The Extremes

The Extremes

If you have been following my blog you know that I am on a journey to make my life the best it can be…faster, smarter and better…and hopefully give you ideas for your life as well.

Along this journey I have been examining life have have learned a great deal about myself, others and life in general.

Part of what I am digging into is human nutrition–me being the main human I am examining. I mean really, how can we live our best life if we are sick and tired all the time?

I for one was sick and tired of being sick and tired–so I was ready for the changes I am making and up to now am happy and better for it.

With that said I want to talk about changes–and when they go wrong–and that usually happens when we mere people take things to an extreme.

Most–but of course not all–people make nutritional changes to their diets because they want to lose weight. We realize we cannot continue on the upward trend the scale is making.

So we go on a diet–and we lose weight–and then we go back to our merry lives and we gain it all back and more…so we go on another diet.

I know…I’ve done it this myself and so we conclude that those diets don’t work.  Are the diets to blame? Or the dieters?

In my opinion it is neither. Here is what I mean:  We start a nutritional program and we are committed to it and we lose weight.  Both the program and the person are successful UNTIL we encounter something that doesn’t fit in the program.

Like donuts brought in by a generous coworker, an invitation to a baby shower or a birthday party.  Or Thanksgiving and Christmas come around again–and the diet is broken.

The real reason this happens is because most diet programs and the people following them–yes, including me–take them to an extreme.

If the program calls for no sugar, we try to cut out every drop of sugar in our entire lives. A no carb diet? We kill ourselves making sure we have not one gram of carbohydrates. Low fat? We cut out anything with any kind of fat–even the good fat that our bodies need!

Then there are the fad programs that call for eliminating everything but one component in order to lose weight: The grapefruit diet: only grapefruit; the coffee diet: black coffee 3 times a day! The banana diet–well you get the picture.

These ideas are not sustainable and they are not healthy!

Some can be very dangerous because it changes the functions of the body and can cause major problems–especially if you are seriously cutting back on carbs or not getting enough vitamins and minerals needed for healthy functions.

However, I do believe that all diets or nutritional programs have good ideas that can be used to make lasting change.

And change is the hardest part of all of this.  Instead of going to extremes each one of us needs to find the nutritional program that works for us–stop making excuses and then just make the life changes we need to be healthy and happy.

No extremes, no excuses.  Make your life better–faster and smarter.

Send me your comments on how your nutritional plan is going (or not going!)  or email me at emptynestsavvy@gmail.com with your thoughts and questions! We are all here to share and help each other!

 

Carbs to the Rescue

Carbs to the Rescue

Ah Carbs!  The pleasure trigger of the taste buds and the bain of all the empty calories we consume.

Carbohydrates get a bad reputation as being the worst thing to enter our dietary lives–EVER!

But as with most things the majority of people are getting this wrong. This is mostly because they are not doing the research themselves because they are relying on all the sound bytes they hear…

And while I am just another sound byte–I have at least done my homework.

Carbohydrates are a necessary part of our nutritional plan. It is where we get our energy so we can, you know, do stuff.

If we were not getting energy from our food we would feel deflated and tired–all the time–and you would quite literally be unable to function.

If you are trying to lose weight many diets encourage you to cut out carbohydrates–completely.  

Many people grab onto that advice and cut out all carbs!  This does lead to weight loss but very often that weight loss is too much, too fast, can be very dangerous and is not sustainable.

Those diets fail–or I should say the people on those diets fail to reach their goals because they cannot follow the program long term as a lifestyle…I’ll discuss that next time.

Back to carbohydrates–we cannot survive without carbohydrates in our system everyday and this is why:

Carbs come in 3 main categories:

  1. Sugars or simple sugars like glucose, fructose etc. that are basically already broken down for us. These go into our system, give us a little zip of energy and then fizzle out quickly. Because they are simple it takes a lot of them to make us feel “full” or “satisfied” so we eat a lot of them.
  2. Starches are more complex sugars that need to be broken down by our digestive system to create the glucose our bodies need for energy.  So these carbohydrates take longer to break down and give us a slow burn of energy.
  3. Fiber.  Fiber is a carbohydrate that cannot be broken down by the body but is needed to aid digestion and to give us a happy gut and happy bathroom experiences. This, as you know, is super important!

When we eat too many carbs, the body can store some of them for future energy and turns them into fat. Not good.

In a nutshell–we need to eat carbohydrates that are complex and whole to provide us with that slow burn and with fiber. Processed foods that are high in carbohydrates and low in everything else are just empty calories that do not serve us!

The amount of carbohydrates that we need depends on the number of calories you need per day to reach your nutritional goals. I discuss that in a previous post called The Big Mac.

The best carbohydrates are found in vegetables, whole fruits, potatoes, legumes and whole grains. It is important though to remember to watch the serving sizes and the preparation of these foods so that we don’t change a good carbohydrate into a fattening dish.

We also don’t want to eat so much of a good thing that we turn it into a bad thing by overloading our bodies with too much sugar–even from whole foods–that is needed in a day.

For people who are currently battling obesity, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease a low carb diet can be life changing. And I think–especially given our current society–that this is important to mention.

And while a low carb diet may come to your rescue–we need to include the proper water intake, exercise and a host of other changes to our habits as a permanent life change for our rescue to be sustainable.

Remember that carbohydrates did not cause our obesity and a host of other health problems.  Our ancestors ate all kinds of carbs and were healthy–and thin!

Our ancestors, though, ate whole foods–not processed foods!  And there is a way to include whole foods and the science of convenience in processed foods to help us achieve both nutritional values and health objectives!!

While I am still digging for the answers–remember to take everything you know and understand to be true with a grain of salt. Do some discovering of yourself and what works best for your body–because no two bodies are alike!

Reach out with a comment or email me at emptynestsavvy@gmail.com with your thoughts and questions!

Protein Packed

Protein Packed

I am quickly learning that my curiosity about nutrition is very hard work which was not what I expected, but I have always enjoyed a challenge–and a challenge this certainly is.

Learning more about macro nutrients and how they impact the body has been an exciting ride–which I can’t seem to get off of–and today I am full of protein!

Protein is one of the important macro nutrients that we need to have for a healthy diet. Getting the right proteins and in the right amount is the trick.

Where do we get our protein, what are the best types of protein and how much is needed?

First–where do we get our protein?  I thought the easy answer was meat! Beef, chicken and pork are very good sources of protein, but they are not the only sources of high protein.

There is protein in dairy products like eggs, natural cheeses, yogurt, 2% milk, organic milks, and whey and casein protein powders (for protein shakes.)

Proteins can also be found in seafood like Halibut, Yellowfin Tuna, Salmon, Tilapia, Anchovies and Sardines–and in all kinds of beans: black beans, kidney beans, pinto beans and so on.

I was very surprised at the amount of proteins found in nuts and grains like almonds, walnuts, cashews, oats and brown rice. Who knew? Well, I think many people knew–but I didn’t or I wasn’t really paying attention.

How much protein does each person need?  If we remember that protein is needed to build and repair muscles, organs and our skin then it makes sense that we need a fair amount of that.

For a normally active person of normal weight 25-30% of your daily calories from protein would be a good amount. Once again, math will have to be involved in your plans.

That does not mean that I am advocating going out and having a couple of greasy hamburgers a day! While that may have a lot of protein–it also has a lot of other stuff that is not good for you!

Protein also has some magical powers if you are looking to lose weight. When you increase your protein the body’s metabolism increases–burning more calories faster–at the same time that you are feeling fuller and will then eat less of everything.  Magic.

On top of that, proteins help you build muscle mass, which will keep your metabolism at an optimal level to keep burning calories–even when you sleep!

The most exciting thing I have learned in recent days about proteins is that it helps create enzymes that not only repair muscles–especially after a workout–but it helps repair organ tissues.

There is a great deal of research that is showing that increasing your protein intake–as we get older especially–helps us lower blood pressure, and combat diabetes and since it helps maintain muscle–it keeps us stronger longer.

Can we over do it?  Of course, as with anything else–too much of a good thing is not always a good thing.  There is some evidence–although no real scientific proof yet–that if you have kidney disease, too much protein can be harmful.

But for a healthy person getting the right amount of protein each day can help you stay healthy, maintain a good weight, prevent muscle loss as we get older, and keep our metabolism working at optimal levels.

Most healthy women should have between 45 and 75 grams of protein a day and healthy men should have between 55 and 90 grams of protein a day.  The more active you are–the more protein you should have!

Living our best life is important to living a long healthy life–and being healthy and active is the key!

Think about how you can protein pack your days to a healthier you!

Leave a comment below or contact me on emptynestsavvy@gmail.com!

 

Our Surroundings Mirror Us

Our Surroundings Mirror Us

The world changes all the time and constantly, which is ironic, since most of us do not deal well with change.

Part of my journey–in writing this blog and learning more about nutrition and health and wanting to help others, and myself–is that I have gotten to communicate with a lot of people.

And while this week and beyond I am still going to pursue my goals and dreams and share them with you, I thought I would take a break from thinking about carbohydrates and proteins for one day to share something else.

I discovered something about people that I think I knew but had not truly thought about.  Our surroundings mirror us–sometimes in the worst way.

I’ve encountered several people that like me are trying to lose weight and live a more healthy life. People who are serious about nutrition and exercise. We are all on this journey to feel and look better and live a long healthy life.

I’ve also encountered people who are wanting the same things and looking for support but are unwilling–or terrified–to change.

I can completely relate to that.  It is scary to change, to let go of the past and move into the future and make changes. Especially when changes will affect those around us. And when we worry that those we love will not accept and love us back–as we make those changes.

I will share the perfect example–in my own life–and see if you can relate.  Before I began losing weight I felt bulky, swollen, and awkward. My house also had a lot of extra “stuff” in it. Papers and files and clothes and knick knacks.

The house was mirroring me!

My house was clean but full–if you’ve read some of my earlier posts you’ll know that one of my goals this year is to declutter and I’ve been making a great deal of progress!

More amazing still, the more I lightened my load at home, the lighter I became–quite literally.  And I am starting to see the connection for some.

So how do we shine up our mirrors so that what is reflected back is exactly what you want to see?

Decluttering the house–especially the kitchen–is a good place to start.  The more I learn about the good foods to eat–the more I fill my pantry with those and have replaced the processed foods we are no longer choosing to eat.

Another thing we should clean up are our thoughts and feelings–about ourselves. That mirror reflects not only us, but the us we are trying to hide.

Hurts and pain, sadness and anxieties are all part of the reflection–and sometimes we eat the wrong foods and don’t take care of ourselves to hide ourselves away–maybe to protect ourselves from our pasts or the fears of the future.

So for what it’s worth look at your surroundings and decide what you want to change.  Nothing stays the same–we can fight change or we can embrace it.

I think you’ll find–like I am learning about myself–that when you enjoy the changes in your life the mirror will reflect it.

Have a wonderful Monday! And comment below–let me know how letting go of things and the past can make your future strong!

 

Genuine Artificial Food

Genuine Artificial Food

As I was looking for the best carbohydrates I can find to provide complex sugars to give me energy I found a dark and confusing place that I am not sure I’ve completely recovered from–it is similar to Alice in Wonderland falling through the rabbit hole and finding a whole new upside down backwards world.

Like Alice, I became fascinated and then horrified about what I was learning and eventually finding my way back to the real world.

And since I am not very science minded–at least I don’t think so–I will try to explain my findings, or lack thereof.

So here it is.  Too many carbohydrates are bad because they break down into simple sugars too fast in our system creating a spike in sugar.

The body, in its infinite wisdom, produces a lot of insulin to bring the sugar levels back to normal, overcompensates with too much insulin and then we crash. We feel weak and tired.  

The body (mostly the liver) is working overtime to clean out the extra sugar and insulin.

Meanwhile, we begin to crave more sugar (or carbs) to make us feel better and most of us give in and have more carbs–putting us right back on the cycle of a spike and a crash.

At the same time, the body (on the inside) is experiencing stress from having to produce the insulin and fix itself and then clean itself out and that stress slows down and sometimes stops digestion–so the body stores all the extra stuff we did not use–as fat.

Like I said–a scary rabbit hole.  But our travels in the upside down world are not over, Alice–there’s more.

Most of the carbohydrates we consume are not only empty calories, as we have heard many nutrition gurus tell us, they are also made up of chemicals.

Chemicals our bodies cannot absorb or break down because the body cannot identify them as a carbohydrate or a protein or a vitamin. So these chemicals build up in the body–in our fat–and for many of us it creates disease or conditions and for others it just makes us feel blah.

Diabetes, IBS, heart disease, high blood pressure, gluten intolerance, foggy brain, undefined pain, allergies, unexplained inflammation, eczema, depression, chronic fatigue, cancer, autism and infertility to name a few are thought to be caused by chemicals in our food and our environment.

Now wait–I am not saying we should go out a boycott anything and everything because of chemicals. Chemicals have their place in the society we live in. And our bodies are wonderful machines that can filter out things or adapt to new environments.

Like I said–the rabbit hole can be fascinating and terrifying at the same time. A balance is what I am looking for.

Here is what I am doing to find that balance–I am reading all our food labels.  That in itself is a scary thing–but very eye opening! If a product has more than 5 ingredients I already know it could be trouble.

Here are a few things I try to minimize:

  1. Trans-Fat:  this is also called hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated fat. I’m not even sure what it is yet–but it is not real–it is chemically made.
  2. High Fructose Corn Syrup: a substitute for real sugar. Sugar is bad enough–the substitute, is worse. I feel the same about any artificial sweeteners.
  3. Artificial Colors, artificial sweeteners, artificial fillers: the name pretty much spells it out Alice!  It is genuine artificial–not real.
  4. Preservative: these are usually described on labels by their initials–MSG, BHT, BHA, TBHQ, etc–I can’t pronounce what they stand for but clearly a chemical compound.

So where is my balance?  I realize we cannot go crazy and completely eliminate all these things–we just don’t have to take it to an extreme.

We are eating more salads and fruits and vegetables and looking for the right amounts of macro nutrients our body needs.

What about labels for the fruits and vegetables and salads?  Well broccoli, whether organic or not, is real and doesn’t need a label–so I feel we are already better off than the bag of Hot Cheetos!

And at some point we need to get out of the rabbit hole or we will get stuck in the upside down backwards world!

Have I found the best Carbohydrates yet?  Not really–it’s a journey…and I will get back with you on that.  

In the meantime, I am going to read my labels and continue my search. I hope you’ll come along for the trip!

What have been your findings in your health journey with processed foods?  Comment below or send me your thoughts, comments and questions to emptynestsavvy@gmail.com

The Big Mac

The Big Mac

The more I learn about nutrition, the more interested and confused I become.  No wonder so many people try so many diets and either fail miserably or succeed for a short while and then fall of the wagon and fail.

Now don’t misunderstand…diets do work for the most part but they only work as long as you continue the diet–which long term for most people is very hard–because diets all eliminate something major that the body needs.

What I am learning is better is creating your own nutritional plan that works for you. Yes–I did say create…but you can also adopt a way of life that provides you all the nutrients you need without the deprivation of most diets out there.

When you do this and keep it up and include at least 30 minutes of exercise everyday you will lose weight, feel better and naturally be healthier.

In order to create (or adopt) the right nutritional plan for you, you have to understand the Macros–or as I call them “the Big Mac”.

As with most popular buzzwords of the day, I usually get them wrong and invent my own.

So the Big Mac, or Macros are really Macro-nutrients.  Those are the major categories of nutrients the body needs in big quantities to work. And work well.

Thankfully–for me–there are only three to remember: Proteins, Carbohydrates and Fats.

Here is a quick crash course on the Macros and how much your body needs in order to be healthy.

Proteins:  These are the building blocks of, well, everything. It is the main thing in all our tissues, organs, bones, enzymes, blood and hair. Everything is made of proteins and proteins also help repair them–like our muscles after a workout.

Proteins can be found in most meats and dairy products but also in legumes and grains. Getting enough proteins and the right type of proteins is essential.

Carbohydrates: Carbs give our bodies the needed energy we need to function. Carbs are also what makes us feel full so we don’t over eat the wrong kind of stuff.  Americans have a love-hate relationship with carbs.

Because all carbs are broken down into glucose by the body for energy–the wrong kind of carbs (simple sugars) will give you a great zing of energy followed by the slump.  The right kind of carbs can give our bodies the more leveled output of energy that lasts longer and doesn’t make us feel like we let the air out of the balloon.

