It’s August already and this year has really thrown us all in a whirlwind due to the unfortunate outbreak of COVID-19. People have lost every sense of normalcy they’ve known in just a matter of months. In this process, mothers like myself have had to become homemakers overnight as we find our way through what seems to be our new normal. As if all things COVID hasn’t been enough, classrooms are looking a bit empty this school year with the start of online schooling. Well, after the first week of school, I wanted to share with you my insight as I navigate virtual learning during the pandemic as a single mom working from home.

Empty classroom with chalkboard on the wall

Patience is a must

Being a single parent already requires much patience, but when you throw in all of the other elements that this pandemic has brought our way, it can make things a bit more difficult to manage. Within the first few minutes into this online learning experience, I realized that nothing could have fully prepared me for the unknown. I was stressing trying to keep up with my tasks while working from home, trying to keep my ears open to hear what BOTH teachers were saying during class meeting, and also being helpful to my girls whenever they had questions or technical difficulties.

I felt myself getting anxiety often because all of this was a lot for my senses. I wanted the day to go super smooth and it just didn’t. I realized that I had to be patient with myself and not overextend myself. I’m not only working, but I’m learning, teaching, cooking, cleaning, and oh, maintaining my Type One Diabetes all at the same time. I realized that I just had to breathe and go with the flow. I also had to understand that I’m not the only parent feeling this way and it’s okay to feel overwhelmed, stressed, tired, and anxious. This is just day one and I’m only one person. Patience is definitly a requirement right now.

Ample sleep is necessary for everyone

I noticed that when my children didn’t get enough sleep, the rest of their day was pretty much trash. They would be less focused and super cranky. This would in turn, frustrate me and the whole day would spiral into a negative experience. Now I see why my mother would “train” our bodies during the last month of the summer, so we would be used to getting up early and going to bed early in preparation for school.

I thought that a nine o’clock bedtime would suffice, but I’ve learned that getting the girls in bed by eight seems to work out the best for all of us. It took some time to get use to, but with a good bedtime routine, they’ve been on board. Not only do they get an ample amount of rest, but I get to squeeze in some much needed me time before the night is over.

White alarm clock

Start a morning routine

On the first day, I woke up late with a low blood glucose reading and just barely clocked in on time for work, so getting the girls up, fed, and dressed before school started was a huge mess that day. Of course, my blood sugar being low was not something I could have predicted, but the lack of a good morning routine made the day spiral in the wrong direction.

Now, I make sure that my girls are up between an hour to an hour and a half before they need to log in. Not only does this give them enough time to get ready and to eat a meal, but it also gives them space to relax and prepare themselves for the day. They don’t feel like they have to rush through their bowl of cereal to log in for class. Now, they have time to play with toys, read a book, watch a cartoon, or just lay down for a little while before they get into work mode. I also find that I have a few stress free minutes to get some much-needed work done before I hear the chatter of both teachers and students online.

Create a comfortable learning space

Being that I live in a small apartment, I really don’t have a lot of space that I can designate for my girls to complete their school work. Instead, I give them options for different spots they can use in the house as a comfortable learning space. They can create a cozy corner in our living room with a few pillows and a blanket, sit at the kitchen table, sit on the couch, or sit on a barstool at the kitchen counter. I made sure that they knew it was okay to move around but also to be respectful of the class and their teacher by trying their best to stay in one spot.

Don’t leave kids unattended during their lessons

Letting my child sit a room by themselves with headphones is definitely a no for me. I make sure that both of my children are in eyesight and within ears reach. I need to see their screens so that I know they’re on task and not just watching YouTube or Netflix. I also listen in to their group meetings so I know what’s being discussed and what’s expected for that day to help keep them accountable. Yes, my children are responsible and can work alone, but at the end of the day, they’re still children and as their mom, I need to stay in the loop.

Adjust with the adjustments

I’ve learned to not get too comfortable with anything lately. A lot of the systems have changed along with the learning styles in just a matter of days. For example, class meetings started off with the entire class in the beginning which led to increased noise, lagging in the videos, and less learning. The school made adjustments and now the girls log in with small groups of four or five students throughout the day which allows them to ask questions and focus more without the extra distractions. This was just one of the many changes that took place. It’s important to allow space for a few hiccups and adjustments along the way until we have a system that works for the students, parents, and teachers.

As the days went by, I learned to adjust and adapt in order to make things work for us. Although there was no way to completely prepare for virtual learning, it is always possible to take note and learn from the previous day. At the end of each school day, I would analyze what went wrong and what went well and make adjustments from there. Not everyday will be smooth sailing and that’s okay.

Let them know you’re here to help

As frustrating as it may be sometimes to stop and help constantly throughout the day, I don’t want my children to feel like I’m frustrated with them. I let them know that they can always come to me with their questions and that we’re in this together. I assured them that this year will be better than the year before because they have me by their side every step of the way. They’re not alone in the classroom.

Because I have two children I’m outnumbered, so I talked to them about taking turns with my help because I’m only one person and not interrupting while I help the other. That was a big issue for me in the first few days. While I work, I let one child sit next to me at my desk for help, and then they’ll switch places if need be so they can both get their one on one time with me.

Set boundaries

Although I let my children know that I’m available for assistance, I also make sure they understand that I have a job to do as well. If there is another assignment that they’re more confident in working on independently, I’ll ask them to do that while I complete a task. I don’t jump to answer every question when it’s asked either. I’ll let the girls know that I have to finish what I’m doing first and that they need to be patient with me. I also encourage them to try to figure things out themselves first before asking me for help.

When I take my lunch break or my fifteen minute breaks, I let the kids know that it’s time for mommy to take a break without interruption unless they really need me. This is my time to recoup. I’ll take a quick nap, make lunch, read, listen to music, or watch something on TV. I use this time to step away from the chaos so that I can jump back in with energy and a smile rather than be overwhelmed and worn out.

