GIFTS – An acronym for the joy you carry

Taken from my e-book “Finding Joy During the Holidays When You’re in Your Thirties & Feel Broke” the following excerpt is still relevant all times of the year. We all experience brokenness in this life. It can look like feeling broken over painful world events, financial brokenness, relational brokenness, brokenness within our goals and dreams that don’t seem to be panning out and we’re already at an age where it seems like “will it ever change”, loss of loved ones, and feeling physically broken with illness pain.

When I wrote the short e-book, it was with a specific season, “The Holiday” season, in mind. With the holidays, it seems like everything should be pleasant and joyful! It’s the holidays! So there is an added level of buzz around our feelings when they really don’t align with the season. But the truth is that brokenness and the pain of the here and now seem to follow us when we don’t have the strength and power of joy.

And with that, I hope the following excerpt brings a sense of joy to you. (To get the full context- download your copy now.)

I’ve come up with an acronym to help you remember all that you truly have at your disposal this Holiday season that can help you tap into true joy (historical definition: calm delight and inner gladness). GIFTS stands for Giving, Inspiration, Forgiveness, Thankfulness, and Spark. The GIFTS acronym will help to reassure you that joy is attainable, it doesn’t have to live far away from who you are and what you carry, and you have more gifts in you this Holiday season than you may realize.

Giving

Though it may not seem like you have extra to spare, you can still still choose to give. Giving is one way to choose joy. Some examples of giving during times of (financial) struggle are to give of your time (volunteer, babysit for free); give of your talent (if you’re a photographer, you can take photos of a friend or co-worker as a gift); give of your home (like inviting a neighbor over for dinner one night).

Inspiration

Joy is inspirational, and so are YOU. You can choose joy by inspiring others with kind words and actions. These don’t have to cost anything. Sending your supervisor an appreciative email or helping someone with their groceries next time you see someone with a loaded cart at the store are examples of how you can inspire others.

Forgiveness

Joy can’t thrive if you have bitterness in your heart against others; it’s time to forgive. Are you holding onto anything that you need to let go of that’s hurting you? Joy will immediately start to flow in and through you when you let go of that which no longer serves you or is yours to carry. It’s time to forgive and let the past be in the past. Joy lives right on the heels of forgiveness.

Thankfulness

It’s almost impossible to not feel joy when you are truly thankful! Keeping a list of people, events, and things you are thankful for nearby, especially in the midst of troubles can bring that inner calm that we talked about before. Thankfulness is a value that joy is partnered with. Despite problems around you, recognizing what do have and are thankful for will initiate joy.

Spark

Lastly, joy sometimes starts as a little spark that can turn into a sustainable fire. We all have a spark in us. We all can tap into that place that no one else can and see joy. Think about the spark that you alone have and can spread. By choosing to seize the unique, beautiful gifts and personality traits that you have intrinsically, joy can arise out of what you see as ashes and fan into something big, warm, and sustainable. Joy is the spark that sustains us through the bad, even when [we feel broken down when we see devastating world events.] Once again, joy lets us face our circumstances with strength.

I will add that though joy is strength and does bring a sense of calm when things in the world and our personal lives go wrong, it’s okay to NOT be strong. It’s okay when joy seems illusive to the circumstances of our lives and things we are going through. It’s okay to feel devastated when we hear devastating news. It’s okay to allow others to help you carry the burdens of life that you can’t carry alone. Joy is one of many dynamic lenses we put on (with or without trying) to view the world around us.

GIFTS speak to the joy that we can choose. The joy we can tap into. The joy that gives us strength and can help us keep going. And GIFTS is a way to get there WHEN WE ARE READY. In the meantime, allow yourself to feel grief, sadness, anger and the whole spectrum of emotions during trying, upsetting, broken times.

When Change Becomes Overwhelming

I’m in a season of life where I’m reclaiming peace and stability after months of non-stop crazy!

Getting married, moving to my husband’s country (during the pandemic); new schedules and routines; saying goodbye to old jobs and working through processes of new ones; new beds- yes sleep is huge and even the bed you’re in makes a difference in your day and feeling overwhelmed or not; new grocery stores- where do you find basic things that should be simple but aren’t in a new place?!; new places to sit down and do work- this matters for connecting with people and being able to work well; new relationships- who are my friends anyway? Who will really understand when they aren’t even in my physical world, just digital??… and THEN moving back to my original country only to do it all over again.

I’m three months into another huge change and I know I’m not the only one who has felt like a pin ball, bouncing from side to side and up and down with the craziness of life.

Change can be overwhelming. It can be emotional. It can take a toll on our thoughts and mindsets. I’ve learned that besides leaning on the Lord, who helps get me through overwhelming times, I can do a few active things that help me stay on track and regain focus on what’s important just for today.

