Daily vitamins made simple & personal.

(pssttt… there’s a treat for my readers at the end of this post. Don’t miss out!)

Sometimes I like to write about the things I care about— faith, relationships, love, necessity. Other times, I like to write about the things and products in my life that are changing my life. This is one of those other times. .

I deal with depression and anxiety. I see a therapist every three weeks and a psychiatrist every 6 months. The therapist and psychiatrist talk to one another. They collaborate to figure out how to walk me into the best life possible. With depression, it is sometimes hard to believe in that “best life possible.”
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They talk to me separately about the importance of whole foods, exercise, routines. I’m like a parrot- rattling off all the right answers until we get to the part about vitamins.
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“Do you take vitamins?”
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I answer, “Yes, of course, I take vitamins.”
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They ask, “Which ones?”
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I get nervous and I say a bunch of things.
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“Well, I dabble in fish oil. I occasionally take a multivitamin but it truly makes me nauseous. Sometimes I take sketchy pills I see on Doctor Oz but that’s always pretty short-lived.”
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Let’s be honest: The whole process of vitamins overwhelms me. I know I need to be taking them but which ones? And what brands? Can I just have the gummies? Why does health feel so hard sometimes?
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My friend Lindsey posted about this company Care/of two months ago. It was an image of a packet of vitamins with her name on it. I was instantly intrigued. I checked out the company and the love affair really began.
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Instead of spending an hour staring at the rows of vitamins in Target, I took a quiz. The quiz asked me about my lifestyle, my goals, my values, and all the things. Sleep patterns. Activity. Skin issues. Illnesses. The quiz took about 5 minutes. I personally loved it because it made me feel seen and known as an individual. If I have learned one thing through my health journey it’s this: there is no one size fits all solution. Each person is different. My needs are different than your needs. I am thankful for companies who call out our differences instead of trying to remedy us all with sameness.
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My quiz tells me I need the following:

  • Rhodiola- The Cosmonaut: Supports stress and mood. I’m down for anything that chills out my brain.
  • Multivitamin- The One: I added this one to my packet after the quiz because my doctors are constantly saying, “MULTIVITAMIN! MULTIVITAMIN! MULTIVITAMIN!”
  • Probiotic Blend- The Harmonious Gut: My mama talks endlessly about probiotics and that I need them. Hey mom- I am doing okay now!
  • Astaxanthin- The Coral King : This is a biggie for me because this little pill helps me with my psoriasis. Skin problems, see you later!

A few days after I ordered the vitamins, a little box showed up with 30 individual packs for each day of the month. I must have shown Lane the packaging at least thirty times because I was just so tickled with the presentation. As crazy as it might seem, I love having my name on all the little packets. It feels personalized and custom-made for me. It’s the little things, guys.
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I’m one month into the experience and I can proudly scream about how much I love the following:

1) It helps with creating healthy habits.
I keep the little box at my desk in a place where I can see it every day. There are no excuses, really. I grab a pack from the box and take it with a meal. No fuss, no excuses. I’ve only missed a few days and that’s because I am still getting used to the process.
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2) It’s trustworthy.
I like honest companies. I don’t know how to figure out who is honest in the industry of vitamins. I am always wondering if I need a different brand of multi vitamins or if I should be trying a different probiotic. In this case, the vitamins are all coming from one place. The tough decisions (the ones I was never good at making anyway) have left the building. I am free to trust the experts and go with my gut (dumb probiotic joke).
3) It’s perfect for traveling. I give it an A+!
I can’t tell you the number of pill boxes I’ve bought in the last few years. I think each one is going to be the solution. I imagine myself refilling it and taking my little pill box on all my travels with me. It has yet to happen. When I went to New York City and Tampa the other week, I simply grabbed 5 packets from the bag and threw them into my carry-on. Again— no fuss, no excuses.
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4) It simply inspires me.
I love innovative companies. I love people who see an everyday occurrence like taking vitamins and try to make it simpler. This sort of stuff fires me up. Overall, subscribing to Care/of feels like an experience more than anything else. I love the branding and the simplicity of the packaging. It’s taken the stress out of vitamins for me. For that, I am pretty stinkin’ grateful.

 


.This isn’t a sponsored post. I am passionate about sharing the things that matter to me with all of you.  I reached out to Care/of and I asked if there was something I could offer to you guys. They were kind (and really speedy), giving me a coupon code for 50% off your first subscription of vitamins. Just use “BRENCHER50” as your promo code at checkout and enjoy half off your first month of vitamins! 
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Get comfortable with feeling uncomfortable.

