General

Re-Direct, Re-Frame, Re-Train

Hi beautiful dreamers!

How many of us have thought and speech patterns that we know aren’t that great? Whether it’s a bad habit of mentally putting yourself down after being clumsy or the way we say “sorry!” after everything, regardless of what’s happening – I think everyone has something that they do without thinking that tears themselves down more than it builds up.
Many people can go through life and be just fine with a few negative thought patterns. It doesn’t affect them. I’m not one of those people. I have several very distinct patterns that can quickly turn into nasty spirals if left unchecked.

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Especially since the pandemic hit, my weekly therapy sessions have become a staple of my routine. I even had a minor panic moment this last week when my therapist said she was going to be on vacation. How would I ever survive?!
Joking aside though, I do rely a lot on the accountability and safety of that hour every week. And a big portion of what I work on outside of those sessions is reframing the negative and harmful patterns that I have, both in my thoughts and my words. She helps me find ways to rephrase things and recognize patterns that I wouldn’t necessarily notice on my own.

It’s a lot of hard work!

The longer a particular pattern has been in place, the longer it takes to work through it. These patterns are, quite simply, memorized brain responses, so the process of re-framing a thought really means re-training your brain. Which equals some hard work because thoughts are sneaky and like to creep through when you’re least expecting them. It’s a daily thing and can require lots of conscious effort for quite a while, depending on how long it has been a habit. Just like any other habit that you might want to create or stop, your brain’s habits are also challenging.

Half the battle!

For me, half the battle sometimes is simply recognizing a pattern that I don’t want to continue. This is where a therapist can come in handy because they are listening to you and hear things much more objectively than you do. Plus they don’t have your history with whatever pattern or thought process it is, so they can point out things that you might not otherwise see for yourself.

Some examples might be…

Following a spiral of worst-case scenarios in your head.
Mumbling “stupid” under your breath whenever you drop something.
Judging yourself mentally every time you catch your reflection in a mirror.
Apologizing for being enthusiastic about something when talking to a friend.
Immediately assuming someone is mad at you because they don’t respond right away.

And so on and so forth. There are a million different examples I could give, but I’m sure the ones I mentioned already struck a chord with a few people. It’s hard to acknowledge these things sometimes, but being able to recognize and point out a negative pattern is the beginning of the road.

In my personal life…

I do rely on my therapist a lot to help me recognize when I’m speaking in a way that isn’t positive or loving to myself. Having that outside voice helps a lot. I have found my own patterns though in the past, usually by flipping through past journal entries that end up making me cringe. Sometimes even by listening to someone else and realizing that they’re not being kind or gracious to themselves has flipped a switch for me, causing me to acknowledge that I do the same thing to myself. Ouch.
As I mentioned, acknowledging the pattern as a problem is half the battle. Once I see what I’m doing wrong, I’ll notice it every time and sometimes that’s enough to stop me in my tracks. Other times, especially when its something that I’ve been internalizing for many many years, its a lot harder. In those situations, I usually have to dig a little deeper inside myself and find the root of that pattern. Maybe its something that I was told as a child that I shouldn’t have clung to, but did anyway. Regardless, if I can find the root of the issue, I can start to work through it and make a stronger effort to change my habits, and my heart as well. It’s challenging, for sure, but so very worth it. There are days that I struggle more than others, but that’s what life is, right?
Is there a thought or speech pattern that you notice in yourself that isn’t kind or loving? What is it that you need to begin that change in yourself?


Love, kindness, and lots of light,
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Posted by katharine_marie in Anxiety, Depression, General, mental health, 0 comments

Marriage and Communication

Hi, my beautiful folks! I hope this week is treating you well so far!

At this moment, two years ago, I was preparing to say “I do” to the person that still means more to me than anyone else in the world. For once in my life, I wasn’t nervous, which says a lot, because I overthink and question every single decision I make in my life. I’ve never questioned that decision though. My marriage is absolutely the best part of my life and I am happier than I ever thought possible.
But I’m not going to wax poetic about love and romance and all that. I’ve already written about the wedding before, and also about how amazing The Best Husband is on our first anniversary. I’m taking a different approach today and looking at what affects relationships and how they can all be different but still wonderful.

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Every single person is different, so every single marriage is going to look a little different from the next. It would be impossible to expect all relationships to work the same way because there are so many factors that play into it.

