The Business of Blogging and Branding

When I first started blogging 6 years ago, blogging was pretty simple. I’d write a recipe, take a crappy picture, hit publish, respond to comments, read a few other blogs, done. Most of the time I was responding to my husband’s friends and fellow triathletes. They were always looking for more recipes ideas, nutrition tips, etc. Heck, that’s how I was nick named “the Sherpa Wife.”

cottercrunch - sherpa wife

There was no pinterest, I had just started a twitter account (and had no clue how to use it), Facebook was for catching up with old friends, instagram was insta ..nothing, and Google + wasn’t even born yet. At least not to my knowledge.

So you see, back then, blogging was a hobby that helped me share my passion… nutrition, cooking, recipes, being a wife. Simple.

Over the years the “industry” has really EVOLVED. I would say it’s definitely more entrepreneur friendly, but it also demands more of our time. That is if you want to be a full time blogger.

Blogging today means that women (and men) can provide a good source of income for their family while still being at home. That was a huge reason for me to continue to pursue blogging. I want to be a housewife (gasp!) and I hope to be a stay at home mom some day.

sherpa wife kiss

Blogging today means your life is displayed EVERYWHERE. And you’re expected to be EVERYWHERE. Note from lessons learned –> don’t be everywhere, be ONE place important (at that moment) instead. Avoid the burnout.

Blogging today means you will be judged, criticized, but also praised. Don’t let it go to your head, or your heart.

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And blogging today also gives you the chance to create your own brand. One that is very AUTHENTIC, ORIGINAL, and well… a perfectly imperfect YOU!

building your blogging brand - @Cotterunch #blogging #tips #branding #growyourblog

Branding your Blog can be the first step towards bigger blogging aspirations. It means you are serious about what you share, write, and so on.

How to create YOUR blogging Brand

  • Ask yourself what are you passionate about? What makes you excited about life? Find a purpose in it.
  • What can you contribute to the “blogosphere” that not many other can.
    • Think about it. What makes you different? Is it your attitude, your creativity, your organizational skills, your helpful tips, your recipes, your photography, your ability to relate to others?
  • Ask bloggers and non bloggers what they think you are good at and why. Is it something you can make into a business? Can you write an ebook about it? You’re good at something, that is for sure! God gave us all gifts for a reason! What is your gift?
  • Don’t be afraid to embrace change in order to find your brand or to REBRAND. I think it’s a natural way of life. We transition from one career to the next, from one stage of life to the next, and so on. But change is what makes you AUTHENTIC and strengthens you as you grow.
  • Don’t look at failure as if it’s an end to whatever you seeking. Look at failure as one event that can only lead to more growth and success. That’s part of your brand, failure.
    • I have failed at taking care of my health at times. I have failed at many recipes. My husband has failed at races and during key workouts, but all those failed attempts don’t make us FAILURES. They instead help us refocus on what truly matters.

Failure sometimes enlarges the spirit. You have to fall back upon humanity and God. ~Charles Horton Cooley

Okay, now that you have narrowed down your thoughts, HONE in on what truly makes you YOU (you brand), and don’t let fear or comparison get in the way!

As we approach the end of the first month of 2015, I think many of us already want to feel concrete and established, whether it be with our blog/career, with our life plans, or even with our health.  We want all the stars to align and our BIG dreams to come true. Hey, it’s natural, we’re human.

But what if we focused less on expectations and final outcome, and more on the process?  I think then, we just might be able to see where success and growth are already taking place, one step at a time.

Find purpose in your passion, learn and grow from it (failures and all), share it, nurture it, brand it!

That is Success.

What are you creating and sharing today?

That’s my corny Cotter question for you!

Cheers!

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2 Life Happiness Hacks for 2015

Yesterday marked our 7 year anniversary! Seven years people! That’s seven years of chasing this Crazy Cotter Triathlon dream. That’s 7 years of ups, downs, triumphs, and frustrations. What’s even crazier is that my husband has been racing pro since 2006. Almost a decade of HARD training and perseverance.