Get comfortable with feeling uncomfortable.

This very statement has been repeated to me twice in the last 24 hours. When this happens, my ears perk up. I pay attention.

I was a junior in college the first time someone gave me this advice. I was young, ambitious, and ready to take on the world. At that time, the area where I pushed myself most fully was in student leadership. I realized I had a passion for learning, teaching and leading.

It was the director of our college’s orientation program who said to the group of us one morning, “Get comfortable with feeling uncomfortable.”

The thing is this: life is going to place you into some uncomfortable positions. That’s how you grow. If you only ever stay at a level where you are in control, you miss the vital growth. I think the God I love is one who values capacity inside of each us. Capacity, in this sense, is the maximum amount of things you can handle. You are allowed to expand your capacity. You don’t need to be limited by what your current capacity may be. 

But we lie to ourselves. All the time. We tell ourselves what we are capable of and we restrict ourselves with phrases like, “I can’t.” I am experiencing this in my own life. I am so quick to tell myself something isn’t possible. I fill myself with doubt and fear instead of trusting that God is bigger and that I am in the process of becoming better.

My trainer Nicey repeated those classic words to me this morning as we wrapped up our cardio session together. As I swig my water and catch my breath, she tells me to get comfortable with feeling uncomfortable.

At this point, I have screamed and cussed. I have thanked God no one is around in the gym to witness this epic, dramatic affair. I’ve wanted to quit a dozen times but Nicey does not give me that option. She keeps pushing me to move faster, go harder, and not give into my weaknesses.

My brain begs for an ending, a chance to give up. At one point, Nicey gets low to the ground and she says, “I need you find that thing inside of you that wants this. Dig until you find it.”

It occurs to me that if Nicey were not in the room screaming at me then I would have quit a few minutes earlier.

We give up on ourselves too quickly. At the first sign of pain or discomfort, we give up. We script a half-hearted narrative in our brains about how we will never get from point A to point B. I’m sick of it. I want to live better stories. I think God wants me to live better stories than the ones where I am perpetually a victim to my own circumstances.

So, dear hearts, if you are out there then remember this: you are not defined by your circumstances. You and your identity cannot be easily summed up into a Instagram bio of 140-characters or less. You are capable of expanding your capacity, little by little. But expanding capacity is not a passenger-seat role. You are going to have to step into it fully.

If you want to grow, you’ve got to get low to the ground. Get in the dirt and start to dig. We constantly want to be getting bigger and more expansive with our lives, and our profiles, and our followings but what if the world is sending us the wrong message? What if the key to true growth is the willingness to get down on your knees and into the dirt, the mess of life?

Dig deep. Dig deeper. Dig until you find the thing inside of you, the thing you didn’t know existed. You might call it strength. You might call it endurance. But start there. Give that thing the air to grow.

Be the invitation.

The following post was originally published in my Monday Morning Email Club on June 12, 2017. Enjoy new content and a Monday pep talk every week by joining the list here

This past Saturday marks 6 months of marriage for Lane and I. I think to myself, that’s wild… Admittedly, it’s been easy so far. I’m not naive to think it will stay that way forever and I am not going to put our relationship out to dry all over the internet but so far, so good.

One of the hardest things to figure out together is community. Cultivating community is weird when you are single and creating community is still weird when you get married. You struggle to keep old friends, you scrounge to make new friends, you figure out in the trials of adulthood who is really standing with you.

Lane and I talk a lot about community. I text older friends, ones with years of marriage under their belts, and I ask them: how do you figure it out? How do you make friends at this age?

I think there should be a book about forging good community because it feels like the manual runs out when you graduate from college and move to a new city. Suddenly it is harder to make friends.

As a single person, it seemed like the most important quest for me was to find someone to be romantic with. It was always at the top of my list until one summer, two years ago, when I got my heart broken. A romance was no longer the priority and what I did in that month to follow was maybe the healthiest thing I did throughout my whole entire life: I built community. I built community through action. Through accepting invitations and saying yes when I wanted to say no.

The thing about community is that it isn’t instant. Social media wants you to believe that one party will mend your little heart and fill in the hole that aches for meaningful interactions. But no, you are going to have to do more work than that. It is work to show up to the places where you meet other people. And it is work to open up your heart after you closed up shop for a little while.

