EPA Approved All Natural Effective Bug Repellent

Some “all-natural” sprays tote the benefits of essential oils in their repellents but don’t actually use them or use artificial forms of the essential oils that are ineffective. If a spray isn’t EPA approved, you can’t be sure that the spray is proven effective.

EPA Approved, Proven Natural Mosquito Repellent

TerraShield® is an EPA approved, proven natural mosquito repellent, just as powerful as DEET, without all the toxins! The aroma is invigorating, and because it is toxic free, the formula provides skin-soothing benefits and is safe to use on everyone in the family, including fur babies! (Dilute with sesame oil for very small pets and babies, see diy recipe below, or apply to blankets or collar only.)

We don’t leave home without it!

To use: Be sure to apply an all natural mineral sunscreen first if going out during daytime. Then apply TerraShield® to feet, legs, and any exposed skin on all humans and fur babies before heading out. Enjoy the outdoors!

DIY All Natural Bug Off Spray Recipe

If you want to DIY your own, be sure to use Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade (CPTG) essential oils to get the best results! Artificial and adulterated (chemically altered) essential oils will not work the same. CPTG guarantees a very high level of standard and are proven effective.

This recipe utilizes the EPA approved, proven TerraShield® blend plus four other powerful essential oils shown to repel bugs.


Fee free to double this recipe and put in a 2 oz spray bottle.

If you need a stronger formula, add more of any of the above essential oils and/or try adding Grapefruit, Thyme, or Cedarwood.

Putting It Together

  1. Remove spray top (if necessary)
  2. Add the essential oils to your spray bottle.
  3. Top off with sesame oil: fill to top of the bottle, just below the neck. Be sure to leave room for some air at the top.
  4. Securely tighten on spray top.
  5. Apply label. Put some packing tape on top of label to protect it.
  6. Enjoy!

Usage Directions

Apply to feet, legs, and any exposed skin on all humans and fur babies before heading out. Enjoy the outdoors!

Beat the Heat Cooling Spray, DIY

Disclaimer: When you use the partner links below, we receive a small commission that supports this content. Thank you!

Beat the heat this summer (or anytime you are feeling warm!) with the delicious aroma of this cooling spray. Great for summer heat, hot flashes, or anytime you need to cool off.

And the best thing? It’s simple to make!



Putting It Together

  1. Remove spray top (if necessary)
  2. Add the cooling essential oils to your spray bottle. We really enjoy half spearmint and peppermint. Other oils to consider are wintergreen, lavender, and lemongrass. Avoid citrus as these oils make the skin photosensitive.
  3. Then fill it 1/3 (doesn’t have to be exact) of the way with witch hazel.
  4. Top off with distilled or purified water. Be sure to leave room for some air at the top.
  5. Securely tighten on spray top.
  6. Apply label. Put some packing tape on top of label to protect it.
  7. Enjoy!

Usage Directions

Shake well before use.

Avoid the face. If you want some on your face, spray into your hands and apply to your face avoiding the eyes.

Spray on the crown of the head, back of neck, chest, underarms, spine, and/or feet whenever you want to cool down. Enjoy the cooling sensation and wonderful aroma!

This recipe is fur pet-friendly as long as you avoid wintergreen, birch, & tea tree oils! Remember to avoid the face; spray on your fur baby’s back, belly, and paws to help cool them down.

Holistic, Natural Solutions for Bug & Pest Control in the Great Outdoors (and Your Backyard)

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Last year my husband and I spent a fortune on toxic pest control. We were frequently overcharged, worried about contamination, and the whole thing was a headache!

This year we felt there had to be a better, safer, healthier, and more economical solution and we found it! Here’s what we have come up with thus far that has been working well for us.

#1 Solar-powered bug zappers

We reviewed several different kinds of bug zappers and finally decided, as where we live is fairly sunny, that solar-powered bug zappers were the way to go. Clearly, they have to be put where the sun can charge them and also where the bugs are. So far they have done a fairly good job of keeping the bug population down.

