Resolutions for 2015

Resolutions for 2015

I usually do my “New Year’s” Resolutions on my birthday but for the sake of blogdom, I am doing them early.  Here they are….

2015 Resolutions

  • Health & Fitness
    • Loose 10 lbs by my birthday (April)
      • Cut carbs and sugar
        • try one new low-carb recipe each week
      • drink more water
        • replace one cup of coffee each day with 8 oz of water
        • after one week replace another one
      • Measure and weigh food
      • keep a food log
    • Be able to do 10 full pushups and 10 burpies by my birthday
      • go to gym 3x a week
      • find a yoga class that fits my schedule
  • Business
    • Talk to a lawyer by March about legal requirements
    • Have a “shop” or consignment arrangement by June for furniture
    • Participate in one craft fair or bazaar this year for home decor items
  • Personal
    • gratitude journal – not just OLTP list – 3x a week
    • continue meditation practice – work up to 10 minutes by June
      • spend at least two hours each weekend decluttering
    • finances
      • 52 week savings plan

As you can see, my main focus for the first part of the year will be Health and Fitness, an area which has suffered over the last 6 months.  I am also considering starting a business – I refinish furniture, make home-decor items and do interior redesign.  I will begin small and re-evaluate as I go.  Simplifying my life is another item on the list as is continuing my happiness practices.  Pretty ambitious.

One of the reasons that I think this is doable is because my guy will be back in school in January.  This means most of my weeknight evenings will be free and he’ll be doing homework on weekends.  I can choose to spend my time in front of the TV or doing something that will help me achieve my goals.  I am going to choose my goals!

What are your New Year’s resolutions?


Refurbishing your life

Refurbishing your life

On Sunday my guy’s son came by the house.  He has a World War I rifle that he wanted to refurbish.  He’d painted it some camo design and wanted to restore it back to the original wood stock.  For some reason, he seemed to think he could accomplish this job in a few hours.  What he didn’t realize was that first he had to strip it, then prep it and then finish it.

Changing your life is a lot like refinishing a rifle or a piece of furniture.  It takes certain steps – sometimes time-consuming steps.

First you have to strip away the old stuff.  He used a chemical that got most of the old stuff off fairly easily.  We need to do that too.  Say you wanted to improve your health.  What’s the old stuff?  The poor eating habits, the lack of exercise, not sleeping regularly, too much partying and stress.  You can identify them pretty easily. But just like the caustic chemicals used to remove old paint, it can be pretty rough on your self-esteem.  It stings! Nobody likes to admit they are “wrong” or “bad” or make “poor” choices. But we have to face up the old stuff.

Next you have to prep the newly exposed stuff to accept the new stuff.  In the case of the wood, it means sanding – lots of sanding and maybe some filling too.  This is an abrasive process.  You have to prep yourself too.  You have to change your thinking, your preconceived notions.  You might have to do some research.  And develop a plan. So you restock your pantry, join a gym or set an exercise routine.  You have techniques to deal with stress. Set up an accountability and goal-tracking system. Only then are you ready for the new finish.

Staining would be the next step for the rifle.  Using our health example you begin to eat healthy, exercise regularly, sleep properly, say no to the partying, and implement your stress reduction techniques.  Next come the protective finish.  This is where your accountability and goal-tracking system come into play.  This is how you measure your progress and protect yourself from damage, just like varnish protects the new paint or stain finish.

None of this can be done in a day.  It takes time and patience and often a bit of pain or discomfort.  But in the end, just like the restored rifle, you will be restored as well.


My Black Friday

My Black Friday

On Friday, November 21, I signed some papers which put an end to the nightmare that birthed The One Little Thing Project.  That Friday was my Black Friday.  Now that it is over, almost, I can share the story.

In 2011 after a two year separation, my husband of nearly thirty years and I finalized our divorce.  Due to the economy, the house was left in both names.  Selling or refinancing was out of the question, due to it being “upside down”.  I figured in the future, he would want to sell and I would sign whatever was necessary and whatever he made on it was his.

About 15 months after the divorce, he was diagnosed with cancer.  I didn’t find out about any of this until the doctors told him there was nothing else they could do.  In January of 2014, the battle was lost.

