Cats – Roll up your sleeves

There are many ups and downs when it comes to pet ownership – especially cats. Am I “cat person”, you ask? Some days, yes. Other days, no way. I shall explain.

Our family has two cats. Both are very docile, love to be petted, scatter when my children run after them, but there is a running, common to (most felines I believe), they vomit almost DAILY if not every 2-3 days. Now, herein lies my irritation.

Why? I walk in our house barefoot almost 95% of the time. These animals are quite angelic, I agree, but, there’s that one thing that sneaks up remember? Right. Where is said vomit MOST of the time? The kitchen. Before I can even turn on the kitchen light in the morning, I’m screeching and sliding in a goopy mess! You’d think, by now, I would – stop, turn on a light BEFORE entering the kitchen, look both ways, and then proceed with caution.

So, how I am learning to solve this barefoot irritation? By rolling up my sleeves and accepting my cats for the sweet creatures God made them to be, teaching my children to be sweet and kind to them, and offering up silent prayers for increases of patience and love for my cats, Mike and Gracie.

Until we meet again…

4 Ways to Make Yourself A Happier Person Every Day

“Write it on your heart that every day is the best day of the year.”

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Happiness comes in many different forms. For some, it could be their spouse/children/family, some form of spirituality, connecting with nature, or even just a sipping a latte from a coffee shop and getting “lost” in the pages of their journal. Within this blog post, I will give you five different ways you can practice happy habits every day. My hope is that you’ll come back to this post as a refresher when you need a little lift in your spirits. Shall we?

  1. Daily “Happy Hour”

Now, most people may think when I say “happy hour”, I mean people or perhaps just yourself going to a restaurant or bar and consuming alcohol. In this post, that is not the case. Carve out at least for one hour, to sit down, breathe, and reflect on your day. Think of three things for which you are most grateful. Don’t worry tomorrow will come – no matter what.

2. Keep a positivity journal

To be most effective, writing down positive events that occurred in your day can be done after work or later in the evening. Instead of thinking of all that perhaps went wrong that day, focus on some things that went well such as your boss praised you, you had a positive interaction with a co-worker or customer, etc. Or on the hand, you received an unexpected phone call from a friend or loved one! Write all these down. If none of these things happened, dig a little deeper. Did a stranger show you kindness by holding the door open for you? You are stronger than all of your negative thoughts combined.

3. Stttttrrrretttccchhh!!!

Now, I realize the third title is completely and totally misspelled and not grammatically correct in the least! But stretching every day has its positive benefits. I know, for a fact, that if my lower back is hurting, I need to stretch more often. Stretching can be done any time of the day, but if you’re a person like me who operates like there’s “25 hours” in a day (I know, this thought is absurd), then set your alarm in the morning for 30 minutes earlier to accomplish this task. Your body will thank you.

4. Use Your Words

I had a great trainer recently, and we shared a favorite phrase which was, “Use your words.” In my eyes, it means for that person to describe how their feeling fully so the listener can best understand the situation at hand. Used in a positive manner, great things can be accomplished. Walls can be torn down, empathy expressed genuinely, a resolution is found, and the bond is healed once more. If you find yourself in a situation where you aren’t quite sure what to say, pause, and ask for clarification. But also, be sure to use your words – positively.

Kind words do not cost much. Yet they accomplish much.

-Blaise Pascal

Everyone, take these words and brush them not aside.

Until we meet again.

To Exercise: “T’is” the Question

A personal trainer once told me, “You can’t “out-exercise” a bad diet.” But, what if I think about exercising, then get dressed to do so, and then get distracted…every day? What if I go to bed the night before, promising myself the next day, that I’ll eat healthier and avoid those popular peanut butter “eggs”, but then go buy a big bag of them? These questions plague me daily. But I’m writing to tell you, if you struggle with the idea of exercising, dread the thought of it, and subsequently not do it, that frequent exercise will pay off in the long run. You’ll be happier, a little sore perhaps, but it really is worth it.

Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional. So, if you have anything that physically holds you back from exercise, perhaps you should consult a physician before starting an exercise routine.

Anyway! So you might be wondering, why would I WANT to exercise in the first place? Exercise comes in so many forms – cardio, HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training), weight lifting – I could write an entire paragraph on what forms in which you can partake. I’m talking about the MOTIVATION to, as Nike says, “Just Do It”. It’s really that simple. All of us are faced with choices every day – small, medium, and large. (Sounds like t-shirt sizes, but it’s true!)

