Currently: The January Edition

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Hey guys! I can’t believe I am actually in front of the computer typing and not holding a baby! My hubby is on baby duty and helping out while I get a quick post in to let you guys know that I am still here. Tired, but still here  🙂

We have definitely adjusted to our new dynamic in being a household of four instead of three. Well, five instead of four if you count the cat, but still, we have found our groove. But mama is exhausted. Life with a newborn is not for the faint-hearted, but obviously it is well-worth it and I am oh so thankful for both of my beautiful daughters!

What I Enjoyed This Past Month: Actually, I am still enjoying it: The series Victoria on Masterpiece about Queen Victoria when she first became queen. The second season just started and I am absolutely in love with the show just like I was last year when the first season debuted. If you aren’t watching it, you need to!

What I Am Absolutely Over: Twitter. Yes, I have a twitter account and yes I use it. But it seems like every day, it is just crap that is on there or crap that is trending. There are days when I consider deleting the app off of my phone, but then panic at the thought of not being “informed”. Does anyone else go through this? I seriously admire the people who have either sworn off twitter, or only check it when they actually sit down and log into their computer.

And this isn’t a complaint against the actual medium of twitter as a tool for social media. I enjoy the initial concept of twitter. And honestly, how else would I have found out that my favorite show Elementary, comes back on air with new episodes in April?  🙂 But some days, twitter leaves me exhausted with the sheer stupidity that seems to seep forth from it.

I just want twitter to be a happy place. Is that so wrong?

On The Healthy Living Front: I have indeed lost some of my pregnancy weight. But here is the truth: I am not actively trying to lose weight. I am only a few weeks postpartum for crying out loud. However, I am also not immune to the enormous pressure that is put on moms to lose the baby weight immediately. It took a couple of months to lose the weight after having my first daughter and I expect it take the same amount of time or a bit longer this time around.

I walk a lot and am eating as healthfully as possible but if I want a few potato chips with my lunch time sandwich instead of my normal side of carrots, I am not beating myself up over it. I accumulated this weight over 9 months; it is not going to disappear in a matter of weeks.

What I Am Currently Reading: A Tree Grows In Brooklyn. GUYS!!! I LOVE THIS BOOK! And I am not even done with it yet!

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I think for many people, this book may have been required reading at some point during your education, but I have never had a chance to read this novel. But I have always, always wanted to read it.

Well last week when I was at the library paying my overdue fines (#frugalfail), I wandered over to a section I rarely visit and saw this book on the shelf. I grabbed it and said to myself, it’s now or never, I am reading the gosh-darn thing, and checked the book out.

I get why this book is beloved and considered a classic. If you are a bookworm like myself and have never read A Tree Grows In Brooklyn, please go to your local library and check this book out. You’re welcome  🙂

Also as a sidenote, I post pictures on Instagram of all the books that I have read. If you are looking for a book to get your hands on and are fresh out of book titles to peruse, check out my feed or better still, look up what I am reading under the hashtag #mackenziereads.

How is January going for you guys? Let me know!

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Let It Go

January is upon us and with it comes the expectation to be more and do more. Goals and resolutions start with this year of new, and pretty soon, we will all be knee-deep in regret of not accomplishing anything past the first of February and wallowing in self-pity.

Although I personally subscribe to the philosophy of having a “word” to encompass what I want the year to look like, lofty unattainable goals and feeling like something has to be accomplished, really and truly need to fall by the wayside.

Let all that $%!* go…

Let 2018 be the year that you LET IT GO.

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Let go of:

  • the need to be someone you aren’t
  • inhibitions that prevent you from being your true self
  • expectations that you unfairly put on yourself
  • self-loathing and feeling inferior

Let go of all that is unnecessarily weighing you down. Whatever you are fighting, whatever you are struggling with, whatever is causing you to have sleepless nights…

Let. It. Go.

2017 was a messy year, let’s be honest. But here is a chance to make 2018 better.

As someone who can frequently get inside her own head and ruminate for hours on the past and decisions that should have been made differently, I can tell you that it is a fruitless exercise. A futile enterprise not worthy of anyone’s time.

If you are carrying the past, tethered to its mores, anchored to its beam, it is time to let it go. The past only lives because you give it life.

Let me repeat that.

The past only lives because YOU give it life.