To keep the mosquito population down there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Check the attractant range, and use as many of the zappers as you need to catch bugs in different areas of your property. We have a small yard, so we have four smaller zappers. You may want more. If your property is large, you may want to opt for something else (see below).
  • Start as soon as you can. The key to mosquito population control is getting started as soon as you can with bug control. So don’t wait until it is a problem. The bigger the population, the harder it is to get the problem under control. This doesn’t mean that if you have a big population it is hopeless, it just takes more time (and perhaps a larger bug killer than these solar-powered ones. See below.)
  • Keep your bug zappers away from bug repellants. We repel the bugs away from us, but want them attracted to the zappers.
  • Bug zappers will work better against mosquitoes with a specific mosquito attractant. These need to be replaced every month or so.
  • Finally, if you have a large backyard and/or large mosquito population, then opt for something a little more mighty than these guys.

Now that we have an attractant bug zapper to keep the bug population down, the next step is to repel what bugs are left away from you.

#2 topical bug repellent (Natural, safe, and effective of course!)

If you and your loved ones (with or without fur) will be outdoors for very long and won’t necessarily be in one space, then putting on bug repellent is a must.

My favorite natural, safe, and of course PROVEN effective topical bug repellent is this one. We use this for walks, hikes, and camping and found it is good for all sorts of biting bugs and is especially great for repelling mosquitoes.

For fur babies, about once a day I’ll put the topical bug repellent on their collar and lightly spritz their legs and bodies before going out. If you have smaller fur babies then dilute the repellent with water and shake well before applying.

It’s also safe for your kiddos. While it doesn’t need to be diluted for bigger kids, definitely dilute and/or apply sparingly for very little ones. If you don’t want to apply anything (even something non-toxic) to your baby, then opt for #4 when going places.

#3 Bug repellent incense

We like to use this when we are having barbeques or relaxing under our gazebo. The incense, depending on the size, lasts anywhere from 40 minutes to 2 hours. Just put four (one per corner) of them out in the ground or in pots filled with sand or dirt within 12′ of each other to create a square perimeter. Set out more anywhere you want to extend the protection for family and guests. If you have wanderers (little ones, fur babies), then #2 (topical bug repellent) is still a must.

Pro-mom tip: Use incense for family & friend gatherings

The only con is that it is a fire risk. So not great for camping or fire hazard areas.

This works great on its own, but when we combine this with the next tip (diffusing bug repellent), as long as we stay in the perimeter no one gets bit.

#4 Diffuse Bug Repelling Oils

This one is great because it is safe to take camping or if you’re in a drought area.

Essential oils are proven, powerful bug repellents and even insecticides. However, there are a lot of artificial (aka fake, aka toxic) ones out there. For this to really work, and be safe and non-toxic, get the real stuff here (We’ll support you with questions when you purchase through that link).

When you diffuse the bug-repelling essential oils, it creates a perimeter, or safe zone, much like the incense. The incense has multiple points for the perimeter so you want to stay within the area. In the case of the diffuser, you typically only have the one (though you can certainly have more) so you want to be near it. However, unlike the incense, the diffuser goes with you and you can tailor the blend to protect you against different bugs.

Pro-mom tip: This is great for taking camping!

RECIPE: Fill your travel diffuser to “max” with water and then combine 5-10 drops of one or more of the following essential oils:

Do your own research and come up with your own blend!

Share with us what you use to protect your loves ones safely and holistically from bugs!

Top Reasons Why Resolutions, Goals Fail You

This podcast is available on multiple platforms. Go to anchor.fm/livelifeblooming for the complete list.

You’ll want to read to the end so you don’t miss out on the time-sensitive offer!

There are lots of reasons why resolutions and goals can fail you. Here are the ones I see the most often for others as well as myself.

