LifeHacks, Self Help

What I Do To Stop Always “Hurrying”

There I was, sitting in rush-hour traffic and waiting for the light to turn GREEN so I could merge over the the left. If you know me, you’d know I’m usually calm and don’t get too upset about traffic. But today, it was different. I found myself talking out-loud, “Umm… lady, you see my blinker you see I have to merge! What’s the face for?” I really couldn’t believe how angry I was. After we all merged and I got behind her car, I followed a little more closely, and had to check myself. What has gotten into you? It’s just traffic, it’s not the end of the world. 

I’m the kind of person who always has a to-do list. The kind of person who, plans, organizes, and wants things done. But when I cram my schedule so full, I become another person. When I place the importance of my “list” higher than my peace that day, I always lose. And maybe this has happened to you too. Where you just want to get things done that you lose your cool, you snap, and turn into a totally different person.

So here are some practical tips to keeping your peace while you need to get things done:

  1. You create your schedule. Sometimes you need to figure out what you need to do versus what you or others place on you to do. Your schedule is your own. If there is no “down time” and it’s a constant frenetic pace, you’ll eventually burn out.
  2. Outsourcing, it’s not just for businesses. If you can have some family or friends do some of the things with the kids or help with some cooking or laundry, let them. And if you have the means to pay a part-time housekeeper, do it. It’s worth your sanity.
  3. Not all meals need to be chef quality. While I firmly believe in a healthy lifestyle, that doesn’t mean your meals need to be they way Grandma did Thanksgiving. A can of soup with a dinner roll or a tuna or chicken wrap on the go is just fine.
  4. Your [mom] friends get it. When I’m overwhelmed or having a rough time, many times I’ll call or message one of my girlfriends who have been through this motherhood thing. Because they totally get it. They understand the exhaustion and the work. And you don’t realize just how much you need them until you’ve reached this point in your new mom world. But just talking and laughing with them, can be such medicine to your soul.
  5. Proper, prior preparation — makes for perfect presentation. I remember my Uncle Dave saying that to us as kids in a funny way, but it is true. There’s some level of preparing ahead that makes the unexpected in life more manageable. Using time that you might be spending online to pack lunches the night before, or using your lunch break to take a walk to get in your exercise so you don’t “miss it again”, can be huge. Use that time wisely to prepare for those things you know will have to get done. It will cut down on the Monday morning mayhem — always.

Your peace and your sanity is important. You can’t enjoy your family, your work, or your home without being peaceful and calm. When you constantly feel like one wrong thing is going to “send you over the edge” (and I’ve been there), you’re not a pleasant person and you don’t feel great either.

Learn yourself and what sets you off. Learn the things that bother you and tick you off. If it’s being late, maybe tip #5 of preparing ahead is for you. If it’s feeling lonely or overwhelmed maybe #4 and your friends are going to be your biggest support. Whatever it is, take care of you. And keep your peace.

 

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Intentional, New Motherhood, Self Help

5 Tips to Losing the Baby Weight

My pregnancy was truly, a breeze. I was able to work all the way through; I went to the gym daily and really felt great. I know most don’t have this experience but I did. However, I did gain weight with my baby, as I think most every mom does. It’s just a normal part of the process. I gained about 40 lbs. but looked and felt rather healthy. I was able to lose the first 10 within the week, mostly all baby. The next 20 over the next two months came off easily. The last 10? Yikes. It felt like the bad breakup that wouldn’t go away.

And I felt bad. I felt “not me”. I felt a little out of place. I’m sure you have too. But I also felt determined to be better. It was a feeling that I need to be stronger, need to be better. Because it became about more than baby weight or spare pounds. It started becoming about my long-term health goals, how and I going to perform for the next two-thirds of my life?

So here’s what helped me:

  1. Know Your Habits

Don’t tell yourself things like, “I can’t eat any carbs” or “there’s no way I can have any sugar”. While it’s true you may need to limit your intake, I found when I told myself no, I wanted it more. For instance, there’s no way my morning breakfast sandwich will become oatmeal. I like oatmeal but my favorite meal, is breakfast. I’m not going to try and change the way my body works and what I like. The reason; I can’t maintain that. I can’t maintain “no carbs” ever. But what I can do it limit it. So here’s my solution for myself. I do a breakfast sandwich or an omelet in the morning, for lunch I do a decent sized lunch of a chicken salad or something of a similar portion. Dinner is my smaller meal, I scale it down. Know yourself and what you can realistically maintain. I’m sure depriving yourself gets quick results but probably not lasting.

