5 Ways to Discover Your Passion

5 No Frill Ways to Discover Your Passion

1. Analyze your daydreams

Have you always thought about writing a book? Maybe even your own memoirs (we all have a story to tell). Maybe, you find yourself randomly combing through Pinterest looking at posts about fashion or home dĂ©cor. You get the gist, even though you may have a job, you find yourself searching for something extra, something that lights that fire within you to do or be something more. Often times, the things we daydream about are our passions in disguise. Every time I go near a Barnes and Noble, I find myself combing through the books on business and blogging. Even though I’m a psychologist (something I love), I find that I do not feel fulfilled when I am not writing.

She Means Business Carrie Green Book

Most recently, I picked up Carrie Green’s book, She Means Business and I absolutely loved it. I read it in two days. Carrie (you will feel like you and she are on a first name basis by the end of the book) talks you through how she started her business from scratch and worked her way up to where she is now. I highly recommend reading her book and checking out The Female Entrepreneurs Association online. I am in no way affiliated with Carrie, I just really liked her book and wanted to share.

2. Create a Vision Board

Creating a vision board can help you focus on what you really want to get out of life. Vision boards can be concrete and tangible or they can be done online using programs like Pinterest or Canva. In last week’s post, I created a mini vision board. My board only consisted of four future goals, but vision boards can be as elaborate as you want them to be. Simply go to google images and type in vision boards for tons of examples of elaborately done creations. In completing your vision board make sure you include items from all different categories of your life. For example:

  • Where do you wish to live in the future?
  • Where would you like to travel to?
  • What would you like to own? Boat? Motorcycle? Louis Vuitton?
  • What would you like to be remembered for?
  • What are your favorite inspirational quotes?
  • What are some of your proudest accomplishments?

Be creative and make your board a true reflection of your current self and your ideal future self. We can’t reach our goals or live our dreams if we don’t know what they are.

3. Talk with your friends and family

The people who know us the best are the people who can help us determine where our passions lie. Often, when we talk to the people around us we speak in more animated tones about the things that we are excited about. For instance, lately I have been working on building my blog more and when I talk to my mom, sister, and best friend it is the first thing I update them about. It isn’t because I don’t like my day job, I do. It’s just because my blog is occupying most of my “down time” right now and I am experiencing the excitement of learning the business of blogging.

For me, I realize that blogging/writing is a true passion of mine. If you aren’t sure what your passion is, start talking to those around you. I bet they can tell you 🙂

4. Take a Break

Sometimes finding our true passion is hindered by the responsibilities of our everyday lives. When we work a 9-5 job, by the time we’ve gotten up early, worked all day, and made it back home in the evening, we are wiped out completely without the time or the energy to think about making positive changes. We may see the signs that a change is needed (stress, headaches, fatigue, burnout, etc.) but we keep slogging away because we have responsibilities and bills to pay. If this hits home for you, think about taking a short break from everyday life to collect yourself and analyze where you are and where you want to be.

Find Your Passion Ocean

I find I do my best thinking at the beach. The sound of the water rushing against the shore and the vastness of the ocean helps me put things in my life in perspective. If you don’t have time to go to the beach, no worries, just taking a long weekend and staying home can do wonders to reset the mind so you can think more clearly about what it is you want to do.

5. Try New Things

Don’t be afraid to get your feet wet and try new things to see what you like and what you don’t like. Maybe you always thought you would like to write a book, but have never actually put pen to paper or hands to keyboard, now is the time. Try taking a writing a class and getting some feedback from the instructor and other students. If you always thought you might like to get into blogging, join some Facebook groups (I highly recommend Jennifer Snyder’s group Women Winning Online), go on Pinterest and look for links to relevant information (trust me there’s a ton), talk to other bloggers in real life. The key is to TAKE ACTION. Jump in with both feet and go after what you want. We only get one chance in life, so why spend it living a life you aren’t passionate about.

5 No Frills Tips for Discovering Your True PassionI would love to hear what your passionate about and how you are chasing your goals. Let me know in the comments!

*Any affiliate links in this post are for products I have bought and used myself and feel they could benefit my readers. If you buy something from my affiliate links, I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.





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What does happy mean to you?

