Self

Day 4/5

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There is a lot of talk about self care these days. And for good reason. I think as a society we are starting, very slowly, to realize that how important self care is and that “busyness” should not be a badge of honor.

Usually when we think of self care we think of exercise, spa treatments, meditation, sleep, etc. but Deepak asks us to think about where we put our attention. He explains that our creative energy come from joy. So, I asked myself “What brings me joy?” and do more of that. Pretty simple. It’s basically the same principle as The Happiness Project. (Read more on The Happiness Project here www.gretchenrubin.com. I knew I was on the right track. This lesson just reinforced what I already knew I had to continue doing.

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It feels really good to value myself enough to make my own happiness a priority. As a mom, I put myself second. For everything. I lost myself so completely during my kids younger years I don’t remember doing anything for myself outside of the occasional trips to the salon. I never pursued my hobbies and interests, I didn’t read as often I as would have liked, I didn’t go out with friends very often and I didn’t volunteer outside of my children’s school. My world was small. It was all for them and that’s perfectly fine. I choose it and I WANTED it. But looking back, I could have stayed home with them and kept my sense of self by pursing some of these other options for myself. Maybe the build up of fear and anxiety wouldn’t have happen or at least not to the extreme that it did. Who knows. Lesson learned. The HARD way.

Are you finding joy in your every day life? Are you pursuing your interests and the things that give you the most joy? Try the following:

Try a Happiness Project! It’s a GREAT way to find and rediscover what you love. I have a series of posts about my Happiness Project. Check it out!

Please comment with your thoughts! Thank you for being here!


21 Day Meditation Experience Round 3 – Energize Your Life

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At this point I was ready to dive into my next 21 Day Meditation Experience with Deepak Chopra. I had gained SO MUCH insight into my own self I was excited to keep going. This session’s topic was called Energize Your Life – Secrets to a Youthful Spirit. When we think of energy we typically think of food fueling us up to give us energy. But Deepak explains there are actually four types of energy. They are; Physical (moving), Mental (understanding), Emotional (caring) and Spiritual (meditation).

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I am a pretty enthusiastic, high energy person. That’s because I’ve learned to put things in place in my life that give me energy, not deplete it. For example, I’ve already talked many times about finding my tribe and taking toxic people out of my life. After I’ve met up with girlfriends for lunch or a movie or whatever, my energy is through the roof. Literally. I feel like I’ve had 10 cups of coffee, I’m smiling and I feel like I can take on anything. I try to maintain some type of connection with my friends once a week. I’ll send a quick text and see if someone wants to meet up or if I see an event I want to go to I immediately think of which friends in my life would most enjoy it and start contacting them to get it on the calendar!

I always had this tendency, but ever since I began this journey and started working on myself I’ve discovered I’m overflowing with energy. Even though, I’m an Upholder (see previous posts about The Four Tendencies), I did not always want or do the right things to maintain the energy I wanted in my life.

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According to Deepak, meditation increases and renews our energy. There are a couple of places in my life where I practice meditation and all of them clear my head in a way that gives me spiritual energy. First is my morning meditation at home, second is my yoga practice and third is my soul writing (more to come on that later!). All three of these practices makes it possible for me to move through my day without stress and worry.

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On the other hand, there are a few things that challenge my energy levels. First is cloudy weather. I know that sounds like a small thing, but more now than ever, the weather has a huge impact on how I feel. If I wake up to a warm sunny day I feel a surge of energy and happiness. I’m happy just to go to the grocery store!! Just to be out in the bright, warm sun feels so good to me! But an overcast day can kill my mood, so best bet for me to counteract this is to meet up with a friend or go exercise in some form, preferably outside. One thing I haven’t done yet but want to, is to purchase a sun lamp for home. I feel like it would be good to have during our cold Northern Virginia winters.

How are your energy levels? Start noting what depletes and energizes you. Try the following:

Meet up with friends that raise your energy level, not deplete it.

Exercise. Preferably outdoors.

Meditation regularly.


I am

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Day 14

Stream of Consciousness with the prompt “I am.”