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But last year…. oye! Last year was year was a doozy, a true test of our marriage and faith. When you work so hard for a dream, sometimes you spread yourself so thin you forget the one REAL purpose of that dream. TO LIVE LIFE to the FULLEST together! No amount of money can make that happen. It is, in fact,… PRICELESS.

cotters go pro

This year things are looking different. We haven’t give up, we shifted focus. Maybe that’s where you are too.

A healthy dose of reality can do you that to you, ya know? And although it may be hard to swallow at first, it’s really a wake up call to change your (our) perspective on life. One that opens yours eyes THRIVING versus striving. Even if that means letting go of one dream to embrace another.

This year we’re focusing on 2 LIFE HAPPINESS HACKS.

Thanks to Tony Robinson for the inspiration!

Trade your expectations for appreciations

Instead of expecting to be rewarded for hard work (in our passions and in our BIG dreamin’), maybe we need to just focus on how grateful we are for the opportunity we had to live and share our passions. The places we went, the people we met, the support system that believed in us!

This year the Cotters are focusing on one last race (for my husband) and grateful that he will still be able to coach and stay in the triathlon field when he retires. That being said, this last IRONMAN race is in New Zealand, where we can visit family. No expectations, just appreciation for the ability to be there! Sherpa wife too! And who knows, maybe it will bring us to another path … UNEXPECTEDLY.

“It’s when we’re grateful that we feel rich and wealthy, regardless of how our lives look.”

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Where focus goes, energy flows

“whatever we pay more attention to in our lives grows”

Last year we had ONE focus, but it lead to us working about 5 different jobs. I know you can probably relate to this too. One focus to WORK WORK WORK and SAVE SAVE SAVE. Well, sometimes that one HYPER focus can make you lose ALL focus on what is truly important. And it can suck your energy dry too. I personally felt that way!

Note to self: Don’t say yes to ALL things, say YES to the BEST thing.

Which brings us here. This blog. It’s my second job. The only other job I have now besides being a wife. Which is the most important job  to me right now! Our energy is focused on supporting each other. My energy is focused on being Sherpa (one that supports and guides) to my husband, to others, and to continue to share in this PATH to health, wellness, and more. Prepare to see more of that, including healthy bites, and recipes!

The kiwi (my husband) is focused on redefining his career (or potentially starting another). Either way, it’s 2 things, not 10! And we’re ready to LIFE hack our way to happiness.

newness Keep it simple and choose wisely. I choose to simply be grateful and let God do the rest.

What are your life HAPPINESS hacks for 2015? 

Cheers!

LC

 

 

3 Ways to REINVENT Yourself

As we approach the end of the year, a lot of us start to get antsy in our own skin. We feel the need to RENEW or CHANGE. Or if you are like us, you’ve been striving (not thriving) and are ready to REINVENT yourself.

Am I right?

Just like the seasons, things in our life need to go through a hard growth time and then die off in order for us to really change.


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Ouch.. that sounds painful. But hear me out.

Maybe the best way to REINVENT yourself is to allow growth, but at the same time dig deeper in your roots.

I know, I’m speaking so metaphorically here, but I speak of our current situation. We’re REINVENTING ourselves by going backwards and here’s how.

3 way to reinvent yourself (with goals, blogging, dreams, and more)

3 ways to REINVENT yourself (or brand).

  • Don’t Chase Approval- Oh boy, easier said than done, yes? We need to focus on chasing what we TRULY want to represent. No matter what others may think. To be honest, I truly want to be a better wife. Yep, House Wife, sherpa Wife, Homemaker, a support system, whatever you may call it these days. I may sound old fashion, but that’s okay by me!

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  • Go back to your roots – What is that made you feel PURPOSEFUL? What is a goal? A passion? A season of life you remember being full of Joy? Or all of the above? Whatever is it, go back and tune in to what gives you that drive. For us it’s pretty basic. I like to cook, feed, nourish, and share life with others. It’s simple. It’s PURPOSEFUL. It’s how this blog BEGAN in the first place.

