Living a Life That Is True To You

Along with several other words in today’s lexicon, the word “values” has sprung up in more conversations and blog posts over the past few months. “What are my values?” and “What do I value in life?” seem to be the springboards onto which fraught conversations are run.

Value can be what you esteem to be worth relative merit or importance; what you consider to be essential or important. What you won’t back down on.

But are you backing down? Are your values taking a back seat to the monotony of life or the frenzied clamor of life and its draining entities?

Are you living a life that is true to you?

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“I’ve started asking myself: What type of person do I want to be? How do I express my interests and values? Am I living a life that’s true to myself and not the life others expect of me? By spending more time dreaming about what I want for the future, I’ve started to form a better idea of who I want to be and where I want to go”. -Sarah Moss

I am utterly enamored of this quotation by Sarah Moss because it causes one to step back from the hustle and bustle of daily life and really examine what is adding value to our lives and what is not. It causes one to think about the things that they are doing and wondering introspectively if these things are being done for someone else because it is what is expected or are they being done because we want them to be?

You are never too old to re-imagine the direction of your life and decide that things aren’t going quite the way you expected. It is also okay to feel a certain way about things and not feel guilty about them.

For example, I value my time with my daughter as sacred. If something is going to impinge on that time with her, I say no to other requests of my time. My child is only young once; there will be a point where as she gets older, Mom is no longer “cool” and friends will become her end-all, be-all. Children grow so fast; before you know it, they are out of the house and on their way to college. So for me, my daughter and our quality time come first. I place a high value on that.

While not related per se, minimalism helps me in this capacity. If I had to spend my time constantly arranging, organizing, and taking care of all of our things, I would have less time to spend with my daughter. Instead of snuggling together and watching a Charlie Brown cartoon, or baking cookies together, I would be cleaning, organizing, and taking care of our stuff.

And that is just not okay with me.

My life is a simple one, because I have made it so. That is not to say that I don’t experience heartache or have difficulties that I continue to overcome, it means that I choose a simple life because it aligns with my values. I strive for a minimalist lifestyle because spending time with loved ones is important to me and spending time taking care of stuff, is not. A simpler life helps keep me on my way to having more fullness in my life.

I still have dreams that I can’t wait to bring to fruition. Approaching a new decade in my life has brought home to me so many things, and I still continue to learn and grow and remind myself to stay true to the essence of who I am.

Are you living a life that is true to you?

Make Room For Things That Matter

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“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!  🙂

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.

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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

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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.

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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!!!

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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

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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

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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!

 

November in the Rearview

November flew by in a bit of blur, amiright?? Turkey day has come and gone and we are about to head into the mother lode of the busy holiday season  🙂

What I enjoyed this month: Decorating early for Christmas. I used to be a strict after-Thanksgiving decorator, but since becoming a mom, the decorations have come out earlier and earlier, and now I am pretty much a first-week-of-November-Christmas-decorator. #sorrynotsorry I love Christmas and since it is my favorite holiday, I feel like it should be celebrated for as long as possible.

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GILMORE GIRLS REVIVAL!!!!!

Yes, I was one of gazillions who watched the brand new 4 90-minutes episodes of Gilmore Girls on Netflix. I laughed. I cried. I railed at the television when #thelastfourwords were spoken. I said a silent prayer that they would bring back Loralei and Rory for a second season, because we all need to know…WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN??!!! Also, can they just give Paris Gellar her own show? Because she literally makes me cry-laugh and I realize how much I miss her witty take-downs  🙂

What I am absolutely over: Politics. Enough said.

November was a fun month as I got to chaperone my daughter’s school field trip. Yay!!! And I also started exercising again, as it had been awhile (over a month) and I needed to get back in the saddle so to speak. I just hadn’t been making the time to exercise but I need to make it a priority again, because I honestly feel better after getting in some movement in my limbs, you know what I mean?

November was also the month that I apparently was in “documentary mode”. I watched more documentaries this month than I have in probably my entire life. I like watching them, it is just that I usually watch movies when I do get a block of time to watch something. That being said, I watched some interesting stuff. I don’t remember the actual names of the documentaries but this is what they were about:

♦ 2 separate but equally interesting documentaries on silent screen star Mary Pickford

♦ a documentary about the Dust Bowl that struck the U.S. during The Great Depression in the 1930’s

♦ a documentary on the Wisconsin primary race between Hubert Humphrey and John F. Kennedy in 1960.

