How to Deliver a Proper Bachelorette Party

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If a close friend plans to tie the knot soon, it’s your responsibility to send her off with the best memories a girl can reflect upon. If you’re broke or stressing what to do, have no fear. Read ahead for great tips concerning how to host the perfect bachelorette party.

Put Yourself in Your Friend’s Shoes

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Not every party has to be balls-to-the-wall, binge-drinking to the max, fueled with jello shots, body shots, etc. We’re grown, and honestly, we’ve learned a lot from our early twenties. (But by all means, if that’s your scene, feel free to drink as much as possible.)

The point is to focus on your friend’s needs and personal preferences. Since my former roomie and soon-to-be bride has turned into a health food guru over the last few years, particularly drawn to yoga and outdoor scenery, I decided to dedicate a large portion of our stay in Chattanooga towards hiking the Cumberland Trail.

Create a Back Up Plan

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This step speaks for itself. We were worried the trail might be closed due to maintenance, so the Chattanooga Riverwalk became our back-up plan. If it rained, we would have visited the aquarium. Whatever the case may be, plan for the worst and hope for the best. By securing multiple options (like how we had to choose between Sluggo’s, Purple Daisy Picnic Cafe and the Curry Pot for lunch), you’re bound to have fun no matter what.

Supply the Party Favors

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I’m a sucker for arts n crafts, so I couldn’t wait to put together our party favors. Since we couldn’t afford matching t-shirts, I borrowed an idea from a bachelorette party last year and changed a few things.

Last year, my friend’s sister provided us with “bachelorette survival kits” in sachets and customized wine glasses. So, I created bachelorette survival kits and placed them inside the wine glasses that I customized myself. Here’s a few pics to give you an idea. (P.S. This only cost me a total of $40 to create, so $10 per person turned out to be very cost effective.)

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Add whatever items you wish, render a cheesy poem (or feel free to steal this one which I made up), then add the vinyl letters to the wine glasses, stuff with tissue paper and top with sunflowers. If any particular item doesn’t fit in the glass, tie it off at the bottom with twine like I chose to do with the Ring Pops.

Act as the One Man Hype Crew

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When it comes to festivals, we jokingly refer to ourselves as The Hype Crew. It’s kind of like shopping at Publix, how anytime you’re within 10 feet of an employee they ask, “Do you need help finding anything?”

At Bonnaroo, those within my peripheral vision are approached with high-fives, hugs, and icy cold squirts from my water bottle or an enthusiastic “Bonnarooooo”. The last few years, my friends and I have made it our mission to be as absolutely friendly to strangers as possible. We’re The Hype Crew, because we purposefully bring excitement and joy to other festival-goers.

Likewise, this is your friend’s bachelorette party!!! Hopefully she only marries once, so this is a once-in-a-life-time chance to provide her with the best party you can provide. Do your best to lighten the mood.

Keep the party lively, encourage her to take (safe) risks and above all else, have fun.

Do you have any tips for a fun bachelorette party? Any stories to share? Feel free to keep scrolling for a recap of last weekend.

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How to Cope with Chronic Illness

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Hello readers,

Today’s post features a guest writer that I went to high school with. Mallory Carter’s willingness to confront challenges in the midst of a maintaining a healthy lifestyle illustrates her remarkable sense of strength. Read her story below and learn how to cope with chronic illness.

 

 

When the word “sick” comes to mind, I have a different definition than most.  To some, sick is just a way we explain that we’re not feeling particularly well for a day or so.  To me, sick is something entirely different.  Sick is a state of being that my body has been in for the majority of my twenties.

Chronic illness, according to the CDC, affects over 45% of the American population and accounts for approximately 75% of our healthcare spending.  By definition, chronic illness is any disorder that persists over a long period and affects the patient’s physical, emotional, intellectual, vocational, social, or spiritual functioning.  After being diagnosed with Interstitial Cystitis, Epilepsy, and Crohn’s Disease, I’ve learned many different lessons on my journey to better health.  I’ve learned patience, more medical terminology than the average person cares to know, and that no matter what anyone says… always keep a hard copy of your latest lab work on hand!

Through my struggles, I’ve found that framing things in a positive manner can make the difference between severe depression and being on the mend.  Whether you are battling chronic illness, know someone who is, or simply want to understand how to help others, I’m here to share the 5 ways I’ve learned how to cope with the challenges.