Today what can you do?

Today what changes do you need to make to feel better about where you are at?

Forget about tomorrow or the next day or next week. What can you do today?

Here are three things I’ve learned that I can do, and perhaps they will help you too!

1. Make Lists

I am a HUGE fan of lists. I like seeing things laid out so that I can focus on priorities and CROSS THINGS OFF as I do them. This makes me feel like I’m being productive and getting things out of the way that I no longer have to think about. Lists are simple, but once you have the details of your day down on paper, you can breathe a little easier knowing you aren’t forgetting things and you can choose what’s most to least important.

Groceries, cleaning, phone calls that need to be made… what is in your head that needs out? Save energy by writing it down and crossing things off one-by-one.

2. Open Up

Overwhelm isn’t limited to schedules and to-do lists. For me overwhelm has included everything from learning to work in a new space to relating with new people again. It’s included processing decisions of moving to new and old countries. It’s included big and small changes that has impacted every facet of life imaginable.

I’ve learned to pick a few trusted friends and open up to them when needed. Sometimes, you just need a listening ear or someone to vent to as you move through each day. That’s okay. It’s good to know who you trust most and to keep those friends close.

3. Let Go And Say “No”

Lastly, but makes a big impact in periods of busy change and overwhelming days, is to get back to the basics and let go of the rest. I cannot show up for some of my friends in this period of life the way I could in other times, and that’s OK. I’ve had to let go of volunteer work that I loved and groups of women I connected with. Again, getting to the basics of let’s just do what we need to TODAY will allow you to choose what to say “yes” to, and what to say “no” to. Let Go, say “No” and focus on the basics in order to simplify life.

All in all, life can be managed well. It doesn’t have to feel like Pin Ball. It can go smoothly and make sense. And in the meantime, there are things we can actively do to get to that place we want to live and be, with Peace and Joy, instead of overwhelm.

Symbolic Attire

I can’t think of too many things more symbolic than wearing a team jersey or uniform and knowing you belong to something bigger than yourself. I’ve recently been accepted to a women’s racing team (road, gravel, and mountain biking) and when one of my teammates and friends gave me this year’s jersey, I simply felt like I belonged. Perhaps for the first time in years, I belonged to something bigger than “me.”

There is symbolism in things we wear and put on every day. Wedding rings and bands are symbolic to a deep relationship between two people and whether those people are physically together or not, a bond exists. Men’s ties and other jewelry for men and women often symbolize high status in work or society. Wedding attire- the dress, suit, and tux- is symbolic to a huge life event in many people’s lives. Even the logos that represent the brands and companies that we give our money to say something about us.

There are many examples of symbolism in material things in daily life.

But for me, something clicked just a few days ago and I had a deep recognition of who I am and what I stand for because of that team jersey that was handed to me last month. And with that recognition came a deep sense of responsibility too.

By putting on a team jersey or work uniform you represent that organization, group, team, brand or company. When you wear your uniform or jersey, you’re proud. You’re making a statement to the world that these moments aren’t just about you as an individual, but they are about your team or organization beyond you. (I have to chuckle because maybe this is by default… you need a job and you have to wear a certain uniform for work, even if you hate it. I remember this being the case at times in my life as well.)

When I race, I get to wear my team’s name. When I ride for training, more people will see our logo and colors. I’m one part of a greater whole that matters and is making a difference for women cyclists in my area. One example of how this changes me is that I’m going to go out of my way to follow road rules and practice good bike etiquette, especially when I’m in my team jersey.

So too, the importance of the jersey I get to wear for my team doesn’t end when I take off that shirt at the end of the day. I’m still “me” and I still belong to that group, with or without the name and logo on my back for all to see. I should be practicing those road rules and etiquette always, not just when in uniform.

This idea of belonging AND representing my team well really struck home a few days ago. Whether I’m wearing my jersey or not, I’m still a part of a team and group. And I want to bring honor to the group at all times, not just when I’m riding with the colors and logo of the team.

Whether we recognize it every day or not, we all represent something bigger than us. Our families, schools, churches, teams, places of work all make up pieces of our lives and groups that we belong to. And my realization the other day was this: I belong and don’t want to misrepresent the team that is important to me. I want to build the team up at ALL times.

A side note, I think this is why social media can bring so many problems to people’s lives and why supervisors and companies care about following their staff on social media. The online world matters as much as the behind closed doors, private, offline world.

Awareness of belonging to a team and how to represent that well comes with a growth in responsibility and character. It lasts beyond taking the uniform off at the end of the day. Day-to-day, we need to be aware of how individual actions and attitudes reflect outward on those groups and organizations that we belong to, and to not let wearing a jersey or uniform change how we should be behaving and acting as representatives of our groups and teams. Even our families’ names matter… and to bring honor to our family means acting with wisdom and making daily, healthy choices that help and not hurt our families.