Keep a schedule handy

I found it very helpful to print out each child’s learning plan for the day with all of their assignments listed to help all of us take charge of the day. As each of my daughters completes a task, they check off what’s been completed so they know what to do next. I also set alarms for the three times they each need to be online with their class so they’re not late or too early. Whipping out a whiteboard or chalkboard is also helpful when trying to keep a schedule of the day. Either way, they know what’s expected of them and they’ve become very familiar with what their schedule looks like which makes them more responsible for the school day.

hopscotch outside

Take breaks often and get outside

What I love about our virtual learning experience is that the school spreads out their learning schedule with lots of break times in-between to get the wiggles out, go outside, and eat. Children can only sit still for so long before boredom kicks in and after that, there’s not much learning going on. They need to take breaks often by taking a walk, stretching out, and grabbing a snack. It’s also helpful for us as parents to do the same. I try to make sure we all get out of the house to take a walk, we eat a nice lunch, and move around throughout the day to break up the monotony.

Encourage and motivate your children

If you think this whole virtual learning experience is tough, just think about how difficult it is for your children. They miss the in-person interaction with their friends and teachers, recess, and even the smell of the lunchroom. Right now, they need our encouragement and motivation more than ever. I let my girls know that they are capable of doing hard things and they are extremely intelligent. I check in with them and acknowledge all of their small wins like raising their hands to answer a question or being on task throughout the day. I’m also supportive during times of frustration when things get tough because not every day is going to be a good day. As parents, we set the standard for their day and we have to keep that in mind.

Continue to be optimistic in the mess

My goal is to do as much as I can on my part to work with my children’s teachers and not against them. I see this as an opportunity to learn more about my children’s environment in school and their learning styles. As I watch my girls interact in class or not, I’m learning more about their strengths and weaknesses and where I can help. I’ve seen how I can affirm them throughout the day and simplify what they may deem as difficult so that I can help catapult them further in their education.

I had to remind myself that I wanted to work from home at some point because I wanted to be available for my children. I wanted to be able to volunteer in their classrooms and attend field trips. I wanted to pick them up directly after school instead of them sitting in aftercare. I wanted to incorporate more learning at home and really be a solid part of their growth and development academically. I felt completely out of the loop while commuting for an hour to and from work and grabbing fast food for dinner because I didn’t have the energy to boil water.

So, instead of looking at this experience as something negative, I’m extremely grateful for the opportunity to be present and available for my children while we navigate this unknown territory together. Every day is a learning experience and there is so much to learn no matter what your perspective is.

If your children have already started schooling online, what are some of the tips you’ve learned to make this a better experience? If they haven’t, what are you doing now to prepare for their first day of online learning? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

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So, it’s Valentine’s Day and you have no significant other to spend it with this year. Your co-workers are receiving deliveries of flowers and edible arrangements from loved ones while you anticipate the 70% off sale on candy tomorrow. Scrolling down your timeline may even trigger a lot of emotion as you thumb through paragraphs of love stories and view pictures of all the couples on your friend’s list. Cue the violins and pass the ice cream girl. I feel you. I really do. Just know that your relationship status is never complicated with God.

Bible and picture frame

I know that navigating through this day may have been pretty difficult for those of you who may not have someone to celebrate with, but why do we feel the need to be in a relationship in order to feel loved? Your happiness and well being should never depend on whether or not you receive flowers and candy one day a year. If that’s the case, we’re all doing something wrong here. It’s the heart’s desire to feel all the “feels” on this day, but we have a greater love in our creator. With God, you’ll never have to question your purpose in the relationship. It’s already been written. You won’t ever feel like a side piece or even a snack. Girl, we are full course meals around here!

Because of a lack of self-worth and the pressures of social media, we can easily find ourselves in situations that may be compromising in order to feel an ounce of love or what we think love might feel like. With God, you’ll never have to question your actions or see yourself in a compromising situation to receive what He has for you. He loves every inch of you exactly where you are right now in this moment. Now that’s love sis…pure, unadulterated, love. I’m sorry to tell you, but this is the kind of love that you can’t find in a man.

“This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”

-1 John 4:10

I need you to know that you are loved and will always be loved by God. He loved you first. His love is everlasting no matter your relationship status. His love is never complicated. Your status with God will never change. Your place in His heart will always be reserved. It’s worth so much more than any reservation you could ever make one day a year. You are a daughter of the king and nothing less. 

“And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.”1 John 4:16

Rest in believing in these words and know that one day will not remove the lifetime investment of your heart in God’s hands. One day can never define your value to yourself or others. One day will not determine your worth. You are loved. You are enough. You are whole just as you are. No one else can complete you. God already did that when you broke the mold.

Happy Valentine’s day my friend.


girl holding flowers

A new year usually means new beginnings. I’m sure we all have our goals or resolutions for the new year as usual. Many of us are heading to the gym to get our health in order, changing our diets, and decluttering our homes, but what shape is that pocketbook in? Being broke and in debt should definitely be one of the things we leave behind in 2019. So, I want to share with you 5 ways to save your coins in 2020 without breaking a sweat!

Pick up the phone, sis!

I don’t know about you, but I hate when bill collectors call. I typically don’t have the amount they’re asking for so I usually feel humiliated and pressured. My solution in the past was always to let the call go to voicemail and avoid the debt like the plague. I mean, if I had the fund we wouldn’t be here, right? Here’s the thing, whether you pretend it’s not there or not, you’re still going to owe that money…with interest. So, put your big girl panties on and pick up the phone, sis! Let them know your situation. Ask what payment options are available.

There’s usually always a solution that you can work with, even if you’re only making the minimum payment. It’s better than not paying at all. Bill collectors just want some kind of payment. They’ll even offer you a settlement of much less than what you initially owed. Typically around tax season, you should receive a few letters in the mail from debt collectors that are waaaay less than the original amount owed. That’s a great time to pick up the phone and get a payment set up. You’re saving money and ridding your debt at the same time.

