Tag Archives: Valentine’s Day

5 Benefits of Eating Dark Chocolate

mind

There are plenty of reasons why your indulgence in sweets over the Valentine’s holiday could have actually positively affect your health.  That is, of course, if you were eating dark chocolate. Made from the seed of the cocoa tree, it is one of the best sources of antioxidants on the planet.  If you buy quality dark chocolate with a high cocoa content, then it is actually quite nutritious.

5 of the many benefits include:

  • Heart-Healthy: Flavanols found in dark chocolate have a very positive effect on heart health by helping lower blood pressure and improving blood flow to the heart as well as the brain. They can also reduce the risk of blood clots and stroke.
  • Mood Changer: Dark chocolate contains Phenylenthylamine (PEA) which encourages the brain to release endorphins that make you feel good.
  • Better Cognititve Function: Because chocolate increases blood flow to the brain, it can boost brain function.
  • Cancer Prevention: Antioxidants are the compounds that are believed to neutralize free radicals and protect the body from their damage. The antioxidants in chocolate can help rid your system of free radicals which have been linked to multiple age-related health risks and diseases.
  • High in Vitamins and Minerals: Dark chocolate contains a number of vitamins and minerals that can support your health. Dark chocolate contains some of the following vitamins and minerals in high concentrations: Potassium, Copper, Magnesium and
    Iron.

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Be Love

feb12_2017

Point to Ponder:
Do your thoughts, words and actions produce love for yourself?

iGnite Neissa

by Neissa Brown Springmann

Last week I received a very kind compliment. It was one that I didn’t feel deserving of but none-the-less it was greatly appreciated, especially because I wasn’t having the most confident day or week. And, since being called out by a good friend many years ago and her telling me that I needed to work on receiving compliments because it was incredibly rude when I rejected them, I have changed my tune. You know, the standard compliment rejection goes like this:

Friend to You: “Hi You! Your hair looks amazing!”

You to Friend (response #1): “Oh my gosh–it’s a mess and sooo dirty. I haven’t washed it in days and just threw some dry shampoo in it. It’s so gross, I haven’t showered in three days, I barely even brushed my teeth this morning and you don’t even want to step inside my house….. etc. etc.

You to Friend (response #2): “Thank you! Your hair is amazing too!”

My wise friend explained that compliments are verbal sunshine and they should always be received with a big smile and a “thank you” (no extras needed and no compliment exchange necessary). Maybe it’s a universal female thing or maybe it’s an American female thing–I have no idea, but what I do know is that we are entirely too critical of ourselves, and learning how to graciously accept a compliment is one of the first steps to learning how to love ourselves, be loved, love others and being love. In addition, little ears are always paying attention, so whether you have nieces, sisters, daughters, granddaughters or just other female ears around, we are leading by example and they are always listening and learning.

And so, as Valentine’s Day is upon us and love is swirling all around, I encourage you to practice loving yourself by not only graciously accepting a compliment with a “thank you” and a smile, but by also speaking words of love and kindness to yourself. “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.” Proverbs 23:7

Finally, I also encourage you to print our “I Love Your Because” love notes HERE so you can inform those who you love why you love them, or what you love about them. It’s a sweet and fun card that fits great in a wallet, lunchbox, backpack or taped on a mirror, around the house or in a car. It’s super simple yet very effective for both the giver and receiver. And, don’t forget about yourself. Write a love note to yourself, telling your body, mind and spirit what you love so much about them, and then watch your level of gratitude and appreciation for your body and whole self sore! Here’s to loving yourself, being loved, loving others and being love!


Action Item:
Print our “I Love Your Because” love notes so you can inform those who you love why you love them, or what you love so much about them. Also, write a love note to yourself, telling your body, mind and spirit what you love so much about them.


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Jump-Start Your Heart

Neighborly Love, Part I

neighbor journal quote with pic

Point to Ponder:
Who is closest to you that you need to start loving more?

iGnite Neissa

Neissa Brown Springmann

In the recent journal, Let Your Family and Friends Love You Through It, I wrote about the importance of letting your family and friends love you through difficult times. For sure it was through the love and support of family and friends that I was able to get through my slump, however I also did something that was 100% selfish, as I knew it would jump start my heart and contribute to feeling more purposeful, joyful and back on my game.