2. Replace Snacks.

When I’m tempted to get a snack after my main meal, or to go for seconds, I’ll opt for more veggies or a fruit. My weakness is carbs, the rolls, the breads and bagels. So instead, I’ll opt for another salad or something cleaner, even yogurt. I’ll stop and think about what it is before eating, i.e. cheese and crackers instead of the chips, etc. It’s the small wins and the little habits I’m trying to change.

3. Get moving!

Odds are, your baby loves walks. She loves the outdoors, the leaves, and the grass. Take advantage of this. Get that stroller out and go for a walk. I’ve been trying to incorporate more movement into my day. Too often I forget how great a walk feels when you’re done. We also started taking Chase hiking in a hiking pack for babies. This is a great way to get moving and have a lot of family fun.

4. Shakes are good!

I am NOT a big shake person, I’ll admit. The idea of getting a bunch of junk in the blender or tasting chalk in my drink makes my stomach churn. But here’s what I do instead. I bought a shake blender cup that includes the blender ball. From there, I just use core power because it tastes great and not chalky. When I hit an afternoon lull after lunch, before dinner, I’ll drink it and it gives me a second wind without causing any afternoon cravings. It’s also a great source of protein.

5. Focus on Stronger.

I used to get on the scale all the time post-par tum, wondering why the numbers weren’t in my favor one day to the next. Instead, I stopped that. First of all, it’s silly; secondly, it’s not effective. Every day, work toward progress. Every day, try and eat better than the day before. Focus on getting your body stronger, loving your body. Treat it well; get the nutrition you need because it makes you a better mom, a better wife. Focus on health and wellness because of how good it makes you feel. It should be less about numbers and more about strength. Be strong mama.

Life Balance, Self Help

How I Made My Schedule Less Hectic

Every night, I have this ritual. It’s after Chase has had his bath, his food, his stories and is sound asleep, albeit snoring. It’s after the work day is done, the phone calls, emails, and last minute memos. It’s after driving and dodging traffic and catching toys being flung in mid-air. It’s in the quiet time, when all I can hear is the distant train out the window and see the sun setting. These are my absolute precious moments–maybe this sounds familiar. But you should know if wasn’t always this way.

Like most, I lost my cool many times. I was never angry, but just felt frazzled, out of control. Mornings were filled with trying to get out the door, trying to keep my composure and to not “snap”. It wasn’t until juggling a full family that I understood why there was a show about moms “snapping”… I get it now! Sometimes there’s just. too. much. But we can’t stop life. We can’t stop the pace, for the most part. So what do we do?

We take time and enjoy the quiet. After Chase is in bed and all has been taken care of, the house is silent, that’s when I recharge my battery. I do it on purpose. I’ll turn on some music or a funny video. Then I grab the vacuum, run the dishwasher, make the beds… but I do it to my own beat. There might be some dancing, I may call a friend while I’m cleaning, but it feels good to have some time to myself and regain some “order”. In a world where we can’t control much, controlling my personal time, bringing my space to attention, it just feels good.

Some might say, why not just let the house wait? But to me, there’s a feeling of accomplishment. Because I know when it’s done, I’ll grab my book, sweatpants, and a cup of tea, and I’ll drink the evening in. It’s my reward. And when I do this, enjoy the stillness of the evening, I take the time to remember all I’m grateful for. A house I can clean, a baby I can love, a space we can call our own, the job that I beat traffic to get to. I enjoy it. And it took a while to get to that place of learning to enjoy things, but cleaning every night, doing my ritual of downtime, it’s just so good for the soul. It recharges me, it makes me less edgy in the morning.

So if you can do it, take the morning, the evening, your lunch break, find YOUR moment. It’s so worth it and it’s such an essential part of taking care of yourself. Drink from your cup so you have something to give to others.

Impact, Mom Life, Personal Development, Self Help

The Little Changes Add Up

I think as moms, wives, women, people, we assume that if we can’t “eat the whole elephant” or accomplish the big goal all at once, then we have somehow failed. It’s not true. The true wins are in the everyday, the ordinary, the habits we form daily. I don’t think we are supposed to have “made it” quite so quickly. It’s the little tweaks, the small improvements and corrections that really make the biggest differences.

