Leaves under our feet and blue sky above our heads, we saunter into the empty solitude of the tiny park near our house. My Great Dane Edmund cannot keep his feet moving fast enough underneath him to keep up with his excitement. Nose plowing through the piles of leaves as his tail wags, the park is a beacon of curiosity and contentment.
However, it’s really nothing special, in truth. A few play areas for kids, a few pavilions, and lots of trees. The paved path loops through the entire park, and we rarely leave the road.
Edmund is, admittedly, not a huge fan of nature. He appreciates sniffing the grass, the trees, and the forest creatures from afar—he enjoys this park because it is an urbanized version of nature. Still, his entire body relaxes when we are at this small abode.
The typically anxious, always on high-alert Great Dane settles into himself and the freedom I offer him on his leash to just sniff, to just be a dog. To Edmund, our weekly jaunt to the park near our house is an adventure, a reminder of how the world is there purely for exploration.
If I’m being honest, though, our weekly trip to the park isn’t just for Edmund—it’s for me, too. For while the park is a chance to get out and explore for Edmund, it’s a chance for me to get away. It’s a place of true quiet, where even the traffic fades into the distance in favor of the heron’s calls overhead. It’s a place that doesn’t require anything of me—not money, not interaction, and certainly not status. It’s a place where I can breathe in the silence and exhale all of society’s pressures as I take in the vastness of the trees, the leaves, and the fact that nature doesn’t care about any of it.
Watching Edmund explore this simple place near our house, I’m always reminded that the world really IS a vast, wide-open place waiting for us to notice it. And I’m also reminded that even though exotic trips and locales are exciting, you don’t have to jet-set to Paris or the Caribbean or Egypt to find marvels. There is exploration and adventure to be done right in your hometown that doesn’t cost a thing. There is inspiration around you if you take a moment to unplug and appreciate it. There is always something new to see, to marvel in, to revel in, if you’re willing to go out and find it.
You don’t have to go somewhere to special to realize how special life is. That’s the lesson I’ve learned from this tiny, humble park near our house. That’s the lesson I come back to every single week when I come with Edmund to this holy ground of sorts—because isn’t it just so easy to forget all of that in the hustle and bustle of life? Don’t we all need a reminder sometimes of the words my favorite poet Whitman says when pondering the meaning of life:
Answer: That you are here.
That life exists and identity.
That the powerful play goes on,
And you may contribute a verse.
Staring into the mirror, a popular quote from My Big Fat Greek Wedding came to mind: “Look, I was going through a phase. I was Frump Girl.”
If you haven’t seen the movie, it’s essentially about a girl who wakes up in her thirties to realize she’s not living the life she wants. She goes through a physical transformation, starts taking classes, and falls in love. It’s a movie about blossoming, essentially–but at the beginning of this year, I felt like I’d made a transformation into Frump Girl, not from it.
So many of us have our own stories of struggle from these past few years. The pandemic didn’t really do anyone any mental health or physical health favors. So many of us gained weight, got depressed, and struggled with who we were. Years later, we’re still living in the aftermath. So many friends, colleagues, and acquaintances I know have expressed struggling with their identity and confidence in the past year.
I also fell prey to the pandemic in some ways. Staying at home, while a blessing for my introverted nature, also led to some unwanted side effects. Weight gain, unhealthy habits, and social isolation played their part in my transformation into Frump Girl. Add to that a husband who lost his job right before the pandemic and my mastiff, my best friend, dying, and it was a recipe for a mid-thirties crisis.
In the past few months, though, I’ve managed to crawl out of my frumpy, slumpy mindset–all without spending thousands of dollars on quick fixes. I wanted to share what worked for me in case you, too, find yourself in a season of frump.
Check out my best tips that worked for me to get me out of my slump. To be clear, it wasn’t about looking physically better like so many posts tell you on Pinterest. This isn’t a post about how to be the sexiest version of yourself or how to meet society’s beauty standards. It’s more about confidence. It’s about rediscovering who you are and how you can show up in the world as your best self. Check out what helped me do just that below, and steal any ideas that inspire you.