Acceptance

Receiving a diagnosis that comes with no cure is a hard pill to swallow.  A very large part of managing any disease or illness is coming to terms with the facts.  While that may seem like the most obvious thing you’ll hear all day, there are plenty of people in denial who are ignoring the warning signs that their bodies are giving them.  A chronic illness is something that you will deal with for the rest of your life.  Take the time you need, and accept it.  There are many ways that people handle this step.  If you are able to sit down with your emotions and mentally sort them out… that’s great.  However, it’s never a bad idea to reach out to a counselor or a therapist to help you process the information.  Once you’ve accepted your diagnosis and the fact that it doesn’t have to define you, managing your care will be 1000 times easier!

Research

Understand your illness, the symptoms, the treatments available, and the medications you are prescribed.  The more educated you can become about what your options are, the more you can be in control of your treatment plan (and have some peace of mind).  There are many different resource/advocacy websites, medical journals, clinical trials, and online forums that will allow you to form your own educated opinion about your health care.  This is also a great time to learn the facts about your condition.  Being readily available to share this information will not only help others understand your struggles, but can also help you to raise awareness in your community.

Are there foods that trigger your condition or cause it to flare?  There are a million and one skewed perspective pieces out there that will tell you to eliminate gluten, carbs, fiber, animal products, or anything that isn’t organic.  While there are plenty of conditions that are truly affected by diet, make sure that science backs it up.  If you or your doctor suspect that food may play a role in aggravating your symptoms, take the time to identify “trigger foods.”  By eating a limited diet and slowly introducing new foods, you can take the time to see how your body is affected by each item.

My one piece of advice with research?  Don’t fall prey to the claims of miracle cures or all natural healing methods.  You may find some natural remedies that help you, but never discontinue any medications without consulting your doctor!

Be proactive in your care

Advocate for yourself and speak up… no one else will! It is very important to find doctors that you trust.  Personally, I recommend that patients who require a lot of specialty visits see an internist as opposed to a family practitioner.  An internist will typically manage your overall care and refer to your specialists as needed.  Most internists are also used to handling pain management for their patients as well.

Once you find your “dream team” of physicians, be very forthcoming.  Don’t hold back.  I don’t care how embarrassing your symptoms might seem.  Doctors and nurses have heard it all.  If you come prepared to list ALL of your concerns (even diarrhea, pain with sex, incontinence, excessive gas, constipation, etc.), they will be able to help you so much more than if they have to drag the information out of you.

Discuss your treatment plan, don’t be afraid to ask what your lab results mean, and make sure that all of your doctors are on the same page.  If you have a condition that somehow finds a way to land you in the emergency room every now and then, make a plan.  Personally, anytime I enter the hospital (whether the visit is planned or an emergency) I am admitted by my internist.  That’s our game plan, he rounds on me every day, it’s what makes me comfortable, and I know that he stays in the loop.  Having an emergency plan with your doctor can make you feel calm and in control during what could be a very unpredictable situation

Define your support system

Having a support system is an essential piece of coping with chronic illness.  The question you need to ask yourself is, “who does that include?”  For some people, reaching out for support and explaining the extent of their condition is quite uncomfortable.  The beauty of the 21st century is that there are so many different avenues for support and there is something out there for everyone!  For many, main supporters include family and friends.  For some, that may also include co-workers.  If you aren’t yet comfortable with the idea of sharing your struggles with people you already know, I hope you eventually reach that point.  It’s really hard to hide things from those we love.  However, there are support groups, online support forums, and even hotlines available to help field your questions and help you through difficult times.

Talking about your condition and the symptoms can feel embarrassing at first (I promise you, I used to be embarrassed to talk about my guts, and now look at me… I blog all about them)! Find someone, anyone, (in person or online) that you can confide in.  It will make a world of difference to have someone at your side.  As you learn to be more comfortable, you will find yourself opening up more… and I can guarantee that it will do your heart and mind some good.

Manage stress

Stress is a terrible thing.  Stress can sideline even the healthiest of individuals.  Now, imagine what it can do if you have a compromised immune system, are taking heavy duty medications, have any vitamin deficiencies, pain, or weakness.  Make sure that you aren’t overloading yourself.  It’s a good idea to let the people closest to you (hopefully these people are part of your support system) know what your limits are.  If you’re exhausted, adjusting to new medicines, or in a flare… let them know!  Know when to ask for help and don’t over-do it just to keep up appearances.

