Category Archives: Let’s Get Messy

Surround Yourself

Who and what do you surround yourself with?

In a world inundated with negativity, it is crucial to surround yourself with the opposite, positivity. I’m not saying we should walk on a delusional path, ignorant to the realities of the world. I am simply saying that it is important we do not transform to them.

Even the Bible warns about it:

“Do not be deceived: Bad company ruins good morals.”- 1 Corinthians 15:33

“Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.” – Proverbs 13:20

and one of my favorites:

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” -Romans 12:2

But it’s not just about people, it’s about everything. What is your mind seeing every day? Whatever it is, it is setting up a platform on which you will focus.

Living most of my life with incredible anxiety, I know this all too well. The vicious cycle that captures our minds like prey. This was most recently experienced after my daughter was born. While I couldn’t admit it at the time, I suffered from postpartum anxiety which teamed up with the post traumatic stress disorder that still lingered from my son’s anaphylactic reaction years before.

During this time, the last thing I needed was more negativity, but it was everywhere. Every other post on Facebook had it. The news that was on television. The news that people told me. What I was google searching… what I was searching for… what I was reading… turned into what I was thinking… It. Was. Everywhere.

Until I had a huge wake up call, I was choosing what to surround myself with. Sure, it was all out there, the negativity our society sometimes seems to sickly crave, the accidents we can’t turn our eyes from. However, it was my own choice if I looked or turned away to something else.

So I decided then during a session of breastfeeding my daughter I would gradually take control back from this vicious cycle once and for all.

That was when I started to google search positive quotes and song lyrics, leaving them on my phone to see when I went to text. Or when I would try to search up something fearful, I would see Bible scriptures of hope in the search engine and screen, then reminding myself to put the phone down. I started to plant seeds of positivity everywhere… my phone, my phone cover, my keychains, my computer screens, my ID holder, my classroom, etc.

Unlike the keys we must carry to get where we need to go each day, we do not need to carry the weight of the world’s negativity with us. Instead, learn to surround yourself with positive people who empower you and your life with reminders of all that is good in this world. Because the truth is… there really is sooo much good, just waiting to be seen.

There is so much beauty in the world if you train your eyes to see it. And if for some reason, you don’t see it… create it, become it, be it! That is why I embrace the mess because it is surrounded by goodness.

What are You Powered By?

In a life that tries to drive at 100 miles per hour, energy-wise it is often difficult to keep up. In fact, with balancing kids, work, and everything else, I am often asked, how do you find enough energy?

Honestly, there was a time when I was burnt out, and just going through the motions.   (A life of anxiety will do that to you.) I was emotionally and physically exhausted. However, once I broke free from the anxiety, it was more than a breath of fresh air, it was a new life. 

Now, there some days that I do feel exhausted but it is easy now to differentiate between physical exhaustion and just needing to slow down a bit.   It is all about slowing down these days…  in fact, it’s more about balancing my energy and learning how to best disperse it.

Since I don’t drink coffee, I cannot use it as a power source.  Instead, I have learned a few wonderful ways to maintain a healthy level of energy. No more highs and definitely no more crashing…. it’s all about balance.

Here are my sources of energy:

