4 Things I Do To Calm My Anxiety

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Sometimes life is overwhelming. Things are happening all around you that you cannot control and it’s hard. Maybe you’re dealing with uncertainty with your health, your relationships, finances, or your job.

My immediate reaction when I feel like things are spiraling out of my control is to grip that situation as tightly as I can. I want to manage it, fix it, control it, fight against it. Anxiety and fear of uncertainty can be paralyzing. In my own life, I am dancing with the anxiety caused by the uncertainty of my health and what my life will look like in the next 6 months. I so easily get sucked into the rabbit hole of “what if” and often allow these worries to suck the life out of the current moment.

The thing is, as much as we resist or worry, we cannot control everything around us. Anxiety is winning when we give it the power to make us believe that our worries are helpful. We aren’t meant to worry ourselves into oblivion. We are meant to live one breath at a time. We are meant to thrive. This is something that I have to work towards everyday, but there are a few things that make the effort easier.

1) Journal

As cheesy as it counts, keeping a journal can help with anxiety and overload. This practice has been used by artists, writers, and even therapists throughout the years. We internalize so much information and we often do that with our fears and anxieties as well. Brain-dumping the contents of your heart and mind onto paper can be really freeing. You have expressed those worrisome thoughts in ink and there you can leave them. They no longer need to take up space in your brain. It has taken daily journaling, but I have noticed a difference through this practice and have grown to love it.

2) Belly Breathe

If your anxiety is at its peak, one way to bring it down a few notches is to practice belly breathing. It sounds weird, but it’s actually really helpful! When we are anxious, our brain stops functioning at its best. The logical and emotional sides are no longer communicating like they should. Belly breathing helps get the two halves working together again. Find a comfortable place. Sit still, but relaxed, and breathe a deep breathe. Let that breath go down into your stomach and watch it expand. Hold that breath in for 2 seconds and release it. Do that for a few minutes and notice the difference. You have given your brain the oxygen and communication that it needs. I felt really stupid about doing this exercise at first, but honestly it has been a game changer when I’ve gotten overwhelmed.

3) Yoga/Exercise

Some people feel their anxiety mentally while others have a physical connection to this distress. Exercising is a great way to release those endorphins and channel nervous energy. Running helps me when I’m feeling jittery, but yoga is best when I need relaxation or calm. Even doing physical work, like when I’m making my pottery helps me so much.

4) Meditate

Okay, another “weird” one, but meditation is actually great for calming you down and putting things into perspective. There’s actually an app for that! CALM is an amazing app that a counselor told me about recently. It guides you through mediation, telling you how to relax your body as well as your mind. There are different meditations for different moods and scenarios like work stress or bedtime! I’m a fan.

Anxiety is something that so many people deal with, myself included. It took me a long time to add these tools into my life, but they have really helped me keep a level head and have gradually helped me improve my daily life. My hope is that these tools are helpful for you as well. Just know that you aren’t alone, and that everything will be okay. There are plans of good for you, no matter how things may seem in the moment.

-Samm

A New Year and a Change of Pace

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Here we are again entering a brand new year. Many of us are setting new goals, making plans, and gearing up to make 2019 the best year yet.If you’re anything like me, you love setting goals.More importantly, you love achieving those goals. Personally, I love to mark goals and “to do’s” off of my list, big or small. I also like to do them as quickly and efficiently as possible. It can be a wonderful thing to work so fast-paced. You get a lot accomplished, right? Pursuing your goals and dreams with speed and reckless abandon can be a wonderful thing. However, here I am proposing something different for 2019. I think this year should be the year that we take our time. Yes, you read that correctly. I am not a girl with an abundance of patience by any means. I have a hard time waiting for Jake, my husband, to get ready for the day, and waiting for birthdays,Christmas, or a vacation kills me!!! I even rushed to graduate college in 2.5 years (which was both good and bad) because I was so ready for the next chapter of my life. Reflecting on years past and the goals of the year to come, I have come to the conclusion that it is okay to take your time accomplishing your goals. It is great to go for it, but it is even better to have patience and see how far you can push yourself and what you can really do! So for all of you who are anything like me and feel that intense urgency to accomplish everything by January 2nd, I am here to challenge you and encourage you to take your time, put forth your full effort, and don’t be afraid of your own potential. Life is not a race. Everyone is going at their own speed. This year, take as long as you need to achieve your personal best. I’ll be right alongside you trying to be patient and my push myself and my art farther than I ever have.