I am:

A mother, a wife, a daughter. A reader, an activist. I’m a health coach, a library aide. I’m caring. I’m a seeker. A music lover. A patron of the arts. History lover. Admirer of Gretchen Rubin, Deepak Chopra, Dr. Mark Hyman, Freddie Mercury, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Oprah. I am an animal lover. I am pretty, strong and smart. I’m a doer. I have a lot to give and get out. I feel something big. Don’t know what yet. I am a writer. I am an author of books. I am an influencer.

The goal was to just write and let if all flow.

It’s funny what comes out when you are prompted this way. If I was to do it on my own, in my own time, the list would be much longer. I shocked at the amount of things I left out as I am definitely more than this. But I think it’s revealing that this is what came out first. On that particular day. At that particular time. It’s funny to see Gretchen Rubin and Oprah lumped in with Mick, Keith and Freddie! But that’s just where my brain was at the moment. It’s like a little poem of me.

I did feel something in me that needed to get out and it’s this blog. One day I just felt the need to get it out of my body. That’s where the “I have a lot to give and get out” comes from. It’s here and I need to get it out to the world. And I’ve talked about this before, but that wasn’t something I ever wanted to do even a few months prior. I was absolutely cringe when someone would talk about how far I’d come. Whether it was my doctor or a family member. They would start with “remember when you…” and my body would just shut down. I couldn’t and wouldn’t hear it. It was like reliving my pain. And one day that just left me and it was replaced with this sudden need to talk about it all the time and get my story out to the world. Unexplainable to me.

Try it! Share your “I am” free flow in the comments! Thanks for being here!


A New Chapter

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After completing my second Happiness Project, I spent some time listening to Mel Robbins. Mel Robbins is a motivational speaker, who recently started her own talk show. When I found her, she was being interviewed on one of my favorite podcasts. A lot of what she says resonates with me and put some things about my life into perspective.

When I thought about what I wanted my life to look like two or three years ahead as she suggests, I saw the following:

Pursue a job that had meaning and purpose

Surround myself with positive, uplifting friends

Be active without pain

Be free of money worries

Become an activist

Substantially increase my reading

Become mindful and optimistic

These were BIG picture goals. If I’ve learned nothing else it’s that ACTION is key to every single change you want to make in your life. Period. The end. You can put up slogans and quotes all day but there is NO MEANING behind them without the work. I see the difference. I would read quotes like “be yourself”. And think “that’s nice, yes, be yourself”. But now it screams at me! Be authentic! Fill your life with what makes you happy! When you are actually feeling the affects of taking action, something like “be yourself” becomes extremely powerful and a huge motivator. These were my new eyes looking at the world.

Mel also talks about using our problems to not take responsibility. Whoa. Guilty, guilty, guilty. I could just hear all the “I can’t’s” coming out of my mouth over the years. She suggests naming the old chapter in your life and then naming your new chapter in your life. So, I decided my old chapter would be called “Fearful, Self-Centered Mona” and my new chapter would be called “Giving, Loving, Brave Mona”. That pretty much sums it up nicely! And a really CLEAR way to see how I was behaving and how I wanted to live going forward.

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I had decided to live in a “growth mindset” from now on. I had a past full of bad experiences that brought me to where I was and in a lot of ways I’m thankful for all the trauma I’d been through recently, because if I hadn’t gone through this I would not have tackled all these other areas in my life. Even if I had resolved my pain issue, I still would have been eating all the wrong foods, drinking, living stressed out, throwing money away, etc. My “why” was abundantly clear. I would have continued with things happening to me, instead of taking control. Mel explains that our mindset is fixed in childhood. I’ve already talked about some of the issues of my childhood and the remnants left on me, but here she wakes me up to the fact that I could be repeating negative self talk all the way back to childhood. Looking back on how much I survived, it’s possible there’s a little post traumatic stress disorder there. I never thought about these episodes carrying over to my adult life, but they certainly do. How many adults are part of the walking wounded? Without any resolution? A lot of us is my guess.

If you want to learn more about Mel Robbins you can find her at http://melrobbins.com. Do you have a name for an old chapter of your life? How about your new chapter? Share them below! And thanks for being here!


