Monday, July 24

One week positivity challenge

     Happy Monday loves! I have a really good feeling about this week. The kids and I are fresh home from a little cousin trip where we had so much fun all together, and with all the work that Richard did while we were gone, we're feeling happy about the progress we're hoping to make.

     When I wrote my last post about how I was starting on my little self-love journey, I almost felt like writing 'part 1 of 35' or something because I feel like the more that I work at this, I'm seeing how many facets there are in loving ourselves fully. I know I'm not alone when I say that really loving who I am and respecting myself is one of my biggest struggles. Self-love isn't just about working out more or chanting positive affirmations, it's about honoring who we are in this moment and stopping the war on ourselves. It's about empowerment and courage, happiness and perspective. It's about being self-aware, setting boundaries, choosing our influences, keeping our minds active, and keeping our relationships healthy. It's also about forgiveness and peace, and service, and overall health. Mind, body, and spirit.
     I believe in really honoring our emotions, and I have worked nearly every day for years at encouraging myself to feel everything instead of trying to push away the darkness when I see it coming, and you know what? I'm still not great at it. There's a very touchy balance between putting a positive spin on hard things and not letting yourself feel at all. I've been there. There's also a fine line between having tough things happen to you and letting those things control you. Sometimes we can't help but get swept up, and that's okay. But most of the time, as Charles Swindoll said: "...we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for the day. We cannot change our past...we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way, we cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it, and so it is with you."
     One important thing that I've come to realize is that there is no finish line for self-love. There is never going to be a moment when we arrive at the precipice of happiness and can say "I did it!", because the world around us is constantly changing and evolving. We can work our hardest on controlling ourselves and our own feelings, but I believe that the default for everyone is to feel low.
     I believe that our minds are trained to gradually look past all the things that we do have and focus on the things we don't. I believe that our natural instinct is to always want to reach higher and do better, and therefore we have this habit of always feeling like we're not enough, that we're not doing enough, and that we don't have enough. And that's just what we put on ourselves, not taking into account the interactions we might have every day with people who are making us feel less-than. The people that want to see us fail and fall. The people that choose to step on others in order to feel like they have worth.

    I believe that happiness is a whole lot of work, every day. Even the happiest people you know don't wake up each day glowing in angelic peace and joy. Being positive is something we have to practice over and over and over again even after we've made it into more of a habit.
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     So, today I wanted to share a little list of 24 things that I feel can add to our jar of happiness and positivity, and that can help change our attitudes. Just remember that what works for one person might not work for another, and so if you try something new and realize that it's having little to no effect on your mood, try something else:) My challenge for you that I'll be joining in as well is to pick at least one thing (if not three) on the list to do every day for the rest of the month (we have a solid week left starting tomorrow) and check it off the list. Simple and effective, I promise:) 

One week positivity challenge
  1. Watch or listen to something motivational (example: look up Tony Robbins on YouTube, a TedTalk, or an empowerment podcast.
  2. Call a friend or a loved one just to talk about them. Every time the conversation steers towards you, try spinning it back towards them and not talking about your mood or issues at all. You might be surprised at how distracting it is for you, and how refreshed you feel about your own life.
  3. Reread an old favorite book.
  4. Get out into nature and go for a hike, swim, bike ride, etc. There's something so invigorating about the sunshine and the breeze, and getting your heart racing and your blood pumping makes us feel more alive.
  5. Try doing something childish like playing with sidewalk chalk or climbing a tree.
  6. Go for a car ride and sing along to your favorite song as loudly and off key as you want.
  7. Grab an empty notebook or pad of paper, or even a stack of napkins and just write. write to your younger self or the most trusted person you know. Tell them about your day, your week, your year, about your achievements, your struggles, your hopes, your fears. It always feels like a burden is lifted off of your mind and heart when you can spill your thoughts onto paper or a computer screen and not worry about them anymore. They'll be there whenever you need them, so just let them fade away. This is particularly healthy at bedtime. I sleep so much better when I can clear my head.
  8. Concentrate one whole day on eating whole, real, non-processed foods. 
  9. Make a list of all the things you've accomplished in the last week, instead of a to-do list for the week ahead.
  10. Smile at everyone you come in contact with.
  11. Drink a healthy green smoothie.
  12. Look up a simple yoga routine online and slowly go through as many of the moves as you can, remembering to breathe deeply and maybe even listening to peaceful music.
  13. Look up a list of positive affirmations for self-love online and repeat the list out loud to yourself. Have you ever heard of the law of attraction? It's really true. Love life and life will love you back. Repeating positive things about yourself will not only make you believe them, but you'll be amazed at what will start to happen in your life.
  14. Light some candles, turn on some music and clean a room in your house from top to bottom.
  15. Leave the dishes in the sink if you have to, leave the laundry in a heap or whatever, and go to bed early. Like 8:30pm early:)
  16. Go to a gym and work out all your frustrations. Whether it's beating them into a punching bag or sweating them out on the treadmill on in the weight-room doesn't matter, what matters is that when you leave those doors that you leave the frustrations of the day/week behind you.
  17. Pick out a new recipe and make a meal from scratch.
  18. Take a long hot bath. Just sitting in the hot water with your eyes closed will do you good, but if you can swing it, throwing in a bath bomb and lighting some candles will add a lot. Also music:)
  19. Write a letter to someone that you might have animosity towards, and then get rid of it. Burn it, shred it, whatever. Just get all the issues onto the paper and then let it go. 
  20. Make a list of 5 struggles in your life, and then next to each of those struggles list a lesson that you've learned from each of them. Working to see each trial as a lesson helps us see a benefit to even the hardest situations of our lives. You've survived everything that life has thrown at you so far, what are the scars that those experiences left behind and what did you learn?
  21. Treat yourself to something. A haircut, a pedicure, that pair of shoes you've been eying. Don't get too crazy, but a little bit of pampering can go a long way to turning your perspective around and helping you feel better about yourself and the world around you.
  22. Confide in someone. Choosing to trust someone with your true feelings about something you're dealing or struggling with can not only help get it off of your chest, but that trust will strengthen your friendship immensely. 
  23. Spend a little time researching a new skill or hobby that you've been wanting to try.
  24. Do something nice for someone else. If you can manage it anonymously, all the better.
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So what do you think? You want to try it with me? Let's start tomorrow and finish out the month of July and welcome in August with a bit more positivity in our lives, a bit more gratitude, a bit more perspective on what really matters. It's only a week:)