Mental Health’s Role

One thing I struggle with is my mental health and of COURSE, it has an effect on my marriage because how could it not? Mental health plays a role in all sorts of relationships in my life, especially friends and family members, and none more so than the relationship I have with my husband. He knows me the best and I talk to him more than anyone else, so he’s most familiar with what I deal with. It’s hard on him sometimes and it can make things difficult, certainly. Not everyone’s relationship is like ours – not everyone knows for sure that their significant other truly has their back all the time. It’s a whole lot easier for me, just knowing that he supports me 100% and will hold my hand every step of the way. That in itself is a lifesaver.

Find Balance Together

I know that he’s there for me, no matter what, but sometimes it’s hard to balance my own health against such an important relationship. It’s a personal struggle that I have because I always feel guilty and think I’m being a burden/too demanding/needy/etc. I’ve been able to overcome a lot of those feelings, but it has been hard. I have very particular needs on my bad days and sometimes trying to get those needs met doesn’t go so well because… communication? I think. Still figuring that out. Basically, I’m working on being able to communicate my needs better without dumping all my crap onto my poor husband and overloading him because hello? He’s got things he needs to and I have a tendency to forget that. I really don’t think he knew what he was getting himself into when he married me. Sorry, love.
I really do have the right intentions at heart, and so does he, but finding that balance where we both feel heard and understood is difficult at times, as I think it is for all couples. We’ve gotten so much better, especially since COVID hit and we were forced to spend even more time together than we used to. Haha.

Check In Often

As I mentioned, communication is key. It will almost always be the key, regardless of the issue. Too many times, we forget to check in to make sure the other person is doing okay. Assuming that someone is doing fine because they haven’t said otherwise is likely to get you in trouble. I’ve been on both ends of that and neither one is fun. There are times that life is too busy and too hectic to really have long, insightful conversations, yes. I’ve been there, but I strongly believe that if you’re too busy to check in on the relationship regularly (daily, in my opinion) for even just a few minutes then you’re too busy. Making the effort to keep the other person “in the loop” about how you’re feeling and doing is vital to staying connected to each other. Without communication, we lose connection, people don’t feel loved and relationships deteriorate.
For me personally, since I stay home all day, it’s easy to get caught up in my own projects and then somehow “not get around” to telling the Best Husband Ever about what’s going on or how I’ve been feeling. It has the double effect of making him feel like he’s not an involved part of our home life and making me feel like I have to take care of everything. The longer we go on like that, the worse it gets. But even if its a day that he gets home extra late, but we still find time to talk about what happened and how we’re doing before going to bed? That’s still a good day and we go to sleep feeling that connection.
This post is getting a bit long already, whoops. Most of what I’m said so far sounds like basic relationship stuff, but making connections is even more important when dealing with mental illness. In my experience, both anxiety and depression have a really frustrating effect of making me pull away from people, especially important people who are good support in the tough times. Maintaining and making effort in those relationships when times are NOT so hard is vital for me because it creates better habits for when things do get rough.
Have you checked in with someone today? Just to see how they’re doing? Or maybe you feel the need to check in with someone else, just so you don’t feel alone – that’s good too, do that!


Love, light, and kindness, always,
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Posted by katharine_marie in Anxiety, Depression, General, Life in 2020, mental health, 0 comments

The Basics of Setting Boundaries

Hello beautiful people,
I wrote on Tuesday about how difficult some days are and gave a few ideas on how I’ve been dealing with them, maybe even making them a little bit better. This whole week has been a bit hard for me – I’m working through some personal stuff and learning about my limits, including what it means to set boundaries.
Boundaries are one of those things that people can get offended about really easily. Especially when it comes to setting limits with people, it can easily come across as being rude or selfish. And it really shouldn’t be that way, not if we do it with the right attitude and with a spirit of love.

Setting Boundaries

Recognize a Need

I’m not talking about someone you don’t like and just don’t want to talk to anymore. Unless you have a deeper intention behind it, that’s probably bordering on being a little rude. But recognizing when someone is a constant drain on your emotional and mental health or understanding that unless you can agree to disagree there should probably be certain topics that are off-limits? That’s totally okay. It’s one thing to do things that are uncomfortable or out of our comfort zones sometimes and a completely different thing to allow anything and everything into our lives – that’s unhealthy.  Certain situations just need to be worked through, others need boundaries and limits.
It’s hard to know sometimes. I totally get it. I’m the first one to question my decisions in these kinds of situations and I tend to waffle back and forth before making up my mind completely. Just remember – that thing I said about a spirit of love? That thing helps qualm those uncertainties and fears 99% of the time.

