Showing posts from 2017

New Isn't Always Better

All the appliances in our house are older. Our dishwasher is original to the house - 32 years (knock on wood it keeps going!) Our stove, bought used is about 20 years old. While we definitely talk about replacing them, we also talk about the times we replaced other things with something new and were unhappy we did so.

The washer and dryer - a good sale. We had done some research, but apparently not enough. They do not perform the way we want - smaller items like washcloths don’t dry all the way in the dryer even though the rest of the towels do. The front loader washer hits the cabinet and therefore doesn’t open all the way. It is hard to get clothes in and out. Also, the plastic housing has cracked just from general use.

The refrigerator seems to work ok, but the seal around the door cracked after only a few years. Fortunately, it still seals the door. The material used to make the handles has turned yellow and doesn’t clean back to white. That 20 year old stove has an oven that does…

Time Challenged

It’s Saturday morning, and the only things on my list for the weekend are two loads of laundry and grocery shopping. Yet I lay in bed looking at the clock calculating what time I should get up.

I am time challenged. I pay way too much attention to time, which causes stress. No matter what I am doing, I am focused on time, tensing up. I count time all the time. Time is never an expansive vastness in front of me to enjoy.

It’s the ready, set, go mentality of getting as much done as possible. Watch the clock in the car, how long did that stoplight take. Ok, it’s 7am, open email. Glance at the clock, good that only took me 15 minutes. Next, walk out of my office and talk to my co-worker, come back in. Oh, that took 20 minutes. Start a project, look up the clock, glance at the time on my computer, calculate how many minutes until my meeting.

This isn’t only regulated to work either. Watch the clock in the car as I drive home, mentally figure out my commute time. Walk in the door, ok, I …

A Stress Free Life

I recently read a FB post my sister in law shared that said we have to stop thinking there is a stress-free life out there waiting for us. 
My thoughts about this went in a few different directions.

Should we just accept that life is stressful? Should we stop wishing for the impossible? Should we stop pining for something different? Should we manage our stress better? Should we look at stress as something good?

This spring, I spent time evaluating my day to day stress and how I could reduce it, or deal with it better. It turned out, that almost all my stress was self-induced. I was either multitasking, rushing, or trying to do too much. Granted, there were many pressures on me, but there were also ways I could change my response.

How I dealt with and approached the many things I needed to do was causing me stress. As I learned to work on only one task at a time, I was less stressed and able to do more. As I quit rushing, or mentally counting down the minutes, I was less stressed. As …

The Gift of Time

In September, I had a week where I was on call for work (a new phenomenon for me) and had to stick close to home so that I would be able to make phone calls if needed. At first I felt this was a huge infringement on my time. Seriously, I had to always be within 15 minutes of home or work. Granted, I could make a phone call or two from my cell phone, but the amount of information I needed to record and disseminate was difficult to do if I was out and about. At first this felt like dark clouds hanging over my head.

My husband went to the store with me in case I had to leave mid-trip. (I never like leaving a cart of groceries abandoned in the store!) I limited how many trips I took to the store. My bike rides were 15 minutes out and back. We didn’t go hiking or do any other activities on the weekend. 
As the week progressed, I found an unexpected and surprising benefit to this situation - the gift of time. 
When I wasn’t running around doing errands, I had time. When I wasn’t thinking a…

Choose Not to Choose

Many of the pictures I take are of “paths”. You know, those trails through the woods. Often times, the path involves a decision - do I go this way or that? Sometimes I already know which way to go, and other times I don’t. Either way, I’m not too concerned and rarely worry about getting lost. I can always backtrack and take the other way.

Life isn’t as easy. We are faced with many choices on our journey, and these choices aren’t always easy. Also, we humans seem to make them more difficult.

Our town now has three grocery stores. When we moved here, there was only one. Then two. Now three. The first has only a few kinds of yogurt. The second has all the ones I like. The third has all the ones I like plus a whole lot more of many other types of products like a huge health and beauty department, clothing, sporting goods etc.

Except in an emergency, I drive right past the first one. I really like the second one. The third one stresses me out because it is too big. However, I digress.