Time is Your Creation

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The next few days of my Meditation Experience was focused on our beliefs about time and being in the “flow” of life. Being in the flow was NOT something I did. Ever. I was always projecting into the future, good or bad. I wanted to control the future as much as possible. But really, you cannot control the future. I needed to learn how to accept how my life was going. This doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t go after what I want and make changes, it just meant I needed to learn how to be in the flow and not fight it.

I also needed to learn how to be open and aware. Deepak says we should “Renew and refresh with meditation.” And not only meditation, but using our time more creatively in ways that will give us a little boost or refresh. So, I made a little list of ways I would use my time creatively and give myself a little refreshing in small ways.

Dress with more fun in mind
Meditate
Exercise class
Learn to sketch

Dressing with more fun in mind was an easy way to give myself a boost! I have always LOVED clothes. I love shopping my own closet and putting together outfits. But now I wanted to change things up a little. I started wearing more mixed prints, I bought brighter colors, I MIXED brighter colors and bought a pair of leopard print shoes! I started getting a few more compliments, so I kept it up. It’s fun, it’s a happiness boost and it’s easy to do. Win, win, win. Second was meditate. That’s a standard that is always there. Third, exercise class. This wasn’t new either, but it made sense to have it there because it was an extremely refreshening way to use my time. And lastly, learn to sketch. For years I wanted to learn to sketch. Mostly because I wanted to sketch the birds I saw at my feeders, but also just because it sounded fun. I bought a simple sketching instruction book and all the supplies I needed. I was so excited! I’m learning something new and being crafty!! I started off strong, but after a month or so I lost interest. I just didn’t have the passion and wasn’t enjoying it. I decided to let this one go. I still would like to learn how to sketch birds. I think that’s what I really wanted to do after all. Not learn how to sketch everything. What I want to do is very specific. A goal for a future date!

In addition to what I wanted to do with my time, I also wrote one thing I wanted to stop using my time for and that was negative friends. Friends with a negative energy bring me down considerably. I’m so hyper aware of everyone’s energy now. I have done so much work to keep myself in the most positive environment possible that when a negative presence arrives I immediately want to get away. There are people that we’re in my life that I had to let go because of their negativity. I just can’t and don’t want to surround myself with that energy anymore. It’s tougher with family, but I heard a little tip one day that you should create an invisible force field around yourself so none of their energy gets to you. I love that visualization. It’s not easy, but it’s one I can practice all the time. No matter whether I’m at work, with family or at an event. I can’t control others, I can only control my response. I refuse to let someone else’s negativity ruin my state of mind anymore!

Are you in control of your time? Are you using your time to refresh? Try the following:

Make a list of 3 or 4 ways you would like to use your time to give yourself a happiness boost or refresh.

List any ways your time is being taken for non productive or negativity.

Follow through to make those changes in your life!

Can’t wait to hear about what changes you made! Thanks for being here!


My Vision Board

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Remember when everyone was doing vision boards after Oprah talked about them back in the day? I remember wanting to do one, but never did. UNTIL 2017. I was in the middle of my Happiness Project and decided a vision board would be a great way for me to have a constant reminder of all the things I wanted to focus on not only for the new year, but my future life.

This was a lot of fun to make! I researched all the things I knew I wanted to focus on and found pictures and quotes to cut out and paste to my board. I also bought some motivational stickers for fun.

As you can see, I started in the top left with New Friends. I already talked about finding my tribe and now I was on a mission to curate that in my life. I look at the people I meet differently now too. I’m only going to talk about this area because I’ve covered all the other areas in previous posts. You can see I chose all the things I had been working on.. courage, meditation, exercise, reading, volunteering, being present and my ABCDE strategy.

