Currently

So, the beginning of March is next week. Anybody else totally thrown by that statement??? I mean, 2017 is flying by. The good thing is that Spring starts next month, which is always a nice time of year.

In addition to trying my darndest to not be completely outraged every time I turn on the television, I stumbled across Tara Stiles and read up on her holistic life and yoga practices. I liked what I read and proceeded to check out ALL her books from the library. #sorrynotsorry She is awesome-sauce and if you are looking to incorporate some changes in your life, head to your local brick and mortar and check out her books!  🙂

20170221_112922

On the minimalism/decluttering front, I have rid myself of a pair of boots that I no longer wore and I have a ginormous bag of all of my family’s clothes that are ill-fitting and/or no longer worn, ready to be donated to Goodwill. I also have a very nice coat that I am giving to my husband to sell online, because it is heavy and itchy and because of those things, I no longer wear it. It is a gorgeous pea coat (my favorite coat style), and I wish I could wear it but I know it will go to someone who has cold weather much more than we do here in California and will get tremendous use out of it.

February has been a weird month in that we have had torrential downpours and storms here, and let me tell you, that is not normal. We get emergency broadcast interruptions on the television, we get flood alerts on our cell phones, we have meteorologists telling us to get off the freeways and stay away from hillsides where mud can come sliding down any minute. For those in other parts of the country and/or world, it probably seems silly and that we Californians are making a big to-do about nothing, but I assure you, it is not the case. When your state has been in a severe drought for many years and then all of a sudden since the beginning of the year, you get these crazy three-day storms happening every ten days or so, you start to wonder what the heck is going on. Literally, there are sink holes with cars in them, freeways completely flooded where it has to be shut down, and people’s homes sliding down hills. Oh, and dams overflowing.

Yes, Mother Nature. We got the memo. Lovely to see you too  🙂

Suffice to say, I enjoy taking morning nature walks and haven’t been able to take as many as I would like but that’s okay. It is supposed to rain again this weekend (surprise, surprise), but after that, I should be able to definitely get in some more next week!

How has February been for you guys so far?  🙂

Make Room For Things That Matter

img_20160724_113648

“Make room for things that matter by removing everything that doesn’t”. -Brian Gardner

As I have mentioned previously, my word for 2017 is Well. Wellness applies not only to the physical and emotional but also to the mental. So in addition to eating right, working out, and my introduction to meditation, I am also working on sorting out what I need and want in my life and what I don’t.

This fantastic quote from Brian Gardner really resonated with me because I feel that minimizing or getting rid of completely what has no business being a part of my life, has been in a word… refreshing.

Doing things or being a part of things that are not good for my soul are just not going to cut it anymore. Lighter and freer are two beautiful adjectives that I feel are working their way into my heart. Although I continue to work on what makes me happy, that work… it’s a good thing.

Make room for things that matter by removing everything that doesn’t.

Here is how I am applying this to my life:

♦ I make time to work out in the mornings. This is important not only for my physical health but my mental health as well. Studies point to exercise helping with forms of depression and anxiety.

♦ I eat what makes me feel good. I have a gluten intolerance and when I inadvertently eat it, I pay for it big time. I drink my green juices, try to eat as many vegetables as I can, and I recently started drinking kombucha which has probiotics which is good for my gut.

♦ I have started meditating. You can read more about that here.

♦ I have minimized my wardrobe. I have found that there are only a few colors that I really enjoy wearing and it is much easier to get dressed and mix and match items. My daily attire usually consists of a t-shirt and jeans or pants, and a cardigan. Some days, I am wearing Converse. Other days it’s boots. When it warms up, shorts and flip-flops will be added back in. This is what I wear literally every day. There is truly something to be said for not owning a ton of clothing that needs to be sorted through every morning. Whew!  🙂

♦ I watch less television. I do enjoy my favorite shows like Sherlock, Elementary, old episodes of Murder She Wrote, Victoria on PBS, and sports games like football and hockey. Luckily they don’t all come on at the same time! However, the endless scrolling through a zillion channels trying to find something to watch? No, I do not do that anymore. If I am watching television, it is for a specific show like Jeopardy. My daughter and I watch this every night without fail  🙂 I read more books now (if that is indeed possible) or read blogs about health, wellness, and/or minimalism. So the television is still here. It is just not a supreme focus.

