I lost myself

I’ve been doing a lot of soul searching lately. Just for self growth purposes, and I realized that I’ve really lost myself.
My husband has been doing a lot of studying on complacency, and how a lot of the time many relationship issues stem from it. And one of the things it points out about being complacent is not doing the things that you used to not being the person your significant other originally fell for. I’m not sure what I’m realizing is so much complacency, as it is I’ve been putting everything I used to do on hold. I’ve been living in overwhelming and crazy survival mode. But I’ve started to notice, that most of it is just my perception. The way I’m choosing to mentally deal with certain situations.

When my first son was born, I still did a lot of what I’ve always loved to do. I’d make my own tinctures, I cloth diapered, I enjoyed living as naturally as I could. I went foraging for wild plants, and was very much into herbalism. I loved reading, I loved journaling. And I’ve put that all aside to be a mom. I started doing less and less things that brought me joy, and it hasn’t been intentional. But I’ve really trying to work towards being the best mother and wife I can be, and I’m beginning to realize that sometimes doing things for yourself is the best way to be the best you.

I’m realizing there’s a difference between taking time for yourself and being selfish. And honestly, I can include my kids in a lot of the things I enjoy doing. I’ve let all these little hardships in life become this overwhelming monster that doesn’t let me do anything.
I let my day run me, and I need to start taking charge of it again. I need to start being way more intentional with my time. I need to start running my day. And instead of being relieved that the sun is going down and it’s bedtime again, I need to be sad that I’m out of time for the day to do the things that I love.
I’ve lost motivation, and creativity. And I’ve been too overwhelmed to even go look for it. I started to tell myself that I’m just not a creative person… But then k realized, I used to be. I used to draw, paint, play piano, write poems, read, listen to music, make things. I was the person who would go through Hobby Lobby and not buy a thing, because I knew I could make it. I’ve been waiting to get it back, but I’ve been doing nothing to get there. I’ve been sitting around waiting for my life to change, and for everything to finally get easier and brighter. And all I ever had to do to change that is change my view of things. To be the best mother and wife I can be, is to be me. And not stifle the things that made me who I am. So tomorrow, we’re going to paint, draw, and create. Even if it doesn’t turn out perfect, we’re creating life. 🌱

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The most engaging times to post on Instagram

https://www.instagram.com/tv/BsbEvzWhe3c/?utm_source=ig_share_sheet&igshid=dh5e44aiy9fs

Here’s the sources and apps I mentioned in my IGTV video on the best times to post on Instagram.

https://later.com/blog/best-time-to-post-on-instagram/

https://sproutsocial.com/insights/best-times-to-post-on-social-media/

The scheduling app I mentioned is called:

“Preview – Plan Your Instagram”

And here’s a link to a tutorial on their website on how to use their app!

https://thepreviewapp.com/use-preview-app-instagram-step-step-tutorial/

Negativity: The root to many problems.

Negativity is something I’ve always struggled with, and I’ve come to find it’s one of the biggest things to hold me back in life. It’s also the root to many issues.

Such as self consciousness, from speaking so negativity about myself to myself. Lack of confidence, I’ve always aimed low because I told myself I wasn’t capable of anything great. Ungratefulness, by being unsatisfied with where I am in life and what I have.

Let’s start with one of the big ones. Ungratefulness… I’ll be honest with you all, ungratefulness is something I struggle with when things aren’t going my way. I tend to pile all my eggs into one basket and feel stressed out and ungrateful when certain circumstances present themselves. But it’s a new year, and I’m determined to change my out look on life. It’s never too late to start being more grateful.

So try this with me this year:

Whenever you’re stressed out with your kids, and you catch yourself saying “They’re driving me crazy!” Stop. And remind yourself what an amazing blessing it is to have them.

Whenever they ask for a snack for the millionth time, instead of being exasperated. Stop. And be thankful that you have food to feed their growing bodies.

When they ask the same question for the millionth time… Be grateful that they care so much to hear what you have to say. Because someday, they may not.

I’m not saying these things to make you feel like a bad parent, trust me. These are things I struggle with constantly.

I get frustrated and ungrateful for more than just my kids… My house for instance. When it doesn’t stay clean, or because it is dark and old, or not being able to afford all the things I want for it. The list goes on… But lately I’ve been stopping myself. This house was literally an answered prayer. We weren’t even supposed to get this house. It would have been impossible for us to even get this house without God’s hand in it.

And while some aspects of it may be frustrating, it’s a safe, beautiful place for our babies to run, learn, and grow. It has an amazing backyard where they can play and imagine all sorts of things.

