Basil up close by Cortney North

A round-up of stress-lowering favorites all thanks to my Fitbit

Before I get to my favorites: I wanted to let you know that you’ll notice changes to the website over the course of the next month. It is in the process of being updated by my talented web designer, who also happens to be my husband. As our world is increasingly internet dependent, it is a fantastic bonus that he ran his own web design company for years. It’s a win-win project that is fun for him and provides me with a new site! And now onto my post…

Though summer is my favorite season, spring is making a case for itself. Yesterday I went on a run to relieve some stress from my morning job and it was like running through a spring-themed Hollywood set. There were flowers in bloom beside the babbling brook, white wisps of clouds floating nonchalantly in the cobalt sky, birds harmonizing with one another from branch to branch, the cologne of sweet freshly cut grass, even two rabbits jumping in a meadow. It felt like receiving an injection of ‘joyful goodness’ after an especially cloudy, gray winter. It also melted away the stress from work, so that was fantastic. Mission accomplished! Spring certainly supports being active and getting everything back in order after the long winter hibernation!

What’s this scheduling you speak of?

And speaking of getting everything updated – I’ve been trying to get my schedule updated with working outside the home part-time, working on the art business and managing a home. There is a lot to do in any given day and at first it seemed the best option was to cram my schedule full to capacity. However, my Fitbit’s resting heart rate graph was tracking upwards with each passing week. That’s when I submitted to the reality that I can’t be that rigorously scheduled and need to back off. I was arranging everything into fifteen minute increments and when something altered that schedule, stress ensued.

I’m sure there are people who thrive with a strict schedule, but I’m not one of them. I’m working on accepting this as ‘me being me’ instead of ‘me being incapable of strict structure.’ I also think my art is better when I’m not that stressed. Busy is one thing because it motivates me to work harder in a short period of time and I really think I get more out of my creativity that way. But pushing myself to the point that my heart rate is increasing three points each week was too much.

I’ve chalked it up to: I tried it and learned – my body tells me I need down time and a slower pace. Heard!

My ‘slow down and enjoy’ scheduling changes:

Each morning I wake up early, around 4:50am, to get the day started with a devotional while my husband works out. It is a nice way to slowly start the day without having to jump out of bed and feel the weight of time ticking down before I need to leave the house. Later, during breakfast, I like to catch up on my favorite blogs, which at the moment are The Big Mama Blog and Modern Mrs. Darcy. I’ve been making more time in my schedule, typically before bed and on Sundays, for pleasure reading. There was minimal time allotted for reading when I started up my business and I noticed great unhappiness within myself because of it.

I’m quite sure we all have our own tipping points, I just didn’t think I would reach mine so quickly. But there is a happy end to this story. These small changes have already shown their importance: my resting heart rate has dropped 8 points in the past two weeks! Hooray to that!

In addition to a low heart rate, here are a few other things making me happy right now:

Friday date night

whoopee pie

whoopee pie
My husband and I are very introverted, so after busy, people-centered weeks, we want time by ourselves. Restaurants don’t always feel like a retreat, so we’ve decided that every Friday we will get a movie from the library, pick up some food (or make a heat-and-go meal from Trader Joe’s) and have some wine. Simple yet satisfying. This week’s menu is TJ’s Pizza Parlanno with Kung Pao cauliflower, and whoppee pies. Our feature presentation is: Dr. Strange with Benedict Cumberbatch. Our wine is a moscato from Robert Mondavi vineyards. We’re looking forward to a fun evening!


I’ve already addressed my love for books and their new priority in my life. So here’s a list of what I’m reading right now along with what I’ve already read and has been coming back into my thoughts:

Creative You book

The Creative You by David B. Goldstein and Otto Kroeger – Personality tests meets creative coaching. Well, I’m sold!


talent code book

The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle – I just started this during breakfast this morning, but the first few pages left me wanting more. Looking forward to tips that will help me become stronger with my art and business skills!


Pride and Prejudice


Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen – I’ve been thinking about the writing in this book and keep coming back to the characters. This has been especially true after reading the Myers-Briggs profiles and the Enneagram personalities. I’m convinced Jane Austen knew (and was very close) with someone like Mr. Darcy. My husband is this same personality and the nuances she highlights are uncanny. Smart writing!




Frederick: A story of Boundless Hope by Frederick Ndabaramiye – My dear friend blessed me with this book shortly before she passed. I’ve been reflecting on this book for the past month even though I read it a few years ago. The theme of hope and, honestly, hope abundant if not even hope contagious is what I like most about this work. I used to work at the Columbus Zoo, a company who supports Frederick’s organization, so it was also enjoyable to read about people I knew personally.



the lake house

The Lake House by Kate Morgan – This might be the second mystery novel I’ve read due to my highly sensitive imagination; I’m afraid I’ll have to sleep with the lights on if a mystery gets too gory. It was a pleasant read this past winter. Since December, I’ve craved and focused on heavy, deep material, so I’m thinking again about books that are meant to entertain and transport. I go through seasons in my reading life and a new season is upon me! Now to find these books…



Basil Plant

Spring is great because of plants (though I really don’t like their pollen right now!). I wasn’t planning on picking up another indoor herb, but they were out of pre-cut basil. Trader Joe’s had this live basil plant for $2.99 over in their mini-garden section. I figured it will certainly last longer than the pre-cut basil leaves I originally had on my list!


Bearded Dragon

bearded dragon

I’ve taken pictures of our bearded dragon Kronos before, but I thought I would include one today. She’s making me happy because she’s energetic, loving her fruit and enjoying the birds that fly close to her window. Spring is her favorite time of year!