♦ I have cut out the negativity. Whether that is in the form of people (energy vampires), certain people online, certain blogs, or certain time-wasting endeavors, I have let it go. I want more of the good and less of the bad. If I feel like something is not adding value to how I live my life, I eliminate it from my every day.

♦ I am continuing to de-clutter. I live in a very small apartment and if one is not careful, it can feel like the walls are closing in. I make an effort to really examine items and ask if they truly have a purpose in our modest abode.

♦ I am making the present moment more important. We all get caught up in the day-to-day minutiae and it is easy to keep our face focused on what lies ahead. But I am working on being more mindful of my surroundings and noticing all the little things that may have escaped my vision before. The deep green on the leaves of a tree. The beauty of a 72 degree day in February. The first sip of coffee on a really cold morning. You get the picture. The present is important and it is up to us to be intentional with it.

Are you making room for what truly matters in your life? Let me know in the comments!  🙂

When The Floodgates Have To Break

img_20170125_105949_370

Stuck.

Trapped.

Where to go.

What to do.

The floodgates are about to burst.

What are you going to do?

Stand there and let the waves of immobility wash over you?

Plant your feet firmly in the ground only to notice that you are actually sinking in sand?

What are you going to do?

Change direction.

Change your path.

Change your life.

The floodgates are breaking.

The word is now.

The time is here.

A step forward will change your life.

The floodgates are broken.

What will you do?

January in the Rearview

Oh January… you have been a head-scratcher for sure. Let’s dive in, shall we?

What I enjoyed this month: Sherlock coming back on my television. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Because I have cut back on how much of the glowing screen I actually watch, it was a real treat to watch Benedict Cumberbatch Sherlock on my screen  😉

What I am absolutely over: Any bloody news story having to do with the current person who is occupying the White House. I can’t. I seriously can’t. This blog is not a political blog by any stretch of the imagination and I am not about to start down that slippery slope. However, I am deeply disturbed by what is going on in our country and it breaks my heart. Whatever side of the aisle you are on, we are all human beings with a genuine interest in the lives of our countrymen and this divide…it’s more than I can take.

Apparently this sign I saw at a store, tells us what we should be doing:

img_20170130_120937_447

On the healthy living front: Mama has been exercising! And meditating! And drinking green juices! Okay, I’ll stop with exclamation points  🙂 But I truly am happy that January was good for me health-wise. I feel better and I have to say meditating has helped me TREMENDOUSLY. Seriously. I am now at the point where if it is the evening and I have not meditated yet that day, I get cranky. Ask my husband, he’ll tell you. Love you honey!

On the decluttering and minimalism front: I sorted out all of my books and went through them and asked myself honest questions about whether the book was actually important to me and would I really and truly read said book again.

Well here is the pile of books that I gave to my husband to sell on eBay:

20170116_194137

Can I just tell you something about this picture? I gave these books to my husband sometime in the first week of this month and I couldn’t tell you for the life of me, what the titles of these books are. Really. Now don’t get me wrong, I loooooove to read. Reading = breathing. #bookwormsunite But having books on my shelves that I know that I am not going to read doesn’t make much sense either. Now someone new will love and cherish these books and give them a proper home  🙂

How was your January? Are you keeping calm and eating cupcakes?  🙂

The Joy of Less: A Book Review

Less, less, less. 2017 is all about less. Less clutter, less nonsense, less of what no longer serves a purpose.