Cathy has written a great post about reducing stress, but make sure you also have ways to relieve stress.  My favorite stress relievers are spin class and yoga, but there are so many other great ideas out there:

  • Writing
  • Running
  • Walking
  • Meditation
  • Music
  • Cooking
  • Painting
  • Drawing
  • Breathing exercises
  • Gardening

How do you like to relieve stress?  Do you have other ideas to add to the list?  Maybe you also have additional advice for coping with chronic illness… either way, I’d love to hear from you!

How to Give Up The Grudge

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What a busy week it’s been. Keegan went on tour and comes back today. In the mean time, I grabbed lunch with Robbie at Atmalogy in Nashville (an awesome coffee shop mansion), caught up with Stephanie and Tika that night for peaches n cream Bushwackers, watched Clint open for DJ Icey and Baby Anne Saturday night with a slew of our close friends supporters and allies, enjoyed a drink at Blue Jeans followed by a pot-luck on Sunday and shared an authentic King Cake with Brittany and Justin on Monday.

Tuesday was spent at Jozoara’s with Erika as we caught up over coffee, and I had some time that night to see Jessica and Jazzy. Wednesday, I split a pitcher with Kooch and Jeff during happy hour, while Thursday night, I convinced Matt to join me for a reiki sharing get together at Center of Symmetry. We ended the night with his out of town friend at Canvas, my favorite gay bar. Then we had a lovely slumber party.

Friday I met Ryan and Brooke’s 4 month old son and afterwards spent the night with Brittany and Justin watching Girls, quite possibly the best show on HBO besides Vice. Yesterday, I visited Casi at Penny’s, then headed over to Jessie’s for a paint party. And the fun didn’t stop there, because Clint hosted a bonfire afterwards which drew about 15 friends or so. This is why I’m falling behind on my blog, but I refuse to give up!

Last Friday at Tika's

Last Friday at Tika’s

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This and the next few were taken at Seen

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VIP up top, and I got in free as a “plus one”

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2-4-1s at Blue Jeans Sunday afternoon

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Pot-luck with Matthew and his friends….

 

My first attempt at Italian Wedding Soup, Yum.

My first attempt at Italian Wedding Soup, Yum.

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Authentic King Cake from the coast

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Fun times at Canvas, including Fleetwood Mac kareoke

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Canvas with Matthew

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My chickpea salad is pretty good, just sayin’…..

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Painting and grilling at Jessie’s house with Kimmi. This is my alien with a robot body.

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Checked out the Lao Buddhist Temple this morning for a Thai Festival

Anyways……back on track.

 

Everyone at some point fosters resentment. Your professor didn’t give you the grade you hoped for, or maybe your best friend hooked up with your ex. Whatever the case may be, we’re wise enough to know how grudge only effects the beholder, much as Buddha noted, “Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die”.

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If you’re feeling stuck by the weight of a past disappointment, read ahead for tips to break free from your mind.

Pinpoint Transgression

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If something bothers you like a festering wound, spend time with paper and pen to determine what makes this grudge so defining. Were your feelings hurt? Had your expectations not met? One time, a client explained to me,

“My husband slept with my best friend. He deserted me in the middle of the night to meet with someone I thought I could trust. Now it seems like he loves her more than me. I don’t believe in divorce, but I can’t see myself ever looking at him or her the same ever again.”

With this instance, the physical betrayal lies in the sexual context of their relationship. The wife harbors resentment, because her husband slept with someone else. On an emotional level, the client was experiencing the stages of grief: Denial, anger, bargaining, depression but had yet to reach acceptance at that time.

Consider your current situation, and jot down what you feel. You may feel nauseous, or experience insomnia. You could also feel bitter, irritated, or severely depressed. Once you realize why you’re hurt and what you’re feeling, closure tends to approach at a quicker rate.

To Leap or Not to Leap?

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Once you’ve determined what’s wrong, ask yourself “What’s next”. You can choose to reach out or continue life as always. When it comes to personal relationships with friends, family and significant others, I encourage readers to take the first step and make a connection. If your life’s greatly enriched by this person’s presence, take a chance and see what happens.

A falling out isn’t the “be all, end all”. Disagreements happen, and we’re all human. If whomever you’re holding a grudge against decides to reach out to you, carefully weigh your options before an unwillingness to listen or communicate sinks in. If this could be your one chance to eradicate old feelings, why not hear them out?