For me, it is the perpetual worry that everyone in my life is hanging out without me. It sucks away my joy. It dictates my emotions. My mom doesn’t get it because my mom didn’t grow up into the world where every last action was eloquently recorded for the world to watch and witness from behind a screen. I want the invitations. Even if I cannot attend, and even if these are the not the people I need to be surrounded by, I still want the invite. I think we all are driven by the same things: we want to be seen, we want to be known, and we want to be understood. 

One of my older friends tells me I need to be the invitation. She tells me that if I am constantly worried about not getting an invitation from people in our neighborhood to hang or clink glasses or celebrate a birthday then I should put my big girl pants on and just be the invitation. 

In practical terms, she’s telling to invite people in. Kill the FOMO with a fancy invite and some fun, unexpected occasion. Invite people to the table. You can literally do just that and invite people to a big, round table to talk or you can make your own variation of that. You can create an event. You can host a movie night. You don’t have to worry about everyone in the room knowing one another. Just say one big prayer over the whole shindig: that hearts would meet, that prayers would be answered, phone numbers would be swamped, and the community would grow, because and in spite of you.

29 life rules.

I found this magazine article yesterday and it really inspired me. Life rules. It’s a pretty powerful statement to set rules for yourself to live by. I used to create rules for myself all the time but they were rigid and boring. They were rules I placed on myself because I thought maybe I needed to be contained or kept in line. Rulebooks that don’t give you any room for growth or mistakes are dumb. I like these rules much better.

Today I am turning 29. It’s a year I have honestly waited my whole life to get to and I am not sure why. I’ve just always loved the idea of being 29 and so I decided today would be the perfect day to write a new rulebook, create some new life rules. 

  1. The leftover fear of “what if” should always be bigger than the fear of failure. Go out there and try new things even if it scares you half to death.
  2. Celebrate other people as they go after what makes them feel alive. No room for jealousy at this point, champion people and help them win.
  3. Never say no to taco dates. Tacos and friends are always most important than whatever is on your to-do list.
  4. Boundaries are important. People have told you that for years and you’ve rarely believed them. But now you see it. Spend this next year establishing better boundaries, preserving your heart, and knowing when you need to step away.
  5. Prayer. Lots of it. In every situation. Don’t ever belittle that thing and don’t ever misuse the concept by telling someone you are praying when you aren’t. Get down on the carpet and keep getting down into the posture of prayer, even when you feel like nothing is moving.
  6. Remain teachable. The older you get, the less you actually know. Allow someone to teach you instead of being a know-it-all. Stay humble in learning.
  7. Keep your spaces clean. Chaos squashes your creativity. To keep your brain calm, keep your room clean.
  8. People are flawed and they will mess up. Find more grace in the pockets of your heart. Consume grace regularly, as if it were a vitamin.
  9. Rule borrowed from Anna Quindlen: “You can embrace a life that feels like it belongs to you, not one made up of tiny fragments of the expectations of a society that, frankly, in most of its expectations, is not worthy of you.”
  10. Let it breathe. When you feel something, don’t keep it bottled up inside of you. Talk to someone you trust. Air it out. Don’t let your feelings eat you from the inside out.
  11. About that rule #10: Note the “someone.” Avoid the itch to tell anyone and everyone your struggles, problems, hang-ups. Create your people circle and lean hard into them. Less is more, babe.
  12. Wear the romper.
  13. Try your best to send birthday cards in the mail. Writing on someone’s Facebook wall is nice but if you know the person, and you have their address, then scoot your butt to the post office and mail them a card. They will be so thankful.
  14. A lesson you learned in your 28th year that will still prove to be valid as you turn 29: if you want to see results you’ve never seen, be willing to do things you’ve never done.
  15. Your expectations of people are not reality. Not always. Don’t be consumed by how a person does or does not treat you.
  16. Rule borrowed from Lane Sheats: Find joy apart from the need for others’ approval. Joy wrapped up in the validation of others isn’t really joy at all. It won’t last. It won’t stand firm when life knocks you down.
  17. Prioritize simplicity and strive for it. Experiences > Stuff.
  18. Keep your 5am hours as much as you possibly can. Cool stuff happens when you are awake and alert before the rest of the world has their morning coffee.
  19. Don’t go to Target when you’re emotional or feeling bad about your life.
  20. Keep weekly dates with the people you’re investing in. Consistency is a surprising rarity in the world today. Seize it with both hands.
  21. Weed your garden at least every month if not twice a month. When I say “weed your garden,” I really mean: take time to write out the lies that are currently holding you captive and pull them out from the root. Replace them with little seedlings of truth.
  22. Rule borrowed from Ellen Degeneres: Never follow anyone else’s path, unless you’re in the woods and you’re lost and you see a path and by all means, you should follow that.
  23. Don’t worry about the things that haven’t happened. Wait for each moment to have it’s own birthday and deal with it then. No use in crying over things that aren’t even real.
  24. Give. Be a giver. When you give, there is always more.
  25. Replace gossip with prayer.
  26. Forgive the version of you who didn’t know better. Forgive that girl and love her, she was doing the best she could.
  27. Be slow, like snail-pace slow, to judge a pair of shoes you’ve never tried to walk in.
  28. Put on the damn bikini and go out to the pool, girl. Get yourself a tan.
  29. Hannah- remember, remember, remember: the fullest moments of your life will never be documented or captured for the world to clap at or approve of them. Make room for the full moments that only happen when you are shut off, tucked away, found in a quiet space by God.