Know Yourself and Your Limitations

Have you taken the time to understand yourself and your own limitations? That can be key to knowing how to handle external influences. There are certain areas of life in which I have set boundaries for myself – not because of other people exactly, but because I know what my triggers and weaknesses are, which enables me to avoid situations and circumstances that will bring out less than my best.
It’s so easy to blame other people for our own lack of self-control or whatever the problem might be. And I don’t say this to let everyone else off the hook because I think everyone should be working on being the best version of themselves. But the reality is that we don’t have the power to change other people. We CAN work on ourselves. And by demonstrating good self-care and setting boundaries, we can actually help others more than we might think. But first and foremost, it’s about knowing our own limitations and understanding who we are.

Know What To Do

When it comes to the actual process of setting a boundary, that’s where it can get a little tricky. But it doesn’t have to be complicated. One of the easiest things you can do is curate your social media feeds. You don’t necessarily have to block people or whatever, but there’s a lovely little “unfollow” or even just a “mute” button on Facebook for the times you need it. (Not that you should only be seeing the people who agree 100% with your opinions, but some people have no concept of limits or useful discussion and that serves nobody.) It’s the little things sometimes.
Other circumstances aren’t nearly so easy though. Sometimes it’s choosing not to go somewhere where you know you’ll be around someone who always seems to push your buttons. If and when you can handle being around that person again, you can re-evaluate that limit, but especially if you’re working through something and you know that talking to that person would undo the progress you’ve made, maybe its best to just stay away for the time being.
I am the QUEEN of ghosting people, but I’ll also admit that it is not a healthy way to deal with things. Something I have done before though, is responding to someone when I’m in the right frame of mind and then muting or hiding them on my phone so that I don’t have to handle the conversation until I’m ready. Don’t feel the need to respond to everyone right away.
Doing something similar in person is a lot harder and I’m still learning how to handle that. For me right now it’s been holding my tongue when other people are having a conversation that I have strong opinions about if I know I’m not ready to discuss things fairly and properly. Sometimes it’s leaving the room. Both of those are getting easier to do, and something I’m trying now is what I call “exiting” a conversation. If things are getting heated or frustration is building up, there should be no shame in saying, “This conversation isn’t healthy for our relationship. Why don’t we come back to this when we’re feeling calmer and more in control of our feelings?” Being firm and actually walking away if needed would be the next step.
Sadly, there is still a lot of judgment passed on those who choose to set boundaries for themselves. It can be hard to hear that someone doesn’t want to speak to you, I get that. But, again, we’re not going to change each other’s minds by having a yelling match. Choosing to have a calm, insightful conversation is much better. And if someone isn’t capable of talking about certain topics without getting hateful or judgmental, then the consequence may be distancing yourself for a little while, as painful or hard as it may be.
Is there an area of life that you feel could use some boundaries or limitations for your own emotional or mental health? What’s holding you back from setting that boundary?

Love and kindness,
I’m always here for you.

 

Posted by katharine_marie in Anxiety, Depression, General, mental health, 1 comment

3 Ways to Deal Right Now

Good morning beautiful darlings!
I hope this week, and the new month too, is treating you well so far! I got a ton of work done last week and was actually able to take a nice relaxing weekend. I did all sorts of nothing without feeling all kinds of guilty about it, which was SO amazing!
The world is continuing to be overwhelming in so many ways for me. I know not everyone would agree, depending on how you view things, but 2020 has been a rough ride so far and I don’t exactly see it getting much better for a while at least. I’m typing this while my cat screams in the other room and the baby cries for me to pick her up. Noise is a big trigger for me, so I’m actually dealing with the overwhelming-ness of home life as well right now at this moment. The irony is strong, right?
Anyways, a lot of the time the days are long and hard. I try to only pop onto social media a few times a day because honestly, it’s depressing for me. And I know the same applies to a lot of other people. Humans, in general, aren’t meant to live through this kind of stuff, but here we are trying to figure it out, and then judging each other for it? Come on y’all.

3 ways to get through

Recognize Your Limits

Some things are within our control. A lot of things are not. There is a balance that can be struck between choosing to engage with things that are important to you and choosing to refrain and focus instead on your own personal life. I’ve been struggling with this a lot because a month or so ago, I was being quite outspoken on my platform about things I was passionate about. I was stepping out of my comfort zone and saying things I had never had the courage to say before. But I slowly found myself feeling angry and bitter towards the people who were unwilling to have a conversation. So I’ve taken a step back. And I feel guilty because those causes I was speaking for are still there and I feel obligated to continue trying to make a change.
I had to make a decision for myself and realize that the negative feelings were not serving me at all, and were in fact harming me. I’m not holding back all my opinions or anything like that, but I am checking myself at the gate to see whether I’m saying something out of anger or out of a genuine desire to make a difference. There is a balance there and its not easy to find, or maintain.