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  • Jump while your still growing – I think this is hardest lesson for me (us) because fear can hold us back. Shouldn’t we just endure growth and wait it out?  Well, according to the sigmond curve, the making a jump when you are still in the process of growing allows continued growth and forward progress. Yes! Do it! Work through the growth, build extra strength, and TRUST the process.

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These are things that my husband and I have both realized these past few months. In order to thrive and reinvent ourself, we must start again… where our true passion and JOY came from. Finding our roots, intertwined. DREAMING big.

So cheers to this season! One where we can grow and change and reinvent.. or rather, REDISCOVER!

cotters in co

 What area of your life need reinventing? 

Cheers,

Team Cotter

Are You a Slave to Striving?

Have you ever really looked at what your striving for? Is it a big dream? Is it to be a better version of you? Those are all worth striving for, am I right?

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But what if along the way you become a slave to striving? Yes, it happens. And if fact, that’s where we’ve been the last 4 months. Guilty. … x 10

Push Push, go go, work work, etc. etc.

Get the picture?

Striving to get “ahead” financially, physically, and mentally left us feeling quite opposite.

Burnt out, depleted, and I hate to say it… bitter. Our lives, our marriage.. they weren’t thriving, they were surviving, and barely.

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Striving shouldn’t own us. Striving shouldn’t break us. Striving shouldn’t make us LESS of who we want to become.

It’s time to give striving a rest and replace it with THRIVING; in our relationships, in the way we live, in the way we think!

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And so i write this today to keep it real. To take a LIFE inventory. To “check in.” To THINK OUT LOUD.

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We Cotters are making changes. And it all begins within. Besides, big dreams start from the heart and grow from there.

2015 has big plans. Trusting God’s plans.  Doing LESS to BECOME MORE.

I saw a question from THIS devotional and just had to restate it here below… because it’s needed.

 “Are you striving to meet unrealistic expectations and then stressed because of them?”  –> let’s change that.

Cheers,

LC

p.s.

You’ll be seeing a lot more of my original “sherpa wife” recipes and nutrition talk over the next few months, and even more Healthy Bites! Hope you’re hungry!

Letting Go of Routine and Going with the Rhythm

It’s funny, most people are heading back to school, work, etc. and craving a routine. I get that, I really do. Especially if you have kids.

But for us? We’ve been plowing away at work, training, in the brutal summer heat. It’s at this point when our routine can almost slow us down from that SECOND WIND of dreaming big.

(thank you Tara for the bracelet)

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We need makes some changes in order to REVIVE ourselves. This includes my husband’s quality of training, our relationship, and for me … a little TLC.

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I (we) need to let go of routine.

In fact, we need an UNROUTINE…. to allow things to flow as is, naturally, in harmony.

Which, ironically, is similar to a rhythm. And after reading THIS devotional, I knew we needed to replace routine and embrace a NEW rhythm (temporarily). In fact, it was their definition of rhythm that truly struck a cord with me (pun intended)

Rhythm: a frame of mind that suggests more of an art. If you have rhythm, then whatever you decide to do with intention fits in the dance. Rhythm feels like choice and nuance and paying attention to your surroundings. Rhythm is alive and open to adjustments based on the circumstance. Rhythm focuses on needs.

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Don’t get me wrong, routine can be good! It’s sooooooo needed during certain seasons of life.

But this season, right now, we need to cling to that second wind. We need to get out of own way, get out of our own routine, and just GO!

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That being said, our bags are packed for two weeks, the car is fully loaded. Good training awaits, along with a few races. Hoping to visit a few friends, breathe some cool mountain air, and sync into a new rhythm.

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Thanks Amanda for letting me think out loud today, UNroutinely.

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Are you needing routine or rhythm?

Cheers from the Road!

Sherpa Wife

p.s.

I know you want to bust out in Gloria Estefan lyrics now. Winking smile

Living Out Life’s Bucket List

A funny thing happened this weekend. I was cleaning out the garage and found a box full of old books, notes, etc. It must have been from about 15 years ago. That would make me in high school then. Anyway, I opened up the box and there it it was, my life bucket list, or what I labeled..

“THINGS TO DO IN MY FUTURE LIFE.”

1998 bucket list

Wanna know what was on that list?

