For so many of us, our phones are a huge extension of our daily lives. We communicate, we take photos, it wakes us up, we work from them. The list goes on! I love finding new apps that help make tasks easier, and here are 5 that I've discovered recently that are great!
1. Alpaca - Tired of sorting through 24,000 photos on your camera roll like me? Alpaca groups together like photos (ex: when you take 15 photos of the kids to make sure you get one good one) so you can go through them quickly and select which ones you want to keep. I've been trying to use it at the end of each day to cut down on the excess photos on my phone.
2. Hallow - A Catholic meditation app that offers guided meditation sessions, prayers, and daily readings. If you've been looking for a way to incorporate some of these things into your day more easily, check this app out. There is a subscription if you want to access everything, but there are also many prayers you can access for free.
3. Splitwise - If you take trips with friends or family and want to make sure you split expenses, this is a really good one. We used this with our friends on our recent trip to Lake Oconee and it was so easy to keep track of the expenses.
4. Instagram Threads - This is for my social media peeps. I often get messages on Instagram asking me to caption my stories because people are watching them while baby is sleeping or they don't want to disturb someone around them. Instagram Threads allows me to caption my stories and use my favorite Instagram filters at the same time.
5. Libby - I have talked about Libby before! I use this to borrow digital copies of books from my local library, which saves me a TON of money. You can place books on hold, and once you borrow them, they stay on your device for 21 days. If Libby doesn't work with your library, you can try Overdrive.
Let me know if you try any of these and how you like them! And if you have any other super cool app suggestions, let me know - I'd love to try them out!
In my last post, I shared a little bit about my word of the year for 2020, and I've finally been able to articulate why I chose the word CONNECT as my word of the year for 2021.
As I stated before, having a word of the year really allows me to set focus and intention for everything I do. Connecting is something I began to do more of 2020, and I'd like to continue to carry it through 2021. The key to being successful with this is giving myself ideas for each area. Kind of like small, attainable goals. At the end of the year, if I didn't necessarily achieve something, I don't feel like I failed at it because it's not a goal that's set in stone (like "work out four days a week").
Connect with my family. Turn off devices more often, or at least set them aside. Family dinners (which we haven't been very good about ever) and family walks/activities minus the distractions from the outside. Reading with my kids more often, and being present while they are home from school.
Connect with my husband. Rid ourselves of the nasty habit of spending so much time on our phones before bed. Kiss longer. Smile at each other more. Shower one another with praise.
Connect with my mind. Read. Pray. Do the things I truly love without distraction. Understand what makes me anxious, what makes me happy, what gives me peace. Connect more to those peaceful moments.
Connect with my body. Do what feels good when it comes to exercise. Eat what makes me feel good (and not just what tastes yummy). Stretch. Breathe.
Connect with my home. Clear the clutter and find a rhythm.
Connect with my work. Take on more projects that inspire me or move me. Do less of the work I don't love.
Connect with others. My extended family, my friends, other parents at school, my audience. Make real connections with them.
Have you done a word of the year? What is it?
Hey you... yes, you.
The one mentally running through her to-do list every hour to make sure she’s not forgetting - just one more gift.
The one bouncing from store to store to make sure she has all the ingredients for the kids’ favorite recipe.
The one vacuuming crumbs for the 4th time today because the kids couldn’t wait to dig into their gingerbread houses.
The one trying to find safe and fun ways to celebrate the holidays with the kids this year.
The one who ordered three more rolls of tape, only to come across seven unopened rolls in the gift wrapping bag.
The one who jolts out of bed at 3 am because “I forgot to move the elf!”
The one who still hasn’t started shopping.
The one who thought she was done shopping and just realized she forgot someone.
I see you.
You are what makes Christmas magic.
And I invite you to take a break from whatever is stressing you this year. Cuddle up on the sofa with those little munchkins - who you swear were experiencing the wonder of Christmas for the first time just yesterday, but here they are writing their own lists to Santa. You’re so busy creating the magic for everyone else, but make sure that you soak up some of that magic for yourself.
Stop thinking about the next thing on your list for a few hours.
Snap the photo and come back to it later.
Put your phone away. Your e-mails can wait a few hours, and so can the texts.
Because while you are the one making the Christmas magic, you should also be lucky enough to experience it.
I did a roundup of some of the best things I had bought online a few months back and you all loved it, so I'm doing it again.
Before I get into it, I wanted to share with you a little bit about how affiliate links work. Affiliate links are a way for me and other bloggers to make a little bit of money off of items we are recommending (but aren't necessarily sponsored). When it comes to an affiliate link, you won't pay more for the item, but I will get a small (very very very small) commission if you do purchase from that link. Every affiliate network has their own rules about how bloggers will get credit for their links, but most of them don't give credit after a certain amount of time has passed and you have added the item to your cart (24 hours in most cases). In any case, I always appreciate when you all shop my links, but even more so I love knowing that I helped you find some new product that you love, too!
Over the last few months, we've all gone through stages. Stages of grief, acceptance, frustration, fear. I have found that when I allow myself to focus on the negative, the dark, I forget about how much light there is in my life. I have found that actively practicing gratitude has helped my mood immensely. I have always been someone who is grateful for what she has, but I have found it even more important lately to practice gratitude.
When I forget to be grateful, I focus on my husband leaving his clothes on the bathroom floor instead of reminding myself that he serves me coffee every morning. I focus on the messes my kids make instead of on the memories they made. I focus on the things I didn't get done instead of the things I did.
At the very beginning of this pandemic, I quickly realized that if I wasn't being actively grateful for the things I DO have, I could easily fall into this hole of self-despair and woe-is-me. And honestly, that's not a place I really wanted to be. So throughout the day, I found ways to stop and be grateful for something.
I chatted with Dr. Erika Velez of The Mindful Corner, who gave me some really interesting information. Robert Emmons is considered the world's leading expert on gratitude, and he says that gratitude has two important components. The first is that gratitude is an affirmation of good things in the world. In the second, we recognize that the things we are grateful for exist outside of ourselves. We acknowledge that God and other people give us gifts both big and small to help us achieve the goodness in our lives. Gratitude is a source of strengthening relationships because it requires us to see how other people have been able to support and affirm us.
Emmons found that people who practice gratitude consistently report many benefits. Physically they can have stronger immune systems, can be less bothered by aches and pains, can have lower blood pressure, exercise more and take better care of their health, and sleep better. Psychological benefits include higher levels of positive emotions, more alert, more joy and pleasure, and more optimism and happiness. Social benefits of practicing gratitude include being more helpful, generous and compassionate, forgiving, outgoing, and feeling less lonely and isolated.
Practicing gratitude is something that requires mindfulness and intention, so while sometimes it may seem like I am just doing something to check it off a list, it is done intentionally and to build it into my routine so it becomes a natural practice. Because I have seen firsthand some of the benefits listed by Emmons above, I want to continue to be consistent in this practice.
Some simple ways I practice gratitude:
And there you have it - 5 simple ways to practice gratitude daily. It doesn't have to be a complicated process. Just make the intention to do it, and you will find yourself finding more ways to be thankful each and every day.
Let me know in the comments, how do you practice gratitude?
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