Wednesday, October 26, 2016

{31 Days} How to take Your Blog to the Next Level

This post contains affiliate links.  If you make a purchase through one of these links I will receive a commission at no extra charge to you.  Thank you for supporting Townsend House!

Bring Your Blog to the Next Level with amazing Resources

This month for my #write31days challenge, I have been exploring overcoming overwhelm.  It has definitely been a challenge to say the least!  Trying to figure out exactly why I am overwhelmed was a big part of moving through this challenge for me.

Do you ever feel overwhelmed by blogging?

You’re not alone.

There have been so many times in my own blogging journey when I’ve felt daunted by what I was learning and doing and struggled to overcome challenges like increasing my traffic and income in ways that matched my brand and values while also keeping my family at the forefront of my mind.

Now wonder I am overwhelmed!  Trying to build a brand and business while being a mom is so hard.  I think it is especially difficult when the business is online, and you always need to be connected (or so it seems) in order to succeed.

Bring Your Blog to the Next Level with amazing Resources

Overall, blogging has been one of those incredible “pinch me” parts of my life. I can hardly believe I get to do something I love so much, earn money from home, and be part of such a special community.  A community that is constantly challenging me to grow and expand, while being incredibly supportive.

But it isn’t always easy, and the fast-changing nature of the blogosphere means I can’t ever stop learning how to be a better blogger.

I’ve found my blog really thrives when I’m growing in my skills, connecting with others who get the work I’m doing, and pushing myself to try new things.

I make a point of prioritizing my growth as a blogger, and one of the best ways I’ve found is by learning from other experienced bloggers who’ve mastered a particular aspect of blogging.

There are so many awesome resources available to help grow your blog and help you grow as a blogger.  However, trying to buy all of those resources is incredibly pricey.

It’s a digital package crammed full of brilliant tools to help you grow your blog, work smarter & make more money.
(But for way less than you’d normally spend!)

The team at Ultimate Bundles has put together the best resources on ALL the topics that matter to bloggers, like mastering social media, monetization, creating and selling products, time management and productivity, nurturing an email list, and so much more.

Here's What You Get:

Bring Your Blog to the Next Level with amazing Resources

In total, the toolkit includes over $3,500 of blogging tips, strategies, tutorials and amazingly practical information and ideas. Plus you get free bonus offers worth $1,447, with 17 tools and services to help you run your blog.

But the truly amazing part? They’re selling it for a crazy 98% off of regular price!

Even better, they’re all about making sure you LOVE this toolkit. There’s a full 30-day happiness guarantee, so there’s really no risk in trying it out.

The most important detail, though, is that this toolkit is available for seven days only. After Tuesday night, November 1st, the sale ends and you’d have to buy all of these products individually.

I’d hate for you to miss out, so click HERE to learn more or buy the bundle.

It’s even backed by a full money-back happiness guarantee, so you can make sure it’s right for you. Get what you need to work smarter instead of harder, grow your platform, and earn more. Learn more or get your bundle HERE.

Bring Your Blog to the Next Level with amazing Resources

What is one thing you are working on to improve your blog right now?  Are you looking to bring your blog to the next level?

Monday, October 24, 2016

{31 Days} Expectation vs. Reality

Have you seen the memes out there about expectation vs. reality?  You go to a restaurant and order one thing, but then you get served a meal that is looking far less appealing than the picture on the menu.  It always makes me laugh when I see those types of pictures out on the internet.

It got me thinking though, how often am I trying to have my expectation play out exactly, but it is not realistic?

When I started this {31 Days} series, I expected that I would finish it.  Oh, yes, of course I am writing about being overwhelmed, and the fact that I did not prepare posts ahead of time to complete this series; it would all be a day by day written journal, very old school blogger style.

Yet, here we are on Day 24 and I haven’t posted since Day 12…

I think that often as bloggers we get into the habit of giving advice, but forget to give the story behind that advice.  While I would love to share with you ways that you can successfully overcome overwhelming feelings, that isn’t necessarily what you will get from me.  Instead I am trying to share with you what I am going through, and perhaps you can find some encouragement in the fact that I do not have it all figured out.

While it would be easy to throw in the towel at this point, and in fact it may seem to some that I have, I decided that this is such an important topic that I want to keep trying.