If w…

Look No Further

Despite a college degree in International Business and German, I have never desired to travel outside of the US. A couple of years ago I did get a passport so we could take a weekend cruise to the Bahamas for our 25th anniversary, but I don’t really count that as being outside of the US, nor the one night spent camping in Canada.
People are always amazed that I have no desire for international travel. When I studied German in high school, we not only learned the language, but the culture as well. At that time, the Berlin wall was still up, and the fashions of German teenagers were of no interest to me.

My brother has lived overseas for almost 20 years now, South Korea, Japan, and now Germany, as a teacher for the US military; yet I haven’t barely even thought of traveling to see him. While I am starting to have a few thoughts of visiting him next summer, it is mainly because I have a friend who is moving to Italy this week to teach for the military, and I have another friend who has…

Taking The Long Cut

We were on a 28 mile bike ride last month and about a quarter of a way into it, we took the wrong turn which still got us back on the trail, but was a short cut. I was bummed - a short cut! No! I don’t like short cuts when I am biking, I want the long cuts. I want time to enjoy.

When do we ever say that about life? Usually, we want short cuts. Shortcuts mean the easy way, less work. Search for “hacks” on Pinterest - cleaning hacks, food hacks, home hacks, diy hacks, organizing hacks. Almost anything you can think of hacks. They are all there touting how you can get something done in less time, easier, faster.

The word “hacks” means to cut something, in this case you are cutting time. The slang dictionary states it is “a quick solution that solves a problem, but does not solve it particularly well, or in a particularly good way.” It is almost like cheating. Instead of doing it the correct way, the long way, you are creating a quick, shortened method.

Believe it or not, all of this bree…

My Contentment Pyramid

Are you content with your life? How do you define contentment? For some people, contentment is that moment when the stars align and everything is perfect. For others, it is reaching their dream, and others may only feel content when they are on vacation. Then again others may never feel content. They keep searching for the latest and greatest. The next thing that is going to make them feel finished, complete, content.

Unfortunately, in today’s world, I think many, many people fall in the last category a lot of the time. They don’t feel content and keep searching for what will make them feel contentment. It may be things they need to buy, places they need to go, a job they need to change, or just that one thing to get/get rid of.

Our society isn’t very good at the simple contentment of having enough and doing enough. This is a lesson I am learning on my simple life journey. I have gotten really good at feeling like I have enough things. But when it comes to my time, I struggle with th…

Celebrating Contentment

This week I’m not much for words, but I have been feeling some contentment with my life and I want to celebrate that. Overall, my life looks very much the same as it did last spring. The same people are in my family, I have the same job, we do the same things, and I have the same chores/errands to do.

However, when I compare this week to last spring, I see I am a bit more content. Do I still get stressed about my job? Or sure, that won’t end until I get a different job. Do I still sigh when it takes me longer to cook dinner or clean up? Yep.

What is different is that I am finding moments of contentment. Moments that make me happy. These moments provide contentment in different ways.

Sometimes the exact moment has me feeling content. Last weekend we had absolutely beautiful weather and spent Saturday afternoon lazily kayaking down a river near our home for two and a half hours. It was so peaceful and we only passed three other kayaks. The moments on the river were incredibly content.


Bending the Brain

I am a teacher. I know how to help a child learn, how to move from “no idea” to “I got it”. Today I teach adults work skills, and breaking down the process of work is an important part of that. Process improvement is something I have developed skills in, and I can quickly look at something and figure out all the parts needed to make the process work. 
However, when it comes to my own life, I rarely use these teaching tools. Instead, I tend to want to just move ahead and make changes without analyzing the process. Probably because I am not looking at things as an outsider would. Probably because I don’t think of changes as a process. Whatever the reason, I just don’t. As I am looking to make a multifaceted change in our household, it came to me the other day that maybe I should. This eagle didn’t learn to fly on day one, or day three. Instead, there were small steps and help from mom.

