By just drinking water, I’m instantly feeling better.
  2. Take some time for yourself, or seek out others. Depending on what is affecting you in your life at this moment, I know that one of those choices will help you; the other one will make it worse. When I’m feeling overwhelmed, or worn out from a long day, I enjoy relaxing in my room. This usually consists of watching YouTube, working on a blog post, catching up on blogs, and maybe read a book, too. Being around others, while enjoyable to me, isn’t what fixes my tiredness or weariness. Now, on the other hand, if I’m upset about something, I much prefer spending time with my family, because even if they don’t understand what I’m going through, it’s definitely a nice distraction. I also enjoy talking to the awesome bloggers I know, as that always helps get my mind off of what’s upsetting me.
  3. Reach out to others. Sometimes, telling my loved ones what’s bothering me is the last thing I want to do, but it is the most therapeutic thing of all. Do you know why that is? Because they will either comfort you as best they can, or completely surprise you by saying they’ve been through something similar! It is so comforting to know that you’re not alone in feeling a certain way. We tend to feel like we’re alone in our struggles, which doesn’t turn out to be the case at all! Share how you’re feeling with your family, or write a post about it on your blog. Someone will eventually be able to relate with you and comfort you.
  4. Focus on the good. I’ve found that, no matter how bad it gets, there is always something to be thankful for. Counting your blessings really does something for your heart. Being able to step back and see that there is still so much beauty in your life is a huge encouragement – at least to me!
  5. Be happy with yourself. This one may sound strange, but it’s true. If you aren’t accepting and taking care of yourself the way you are, imperfections and all, it’s hard to be joyful. I’ve had days where the moment I let go of the insecurity I feel about different things about me, I’m quickly able to find the ability to be happy again.

Happiness isn’t an outside force, or something that can be caught and bottled up – it starts right inside of you. Once you can accept yourself, as well as the ones you love, and learn to be okay with anything life throws your way, you will find beauty everywhere you look.

Guest Post Sunday: “So What If I Want Something Else?” by Lyz – Stephanie

Today’s guest is someone very special. I truly admire Lyz for her passion for life and for her courage and wanderlust. She’s a teacher, a mom of two and a dreamer. Most importantly, she is a lady. At least, she’s trying to be one, right? She’s funny and smart and a beautiful woman. She’s honest and a wonderful writer. I’m sure you know Lyz by now, she’s quite popular. There’s a reason for that. Probably the fact that she is so kind and someone we can relate too. Just a girl, trying to be happy, and live an exciting life. Thank you for writing this post for my blog, Lyz. I’m honored.

Blog: https://iwannabealady.wordpress.com/

So What If i Want Something Else? – by Lyz

My shoulders were getting tense, squeezing into each other, curling up into a ball. Air was getting heavy and thick, and it wasn’t because of our South Florida heat. It was my life. It was going nowhere. At least that’s what I thought as I sat at red lights, stood in grocery lines, waited on hold for someone from the cable company to explain why my bill was increasing once again.

This wasn’t what I’d imagined for myself. This thing, I wanted to kick it in the throat and watch it squirm. More than squirm (I’ll be honest because I trust you not to judge) I wanted it to die. I was sick of mundane and not living inside of my passions. I know, I know, stability and responsibility and safety and patience. I was starting to think that patience was a dirty word. A trick used by those who wished to tranquilize us to inaction. And I came to realize that the primary person tranquilizing me was myself.

This sounds dramatic, I know. But it’s my life and wasting it away is dramatic.

I use the word wasting casually, of course. I live in a home. I’m a mother. I’m a teacher. I was doing my fair share of good. I was living well, but I wasn’t living my dream. My dream started something like this.