Ruben Chavez said "It takes as much effort to hold a negative belief as it does a positive one. Make sure that you choose beliefs that empower you rather than limit you."

Have a great week ahead fox family,

Saturday, July 15

My new project

     Well, happy Saturday everyone! We arrived back home from our big road trip/camping extravaganza that lasted over three weeks, and let me tell you it felt so amazing pulling back into the driveway of our home! Even knowing the mess that awaited us once we walked in from the way that we'd packed and left quickly, I didn't feel anxious or stressed at all, just relieved and happy. 

     I felt like I learned so much on our trip and came a really long way towards positive things, but the most of the biggest thoughts boiled down to simply becoming a stronger woman. I had lots of thoughts about loving myself more, and enough to feel stronger and braver than I ever have before. Taking care of myself so that I could better care for my family and others, etc, and now that my brain is full to the brim again (especially after that two-hour heart-to-heart on Instagram live) I have so much I want to pass on and hear your thoughts about too.

     You've heard the phrase that you can't pour from an empty glass? Or like how on an airplane they tell you to first put on your own mask so you can better assist others? It's becoming more clear to me that in order to do the most good, to be the best asset to other people, to do the most service and to make the most difference in people's lives, I have to first work on myself. I can't teach my children or others to love themselves when I don't truly love and trust myself enough. Why is that the case? Because the society we live in today teaches us that we're not allowed to love ourselves. We're not allowed to be proud of and talk about our accomplishments, or the how great we think our makeup is, or how high we climbed or how fit we felt after lots of hard work. We've received enough critique from others online or off when we come close to publically recognizing our own strengths and abilities, that not only do we keep them to ourselves, but we start to wonder if those things even really exist. Or, we feel guilty for recognizing them in the first place because we feel we're being too prideful or vain, etc. 
    The majority of people around you just want love and happiness for themselves and others, but there's another little portion of people that are much louder than the rest. That world doesn't want you to be proud. That world doesn't want you to be brave and to stand out, to be different and to show strength because then you're a threat. Then you must think you're better than them or everyone else. Because they think that if you love yourself and take care of yourself, then that means you're selfish, so most often the default is that we don't love ourselves as much as we should, if barely at all. We don't love ourselves enough, we don't trust ourselves enough, we can't stand on our own two feet and stand up to the opposition on our own, and we think we need others strength and approval in order to feel strong.