Disclaimer: If you’re dealing with someone who has caused you physical harm, or threatened your life, do not proceed with making amends. This advice is meant for relationships which welcome positive change. You can let go of a grudge when someone has physically harmed you, but don’t bother with smoothing things over when someone has no respect for you. 

 

Ditch the Ego

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The willingness to extend an offer without any guarantees indicates your confidence won’t be shaken if you’re struck down. If we consistently perceived reality from the bitter “I don’t owe anyone shit” aspect (as I formerly thought to myself), would forgiveness ever see the light of day? Siding with the ego signifies the need to be correct, while relying on forgiveness clears space in the mind and strengthens connections.

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You owe it to yourself to proceed with a healthy, enduring attitude. The key doesn’t lie in expectations, but hoping for the best and continuing to push towards a more vulnerable existence. Dismissing a grudge embodies a courageous lifestyle since no one knows what lies ahead.

On a personal note, I recently encountered someone who had made my life hell the last 6 months. Oddly enough, we wound up at the same venue in Nashville recently where he proceeded to conversate with me. I accepted his apology, and all is well. I recognized the courage it took for him to reach out, but if I had wallowed in the “I don’t owe him shit” philosophy, I would still be harboring a grudge and nothing would have changed. I learned that every falling out has the potential for reunification once the ego is pushed aside.

John O’Donohue pointed out how the ego is the false sense of self born out of fear and defensiveness. It’s easy to hold a grudge with anxiety lingering in the background of our minds. But Brene Brown’s steadfast declaration, “The past is just a story we tell ourselves” takes the cake. I can choose to remember the pain or I can remember each individual in the most positive light possible, which helps in the process of forgiveness.

Curve Your Reactions

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To prevent the cycle from continuing, make a note for future reference what tends to set you off. Since you determined in step one what’s upsetting you, surely we can prevent this from happening again, right? Let’s consider a basic scenario that we all encounter on a regular basis: Bad drivers. The following example demonstrates how enlightenment happens with rigorous mental training and awareness.

Stage 1: The first time someone cuts you off, so you begin to yell, hitting the steering wheel, maybe even flip ‘em the bird.

Stage 2: The second time you realize you’ve been hijacked by emotions but you still can’t help yourself. You recognize the need to calm down, but still continue to act out when someone cuts you off.

Stage 3: With the third instance, the initial obligation to react remains, but you don’t. You’re irritated but think to yourself, “Maybe this guy has an emergency”.

Stage 4: The reaction doesn’t exist and the thought of becoming angered no longer exists once you’re cut off the fourth time.

Now, here lies the same stages in psychology known as the 4 Stages of Competence:

Unconscious Incompetence

Conscious Incompetence

Conscious Competence

Unconscious Competence

Make sense?

Most of us remain stuck in Phase 2: We understand how our reactions cause harm but believe there’s no way out to expressing how we’re feeling. I encourage readers to consider their reactions to situations and how holding a grudge can prevent you from moving forward.

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If you need further advice concerning grudges or would like to share what works for you, please feel free to submit your ideas below. In the mean time, check out Tool’s epic opening track on Lateralus called The Grudge.

How to Appreciate Your Homework

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Are you drowning in assignments? Avoiding your homework altogether? Or maybe your dreams include missing deadlines and facing ridicule among your peers. In any case, if you’re interested in looking forward to your homework, read ahead for my personal tactics.

Prep for Study Time

When we live in an ADHD prone society, it’s easy to become distracted. I’ve dedicated Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays to assignments, but studying becomes mandatory every single day. How can you prep for an upcoming study session? Find a good spot. Whether you have access to a study room, front porch or a cozy backyard, give yourself relief from distractions. Put your smart phone away. No, it doesn’t count as “studying” if you’re posting selfies while “reading” a book.

Grab a glass of water, and use the rest room before you sit down. Put on your favorite pj’s, and light a candle. Select an appropriate playlist and………study! I’ve mentioned the value of day planners repeatedly in former posts, but if this is your first trip to my site, allow me to elaborate: A planner reduces the risk of postponing assignments. It helps keep you on track. And on a side note, meditation increases clarity and focus, which is necessary to hone in on homework.