After his death, I waited to hear from the executor to determine what to do with the house.  I never got a call.  Rather, I got a past due notice from the city for real estate taxes.  Conflicting and confusing information followed.  It was horrifying to learn that I was over 225,000 in debt and I shared ownership of the property with my two estranged daughters.

I was WAY over my head and sought the help of a real estate agent and real estate attorney to go over the options.  I had to pay back bills, judgments, keep up the property and had to wait while others decided my future. I eventually negotiated a short sale with the lender, but each day for more than six months the huge black cloud over my head got larger and darker.

I lived each day in fear.  Fear that I’d check my bank account and find it frozen.  Fear that the mail would bring another surprise.  Fear that my credit, which I had worked so hard to build, would be ruined.  Fear that my paycheck would be zero because of a lien or garnishment.  Fear the my future would be cat food and a cardboard box.

Living in fear is not a pleasant experience.  Eating and sleeping were a problem.  Keeping my mind on work was a problem.  Making ANY decision was a problem.

But what I learned through this adversity will last a lifetime:

  • What was done was done – if only’s didn’t change a thing.
  • Live on day at a time – tackle one problem at a time – try not to get caught up in what if’s.
  • Ask for help and accept support – lean on others and respect their expertise.
  • Work on Plan A but having a Plan B or C gave me comfort.
  • Don’t forget the good things in your life – hang on to them and let them encourage you.
  • Let go – the Serenity Prayer helped me tremendously on my darkest days.
  • Ignoring things will not make them go away – take what action you can – actually doing something can give you a feeling of control.
  • Take care of yourself physically, mentally and emotionally – eat right or even better, exercise and practice relaxation techniques like yoga or meditation – all these things will help you deal with stress.
  • Don’t stop living – as tempting as it might be to hide or do nothing, keep living as normally as possible. Yes you may have to change some things or scale back but don’t stop living as normal a life as possible.  It is still okay to have a little fun.

While I’m sure there will be more fallout, I’m confident that I can get through it with what I’ve learned. And most of all, despite it all, I’ve learned how to be truly happier!

serenity prayer

An Optimistic View of Failure

An Optimistic View of Failure

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been working on a new project. I’m getting back to my creative side and working with some new mediums.  Taking the idea from my head to a finished piece is both exhilarating and frustrating. Sometimes a technique works and sometimes it doesn’t.  Sometimes a color or finish is just what I envisioned and sometimes it is less than pleasing. Sometimes it isn’t what I anticipated and is even better. As I struggle with the right amount of material and the right choices, I find I am disappointing in the results – it’s like making a recipe that sounds delicious, but ends up not so good.

But I haven’t thrown in the towel! As tempting as it might be to pack away my supplies and move on to something “safe”, I’m soldiering on with an optimistic attitude. Each less than perfect attempt is a learning experience. It is one more piece of the puzzle that will result in success. Persistence pays off. I am learning about technique and tools and process. I’m growing and I will bloom.

Did you ever meet someone who if they aren’t the best at something, they won’t do it again? Or someone who won’t play a game or sport if they don’t win the first time they play? I think they lose twice – and the loss of the opportunity to  learn and grow and achieve is far worse than the first loss.

“Failure” has so much to teach us if we rise to the challenge and see it as a positive things – a motivational thing. Failure can spur us to learn, re-evaluate, problem-solve. Sometimes the biggest lesson from failure is to show what we don’t want. (I think this is particularly true of relationships). Sometimes in overcoming a failure we encounter someone or something that adds an extra layer of richness to our lives – a coach, a mentor, a new friend, a new direction, a new insight.

This happened to me a few years ago. I won an interior design contest and the prize was the opportunity to attend a design seminar by a very popular, high-end designer.  It was a fabulous prize and something I could never afford on my own. I traveled on my own for the first time, stayed in  fancy hotel and got to meet not only this designer, but several others as well. The other attendees were all people who shared my passion for interior design. I wouldn’t call the experience a failure but it wasn’t what I envisioned. However I learned so much, mostly about myself and what my true passion is – not designing fancy houses but helping regular folk enrich their homes with their own style with accessories and styling. And so I help my neighbors lay tile floor, pick out paint colors and accessories and rearrange furniture. A disappointment lead to a new insight and direction.