Why is it that our expectations can differ so much from reality?  What are we using as a measure?  

Monday, October 17, 2016

Dark Before Dawn by Monica McGurk - Book Review

Thank you Monica McGurk for reaching out to me to review the third installment of your Archangel Prophecies book series!  This is a sponsored post, all opinions are my own.

Dark Before Dawn is the third book in the Archangel Prophecies series by Monica McGurk.  Because of that, I am giving you fair warning that you will definitely want to read the first two installments before you start this book.

I have been anxiously awaiting this books’ release.  I love series, but I am not so good at waiting for the next installment to be released (I started reading Harry Potter before book 5 was released…that was some difficult waiting!).  If you would like to read my reviews of the first two books, you can find them here –

Dark Before Dawn starts off with a scene reminiscent of the fairies blessing Sleeping Beauty as a baby, and the old fairy coming in afterwards and giving her a curse.

We are met with Michael, the Archangel, as well as Gabrielle, Arthur, and Raph; where they all bestow blessings on a new baby, somewhat reluctantly by everyone but Michael who ordered them to be there.  Lurking in the corner was Lucas, who ended up adding his own “special” blessing in a curse.

Then we fast forward several years into the future.

I actually appreciated this part of the story.  I wasn’t sure how the entire relationship would play out between a teenager and an Archangel, so creating a bit more balance that way was a good move in my mind.  Although, with the ending of book two, I think this could have been a good book as to what Hope went through to this point to make her into the person she is today.

Hope is now a much more confident, strong person, although she is constantly worrying about the decision she needs to make – how will she move forward, with or without Michael?

This book is quite a bit different than the first two books in the series as it concentrates heavily on child trafficking.  This was featured in the previous two books, but it was much more a background story than it was in this third installment.  You can feel the passion that the author has for this incredibly important cause, and bringing it to the main stream.

I think it was incredible to see the imagery of what is happening in this country currently, something that I did not really consider before.

The ending is not at all what I expected, but it was a wonderful way to end the series. 

It was a very fast paced book, which made it a quick read.  Overall, I think this is a wonderful series for young adults, and one that I would definitely recommend to people who enjoy fantasy novels.  I would recommend that if you would like your teen or tween to read this series that you make sure you read with them, it will definitely bring up some amazing questions and talking points about the real world beyond the doorstep of most kids today.

If you would like to find out more about the author, you can do so on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

{31 Days} Keeping your Physical Health in check with Nature Made®

This post was sponsored by Nature Made® as a part of an Ambassador Program for Influence Central.

This month I have been talking about overcoming overwhelm, and it has been eye-opening for me.  To see all the ways that I need to work on my emotional health and to prioritize self-care once again – while trying to take care of a family.  An aspect that I haven’t spent as much time talking about is the toll this has on physical health as well.

When you are overwhelmed, your body feels it too.

One of the ways that I have been working on keeping my physical health in check is to start a better vitamin regiment again.

Nature Made® vitamins and supplements: An easy, convenient way to help your body get the nutritional support it needs every day, whether it be to support bone health, immune health or energy metabolism (helping convert food into energy).†

It is amazing, when I was pregnant with my oldest over eight years ago, I was meticulous about making sure that I took all of my Nature Made® pre-natal vitamins and other supplements.  

Nature Made® has an amazing selection that gave me no trouble during my pregnancy (thankfully!).  In fact, I was this way during all three pregnancies.  But, then after I had the babies, and nursing started to decrease, I would stop taking these supplements.  Why, I’m not sure, but I know that I definitely feel better when I am making sure to get them all in.

Nature Made® Probiotics: Nature Made® Advanced Dual Action Probiotic has been clinically studied and provides dual support to both your small and large intestine for comprehensive coverage to help support digestive balance and healthy gut flora.†

After having Lucy, I developed a lovely case of mastitis and had to go on strong antibiotics for 10 days.  My Doctor recommended that I start taking a probiotic at that time, and so I immediately ran out to Walmart to pick up some of the Nature Made® Probiotics to make sure that my body stayed on track while on the antibiotics.

Probiotics in general can be pricey, but having the everyday low prices at Walmart made it easy to start taking them, and continue taking them. 