Choose to Step Away

Like I said, I was feeling angry and bitter. Much more so than I could handle appropriately or maturely. My tendency is to lash out when I feel frustrated, which serves absolutely nobody, least of all the causes I’m standing for. My desire is only to show love and compassion, so taking that step back was a better choice. I’ve said it so many times that yelling at someone doesn’t make them change their mind. I’ve found myself so overwhelming so many times because I don’t know what to do or say or even what to think because there is so much negativity in the world, but stepping back is definitely a good choice for me. These situations aren’t just difficult, they’re brand new to me – someone who has never willingly chosen conflict or confrontation, and that requires some adjustment. I’m changing, just like the world is, and giving myself (and others!) grace is a sign of strength.

Find One Good Thing

I would be the first to say that toxic positivity needs to GO. I don’t have time for that kind of stuff. When I’m depressed and someone tells me that my life is great and I have nothing to be sad about, all I want to do is strangle them. That kind of talk helps nobody. End rant.
HOWEVER, on the days that I’m feeling overwhelmed because there is so very much going on, it can help to find one good thing. If it feels like the whole world is crumbling around you, it can make a huge difference if you pick out just one little thing that is still okay. It gives you something to hold onto, a little piece of hope in the middle of all the mess. It’s not going to fix anything, but it can help you feel better. It just creates a little bit of a better balance between the positive and negative in the mind and creates a tiny piece of stability.

I guess overall, my point is that the overwhelming-ness (yes I’m going to keep using it) is hard. I understand it, I’m still struggling with it too, and we’ll all get through it together.

Now: what’s one good thing you’ve found in the world today?


Love and kindness,
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Posted by katharine_marie in Anxiety, Depression, General, mental health, 2 comments

starting fresh

Hello dear readers,

The last few posts I’ve written have felt kind of heavy. Usually, I try not to do that many in a row, but between the world lately and everything I’ve been working through and processing internally, it would have felt fake to try and post something more upbeat or lighter in nature. That isn’t to say that I’ve been depressed and miserable for the last month. It’s actually been quite a good summer overall! But I do try to write about the real and the raw aspects of life, and things have definitely been VERY real lately.

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Photo by Jez Timms on Unsplash

So the short version of the story is that I’ve been doing a lot of internal processing lately. 2020 has been a really strange year and I’ve found myself breaking out of the box I had previously put myself into in so many ways. I’ve found the courage to state my opinions and beliefs, to actually speak with people more boldly than I ever would have before, and it has been really really freeing. But in the same breath, it has been so very hard because I overthink every little thing and having disagreements with people is something that I have always avoided with a passion.

But I know, in my heart, that I’m not making mistakes in my life, that I’m just coming home to myself and owning who I am in a whole new light. I’m recognizing my faults and my bad habits and in doing so, I’m motivated to overcome them. I’m focused on loving the people around me, and in doing so, I’m learning how to love myself all over again. I’ve had the right intentions for so very long, but I’ve been blind to how I was blocking myself from really reaching my dreams or how I was dividing and hurting other people, which was the exact opposite of what I wanted!

Tracking my moods and my habits in my planner has been absolutely invaluable in helping me realize when I’m being selfish and when I’m being selfLESS, two things that get tangled sometimes in my mind (odd as that may sound). Making my opinions known is different from arguing with someone and in trying to stand up for what I believe, I was becoming resentful and bitter, all because I was going about it the wrong way. (I’m still figuring out the right way for ME, so I’ll keep you updated lol.)

I’m getting used to saying it out loud, but I’m a very empathic person. It’s a blessing and a curse at the same time, and I’ve really come to terms lately with the fact that I was not dealing with it very well at all. I never truly understood how much my empathic tendencies were taking over every minute of every day, or how much I was feeding off of other people. And that isn’t healthy. Not at all! I’ve had to take a step back from people in general and do some work on me before I can even think about helping others in the same way.

There are a lot of things that have contributed to me being in a place to write this blog post and a lot of things that I want to discuss moving forward, but I’ll get to those in the future. All I want to say right now is that I am deeply sorry if I have hurt or offended anyone. I never wanted to spread anything but love and I’m so upset that I’ve done otherwise. My beliefs may not change, but I am working on changing my actions, which I hope will become self-evident.

