Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Guest Post: Celebrate Small Victories

In this PLPT guest post, Lilou of the inspirational blog, Push and Soar, reminds us to celebrate the small victories in life.

For a few years, I had found myself on a quest to find my direction in life. My chosen field of work simply didn’t feel like the right fit for me. So I decided to move on and explore other options. As I was on that journey, I spent a lot of time soul searching, learning about myself, exploring different options and working hard. But no matter what I did and how hard I worked I just felt like I was not progressing and that all my hard work was in vain.

I mentioned this issue to someone in a conversation and she offered the idea that I was indeed progressing but was not acknowledging the progress I was making. So she suggested that I celebrate everything I accomplish even if it’s small.

After pondering about this, I decided that at the end of every month I was going to have an end-of the-month-review with myself and write down all the things that I accomplished just to see if my journey was really stalled. And so I did, and was able to see all of my progress in black and white.

This process showed me that I’m constantly progressing and achieving but I was taking it all for granted because I had not yet reached my ultimate goal. Progress to me then was about reaching big goals. But I now understand that it’s about all the tiny steps that take you to that ultimate goal. Progress is about the journey.

Pat yourself in the back and celebrate your small accomplishments. Doing so means that you feel gratitude for even the smallest steps of your journey. If you learn to appreciate the small things then you will be able to have an even deeper appreciation for the bigger successes.

Your journey is not stalled. As long as we’re alive, we are constantly moving. There are times where you might even feel like you’re moving backwards but if this happens find a way to bounce back and remember that even this sometimes is a necessary step. It’s all part of the journey and at the end of it all you will learn, grow and become stronger. After all why wouldn’t we acknowledge that which gave us strength and helped us grow?

Appreciate your journey even in the hardest times, even when you feel as though you’re treading water. And remember to celebrate all of your small victories because it’s through them that our biggest triumphs arise.

Photo via Pinterest


Push and Soar was created by Lilou, a visual artist who really understands the benefits as well as the struggles of working outside of a traditional 9-5 job. Thus she created this blog as a way to address these concerns as they pertain to herself and let others know that they are not alone on this journey to live their passion.
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Monday, February 27, 2012

Pretty Things: Blankets, Baskets and Books

When it comes to home design, I have always felt unsure about how to best capture the sense of charm and welcome that I want to convey to my guests.  I felt like our house needed so much work to reach the level of sophistication that I wanted.  But lately, I've had a change in perspective.

I look around my home and it's anything but sophisticated, but it tells me who we are as a family loud and clear.  We're a family of five living in a three bedroom townhouse with two kids in elementary school, one toddler and two working parents.  Organized chaos at its best.  And yet, I feel happier in this space than I have in a long time. 

Why? Well, I've reconsidered the whole sophistication thing.  "Since we cannot change reality, let us change the eyes which see reality." ...I mean, really who am I kidding? Maybe I'll have a sophisticated house one day when the necessities that come along with child-proofing and toy storage are no longer a consideration.  Also, this change in perspective has allowed me to identify three major sources of comfort and function that allow me to indulge myself in decorating my home: blankets, baskets and books.

With lots of cozy blankets tossed strategically around our home, I feel that a quick fix of security and warmth is always within arm's reach.  We love to cuddle up with them on our big sectional couch in the living room and the kids LOVE to build forts, make capes and play "I'm gonna get you!" under the covers. 

As I evolve as a woman and a homemaker, blankets have become one of the indulgences that beckon to me to express my family's personality.

I never could have imagined how many containers children require!  Papers, toys, clothes, art supplies, sports equipment, shoes, hair decorations, games, books....I'll stop there but I could go on. 

Out of necessity and volition, I opt mostly for pretty baskets to keep the clutter to a less noticeable level in our home.  It's becoming a hobby for me as I love shopping for them and finding the right place and purpose in our space.  The right basket can transform an annoying pile of toys or mail into a strategically placed source of character in a room. 

