21 Days of Joy


Gooooood morning friends! I’m so happy you’re here. Not just saying that, I’m ACTUALLY happy you’re here…and not just because human interaction has been severely limited and stalled by COVID-19. Today, I’d like to challenge you to find joy in the ordinary for 21 days.

Why 21 days you ask? I’m sure you’ve heard before that 21 days is the number of days that it’s supposed to psychologically take a person to form a habit. What better habit could you possibly have than finding joy?

Now, I know what you’re thinking. “21 days is a LONG time!” Or maybe your internal monologue is saying something more like, “I’m already schooling my kids at home, still working AND trying to not eat my bodyweight in leftover Reese Eggs. How can this lady expect me to do more?” This 21 days isn’t going to feel long because we’re going to have some fun! We’ll be connecting to each other – virtually and more than 6 feet apart of course…I love you from…over there. I’ll also be encouraging you to connect with the ones you love and lean on in life already. (They’re great! Let’s celebrate them!)

If you need further encouragement to find joy in your everyday, let me just mention that finding joy will release those ‘feel good’ endorphins. I’m lookin’ at YOU dopamine and serotonin! There are lots of ways to get those endorphins to come out to play.

Experiments have even suggested that people who are happier get sick less. I can’t think of a better time to have a rock solid immune system than now. You’ll be so happy that your immune system will be all, “not today ‘rona! Not. Today.”

Maybe you just want to participate because you’re bored in quarantine? You’re totally welcome! Please join us! Maybe you’re just frustrated/annoyed/struggling to coexist with your quarantine partners? You are so welcome, please join us! I’m sending you all the virtual hugs and when this all blows over, I’ll even give you a real one too! Maybe you thrive on going, routine, and normalcy. I get it. I love to be on the go. You are so welcome here, we’ll be going on a joyful little journey for the next 21 days! Come along. Maybe you’re struggling with the anxiety or the feeling of impending doom this virus has brought. Yep, I’ve been there too. Push through, I’m proud of you and I love you. You are right where you need to be, finding joy with me.

The details

  • We’ll start our 21 days of joy challenge TODAY, April 13, 2020, yay!!
  • Where? If you don’t already, go give me a follow on Instagram @bethannsbites – it’s the place to be. Good food, a cute baby, dogs, and most importantly – that’s where this challenge is taking place.
  • Each day you’ll have a task. Something action based that will help you feel better for the day. (Don’t worry we’ll start small and work our way up!)
  • You’ll post or story on instagram using #joyswithbeth and tag @bethannsbites to show me that you’ve completed the challenge for that day.
  • Each day that you complete the challenge using #joyswithbeth and tagging @bethannsbites you earn an entry into the giveaway at the end of the challenge.
  • What’s the prize? So glad you asked. In the spirit of social distancing and remaining quarantined as much as possible, I’ll be giving away a $25 Amazon gift card to a lucky winner! This way you can get yourself a little something from the safety of your own home.
  • Be sure to tune into my stories each day to find your task for the day. Can’t wait to connect with you!!

Our circumstances may not be ideal right now but I think we have a responsibility to ourselves and those around us to find joy in the meantime. Don’t waste this part of your life waiting for it to end. Do the hard thing. Find the joy. Be the joy.

Facing fear and COVID-19


In December leading into January of this year, I think I responded to the Coronavirus as many of us did – by laughing it off. The prospect of an epidemic such as China’s springing up in our own backyard was terrifying but it wasn’t our problem yet. The story developed for months. The situation worsened and was declared a pandemic as the months passed.

Suddenly, during the second week of March, things got real quickly. The virus was spreading rapidly in the United States and slowly but surely colleges, events, and schools were being shut down. As a person who is prone to anxiety over things that are completely out of my control, my first instinct was a cancerous growth of despair. The pit in my stomach was debilitating. I paced around my house aimlessly.

As a person who is prone to anxiety over things that are completely out of my control, my first instinct was a cancerous growth of despair.

The stress only worsened towards the end of the week. I was supposed to return to work the following Monday and we’d just been out for Spring Break. I knew students and teachers who had traveled to affected areas or booked a cheap flight thanks to the fear of the spreading virus. I was worried that we’d all go back on Monday and it would be a hotbed for the spread. I had two boxes of tissues and half a tub of clorox wipes left in my classroom. There were no other disinfectant cleaners to be found at the store.

Later that week, after days of worry, my school district canceled school for the coming week and I had a small sense of relief. The district insisted that they expected to return March 23rd. The pit grew as the date drew near. Eventually, our governor shut all schools down. We’re currently out until May 4th.

My husband still had to work. So I’d stay home with our son, preparing to teach online and taking care of a one year old who hates mama’s computer for no reason other than it takes precious attention away from him. (Normally, I work while he’s asleep…but these are not normal times!)

John would get home and I’d make him sanitize, change clothes immediately, and scrub his hands. Then I’d scrub the door handles, his keys, and his cell phone.

Two and a half weeks ago, it was determined that many jobs could be done from home. Luckily for us, John’s job was determined to be one of those. He’s been home with us ever since he came home early on a Wednesday afternoon. My mind rested just a little bit more. We understand the great privilege we have, being able to hole up in our home waiting for this to pass.