Switch it Up

Commit thirty minutes to one subject then focus on something else. If I’m tired of reading about Clinical Supervision, then it’s time to move onto Management in Human Services Programs. If Facilitating Human Development: Broad Based Strategies begins to bore me, I switch to Community Counseling. Not to mention, it’s nice to enjoy books that aren’t related to school. As I’m reading Jeanette Wall’s 2005 memoir, The Glass Castle, it’s refreshing to review someone else’s life instead of clinical mental health counseling subjects. Ayurveda Made Simple has taken the forefront of my recent interests, since a friend let me borrow her copy, and I have to give it back soon.

Despite the recommendation of avoiding procrastination, step away for a moment when you begin to lose focus. Take a brief walk around the house, stretch, then return to your work. There’s a difference in delaying assignments versus a tendency to lose interest. If you fail to return to an assignment, you have no one to blame but yourself. Make smart choices, and keep striving to exceed your goals.

Reward Yourself

I promised myself last week “If you finish your homework for this week on Monday, you get to see Glitchmob with all your friends on Tuesday”. Needless to say, the homework was completed in a swift and timely manner. Last weekend, I spent Friday night at Stonekeepers trying elixirs during their Rocktail Hour, and it was lovely to unexpectedly run into old friends I haven’t seen in years. This wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t already knocked out my homework. Likewise, Saturday felt like recess between spending time with my boyfriend at the greenway on the river, and enjoying $5 Bushwackers and Irish Car Bombs for St. Patrick’s Day. Afterwards, we grilled out at my grandparent’s house which was followed by a bonfire in Kimmi’s backyard.

Give yourself something to look forward to once you’ve taken that quiz, submitted a lengthy research proposal or studied for hours on end.

Maintain Perspective

If you’re in college, and especially if you’re enrolled in graduate courses, keep in mind that no one is forcing you to go. You signed up for classes, because you chose to. As harsh as it sounds, that’s life, folks. Anytime I slightly begin to feel the inkling of irritation or bitterness towards a particular assignment, I recall what a gift it is to have the ability to read and write. Other women like Malala Yousafzai risk their lives for an education; what do I have to complain about?

I remember the gratification and literal tears of joy as I wept, so grateful to receive my acceptance letter. Not everyone’s admitted into graduate courses, so it’s not to be taken for granted. Embrace the challenges ahead, and congratulate yourself afterwards.

Here’s 4 more brief tips for increasing motivation:

Indulge in clarity foods

Wiggle your toes

Breathe deep and stay calm

Create habits

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Rocktail Hour

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Stones River

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The Boulevard

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We had fun at Glitchmob

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Juice after the Reiki Healing Circle at Center of Symmetry

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Cafe Cocoa provides the best midnight snacks

 

How to Survive with a Sensitive Soul

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An ode to the sensitive souls:

Those of us just tryin’ to get by,

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no look in the eye,

to those so quiet,

passive and chill,

the overwhelmed ones

can’t help what they feel

Detail-proned

Avoiding the critics

Prone to anxiety

When facing specifics

This post is for you

Introverted or not

Sensitive souls

Need not be forgot

Pinpoint Triggers

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As a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP), you may notice a tendency to feel more deeply, paying more attention to details than most. Although Thought Catalog recently posted a list of 18 Struggles Only Over-Thinkers will Understand, the list could have been coined “18 Struggles Highly Sensitive Persons will Understand”, which still would have made perfect sense.

A Huffington Post article keenly observes how HSP buckle under criticisms, so be wary of inadvertent tendencies to people-please. It’s okay to skip out on a loud concert if the music doesn’t sooth your soul. Don’t feel obligated to attend certain gatherings if they make you feel uncomfortable.

The same article indicates HSPs appear more reactive to emotional situations, such as feeling “overly empathetic” when approached with a heart-wrenching story. It’s important to pinpoint triggers, so the time you save by the refusal to engage in unfulfilling activities can be dedicated towards something else. Like the concert mentioned previously, don’t make yourself feel queasy watching violent movies just to appease someone.

This advice contradicts a recent post of mine, which explained how to embrace a vulnerable attitude. This one goes out to the gentleman that stated “God, if I were any more vulnerable, I wouldn’t have the strength to stand!”

At a certain age, you know what you want, and you know what’s difficult to handle. This post explains how to survive with a sensitive soul, purposefully touching on opposite realms. I’ve encouraged anxious clients to branch out and try new things, but sensitive souls should be gentle with themselves, maintaining self-care as a top priority.