New beginnings quote

Here goes.

  • Be Happily married to a Christian man (DONE—> well most of time we’re happy, depends on the day. haha!)

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  • Have wonderful kids (uh.. *crickets *chirp *chirp… hopefully one day) But for now, I’ll just enjoy my nieces and nephews.

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  • Be Healthy along with Family (much healthier today than years past!)
  • Be a good care taker to my Family.
  • Go on a Mission trip (Best experience of my life –> Summer in AFRICA)

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  • Travel the world (so far I’ve been and lived in UK and Europe, Africa, South America, New Zealand, St. Thomas/St. John, Bahamas, and Quebec).

Villa in Cinque Terre

pre-hike in Cinque Terre

  • Give to Charity (yes, always try to give what I can. Something is better than nothing)
  • Live for a year in a dream city (we’ve lived in Christchurch, New Zealand and Hawaii)

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kauai

  • Get tickets to be in the audience of a FRIENDS episode (dang it, I missed this one. Maybe they will come back on air?)
  • Hike the Mountains in Switzerland (DONE, LOVED it! Must go back and visit Lucie now)

me and dad- swiss alps

swiss alps & trees

  • Be Happy in My Job (Ha.. self employed. But I love it!)
  • Visit NYC (I have been 4x!)

NY

  • Walk through a field of sunflowers in Italy (did that, loved it!)
  • Study Abroad (yep, Germany)
  • Work on a Farm (worked on my college roommates farm and m Father in law used to have a Coffee farm in Hawaii. It’s where our Rehearsal dinner was!)
  • Volunteer at a hospital (did that in college.. let’s just say it wasn’t the most fun, but I did it!)
  • Go fishing in the islands. (I’m not sure what islands I’m talking about but I’m pretty sure I fished at some point when I lived in Hawaii too. I snorkeled with fish in St. Thomas and Bahamas, does that count?)

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  • Eat Lobster in Maine (How did I forget this when I went last year? Must go back)
  • Start a bed and breakfast. (ya, I’m changing my mind on that one. But I did start a Healthy Bites business!)

orange dark choc. chip

  • Go to Japan and eat sushi
  • Workout or Train with a celebrity. (I think I accomplished that at the Malibu Triathlon. But I still think my husband counts. He’s a celebrity to me because he’s competed and beat a certain celebrity in an open water swim race… Ahem.. you can see below.) Yes, I’m Corny!

lance

So what’s the point of this whole post? I know you’re wondering. Well, today I am year older. Yep, past 30 now! ACK! And as I look back at my life, I realize my bucket is about complete without even focusing on accomplishing it. All those wonderful experiences, people, adventures, and more began with saying YES to life.

What’s left check off that list? I’d say its’ the REAL STUFF: Gratitude, thanksgiving, and saying yes to DREAMING BIG! That has to be the best birthday present ever –> Realizing the FULLNESS of your life, no amount of money or material things can replace that.

Let’s LIVE OUT our BUCKET LIST NOW! 

Ready?

Have a Marvelous Monday.

Cheers,

Corny (and older) Cotter

Where We Stand, and Fall

I usually don’t write on a Sunday, but I have to be honest, I’ve have a few“project” posts lined up this week and I don’t think sharing life updates would really mesh well with them. Yes, projects as in, sponsored posts. Hey, we are self-employed, every little bit helps. Ain’t no shame! Haha, okay I’m digressing here.

work hard stay humble

Let’s just consider this my thinking out loud on a Sunday. I know spoons won’t mind me being a little late.

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So, let me catch you up. It’s been crazy. Cotter crazy. And I keep relaying (in my head), my January post. The post where I share my NEW YEAR PHRASE,  to be open and ready for whatever God had planned for us in 2014. Well, after six months of waiting, I’m impatient. I think I had expected more progress and change. I made it a GOAL to be ready and open to whatever God had planned for us, but in reality, I wanted those plans to be MY PLANS and to go MY WAY… SOONER vs LATER!