New Friends

1 REALIZE YOUR FEAR IS IN YOUR HEAD (It’s not as scary as you think)
2 START WITH PEOPLE YOU KNOW (Reach out to acquaintances, join existing groups, meet friends’ friends, accept social invitations)
3 GET YOURSELF OUT THERE (Join meet-up groups, attend courses, volunteer, go to parties)
4 TAKE THE FIRST STEP (Say hello – It’s about being sociable)
5 BE OPEN (Don’t judge, one an emotional level, open your heart)
6 GET TO KNOW THE PERSON (What does he/she do? What are his/her values? What are his/her passions? Goals? Dreams? What motivates/drives him/her?)
7 CONNECT WITH GENUINELY (Warmth, love and respect build friendship)
8 BE YOURSELF (Don’t’ change yourself for any else)
9 BE THERE FOR THEM (That what friendships about)
10 MAKE THE EFFORT TO STAY IN TOUCH (It takes two to clap)

1 This is most certainly true. It’s not scary at all actually. I’m not a shy person. It’s not that I was afraid to make new friends, I just didn’t want to. I didn’t see the value, so I didn’t bother getting to know new people. I know how awful this sounds. But, I’m being honest. I didn’t realize the RICHNESS that having the RIGHT friends in your life makes all the difference.

2 I did start reaching out to those friends that I already had that I missed and wanted to keep in my life. I started inviting those people to lunch, shows, movies, whatever, just to see them. And in return I said yes when invited to any social function. One thing I really focused on was saying “yes”. I made sure that if I was invited to something, I said yes. Unless there was a good reason, like a scheduling conflict, I went. This changed everything. Just going and doing opens up your world and makes your life so rich. It’s actually shocking when I think back to the amount of times I said no, for no reason whatsoever. I just didn’t want to. Or I wanted to and decided it wasn’t worth the effort. I’ll admit sometimes I’ll have a commitment and think “I really don’t feel like doing this.” But, I’m ALWAYS glad I did. I’m usually energized and sometimes I meet new people that I adore, which is the whole point isn’t it?

3 I took this one to heart. I dove into my volunteer groups. Some stuck and some didn’t. That’s ok because the ones that stuck have brought so much to my life. And I’m always on the look out for meet-up groups. I recently joined a local ladies hiking group!

4 This was not a reach for me. I was already doing this.

5 I feel like I was already pretty open. The difference now is that I was authentic.

6 Because I’m so aware of this goal of mine to build my tribe, when I meet someone new I hear myself asking a ton of questions. I NEVER used to do that. I would be polite and if I did find myself having a good time with someone, I typically just told stories about myself as much as possible. My ego was definitely in charge! Well, now I ask a lot of questions to get to know people well, quickly. This is a realization I had recently. Once you start getting to know someone by asking questions and being interested in their life, I find that I’m suddenly making plans with people I literally met that day! Yay! What a happiness boost that is! Or if I’m talking to someone I know fairly well and we both realize we have something in common I now immediately suggest an outing together. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve done this and it’s resulted in the most fun days and experiences. And not only with new friends but old ones too.

7 I check in on my friends more often now. If I’m thinking of them I’ll send a quick text to see how they are doing, try to make plans and just generally let them know I’m thinking of them.

8 This was a big lesson for me. I was pretty good at morphing into whatever I need to be (or thought I needed to be) in a social situation. Most of the time, I kept my views to myself so I didn’t offend anyone. I did this for years. Someone would be going off about something I completely disagreed with and I would not say anything because I thought that’s the “polite” thing to do. I’m not saying I’m rude now, but I do speak my mind. I don’t hide from how I feel. I put it all out there and then people can decide for themselves if they are willing to have an honest and intelligent conversation. No one is better at explaining the importance of this better than Brene Brown. You can check her out here. https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLr3XIBco3u_O3RZGLeWaFPyZ6WhL8v86D

9 I try to be there for my friends when they need help. I offer more often than I used to. I make a point of checking in if I know they are struggling with something. Offering rides, time to chat or offering words of support. It makes a difference.

10 I actually schedule “keeping in touch” on my calendar. I have a running list of people that I want to connect with and this is a little reminder to get in touch with them before too much time goes by.

All of these steps having enriched my life. I’ve made some really good friends this year. I’m more social than ever and it truly is a happiness boost. Remember back on my Good Mental Health list was “Friendship”. These smaller steps are helping me reach my overall larger goal of health and wellness to in part, retrain my brain (see previous posts) and two, build coping skills to attain that goal.