Fats: Believe it or not fats are very necessary in our bodies.  They have a bad reputation for causing heart disease and obesity etc.  but are very necessary for the body to use with our hormones, nervous system, skin and hair health and even as insulation and cushion for the body and our organs.

As with Carbohydrates the wrong kind–or too much of a good thing–can be bad. We need insulation–but not too much insulation.

The big question is how much of each do we need to live healthy, lose unwanted weight, or build muscle.

The big answer of course is–it depends.

Each person’s needs and tolerance will be different–that is why most diets don’t work long term because each person needs to customize them to their own needs and body reactions.

Here is a general guideline to start with and adjust as your needs change.  Figure out how many calories you need to reach your goal. For example, if I want to lose weight–and I do–I want to stay at or under 1400 calories a day.

(The internet has many calculators you can use–as do most diet books–to figure out how many calories you need based on your gender, height, current weight and how much activity you have in your life.)

Once you know the calories you are aiming for–a simple method to allocate your calories is by getting 40% of your calories from Proteins, 40% from Carbohydrates and 20% from Fats.

Based on my number I would need 560 calories from Protein, 560 calories from Carbohydrates and 280 calories from Fat.  Add 64 oz of water a day and moderate exercise and viola! a new me!

Easy right? No…absolutely not easy. And that is my point today. Being healthy is hard work, but it can be done and it is so worth it! You have to take the time to do the numbers and then make the numbers work for you into a lifestyle choice that gets you to and keeps you where you want to be.

We want to live better, faster and smarter–and the Big Mac will get you there…but you have to put in the work!
Have a great day today! Reach out with a comment about your Big Mac or email me at emptynestsavvy@gmail.com with your thoughts and questions!

You Animals!

You Animals!

We are all animals! We may be the most social and intelligent animals on the planet—but animals nonetheless.

When thinking about our nutritional needs I reach back into my study of anthropology days.

So here is a quick lesson:

“modern” human beings have been on earth as far as we know for about 315 thousand years. Thank goodness those folks figured out how to survive so that all this time later we are here to write about them!

How did they survive? They kept it simple. Our theory is that the first peoples were nomadic which means they moved around all the time.

And by moved- I mean literally physically moved on foot with their possessions on their back. Kinda like backpacking through Europe without the cool travel guides.

Where did the move to? Well, wherever the food was. And by food I mean animals and wild plants that were in bloom. They ate whatever they could catch or harvest and they drank water from lakes, rivers, streams etc.

These people—our old ancestors—were healthy and fit. They exercised–through walking and hunting–and like animals they used their food for fuel in the body. The body instinctively knew how to use it efficiently and store some for times of scarcity—as fat in the body.

In this way we are just like animals.

Over time, many thousands of years, man found fire, taught themselves to farm, developed different lifestyles, settled, created cities, established centers of trade and commerce, learned to travel by different means and discovered spices.

Through these cultural and social changes–food changed from being not just a source of fuel and survival but a source of comfort, well being and status.

But the animal within us remains. The animal inside is still breaking down the food we give it to use for fuel and storing some of it for when the scarcity comes.

Unfortunately, 310,000 years later we don’t have to look for our food. We live in a beautifully abundant world. A beautifully intelligent world! A world full of convenience–full of processed and artificially colored, flavored,  and shaped foods–and the drive through windows from which to obtain it. And we are killing the animal which was never made to break down all the chemicals and mixtures we have invented to simulate food.

That does not mean I recommend eating tree bark. But it does mean we need to be more mindful of what we eat and how we eat and how we use that fuel.

If we did not see every meal as a celebration to overload ourselves on the abundance available to us but to honor the function that food has in our lives–as the fuel that gives us energy–we would be as a species, in a much better place.

I can just imagine what my cousins of 200,000 years ago would have looked like and felt like if sugar had been discovered that much sooner.  They would have never made it across the continents to create the different nations we are today!

Those ancestors were smarter–or at least more practical–in the foods they ate.

So how do we marry the two time periods of now and then to benefit the animal we are today?

In my humble opinion, these are the steps I am taking–which I started late in life–but which I hope will please the animal and improve my health.

  1. I am eating less–we intelligent humans have already figured out serving sizes of every food we have and the calories included in those servings.  Instead of eating the whole bag of potato chips or carton of ice cream–have just a serving. I know at first the servings will seem small but I am fueling my body not trying to give it all the food it will need into the next millennia.
  2. I am eating better–science is a beautiful thing and because of science we have the ability to feed ourselves without the scarcity or lack of food in our societies.  Each of us has a choice in the foods we use to fuel the body. I am choosing the best and most natural foods–that I enjoy–that will provide my body with the energy I need to perform, heal and survive in our current world.
  3. I am drinking more water–maintaining the proper hydration for the animal within helps the body regulate everything–cell growth, organ function, muscle repair and hunger control.  When all that is happening it is easier to eat less and eat better because I am not craving the empty calories that do not serve me.
  4. I am exercising more–survival no longer means walking miles and miles in search of food. Survival is more about being able to survive in a society that values the exchange of goods and services for money that is used in the exchange of more goods and services. Foods of all varieties–and prepared for us by thousands of different restaurants–being a major good and service we entertain ourselves with.

So in the end, perhaps it is not my particular DNA in my animal body that will advance the species for another 300,000 years–but my example on caring for the animal that will be helpful.

Do what is right for your body instead of what is easy. Embrace the animal within you!  

And have fun with it!

Let’s Get Moving

Let’s Get Moving

No matter what nutritional plan you are on–I don’t like the word diet–none of them will work unless you include two things: water and movement.

Notice I did not say exercise. Not everyone can participate or likes or even wants to have a specific exercise routine. But all of us do move.

At least we should be moving to stay healthy, flexible, and strong. And to burn the calories we take in everyday from our nutritional plan. If we are not burning calories–our body stores them as fat–in the event we need them in the future.

If we don’t need those calories in the future and we do not burn them–they stay with us–forever.

Here is some good news:  Our bodies at rest do burn calories!  So we can basically just BE and we are burning calories.

(This calculator on the internet can give you and idea of how many calories you burn at rest each day.)

Here is the bad news: Our bodies at rest do not burn enough on a daily basis based on our consumption rate to keep us at a healthy body weight.

Of course, the more you move, the more you burn!  

So I do encourage everyone to embrace an exercise plan. Regardless of your age you can find an activity that you can incorporate into your life as exercise.

Walking, for example, is a wonderful exercise. It gets you moving, the heart pumping and the oxygen flowing in your body. There are countless gadgets you can use to track how much you walk–from telephone apps to watches, bracelets and clip devices you can have on you!

They count your distance in steps, miles or kilometers and can tell you how many calories you have burned each day! Some of these devices will even monitor your heart rate and whether or not you have climbed a flight of stairs!  Amazing!

Your goal would be to walk a little bit more each day than you did the day before to get some real movement into your life.

And, we shouldn’t underestimate all the other movement we do in a day too! Housework, gardening, mowing the lawn, laundry–that all counts (and burns calories!) especially if we are bending, lifting, walking, and climbing to do them!

A word about calories–Calories are a way to measure energy. We are, as humans, made up of energy. Calories is just the scientific measure of the energy in and energy out that makes up our physical, working bodies.

Anyone or any plan that tells you calories don’t matter when trying to balance your healthy intake and outtake of nutritional needs is not being completely honest with you. It matters–because YOU matter!

And so, the more you move–the more your body will ask you to move. And the more you listen to your body the better your relationship with your body will be.

After all–the longest relationship you will have on this earth is your relationship to yourself…and it is a very important one! We should make our relationship to ourselves a meaningful one.

Exercise and movement are one of the most important things you can do to stay healthy–in body, soul and mind.

Find your movement–whatever that is. Get moving and find people that will move along with you! You will be pleasantly surprised how much better you will feel and how much your body will perform. And along the way you just might help others get moving too!

We only have one life folks!  Let’s get moving!

However you decide to move today–have fun!

 

Drink More Water

Drink More Water

Water is the basis of all life. Most experts will agree that our bodies are at least 60% water.  For those trying to live healthier and watch our weight–water consumption becomes a big deal.

Among other things water helps maintain balance in our body fluids and organs. It helps energize muscle and even the brain. Water serves to keep our body clean of toxins. And water can help us look pretty or handsome.

Yet many of us–myself included until I realized what I was doing to myself–don’t drink enough water!

In my search to discover what was the “right” amount of water to drink…I found many different opinions. Here are some of the most popular guidelines I found–

  1. Drink 64 oz of water a day. The old tried and true 8-8oz glasses of water per person.
  2. Each person should drink their body weight in ounces divided by 2.

Yeah, I thought the same thing–math!  Why does everything need math? Ok so I looked for an example so I could understand it. If a woman weighs 130 lbs, divided by two means she should drink 65 oz of water per day. If a man weighs 210 lbs, then he would need to drink 105 oz of water a day.  

Makes sense that a larger container (a bigger person) would need more water to maintain a healthy ratio in the body.

I then thought–is that even possible? I already drink a lot of water throughout the day–I am sure I am getting more than enough.  

I set off to experiment.  I counted the number of ounces of water I drink a day, and was surprised to find that I was only drinking 30 to 34 oz of water a day! By medical standards I was dehydrated!

This was serious! So I started measuring and counting my ounces each day and setting my goal at 64 oz,  and it took me 3 weeks to get used to drinking that much water!

Now it is coming as second nature.  And I got an added bonus! I love added bonuses!!!!

I lost 4 pounds! I wasn’t even trying–I was just concentrating on drinking water! Seems like just drinking the right amount of water was balancing out my system a little bit–most likely washing out the salt that makes us retain water that should be helping the body eliminate toxins!

I am so excited about this discovery!  And I want to share with you some tips on how to increase your water intake!

Tip#1  Drink one to two glasses of water when you get up in the morning! Your body has been resting for 6-8 hours and is thirsty.

Tip#2 Use a pitcher to measure and keep track of the water you are drinking for the day. When the pitcher is empty–you have reached your goal.

Tip#3 Drink water before each meal and sip water throughout the day, especially if you are doing anything physical like exercising, gardening, cleaning the house, etc.

Tip#4 Try a water tracker app on your phone! They are fun!

Tip#5 Add a slice of lemon or lime to the water for a citrusy flavor.

Now I know, like I know that you are going to have some reservations. So let me put your mind at ease.

Does coffee, juice, and soda pop count as water, after all they are liquid?  No they don’t–because they contain caffeine, sugar and other chemicals that dehydrate the body.

How about alcohol?  While a Margarita sounds absolutely delicious–it also dehydrates.

Can I drink too much water and hurt my body?  No. Most of us have a hard time drinking enough water throughout the day without having to worry about drowning by water bottle.

What if I am in the bathroom all day?  That does happen–for the first 2 or 3 days, after that the body seemed to just feel good in its new wet floaty environment.

So drink more water folks–it’s good for you, it makes you feel good, it makes you look good and you might find a few free bonuses along the way!

What have been your challenges in staying hydrated?  Comment below and have a great hydrated day!

 

To Diet or Not to Diet

To Diet or Not to Diet

As I have been studying and learning and experimenting with different “diet” options–I have come to a profound conclusion:  Diets don’t work.

I know, most of you knew this already.  That is not to say that all the diet books and experts and suggestions are wrong. Diets don’t work because people that try them–me–do not take our lifestyles into account.

Diets are part of our lifestyles–and our cultures.  As Americans we embrace food like–well hot dogs and apple pie! We celebrate the diverse cultures in this nation by going to Chinese on Tuesdays and Mexican on Thursdays.

In between we eat all the “stuff” we buy at the grocery store that is so convenient and instant and tastes so good because it is processed and full of chemicals that mimic salty, sugary, soft, crunchy, flavorful yummy stuff.

Never mind that most is artificial and full of preservatives so they can sit in the warehouse, then the store, then our pantries–until we are ready to eat them.

And yet, we want  to be healthy and fit. So we go on a diet, we join the gym and we rock it! We lose 10, 15, sometimes 20 pounds–look great–feel great, and then stop. We go back to eating all the things we “gave up” during the diet, we stop going to the gym.

Slowly but surely the pounds come back and sometime they bring additional friends–making us heavier and in worse shape than before.

What we forgot was our lifestyle–not the foods. Our diets are not something we can do for a while and then we can stop when we reach a specific goal. Diets were never meant to be “a temporary eating phenomenon”.

A diet, by definition, is the sum of the food consumed by an organism or group. A noun.  Dieting–the verb–is the deliberate selection of food to control body weight or nutrient intake. So we verb the heck out of ourselves!

The question becomes are we happy living like this? In a constant argument with ourselves about our food choices. Feeling bloated and swollen and uncomfortable in our own skin.

I was not. So I have been experimenting with all kinds of diets to see which one “fit”. Of course, they didn’t “fit”–not for long anyway.

If you are in your 40s or 50s, like me, or beyond you know this will not work–because we have been experimenting like this most of our lives.

What I failed to admit to myself (because I am pretty sure I have known this all along) is that is not the food–it’s the lifestyle. The lifestyle brings with it the food.

As part of the master plan I have been working on is a major change in lifestyle. I have decided that I will eat a scientifically researched and proven healthy diet of what my body needs to function and thrive, in the amounts that it needs and nothing more. The optimal word is NEEDS.

Some, I know, are with me on this journey–they have already accepted and embraced–what I am coming to know as truth. Others know this to be true–but are just not ready yet. Its ok…

Having this lifestyle means that I am going to respect my meal times, the portion sizes of my meals and the foods I will include in meals. And everything else is unnecessary.

My lifestyle has to change, so my foods will change, so I can live the healthy and fit life I want to live.

In the next few posts, I will take you through part of my journey and why this lifestyle sounds better and feels better each day!

Don’t forget to love yourself today! And have fun!

Going To The Dogs

Going To The Dogs

We are dog people.  Although we had a dog growing up–and I loved him–when I left for college, I left the dog behind with the folks. It seemed natural that it would be mom’s dog.

As I grew older–I always felt I was not a pet person, a pet is just so much work!  I enjoyed other people’s dogs, but was just not ready to commit.

After I had children, my kids wanted a pet so we started small.  The fish, of course, all died. The girls were crazy about their hermit crabs… until they died. The hamster we had for a while bit one of the girls–and it eventually died. We had a rabbit–that, you know, died.

So when they started asking for a puppy–I was NOT on board. Clearly we were not good with animals. But they pleaded and promised and finally we struck a deal.

I promised I would buy them a puppy, if they both got straight As in school that semester. They were both good students–and usually made good marks–but I could tell they were getting “bored” with school, so I felt pretty secure that everything would not be an A, maybe a high B.

God, of course, had other plans–not only did they both get straight As, they got very high As, excelling at everything!  And a promise is a promise.

I bought a puppy.  A white, female, toy poodle we named Cici. She was the runt of the litter, but was certified–and so darn cute. The girls adored Cici!  They carried her around and spoke to her and fed her and took her out to train her to do her business. And everything as they say was perfect–a happy ending.

Until the 4th day.  On the 4th day that Cici was part of our family my youngest came to me and was sad.  I–in my ignorant bliss–asked her why she was sad? She said she was sad because Cici was sad.

Alarm bells started going off in my head.  I went to the dog’s bed and there was Cici, completely lethargic, she could barely raise her head and did not want to eat or drink.

I called my mother to please come watch the girls while I ran off to the Veterinarian–praying the whole way that we were not about to lose another beloved pet.

The Veterinarian took charge right away, thank goodness, and gave Cici an IV and ran some blood tests. After about 3 hours, Cici was back to normal–playful and happy.  

The diagnosis: Cici was hypoglycemic and would need constant care until she was bigger, stronger and able to level out her blood sugars with food.  I had no idea what this meant–because at that moment, I was also handed the bill–$1200.00!

Her “constant care” turned out to be a feeding schedule that we had to maintain, making sure she ate every 2 hours and also had a teaspoon of Nutri-cal paste which came in tubes that were $15.00 a pop!

Mom had to help me on several nights when I just could not get up to do the 2 hour feedings–and the feedings during the day when I had to go to work! It was a nightmare…and then soon enough it passed…Cici not only survived but thrived for years with us.  Until she ran away or maybe someone took her—she was a very pretty dog!

