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Personal Development

It's My Birthday! A Year of Trial and Hope.

Personal Development, Winter FashionAnneke McConnell

Welp! Another year older and here we are. This is not my typical kind of blog post, but this is indeed a personal blog and today's post is all about real "I'm scared to put this out there" REAL life.  Yes, it's tough opening up about your personal life online, but today IS officially my Birthday and today I'm HAPPY and CELEBRATING, which is a very different picture from last year.

sweater (sold out) / Necklace / Jeans

Last year, I vividly remember hopping onto Facebook a few days before my birthday and purposely making my birthday completely private so only I could see it. I mean, right??? Silly. But I didn't want any well wishes, except from close friends and family, and quite frankly I had a bad attitude about it overall.

Last year was so rough you guys.....but not many people knew.  I hinted here and there on Instagram, but it's not very inspiring to show up as an Eeyore at "work", so I'd plug away day by day, trying to still be authentic, trying to be more bold, trying new things with the blog, business, video, and different content (I kept telling myself this was not most definitely was and contributed to problems).  As I pause and reflect on where I'm at today, I'm happy to share any "words of wisdom" in light of my 35 years here on God's green planet that may help someone else.  It can't go without saying that my personal faith was an anchor through that time. 

Now being in the online space comes with it's own set of challenges and one of them is loneliness.  Throw in being a firefighter wife and introvert, plus living under the gray skies that is Seattle, and it's a quadruple whammy if you don't stay on top of it.  

This time exactly last year was when things in my life felt really depressing, uncertain, frustrating, and like an epic emotional roller coaster.  My husband and I were having major conflicts that resulted in a lot of fear and uncertainty about the future after being married for 14 years.  It makes me tear up just typing that and thinking about that time.  To be blunt, because I was having so much conflict with him at the time, the one person closest to me, I often wondered how anyone else could possibly like me or what I was doing.  Then exacerbating everything was the fact that I had underlying health issues that NEEDED to be addressed. now have a picture of the #hotmess that was my state of being last year.  I understand if you're like "Peace out lady!", but I'm writing this because it is a story of HOPE and PERSERVERANCE.

Ok, so fast forward to the end of December and I was having a complete meltdown (#noshame), and my husband told me I had to start somewhere and get some medical tests done. Just some basic blood work tests to see if something internal was going on.  I was all over the place emotionally, and clearly wasn't myself.  All my tests came back normal, so I began to think of when I last felt my best.  It happened to be when I was seeing a naturopath on a nearby island (the previous year) that specializes in nutrition for people with autoimmune disorders. I initially saw him to get a handle on my Hashimoto's thyroid issues. So this was probably about late February of 2017.

I've been on prednisone treatment in the past for postpartum kidney disease a total of two years (6 months, 6 months, and 1 year) and dealt with the symptoms of Hashimoto's like moderate fatigue and brain fog. I know first hand what it's like to feel like a prisoner in your own body and you just have to keep pushing through. You have to believe that it will get better.  But now I was dealing with extreme mood swings, and it felt like the nail in the coffin.

Seeing my naturopath, again, made me all emotional. (haha) But to have a doctor that will LISTEN to you and work with what you're going through (my initial appt. was an hour and a half long), that will ask you inquiring questions, and is dedicated to helping you truly be healthy - this is priceless these days.  Remember the initial testing I did??? That particular doctor unfortunately rushed me through my appt. and when everything came back fine, sent me on my way like I was just fine.  I understand not all doctors are like this. 

Ok, so by working with my naturopath, over time we realized that my hormone levels were out of whack and my progesterone levels were low.  In case you were wondering, low progesterone symptoms can include foggy thinking, fatigue, low labido, depression, mood swings, anxiety, menstrual irregularities, infertility, acne, dry skin, slow metabolism, weight gain, headaches, and thyroid issues.  Can we all agree that hormones are no joke?! Sheesh!

