Looking Back and Moving Forward

Looking Back and Moving Forward

I’ve been spending some time thinking about the last 12 months and what has led me to where I am in this new year. Of course, my family, friends, and the many blessings I have received have been key, but as I look back I have noticed the many “breadcrumbs” that led me on a journey and helped me achieve many goals and hold on to joy even when circumstances tried to steal it from me.

I started 2018 wanting to continue on my journey to minimize spending and accumulating possessions, but I wanted to be happier and more content. So 10% Happier and The Year of Less were a great start. I then started reading simply for enjoyment, no need to take notes or have a highlighter handy. The women whose stories are told in Breaking Night and The Hiding Place demonstrated even the biggest obstacles can be overcome when you keep your faith and let God lead the way.

During the summer, after a co-worker posted a great review, I pulled Girl, Wash Your Face off my wishlist, into my cart and waited anxiously for it to arrive. I quickly read through each chapter. Mind blown! It gave me new perspective, made me step out and “do something” even if it wasn’t perfect or pretty. I set up a new blog and submitted an article to No Sidebar. I didn’t really expect anything to happen and then while reviewing my emails one day, I was notified they accepted my article! I kid you not, my heart leap and I nearly fell out of my chair. Soon, there is was, in digital print, my name and the article I wrote on one of my favorite websites! I promise that article would still be hiding in a journal without the kick in the pants from Rachel Hollis. Thank you Rachel!! Thank you No Sidebar!!

No Sidebar has become like a home base for me and has left breadcrumbs connecting me to many great resources and other writers with common interests. I connected personally with Erica Layne and her Life on Purpose Movement and Introverted Mom’s Club on Facebook and Cheryl Smith and her many inspirational articles.

The Simple Show podcast is a favorite and I listen to it often. It was been a huge factor in my growth during 2018. This is my go to “breadcrumb factory.” Tsh Oxenrider’s interviews have led me to numerous influential people and places. Two favorites being The Lazy Genius Cooperative and Emily P. Freeman and her podcast The Next Right Thing. Thanks Tsh!

By October, I was coasting…I was connecting with people through my blog, writing and meeting many of my goals. All was good…I had a routine and everything seemed to be falling into place. Then that Bermuda Triangle of holidays happened. I was traveling, trying to tie up loose ends at work before the break, cramming candy and costumes, a turkey, presents, and a Christmas tree into a few months. I fell off every wagon I had climbed onto. I know now I gave myself too much to focus on at once. I had too many expectations and not a lot of flexibility. I was spending too much on stuff I didn’t need, eating too much, my routine was out the window, I was cramming in lots of commitments because they were “for a good cause” and stress and anxiety snuck back into my life.

All I had worked for seemed so far away and I didn’t know how I would get back. As I sit here writing, I’m still not back there. My tree is still up there are piles of laundry on the floor and dishes in the sink. The beef stroganoff I made was a complete fail and I’m still nursing my back I pulled out on Christmas Eve. But you know what? Those wagons that I was coasting on? They are still there, just waiting for me to hop back on and steer them and I can’t wait to clear a path and do it!

Although, I got off track and things are still a bit chaotic I’m feeling really good about moving forward in 2019. I don’t have a “word” or list of resolutions for this year. I’m working on more of a mission statement inspired by a quote from the book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less,which reads, “By investing in fewer things we have the satisfying experience of making significant progress in the things that matter most.”

If you are still pondering words and resolutions I say toss them out. It’s been reported 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail by February anyway! Instead, figure out what it is you really want to do and….

  • Make a mission statement.
  • Write a few obtainable goals, take an inventory in a few months and dont be afraid to change them.
  • Look for breadcrumbs and follow them!
  • Get a pack of gold star stickers and display your achievements – even the small ones.
  • Don’t beat yourself up if something doesn’t work out. Something bigger and better might be just around the corner.
  • If you fall off your wagon, dust yourself off, and just get back on. Don’t wait until the 1st of the month, or a Monday, just start over even if its 3:17 on Tuesday.
  • Don’t be afraid to change midway through the journey. Life is not static, it’s always changing and we are always growing and learning.
  • Don’t put yourself into a box trying to be something other than yourself.