Since that time we have had several dogs in our lives.  When the girls left the nest to go to college–they left the dogs behind with me.  It seemed only logical that now they were mom’s dogs.

Me–the reluctant dog owner–who was afraid to get too attached to these animals that I knew would one day break my heart. Yet here I am, the dog owner.

I have turned into the strangest version of myself talking to these dogs and having complete conversations with them. They are my friends. And they are fiercely loyal.  And while I like to play at being tough–I love them to pieces.

The youngest daughter–in college now–recently adopted a new puppy! The family’s newest addition! (pictured above)  I don’t know how they are faring in that small apartment but they both seem very happy with the other. 

We are dog people. It seems that this family has completely gone to the dogs!

50 Things I Love About Being 50

50 Things I Love About Being 50

I have only been 50 for a couple of months–but so far things are pretty good.  Here is a compilation of 50 things I love about being 50:

  1. I can now say I have known certain people for over 30 (or 40) years–because I have!
  2. I am no longer shy about meeting new people.
  3. I see things differently than I did 5 and 10 years ago–or even last year.
  4. It is acceptable to not know where your car keys are.
  5. People tell me I don’t look 50!
  6. I have the time to take better care of myself.
  7. I have found a new appreciation for sunrises.
  8. I don’t have to make excuses anymore about why I go to sleep by 8pm.
  9. I am old enough not to want to over do any work out session.
  10. I am young enough to still stretch myself and reach higher goals in my workouts.
  11. I cook less–because I am watching what I eat.
  12. I love this new world filled with technology.
  13. I love that I can call one of my kids to explain the technology to me.
  14. No one worries that I am driving too slow anymore.
  15. It is okay to be lost–even with GPS.
  16. No one cares that I don’t drink anymore.
  17. I enjoy talking to my dogs and am sure they understand what I am saying.
  18. No one expects me to wear high heels.
  19. Less makeup is more.
  20. With Netflix–I no longer need cable.
  21. The 40’s were so last year!
  22. I am closer to retirement.
  23. I don’t mind if I am late to places and events.
  24. The music from my youth is still the best music.
  25. My gray hairs grow in a streak across my head.
  26. But I am still young enough to want to color them!
  27. I can do something ridiculous and call it a “mid-life crisis”.
  28. At this age I know money doesn’t buy happiness.
  29. I no longer sweat the small stuff.
  30. I know God is always with me–and He has a sense of humor.
  31. I love that I can name all four of the Beatles.
  32. I realize time is limited and precious.
  33. The empty nest is not as scary and sad as I thought it would be.
  34. I’ve lived long enough to see the world change in amazing ways!
  35. I’m not afraid of the dark, lightning or the boogie man anymore.
  36. Happiness doesn’t seem so hard to reach.
  37. I feel strongly about my opinions.
  38. I know my opinions don’t matter to everyone.
  39. Things seem funnier to me now.
  40. I don’t care what others opinions of ME are.
  41. I get discounts at some restaurants!
  42. It is easier to forgive others.
  43. It is easier to forgive myself.
  44. I love that I don’t know everything.
  45. I love that I know more than I thought I did.
  46. I love that I still have years to learn more.
  47. There is no guilt in falling asleep in front of the TV.
  48. If the dishes don’t get washed tonight, they’ll get washed tomorrow.
  49. I enjoy eating well and exercising–even through others criticisms.
  50. Other people’s criticisms don’t matter anymore.

Turning 50 happened much quicker than I expected it to…but I am enjoying it and looking forward to the next 50!  

The biggest lesson I have learned in the first 5 decades of my life?

Those people that matter don’t mind if you are yourself, and the people who mind you are yourself, don’t matter!

Enjoy your years–we don’t know how many we will be given.  No matter what age you are embrace the life in your years!

Comment below and share your thoughts on getting older.

 

I Love Mondays

I Love Mondays

I love Mondays….I didn’t always love Mondays, this is a new love I have found.  I used to dread Mondays for hours on Sunday Nights and getting through the first 16 hours of every Monday was pure torture until I could go to sleep and wake up on Tuesday.

I used to love Tuesdays.  Why? Because it wasn’t MONDAY.

It makes absolutely no sense, but in a strange kind of way it does.  It was a mantra I had playing in my head. And I learned it as a child–from Garfield.

I used to read the comics in the Sunday paper whenever I could get my hands on them.  And they were great! Garfield, of course, was one of my favorites! I mean who doesn’t like Garfield?

The snarky orange cat always outsmarted his human Jon and he was sarcastic and goofy. What is not to love?

Garfield hated Mondays!  Many times he would think in his bubble thoughts: “I hate Mondays!”  Right there with you my friend! So I grew up with that mantra and I hated Mondays too.

Ridiculous right?  Imagine though, how many things we do the way we do because of an old mantra we are carrying around?  

What’s worse–imagine that the mantra sitting on your left shoulder is not even yours, but one you adopted from someone else–or in my case–a cartoon cat!?

So just to mess with my head–and the others in my life, I created a new mantra:  I love Mondays!

The first time I said it out loud to my husband one Monday morning over coffee–he just looked at me.  The dogs looked at me too–like I had lost my mind.

Even I didn’t believe myself–but that was part of the experiment. Each following Monday I made sure to tell at least one new person how much I loved Mondays.  

People’s reactions are hilarious. Most just get a dumbfounded look on their face and laugh or walk away like I have the chicken pox. Some people though, caught me by surprise and asked me: why?

I had not thought this far out in my experiment so I was not prepared…but very quickly came up with this:

“I love Mondays because it’s a new week and everything that did not get done last week is in the past–and just because we don’t finish something doesn’t mean the world is going to come to an end! The sun still rises and we get a new clean slate every Monday.”

Total garbage right? I am here to tell you that the people that got the explanation–bought it. And the more I said it–the better it sounded and the more I believed it myself.

Let me explain the outcome of this little experiment.  I no longer waste precious Sunday hours worrying about what Monday may bring.  I no longer grind my teeth through my Mondays waiting for Tuesdays to make things better.

In fact, I would say that Mondays are one of my most productive days because I plan my whole week and put the wheels in motion for what has to be done.

Also, it is true that the world will not come to an end if not everything on my “to do” list does not get completed. Sometimes those things did not even need to be on the list– because they just weren’t that important anyway.

Bonus–many of my friends are now loving their Mondays too!  It was the mantra.

Sorry Garfield–I love Mondays!

Could the way you look at something be clouding your judgement about it?  Is there a mantra that you are carrying around that you would be better off changing?  Share your thoughts with me in the comments below!

Enjoy your Monday! I will!

 

Surprises

Surprises

There are many surprises that come into our lives. Some are good surprises and some are bad.

I don’t like surprises myself because I like to know the who, what, where, when and why of everything so I can PLAN it.

Yet from time to time, I come across a surprise that impacts me greatly.

I’m not talking about the someone popping out of a cake surprise–I’m talking about the kind of surprise you receive when you find out your life has been impacted by someone else or that you impacted someone’s life by a single act of kindness and it just grabs at your heart.

I had a surprise like that just this week.

There is a person that I don’t know very well but who I love and who I have a very high respect for–that passed away this week.

As a matter of fact, I have never met this person face to face, but I have known about her most of my life and carried her with me as I carry many people I care for.

It is a hard thing to explain.

I am, among other things, the family historian. I keep the family tree, many of the family stories, some of the family secrets and as many pictures of family members–past and present–that I can get my hands on.

This has been a self appointed role–not one that anyone said I had to take on. And I do this for my own pleasure and curiosity.

I don’t do this to judge family members’ lives or the choices they have made–after all, who am I to cast the first stone?

In researching a branch of my mother’s family 4 months ago, I found my mother’s sister. My mom is 75 years old and her sister, 77.

Through the twists in life and other circumstances they had lost touch with each other, both migrating to this wonderful country from their native land at different times under a different set of events.

They had not spoken to each other in over 60 years when they were both barely young teenagers in another country and another time.

They were able to reconnect, and I believe, both were very happy to have found each other again. Many phone calls, emails, cards, pictures and gifts have been exchanged over the course of these months.

For me, I found a whole new set of people to call family and my dear aunt had a daughter exactly my age. She and I communicate frequently thanks to the miracle of technology.

I feel very close to my cousin and care for her deeply–we have become not just family but friends.

Through them both, mother and daughter, I have been able to collect a few more family stories and information to fill in the blanks that I had–they have indulged me in my hobby.

Unfortunately, my aunt had cancer.  In this short time that I came to know this woman, I grew to admire her strength, her resolve and her courage.  She made sure to be strong when speaking to my mother over the phone because she did not want to worry her “little” sister.

My aunt and I shared the exchange of one long letter–one in which I told her all about my life and her reply that provided acceptance, encouragement and love.  I was in the middle of sending her another letter that I will no longer be able to send.

But a beautiful surprise came to me in a letter from her, transcribed by her daughter–my cousin, my friend–because she was too weak to write herself.

It was information about a family business back in the old country and how the family was involved in it.  She had told me she wanted me to know the story and she had promised to send it to me for my collection of family lore. The letter was written and put in the mail to me on the day she left this earth.

Sometimes, we do something simple, say something to someone, offer a smile and it changes another life.

A selfless act–a beautiful gift–and a surprise. She grabbed my heart as all good surprises are wont to do. It has impacted me greatly as I am sure her whole life impacted others–regardless of time and space.

May the Lord keep her in the palm of his hand, until we meet again.

The Promise of Spring

The Promise of Spring

I am very lucky to live in an area of Texas they call the Coastal Bend.  I am driving distance from the beach and the neighborhood where I live in on the outskirts of the city surrounded by farmland.

Spring in the Coastal Bend is gorgeous. Sometimes cool foggy mornings burst into beautiful blue and orange sunrises and in the late afternoon golden sunsets turn into starry skies.

All around us is new growth that appears spontaneously, bluebonnets in parks, school campuses and along the highway make way for orange blossoms on the citrus trees. The dormant grass begins to green as the plants and oak trees burst from one day to the next in new leaves.

And the wonder of it all to me is that it seems to happen completely effortlessly.

The bluebonnets bloom right before the last cold snap and the oak trees begin to leaf three weeks before the first hot day. They don’t have a calendar, they don’t have a plan to follow–without any effort they appear to let us know that the promise of Spring is upon us.

As I watch all the changes around me I can feel the excitement and the newness of it all. I realized that spring is our opportunity each year to refresh, renew and grow.

That has been my thing this year–to make changes for the better, to learn and continue to grow, to look towards the future.  

The more I thought of it, I realized that like with this spring–my efforts, my changes and my growth as a person have been effortless.

Really, all the changes that have occurred in life were effortless–because life happens–whether we are ready for it or not.  The changes in our lives happen every single day, in subtle ways and in bursts of action.

Nothing stays the same or has a specific timetable. Like the spring–the plants come forth when the time is right.

I noticed another thing.  Everything in my life that I “forced” to be on my timetable, or to go by my “plan” usually went wrong. The lesson I am learning from Mother Nature is that nothing has to be forced.

Have you ever noticed that if you try to force something it just doesn’t come out the way you want it–or worse yet–it comes out exactly the way you wanted it–only to realize you really didn’t want it?

And so you go through a very cold winter in your life. Some winters can be mild and some winters can be very very harsh.  But in the end the Spring returns, it always does, in its own time, effortlessly.

Lessons come in strange ways. Sometimes in adversity, sometimes through mistakes, sometimes a lesson is learned through the promise of Spring.

Enjoy the season and enjoy your life–let it unfold and have fun with it!

Organizing Your Thoughts

Organizing Your Thoughts

On this great journey I am traveling–I have really enjoyed organizing my life.  I have felt that it has been a right of passage, in a way, that I have arrived at this moment in time.

The years of growing up, growing smarter, and growing children were extremely busy–full of things to do and places to be–years. And we made it, we have arrived!

Looking back on those years makes me smile and gives me a warm feeling.  Even during difficult times–as life is wont to send you–I remember the good parts and the lessons I’ve learned.

Bad times–and rain clouds, make the good time and the rainbows brighter.

So as I organize my house and my life, I also take time out to organize my thoughts.

I imagine that I am not the only person whose mind is going nonstop and who has running lists of ideas and to dos traveling through her (or his) brain all the time. A brain who when not taken care of properly will wake me up in the middle of the night with thoughts and thoughts and thoughts.

In organizing my thoughts I have been journaling.  Not a “dear diary” kind of journaling–but more of a stream of consciousness–in notes to myself.

I began journaling quite by accident.  I few years ago, I had a garage sale because our family was making a big move to another city–the one we are in now.  I met a lovely lady who went to garage sales and bought “stuff” and resold it in an antique resale consignment shop as a hobby. She bought a few things from us and then spent a few hours chatting with us.  

I have to admit it made an otherwise boring garage sale enjoyable. And of course I never expected to see her again.

She came back the next day and gave me a small gift bag. She said she enjoyed our conversation so much she wanted to give me a little something.

Inside the gift bag was a blank journal.  She inscribed it for me on the inside cover and it inspired me to write in it.  

In it and in my other journals I organize my thoughts–and by organizing them I mean I just let it flow.

Organizing doesn’t always mean alphabetizing, putting things in numerical order, organizing by size, color or category. Organizing can be putting things the way they make sense for you.  

It is a wonderful thing to be organized.  It has helped me manage my time, my goals, my house, my meals, my grocery shopping and many other things.  

I am enjoying “getting it all together”–but I know my thoughts will always be a free forming flow of some connected and some not connected ideas. Trying to organize them would be fruitless.

Journaling has allowed me to capture thoughts and lists and ideas that I come up with and somehow, miraculously they organize themselves. One leads to another and questions I have on any particular day finds its answer in a future writing.  It is a miraculous process.

If you feel you have multiple thoughts going through your mind that contradicts other thoughts, try writing them down and letting it all flow…I think you will find that our disorganized and confusing thoughts actually have a time, place and direction for us.

Follow where they take you, there is an organization to them. And while you are journaling remember to have fun with it!

 

Creating the Home You Want

Creating the Home You Want

I am learning that decluttering is an ongoing process.  Although I have decluttered my house A LOT…I still have a long way to go.

In the process of going through things and keeping what we really love, we are also creating spaces in which we are comfortable.  After all, our home is our haven. While we enjoy having friends and family over for visits our primary goal is not to have a showplace but a comfortable space where anyone that comes will feel at home.

Of course, getting everything to look and feel this way is a work in progress and a very large organizational goal.

Each room should be decluttered and should focus on the function of the room.  For example, we should not have dishes in the bedroom or a hair brush in the kitchen.  

Here are my tips to organizing your home:

Kitchen:  The kitchen should be light, airy and clean.  There should be a place for all the pots, pans, dishes, cups, utensils, and pantry items.  Clearing off the counters of unused appliances, jars and other miscellaneous items will help your kitchen seem cleaner and larger.   If all your kitchen accessories don’t have a specific home or a place, then you have too much stuff in your kitchen.

Your kitchen is the heart of the home.  This is where most people gather and where memories are made.  Give yourself the space to make them.

Your kitchen is also where we prepare food and eat our meals.  It should be a place that is clean, bright and comforting. When we eat in a relaxed atmosphere we digest better and we feel better!  

Living Areas:  Our family room is where we entertain ourselves and others.   It is not a formal space, but strives to be one of comfort. Comfortable chairs and tables within arms reach make it easy to sit back with a cold drink or a snack and give attention to the people there and not the things.   

The living room is where we live in our down time, where we can relax, laugh, watch T.V. and play games.  When you are organizing your living room or family room, think about the activities that take place there and make sure there is designated furniture or items that enhance that not that just fill up the space.

The Home Office:  Not all homes have a home office–some have an office space but either way this is the home command center.  And while this is where I “work” at home, it is possible to make it a comfortable and functional area. A desk is essential as is your computer and a printer/scanner if you need one.  

Organizing a home office is imperative because this is the space that can get out of control–at least for me–very fast!  This is where the paper lives or better said–where it lives for a short time until you decide what to do with it. (See my tips for organizing paper here.)

So for my purposes–and I highly recommend one–your office should also include a shredder.  It is one of my favorite machines in the house!

Our office is a reflection of what we do there–pay bills, write, be creative and read.  Other than your desk, you may want to have a small sofa or comfy chair, a bookshelf and a place to keep important papers–in an organized system of course!