After we were all quarantined, I found myself fearing trips to the store. I have asthma, so John has been our grocery getter. Things were getting worse and again every trip felt like a risk. If I’m being honest, it still does.

A funny thing I’ve noticed about myself during my lifetime is that I will be the first person to look for the silver linings, I’ll even find them…but I don’t sit with them. If I let myself, I sit with worry, anxiety and despair.

The thing is, we all have a choice every single day: whether or not we want to sit with worry and despair. We all have the ability to decide how our home, family, and mind respond to this crisis. I urge you to choose faith over fear.

choose faith over fear

I read something recently about how someday our kids will tell us how they remember living through this pandemic and they will remember spending time together, being homeschooled, the silly games and activities we play to pass the time. I hope with all my heart that that is true. We have to make it come true.

I realized at some point that I was allowing myself to be paralyzed and stagnant with fear. That didn’t feel very radical to me. I also came across the saying “Faith over fear,” again recently. It’s a saying that I’ve seen around for years. It’s unclear exactly where it comes from but I think it’s a beautiful mantra during these times.

I realized at some point that I was allowing myself to be paralyzed and stagnant with fear.

I urge you today to choose faith over fear. Choose to have faith in God, faith in the goodness of humanity and your fellow man, faith that science will deliver a cure, faith in our medical staff and other essential employees who are risking themselves everyday to keep our world spinning. Pray it out, write it out, talk it out and then, most importantly, LET. IT. GO.

We can only do what we are able to do. We can only do the best that we can. I can’t control the fact that my neighbors are having a pool party or the fact that my county has passed no stay at home or shelter in place orders. I can control the number of grocery trips we take. I can control the fact that we only go out if it is absolutely necessary. I can control the fact that I sanitize everything we’ve ordered online in lieu of going to the store.

Choose to have faith in God, faith in the goodness of humanity and your fellow man, faith that science will deliver a cure, faith in our medical staff and other essential employees who are risking themselves everyday to keep our world spinning.

Do your best and leave the rest. That is the only way to protect your peace. Protecting your peace extends to your children and how they’ll remember this crisis. They know it when we’re stressed and panicked and short with them, no matter how small.

I urge you to find ways to choose faith over fear, love over hate, grace over grimace, and joy over despair. We can and we will get through this together. Take it one hour, one day, one week at a time. Choose faith and keep choosing faith.

2020 word of the year

Life, Mommin'

I’m a “New Year” kinda gal. Ever since I could remember and understand New Year’s Resolutions, I loved to set them. I distinctly remember sitting on my bedroom floor in middle school, spiral bound journal in hand – it was either late December or early January – setting a laundry list of goals I was absolutely going to crush that year. It was 400% going to be MY year. Although I’ve gotten smarter and much more intentional about my goal-setting over the years, in my heart I remain a New Year’s kinda gal.

I love the idea of a fresh, clean slate on life. Self improvement, learning, growing and changing are my jam! It comes from the part of me that is the eternal optimist and also, in part, the Catholic girl who studied saints and consequently struggled with perfectionism for decades to come.

The past couple years I’ve started choosing a word of the year as well. If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, basically you choose a word that will propel you forward in the coming year. The idea is to choose a word that inspires you and gives you strength and hope for the year ahead.

2019 has been filled with an abundance of good memories but as with anyone’s year, I had trying times as well. One of the more trying times of the year was the loss of my very dear Uncle Dave. In November, he lost his battle with terminal cancer, just barely under a year after he was diagnosed.

As I reflected on my Uncle’s life and the legacy that he left behind him, somehow he left me a few lessons posthumously.

Maya Angelou said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how to made them feel.”

Dave’s legacy was the way he made people feel. He made people feel seen, heard, respected, and important. His smile was infectious largely because of it.

As I looked at pictures that spanned a too-short lifetime with my cousins, my sister, and husband by my side, we laughed and reminisced. It occurred to me that I could no longer live small. I want to have the kind of impact on the world that my Uncle had.

Too many times in my life, I have questioned if my care was placed correctly. I’ve wondered if I was weird for caring or bringing a casserole or checking in. My voice has stayed quiet when I wanted to express my concerns, my appreciation, my admiration. I have lived in fear of the opinions of others even when my intent was the best at its very core.

That’s why my word of the year in 2020 is radical.

rad·i·cal adj.

: very different from the usual or traditional, EXTREME;

:of or relating to the origin, FUNDAMENTAL;

:favoring extreme changes in existing views, habits, conditions, or institutions

In the coming year I want to:

LOVE the Lord and others radically, without fear of judgement or rejection;

Love MYSELF radically, without demeaning or wavering;

FORGIVE radically, keeping in mind the intent and not just the outcome;

Push myself radically towards my goals;

TEACH radically, in a way that makes my heart sing;

SPEAK radically with words of encouragement, appreciation, and admiration;

Be radically HONEST with myself and others, even when I am made to feel small or harsh;

Set healthy boundaries for myself and my family radically, in a way I never have before;

Practice radical self care;

Be radically myself without making myself quieter, smaller, or assimilating to the group;

Live radically in a state of constant change and betterment.