Cutting board with vegetables

Flick your wrist in the kitchen

When you have some free time, sit down with a calculator and your banking app and add up every time you spent money on fast food this month. Once you do this, you’ll never want to go out to eat again. That number is probably horrifying. Seeing those small transactions add up was heartbreaking for me, but it was necessary for me to get my life together and start whipping up food at home. Luckily for me, my job actually pays for groceries at our office so I already save a ton of money not eating out for lunch.

My problem was the time between getting off from work and making it home. I have a pretty long commute home between evening traffic, picking up my girls from aftercare, and running last-minute errands. It can be a long time before I get home. I pass up so many fast-food restaurants in route which makes it pretty easy to swipe my card several times a week on something fried and fattening.

I had to be intentional about saving consistently on food in order to see a difference in my bank account. Before I leave work, I make sure to either eat something light or pack a snack. I also keep a few granola bars in my purse and even my car for those times when my stomach starts talking to me. It’s also beneficial to keep snacks around because I have Type One Diabetes. I never know when I’ll have a low blood sugar level while driving.

I’ve also been making sure to have dinner prepared ahead of time so I can get to it faster when I get home from work. If I know I have to cook a whole meal on a school night, I’m more tempted to pick something up. I also keep quick 10-15 minute meals in the freezer like frozen stir-fried rice or alfredo pasta that I can easily pop in the microwave as soon as I unhook my bra. Lol!

Pintrest graphic for blog post

Save with a purpose

Before I got my mind right, I would aimlessly send money to my savings account without a real reason for saving it in the first place. I would do this every pay period and end up transferring the funds right back into my account when I was short for gas or groceries. My savings account was like a revolving door. I would put it aside knowing that would be there very long.

After listening to the I Don’t Do Budgets podcast a while back, I learned to really save with a purpose. So much so, that I opened up a new bank account with a DIFFERENT bank in order to save. You see, I had too much access to my money so I wasn’t serious about saving. Doing this made it harder for me to dip into my funds and really focus on building for a specific cause rather than mindlessly saving.

Rather than saving aimlessly, I created savings goals for myself both small and big. These goals were as little as a car emergency for gas, maintenance, and small repairs, and as big as money for rent and vacations. The more I would save, the more enthusiastic I would get and I became more serious about sticking to my goals and not dipping into the money.

If you don’t need it, don’t buy it

This is pretty self-explanatory. If you don’t need it, don’t buy it. Do you really need that candle from Bath and Body Works, or that cardigan from Target? You know you already have it every other color. Before you make another impulse buy because something is cute or on sale, really think about whether or not you need it and what your goals are. Create a budget for yourself so that you can treat yourself once a month after your priorities are taken care of like tithes, bills, savings, etc. Find other ways to save. Instead of paying to get your nails done, try doing an at-home manicure. Make coffee at home instead of splurging on that fancy Starbucks drink. You can even set aside a prepaid card with funds just for the days when you want to treat yourself.

Gmail on a computer screen

Hit the unsubscribe button!

Whenever I come across an awesome brand that I one day want to purchase from or a store that I frequently shop at, I subscribe to their mailing list to take advantage of coupons and upcoming sales. Many of these companies can send sales emails ALL DAY, EVERY DAY. The overload of emails and amazing sales can sometimes give me anxiety and it’s a lot of pressure to feel like I have to buy something right now. The truth is, that’s their job.

Companies like Target and Bath and Body Works purposefully press the issue of you taking advantage of a sale so you can buy right now. You saving money is none of their concern, but it should definitely be yours. Take some time out to unsubscribe from a few of those email lists while you’re on a mission to get your money right. It doesn’t have to be forever. You can always subscribe again.

I hope these few tips were helpful to you as far as getting financially fit this year. If you have any useful tips, I’d love to know what they are down below in the comments section.

I’ve been working in an office setting my entire adult life and I’ve been through many holiday potlucks and Secret Santa exchanges. Every year it makes my heart smile to find a thoughtful gift on my desk right before the Christmas holiday. If you’re like me, last minute gifts are always a thing. It’s only right to return the favor and exchange gifts with the people you pretty much spend your entire day with. We celebrate birthdays, share meals, and watch each other’s kids grow through picture frames.

But how exactly do you find the right gifts for your office family while saving room on your paycheck for the bills? Here’s the thing, I’ll never go broke buying gifts for ANYONE. To be honest, some years, I’ll grab something and others, I just had to opt-out. I’m more worried about maintaining my finances than saving face at the office. They know how much I make. They’ll understand. In this post, I’ll share a few affordable last-minute gift ideas I’ve come up with that won’t bust the seems in your pockets this year.

Stack of sticky notes

Keep it practical

Don’t burst your brain cells trying to figure out what each person should get. You work in an office. Look into grabbing some practical office-related items that you know your coworkers will use daily. Who doesn’t love a good smooth writing pen or some fancy sticky notes?!

Do it yourself

Think about what you’re really good at doing and create your own custom gifts at a low cost with materials you may already have at home. Whether you’re an expert at knitting scarves, making hand made soap, or painting mason jars, I’m sure your fellow coworkers would enjoy it. A gift always means a little more when you pour yourself into it.

woman holding a box of baked goods

Food is always a gift

Baked goods are always a hit when it comes to gift-giving. I love receiving fresh cookies, fudge, and brownies around the holidays…well any day of the year really. As long you can actually bake and don’t allow pets in the kitchen (side-eye), you’re good to go! Wrap up some Christmas cookies and throw a bow on it! You just saved a ton of money by turning on your oven.

Orrrr you can always show up with a fresh box of donuts for the office. Not everyone is gifted with a golden spoon in the kitchen. Sometimes you’ve just got to leave the baking to the pros. Donuts are always a people pleaser in the break room. Ask me how I know.

