Thursday, January 12, 2017

My Daily Joys

The month of January seems to be clipping along at such a fast pace so my challenge of taking a picture a day of something that brings me joy has helped slow it down a little.

I can look back at my photos and just remember the moment it was taken.

I would like to share the last couple of days with you, if you follow along on Instagram then I apologize as you will have already seen these.

Day 5:

My baby girl, well she is 7 but she'll always be my baby.  She is maturing right before our very eyes and it is amazing but it also breaks my heart just a little.  I love having conversations with her and enjoying her sense of humor and love of sweets.

Day 6:

We had a little snow this past week and enjoyed about 8 inches of the powdery stuff.  I love seeing it when it is fresh and is so serene.

Day 7:

Since it was a little chilly the kids wanted hot cocoa and you can't have that without a little whip cream.  It is really satisfying to whip the heavy cream by hand and watch it all come together.  In a day and age where there is a tool/appliance for every little thing it is rewarding to get back to basics.

Day 8: 

Watching my boys play games together.  They are 5 years apart and I love listening to them discuss why one hand was better than the other while playing Texas Hold Em.

Day 9: 

I have a basket full of all sorts of yarn.  My daughter asked if we could make a blanket out of it and I think it is coming together pretty nicely.  She picks out the color order and I crochet away.  Like the whip cream I love being crafty and making something useful.

Day 10:

I had plenty of time to read while snowed in and luckily had this wonderful book from the library.  Maman's Homesick Pie is memoir written by Donia Bijan that chronicles like with her Iranian family and the delicious recipes that her mother made for her.  She does a magnificent job of pulling you into her story that you just don't want to put the book down...unless it is to go to the kitchen and make one of the recipes included.

Day 11:

It's important to take a moment and slow down.  Do I had a delicious cup of hot tea with milk and a slice of homemade banana bread.  It was a terrific treat before bed and allowed me to sit peacefully and savor the day.

Several of my photos were related to slowing down, which given the recent weather was a necessity.

What do you do to slow down and reflect?

Do you wish you could create more time for yourself to sit and be still?

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Happy 2017 A New Year and a New Challenege

Happy New Year to you all...hopefully your holidays were merry and bright.

I had a wonderful time taking some time off and spending it at home with my travel hustle and bustle...just fun around the house (and a little work...after all the garden won't get ready by itself).

The last of my cards were sent off for December and I'm a little sad to see them end, true though I could keep it up but I also want to give plenty of attention to this month's challenge:

Take a Photo a Day that Brings Me Joy

I am keeping account of my pictures through Instragram should you want to follow me here.

Day 1 I took a photo of my oldest, he's 14 and well sometimes doesn't like to cooperate, however this photo captures him succinctly.  He loves grabbing a coffee with me and SOMETIMES checking his phone.

Day 2 was a photo of a recently purchased book on homesteading and a beautiful moleskin notebook I got from one my favorite bloggers, Lisa.  I wanted to take notes of some goals that I have for this coming of which is to build my own compost bin (YEAH for power tools).

Day 3 is my running shoes.  I haven't run in about a year and yesterday I dusted them off and went for a very quick 2 mile run.  It was a bit chilly but to feel the pavement under my feet and the wind rushing by my ears was exhilarating.  I didn't realize how much I missed this activity and I forgot how strong I feel after a run #strongbodiesaresexy

Day 4 is a shout out to my local library.  I LOVE LOVE LOVE going to the library.  The smell of the books the tactile pleasure of turning the pages just makes me happy.  There is nothing so satisfying as coming out with an armful of books.

What I like about this challenge is that each day I observe my surroundings a little more closely and spend a little more time looking inwards and trying to select something each day that brings a smile to my face and to not pick something that seems easy...but something that is more representative of who I am.

I know a couple of friends are doing photography related challenges that are going to span the excites me to see what they shoot each day and hopefully they will make it through all 365 days.  If you want to see some really beautiful photography check out JVL Studios (she is one of my friends doing the 365 challenge).