I may never know, but it's possible I've had low progesterone for almost 20 years since I was diagnosed with thyroid issues as a teenager. THIS is why I get so fired up about health and wellness you guys......because it's been a fight for myself and so many others I know.  It still is.  If you are going through difficult health issues right now, don't give up! Be your own advocate and seek natural options first and foremost.  If you're struggling with thyroid issues, I recommend checking out the Medical Medium Thyroid Healing book. Take it one day and one change at a time.

My naturopath determined the supplements I needed including Evening Primrose Oil capsules to try and help naturally elevate my progesterone levels.  (Always check with your doctor before taking any over the counter medications and supplements) You guys.....within a few months I was feeling SO much better. I was feeling like my normal self. I was actually HAPPY. I would wake up excited about life and excited about upcoming projects. I felt more motivated to make those healthier "obvious" choices like drinking water, exercising, and getting enough sleep.  I could focus more clearly on the task at hand and what my kiddos were telling me about their day. I started to feel more genuine, and whole, and loving, and just ME.

This has been quite the journey to say the least.

When it comes down to it, I've found certain habits to be crucial to my personal well being and quality of life.  All of these things play a part in me living MY best life and if I waver from any of them too far or too long, life just isn't as soul filling:

  1. Understanding, accepting, and working with my personality. I've found the Enneagram to be the most helpful test and went through the book The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery with my husband to better understand each other as we change over the years.
  2. Drinking enough water.  This makes me chuckle because it's so basic, but seriously. lol
  3. Getting 7-9 hours of sleep.
  4. Exercising consistently. Primarily strength training with light cardio and HIIT training.
  5. Eating 5-6 small meals per day. I am personally gluten and dairy free. (like 90%) ;-)
  6. Leaving margin for the unexpected, because life happens (good and bad).
  7. Getting completely ready for the day. (working from home, some days are questionable, but making the effort most days makes all the difference)
  8. Setting scheduled time aside for friends and family.
  9. Getting fresh air every day. (again.....Seattle native here).
  10. Setting aside time to spend one-on-one with each of our three kiddos and my husband.


I can't tell you what it means to be in such a better place in my life this year.  I'm thankful to the family and friends who did know and supported us this past year.  There will always be "down" moments in life, but when they extend into a "down season", having people around you who don't judge or abandon you and simply love you through it are priceless. 


Hugs to you and thanks so much for being a part of my "Happy" things in life. :-) Thanks for taking time out of your day to read this and I hope it helps you or someone you know!






From the beach,


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Blog Talk: What Every Potential Blogger Must Ask Themselves FIRST

Blogging, How to Blog, Personal DevelopmentAnneke McConnell

Hello beautiful friends! As someone who has been blogging for 4-5 years, I'm certainly an advocate because I think it's AMAZING!


It wasn't always like that for me.

I started my blog on a complete whim without any prior knowledge of blogging or even following other blogs. I just wanted to share what I knew about painting furniture to help other people! Looking back I can't believe I've made it this far, but tenacity has a way of getting you places, right?!

On this week's Blog Talk via Facebook LIVEI shared briefly about the one question every potential blogger must ask themselves before starting a blog. The question I never asked myself until years into it, and a question that made all the difference.

Because of my negative experiences (because of my lack of knowledge) in my first years of blogging, and the process I went through to turn it around, I'm happy to help others get started on the right foot with a good foundation to their blog.

Now, anyone who has an interest in starting a blog typically has a mix of fears and excitement about the process and possibilities and this is completely NORMAL.

I do believe that no matter what dreams and goals you are pursuing, asking this ONE QUESTION before creating and launching your blog will give you greater clarity into how you actually want to do "this whole blogging thing".

It's simple, but profound.

The question simply is.........


"What do I want?"


What do I want in life?

What am I hoping to gain by starting this blog?

Why does this matter to me?

Does pursuing the launch of this kind of blog support the life I want to live?

How do I want to structure and operate my blog in order to support what I want in life? 