Indulge in Your Strengths

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Having a Sensitive Soul ought to be perceived a gift. You have the ability to feel more deeply, a conscientious nature adept to making thoughtful, considerate decisions. Rejoice in the unique traits that make you, you. Therese J Borchard of PsychCentral names 5 gifts HSPs can be grateful for including heightened attention to sensory details and a tendency towards creative thinking.

Sensitive individuals endure the burden of the crown, but since when was the sensitive classification considered negative? Blame it on our loud, aggressive, American culture: As infants, we’re taught to talk, then shut up, speak up, but be quiet. With conflicting societal norms, it’s no wonder sensitive individuals may feel ostracized which may exaggerate sensitive inclinations even more.

On a side note, just because you’re overly sensitive doesn’t necessary mean you’re an introvert. That same Huffington Post article referenced earlier suggests up to 30% of HSPs are extroverts, according to Elaine Aron, Ph. D and author of The Highly Sensitive Person.

Cultivate a Personal Space

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Whether you live at home or with your parents, find a quiet space to make your own. Our spare bedroom has become the office space and music lounge where I’m currently typing this post. However, my favorite personal space would be the front porch, drenched in flowers, adorned with wind chimes, fragranced with Citronella Candles.

The three chairs on the porch allow for company as needed, but otherwise my study space grants exposure to the sun and the varying weather elements of the day. Our cats love the porch, and it’s amusing to witness Junip’s fascination with the outdoors, since she rarely goes outside. I recommend live plants, crystals, gemstones, candles and essential oils, books, music and pleasant decor such as Tibetan prayer flags to anoint your sacred space.

Retreat to Your Childhood

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Embrace activities promoting the resurgence of childhood memories. In the South, we catch lightning bugs, grill out in the back yard and jump on trampolines. You don’t have to be a child to reap the rewards of these specific deeds.

Although we grill out often as adults, it’s been awhile since I woke up early on a Saturday morning to watch cartoons. Whatever the case may be, focus on activities related to smells, sights and sounds from your childhood for added nostalgic value. For touch, try finger painting and for taste, grab a bite of your favorite food from your youthful years. These activities nurture the soul, and HSPs deserve to focus on self-care tactics.

Would you consider yourself an HSP? If so, what tricks of the trade help to safeguard your feelings against a fast-paced, apathetic world? Feel free to review additional survival tips listed here.

Full Speed Ahead!

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Good Lord, Spring is almost here, and I can feel it. This past week or so has been quite busy, which is why you might have noticed no post last week? Or maybe you didn’t notice, in which case is even better.

Still working on my next advice piece, but in the meantime, let’s catch up on life.

First, my friend Stephanie and I went to see David Mayfield at Exit/In for freeee. We caught Nashville Burlesque sets in between, and these women make acrobatics appear so easy. We decided we must take classes this summer.

Then I got together with my old roommate Brittany to shop for Bridesmaids dresses. I found one that fits perfectly and can’t wait to show it off in May. The one for Tara’s wedding arrived a few weeks ago, and her wedding comes after Hangout Festival. Needless to say, May needs to hurry up! So much to look forward to :) I’ve been put in charge of planning and organizing Brittany’s bachlorette party, so working on the party favors and invites has certainly kept me busy these last few days.

Kimmi’s birthday party at Coconut Bay came and went, Marie and I got 2-4-1s this past Monday at Coco’s, Amber and Casi introduced me to Arrington Vineyards last Saturday, followed by another birthday party at my old house last Saturday night.

Brett drove all the way from Memphis and back in one night (a total of a 7 hour drive) for Brittany’s birthday. It was the first time me, Brittany, Justin and Brett had all been together in over 2 years, which is remarkable considering we all used to be roommates. Having RJ around was nice too, since she took over his lease afterwards and I had the chance to introduce them. I’m in the process of trying to hook them up as future roomies, because RJ is moving to Memphis by herself this summer to begin graduate school.

Ariel and I had time to shop at H&M in Nashville, so now I have a new swim suit to wear at Hangout Fest. Woot woot. It was nice to catch up with her for the first time in about 6 months or so.