Bathrooms:  I have found that one of the smallest spaces in our home can contain the most “stuff”–read junk!  Not junk that is just to be thrown away but that should be addressed.

When I decluttered the bathrooms, I found bottles and bottles and bottles of shampoo, creams, moisturizer, hair products, vitamins, etc.  What helped me tremendously was to stop buying more of these items and using all that I have to 1) stop adding to the madness and 2) create space.

To organize the bathroom–treat it like a bathroom in a nice hotel. Keep it spotless and free of bottles and bathroom items on the sink top.  Use the things you need to use and put them away immediately. Wipe everything down each day (takes me about 20 seconds) and it will always look ready for its functions.

I’ve left the best for last—

Bedrooms: Again, like in a nice hotel–think sleek, clean, and functional. Keep your area free of extra paper, clothes, and shoes.  Our bedrooms is where our body, mind and spirit come to relax and rest after a day of our hurried run around lives. It is our quiet place. Create a space that is organized and can fulfill a restful experience for yourself.  After all we are worth it.

Organizing your home is a huge task–but one that is satisfying and will ultimately reflect who you are, what you find important, and how you want to live your life.

Enjoy the journey and have fun with it!

Penny Wise Dollar Foolish

Penny Wise Dollar Foolish

In organizing our computer files and our paper…I thought the next logical area of our lives was our money.  This may not be the post you think it will be though.

I won’t be giving you advice on budgeting or on how to save for retirement or that next big vacation.

Money is a touchy an highly emotionally charged topic.  There are thousands of articles and posts and ideas about how to make money, make extra money, invest money, manage money, spend money wisely and many other things you can do with money.

There are also a thousand ideas about the good money can do and the evil money can create.  

Like I said–money is a highly charged subject.  What I am talking about here is the respect of money–having control of your money so it does not control you.

I have been very fortunate to have a healthy respect for money, and to have been given direction by a very intelligent person. I am not greedy, I work hard, I save, and I pay all my bills on time.  I’ve made money mistakes and I have fixed them.

Not everyone has a relationship with their money like that. And so many people feel “disorganized” when it comes to their money. There is always more month at the end of the money because of the decisions we make.

If you really think about it money is just something we exchange for something else. Simple.

So here are my suggestions on organizing your money. Make an honest living and collect your money. Save some and spend some, but don’t spend more than you make.

Of the amount you spend, make sure you are generous with people who need it more than you do. The money you give away usually comes back to you doubled.

And my final piece of advice on organizing your money:

Don’t pretend you don’t understand money,or how you never have enough.  We make choices everyday that disorganized our financial lives.

Today, start fresh, make the choices that will lead to an organized financial life. Like organizing your computer files and the paper in your life, organizing your financial life takes work–but once you set up a system–you just have to maintain it.

Money comes and money goes. Enjoy it, save it and share it–every step of the way!

Follow me on Facebook and on my Pinterest page and have fun!  

Paper, Paper, Everywhere

Paper, Paper, Everywhere

Now that I have a set schedule for keeping my electronic files and folders organized and backed up and safe–it is time to attack the next phase of organizing—paper.

At one time, paper was a wonderful invention! It allowed us mere humans to write down our thoughts, our histories, create our art and our personal stories among a myriad of other things.

Somewhere along the way, though, we had so much written down on paper and everything became so important to keep that we started–and for many of us–are still drowning in paper!

Now there is paper and then there is paper–and believe it or not we categorize our paper in the back of our heads: junk, reading materials, records, and memorabilia.

There are really only three ways to take care of our paper: we can get rid of it, scan it and keep the paper electronically (to be able to get rid of it), or keep it.

To get rid of papers that have any identifying information I suggest getting a shredder–it has become a very good friend to me–I call my shredder Rosie.

Here is how you can organize your paper.   

Junk. There is a great deal of paper in our lives right now that we can really just throw away. Grab a plastic bag and go to town.  All the junk paper in your office, bedroom, kitchen table, counters and any other flat surface in your home can go. Old receipts, advertisements, junk mail, take out menus, empty envelopes and the like fall into this category.

Reading Materials. Magazines and newspapers also that are piling up because you haven’t had a chance to read them in our busy runaround lives–should be walking out of your home right into the recycle bin. Books:  we have so many books in our lives. Keep the ones you love–and give away (or sell) the rest.

Just by taking care of those two categories of paper you will feel lighter.

Records and Memorabilia. Our records and our memorabilia are harder categories to take care of. Here is an easy solution–and this is what I did.  I will warn you that this is not a popular solution and some of your family members (or your dog) may look at you like you are crazy–but it worked for me.

I put all–and I do mean all–my records and memorabilia in a huge pile. It actually turned out to be 4 very large piles!  And then decide with each paper if you need to shred it, scan it (and then shred it), or keep it.

It is time consuming. It takes concentration. And it is one of the most satisfying chores I have ever completed. Now there is no paper, paper, everywhere!

Why?  Because it has to be done. Because you will feel lighter and cleaner. Because you will be making room for all the good things coming your way.

Living the life you want faster, smarter and better can be done with less paper. Have fun with it!

What are your challenges when it comes to all the paper in your life? How do you feel about getting rid of the paper in your home?

Comment below and let me know your thoughts!

 

Digitized Organization–One Bit at a Time

Digitized Organization–One Bit at a Time

In my last post I challenged myself (and you too, if you take the challenge) to organizing my whole life. Not for the sake of reorganizing everything but to evaluate my productively in the things that really matter to me.

When I posed the challenge and then started brainstorming I realized that I would not be able to get all my ideas, thoughts and yearnings in one post.

I will probably not be able to do this in less than 6 posts–but since being organized and productive is one of my passions I am willing to put in the work.

Picking the first thing to organize was not easy but became obvious–technology.  Everything we do today uses some form of technology–at least in my world–and so let’s begin.

Organizing your technology means taking (and keeping) control of it-not letting it control you.

My laptop, and by extension my phone, is my world–I use it for work, for home and for my hobbies.

It is how I communicate, shop, learn and am creative.  So my computer files and documents, not to mention all my digital pictures are on it–or more accurately it is where I access all these things.

In order to keep all these documents, I created a Google Drive account and transferred all my files there.  This is very easily done or any other cloud storage and sharing service will work for this purpose.

The main plus side of using a cloud storage service is that all your files are automatically backed up in the “cloud”.  If your device is compromised or is broken your files are safe.

However, for all your files to be safe you have to move them to the cloud.

These are the steps I take to do this are:

  1. Set aside a specific time and date to do this each week like an appointment.
  2. Include a set duration of time, for example 45 minutes.
  3. During that time–transfer all the files you want to keep from your devices to the cloud.
  4. Delete transferred documents from device (remember to empty your recycle bin)
  5. Once in the cloud, organize your documents into folders.
  6. When your allotted time runs out–stop.

Do this each week until all your electronic files are organized the way you want them. Over time you may be able to do complete this task in less time or need to complete this task less often.

Documents in your cloud can be kept or deleted as needed over time and you can reorganize them anytime, the important part is that your documents will not be lost.

As our world becomes more and more digitized, it is important to get organized and have a system for staying that way. This is the first way to organize your life and one that can have a big impact on your daily life.

Remember while you are organizing your files to take the time to enjoy the process–Have Fun with it!

 

Challenge Accepted!

Challenge Accepted!

For the last few days I have been thinking about how to organize my whole life, what parts of my life needed organizing and what benefits would come of it.

I’ve made great strides this year already–decluttering the house (someone should have told me it is kind of an ongoing thing!), living by my calendar and honoring  my time, getting my health and fitness in shape.

Until I realized how much more I have to do.

So I thought–what areas of my life would more–if any–organization benefit me?

Here is my brainstorm–and I do mean storm–list I came up with:

I would like to organize my days, my weeks and my months in respect to my chores, my tasks, my finances, my meals, my recipes…..I would like to once and for all organize my paper, my pictures, my thoughts, my plans. Included in that I would like to continue to organize my space–my house, my closets, my kitchen…and the thoughts went on and on!

Is it even possible to be this organized?  I started researching–which of course is a part of my life I am very organized in–and found that there are many resources to organize EVERYTHING from the home to your personal style.

How do you organize a ‘personal style’ ? Is that even a thing? Who knew?

After all of these mental gymnastics–I stopped. I closed my eyes, I did a few breathing exercises and listened in the quiet.

(I can always find answers in the quiet.)

Yes–I can organize all these things–not just for the sake of being organized but because being organized will help me focus on “The Plan” and find more time for what is important in my life.

CHALLENGE ACCEPTED!

Check in to future posts as I travel down this side road of organization to be more productive…I don’t want to reveal how I am going to do this just yet!

Until next time!  Have Fun!

 

Getting Re-Organized

Getting Re-Organized

Developing the life we want is HARD work!  The first 3 months of the year have passed so quickly!  And I thought I would have my whole life planned out by now!

Of course my illusions of grandeur have gotten the best of me yet again.  Thank goodness life is a long one!

I can say that the first three months of the year has been a productive one.  I am still on track with my New Year’s Resolutions and this is a good time to take stock and evaluate what is working and what is not working.

I am happy to say that a lot is working–in order to be better, though, we have to be honest about what is not working.  What is not working is I am trying to accomplish everything at once. And while I am not failing–in order to keep up the pace now is when I have to really get re-organized!

I am going to have to truly map out “The Plan”–as I’ve dubbed the rest of our lives…

I thought I was being easy on myself when I only gave myself two New Year’s Resolutions:

  1. Be the healthiest ME I can be
  2. Organize my life so I have more: space, time, money and happiness

These resolutions–have translated into some specific goals–that are going to take longer than I expected.  It is going to be a long road but I am looking forward to every step!

  1. Being the healthiest Me I can be has led me to:

Researching healthy lifestyles, fitness and lifestyle diseases and longevity studies.  That’s a lot of fancy words just to say that I joined the gym, am looking to learn to cook healthier meals, make sure I get enough sleep, lose weight and get strong.

In doing those things, I stumbled upon Health Coaching School of which I am enthusiastically a student and am not just improving my knowledge and health but helping those close to me as well.

2. Organizing my life so I have more: space, time, money and happiness has led me to:

Decluttering my house, my life, my schedule, my social media, my shopping habits…etc. It has led me down the road to making the right choices for me and my family regardless of what others may think and surprisingly–that has made me feel lighter and free-er and yes, dare I say very happy!

In my New Year’s post one of my pieces of advice was that no matter what your goals or resolution is the most important part of succeeding is to begin. Put one step in front of the other and keep moving forward.

In order to do all the things I want to do and keep up this happy momentum, I need to get re-organized to keep it going.

So here is my plan–maybe you can use these ideas to help you reach your goals also:

  1. Keep the big picture front and center.  
  2. Make daily, small, reachable goals.
  3. Accept setbacks.
  4. Look for other options when there are setbacks.
  5. And then take the next step.  

This is an exciting time being in the Empty Nest–our kids are expanding their world and we are expanding ours–we are enjoying the ride and moving forward!

How are your goals and resolutions coming along? Is it time to start over and get organized toward your big picture? Let me know what things have slowed you down or stopped your progress on something you really want to achieve.

No matter where you are in your goals–remember each day brings new opportunities–and have fun!

It’s a Good Friday

It’s a Good Friday

On this Good Friday, like each year, Christians observe the crucifixion of Jesus. For some it is a day of mourning and fasting before Easter and for others it can be a time of expressing gratitude for the sacrifice given on the cross.

As a Christian, I do observe this day and it brought to the forefront thoughts of becoming a better me every day.

How can we become a better person each day?  If your goal, like me, is to live a full meaningful life, becoming a better person each day should be a simple task.

I believe it starts with gratitude.  Being grateful for all you are and all you have each morning will start your day in a way that will bring to you more of that for which you are grateful.  

Sometimes, when we are going through a particularly difficult time we may find it hard to find things to be grateful for.

I remember a story about a soldier I heard recently.  An American soldier that had come back from the Middle East was being asked some questions about how medical professionals could help him if they were to provide him with a prosthetic arm. You see, he lost his left arm serving his country.

The young man was very optimistic and upbeat and thankful that the doctors were looking into a prosthetic arm that could have the range of motion that a real arm would have.

He was so thankful to the doctors that when they thanked him for his time in that session and for his service–he turned to them and said “I am just so grateful I didn’t lose my good arm”–you see he was a righty, so he could still use his right hand and arm.

As he backed his wheelchair away from the table the doctors were very moved by his gratitude and the fact that he had also lost both legs.

Gratitude then becomes a much larger proposition when we think about how lucky and blessed we truly are.

We do not have to strive to be as grateful as that soldier–but to be better each day, we should be grateful and acknowledge those things in our lives that are so wonderful.

Secondly, to strive to be a better person each day–we should live with a clear intention. An intention that will guide not only your day but how you want to live your life each and everyday.

An intention may be harder to come up with and fulfill on a daily basis–if we put too much pressure on ourselves to “intend” the right things.

Many times my intentions are very simple ones: I intend to do no harm today, I intend to turn the other cheek if I am offended, I intend to smile at someone who may need a smile today.

It does not have to be hard or perfect.

To become a better me everyday, I just need to remember to forgive myself for my mistakes of yesterday, have gratitude for the new chance this day gives us to be different and to intend to do the best with that opportunity.

I am an imperfect person. Good Friday reminds me that I am already forgiven.

On this Good Friday, I leave you with this: For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

Enjoy this day. Be better than yesterday and have fun.

Duh Mom!

Duh Mom!

Part of my ideas for navigating the empty nest years and beyond is to remain relevant and authentic. I don’t want to lose touch with my kids even though they have grown up and left the nest.

Most of our communication as you can imagine is by text—-although I am loving FaceTime and make sure I always have my lipstick on in case they “face” me.

Learning the new text lingo and all the new technology platforms is hard!  The fact that I know the term “technology platforms” is a big advancement for me!

So because I know that practice makes perfect–I thought if I really want to get good at this I need to use it.  And I used my two daughters as my guinea pigs—-I mean—-teachers. Here is how it went:

Daughter one:

Me: How are you doing?

Daughter: Good mom.

Me: LOL!

Daughter: What’s funny?

Me: What? I can’t say LOL by itself?

Daughter: No mom. LOL! Comes after something is funny. It is a response.

Me: OK. Well were good. How’s School?  OBTW–I got new curtains for the family room.

Daughter: School’s fine. It’s not Oh, by the way mom, it’s just BTW.  

Me: LOL!

Daughter: Better mom, but not really. Talk later.

 

Daughter two:

Me: How are you doing?

Daughter: Good mom, what’s up?

Me: Nothing is up. Just thought I’d text.

Text silence (is that a thing?)

Me: I heard a good joke the other day and I was LMFAO!

Daughter: You know that has a bad words in it right?

Me: NO! Which letter?

Daughter: The F and the A.

Me: Oh.  Not like LOL!?

Daughter: Nope.

Me: OK. So OT I got some new curtains for the family room—they look RG.

Daughter: What’s RG mom?

Me: Really Good!

Daughter: No, Mom, not a thing….BRB.

Me: Bad Really Bad?

Text Silence–10 min later

Daughter: Sorry mom I meant Be Right Back.

Me: Oh. You busy? We can TML…

Daughter: TML? Mom what are you doing?

Me: Text More Later? I’m making dinner.

Daughter: No, I mean what are you doing with all the letters…

Me: I just thought I would practice the text lingo, I guess I’m not very good at it yet.

Daughter: DUH.

Me: What does DUH stand for?

Daughter: Just Duh mom. Talk later.

 

And so with two utter fails under my belt—I sigh and continue to reinvent myself and navigate through this crazy new language in the texting world.

Communication is changing so fast and more words are being added to the dictionary every year than ever before and online you can even access an urban dictionary! (A city dictionary–I wonder what they use in the country? A rural dictionary?)

Just keeping up and keeping relevant is going to be a tough road. I’m doing well on the authentic part though—-I’m authentically confused and starting to feel my age!

Luckily, I don’t think I’ll lose touch with my kids because they are so good about correcting—-I mean teaching—-me the new ways to communicate when I get things wrong.

But I do think I have entered that time zone in which people of a certain age—-me—-have fallen into the generation gap and we are viewed as OMG—-old!

In order to feel better of course, I called my mom. I told her about my practicing the new text lingo with the girls and my failure.