As much as I love for everything to be in its place, books never translate as clutter to me.  Matter of fact, I love to see a pile of them sitting any and everywhere.  

Incidentally, when I tried to explain this to my other half, he kindly informed me that he feels the same way about tools.  Somehow, I'm unable to embrace tools in the same way, so I just nodded and smiled as I made a mental note that we need a new basket to hold the loose tools and screws that are sitting on top of the fridge.  Anyway, back to books...

While I certainly appreciate the convenience of kindles and e-readers, I will always and forever prefer the look, feel and smell of real books.  For a book lover, a wall full of books can effectively replace the need for art work or other decorations. 

I love to observe the way people express themselves through the decoration of their homes.  How do you indulge your personal expression in a practical way through your decorating style?

All images via Pinterest 
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Friday, February 24, 2012

Love Note - Friday 2/24/12

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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

3 Reminders for a Healthy Love Life

Whether you're in a relationship or not, it's so easy to forget how important it is to maintain a healthy relationship with yourself - first and foremost.  We can get so caught up in finding someone that we forget our values and boundaries.  If we don't go into relationships with a clear idea of who we are, we're bound to either lose our identities in the process or find that we've settled for someone who's not right for us. 

Know Thyself and Be Whole:
We have been taught that a relationship is a fifty-fifty proposition. A more accurate view is that two incomplete people can come together and find completion. This is a false premise that has had a disastrous impact on our relationships. Each person must come into a relationship a whole, complete person who is able to handle the responsibility; willing to share in the responsibility for mutual growth.  A relationship must not be a crutch. We want to develop complimentary unions where strengths and weaknesses have support . We want to be able to stand on our own, but stand a little taller in a relationship. We want to bring an identity to the table and have it reflected to us a little brighter. In a relationship, two halves do not make a whole, and we cannot allow anyone else to take responsibility for our completion.  
-Author Unknown
Once you're in a loving relationship, time and stress can take its toll and cause you to lose sight of the things you love about that person.  It becomes much easier to identify their flaws than their positive attributes.  The following quote reminds us of the beauty of intimacy and being able to let your guard down & feel safe.  True intimacy is hard to find and the comfort it brings definitely outweighs the small annoyances that are bound challenge your union.

Let Your Guard Down: 
Oh, the comfort - the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person - having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but pouring them all right out, just as they are, chaff and grain together; certain that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and then with the breath of kindness blow the rest away.
~Dinah Craik
When you're with someone for a long time, you may begin to feel that you are growing apart in some ways.  But a reasonable amount of distance does not have to be detrimental.  As we evolve as individuals, we must also evolve as partners.   If you want your relationship to grow and flourish and your loved one to remain loving and kind, give them the time, space and opportunity to make contact with their own minds. 

Let Go to Hold On:
Once the realization is accepted that even between the closest human beings infinite distances continue, a wonderful living side by side can grow, if they succeed in loving the distance between them which makes it possible for each to see the other whole against the sky.

~Rainer Maria Rilke
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Monday, February 20, 2012

Notes for When You’re Feeling Emotionally Bankrupt

There are some times when you feel emotionally bankrupt. You don’t feel up, you don’t feel down…you just feel empty; or you don’t know what to feel. And often it’s difficult to pinpoint why you’re so out of it.

It is natural for our emotions to ebb and flow—due to hormones, or change in weather or just being plain overwhelmed. There are several ways that we can slowly, but surely, refill our emotional tanks and avoid losing focus or becoming depressed:

Be still

You can’t hear your inner guide if there’s too much external noise. Practice tuning out the world, and tuning into your inner awareness—this is where all the answers lie that will lead you to a place of fullness.

Take it one day at a time

If you are an over-planner, a multi-tasker or suffer from superwoman syndrome, this is especially important for you. Sometimes you have to live in the present. Stop planning, stop organizing, ignore your lists and focus on your emotional health.