My brother and I enjoyed time together at Stone Keeper’s yersterday, then we headed to the Greenway so he could see my “secret meditation spot”. I purchased a new Chakra Stone set, and my favorite latest discovery would have to be Labradorite. This beautiful, shimmering stone is best known for it’s magical, intuitive powers and after meditating with the polished gem last night, I can tell my energy has been restored. On a side note, I saved a trucker hat from the river (you’re welcome mother nature), then last night, me, Michelle, Chad, Kooch and John traveled to the Boro Bar and Grill to watch Keegan play 2 sets with his friends. Can’t pass up a free show :)

I’m in the process of dwindling down gardening ideas and purchased another Earth Box online which will help me expand on last year’s efforts. The pansies from last fall appeared today, just as I discovered some daffodils growing in our yard that must have been planted by someone who lived in our house previously. All in all, I’m super busy and loving it! I enjoyed brunch with a friend at City Cafe this morning, coffee dates with other Amigas and frequent trips to the library. Volunteering to cook at the shelter has been fun so far, and I’m looking forward to Spring with “Rocktail Hour” at Stone Keepers, gardening season approaching and many festivals and weddings to tend to.

Stay tuned, another advice post is coming soon :)

With love,

Cathy

PS If this post appears sloppier than usual, I blame it on the fact that today is Keegan’s birthday, so I am currently blogging, jamming to Deftones and making heart shaped brownies and hash brown casserole all at once. Scroll down for pics regarding all the mentioned recent activities, in no particular order.

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right before i fell in the river trying to fish out debris

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The Labradorite is in the center, and the flash picked up the pretty sheen.

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We had to take this pic, since this is the first time everyone in the upcoming wedding has been in the same place at the same time. Me, Brittany, Justin, plus Nikki from East TN, Brett from Memphis and Cameron from NC

We had to take this pic, since this is the first time everyone in the upcoming wedding has been in the same place at the same time. Me, Brittany, Justin, plus Nikki from East TN, Brett from Memphis and Cameron from NC

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How to Craft a Fairy Garden

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If you’re searching for a new project to tackle, look no further. Fairy gardens seem to be all the rage, so I figured I would give it a shot. Continue to read for ways to decorate your fairy garden.

Determine the Purpose

What exactly are you hoping to accomplish? Is this a project for yourself? Are you crafting with children? Or do you need a little magic to add to your living arrangement? Whatever the case may be, keep in mind the purpose for a successful end result. I personally chose to create a fairy garden after learning about them from my friend Caitlin, plus the work I discovered on Pinterest was enough to inspire me.

Find a Location

Most gardens I’ve researched tend to be outside, but the location is up to you. Center of Symmetry in Nashville has a fairy door next to the main entrance, welcoming the good vibes to their establishment. Since we might move this summer, I decided a container garden would best suit our needs. The container rests on our porch with plenty of sunlight available to the plants. A few crafty individuals on Pinterest actually bolted their fairy doors into trees with the garden accessories leading to the entrance. I’ve also noticed indoor fairy gardens in windows that are equally as cute. With a container garden, you have the luxury of  bringing the pot in during cold weather and placing the pot on the porch on warmer days.

Create the Garden

Now it’s time to pick out the plants. Since I’m an advocate of the succulent varieties, I opted for Home Depot’s cheap cactus plants. One of them is fuzzy, resembling a miniature Golden Barrel Cactus, while the other one is called a Grafted Cactus topped with a beautiful, glowing yellow and pink addition. The Echeveria remains my favorite, with tiny yellow blooms repelling in opposite directions. As you can see, I aimed for a “South West” Fairy Garden.

If you decide to stick with Cacti, remember to choose the correct dirt, as the plants tend to thrive in loose soil. For the sake of filling the container, I used organic potting soil but covered the top with cactus soil. Miracle-Gro also provides cactus food for purchase which is helpful.

Add Accessories

The last step gives you room to get creative. I added 3 fairies to my garden, and one of the ladies has a chair to sit in. I added festive lights to give the container some color and filled in bare spots with moss purchased from Martin’s Home and Garden located in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. The cashier warned me of the risks that came with this project: Cacti doesn’t require much water, while moss thrives in moist conditions. Not a problem, though, the moss is easy to remove and soak while the cactus plants only require watering about once a week.

Since I’m a fan of turtles and birds (like most hipsters), I added trinkets to the garden, so the fairies aren’t alone. I also added Selenite for angelic guidance, adding a deep sense of peace to the area. The fairy door rests towards the back of the bowl, but I might move it to the front soon. There’s a pale for the women to collect rain water as needed plus mushrooms for a truly magical atmosphere.

I felt relief and solitude working on this project. Gardening has become a favorite hobby of mine, and this endeavor gave me something new to try. I plan to add to the garden in the upcoming weeks; a table and another chair ought to complete the mission.