“Mom” I said, “I think I’m starting to get old!”

There was silence for a moment and then she said:   “DUH!”

 

How are you coping with the changing language, texting, messaging and emailing skills needed in this 21st century world?

Drop me a comment and let me know!

The Changing Work Ethic in Cyberspace

The Changing Work Ethic in Cyberspace

As American life changes so does how we live that life.  The majority of our years are devoted to serving others and to work.

And work is changing very rapidly.  This is a very exciting time as we will be able to witness major changes in our working lives and the exchange of products and services for money, outside of the traditional brick and mortar businesses.

The internet has opened whole new worlds and ways of shopping, ordering groceries, even how we access books, magazines and newspapers.

It has also opened new opportunities for sole proprietors and small businesses to rise up out of people’s homes.

Some of the work ethics from yesterday are being left behind due to these changes. Being on time to work for example, means a whole new thing in the cyber workplace. You can literally sign in to your workplace and be “on time” and still be in your sweatpants.

So what does “having a good work ethic” mean in today’s changing world?  Some things, so far, have not changed–thankfully–and it proves to me that we live in a society that still works hard to provide a product or service that adds value to its customers.

Here is my take on the work ethic that will not get lost in cyberspace:

Integrity–the ideas of honesty and trust seems to be holding true even behind the computer screen.  For new businesses and business relationships to work consumers have to trust who they are doing business with.  When businesses promise the quality of the product, shipping times, and refund policies and follow through with them it creates customer loyalty and even better–good reviews for those businesses!

Responsibility and Quality–responsible businesses will not only make sure that the daily tasks are completed, but that they are completed in the best way possible–providing quality service for the customer but also for the employer, which many times is themselves.

For sole proprietors–this sense of responsibility is quite literally the “make it or break it” efforts taken to keep the business open and thriving. Providing quality work can mean the difference of having new and repeat customers come back to you or not.

Professionalism–being a professional and behaving as such means that you are working hard to serve others with integrity, responsibility and quality. It means that you are fair and courteous in your dealings. It is as simple as that.

It is not about wearing a power suit, impressing the right people in the organization or knowing the right buzzwords of the year that help impress those above you as well as your subordinates.

It’s completely about how much work you actually do for others, that you treat them with respect, that you set boundaries for your business but that you treat your customers and clients with fairness and with a spirit of service and dedication.

The new work ethic seems to be also making people who work in cyberspace happier because they are doing something that has meaning for them and that provides them with the satisfaction of doing a job well–without the politics or the fluff.

As you do business over the internet–whether it be shopping, receiving information for a fee, or receiving services–how has this changed your life?  What are the most important types of services for you as a customer to receive?

Enjoy this new world we live in–where goods and services are just a few clicks away–and have fun!

 

Serving Others

Serving Others

For all us humans, our lives are about serving others.  We don’t always like to think of it this way, but it is in fact what we are doing. Some people may react and think: “I was not put on this earth to serve others.” because we see it in terms of some menial task or job.

That’s not what I am talking about. What I am talking about is our purpose. Everyone’s purpose–in one way or another–is to serve others.

And it is exactly what we are supposed to do. It is how we serve that defines who we are, how we provide that service and what ultimately makes us happy.

Wait–What?

Yup, we are all on this earth to serve others to find our happiness–and for those of you who think I’ve lost it and there is no coming back from this one–let me explain.

Children serve their parents: as a source of love, joy and many times comic relief. After all–they did not ask to come here–we created them.

Parents–serve their children by providing love, security, safety, guidance and yes–loads of embarrassing moments!  (It is character building, kids–you’ll thank us one day!)

In school, students serve as being fountains to fill with knowledge in order to create an orderly society, a future workforce and the next generation of innovation.

Teachers in turn serve the community by educating those students and preparing them for life, the world outside and the many challenges that an education can help them overcome.

Politicians serve to keep our society civil, orderly and they are the referees of the “fair and square” in the world of law.

Doctors and nurses serve people who are sick or who want to prevent illness.

Husbands serve their wives by being a partner, a helpmate, a provider and by supporting the process of raising children and maintaining the home.

Wives also serve their husbands as partners, providers, the moral education of their children and the keepers of the home.

Churches serve the communities through religious teachings, being a moral compass to their members and providing spiritual guidance.

Our Military serve us by keeping us safe at home and abroad from bad actors that may want to physically harm us and our way of life.

Our Police Officers/Fire and EMS personnel serve us in keeping us safe and providing order and protection in our communities.

If you really think about it everyone and everything we do is in service for others. Yes–many of these examples are also called jobs and we get paid to serve. True. But most of these examples are underpaid, underappreciated and undervalued.

Yes–even the politicians. (Well maybe not the underpaid part)!

Regardless, this is the way it is supposed to be and how we keep an orderly world and smoothly running society.

When I sat down and really thought about this and its implications it became very clear to me why some people are happy and others are not so much.

If you don’t believe me, just look around and decide if many of society’s–and the world’s problems–would not be more easily corrected if everyone lived a life of service to someone else or to their community.

The ripple effects of this would be tremendous and it would help many people find a sense of their purpose.

When we have a purpose–a true desire to live the best life we can–it always includes some type of service. Follow your purpose–serve others and be happy!

How do you serve others in your life? How have others served you? What changes can you make in your life to bring you closer to your purpose?

How can I serve you?  Comment below and let me know what you would like me to write about!  And have fun today!

Slowing Down in the Fast Lane

Slowing Down in the Fast Lane

We do a fair amount of highway driving to visit family and the two birdies that have left the nest.  My husband does most of the driving but from time to time I take the wheel.

I have to say my husband is a much better driver than I am.  I often say that I do many things well–but driving is not one of them!

Most of the time my husband drives in the fast lane, not because he is driving fast–to my frustration he usually drives the speed limit–and eventually (a lot) he will come up to another driver that is also going the speed limit.  And there we sit for a mile or two neither of us going anywhere because neither will move over to the right lane and pass or be passed.

In the same situation I simply go around the individual on either right or left and keep going on my merry–albeit speedier–way.

Why am I always in a hurry to get to my destination when I enjoy the drive so much?  I have no idea.

I am learning to question these things that I do to myself that rob my joy.  I mean I really enjoy driving the highways–taking in the scenery, and relaxing in the rhythm of the car. It gives me much needed and much loved “think time”.

My best guess is that I do everything (driving included) fast so I can do more stuff. So I can accomplish more tasks each day and be the hero.

But the hero of what?  The hero of having all the dishes done, the laundry folded and the meals for the week planned?  All necessary things for sure but I don’t think they give you a cape for that! Hero of Zero!

So at this point in my life I am learning–many times the hard way–to slow down and do the things that are important.  To slow down and think of the most efficient way to do things. To slow down and let others do some of the stuff.

I am finding that slowing down has some very positive advantages:

You will actually do less work. Have you ever noticed that the more you do quickly and efficiently the more work you are given or expected to do? Employers do this to you and so do family and friends.

Until the moment or the day you stop–don’t worry they won’t be too disappointed–they’ll find someone else that is in a rush and will do it.

Once you have slowed down and taken care of your priorities–the remaining tasks just won’t seem so important. And because you are doing less work…

You will feel more rested. Doing things slower means you can do things with more attention.  Sometimes you will surprise yourself that you are actually enjoying the task at hand and you will be more clear minded about the things you actually want to work on.

This will make you feel energized and valued by the most important person in this whole equation–You!  You will be able to rest and not feel drained all the time! And when you are rested and doing things to your best potential…

You will be able to concentrate your talents.  What things do you enjoy that use your talents and your gifts. How can you use those talents to really serve others in a way that also makes you happy?

Finding these answers are very important to each of our lives, it will help us find the purpose we are here to fulfill and that on the flip side will help us feel fulfilled. That’s a win in my book! (Even without the cape!)

So as we are driving down the highway of our days–slow down, enjoy the “think time”. Take in the scenery–the destination will be there when you get there and it will be exactly where you were meant to go.

As we drive through our lives are you in the fast lane? Or have you learned, like I am learning to enjoy the slower lane? Do you feel that slowing down also means slowing down your progress?

Comment below and let me know how you feel about where you are right now in your life.  Whether you decide to slow it down or speed down the highway–always have fun!

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The Journey to Becoming a Health Coach

The Journey to Becoming a Health Coach

Sometimes we go looking for opportunities and sometime opportunities come looking for us. In this new empty nest chapter of my life I made a commitment to myself to keep growing and learning new things–like photography.

I love taking pictures, cataloging pictures and creating albums and other crafts with photography–but I never have felt that I am very good at it. So one of my goals is to get better at it–faster and smarter!

My motto of living my “post-raising children life” faster, better, smarter is not to DO more but to BE more–mostly for myself– and the benefits of that will hopefully go out to others.

So as you have read me explain before: Faster means learning from those who came before me.  Better means how can I do this differently that will serve me better.  And better for me means if it served me better–can it serve others? Smarter means finding the best way to do whatever you want to do.

On top of that I realize I am a “fixer”.  I like to “fix” things or help people if I can. I do not like injustices or wasted resources.  But I also realize that people are not perfect–I am not perfect–Thank God.

How boring life would be if we all knew it all, could take care of it all and basically did not need each other.

These ideas crashed into my other ideas of being the healthiest person I can be. And somewhere in the confusion and the research I was doing for myself I repeatedly came across health coaching as a thing.

I tried it. I found a health coach that would talk to me about my health goals, help me put the ideas in my head into a cohesive plan (she even provided an easy to follow plan) and she became my cheerleader! She also was there to hold me accountable.

It was worth every penny of her fee. Why? Because in our busy run around lives it’s nice to have someone think of all the logistics for you so you can actually do what you want to do–not think about what you want to do.

It was easy to schedule–all our meetings were on the phone for 50 minutes at a set time once a week–so it did not interfere with any other parts of my life or responsibilities.

And this led me to  an online school so I can learn and certify myself as a health coach so that in the future I can help others.  So–at 50–I’ve gone back to school!

This has become a journey in itself! And a scary, wonderful one at that. I am learning new information and new skills. I am meeting new people and have a fabulous cohort of fellow students to discuss new learning and stumbling blocks with. I am both nervous to reach out and help others and at the same time excited to do so.

This journey has become a very important part of my faster, better, smarter life because it encompasses all I have set out to do in my empty nest years: learn, be active, grow as a person and give back.

I know from working with my cohort that everyone is looking at this opportunity in a different way. What I feel we all have in common is that we want to help others reach their health and life goals in the most painless and efficient way they can. Faster, Better, Smarter.

We want to make a difference.  We don’t want to DO more for people, we want to BE more of a support in their journey to their more fulfilling life.

Like Dorothy down the yellow brick road–this journey is helping us find knowledge, heart and courage.  I think in the end, although this is all new to us, we will find that we all had it in us all along.

Our journeys are not easy for a reason–otherwise we would not learn–and develop–all the different parts of us that make us us.

So today I leave you with this:  I am a wife and mother. I am a daughter and sister. I am a teacher, I am a leader in my community. I am a health coach.

Comment below and tell me your thoughts.  Is there a journey that you are on that scares you and excites you at the same time? How are you managing all the hats you wear?

Like and share this post if it resonates with you and join me on Facebook and on my Pinterest page! And no matter what else you do today–Have fun!

 

 

 

Honor Yourself in Your Health

Honor Yourself in Your Health

When it comes to our health, or anything we decide to do, sometimes the hardest part is dealing with the people whose opinion means the most to us–and sometimes dealing with people whose opinion is not that important but still affects us.

Let me work backwards from least important to most important in relation to people’s opinions.  

There are strangers and acquaintances that we encounter in life that look at us–and make a snap judgement.

What is that judgement? It really depends on what lens of the world they are looking at you through. Honor yourself–regardless what they may be thinking.

Then there are our closer acquaintances and “friends.” These people know a little more about you–perhaps because you come in contact with them more often–but don’t really know you know you. They make judgments about us based on how we dress, act, speak, react etc.

We think about what they may think about us if we did something out of the norm of their belief systems about us–which let’s admit–is pretty narrow.

Honor yourself.

I know we think about these people because we care about ourselves and want to be perceived a certain way–whatever that may mean to you,  and that makes it important but we still should honor ourselves.

Then come our real friends–the people we care about and that care about us–at least we think they do. Their opinions rank a little higher on the “I wonder what they think of me” scale.

And the most important group is, of course, our closest and dearest family and friends whose opinion–for better or for worse–drive our decisions.

These two groups of people make it harder.

I am not going to say we should just forget everyone and do what we want, because the reality of life is that we DO THINK ABOUT IT and it DOES AFFECT US.

So how do we honor ourselves, our wants and desires?  This is not easy, especially when we want to make big life changes like a change in the way we eat and approach exercise.  

Many times what is holding us back from big transformative life loving change is that we are afraid to lose our relationships with others. And that is hugely important–but we have to honor ourselves first.

When you decide to change what you eat, or how often to exercise to feel better, to look better, to get over a disease or condition–it will affect everything in your life–especially your relationships.

Our relationships are going to change and sometimes it is going to hurt. People you thought were with you were only with you as long as you were like them.

People you thought would cheer you on just want to tear you down. People you thought were in your life out of love and acceptance will turn their back on you the minute you don’t conform with the pigeon hole they have placed you in.

Still you should honor yourself.

So, I am not going to say “What other people think does not matter” because that would not be the truth. It does matter or we would all be in different places in our lives by now.

What I will say is that you should do it anyway.

Better your health, reach for your goals and your desires for a physical and internally healthy self.  

The people that are meant to support you will be there and the others will fade away. It will hurt sometimes but in the end you will be healthier, surrounded by those that contribute to that health and you will be so much happier!

Honor yourself–you are worth it! And have fun every step of the way!

Solutions to Starting Healthy Eating Habits

Solutions to Starting Healthy Eating Habits

Everything we do effects us for the good or the bad. When it comes to our health many times we ignore or overlook these “effects” because they can be subtle.

After all, we don’t eat a fast food meal today and suddenly have clogged arteries and an extra pound around the middle…but over time and many fast food meals later–well you get the picture.

When we decide to change our habits the effects to our bodies will also be subtle and slow to show.

We should not expect to see solutions or magic immediately.  There is no magic shake, or pill or cleanse that will take the pounds off and make us look beach body ready.

Also, you cannot think of this change for your life as a one time diet or exercise routine until you are where you want. It will be an ongoing process–one that takes commitment.

That may sound hard, but it is really a beautiful thing to commit to oneself.

When we commit to change our habits and make this life change it is a sign of the self care and self love we all deserve.

And I do have some solutions that are not difficult and that everyone can do to get started, so let’s keep it simple:

  1. Eat the right foods in the right quantities
  2. Drink Water
  3. Move
  4. Get good sleep
  5. Repeat

Eat the right foods in the right quantities. What are the right foods? The closer to nature you can get the better.  Fruits and vegetables and salads should be a staple at every meal. If you eat meats–then try to get the best meat that is available to you.

The bigger part of the eating the right foods is to stay away as much as you can from processed foods.  That can be hard–especially after years and years of eating these things.

But it can be much easier–even if you cannot give up processed foods–if you watch the portion size.

The serving size of most foods are on the packages. Yes–the serving sizes seem very small when you start looking at them. But in reality they are just right. And your body will adjust very quickly!

So do you have to give up your favorite foods? Of course not! You just have to eat LESS of them.

Drink Water. Our bodies are made up of a lot of water and in order to function properly our cells need water. Simply said one of the easiest self care actions we can take for ourselves is to drink more water.

Move. In order to burn calories and keep our bodies in the best of shape we do have to move. You do not have to do a 4 hour work out each day. But you do need to get off the couch.  

If you don’t like to exercise–go for a walk. Anywhere. Get outside into the fresh air. Or add activities to your regular routine that can ramp up your movement. For example, folding clothes while standing up instead of sitting down will burn twice the calories. Activities such as gardening or cleaning the house also counts as movement–don’t underestimate yourself. Once you get your body moving it is easier to keep it moving.

Get good sleep.  Believe it or not if we are not sleeping well then our bodies are not performing at optimal levels. And it is causing our bodies to not burn calories the way it is meant to. Getting good sleep is essential to having good health.

Create a ritual and routine to getting to sleep at night. Turn off all the distracting images and sounds that keep our brain “awake” at least 30 minutes before you go to bed to help your body unwind.