The Joy of Less: A Minimalist Guide to Declutter, Organize, and Simplify by Francine Jay was a book that I was super excited to delve into because I had heard quite a bit about her in the minimalist circles and her book lived up to the hype!  🙂

img_20161215_102806

Can we just pause and give thanks for libraries? Because seriously, without them I would be lost! ♥

So back to the book… the author Francine Jay runs the popular website missminimalist.com and her book is chock full of awesome tidbits. I really love how she opens the book with the term “philosophy”. We have to change our mindset and change our relationship with stuff in order for this whole minimalism thing and life without excess to work. Our stuff exists to serve us, not the other way around.

“A container is most valuable when it is empty. We can’t enjoy fresh coffee when old grounds are in our cup and we can’t showcase our garden’s blooms when wilted flowers fill the vase. Similarly, when our homes -the containers of our daily lives- are overflowing with clutter, our souls take a backseat to our stuff”. – Francine Jay

Ms. Jay had an interesting passage in the book about “aspirational stuff”. Basically these are items that we bought to impress others or indulge in our “fantasy selves”. You know, the one who is 20 pounds thinner, the one who has fabulous cocktail parties, the one who, well…you get it. Human beings have a tendency to acquire many of their possessions in order to project a certain image. Clothes, cars, etc… Ready for some minimalistic truth?

Products will never make us into something we are not.

High-five, Ms. Jay. High-five.

Less stuff equals less stress and I completely agree. In the book, it is pointed out that:

  • We stress about not having stuff.
  • We stress about how to acquire the thing we want.
  • We buy the thing and now have to be responsible for it and take care of it.
  • Then the item inevitably breaks and now we are stressed about our broken item and now… THE WHOLE PROCESS STARTS ALL OVER AGAIN.

Ugh, what a cycle!

Less stuff equals more freedom. Things can be anchors and tie us down. They keep us from exploring new interests and developing new talents. They can drain our energy and sense of adventure.

“Too much clutter can weigh on our spirits. It is like all those items have their own gravitational field and are constantly pulling us down and holding us back. We can literally feel heavy and lethargic in a cluttered room, too tired and lazy to get up and accomplish anything”. – Francine Jay

We want to be able to actually enjoy and live our life, right? Living simply, buying only what we truly need, and learn the joy of having enough.

Other brilliant tidbits:

  • Life is the space between our things.
  • We need space for our ideas and thoughts- a cluttered room usually leads to a cluttered mind.
  • By creating space in our homes, we put the focus back where it should be: on what we do, rather than what we own.
  • When we clear our homes of all the excess stuff, we can devote our space, time, and energy to the people we love.

Friends, I really loved this book and I recommend it to anyone looking to start their minimalist/decluttering journey and I also recommend it to those of you already well on your way in your simplifying journey. My point is, this book is for EVERYONE!  🙂

“When we become minimalists, we strip away all the excess to uncover our true selves. We take the time to contemplate who we are, what we find important, and what truly makes us happy”. – Francine Jay

What truly makes us happy…that sounds wonderful, doesn’t it?  🙂

Diving Headfirst Into Meditation

Or an alternate title would be: What I have learned after meditating for 10 days straight  🙂

I am not going to say I am some sort of Zen maven now, or that absolutely nothing bothers me, or that I can calm my mind down without even giving it a second thought. Those would be untrue statements and it is nonsense to think that someone can be some sort of mindfulness expert after a mere 10 days.

Meditation is not easy. In fact, there are days when your mind does not want to do what you would like it to do.

But that’s okay because that is what meditating helps you do: notice your thoughts.

img_20160623_104550

I’d been thinking about meditation as a practice and I kept meaning to get around to actually planting my bottom on a pillow and just doing the darn thing already. It finally got to a point where I just needed to push myself to do it. That push for me to jump in the meditation swimming pool came in the form of Dan Harris’ book 10% Happier. While the book and subject matter are not for everyone, I enjoyed what Harris had to say. Harris is an ABC newscaster who had a panic attack on national television which as you can imagine, was quite devastating for him. He then went on a journey, often hilariously, of finding a way to help him “combat the voice in his head” and found his way to meditation which to this day, he still espouses the virtues of.