I want to say that I am not sponsored by any of the brands or items I mention ( I wish!). I am sharing things I truly love.
It’s a common mantra in the motivational field that you become who and what you surround yourself with. While watching The Kardashians all day might be a fun escape, it might also not be what your struggling mental state needs. When I was at my lowest, I sought out podcasts and social media that made me feel like I could conquer the world–not like I was lacking.
My all-time favorite podcast is definitely the Rachel Hollis podcast. I know she doesn’t resonate with everyone (who does?), but I love that she is a high-achiever who speaks to women. She really talks a lot about chasing more in your life and going after your dreams, which is something I love.
I also recently found the Manifestation Babe, which is a bit more of a hippie-trippie ride. Still, I found myself interested in spirituality in different versions in the past few months, and manifestation was something that kept coming up in a lot of my social media feeds.
Whatever you choose to listen to, find something that you look forward to listening to and that fills you with motivation. Instead of watching the news before work, I started listening to podcasts to start my day off on the right foot. It’s made a world of difference in how I see things.
2. Add three healthy habits to your routine
Unless you’re living in a celebrity-sized mansion, it was almost impossible to get enough steps and physical activity in during the stay-at-home phase of the pandemic. For many of us, the habit of lethargy followed us even into 2022. Weight gain was a common issue with so many of us as a result of 2020.
I am not a fitness junkie by any means. In fact, my family likes to tease me that the only ‘B’ I ever got on a report card was in gym class. Still, there have been enough studies and my own experience to tell me that staying physically active and healthy improves your confidence. I don’t care how much you weigh or what size your clothes are, and you shouldn’t, either. Still, when you work on your health, you walk differently. You feel better in your clothes, and you feel better period.
For me, as someone who hates eating healthy and working out, I challenged myself back in February to add three healthy habits to my routine. I picked:
This felt doable, and it’s something I’ve stuck with even now. This summer, I worked more on cleaning up my nutrition to support these three, but to start, this was what I focused on. Nothing crazy or impossible.
I challenge you to pick three healthy habits as well. They don’t have to match mine. Maybe one of your healthy habits will be to journal every day in support of your mental health. Maybe you’ll trade your iced coffees for green tea instead, or maybe you’ll add a salad to your dinner each day. Pick three smaller health goals and run with them–and be sure to give it time before you discount the benefit. I didn’t see a change in my mood or health for several months. It takes time, truly.
If you are looking to add fitness to your routine, one app I loved was FitON. I still am using it because it has so many workouts…and the FREE version is absolutely perfect. You can stay on the free plan forever and still have plenty to do. None of the workouts are locked (the paid version just gives you the ability to choose different music and to download the workouts). I never get bored, and there are seriously workouts for every level. I’ve been loving the Pilates workouts lately.
3. Turn to Non-Fiction
As a bookworm, another way I know to get out of a slump is through reading. During my hardest periods, I picked up non-fiction specifically to boost my mood. You can find books out there on any topic you want to get inspired about.
My favorite is again by Rachel Hollis: Girl, Wash Your Face and Girl, Stop Apologizing. I love these books for women because they help you get out of your own way.
I also picked up several manifestation books about positive mindset that really helped. Another book I strongly recommend is The Gap and the Gain by Dan Sullivan and Dr. Benjamin Hardy. If you are a high achiever who feels like you are never accomplishing enough, this will change your whole mindset.
4. Make a Goal Wall
You’ve probably heard of visualization boards or manifestation boards. I’ve turned my bathroom mirror into my own version of this so that every morning, it’s the first thing I see. It’s also what I look at while I’m getting ready, and this helps me stop negative self-talk.
On my mirror, I have several things:
Sometimes, when I find a quote I love, I’ll put a post-it note on my mirror. Sometimes, I change my goal wall or add to it. The point is that every morning, the first thing I see are my goals, what I’m aiming for, and things that light me up. It’s hard to feel frumpy or like you’re in a slump when you’ve literally got your eye on where you’re headed.
