Unclutter Your Life

How To Make the Most Of Thanksgiving

As I start thinking about Thanksgiving, I am filled with A LOT of mixed emotions.  Growing up, it was a day filled with football games (Neptune vs Asbury), family and lots of food.  Then, life changed and I don’t really remember much of the time between family gatherings and being a mom.  I know we celebrated but they are some of the memories lost in my brain.  Then came Belinda and recovery.  Reuniting with my dad and the other side of the family.  Thanksgiving was one of the two holidays which were “dad” holidays.  This year, is filled with LOTS of emotions.  I am celebrating eighteen months clean and blessed to be having TWO thanksgivings.  Hubby took Wednesday off so we will celebrate with mom on Wednesday and then Thanksgiving Day with Patti and the crew.  I’m sure I will cry lots of tears.  Sad Belinda will again not be home for the holidays and for those who are no longer with us (definitely going to miss Dad’s mashed potatoes.)

The best advice I can give it to take time out to truly appreciate this special day of thanks.  Here are some tips to make this year’s Thanksgiving the most festive and fun-filled yet.

1. Plan ahead for the day you want

It sounds simple, but your ideal holiday won’t materialize unless you make it happen. Maybe you envision a formal Thanksgiving dinner complete with centerpieces, nameplates and an elegant menu. If that’s your plan, spell it out ahead of time. If you want potluck, paper plates, jeans and football, plan it and let people know. Share your desires openly with family, i.e. “I hope you will stay all day so we can have lots of time together”—to create the day you want.

2. Think about timing

It may sound like a no-brainer, but the timing of your dinner can impact the entire day. If you call your mealtime too early, you might get stressed with the-time crunch of meal prep (unless you’ve done most of it in the days before). Some like to eat later in order to enjoy appetizers and the anticipation of the holiday meal all day. Or maybe you have guests who are going to be glued to a particular football game during the day. Growing up dinner was always at 5PM, it gave everyone time to get home from the game, rest and be ready to eat since mom-mom very seldom let us in the kitchen to help (or at least I don’t remember her letting us).  Be sure to consider all of these variables and plan accordingly.

3. Relax your expectations

When I have company, this is the toughest thing for me to do!  Without dwelling on it, acknowledge something will likely go wrong with your day, but that’s OK. A quirky uncle might say something, well, quirky. Someone might not show up who said they would. If you want to have the best possible holiday, roll with the punches. (Rest assured: No one’s Thanksgiving is perfect.)

4. Set up a kids’ table

LOL.  A random memory of when we had family dinners at our house.  The kids table was ALWAYS in the kitchen but close enough to the dining room.  I know this isn’t the kin of table they are talking about but it was a great random memory.  How about letting the kids help make construction-paper place mats for their special table. It’s fun for kids to eat away from the adults, and you are likely to hear lots of giggles, too.  We still have two tables when we eat Thanksgiving – one in the dining room and one in the kitchen.  Unfortunately, there aren’t many little ones (yet) to have kids and adults at separate tables.

5. Take a moment to observe

Take a moment during the festivities to stop doing and just notice what is happening all around you. Watch your family as an observer; what do you see? When we stop scurrying around in host (or guest) mode, we can absorb our blessings: family, friends, a nice home, good food, our health, a break from work, laughter and more. When you stop to pay attention, we enjoy the day more fully and create vivid memories.  This has been one of the greatest gifts of recovery…. being present in the moment!

6. Take a walk

So much food, so many people, so much indoor time—you could really use a little fresh air to slow your day down and take a moment to breathe in the crisp air. Walking after a big meal wakes you up and helps you digest. Even if it’s cold, bundle up and enjoy your holiday with a brisk walk.

7. Don’t clean up right away

Thanksgiving dinner can take hours to prepare, and if you start cleaning up as soon as your meal is finished, when do you actually get to enjoy it? Cleaning up also can send the unintended message it’s time for guests to stop conversing and start helping or even leave. Enjoy the conversation fully before you pick up all the plates. Consider having dessert an hour or more after dinner to encourage family members and friends to relax, connect and stick around for a while.

8. Remember what the day is about

It’s isn’t just turkey, football and pies. Thanksgiving is truly about coming together as a family to give thanks. Focus on your blessings, and your own happiness and appreciation will infuse your holiday and guests with joy.

Share your favorite Thanksgiving memory with us…. Have a blessed day!

Home Organization, Unclutter Your Life

Household Items You Should Toss

Thank you Real Simple for today’s post….