So have you ever done something like this?  

If so how did it turn out?  Were you happy/surprised with the results?  Did you keep it up for the entire time you originally set out to (be it 1 week/month/year)?

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Joyful Notes

Christmas is almost upon us...just 5 more days.  Can you believe it?

This month's challenge has zipped by too, and I'm a little sad that I only have 11 more joyful notes left to write.

I have had such a wonderful time penning a short note to a different friend each day that I am truly going to miss it on January 1st.

I know nothing says I have to give it up...I mean I could be like Gretchen Rubin, who wrote The Happiness Project, and allow the challenges to compound from month to month (although I might run out of friends that way...and would potentially have to recycle my friend list).

                                                    the happier at home big book

Although I had a better solution this morning while driving to work...perhaps monthly I could mail a full length letter to a friend and try to keep in touch better.

I find that with my oldest friends, those I went to college with, we don't see each other very often and, other than a few texts here or there, we don't have the opportunity to stay on top of what is going on in each others lives.

Having a strong friendship bond can have some of the following benefits:

  1. Live longer--strong friendships help reduce your levels of chronic stress
  2. Keep us from being lonely
  3. Increase self-esteem
  4. Encourage you to change habits (i.e. give up smoking or to start exercising more)
  5. Help you cope with trauma
Now that we know our friends can help us live longer and healthier let's think about ways to keep that connection.

What ways do you keep in touch with your friends?

Monday, December 12, 2016

The Hand Written Note

I'm just under two weeks into my letter writing for the month of December and it has been met with some very positive responses.

Several of my friends sent me messages and texts saying that my little note came at just the right time, that they are feeling stressed and it was good to know someone was thinking of them.  It also gave us a few moments to remember some of the funny times we've had (nothing like sharing 20 year old stories and still laughing as if they happened yesterday).

It made me feel awesome to know that I had such a positive impact and confirmed that I am doing this challenge at the appropriate time.

The holidays can be challenging for people.  It doesn't just have to be people who have lost loved could be the taxing nature of making sure everything is taken care of (both at home and work)...there is a lot of pressure to be perfect with your holidays.

Remember though nothing is perfect and that you should do whatever you do with love and with a thoughtful heart...don't do it just because you think you have to.

I've realized 12 days in that I should probably write down the people I've mailed cards to and those that I will send to over the next 19 days...I don't want to forget anyone or send them a card twice (that would be kind of embarrassing).

So like Santa I've made my list and checked it twice...the only downside is that I fear I may have left someone out...but then nothing says I can't keep sending cards.

                                                       Image result for santa checking his list

So if you are sitting there reading my quick missive and a friend pops into your mind.  Send them a quick won't be sorry that you did.

Friday, December 2, 2016

December is Here and so is Challenge #3

I wrapped up my November Challenge (no Christmas pun intended here) and I am off and running with my December Challenge.

This month I am sending a handwritten card each day to a friend.  Their tenure as my friend isn't what got them on my list but a desire to let people know that they are special to me and that they have positively impacted my life is what got them on the list.

So if I met you last week and asked for your mailing address...that's why 😊

It's the little things that sometimes make me excited about my challenges and the need to go to the post office and buy stamps was thrilling...however when I got there and there was a HUGE line because people are already in the holiday spirit dampened by excitement a little.

                                       Image result for long lines

However I'm super lucky to have a husband who is willing to help me succeed with these challenges and he went the next day right when they opened and secured 31 stamps for me.

Continuing a little bit with October's challenge of getting rid of things I am using postcards that I had made a couple of years ago and just can't seem to use up.  But they are kind of sweet and I think they say "I appreciate you."

With my supplies at the ready I have crafted my first two cards and each day it gives me something to look forward to.

It gives me a chance to think about my friend of the day and reflect back on the good times we've had over the years.  Some of the shenanigans we've gotten into and the fond memories just brighten my day.

