Category: Magazine

We are an online magazine providing resources for women going through transitional stages in life with the help of grace. We inspire, empower, and celebrate women guiding them through an adventurous journey with God.

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Common Relationship Mistakes to Avoid this Valentine’s Day (and the Rest of Your Life!)

By Natalia Hughes, Associate Marriage Family Therapist

Common Relationship Mistakes to Avoid this Valentine_s Day (and the Rest of Your Life!) (1)In my years as a therapist, I’ve come to realize that relationships are very much like learning how to walk when you are an infant.  Walking starts with the basics of sitting, rolling, and learning how to crawl. It then leads to pulling yourself up, walking with help, cruising and then standing and balancing on your own. Before you know it, you are taking your first step and, with practice, you will be walking like a pro.

Like learning to walk, relationships are a process.  The ability to have a healthy, loving relationship takes time (baby steps!) and self-awareness. Failed relationships happen for many reasons, and the failure of a relationship is often a source of great psychological anguish.

Most of us have to consciously work to master the skills necessary to make a partnership flourish. It is important to identify patterns from failed relationships so that we can learn from them.  With Valentine’s Day coming up and love in the air, I thought it was a good time to list five common patterns to avoid:

  1. Losing yourself. People often make the mistake of losing their identity when they are in a relationship.  Remember, you are an individual. A strong, well-developed identity for both parties is a key component to a secure relationship. When you’re in a relationship your partner enhances you, it does not consume Without two separate “I’s,” there can be no “we.”
  2. Over-sharing. Often people suffer from the “too much information” syndrome early on in a relationship.  The first few months of getting to know someone is the time you need to establish a firm foundation for the partnership to thrive. You don’t want to make the mistake of revealing deeply personal information too soon.  That level of intimacy and confidence takes time to nurture, and should be saved for when the relationship is more securely rooted.
  3. Focusing on the negative and assuming the worst. Not everything your partner says or does will sit well with you. Don’t be too quick to jump to conclusions. Try not to assume that you and your significant other will see things the same way or that you can read each other’s minds. No one is perfect and like you, your partner deserves the benefit of the doubt. The key to maintaining a happy, healthy relationship is not focusing on those shortcomings, but rather, those characteristics that you cherish about your partner.
  4. Shutting down communication. Silence and walking away is not always safe even though it may feel like it, which is why so many of us do it when hashing out difficult issues with our partners. Instead of clamming up, take ownership of your feelings and communicate them honestly and directly. Managing your emotions appropriately is the basis of a communication style that can resolve conflict and lead to more established bond.
  5. Thinking the past dictates your future. Be mindful of your learning process in relationships. History has a way of repeating itself unless you mindfully makes changes. Take an honest look at your previous relationship mistakes so that you can avoid repeating them. This means confronting your fears and dependencies, and not looking to your partner to take responsibility for what is yours.

Like walking, building a strong relationship is a work in progress that is rich with discoveries and always filled with challenges. Being mindful and open will help you to avoid some of the bumps in the road, and disarm the behaviors that can undermine your relationship.

(Permission to repost the original article published on Hillsides Community blog on February 13, 2018)

Natalia, who received a master’s degree in Marriage Family Therapy from the University of Phoenix, is a CalWORKs therapist intern with Hillsides in our Family Resource Centers, Pomona.   CalWORKs is a state-wide program that provides employment services and other benefits to families in need.   

Natalia is a firm believer that the more we strive to learn, the more we will grow individually and as a culture. Her greatest passion is to teach others to continue to grow on their self-journey of discovery.  “I enjoy helping my clients find healthy perceptions of themselves, fortify their loving relationships, and apply self-growth in order to be balanced individuals,” she says.