They don’t inspire you

If it’s not something you really want to do, you aren’t going to do it, or you aren’t going to do it for long! It takes willpower, of which we have limited resources, to white-knuckle yourself through things you don’t want to do. And don’t you already have enough things you don’t want in your life. Why are you adding more, on purpose!

For example, there are 100 ways to get fit. If you pick the one you hate the most (for its calorie-burning, sculpting, or sweating ability), it’s not going to work for you anyway, BECAUSE YOU WON’T DO IT! Why not focus on something you will do like walking, or yoga, or powerlifting, ballroom dancing, or sign up to help build houses for the needy on the weekends, you know, the form of movement THAT GETS YOU EXCITED TO DO IT!

They aren’t realistic for you!

A golden key to achieving goals is to make them attainable to you: a bit of a stretch, but not too much. Yes, you can have big, ostentatious goals (please do!), but if you want to be 7’ tall and your family genes have other plans in store for you, you’re not aiming at the right thing for you.

That “for you” bit is big!

Let’s take weight loss goals as they are one of (if not the most) common of new year’s resolutions. Let’s say you choose to lose 50 lbs. Where did that number “50” come from? Your doctor? The BMI scale? Your own “ideal” weight? Regardless of where it came from, is it the right number for you? Let’s say, after examining the facts, you recognize that 40 is the right number for you to shed.

Could you, in a realistic and healthy manner, lose 40 lbs this year? I’m not asking anyone but you! Some people lose weight faster than others. If you lose weight a little slower, and to be completely realistic with your lifestyle, maybe 10 lbs is a better goal for you this year. 

Yes, you could totally have all your fat sucked out and bam: lost the weight! Or you could go on an extreme diet and exercise plan (eat much less, exercise much more), but even if you lose the weight on such a crazy plan, they have been proven to not work in the long run! So not maintainable. For others, their crazy awesome metabolism will compensate, and they don’t lose any weight anyway! 

Or maybe a weight loss goal is in conflict with a higher priority: to get pregnant. A healthy pregnancy is supposed to lead to some weight gain.

Here’s another way to look at realistic for you: I always want to get better at becoming better. I could set an ostentatious goal of reading 40 self-help books, but honestly, I can only take in 3-4 a year total, because I want to read other things (true crime and fantasy!), and if I had such a high goal I would probably end up skimming the books rather than really taking them in. A better goal for me would be to listen to a self-help book 1-2 times a week while walking my dogs. This one, actually, isn’t even a goal for me anymore because it’s just what I do now. Walk the dogs, listen to a book. (Audiobooks totally count for reading goals!!!!)

While choosing a wiser number is a better goal, it still isn’t the best type of goal.

They are not aligned with your current priorities

As with our previous example of weight loss and pregnancy, when you have conflicting priorities, setting goals for both is definitely going to fail you.

Let’s look at another example. You’ve decided to get 5 new certificates or start a master’s program this year, but you actually really want to have more family time. You can’t do both well if the certificates take up a significant amount of time. So 5 new certificates is not the right goal, not right now anyway. (You can totally do it later, or do it slower… Maybe just one this year.)

A better goal would be to have planned family nights once a week and family dates at least once a month. Take them bowling, swimming, have a game night, make cookies (healthy ones of course!), etc. Or, even better: take them to museums, zoos, family craft classes, or have a puzzle-solving night. Then you can expand your mind while spending more time with the fam.

They are too focused on arbitrary numbers instead of meaningful results!

Examples of this kind of goal could be: 

  • Lose 50 lbs
  • Read 40 self-help books
  • Get a $5,000 pay raise

I’m not saying these goals are meaningless, but first, let’s make them more realistic:

  • Lose 10-15 lbs
  • Read 3-4 books
  • Get a $2,000 pay raise

This is better, but 

Here’s a secret: the number doesn’t matter. You heard me right! The number doesn’t matter even when you pick a wiser number, there is something deeper missing here. That’s why these types of goals aren’t motivating! 

