Mommy (me!) kissing my sweet boy, Hayes. I have always felt that his little eyes were filled with joy as my lips touched his cheek.

8 Things That Have Helped Me Endure Tough Life

12513985_10208822892710756_1781500071549949412_oI know how tiring life can be. With today, January 23rd, being the birthday of my son who did on June 11. 2002 at the age of 4 1/2 months–I know how tiring life can be. There are days when it just seems too much, but have you ever noticed how that always passes? Regardless, I think we would all love to go without those days, but it isn’t reality. Reality is that we are living life. What makes a difference is how we live it.

Here are some ways that I choose to live life. Though I have not always made these choices, I am so happy that my life turned in this direction when I lost my boy.

1. Turn to your best friend, God. I have tried lots of things and there are a few things that I can always trust. One is God. No matter what, I can lean on him and he never lets me down. I pray all the time– driving down the road, while walking into the grocery store and definitely in those moments when I feel stress hitting me.

2. Eat healthy all the time– as a lifestyle: I have not always eaten the way I do now. What I love is that I recognized what made me feel good (real food) and what made me feel bad (processed food). That is how I decided to choose the good. Sure- I eat dark chocolate, but that is one example of the difference. If I want something like chocolate, I choose dark chocolate (65% or higher), rather than milk chocolate which contains a ton of sugar. If I eat bread, it is made from almond flour and is gluten free. Toast it and slap some almond butter on it. It is delicious and I feel good eating it. But mostly, choose organic vegetables while consuming a plant-based diet. If you choose meat, choose organic, lean, grass-fed, etc.

3. Exercise almost every day. I love to exercise. I love how it makes me feel. I have never gone to a workout and regretted it. Ever. Yeah- sure it can take some effort getting there sometimes, but because it is a part of my lifestyle, it really is no big deal. I was not always like this, but as I allowed exercise to become part of my daily routine, it then became part of who I am. It is a part of wellness that, when blended with healthy eating and God, helps me handle what life throws at me.

4. Use deep breathing to help calm you. I use deep breathing more now than ever. Though I do not do yoga on a regular basis, the deep breathing that a yoga class offers is amazing. However, deep breathing while in the car, in the office, at home, or anywhere you go can help calm you in seconds.

5. Essential oils can play a role. Not everyone believes in the power of essential oils, but for me, they are amazing. I diffuse lavender when I sleep, I put a drop or two of peppermint on my forehead and back of my neck if I feel tension– there are tons of options to add to your wellness. Of course, making sure the oils are 100% pure is crucial and you need to understand how to use them, but they can add to this wonderful cocktail of lifestyle choices.

6. Be gracious for everything. It is so often hard to see, but most of us have it pretty good. Yes, there are moments when I feel the pain and confusion of the loss of my son and much more, but when I step back, I see a lot of good and that is what I roll with and soak up. And, keep in mind that if you surround yourself with negative people, it is super easy to become one of them.

7. Express love, even for those that anger you. Hate never solved anything. You can be mad, frustrated, angry– you don’t have to like the behavior of others. That isn’t always realistic. But you can still choose love over hate. You will feel better and the hate absolutely cannot penetrate through that love.  And remember that there may have been a a period of time in your life when you were in the wrong place and had the wrong attitude. I know I was there for way too long and didn’t even realize it. For most, it takes time to see the beauty that is available to behold in our lives. Forgive and have patience.

8. Turn to your earthly best friends. We are made to be a part of a community. Whether it is a close family member or friend, turn to them when you need them. They can help you sort through some feelings. Sometimes it just feels good to let it out. And, of course, be there for them too. You don’t want it to be a one way street. The mutual love and sharing that you can offer each other can take you both a long way.

I hope that these suggestions can offer something to help you enjoy life more and change your mindset when things get tough. It takes practice. In fact, I am always practicing, but I am better than I used to be and cannot wait to see where I go.

Much love,