     Does that sound like you at all? This is me for sure. Me, as well as so many other's I've talked to online and in my own personal life. This is the majority, and I want to try and change that so badly, but starting with myself. So, I've been working on my own self-love/self-care project if you will the last little while in my mind, and now I want to begin sharing more here as I work my way upwards towards the blue sky:) 

     I look forward to seeing more of you around here:)


Friday, June 30


    Hey friends! Well it's the weekend and I’ve been feeling ALL the cliché feelings this week since my youngest baby, my littlest tator-tot turned two on Monday. My Evelyn Sarah is two years old. So crazy to think about that. I’ve spent just about my entire adult life either pregnant or nursing a little one, so to suddenly realize that my oldest little one is now 7 and my youngest is 2 kinda blows my mind. It’s a freedom that many told me I would regret leaving behind and that I would miss greatly, but I never did and never will regret choosing to become a mom when I did. Martin and I knew at the same moment without hesitation that it was right for us, and that’s all that matters with big life decisions:) It absolutely was right back then, and even more so now as my little ones have carried me through the hardest years of my life, and that has made our bond sweeter and more wonderful than I ever could have expected between a mother and her children.

    Right now as I type this I can see Evie-girl walking around the picnic table I’m sitting at here in our campsite in the beautiful Adirondacks, and I can hear her singing soft nonsense to herself as she kicks little twigs and pine cones out of her path. Those fluffy red curls are bouncing around in the breeze, and I can remember her last two years of life so clearly in my mind. I see my pregnancy with her also, and all of the things that were different with hers versus with the other kids because of my late husband Martin’s cancer diagnosis.

    Even though I was just over a month from my due date, I really had to just pretend that I wasn’t pregnant at all once we needed to secure the kids and start out on Martin’s journey to treatment. Our whole life changed and there was no time for birthing prep or vitamins or stretch mark cream.haha She was always there though, when I needed her the most. There were many moments of such deep despair, when I saw my whole world falling apart and I cried for help, and suddenly in my loneliness I would remember (with the help of a few big jabs to my ribs) that I had a little lady with me. She kept me company on long evening walks through the streets in Tijuana to the pharmacy. Her little kicks could make Martin smile often too even though his pain was incredible, and when she was born, she brought the biggest wave of hope and love and faith that things would work out the way that they were supposed to.

   Her first year of life was full of the hardest trials our family had ever faced, but a day didn’t go by that her innocent giggles and chunky rolls didn’t bring smiles wherever she went. I felt as though she was forced to be the toughest and most versatile little baby to be put through so much, all of the kids for sure, but for her, she has never ceased to be a ray of bright sunshine for me (and many others too I know) when there was no other light at all.

    I was worried that her first birthday wouldn’t be as sweet and special as I had hoped it would be, considering it was nearly two weeks after her father passed away, but a few balloons and a little cake to eat all on her own made her just about the happiest we’d ever seen her. It helped many heavy hearts feel a little lighter that day as our family gathered around her, and looking back now at those photos is a sweet reminder that the innocence and youth of our little children has been a blessing through all of our trials.

    So in wrapping this up, I want to quickly share a very sweet experience that happened the morning of her birthday that I really want to remember. I had laid out a blanket on the pine needles not far from the riverbank(once again we've been camping at Rollins Pond in New York this past week), and had spent 20 minutes or so doing some yoga in the most beautiful setting. The tall trees around me created a canopy of shade from the bright sun, I could hear birds singing, and I had a clear view of the deep blue water flowing gently by. I turned on some soft piano music on my phone, and felt so relaxed as each breath in brought the smell of pine and rich earth, and crisp mountain air.
Doing a quick head check, I could see a couple of the kids were playing around the clearing doing various activities. Richard was helping someone with their life jacket, grandma was helping someone color, and grandpa was pushing one of the kayaks out into the lake. Turning back towards the lake I could see Evie about ten feet away watching me. I smiled at her and then closed my eyes again. In just a moment I felt her hands on my cheeks and I opened my eyes and gave her a peck on the lips. She tilted her head to the side and said in her sweet little falsetto voice: “Mama be happy.”
    I smiled and said something along the lines of ‘thank you sweetheart, I love you.’
But she said again: “You be happy, shoo goo ba (gibberish) we be happy.”
    “Thank you honey, I am happy.” I said laughing.
    But she persisted and pulled my face right up to hers so that our noses were nearly touching, then she said again softly, “Be be happy mommy. Be happy, be happy.”
    Just at that moment some of the branches must have parted in the breeze, and there was a sudden bright ray of light shining down on us. I felt a slight shiver as the warmth of the sun hit me, and with that came a huge wave of peace and serenity, and also strong emotion. I looked up into the light and felt tears well up quickly as I suddenly felt so close to Martin, and I could see his warm smile so clearly in my minds eye. His face was full and healthy as it had been before he’d gotten sick, and I felt so deeply in my chest that he is so happy, and so at peace, and that he wants more than ever for us all to be as happy as possible with him gone.

    I feel so grateful every minute for my children, and for you especially my sweet new little 2-year-old. I hope that only beautiful things come to you this year and beyond. I can’t thank you enough for all you’ve given me, and I can’t express what a joy and a blessing it is to be your mother. You have touched so many hearts and brightened so many dark days with your smiles and your curls (and your eyebrows.haha), and you deserve nothing but the best that this world has to offer.