Each one of us has a special gift. Please don’t think what you do is insignificant. There is someone out there waiting to read your story, wear your jewelry, hear your song, display your art, eat your cupcakes, or maybe something as simple as sit on your lap and listen to you read a story.

We all have a light, let 2019 be the year to let yours shine.

Be well,

Lori

Published at No Sidebar on 1/1/0/19.

Christmas Favorites

Christmas Favorites

Ahhhh, the glorious Christmas season is upon us and it seems like in only a blink it will be gone. It’s easy to miss out on the joy the season can bring and to get overwhelmed with all that accompanies the short period of time between Thanksgiving and Christmas Day…the decorating, mailing Christmas cards, purchasing gifts, traveling, events, parties, etc. etc. I’m really trying to be purposeful this year and enjoy each day and each thing that I do. 

Here are a few things, I really enjoy doing during the holidays that don’t involve a lot of time, a lot of planning, or a lot money. 

A quiet room, a warm blanket, a burning candle and good book. I’m currently reading Essentialism and Cozy Minimalist Home and anxiously awaiting to settle in with, the soon to be released, A Minimalist Home. 

Cuddling up with my kiddo reading our holiday favorite, Stick Man. There is also an animated version of this book on Netflix.

Friends and family, hot chocolate or chai latte, Gingerbread cookies from Subway, and a fun game or good conversation or both! Can’t wait to try out the game Convers(ate)!

A late night drive (late for me is anything after 8:00pm!) to look at Christmas lights and listen to Christmas music. I’m loving JJ Heller’s Christmas music this year.

Christmas movies and Jiffy Pop popcorn.  A Christmas Story is a must and this year we got a kick out of The Christmas Chronicles

I’m not much for parties, but I love our Hometown Christmas Parade. Small town parades are the best. You always get a spot in the front.

Being awakened Christmas morning (hopefully later than 3 am!) to the excitement and the joy in the barely open eyes of a little boy in awe of what Santa left under the tree.

Of course, I love taking time to remember that long ago and mother and father welcomed their precious baby boy to the world he came to save. This is our second year to hang ornaments on our Jesse tree and read Bible stories that lead up to Christmas Day. 

However you spend your holiday season (comment below and tell me!), I wish you peace, love, and joy.

Until next time…… Be Well,

Lori

P. S. I just got an Instagram account! Stop by and visit.

Giving Thanks After the Turkey is Gone

Ahhh….its November. The air is crisp and cool. It’s time for sweaters, boots, and pumpkin spice exploding from coffee, to candles, to Frosted Flakes and Cheerios!

Thanksgiving is quickly approaching. A day set aside long ago to give thanks to God for all of our blessings. In 1863, Abraham Lincoln proclaimed Thanksgiving to be the last Thursday in November, describing its purpose as “a day of Thanksgiving and Praise for our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.”

When I think of Thanksgiving day, I think of all my senses being roused…red, yellow, orange and brown leaves scattered in the yard, a warm fire and hugs from family members who I haven’t seen in a while, delicious smells drifting from the kitchen, gathering around the table for prayer and then the much anticipated tastes of turkey, dressing, and sweet potato pie, and then resting with a good nap and the sounds of football games in the background. This day alone is something to be grateful for.

Sadly, right on the heels of all that gratitude, Black Friday emerges, like a wicked witch left over from Halloween using tricks and spells (e.g., advertising) to lure people into darkness (e.g., debt). A day when retailers entice you with a free TV or Instant Pot knowing good and well frenzied shoppers will end up spending money they don’t have on stuff they don’t need. A day when people who have camped out in in front of stores will then trample old ladies and small children to get the trending gadgets or toys. Just Google “Black Friday chaos” or watch the first few minutes of Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things, it seems holiday shopping has turned into the Hunger Games! It’s so out of control, someone has dedicated a website documenting deaths and injuries on Black Friday. I don’t know about you, but I’ll pass on the ticket for that crazy train.