Fall is time for seasonal cleaning, right?  I grew up on when homes were deep cleaned at least every season – spring, summer, winter and fall.  We sorted through clothes, moved furniture and got things ready for the next season (decorating, changing curtains, etc).  In the hectic world we live in, I’m not so sure it happens anymore but there are definitely some things which should be tossed on a periodic basis….if you hang onto these household staples longer than you should, and you risk spreading germs, dirt, or dust around your entire home. YUK!  The good news: replacing these household essentials shouldn’t take long at all and cost very little.  So, tack this onto your weekend to-do list and avoid all of the icky consequences of keeping these items around.

Kitchen Sponges

I’m sure you know this and if you didn’t, I’m sure you can SMELL when these get nasty.  The reality is porous kitchen sponges are the ultimate breeding ground for germs. New research shows the old cleaning-sponges-in-the-microwave trick doesn’t really work, the only solution is to replace your sponge more often. You’ll avoid spreading E. coli and salmonella to every dish you think you’re washing—making it well-worth stocking up on this cleaning essential.How often should you replace it? It is recommended at least once a week. Or consider an alternative sponge, like Norwex’s Envirosponge (one of my favorites)  The soft EnviroCloth microfiber side also has the ability to remove up to 99% of bacteria from a surface when following the proper
care and use instructions.  The best part, it can be used repeatedly; use, wash and use again, no need to continually reach for a new sponge or dispose of old one

Bed Pillows

Research shows after two years of use (how long have you had your pillows?), more than one-third the weight of the pillow is actually comprised of dust mites (both living and dead) and dead skin. If this doesn’t make you want to toss your pillow out the window immediately, we don’t know what will.
How often should you replace them? A synthetic pillow you have never washed, plan to replace it about every 6 months. If you wash your synthetic or down pillows at least twice a year (here’s the best method), they should last up to 3 years.

Shower Loofah

A loofah is basically your shower’s equivalent of the kitchen sponge. YUK!!! Luckily, it doesn’t need to be clean enough to eat off of, but its crevices do harbor bacteria, which the moist environment of the shower helps to grow.
How often should you replace it? Replace a plastic loofah about every two months. Besides spreading bacteria, they will also tend to lose their shape, which defeats their exfoliating abilities.  An alternative is Norwex’s Body Scrub Mitt. This product will help you to uncover fresh, new and glowing skin as it removes dead skin cells, revealing beautiful, smoother skin with just one hand.  Best part, you can wash and use it again.

Water Filter

If you have a refrigerator with a built-in water filter, chances are you don’t replace the filter as often as you should. When it isn’t replaced often enough, the filter can’t do its job of separating out impurities from your family’s drinking water. Even if you don’t notice a difference in taste, mineral buildup could be slowing down the flow of water.  Maybe you don’t have one of these and you have a Brita filter system…. the ones where you put water in the top, it filters out the junk and you keep it in the fridge so you have cold fresh water all the time.  Do you replace this filter as often as it says on the box?  Probably not.  How often should you replace them? Check the guidelines for your refrigerator model, but many brands recommend replacing the filter every 6 months or so.  If you use a Brita, I think it is at least once a month!

Old Plastic Containers

When shopping for plastic food storage containers nowadays, you’ll probably notice a little sticker or note assuring you they are “BPA-free.” But BPA, a plastics chemical some believe can affect development, was once common in such containers. While the FDA reports exposure to low levels of BPA is safe, if you’re still concerned, you might want to toss out those containers you’ve had stashed for decades.  If you have “old” tupperware containers, time to trade them in for some of the new ones….Throw away older plastic containers, and invest in BPA-free options or these stylish glass alternatives.

Need some help finding some awesome “clean products”… Check out Meredyth’s Norwex website.  Never heard of Norwex???  Their mission is to “improve the quality of life by radically reducing chemicals in our homes.”  I use A LOT of their products and they do really work….

Have a blessed day!

Unclutter Your Life

Thankful Thursday: For Truths Not Shared

Truth-FacingtheLion

Truth is defined as “that which is true or in accordance with fact or reality.”.  As my MS progresses, my memory is sketchy.  My truth relies on the memories of others…. I wonder sometimes if their truth would have been my truth in the same situation.  I am sure those around me are tired of hearing “I don’t remember that” or “here is a random memory”.    The bits and pieces of my truth are a struggle but I trust God has a plan and his will prevails.

This blog post was one I found but really seemed to apply to how things are going today….I had the pleurae of meeting Traci Bild at the Mom Grows a Business Conference several years ago.   She talked about the “7 Truths that Women are Afraid to Share“.  Here awesome excerpts, see if any of them apply to you:

1. We’re Guilty, like ALL the time: WOW!  I thought I was the only one who felt like this, so nice to know I am not alone.  The word “sorry” is something I say a lot and most of the time it is for stuff I can’t even do anything about.  I am learning to not say “sorry” except if it is something I have actually done which is definitely hard for me.