Acknowledge your dark as well as your light

Everything in this Universe has an opposite. It is how balance is maintained. There’s nothing wrong with you if, from time to time, you feel a bit down. It is natural and necessary. You can’t heal until you acknowledge your feelings, discover the triggers for these feelings and fully explore ways to transform the area of your life that needs work.

Exercise often and avoid alcohol

Even if it’s just a walk around the block, exercise is important to emotional health. Endorphins have a counter-balancing effect to our other hormones; they can help lift us up out of a funk. Conversely alcohol generally has the effect of magnifying whatever it is we’re already feeling. Even if you’re hanging out with your girls (which is major emotional therapy in itself), be cognizant of how alcohol could have the potential to affect you after the girls have gone home and you’re left alone again with your feelings.

Talk to an objective party

Whether your mom, your best friend or your therapist, talk to someone about how you’re feeling. It’s important that this someone is an objective party who will not dictate answers to you based on their own experiences, but who will listen and help you to draw your own conclusions. No one else can do the work for you—the journey is all yours.

Most importantly, remember that emotions are temporary. No matter what you’re feeling right now, you can turn it around. Don’t let a little bit of darkness cause you to forget that you are full of love and light.

photo via Pinterest
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Friday, February 17, 2012

Love Note - Friday 2/17/12

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Monday, February 13, 2012

Power Foods for a Flatter Stomach and a Healthier You

There are certain areas of the body that are particularly hard for women to keep toned, and one of those problem areas is the tummy.  Trust me, after three children, I lovingly refer to the bulge under my belly button as my mama pouch.  I feel like I look perpetually 3-4 months pregnant.  What's interesting is that it's a bit flatter in the morning and bloats out throughout the day.  Sometimes, by the end of the day I feel so tight in my clothes that I have to unbutton the top button of my pants.  Sexy, right? 

On the serious side, there's more to consider here than vanity.  Studies show that waist size can be an indicator for diabetes and heart disease.  Whatever your motivation, if belly fat is an area of focus for you, it's important to focus on cardo exercise, limiting excessive salt intake, and of course making sure that you are putting the right foods into your body. The following guide is a great reference for power foods that will not only help you manage this problem area, but will help maintain your overall health.


A - Almonds and other nuts (with skins intact)
Superpowers Builds muscle, reduces cravings
Fights Obesity, heart disease, muscle loss, wrinkles, cancer, high blood pressure

B - Beans and legumes
Superpowers Builds muscle, helps burn fat, regulates digestion
Fights Obesity, colon cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure

S - Spinach and other green vegetables
Superpowers Neutralizes free radicals, molecules that accelerate the aging process
Fights Cancer, heart disease, stroke, obesity, osteoporosis

D - Dairy products (fat-free or low-fat milk, yogurt, cheese)
Superpowers Builds strong bones, fires up weight loss
Fights Osteoporosis, obesity, high blood pressure, cancer

I - Instant oatmeal (unsweetened, unflavored)
Superpowers Boosts energy, reduces cholesterol, maintains blood sugar levels
Fights Heart disease, diabetes, colon cancer, obesity

E - Eggs
Superpowers Builds muscle, burns fat
Fights Obesity

T - Turkey and other lean meats
Superpowers Builds muscle, strengthens immune system
Fights Obesity, various diseases

P - Peanut butter
Superpowers Boosts testosterone, builds muscle, burns fat
Fights Obesity, muscle loss, wrinkles, cardiovascular disease

O - Olive oil
Superpowers Lowers cholesterol, boosts immune system
Fights Obesity, cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure

W - Whole-grain breads and cereals
Superpowers Prevents body from storing fat
Fights Obesity, cancer, high blood pressure, heart disease

E - Extra-protein (whey) powder
Superpowers Builds muscle, burns fat
Fights Obesity

R - Raspberries and other berries
Superpowers Protects heart; enhances eyesight; improves balance, coordination, and short-term memory; prevents cravings
Fights Heart disease, cancer, obesity

source: yogi health

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Friday, February 10, 2012

Love Note - Friday 2/10/12

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Thursday, February 9, 2012

Reflection Exercise: Are You a People-Pleaser?