Don’t limit yourself, either, when you make your lists or goals. The bigger the better. I firmly believe that goals and dreams are what keep us inspired, motivated, and get us off the sofa.
5. Change up your fashion
After the pandemic, I found myself in a fashion slump as well. Sweatpants and baggy shirts had become my uniform, and this frumpy style did nothing for my confidence. To get out of this rut, I did a few things.
I started looking on Pinterest for outfit ideas. I thought about what the best version of myself would wear, no matter how ridiculous it seemed. I stopped worrying about what others thought I should wear or what was practical. I thought about what outfits would make me happy.
Next, I started upgrading my wardrobe. One of my favorite places to do this is Stitch Fix. Yes, it’s very pricy. Truly. It’s not something I do all the time. Still, the stylists are great at sending pieces that fit your style but also push you out of your comfort zone. There were so many pieces they sent that I never would have tried on but that looked great and made me feel awesome. They are always my favorite pieces. They are an investment, but I can tell you that all of my Stitch Fix clothes are my favorites and have lasted years. I swear I am not sponsored by them, but if you want to give them a try, I do have a code here where you can get $25 when you order your first Stitch Fix Box. (Full disclosure: I do get $25 if you sign up as well, so thank you in advance if you do sign up and help me add to my wardrobe.)
You don’t have to spend a fortune to enhance your style, though. I also adore shopping at T.J. Maxx, Ross, and Burlington because I get so many amazing brands and styles for a fraction of the price. I actually bought a few top-notch brand shoes at Burlington for only $30 total. Poshmark is another place to look for high-quality brands at a fraction of the price. I just bought myself my dream Michael Kors purse for $50.
It’s not about how much you spend or the brands, though. Truly. It’s about dressing in a way that makes you feel confident. Sometimes, it’s just about mixing up your look to something new and exciting.
6. Take some quiet time to think
This sounds like a ridiculous tip that is too simple, but one of the best ways I got out of my funk was to take some quiet time to think. I used this time to think about the following:
Sometimes our “frumpy” feelings come from the disconnect between who we were and who we have become. Our sense of identity doesn’t always catch up with our changes, so taking time to really reflect on these questions can help us feel more steady and stable. I try to take a few minutes by myself to go for a walk with the dog and just think–no technology, no music, just me. Another place I love is my hammock. I find that if you can find a place outside to do your thinking, it really does soothe the soul somehow.
Find your own quiet space and take at least ten minutes a day to just be. I promise you’ll see a big difference.
7. Invest in beautiful undergarments
I used to think buying bras and underwear that were nice was a waste of money, but truly, if you’re looking for confidence, this is a great way to give yourself a boost. Ditch the grandma panties and find something that makes you feel sexier or more put-together. Get fun patterns or colors you wouldn’t normally. Invest in luxurious feeling fabrics. This is a simple way to boost your confidence without making a big show of it to the world.
8. Try something new
Monotony is a confidence killer. If you need to break out of a slump, try mixing up your routine in a small way. This can take on so many forms.
I have found that the best way to get out of a funk or depression was to try something new. A couple years ago, I finally checked off horseback riding from my bucket list–and it was my favorite day. My soul literally felt lighter after that experience because it was new, exciting, and challenging. In the fall, I also started candy making, which was something I always wanted to learn but never did. It’s something I do just for me (and for family and friends so I’m not eating all the candy), and it’s just soothing.
Find one small way to mix up your routine today. Do something that scares you a little. Take a class to learn something brand-new. Trying new things truly does feed the soul and gets you out of your boring routine.
9. Makeup and skincare
Having a skincare routine has helped me feel less frumpy, even on days I don’t wear makeup. There are so many options out there for every budget. I love Drunk Elephant for a splurge, but the Inkey List at Sephora has tons of affordable options that I think are great dupes. Get into the habit of taking care of your skin, though. Even just the ritual of layering on the serums and creams, something you do just for yourself, can help boost your confidence.
