Blog-Work-Life Balance

BLOG-WORK-LIFEBALANCE

Happy Monday, everyone! It’s been a crazy two weeks and I am glad to be back on the blog!  Two weeks ago, I went back to work, back to my beautiful library.  I spent lots of time rearranging furniture and decorating, with less time at a computer.  I have also had some life-changing personal experiences, which I will be sharing in the near future, so stay tuned!

While I know that I have been productive in every area of my life these past few weeks, I have been ridden with guilt that my blog consistency has suffered.  I quickly remembered how challenging it can be to give your 100% in every area of your life.  It will continue to be a struggle for me and I know that I am not alone.  So today, for my MOTIVATIONAL MONDAY, I want to give some encouragement to writers, moms, and all other wonderful readers who beat themselves up over this issue as well:

FORGIVE YOURSELF. Give yourself some grace.  Not every woman needs to be superwoman all of the time.  You are superwoman to someone because of your spirit, attitude, presence, and smile.  It’s not the end of the world when you need breaks and hiatuses.  Nobody enjoys reading a burnout’s blog, so give yourself time to recharge and offer positive impact to your readers.  Nobody likes to be around a grumpy, stressed, high strung coworker or mother, so take a breather!

TAKE A BREATHER. You’re not a robot.  Everyone needs a break as they go from wearing one hat to the next.

DON’T FEEL GUILTY ABOUT SCHEDULING TIME FOR LEISURE. Just as we prioritize appointments and meetings, give yourself permission to schedule dates with those you love, INCLUDING YOURSELF.  We make appointments for manicures and pedicures, reservations for dinner dates at restaurants on a Friday night. Similarly, it’s okay to schedule at-home bubble baths, Netflix dates with your husband, or twenty-minute, uninterrupted eyebrow plucking.  It might sound silly, but it’s merely communicating with your loved ones that these events are important to you and you need to set aside time for them.

GET LOTS OF REST. PLEASE, DON’T CUT BACK ON SLEEP!  With a busy schedule, you need to turn everything off, close up shop, and clock out for the evening.  Start your days with a strong and fresh attitude.

FEEL FREE TO UNDER-COMMIT. You don’t need to lead every project pitched by your boss, attend every social function on Facebook, or go to every single class offered by your gym.  I used to be anxious that if I didn’t attend everything, I would hurt people’s feelings.  I felt like they would stop showing up to any events I would throw.  But then I realized that everyone has their own capacity.  To some, attending events and taking on projects is A TREAT.  Some people have empty nests or strive to network their Mary Kay business.  That doesn’t have to be YOU.  And not everyone can show up to EVERYONE’S Thanksgiving dinner or holiday party.  It’s okay to pass on your neighbor’s fifth baby shower and simply send a gift.

BE PRESENT. A big part of BALANCE and controlling the chaos is being present in whatever engagement you have committed.  This calms your nerves as well as the nerves of those around you.  If your brain is always somewhere other than it needs to be, nothing productive will be accomplished.

What helps YOU balance blogging, work, and your personal life?  I would love some pointers! Share in the comments!!

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The Power of Making Mistakes

THE POWER OF MAKING MISTAKES

Maybe I’m one of the lucky ones, since I have never lived with a regret.  This is not to say that I haven’t made a mistake in my life, because I have made PLENTY.  Maybe I’m naive or maybe I have cushions in my life that have buffered my fall from being as bad as it could be.  But my six years in college were some of the most life-changing experiences where I fell in and out of structure, lost my vision, captured a new vision, and did this over and over again about ten million times.

Before I started college, I was honored with a generous scholarship to the University of San Francisco.  I wanted to get away from Los Angeles and start an exciting new life, just like in the movies and on TV.  I imagined having a cool roommate, riveting classes, handsome professors, a dorm-floor sisterhood, and a six-figure income at the end of my four years with a wedding to plan.  I know, fantasy land.  I was shocked to learn that college wasn’t as glamorous as I expected it to be.  I didn’t have a wealth of new friends.  There were no big games to attend.  I barely spoke to anyone in my classes.  I loved my roommate, but she left the school after the first semester.  I found myself turned off by the standard social outings, spending my weekends working or studying instead.  So I left.  Was it a mistake?  It could have been.

I moved back home and attended the local city college, where I also got a job at a restaurant.  I quickly made friends, which led to a lot of drinking and underage trips to Las Vegas.  I was in over my head and ONE MISTAKE got me fired… I stole chicken noodle soup.  Sounds silly, and definitely sounds like a mistake, but it fueled my adventurous side.