One day, when I was about 10 years old, my favorite cousin came by for her usual visit. While the adults chatted away in the kitchen and the other kids busied themselves outside, the two of us decided, uncharacteristically, to stay in.  We stayed in and the memory of that day hasn’t left me in over 20 years. We decided to play dress up. We went through my closet trying to make my 1980s adolescent wardrobe look sophisticated and cool. We borrowed my brother’s briefcase and a suitcase from my parents and we spent the next few hours locked away in my room pretending that we were in Paris. Just two girls having a coffee in Paris. Two girls shopping in Paris. Two girls eating in Paris.

Something about that experience branded itself into my psyche and I knew then, I felt it then, that my life was going to be incredible.

Fast forward some decades and my booty requires double the work to stay perky. I’m divorced and recovering financially. I’ve got a job that I’m great at and mostly enjoy. My children are well-mannered and only occasionally obnoxious to the point of me wanting to rip out my eyeballs and fling them to the ground in an attempt to shock the darlings into silence. The normal stuff.

My problem: I never wanted normal.

So what if I wanted to wake up in the morning and go horseback riding instead of riding someone’s ass in traffic to get to work on time? So what if the weather is beautiful and I want to be productive on the beach instead of in a box with fake lights and no color on the walls?

I was starting late. Things happened, as they tend to do in life. There was the marriage. It didn’t last. There are the children depending on me to keep it together. There was the job, stable but taking up too much space. Then there was me, tripping myself with negative thoughts.

I read all of these blogs by young and single people exploring the world. You can do it too, they’d admonish, and here’s how, they’d advice. I read about husbands and wives who decided to uproot their lives and take their children on a new type of adventure, show them a new type of learning, that of immersion and experience. I was longing to do that. I was a piece of these people, after all. I was the single woman and the parent. A single parent with shared custody. I couldn’t take them away for extended periods of time, but something had to give. So I thought and thought and thought. And in the meantime, nothing was changing.

What was I to do with life happening all around me? On top of me?

One day (I probably read something  somewhere because I’m always reading something somewhere) I decided to start small. Start tiny. Maybe I won’t be teaching English abroad in the next year. Maybe I won’t be backpacking the great Pacific Northwest Scenic Trail by summertime. Those could be long-term goals. In the short-term, I could experience the wilderness.

So me and friend went on a hilarious and life-changing camping trip just 2h30 min from home. I had been asking my friends about a trip to New York. It’s a city I’ve loved from the first. When I realized that there was no timeline for getting everyone on board, I decided to go alone. I went on my own and had an even bigger adventure because of it. I built my confidence because of it.

I wanted my children to get an early taste, sight, sound, smell, feel of what adventure is. So I found dirt cheap tickets and we flew to Washington D.C. I was too broke to pay for lodging so we made it a day trip. Everyone thought it was crazy, but I got them on their first plane ride! I won’t go into all of the details here (though it seems that I have already) but I want you to understand that your life is valuable. And your life is made up of your time.

Here’s a cheesy little comparison: Your life is like a sunset. When you’re watching it, it seems to be hardly moving, It seems to take forever, but then it’s suddenly a strip on the horizon, then nothing. How are you using your time? I know a good Netflix marathon is sometimes just what the doctor ordered. But you know what’s better than a doctor? A cure.

My mission for 2017 has been to respect my time. I know it’s not December 31st and the time for resolutions. But it is time to respect our time. To respect our lives. I’ve been documenting my baby steps because I’d like to inspire others, but I also want to inspire myself. I’m one of those people who need constant motivation or projects will lay by the wayside in an astonishingly short span of time. Is there a such thing as a project hoarder? How about a project murderer? Never mind, I’m both of those things.

So, sometimes I go back through my blog, my online autobiography, and I learn, I feel encouraged, I remember all the parts making up this whole.

Let’s glow and make light. Let’s dream and make it come true.

Truly,

Lyz-Stephanie. iwannabealady

Guest Post Sunday – “Clothes Sizes” by Ella May Garrett

Hello friends,

Sunday means a new Guest Post.  This week I have the pleasure to present a post by a dear blogger and friend, Ella May Garrett. This is such a good article and I think we can all relate to it, so I would be very happy if you would re-blog this or send it to every friend, sister, mother, daughter and any girl in your life who has ever struggled with clothes sizes. Don’t we all know one? I mean, aren’t you one? I know I am.