    Happy Happy Birthday little one.

Sunday, June 11


     This Week: It feels like it's been a while since I've done one of these, so thank you for sharing in this special occasion with me:) This week was mostly filled with lots of work, with deadlines making me anxious while the piles of laundry got higher and higher. The kind of work week where my laptop was always close at hand and would be tucked under my arm when I went from room to room and outside and back in, following the kids around. It's been interesting having them all home from school and thinking of all the ways to keep them entertained and occupied and learning and not fighting.haha I really feeling like this is the first Summer that we're going to be able to go places and do things together, where they're old enough to actually hold onto some of the memories. I'm trying not to put pressure on us as a family by making big goal lists, so we're not planning specifics but definitely hoping for lots of hikes, road trips, swimming, camping, pizza, star-gazing, and sleeping in our hammocks. Richard hung a couple of them up in the shade trees in the yard and the kids were in heaven. They occupied themselves with them for hours, and it was so fun to look out the kitchen window and see Ellie and John swinging in one, and Sophie laying between Lydia and Evie in the other, and to hear their giggles through the open window. 

     There was real heat this week, and then a couple days that got wet and chilly, enough to make me light a fire and pass around some hot chocolate. I've had Ellie reading to the kids here and there to help her practice and to give me some calm so I can do some yoga. I've been doing it for 15 years or so, but I've never set goals for flexibility or kept any sort of schedule or consistency. I decided to try adding that to my daily routine to aid in meditation and to help calm my anxiety, and I've been blown away at how much it does for me mentally, I'm addicted now. I want to write a post specifically talking about this, so I'll stop here with the yoga talk:) Lets see what else,... 

- We bought a 'big boy bed' for John and now it's just sitting there in pieces and I have to put it together, but he's really excited and has been asking every day since it came when we can set it up. 
- Richard and I moved the picnic table onto the back porch, and we've been eating lots of meals out there. I also collected all my painting supplies and am ready to move my easel onto the porch as well. I painted out there a lot last Fall and it was so serene and peaceful.   
- We're making final plans to go on our big Summer road trip here shortly. We're not too sure of the itinerary (as I said to relieve pressure on ourselves, and also because we just love spontaneity), but we're going all the way across the states to visit Richard's family and to see lots of sites along the way. I've gone on many a road trip with these kids and growing up in a big family that was always on the road seemingly, I've picked up a lot of tricks and things that I'm excited about incorporating. Richard has taken on all the hard planning and logistics, and I'm just thinking about things like how I can make pizza over a campfire in the woods.haha
- Working on the gallery wall still. Thank you for all the helpful tips on Instagram!
- Digging through so many of my recipes books and wanting to cook all of the things, it's a problem. But I've been thinking about making some sort of goal in the future sometimes about cooking something new each week and then sharing it here with a little review for you guys on the recipe and the book. What do you think? 

To-dos and goals for the week:
- finish collecting all the camping gear
- buy the kids some water shoes
- keep juicing every day
- finish mending my shirts
- make a fruit smoothie out of that old tropical fruit blend in the freezer
- sort another box or two in the garage
- bag up the kids winter coats and store them in the basement
- go to the gym more
- find some proper hiking boots
- do more for other people
- have a couple naps
- clarify the clothes system better for Lydia
- try those foam curlers with all the girls sometimes
- catch up with some old friends
- take more family video
- sing out loud more
- take the load in the truck to D.I. 
- lots of deep breaths, always deep breaths

A few facts:
  • I heard somewhere that 'silence is golden, unless you're a mom, then silence is a very very bad sign'. That's become very true in our house this week. We can't believe sometimes what we find out has been going on behind our backs.haha
  • I've actually been hearing from a lot of you young girls out there who are struggling with feeling like you're good enough for those around you, that bullies pick you apart, and leave you feeling like no matter how hard you try they're never satisfied. I have a lot to say about that and I love writing one on one with you guys, but in general, I want to say that the people who are the most difficult to please are always the people least worth pleasing. They're also the people that will never be happy no matter what you do, so forget them:)
  • A sweet mother of two girls and a great friend just had her first little boy and is letting me shoot some pictures of him tomorrow, and I can't wait! It's been ages since I've held a newborn and they just have such a magic about them. Maybe I'll have to share one if she's okay with it:)

Something to take away:
(thank you for those that kindly brought my attention to the situation behind the original quote.)
You are allowed to be both a masterpiece and a work in progress, simultaneously.
- Sophia Bush

What is something you enjoyed last week, or something you're looking forward to next week? 
See you later friends!