Turn cheap into classy

There have been many holiday exchanges where I’ve created small gift baskets for my coworkers for little to nothing. Take advantage of Dollar Tree, Walmart, and Target’s dollar section this year. You can easily throw a few items together and wrap them up in a basket or large coffee mug and bam! Here’s a few ideas I’ve tried in the past:

  • Manicure set- nail file, a bottle of nail polish, a few cotton balls,
  • Coffee/tea kit- Coffee mug, a few bags of tea or coffee pods, honey, stirrer
  • Spa kit- bath bomb, loofa, bubble bath, Epsom salt

I hope these ideas were helpful to you! I’d love to hear some of your last-minute gift-giving ideas. Please share them in the comment section below!

This year is coming to a QUICK close and I can definitely say that I’ve done a lot of evolving. There have been many lessons learned as God continues to mold me into the woman He’s called me to be. In order to get this far in my personal growth, I’ve had the help of my therapist, doing self-work, a bomb support system, and my unwavering faith. I’ve learned to let go of the things AND people that did not serve me well in order to live a more fulfilling life. So, I’m sharing the 5 things I’m ditching in 2020 in hopes that they benefit you as well. Let it go, girl…LET…IT…GO!

Woman shaking her head

1. Worrying about what other people think of me

I use to get so caught up in what others thought of me that I would try to hide away and pretend like I was invisible to make it go away. I felt like their thoughts were written all over my face like graffiti. Obviously that didn’t work out too well. I wasn’t blessed with invisibility. Worrying about what others think has held me back in so many areas of my life in the past that I’m not willing to forfeit now. I realized that I was the only one losing sleep over a comment that didn’t affirm me.

When it comes to how others view me right now, I DON’T CARE! I should have dropped this mindset a long time ago. For the longest, I actually believed that what others thought of me was my business. Well, it’s not. It’s honestly a personal problem that I’ve learned not to lose any sleep over.

If a person has nothing to do with my well being, i.e. pays my bills or plays an important role in my life, then what they perceive of me is really not my problem. The enemy is the author of confusion. When we focus on the negative opinions of others, we can easily get confused and lose focus on more important things. So put your blinders on and keep moving. There’s nothing to see over there.

2. Thinking everyone is my friend

Over the years, I’ve learned that some of the people I thought were friends weren’t really my friends at all. They had a different agenda. They took my kindness and times of vulnerability for weakness and did some pretty awful things. Sometimes people desire to get close to you for their own personal gain, whatever that may look like. The light that you omit can also illuminate the paths of others, but it’ll only take them so far. Watch who you call a friend. Pray that God gives you the discernment necessary to vet the people you surround yourself with and guard your heart.

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3. Doubting how dope I really am

It took a loooooong time for me to recognize just how dope I really am. I mean, hello! I’m a daughter of the most high. I am God’s workmanship. I was created in His image alone. It still amazes me how God knew everything about me before I was even formed in my mother’s womb. I mean down to each breath I would take and the number of hairs on my head. Sometimes I have to do a double-take when I pass the mirror and affirm just how great of a creation I am.

This, of course, didn’t happen overnight. It took a lot of looking in the mirror and searching within myself to gain this kind of confidence. It also took me searching scripture to realize how much care and detail it required to build me into who I am.

By comparing myself to others, I doubted my own level of dopeness. I forgot who I was and whose I was really quick. It took for me to look back at all God brought me through and allowed me to accomplish to really see how amazing I truly am. I stopped doubting myself and started walking with confidence in everything I did. If I fail, at least I can say I failed trying. God created everyone with a purpose. It would be foolish of us to compare our purpose and personal journey with anyone else.

I know exactly what God thinks of me and I’m doing Him a disservice if I think any less of myself. So, no, I won’t be doubting my own dopeness anymore.

The word Breathe in lights

4. Allowing things I can’t control to stress me out

Life is way too short to allow the things of the world to stress me out. Whether it’s on the job, my finances. or even my children, I’m not going to let ANYTHING or ANYONE add stress to my life. Since I’ve hit dirty 30 this year, I’m feeling all of my stress and anxiety in my body. I need to be able to function properly in order to be able to serve others and myself. I’ve learned that I don’t hold the answer to every problem. If I can’t solve it, I can’t do much about it. So in 2020, I’m dusting my shoulders off and preserving the joy that I have. I have too much to accomplish to be stressing in these streets.

5. Not setting boundaries with toxic people

Setting boundaries with the toxic people in my life was truly necessary. In the past, I continued to allow people near me that were clearly toxic because they may have been family or just a long-time friend. I worried more about not hurting someone’s feelings than preserving my own mental and emotional health. Yea, I’m not doing that anymore. Some relationships just can’t be healed. You’ve got to stop beating that childhood trauma or past argument like a dead horse and move forward. Protect your peace at all costs. If you don’t respect your own boundaries, no one else will. A person’s title in your life (mom, sister, cousin) does not make them entitled to cause you distress in your life. I set up boundaries with people I’ve never thought I would and honestly it feels amazing to know that I have control over my mental and emotional well being.

Besides drinking plenty of water and minding my own business, ditching these 5 things this year has left me with clear skin and a clear mind. I hope they were helpful to you. Let me know what you’re ditching in 2020 to better yourself in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you!

It’s the time of year when the weather is cooler and the days get a little darker. During this time, many of us go through a bit of a seasonal mood swing. If you didn’t know already, seasonal depression is a REAL thing. Although I’ve dealt with depression on and off over the years, I’ve found that this time of year is where I battle with it the most. I wanted to share with you how I combat seasonal depression and how you can too.

In my own personal experience, depression has felt like drowning in a river while tied down to cement blocks.  I’ve felt immovable and lifeless during this time. It can sometimes feel like I’m walking around with my own personal cloud hovering over me. Many times, I never really realized I was depressed until I was in too deep.