I hope the notes are enjoyed and that perhaps it will encourage them to do the same...and no they don't have to write me back.

But as a society we could do with spreading a little more love and cheer...what better way than a grassroots movement of letter writing?

So think about joining me, you don't have to do it all month, but think about letting someone know how much they mean to you.

Monday, November 28, 2016

November is Coming to a Close

November's challenge of 100 push-ups, squats, and crunches is coming to a close.

I am completely astounded at myself but I am glad it is ending.  This challenge bored me and did not give me the fulfillment I felt when I purged my stuff.

What is odd to me is that I like working out.

I like the way my body feels when it has been worked and the muscles are tired...but this wasn't quite enough.

To ramp it up a little I did start a 30 day cleanse and fat flush through Isagenix.  A friend of mine talked about how great she felt and how she loved the feeling of having her body be more I joined up.

                                          Image result for isagenix fat flush presidents pak

This helped make November a little more interesting.  Thus far I have lost 1 inch off of my waist (that was in 8 days AND with Thanksgiving in there).

I don't say that to brag but just to mention that it took a small lifestyle change to help flush out some of the fat that I've been hanging onto with the three children I birthed (I wasn't genetically blessed to bounce back into pre-baby shape like Gisele Bunchen).

The cleanse has helped me feel better about myself, I have more energy and don't crave sweets or copious amounts of food as I did in the past.

After this 30 day period is over, somewhere around mid-December I will start a second cleanse (why stop a good thing???) but what I am hoping is that it will keep me on track and that holiday indulgences won't be so great and I won't start the new year thinking how upset I am by all of the stuff that I ate.

My challenge next month, along with the cleanse, is to mail a note to a friend everyday.  My husband asked "Do you have that many friends?"  Yes silly boy I have 31 people I would love to send a message to and let them know how much they mean to me and that I really appreciate their friendship.

To prepare myself I already have the post cards (they are ones that I made from a photo I took of some roses)...the picture always makes me happy and hopefully it will do the same for my friends.

The only other thing I need to do is go buy some stamps...yep I am going to handwrite the messages..I think it makes it a little more personal even though e-mail is so darn convenient.

Do you ever send or receive actual letters anymore?  Does it make you feel a little extra special to know someone had to go to a little extra work to send you that message?

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Creating Habits and Routine

I must admit I have not been as put together for this months least so far.

Last month I had to find items to eliminate but I could do that morning, noon, or night.

I'm find thing that when you expect yourself to do 100 pushups, crunches, and squats you need to plan your day out a little better.

I've had days so far where the I was trying to pack all of this in in the last hour and a half before bed, I've had days where I've forgotten which set I was on, and days where I did some in the morning and then forgot to do the rest until almost bed time.

This had to stop if I was going to feel good about this month's challenge

                                  Image result for stop the madness gif

One of the chapter's in Greg McKeown's book "Essentialism" discusses routine and how having a set routine lets your mind go on autopilot for that task (i.e. driving to work the same way everyday) and allows you to open your mind to other creative thought.

                                                 Image result for essentialism by greg mckeown

By having a routine you make sure that certain functions get done at specific times.  A week into this challenge and I realize I need to be more regimented with it.

I can do 20 push ups and squats at a time but then I need a little break before I do the next to make sure that I finish the challenge strong and hopefully create a habit of doing exercise at various intervals through out the day I've created a schedule for myself.

The schedule comes with to start off the day I get out of bed and stretch and then do 20 push ups and 20 squats.  After I've finished my shower 20 more push ups and 20 more squats.  I get all of my primping done and get dressed 20 more push ups and 20 more squats.

Just by incorporating it into my morning routine I knocked out 60 of the 100 reps for each of those exercises.

It left me feeling pretty accomplished AND feeling like it would be no big deal to get the other 40 in.  
I created a routine that is easy to follow and sets me up to succeed.

Do you have routines in your life that you use to help you throughout the day?