I won’t be posting this Friday and it’s deliberate this time, not just because of a hectic schedule. I need some time to recharge and I’m also way behind on planning blog posts for the rest of 2020. So I’ll be working on that as well. But next week is August and I’ll be back full force!


Much love and lots of light to everyone,

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Posted by katharine_marie in Anxiety, Depression, General, Life in 2020, Lifestyle, mental health, Setting Goals, 0 comments

Five Years of Choices

Hey there, all you lovely folks out in the big wide world!

I’ve been in that weird mental space lately where I’ve been thinking about everything that has happened in my life and the choices that I made that led to where I am today.

Five years ago I was getting ready to head off to university. According to the plan I had at that time, 2020 would have been the year I would have started teaching/working/something, likely moved into the Dallas area (or another metroplex). I had zero intentions of settling down or having kids for a looonnnggg time yet. Don’t you just love how life doesn’t turn out the way we planned? It’s great.

My brain is very inconsistent sometimes. It’s very hard for me to let go of that one inconsequential thing I didn’t do yesterday and kick myself for that. But do I wish I hadn’t gone to university, struggled really really hard, and spent a crapload of money for three rough semesters that would leave me totally confused about what I really wanted out of my life? No, not really. I could easily look back and see where I could have made better choices or done things better/differently, but I don’t regret the journey that brought me to where I am today.

I learned SO MUCH about music during the years I spent studying and pursuing that career. I may be out of practice right now, but even without playing regularly, I’m still a pretty great pianist and that’s a skill I value highly.

The first semester I spent at university, I leased a lovely little horse and took weekly lessons for several months. It was easy to think that I failed at my horse goals because ultimately it was expensive/time consuming and I ended the lease in order to focus on my music classes. But in actuality, even four years later, I’m still feeling the effects of what I learned in those lessons and from that horse when I ride Lady. That’s worth it.

I might have felt lost. I might have spent my time in questionable ways. I may have spent too many late nights out on the town because I was confused. I might have ended up in the wrong relationships. But I learned from every single thing that happened.

I stressed myself out. I cried. I got a new kitten. I had a lot of panic attacks. I spent hours pounding away on super expensive pianos and questioning my career choice the entire time. I took criticism. I made good and bad grades. I discovered a unique love for music history (that was unexpected). I failed a class for the first time in my life. I struggled with money and then spent half a month’s earnings on my first tattoo – because I wanted to. I made and lost friends. I worked long hours and went into debt for the first time.

Basically, the first few years of “adulthood” were hard for me. And I think, in a way, they should be that way. It was rough being on my own for the first time. Plus, I’m stubbornly independent and will not ask for help unless it’s extremely dire. So I needed to learn a few lessons.

But I don’t regret the choices that I made or the experiences that I had. None of it was a waste of time or money. I didn’t think I would end up where I did, but I’m also not the same person I was five years ago. I still don’t know what I’m doing half the time. I had no idea what I was doing when I said yes to The Husband’s proposal and I had no idea what I was thinking when I said I wanted a baby. But those were the two decisions that led to the most happiness I could ever ask for in a lifetime.

I’m still searching for more, and I think I always will be, to some extent. But truthfully, I could not ask for a better life. I’m grounded and truly confident in myself and what I believe. It’s a nice place to be.

Maybe this week I’ll manage to get out two posts again. I’ve been in the process of clearing more space in my schedule and school is tough this term, so it’s been a juggling act lately!


Until next time,

Love, light, and kindness,

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Posted by katharine_marie in General, Life in 2020, Life of a Writer, Lifestyle, mental health, 0 comments

Thoughts on Words, Support, and Culture

Hello, beautiful darlings,

Is it just me or has this felt like the looonngggessst week ever? I’m getting so sick of shutdowns and being trapped at home and not being able to function like a normal human being. Ughhhh…

Anywho. Today I wanted to jump straight in and have a little chat about mental illness and a few of the things that really affect it, especially right now. Heavy subject matter maybe, but it’s something I’ve been thinking about lately.

Over the last ten years or so, possibly longer if I could remember, I’ve heard comments from all sorts of people about how mental illness must just be laziness or some other such nonsense.

“It’s all in your head.”

“Have you tried NOT being depressed?”

“You have nothing to worry about, your life is great!”