One of my best friends and I immediately hopped in my car and drove to Philadelphia on a wild, cross-country road trip to an open interview in hopes of becoming FLIGHT ATTENDANTS.  We were hired on the spot, probably because of our age, ambition, and doe-eyed stupidity.  I figured, hey, everyone has wild detours during college.  I will probably feel the urgency to get a “real job” once I graduate, so I should just enjoy these sabbaticals now.  Travel the world.  Be single.  Have fun and “live life” before kids and 401(k)s. 

We trained in Norfolk, Virginia and were based in Raleigh, North Carolina, which quickly stole my heart.  But I became restless AGAIN.  I remember sitting at a bookstore on my day off, missing school.  I reflected on my sparse paycheck from a few days prior, feeling anxious: What if I decide that I don’t want to do this anymore, but I’m thirty and I never finished my college degree?  What if I never meet anyone? I prayed for a sign.  When I visited home a few months later, I saw an acceptance letter to Cal Poly Pomona for the upcoming quarter.  So I quit the airline industry.

I moved back home AGAIN and started a new school with a new perspective: I’m going to attend school, take classes I enjoy, savor every second, and focus on BEING A STUDENT.  For the first time in three years, I didn’t work.  Once the quarter came to an end, I casually browsed job openings and found that a furniture store six miles from my house was hiring.  How hard could that be? It’s Wednesday.  Should I take a nap, or should I walk in to the store and see what it’s about? I walked in and was hired two days later.  My manager became my mother-in-law and my husband and I have been together for the past 4 years, a roller coaster ride of love and battling an addiction.  I completed my Bachelor’s Degree in History and two years later, my Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science.  Within the same week that I earned my Master’s Degree, I gave birth to my son, Liam!

MLIS librarian mother motherhood

You might have read this and thought I was a fickle, endlessly wandering soul.  Or you read this and felt relieved that your vision quest has a hopeful and happy end, brimming with well-rounded experiences that shape you as a person.  Every time I think about “mistakes” I made, I think about what I could have missed if I didn’t take several leaps of faith.  I wouldn’t have met my husband, had my son, or become a librarian.  I would be living in another part of the world with different ideas and different priorities.

So I encourage MAKING MISTAKES.  It can be a VERY POWERFUL THING.  What do you accomplish from making mistakes?

LEARNING WHAT YOU DON’T WANT.  I had to accept that first-year scholarship to the University of San Francisco to learn that not every first-year college experience is going to turn out the way it is romanticized in pop culture or on Facebook.  I had to become a flight attendant to learn that for me, living life without a college degree did not feel natural and did not feel like God’s plan.

DEVELOPING RESILIENCY.  Eating chicken noodle soup and getting fired has always been “the best thing that ever happened to me.” Before that, I thought I was invincible.  I never imagined getting fired.  I quickly learned that you experience hardships and life isn’t perfect, no matter how much of a “good person” you think you are.  It is more important to bounce back and come back stronger.

ACKNOWLEDGING FAILURE AS A PART OF LIFE. Instead of feeling entitled to success and feeling like everything always had to go my way, I learned to embrace failure as a learning experience.  I loved the excitement of being thrown on a desert island, forced to think on my toes and find my way.  It felt good to think independently from my parents and figure out how to succeed in spite of ignoring their cautions.

BECOMING RELATABLE.  I didn’t have picture-perfect experiences.  I didn’t do everything “the right way.” In turn, it made me a more relatable person, since I took stupid leaps of faith and made rash decisions on a whim.  But after learning from them, I could share my experiences of digging myself out of holes and proudly reclaiming part of my bigger vision.

GROWING IN EMPATHY AND UNDERSTANDING.  One of my favorite things about helping others is reaching them in ways where they feel lost and alone.  With my experiences, I can offer support and guidance from an organic and genuine place.  I feel like a cheerleader and coach who has been in the trenches, not just planning attacks from behind protected marble walls.

GAINING EXPERIENCES.  I don’t know if I would have ever experienced 7 flights in one day if I hadn’t been a flight attendant.  I don’t know if I would have found that stellar sushi spot in the Richmond District of San Francisco.  I don’t know if I would have purchased my own car at nineteen.  I don’t know if I would have chosen to browse job openings on that Wednesday when I met my mother-in-law, who introduced me to incredible Lebanese food and her crazy, handsome son.  These experiences came from taking chances and looking for the good and the fun and the memorable.

ESTABLISHING CREDIBILITY TO TEACH OTHERS. As I mentioned in “growing in empathy and understanding,” my mistakes have solidified my “been there, done that.”  I can teach and speak with confidence about how certain experiences shaped me and are worth doing or worth avoiding.

MOVING CLOSER TOWARD YOUR VISION. Often, we don’t AUTOMATICALLY know what we want in life.  We don’t have clear-headed tunnel vision toward a specific target.  Our vision is messy and splits ten different ways.  But by trying new things I hoped I would like, I learned what I definitely DID NOT LIKE. I moved to San Francisco seven Augusts ago, excited to start my college career in the Hospitality industry, only to learn six months later that I would never be happy in that field.  By working for a furniture store, I learned that sales was not for me and I did not belong in that niche.  And through the trials and hardships with my husband, I learned that I did not care about a fancy résumé.  My priority was to be with someone who was kind to me, and God sent Shane to me.