Why do you want to achieve these goals? What is the feeling you want to experience?

Let’s take another look at the weight loss goal:

  • Lose 50 lbs this year.

Why is it bad? Because the number is results-oriented at a weight, a number, by the way, that naturally fluctuates anyway! A realistic range of weight to lose (10-15 lbs) is better, but the ultimate goal is actually to be healthier, stronger, fitter, and/or sexier, right? Or maybe you just want to feel good about yourself and how you look. Guess what! Regardless of what the scale says, or even your own negative self-talk, you can achieve any and all of those things! Yep, you can be healthier and not drop a pound. You can look good without changing your size. You can be stronger and actually gain weight! See! The number doesn’t matter! So what do you do instead?

If the goal is to be healthier: Why not choose some healthy habits THAT YOU WOULD ENJOY adding into your routine and take the focus off the arbitrary result (be X lbs) and onto the result that really matters (feeling healthier and happier!)

Some examples of healthier, fitter, and/or stronger goals, resolutions:

  • Add three new healthy habits this year: drinking plenty of water, walking 15 mins/day, meditate for at least 3 minutes daily (bedtime preferred).
  • Be able to walk the entire nature park near my home 5-7 times weekly.
  • Learn 1-3 new and delicious whole plant food based dinners to incorporate into my family’s meal plan each month.
  • Try one new exercise type each month: ballroom dance, yoga, pilates, powerlifting, karate, MMA, step aerobics, rowing, and pole dancing. When I find one I like, I’ll sign up for a bit. Then on to the next one! 

You haven’t stated what makes them meaningful

Even when they inspire you and are meaningful, there will be times when you just don’t want to stick to your goals. Stating the meaning to you will help you stick to your goals when you lack motivation and willpower. 

Let’s take the goals from above and some possible meaningfulness to them:

  • Add three new healthy habits this year: drinking plenty of water, walking 15 mins/day, meditate for at least 3 minutes daily (bedtime preferred). I feel better when I take the time to take care of myself and each of these take little time so I can still do other things I enjoy.
  • Be able to walk the entire nature park near my home 5-7 times weekly. Walking in nature soothes me and my dogs and I really enjoy the scenery of this walk. Plus, the full length gets me to the recommended steps daily for my health and I don’t even need the step counter or timer!
  • Learn 1-3 new and delicious whole plant food based dinners to incorporate into my family’s meal plan each month. I know the best nutrition plan for me will have more plants, but I don’t know enough recipes or quick meals. I also enjoy learning how to cook new things so this will be fun and healthy!
  • Try one new exercise type each month: ballroom dance, yoga, pilates, powerlifting, karate, MMA, step aerobics, rowing, and pole dancing (I believe this will help me feel sexy no matter my current size!). When I find one I like, I’ll sign up for a bit. Then on to the next one! I really enjoy trying new things. I get bored doing the same old things all the time. This will also give me the opportunity to meet new people and potentially make some great new friends!

You’re too fixated on the possibility of failure!

This fixation often leads to inaction or not enough action. So get comfortable with failure. It’s okay to have goals that fail; part of trying to do new things is failing. It is part of the learning process. The people who succeed the most recognize that a failed goal isn’t a failure as long as you learn from it!

When a goal or resolution fails, determine why it failed by comparing it to the reasons above. Then set an appropriate goal and go for it!

As long as you keep doing this, you’ll keep moving forward, progressing, and enjoying life.

“The more you fail, the faster you’ll succeed!
If you don’t ever try, you will never achieve!
It’s okay to re-evaluate or give up a goal.
But never, not ever, give up on your soul!”

~ Nancy N. Blackburn

You Need an Outside Perspective

We can’t see what we can’t see, and we all have our blind spots. This article has only a limited list of reasons for goal failures, with a very limited list of examples! You are an individual and crafting the right goals and resolutions for you can be daunting and overwhelming. How do you know if you are doing it right? Or whether you could do it better? Working with a mentor can help you achieve more success, faster by helping you see beyond your own limitations and craft the right goals for you!