Health & Wellness

Part 3: Nourishing my Soul with a Balanced Life

file-sep-07-7-37-09-pmWhile at early faith formation classes, I discovered a book entitled, I like me! by Nancy Carlson. It is now my favorite one. We also crafted personal daily affirmations and I am reminded that‪ God loves me and God loves you just the way we are. So you might ask, “Why are you on this weightloss journey?” I’m taking small steps to live longer in the temple God gave me. I only have one and need to take care of it to continue being here for my sons. I want to embrace life with energy, passion, and commitment and that is what I’m showing my sons. Bottomline.

Taking care of your self is an important part of the journey. I’m embracing things I enjoy doing. I love being a mom, a coach, a mentor, teaching the little ones about their faith, hiking, trail running, running long distances, writing, meditating, painting, creating, tending a garden, watching movies at home, cooking, making cocktails, and so much more. I take time to do self-care activities. Whatever it is for you is what’s encouraged. Practice one thing daily.

file-sep-07-7-38-23-pmMy son asked, “Mom, why do you take pictures of your food?” Doing so is one mindful activity. Taking a moment to capture it gives me pause to appreciate what God has provided. It prepares me for sitting down and realizing that the choice I make at this very moment affects me later, as is the case in so much of our lives. A lesson I’m teaching my sons. And posting the picture on MissGuidedMom’s Instagram and Facebook page holds me accountable. We may not know each other, but the struggle and obstacles are still real in our journey. To know someone else who has the same challenges and is an ordinary person helps us stand together stronger.

What also helps is changing our perspective on how we see things. “Meet the Robinsons” is one of my favorite movies. Not only do I love it because Lewis, the main character, was an orphan and I work at a foster care charity, but Lewis never let that stop him from achieving his dream. Although he encountered obstacles and many times he wanted to go back in time to find his mother, he kept moving forward. So much of what keeps us from achieving our dream is the negative messages and habits from the past as well as the comfort of the present. Sometimes we have to change our perspective, let go of the past, and get uncomfortable from what we know to live the dream.

Going on this journey doesn’t mean you have to make sacrifices all the time. You don’t even have to make sacrifices if you change your perspective. I thought the Whole30 would be about giving up some food to detox my body, but instead it became a period where I gained so much more. I gained a healthier sense of self, a renewal of the spirit, and a restoration of the body. While I still enjoyed dinners at restaurants and birthday celebrations, I prepared myself. I would review the restaurant menu prior to going out to get my mind ready for what was to come. Taking this small yet significant step was a sign of becoming more disciplined one meal at a time, one day at a time.

file-sep-07-7-42-51-pmOn other occasions, I have experienced unexpected situations. Plans don’t always go as expected and when that happens I have learned to quickly adapt. Staying nimble is key to moving forward with creativity in workout goals or any of life’s goals. My advice: empower yourself with words that inspire you, moments you can hold on to, and motivations to change your life. Know your purpose and enjoy your journey, even with the ups and downs and roller coaster rides. These spiraling times change our lives and make us stronger. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that in the darkness I have tapped into my faith, learned my purpose, and regained a sense of identity. During these times, the darkness shows me a glimmer of light and with light there is new life.

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Follow Marisol Barrios, also known as “Eve,” on Instagram and on Facebook @MissGuidedMom. I will be sharing my weightloss journey, reflecting on what I’m learning and how #fitbyGRACE (God Reveals As Coach Eternal) is working in my life.

In case you missed Part 1: How I Became Committed to This Health and Wellness Journey: Feeding my mind spiritually  and  Part 2: Taking Care of my Temple

 

Health & Wellness

Part 2: Taking Care of my Temple

file-sep-07-7-24-11-pmI woke up on July 25, 2016 and knew that day was “the day.” With this scripture in mind, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13) I was ready to start my fitness journey through ‪GRACE  (God Reveals As Coach Eternal). So what did I do first?