Now I am not a newscaster, nor do I have a hankering to be on television, but I do suffer from bouts of anxiety and Harris’ book was the nudge that I needed to start my meditation journey.

“We spend a lot of time judging ourselves harshly for feelings that we had no role in summoning. The only thing you can control is how you handle it” – Dan Harris

Eye-opening, right?

So, I downloaded the app Calm onto my phone which offers free meditations for you to utilize. They also have ones that are more in depth that you can access, but those come with a fee. I utilize the free ones. And as a side note, I have absolutely no affiliation with Calm. It just happens to be the app that I downloaded  🙂

So ten days ago, I did my first 10 minute meditation. My mind wandered as it is want to do, but the point is, I recognized it, and tried to bring it back to the present. I focused on my breathing. I listened to the lady with the soothing voice tell me to let go and notice the inhale and the exhale.

And I continued for the next several days after that, trying to do my meditation around the same time every day because I am a creature of habit. #babyiwasbornthisway

So what have I learned so far?

♦ The weekends are hard for me to do meditation. This past Saturday, my cat jumped on my lap while I was sitting meditating and completely threw me off my game. Then at another point, my daughter interrupted my session to ask me a question about Scooby-Doo. No joke  🙂 I realized it really is easier to meditate when she is at school and the cat is napping, preferably not where he can see my lap and jump on it.

♦ As I stated earlier, I am not in a zone where nothing bothers me (I wish I was though!) But I can say that when I feel a particular emotion bubble up, if I am able to, I notice the thought and ask myself “Is this helpful?” If the thought is not helpful, I try to change my thinking. I am still a novice at this whole mindfulness thing, for reals, but that one phrase “Is this helpful?” has helped me sooooo much. Try it for yourself when a thought that is trying to burrow itself into your brain that you know has no reason being there.

♦ I have realized that I look forward to my meditation sessions. If I can only do 5 minutes, that’s okay. 10 minutes a day is what I aim for and I have hit that goal consistently.

♦ I have noticed that I am much calmer after meditating. Like I said, I am no Zen maven. But I really do feel better after a 10 minute session.

So, bottom line is that I am going to keep going with this whole meditating thing. Now if I could just get my cat to understand that when mommy is sitting on her pillow, now is not the time for kitty snuggles. But when I am done? It’s totally kitty snuggle time!  🙂

The Money Saving Mom’s Budget: A Book Review

You’re never stuck-unless you choose to be. – Crystal Paine

img_20160817_144801

If you have read any personal finance blogs in the past 7 years or so, you might have heard of Crystal Paine, a.k.a. The Money Saving Mom. When I was a new mommy and completely overwhelmed with feedings, diaper changes, and oh yeah, finding time to wash the dishes and do seven hundred loads of laundry, I stumbled across her blog and it saved me. Literally. Crystal’s blog helped me with time management, meal planning, and taking some time for me, and still giving my all to my precious newborn. Seriously, I am forever indebted to Crystal ♥

That being said, I couldn’t wait to crack open her book The Money Saving Mom’s Budget, when my library finally notified me that my requested reserve was in  🙂 Let’s dive in, shall we?

Crystal’s advice, although geared primarily towards families, can also be utilized for the single crowd. Being financially solvent applies to EVERYONE, amiright? And what she writes makes total sense and leaves you thinking, wow I can totally do this!

For example, she talks about the “$60 Principle”, which is in a nutshell, try to challenge yourself to save $60 a year. For some people, they might be like, whatever, I can totally do that, piece of cake. But for others who are barely scraping by, $60 is quite a bit of money. Crystal breaks down the challenge into easy steps and helps you see that it can be doable. She advocates to try and save $5 a month which breaks down to just $1.25 a week. Crystal states: “$60 isn’t going to make a significant dent in your debt payoff but the mentality behind saving the money will help you get there. Moving forward is better than standing still or moving backward”.