Clothes Sizes by Ella May Garrett

Standing in the Topshop fitting rooms, I have my usual size 8 in hand and I feel awful. Why? Because I could barely get this denim skirt up my legs before I had to accept that it didn’t fit me. I asked the lovely lady for a size 10 and I ended up buying it… slightly reluctantly.

Why did this make me feel completely rubbish? I have no idea! A lot of people would love to be a size 8 to 10 but that isn’t the point I’m making. What sucks is that it is so easy to be consumed by the number on the label of an item of clothing and it can hurt enough that it affects our mood for the whole day, maybe even longer than that.

When I got home I compared the waist of the size 10 denim skirt with other Topshop skirts I own and I was genuinely shocked. A size 6, 8 and 10 that I have from Topshop all measured up nearly exactly the same. Unbelievable! It reassured me that sizes are not worth paying attention to.

Now, nearly 21, I have a slightly thicker skin when it comes to these things. It does still bother me but I know my 15-year-old self would have broken down in that changing room and not bothered to compare the sizes when I got home to realise how arbitrary the whole system is. And that is why I hate it. I hate it because I know how it can make people feel and I know that it sucks. We all know deep down that it is just a number but how many times do you say or hear “I have dropped 2 dress sizes”, “I wish I was a size 10”, “I’m a size 10 on top but a 14 on the bottom”, every month. These are such common phrases that we all use and I think it is about time we stage a little revolution against the disparity in clothes sizes and stop allowing us to get worried about whether we have creeped down in to single digits or whether being uncomfortable in a pair of jeans is worth it to tell people what size it is.

I think the best comparison to this is the way people generally react to their weight nowadays. YEP people say they want to lose a few pounds or add a little bit of junk in the trunk here and there but people have pretty much come to accept that weight looks different on everyone. A 6ft person weighing 11 stone looks very different to a 5ft person weighing that. So, like we are coming to ignore the number on the scales, I think we should the number on the clothes.

I refuse to be hurt in the changing room because I must size up – when in all reality, the skirt was exactly the same measurement as a 6 and an 8 from the same shop that I already own. Psychologically, it’s ridiculous! I know countless amounts of people who can say they are a 10 in one shop, 12 in another or 14 somewhere else. WHAT AM I? You know what you aren’t that’s for sure. YOU AREN’T A SIZE. YOU AREN’T A NUMBER. And that is all that matters. What fits you, what makes you feel comfortable and what makes you happy.

So, screw clothes sizes and screw the crappy feeling that shops give you!

I watched a really interesting YouTube video a while ago on Vox that discussed the history of women’s clothes sizes and how each number is just a stab in the dark and not really a true representation of anything – hence all the disparities.

 

Special Guest Post “30 Days Cleaning Challenge” by Margaret Ellis

No, I’m not crazy. I know it’s Saturday. My Guest Post Series is still happening tomorrow. Today I bring you an article by Margaret Ellis. She is a writer and the owner of a small cleaning business, based in London. (No, this is not a sponsored post at all. If she gets a few clients because of this post, I’ll be happy, but I’m not getting paid to publish her article, I just thought it was really good and that it might be fun as a challenge).

Need some motivation to clean – try this 30 days challenge

clean-1346685_640

What is more pleasing than getting any job done? Watching your progress and the results of the job you have done. And how can that be achieved? Not only through seeing your home being clean because this does not last long but you can make yourself a visual to help you see your progress.

The easiest way is to make a schedule for your cleaning chores and stick to it and cross off chores and see your progress. And also, you should take into account which time of the day is the most convenient for you to clean before work or after work. Set aside an hour in the morning or two hours after work to follow your cleaning schedule accordingly.

And one more thing to keep you motivated and stick to your schedule is to figure out a reward for yourself. When your 30 days are over reward yourself! You deserve it.