A concept I learned when earning my teaching license is scaffolding. It is a technique to help a stude…

The Reality of Life

As I think ahead to some changes I would like to make in my life, I acknowledge the fact that I need to make space for these changes to happen. Asking yourself to add more and more to your life without taking something away is a recipe for burnout. I know that is the cause of some of the issues I have at work. Everyday more new things are added and nothing is taken away. Trying to keep up with the contacts, the projects, the routine and the new taxes your brain. This is true for your home life as well. 
My husband and I are not big social people. We see a friend or two each month. We rarely seek out engagements, and therefore don’t really have to say “no” too often to other people, though we do when the invitation just doesn’t seem to fit right. However, there is another type of “no” we need to do better at, and that is saying “no” to ourselves, our ideas, our “want to do’s”.

For the month of July, I said “no” to myself during my “No New Ideas” month. It was amazing. The ability to ju…

How Did it Go?

Wonderful! Amazing! The best thing I have done for myself this summer!
What, you are asking? My "No New Ideas Month." In June, I realized I was creating too much brain drain and stress by constantly finding, researching, trying, deciding, looking up new ideas, and then repeating the process again and again. Telling myself I couldn't act on any new ideas for an entire month was an experiment that went beyond my expectations.

In fact, I was nervous about a week's vacation with this limitation, let alone a whole month. My normal week off would have been filled with time spent on new ideas. Instead, my vacation flew by without me even noticing the lack of new ideas. In fact, I didn’t even miss it the whole month.

The secret to succeeding at it? Realizing I have enough of my own ideas and interests! I really didn't need any more. Enough - a powerful word. It is actually the key to a lot of things.

It is amazing how many little things we accumulate in our lives. They are…

Add Some Nature to Your Life

Gentle winds, blue sky, warm sun. Wherever you live, city or country, Northern Hemisphere or Southern Hemisphere, there is an instant appeal to being outside on a nice day. You don’t have to be a nature lover or outdoorsman to recognize the good feelings we get just by walking out the door. A city garden, the forest, a lake, nature appeals to us.

There’s something about the vast openness of the sky that brings space and lifts your boundaries both mentally and physically. The sun makes everyone smile and bask in its glow. The colors of nature help soothe my mind. Interestingly enough, we try to replicate these colors inside our homes, but they just don’t have the same effect.

Lately, I’ve noticed how being outside helps all the things in my mind just dissipate. It's almost like the wind, the sky, the trees and the grass help declutter my mind. I'm able to just empty my thoughts or let them float around but not dwell on them. The breeze is blowing around me. I can hear the win…

No New Ideas Month

One thing I have a really hard time with is sitting still and just being. My mind never seems to shut off, jumping from one topic to the next. What I find to happen most often is that whenever I sit down to rest, all these ideas start flowing through my brain. Should we tear up the carpet and put down wood flooring? What is a new meal I can make for dinner? Can I watch the news on demand? How can I make money from home? What should my next quilt be? Oh, my iPad is sitting right next to me, I should look up how to ..... And so it starts.

Whether it is a quick fix, something to create, or just a new way of doing something, I am usually hooked.

Researching ideas is also something I like to do. I am a student at heart, a life-long learner who enjoys learning about new things. Researching new ideas is actually fun for me. I'd be more than happy to fill a notebook with notes on different topics. In fact, I have taken three internet classes (fortunately all three) to collect the informa…

More is Better, Right?

More is better, right? More food, more clothes, more room, more money.

It seems our society is driven by the word “more”. Commercials tell us what “more” we need to have and the products that will help us get “more”. Even if it isn’t a product.

Want more excitement in your life? Buy this. More friends? Buy that. More for your money? Use this service. More beautiful of a vacation? Go here. More luxury? We have it. More service? That’s us. Dissatisfied with your clothes/furniture/kitchen? You just need more things!
Our grocery stores are packed with isles of more. New products come out each day and we need more. There are so many stores to purchase clothing from, with more are added each day. There are more stores period. When I compare the choice of stores we have today, including online shopping, to what was available when I was a child, it is staggering.

Psychologically, we want more. We want more things, more options, more choices. Some people feel if they don’t have all these cho…

The Beach

We are a beach family. Our vacations center around the beach - camping, renting a house on the beach etc. Whenever we have a chance, I like to go to the beach. It is so relaxing and enjoyable.