♦ a documentary about the British Mail delivery system between England and Scotland in the mid-1930’s

♦ a documentary about the Kennedy assassination before, after and during which took place over a period of four days in Dallas, Texas.

I know, my choices were all over the place but I didn’t even realize I had watched this many until I started tabulating them all. I look forward to watching more!

Well that’s it for me folks. I am looking forward to December and Christmas and 24 hours of A Christmas Story  🙂

How was your November? Did you watch Gilmore Girls?

 

 

October in the Rearview

Ah November, so glad to see you 🙂 October was a busy month and I am glad we are onto a new set of 30 days.

October was busy with school stuff for my daughter, my husband’s birthday, my mother-in-law coming in from out-of-town to visit, and just general busyness!! I know it is only going to get more hectic as the holiday season approaches, but that’s okay. Christmas music makes any errand or chore, that much more bearable   🙂

What I enjoyed this month: Football and hockey games on my tv! Woo hoo! Also, I have eaten an inordinate amount of homemade nachos this month. While they were good, I think I have eaten more tortilla chips in the month of October than I have the entire previous nine months of the year. I need to stem the tide people. I need to stem the tide.

What I am absolutely over: PUMPKIN ANYTHING! I am on a serious pumpkin overload. Really. I can’t take another picture of pumpkins, pumpkin drinks, especially pumpkin foods. When did everything suddenly have pumpkin in it??? I saw a recipe for pumpkin hummus the other day and I almost gagged. Garbanzo beans and pumpkin mixed together does not sound appetizing. In fact it sounds like this:

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I am over pumpkins and I hope by the time Thanksgiving rolls around, I will be able to eat pumpkin pie, let alone make it. Right now, apple pie is sounding like a better option.

(By the way, isn’t the above picture awesome? I snapped that photo while out trick-or-treating with my daughter)

Blog Posts I Loved:

In Case You Missed It, Posts I Wrote in October:

How was everyone’s October? Did you watch “It’s The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown“, like we did?  🙂

September in the Rearview

Wow, so we are already into October! September really flew by in a rush didn’t it? I mean, here we are, only a few weeks until Halloween and then the holiday season will be in a full panic rush 🙂

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September in the Rearview:

This was a good month 🙂 I made pumpkin muffins with my daughter and we’ve been having fun watching old Wonder Woman episodes from the 1970’s. I totally wanted to be Wonder Woman when I was a kid and it is so funny to now be watching these episodes with my kiddo.

I read a lot of blog posts in September, definitely more than I read in August. Probably because I have a bit more time in the mornings now that my daughter is back in school. Some posts I really loved were:

27 Ways to Save Money Right Now by The Frugal Farmer

How I Solved My Two Biggest Money Mistakes by A Mindful Migration

Diamonds Are Not This Girl’s Best Friend by Courtney Carver

Are You Taking the First False Step? by Break The Twitch

Quitting the Sidehustle For Good by Our Next Life

I wish I could say that September brought with it cooler temperatures but that would not be a true statement. Unfortunately Southern California has not gotten the memo that it is officially fall and that it needs to stop with all this burning hot nonsense. Seriously, does Mother Nature understand how hard it is to enjoy my pumpkin coffee when I am wearing shorts and a tank top? 😉

In Case You Missed It:

I wrote two posts in September. I hope to write more often going forward, but I seem to get easily distracted these days. Probably all that pumpkin coffee… 🙂

Gratitude

When The Media Bums You Out

I am looking forward to this fun month of October! It is my husband’s birthday this month and Halloween is coming! Also HOCKEY IS BACK!!! And my favorite show ELEMENTARY! All the caps and all the exclamation marks!!!! So excited! #sorrynotsorry

How was your September?

 

Gratitude

Sometimes when there is lot going on in the world, it is easy to get down and get distracted with everything that is happening or about to happen. Although it is easy to get upset and get mired down, I try to stay in the present and try to be thankful of what I have and grateful for the blessings that I enjoy.

My gratitude list for today:

  • I am thankful for my beautiful daughter and my wonderful husband.
  • I am thankful for my cat who knows when I need kitty cuddles.
  • I am thankful for my church and every Sunday feels like a blessing.
  • I am thankful for the season of fall which ushers in cooler temperatures, football, and pumpkin spice lattes! 😉
  • I am thankful for the blogging community and the sharing and encouraging that we do.
  • I am thankful for IRL friends and the laughter that never seems to stop 🙂
  • I am thankful for our country and the beautiful ocean so near to my heart.
  • I am thankful for you dear readers, who stop by and read my words.

I want to know. What are you guys thankful for?