What I love doing on the day after Thanksgiving is lighting a candle, making some hot chocolate, and cuddling up on the couch with a warm blanket and a good book. I’m currently reading The Cozy Minimalist and Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less just came in the mail so I am set for days of reading! If you are looking for ideas other than risking your life on Black Friday try one of these:

  1. Attempt a new recipe with your leftovers.
  2. Clean out a closet – see if there are any coats or socks that you might be able to donate. 
  3. Make hot chocolate and play an old school board game with your family.
  4. Visit people who might be lonely in nursing homes or hospitals.
  5. Create a Turquoise Table and invite your neighbors over.
  6. Put on your favorite holiday music and start decorating for Christmas.
  7. Make popcorn, do that bluetooth thing on your TV and watch the videos on your phone.
  8. Choose a charity to support. I love what Two Blind Brothers are doing this year.
  9. Get outside and take a walk in nature. Florence Williams, explains how it makes us happier, healthier, and more creative in her book, The Nature Fix.
  10. Rest and have another day of thanks.

And speaking of having another day of thanks….I always wonder why we save only one day a year for this celebration. What if we tried to celebrate “thanksgiving” even after the turkey is gone? In her book, One Thousand Gifts, Ann Voskamp states, “As long as thanks is possible, then joy is always possible.”  

When I take time thank God for all the blessings in my life and actually write a few down, I really do feel joy. However, it also makes me think about how I might try being a blessing to others…..by giving.  

It doesn’t have to cost money, it could be the gift of time, words of encouragement, a hug or simply a smile. It doesn’t have to be a big production, you could just be “secretly incredible” like Bob Goff.  

In the book of Acts, the Apostle Paul recalls the words of Jesus, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” The importance of giving is emphasized several times in the Bible, it can be found in quotes by Gandhi, Winston Churchill, Anne Frank, Mother Teresa, Eleanor Roosevelt and St. Francis of Assisi to name a few. Additionally, several scientific studies have found that the act of giving has numerous benefits including joy. 

It seems that the sum of gratitude and selfless giving is joy.  Thanks + giving = joy.

Wouldn’t it be great if we pushed this concept up higher on our priority list, it had a snowball effect, and our joy started spilling over to everyone we encountered?

I hope whatever you decide to do this Thanksgiving, it brings you joy.

Until next time…….Be Well.

 

This post can also be seen at No Sidebar.

 

 

Finding Inspiration

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For several months I have been on a roll, with everything.  I felt like I was making good progress and achieving “flow” and then BAM!!! the bottom dropped out. My very comfortable routine came unraveled and I slipped into a funk. For the last 2 weeks I have been eating lots of junk, running out of patience, yelling at my kid (I even had to put a nail in the fence after a mommy meltdown) and snapping at my husband (luckily, they are very forgiving and love me even when I’m grumpy). I have been hitting snooze way too many times, the workload at my paying job has been stressing me out (y’all I’m 47 and 2 days ago developed a giant pimple on my chin!) and I have been sulking and pouting and not wanting to think about anything, especially all the progress I had made towards my goals going down the tubes.

Then there was Friday. I was going to make a change and get out of the pit I felt I was in. I had a plan.. run errands, eat more intentionally, take a long walk, and write. Run errands – check, eat a healthy lunch – check, walk 3 miles – check, then I sat down to write and….nothing….I had nothing to write. So I decided to change my environment and visit one of my favorite local shops, HomeGrown. They have been taunting me on Facebook with a Pumpkin Dulce candle so I thought I’d go get one. What I ended up with was a candle, 2 decorative items and a huge dose of INSPIRATION!!! Chatting with one of the owners and seeing all the seasonal decor and original creations breathed something in me that made me want to create. Plus I had sold 2 of my photo greeting cards I have on consignment there.