I can become ungrateful when I don’t have spending money to buy things I don’t necessarily need. And admitting that to whoever decides to read this is really hard. But if your bills are paid, your cupboards and fridge are stocked, and your kids are clothed. What more do you need?

And I know it’s hard to get out of the ungrateful rut, trust me. I’m not even fully out of it, I have days where I climb back into it and complain to myself all day long about certain things. But keep in mind, you’re rewiring your brain. You have to teach it a new way of thinking, and going from a pessimist to an optimist doesn’t happen overnight. But you definitely can change it.

I honestly feel like gratefulness goes in hand with being an optimist. Being ungrateful goes deeper than just… Being ungrateful. It’s being negative.

I used to say I was a realist, and in many ways I suppose I still am. But I realized that being a realist was just a nicer way to say I am a pessimist. Optimism feels so much better. And I’m not talking about being unrealistically optomostic. But I’ve been limiting myself for so long with being negative, ungrateful, and a pessimist.

I stunted myself from reaching my dreams for years, because I was so pessimistic. I told myself I’d never be able to reach certain aspirations. I never even set goals, because I told myself I didn’t have the ability to accomplish them. I didn’t think I was good enough, smart enough, pretty enough, outgoing enough, unique enough… And so on and so forth. The most negative person in my life has been myself. But I’m changing that. Starting now.

I’m learning to pay myself compliments, which in turn builds self confidence. I’m learning to calm down when I’m stressed with my kids and thank God for them and that they’re healthy and safe, which dissolves my frustrations pretty quickly.

I’m learning to be grateful for where I’ve been placed in life. Grateful for the things given to me secondhand that I’ve taken for granted. I’m even learning to be grateful for my past, and for every struggle that I’ve gone through.

I’m learning positivity, and it’s hard. You have to retrain your brain.

Thankfully I have my husband to help keep me accountable. He gently will point out when I’m being negative, and honestly it’s helpful. It helps me to look for the silver lining in whatever situation is currently bringing me down.

I don’t have it all figured out, but I’ve already been seeing the benefits of being more positive show in my life.

I’ve gained more confidence from it, more joy, more happiness, more peace, more patience, to name a few. And I’ve only just begun. I can’t wait to transform my life, and live up to my full potential. To achieve goals I set for myself. To be excited for what God sets before me. Changing your mindset will change your life.

If you would like to support the creation of the content, feel free to leave a tip in my tip jar. 🧡

Less is more! (Minimizing & Decluttering)

It’s getting to be about that time again… The time where I get rid of a bunch of stuff because I can’t keep my house clean. It’s honestly been about 2 years since I last did that, so it’s really not surprising that I need to do it again.

There are probably many ways that you can keep up with it, so you don’t have to do a big purge every year or so but when you have a baby you kinda throw all your routine and habits to the wind and enter into survival mode. And that’s usually when things pile up for me.

People give us clothes for the kids, and instead of switching them out it’s added to what they already have. I’m always telling myself I’ll get to it once I get another area clean, and it never happens because I can never quite get that one area clean. So all the other areas go neglected and get piled up until it’s a chaotic mess.

In Western Culture, we honestly just have too much stuff. My mom was saying that when she was young you didn’t have a lot of stuff if you were poor, but now there’s so much plastic and cheap junk that anyone’s house can be overrun with clutter.

I even read an article about a study that said if children have too many toys, it overwhelmes them and slows down their imagination and learning. Especially if the toy is a character from something and they’re not using their imaginations to create a character/story.

I’ve read The Life-Changing Magic Of Tidying up by Marie Kondo, and I really do recommend it! She says to start with your own personal belongings when you start purging. So this time around I’ve decided to apply that and tackle the area that brings me the most stress. Which is laundry.

I used to only have to do about 3-4 loads to have all our laundry clean. But now we’re back up to about 8 or so. Which is ridiculous… Yes, we’ve added another person into our family. But that’s still no excuse for being a slave to the constant mountain of laundry.

If you can never seem to get your house clean or your laundry done, then it’s time to get rid of stuff.

Not only will it feel relieving, it’ll make your house so much more manageable and it’ll free you up to have more time to do the things you love. More time to spend with your spouse, your children, your family in general.

It’ll also help your children to learn how to pick up after themselves. Whenever my oldest who’s 3½ has too many toys, he’s overwhelmed and can’t manage to clean his room without me pointing everything out and telling him where it goes. It’s usually just easier to do it myself while he wonders around the room and plays. But that’s not teaching him anything, other than “mommy will clean up all your messes.”

Whenever I first purged all our stuff, it really only took me 20-30 minutes to clean the whole house. And most of the was just washing dishes, sweeping, and vacuuming.

I have quite a few goals for this new year, resolutions if you will. And getting my house under control is definitely a big one!

