For the Love of Peace

For the Love of Peace

If I have learned anything in these first 50 years of my life is that you cannot have peace when you are at war–war with ourselves or war with others.

My dad’s favorite thing on his Christmas list each year when I was growing up–and well into my adulthood–was Peace.

We’d say: “What do you want for Christmas dad?”

And he would always say “Peace”.

It took me a long time to understand what he meant–but I did get it about 10 years ago. And from the moment I finally figured out what my dad meant, I wanted the same thing.

Our world today is filled with strife, anger and hatred.

There is no peace globally or politically or even among religious groups that you would think would be all about peace.

Yet there are people, families and community units that are peaceful. And peace is achievable.

Let me tell you how to achieve some peace in your life but first, let me define what I see as peace.

Peace means that you separate yourself (and your family) from negativity, chaos, worry, and deception.

That doesn’t mean these things are not all around us–but that you do not allow them to effect you.

Here’s how:

  1. Wake up each day and embrace the opportunities the day has for you. Be positive. If today is a difficult day, know that your contribution to the world is felt through the ripple effects you leave in your wake. Smile at someone today, thank someone today, go out of your way for someone else–it does have an impact.
    Remove toxic people from your life. I’ve written about this before because I believe it is so important. You do not have to associate with people who are toxic to you. Wish them well, block their phone number, remove them from your Social Media and stop, when possible, from spending unnecessary time with them.
  1. Mind your own business. Take care of yourself and those closest to you. Avoid getting involved in petty arguments or hard feelings with people that don’t matter in your life. Those people are “peace busters”. Don’t stir the pot, as my dad would say, it only brings the stink out of what is in the pot.
  1. Live with integrity and honesty. Do your job, pay your bills on time, be truthful and honest in your dealings with others, take care of your responsibilities. These things will keep a positive and protective aura around you.

Peace is achievable. Peace lets you sleep well at night, keeps you safe from harm in an uncertain world and can spread to those you love.

The choice is ours to make, peace is always there but each person must want it badly enough to turn away from the chaos.

For the love of peace–give yourself and those you love this gift. Thanks dad!

Healing What Ails You

Healing What Ails You

Admit it…all of us have something wrong with us that we are trying to change.  And this may not be a sickness–but it is something that bothers us and we think about it all the time.

For some of us we may think we are: too tall, too short, too thin, too hippy, no hips, big chest, little chest, thinning hair, hair in places you should not have hair…

But for others of us we have pain in our backs, our joints, our neck. We are tired all the time and irritable. We get headaches, our allergies flare up–and not in a pretty way. We feel like the flu is coming on or maybe a cold. We are just not sure but we know something is wrong–so we go to the doctor.

And the doctors run tests, they check us over and they give us the diagnosis:  there is nothing wrong with us. Perhaps we are just over tired, stressed out. Get some exercise they say and try to eat better and they send us on our way.

Sometimes we believe them and go home–relieved–that we don’t have anything–even though we feel like we have something.

Sometimes we don’t believe them because we feel so lousy. So we go for a second opinion, or we seek out a nutritionist, a health coach, a trainer to whip us up into shape again.

There is a whole industry around fixing what is making us feel sick–but we overlook the most basic healer of all–ourselves!

We are the ones that made ourselves–and sometimes our families–feel sick. And luckily, according to the doctor, we are not sick–with a real diagnosable illness yet.

But if we keep doing what we are doing we are certainly headed for the lifestyle diseases:  diabetes, heart conditions, allergies, obesity, IBS, etc.

Some of us have these things but not to a level that shows up on the tests yet–just to a level in which makes us feel miserable because we know exactly what we are doing to our bodies.

Why did we do this to ourselves?  Well because it is easy and because it becomes an addiction.

Look in your pantry–if it looked anything like mine a few years ago–it is probably filled with boxes and bags, cans, jars and bottles. An abundance of food for our in a hurry, have to run out the door, lives.

If we start reading the labels on this abundance we will begin to realize why we feel so bad. And when I say we are addicted, I am really not kidding.  

We are addicted to sugar, to caffeine, to salt and a host of other things–including an addiction to getting our meals on the table quickly so we don’t have to waste time.

And these addictions are bad, because not only are they hard to break, but day after day, they contribute to even higher and more instense desire for the stuff that makes us feel sick.