-Samm

Something to Bark About: An Honest BarkBox Review

Phoenix checking out this month's Barkbox!

Phoenix checking out this month's Barkbox!

             Okay dog moms and dads. If you’re on the internet at all, you’ve probably seen advertisements for BarkBox. If you aren’t sure what in the world I’m talking about, let me fill you in. BarkBox is a monthly subscription box…for your dog. While this might seem ridiculous to some people, I am one of those that is completely obsessed with my dog. My friends and family literally have to pull me away from the dog toy aisle at Target EVERY TIME WE GO. My dog is also a gigantic baby, in spirit not size, and plays with everything available to him.

Phoenix and his favorite (okay, MY favorite) BarkBox toy "Bob Toss" from the March box. A play on everyone's favorite "happy tree" painter and squirrel rescuer.

Phoenix and his favorite (okay, MY favorite) BarkBox toy "Bob Toss" from the March box. A play on everyone's favorite "happy tree" painter and squirrel rescuer.

                Let me start off by explaining that Phoenix is a very hyper dog. He gets a mile run in the mornings and a walk at night. After dinner time, he is WIRED and pulls out every toy in his toybox. He also gets bored easily unless he has things to play with or chew on. Dog toys and treats are not cheap. The average dog toy is around $9-15 if it is well-made and durable. A lasting toy is a must because Dr. Destructo (Phoenix) shreds anything else. Stuffed animal carnage everywhere. Not a pretty site, folks. BarkBox has literally saved us so much money and energy. For less than $25 a month, BarkBox sends us two super durable toys, two full bags of treats that were made in the USA, and a premium dog chew (like a bully stick or jerky chew). You couldn’t get all of that in the store for under $25.

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                 Each box is themed too! All of the toys and treats go with the month’s theme and let me tell you, the people at BarkBox are witty! Last month’s box (pictured) was a prom theme- “Squeak Under the Stars”.  It came with a squirrel prom date otherwise known as Radiant Rhonda and a bowl of “spikey punch”. Even the packaging reflects the super cute theme. Jake and I love opening the Barkbox as much as Phoenix! Phoenix loves it so much and he even recognizes the box when it arrives. This month I left the box on the coffee table, and he was trying to gnaw it open before I could even cut the packing tape!

All of the BarkBox treats this month with the "Fur Child" Dog Dish by The Clay Moon.

All of the BarkBox treats this month with the "Fur Child" Dog Dish by The Clay Moon.

                We’ve had a BarkBox subscription for a little over a year now and we love it as much as we did our first month. Phoenix’s toybox is obscenely full because he hasn’t destroyed ANY of his BarkBox toys! We also never run out of dog treats because the box gives you so much! All that to say, that if you have a toy-loving pup like I do, you should definitely give BarkBox a try. You won’t be disappointed.

 

Check out BarkBox HERE.

How to Relax: The Importance of Self-Care

Featured: The Madeline Teacup in Dark Forest

Featured: The Madeline Teacup in Dark Forest

     I’m one of those people that absolutely does not know how to relax. My “Type A” people, where you at?!  It can be a great trait at times because it helps me to work hard and meet my goals. However, when it’s time to calm down for the day or when my body needs a break, it’s tough to talk myself into getting that much needed rest. I will throw pottery until its midnight any day of the week. After some health issues, working myself into oblivion is just not an option anymore. I begin to get frustrated when I’m overworked and that’s when I know that it’s time to stop for the day.

     Whether you are a someone who works in the office or you’re a stellar stay at home mom, you need to allow yourself some time for self-care and rest. It’s hard to consciously allow yourself to slow down when there is so much to be done or someone else that needs taking care of. It’s important to take care of your responsibilities, but you won’t be there to do it for very long if you don’t give yourself some rest! Guess what! It’s okay to give yourself some grace and take a little break every now and then.

                Here are some of my favorite ways to keep myself relax and recharge.

·         Drink a hot cup of tea:  There is nothing like a warm cup of your favorite tea to help you savor the moment you’re in. My favorite tea is a blueberry green tea with a little bit of honey or Stevia. Green tea is a great detoxifying tea if you’re feeling a little sick and it’s also great for your metabolism!