If you feel that your past is weighing you down, the expectation of unfulfilled thoughts and dreams mirrored back in your reflection, turn the page. Get a new outlook. Change the station. Put the past in its proper place and move on.

Life is short and it goes by fast.

Please don’t spend the next 300 plus days of this year moored in regret.

Let it go.

There is an oft-quoted sentence that states “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results”.

Is this you? Are you doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting a different outcome, yet it never happens?

Move on and let it go.

Remove the negative and replace it with the positive.

2018 is the year you are going to soar.

All you need to do is let go.

New Year, New Baby!

IMG_0318Happy New Year everyone!!!

Can’t quite believe it is 2018, though. I remember when it was 1999 and about to be 2000, and everyone was freaking out buying bottles of water and extra batteries, in case something was going to happen. Lol…  🙂

Well, onto the exciting part! My baby girl is here!!!!!

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I am now the proud mama of two beautiful girls and feel so blessed. My husband and I are so thankful and Christmas was definitely extra special, that’s for sure!

I am also tired from taking care of a newborn, so again, apologies if I haven’t commented on your blog, or haven’t posted on here quite as often as I would like. But this is my season of life right now and I am rolling with it, albeit with massive cups of coffee  😉

How have you guys been? Let me know!

Currently: Baby Is Almost Here Edition

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It is almost Thanksgiving and I am ready to eat all the food. And watch the Macy’s Day Parade. And of course watch football. And eat more food. Yup, that is how we roll in our household  🙂

Also of course, we are on baby watch. Babies notoriously come whenever they want to and due dates, at the end the day mean nothing. When babies decide they have had enough of being in the womb and want to make their debut and see what all the fuss is about, is your actual due date, lol…

That being said, this mama is plumb tired. I waddle, I don’t walk. My ankles are always swollen and some days I have the energy of a gnat.

So, this will be my last post for a while. I need to get ready for our new addition with the little energy I have left. I hope to be able to blog a post here and there in December, but that will just all depend on how well we are all managing with a newborn and a 7 year-old in our household  🙂

I will still try and comment on blogs when I can

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!!!!!

-Mackenzie

 

A Magical Rose Garden

I mentioned last month that I read the book Destination Simple by Brooke McAlary. Her book was about the concept of slow living and really being intentional with your time and your days.

Well, in between some of the chapters she had quotes from famous people that were apropos to what she was discussing. This quote from Dale Carnegie, the best-selling author of the book How To Win Friends and Influence People, really resonated with me:

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Powerful quote, right?

I feel as if us humans, especially in this day and age, are always looking for something better. Something more than what we have. A better iPhone, when the one we have is in perfect working order. A bigger house when the square footage we have fits us just fine. A tropical vacation just like the one our friends took on Instagram except bigger and better! And more tropical-ly.

But what about what we have right now? Is it enough? If it isn’t enough, why not?

It reminds me of another quote and I am not sure who originated it, but it goes something like “The grass isn’t always greener on the other side”, which is usually followed up with some adage about “watering your own lawn”. As in, pay attention to what you have, and not what you don’t.

Sure there are things in life we’d like to attain or achieve, that is only natural. But the lamenting about what we do not have or not appreciating what is right in front of us, that can be your proverbial magic garden.

Putting off today for something magically happening in the future, that too, can be your proverbial magic garden.

I know life is not all sunshine and rainbows and unicorns. Life ain’t easy and at times, it can be downright frustrating.

But don’t put off living your life. Don’t wait for someday.

Make someday, today.

We only get one life. We only get one chance to live the life that we truly want.

Don’t put off living. Enjoy those roses blooming outside your window.

There is no magical rose garden over the horizon…

My 2017 Goal of Wellness: The Highs and Lows

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Back in January of this year, I wrote a post entitled “2017: The Year of Wellness”. In this post I described how setting goals just doesn’t work for me because I end up breaking them by February and then getting down on myself for not realizing all of my resolutions.

Instead I chose a word, just one word, to encompass what I wanted to accomplish holistically for myself, for the year 2017. And I choose the word: Well.

Be Well. Feel Well. Live Well.

I wanted to be well physically and considering that I lost 30 pounds in 2016, I definitely wanted to continue down this path and become a healthier version of myself.

I wanted to be well emotionally. I wanted to get into yoga and do meditation on a regular basis. I also wanted to continue to minimize the items we had in our apartment and pare down the clutter, which in excess, can give me anxiety.