Nature Made® is the #1 Pharmacist Recommended brand for many key dietary supplement categories*

Our bodies take such a beating everyday from so many outside factors, having a variety of vitamins and supplements to help fill in the gaps of your health and well-being is definitely an important step to overall health.  We all have health goals, and we need to utilize all the tools in order to have the best, healthiest version of ourselves out there.

You can find out more information here on Nature Made and enter their sweepstakes for a $50 Walmart gift card.  And make sure to visit the Healthy Habit Builder to join the Nature Made Healthy Habit Builder program to get motivation and tips around your specific health goals.  

*Based on the 2016 U.S. News & World Report – Pharmacy Times Survey.

†These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, cure, treat or prevent any disease.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

{31 Days} Balancing Kids Activities with the Need for Family Time

This is a really hard topic for me to talk about.  I have major opinions on both sides of this, and they don’t seem to meet anywhere close to the middle.  I think that kids’ activities are incredibly important, but I also think that there are other ways to get kids involved in life without participating in sports or extracurricular activities.

On the one hand, I love that my kids love sports.  I did not like sports growing up, and gravitated towards all things music instead.  But, I didn’t actually get fully involved with music outside of school until high school (if you don’t count piano lessons).

Both of my kids really enjoy sports, and my husband was into sports when he was in school as well, so we wanted to give them the opportunity to be involved.  Of course, I knew that the time commitment would be considerable as soon as Jack and Emma were both in sports, but I persevered!

This year will be the first year that we will have competing schedules between my older two kids and their sports, and I am not looking forward to it.  I am still holding out hope that one of the kids decides not to participate in basketball so that the schedule isn’t quite as hectic. 

That is the other side of the coin for me.

I don’t like the idea of my family being scattered for a few months out of the year, racing from one practice to the next, and not really having the ability to all sit down together as a family more than one or two nights a week.

How do you balance that?

How do you allow your kids to become involved in the activities they want without giving up that family time? 

Balancing Kids Activities with the Need for Family Time

Honestly, I do not know.  It is something that we are working on though.  Is there a way that we can have the kids involved and still be able to carve out enough family time?  Or do we continue on this path and understand that for specific seasons we will not be together very often.

Considering my kids are all 8 and under at this moment, it seems a little silly to think about it in such a way, but surprisingly this is the way it works.  I’m not sure I want to give up all of these years in order to run around to different activities for one child.

I have been digging into the archives over at FIMBY and found this post I read a long while ago about choosing a family activity overteam sports.  That has really resonated with me recently.

It is something that I am definitely willing to do, although with Lucy being not even two yet, it becomes a little difficult to find an activity we can all participate in together.  I also know that my husband really values the team sports aspect.

I’m not sure this post will help anyone with overcoming overwhelm this month, but it is something that I tend to war with myself about frequently.  Especially because our busy season of basketball starts relatively soon.  That is when everything gets a lot more complicated, and very much overwhelming.

How do you balance kids’ activities with need for family time?  Do you have certain seasons where that isn’t possible?

Monday, October 10, 2016

{31 Days} On Being an Introvert

As we moved into our new school year (at the beginning of August), I thought about being an introvert, and the unique challenges I face as an introvert who is always around people.  And not just that I am around people, but that I have people attached to me 

I don’t want you to get the wrong idea here, I love being a mom, and I love homeschooling, and I love watching my kids flourish in activities, but it does wear on me big time.

I want to clear up a couple misconceptions about introverts.  Number one, we are not all extremely shy.  In fact, in groups of people I am quite outgoing.  I don’t have trouble speaking to others, and I generally love life.  What an introvert really is, is someone who needs solitude in order to energize.  So while I love being out with people, I need some serious quiet and alone time in order to recharge. 

I haven’t been getting that recently.

I think that is the root for feeling constantly overwhelmed.  So while I am writing about all the different steps I am taking to try and combat this feeling, I know that it is only a season, and eventually life with settle down a bit more, and I can find my way back to a bit more balance internally.

I am also a control person.  I need to control certain aspects of my life, such as my quiet time, and when I can’t, I often start to feel overwhelmed.

I think that this is human nature though – trying to be in control of everything around you.  I know, as a Christian, that I am really not in control of my life, and I really should be celebrating that, knowing that someone is watching out for me and knows what is going to happen next.  Instead, I often fight against this, and try to make things work the way that *I* think they should work.  This, most likely, leads to even more overwhelming feelings!