As I was the midst of feeling sorry for myself and missing family and friends, Valentine’s Day was also approaching so I decided to write decorative love and gratitude letters to these special people. This was on Wednesday morning, at which I got up early so I could start my note writing. Prior to writing, I prayed and asked God to bless my time and wow… did He ever! Both of my kids slept until 9:30 a.m., giving me plenty of uninterrupted time to write and express my love.The result was that I felt like me again. I was energetic, joyful and filled with love!

Then, after writing and decorating the notes and getting in the Valentine spirit, it dawned on me that while missing everyone in Texas, I DO have friends in San Diego. In fact, I have eight friends that I can love on–in my love language– the way I am wired to love. What I determined was that the blues that I experienced were in large part caused by not loving on people. And so, the kids and I went on a tulip and Dollar Store shopping spree, where we loaded up on tulips and Valentine’s decorations. Over the course of Friday and Saturday, my partners in crime and I delivered tulips to their preschool teachers and my new friends, as well as Valentine’s treats to the kids’ friends. To top it off, we decorated the front doors of our friends’ homes too. We went a little crazy and drove all around San Diego, but man did it feel good to be able to express my love and gratitude. Not only did it boost my spirit, but it also wore the kids out! (YAY! A quiet moment!!) Here are some snapshots:

The finale to our day of spreading love was a stop at Russell, my husband’s office. He and the USD men’s basketball staff were out of town, so it made for an ideal decorating opportunity. As I’ve mentioned in previous journals, he is the recipient of my leftovers. I am not proud to admit that doing extra special things for him is most often not my priority. Shamefully, because we are married and I know he’s always going to be there, without a doubt I take him for granted and I do not invest in him the way that I do our children, my friendships, and even iGnite. So, as an effort to express my love to him and make him feel a priority, special and loved the same way I was hoping my friends would feel loved, the kids and I decorated his office. As you can see below, the end result would not have been featured in Martha Stuart. None-the-less, it was made with loving hands and a grateful spirit–by of which doing, filled me up!

During the month of March, the weekly journal focus is on neighborly love: doing kind things for your neighbors, getting to know your neighbors, and loving your neighbors despite your physical, political, financial, spiritual, and life differences. As it relates to this week, we are going to warm up by loving those who are closest to you, without the expectation of getting anything in return (like the reaction you are hoping for–that’s a hard one!). Whether this be your time, a note, a hug, a kiss, a verbal “thank you, I love you”, a listening ear or a helping hand, those all qualify as expressing neighborly love.

As you consider what you will do and to whom you will extend your neighborly love to, I encourage you to start inside your home and within your family. When I think about loving my neighbor, too often I think about my literal and physical neighbors, but in reality, our neighbors are also our spouses, our family members, the stranger we stand next to at the grocery store and the person living next door or down the street. They are even the people we don’t see eye to eye with and would rather snub or avoid, than say a kind “hello” to. As I have experienced and you may too, the act of expressing and giving love transforms the givers heart as much as it impacts the receivers. Maybe that’s why with hope, faith and love, the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13

Action Item:
Everyday this week, say or do something to express your love to someone who is close to you.

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Let Your Friends & Family Love You Through It

What’s Love Got to Do With It, Part III

Feb14_2016_SAME 2

Point to Ponder:
Do you reach out to your family and friends and let them love you the way you need to be loved?

iGnite Neissa

Neissa Brown Springmann

Happy Valentine’s Day!!! I hope your weekend and day have been sweet and filled with pounds of chocolate (yes, pounds!!) and most importantly, plenty of lovin!

Speaking of “lovin”, recently I hit a sad and unloved wall, called homesick! Maybe you can relate. As I was driving down the highway to pick up the kids from preschool, the deep and dark sadness hit me. I missed home (Texas) and missed our comfortable life in Austin. I missed my family, twenty years worth of deep friendships, our cozy and sweet home, knowing our neighbors and them knowing me, and familiar faces wherever I went. I missed feeling like I was somebody, people knowing my name; and frankly, I missed feeling relevant, important, and purposeful — the way that I felt when I lived in Austin.