2. We WORRY about EVERYTHING: There is never enough time in the day and no matter how hard you try, you will never get everything done. There is simply too much to do.  Is your To Do List way too long with things that could probably be done with the help of others?  Just for Today, I will turn things over to God and let him handle things.

3. We’re Letting our Health Slip:  In the past, I used to do this and yes, I still do sometime.  Having a diagnosis of MS, letting things go is not an option.  There are others in my life (primarily hubby) who tend to put me before their own health concerns.  Do you have a tendency to say “I am fine” even when you are not feeling great?

4. Our Work-Life Balance Looks Like a 2-year-old on a Balance Beam: A nice term, most women simply can’t strike it. So busy living life, you don’t have time to work ON your life and find ways to create balance.  I LOVE this.  My feeble attempt to work on balance was to take the notifications off of my phone so the only time it “rings” is for an actually call OR a text message.  Novel concept huh?

5. Our love lives are on the Back Burner:  GUILTY!  Enough said.

6. We are in Constant Comparison Mode:  From my ability to maintain my goal weight, to the amount of dust bunnies taking up residence behind the couch to my business – I always compare myself to others!  Social media plays a factor in this craziness for me which is why I have left groups, unfollowed people and just try to limit my time on Facebook.  Being in recovery, I am learning more how NOT to do this.  Spend more time living your life than watching others live theirs.  

7. We’re Still Not Happy!: The end result is people are not happy. While women have more opportunity than ever before, we are more unhappy than at any other time in history. You have the power to create happiness but it requires tough decisions, laser focus on your priorities and standing by them at all cost.

So, how many of these truths are you?  Let’s be honest with each other…Just for today, I am going to focus on me, and spend some quality time with hubby and family.

Have a blessed day!

 

Unclutter Your Life

How to Simplify Your Morning

The school year is underway and for some the transition has been smooth sailing while for others, they are still trying to figure out the hectic morning routine.  I can barely remember those hectic mornings or getting Belinda out the door and me to work but I’m sure they were anything but smooth.

I know hitting the snooze button was always an option but when I rolled back over to eke out five more minutes of sleep I knew it was going o be a crazy morning.   The rest of the morning would fly by in a blur as I quickly got dressed, fed Belinda (who was not a morning person) and got out the door before being late to work.  Thankfully, I never had to punch a time clock or I would have definitely been in trouble!

Did you know by making a few simple tweaks to your morning routine, you can start every day off on the right foot. Give ’em a try if you’re ready to reclaim your morning sanity and actually feel joyful about the day to come.

1. Map out your morning menu

Skipping breakfast was always an option in our house since neither one of us were big breakfast eaters…. BUT they say it is the most important meal of the day and it is brain food, right?  Most kids and their tiny tummies wake up hungry, and they naturally all want something different to eat. By making note of what you (and your family members) will be eating each morning, it eliminates the chaos which comes with trying to throw something together at the last minute.

2. Steer clear of your cellphone

Electronics PERIOD!  That means your laptop, tablet or any other tools and toys. It’s no secret social media is a giant time-sucker, but tethering yourself to any technology in the morning eats away at minutes you could be spending in more productive ways. Remove it from the equation and you may be surprised at how much time you free up — enough, let’s say, to wash and style your hair before heading to work.

3. Make a checklist

It’s one thing to make mental notes of what you need to accomplish. It’s another thing altogether to have a physical list staring you in the face, practically begging for you to check off its items. The sheer satisfaction you’ll get from making it down the entire column of tasks should be incentive enough to keep your morning cruising down the right track.

4.Prepack your lunch

Meal planning makes life easier.  I just can’t seem to get the hang of planning for dinner.  I don’t know if it is an MS thing or if I just never had the skill.  We always did meals on what we “felt like” eating at the moment.  Lunch was always easy to pre-pack especially when I started on Weight Watchers.  When you wait until the eleventh hour to pack your lunch, you’re leaving a lot to chance — you won’t feel too rushed to grab something, you won’t forget, you’ll pack something relatively healthy… you get the gist. When you front-load your time and forethought into packing your lunch the night before, you can breeze through the morning with the peace of mind something yummy is waiting for you in the fridge.

5. Plan your daily pick-me-ups

If you’re anything like me, you need a little sumthin’ to look forward to in order to get through the day especially if I am spending lots of time in the car.  It doesn’t have to be a huge deal, just something simple to keep me motivated enough to keep pushing — and it’s gotta be a treat that doesn’t take a lot of morning prep time.  Plan it or always having a snack in your purse, it will definitely help.

6. Utilize double-duty products

This doesn’t mean to go out and stock up on mega-bottles of shampoo-plus-conditioner hybrids (I’m not a fan of these). It is more about two-for-one beauty products. Think a tinted moisturizer which also has your a.m. dose of SPF or a “stain” you can use on your lips and cheeks. It may not seem like much, but these double-duty beauty products can shave valuable minutes off your morning routine.  I’m more of the moisturizer, bronzer and some mascara kind of gal…. quick and easy.