Have you curated a tribe of friends that support you, that you are completely authentic with and that gives you energy, not drains your energy? Try some of the steps above for yourself and let me know how it goes!


Spirituality

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At this point, one thing was clear. I needed a jumpstart on my spirituality practice. Over the years my practice changed. As a child, I had no practice whatsoever, coming from a home of agnostics. Even that has changed as my parents and our personal journey has evolved. But I’m not here to tell their story, only mine. My husband was raised Catholic. We did not discuss religion much at all when we were dating. I was pretty clear about my agnostic ways, but there was no real discussion there. Until, we were expecting our first child. Suddenly it was very important to my husband that we raise our children Catholic and that I also convert. I agreed to take the classes. I actually found myself drawn to it. Looking back I probably would have been drawn to any spiritual practice at that point just because I was a little starved for it but didn’t realize what I was missing. So, for years we went to our local Catholic Church, enrolled the kids in CCD classes and I joined a playgroup with the moms of the church. There was a lot of good that came out of those years. I certainly needed the moms. As a new mom not knowing many women in my neighborhood (as I was working up until my pregnancy) I needed their help and support. I was the only new mom of the group. I got recommendations on preschools, advice on parenting and the friendship of seeing these women every week for about 2 years. Over time though, my husband and I came to have dissatisfaction with organization as a whole and could no longer stay. We then attended a local Methodist Church for a few years which all of us really liked. I found it VERY welcoming and even joined a ladies bible study. It was at this time that I began a daily spiritual practice of praying everyday, reflecting upon my day and bible readings. Over time, the leadership of that church changed and our kids were much older and slowly, we stopped going altogether.
I continued my daily practice for a few years after we stopped attending church service. As I was suffering through all the pain of my situation, I continued this practice but I was craving so much more. With this in mind, I devoted a month to Spiritually.

Spirituality

My Quotation: “Spiritual growth involves giving up the stories of your past so the universe can write a new one.”

Daily/Weekly Actions:

Pray Every Day

Gratitude Practice

At the time, that was it. My practice would grow tremendously over time. I would now include my meditation under spirituality because I don’t feel like they should be separated. At the time though, this seemed right.

I feel like prayer comes in a different form for me today. Every morning I start my day with a 10-20 mediation. Sometimes it’s another gratitude practice. Thanking the universe for what I have. Prayer can be my walking meditation in nature or the quiet moments in yoga when everything is coming together and I’m being extremely mindful. These are all spiritual practices to me. I will go much deeper into this later when I began to grow in my journey.

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I’m sure you have heard the miraculous changes that occur with a regular gratitude practice. I desperately needed this. When I sit down every night to write my five things I’m grateful for that day, it is nearly impossible to be upset or wallow in my own misery. There are ALWAYS things to be grateful for. Even when things aren’t going well. There is always something. Some days are harder than others to find those things I’ll admit, but they are there. Even if it’s just the beautiful birds at my feeder. I don’t find myself wanting more stuff anymore. That desire is gone. I have plenty. When you start to be grateful for what you have everything shifts.

If you want to know more about how a daily gratitude practice can be beneficial for your mental health, you can read more here. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/mindfulness-meditation-may-ease-anxiety-mental-stress-201401086967

Do you have a spiritual practice? If you would like to begin I suggest the following. This is not a one size fits all situation. It’s very personal, so do what you feel is best for you. Some things to explore.

  • Your local church
  • Daily prayer
  • Daily Gratitude Practice
  • Meditation

Please feel free to comment below! Thanks for being here!


Becoming an Optimist

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After reading Learned Optimism and understanding how to use the ABCDE method to start changing my pessimistic views and to overcome fears, I wanted to continue with this theme and made it my next resolution, which was:

My Quotation: “You can’t live a positive life with a negative mind.”