In my quest to reduce emotional clutter in my life and make the best use of my energy, I'm always looking to eliminate patterns and habits that are counterproductive to this goal.

In other words, I gotta get rid of some of this baggage, in order to make the most of my journey. Make sense?  To that end, this post is targeting one of my bad habits: People-Pleasing.

Many of us complain of being too busy or being pulled in too many different directions. Sound familiar? Often, if we really took a closer look, we'd find that many of the things we do are because we just didn't want to say no. Or perhaps your calendar is full of your own responsibilities but you don't want to ask for help because you don't want people to think you can't handle it all.

Truthfully ask yourself: Do you always say what's on your mind? Do you ask for what you really want? Do you let people's opinions change your behavior? Your decisions?

For me, the answer to all of these questions is SOMETIMES. And I'm not comfortable with that. It's great to be considerate of other people's feelings but to the extent that you deny your own volition - now, that's a problem.

Here's what I know about abusive people-pleasing:

*When your actions are based on what you want other people to think about you, you're not being true to yourself. Furthermore, you're putting unnecessary strain on yourself.

*No matter what you do, you simply cannot please everyone.

*Seeking to please yourself and do what's best for you is not selfish.

Saying no when you mean yes and yes when you mean no is not only misleading to others, but it also causes a build up of resentment inside of you. This resentment drains energy that could be used more productively.

A big part of what's created this pattern for me is my need to make everyone feel comfortable. I always feel overly responsible for how everyone around me is feeling. By nature, I care more about relationships than I do tasks and responsibilties. So my preoccupation with making sure everyone is happy makes sense to me. The only problem is, when I put everyone's feelings before my own, I end up feeling miserable. Fortunately, I've become passionate about having a peaceful mind and feeling content within myself, so I recognize this conditioned pattern and I'm changing it.

If you want to simplify and enjoy your life more, take some time to consider if this habit is having a negative effect on you. First, identify it, then see what you can do to change this behavior.

Here are some tips:

*Saying no can be difficult, but remember that often it's not what you say but how you say it.

*Likewise, asking for help is often difficult, but for that very reason it's more a sign of strength and awareness than a sign of weakness.

*Speaking of awareness, make logical and realistic decisions about how you spend your time and energy. Don't overextend yourself in order to please others.

*Remember there's a time and place for everything. Be honest about how you feel, but choose your battles wisely.

Don't worry that people will stop liking you or misunderstand your intentions. You must first accept your reality in order for others to accept it. If your goal is do to everything with love and sincerity, then you must clearly articulate your true feelings.

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Monday, February 6, 2012

Why Even Mom Needs to Maintain Her Identity

Once they become mothers, some women find it difficult to maintain their sense of self, casting all their energy into a wide net around their children; there’s nothing wrong with this, but moms need to maintain an identity independent of their children. Why?

Because children grow up, become their own people, and leave your net behind.

My son is 12 years old and he is reaching a point where he is looking to Dad for guidance way more than he is looking to Mom. And yet, he is asserting his independence from both of us, preferring to hang out with his friends, shunning silly things like Halloween costumes; and he is completely and utterly embarrassed by everything we do—with or without reason. We’ve reached a point where he requires space and privacy. In four years, he’ll be driving a car; and in six years, leaving for college. If I didn’t have goals and projects of my own, I might be feeling these growing pains even more profoundly.

You can’t pour into your children what you don’t yourself possess.

The best way in which to teach or influence your children is to set a healthy example. You have to know how to be independent—or whatever other adjectives you’d like them to live up to—in order to show your children how to do it. They’ll listen to what we say, but more than that, they are watching what we do and making decisions on whether or not they’d like to do it the same way.

You are more likely to be patient with your children when you’ve had time to yourself.

You can’t be all that your kids need you to be unless you have had space to regroup and recharge. When you’re able to take a beat for some “me” time, and to do something that brings you joy, that energy will spill over into other facets of your life. The positive feelings that you’ve generated by doing something you love that is all your own will help you to be loving and present with your children, as opposed to frazzled and overwhelmed.