Repeat.  When one day is done…start over the next day. Each day we complete these steps is one day closer to making it a habit. And as your body changes you will actually feel it. You will feel lighter, and less hungry, and better!.

What if you fall off the healthy wagon? Start fresh the next day. No need to give up or beat ourselves up for it. We are human and this is hard work. But we are worth it.

IF you have tried everything and it still does not work get someone to help you. There are doctors and nutritionists that can suggest different regimens for you and there are health coaches that can help you create the healthy habits you are looking for.

I enlisted the help of a health coach and it truly was a wonderful experience. Not only am I healthier but I have strengthened other parts of my life as well.  I believe in her work so much that I have gone back to school to become a health coach myself, so I can help people the way she helped me!

Creating healthy habits is a life change–not because it is difficult and challenging but because it will change your life for the better. There are many people around us that would discourage us from bettering ourselves–I’ll talk about them in my next post.

Remember whatever you choose to do–choose it for yourself and have fun with it!

Comment below:  What is the biggest hurdle holding you back from committing to this self-care?

You Are What You Eat

You Are What You Eat

There has never been a truer phrase–you are what you eat. Many of us eat all that is around us. And then we accept that our bodies feel sluggish and bloated and uncomfortable.

Worse yet we are all going towards being part of the statistics that list the highest incidence of diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease in the history of the United States.

Unless you make a change.

For the last several years I have really been watching what I eat.  I have become very conscious of ingredients and labels and portion sizes.

When I started “eating healthy” what I was really doing was NOT eating certain foods.  I knew for example, that I was eating too much sugar. So I really cut back to basically no white sugar at all.  

I found that I did not miss it. I was really used to having sugar in my coffee each morning.  Two spoonfuls of sugar! Instead I bought stevia packets and use one. It was just about changing the habit of what I was doing.

At work, I realized, many co-workers would bring food in to share on Fridays–donuts were a big favorite. The first time I ate one after going “off” sugar I got a horrible headache and stomach ache and soon after felt completely deflated like I needed a nap!

I never realized how much sugar had affected my system. And as I investigated further–I found that there is sugar in everything! Even ketchup has sugar!  I could not believe it!

Not only do most foods contain sugar–it contains sneaky sugar because it is called by a dozen (or more!) different names–corn syrup, corn sweetener, dextrose, fructose, glucose, lactose, maltose, malt syrup, sucrose and evaporated cane juice–just to name a few.

But sugar was just the tip of the iceberg. Meats. I love meats but when I started learning about farm practices and how animals are given antibiotics and growth hormones and fed GMO corn to fatten them up–well YUCK! And the chickens! Don’t even get me started on the chickens!

For a while I could not eat any meat. But I was also not a vegetarian. With time and some additional learning–I was able to find free range chicken and different meats that were not processed or that came from places where the ranch practices were not questionable.

The search for the best foods available is a journey in itself. But I am committed to my health and the health of my husband–and so we look for the best foods we can find.

Still–these are big changes and they are not easy.  But we are what we eat–so it is important to care about ourselves enough to investigate what is best for us.  That may mean a different thing to each person.

I am not advocating that we should all wake up tomorrow morning and never eat in a fast food restaurant again or give up meat entirely or swear off eggs. I am encouraging you to think about what is going into your body though.

We sometimes buy organic, but not always because how do we really know if something is organically grown or not? Especially at the grocery store. Farmer’s Markets are a better source if it is available to you. But we do buy more fruits and vegetables than before and eat more salads in general.

Our portion sizes are smaller, we drink plenty of water and herbal tea (hot and iced–we live in Texas after all!) We have drastically cut back on breads, chips, pasta and dairy products.

And we didn’t die! In fact, we feel good! We do not feel deprived of anything and we don’t go hungry. If we feel like having something, we have it–in a reasonable portion size. And we feel satisfied and full.

So we definitely are what we eat! Our bodies are wonderful machines that we have abused for the sake of convenience.

If you are really interested in living a healthier life–we have to change the habits we currently have around food. Habits are hard to change especially in the run around hurry up life we are in.

But there are some solutions that I will discuss in my next post to bring us closer to eating as healthy as we can and having the healthiest habits.  

What has been the one go to food that you feel you could not let go of? Are there foods you would not miss if you stopped including them in your diet?  Comment below and let me know what you think…

And until next time–have fun!  

Time For Health

Time For Health

Being healthy-the stage of health you want to be in–is whatever you define it as. For some people that may be to lose those last 10 pounds we have been carrying around for the last decade. (Guilty)  For others, a health goal may be getting stronger, more flexible or more physically fit. Still others may want to rid themselves of headaches, allergies or digestive disorders.

Whatever your final objective, being healthy is going to depend on what your definition of health is for you. Getting to your healthiest self though, will take commitment and time.  Once you reach your healthiest self–staying that way also takes commitment and time.

So where do you find the time in our busy run around lives to “get healthy”?  As with anything we truly want–once we decide we TRULY want it–you have to make it happen!

Positive thoughts are beautiful and I recommend them highly, but we must follow them up with action. We need to give something up that is taking up our time to create this health we want.

Don’t worry–it’s not as bad as it sounds because usually we are really not “giving up” anything–we are just changing our priorities–and habits.

The first thing I did when I was looking for extra time was I pulled out my calendar.  I committed appointments to myself for the next six months to go to the gym and work out at least 45 minutes every other day. If my “gym appointment” landed on a weekday–the workout would have to be after work. On weekends I could be more flexible–depending what other plans were already in the works and to accommodate for Church on Sundays.

Either way–I made a commitment to myself. And having it on my calendar helps me honor my own time–my own goals and my own priorities.  

Another plus of putting these “gym appointments” on my calendar was an unexpected one: when a colleague asked me to attend an additional work function one evening, I could honestly say: “Thank you for thinking of me, but I already have a previous engagement that evening.”

So not only did I “find” the time to add in these workouts–but it helped me not “lose” time attending a function that would not add value to my life.

How many times have you left a meeting thinking: “That’s 40 minutes of my life I will never get back!”

Another way that I am finding time for my health is to get organized. We all have a multitude of tasks we have to complete to survive ie. live this busy run around life of ours: grocery shopping, paying the bills, scheduling doctors and dentist and hairdresser appointments and tasks that are required to maintain our homes.

I am learning ways that I can automate some of these so it frees up some of my time. Other things–you guessed it–go on my calendar.

So if I forgot an ingredient for a recipe or we run out of milk–we just do without until our next scheduled trip to the grocery store. Bingo! More time.

I think for a long time I kept very “busy” to avoid looking at my health goals in the face. After all, “I don’t have enough time” is a plausible excuse right? Not really–not for us who have decided to value our health.

And for those who are telling us they have no time to exercise–well we nod and smile and accept that they are just not in the same place we are right now and that is okay. Someday they will remove that barrier for themselves. Hopefully.

What time constraints do you find yourself with? Is the television or the internet eating up your clock? Comment below and share with me some of the time obstacles you are facing. I would love to hear from you!

As always remember–we all have the same 24 hours each day–have fun with them!

The Choice of Health

The Choice of Health

We all make choices in our lives.  Part of this journey I am on is about making the new choices to live the best life I can live and to live to my highest purpose–whatever that may be.

One of the things I have been thinking about changing in my life is my level of health.

Being healthy and looking healthy has always been an important value for me, and while I consider myself to be in good health, I know there is always room for improvement.

Another thing I value is knowledge. And so I have been researching and reading about how to be the healthiest I can be.

The regular health articles have come up of course–hydrate, eat right and exercise. I have also found many “how to” articles about how to start eating right, why to exercise, or lists of reasons why people should be healthy.

I was surprised that there would be so many articles written to help convince people to be healthy. But after I thought about it for a while, it isn’t surprising at all.

People have many excuses for not being healthy but the main ones cited in many articles I read were these:

  • I don’t have time to exercise
  • Eating healthy is expensive
  • I can’t be “healthy” at social gatherings, family holidays etc
  • I am too tired to exercise
  • Healthy food is not available where I live
  • I have no will power
  • I don’t want to miss out
  • My friends and family would not understand

Ultimately, this is what I have learned–being healthy is a choice. I choose healthy.  And I have decided to do 4 simple things:

  1. I am going to make time for myself–to exercise, to eat right and to educate myself on the best ways for doing both.
  2. I am going to find the best foods and the best habits for healthy living.
  3. I am going to honor my own thoughts, beliefs and values before anyone else’s.
  4. I am going to help others if they choose they want to live healthy lives too.

Making choices about health in and of itself is a journey and it is hard work. If I want to live the best life I can live–I have to start with my health. Health is going to give me the strength, the stamina, the longevity and the ability to move to do all the other things I want to do in my life.

We may take our health for granted because we have gotten used to the few extra pounds, the headaches, the allergies, the small twinges. We may be afraid to make changes in our lives that the people we most care about would not understand or appreciate. Any type of change takes courage.

And all change takes choice. The funny thing is–at least to me–has been that making the choice has been the easiest part. Taking action is much harder. It takes planning and thought and deliberate intention.

These intentions and the work you put in is what helps us reach our best potential–our highest self–and sometimes our purpose.

It’s time for action.

Have you been thinking about improving your health?  What parts of your health would you like to see a change in? Do you suffer from a condition or disease that could be changed through healthier living? What is holding you back?

Comment below about how you would like to improve your health or your life in general. I would love to read your thoughts!

And remember to have fun–our health is what allows us to live the life we want to live!

Reinventing, Re-imagining and Recreating Your Life

Reinventing, Re-imagining and Recreating Your Life

Reinventing myself now that the kids have left home has been a hard task.  There is so much involved with re-imagining who you are outside of the title of “mother” or “father”.

Some responsibilities of being adult still remain, of course, they are inescapable–but the main one, at least for me–of raising my kids is complete.

I no longer have to raise my kids–I am here now to encourage, support and listen. And in the most curious of ways–I am here now to learn from them.

My daughter said to me many months ago–”Don’t worry mom, you do you and don’t worry about anybody else.”  I’m not sure what we were talking about at the time–but there seems to be a universal truth in that statement.

You do you. What if you don’t know what “you” wants to do or be or not do and be?  

You do you. What if you do know what you want to do and be but are too scared to move forward?

I think it comes down to manageable tasks–and those can be broken down further into manageable areas in life: Health, Spirituality, Relationships, and Growth.

Many of these tasks cannot be done all at once–but at the same time all are connected and they leak into each other.

You cannot talk about or make changes in your health without considering how that will impact your relationships, your mental growth and your spiritual being.

You cannot confront and fix issues with your relationships without it affecting your health, your psychological development or your spirituality.

And because it is so intertwined and messy, many of us stay stagnant and don’t change the things we need to change to make us better people, and to be happier. We don’t want to rock the status quo.

This is happening to people of all ages–not just empty nesters and people in their mid life years.  While I don’t have all the answers–not sure I have any of the answers–I do have a desire to try to figure this all out in the time I have left on this earth.

Another reason we are reluctant to challenge the status quo is because of the Woolly Mammoth Fear I discovered and shared with you in the last post. We are so afraid of change, and afraid to disappoint people.

Sometimes we are afraid to disappoint the people closest to us–and sometimes we are afraid to disappoint people that really don’t matter. It’s a crazy world. Because we spend a great deal of time thinking about it and avoiding it at the same time.

What I have come to understand is that it takes a lot of courage to be YOU. YOU is hard. YOU has to stand up to criticism, rejection and pain. And YOU has to do it anyway. Because that is who YOU are.

So my first decision is this–I’m going to do it anyway so let me just work out the best way to get it done-faster, better and smarter–which is my motto.

But let me explain. Faster does not mean fast. For me faster means learning from those who came before me. There is no trophy for tripping over the same rock 5 other people tripped over. Faster means watch, listen, learn and walk around the rock. That just saved you some time.

Better means how can I do this differently that will serve me better.  Better means if it served me better–can it serve others?

Smarter.  Why are we still doing the same things we were doing 30 years ago?  We have learned to evolve with the conveniences of the new modern technological world but still want to do things the old way–which is harder, less effective and just NOT SMART.

Lots to unpack here…and lots to do.  I am making a list for my DOING YOU and how I would like to share this journey. I hope you’ll follow along…

As we continue to grow and do YOU, remember that you should be having fun!  If you are not having fun yet–you may need to re-imagine and re-create again until you are in the right place. After all that is what life is all about–getting to the right place.

Comment below if you feel you are searching for the place to start making the needed changes in your life or if you have any suggestions on which changes should be a priority.

Woolly Mammoth Fear

Woolly Mammoth Fear

Not too long ago I confessed that being in an empty nest household can be very:

  1. Satisfying–because you did a good job as a parent and the kids are independent and pursuing their own lives;
  2. Exciting–because now is the time to reinvent yourself and make plans for the future; and
  3. Terrifying–because now is the time to reinvent yourself and make plans for the future.

I thought that by starting to make some future plans I would be able to navigate this empty nest.  And most of the time I can–but there are days when I come up against this big woolly mammoth called fear.

For months I thought that my biggest fear is that the kids are far away–far from home–far from me–and what if something happened? It is hard for a helicopter mom to adjust!

I checked the news channel of the cities in which they live each morning to see what the crime is like in their areas, I checked the weather reports and wondered if they remembered to take an umbrella or a jacket.

I was really really good!  I never texted them to ask if they remembered to take an umbrella or a jacket! That was so hard! I’ll admit that a few times I texted myself that message just to get it out of my system.

And as some time passed and I would call them or they would call me, I realized that they were fine. They had not forgotten to eat while they were away from home, and if they got wet in the rain, I never heard about it.

But the fear was still there.  Not worry–as I think I will worry about them until my last breath–but fear. The kind that sits on your chest–the big woolly mammoth.

Then it finally hit me, my biggest fear was not the can the kids survive without me? thing. My biggest fear was can I survive without them? thing.

Ouch. I could not remember a time without my kids. I mean I do remember my childhood and my adult years before children–but I don’t remember what it FEELS like to not have my babies in my life.

The realization that the fear was about me being able to move on was one I had not prepared myself for. And at first I didn’t know how to deal with it–but putting a name on it made all the difference.

Now I can sit and stare that woolly mammoth in the eyes and  I know I am satisfied that I did the best job I could with the kids. The girls are making their way in the world and now I must find my way.

I am excited to be in a place that I can reinvent myself and move towards new and different and diverse goals.  And I am also terrified to be in this place–but since I have named the fear– it is my control.

Next week I am going to dig deep and talk about reinventing, re-imagining, and recreating a meaningful future in this new chapter of my life. And hopefully, the woolly mammoth will find a new address in which to live.

How do you cope with the fear of change and uncertainty?  Comment below and share and like this post with your friends if it resonated with you!

And while we are busy trying to figure out our direction in life–don’t forget to have fun while you are doing it!

Condition Yourself For Success

Condition Yourself For Success

Just like we condition our bodies when we physically work out, we can condition other parts of us.  We can condition our brains, our hearts and our attitude. We can even condition our success.

So conditioning our body is easy right? We eat healthy foods in moderation, cut out sugar, and exercise….well I know none of that is easy but it is a choice and it is doable. And we know that the more we do those things the better condition our body will be in–inside and out.

We can also condition our minds. We can read and write, work on puzzles and do many creative things that stimulate our brains. In fact the more we do anything–it stimulates our brain–and the task or fact or idea–takes better root.  

Sometimes the best way to condition the brain is to turn off all the noise of your world–ie. Facebook, Twitter, Google, Email–and just observe the world around us. It trains our brains to notice the details that we have been overlooking and it stretches our brains.

Our hearts can be conditioned better as well. We can practice having more compassion for people–not to mention more compassion for ourselves. We can practice being empathetic instead of critical and seeing things from other people’s point of view.

Our hearts can be conditioned to feel better by being genuine in who we are and treating others with respect.

Attitudes can also be conditioned. Lord knows many attitudes walking around in the world could use some conditioning!  

We can practice positive intentions–if not to improve your attitude towards other people–but just to improve! It takes practice! And it takes consistency to create the kind of positive attitude that impacts the attitudes of others.

And just like we can condition our hearts, our minds and our attitudes we can definitely condition ourselves to be successful in everything we want to be successful in.