In my work as a psychologist, many times I see clients who say their goal is to be happy. Being happy is a fantastic goal. I want to be happy and I’m guessing you do to. But, can you define what happiness means to you?

Question of happiness

Happiness is a concept that means many things to many people. What makes you happy can depend on a multitude of different factors including whether or not you are introverted or extroverted. People who are extroverted tend to recharge their batteries by being around other people in groups, while people who are introverted tend to recharge their batteries by doing more solitary activities such as reading a book.

introvert verses extrovert happy

For some, the concept of happiness is abstract due to their having dealt with adverse life experiences. In my work, I have seen many people who for whatever reason have been unhappy for so long that they can’t articulate what exactly would need to happen in their lives for them to be happy. In these cases, I ask them to complete a very basic activity, one that we have all done as kids…coloring. (Go ahead and click on the owl, you’ll be taken to a screen where you can print him off for free 🙂 ).

Owl Mandala

Coloring helps in a couple different ways. For one, coloring helps people to get outside their heads for a little bit to do something with their hands. They get wrapped up in choosing which colors to use to make their design look unique, or pretty, or sassy, or however they want it to look. For two, coloring is intrinsically linked in our minds to childhood, which was for most people a simpler time. Once I get adults to start coloring, often times they also start talking and this talking can lead to dreaming and when they start dreaming that’s when they start crystallizing what happiness means to them.

Try it, print off the owl above and just start coloring. You can play some classical music in the background if that would help get you in the mood to think. I bet you will be surprised at some of the things that start coming to mind.

Creating a Vision Board

Creating a vision board is another way to discover what makes you happy. In the above graphic, I have created a mini vision board of things that I would like to do in the future. Will these things be easy, no. But, all of them are attainable. Having goals and things to reach for is a part of being happy and fulfilled. I often give patients the assignment of creating a vision board for themselves. If the person is crafty, they can buy a poster board and create a vision board with pictures from magazines. For the more computer savvy, many chose to use Pinterest to create their board. The way the board is made is not as important as the thought put into it. Dream big, include everything your heart desires on your board even if it sounds completely outrageous. When you get it completed, looking at your board can help you define what it is that makes your heart happy.


Being happy is different for everyone depending on a number of  factors. I encourage you to complete one or both of the activities mentioned above to tap into your inner thoughts and feelings to ultimately figure out what it is that you need in your life to be happy. Let me know in the comments what works 🙂

What makes you happy pinterest

For follow up reading on the topic of happiness, I highly recommend Gretchen Rubin’s book The Happiness Factor. In her book, she chronicles her year long journey to find happiness. If you live her first book, she has several other companion books that you can also buy to continue your own journey. Currently this book is only 7.99 on Kindle!

Gretchen Rubin Happiness Factor

*If you make a purchase based on my affiliate link I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. I will only link to products that I have utilized myself and know to be great products for my readers 🙂



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Sugar Cravings: The Mood-Sweets Link

sugar Cravings, mood-sweets link, the lively owl

Sugar Cravings

Have you ever found yourself desperately in need of something sweet to eat after a particularly hard day. Maybe you find yourself imagining biting into a cupcake likes the ones in the picture above or maybe you are more of a solid chocolate type, either way you brain is telling you that if you can just get that fix it’ll make it all better. Sugar cravings are very common and they have a lot of similarities to the types of cravings experienced by people who are addicted to other substances, such as heroine. Therefore, sugar cravings are NOT easy to combat.

The Cycle

The sugar cravings cycle is a tricky one. Throughout our whole lives, most of us have used foods as a way to celebrate the good times and get through the hard times. For example, we have cake to celebrate Birthdays and if, as kids, we lost a game, it’s likely we got taken out for ice cream. Due to these positive connections, our brains equate sweet foods with good times. Therefore, when we are stressed or overwhelmed by work or other responsibilities as adults we head for what worked when we were kids. The problem is that sweets cause our blood sugar to spike and then subsequently crash, leaving us needing another hit of sweets to keep feeling good. Subsequently, we eat more and then we gain weight, and we feel bad about ourselves, and we eat more, we gain more weight, we feel bad, we eat….you get the drift. The end result can be depression and obesity (ugh :()

Breaking the Cycle

fruits and berries, sweets cravings

While a chocolate bar will give you the immediate kick you feel like you need, if you choose fruit or berries instead you will definitely come out in the end (believe me). Both fruits and berries have sugar in them, so you will be getting some sugar but you will also be getting a lot of other nutrients. Also, you most likely won’t eat enough fruit or berries to experience an extreme blood sugar spike (unless you have diabetes, in which case you should certainly run any dietary changes by your doctor).