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So I got home, made dinner and then my husband and son stayed the night at our cabin (walking distance from our house), treating me to a quiet night alone giving me a chance to rest, recharge, and get back on track. For me, this is better than diamonds. I kid you not!!

So in addition to working on this post. I put on some comfy PJs and made my favorite chai latte in my favorite cup (made made by a local artisan in another favorite shop, Raindance Designs) and read my new book, The Cozy Minimalist Home by Myquillyn Smith.

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I had read her book, The Nesting Place several years ago and started trying to make this tiny little farm house feel like home. But like fashion, home decor does not come easy for me, I get started but quickly run out of steam.

I’m going to take one baby step at a time and make a few changes to decorate for fall. Maybe this one small step will start me going in the right direction. Maybe being creative in one area will have a snowball effect, spill over into other areas and I can get back to my happy place and once again be well, heart and soul.

I’m finishing up this post at another local spot I love, a coffee shop called the Bull Shack.

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This cozy place has a great story and I’m excited to have them on my list to interview for a series about people who have stepped out, taken a risk and made something amazing happen. I have been wanting to do for a long time but have not been brave enough to take a risk, venture out of my comfort zone, and actually ask people if I can interview them. Well today I did it and I’m so excited to get started. I’d love to hear about a risk you took and how it turned out.

Until next time, Be Well.

Lori

 

 

Eating Simple and Healthy: How I turned meal planning from tears to cheers.

Eating Simple and Healthy: How I turned meal planning from tears to cheers.

Does the thought of making 21 healthy meals a week plus snacks make you want to hide under the covers and cry? Creating a grocery list each week produced feelings of dread and anxiety and yes, sometimes, tears. Many times the ingredients I purchased for my healthy meals turned into a unidentifiable lump of mold hidden in the back of the refrigerator because life got busy and McDonald’s trumped that fabulous Pinterest recipe I was going to try. Some days I would forget to thaw something out and then, well, Honey Nut Cheerios was the only thing left. I also tried the meal kits that are delivered to your door and that didn’t work for me either. It was a lot of work, nothing my family would eat, and there was a lot of trash from the packing materials.

The chaos was killing me and the fast food probably was too!

I wasn’t looking to cook gourmet meals or start drinking kale smoothies, but I wanted to make a change and start forming good habits that would be lasting and manageable and not overwhelming, something that would not only benefit me but my family as well.

I started searching for a way to make this task easier, and unlike my solution for getting through laundry and dishes, a simple playlist wouldn’t help me cook healthy meals, I needed a professional.

I sought the expertise of Catherine Kruppa, a registered, licensed dietitian, and wellness coach in Houston, Texas. I signed up for the 4 session Lifestyle Change Program. This included reviewing what I was currently eating and developing a personalized nutrition plan. Catherine tracked my eating habits using the My Fitness Pal app and together we tweaked my plan. 

Hiring a professional was worth every cent! Catherine took the time to listen to what I wanted, gave me healthy alternatives to the bad stuff I was eating and we worked together to come up with a plan that was personalized for me and my goals and I can tell you, it has totally changed my mindset about food. I never thought I could eat oatmeal that wasn’t swimming in butter and sugar, pass up cookies in the lounge, or stop craving soda. I didn’t think I would ever stop wasting so much food or actually enjoy cooking a meal the way I have in the last couple of weeks. When I am at work, I’ve been either taking a lunch or taking advantage of the fresh fruits and vegetables in the cafeteria and I also started eating with people instead of my computer. I can say, overall, I am feeling happier and healthier. I still have progress to make but it’s a good start.

During my healthy eating journey, I stumbled across The Lazy Genius Collective  and its guide simply called The Meal PlanY’all, when I put The Meal Plan together with my nutrition plan……I heard angels singing!  

This plan is, well….genius! After cleaning out your kitchen and generating your Battle Cry, you establish a list of “brainless crowd pleasers,” a “meal matrix” and more ideas to create limits and make fewer decisions about meals. It might sound complicated, but its really not and the end result is cheers and not tears!