Time Sensitive Offer!

If you want improved results in less time, then you are who I designed the “Creating Your New Your Strategy” for! It’s a fun mentoring group that meets online and guides you through crafting your New You Strategy so that you can live a life of joy, peace, and fun; and all for less than the cost of take-out.

Act quickly! There are limited spots!

See you soon Gorgeous!


Did you know you could safely decrease labor time with a simple diet addition?

This one is for all the pregnant ladies! DATES (The fruit, not the night out) can decrease the length of labor and post-delivery bleeding. WHAT?!?!

This isn’t something to take lightly. Post-delivery bleeding is a leading cause of death for women! Eat our dates ladies! You can checkout the science behind dates and labor on NutritionFacts.org.

Not pregnant? Well, as a wholefood, dates are a healthy way to add sweetness to your diet at any time and for anybody!

This podcast is available on multiple platforms. See the complete list of platforms on anchor.fm/livelifeblooming

Dates are easy to add to your diet

Here are some great ways that I like to eat dates, no recipe required!

  1. Enjoy on their own. They’re sweet and sticky!
  2. I really like to add them to my smoothies as the “sweetener.”, and since they are a wholefood, it’s a very healthy way to add sweetness! For a personal, 16oz smoothie I add anywhere from 3-6 dates depending on how sweet I want it.
  3. Open up the date, removing the pit and any hard bit, and stuff them with unsweetened shredded coconut, peanut butter, or cacao nibs and enjoy. Yummy!

Get your dates here!

I always bulk buy my dates from amazon. Of course you can buy them anywhere that carries them. I just like to have plenty on hand. And if you’re following the science, then you need to add six dates a day for the benefits. So stock up! (#ThankYouForYourSupport #CommissionsEarned)

Just remember the pits!

I never buy “pitted” dates because you aren’t guaranteed to have the entire pit removed. So one day I’m enjoying a smoothie and the next I’m at the dentist getting a chipped tooth fixed. So now I just split my dates open with a butter knife and remove the pit myself. That way I know for sure the entire pit, and any hard part of the fruit that shouldn’t be chewed, has been removed.

Have a friend/family member who is pregnant?

Be sure to share this with them!

What Exactly Are Essential Oils?

This podcast is available on multiple platforms. Go to anchor.fm/livelifeblooming for the complete list.

In short, essential oils are like the immunity system of the plant. They keep the plant healthy; these complex solutions with powerful chemical compounds, aka constituents, have therapeutic benefits to us as well which aid our bodies and minds in self-healing. It is similar to how eating nutritious foods helps support our bodies in healing faster. Chicken soup and vitamin C anyone?

Benefits of Essential Oils Are Wide Ranging

When using a trusted therapeutic grade brand (more on that later…) you can experience a multitude of benefits! Such as supported digestion, metabolism, and self-healing, improved respiratory wellness, sleep, and mood, and so much more. The benefits vary based on the chemical makeup of the plant, and thus the essential oil. This is what makes lavender relaxing and soothing, while peppermint is stimulating and invigorating, and lemon is uplifting and an excellent cleansing agent.

While essential oils aren’t cure-alls, no such thing exists, they are powerfully beneficial when you have the right brand and the know-how for use.

Aren’t Essential Oils Expensive Though?

Certainly, when you see the size of the bottle an essential oil comes in you’ll definitely find it costly, however when you realize that a 5ml bottle has 80-100 drops, and a 250ml bottle has 240-300 drops, you’ll find that the cost can be pennies per drop.

Why the different amount of “drops” per bottle? Each essential oil has a different viscosity or thickness (remember the chemical makeup of each essential oil is different) causing the drops to be slightly smaller or bigger.

What’s a serving size?