What will happen when you cut back on sugar?

In the first few days, you might experience pretty severe cravings. Journaling can help you with fighting sweets cravings. Along with journaling, try taking a soak in an Epson salt bath. You may also experience mild headaches, therefore you will need to drink a lot of water to stay hydrated and have some aspirin on hand. Unfortunately for those around you, mood swings are also a common side effect of cutting back on sugar. To reduce the chances of becoming the “your not you when your hungry” self, try upping your other forms of self-care while you are cutting back on the sweet stuff. Watch more movies, read more books, spend time with people who make you laugh, and do whatever else makes you feel good. In the scheme of things, it doesn’t take that long for your body to detox from sugar and you’ll be glad you did. Also, don’t worry if you fall back into your old ways at some point, you can always detox again if you need to.

The Challenge

Starting June 1st, I am going to engage in a week long sugar detox. I have been needing to do so for a while. Would you like to do it with me? If so, like The Lively Owl’s Facebook page. Each day during the first week of June, I will start a post for us to share how we are doing with the others in the group. I can’t wait to provide you with the encouragement you need to give cutting back on sugar a try.

I hope to hear from you soon, let me know in the comments if you have problems with sugar or have ever found yourself in the sweets cycle.

sweets cravings, sugar detox challenge, the lively owl







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This Is My Happy Place

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Where is your happy place?

Earlier this week, I challenged you to start thinking about the things you are grateful for no matter how big or small. Today, I want to teach you an exercise to help you reach a place of peace and calm, if only for a few minutes, no matter where you are or what is going on in your life.

First, I need you to think about a place where you are completely happy and content. This place might be a real place that you can visit currently, it can be a place you remember from your childhood (your grandma’s kitchen), or even a fictional place of perfect solace…it’s your happy place and it only has to work for you.

happy place pillow

Do you have a place in mind?

If so, lets continue, if not take a few more minutes and join us when you are ready. If you are ready, go to your happy place in your mind and answer the following questions (for the purpose of demonstration, I’m going to use the beach as my happy place and answer the questions so you will have an example)

  • What do you see? (I am on the beach at night. There is a large moon in the sky casting a glow over the water. My best friend is with me and we are walking for miles. I am looking at piers in the distance jutting out over the water and also at the buildings, mainly condos, lining the shore behind us).
  • What do you hear? (I hear the sound of the water crashing against the shore. I also hear the sound of my best friend’s voice as she talks at length about the things that have been going on in her life. We have a long distance friendship, so times like these are very meaningful, I also share what has been going on in my life knowing that she will understand completely.)
  • What do you taste? (I don’t taste anything as I have nothing to eat or drink).
  • What do you smell? (The only smell I take in is that of the salty sweet ocean air. It is very late and most of the nearby restaurants have closed for the night).
  • What do you feel? (I don’t have my shoes on, I’m carrying them in my hands. I feel the sand under my feet and at times I venture down to the water and let the water wash across my bare feet as well. There is a gentle breeze in the night air that feels neither warm nor cold.)

happy place teacup

What was like to answer those questions?

In my example, I was describing one of my happy places which happens to be Carolina Beach North Carolina with my best friend. I specifically focused on a long walk we took the night before her wedding last September. As I went through the questions and remembered that night, I felt a sense of calm come over me. I also found myself laughing a little as I remembered that we both got a long way from our condo and needed to go to the bathroom and had to rush back (laughing all the way). Did you have a similar experience?

When can you use the happy place exercise?

The happy place exercise is one of the first things I teach new therapy clients. You can practice the happy place exercise anytime or anywhere. If you can’t close your eyes, you can focus on one object while you go there in your mind. Basically, I can be in a crowded room of people, yet actually be on the beach on the night I mentioned earlier and you can be in that same crowded room in your happy place.

Happy Place T-Shirt

How can the happy place exercise help with anxiety and depression?