I also find that makeup is a fun way to get out of a rut. I love trying new looks. Pinterest and TikTok are great places to look for fun, achievable looks. Get a new palette with bright colors to try or, my personal favorite confidence boost: a bold, red lip. I think a red lip makes every woman strut a little differently.
Again, it’s all about trying something new and boosting your confidence. Little changes go a long way.
10. Talk to a friend
The best piece of advice I can give you if you are in a slump is this: talk to someone about it. I think so many times, social media makes us feel like we have to only show our smile to the world. We see all of our friends’ successes, gorgeous vacations, beautiful photos, and we think we can’t be vulnerable. We don’t want others to know we’re struggling. We lie and say we’re great when inside, we’re dying.
Be brave enough to talk to someone–a spouse, a friend, a family member. Tell them the truth about how you’re feeling. Or, if you don’t have someone you feel comfortable talking to, find a group online that you connect with around a common interest. Feeling a sense of belonging and being able to be honest with others is what life is all about.
I think you might be surprised, too, to find that if you are honest with others about your struggles, you perhaps will find you’re not alone in feeling like you are.
At the end of the day, whether it’s because of a world pandemic, a personal struggle, or just adult life being hard, we’ll all fall into a funk at some point. The key, though, is to avoid staying there. You do have control over finding ways to escape your funk, and they don’t have to break the bank. Still, if your funk is lasting a long time or if you’re just not getting out of it, don’t be afraid to seek professional help as well.
Life is hard, and we all struggle from time to time. Still, life is also beautiful, and you owe it to yourself to feel that beauty again. Pulling yourself out of a rut or a funk and getting back to feeling fabulous takes work. Still, I hope that you find the strength to do just that because, truly, you already are fabulous. You just need to believe it again.
For more inspiration, please join me over on Instagram or check out my motivational poetry on Amazon under L.A. Henry.
It's easy to be grateful when life is beautiful and fun. Can you find the good, though, even when things are challenging? That is the real test, I think, in life and the real secret to true joy and long-lasting self-fulfillment. You need to be able to find happiness in the little things in order to truly unlock your potential for your future.
I watched the movie About Time the other day (yes, I am very late to the party). The movie wasn't my favorite, to be honest. I was in the mood for a romance/heavy drama, and it just didn't quite deliver. For me, The Time Traveler's Wife delivers a much stronger, dramatic look at time travel and romance. However, I did love the message that life doesn't have to be perfect. The main character learns that perfecting every mistake or bad moment in your life really isn't living. He learns that you just have to be looking for the perfect, beautiful, small moments even in the middle of disaster. The movie focuses on the idea that even the worst day has moments to be grateful for--we just get so focused on how busy we are that we stop looking for those times.
Our lives are always going to be messy and complicated. Most of us have learned that truth in adulthood, and especially in the past few crazy years. Still, the movie reminds us that the true key to happiness isn't accumulating more things or being perfect at everything. The real key to finding lasting fulfillment really is about mindset. If you can focus on the blessings, no matter how all, you start to see life as a gift and not a curse.
I know it sounds too easy, too simple. I know it sounds too good to be true. Still, since watching the movie, I've tried it out. I've focused on finding small, beautiful moments, even in the tough times. An extra five minutes on the couch with my puppy. A song I really love. An inspiring podcast episode that inspired. Life is still confusing and hard. It always will be. But when you start focusing on finding the good, you realize there really is a lot of good to be found.
So today, I hope you can find something small to be happy about. A funny comment from your spouse. A delicious lunch. A cup of coffee in your favorite mug. Snuggles with a cat before work. An outfit that makes you feel awesome.
Let's not just talk about gratitude one day a year. Let's start looking for it on a mundane Wednesday or a random, rainy Monday.
What little thing made you happy today? Tell me below once you find it.
Stay safe and be true,
Live your passion fearlessly.
I have watched Bohemian Rhapsody twice now in the past week....not because I'm a Queen fan, but because I got so inspired by the passion of Freddie Mercury.