Like everything else, it takes practice and stick-with-it-ness!  We have to really know what we value being successful in and then work at that everyday.

We can condition ourselves not to accept failure–not because failure is not an option–but because a failure just means we need to find another way of doing something. No excuses–look for another option.

If we condition ourselves to think in this way and act in this way there is nothing that can stand in our way.

Too many times we say we want to be successful–at whatever it is in the moment–a diet, our careers, a relationship–and then at the first sign that things are getting hard, we give up!

In order to make your success muscles strong–you have to push through the self doubt and the setbacks.  You have to lift and bend and keep trying.

Success is not an easy thing in our lives–especially if you do not condition yourself to reach those goals–but if you are not reaching for your goals, then what is your life about?

Practice, move forward, accept defeat when it comes. And keep moving forward. Condition yourself for success, we only have one life folks–let’s do this!

Comment below if you have some tips on how to condition yourself to be successful in everything you do!  I look forward to your ideas!

And as always–have fun!

Into Each Life a Little Rain Must Fall

Into Each Life a Little Rain Must Fall

I mean this in a good way–everything cannot be roses all the time. Into each life a little rain must fall.  And the rain has a purpose:

The rain washes us.  Sometimes we make really bad decisions and it causes a storm in our life.  

Sometimes it seems like the storm will never end–but when it does we realize that the storm and the rain that was falling was washing us.  It was taking away the dirt we had on us. It was making us shiny and new and getting us ready for the sunshine.

The rain feeds us. Many times we are running through life so fast and so hard trying to do and be everything for everyone that we forget about ourselves.

The rain is there to feed us–to give us that moment to stop, breathe and take in the nourishment that only the rain can give. The rain feeds us with hope and energy so we can keep going in this fast paced world and be able to keep doing and keep being–for ourselves.

The rain helps us break ground.  There are times in our lives when we are dormant. No matter how hard we try we just are not moving forward or getting ahead. We are stuck.

Just like with the seeds down in the ground during winter–we are sleeping.  The rain comes and softens the ground for us so that we can stretch and grow. Soon we’ll be breaking through the surface and reaching for the sky just like the plants do.

I am learning a great deal about myself this year and how I have arrived at this place. There have been rain showers in my life–sometimes drizzle, sometimes howling, blowing, tear down thunderstorms. All have been necessary, although at the time I thought I could have done without the rain.

Each storm has taught me a lesson and it has made me the perfect imperfect person that I am–searching to do things better.

Most of all I have learned that I would not be who I am without the rain.

So into each life a little rain must fall and fall it will. Let it.

 

Comment below and have a great Monday!

 

Priorities, Priorities, Priorities

Priorities, Priorities, Priorities

In my last post, I shared with you how much I am enjoying using my calendar to schedule the events and tasks that are important to my life, my goals and my priorities.

I’ve received a few questions since then about how to set your priorities and how I know if they are the right ones!  Wow! Huge questions and tough ones, but I decided to tackle them.

Setting priorities can be a very difficult task–depending on what your priorities are and if they match your values and your goals.

So first you really need to decide what you really want in your life.  Do you want a job, career or calling that you are excited to get up for each morning? Or just a means to make some money to obtain the OTHER things you really want in your life?

Do you want the romantic relationship of your dreams? Do you want to travel more or have more interesting experiences? Or do you want just more TIME to do all of these things?

You see, as we get older–the things we want change and that will change our goals and the methods we use to reach them.  This happens–not because we are getting older–but because we continue to grow as long as we are still breathing!

As we grow, we have to keep examining what it is we want so we can shift–you got it–our PRIORITIES!

How do you set your priorities? The right priorities for each person will be different depending on what they value.  

If you value family, like I do, then your tasks and the events you choose to attend will revolve around family–because that is what makes you happy and so you have internalized this as a priority for you.

How do you know if your priorities are the right ones? Well…this is easier to answer and harder to answer.

I am not going to say: “if it feels good make this a priority in your life”  because sometimes we pursue or do things that feel good in the moment–but that are really bad for us.

What I will say is if something is important to you, like traveling and seeing new places, and you have to work all year to save and earn your two weeks off in order to be able to enjoy it–but you do it because you really get joy from the traveling then this is a priority for you!

So the right priorities are the ones that feel right to you and that match up with the things you values.

As I continue growing and enjoying this journey, I have done a lot of self inspection.  I have found that my life’s passions include my personal growth, my family, traveling and writing or being creative in some form of expression. I also realized that I am a fixer–or as I prefer to think of it–a helper.

I was happy to realize that most of my life I have been reaching and obtaining these experiences, even through the years that had brought hardship, confusion and disasters into my life.

Getting older and continuing to grow just means for me that I will be putting more focus on my passions–my priorities–because it is what makes me happy and what is leading me to my purpose.

So knowing your priorities is very important! Examining what your heart is telling you makes you happy is very important! And then prioritizing your life so that you are going towards those goals is what makes this life so worth living!

Never stop growing! And do not be afraid to treat yourself well by honoring the things that are important to you!  We only live one life, folks, have fun!

Comment below and share some of the things that you have made priorities in your life!

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The Joy of Living by My Calendar

The Joy of Living by My Calendar

One thing I have implemented for myself this year that has helped me grow–is my calendar.

 

I’ve gotten a new calendar every year and usually by February I have stopped putting “important” dates and “to dos by” dates on it.  But this year, I’ve taken a new approach and it has been working extremely well.

As I have been making plans for building the life I really want I realized that I cannot live the life I would like to live if I do not honor my time.

Time after all is that one commodity that no one seems to have enough of yet some people seem to get a great deal of important things done and these are things they truly love to do. And we have to realize that all of us have the same 24 hours each day.

Please understand that I am not suggesting that you fill your calendar with more events and tasks so that you are busy all the time. What I am suggesting is that you only put things in your calendar that have true meaning to you.

What distinguishes the importance of our time is defining what those things are that are important to you. Those are the things that go in your calendar.

One of my favorite quotes by Franklin Covey is:

“The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.”

What are your priorities?  This can be a very difficult question to answer. Depending on where you are in your life, your priorities may be very different.  There really is no right or wrong answer for this.

Priorities, also, are hard to define because we feel “selfish” when expressing what we really want for ourselves–often it is not what other people want for us.  If we only do things that is expected of us by others it will not necessarily make us happy or move us closer to our own goals.

Making the other people in our lives happy is important–especially if it brings you joy. But your calendar should not be filled with tasks and events of or for other people.

So, I sat down and made a list of my priorities.  This was not an easy task. But I was able to narrow it down to 6 things. Then I noted them on the first page of my calendar.  It serves as a reminder of what I want more of in my life.

And since then, before I add things to my calendar–I think about whether the task, event, invitation or effort is going to serve me and my priorities, my goals, and my happiness.

I know–it sounds totally selfish! But guess what?  I have not attended events I did not want to attend, I have not spent time with people I did not want to spend time with and I did not waste time completing tasks that have no real importance in my life.

The results is that I have had more time to spend with the people I really want to be with and I have been more relaxed and happy when with them. (I think they are enjoying the happier me! Or they might think I’m on medication!) I have not had to pretend to enjoy being somewhere I did not want to be and those useless tasks did not have to get done anyway!

Another plus is that I am learning to say no. No to things that waste time, no to experiences I do not want to have and no to people that are not part of my priorities.

Now when I look at my calendar–which I do each morning–I find the things that I really enjoy staring back at me. It helps me clearly plan what is needed to complete necessary tasks and it allows me to look forward to the events coming up because I am so excited about them.

And although it is only February, I have already planned many things well into the summer. Things that match my priorities and that bring me joy. Things I am looking forward to.

What kind of tasks or events that align with your priorities are you most excited about? Do you take the time to schedule these things in your calendar for yourself?  Comment below! And as always have fun!

 

My President on President’s Day

My President on President’s Day

Today is President’s Day and the History Teacher in me has a few things to say.

Back in the 70s when in elementary school we the students would commemorate Presidents day by making paper plate President’s faces. We would attach a popsicle stick and hold them up in front of our faces.

We students had no idea what a President was back then–but we knew he must be important because the only other faces we put on paper plates were Jesus and Santa Claus. Very important folks to the little ones.

In the late 70s and early 80s we students in middle school, recited parts of important speeches–primarily by George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.

We students knew that the President was the leader of our country, that he had tremendous responsibilities and pressures and that some were better than others.  We understood that the Office of the President was an important and sacred one.

By the mid to late 80s we students in high school celebrating President’s Day in school was a little more exciting. We were allowed to pick the President of our choice, research his background, policies, positives and negatives. Most of us wrote research papers about our choice–some had classroom debates about the merits of our chosen Presidential Administration.

We students felt empowered to be allowed to have an opinion. I do not recall a teacher ever telling us our opinion was incorrect. We respected the Office of the President and knew the job was a hard one and that most people did not agree with everything each President did but we would defend our President because he was ours and Ours was the Best Country in the World. We students were optimistic.

And we all, students and teachers alike, got President’s Day off. It was a national holiday, schools closed, the Post Office closed and the banks closed.

Fast forward 30 years and a great deal has changed. Now it seems we teach less and less about our Presidents, our Founding Fathers, our Government structure and our Constitution.

Most of my former and present students don’t know who the Presidents are and don’t feel that the job is that difficult, prestigious or important. They don’t understand how to love their country and they don’t recognize “Hail to the Chief” when it is played.

As a History Teacher of course, this makes me sad.

On most school calendars, many schools around the nation still have the day off in observance of President’s Day, but more and more I notice district calendars observing it one year and maybe not the next–I guess it has become an optional thing.

It is not that important to me whether I get the day off or not, but it is important to me when I realize there is no “observance” of the Office of the President as it used to be.

Many students today have no idea who George Washington was, what Abraham Lincoln did for slavery, how John F. Kennedy challenged the nation to “ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” Not to mention so many other Presidents–who may not all have been very effective–but at least left us with beautiful traditions for our nation.

I think we have lost something very important along the way.

Nonetheless I am very proud to be an American. I still believe we live in the Best Country in the World and I honor the Office of the President–no matter who is occupying it.

Have a happy Monday!  Feel free to leave a comment and let me know what you think of President’s Day.  Have fun!

 

On Turning 50

On Turning 50

Yesterday was my 50th birthday. So today I am officially 50 years and 1 day old!

I really don’t feel any different that a few days ago…but I do feel a lot different from a few years ago…or was it 20 years ago?

Some people may say that I am over the hill.  Lucky for me I’m not a fast climber–so I don’t feel I have actually reached the top yet!

For the next 50 years I think I am going to continue enjoying the climb and not worry too much about getting there or what the hill will look like on the other side.

I think another 50 years should be enough to decide whether I go down the hill slowly or continue to enjoy it a while longer.

There are some good things about the climb–at least that I have learned over the first 50 years–that I can pack into my backpack for the next 50 years:

  1. Things that were important to me when I was 20–well I can’t even remember what those things were so…NOT IMPORTANT now!
  2. Money comes and goes…work hard, pay your bills and enjoy your life.
  3. Once you have kids your life will be different forever! And it is a wonderful forever to be a part of their lives.
  4. You may not always be with God, but God will always be with you. Once you figure this out stick with Him–it makes life much easier.
  5. The real necessities of life are few–food, shelter, love and strawberries!
  6. Education is essential! Never stop learning and understand that the most important learning does not come from a book.
  7. Learn to be yourself and don’t worry about what other people think about WHO you are!
  8. Young people are stupid.  We were stupid once too.  Enjoy the show, help them if they ask, stand back and let them figure it out. We did!
  9. Leave the toxic people at the bottom of the hill–you do not need them on your climb.
  10. Drink a lot of water!
  11. Appreciate nature more! Sunshine, Wind, Snow, Trees, Rain, Blue Skies, plants and animals. Their energy gives you energy.
  12. There is no need to take yourself so seriously–no one else does!
  13. Wear comfortable shoes.
  14. Pay attention to all that is around you–you never know if you are being too busy to notice the important stuff.
  15. Take the time to thank the people that are helping you climb this hill–you didn’t get here all by yourself.
  16. A few wrinkles really don’t matter.
  17. Ignore the people who say change is hard–it really isn’t once you’ve made up your mind.
  18. Accept that you cannot change the world but you can be kind to all you meet.

That’s it. Sage wisdom if you ask me…or not, see #12.

My big take away this birthday is that we should all enjoy our lives and where it leads us, there is a purpose and a reason. We may not always know what those are but it’s there.  And even through the bad times–find a way to have fun, we only climb this hill once!

Comment below to share your thoughts on getting older, enjoying your life or if you have a tip on enjoying life to the fullest!

Don’t forget to join Facebook and check out my pinterest boards!

 

Spread a Little Love

Spread a Little Love

Happy Valentine’s Day!  

Today on February 14 the United States celebrates Valentine’s day to honor the ONE we love!  Very romantic!

And many other nations do this as well! In Australia–more and more roses are brought in for this day each year!

In Mexico they commemorate not only love but friendship as well on February 14th.  

Canada is a close 2nd to the U.S. to the amount of gifts purchased in the pursuit of romantic love on this day.  

In India–they have a whole week of Valentine’s days with a different theme for each day–and this country also has remarkable protests against the holiday!

What this tells me is that Love is a very big deal! Not just commercially but really truly serious to those of us expecting some sign from the ones we love on this day. And no matter the country or the language–it seems that something should signify this day.

Cards, flowers, balloons, candy, stuffed animals, chocolates, romantic dinners, jewelry and sometimes even proposals–the stress is on!

And although it sounds cliche–and we do enjoy Valentine’s day in a low key type of way–I have found that I am loved each and every day!  I’ve decided that this year I am going to enumerate all the ways I have been loved by others throughout the year and to say Thank you!

And so…Love is….

…The little boy next door that asks to walk my dog.

…The cashier at the grocery store that always remembers my name.

…My husband that makes coffee in the morning, every morning.

…The co-workers that always say good morning.

…The utility workers that worked non-stop to restore power after

   the Hurricane.

…My daughters when I witness them be kind to others.

…The lady on the treadmill next to me that gave me a thumbs up.

…The students that have taught me what a patient person I can be.

…The parent that bakes cookies for the teachers to appreciate us.

…A cohort of strangers that encourage me to work towards my

   dreams.

…My mom and dad that call me just to say hello during the week.

…The neighbors that share their leftover spaghetti and Sunday paper.

…The old gentleman who let me have his parking spot.

…The friend who invites me to dinner at the moment I need her

   company.

…The waitress who waited on our party of 10, 8 months pregnant, with

   a smile.

Love is a very big deal in our world. And we share it, many times without knowing it.

To all these people, and so many others, on this Valentine’s day I want to give you my thanks for your love and to tell you I love you back!

Find love in every day!  Spread a little love and have some fun!

Comment below if you’d like to share a Valentine story! And have a Happy Valentine’s Day!

 

Steps to Letting Go of Old Limitations

Steps to Letting Go of Old Limitations

The hardest part so far of trying to determine what lies ahead for us in this empty nest chapter of our lives has been the slowing down.

I am coming to realize that I am having a hard time slowing down because I am having a hard time letting go of old limitations I have placed on my life.

Based on our values and expectations of life we have worked hard and we have done things “right”–at least the right we thought were right at the time.  And for the most part we were right the majority of the time and we did well for ourselves and are in a good place. However, the world has changed and changed drastically–and if we don’t change with it–by letting go of old limitations–we are going to stagnate.

First let me explain what a good place is.  My husband and I are in a good place because we do and have certain things that we feel are not negotiable not to do or have.  

These are the things we do:

1) We acknowledge that God exists and is very important in our lives. We both have always believed in God, but now, more importantly, we understand that God is first in our lives.

2) We work hard.

3) We are grateful for everything that comes into our lives.

These are all the things we have:

1) We, thankfully, have our health.

2) We are intelligent and honor knowledge, education, and drive to learn more-not just book smarts–but experience knowledge.

3) we have a family that we love and respect and that loves and respects us back.

So what am I talking about when I say old limitations?

Up until the empty nest time, our lives included raising kids, buying a home, acquiring dogs, cars, and numerous traveling experiences. It included going to kids birthday parties, hosting parties, attending school functions, parent teacher conferences and all the other functions and places that kept us going from place to place.

It also included working hard and long hours, having successes and failures at work but being rewarded with reasonable salaries, retirement plans, insurance protection and the things that our society deems important.