Here are a few of the main signs of depression:

  • Low mood or loss of interest in things usually enjoyed
  • Lack of motivation
  • Significant changes in sleeping patterns
  • Significant changes in eating patterns or weight changes
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Repeated thoughts of excessive worry, guilt or death
Woman standing in the dark

Depression can occur in any woman at any time for several different reasons.  It can be caused by abuse, medications, conflict, death of a loved one, genetics, major events, personal problems, illness, and substance abuse.  When it comes to seasonal depression, for some, it may be a specific time of year that may be more triggering in recognition of a monumental moment that may have caused trauma.

According to an article from Mental Health America entitled Depression in Women, “approximately 12 million women in the United States experience clinical depression each year and about one in every eight women can expect to develop clinical depression during their lifetime (2017).”  Some are more susceptible to depression than others and it can take a toll on all aspects of one’s life.  Depression is NOT a normal part of life and it must be dealt with, but delicately.

Enlist support from others

Attempting to call for help can seem like I’m yelling at the top of my lungs, but only the sound of silence reaches the tip of my tongue. 

As difficult as it may seem, having the support of close friends or family members is so beneficial when combating seasonal depression. You need someone to be a listening ear as you deal with any pain or frustrations you may experience during this season. Whether it is someone silently holding space for you or just calling daily to say hello and hear your voice, it makes all of the difference.

Go to therapy

In many cases, speaking to people we know may not be the most comfortable thing to do. What was helpful for me was going to see a licensed therapist. This was someone I didn’t know and she didn’t know me. I put aside the stigmas of society and took the leap. I was able to lay out everything on the table and breathe. My therapist helped me to do some inner work that was so necessary my healing in this season.

Seek God’s Face

Being depressed can really mess with a person’s mental and spiritual state. During a time of depression, a person can get off track in their spiritual walk with God in a major way.  Each day that they fall deeper, they can find themselves further away from Him.

Of course, the ultimate cure for depression is God.  He is always the answer and the cure. During my times dealing with this, God and His word were the furthest things from my mind.  I found it easier to just sit and sulk rather than to push through and lean on His word. I would feel the spirit tugging on me to get on my knees and pray or dust off my bible and see what the Lord had to say about my situation and I would turn a deaf ear to it all.  

woman sitting down reading the Bible

Between molestation during my childhood, divorce, diagnose of disease, stress, doubt, and low self-esteem, I felt completely broken to a point where only God could put my pieces back together again and He has… one by one, piece by piece.

Through many trials, I had to realize that my life did have a purpose and I was needed. I had to pull through the pain, hurt and frustration in my life and turn it into something I can use.  I realized that all I was going through was a test and I needed to pass in order to see a true breakthrough in my life.

Now, I’m not at all saying that breaking out of a depressed state is easy, but what I am saying is that with God there is ease.  His word is the complete handbook for the ins and outs of our life’s daily struggles. I find so much release and relief in His word. 

Daily, I would take baby steps to find my way back on track. I would immerse myself in song, journaling, and devotion to keep my mind steadfast.  I’ve used sticky notes around the house with positive reminders and scriptures to get me through the day.

I constantly reminded myself that the storm I was going through was temporary and that God would pull me through as long as I had faith in Him.  I wouldn’t allow the devil the satisfaction of using my soul as his playground. I smiled through my rough days and encouraged others as I encouraged myself.

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 4:6-7

Don’t think for a second that you are alone in this.  Regardless of your situation, God is available. He is listening to your prayers and requests.  He hears your cries. Be encouraged and keep pushing through, whether it be a loss of a loved one, difficulties in your marriage, or issues in health, He is the only way out.  

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Get up and Get out

During my darkest moments, I would lay in my bed as long as I could. So much so that I would end up with bed sores and permanent dent in my mattress. I thought of my bed as my energy source, but in reality, it was actually draining my energy. I would come straight home from work and just lay in my bed with my work clothes on for hours. I would cry, nap, and think all in rotation. One of the most difficult things for me to do was to actually get up. This seems like such a simple task, but for someone battling with depression, it can feel almost impossible to do.

Getting out that bed to bush my teeth, shower, and put on a fresh set of clothes helped to awaken my senses. I would feel refreshed and more willing to be productive to take on the day.

Brighten your day

Beyond actually getting out of bed, getting out of the house to enjoy the daylight was necessary for me in order to combat my depression. During the dark fall and winter days, those times of sunshine were priceless. I would go take a nice long walk and enjoy the fresh air and sunshine. It would place me a in a refreshed mood.

I’ve even found it to be helpful to replace the light bulbs in my home with daylight bulbs that provide much brighter lighting. I feel more productive and have more of a willingness to move around the house with better lighting and it’s helped me to combat seasonal depression.

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.  Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to me, and I will listen to you.” 

Jeremiah 28:11-12

God’s plan for your life does not end here in this moment.  If you have fallen in depression because of fear or guilt, please know that God is not mad at you.  Your mistakes are not who you are. They are a testimony of where you have come from, not where you’re going.  He created you for a purpose whether you see it now or not. You are needed. You are loved. You have purpose.  You are capable. You are enough. Trust, believe and know these things.

Besides the constant talks of maintaining our mental heal, self-care is the next topic that’s all the buzz amongst millennials these days on social media. The popular hashtag has been overused and misunderstood for a while now. When most of us think of self-care, we think of expensive pedicures, Instagram worthy vacations, and things we just can’t afford to do regularly. What I’ve realized is that self-care is not as complicated as people make out to be. It could be so simple. Self-care is so much more than bubble baths and pedicures. It’s about doing the things that bring you joy. The simple things. As I get older I’m learning that self-care is such a necessary part of my well-being. I have to be intentional about making it happen often in order to continue to pour into others. So here are a few ways that apply self-care on a daily basis.