“You must not be trying hard enough. If you do X, you’ll get over it more quickly.”

“I know someone who did X and they’re totally normal now!”

Ad nauseam, on and on and on again.

Please. Just. Stop. It.

I’m begging you.

First of all, mental illness is just that. An illness. Would you say those same things to someone who was suffering from a physical medical diagnosis? I’m willing to bet that you would not. Well, some people might, but most people wouldn’t. Not only that, but mental illness is not considered an acute illness. There is such a thing as situational depression or anxiety that is caused by a traumatic event, of course, but the majority of cases are CHRONIC. Meaning that there are good phases, there are bad patches, and there’s everything in between. We keep keeping on, doing the things that help keep us in the good places and move on.

Trying to find the support that is truly needed is hard. I personally have a very small number of people that I would consider reaching out to during a really rough patch. I may write about it all on here, but 9 times out of 10, I’m writing about the experience after the worst is over.

Mental willpower is something that people misunderstand, though, and that seems to play into a lot of the bizarre comments that I and many other folks with mental issues have received. Religious communities tend to give pat answers like “pray harder!” or “if you have enough faith/trust, God will release you from your illness.” I’m sorry, but that just isn’t the case! Of course, I believe that God has the power to take away our struggles and our ailments – that not what I’m saying at all. The problem with these answers is that they’re pretty and easy. They put all the blame at the feet of the suffering individual. And we’re not meant to go through things all alone, we’re meant to go through them together, with community and encouragement and love.

The other thing that contributes to a lot of this problem is simply the culture that we have right now. The world is lonely. We have social media and memes and entertainment at our fingertips, and we’re always working and running from this place to the next. We have no true connection. We don’t have people that we do life with on a basic, emotional level. Like I said, we’re meant as humans to have a community. We’re not meant to go through life alone. And I’m not talking romantically alone, I mean having meaningful friendships and relationships that you cultivate and nurture.

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Photo by DJ Johnson on Unsplash

Trust me, I am preaching myself more than anyone right now. I have failed my friends in so many ways. I have pushed people away, and I struggle every single day just to text people back when they reach out. Nobody said that the things that we truly need would be easy to find. They take work and believe me when I say that I am SO awful at searching for community and friendship. But the times that I push through and actually try? Those are the moments that I really treasure and hold close.

That’s my little rant for the day, and reading back over this, I realize that I’ve glossed over a lot of deep topics that could very easily be turned into their own posts – so I guess that will probably happen in the future. All I’m trying to say right now is think about how powerful words can be and how important we are to each other.

What do you think? Is this something that you think about and struggle with too? I would love to hear other people’s thoughts on these ideas. 🙂


Love, kindness, and so many hugs!

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Posted by katharine_marie in Anxiety, Depression, General, Life in 2020, mental health, 0 comments

Silk + Sonder Planner Review

Hi beautiful dreamers!

Starting on Friday, we’ll get into some review posts, but today I wanted to pop in and tell you all about the new planner system I started using this month. Actually, “tell” is kind of a boring word – I’m going to rave a little bit.

I mentioned it on my social media pages back at the beginning of the month but on a whim, I gave into a handful of Instagram ads that had been pushing their way into my feed. One of those impulse ad-related purchases was a Silk + Sonder planner/journal.

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These planners are insanely pretty. They’re beautiful simplistic with well-placed accents to make them feel unique. The design work is just lovely overall – granted, I’ve only seen the June version in person, but there are plenty of video reviews from previous months, so it’s not just this month, it’s all the months.

Yes, months. This is a subscription-based planner. Silk + Sonder ships out a new planner/journal every month with a new theme so that you can start fresh each time. That factor on its own was what really drew me in. I love fresh starts and I tend to drag my planners around everywhere with me, so after a few months, they tend to look a bit ragged and then I start to lose interest. This is the last week of June and my S+S planner is still gorgeous. There are grease stains on one page and I’ve gotten a handful of pages a little sticky (thanks to the child, there are a lot of sticky surfaces around here). I definitely haven’t lost interest yet and the majority of the booklet looks brand new.

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The first portion of the booklet has a few calendar pages, just to give an overview of what’s happening big-picture style in your life. Then comes the tracker pages: moods, habits, gratitude. I have so much fun sitting down in the evening with my colored pencils and filling these in!

Next is the part that I’ve found more challenging to work with: the journaling section. June’s theme was “Choice” and there’s a spread of questions about setting boundaries in my life that are very thought-provoking and well-timed, at least for me.