7. Consider a capsule wardrobe

You’ve probably heard a hundred times how laying out your wardrobe the night before makes mornings much, much easier. There’s a reason for the repetition — it’s true, and it’s true largely because we all have more clothes than we really know what to do with. Simplifying your closet to create a capsule wardrobe, though, means you’ll spend less time fussing over what to wear. What is a capsule wardrobe you ask? It’s when you cut your options way, way down to some basics that are easy to mix and match. You may think having more clothes to choose from is the way to go, but it actually makes things more complicated — and any time we can make things less complicated, it’s a joyous occasion. For real — you’ll be surprised how much happier you will be through the rest of the day when you don’t start your morning with a closet war.  I’m working on this but I can’t seem to get it down…. just when I do, I find something I really like and I’m off buying some extras.

What is your morning routine like?  Do you have some tips you can add to this list?  Share with us your best tip….

Have a blessed day!

Unclutter Your Life

Thankful Thursday: Expectations

Expectations is defined in the dictionary as “a belief someone will or should achieve something“.  I actually like the NA definition better “Expectations are premeditated resentments”.

Do you have expectations of yourself or others?  I will admit, I have lots of them.  I am working on getting rid of them because they really are the stepping stone for resentment and anger.  So, why then would I be grateful for expectations, right?  Because having them allows me to learn and grow…

imagesLet’s start with the expectations we have for ourselves.  If you are like me, they are pretty high and as a result, I seldom reach the level of perfection I expect of myself.  I know, no one is perfect BUT don’t we set those milestones for ourselves.  Thinking we can handle everything, juggling all the balls in the air – motherhood, work, life, and whatever else comes our way.  The word “NO” seldom escapes from our lips because we “expect” we will be able to everything.  Self expectations allow my inner gremlins to have a field day in my head. Expectations  of others  leaves  me  feeling  frustrated,  angry  and disappointed.  Whether it is business or in love, setting expectations whether they be realistic or not is a setup for disaster.  If  the  words  would  of,  could  of  or  should  of  are  part  of  sentence,  I know I am  in  trouble.

Whether you grew up in a house with demanding parents or would strive every day to meet someone else’s expectations,  somewhere along the way, you lost what it was like to be kind to yourself.  You became a slave to expectations and now it is time to change and be kind to YOU!

#1: Change How You Treat Yourself

I know it is easier said then done.  I’ve been there and on some days am still there.  Can’t imagine being nice to yourself – why not begin by expressing kindness to someone or something you love such as a pet (or a someone special).  Easy right?  Don’t you deserve the same treatment? Try this mantra:

May I be filled with loving-kindness. May I be held in loving-kindness. May I realize loving-kindness as my essence.

OR write one of your own.  Then practice saying it.  Start by repeating it for thirty seconds. Embrace the feelings the words invoke.  The longer you can embrace these feelings, the quicker you’ll reap the benefits.  Start and end your day with these to see what a difference in makes in your life.

#2: What You Say Limits You

Maybe on the surface, you are being nicer to yourself, but deep down the inner gremlin is judging you.   It’s true – we judge, and we label, sometimes without even realizing it. What we do to other people is the same thing we do to ourselves.

So every time you have a negative label for someone, come up with at least six different reasons that would stop the label.  It isn’t easy.  The truth is if you can be less judgmental toward other people, you can do the same for yourself.

#3: What You Say Can Belittle You

When was the last time you said “How can I be so stupid? ” or, “OMG what a screw-up! Could I not make a bigger mess of things? ” or, “Why do I do this to myself? I’m such an idiot!”  This is all about not meeting your own personal expectations and how you react.

Despite my best efforts, my inner gremlins love beating me up for every mistake, failure, or setback, real or imagined. Then a little angel voice screams, “Not being very kind to yourself, are you?”

SMACK!  The reality hits nothing is a total failure. There is always something to be positive about.  Find it in whatever the situation is.  Replace those harsh words with positive thoughts.  By doing so,  you will change those demanding expectations.

These small changes are so powerful.  They help you stop being a victim of your own expectations and allow you to  treat yourself kinder.  You realize judging other people is so closely aligned with the labels and limitations we put on ourselves.  Seeing the positives in what may appear as a failure will allow you to cut yourself some slack.

Change is hard!  Changing behaviors are challenging.  The truth is,  if I can do this, you certainly can!

It all begins with a practice taking less than a minute, six times a day showering yourself with loving-kindness.

It’s easy to start. It’s easy to do. Just repeat after me:

“May I be filled with loving-kindness. May I be held in loving-kindness. May I realize loving-kindness as my essence.”

Have a blessed day!