Daily/Weekly Actions:

Problem Solve

Pick a Time of Day to Think

Listen to the Happier Podcast

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So, the first action was to problem solve.  Not my strong suit.  It was rare that I actually would attack a problem going on in my life.  I would skirt around it or make small changes but never the big sweeping action steps it would take to actually solve a problem all the way.  If you remember, problem solving was part of my “How to Improve Coping Skills” list as well.  Here’s more on why problem solving is important. “Work out what you need to do now to get over what is happened to you.  Talk to people and think about taking practical steps, such as finding a support group.  Sympathy feels good, and sometimes it’s tempting to be a victim and tell people how bad your troubles are, but problem-solving will be more constructive in the long run.”  This sounds very much like something a child should have learned.  Something I should have learned along the way at some point.  But, I did not.  I have notes written next to this action that say “budgeting – research in the fall.”  Money was at the forefront of my mind.  We’ve always had plenty of money.  My husband works very hard and is very successful, which we in turn thought the money never ended so we could spend and charge as we please.  Not the case.  That does catch up with you.  I also had MOUNTING medical bills.  Thousands of dollars with no end in site.  It was incredibly stressful.  These notes, were the very first time I ever thought about taking control of our money situation.  My son would be leaving for college the next year and there was money put away for him but not enough.  And the thought of taking on any additional debt just made my stomach turn.  Even though I did not take action on this immediately, I eventually did.  I woke up to the fact that we could not continue this path.  And I was adamant that no one was going to have debt, not my kids with student loans and not us either.  So for the first time in my life I started a budget.  I did my research, found a few extremely helpful podcasts such as HerMoney with Jean Chatzky and How to Money.  I took it all in, started my budget, attacked the debt, and started seriously saving not just for college for my kids, but for everything that would be coming our way in the next 5 years.  I sold a ton of stuff, I cut expenses, but mostly I PAID ATTENTION to where the money was going.  I discovered we were wasting money EVERYWHERE.  Literally throwing it away.  Having a budget, at first, seems restrictive, but it’s not.  I’ve never felt so free to spend in my life.  Not an ounce of guilt with any purchase, because it’s all accounted for.  I’m happy to say we are just about debt free now and the college savings are building. 

Until I had this project in writing and actually wrote down my resolution and took action, I would have never started this process. It just would have been another source of stress in my life, which was the LAST thing I needed at the time.

My second action of Pick a Time of Day to Think was straight out of Learned Optimism (Which you can purchase here if you’re interested. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1400078393/ref=as_li_qf_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=myawakenedwel-20&creative=9325&linkCode=as2&creativeASIN=1400078393&linkId=f5121b37228bba3162df147b18ecf86b) The idea is to use this time not to be anxious, but to use the time for problem solving and solutions. This forced me to stop stressing out every time something came up. I would put it aside and have a time, for me, usually in the evening, where I would sit down and sort through all the issues that have come up. Even though I might not come up with a solution immediately, I haven’t spent my whole day in a state of worry. Read more about this strategy here. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/stop-worrying-anxiety-cycle_n_4002914

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My third action was to Listen to the Happier Podcast with Gretchen Rubin.  When I started this Happiness Project, I started looking into the work Gretchen Rubin had done since I had read the original Happiness Project eight years early.  I found she had written several more books! (yay!) and had a weekly podcast (also yay!).  I DEVOURED these episodes.  I had about two years worth to listen to. So to catch up,  I listened whenever I could.  So many fun tips and hacks that I will go into more later.  But for the most part just having this in podcast in my ear all the time kept some of my priorities in order and kept me on track.  I can say the same about the personal finance podcasts.  Podcasts are my new favorite thing! I rarely watch tv anymore.  Podcasts are where it’s at.  Any niche you are into, there is a podcast for it I promise.  I’ve learned SO much.  I can’t recommend them enough.  Also, it’s just so easy to have them on while I’m getting ready in the morning, doing chores around the house or driving. 

One more note about becoming an optimist.  I just want to share another piece from Learned Optimism.  Here Seligman provides the case against pessimism:

Pessimism promotes depression.

Pessimism produces inertia rather than activity in the face of setbacks.

Pessimism feels bad subjectively (blue, down, worried, anxious).