Finally I wanted to well financially. Sell some stuff, save some money, pay off some debt. Do what needs to be done.

Those were items that I wanted to continue to work on during the course of 2017 and always remember to be well.

How did I do and why I am writing this in November when we still have technically two months left in the year?

Bet you know the answer!  😉

Yup, because of my pregnancy and the baby who will making their debut in the next several weeks!

When we found out that I was pregnant in late Spring, certain things had to be gently laid aside and that totally makes sense in the grand scheme of things. For example, I kept up my daily meditation until my morning sickness kicked in and it was all I could do to stay functioning. The exhaustion mixed with the constant nausea made it impossible to pay attention to anything, let alone meditation or even attempting to do any yoga.

I did walk whenever I could and continue to try to walk now, but I am in the waddling stage and I can’t go very far for too long of a period, but I try to do what I can.

With the exception of crazy cravings, I do continue to try to eat healthy.

I have done really well in the decluttering and minimizing aspects that I wanted to accomplish this year. You can read more about that here and here.

With the help of my husband, we did get rid of a lot of things that just were not conducive to the kind of clutter-free living that we were desiring. I am a huge bookworm and I made myself honestly look at the books that adorned my shelves and posed the value question. “Do I get value out of this?” “Am I really going to read this book again?” If the answer was no, we sold the books. And this is just one example of items that we got rid of.

We did pay off some bills this year and our savings account is chugging along, I am happy to say!

Be Well. Feel Well. Live Well.

I believe that I still lived my year of wellness for 2017 even though I’ve been pregnant for most of it. You have to be healthy physically and emotionally for your baby that is growing inside of you. Wellness is a part of your life even if you may not realize it when you are living for two people.

And I realize that there is still time to go before 2017 is over and I could have written this follow-up post at the end of December or the beginning of January, but I am being proactive because I already know that once the baby is here, blogging will fall down the list of priorities and I wanted to share this with you before that happens!  🙂

How have you guys done with your intentions for 2017? Let me know in the comments!

Currently: The Farmer’s Market Edition

We are approaching the end of October and here in California, Mother Nature hasn’t received the memo that the seasons have changed and that it is no longer Summer. Today marked our 3rd straight day of triple digit temperatures. Good grief, right? Everybody else is running through leaves and wearing scarves already, and we are over here drinking gallons of water, lathering ourselves in SPF 700 sunscreen, and blessing whomever created the air conditioner. The weather-people who smile on our television sets, standing in front of green screens with our cities listed on them, have promised us that the heat will dissipate, so we’ll see…  🙂

What I Enjoyed This Past Month: Our trip to the local farmer’s market!

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We picked up some great stuff, including the best pumpkin seeds I’ve ever had! Apple Pie-Spiced Pumpkin seeds are my new favorite thing, and these did not last long in our house!  And the strawberries were so good! I used some of them to make Strawberry Muffins, and let me tell you, those were yummy as well!

One of my big 3rd trimester cravings (besides barbecue potato chips  🙂 ) is strawberries. I seriously cannot get enough of them! So these strawberries were definitely put to good use!

What I Am Absolutely Over: Bad news in general. Every day is bloody awful. Is there like, a “happy news” channel we all can subscribe to? I think our brains are overloaded by the sheer madness of everything…

On The Healthy Living/Pregnancy Front: As I mentioned above, my serious cravings have been for strawberries and barbecue potato chips, although not eaten together because, ewwwww… I am officially 8 months pregnant and when I look straight down, I can no longer see my feet, so there’s that  🙂 We just purchased the car seat for the baby last week so things are starting to come together!

On The Minimalism/Decluttering Front: Definitely, definitely working on this! If you missed my latest post on decluttering, you can read it here.

In Other News: I recently finished this book about Eleanor Roosevelt.

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I originally purchased this book last year at our local library’s book sale for 25 cents. Yes, you read that right: 25 cents. Then as you know, life happens and then the whole “I keep meaning to read this book” thing kept happening, and finally I hunkered down and read it. It took almost three weeks to finish because I don’t have a lot of free time to read and also the book was over 600 pages, which is probably what inhibited me from starting it in the first place.