There are many ways you can make a cleaning schedule, you can categorise it by rooms, by daily or weekly chores, etc. It is up to you how and when you do them, but here is an exemplary 30-days challenge for cleaning your home.

If you need such motivation to clean you can try this 30-days cleaning challenge (which of course you can adjust to your personal preferences and needs) suggested by moving out cleaners Shacklewell:

Day 1: Clean surfaces in your living room and kitchen

Day 2: Clean kitchen appliances (microwave, fridge, oven, etc.)

Day 3: Clean surfaces in the bathroom – scrub bathtub, wash shower curtain, etc.

Day 4: Disinfect toilet, taps, rearrange bathroom cabinet

Day 5: Clean other rooms – laundry room, home office, guest bedroom, etc.

Day 6: Clean windows inside and outside

Day 7: Vacuum and mop all floors

Day 8: Clean and dust details – mirrors, skirting boards, pictures, knick-knacks

Day 9: Clean medicine cabinet – throw away everything empty or expired, make a list to refill

Day 10: Organize closets, drawers, throw away everything unnecessary

Day 11: Clean behind and under furniture and kitchen appliances

Day 12: Wash sofa and seat covers, cushions, curtains

Day 13: Clean walls, fixtures, light switches, etc.

Day 14: Clean and organize pantry – wipe down, throw away expired things, organize, make a list to stock up on things

Day 15: Clean the kitchen sink and under the sink – get rid of empty bottles, etc.

Day 16: Vacuum and deodorize carpeting and upholstery

Day 17: Clean TV and other electronic devices

Day 18: Wipe down bookshelves

Day 19: Clean dryer and washing machine

Day 20: Clean your vacuum cleaner

Day 21: Clean closet and get rid of unwanted clothes, organize and make room for new ones

Day 22: Organize and clean your kid’s room

Day 23: Clean doors and door frames, especially your front entry

Day 24: Clean porch or patio, take out all trash

Day 25: Dust ceiling lamps and cobweb the house

Day 26: Empty all trash cans and clean them

Day 27: Dust and wipe clean vents

Day 28: Wash bed linen and clean the mattresses

Day 29: Sweep and de-clutter the garage

Day 30: Clean your home office (if you have one) or your car

Then relax! Your one-month long cleaning challenge is completed. It is time for your reward now.

Make small check boxes next to every chore and put a cross when you complete a cleaning job to see your progress. You can even add a line with title Day 31: REWARD! And see how slow and steady you are getting closer to it and you are having a much cleaner home. Good luck!

clean-1346682_640

So are you joining this challenge? Anyone? I know I am. Come on, Angela. You know you need to do some cleaning. (I thought I would make you laugh at this one so I had to mention you, my friend). It’s the perfect time to do it too. It’s almost June and we can start it on the first of the month. The timing is great because it will be like a good Spring/Summer cleaning.

Tell me what you think about it!

Thank you so much, Margaret, for such a nice challenge.

Guest Post Sunday – “Seven things you should do before becoming a mama” by The Sicilian Mama

Dearest readers,

Today I come to you with mom advice. Not my advice, of course. I’m not a mama yet and that makes this article even more interesting and useful to me. I’m sure you’ll find it useful and interesting as well as funny, being an experienced mother or a possible future one. I mean, we need all the advice we can get, don’t we? I’m glad The Sicilian Mama is guest posting for me and that I still have plenty of time to follow her advice and make sure I’m ready (as ready as you can be) before I bring on the craziness of having babies into my life.

mama

Do you know The Sicilian Mama? If you do, you have good taste. She is the sweetest and funniest lady, with the most helpful blog where you can find great articles. I’ll leave you with my favorites:

5 things you should keep in your wallet

How to argue with your partner

What’s the worst advice your mom gave you?

If you don’t, well you’re missing out. Go over to her blog and give her some love. I know you’ll love her writing and not resist to give her a follow.