Here is another example. My guy is going back to school to get the degree he needs to advance in his job. With 15 years experience, he really wasn’t too keen on the idea of sitting in intro classes in his field. At first people gave him vague answers or referred him to someone else. He kept getting the run-around. Oh, and it was frustrating. Another person might have just given up and taken the classes, spending time and money. But no, for him, it was a challenge and he prodded, followed up, pushed and demanded answers and in the end was rewarded with credit in several classes, shortening his time in school by at least a semester.

I think it also helps if you go into something expecting to have challenges and problems or roadblocks so that when you encounter them, you are already in an optimistic mindset to see them as a challenge and an opportunity.

Has “failure” ever turned out to be a good thing for you?



Mood Food

Mood Food

I know what foods are good for my body and my health.  I pay attention to what I eat every day, every meal.  I think about what I put in my stomach all the time!

I am not so good at about what I put in my mind.  Too often I feed my brain with sad songs, Facebook drama, TV and Internet news, murder mysteries, true crime and crime drama shows, and other people’s problems. None of these things could be considered uplifting, encouraging, positive or happy!  And lets face it – this stuff gets you riled up – and not in a good way.  And it’s addicting!  These things are nothing more than junk food for my mood.

How much entertainment junk food are you consuming? Imagine if you listened to uplifting, empowering music.  How do you think that would effect your mood?  And if your consumption of TV was a treat rather than a steady diet?  What if your friends made you join in their laughter and fun instead of their anger, complaining and drama?  Would you enjoy your social interactions more?  What if your reading material was about the lives of inspiring people?  Do you think they might inspire you?

If you were committed to being healthier, you would have to analyze your diet and make changes.  I think the same has to apply to your commitment to being happier.  It may be necessary to make changes.  And just like changing your diet, you might have to give up something things.  But don’t think about what you are giving up things.  Think about what you are getting – happiness, peace, contentment, and encouragement.  And really is it so bad to give up drama, anger, stress, sadness and negativity?



15 things you should quit doing now!

15 things you should quit doing now!

“Winners never quit and quitters never win”  Really?

Things you should quit (in no particular order)

  1. complaining
  2. comparing yourself to others
  3. apologizing when you don’t do anything wrong
  4. trying to be someone else
  5. using your net worth to build your self worth
  6. buying things you don’t need especially on credit
  7. living in the past
  8. carrying a grudge
  9. putting yourself last
  10. compromising your values
  11. speaking negatively about other people
  12. speaking negatively about yourself
  13. eating junk food
  14. putting yourself down
  15. getting involved in other people’s drama


Bad Habits and how to change them

Bad Habits and how to change them

Habits.  They come in good and bad varieties.  I have a lot of bad ones.  I get on this crazy bandwagon every once in a while and I want to fix everything at once – negative thinking, my diet, my exercise routine, my time management, my organization – or really lack of  – to name a few.  (Yes, I’m an overachiever.) I make a plan – outlining steps for each area – and I fail – miserable at all of them.  It was all too much!

And it was too much.  Trying to change too much at the same time is a recipe for disaster.

The key to successful change according to Leo Babauta of Zen Habits is change only one habit at a time.   “This is incredibly important — most people ignore it because they underestimate how much focus it takes to actually stick to a new habit. It’s easy to start a habit, or even 5 of them at once. Sticking to them is another story. Please note that this is one habit period — don’t think you can do one fitness habit, one social habit, one work habit, etc. One habit only. Do not break this rule.”

Equally important – start small.   Here is Leo’s prescription: “Most people are optimistic and try to make too big a change. There’s so many reasons to start small with a habit change that I can’t even list them all, but let’s take some of the most important. If you start small, the discomfort of change isn’t overwhelming. If you start small, you overcome the problem of inertia and not getting started. You also overcome the problem of burning through all your enthusiasm, or using up your willpower reserves. You make it impossible to say no, impossible to fail, if you start small. Some examples: meditate for 2 minutes, just get out the door and run for a minute, eat 1 vegetable a day, smoke 1 time less per day.”

This is one of the reasons why when I started my One Little Thing Project, I set the bar low.  I only had to write just one thing each day.  Some days it is easy to write lots of them.  Some days, not so much.  I am trying to build the habit of focusing on the positive.  Each day it gets easier because I started small.

For more on habit changing check out Leo’s story and the lessons he learned about habits.  And you might want to consider making reading Leo’s blog a habit!