Start every day anew. Don't worry about what could have, should have or would have been yesterday. #quotes #inspiration #life

I wanted us to be free of financial burdens, I wanted us to be able to find more rest (mentally more than anything), I wanted my husband to be able to race whenever and regain the respect he deserves in the sport of triathlon. I wanted to be at his side at every event, cheering!

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Yes, I had expectations. But, I (we) fell short of those expectations. And THAT was all in God’s plan. To be humbled. To learn that being ready for HIS plans means to LET GO of ours. To fall again, but stand up stronger.

fall 7 times, stand up 8

To act self-reliant, but then come to the humble realization that you can’t do any of this without each other.

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Nobody ever said when you dream big it will all come to fruition right away. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Dreaming big is like building a house —> you make a plan, you build a foundation, you set up structure, and then you go to work with your bare hands. You stop when you need rest, you ask for other to help, you sometimes need to change things, but you keep going building it up one day at a time.

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So that’s where we are. UP. Fall seven times, get UP eight. We are going to finish UP the season building on what we have left. Either way, it’s making TRUE progress and LIVING PURPOSEFUL (and bold)!

bold LIVING

Here’s to the second half of 2014, standing UP!

Cheers,

Corny Cotter

The Sum of Small Efforts, Repeated….

The past month I’ve seen a certain word everywhere. I’ve heard it, read it, thought it, absorbed it.

So what the heck is this word?

Smallness (in life).

Sometimes feeling small in a BIG world is where God needs you to be so you can gain strength, grow, and support others.

Mother Teresa Quote-StudioJRU

We (Crazy Cotters) often feel small trying to figure out this DREAM, this JOURNEY. The past injuries and health issues left us feeling downsized. I guess you could say we felt like we lost our “value” in this BIG DREAM of ours. One that we worked so hard to achieve.

But you know what?

Our downsizing led us to a more valuable approach to health, life, and marriage. It helped us focus on taking SMALL steps.

Small steps that will hopefully lead to success; success in our every day ambitions and in our relationship.

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But what about other passions, the ones we still YEARN for?

I often feel small among other amazing food bloggers or fitness bloggers. But that small feeling is not one that is invaluable, but more amazed with the GREATNESS and support of this community. And to be honest, I don’t think I’m suppose to strive towards becoming a “successful” blogger. I think I’m suppose to strive towards being a JOYFUL and GENUINE blogger and let God to plan that rest.

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Oh how tricky that can be at times, because we all want to “feel” successful. I blame it on this built in need to be valued, whether it be in our jobs, our fitness, our hobbies/passions, or our in humanness. And smallness (to most) does not add up to great value.

Or does it?

What if we did small things. A lot. Wouldn’t that add up? Wouldn’t that be VALUABLE? Wouldn’t that lead to more internal Success?

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Yes, yes it would. –> EVERY DAY SMALL VICTORIES –> THEY COUNT!

Small things like send a kind note or text to a friend.

Small things like saying thank you and “I appreciate you!”

Small things like listening to someone, even when we feel like we don’t have the time.

Small things like being JOYFUL. Yes, that actually can bring SO MUCH value to our lives and yet, all it takes is a small smile and word of encouragement.

So what if you are not in the place you expected be in life right now. What if you feel small in a world of BIG DREAMS?

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I say smallness is the start to greatness!

Let’s strive for that, shall we?

corny cotters

Cheers!

Corny Cotter, Sherpa Wife, Small Victory Seeker.

 

Are You Addicted to Adrenaline?

As athletes, runners, cyclists, fitness enthusiasts, we thrive off adrenaline. Each week we hammer away at our workouts, seek to master a long run or ride, and chase after that endorphin “high.”

sherpa time

With this feeling comes a sense of being invincible. To continue to PUSH through, do more, lift more, BE MORE in our everyday lives. And before we know it, we’ve run on that adrenaline week after week without any rest. Our quest for endurance has gone too far and our bodies (and minds) are left somewhat confused at why we are doing what we are doing. Sound familiar?

mizuno run[4]

Last week I set out for a regular hour run on the trails and lasted all of three minutes. Now don’t get me wrong, my body was not tired and I am confident that I could have convinced it to ENDURE the rest of the run, but my mind had other plans. It decided it no longer wanted to endure what was not needed. Thankfully, I live with the one smart triathlete, and he has taught me that pushing through the miles just for the sake of it is a waste of energy. A rather poor excuse for an adrenaline rush. So I walked and let my mind UN-endure what it had persevered through days and weeks before.