Before we knew it the children were grown and graduations were attended. Smiles and tears were shed, cars were packed, schools were chosen, dorms and apartments moved into and then we drove away with more tears and a whole lot of quiet.

And for a little while–about 6 months–we were adjusting to the the Empty Nest. Part of my adjustment is allowing myself to express my creativity through this blog and discovering what we want to do as we plan for the rest of our lives.

But although we are consciously seeking to slow down and create this life, we have not stopped doing everything the way in which we have always done it. The old limitations that I am not letting go of or am reluctant to let go of are the fears, anxieties, worry and other habits that are holding us back from living the fullest life we are meant to have.

Without knowing it, in search of “the plan” for the rest of our lives we have come face to face with many vulnerabilities. We are getting close to figuring this out–or we think we are getting close–who knows? we could be years from figuring it out!

We will not get close to figuring it out though if we don’t let go of old limitations.

All of our limitations are psychological–and what is holding me back only means something to me. What is holding you back only means something to you. Since the world has changed so much and is changing rapidly still we have to find the way to let go of the fears, anxieties, bad habits or even good habits that are not serving you.

These are a few things I am going to try to begin letting go, and I encourage you to try these steps or to define your own:

  1. Stop living our present lives by the limitations we placed on ourselves in the past. I have to leave the past in the past.
  2. No matter what is happening let go of imagined fears and find something to be grateful for, after all life is good!
  3. Remember that we all have a purpose and we owe it to ourselves to find that purpose and live it to the fullest!

So in letting go of old limitations I plan to learn to relax, after all what is going to happen is going to happen anyway and there is no way to control the unknown. I am going to take more pictures of sunrises and sunsets and everything in between!  I am going to enjoy the scenery of life. And I am going to keep searching for my purpose and continue planning the plan.

Life is a journey–not a destination so I don’t have to worry about getting to any particular place at a particular time! It’s impossible to be late!

Are you holding yourself back from being the best you, you can be? Are there any limitations you have placed on yourself or your life that is taking away from fully experiencing everything life has to offer? Comment below and share with me one thing you would change in order to live a fuller life!

As always, remember we only have one life!  Have fun with it!

Getting the Ball Rolling on the Decluttering Journey

Getting the Ball Rolling on the Decluttering Journey

I have really started going through things in my house and feel so relieved to be decluttering. Yes relieved!

Even though my husband and I have done a very good job of paring down each year and make a real effort to not purchase or keep things we don’t use, we still have managed, year after year, to fill up our house with stuff.

Our house is not completely overloaded–but at the same time too much clutter everywhere does seem to add to the stress of living.

What I have found is that it is much harder and more time consuming than I had expected.  And after reading many articles and blogs about decluttering–I am not alone!

I know that there are many levels of decluttering.  From minimalism (wow–I really love their commitment to the movement and the ideas behind it!) to downsizing to Hygge! I decided I am a more a “Spring Cleaning” type of declutterer.

At the same time, I’m not just cleaning.  I am really thinking about what we have, what we really want to keep and why. I want to have more space, not to have room to get more stuff–but just to lighten my load a bit upon this world.

One article I found especially helpful is one from liveasyouliveit.blogspot.com writer Kaylie.  She created a free download entitled: 30 Days of Decluttering and I have found it fabulous.

In it, Kaylie provides 30 suggestions on things to declutter in a month.  It is not only really doable, it really motivates you to get the ball rolling on decluttering and keep it going until your home is exactly how you want it.

One thing I would add that is important to me: As I started decluttering (and I don’t feel I have gotten really going yet!) I found that I had a great deal of excess stuff that was in the “lets get this out of the house” pile.  

Some things I have set aside for a garage sale, (or to sell online–my neighborhood has a great Facebook page where you can post items for sale).  For example, I have a set of crystal wine glasses that I have had for over 15 years and have used maybe twice!

Anything that was broken, damaged, dangerous or worn out I immediately put in trash bags and in the bin. Recyclable stuff went directly in the recycle bin to go out in the next pick up.

But there are things that are still useful like clothes and shoes, household items etc. that just needed to find a good home. Please consider, when you come across those items, to not immediately throw them away but give them to a charity.

We live in a very disposable society–but there are many people not as blessed as we are!

Goodwill, The Salvation Army and churches (as well as other charitable organizations) will all take your items thankfully and  give you a tax receipt. But I have also found it very fulfilling to know that perhaps my gently used items will help another person down the line.

Meanwhile, I have lightened my load a little- but I know I have a long way to go!  Getting the ball rolling has put me on the path to building the life I want faster, better and smarter!  I hope your decluttering journey is going well too!

Please share with me some of your tips and thoughts about decluttering and how it has made you feel. Please comment below!

Also join my Facebook page and follow my decluttering Pinterest board to find more tips and ideas to help you have fun with this journey!

My Happy Place

My Happy Place

It will come as no surprise to most that my happy place is my home. Not just because I have memories here but because this is where I am relaxed, where I can unwind, where I can be creative, silly, loud and where I feel safe.

For most of you, I imagine, your home is your sanctuary as well. After all we are all working hard to pay the mortgage or rent and it should be a place we like to come HOME to.

Ah…there it is again.  The “should be”….  At some point in time, we chose where to live. Sometimes external circumstances may have had a part in this choice, but for the most part on some conscious level we made a choice.

And then life happened.  Where we live doesn’t seem as big as it did once upon a time.  We start to think, did I pick this wall color?  We fill closets and drawers and cabinets and pantries with things that we need and use and forget we even own.

Our “happy place” turns into the place we go to live, where we stay, where others know they can find us. A place where our stuff lives.

We still love it, but it is a different love now–the love of settling for what is.

So I decided, and you may be in the same place with me, that this is the year to make some changes to help me enjoy my Happy Place even more!  

My first step, I thought, is I am going to declutter.  What a great word: Declutter!  It sounds like a quick and fabulous haircut!  But it’s not!

My original plan was to declutter everything and then start with a clean slate! I was pumped!  

One of the first things I did was empty all the trash cans in the house.  Kitchen, bathrooms, office, laundry room.

And I did not just empty them, but I washed them out dried them and put in new bags. Ready to begin the journey of decluttering my house.

I was over the first hurdle, the garbage was out–the new bags were in and ready and then…I felt completely exhausted and overwhelmed.  Where do I start?  

My next thought was even more frightening: I want to clean up my life, not just clean up my house! Oh my Goodness, what does that mean exactly?  

I had to get my head around the idea that I was not trying to make room to buy more stuff but that I was trying to make room:  room to breathe, room to grow–as a person, with my family.

This is not going to be easy. And it is not going to be fast. But it is going to be fabulous!

Where is your happy place? How do you feel about where you live right now?  What changes would you like to make?  How do you feel about this popular decluttering idea? Please comment below about your thoughts.

As always visit my Facebook page and Pinterest and have some fun!

 

Freaky Friday

Freaky Friday

One of my favorite Disney movies has always been Freaky Friday.

(Did you know there were 3 versions of the movie?)

In it, through a strange twist of fate a mother and daughter switch personalities but remain in their own bodies–forcing themselves to see their lives through the perspective of the other.

In the end, in good Disney fashion, it all ends well with mother and daughter in their own bodies and with a new appreciation of the other.

It is the type of theme that reminds us that no one is an island unto themselves. We are connected–for good or bad–to many other people, some of which we may not even realize we are connected to, and whose life we affect.

I remember this as I begin this journey in creating the life I want for myself.  

A few days ago I decided that as new year’s resolutions I should chose changes I wanted to make in my life that had a reason behind them. The ultimate reason, of course, is to live the life I want–a happy life.

And that is when things got Freaky!  Define a “happy life”! And how does your “happy life” affect or impact the “happy life” of others–especially those closest to you. Talk about Freaky!

As we think about and form what our “happy life” is, we cannot forget the others near us that do not realize what it is to walk in our shoes. Because ultimately, as Disney points out, we do not realize what it is like to walk in THEIR shoes either.

So we have to do two contradicting things at the same time.  We need to search for that thing that will bring us happiness and be selfish about it, but we must also take into account how our happiness will affect others.

That is not to say we should give up our dreams and do what others want us to do. That will not make us happy and if the people around you really care about you, they do want your happiness.

If the people around you are just takers and are not concerned with your happiness but the function you serve for them, then perhaps it’s time to take a hard look at those relationships. More freaky.

It is a matter of PERSPECTIVE after all….the what’s in it for me? thoughts and feelings.

Freakier still…this is not easy and it will take some work, but it will be so worth it in the end!

So, over the next week–I am going to go about my normal life. But I am going to be conscious at really analyzing it and discovering myself.  

I encourage you, also, to spend some time looking at your current life and to think about what your dreams are.

If you are in a marriage or committed relationship–you may want to do this exercise with that person, as most likely wherever your dreams take you so will it take your partner.

Look at the point of view of each person that is involved in this future. And see yourself in that future, surrounded by what you want, where you want, how you want things to be. And then write these things down.

You don’t have to do anything with the list right now, but it helps to have your ideas develop on paper (or in a journal or on your PC).

I am sure the things we find out about our present selves, and about what our future selves want will be beyond Freaky!  But like the end of the movie (all three, actually) it will lead us to a better beginning to the future we hope to have!

I hope you have a wonderful Freaky Friday!  

If you’d like, I’d love for you to share your thoughts on what type of future you envision or on Freaky Fridays of your own!  Please comment below.

Also, visit my Facebook page and Pinterest to join, follow or post your thoughts as well! And have fun!

 

Have a SAVVY New Year!

Have a SAVVY New Year!

Happy 2018! The New Year brings with its very name the promise of a fresh start, a new beginning, an opportunity for change.

If you are an empty nester, a soon to be empty nester, or if you are a one person or one couple family, the beginning of the year gives us an open door to start formulating THE PLAN.

THE PLAN is what I call “building a new life”.  Not that the old life was bad in any way–it is just time for a change.  And creating a new life takes time–much more than one year–so our resolutions should put us on our way to that new life…not just change one aspect about ourselves.

Here are 4 things I am going to implement and that I think you should think about as we make New Year Resolutions or begin THE PLAN:

  1. Have a reason for the change
  2. Make changes in your life that can be measured
  3. Understand that a change in one part of your life will change other parts of your life…and
  4. Begin:  take that first step and keep moving forward!

So my -every year in most recent memory- resolutions have been:  

  1. Lose 10 pounds
  2. Get in Shape
  3. Be a better listener
  4. Organize my house
  5. Get my finances in order

My resolutions never had a reason behind them. And so, year after year, I failed to reach the resolutions I had set for myself.

Why do we do this to ourselves?  I really don’t know.  What I do know is that we can be better in choosing resolutions/plans that will actually help us meet our real goals. We can set ourselves up for success and happiness instead of setting ourselves up for failure!

Following the 4 steps I outlined above, my resolutions look much different:

  1. Be the healthiest ME I can be
  2. Organize my life so I have more: space, time, money and happiness.

Easy right?  Probably not–but they are clear ideas of changing the somethings in my life to make my future life better.  It is a simple way to guide yourself to where you want to be.  Find the reasons you want to build your life the way you want it.  If  you actually have a reason to change–then change is more likely–and it will lead us to the freedom to create the life we want!

Freedom after all is what will help us to build a better life, faster and smarter.The key to that freedom is within us.  

Turn the key, open the door and take that first step toward the life you want.

What changes do you want to make this year that will lead you to your ultimate life?  How do those changes fit in together? Comment below and tell me what you think!

And join me next time, when we will examine the power of PERSPECTIVE!

As always visit my Facebook page and Pinterest and have some fun!

Confessions of an Empty Nester

Confessions of an Empty Nester

I have been dreading this moment for a long time –the day when my birdies flew out of the nest to make lives of their own. But as all things will, it happened–and it hurt.

Don’t get me wrong–I am so very proud of them and I had no doubt they would be fine on their own. But I was not ready for them to go and ultimately that is what hurt me the most–I did not prepare well for the separation anxiety!

I did my fair share of crying and feeling sorry for myself and then I decided:  I could worry  or I could move on just like the kids were doing and enjoy my life by putting into action all the dreams and plans I had been holding back until….

…Until the kids get older

…Until we had more money

…Until we had more time

Until…until!  Well the timing will never be perfect, but time does not stop for us to catch our breath, so I might as well put one foot in front of the other and as the shoe company says: “Just Do It!”

In the 6 months my nest became bare I must admit that I have seen my kids quite a bit. They both live in 2 separate cities than the one I live in  but not so far away that they are not accessible for a quick weekend trip.  

And I have really enjoyed those trips!  I found that although I had worked up all my fears into thinking they could not survive without me–they can! And very well!

So this is the beginning of the rest of my life–LITERALLY!

I am embracing the empty nest!  Who knew I had so much closet space? And so much stuff! (all over the house!) and is my retirement plan in order?  Have we saved enough? When can I retire?  Is tomorrow too soon? When can I start reaching for all those dreams that I have been mooning over for– oh my gosh– decades! And do I really need to color my hair anymore?

Ok yes, I will keep coloring my hair! Let’s not get crazy here!

An enormous amount of stuff was going through my mind! So much, that there were nights I could not sleep. I just thought and thought.  And I found myself smiling, in the dark, all to myself.

This is going to be great! I mean, I miss the kids but we’ve done a pretty good job of raising them, they are making good choices and our “responsibilities” on that front are over! Even though I will continue to support them while in school and when I see them I feed them a lot because, well, isn’t that what you are supposed to do?

Supposed to do. What am I supposed to do? Is there a “suppose” about it?  I’m an adult! I can do whatever I want, go wherever I want, work, play or not, if I want to!  

But then…reality check:  I still do have responsibilities, and promises to keep, and things to do that must be done and being there for the other people in my life that expect me to be there, including the birdies that have left the nest.

But I do not want to take 20 years to create this new exciting life!? 

I want the life I want-quick! And I want it to be good! And I want to do it with the least amount of mistakes (and let’s be real–with the least amount of wasted money!) that I can create it in.

And so confession of confessions:  I’m terrified!  I’m excited!  And so terrified!

If you are a new empty-nester, soon to be an empty-nester or just at a crossroads in your life and need some direction, I hope you will follow me on my journey as we discover how to build the life we want: faster, better and smarter!

Tell me what you think: What goals should an empty nester have for their future? And what steps should we take to get there?  Please comment below….

Also Join me on Facebook and check out my Pinterest page!  Let’s have fun!

 

The Beginning of the Journey in 3 Steps

The Beginning of the Journey in 3 Steps

Hello!  I am on a new journey and I would like you to come along for the ride.  Hopefully, the ride will be meaningful for you too!

My nest is now empty and my husband and I are starting a new–and different–chapter in our lives.  The chaos of a busy house is gone. We were so used to the noises a family makes: doors opening and closing, things moving around, people coming and going, garage-open, close, open, close. The dogs barking whenever one of us came home. Lights left on and sometimes even doors left unlocked in our rush of everyday life!  

Even the dogs are confused by the sudden quiet and emptiness in the house.  

The constant cooking and search for food has slowed down, the laundry is less (hooray!) and new patterns of life are evolving.

It’s kind of like a science experiment with no teacher in the front of the classroom to lead the way.

But some interesting things are taking place as well…we have more time and space. Ideas we have put on the shelf for many years are starting to come back to life. And while we are unsure what to do next…I have identified 3 things that you should do when your nest becomes empty:

  1. Give yourself permission to grieve.  It is a loss when the kids move out of the house. Not the permanent loss of death but an ending nonetheless.  Even though you know you will see your kids again–things will never be the same.  And I mean that in a good way! Your kids are doing what you trained them and expected them to do–spreading their wings and becoming independent.  And so….
  2. Give yourself permission to celebrate.  It is a wonderful thing that the kids feel strong enough in themselves to want to go out in the world and explore it!  You did a good job!  Celebrate the courage it took them to take this step and the courage it took you to let them!
  3. Begin to formulate THE PLAN.  The plan is the rest of your life. It can mean a great many different things and they are all exciting!

In this phase of your life you can create the future you want knowing that having gotten here was a major accomplishment and that there is so much more to come!

I hope you will join me as we create this new life in a faster, better and smarter way–for a future filled with memorable experiences!

Visit my Facebook page to join this group! And Congratulations on the Empty Nest!  We have made it this far–let’s continue the journey together!