Now, her amazing article:

Seven things you should do before becoming a mama

‘I bet she’s going to say “save up”, “party hard” and “travel a lot”,’ I can hear you thinking. But I’m not going to say these things because they’re obvious. We all know that you can’t go to the cinema with a baby and that, when you can finally take your child to the big screen, it’ll be a Disney cartoon and not the latest thriller that you’ll be watching.

But I’m going to give you some advice so that you might be able to watch the latest thriller at the cinema, save up, party, and travel, even after you’ve become a mama.

  1. Accrue goodwill credits with family, friends and colleagues: babysit nieces and nephews, dog-sit for your parents, help the neighbor shift that piano, cover that horrid night-shift for a colleague, etc. Make sure that they owe you BIG. Then, when you have children (and, I tell you, you will need help!), you can casually remind them of their debt before mentioning with nonchalance that Valentine city-break for two that you and hubby would so love to do, if only you had a babysitter…
  2. At work, you never make negative comments about people who are taking parental leave or use sunglasses to hide their droopy eyelids after a breastfeeding night. Express deep sympathy towards working-parents and petition for the creation of a work nursery (which will likely only be ready when you have your own children).
  3. Visit new places and familiarize yourself with as many public loos locations as you can. Once you’re a mama, you’ll be glad to remember the shortest route to the motorway services’ toilet, while you’re running with a child who can’t run while crossing her legs.
  4. Learn to drive, preferably large vehicles (people carriers, vans, horseboxes, caravans). You should become so comfortable behind the wheel that you can successfully execute a U-turn before a school, at drop-off time (“Mum, I’ve forgotten my lunchbox!”), or follow the navigator’s instructions with kids screaming from the back seats, or bring the vehicle to a full stop within the time a child can hold their vomit.
  5. Learn to cook at least three meal options/variants for every meal, so that you can satisfy the requirements of all the picky eaters in your family (who are never picky in favour of the same foodstuff).
  6. Learn to make appropriate noises to suggest that you are listening to a small person talking to you, even across the bathroom door (even if you are…ahem… busy).
  7. Get your house together, but not too much. You don’t want unfinished DIY projects involving unfenced holes in the ceiling/floor, exposed live electrical wires, splintering floorboards, with babies crawling around your home. But…don’t make this home your dream home, fully decorated and furnished, because your kids will want to decorate it for you. They’ll regale you numerous pieces of crayon art which has to be exhibited and, when they’re especially quiet, they might be working on a Leonardo-style egg fresco straight on your walls.

 

Guest Post Sunday – A Poem by Shweta Suresh: Flee

Sem Título

Today’s guest post comes very close to my heart. It is by one of my favorite bloggers, closest blogging friends and one of my very favorite writers. She’s so amazing, I had to have her on my blog. Her name is Shweta Suresh and she is one of the sweetest people you will ever meet. She is so talented and versatile. You need to get to know her and her work so I strongly recommend you to go over to her blog My Random Ramblings and look around, read a few posts, give her some likes, post some comments. I think…I mean, I’m sure you’ll want to follow if you’re not doing it already. She’s so worth it. Please give her some love.

Before I present you with the poem in question, I thought I might tell you about something else. She has recently participated in the A to Z challenge, writing tiny tales all throughout April. They are all so wonderful and worth reading. Inspiring and powerful in their messages.

I thought I would make it easier for you, and provide the links for all of the tiny tales:

#A for A meal for two

#B for Breakfast

#C for Consequences

#D for Distance

#E for Everything and yet nothing

#F for Fate

#G for Google to the rescue!

#H for Hot!

#I for If only…

#J for Journey

#K for Killing Spree

#L for Love of her life!

#M for Missing you

#N for No place like home

#O for One

#P for Picking up pieces

#Q for Que in the cafe

#R for Retail Therapy

#S for Starving

#T for Too late

#U for Undoing the vanishing act

#V for Victor not victim

#W for Without You

#X for X?

#Y for You can’t always have what you want…

#Z for Zebra crossing

Of course, I’ve read all of them, while she was doing the A to Z challenge and fell in love with every single one. I think you will too.