Because this book is all about saving money, she has many tips for doing just that:

  • Learn to meal plan
  • Use coupons when you can
  • Go plastic-free and try using just cash
  • Eat more meatless meals
  • Utilize your crock pot
  • Instead of going out to the movies, rent a movie from your library for free
  • Learn to batch-cook
  • Sell your junk

The parts of the book that I enjoyed and that appealed to my minimalist heart were the pages concerning organization, stream lining, and getting rid of clutter.

“If your life and home are not in order, you are just going to make things harder for yourself and likely end up frustrated and overwhelmed” – Crystal Paine

Can I get an amen?  🙂

Some tips, you can totally do today! Eliminate paper clutter. Unsubscribe from those catalogs, yo! Organize that pantry. What is actually in there? Know what ingredients you have on hand to start that meal planning, stat! Create a filing system for bills and receipts. If you are more of a digital person, scan those things and put ’em on your computer and get everything in order!

I think it is important that Crystal does emphasize practicing the art of contentment. If you are not happy with what you have, credit cards will be there to soothe you and skyrocket your debt at the same time. She advises for us to count our blessings and to focus on what we do have, not what we don’t.

“A cheerful attitude can go a long way in less than ideal situations; you can either complain about the thorns or you can savor the roses that bloom in their midst” – Crystal Paine

All in all, this is a great book for anyone needing to overhaul their financial picture but just don’t know how to get started. But make sure you go to the library and check it out because #frugal  🙂

2017: The Year of Wellness

Sometime in the last few years or so, I stopped making New Year’s resolutions. I always ended up breaking them sometime around mid-February and then spent the next 10 months saying to myself, screw it, I already messed up so what’s the point of trying to continue in that direction. Then January rolls around again and the same story would play out.

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

Having a specific word however, to represent changes you want to make in your life seems easier and more attainable in the quest to be a better person. That single word or phrase can encompass so much and we can steer our lives in a positive direction that allows for mistakes along the way without feeling like failure will derail the whole thing.

My word for 2017 is Well.

Be well. Feel well. Live well.

20160227_152745

According to the dictionary, wellness is defined as the quality or state of being healthy in body and mind, especially as the result of deliberate effort. Can also be an approach to healthcare that emphasizes preventing illness and prolonging life, as opposed to emphasizing treating diseases.

Wellness. Sounds amazing, doesn’t it?

See the thing is, I feel like the past three years have been for me, a twisting and difficult journey, emotionally and physically. I have gone through some pretty rough times and I believe that there is finally a light at the end of this very long tunnel that I have been proverbially crawling through. That is amazing in and of itself.

Last year, I made significant changes to my health. I started exercising and eating better and I lost 30 pounds. Awesome, right? But then the seasons changed, Fall ushered her leaf-swirling head in, and I fell off the health train hard. And then old habits crept back in, and faster than you can say uh-oh, I was in over my head and beating myself up for derailing.

That has to stop.

When I say I want to be well, I mean in all aspects of my life. As mentioned above, I want to be well physically. That means getting back to eating properly and moving my body more. Exercise truly has so many great benefits and I want those endorphins back!  🙂

I want to be well emotionally. I want to start doing yoga and getting into meditation. I feel that this will help me get out of my own head sometimes and give me the calmness I need in my life. I also have been seriously looking at my home space and decluttering on an even grander scale than I had previously done, because too many things gives me anxiety. And although I live in a very small space, I am looking at my things differently and looking at them with fresh eyes and asking myself, “Do I value this? Is this something that I value? Am I really going to watch/read/ look at this thing again?” If the answer is no, than I get rid of it.

I want to be well financially. The things that I am getting rid of, my husband is selling online for me to bring in some extra-needed cash. Paying off some bills this year and getting a proper financial foothold will be of paramount importance.