What could your motivation be? Ladies, maybe for you, your motivation can be to look/feel better in clothes or bathing suit. (Gasp! I said the BS word!) Gentlemen, the same might be true for you. Maybe it’s as simple as wanting to be more physically fit. Period. Maybe your doctor suggested you shed a few “lbs” to avoid certain illnesses. Whatever the reason, a small victory may be jogging in place! Not running around the block, (I’m definitely not at that point), but do something that gets your heart rate up at least 3-4 times a week.

When I was particularly down about the number on the scale, my physician said in a kind voice, “If you exercise 3-4 times a week, and get your heart rate up above 120, and eat a little less, you should see some improvement in your weight.” So, I did as he prescribed. I lost 17 lbs, and when I stepped on the scale one morning, and I saw I was getting closer to my goal weight, whew, the joy I felt!

Friends, exercise doesn’t have to be the silent devil in the corner. Shine some light on him! Make him VANISH with your newfound, awesome motivation to exercise.

Until we meet again.

Let Your Smile Serve

So, how exactly does this title relate to having a happier family life? Allow me to share – beginning with the moment I wake to take on the coming day.

Why do I greet my little girl at 6AM who I felt staring at me by my bedside for a few moments with a smile?

Because I choose to treat every day with her as if it’s almost like Christmas morning. No material gifts but feelings of joy, happiness, pure gratefulness in my soul that she and son were given to me. I practically leap out of bed!

Why am I joking around 30 minutes later as my husband is in the kitchen getting ready for work?

I choose laughter and silly jokes peppered with a bit of seriousness because I want him to be chuckling under his breath as he tells me goodbye.

Now, hold on. This something happened. Kate spilled her drink EVERYWHERE. Do I yell? Do I chastise? You’re kidding, right? We both look at each other she says, “Um, whoops?” I tap my foot very fast with a ridiculous look on my face until there as re gales of laughter from both parties. I kindly ask her to grab me a towel, and the spill is cleaned up. No tears, no fears.

My son, my son. Hears all of this and I ask him (like the commercial) “Did you sleep…like a rock? Oh, like a rock?” He chuckles with a simple yes mom.

This is only the morning in our household! Imagine. If your household has feelings of drudgery, rushing, stress, etc. First, slow.down. Perhaps begin with a simple good morning WITH a smile. No need to dive right into a circus.

My challenge to you, though, is to start smiling. Do it now. Today.

Until we meet again.

Homemade Sunshine

“Try to be a rainbow in someone’s cloud.”

-Maya Angelo

So often we become absorbed in our schedules, checklists, and every day tasks. I’d like to pose a question: how many minutes would it take you to stop reading this post, phone a loved one or friend, to simply to hear how they’ve been? What I mean is, you are the listener!

In the song “Cheer Up Charlie” from the movie “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”, Charlie’s mother sings of making his troubles go away and blow away. What if you could do the same for someone else with just one act of kindness a day looking for nothing in return?

The quote above is multi-faceted. If you know of someone who is going through a difficult time, instead of being a bystander reach out in some form of communication. People want to be heard. Some nod and listen, but how many listen intentionally?

My husband and I, when we go to dinner, we put away our phones. When we eat as a family? No devices. Why? To facilitate conversation. We ask one another about how our days unfolded, was school/work easy/hard? Additionally, I try to offer some form of praise to every person at the table. I ask my son questions if he gives short answers. (My daughter usually has much to contribute).

If you but put into practice just one thing, well, you just made your own sunshine-be generous though and share it, as you smile at the stranger and those you love.

Let’s talk action

So, right now in your life, are you trying to figure something out? Examples could be: paying off debt, losing weight, your life in general (that’s a heavy one), etc.

I’m trying to figure out how to lose AND keep off 10 lbs THANKSGIVING included this month. So where did I begin this morning? The fridge. I chose to forgo my 2% milk in my coffee and instead use coffee mate. (About 20 calories vs. 130 or so) Doing good so far!

Then, I participated in a pretty intense cardio group fitness class (keep the sweatshirt on, Aaron said, makes ya sweat). I made it 37 minutes. Either I picked the wrong weights or I’m that out of shape or both! However! There’s a class on Monday, and I’ll be in attendance.

I am not counting calories but watching my carb and sweets intake. Definitely drinking 64+ ounces of water per day too,

So? How am I taking action in terms of my journey this month? Daily, realistic, and fun goals. You can think and talk all day about what you want to achieve, but goals are only unicorns disguised as galloping horses if you don’t take action.