Now, the lovely poem:

Flee

People like me flee before it,

We turn and run blindly,

or jump onto higher ground to be safe,

All the while screaming or shrieking,

despite our best efforts to remain calm and collected.

It’s as if they can sense our fears and our presence.

We go out of our way to avoid these monsters,

but they keep coming for us.

It’s almost as if they are tracking our every movement,

lying around, waiting,

Waiting for the perfect moment to terrify us.

We call them monsters,

Others call them spiders

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Do you know Shweta and her blog?

xx

Guest Post Sunday – Depression and Exercise by Fitness and Fueling

This week’s Guest Post (I plan on publishing one every Sunday, from now on) deals with an issue that is close to my heart. Suffering from depression, one of the recommendations I get most often, both from doctors, fitness experts and even random people, is to include exercise into my routine. The relation between exercise and mental health and its power to help those with depression and/or other type of mental illness has been something I’ve  been wondering about for a long time, so I decided to ask someone who is experienced in fitness and nutrition to write an article on this topic. Greg blogs over at Fitness and Fueling, a website where you can find useful information and interesting posts on such topics. I encourage you to visit, starting with his About Page, where you can get to know Greg and understand why he is the right person to address and discuss the topic of exercise and its relation to depression. I’m sure Greg would be delighted to answer all of your questions, so feel free to ask, comment, share your ideas, or even your story. If this is something you would like to share with your readers or friends, please feel free to re-blog or share on social media.

Depression and Exercise by Fitness and Fueling

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Depression … a topic many are uncomfortable discussing. First, let’s set the record straight, depression isn’t people suffering from sadness; much more is occurring outside of their control, it is a chemical imbalance. Exercise is a very powerful tool used to treat depression.

There has been extensive research to help those battling depression and/or anxiety. The most common treatment for depression is prescription anti-depressants that cause unfavorable side effects. However, it is not the only form of treatment. Decades of research suggests exercise can significantly reduce depression and anxiety. In this article, I will discuss the relationship between depression and exercise, how to start, and tips to help in the journey.

First, I have to mention that I have not suffered from diagnosed depression.  Throughout the last 10 years, exercise has been a tool I used to cope with tough times. From tough break-ups, family, and social pressure, life can be downright hard at times whether suffering with depression or not. From that experience, I know that exercise can be the last thing on someone’s mind. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 300 million people live with depression.  Everyone goes through difficult times at some point in their life. Many people living with depression feel they cannot control certain aspects of life resulting in a feeling of hopelessness. Exercise is absolutely within our realm of control. On the outside it may seem that exercise and depression have no correlation, however, research suggests that significant changes occur within our brain when performing physical activity.

If we could instantly flip a switch to change our thought processes I bet every person with depression would flip it, without much consideration. Unfortunately, science and technology aren’t there yet. However, exercise is the key to unlocking relief. There are many forms of treatment for depression. I believe it may be beneficial to treat depression from the outside in, forcing the body to move in sync with the way you want your mind to think. When we exercise the brain releases a slew of endorphins and chemicals that travel throughout the entire body. These endorphins change how we think and feel pain. Neurotransmitter norepinephrine is a scientific theory that suggests exercise directly impacts our mood. Now, brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is a protein in the human brain that promotes nerve growth and in contrast, BDNF is significantly reduced by stress. The reduction of BDNF is directly linked to brain health. Anti-depression medications aim to treat this chemical imbalance inside the hippocampus by elevating BDNF levels to normal. According to research, exercise has been proven to promote neurogenesis, (the growth and development of nerve tissue) and elevate BDNF levels within the hippocampus. The academic and medical communities are beginning to accept this as a valid benefit. Now, you are probably wondering, “what does it mean for me and how is it going to change me?”