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One of the cutest pages is the Self-Care Bingo page. It’s just plain adorable, but also a great page to go for inspiration when I feel the need to do something fun or treat myself.

There’s a couple of recipes, a coloring page, and then we get into what would be considered the “planner” portion of the journal. And let me tell you, this thing has everything I ever wanted: a shopping list section, a meal planner/tracker, goal setting, mental health, a mini habit tracker, and a spot for inspiration. It’s the perfect blend of journaling and planning, but much easier to work with than most other options out there.

If you love the idea of traditional bullet journaling, but find that its a lot of effort and it’s hard to make it work well for you (that’s how I am), then this might work out really well for you. I find that it has the right amount of structure combined with free space to keep me inspired and motivated. Honestly, this is the most productive and motivated month I’ve had in a very long time.

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I use the extra note pages for a variety of things: brainstorming meals for the week, notes from my therapy sessions, random ideas that pop into my head, whatever. I’ve been playing around with making little boxes to contain all these things, but it’s still a work in progress to see what I like best.

I’ve been recommending this planner to basically everyone I talk to, which is a testament to how much I love it. At first, I was going to hold off on making this post until I had been using it for two or three months, but I’m so obsessed already that I went ahead and did it now. I’m not getting paid to say this – I really just love it that much. Haha!

At almost $20 a month, it definitely is more pricey than other planner options, but I think it’s worth the mini splurge if it boosts my creativity AND productivity. My birthday present to myself is probably going to be the 12-month subscription if nothing changes between now and then. Even my husband thinks it is worth the extra money at this point! Plus, supporting a small business?! Win-win all around!

Side note: during lockdown, this lovely company started a new line of journals for kids! Obviously, my kiddo isn’t old enough yet, but in a few years, I’ll definitely be getting her a subscription of her own!

Silk + Sonder Website

Silk + Sonder Instagram

Silk + Sonder Kids


Love, light, and happiness all around!

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Posted by katharine_marie in Book Reviews, Books & Writing, General, Life of a Writer, Lifestyle, mental health, Setting Goals, 0 comments

Coping Mechanisms: Thoughts on Meditation

Hi lovely people and dreamers!

I’m so behind with everything right now, but I’m still managing to show up at some point, right? The Tiny Princess hasn’t been quite herself this week, which means I haven’t had much time for anything else the last few days.

2020 hasn’t been the year any of us thought it would be, and it’s not always easy to let that go. I’ve been doing a lot of meditating lately as a way to sift through my feelings and calm my anxiety. It’s not the easiest thing all the time – my brain likes to run a million miles a minute and finding the focus for meditation isn’t always easy.

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Emptying Your Mind is a Misleading Phrase

It’s hard to empty your mind of everything, and often, the way that people talk about meditation makes it seem like that is the only way to meditate: clear your mind and relax, or something like that. And I had a difficult time with that because there is no earthly way to clear my mind – at least none that I’ve figured out yet anyways.

Instead, I’ve found it helpful to find something to fidget with – something with texture to keep my fingers busy is great – close my eyes and just practice acknowledging my thoughts. I don’t focus on anything in particular, I just take note of the things that come through my mind, and then move on. It’s not as easy as it sounds and I’m definitely not very good at it yet, but it’s actually been very helpful in reducing my anxiety on bad days.

On days that it’s hard to even do what I just described, I’ll find an affirmation, Scripture, or inspirational phrase/word and focus on that instead. It gives my brain something to analyze and work on while still practicing that mental focus.

Silence, Sounds, Solitude

It’s hard to find uninterrupted time to myself right now with a 9-month-old baby roaming the house. I’m very lucky that she takes fairly consistent naps, so at least I can time my 10-15 minutes of meditation more easily. But I still have the baby monitor in the room and just knowing that its there can take away from my focus. It’s not easy, and that’s just the season I’m in right now, but it’s still important to take care of myself, so I’ve been trying to make it happen anyways.

The baby monitor we have vibrates when she starts to cry, so I’ve been able to turn the volume all the way down while still knowing that I won’t miss anything if she needs me. That helps quite a bit. Locking the cats out of the room helps too since sitting still always looks like an invitation for them to come and sit on my lap. Claws in my leg are not exactly helpful!

But even perfect silence is still not always the best. I think it causes me to start listening even harder for something to disrupt my mental focus – the irony of that is a little annoying. I definitely do best with some sort of sound, whether it’s white noise or music. I use an app called Insight Timer, and it allows me to add a gong or bell sound at preset intervals throughout my meditation session – sounds like a weird thing maybe, but I’ve found that hearing a specific noise every 30 seconds or so helps me refocus my mind again instead of accidentally getting lost somewhere along the way.