  1. Prayer: It will always my number one.  When I started to stress, I try to catch myself and pray.   I start each morning with prayer, reading the Bible, and writing.   All of these empower me to face the day positively and courageously.   A lot of my energy comes from this.   “Surely, God is my help; the Lord is the one who sustains me.” – Psalm 54:4
  2. Wolfberry: One of my favorite products by Young Living is Ningxia Red.   This supplement supports whole body wellness and sustains energy naturally. Even my husband enjoys an ounce or two of this drink.
  3. Kombucha: It has been noted that the gut is considered to be the “second brain.”  In fact, a lot of your immune system is located in your gut. Therefore, taking care of it is very important.   Kombucha has many benefits aside from immune health including being a source of energy.  My favorite is ginger; however, more and more options continue to emerge. Once again, my husband has become a fan of this source as well.
  4. A morning run, jog, walk, workout session:  This is such a huge source of energy for me.  Pairing this exercise with the right foods helps to ensure that the balance will be maintained throughout the day.
  5. A green morning shake up: Get that blender out (Vitamix in our case) and mix those fruits, seeds, nuts, and veggies up into an energizing morning shake. Here is my favorite recipe.)
  6. Lemon/celery juice: Drinking warm lemon water every morning was something that I started doing over four years ago after my miscarriage and “mysterious” medical issues.  I warm up about 16-20 ounces of warm and then add freshly squeezed organic lemon juice to it and sip before I eat anything.   however, after reading some of Anthony William’s books and resources like Celery Juice I also added in celery juice to my morning routine. 16 ounces of organic celery juice I blend and drink on the empty stomach then wait 15-30 minutes to eat.  I have been doing this:
    1. lemon water – Wait 30 minutes
    1. Celery juice – Wait 30 minutes then eat breakfast (However, I just recently switched this up and start with the celery juice instead.)
  7. Diffusing: No matter the mood or day, I can find the perfect oil to diffuse from joy to valor to even EN-R-GEE itself, they all life my spirits.
  8. Relationships: Who are we kidding? Relationships are exhausting or at least they can be… however, they can also be empowering.   That is why it is important to make sure to invest enough time and more importantly, love into our valued  relationships because they really do give us strength, energy, and life.
  9. Fresh air:  A friend and I made it our goal to go outside and walk during our Friday lunches.   While life got too crazy and this stopped for awhile, we are bringing it back. Get outside even on those frigid days.   Just breath in the freshness of pure air, God’s goodness at work.  It is one of the best sources of energy.
  10. Sleep: Get to sleep early and wake up early.   It truly makes a difference!

There was a time in my early 20s that I would travel around with a frozen bag of peas to help reduce the bags under my eyes (no joke…a little overboard … but then again that was me during my early 20s)  However, even as I near 40, frozen peas are long gone as they are not needed… even on my makeup free face.  Finally, my coffee mug may still remain empty; but I have a few other sources of energy up my sleeve… 

 

Where do you get your energy from? What are your main power sources?

‭‭Above the Noise
Proverbs‬ ‭3:1-8‬ ‭

When night falls
darkness tries to steal
do not forget His teachings,
but keep His commands in my heart,
for they will prolong
my life many years
and bring me peace and prosperity
for they make stand strong.

In a crazy world
it gives me pure and utter joy
to know that I come
from something so complete
from a truth above all else
where His voice I hear clearly
where His plan I trust
above the noise
it is where peace
is what I meet.

Let love and faithfulness never leave me;
bind them around my neck,
write them on the tablet of my heart.
Then I will win favor
and a good name in the sight
of God and man.
Hearing His voice over the others
and following it
walking though what I do not yet understand.

In a crazy world
it gives me pure and utter joy
to know that I come
from something so complete
from a truth above all else
where His voice I hear clearly
where His plan I trust
above the noise
it is where peace
is what I meet.

Trust in the Lord with all my heart
and lean not on my own understanding;
in all my ways submit to Him
and he will make these paths straight.
Do not be wise in my own eyes;
fear the Lord and shun evil.
This will bring health to my body
and nourishment to my bones.
This is where He always provides.

In a crazy world
it gives me pure and utter joy
to know that I come
from something so complete
from a truth above all else
where His voice I hear clearly
where His plan I trust
above the noise
it is where peace
is what I meet.

-JK


© Jennifer Kosuda and The Art of a Messy House (theartofamessyhouse.com), 2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jennifer Kosuda and The Art of a Messy House with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Be Who You Needed

In many ways, this quote has become my motivation this year. I could spend hours, if not days, talking about what I lacked and needed growing up. The struggles that almost took my life time and time again as a child, adolescent and young adult. I could point fingers and place blame on person after person for why I was the way I was, why I hated myself for so many years despite having so much to be thankful for.

But forgiveness allowed me to stop the useless finger pointing and take on the new challenge, applying to every part of my life.

“Be who you needed when you were younger.”

And it has truly changed the way I breath, the way I live, the way I love.

So who did you need? What did you need? What do you still need? Turn to the Word, pray for the strength and then do this very thing. Become who you needed. Become who you need. Become who the world needs. For there is beauty in becoming who you need … in becoming who you are meant to be … amongst the mess.