We will take on many labels as we navigate through life: daughter, friend, student, wife, mother—but these are just roles that we play. It is important that we each take time to remember who we are outside of those roles and to fight to maintain that essence of who we are. It doesn’t mean that we don’t love our children—it just means that we know we have to be our best selves, in order to be the best moms.
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Friday, February 3, 2012

Love Note - Friday 2/3/12

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Thursday, February 2, 2012

PLPT Reading List - February


Kimora Lee Simmons has a luminous personality and lots of energy, which I admire because it is so different from my own rather reserved personality. Despite being very different than I perceive her to be, I love to watch how fabulously she carries herself. And so I took to her book, Fabulosity: What It Is and How to Get It out of curiosity about what it might hold, and I wasn’t disappointed. It’s a very positive book, geared at young women, that plants seeds of ‘girl power’ and high self-esteem. It is about much more than just how to be fabulous on the outside, but how to be fabulous on the inside as well. Kimora divided the book into sections such as self-esteem and confidence, work & power, independence, romance and positivity. She speaks from her point of view, but gives some really great tips on living a peaceful and happy lifestyle. At the end of each chapter is a series of quotes from other famous models, actors, musicians, etc. These are some of my favorite quotes:

"If I'd observed all the rules, I'd never have gotten anywhere." - Marilyn Monroe

Another reminder to be unafraid to take risks!

"It is a risk, but I believe the best investment you can make in anything is yourself. Invest in yourself, and then back it up. Back it up with what you do." – Iman

No one can believe in you, unless you believe in you first, right?

"I have no problem with whatever the next big look is. Just don't try to tell me that only one look is beautiful." - Alek Wek

It’s so important to accept and appreciate our own beauty regardless of what others might say.

"Don't let anyone tell you that you have to be a certain way. Be unique. Be what you feel." - Melissa Ethridge

Be yourself. Always. Unabashedly.

"If you've earned a position, be proud of it. Don't hide it. I want to be recognized. When I hear people say, 'There's Joan Crawford!' I turn around and say, 'Hi! How are you?' I never go out unless I look like Joan Crawford the movie star. If you want to see the girl next door, go next door." - Joan Crawford

I struggle with fear of success and accepting praise, so this quote speaks volumes for me.

"If you haven't cried, your eyes can't be beautiful." - Sophia Loren

All our hardships bring with them both wisdom and beauty—and can’t we all use a little bit of both? You can purchase Fabulosity from the PLPT bookstore by clicking here.

*A version of this post was originally published at Chic Mommy Cool Kid.
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Wednesday, February 1, 2012

6 Reminders for the Frazzled Superwoman

1) When stressed, reprioritize what's really important.

I am thankful for a lawn that needs mowing, windows that need cleaning and gutters that need fixing because it means I have a home.... I am thankful for the piles of laundry and ironing because it means my loved ones are nearby. ~Nancie J. Carmod

2) It's okay to make mistakes. Matter of fact, it's necessary.

If you don't make mistakes, you're not working on hard enough problems. And that's a big mistake. ~F. Wikzek

3) Don't wait until you are in crisis to pray.

I have been driven many times to my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go. ~Abraham Lincoln

4) No matter what you're going through, recognize the opportunity for growth.

When written in Chinese the word "crisis" is composed of two characters - one represents danger and the other represents opportunity. 

5) Don't lose sight of what you have, in the dogged pursuit for more. 

It's good to have money and the things that money can buy, but it's good, too, to check up once in a while and make sure that you haven't lost the things that money can't buy. ~George Horace Lorimer

6) Slow down. Be Calm. Don't Overreact. 

One moment of patience may ward off great disaster. One moment of impatience may ruin a whole life. ~Chinese Proverb

Ladies, I hope these reminders were as timely for you as they were for me.  Now, take your cape off and and put your feet up.  You deserve it.
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