A serving size for an essential oil is a drop. That may seem like a crazy small amount, but wait until you hear how concentrated they are!

Wait, How concentrated?


Taking one drop of peppermint essential oil is like drinking 27 cups of peppermint tea!

Essential oils are highly concentrated. It can take several pounds of a plant to fill a 5 ml bottle. Rose, for instance, takes 42 pounds of rose petals to make a 5 ml bottle! That’s nearly a half a pound per drop!

It makes more sense now why one drop is a serving size for an essential oil! That doesn’t mean you have to use a whole drop, after all with several pounds of plant per bottle, a little goes a long way.

There are some essential oils that come from hard-to-grow plants or need crazy large amounts of the plant to make the essential oil. Frankincense, Rose, Helichrysum, and Sandalwood are some of the most commonly used essential oils that are like this. In these cases, a drop ranges from 50 cents to 3.5 dollars. That may still seem like a lot, but hang in here with me.

Let’s return to rose: one drop of rose essential oil, the most expensive on the market, contains 0.5 lbs of rose petals. So to get the same amount of essential oil benefits without extraction, you would have to eat 3,000 rose petals!

As mentioned above, one drop of peppermint essential oil is more potent than 27 cups of peppermint tea! Taking one drop of peppermint essential oil is not only less expensive, but it’s also more doable and more beneficial. I don’t even know anyone that drinks that much tea in a week, let alone be able to drink all that in one sitting!

Efficacy Concerns

The constituents within essential oils are delicate. Improperly performed extraction methods can ruin them. Any process that improperly heats the plants during the extraction, or you can even harm them yourself after extraction with a heated diffusion method or improper storage, can break down these powerful compounds, decreasing their efficacy (how beneficial an essential oil is).

The efficacy also heavily depends on how it is farmed. The sourcing, nurturing, and even proper harvesting of the plants can change their chemical makeup which alters their benefits.

Always use the highest grade essential oil possible. This is for your safety and so you can experience the greatest, beneficial impacts from essential oils. We’ll talk more about the different grades of essential oils and what to look for in this future post.)

Would you like to learn how essential oils can benefit you and your family and get a great deal?

This is a no brainer! Of course you would!

Say and wait no more. Book your free proactive wellness consultation and let’s get you receiving the benefits of these gifts from our Earth.

Just click the button above to schedule, or go to bookeo.livelifeblooming.com.


Essential oils are the immunity system of plants that have rich, powerful, and various benefits to our bodies and minds, and are often less expensive and more efficacious than teas, and more doable than attempting to eat the same amount of plant for a similar benefit. They are highly concentrated. A serving size is a drop, and a little goes a long way. Just remember to use the highest grade essential oil from a trusted brand.

Three Quick Ways to Improve Your Mood

Also available on other platforms. Full list on: anchor.fm/livelifeblooming

Give yourself a hug

This may seem silly, and it can certainly feel silly if you aren’t used to doing it, but giving yourself a hug is a proven way to soothe yourself. In her book, Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself (#ThanksForYourSupport #CommissionEarned), Dr. Neff explains that showing yourself a comforting gesture can be just as effective as receiving one from another person. That is, as long as your thoughts are also being kind. Comfort yourself like a good friend, “Poor dear. You are going through a hard time. It’s okay to be sad.”

If hugging yourself seems too strange, try hugging a stuffed animal or pet.


Our emotions are our physiological state of being, which often effects our facial expressions. But did you know that our facial expressions can also affect our emotions? It’s true. Next time you are feeling a little down, try smiling, even if there is no one there to smile at. You could even smile at yourself in the mirror and be silly. Or get yourself some chocolate tea and just smile a nice warm smile.

Diffuse therapeutic grade essential oils

Did you know that your sense of smell has the most direct pathway to your brain? Unlike other senses that go through filtration, the sense of smell ends up in the brain the quickest. It can trigger memories, by reminding us of times we smelled that smell before, and lift, or lower (depending on what we smell), our mood.