Unchained Candy Crush

I played Candy Crush for five years.

Yup.

Five years.

And while I do admit I loved it and how it made my mind turn off any worry or stress for those minutes each day of playing …

.. and do not judge anyone who plays it…

 

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let me share why I finally stopped playing cold turkey.

 

I have goals. Many of these dreams have been deeply rooted in me since I was a child. One goal this year is that I want to live in the present. Others include wanting to start this blog again, to write and publish my poetry, to write and publish a book or two, to make a difference according to God’s will, to develop a deep connection with my husband and children, to be more in-tune with family and friend relationships, to be my best self…

Back in the fall, one night as we were spending time with my son before bed, he asked to play on my phone. Finding Candy Crush, he then begged me to show him how to play. It was only for a few minutes that night … but soon turned into a few minutes every night that week… a few minutes every night that took away from conversation and soon could turn into hours or even days of valuable time taken away.

My husband challenged me, “You still play that game? Why don’t you delete it?

I started my defensive comeback …

It helped me work out in the morning (Yes I’m guilty of being the one running on a treadmill crushing away!) …

It helped me unwind …

It helped me de-stress …

It helped me …

Avoid …

Now, unwinding is one thing … but avoiding is another. I was avoiding my goals and dreams because it makes you extremely vulnerable to acknowledge them, verbalize them, and even more vulnerable to stretch out and reach for them.

Stretch goals are not easy. They are not meant to be easy. However, they will never be reached or even have the possibility of being reached if you avoid them.

“I’d rather attempt to do something great and fail than to attempt to do nothing and succeed.” – Robert H. Schuller

God-given gifts and those dreams that are placed on our hearts that align with those gifts cannot be avoided. They must be prayed for and used to do good.

So 1,825 days later …

I deleted candy crush.

You see the devil will use distractions in life to keep us from out destiny… and Candy Crush was one of mine.

While I could not get any of that past time back, I needed that time going forward…

Prayer … writing … poetry … close family and friends … all help me unwind, destress, and focus. But they also help me, stretch out for those dreams and give me the time to do so.

And even though as the work week comes to an end, the house is messier than I would like, my mind and heart are aligned in knowing they are working together to do good. They are working together for a greater purpose.

For more information:

  • “Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time.” – Colossians 4:5
  • “I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do.” – John 17:4

© Jennifer Kosuda and The Art of a Messy House (theartofamessyhouse.com), 2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jennifer Kosuda and The Art of a Messy House with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


Little Big Shots – Husband Style

With how busy our weeks get, we try to find time to have a family movie each weekend.  Last weekend, as we watched Pocahontas, this conversation happened…

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JOHN SMITH: “I’d rather die tomorrow than live a hundred years without knowing you.” (From Pocahontas by Walt Disney)

MY HUSBAND turns to me: “They have chiseled jaws.”

ME: “I was thinking…how romantic that line was.”

 

Husbands say the darndest things…

 

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Judgment

 

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According to the dictionary, to judge is “to form an opinion or conclusion about something or someone.” The reality is judgments, good and bad, are thrown at us every day whether we see, know or admit it. And that’s not going to change, although I’d like to think that most people in this world are really good. Judging is part of human nature. However, it does not need to affect us in a negative manner.

But that’s the tricky part: it’s a two-step equation that starts within.

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Equation:

Rewire + Deflect = PEACE

Rewire your own judgments  + Deflect others at you = PEACE

Peace also includes learning to not compare yourself to others and not taking things to heart which is definitely an area I struggled with for a long time…

Okay, once again, I can’t lie. I’ve always been the hyper-sensitive girl who cried at movies, many songs, at criticism, and even if I got in trouble… (which was rare.) Take for instance that day in Mrs. Fritzinger’s fourth grade science class after I let Anne copy my answers in the bathroom before class and got caught, the tears overflowed like a flood.

Sensitivity plus the fact that I was hyper-aware of those around me and their feelings, created quite a time bomb waiting to explode for years. I can taste the saltiness of those thousands of times when I tried so hard to swallow away the tears, instead of giving in to their currents.