The night before I had taken the dreaded before pictures and measurements. Why are before pictures and measurements encouraged? So you can see the progress you make weekly. Any change for me on pictures is a sign of hope and progress. The measurements can be taken monthly to see how you have changed. The pictures revealed what I knew–that I was at my all-time highest weight. I burst out crying. I looked horrible, bloated, and pregnant. And although I loved being pregnant, looking pregnant when I wasn’t is a different story. It reminded me of several times when I was asked, “When are you due?” or “Are you pregnant?” Who does that? Some people do, obviously. My fiancé took the pictures (worst choice ever) and I had him take the measurements. To make matters worse, I couldn’t find a tape measure and used the paper tape measure from IKEA (epic fail). It was too short around my waist and to add to the embarrassment I had my fiancé take a pen and mark off where it ended on my stomach and measure the remaining area. He didn’t want to but I insisted. What was I thinking? I started laughing and crying at the same time, thinking how comical this was and embarrassing. I went to bed crying and my fiancé comforted me. Thank goodness for a supportive partner who only sees the beauty within and, of course, he told me I was beautiful too. :::still crying:::

file-sep-07-7-36-45-pmAt that time I started the Whole30 program, planning, prepping, and preparing wholesome, raw meals. I was going to eat clean and stay clean. I took the time to plan a 30-day menu (you can call this overkill or extremely organized, I prefer the latter). I went shopping for the weekly groceries and prepared the lunches for week. Snacking is not encouraged but since I have an hour and a half commute, I knew having an apple or small fruit and nuts would be helpful for me. I enjoy cooking so coming home to make meals feels relaxing. Not to mention, I feel like I’m doing something wonderful for my family, providing and serving healthy dinners.

More importantly, I knew that this body was the only one God had given me. I had to take care of it for my sons. I want to be around for their graduations, weddings, children’s births and so many other milestones in life. So what is there to do? I also committed to exercising daily. This was not seen as a chore but rather a choice I made because it felt good and it was what I committed too. In the past I had struggled to get up in the morning or finish my day with a workout. Exercise was not something I did. I realized that working out previously was definitely a challenge for me. Without thinking how different my mindset was now, I made plans with friends to make it easier to lace up the shoes and go on a hike up or walk around the track. I get to catch up with friends and exercise too. Each day continues to be a step in a better direction for me. There are days I am sore and feel like I want to stay in bed. Then I think, “press toward the goal” and I get up, get dressed, and workout.

file-sep-07-7-25-16-pmI’m taking my family on my weightloss journey. What does that mean? The significant food changes I make also impact my family. What I cook for myself is what I serve my family too. One Sunday morning, we enjoyed a hearty egg dish with Teton Waters Ranch 100% grassfed beef sausages, onions and bell peppers. I served potatoes and pineapple on the side. And I sipped on my iced coffee with coconut milk from a can, which I prefer. My sons are eating variations of this dish. They don’t like the “mess” on my plate and prefer things individually. I opted to not eat the potatoes also served.

I’m not going to sugarcoat this weightloss journey. On another occasion, I was frustrated when I couldn’t build my own pizza and delight in the dessert the others had this particular evening. Although I made the healthy choice for myself since I was still on the Whole30 program, I still felt it difficult to eat and sit around the table surrounded by the pizza. One bite after next I ate my greens knowing that this is an example of pressing toward the goal. So what to do with the frustration? I came home to row, row, row my steam away! I honestly felt better and much lighter.

Now I’m grateful to be waking up early in the morning and getting my workouts done. When I start breaking a sweat I smile, knowing that I’m working hard to transform myself to be a fit mom for my boys. They see and hear everything we do and say as parents, so providing quality nutrition and being a fitness role model are good for their spirits. I’m glad I can do both.

Each day I’m getting stronger but not stronger just in my body, stronger in my mind and spiritually filled. Knowing full well why I’m doing this.

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Follow Marisol Barrios, also known as “Eve,” on Instagram and on Facebook @MissGuidedMom. I will be sharing my weightloss journey, reflecting on what I’m learning and how #fitbyGRACE (God Reveals As Coach Eternal) is working in my life.