When you go to your happy place, several things happen. First you remember to breathe and your breathing becomes calmer. Your blood pressure also goes down as your stress level reduces. You might even find yourself getting to sleep more easily if you practice your happy place exercise at night. Finally, you get to relive a very positive experience in your life.

Happy Place Swag!

So, I have been teaching the happy place exercise for years (before it was cool). But, today as you can see from  the amazing products pictured in this post, you can have a reminder to practice your happy place just about anywhere (Click on the pictures to see purchasing details). As a quick disclaimer, the product image links in this post are affiliate links that I carefully curated for you. If you decide to purchase any of the happy place swag shown in this post utilizing my link, I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you!

If you practice the happy place exercise, I would love to hear how it works for you. Leave me a note in the comments!

Happy Place, mindfulness meditation, self care, the lively owl

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Journaling for Gratitude

Good Morning and Happy Tuesday! I had so much fun writing last weeks post on Journaling for self-Care that I thought I would stay with journaling for one more post (this week anyway :)). For today’s post, I want to focus specifically on journaling for gratitude.

Why Journal for Gratitude?

Sometimes when life isn’t treating you well (maybe you are having a hard time at work or at home, maybe you or someone you love has been diagnosed with a serious illness, maybe tax season didn’t go your way, etc.) its very hard to find something to be grateful for. When things aren’t going well, it can be difficult to see the beauty in anything because our thoughts are marred with negativity. Have you every been there? I know I have.

shower, gratitude, journaling for gratitude, thelivelyowl

Finding Gratitude In A Hot Shower

The other day, I had had a long day followed by an equally long night because I needed to catch up on some things for work. I was operating on little sleep as I schlepped my way into the shower, then it happened. That morning, for whatever reason, the hot water from my shower felt exceptionally luxurious. As I stood under the water taking in the experience, it occurred to me just how much I had to be grateful for. My mind wondered to the folks that I see regularly in my town holding signs at intersections asking for help. I thought about those people in foreign countries who don’t even have clean water to drink and I thought about how I was standing there just letting warm, clean, water pour over me. In that moment, I felt a strong sense of gratitude that changed my negative thinking for the rest of the day.

How Can Gratitude Improve Your Life

According to the University of California at Berkley’s Greater Good Website gratitude can benefit us in the following ways:

  • Gratitude can enhance your immune system, while also helping lower your blood pressure.
  • When you are grateful, you will experience more positive emotions
  • You will experience more joy, optimism, and happiness
  • You will engage in more generous behaviors and you will be more compassionate
  • You will also feel less lonely and isolated

Don’t these perks sound awesome? I think so.

But, I Don’t Have Anything To Be Grateful For…

Everyone has something to be grateful for. Period. As a person who has experienced a lot of highs and lows in my life, I know that sometimes finding things to be grateful for is harder than others, but there is always something. Did you wake up this morning? Someone out there didn’t. You can be grateful that you have been given another day with your family and friends. You have been given a little more time to make a difference in the world. Not to be dramatic, but sometimes, when times are hard we have to go back to the basics to find something to be grateful for.

Start Small: Be Grateful For The Little Things

coffee, gratefulness, gratitude journal, the lively owl

For me, I love a cup of coffee in the morning. I like the taste and warmth of the beverage and of course the kick it gives me to start my day. I also love my collection of vintage coffee cups (I will share those with you sometime!). Picking out a cute coffee cup each day is something I truly enjoy doing. Is it a big deal, not really, but it gets my day started in a positive way. What little things do you enjoy each day?

Gratitude Challenge

Keep a gratitude journal for a week and see how it makes you feel. Trust me, it gets easier the more you get into the gratefulness mindset.

Thanks for reading, see you back here Thursday!

Journaling for gratitude


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Journaling for Self Discovery

journaling, self care, self-care, self-discovery, self discovery, thelivelyowl

Hi everyone, welcome to today’s Tuesday Wellness Post 🙂

Why Journal?

Journaling is the number one thing I prescribe for my therapy patients. Why? Because when we start writing down our thoughts and feelings we are able to process them in a completely different way than if we just sat and contemplated them. Seeing our thoughts on paper helps us to see them as things that are outside of us as opposed to a part of who we are.

How Can Journaling Help?