Essential oils have powerful chemical compounds (aka constituents) that also affect the brain in positive ways and can help the body and mind heal themselves.

Be careful! You need to be weary of your essential oil quality as there is a huge variety in the safety and efficacy depending on the brand. For example, over 90% of essential oils on the market are synthetic, making them just as harmful to your well-being as fragrances and perfumes (these products have been linked to respiratory disease). Therapeutic grade essential oils are gently extracted from plants and contain the entirety of the complex chemical systems from nature that work so beautifully together with your body to benefit and improve your mood.

I recommend a water-based diffuser as they are gentle on the essential oils. When a diffuser or even essential oil extraction process is gentle, it doesn’t break down the all-important constituents that make these complex compounds so powerful.

Would you like to easily earn free aromatherapy products while having fun?!

Earning a free diffuser, essential oils, books, and more is simple! Just hostess an online essential oil class and get ready feel empowered about your wellness and help empower your friends and family too! Just click the button below to get started!

I look forward to helping uplift and empower you in your well-being through essential oils and more!

Get Your Head Out of the Water!

Are you looking for your tail with your head underwater?” is my most popular post! That means many of us feel exactly the same way when it comes to our online businesses: lost!

Well it is time to get our heads out of the water my friends!

I have founded three businesses online, received the Who’s Who for Women’s Business in 2011, and I want to help you stay accountable to your dreams and your God-given purposes.

To that end, I am putting together a group of people who want to lift others up and have a breakthrough online. Even if you aren’t sure what your business should be. Even if you have zero following and think this may not work for you. If you want it, you’ll find a way. And here is a way!

This is not for everybody. If, you don’t want to have a business, don’t want to move your business online, or just aren’t ready or willing to put in the time and effort necessary to build your business, then this is not for you.

However, if you do want to have a breakthrough with your purpose-filled business online and you are ready and willing to put in the time and effort necessary, then click the button to get the details on how to join my group!

No obligation.

But hurry! There are free live masterclasses happening this week only and the only way to get invited is to sign up.

I look forward to seeing you in the group!

All my love,

Nancy N. Blackburn, MEAE

Purpose and Wellness Mentor

Free live masterclasses this week only! Act now!

Striving for High Self-Esteem Is So Overrated

The podcast is available on multiple platforms. Go to anchor.fm/livelifeblooming for the complete list.

According to Merriam Dictionary self-esteem means: a confidence and satisfaction in oneself.

Any person with a healthy mentality then should have high self-esteem, right? Then why is that so many people struggle with self (or professionally) proclaimed self-esteem?

In a competitive society in order to feel good about yourself you can get the feeling that you need to be better than everyone else in order to be satisfied with yourself. Your inner critic really beats you up when you mess up.

In a modest society, if you’re striving to be more modest, well it can lead to the same self-criticisms when you aren’t meeting your ideal.

It can be difficult to feel confident and satisfied when you are never achieving an ideal.

Of course there are many other reasons that can lead to low self-esteem, but I believe instead of striving for self-esteem, we should instead aim for self-compassion and acceptance of ourselves as we are.

This doesn’t mean we don’t continue to improve ourselves. As humans we strive for challenge and achievement, peace and ease, and enjoyment. Part of enjoying life is striving for self-actualization.

Along that path though we are going to mess up. WE ARE HUMAN! And what we need to keep us going is a good friend who will tell us what we need to hear, and do it in an encouraging, kind manner. Whether you have a friend like that or not, you should be that friend to yourself!

That’s why I believe striving for a high self-esteem is so overrated. Besides it being nearly impossible to always feel confident and satisfied with yourself in this human condition, modern psychological research has shown that striving for this high standard can lead to disadvantageous and serious mental health problems such as depression and narcissism. Now, you may be thinking narcissists think only about how great they are. Well, as much as they may talk about themselves as being all that in public, narcissists actually have very low self-esteem.