·         Make time to make healthy meals: I’m a girl who is all about convenient meals, but guess what- what you eat is what you feel like. If you eat a balanced, healthy meal, your body will operate at its peak. If you eat a double cheeseburger every day, your energy is going to take a nose dive.  Don’t get me wrong, I love a good burger, but switching it up with healthy meals is always a great alternative. Not to mention, your body will thank you!  There is also something soothing about putting on some Iron & Wine, cracking open a cookbook, and making a wholesome recipe.

·         Take a soak in the bath: You don’t have to be a little kid to enjoy bath time. A nice relaxing bath is great for soothing those sore muscles. I always add some scented Epsom salts to relieve my tension. You could also add some essential oils to your tub! Orange is great for energizing your body and lavender is perfect right before bed.

·         Read a good book/take time away from electronics: We are constantly being pulled one way or another. Even when it comes to social media, we are being oversaturated with ideas of what others are doing or what we should be doing. Take some time to unplug and let your mind explore a good read! Put the phone away for a while and enjoy good conversations with the ones you love. I find that these moments are the ones that carry me through each day.

I hope that you all have some time to relax and reflect!

Best,

-Samm

How The Clay Moon Was Made | Do What You Love

                 When you start college, you are faced with a series of questions regarding what you want to major in. What do you want your career path to be? What do you want to do with the rest of your life? I dabbled with the thoughts of becoming a nurse, a therapist, a manager of a nonprofit organization. The idea of choosing the wrong career caused me so much stress and anxiety. During my college experience, I reconnected with my dream guy and basically just wanted to finish as quickly as possible so that we could get married. While I accomplished my biggest dream of marrying Jake, I settled on the decision to complete my degree in organizational leadership.

                I’m still in my twenties and I’ve already experienced several different career paths. I’ve worked as a data analyst in an office setting, a sales associate at a fancy retail store, and in an elementary school as a teacher. Through all of these changes in both major and career, one thing has remained constant- my love of creating things for others. I have always been surrounded by creative people. My dad has always been able to make anything that he put his mind to making and my mother has this incredible design sense. Their combined talents created a beautiful, bold, and cozy home. In my family, homemade gifts were the best gifts. These were heirlooms that would be passed down amongst our families. The joy that came from taking the time and effort to make a loved one something especially for them touched my heart. Life is short, and those special touches made all the difference to our loved ones regardless of whether they were celebrating a birthday, grieving a lost loved one, or they just needed a pick-me-up.

                My family has always been one that loved to work with their hands. I got that honest. It only made sense that after trying career path after career path, I would find emptiness unless I was working with my own hands creating something. I have loved painting and experimenting with different mediums since I was very young, maybe five years old. There was a lot of chaos and tragedy happening around me and making things was my way of staying calm. It was also my way of making those around me feel better when I didn’t know what else I could do. I painted and sculpted my way through adolescence, but when it became time to be an adult, I was afraid to rely on the skills that had sustained me throughout the years. It didn’t sound prestigious. There was no concrete path that would guarantee a career and I was terrified to pave my own.

                I took around four basic art classes in college and strangely enough, none of these were a course on ceramics- my first love of a medium. As nerdy as it sounds, I used to play with clay creating my favorite characters from video games and figurines of memorable events in my life. My husband is learning to work with his hands just like my dad does. One Christmas, he decided to work with dad and made me the ultimate gift- a beautiful pottery wheel. I have spent countless hours teaching myself how to throw pottery. Countless hours making misshapen, goopy clay blobs. Even more learning the tricky science behind glazing pottery to give it a beautiful paintjob that stands out. Through this process, I have fallen in love with ceramics. I love throwing the clay and shaping it with my hands.  I love that it makes me practice patience so that things will turn out just right.  I love that the process makes myself stop my anxiety long enough to truly enjoy the ride. I didn’t get a fancy education in art, but I put in hours and hours of time practicing, reading, researching because I wanted to succeed.

                I started The Clay Moon because I want to continue the love of giving handmade goods like my family did. I want to continue a feeling of uniqueness and thoughtfulness through my art. The Clay Moon began out of my little garage studio with the hopes that I can create pieces that bring joy to others during their lives and that will be passed down to generations to come. So those of you that feel like you can’t follow your dreams because it isn’t good enough for other people or because you missed the opportunity to pursue it in college, don’t let that stop you from getting out into your own garage and banging out your dream. Go for it. Be the person that you were meant to be. Follow your gifts and let your heart be your guide.

 

-Samm