But this book, which chronicles Eleanor’s life in the White House while her husband Franklin was president for the years 1932-1938, was really, really informative and honestly, really good. I am a great admirer of Eleanor’s and I have previously read her autobiography. She did so much as First Lady and really tried to help the people she felt were being forgotten during the Great Depression. She also tried to help pass an Anti-Lynching bill during a time when that senseless act of murder was still a component to instill fear in the Deep South.

This book was a great read and I definitely want to read this author’s other books on Eleanor Roosevelt that take place before and after this particular time period.

How has October been for you guys?  🙂

Decluttering: Drowning In Paperwork

As I mentioned in a previous post, I am decluttering and minimizing our living space, as well as getting ready for our new bundle of joy, who will be here in less than two months! Time slows for no one, my friends  🙂

One of the projects I have been working on has been the accumulation of paperwork. Specifically paperwork that was shoved into this beautiful but handy file box:

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Guys, this thing was filled to the brim with paper. Stapled paper, paper-clipped paper, paper that was at one time important, but now, not so much. When I first purchased this file box about 5 or 6 years ago, I had it super organized. File folders detailing exactly what was nesting inside each folder. Folders that were listed in alphabetical order, because that is how I roll.

But somehow over the past few years, with moving to Oregon and then back to California all in the space of 14 months, this folder began to become a “catch-all” for ANY kind of paperwork, whether it belonged in this file folder or not. Even after being back home for over two years now, this file box was still a hot mess.

Time to act.

So I took everything out. Every last bit of paper. And let me tell you, there was a lot of it.

Ah, beautiful empty box…

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I wish I could say that I was able to finish this project in an afternoon or even one whole day, but that simply was not the case. Working on any sort of project when you are in your 3rd trimester of pregnancy, gets tiring pretty quickly. But I kept at it.

I decided what paperwork was important and utilized my current file folders to accommodate these items. What I deemed important enough to have a file folder for:

  • Tax Stuff
  • Automobile
  • Medical
  • Apartment (Lease agreement, etc..)
  • Pet (Important paperwork regarding our cat)
  • My Daughter (Certain in-school projects that I have decided to hold onto. We do not keep all art projects she has made or all homework tests where she scored well. We keep a few important things that we think she will appreciate when she is older and that is it)

Once I decided what to keep, the paperwork items went into their appropriate folders, alphabetically of course!

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Everything that was not going back into this folder box, got shredded, thrown in the trash, or recycled, when applicable. This part took a looooong time. I wasn’t annoyed by the longevity of the project in terms of the discarding and sorting. But it made me realize that we humans are literally drowning in paperwork and it also made me really want to limit the amount of paperwork that actually makes its way past our front door. I am really going to make a concerted effort, along with my husband, to try to curtail the paper that seems to flow like water into our lives. Even something like asking for a receipt to just be emailed to me instead of giving me a paper receipt.

Because here’s the thing: I do not want to do this project again. Like, ever. Even though I have a degree in procrastination (I jest, but it seems like it sometimes), I am making it a priority to deal with paperwork as soon as possible. No more letting it pile up on the counter. No more shoving it off to the side to deal with it “later”, whenever that is…

What I like about this decluttering project is that it didn’t cost me a dime. I already had a file box and file folders, so no extra purchases of those items. The only “cost” was just my time, which was a bummer but at least this project is done.

If you are looking to declutter and organize your paperwork and feel like it is all just too overwhelming, start slow. You don’t have to do it all in one day. I certainly didn’t. Think about what papers are important to you to keep. What paperwork is going to matter a few months from now and what isn’t. Is every receipt necessary? It is definitely a process, but remember the end goal: peace of mind and being able to lay your hands on papers of importance within seconds.

Any tips on decluttering paperwork that you want to share? Let me know!  🙂

Destination Simple: A Book Review

I have really been into books lately, that have to do with simple and intentional living. I want to have fewer items in my house, less items on my to-do list, and want to stop feeling like I am cramming things into my day.

Enter Destination Simple: Everyday Rituals For a Slower Life by Brooke McAlary.

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I first heard of this book being mentioned in the blogging circles and it being a simple but short and compelling read. Brooke McAlary is also the creator of the Slow Your Home podcast. Although I’ve never listened to any episodes of her podcast, I decided to give her book a try.