Pessimism is self-fulfilling.  Pessimists don’t persist in the face of challenges, and therefore fail more frequently – even when success is attainable.

Pessimism is associated with poor physical health.

Even when pessimist are right and things turn out badly, they still feel worse.  Their explanatory style now converts the predicted setback into a disaster, a disaster into a catastrophe.

Who would want to live this way?  Not me.  I decided I never wanted to live like this again.  My health was and is my number one priority and this was part of being healthy.

Do you feel like you are a pessimist?  Try the following:

Start problem solving.

Pick a time of day to think.

Find a podcast that will keep you on track that align with your goals.

I can’t wait to hear all about your progress! Thanks for being here!


Improving My Home life (Happiness Project)

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This month was really about habit change.  Our environments really do influence our productivity and mood.  My favorite Gretchen Rubin quote ever is “Outer order leads to inner calm.”  So true.  Many people talk about the small act of making a bed having a big impact on their day.  We feel it.  I certainly do.  When did I stop making my bed? And why?  It takes almost no time and is incredibly satisfying.  I feel like the day is starting off well.  One accomplishment done. 

When I was stuck in my cycle of pain the last thing I felt like doing was chores around the house.  Everything got done, trust me and to an outsider it probably wasn’t noticeable.  But I noticed and I didn’t like it.  So this month’s resolution would be Improving My Home Life.  Which looked like this:

Improving My Home Life

My Quotation: “Being organized isn’t about getting rid of everything you own or trying to become a different person, it’s about living the way you want, but better.”

Daily/Weekly Actions:

Take Care of Dishes Immediately

Take Care of Trash Immediately

Make My Bed Everyday

These may seem like small things but they had a big impact when I actually put them in motion. Clutter affects your mind and your stress levels.  Read more about that here.  https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/how-decluttering-your-space-could-make-you-healthier-and-happier/art-20390064

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Never having dishes in the sink makes the entire kitchen look clean and gives me a happiness boost. Maybe you don’t have a lot of dishes being used everyday, but I actually run my dishwasher three times a day. I cook a lot and I have two teenagers who are constantly eating and one who enjoys cooking herself. The dishes get out of control quickly. My goal was to take care of them immediately. Same with the trash. In our house trash needs to be taken down a flight of stairs to go out, so it’s a little inconvenient. I got a little lazy about it. “I’ll take it later” I’d say to myself. And you might be asking why isn’t anyone else in my household doing this chore? Well, to be honest I’m the one that is here most of the time during the day. They are not. It doesn’t make sense to wait around for someone else to do a chore when I can just get it done myself.

And I already talked about making the bed. I love a made bed!! It just screams “I’m ready for the day!” Overall I just needed to get my house back in order after ignoring it for so long. Like I said, it was always clean but just not organized the way it had been in the past and I missed that. The goal here was happiness and the way things were looking around my house was not making me happy. These resolutions were not difficult, but important to my overall happiness. And I’m still working on this all the time. I have a home project notebook that has all my organizing ideas and repairs that need to be done around the house. There is always SOMETHING to improve at home. The other day I decided to redecorate with items I already I have. This is one of my favorite things to do when I get the shopping bug or the urge to do big redecorating. I will move some furniture around, hang pictures or move existing pictures to other parts of the house. Or I’ll rearrange knick-knacks, and bring things out of closets and cabinets to let them see light of day and find a place for them to bring life into our home. It always does the trick for me. When I’m done I stand back and smile.

Are you thinking about decluttering your home?  Try the following:

If you don’t already, make your bed every day and see how it makes you feel.

Keep living areas decluttered by taking care of messes as they happen.  Don’t’ procrastinate!  You will be surprised at how little time this takes.  Another little tip is to listen to an audio book or podcast when doing these types of chores.

I’d love to hear how your decluttering goes!  Please comment below.  Thanks for being here!