Keep up with doctor appointments

This may not sound very hashtag worthy, but going to the doctor, dentist, and even my therapist regularly are so necessary and count as self-care for me. In years past, I’ve slacked off in this area and paid the price a few times. I always made it a priority to keep up with my children’s appointments and have always kept them up to date, but I slacked with maintaining my own health. Now, I make sure to schedule every doctor’s appointment and make room on my calendar no matter what’s going on so that I can maintain my health.

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Work out

Most days I dread going to the gym or doing any type of physical activity for that matter. But, once I get in my groove and start to break a sweat, it feels so good! I get to clear my mind, blast my music, and feel good about taking care of my body all at once. This also counts as my “me time.” You can never get enough of “me-time.” Just like going to the doctor, working out along with eating right is so good for your body.

Stream my favorite series or movie

When the kids are asleep, that’s my time to hop in bed or on the sofa and binge my favs like This Is Us or whatever Netflix original is poppin at the time. Last night I stayed up and watched Stepbrothers. I haven’t seen that movie in years and it’s definitely not kid-appropriate. I love being able to zone out for a little while and not have to think about bills or what I’m cooking for dinner. I put my phone and my laptop away and just enjoy the moment.

Woman take a shower

Take my shower before the kids

Lately, I’ve been saying that I’ve graduated in parenthood because my kids are at a good age now where I can leave them unattended for extended periods of time and know they’ll still be alive when I come back. In just a few months they’ll be 7 and 10 years old. So, I’ve been taking full advantage of that. Rather than being the last person to bathe at the end of the night, I occasionally hop in front of the line and take my time in the shower. Southern California hasn’t gotten the memo that it’s actually fall, so the whole no-shave November thing was a bust. I finally shaved my legs the other night and I feel like a brand new woman. LOL I’ll turn on a little music and strip away all of the stress of the day before I get into full “mommy mode” for the night. This gives me a little private time for myself and allows me to decompress so I can give my kids the best part of me. When I get out I’m relaxed and all cleaned up. It’s just a good feeling to be able to take care of myself for a few minutes before the storm or dinner, homework, and everything in between comes along.

Eat my favorite foods without interruption

If you’re a mom, you should know the feeling all too well of not being able to fully enjoy a meal in peace, let alone a snack. I’m down to the point where I purposely buy foods I know my daughters don’t eat, so they won’t ask me for them. The struggle is so real in my kitchen. So, being able to eat my favorite foods in peace is part of my self-care routine. I wait until the girls head to bed and sneak off to the kitchen and devour a few scoops of Talenti Gelato before going to bed myself. This is not an everyday habit, which makes it even sweeter.

Jam to my favorite music, listen to an audiobook, or podcast

I create playlists for myself that each fit for the mood I’m in. Jamming to my favorite songs at the gym, in the car, or even while cleaning the house helps me to decompress and destress while just enjoying the moment. I also love to listen to podcasts and audiobooks to pass the time. I enjoy listening to other people’s stories and perspectives and just being motivated in general. Because I’m always on the go, listening to a good podcast or audiobook is so ideal for me.

woman writing in a notebook

Write my heart out

No matter the mood I’m in, writing is always self-care. Sometimes I take my time and jot things down in my journal, while most times I’m writing on the go in a Google Doc or on my notes app on my phone. I may write about how I’m feeling that day, or write a few affirmations to keep me going through the day. Writing is a great release for me and I suggest it for anyone whether you’re a writer or not.

Affirm myself in the mirror

You ever pass by the mirror and say “Damn! I’m Fine!?” No?…just me? Cool. Well, I do this ALL the time. I look in the mirror and I tell myself just how amazing I am. I could be fully clothed heading out to work or naked only covered in my stretch marks and scars. Either way, I appreciate my body and myself for what it is and who I am. Now that’s self-care! Sometimes I’ll take a stick of red lipstick and write words of affirmation on our mirrors or jot down those words on sticky notes. I’ll place them through the house, in my car, or carry them in my purse. My girls love to join in on this too. When I affirm myself, I affirm them as well.

These are just a few, but not all of the many ways that apply self-care in my everyday life. How do you show yourself some love? If you haven’t taken time out for yourself, what’s holding you back? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

Take a listen to this week’s podcast: “Self-Care is More Than a Hashtag”

Laundry is no one’s favorite thing to do. I use to avoid it at all costs. Washing was the easy part, but folding was a whole other story. You couldn’t pay me to fold laundry…Well, maybe you could. After settling into a new apartment just one month ago, I decided to tweak my daily routine and take charge of my household chores. So, I’m here to give my 8 tips to simplify your laundry routine.

Designate specific days of the week to do your laundry

Back in the day, I would wash either every day of the week or only on Saturdays. Both options left me pressed! I’d end up with clothes all over the place and nothing folded or put away for that matter. So, recently, I created a chore chart for myself and my daughters to maintain the household and it’s been working like a charm! I chose Tuesdays and Fridays as my laundry days. So far I’ve found that I have a lot less laundry to manage when working with two days rather than doing a week’s worth all at one time. I’m a lot less overwhelmed and feel like I have more control over my laundry.

Laundry basket on a wooden floor

Separate your laundry by person

I’ve found that separating my laundry by who owns it has been a huge help when it comes to folding and putting it away at the end. I typically separate my clothes from the girls and then I do the towels last. I have to use a hypoallergenic detergent for mine due to eczema so it works out. Lazy Erin would throw all of the clothes in the wash together with some Tide and hope for the best lol. Don’t be like lazy Erin.

Wash when it’s convenient for you

I’ve found that starting a load of laundry when I first wake up in the morning really gives me a headstart on this chore. It takes about 30 minutes for the clothes to wash and 1 hour to dry. If I can wash them early enough, I have enough time to throw them in the dryer before I walk out the door. I’ll even ask my kids to throw them in the dryer if my hands are full doing something else. This way, I can fold when I get home. I’ll typically make this first load the towels. Towels are the easiest thing to fold, so I let the girls tackle this task while I’m getting dinner ready after work. They even put the towels away when they’re done too!