So what’s the solution to this constant strife for an ideal? Well, let’s start with compassion for ourselves.

As Dr. Neff describes in her book, Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself (#ThankYouForYourSupport #CommissionsEarned), she explains that self-compassion allows us to accept ourselves in all our messy complexity as human beings and enjoy life more. We can not just quiet the inner critic, whose job it is to help protect us from all kinds of dangers (including social rejection), we can be compassionate to her and thank her for doing her job while also asking her to be more kind.

If striving for high self-esteem has left you feeling alone, arrogant, or down on yourself, then why not try something that modern science has shown to make you happier? There is a lot more in Dr. Neff’s book, but here are some affirmations to help you be kinder to yourself right now:

  • I am human.
  • It’s okay to make mistakes.
  • I celebrate being alive in this universe in all my complexity and wonder.
  • I love and accept myself exactly as I am.

There is much more to being kind to yourself. Check out Dr. Neff’s book and see for yourself what a little kindness to all the parts of you can do for your life.

Go Get Your Big Dreams!

The podcast is available on multiple platforms. Go to anchor.fm/livelifeblooming for the complete list.

As I was finishing up my undergraduate degree in mathematics and was answering for the hundredth time what I was going to do with it (No, not teach secondary school!), I announced to my family that I was going to become a professor. I don’t recall my father laughing, but he didn’t believe me. Actually, I believe what he said was, “You can’t do that.”

“You don’t think I’m smart enough?”

“No. You’re intelligent enough, you just don’t finish anything. I don’t think you can do it.”

That really hurt. And when life took me through many twists and turns, including a long route to my Master’s in a completely different field, I often wondered if my father was right. Not about me not finishing anything, but about me not ever becoming a professor.

I loved my master’s program. I loved breathing in the atmosphere of the love of games: art, narrative, programming, designing. It was wonderful and I knew this is where I wanted to teach. I put that dream in the back of my mind though, because I needed to complete my master’s and then a Ph.D. and then probably teach elsewhere before making it back to this place. The idea of a Ph.D. had always scared me before, I hadn’t even ever applied to a program, but near the end of master’s experience I knew I had to at least try.

It wasn’t easy, and it was a lot of effort, but I got into a Ph.D. program and am currently (as of this writing) in my second year. Just 20 more years before I’ll be done, at least that’s what it feels like sometimes.

Then something exciting happened! An opportunity out of nowhere: the EAE program had an immediate need for new special topic courses for their undergraduates as an elective course option. They had too many students and not enough classes, and so anyone with at least a Bachelor’s could pitch a course to be taught.

The idea of putting myself out there scared me, but I knew I had to at least try for this opportunity too. This is what I told my research lab mates:

Me: “My first proposal for teaching next Spring got DENIED at super speed (for being too technical which didn’t meet their needs). So Rogelio helped me design a course which got ACCEPTED at super slow speed (I didn’t hear back until NINE days after I was told I would. That’s a long time to hold your breath.). So just call me Professor Blackburn (Not really! lol). I’m teaching Psychology of Games this Spring! YEAH!”

My Advisor: For a moment, I thought Professor Blackburn would teach Defense Against the Dark Arts :thinking_face: Which may as well be Psychology :slightly_smiling_face: CONGRATS

Me: Well, they wouldn’t let me use that title, IP reasons…

I’m like legit faculty!

The point is, besides to share my good news of course, is that as long as you keep moving in the direction towards your dream you must eventually get there, by universal law! The law of nurture tells us that what we nurture grows. And as long as I kept plugging away at that dream, it was growing! Until… I became legit university instructor.

What is your dare big dream?

It matters. It’s important. God doesn’t put dreams in our hearts willy nilly. They are there for a reason, to fulfill our and His purposes.

Don’t worry about all the how to’s and how long’s, just move your feet forward in the direction of what you want, and then keep going. God will bless you.