He knew what he wanted and took so many risks to achieve it. When he was doing well...he dreamed bigger. And then he dreamed bigger again. Even when people thought he was crazy, he kept dreaming. He kept finding the confidence to chase his passion. He loved life big, outrageously, and to his own liking.
Certainly, there were struggles along the way. Identity struggles. Bad path struggles. Loneliness. Still, he spent his life knowing what his passion was : performing. And even if he got sidetracked, he didn't stop.
I think we all could learn a thing or two from Bohemian Rhapsody....chase your dreams. Dream bigger than life. Punch a hole in the sky.
If you are feeling lost or letting the doubts creep in, I think you should check out this movie. Even if you aren't a musician or even if you feel like you're never going to reach his level....watch it. Because I think we can all learn the most important lesson: confidence in your passions helps you become a legend.
Have you seen the movie? What did you think?
Perfection is an illusion. Imperfection is beautiful
It's something I've battled with my whole life. I've always been a dreamer, a go-getter, a goal setter. I've always fought hard against living an ordinary life...which meant I never wanted to be ordinary.
I wanted the 100% on every test.
I wanted to master my goals and rise to the top, no matter the cost.
I told myself being a workaholic would guarantee success, and success guaranteed happiness.
However, in my 30s, I started to realize that you will never, ever, be perfect at everything. And sometimes, when you reach that highest goal, you'll realize that happiness comes from within not from an award or title or success.
These days, I'm a little nicer to myself. I take breaks. I don't feel the need to work all the time. I don't feel the need to be perfect at my hair and makeup and fitness goals and friendships and social gatherings and work and everything else on our plates.
I've realized that I need to pick and choose my priorities based on what I need at the moment. I've realized you don't have to be perfect at everything to be happy.
Life is a balancing act...which isn't easy. Nothing ever is perfectly in balance. But if you let your attention be pulled in 100s of ways and if you try to achieve perfection in all things, you're going to be burned out, tired, and passionless.
Focus on what matters to you. Not to the media or the industry you're in or the world. To you. Listen to your inner voice. Be still and really listen.
And then, remember that happiness is found within and from living the life you really, truly want and need.
Dear everyone: please stop hating your body
Yesterday, I stared at myself in the mirror after my shower. Naked and vulnerable, I studied my body. My eyes danced over the bulge on my stomach, the cellulite chunks on my legs that were gross. I looked at my chest that was too flat, my arms that jiggled. I shook my head at the eyebrows that were too sparse, a victim of the early 2000s overplucking craze. The eye wrinkles I have now made me curse my twenty-year-old self for not using more eye cream. I looked at my too shiny forehead, the mole I hate, all of the things I notice every single day.
Then I did what so many women do. I headed to my closet and looked for the shorts that weren’t too short so that dimple I hate is covered. I put on the flowy shirt to cover the bulge, the one that isn’t too low cut. I pulled out the fabrics that would cover and tuck and give the illusion that I fit the mold.
Yesterday, I beat myself down for not being the flawless symbol of beauty I strive to be but never quite reach.
So many of us, especially women, get so used to finding the “flaws” in ourself that we forget what else is there, too. Most importantly, we forget to see the warrior woman in our eyes.
So today, I looked in the mirror and challenged myself to quiet the inner critic. I challenged myself to see the strong woman in my eyes who loves and feels and believes and dreams and gives. I told myself to stop covering up who I am.
Is it easy? Hell no. But so many of us need to remember we are more than a mole or a bra size or a cellulite chunk. We are more not in spite of it, but because of it. Every bump and freckle and line makes us who we are today. Stop mourning for yesterday’s body. Stop worrying about what tomorrow will bring. Let your confidence shine. Smile in the mirror at the woman you have become because life is beautiful, and so are you.
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USA TODAY Bestselling Thriller author with Avon Books (HarperCollins), The Widow Next Door, The Diary of a Serial Killer's Daughter, and other creepy thriller books