There’s so many resources out there to help you get to a more minimalist lifestyle. You won’t regret it, and you’ll never complain about needing more to pick up and clean. Trust me. 😉

Less is more! You’ll have more time, more energy, more peace, more patience, more joy. 🧡

I’m going to go through the process of eliminating clutter, and I’ll share with you the steps I take one room at a time.

Dear younger me…

Dear younger me,

I just wanted to let you know that everything turns out alright…

All the hurt and brokeness you feel will get easier. Some of it will heal completely and go away, while other things you might not get figured out for a long time. I’m still working on it.

But I wanted to let you know that you’ll find a man who really does love you, cherish you, and supports you. And he’ll tell you those things because he means it, not because he wants something from you.

You’ll find out that what you thought was love, was nothing but a lie and abuse. And you’ll be shocked when you feel what real love is.

You’ll be afraid to share your thoughts for a long time, gaslighting can do that to you. But I promise eventually you’ll learn how to communicate.

Also, God isn’t mad at you for the things that happened, and especially not for the things you didn’t want to happen. He actually loves you, even when you feel alone. You’ll realize that someday.

Everything won’t be perfect in the future, you’ll have your good days and your bad days. There will be memories you’d rather forget and you’ll feel overwhelmed with how to deal with them. You’ll feel crazy somedays, and wonder if you need to talk about it or keep it to yourself. But even though I haven’t figured that part out yet, I know with God’s help I will. Just know, that you can heal from anything. Even if it seems impossible.

You’ll get married to an amazing man and have those amazing kids you always dreamed about. You probably won’t use any of the names you thought you liked though… but the ones you do choose have special meanings and they fit the kids perfectly.

Also, not to disappoint. But when you hit your 20’s, you won’t look as grown up as you currently picture in your head. Honestly, you won’t even grow that much taller, and you’ll actually have braces that make you look about the same age you are now… but they’ll eventually come off. (Or so they tell me.)

Younger me,

You will have a lot of hurt and scars, I do even where I am now. But in the grand scheme of things not that much time has passed and you’re doing pretty well considering.

You’re also going to learn to find your voice, and you’re not going to be afraid to share. You’ll grow stronger from it. It won’t fill you with dread and make you sick to your stomach when you talk about it. You’ll actually not really feel anything… Well, that’s not completely true. You’ll feel peace and forgiveness. You’ll feel the absence of hate, anger, and bitterness.

You’ll have true friends who build you up, and love you. Instead of pick on your insecurities and weaknesses to tear you down to make themselves feel better.

All that doubt, anxiety, and self hate you feel will get better. It’s a learning process. So give yourself grace. You’ll even learn how to find the silver lining. Promise.

Your husband will help you heal and grow more than any person you’ve ever known. He’ll hold you when you cry, and encourage you when you feel like nothing. He’ll never tell you you’re emotional, dramatic or crazy. Even when you both know there’s some truth to those things. He’ll stick with you and love you through thick and thin. You’ll be blown away by the man you marry.

Dear younger me…

Like I said, you won’t have it all figured out. Honestly, you might not even have half of it figured out. But you’re going to learn your worth, and you’re going to have days where even you feel beautiful. You’re going to learn self confidence (yes, it’s healthy!) And you’re going to find your voice. You’re no longer going to be afraid. You’re going to work towards dreams and accomplish them when you thought you wouldn’t amount to anything.

You’re going to use self-doubt as a tool to push yourself past what you think you can do. And you’re going to be shocked to realize you can do way more than you always told yourself.

Your closest friends will always be your sisters and Mom, and as you get older those relationships will grow deeper and stronger than you ever thought possible. You’re going to find out being best friends with your mom and telling her all those things you were afraid to tell her, isn’t as scary as you thought. You’re going to realize she was never against you, and will always be there for you.

You’re also going to have a best friend who moves across the country for you (and your family) and you’re going to adopt her and it’s going to be a crazy adventure.

You’re going to grow closer with your sister in-law and brother. You’ll realize you remember past memories differently and you’ll laugh together as it draws you closer.

Dear younger me,

You’re going to make it. And you’re going to be happy. And you’re going to feel truly loved by your husband, God, and family. You’re going to feel beautiful, even without makeup on. So hang tight, it gets better. I promise!

Instagram Insights & Tips. Part #2: Photo Editing

Another thing you can do to make your photos stand out, is use filters sort of as a theme for your feed.

I personally am still trying to find what I like, but if you don’t want to make your own presets theres other options for you!

Presets are pretty much just filters and photo edits that are presaved and you can add them to your photos without messing with the settings everytime.