If anyone has photos of their fairy garden, please share :) Or, if you chose to craft a fairy garden for different reasons, I would love to hear your story.

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How to Adopt a Vulnerable Attitude

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20130823-theodore-roosevelt-quote-600x411When the word “vulnerable” comes to mind, do you naturally cringe or consider an opportunity for growth? One site defines vulnerability as “Susceptible to physical or emotional injury”, while another source coins vulnerability as a synonym for weakness. This discussion explains the newly emerging definition of vulnerability, why it matters and how to take advantage of your delicate existence.

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Dr. Brene Brown’s fundamental research is changing the way we view human interactions. In short, the Social Worker gathered thousands of stories and interviews in which people described their most excruciating and rewarding moments related to vulnerability. Brown grouped individuals into 2 categories: those that embraced vulnerability and those that shied away from it. Through the research, Brown discovered individuals with a strong sense of love and belonging were more likely to lead a confident life with a willingness to embrace vulnerability, while those that refused to engage in interactions with their peers lacked a sense of belonging, resulting in their refusal to open up.

Brene Brown Defines Vulnerability

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Brown claims vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Sure it sounds hokey, but Brown debunks the myth which suggests vulnerability is a weakness. By willingly taking risks, one cannot be labeled weak.

The irony of exposing oneself to rejection is that it takes an act of courage to put yourself out there in the first place. So it’s illogical to suggest that vulnerability and weakness mean the same thing. Brown insists that shame corrodes the very part of us that believes we are capable of change. Weakness is the refusal to participate in the process of change; those with confidence and a strong sense of belonging are more likely to take chances and act on opportunities in which no guarantees exist for any particular outcome. Read ahead for examples of how to actively engage vulnerability.

Apologize

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Let’s face it: With all the good intentions one could muster, conflict is inevitable. From friendships to marriages and even relationships with the in-laws, disagreements are bound to occur at some point, leaving most to feel uneasy. Not everyone has to agree with you.

Rather than ignore the problem at hand, stretch for congruity by offering an apology. Aside from apologies, reaching out in uncertain situations indicates a willingness to hear the other person’s story. Empowerment refutes the notion of ignoring someone as a so-called intelligent move. It takes courage to open up and in doing do, you become more comfortable in your vulnerable state.

Embrace Unfamiliar Surroundings

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If you’re not vulnerable to people, you may be vulnerable to situations and settings. I rode with Keegan to see Big Business at Exit/In a few days ago and although I felt skeptical, we ended up having fun like always. One friend informed me how much she hates Reveille Joe’s Coffee Shop on the square in Murfreesboro, but much to my surprise, their Peppermint Mocha tastes much better than Starbucks.

Whether it’s a party or a concert, don’t be afraid to try something new and venture out of your comfort zone. I would have never imagined going to a show alone but once I saw Queens of the Stone Age by myself, I realized how easy it is to blend in the crowd, make new friends and enjoy the music regardless.

Speak about Shame

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Dr. Brown refers to shame as “the intensely painful feeling that we are unworthy of love and belonging”. Shame tends to hinder those with a lack of confidence from reconciling issues in their past when they remain silent. So, shame stunts the growth process, whereas those that thrive on vulnerable opportunities tend to develop their courageous persistence and poise. Brown’s research suggests that shame cannot survive being spoken. In other words, it’s healthy and encouraged to talk about shame.

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Shame derives from guilt and embarrassment, and the only way to overcome these emotions is to talk about them. As mentioned previously, a vulnerable soul embraces resolution skills. The refusal to speak about problems and ignoring them altogether will only fester with time because of shame. A willingness to communicate eradicates shame.

Challenge Your Fears

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Figure out which types of people or situations you need to come to terms with. Hone in on your fears and find comfortable ways to tackle these goals. For more information regarding vulnerability, feel free to watch Brene Brown’s video posted below.

http://new.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_on_vulnerability

I enjoyed her discussion and how she touches on a variety of situations that leave us feeling exposed at times: Asking for help when you’re sick, approaching your boss about a raise, waiting for your mammogram results, extending an invite to a former friend and even initiating sex.

All these situations involve risk, but that doesn’t mean you’re not in control. Putting your fate in someone else’s hands means you’re brave enough to deal with the consequences, and that’s what counts. So live boldly, fearlessly and don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. In the end, we only regret the chances we didn’t take.

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