Destination Simple is broken into three parts with just a few chapters in each section. It is a very smooth read (seriously, it is only 116 pages!), so it is easy enough to read through while drinking your morning coffee or your afternoon tea  🙂

The author, in the introduction, mentions that she used to live life to the point that she was an “overwhelmed, overcommunicated wreck”. She felt like she had no downtime, and felt that she wasn’t present to the people who most mattered to her, like her husband and children. She realized that she needed to make changes to her life and this book is a compilation of things that worked for her.

While I personally don’t feel like a stressed out wreck, and I am absolutely present for my husband and my daughter, I liked her forthcoming pages about how to just slow down. Brooke talks about how we need to single-task and not multi-task, the way our society says we should.

“Single-tasking is the antidote to modern life, where we are taught that to be effective, productive, and worthwhile, we must multi-task”. -Brooke McAlary

By doing one task at a time, we can practice mindfulness and stay in the present moment. Brooke asks readers to do just one thing at first, something that you do every day, and try to do just that one task, without also doing something else at the same time. It will give you a chance to clear your mental clutter, even if it is just for a few minutes.

My favorite chapter in the book was Chapter 3, entitled “Emptying Your Mind”.

“Our minds are cluttered. We are overwhelmed with to-do items, commitments, errands, and must-remembers…Do you ever get to bed, begin to relax, only to magically remember everything you were supposed to get done that day?” -Brooke McAlary

*slowly raises hand*

I bet there are quite a few of us in that boat. Our brains have a hard time shutting off once our head hits the pillow. We are tired but we can’t sleep because our hamster wheel of a brain is going and going!

Sound familiar?

Brooke’s solution is the art of “brain dumping”. It is basically an exercise where you take 5-10 minutes and simply journal and write down, or “dump” the contents of your brain onto paper. Write down those frustrations, those to-do’s that didn’t get done, problems that are bothering you, anything that is occupying space in that beautiful brain of yours. Get it out onto paper and out of your mind. This will help you to think more clearly, process what has been committed to paper and help you now to be in the present, without being bombarded with all those shoulda, coulda, wouldas! Some people prefer doing their “brain dumps” in the evening before bed, others prefer to start their day off in the morning and journal right away. Do what works best for you!

Destination Simple is chock full of tidbits to help you slow down and add some simple living techniques to your life.

I definitely recommend this book if you want to be intentional with your time and carve out space to really and truly be fully present!

 

 

 

Life Is Short

I actually didn’t know if I was going to write this post or not. I hemmed and hawed and finally decided to write it out because keeping it inside helps no one, myself included.

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By now you all have heard the events that transpired in Las Vegas this past Sunday night. As a nation, we are still reeling from the tragedy and the news continues to bombard our psyches and our heart.

Well, for our family, Sunday night was a difficult one.

My husband went to Las Vegas Sunday evening for a business trip. He had meetings scheduled there for the next day. My daughter and I were home here in California.

And then I received a phone call, a phone call no one ever wants to get.

My husband called me and told me that there were shootings going on and that there was chaos and no one knew where the shots were coming from, and that him and his boss, were literally running for their lives.

I can’t even begin to describe my feelings in that moment. I am at home with my daughter, 7 months pregnant with our second daughter, and feeling like my world was starting to slip away from me.

To make matters worse, my husband didn’t have that much battery life in his phone so he had to call me in like, 30 second intervals. At one point, him and his boss were hiding in the bushes, not knowing where the shots were even coming from. There was panic and everyone was running and fleeing. A lady who was running in front of my husband tripped and fell, and then my husband tripped and fell over her. Everyone helped each other up, and everyone kept running.

I also was on the phone back and forth with my husband’s boss’s wife, because his boss lost his cell phone and had no way to get into contact with his wife. Since my husband’s cell phone battery was getting lower and lower, I ended up calling/texting her with updates.

Sometime in the wee hours of Monday morning, the Las Vegas police stated that there was only one gunman and that he was dead. I let my husband know, as I had been attached to my phone for all the latest updates.

At that point, him and his boss were able to make their way back to their hotel rooms without further incident.

Needless to say, I was very emotional and gave my husband the biggest hug I could when he came home Monday evening.

My story has a happy ending, but there are so many families hurting right now, that cannot say the same thing. My heart breaks for all the victims and their families.

I am not going to get super political here, but as a country we need to do better. WE NEED TO BE BETTER. These mass shootings have to STOP. We have to come together and pass better legislation.

This hit too close to home for me…