In the end, reflecting on belonging and who I represent matters. I don’t want any organization to be brought down because of me; I only want those I work for and with to be lifted up. As individuals a part of teams, our actions really do matter for the greater good, or downfall if we aren’t careful.

What groups are you a part of? Have you ever thought of how you represent where you work, or the teams you are a part of even when you’re not in uniform? Does this change your perspective on how you move through the world on a day-to-day basis?

{Q&A} Easy Advice With Big Impact

{Q&A} Easy Advice With Big Impact

Asia Major-Waithe is a friend from a long time. She is also a fitness powerhouse and has a wealth of information on how fruits and veggies work for your body. Asia earned her BA in Kinesiology from Penn State University. She currently is a Assistant Director at Power Train Sports and Fitness in State College, PA.

Outside of weight training for herself and others, she loves walking her dog Anchor, hanging out with friends, and eating healthy, delicious food. She also helps to combat human trafficking with work at a non-profit on the side.

Juliandra Jackson, Owner and Founder of Written Jewels

Q: You’re a group fitness instructor and personal trainer– what excites you the most about that career path? What excites me most about my career path is that I get to help people reach their health and fitness goals. I work with athletes of all ages to the older adult client that just wants to be able to play with their grandchildren.

Q: You have a long background in sports and athletics. How has sports added value to your life through the years? My background in sports/athletics has very much informed my career path. In my pre-college years I played soccer, ran track, basketball, volleyball, and played rugby in college. Being part of various teams has taught me discipline , hard work, and the value of team work. I have had to choose to learn from my mistakes when we lost a big game. Being able to pull something good/constructive out of a devastating loss is a hard, but good thing.

Q: Juice Plus+ is an amazing company featuring pure, wholefood nutrition and educates people about nutrition through high end research. You and I have been a part of Juice Plus+ for a long time together. How does nutrition play a role in getting to an improved fitness or general health level? I love Juice Plus, it has been a game changer for me since 2012. It helped me with recovery from my athletic endeavors, helped me get sick less often, sleep better, decrease in allergies, and improved my astigmatism. Nutrition is the “bread and butter” of your body. With a proper diet you can decrease your chances of disease, chronic inflammation, improved mental acuity, sleep, etc. Juice Plus+ can help do this as well because its just dehydrated produce! Anyone can use it, from a child to an 80 year old and everything in between.

With a proper diet you can decrease your chances of disease, chronic inflammation, improved mental acuity, sleep, etc. Juice Plus can help do this as well because its just dehydrated produce!

Asia Major-Waithe

Q: Is there any one thing that you could suggest as a positive step forward if someone doesn’t know much about fitness or nutrition and needs advice with where to start? A positive step forward would be to take some steps! If you aren’t [physically] active [every day] start walking. If you don’t eat real, whole food, start with eating at least one fruit or vegetable daily.

Juice Plus+ has a great saying: do “ One Simple Change”. Small changes over time become big changes and eventually lifestyle changes.

Small changes over time become big changes and eventually lifestyle changes.

Asia Major-Waithe

Q: One EASY question coffee or tea? I like both!

Q: Anything you’d like to add as a word of encouragement to those who want to take basic steps to improve their health for the first time? Remember, your body is your most valuable asset. Once you don’t have full function, are chronically ill, or just aren’t feeling well, you limit your ability to do and be things that you actually enjoy. Take care of your body (that includes the mind and spirit) and it will take care of you. Self-care matters!

{Q&A} How Being a Mom Pushed One Woman to Choose Crunchi

{Q&A} How Being a Mom Pushed One Woman to Choose Crunchi

At Written Jewels I love supporting women in business, supporting a lifestyle of wellness, and supporting pure products that make a positive impact. Your skin and body matter- they tell a story that the world gets to see, and therefore what you put on and in your body matters too! The story of Monique and Crunchi aligns perfectly with all that Written Jewels stands for. And I hope you take the chance to learn and hear a story of finding confidence in business and spreading the good news of purity in products.

A Q&A with Monique Murphy. She is the mom to two high school boys Quinn and Colin. She grew up in Rhode Island and as a young girl wanted to be a ballerina! She moved to central PA 17-years ago because of a relocation with her current day job where she works full time. She aims to grow her Crunchi business to allow herself the opportunity to share Crunchi and mentor other women to build their goals and dreams.  She loves to spend time with her “village”, and to fill her cup through friendships, yoga, golf, and walking. 

– Juliandra Jackson, Owner and Founder of Written Jewels

Q: What is Crunchi in a nutshell? A: Crunchi is a toxin-free, safe, clean, high-performing makeup and skin care brand that is focused on ingredients that are good for you and perform. Crunchi just celebrated their 5-year Crunchi-versary!