What started the heartache was a text from my sister, letting me know they were putting in a pool. To give you some history, when we lived in Austin my sister and I only lived fifteen minutes apart. Each Friday (and sometimes Sunday evenings) our families would get together. We called it “Family Fun Friday.”  As happy as I was to learn that they were getting a pool (a goal they set as a family many years ago), I was so sad for my family! I was heartbroken that we weren’t going to be part of this exciting and fun time of their life and create the memories that I had envisioned.  Instead, I just got to see it all via a text, which is definitely not the same.

From that point on and for several days, I was just gloomy and depressed.  I did talk to Russell, my husband, and called my mom and sister, and they all lovingly validated my feelings and gave me great advice, which was so helpful.  However, it wasn’t until welcome events occurred that I finally felt myself come out of the sad and sunken hole, and nearly all of these soothing gifts arrived within 24 hours of one another.

First, I heard an uplifting and encouraging song called “Good Fight” by Unspoken. Some of the lyrics are, “When we feel all alone and when it’s hard times- keep fighting the good fight, let your light shine, keep on singing, keep on dancing, joy will be your banner and God’s love will be my anthem. God’s never gonna leave me and always gonna see me through to the others side! He holds my tomorrow.” (In case you are interested in hearing the song, click here: Good Fight)

Second, my mom sent me a beautiful devotional about “rainy days,” which, despite it being perfectly gorgeous and sunny in San Diego, I was having plenty of.  Not only did it confirm that rainy days are normal, it also confirmed the importance of them.  As I read, these words washed over me: “A good rainy season can awaken us, test us and turn us to God. And when we do turn to Him, He may stop the rain, shelter us from the worst of it, or remain with us as it pours. His concern is not our comfort, but our growth.”  OUCH! Okay, really?!  I’m not sure if you recall, but in the January 31st journal, I stated that my 2016 goal was to GROW. So, there ya go! The moral of that story is to be careful for what you ask for but really, I do know this all is true. I just needed someone to send it to me so I could be reminded. (If you’d like to read it, click here: Devotional Page 1, Devotional Page 2)

Third, I reached out via text to the wonderful iGnite Team, my very dear friends, and let them know that I was struggling. It wasn’t more than one minute that I was flooded with encouraging and loving texts and phone calls–all validating my sadness and feelings. They encouraged me to be mad, sad and cry when I needed to. They reminded me of my 2015 motto, “We can do hard things”, and that at the end of every rain storm is a rainbow. I bathed myself in their prayers, scripture and wisdom.

Finally, several weeks ago I informed a spiritual mentor and friend of mine know that I was struggling with my purpose. At the time I wasn’t sad, rather I was trying to determine what God wanted me to do in San Diego. Then, within 24-hours of hearing “Good Fight”, receiving the devotional from my mom, getting showered by love from the iGnite Team, my spiritual mentor sent me a text. She said that during her quiet time I popped into her mind and so, she sent me the most powerful and true spiritual wisdom. Her text started like this, “What we think determines what we feel and what we feel leads to how we act. When I feel an over abundance of fear or dread or despair, what am I thinking or saying to myself? What thoughts lead to those feelings? Inevitably those thoughts are not the truth. I have an error in my thinking.” (To read the spiritual wisdom, click here: Spiritual Wisdom)

It’s ironic that I preach on the importance of community and not living life alone, yet I found myself in that lonely and isolating place. It happens to all of us, and maybe you are in the middle of it right now too. Or, maybe you know someone who is. What I know to be absolutely true is that while we all are in different life chapters and seasons, we are never alone and we are not intended to go through anything alone. It is essential to reach out to friends and family so they can love us through it and pull us up and out of the hole. That’s what life is all about and that’s what love has got to do with it!!

Action Item:
Avoid hanging onto your troubles, struggles, burdens and/or any sadness that you might be experiencing. Instead, reach out to your friends and family so they can love you through it!

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I Love You Because…!

What’s Love Got to Do With It, Part II

Feb7_2016

Point to Ponder:
How often do you tell the people you love why you love them?

iGnite Neissa

Neissa Brown Springmann

We have an exciting week ahead of us! Yes, it’s the week leading up to Valentine’s Day and therefore, there are many Valentine’s festivities, but what I love most is that we are bringing back our ‘I love Your, Because…..’ note cards . As it relates to a day of romance, I think Valentine’s is a bit overrated, however it is a sweet celebration of love, and anything that promotes loving others and expressing our love to and for others is a great thing.