I may not have time to run five miles a day but I can walk before work.
I may not have time to spend with my baby all day but I can spend two hours of focused moments after work.
I may not have time to travel where I’d like to right now but I can go on a trail I’ve never been to.
I may not have time to do lunch with my relatives but I can give them a call to check in.
I may not have time to get my masters but I can read every night.
I may not be able to give millions to disaster relief but I can give something.

It’s so not about my limitations, it’s about doing what I can do, enjoying what I do have, and being who I can be.

overcoming, Passion, Personal Development, Recovery, Self Help

10,000 Hours…

If you’re anything like me, a recovering perfectionist, you get really annoyed when you can’t do something well, naturally. I remember it back in school. I was a natural academic but not naturally athletic. I would get very annoyed and frustrated when I couldn’t play baseball in gym class or shoot hoops flawlessly like the jocks. Who knows why, but many of us have this idea that was carried with us throughout school and adulthood, that most skills come naturally and if they don’t, that there’s something inherently wrong with us. I’d accredit this idea to our upbringing by parents who expected perfection and rewarded us based on this “accomplishment” system…but I digress. We think skills, even those we are gifted with, come to us naturally, as if it doesn’t take hours of sweat and toil to make us “great”.

We all have some natural skill or aptitude in something; stunning business acumen, sports, or music. And many times we feel that that innate natural ability is all that will carry us into success. But we forget a huge component to making it to that genius or success level in our talent. Practice.

It seems so boring yet so rehearsed. Practice.  You heard it in school, over and over, “practice makes perfect”. Is there actually something to that phrase or is it just bologna? According to Malcolm Gladwell, there’s a magic number to reaching the mastery level in any skill. 10,000 hours. It takes 10,000 hours of practice doing something to become an expert. 10,000 hours of speaking, writing, singing, marketing…etc. And I think we forget this main ingredient when we pursue our natural gifts. Because they are so natural to us, we feel almost as if becoming “great” in it should just come, well, naturally. But that’s very deceiving. Just because something comes natural to us, doesn’t mean it doesn’t or won’t require practice. It seems so obvious that effort would be a necessary ingredient for success but it’s so easily overlooked, probably because it’s so simple… not easy, but simple.

I remember as a new working person in the professional world, being yet again annoyed that I wasn’t at the level of my superiors. But yet again, it’s practice, it’s time. Of course those that have been in the business world for twenty years have an edge over someone who has been alive twenty years… it seems so clear that it takes time and rehearsal to hone in on our skills to achieve mastery.

So if you are gifted want to be a “great” writer, write. You want to be a great business person, put in the time prospecting. Don’t get discouraged that it takes time, that it requires practice. That’s why we had band practice, track practice, etc. We even called it “practice” in school, and I don’t think that was a mistake.

Keep practicing, don’t despise the process. When we see the greatness of others exhibited, we don’t see the hours of toil, of failure, we only see the end product. But it took them also, 10,000 hours…

Put in the time to become a master.

 

 

photocredit: http://kayleadershipacademy.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/10K-where-to-apply.jpg.

Awareness, Self Help

For Perfectionists Like Me…

I used to think that I was a procrastinator… always putting off something important. For instance, I’d clean my house and spend hours on that, instead of reaching out to customers or calling the cable company. Sometimes it’s the tasks that we know we can handle that we do first to avoid the less desirable ones. I could scrub a toilet more easily than focus on my manuscript or talk to my boss–it just felt easier.

It took some time and self-reflection, but I found that my procrastination was NOT about laziness. I would work hard at what I did, but it just might be in the wrong order, so much so that I would have no energy left when I finally got around to the “hard” tasks at the end of the day. The reason subconsciously why I would put off those harder tasks was really rooted in a need to have them perfect.

What I would do is instead of just completing the more challenging activity and getting it DONE, I would overcomplicate it. Instead of organizing my closet and just doing it, I’d think well I’ll need to have a donation pile, color code this, and iron all my items in the same day! Instead, all I needed to do was just, refold some items and donate a couple shirts. But in my mind, I’d already mentally created a roadblock, so then I never would actually get around to doing it.