You can learn more about The Meal Plan and how to become a “rockstar meal planner” by checking out the Lazy Genius Collective on Facebook or on Instagram.  You can listen to the podcast here and even sign up for the free mini-course called How to Cook Without Hating It.

Here are 11 things that have happened since I started using a professionally developed nutrition plan and The Meal Plan from The Lazy Genius Collective:

  1. Increased awareness of the quality or lack of quality of foods I eat.
  2. Food is becoming a source of energy and pleasure, not a coping mechanism for stress or boredom.
  3. Decreased waste in the kitchen. I now have a plan for all my food. No impulse purchases and no more frightening finds in the back of the fridge.
  4. I feel more confident about what I feed my family. If I can conquer meal planning, I can take on the world!!
  5. I am trying new menu items and finding them to be delicious.
  6. My cravings for soda and other sweets have not disappeared but have decreased significantly.
  7. I get full faster and therefore, eat less.
  8. My clothes are fitting better.
  9. I have more energy and generally feel better.
  10. I drink more water.
  11. I spend less time I the grocery store.

With these tools I have been able to say no to mindless eating and yes to simple intentionally planned meals that are both nutritious and delicious. No more tears for me!

Until next time……Be Well!

Lori

 

My Secret to Getting Through Laundry and Dishes

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Why are laundry and dishes like Gremlins and constantly multiplying? Only seconds after my dishwasher beeps indicating its ready to be unloaded, do I notice the sink is overflowing with dirty dishes. After I fold that last towel, breathe a sigh of relief, and imagining putting my feet up on the sofa and reading a book, I notice that the hamper is full again, and I only have 3 people in my house! Why does it seem like it takes hours to fold a load of laundry, you know, the one that has been “fluffed” in the dryer 4 times. Ugh.

Stop the insanity!!!!

Here is how I do it. Its not rocket science, but I distract myself! I put on a playlist and set the timer for 15-30 minutes depending on the size of the task. My playlist is up-beat songs that put me in a good mood, get me moving, and the timer gives me a challenge. Many times I find that I complete these mundane tasks before the timer goes off. I can clean my kitchen in 20 mins and usually fold a load of laundry in about 15 and then get to things I really want to do.

Here’s my “Laundry and Dishes” playlist.

  1. Cut You Loose (feat. Ringo Star) – Kenny Wayne Shepherd
  2. Play that Funky Music – Wild Cherry
  3. No Rain – Blind Melon (Gotta love “The Bee Girl.”)
  4. Meet Virginia – Train
  5. Bulletproof – Citizen Way
  6. Shining Star – Earth, Wind, and Fire (Think Elaine dancing on Seinfeld)
  7. I Love Rock n’Roll – Joan Jett
  8. Family Affairs – Mary J. Blige
  9. Here and Now – Letters to Cleo
  10. Overcomer – Mandisa
  11. Black Coffee – Squeeze
  12. Seether – Veruca Salt
  13. Can’t Stop the Feeling! – Justin Timberlake (Look at these people moving at work!)
  14. Grace Got You – MercyMe
  15. Hella Good – No Doubt
  16. Can’t Stop – Red Hot Chili Peppers
  17. Positively Lost Me – Rave Ups
  18. Life’s Been Good – Joe Walsh
  19. Lucky Star – Madonna
  20. New Sensation – INXS
  21. The River – Jordan Feliz
  22. Everlong – Foo Fighters
  23. Freedom! ’90 – George Michael
  24. Brian Wilson – Barenaked Ladies
  25. Chicken Fried – Zac Brown Band

Get movin’ and make those dishes and piles of clothes disappear in a flash and do something fun! Who knows, you might even find you had a little fun doing housework!

BONUS!!!

Leave a comment about songs on your playlist and be entered to win a $10 iTunes gift card. (I’ll email the winner the access code at the end of October.)

Until next time…..Be Well!!

Lori

 

 

Hello, Fall!

Hello, Fall!