This is what I did to get on the road to recovery in 2 steps, this was not easy and I struggle still but I am really starting to see the benefits.

1) I cleaned out my pantry and my refrigerator.

This happened in waves.  First and easiest–I took out everything that was expired or had been opened and abandoned and had gone bad.

Second, and to my shame, I ate the foods that were still good until we were out of them. I just could not throw things out.

Third, I stopped buying the stuff that is not good for us.  I started with chips and cereals, cookies, processed, boxed and canned goods etc. You get the picture.  

This process took me about 18 months. Mostly because there would be days when the sugary, processed, crunchy, salty fake buttery goodness stuff would find its way back into my home.

2) I started buying and making good foods.

The hardest part and my continued struggle today is finding good ideas for good meals that are interesting and tasty and easy to make.  For example, eggs are good for us and I love eggs but I cannot have eggs in every meal.

Plus I still like easy, fast meals to prepare and eat on the go!

I am continuously learning about nutrition to incorporate the best balance for me and my family.  

I have discovered protein drinks and shakes (and after trying everything on the market I could find–found a brand that works well for me!)

Now I am reworking all my recipes, and watching my portion size.  I’m still in Step 2.

But already I feel (and see) the benefits of these changes. I feel better, I have lost weight, I have more energy–many of my aches and pains have gone away.

And I did this myself!  I am healing myself by learning and changing for the better.  It did not happen overnight, but it did happen–I did it and so can you!

What challenges do you have in making the dietary changes you need to change the symptoms that ail you?  Drop me a comment or send me an email at emptynestsavvy@gmail.com.

We only have one life–Have fun!  

Cleaning Up and Cleaning Out

Cleaning Up and Cleaning Out

One of my favorite things about summer vacation from teaching is that I can catch up on many of my other passions:  organizing, reading, planning and writing.

Keeping my house is one of my greatest joys.  I get very excited about my “Spring Cleaning” and I often get carried away.

For example, I decided to take a break and write–as I am doing now about what I am taking a break from–cleaning out the closet.

I pride myself on all the decluttering I have already done and yet–how did this closet get away?  I have taken out so much from this closet that I am surprised how much actually fits in there!

I will be organizing and reorganizing some things this summer, I will be meal prepping and keeping my healthy meals schedule and reading and writing and planning for the next school year.

As much as I say I will not do all these things and just enjoy the time off and relax–I don’t think I physically can. I never have.

It confuses me when other people talk about not liking organizing their closets, their homes, their meals etc.  I wonder: “How do these people survive in the world?”

So I am cleaning up and cleaning out–yet again–not because my house, or my planner or my routines need it–but because I love to do it.

I love a clean kitchen, an always made bed, an organized pantry.  I enjoy my meal plan calendar and my recipes with my grocery lists all built in.

I love that there is no dust under my furniture–because I move the furniture to clean–and some of my friends think I have gone around the bend.

After a long day at work–during the school year for me, but all year for my husband–it is so nice to come home to a clean organized space.

I like knowing ahead of time what we will be eating and that I have all the ingredients available and that the laundry is done and put away where I can always find it.

There is one drawback to my little obsession.  I often bite off more than I can chew–like I have today–taking everything out of that closet.

Some of these things just need to be reorganized in the bins I have for them, but other things need to be addressed–like all the boxes of picture albums that I am in the process of scanning, to be cataloged, to be saved (electronically) forever.

That is a little project I began a few years ago that I will continue until it is done.  I am trying to capture all those memories before the pictures are irrevocably lost to fading and yellowing.

So, when my little break is over, I will clean up everything and reorganize my things back into the closet except for those boxes of pictures–which I will continue to scan and clean out.

It means something to me very important that this organizing bug is in me. It means that I revisit the items and routines in my life to make sure everything is in its place and that things are in good repair, for when they are needed.

It means that we don’t keep things and routines that are not serving us that can be serving someone else instead.

And ultimately it means that we count our blessings, everyday for all that is wonderful in our lives.

Do you have the summer cleaning bug? Why do you reorganize and how much do you enjoy it?  Comment below or send me an email with your thoughts @ emptynestsavvy@gmail.com.

Have a productive day!

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!

 

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!