Although other apps have their own preset options, Lightroom is the best for this. With Lightroom you can make some presets on the mobile app, even if you don’t have LightRoom on your computer. But those who do have it on their computer have more control over them and they can even export them. So a lot of people have their own personal presets for sale which you can purchase and upload to your own LR mobile app.

But if you’re not ready to jump into investing money into your photo edits, I understand! And I’ll share with you some of my favorite photo editing apps!

1. Afterlight (iPhone & Android):

Afterlight was one of my favorite apps back when I had an iPhone. It’s pretty straightforward and user friendly, it even has it’s own preset settings. The android version is a sad comparison to the iPhone version though… you can’t set presets or adjust a lot of the settings like you can on the iPhone version. Which is pretty disappointing considering it was my favorite app. 😒

I believe there is now an Afterlight 2 for iPhone.

2. Mextures (iPhone):

Mextures is pretty similar to Afterlight, just different options. You can’t however, save presets. (Last time I used it anyway.)

3. VSCO (iPhone & Android):

VSCO is another favorite, it’s pretty much the same app on both iPhone and Android. It does have preset options, and it’s pretty much its own social media network. You can make your photo edits public on it, or just use it as a photo editor and export your photos to your gallery.

4. Snapseed (iPhone & Android):

It’s been awhile since I’ve used Snapseed on iPhone, so I’m not sure if it’s exactly the same or not. I remember being able to adjust the filter strength, but I could be remembering wrong. But on Android, you definitely can’t adjust them. Which is dumb in my opinion. It’s not my favorite app, but it does have some cool settings that you might like.

*after looking it up, it’s definitely better on iPhone

5. Airbrush: Easy Photo Editor (iPhone & Android):

While Airbrush does have it’s own filters and photo edits, I like it best for light cosmetic touch up and overall photo brightening. It has a lot of options and you are able to adjust settings pretty well. They also have filter packages that you can either purchase or download for free depending on the package.

6. Neptune Camera (Android) :

Neptune Camera is a new favorite! I just stumbled upon it the other day, and so far I love it. It has a lot of awesome filters and settings. It doesn’t have preset capabilities, but still fun to use!

7. A Color Story (iPhone & Android):

I figured I’d mention A Color Story, it’s not one of the top apps I personally use but it does have some cool settings and options.

I usually use a few of these apps together to get whatever look I’m going for, but you definitely don’t want to over do it. The more you edit a photo using different apps the more the quality will deteriorate. So you definitely don’t want to go overboard with editing.

I hope my list of photo editing apps help you out! I’d love to see what you come up with so make sure to tag #CassiesFaves or @Cassie.Lelis on Instagram.

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Instagram Insights & Tips. Part #1: Photo/Feed Quality

Hey everyone! I’ve decided to do a little series on Instagram tips specifically for mom/child/family photo blogging.

They’ll probably be pretty short and sweet, and I’ll do 1-2 tips per post, depending on how in depth I feel I need to go with them.

So let’s get started!

Tip #1, photo/feed quality:

In my personal opinion your photo/feed quality is important. This doesn’t mean you have to pose and stage all your shots, or have a fancy DSLR camera to make your photos look good. But posting dark, out of focus, over exposed, low quality photos isn’t going to help drum up followers or engagement.

My Instagram isn’t the brightest of prettiest out there, but I definitely do try to put a little effort into my feed and photos. Some of them aren’t as good as others, and that’s ok! I like keeping it real. My house is really dark, and sometimes it’s hard to get certain shots to look nice, but I work with what I’ve got. 😉

Natural light is your best friend! It’ll improve the quality and look of your photos tremendously. In turn your photos will edit better, and just be easier to work with.

Another thing I recommend is trying out some new angles! There’s nothing wrong with a centered straight on profile shot, but it can get a bit boring looking if that’s all you post. Try higher overhead angles, or closer to the floor just to give your photos a creative look.

Here are a couple of my own overhead angles:


And here are a few lower/same level angles:

It’s just a super simple way to add a unique perspective to your photos, And it’ll give your overall feed a little more diversity than your average front and center shot.

Just play around with it! Taking pictures can honestly be so much fun, and while I do have a DSLR. More often than not, I use my phone because it’s much quicker to snap a photo of a quick little moments. I honestly hardly ever pose any of my photos of my kids (the one of me and my son reading the book is obviously an exception), and while I love my DSLR it’s not very practical to keep it on my body at all times just to take pictures of my kids when they’re cute. 😝

I hope this tip helped! And I hope you guys enjoy this new series. 🧡

Here’s a little list of things I’m planning to share my insights on as this series continues:

How to get more engagement/followers part 1 & 2 (possibly 3 part depending on how long it gets)

Photo editing/filters

The best times/days to post

What hashtags to use