Post-exercise, patients with depression report feeling more relaxed, accomplished, energetic, and in more control of themselves and their environment. I mentioned earlier, many things in life are out of our control and this led me to research the philosophy of Stoicism. Stoicism is an ancient philosophy that says we are thinkers who are connected to nature. Stoicism is centered on living in the moment, not being concerned with material items, and living life under what is directly in our control. It is worth researching if you are interested in gaining a warrior mindset. I can’t imagine the difficulty that may accompany starting an exercise program while battling depression. The amount of positive change in the brain is sure to be worth it. Now, beginning an exercise program can be difficult, these suggestions may help make it smooth and successful.

TIPS:

  • Choose any activity that is enjoyable. There is no correlation between which exercise is more beneficial. There is a greater chance of continuing if it’s something fun.
  • Creatine, a sports performance supplement, may help women with depression by improving their mood. Click to read more on creatine.
  • Exercise in the morning has a significant impact on reducing cortisol (the stress hormone) levels throughout the day. Thus, reducing stress throughout the day.
  • Fight the mentality, “what’s the point, I’ll be fat and ugly forever” by recognizing it’s the chemical imbalance talking and NOT you. Quiet your mind by walking.
  • Food, depression medications can increase appetite, become surrounded by healthy options to reduce binge eating. Tips for juicing and benefits in this article.
  • Have an exercise partner. This will encourage accountability and make it more enjoyable from the social perspective.
  • If interested in a gym style routine, find a class. Just show up and move.
  • Just go with it. New is unfamiliar and uncomfortable – be patient.
  • Not all aspects of physical activity feel great. The end result is what is important.
  • Participate in physical activity 3-5 times per week.
  • Simple breathing exercises have a large impact on relaxation and mood.
  • Write down the exercise to be completed the night before. This may help in staying committed. I wrote down my workouts the night before for years and it helped me stay on track. If I wrote it down, I had to make it happen.
  • Yoga and meditation are remarkable activities to reduce stress and anxiety. Click to read more on yoga and stress.

Perhaps some people will feel utterly defeated most days and will sulk in a gym while putting forth a little effort and/or feel judged by others. There are a few approaches to this valid concern. Try performing exercise at home or in a location more discreet. Next, people who judge others are who have the problem – be you in the gym and don’t focus on what others think. (It’s surprising how many people are unaware of their surroundings in a gym today with the constant smartphone and television usage.) It is well documented that fresh air can have a significant impact on depression and mood. Try to get outside for exercise, I highly recommend it.

Exercise, physical activity, meditation, or yoga, will have a positive impact on certain neurological processes and chemicals in the brain for those suffering with depression or anxiety. The type of movement chosen is entirely up to you as research does not favor one in particular. Besides, the side effects of exercise are reduced blood pressure and increased metabolism to list a few. Stay true to yourself, push even harder when it’s difficult and most importantly have fun with it because at the end of the day we only have one life to live and we should strive to make it as fun as possible.

 

Sources:

“Exercise and Depression.” Harvard Health Publications, June 2009, http://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/exercise-and-depression-report-excerpt. Accessed 22 Apr. 2017.

“YouTube.” YouTube, YouTube, 27 Dec. 2016, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DsVzKCk066g. Accessed 22 Apr. 2017.

Godman, Heidi, editor. “Regular exercise changes the brain to improve memory, thinking skills.” Harvad Health Blog, 9 Apr. 2014, http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/regular-exercise-changes-brain-improve-memory-thinking-skills-201404097110. Accessed 22 Apr. 2017.

Kelly ServickOct. 10, 2013 , 1:00 PM, et al. “How Exercise Beefs Up the Brain.” Science | AAAS, 12 Jan. 2016, http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2013/10/how-exercise-beefs-brain. Accessed 22 Apr. 2017.

Lee, B.-H., & Kim, Y.-K. (2010). The Roles of BDNF in the Pathophysiology of Major Depression and in Antidepressant Treatment. Psychiatry Investigation, 7(4), 231–235. http://doi.org/10.4306/pi.2010.7.4.231

The National Institute of Mental Health. Depression. http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/depression/index.shtml. Accessed 22 Apr. 2017.