I know Fall is coming when I start hearing acorns drop from the trees and tumble down our tin roof. It is a very comforting sound that brings with it visions of flannel shirts, jackets, boots, hot chocolate and curling up on the couch with a good book and the sound of  football in the background…all the cozy comforts of being at home on a cool, crisp day. It’s always a welcomed change after what seems like an eternity of 90 plus degrees with humidity you can cut with a knife.

I can’t believe September has come and gone so quickly. I gave myself quite a number of goals to work on and all in all, I think I did pretty well. It wasn’t perfect, but its progress. I also discovered some things about myself along the way.

September goal wrap up: What worked, what didn’t. (For details about goals, you can check out this post and this post.)

  • Controlling my Anger: The thought of hammering a nail in my fence worked. No mommy temper tantrums. Now that is not to say I was Mary Poppins, all smiles and songs. I did raise my voice a couple of times and toss a utensil in the sink with a little extra force, but no melt-downs!  
  • 52 Weeks of Thanks: I mailed out 2 cards this month and have a third one ready to go out tomorrow. 
  • Water: I’m up to 20 oz a day working on 30. I know this is not great but its a start.
  • Taking a Lunch to Work: I got off to a bad start. I forgot my lunch at home several times but ordered a cute new bag for less than $10 that sits next to my purse reminding me to get my lunch out of the fridge. Since then I’ve done well. I’ve also completed my 3rd consultation with a nutritionist helping me establish some healthy eating habits. This is the cookbook she recommended for me. I have done pretty well, but still have days I fall off the wagon and eat a bunch of junk, like a child running loose in Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. I also ordered The Meal Plan from the Lazy Genius to help simplify the bottomless pit of meal planning. It was only offered for a limited time but if you listen to her podcasts or read her blog she tells you how its done, and I think its….well….genius! I’m working on a post about nutrition to share with you what I have learned. That should be up later in October after my last consultation.
  • Blog Posts: My goal was 2 posts a month and this will be my 3rd because I AM LOVING WRITING!!! I am so thankful for No Sidebar and The Houston Flood Project for my very first publications and thankful for all of you who have visited my site, read my posts, liked or commented and have started following. I hope to find out more about you as I continue this journey.
  • Road Trip: No road trip this month. We had a short one planned but the rain kept us home. I have a couple ideas for next month. My goal is to put them in my calendar and do them!!
  • Read the Bible: I missed the first 4 days in Sept but caught up quickly. I’m using the Read the Bible in a Year reading plan that is in my Bible. Sometimes I miss on the weekends but I make them up on Monday. 
  • Time: I have done pretty well not wasting time. The Moment app has helped but some days I am just dog tired and don’t want to do anything but waste time. The newest update on my iPhone included an app called Screen Time. I’m liking that as well.
  • Money: I have not tracked my spending at all this month so I don’t have a good measure. I can say; however, that my when I have made purchases other than necessities, its been for experiences or something needed to achieve a goal and not for useless stuff or impulse purchases. I’ll make October my baseline.
  • Trash: I haven’t counted how many bags of trash I have produced each day, but I did forget to take the container out to the curb one week on trash day (We have pick up once a week.) and was able to fit 2 weeks of trash in the container that used to fit only one. I also bought a water filter and while it takes a little effort to refill, I haven’t minded because I know it’s worth it.
  • List of 10 Things I Want To Do: I have my list written – I have not completed anything on the list but have started to make progress toward some of those things. I’ll be sharing that later as well and really want to know what is on your list.

What I have planned for October….

In addition to continuing my current goal list, I’m wanting to try some new templates and jazz up my site a bit. It’s starting to feel a little like home and I want to decorate! I’m also itching to add my own photos to blog posts like the one on this post. I was a very active and successful amateur photographer for about 20 years and then after I got pregnant and had my son, I simply lost interest and sold all my outdated camera equipment. I’m going to purchase some basic equipment and I’m hoping to get that feeling of flow I used to get when shooting, the same one I now get when I’m writing. I’m also looking to re-open my Etsy shop.

I’d love to know about your goals and if you are making progress toward achieving them.

Until next time, Be Well!

Lori