Practice and Forcing It

I’m the worst when it comes to just relaxing and letting things go at their own pace. I have to see improvement quickly or I get frustrated. This is something I’m working on in a lot of areas of my life, but I find that it’s more difficult with certain things. Meditation is one of them – it sounds too easy when in fact, it’s quite difficult.

It took several attempts over several months for me to actually understand that this was something I was going to have to practice as well. Just like drawing: my hands don’t automatically know how to create a recognizable picture. My brain doesn’t necessarily know how to focus and find the clarity that I’m looking for. So meditation is something that requires practice as well. And practice can not be rushed or forced.


This week I’ve been brainstorming and researching some new coping mechanisms beyond writing – I have a tendency to rely solely on the one and it doesn’t always work out so well. So I may be writing more on different self-care and coping strategies in the near future as I experiment and try some new things out!


Love, light, and a heaping dose of kindness,

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Posted by katharine_marie in Anxiety, Depression, General, Life in 2020, Lifestyle, mental health, 2 comments

Therapy Experience

Hello beautiful humans and dreamers,

I’ve spent the last week in a lot of thought, taking in the social situations that the world has been dealing with. I’ve been listening, learning, understanding more and more about other people. It’s been fascinating, saddening, enlightening, and a whole host of other things, but I’m happy, in a way, that people are actually having hard conversations and standing up for other people. I have felt the need to stay quieter than normal, to allow others the chance to speak while I listen, and it’s been a much needed time period. I’m going to return to my regular posting schedule now, with a lot more awareness and empathy.

The easiest way to describe my blog lately would be as a mental health platform. I use it mainly to talk about ways to deal with mental health issues, to advocate for better care, break stereotypes, and create more dialogue about these chronic issues that plague our society. Just under 50 percent of all Americans will experience mental illness in some form during their lifetimes, yet there is still an immense amount of stigma surrounding their experiences.

One of the starting points for most people dealing with mental illness should be to see a counselor, therapist, or psychologist. But less than 35% of people will actually take that step. And many people, even if they do see a counselor or psychologist, will avoid talking about it to others because they are afraid of being judged.

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I saw a mental health counselor while I was at university. I went almost every week for about four months. I was finally referred to a wonderful facility after the Tiny Princess was born, and started seeing my current therapist approximately 2-3 months postpartum.

Even though I had been in therapy before, it was difficult to go back. It was just as hard for me to take that step and accept that the extra help was actually needed. Now that I’ve been going regularly for almost 6 months, it’s a lot easier to discuss with others.

Going to see someone is not a cure. Not in any way, shape, or form. Some psychologists or psychiatrists do prescribe medications or other therapies that can help, but right now there are no true “cures” for mental illnesses. That is a whole different topic, however…

There are plenty of times when I don’t feel like going (or logging on, in the current COVID situations, all my sessions are through video chat) or I think that “oh! I had a good week, I don’t need to talk to her yet.” In reality, sometimes those are the most productive and important sessions of all. When I’ve had a good week, it can be incredibly insightful to talk to someone who can decipher what was different and how I can replicate that in the future. On the days I “don’t feel like it,” she can encourage me to work through those feelings and come out on the other side with new strategies and fresh motivation. It doesn’t really matter what mindset I have going into a session though because it’s always good to be able to talk to someone who is there to listen without judgment and is 100% focused on helping me find a way through it.

It’s easy to think that going to see a counselor or therapist means giving up on yourself. It’s easy to think that you’ve failed and can no longer do things on your own. In reality, it’s the complete opposite. It takes strength to say “I need help.” It takes courage to face the issues in your mind and work your way through them and having someone to coach you through that struggle can only help.

Everyone faces different struggles and each of our minds work just a little bit differently, but I can honestly say that seeing someone who is trained in mental health can be the first step towards understanding yourself a little bit better. I might not have regular panic attacks or be drowning in depression like I was in the past, but the benefits that I’ve seen from my weekly sessions are enormous nonetheless.

I’m going to write up some more informative posts in the future about finding a therapist and possibly tips for getting the most out of a session, but for now, I simply wanted to share my experience.


Love, light, and kindness, particularly to those currently being oppressed,

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Posted by katharine_marie in Anxiety, Depression, General, Life of a Writer, Lifestyle, mental health, 0 comments