The recommended action throughout the week is simple: download, print, fill out and give the ‘I Love You Because….’ note cards to anyone and everyone you love. This naturally includes your family, but don’t forget about your close friends too. Then, if you are interested in being entered into a “sweet treat drawing”, snap a picture of how and where you use your cards and post them on Instragram and/or Facebook. When doing so, use the hashtag #iloveyoubecause_iGnite and be sure to tag iGnite. Every posted picture equals an entrance into the drawing. (iGnite Instagram = @igniteyourlife_ iGnite Facebook = @iGniteYourLife )

While the note cards are very simple and on a cheap piece of paper, they are heartfelt and personal, which is ultimately what makes them so special and will make the biggest impact in the lives of those you love. And, equally as great — this activity is inexpensive, sweet, fun, calorie and sugar-free. It doesn’t wilt and will last a life-time. I’m not sure it gets better than that!

Action Item:
Download, print and fill out the ‘I Love You Because’ note cards and give to anyone and everyone you love. Then, if you are interested in being entered into a “sweet treat drawing”, snap a picture of how and where you use your cards and post them on Instragram and/or Facebook. When doing so, use the hashtag #iloveyoubecause_iGnite and be sure to tag iGnite. Every posted picture equals an entrance into the drawing. (iGnite Instagram = @igniteyourlife_ iGnite Facebook = @iGniteYourLife )

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Entering a Gossip-Free Month

Loving Yourself & Others, Part I

Speak Positively

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”
Ephesians 4:29

Point to Ponder:
Are your conversations about others wholesome and beneficial?

by Neissa Brown Springmann

by Neissa Brown Springmann

Have you ever gone shopping and purchased something that was impractical, impulsive and too expensive? Then, as soon as you arrived home you hastily ripped off the tag, tossed the receipt, and fully expected “it” to make you feel happy and satisfied…but within less than 24-hours, you realized that “thing” that you are now stuck with is something you don’t want, can’t return and as a result, have buyer’s remorse?!  This is how I feel after I’ve shamefully engaged in gossip. Upon the initial engagement of gossiping, it can feel harmless and even fun, but afterwards I always have ‘gossip remorse’ and wish I could take it all back. However, the damage to my heart and to the heart of the person I’ve talked about is already done. It’s gross, nasty and immature, and makes me want to soak myself in bleach and ask for forgiveness.

As you are aware, Valentine’s Day is on February 14th.  While I think Valentine’s is sweet and I do participate in the sweetness of it, I also think it’s a silly scheme to make us spend money on superficial love items that men feel obligated to buy women. And for women who aren’t in a relationship, it’s just a depressing day. Furthermore, it’s like New Years Eve or the prom, it’s over-rated and more disappointing than fun because it’s glamorized and expectations are unrealistic and too high. I promise I’m not jaded (even though my first Valentine’s with Russell came with diamond earrings, and now I get roses because those were his mom’s favorite flower — even though I have communicated to him that they are my least favorite flower…). Instead, I’m just proposing we use the month of February for a purpose that will provide real long-term emotional and spiritual fulfillment to ourselves and others, which is loving ourselves and all people by avoiding gossip, not engaging in gossip and when in a circle of gossip, courageously suggesting that the conversation end.

In addition to the month of Valentine’s, February is also American Heart Month. Heart month is intended to raise awareness of the prevalence of heart disease awareness, which remains to be the #1 killer of women. When I think of heart disease, my tendency is to think one-dimensionally: diet and exercise.  However, stress of any kind affects the whole body and heart, and there’s no doubt that gossip absolutely has an effect on two hearts: the person gossiping and the person who is being gossiped about. I love visuals, which is why I love the picture above. We may not be able to make someone change their diet or exercise, but we can choose to hold both of our hearts responsibly, with kindness and compassion.

I really do feel like Ephesians 4:29 (the verse above) advises perfectly.  Just think how good we will feel and the goodness ripple effect that will take place as a result of us not engaging in unwholesome talk, and only talking about what is useful for building others up according to their needs so that it may benefit those that are listening. This also includes people we don’t even know but like to talk about anyway — like celebrities. We’ll be counter-culture, total misfits and oh what a good month this will be!

Action Item:
Avoid all gossip and instead choose words that are useful for building others up and will benefit those that are listening.

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