Listen. The great thing about owning and running your own blog is that you call the shots.  You set your hours. You work where you want to work.  You choose the people you work with. It's amazing!

At the same time it's easy to get sucked into the "what everyone else is doing" trap. You may start to get bogged down because you "have" to post so many times per week. You "have" to have these certain things on your website.  

You can literally make a job for yourself taking care of all the "have to's" and forgetting the heart of why you ever even began.

I know because that used to be me.

Late late nights. Overwhelmed with emails and social media comments. Grumpy at my kiddos for lack of sleep. Not prioritizing work outs and time with friends. Waiting for that next big break.

Addressing this one questions will help you begin your blog on a solid foundation from the get-go.

Here is an example of what I want in life is, and that I've created my blog to support this:

  • Time with my family.
  • To be well rested.
  • To feel strong and healthy.
  • To earn an income from work I enjoy.
  • To help others with problems and saving them time and money.
  • To have fun with design and style - things I enjoy!
  • To talk about deeper topics occasionally.
  • To create and savor the process of creating - not feeling rushed.
  • To be able to listen to my kids, look them in the eye, and be completely focused on what they're saying to me, without thinking of a million "to-dos" in my head.
  • To take time off and completely unplug from technology and not feel stressed out about it.


This list will look different for every single person who goes through this simple exercise.

What would your list look like?  Are your current goals supporting that list? I'd love to know in the comments below.




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Can We Slow Down Time? #vlog

Personal Development, FamilyAnneke McConnell

Many of us are undoubtedly feeling the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season with activities, crafts, Christmas Tree lightings, parades, work parties, and so on.  All of these are WONDERFUL!! 

There was something stirring inside me the past week, as sensed in my last post, that I needed to be more selective and intentional about what we would be committing to this season.  It's ok to say no. In fact, there's no way you can do it all, right?

I've kept the Christmas decor to a minimum and we have a couple things a week we're doing as a family, whether inside at home or out and about together.  My motto this year is do less to enjoy be fully there, to look my husband and kiddos in the eyes, let their laughter sink into my heart and settle there for awhile before "moving on" to the next thing.

So a confession for you.  I am seriously the WORST scrap booking crafty type person in the history of ever.  But I've felt compelled to just look back over the memories (thank you Facebook), and put together a collage video of sorts for us to remember moments spent together over the years, all to my new FAVE song by Us The Duo called Slow Down Time.  You can find it HERE.

I hope this short video inspires you to slow down, look your loved ones in the eyes this season, and enjoy every  moment we are blessed to have.




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Make It Happen: The Value of the Past

Personal DevelopmentAnneke McConnell

It's that time of year when people are already thinking about New Year's Resolutions and goals and this is clearly something I'm passionate about helping people with.

But today I was struggling with a particular area of my life (gosh I hate admitting that!), and thankfully I have an amazing husband of 13 years to talk these things through.

I could easily identify why I was feeling disappointed, but knew that the answer was one that would take focus, time, and consistency.

One thing that surprised me about our conversation, admittedly a bit emotional on my end, was when he said, "You know.....there's value in NOT looking to the future".


I think God knew I needed to hear that one today and I'm thankful for to my husband for that tidbit of wisdom.

It actually hit me like a mini wave.  Like many people, I'm goal driven, purpose driven, looking to the future, planning, preparing, dreaming and constantly goal setting.

But I haven't taken much time to pursue the past in a way that would allow healing in some areas.  I haven't taken nearly enough time to celebrate the accomplishments, the journey, the relationships and moment that brought me to this moment in time.

There's value in not always looking to the future.  There is value in remembering, in reaching out to those who have influenced your life and saying, "Thank you" and "How are you?".

There's value in taking the time to heal, so that you can move forward in a more whole and healthy way.  There is value in visiting the past and remembering how far you've come.

I hope you'll take a moment today or soon to remember and find value in the past.






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Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
— Hebrews 13:7-8