I will always be thankful for the mistakes I made because they were opportunities for me to turn stumbling blocks into stepping stones.

Please share your experiences with me, both similar and different! I would love to open up discussion for encouragement and uplifting.  Your story might inspire someone else who is going through the same thing you went through!

Simple Living: Renovating and Updating as Renters

Happy Tuesday, everyone!  Today ends my beautiful, eventful, and joy-filled summer (Want to see what that entailed?  See these posts from when my husband and I eloped and when we went to Alaska).  It is certainly bittersweet since saying goodbye to my baby every morning is never going to be easy, but I’m excited for new adventures for the school year.

To my loyal readers: rest assured, I will still do everything I can to post every day.  If I miss a day, let it be an excuse for you to check out an article I like on one of my Pinterest boards or read trashy celebrity articles.

simple living renovating as renters

As I mentioned recently, Shane, my mother-in-law, Liam, and I painted our master bedroom in the rental townhouse we share with my parents.  We were sick of the thirsty white walls and needed a change to recharge our frames of mind.  Why did it take us three years?  Since 2003, my family and I have moved to a new home EVERY SINGLE YEAR.  I have lived in townhouses, apartments, single-family homes… everything under the sun.  I have proficiently used my Tetris skills to pack boxes snugly in my compact car and learned how to let go of things that weren’t worth taking to a new space.  Before I had my son, I did not think about how my living space, though temporary, was worth investing as a home.  I did not think about how important it was to make my space feel like a welcoming, comforting abode where I could rest my worries and unwind.  I never let myself entertain the idea of making adjustments and updates to things I didn’t like, such as paint and carpet, simply because I didn’t own the home.  I read several articles, like this one, that emphasized making emotional investments.  I no longer wanted to feel a sense of urgency to buy a home when I wasn’t ready, when all I needed to do in order to feel content and clear-headed was to buy a couple of paint cans and research DIY laminate wood flooring.

In fact, this reminded me of the philosophies I carry out every day as a LIBRARIAN: just because you don’t own something doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it, treat it with care, and pass it on to someone else in better condition than you received it.

Are you in a similar position as me?  Here’s how I handled this conundrum:

START SMALL. Shane and I didn’t rip out our toilet or rewire anything.  We spent a Sunday painting our walls and immediately felt refreshed, all for under a hundred dollars.  Don’t take on something that feels unnatural.  Make it fun and as stress-free as possible.

DO YOUR RESEARCH.  Is it really a DIY project, or do you need to hire a professional?  How much will it cost you?  Are you making timeless choices that someone else will also find useful and beautiful?  Is it something your landlord would appreciate or admonish?  Research also means browsing Pinterest and creating a mood board: curate images of spaces that make you feel the way you want to feel in your space: tranquil? Warm? Energized? Look up colors that match the vibe you are trying to achieve.

DECLUTTER. Not only is this helpful prior to the renovating/updating process, but it gives you clarity over your space.  You might not be as unhappy as you thought when your space feels roomier and brighter without less junk.

REMEMBER THAT EVERYTHING IS TEMPORARY. Anything you don’t like can be changed.  Similarly, you, as a resident of the earth (as hippie-dippy as that sounds), are only here for a short while.  Life is too short to hate coming home, so make the changes you need to be happy.  If it doesn’t work out, move on.

MORE RESOURCES:

10 Things to Change When You Are Frustrated With Your Space: Part I (from The Honest Home Podcast)

10 Things to Change… Part II

Have you, as a renter, updated your space in any way?  What were some helpful resources and tips you can share?  Do you disagree?  Share in the comments!

Motivational Monday: Free Downloadable PDFs

Hi everyone!  Happy Monday!  Here is week 3 of my Motivational Monday printable PDFs for you to hang in your office, frame for your home, or email to a friend who needs a little inspiration and positive vibes (check out weeks 1 and 2 here and here).  I feel so energized by the thoughtful and encouraging words of support that my readers have sent my way.  Thank you, again, for all of the cheers and affirmations that keep me going, making me feel like my work is meaningful.  Often, it’s hard to continue writing and it’s tempting to quit, calling it a closed chapter.  However, I will be making a VERY IMPORTANT announcement in the upcoming weeks, so stay tuned for some changes with KASblog!  Enjoy these printables and let them stifle all of this week’s worries.

To download: Click the text link above the image for the full PDF.  By clicking the image, you will only get a smaller png.