Stay tuned to read Part 3: Nourishing my Soul with a Balanced Life and in case you missed the first article Part 1: How I Became Committed to this Health and Wellness Journey: Feeding my mind spiritually

Health & WellnessUncategorized

Part 1: How I Became Committed to this Health and Wellness Journey

file-sep-06-10-01-36-pmMy weight has yo-yoed, up and down, and it doesn’t help that workouts have not been consistent. When I’ve enjoyed junk food days, I slumber into food comas. I have not welcomed the proper mindset but rather have fallen to temptations of cupcakes, office cookies, wine and martinis. My weight journey has been a roller coaster ride and I have now spiraled down. I am at my all-time highest weight, experiencing not only food comas, but unexplainable itching under the skin, body inflammation, and bouts of low energy.

I finally reached a point where I realized it’s time to make a lifestyle change, not just for me but also for my sons. The change did not come because of the queasiness of the roller coaster ride or the I-will-not–buy-a-larger-size-of-blue-jeans thought. The change was gradual and I didn’t realize it until now that God had been working on me like a coach who guides an athlete.

Now I’m starting on a health and wellness journey, transforming my mind, body, and soul to fulfill the purpose God has for me. I am feeding my mind spiritually, taking care of my temple to see my sons grow up, and nourishing my soul with a balanced life. This journey is not without its challenges and obstacles. With God-inspired words, I am pressing toward the goal.

Feeding My Mind Spiritually

1Over the past year I have been volunteering in religious education classes teaching first graders. I had an opportunity to also attend faith formation classes to become a certified religious education teacher so I decided to enroll. What better way to serve God than to water the seeds he planted in the little ones. Saturday morning classes bring so much joy; I’m wrapped in complete joy when I see their faces, the sparkle in their eyes, and the smiles when they learn about God and his love for all of us. The first lesson is on creation. One day I read Genesis 1:29, “God also said: See, I give you every seed-bearing plant on all the earth and every tree that has seed-bearing fruit on it to be your food…” This scripture resonated with me in a way it never had before. I paused to reflect on this and it has stayed with me. Wholesome raw food is available for us to nourish our body. I found myself shopping along the perimeter of the store where the produce and meats are placed, avoiding the processed and GMO foods, which are man made.

An assignment I had during faith formation classes was to answer a few questions on prayer and spirituality. What caught my attention were the three elements of prayer: a sense of familiarity with God, persistence, and assurance. Knowing these three aspects of effective prayer provide me with added confidence I need to continue praying in silence the way I do and be more open as well. At the same time, I am encouraged to continue knocking until the doors are opened with God’s will. Our prayers will be answered in one way or another and always with God’s will in effect. “Let it be with me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38)

1I also read in a book, The Ignatian Workout for Lent, that a spiritual athlete has the same preparation, discipline, and artful mastery of his skills as an Olympic athlete or other super athlete. He presses toward the goal in times of obstacles. For me this is my journey of a healthy lifestyle, recognizing that health and wellness is important in all aspects of life whether it’s personal or professional. I must be like the spiritual athlete that daily is mindful of the presence of God and all the good that he shows us in the world. And in times of difficulty, press on and be grateful for the abundance, joy and love that surrounds me while I journey prayerfully to lead a God-inspired life so I may be present for my sons.

So how does feeding my mind spiritually play a role in my health and wellness journey? Scripture was planted on my mind when I realized I was at my all-time highest weight on July 24, 2016. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13) I realized that with my determination, GRACE (God Reveals As Coach Eternal) and a strong support network, I was capable of living a healthy lifestyle. This time would be different. God had been watering the seeds he planted long ago and I was soaking it in.

Continue the journey and read Part 2: Taking care of my temple and Part 3: Nourishing my soul with a balanced life.

Follow Marisol Barrios, also known as “Eve,” on Instagram and on Facebook @MissGuidedMom. I will be sharing my weightloss journey, reflecting on what I’m learning and how #fitbyGRACE (God Reveals As Coach Eternal) is working in my life.