Q: How long have you been working for Crunchi? A: I joined Crunchi in April of 2018. 

Q: Why did you get involved with the company?  A: I found Crunchi when I turned 50!  I was looking for a good lipstick!  One day, my sister and I were talking and she said, you need to get in touch with my friend, she found this safe toxin-free makeup and it is so great, it feels amazing!  So, I reached out and once I tried the lipstick sample and the primer and foundation, I just signed on to start sharing the clean beauty mission.  I didn’t know that the FDA really hasn’t made changes to regulations, and it is really scary the ingredients that can be in our personal care products.

“Due to a lack of regulation, the United States Food and Drug Administration permits cosmetic companies to use toxic chemicals known to be harmful in their products. As a result, chemicals linked to cancer, endocrine disruption, reproductive toxicity, developmental toxicity, immunotoxicity, organ toxicity, neurotoxicity, and many other health concerns are hidden in the cosmetics women are using on their bodies every day.” 

Crunchi Website

Q: What most motivates you for offering healthy beauty products to people? A: Being a mom made me think about everything differently, healthier food options, activities; and then as I found myself as a single mom, I found Crunchi to be a new learning path for choosing to take a chance on a new business venture, to show my two sons that even though I was scared, I felt compelled to try and share clean beauty and to do my best. I love that Crunchi has given me the opportunity for them to see me work hard (besides at my FT job) at what I love and to connect with other women and for my boys to also work hard and try new things.

Well, now that I know better, I just feel like I need to educate and spread the Crunchi love about knowing that ingredients matter for your health, and for your families and loved ones. I want other women to jump in and learn more and make healthier choices for themselves.

Q: One product I personally love is the charcoal soaps. What is the purpose of charcoal in beauty products? I’ve been seeing the trend grow wider to include things like toothpaste and shampoos. A: The charcoal facial bar is amazing for those with normal, acne prone or combination skin.  Use this bar to clarify your pores and balance your skin. Charcoal and kaolin clay detoxify your skin, to remove impurities and improve radiance. It also includes organic lemon and tea tree oils to make this facial truly invigorating and a must have!

This bar is perfect for teens and men love them too, so don’t forget to pass this info on to the men in your life.

The best part is that you can maximize your skincare routine AND minimize your environmental impact with our Facial Bars!!  The packaging is comprised of 100% biodegradable and recyclable post-consumer waste paper! These thoughtfully and consciously packaged facial bars skip the plastic, leaving behind a much cleaner footprint and face!

Q: What are some benefits of using charcoal products? A: Charcoal helps to extract the “goop” from your skin, cleaning and removing the dirt and oils.  It takes the grime and excess oils away. 

Crunchi’s Charcoal Facial Bar is the perfect cleanser to clarify pores and balance your skin’s natural oils. Charcoal and kaolin clay detoxify your skin, to remove impurities and improve radiance. Paired with fresh organic lemon and tea tree essential oils, the Charcoal Facial Bar’s scent is invigorating, uplifting, and overall–amazing.

We also have a Charcoal Body Bar. It’s comprised of organic essential oils and toxin-free ingredients, the Charcoal Body Bar cleans, moisturizes, detoxifies and exfoliates without exposing you to potentially harmful toxins found in conventional cleansers. Ideal for most skin types, this bar is gentle enough for daily use.  Advocates have also used as a shampoo, and loved it!

Our skin absorbs much of what it comes in contact with, making what you put on your body just as important as what you put in your body.

Q: What would you suggest to someone when wanting to switch to natural beauty products, but are unsure how or what line to go with?  A: I would say that making the switch is important because we know what we eat, and try to stay healthy that way, is just as important for what we put on our skin. I would advise to take small steps and keep moving in the right direction by reading labels. There are a couple apps that Advocates use, in addition to our amazing Crunchi website where you can find a list of BANISHED ingredients, which are ingredients you should be looking for to avoid in your products.

We encourage people that are looking to make the switch to clean products to start with our “trifecta”-  the Smart Primer, our Beautifully Flawless Foundation, and the Flat Top Brush to apply.  But with the growth that Crunchi has had in these 5 years, and with the mask wearing everyone has to do, I would say that the skincare line has grown like crazy and starting with the facial bars, our Daylight AM Moisturizer and follow that with Sunlight SPF30, that really takes care of your skin with nourishing ingredients.  Here is the link for people to learn more and share with others to spread the clean beauty mission.

Q: Anything you would like to add? A: It is a true gift to be a Crunchi Advocate. It is more than extra income, it is a sisterhood that I didn’t know I needed, and an education at the tip of my fingers through Crunchi.com, and our Advocate community. I love being part of this team and knowing that I am helping others with healthy and safe choices for themselves and those they love.