However, I can’t get to the beach every day. And even though I could go in the winter, it isn’t quite the same. So what can I do? Close my eyes and imagine I’m there. This is a great relaxation tip.

You know that feeling you get sitting on a beach? It's like the waves carry all our cares and worries out to sea. You are instantly relaxed. The blue, blue of the sky. The teal blue of the water, the sun, the white sand. The sand is warm and eases into your body. The seagulls squawk overhead. 
The beach, so relaxing even if you aren't on vacation, you feel like you are. You can breathe in air, lots of air. Your eyes focus on the horizon which never ends. Your mind wanders, but doesn't settle on anything, it just wanders. 
There is the blue, blue sky going on forever. White, airless clods…

Multitasking to Save Time

My wellness a-game is to reduce stress. It has been like peeling an onion. I keep finding new layers within myself that I can change to help me reduce stress. As I peel some layers, I have found I do too many things at once. At home, at work, everywhere. And I don’t care what anyone says, when you do more than one thing at a time (currently called multi-tasking), you are not efficient. You are prone to mistakes. Dinner burns (yes, it does!) and your mind feels stressed in the process. 
I really feel that when you're multitasking, you are really trying to race to do two things at once. This causes your mind to think that you have to get more things done faster. Two things happen. First whenever I go too fast with anything I make mistakes. I drop things, I type the wrong word, I do something wrong, you name it I've done it. Second, the “race” causes stress. Your body tenses in anticipation of the physical effort. Shoulders hunch. Mind squeezes into gear. Adrenaline starts pumpi…

Stop the Race

When you look around you, what do you see? Usually lots of people racing around trying to get somewhere, or get something done. How often do you see people leisurely strolling along? How often do you get to travel an empty road?

The mall parking lot is full. The shops are crowded. Streets have an endless stream of cars hurrying somewhere. City sidewalks are a throng of people heading somewhere. At work, people are walking determinately through the hallways.
Last weekend, I drove into the city to pick up our daughter. In this part of town, streets built decades ago were not meant to hold so many cars. One car garages meant one car, not three per house. Navigating them meant pulling over to let others through. 
People were rushing all over to do their chores, jaywalking between cars. Cars lined up in the street to get into parking lots. Left turns were only for the fearless. 
The grocery store was built up instead of out. The five story attached parking garage is confusing to navigate. T…

Simple Life Interview

So what is simple living? 
Honestly, there isn't one right answer. Instead, there are many variations each as unique as the people who practice it. I guess simply put, it is the pursuit to simplify your life. 
Many people I have come in contact with have included the practice of decluttering their belongings as a place to start simplifying their lives. This decluttering helps not only lighten the physical load we carry, but allows us to evaluate our life and the possessions that fill it.
Learning to be satisfied with what we have, or have left after decluttering, is another aspect of simple living. After all, who wants to go through the process of decluttering only to fill it back up again? 
This simplification of our things helps us simplify other areas of our lives, such as schedules and reducing debt, so we have time to pursue positive endeavors such as wellness, travel, connections and experiences. 
Angela over at Setting My Intention has been running a Simple Living Intervie…

Slow Ride

Slow isn’t an action word in my recent life. I always seem to do everything fast. Or I should say I try to rush through everything I'm trying to get done so I can get the next thing done. Whether it's my to do list at work, or making dinner or going for a walk, I just can't help but to rush through it.
Seriously what am I going to do next? Rush through the next item. Do you know what if feels like to rush through things? It feels stressful. When I rush, I feel crunched for time. I feel pressure to get it done faster. My chest and shoulders tighten. My mind whirls. Most of the time, this is all stress I put on myself.

In analyzing how to reduce stress in my life, I made a really cool mind map. As I was creating it, I realized I need to try and slow down in a few areas of my life. Well, maybe a lot of areas of my life lol!

This week I am working on slowing down. It’s hard, darn hard. If I don’t make a conscious effort, I’m back to rushing through things.

My stress is linked to…