Still, I was always sensitive and I have always wore my heart on my sleeve. The only difference now was I embrace it and use it as my strength. Empathy was a quality I was blessed with and when I could not control it, cursed with. I’d like to think now though after some insights, it’s mostly a blessing…

It is ALL about perspective.

So let’s jump ahead to motherhood…or rather parenthood. Judgments are everywhere! I’ve been guilty of being sleep deprived, overwhelmed and unprepared. Oh  and sometimes, or most times, my kids’ jackets are not zippered as we run into daycare. I see the watching eyes.

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Around when Madison was six months old, I was really at some of my lowest times emotionally. However, my children brought me joy except those days that turned into screaming match after screaming match.

And it had been one of those days, but I needed to hit up the store and get out of the house despite the chaos. In preparation for a party, I was missing one ingredient so I packed up the kids into the car and went for a “quick trip” to Shoprite. Quick was where I was wrong.

As I pulled up, I heard an explosion in the backseat so I set up a changing station in the trunk as my son stood next to me in the parking lot. (It never fails! Why does Mother Nature always call my kids at the store?)  To add to the moment, TJ had been screaming about forgetting his buddies aka army of stuffed animals at home. Bad mama! So lots of yelling and crying commotion as I took Madison out of the car to find out my next “surprise.”

Let’s just say the diaper had not worked.

It. Was. Everywhere.

I striped her of everything. She was naked except from her new diaper. There was a mess everywhere. It was then that I realized I had forgotten a change of clothes aaaaaand had no bags to put everything in.

Bad mom again!

I searched around. Dozens of people walked by me. I would say, “Excuse me.” All I wanted was a bag from someone’s double bagged groceries.

No one stopped.

No one looked.

And I’m pretty sure even though I’d hate to judge …

everyone heard.

On the verge of tears, I remembered that I had a blanket in the back seat and decided it was warm enough to use the blanket and diaper to wrap up my daughter and go into the store. My son was hysterically laughing now, talking about how his sister was naked under the blanket at the store. I wanted to laugh too but my anxiety was sky high.

To say the least, I got a lot of looks.   Right as we were going to the self check-out line, one person commented on how adorable they both were.  Instead of thanking her,  I quickly jumped to defend myself...

…from what?

“Adorable and naked. We had an accident in the car and I had to run in for one item. Mother of the year over here.” I made a joke about it which she laughed at as she walked away smiling.

(TMI on my part but I feel like parenthood unleashes a lack of filter or at least, it did with me.)

Had she even been judging? Had anyone been throwing negative stares? Or was it my own perception? Did it even matter?

Then, let’s flashback into time when TJ was 7.5 months old and diagnosed with 21 possible allergies. Due to his severe anaphylactic reaction to yogurt, he was required to eliminate all of them. I had been a new mom and strongly committed to breastfeeding him for many reasons. So I quickly decided that I would give up those foods too so that I could continue nursing him. It was what I knew in my heart was best for him. I wanted to at least try out the diet to see if it would work. I have never been one to dismiss something before I tried it. While the diet free of gluten, oats, tomatoes, nuts, peanuts, eggs, sesame, and dairy was difficult enough, the hardest part of it all were the judgments and isolation that came with it for those six months.

During those months, TJ was always sick so we cancelled on a lot of plans.  And when he wasn’t ill, I didn’t want to go to weddings or parties anyways. It was too hard to try to defend why I was doing what I was doing.

At that time, I had it all wrong though.

I had no one to defend myself to.

No one to answer to.

I knew that it was the right thing for TJ and knew it would benefit him in the long run. So why did I find it so hard to let go of what others thought and just live in the moment…

happily…

You would think most people would have been supportive.  Yet, do you know how many people would come to me and make comments about it like …

– I would never do that…

– I must be selfish because I would it consider it…

– Why are you doing this to yourself?…

The questions and comments came from so many people. And those were the ones, I actually heard. The Lord only knows the ones that were said behind my back.  It was such a sensitive time for me and I had the totally wrong perspective.