The tale of a shopping cart.

Yesterday, wearing all black, Lane and I walked into the woods at the end of our road and stole a shopping cart.

“Stole” is a dramatic word, really. We simply took the little, black shopping cart out of its natural resting state and rolled it down the road towards home.

You’re thinking things. I know you are. You’re thinking we walked into the woods and stole a shopping cart from someone who is probably experiencing homelessness. I should state the facts: There was nothing in the shopping cart. No people in sight. And, because I am creepier than you know, I watched that shopping cart for four days before rescuing it. It didn’t move from its place. Every day, on my afternoon walk, I would stop by the woods and look to see if my shopping cart was still there. There it sat, untouched.

Actually, I walked by one morning and thought I saw the shopping cart moved to the side of the road. At a closer look, this wasn’t my shopping cart but another shopping cart– clearly from Petco. Word around the neighborhood (because I asked people) is that a man with back issues uses that shopping cart for walking support every day. So I am not really sure why we have a collection of shopping carts scattered around our home but I can promise you– I DID NOT TAKE HIS SHOPPING CART. 

“It’s a Petco shopping cart he has,” my neighbor told me. “Always a Petco shopping cart.”

 

So now you are wondering, why did you steal a shopping cart? Truthfully, I don’t have an answer yet.At first, it was just a shopping cart that someone probably stole from Kroger. Then it morphed into a black, minimalist shopping cart. Then it became a Pinterest fixer-upper shopping cart. And then, finally, it became my shopping cart. I fell in love with the petite shopping cart the more I thought about it. I imagined filling it with things.

I am pleased to find out Lane didn’t turn me down when I called him at work to tell him about the shopping cart we needed to rescue from the woods. As if it were a puppy we were thinking about adopting, I gushed about all the reasons why we needed a shopping cart in our apartment. We could put blankets in it. File folders. Storage. A makeshift hamper. Possibilities = endless.

He followed me out the door after his yoga class. We walked casually down the road. We lifted the cart down the hilly path. We rolled it home, beaming with pride. He cooked salmon and asparagus on the stove while I had the job of cleaning our shopping cart with spray and a rag.

“This is like our first pet,” I exclaimed.

“No,” he said. “It’s actually a shopping cart.” 

Surprisingly, more people talk to you when you are rolling a shopping cart down the road. They are intrigued by you. We had more conversations with people in the span of 10 minutes it took to get our little, black shopping cart home than we’d had in our neighborhood in the four months of living there. Something about a shopping cart brings us all together. 

I actually don’t know if this is illegal. If I should even be writing about the shopping cart now sitting in the middle of our apartment. I have to tell myself there are a lot worse things I could be doing in the world than stealing an abandoned shopping cart.

 

 

I told Lane I was going to write about our shopping cart today. I didn’t know what I would say but I am tickled by its presence and I wanted to say something. And then it occurred to me: this is probably very strange. This is probably not common.

And then I thought to myself, if you’re reading this blog then you’re probably a bit strange. You are probably not all that common. That’s just the vibe I get from people who read my things. They’re dreamers. They’re people who make stuff happen. They’re people who see the good, the potential in shopping carts.