Time and Self-forgiveness

As I sat in a beach chair, the sun warming my back as I was conducting research for this post it came to me. Time – that will be the next topic of discussion.

You see, we cannot borrow or give back time. Unlike popular game systems, none of us have “infinite lives” or even cool things like invincibility. My point? I’m still, today, trying to forgive myself for not taking the time to call my best friend from college back in August 2014. I listened to her message, made a solemn promise to return her call…and then her family member contacted me about two weeks later. My friend was on life support! I had just seen her a few months prior!

Within two days, my friend passed away. Shock, grief, you name it I was overwhelmed. But I knew, with ample amounts of each of these (prayer and time) my shattered heart would heal. So, advice time…get ready! Just because your healing is going a little slower than you want it to I have a suggestion for you. Go outside and sit down. Look at the stars, think of a loved one you love SO, SO much and say your ABCs as you look at the stars. Imagine that person wrapping their loving arms around you. Out loud, say I love you.

Leave a comment if you needed a tissue.

Take care.

Blueprint

“I want to share some of the things that begin your life’s blueprint.

Number one should be a deep belief in your own dignity.

Your own worth and your own somebodiness.

Always feel like you count.

Always feel like you have worth, and always feel that your life has ultimate significance.”

These words were spoken by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., to a group of high school students in October 1967. If he were alive today and were to ask you, “Do you believe in yourself? What are you doing with the blueprint of your life to make “you feel like your life has ultimate significance?”

There are incalculable ways to answer this set of questions. Personally, I sometimes struggle in believing in myself. Why? I’m on a weight loss journey where some weeks my eating and exercising regime are spot on. Other weeks, I do not consume the healthiest of foods and I drag my feet in terms of exercise thinking, “Oh well, I’ll REALLY ramp up my cardio tomorrow!” Then I step on the scale later in the week. Up two pounds! Sliding backwards. Start all over.

Self confidence and self esteem take a serious blow. But, Aaron gently reminds me to get back on the treadmill and watch my carbs intake while wrapping me in a big hug.

I do however feel like my life has tremendous significance-especially when it comes to raising my children. I’m in control of my actions to set a great example to them, provide discipline and guidance, encouragement, share in their joy, etc. I am also called to be a positive, attentive, and loving spouse. In no way am I perfect, I assure you, but I try to do small, random acts of kinds that bolster Aaron’s belief that he most certainly “counts”.

Friends: Remember, you are always a “somebody”. You matter! Now, what will you do with the blueprint of your life?

No “Tech” Time

So, there’s a new thing I’m trying to implement in our household. And, I’m interested to see how it goes with my young children. It’s something I call no “tech” time where for a certain amount of time everyone puts down there device…and TALKS to one another.

It’s certainly not a novel concept. However, as I sat in a busy airport yesterday waiting for our flight, it seemed like everyone was staring downward at some type of device silently. I began to realize, on the whole, we are so digitally wrapped up that our listening and verbal communication skills have suffered.

Now, my kids are still involved in after school activities and enjoy being outside for sure. But, put an Ipad in their hands and they could, for at least 30 minutes get lost in a game of some sort. That’s 30 minutes of play time or conversation time we could have enjoyed. So? What to do? No “tech” time!

Aaron and I did it for seven minutes one night. (Number was chosen at random). We talked and laughed about so many things! We talked about the next day’s activities, important dates coming up, etc. I felt like it was truly focused conversation. I felt better afterwards because I really connected with Aaron on a level where true listening took place!

Try this technique with a co-worker, loved one, really… anyone you speak to! Why? Your listener deserves your undivided attention. Would you not want the same in return?

Until we meet again.

Stacking

So, the sun has yet to rise. What have I accomplished thus far? Let’s see – a shower, having my coffee, studying for the GRE that’s coming up quicker than I’d like, and revamping my top 10 goals. This has been my typical routine for the last 6 weeks or so. What’s your routine? Do you have one?

There’s a very interesting book that talks about “habit stacking”. The stack should really only take about three to five minutes to complete. It can be as simple as filling a water bottle to brushing your teeth in the morning!

The author goes on to explain the possibilities are endless as to what habits go into your stack. Just make sure the list isn’t too long or overwhelming. If this sounds interesting, the book is “Habit Stacking 127 Small Changes to Improve Your Health, Wealth, and Happiness” by S.J. Scott.

I enjoyed it, and I hope you do, too!