Get Outside

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Needless to say, I was not getting outside much during this time in my life.  Taking a walk was out of the question.  Even sitting in particular chairs was a problem. I tried to sit out on my patio as much as I could, but where I lived that is not a year round activity.  Everything had stopped.  I wasn’t able to attend my children’s activities and events for a long while and I was rarely doing anything social with friends or even family.  By the time I got to my Happiness Project, I had read enough to know that managing stress was key to good mental and physical health.  So, my next monthly resolution would be Get Outside.  This would include being in nature and actual people!  Did you know that social interaction is a HUGE boost to your longevity?  Being disconnected from community is worse for your health than smoking or obesity.  It’s a killer in it’s own right.  No wonder I was feeling so awful.  I was spending a ton of time alone.  Doctor visits and seeing my family was the extend of my social time. Up until I started my exercise classes.  Those classes were the beginning and I will talk more about that later.  To read more about how being outside and social interaction affects our health click here: https://www.businessinsider.com/why-spending-more-time-outside-is-healthy-2017-7. The second month of my Happiness Project looked like this:

This Month’s Resolution:  Get Outside

My Quotation: “Be Active, Be Healthy, Be Happy”

Daily/Weekly Actions:

Plan Bird Walk

Be a Local Tourist

Attend First Friday

Find Nature Events

Say Yes

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Birding was an activity that I discovered when moving to the east coast from California. I was suddenly seeing birds I’d never seen before which got me interested in bird watching. Since we’ve moved here I’ve always had multiple feeders and bird baths. I would take guided bird walks in local parks to see more and different birds. I decided that I wanted to get back to these walks for a couple of reasons. One, I enjoyed them so much when I was doing them, all the different birds, having a guide to help you find said birds and the com-moratory of the group. Second, it would be an opportunity to be in nature. I have to admit I’m still working on this one. I was hesitating for a long time for a couple of reasons. One, the walking, which I have control of now. And two, the concern about looking up for two hours and the affect on my neck. This sounds like an ABCDE moment. I actually feel like this is doable this year!

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Being a local tourist is something I’ve ALWAYS loved to do. And living in near the nation’s capital allows me access to SO many activities and things to do. This was an easy one. I’m a planner by nature. I’d just do what I had always done. Look for local events and attractions and go!

Attend my local area’s First Friday event was something I always had penciled in on my calendar but didn’t go.  I was fearful of all the walking and what it would do to my back.  But I needed to start getting out there, so I did it.  My husband and I attended a First Friday event where we visited local galleries, had a light dinner outside, listened to live music and just chatted as we roamed the streets. It was wonderful. A nice, normal evening. Yes, my back and neck flared up some, but it was worth it and I was exposing myself slowly to allowing my brain to realize this was going to be the new normal.

Being in nature was never a priority for me before. Ever. I wasn’t a camper, hiker, or sporty or outdoorsy in any way. But now I realized the power of nature and being outside on my mental health along with the physical, so on the list it went. When I say “Find Nature Events”, that meant anything that took place outside. I went to local fairs and festivals, plant sales, anything I could find that took place outdoors.

Did you ever say no to an invitation without any real reason to? I did this all the time. I am lucky enough to have many friends in this great community I live in and over the years I am positive I said no more than yes to invitations that came my way. Not to say I wasn’t social, but I could have been doing SO MUCH MORE. So, this was a big one, and one that made an impact on my life. I started saying yes to every invitation. I also became that person who actually nails down a day and time when ideas of getting together were floated about. You know how it goes. You are chatting with friends and someone says “we should do that sometime!” or “we should all go to ..fill in the place!” It all sounds great, and then nothing happens. I became the person who would immediately send a text or an email to get the “thing” organized so it would happen. So, with combination of saying yes to what was coming in with being the organizer of the ideas, I suddenly I had a full social life again. And it was GREAT. Saying yes is still an affirmation I use in meditation sometimes. It’s easy for me to slip into “I don’t feel like it.” Even when I’ve made plans with someone and then don’t feel like going, I remember my reasons (my why) and force myself to go. And guess what? I never regret it. It’s always so energizing to be social. I’m learning a lot of these lessons later in life, well, mid-life, but I thank God I’m learning them at all. Life can be so much better.

Would you like to get outside more often?  Try the finding local events (a lot of which are free), go for a walk in nature at a local park, and SAY YES to those invites you get!

Thanks for being here!