I usually wait until after the girls have taken their baths to wash their load of clothes so that I can catch the clothes that they wore that day. If I don’t have time to fold before I go to bed, I’ll work on folding in the morning or just wait until the next day. As long as they’re clean and dry, I’m good with that. I’m not perfect, so sometimes we’ll just pick through that load in a laundry basket for a few days or even let them sit in the dryer. Hey, it happens. The main goal is to do what I can when I can and not feel rushed or pressured to get it done. The point of washing is having clean clothes, so the goal is already met.

Lap top with Stranger Things playing

Multitask while folding

Sometimes I just don’t have the time to fold my laundry as soon as it’s done drying and it piles up quickly. It becomes this huge monster of clothes overflowing on my couch or the left side of my bed. Life happens. So I take it all in stride. I’ll turn on a good movie or a series on Netflix I love and start folding with some snacks like it’s a party for one. Before I know it, I’m done.

Fold as soon as your clothes are dry

To avoid the dreaded pile of laundry I mentioned before, I try to fold as soon as each load is dry. This is going to save a lot of time and digging through baskets of clean clothes days later. It gives me a sense of accomplishment for actually finishing the laundry all in one day.

clothes hanging in a closet

Save time and use hangers

The use of hangers has been so beneficial for me lately. Since we just moved, I haven’t purchased dressers just yet, so the laundry has been a nightmare when it comes to putting things away. It was difficult to find what I’m looking for when all of the clothes were in plastic bins. I went to Wal-Mart and grabbed a ton of cheap plastic hangers and went to town! I have pretty much all of our clothes hung up in the closets. Not only does this save time when looking for clothes in the morning, but it also cuts my laundry routine in half since I’m not obligated to fold as much. Give it a try and let me know what you think.

Enlist the help of your children

Lately, I’ve been including my girls in my laundry routine and daily chores around the house. Being apart of this routine can start at almost any age. I showed Aniyah how to use the washer and dryer and how to measure out the laundry detergent. Sarai enjoys getting on her step stool to put the wet clothes in the dryer. Sometimes I’ll see them working together and Aniyah will pass the wet clothes to Sarai so she can place them in the dryer. They both separate their clothes by color and they also help out with folding and hanging up their own clothes. Of course, I oversee it all to make sure it’s done properly.

Matching socks, separating underwear, and organizing little training bras are my least favorite thing to do on laundry day. I typically give this task to the girls. I’m also deeply considering just buying plain black socks for everyone. It gets frustrating when I can’t find a match lol. We dump all of their socks, underwear, and bras on the floor and sort together while watching a movie or listening to music. Before we know it, everything is put away and we spent some quality time together as well.

I stopped using an iron

Did your jaw just drop? Or Nah? First of all, I HATE ironing and I know I cannot be the only person who does. I really think that fewer people are ironing these days and I’ve become one of them. Someone shared a Downey Wrinkle Releaser in their Instagram stories and I was shooketh! I was like where has this been all of my life?! I literally spray the item of clothing I want to wear, shake it, and hang it to dry. Within a few minutes, I’m out the door with a wrinkle-free shirt that smells great too. I even have a travel size that I keep in my car and take with me when I travel. It’s so clutch! I couldn’t even tell you when the last time I ironed even was.

Another way to avoid the wrinkles are to hang your clothes up as soon as they dry. If you leave them balled up in the dryer or in a laundry basket, there’s really no turning back. That white Tee you love now looks like a crumpled piece of paper. You can also throw your favorite pieces in the dryer with a damp washcloth for a few minutes and the wrinkles should release

I hope these tips were just as helpful to you as they are to me. How do you simplify your laundry routine at home? Leave a comment below and let me know what works best for you! If you happen to give any of these tips a try, let me know!

One day, I looked at myself in the mirror.  This time was much different than the rest. I stopped passing the image in my reflection by like a stranger on the street and actually looked myself in the eyes. I broke down in tears and finally saw myself as beautiful. Not because someone else told me I was, but because I was witness to it with my own eyes. I was in my purest form, no filter, just freckles, and clean skin. I was no longer in need of losing a few more pounds or wishing my hair grew out of my scalp differently.

The feeling of acceptance came over me and I got a glimpse of how God might have envisioned my existence prior to forming me in my mother’s womb. I saw myself as a “Good Thing.”  Not just a good thing for the man I was created for, but a good thing in the eyes of my creator.

Over the years, I’ve become a testament to so many trials in my life that eventually caused me to view myself in ways I shouldn’t have.  I doubted myself in times where I now believe I could have pushed past insecurities. I found myself feeling defeated and even depressed. I felt small, unattractive, and incapable.  For a period, I depended on the opinions of others for my happiness while still being unhappy with myself. It took years and a couple of wrong turns, but I slowly began to learn to love myself again and affirm my inner beauty, not just on the exterior, but for what was inside of me as well.

I believed in what God’s word said about me

“But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”

– 1 Peter 2:9

God’s word was the love letter that I needed to read in order to better understand the inner workings of my being. Throughout the Bible, His word affirms just what the enemy attempted to persuade me I’m wasn’t. The word tells me that I was specifically created in the image of God.  It tells me that I am set apart and chosen. It says that there is a purpose over my life and that I am fearfully and wonderfully made. It showed me that I was formed with intention and purpose.  I no longer viewed myself as a mistake or the “odd man out,” but a handcrafted product of God’s workmanship.

I stopped comparing myself to others

“But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another.”

-Galatians 6:4

With the overpowering influence of social media, it’s easy to compare yourself to not only the well-known supermodel on your timeline but even the girl next door using a filter and a few hashtags to get ahead.  From my six-year-old “baby fat” and stretch marks to my thinning edges, I found myself comparing what I thought others had to the reality of my own circumstance. I soon realized that the very people that I seemed to idolize were hiding behind their own insecurities covered by a Snapchat filter and a scripted motivational speech.