Looking back, I think many of these people were trying to be supportive but it was not the type of encouragement that I needed…

Not judging or at least I’d like to think so…

One person who always supported me was my husband. He knew my heart but he also always reminded me that it was always going to be my choice when I wanted to stop nursing and the diet. Yet, I still felt isolated at any social events I attended as I felt that people were judging what I was eating and what I was not eating, saying why they would never do what I was doing. It was an isolating cycle that I just kept running into. It was easier to isolate myself than face people’s opinions…

until I realized …

none of those judgments matter …

None! …

only God’s …

Food is everywhere! Socially, it is such a huge part of our culture. Through the elimination diet, I learned a feeling, an emptiness that no one deserves to feel because I allowed it to become like that. I learned what I never wanted my son to feel regardless of 50 allergies, 3 or none. It made me learn and devise strategies, recipes, and a lifestyle that would foster the complete opposite for son, future daughter, students, etc. It made me embrace inclusion, acceptance and advocacy in a way that protected every individual.

They say don’t judge a book by its cover but the reality is … they are… so accept it (deflect it) … but remember YOU write(rewire/renew) the story within… so make it good!

The best part is … no one judgment matters other than God’s, so embrace the stares as compliments, the questions as encouragement ….and smile back, letting your Mama/Dada strength shine through. I promise it will change you forever…

 

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Coffee is Not My Best Friend

I don’t drink coffee.  untitled design (42)

I used to. I used to love it. I use to crave it! But over the years, I learned caffeine and I don’t mix so that bittersweet friendship needed to go…

In middle school, I was tall. In fact, I was almost my exact height now. Five feet six inches at the age of twelve, I was as tall as a few of the boys and towered over most of the other ones including my brother just a year younger than me.

The problem to my “middle school” Jen was that I liked the short boys, but was way too insecure with myself to see that…that was totally okay.. that my height was part of what made me beautiful. I just wasn’t ready to stand tall around anyone…So of course the next best solution at that age was…

“to stunt my growth” so I turned to coffee or so I thought… Untitled design (43).png

(I obviously do not encourage this behavior at all, but can’t help to laugh at myself looking back now. I also wanted bigger breasts and tried some outlandish theories for that too like eating while hanging off my bed ….

I was… untitled design (44)

am upside-down, hot mess and lucky I never choked on anything… but I digress…)

This was where my love of ice coffee and Coffee Coolattas started. I drank them every day throughout high school and college. Then, I shifted to black coffee in my 20s until I discovered a non-fat creamer that I indulged in for way too long. When first pregnant with my son, I tried to give it up but the afternoon migraines were too intense so I would save my cup of Joe for after lunch.

Because of the breastfeeding elimination diet I did for TJ due to his allergies, I could not use my “fat-dairy’ creamer. (apparently no matter how artificial it was, it still contained dairy). 

Then, came my miscarriage a year later which led me to do a three day whole food cleanse where coffee was not allowed…

It was then that I just stopped for what I thought would be a week or two. Soon though, I found myself pregnant with Madison and felt more comfortable sticking to being coffee-free.

Nine months later right on my due date (I have very punctual kids…can’t say that about myself these days… but I digress again ), my daughter arrived. 

During those first hours following her birth, a migraine started and the nurse and doctor both recommended that I drink coffee.   So, I did and sure enough the headache went away but what I didn’t know yet… I was already hooked again.

During those first two months, I found myself waiting for that one cup of coffee as if my day and life depended on it. When I drank it, I could take on anything…. for that hour at least and then

crash!

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Literally, I would crash. It was such a drastic shift in mood and energy level that I decided to challenge myself.   Did I really need this coffee? 

I am always up for a challenge so I took it on. This led to a terrible week of night sweats, exhausted days, and irritability.   It was truly a detox from one cup of coffee…(okay more than 1.5 cups or 2 at this point since my mug kept growing in size. One cup is one cup no matter the size, right?)

Anyways, that is when I finally faced the facts:

If my body had to detox from something like that, it was not meant to be.   

Therefore, I have been coffee free for 2.5 years now and don’t miss it.  I do still love the smell of coffee brewing in the morning though and I still have not given up the wine …. not so sure I will… I mean it’s much more pleasant to embrace the Friday mess of this house…

without feeling the need to clean or do laundry as I sip on a glass of Shiraz…

But once again I digress.

Stay tuned: Read up on some other sources of energy we use coming SOON to a blog near you. 😁)