Maybe people wonder how your mind works or why you see the world as some place to make big things happen. I know what it is like to have people judge you or look strangely at you because they don’t understand you. I know it’s painful to feel shut down for seeing the good in this life and trying to be positive about it. I can tell you, though, that the world needs you more than you think. We need more people who see the good in the world, not more people to shut down dreams. 

When it came to our cart, I saw something Lane couldn’t see, my mother couldn’t see, and my neighbors couldn’t see. And it’s okay to have vision. Don’t let anyone shut you down for having a vision, either. You just do your thing and keep your head up. You only need one person to believe in you. It only takes two people to carry a shopping cart down a flight of stairs.

I know you might think it is important to have all the support or backing of everyone in the world but I can assure you, you don’t need it. More people doesn’t equal better. The coolest and best things start because a small band of people is crazy enough to invest in them.

So go right on with your crazy, bad self. Roll that shopping cart home, baby. Don’t watch it from the woods, looking to see if someone will grab it first. If you want that thing, go for it. Go after it. Don’t wait for the world’s approval and don’t let fear tell you someone else is supposed to get your dreams first.

I can promise you this: most of the things I’ve done in my life look a lot like this shopping cart story. I get an idea. I doubt it. People don’t always see the vision. I do it anyway. It’s been the most valuable thing of my career and my existence to be someone who doesn’t see life as a mud pit or a problem. Life is a beautiful thing and I’m lucky to dance inside it. I’m always going to be the girl who sees a bigger purpose for a shopping cart and goes after it. I think we need more people who see potential where other people see nothing special. I think we are all capable of opening our eyes and seeing something different, something more beautiful than what we saw yesterday.

 

Step one: steal the shopping cart from the woods.

Step two: figure the rest out as you go.

The Unofficial (but so official) Reading List for 2017

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HEY YOU!

Today is Thursday and I am currently mourning over the fact that all my friends in Connecticut have a Snow Day (yes, proper noun in my world) and I’m stuck dealing with Atlanta’s indecisive weather patterns. In the spirit of Snow Days (and me not getting any), I am working until 2pm and then cuddling up on the couch to do some much-needed reading. I can’t begin to tell you the difference it has made in the last year to start picking up books (real ones… with covers and spines…) instead of my phone at the end of a long day. I feel healthier, happier & smarter. You asked for this list… I’m answering. 

Also- It took forever (really) but I linked all the books up with Amazon since I love you so much and love Amazon a lot too. 

Dig in. Enjoy. And comment below with your current reads + favorites! Happy reading!

tying you closer than most,

hb. 


 Classics are like vitamins, you should have them everyday.

Books for #bosses

Nonfiction I will forever keep on my bookshelf.

Mackenzie’s picks

(I asked my fantastic literary agent Mackenzie Brady Watson to weigh and recommend her top 5 books for today)

Fiction picks for 2017

For the writer in you

A bunch of books featuring crazy chicks gone psycho.

Books to grow you spiritually.

On my docket for 2017

These are books that I’ve either never read or plan to read for a second (or fifth) time in 2017. I can’t speak for all of them since I don’t know all the content yet but I compiled this list with the help of reader junkie friends and the “12 Banned Books Every Woman Needs to Read in Her Lifetime.” 

A Subscription for Bookworms

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I don’t spend a lot of money on myself. When I do, I am very careful with every investment. However, I made the choice to invest in a Book of the Month subscription this past November and I honestly cannot shut up about it. I’ve gotten three books delivered to my doorstep so far and each one has been exactly matched to my personality and the genres of books I like to read. Book #4 (Behind Her Eyes) just shipped!

If you love books and love being in unofficial book clubs then this will probably be your jam. You get all hardcover books. You get to keep them. A lot of the titles are newly released or not even out yet!

When I signed up, BOTM gave me a link to share with friends. This link will get you 3-months of BOTM for $30. Dig in and let me know what your first pick is!

Dear Target, it’s not you… it’s me: A Contentment Challenge

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I wrote about contentment two days ago.

I’m still nervous over the fact that I even uttered the word. To me, it is sort of like the junk drawer that you don’t show people. I don’t talk about contentment because I am constantly feeling inadequate and insecure about where I am in the quest for contentment and where I want to be.

Contentment, to me, has always been a sticky concept. It is an ever-evolving process of letting go and finding what I have to be more than enough.

Continue reading “Dear Target, it’s not you… it’s me: A Contentment Challenge”