I later began to search myself and learn more of who I was.  I searched the word continuously. I fasted and wrote love letters to myself in my journal each day. The only music I listened to glorified God and nothing else.   I took away social media and television and focused on the rawest form of myself as I leaned on the rawest form of God in my presence. Let me tell you, a good fast can have you seeing things as you’ve never seen them before.  

All of these things allowed me to find clarity within myself. I was able to focus again.

I cast out the adverse views of who I thought I was and replaced them with who God knew me to be. No longer would I allow the views and opinions of others or the words of the enemy to dominate how I perceived myself.

I decided to change my perception of myself and learn to view what I thought was an imperfection as a compliment to God’s unique blueprint for who I was.  I embraced every flaw inside and out and affirmed within myself daily that every piece and part of me was created with intention and I’m proud to be a representation of God’s craftsmanship.

I loved myself just as God loved me

“So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us.  God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.”  

-Galatians 2:20

Just knowing that God loved me just for who I was…for who He created me to be has changed my whole perspective of myself.   I remember being afraid to even walk past a mirror because of what I might see. I didn’t want my reflection to be a disappointment.  

I didn’t look like a supermodel and still don’t.  My weight fluctuates constantly and I’m still in the process of growing in my natural eyebrows.  I don’t live in a world of ring lights, filters, and layers of makeup. I’m just Erin and I ‘m in love with the woman that she’s become and evolving to be…flaws and all.  This was not something that happened overnight, but with time I learned how to have self love simply because of God’s love for me. I learned to let my light shine in the midst of so much darkness.  I picked up all of my broken pieces and began to put myself together one day at a time just through the strength of knowing that I am loved by my Father in heaven.

I Encouraged Myself

Death and life are in the power of the tongue, And those who love it will eat its fruit.”

-Proverbs 18:21

I affirmed my inner beauty by encouraging myself.  I looked myself in the mirror and spoke life daily.  I wrote down words of affirmation like “I am capable of all things” and “I am enough” and placed them on sticky notes to place on my vanity and even my car’s dashboard.   It may sound like something so small, but it worked. Those powerful words were embedded inside of me.

My mirror was lined with pink and gold sticky notes full of inspiration.  I got to a point where I didn’t have to look at the notes to myself anymore.   There was no need for reminders. I believed in this and walked in it regardless of what my past opinions of myself were.  I now had a better understanding that God created me in His image and His alone. There is nothing greater than knowing that I am a child of the most high…a daughter of the one true king.  There’s no reason to think any less of myself. I am royalty so I fixed my crown and walked with my head held high.

This process wasn’t easy and I am still a work in progress.  Just as we journey to continue to live saved, we journey in loving ourselves completely as God loves us for everything we are.  I’ve learned to show myself grace and to accept myself in raw form. How do you change the negative views of yourself in order to affirm your inner beauty?

One of the biggest lessons I learned this past year was to pack light and not hold on to things that have no real value. I was forced into this lesson when preparing for a huge transition in my life as I journeyed across the country to my birthplace. The memory of how I landed in California is still fresh in my mind both figuratively and literally.

I purged years of my life in a matter of weeks in order to begin again in a safe place. After over ten years of marriage, infidelity, and abuse, I packed my bags in search of reclaiming joy and the right to be whole again. I was traveling to an unknown space that I somehow also called home with hopes of finding myself again and I did just that.

The day that I left Louisiana will be one I will never forget. The enemy was vigilant in attempting to sabotage the very path that God told me to take on this journey home. I was deeply depressed, stressed, and full of anxiety, but still managed to make it through.

I was literally at my lowest point and my options were few. The only goal was to get out and reclaim my sanity and my freedom. Leaving what I called home for the past 12 years of my life was bittersweet but so necessary. I left it all behind only keeping hold of my faith and two suitcases, one for me and one for my two daughters.

Material things hold no value

During the weeks that led up to our departure, I cried a hurricane of tears that seemed to never end. I didn’t eat and I didn’t sleep. I purged our home until all that was left was our furniture. There was a pivotal point in this process when I realized that the material things that I held so dear to me were still things…things that could be replaced and had no real value. I worried so much about the things that I wanted to bring with me that I almost forgot how much value I held alone…just me. I needed to ensure that I was kept safe and protected. That’s what was and still is important.

The same way I cared for these things that didn’t have breath or actual worth, I learned that I need to care even more for my own well being. I went from holding on to meaningless objects to throwing away the clothes on my back the day of our departure. I finally felt free. I was no longer weighed down by the baggage I chose to carry around with me.

Unpacking my truth

I let go of the memories that held me captive in such an unsafe space in my mind. I stopped holding on to what could have been. It was time to let go of the grasp that I had on what used to be and allowed myself to see things for what they really were. Broken, unsafe, expired. My time was up.

God had greater plans for me, but I was holding on to the good that only my blurred vision could see. I continued to extend grace in situations that led me to become overextended and out of touch with God’s plan for my life.

I poured into someone that was not capable of doing the same for me. I forgave and showed so much grace in a situation that should have never existed in the first place. I allowed my children to believe that abuse was okay and that this was what love must look like. If love was covered in the shadows of darkness, sleepless nights, sudicidal thoughts, depression, and lack of worth, well I guess it was evident. But this wasn’t love.

I showed my girls what real love was by sacrificing everything so that we could have everything that God was holding on to for us. Their screams through shattered glass and my tears were the motivation that pushed me to ensure that they had better. I’ve learned a lot about myself during the process of unpacking my truths.

A few things I’ve learned:

  • I have permission to be whole
  • I have permission to move forward
  • Despite my situation, I am STILL a good thing
  • I have to forgive in order to be forgiven
  • My past does not define who I am or where I am going
  • I am worthy of so much more than what’s behind me
  • Pack light…The baggage I carried is too heavy for my next flight