2017 will be the year of well.

This is going to be a good year my friends. I can feel it  🙂

December in the Rearview

Wow, December was really one for the books, amiright?

What I enjoyed this month: Christmas. Spending time with family and friends. Watching “A Christmas Story” on repeat. Taking my daughter to see Santa  🙂

Seriously, best holiday movie ever!!!

img_20161224_084058_146

What I am absolutely over: All the dying. RIP George Michael and Carrie Fisher. All the Star Wars movies and Wham and George Michael’s music: staples of an 80’s kid’s life. So sad and so tragic.

My favorite Christmas present: This shirt inspired my spirit animal Lorelai Gilmore from the show Gilmore Girls

img_20161225_111951_323

Present that my daughter received that is totally awesome: The complete 1st season of the 1970’s television show Wonder Woman. My daughter loves Wonder Woman (in fact, that was what she was for Halloween!) so we always rented this from the library but they only allow you to rent dvd’s for seven days and then you have to return it and we could never get through them all before always having to return it, so my husband and I decided to just get her the collection for Christmas   🙂 She loves it, and I get to relive my childhood watching it with her because I wanted to be Wonder Woman when I was a kid. I even had Wonder Woman underoos, remember those? #80skids #thatshowwerolled

20161227_120628

I am absolutely looking forward to 2017. 2016 has been a crazy year, definitely one for the history books, and I think we all need a clean slate.

Happy New Year friends!

 

Three Things

I was so inspired by Tanya’s post of “Three Things” and was encouraged to do my own  🙂

3 Things About Me

A few of the prompts are from her post and a few have changed. You know, to protect the innocent  😉

Three things I would never give up:

My family, my fur baby Bailey, and books.

20160507_161843

Three favorite fruits:

Apples, apples, and oh yeah, apples. In my previous life I probably was an apple. But since I need to name an additional two fruits,  I would say cranberries and blueberries.

Three places I want to visit in the U.S.:

Upstate New York in the fall when the leaves are all pretty and stuff, Washington D.C., and Seattle, Washington.

Three places I want to visit outside the U.S.:

England (obsessed!), Scotland, and Ireland.

Three things that make me laugh:

Funny puns, any episode of Friends, and my husband when he’s not trying to be funny. He just inadvertently makes me laugh and I love it!

Three things that make me cry:

Honestly, anything can make me cry. I am super sensitive. I cry over commercials, so there ya go. But 3 specific things would be injustice, those animal shelter commercials where they play Sarah McLaughlin’s “In the Arms of an Angel” in the background (WHY???), and particularly horrible migraines. Yup, that’ll do it.

Three favorite foods:

Good Mexican food, pizza, and chips & salsa.

Three foods I hate:

Mushrooms, olives, and cornbread.

Three famous people I’d like to meet:

Adele, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Kate Middleton. (and yes, I did notice after I typed this, that they are all Brits. Lol…)

Three famous people I’d like to avoid:

Anyone that is currently in the running for a Cabinet position.

Three books that I love:

I based this on the premise that these are books that I probably have read several times and I can read them over and over forever. The Beekeeper’s Apprentice by Laurie R. King, anything by Agatha Christie and the Ramona Quimby books from when I was a kid  🙂

Three TV shows that I love:

Elementary, Sherlock, and Flip or Flop. I just finished watching the Gilmore Girls revival and Gilmore Girls is like, my favorite show ever.

Three biggest pet peeves:

I have to agree with Tanya about people not using turn signals which is super prevalent here in Southern California. Ugh, so annoying! My other two pet peeves are people that stand a little too close to you when you stand in line for something, whether it is for the ATM or just in line at the grocery store. Seriously, back the &^#% up!! And last but not least, commercials that advertise medications but have like 50 side effects and the announcer has to list all of them. Why in the hell would anybody take this stuff when one of the side effects is “in some cases death may occur”? No. Just no.

That’s it! Now tell me three things about you!