We do that with a lot of things in life. We overcomplicate them in our minds, and never execute. We have good intentions, but never pull the trigger. I found that what I need to do to overcome this hurdle, is to just do it! I think many times it’s because we fear the failure, or think it needs to be perfect the first time around. But most things in life aren’t and require drafts and edits and revisions.

The blog post might have errors in it and might not be my BEST writing, but I did one today. The database I created might not be perfect yet, but I started it! My closet might not be thoroughly spic and span, but I’ve got a start on it.

I found that action is better than delayed perfection.

I can’t fix a piece of writing I never started and I can’t improve a goal that never existed. I need to start somewhere. And it may not be my destination, but it’s a beginning. And a beginning in action is better than a thought unexecuted.

 

 

Photo credit: http://www.bing.com/images/search?view=detailV2&ccid=07GLL4FN&id=39B08D6865BC01340940B478B43BA7F8556AD220&q=perfection&simid=608020641495975339&selectedIndex=9&ajaxhist=0

Change, Empowerment, Self Help, Struggle, Uncategorized

WHEN THEY GET WHAT YOU WANTED

It’s been a personal struggle of mine for a while, albeit, one that seems to improve over time. But isn’t it challenging, when you see a friend get the job you wanted, you felt YOU deserved, or when someone got a promotion at work that YOU felt you worked so hard for? The list goes on… their car, their kids, their spouse, just seems BETTER?

I think with social media, the problem of “coveting” or wishing we had what we don’t have, has only gotten worse. We see pictures on Facebook and Instagram and somehow think that’s a glimpse of reality; sometimes it is, mostly it’s not.

In my own life, I remember being really envious of someone I had worked with in the past who seemed to be so financially well off. No student loans, no obligations, just doing (according to my mind) really well. And I had such a hard time NOT resenting this person. I thought about how many menial jobs I’d worked in high school and even in college, and thought, how dare you be doing better than me when you didn’t work as hard? But see, all those statements I made up in my head (because they aren’t the truth) were all just inferences I had made. I don’t know his struggles, I don’t know how hard he worked or his story. I’m just making snap judgments to make myself feel self-righteous. But I’ve been there, and I know that it can be so challenging to truly say, “I’m happy for you.”

Over the years, I’ve learned to say that phrase–even when I didn’t mean it yet. Because I realized, we aren’t all competing with each other, we are empowering one another to bigger and better things. When I stopped viewing others as a “competitor” in a race to “greatness” or “success”, I started helping them, seeing them as humans with flaws. We all have struggles, even if they are silent ones. I also realized how grateful I was to have them in my life, and for all the blessings I have every day, that my envious spirit was blinding me to. When I focused on what I had an my own abilities, I became more self-aware than outward focused. By doing so, I become more friendly, joyful, a better peer and friend.

So appreciate all you have, don’t worry about the competition. You aren’t in a race against others, only for your personal goals.

Passion, Personal Development, Recovery, Self Help

STOP HELPING OTHERS WHO DON’T WANT IT

Not an overly creative title, but you get the point. Have you ever tried to walk a dog, and they just didn’t want to go. Every inch you went, you pulled on that leash, willing for that stubborn hound to move, and he just wouldn’t budge? Well, we’ve all had that moment with an animal, but what about with other people?

Have you tried helping someone get a job, or get out of debt, or gave them a piece of marital advice, and they just blew you off? They acted like they might be listening, but the whole time they did, their heart was just not in what nuggets of wisdom you were sharing. I’ve done that many times, and then felt insulted that my advice wasn’t heeded or help not welcomed. Why won’t they just listen? I’ve been through this before, what I’m saying makes perfect sense…

And that all might be true. What you’re saying and explaining might be spot on. But there’s many different reasons why others just might not act on your advice.

1. They may not be ready to hear it.
Sometimes other people are going through circumstances that make them impervious to what you’re saying. They hear your words but it makes no connection with their heart. They simply are not ready.

2. They just don’t care.
Not all people are motivated and want to be better. Let’s just admit it. Sometimes mediocrity is the goal, and self-improvement, well… why bother?

3. They feel ashamed listening to your advice.
It can be intimidating to listen to someone on their “high horse” talk about how they figured something out while this other person is learning. It can be humbling. It’s not that they don’t want your advice, but it’s just hard to hear.