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Where am I going with this?

Can one be addicted to the adrenaline rush of stress? Sadly, I think so.

“When we come into contact with stress, our natural response is to push through.

We don’t want to be in need or fail to meet others’ expectations, especially our own.” – Bonnie Gray

So maybe we need to stop creating these habits and start breaking them instead! Breaking the habit of taking on (enduring) more “stuff” week after week. You know, that adrenaline junkie habit of working more and busying more, which leaves us UNDOING more.

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How do we replace endurance filled weeks with more purposeful LESS is MORE living?

  • We recognize that this adrenaline feeling is not sustainable. Even the elite cannot push through back to back weeks. They need rest and recovery.
  • We learn to recognize and LISTEN to the angel on our shoulder. The one that says get out of the rat race. It’s a trick! Speeding through life doesn’t bring any victory.
  • We talk it out. Whether it be to friends, family, or spouses. We get real, because I guarantee you someone else can relate or has been in your shoes before.
  • We stop focusing on just getting through the day, the week, the month, and we start cherishing the moment we are in. Get good at it! Take a walk break and disconnect.

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  • We nourish. I think one of the best ways for me to back off the “high” of go go go weeks is to cook a meal. I mean really slow down and prepare a meal from scratch. I think spending time in the kitchen can almost bring me back to homeostasis. Winking smile

balsamic glazed scallops

The only thing that is REALLY worth enduring (to me) is following God’s plan for us. With HIS strength, we can sustain that weekly RUSH of the journey.

ENDURE less and ENJOY more –> MARVELOUS!

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I may have used “we” throughout the post, but do realize I am preachin to the choir here (ME). ;)

 What are your thoughts?

Cheers!

LC

p.s. I think many of you will find this article about Modern Day stress a great read!

Will you?

The OVER FIXING Syndrome

I had it all planned out, drafted and all. I wanted to share a post about core. Heck, even the kiwi spent part of his weekend taking pictures for his “foundation” routine. Yes, we had a plan. He was going to share his routine and then I was going add it to my core post. Brilliant! Go TEAM COTTER.

And then I tried to “fix” a few things and add more plugins/widgets to his site for him. I call this “OVER FIXING” syndrome. Well, I ended up deleting the whole post by installing a faulty plugin. To top it off, I also crashed his site. Ha! Death of the white screen.

Luckily, he’s pretty easy going so he didn’t care. But I did! Why did I try to fix what was working just fine before? Why did I try to tidy up what probably was better left, untidy?

Read this devotional.

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And it hit me. I have so many untidy spaces that I often want to fix up or just delete. But maybe it’s time to embrace the untidy and real places. That’s pretty bold, yes?

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What if we didn’t try to OVER fix or meals? You know, the “no filter needed” meals? But instead, kept it simple, delicious, and nourishing? Rice, and lentils and curry. Ugly, but good.

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What if we stopped trying to OVER fix our health? Maybe we are on the right track anyway, why overcomplicate? Shouldn’t we just learn to keep it simple and enjoy it?

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Now, you know I am all about gut health and healing, but I also have learned that FOOD shouldn’t consume our every thought and stress us out more, yes? I’m taking my own advice here.

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What if we stopped trying to fix our schedules and cram everything in? What if we were able to get stuck in more good moments? No need to delete those!

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What if we stopped trying to fix or redo the past? What we should have done or could have done?

What if we started MAKING things new today?

New beginnings quote

What if we stopped trying to change each other? In our marriages, relationships, etc.? What if we didn’t try to delete the what GOD created that person (including ourselves) to be?

crazy cotters

There’s my thinking out loud, a day early but that’s okay, I won’t fix it.

Let’s embracing the UNTIDY! No delete or fix it button necessary.

;-)

Cheers,

LC