Journaling can be used for several different reasons. As mentioned previously, a lot of people journal to help get their thoughts in order and see things more clearly, but that’s just the beginning. Journaling can be used to help with goal setting, remembering to be grateful, improving health, and so much more.

journaling, morning journaling, self care, self-care, thelivelyowl

When Should You Journal?

Almost everyone I talk to about journaling says the same thing, “that sounds great, but I don’t have time.” I can assure you, almost everyone has time to write for at least 10 or 15 minutes a day. I think one of the best times for writing is in the morning while your having breakfast or drinking your coffee. A journal entry doesn’t have to be linear or involve the use of excellent grammar, it just needs to be written from the heart. It needs to get you thinking about the things that are important in your life. A good journal entry will leave you feeling enlightened and energized or on the opposite end of the spectrum, at peace.

What Should I Write About?

The blank page can be intimidating, but once the first line is down all the pressure is off. Read on for a list of example first lines.

Sample first Lines for Journaling

  • Today, I am grateful for…
  • Today, I am going to….
  • This week, I will….
  • My goal for today is…
  • My ten favorite things are…
  • My happiest memory is….
  • My dreams/hopes for the future include…
  • The thing I like most about myself is…
  • My favorite quote is…because….
  • I am inspired by (person/place/thing)…because…

I hope these lines help inspire you to put pen to paper. Let me know in the comments whether or not you have tried journaling and what type of journaling suits you best. If done often, journaling can be a wonderful form of self-care.

Journaling, Self Discovery


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Self-Care: The Little Things

Good Tuesday morning, I hope you had a good Monday and are off to a wonderful start for this week. Starting today, Tuesday’s here at The Lively Owl will be focused on self-care and wellness.

My Weekend

This past weekend, I had a visit from one of my best friends in the world. She came to stay with me at my new place for the weekend. I have been living in Fredericksburg, Va. since mid January and with the hassles of moving and starting a new job, I hadn’t had the opportunity to go out and explore my new surroundings. We took care of that.

Both of us are history buffs so we decided to check out the historical sites first (Naturally, I forgot my camera the first day so I will have to post pics of the sites after I visit them again).  I took my camera the second day and ended up snapping the macro shot of the red bud you see at the top of this post. We also tried a new to me eatery, Duck Donuts, for a snack before she left for the 6 hour drive back home. All in all a great self-care weekend!


My weekend was the perfect example of what self-care should be, spending time with a friend and relaxing. A lot of times, at my day job as a clinical psychologist, I encounter folks who are overwhelmed by the pace of their lives. I ask them: “What are you doing to take care of yourself?” Most times I hear: “I don’t have time to do anything for me.” I then normally ask a follow up question such as: “How much time do you spend worrying about things that are out of your control?” Most times the patient will admit that they spend more than their fair share of time in contemplation of how awful things are in their lives. I then ask: “Well, if you have time to sit and worry, couldn’t you shave off a little of that time to do something for yourself?” This generally leads to the patient thinking for a second before slowly starting to shake their head in agreement. Lastly, I usually pull out the clichĂ©d airline adage about putting on your oxygen mask first (is their a better analogy for this?).

Putting On Your Own Mask First

When it comes to self-care, the little things are really what matters the most. You don’t have to set aside a whole weekend like I did (even though I do encourage doing so every now and then), you can just take 15 to 30 minutes a day to have some “you” time. Here are some ideas:

  • Take a warm bubble bath with scented candles. My favorite bubble bath is Dr. Teals Soothe and Sleep foaming bath. I have been using this for years, not only does it have a lovely lavender scent it also has Epson salt in it for any aching muscles.
  • Hit the Redbox or stream a comedy online.
  • Read any good books lately? I have. I just finished True Faith and Allegiance (A Jack Ryan Novel) and I highly recommend it. Sometimes, it helps to escape into a totally different world. I actually listened to it through Audible and the reader brought it to life in the best way.
  • Have a healthy or a not so healthy snack (in moderation of course :))
  • Learn something new (youtube is a treasure trove of how-to videos)

What do you think? Can you find a little time in your day for self-care? Do you have any more ideas for the list? Let me know in the comments.

*This post contains affiliate links, if you click on them and make a purchase I will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you.


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