Whatever the reason, stop casting your pearls of wisdom to those that don’t seek you out. If someone wants to change, they’ll have the initiative to start and make the first move. But handing out help, when it’s not wanted is a waste of your time and efforts. Use those efforts for those that value your perspective and want to win.

Family, Growth, Self Help, Tragedy

My Life from an Adidas Bag: A Journey to Stability

To most people an Adidas bag isn’t something too special. It’s what you put your sweaty gym clothes in or what you carry around when traveling. This bag did all of that with me, but it’s more than that. This bag has a story.

When my mother’s mental illness began to “peak” around high school, when it was undeniable and in “full force”, staying at home became an impossibility. You didn’t know from minute to minute if she would be nice mom or angry abusive mom; it was probably akin to living with an alcoholic. My sister and I were at the mercy of her manic episodes. Knowing this, I pursued my driver’s license right away and passed on my first try; I knew what would happen if I didn’t, so I was highly motivated. I would take this adidas bag with me and pack my belongings and overnight items in it as well as my backpack for school. Some nights, I’d stay with my friend Katie, sometimes my friend Sara. Other nights, I’d stay with Jim & Sally and their therapy dogs. I became somewhat of a gypsy, a product of what I’d grown up trying to escape.

The experience that lasted from about age 17 to 21, created an adulthood and an independence in me at a very tender age. From age 12 and on, I always had at least one job. When I started to live with extended family and friends, I usually had at least two jobs. I’d go to school during the day, and then work as a waitress from about 4 to 12 PM, and on weekends, I worked filing at a dental office. I learned the value of work, and work took my mind off what I knew I couldn’t change. I grew up in those years, more than I wish I had. I sometimes regret not being able to go to sporting events with friends, and to not have my mind wonder. I regret not being able to know what it means to “just have fun”, “just be a teenager”. It was hard to relate to my peers, hard to become friends because I felt the need to be so serious, so stoic, so invincible. Truth is, I wasn’t. The truth is, there were days I had such a hard time and I wanted to give up. But I kept putting one foot in front of the other, day by day. Eventually, years later…life started to become a little easier, my past a little less painful, and my future, a little more bright.

When I look back on this bag, it shows me the importance of stability in someone’s life. It’s hard to save money, to do well in school, to stay on the straight and narrow, and to have meaningful relationships, when you feel you have so much to fear, so much to constantly worry about. I was in a constant state of “looking over my shoulder”, listening to the garage door for my mother to come home, and just dreading what would happen next. What a gift it is now, to sit on my couch, to just “be” and to not worry about walking on eggshells. To have the freedom, the luxury, to let your guard down, to simply relax in your cup of coffee, or sit down and read with a good book, it’s such a gift to me now – I’ll never take it for granted. Eating family meals, going to get-togethers, I remember a time when that was so hard for me to do, but now, I fully savor it. But I never forget those days of struggle, they’re a part of me. Now, I have such an appreciation for those constants in life, the stability of friends and family. Slowly, those earlier years, are fading and being replaced with newer and kinder memories, all a part of a greater tapestry that is my life.

LifeHacks, Self Help

Work-Life Balance Solution for Women: The Very Real Struggle

When I found out I was pregnant with our first child, I was in shock, over-joyed and a little concerned. How exactly, would I get off the “tread mill” of life and take care of a baby and a full time career? This has been conversation for many women for a long time, and does affect men as well. But I think there’s a special amount of panic for women as we are the primary care-takers of infants– by biology’s design.

So I did what any other woman would do when she’s unnecessarily frazzled–I talked to my mom. “Mom you don’t understand. Childcare will cost about $1000 a month, and that’s if I don’t have twins! You know twins run in our family…” Now granted, the baby is the size of an orange seed but already, my mind raced toward the worst possible outcomes. How do I pay for all of this? How do I mention this to my boss and co-workers? What if my job doesn’t feel the same when I get back from my maternity leave? The questions I had were endless.

I think so many women feel like they are being pulled, literally, in two different directions. Their mind pulls one way and their hearts to the other. With modern technology, I think that there is and will be more mom-preneurs. Any why shouldn’t there be? This is the perfect solution for women to be autonomous and to create the life they envision. No longer are they tugged into different directions. Once, as women, we get a grip on the power we have within us and available to us, I think the landscape of our jobs will change, and with it, a better solution for our families who need us.