The need for control is something that I am working on changing, although I’m not sure how much I can change that.  When I start feeling overwhelmed, I cling to what I can do to change the situation, or to change my attitude in the situation.

On Being an Introvert and what an Introvert is Not

When I become overwhelmed, I can easily feel defeated, which was evident by my brain dump post yesterday.  I will often feel like no matter what I do, things are not going to work out how I want, and it is just a downward spiral from there.

Having the ability to change my thinking in this situation is so so important!

If I don’t make the choice to change my thinking, I will get carried off by circumstances and end up in the corner crying.

Of course, that is exactly what I have been doing the past couple of months.  When our schedule gets busy, and I don’t have as much control over the when and the where, it becomes something that I fight against, instead of working with. 

Having some strategies to make sure that I am still able to function is obviously important.

My main strategy for a long time was to make sure that I had my morning routine down.  Of course, when I wrote about morning routines earlier this month I explained that they were most definitely not working right now.

I really crave that solitude, so instead of having it first thing in the morning, I have started to enforce a “rest time” in the afternoon.  I would love to say this gives me a nice long uninterrupted break where I can recharge, but that isn’t really the case.  Most of the time I get about 30 minutes between getting Lucy down for a nap and then helping Emma and Jack get settled so I can go downstairs.

Now, I used to use rest time as a work time.  Some time to get things done around the house.  I still do that on occasion, but I realized that I really need that time for myself, so instead I am sitting and reading a book.  I find that it gives me just enough solitude to help out with the rest of the day.

No day is ever perfect, but it is what is working right now.  I hope that as time goes on, the kids are able to spend a little more time in their rooms, and perhaps Lucy will take a longer nap.  For now, thirty minutes of quiet in the afternoon is a wonderful respite for me.

Do you get your energy from being alone, or from being around a lot of people?  What do you do in the seasons where it is more difficult to find that energy?

Sunday, October 9, 2016

{31 Days} When You Just Need a Break!

I want to preface the following post by apologizing on not being here the full 31 days - since I didn't post Friday or Saturday this week!

An interesting thing happened this week - I hit a wall.  While I had posts written for the past couple of days, I didn't publish them for whatever reason.  They may come up later in the series, they may not ever see the light of day.

Writing about being overwhelmed is pretty easy for me - especially when I am currently in that life stage right now.  I think that the problem is when I am trying to give solutions, when there may not be solutions right now for me.

One that I have been concentrating on is changing my thinking, but that is so incredibly difficult to do.

Why is it so difficult?

I have been asking myself this a lot lately - why is is so difficult to change.  I think that part of the reason is that I like to control things so much, and when I am not in control of situations, I obviously feel out of control and that leads to more feelings of being overwhelmed.

Recently I have been thinking about our busy schedule coming up through the holiday season, and it has stressed me out before it has even started.  That is never a good thing.  

What are some ways I can change this?

My husband and I were having a discussion on Saturday about ways that I could overcome some of these overwhelmed feelings, especially when our two older kids will be involved in sports through the winter.  I'm not sure we came to any real strategies to change my thinking, but it did push me to want to read some parenting books again.

I think that part of the overwhelm comes from my feelings of "am I doing enough"

Are the kids in enough activities?  Are they happy?  Are they thriving?

As a parent I tend to prioritize my kids over myself.  I think that is true of most parents, but it is in those stressful, very busy times, that I remember what I wrote about self-care last year, and how important it is to remember that if I do not take care of myself, how am I going to take care of anyone else.

Clearly this post is not a prescriptive post, but I do find that when I am overwhelmed, writing is something that helps.

When I started blogging, everything was a free write for me.  Every thought I had seemed to make it down on paper, or in my case the blog.  And when I started Townsend House way back when, it continued in a similar fashion.

I would love to say that I have all the answers, but I most certainly do not.  And that is what I am trying to convey back to you today.  

I needed a break, and I took a break, and it was good to take a step back and re-center myself.

Hopefully going forward, I can keep self-care in my mind, and understand that there are some unique boxes I need to check as an introvert, and remember to check those off my list!

How do you practice self-care when you feel overwhelmed?  What if you aren't able to take a step back, and instead have to keep moving with the activities of the day/week/month/season?