Click to download: FIND THE GOOD

kind and simple blog motivational monday image 007 - find the good

Click to download: Today I will have ICE CREAM and a GOOD ATTITUDE

motivational quote inspire

Click to download: MAKE TODAY MEANINGFUL

kind and simple blog motivational monday image 009 - make today meaningful

Building Community (in Blogging, Motherhood, Business, and Other Areas)

motherhood business entrepreneurship social networks pinterest instagram facebook twitter snapchat

Today, I attended a fantastic webinar hosted by Spruce Rd., where I got to meet like-minded motivated, confident, hard-working women.  By nature, I am an introvert.  While I understand how to socialize within certain contexts in order to avoid awkwardness, make others feel welcome, or network for business, such as with this webinar, I love curling up in my own little corner and reading books quietly with a cup of coffee and my own thoughts.  However, now that I am a mother, blogger, and entrepreneur, I recognize the value of engaging with others and building community.  We live in a wired world where “community” can mean “I follow you on Instagram,” or “community” can mean “See you on Tuesday for Mommy-and-Me yoga!”  I am not admonishing either because they share something very special:  they bring others together.  They link common interests.  They encourage empathy.  They inspire and excite others.  “Community” can be as broad or as narrow as you like it or as you choose to make it.  Whichever way you go, I find it imperative to BUILD COMMUNITY because it is a great way to grow as a person, develop friendships, find mentors, fight depression, and enjoy life, among countless other things.

How can you BUILD COMMUNITY?

REACH OUT TO OTHERS.  Is there a niche where you fit and enjoy being, or better yet, leading?  Have you heard buzz from people who share common interests and common goals but have no group to share these ideas and grow together?  Take initiative and reach out to these people and you will get positive responses.

SHARE POSITIVE AFFIRMATIONS.  Who doesn’t want to be around someone with positive energy who lifts you up and makes you feel happy and confident?  Building community means encouraging others.  Sometimes it means being a cheerleader in the stands for someone else’s sport, not necessarily a player.  When others succeed, they create a better world for you to live in. This also means looking for the positive: what good do you see?  Why keep these thoughts to yourself? Make someone’s day.

LET GO OF EXCUSES. We’ve all heard them: too tired, too busy, not enough money… the list goes on.  I am not saying that you should fill up your plate and stretch yourself thin for the sake of the community.  No one wants to hang out with a stressed, burned out person who isn’t fully present.  Instead, think about areas where you would like to grow and think about what’s stopping you.  Is it laziness?  Building community means choosing to engage with others for a positive reason in spite of how tired, busy, or broke you are (within reason, of course).

VOCALIZE YOUR AVAILABILITY.  Does your language indicate that you’re always busy, which can be intimidating?  Other people might feel like they are bugging you.  Therefore, make yourself available and approachable.  In blogging, business, and social media, this can mean setting office hours or sending personal emails and comments.   In motherhood, this can mean chatting for ten extra minutes with other moms after an event about some ideas for a follow-up, or sending out a cheery announcement via social media.  Especially if others have extended invitations to you in the past, they might be reluctant to keep “hounding” you if they are accustomed to “no” in the past.  Make changes today.

TAP INTO YOUR ALUMNI RESOURCES.  Isn’t that what they’re for?  Either building bonds with alumni or creating mentorship opportunities for current students, be a leader and a presence.  Present any ideas you have, either project-oriented or simply social!  Others will catch your enthusiasm and feel inspired to spread it around.

THINK OF THAT “FRIEND OF A FRIEND.” A fresh perspective can inspire you or lead you to a new adventure or lasting friendship in a place you never expected.  My cousin’s best friend had her daughter a few months after I gave birth to Liam, and I adored her energy, making me want to schedule a playdate.  In fact, I have seen many amazing friendships and businesses develop through Instagram!  You never know who your long-lost kindred spirit may be!

DON’T LIMIT YOUR VIEW OF POTENTIAL NETWORKS. Is there a new class you can take? What about the barista who serves you coffee every morning? Or your neighbor two doors down whose name you don’t know, but whose hydrangeas catch your eye?  Just like that “friend of a friend,” it doesn’t have to be someone from work or from your kids’ school.  Building community means recognizing that other people around you, though strangers now, can become your very close friends and mentors.

UNPLUG.  Especially when you’re in public, you will miss friendly glances and small talk if you are staring at a screen.  You will miss opportunities to meet others in social situations if you are at home on your computer all day.  Attend concerts at the park.  Show up to open mic night.  Take a calligraphy workshop.  Do something tech-free and the community will organically build itself, as it did centuries before iPhones existed.

DON’T ALWAYS RELY ON BEING THE INVITEE. Are you someone who always attends, but never organizes?  It can be exhausting when you are the person who always coordinates social events, so give that person a break!  Building community doesn’t need to be extravagant.  It can be a simple 30-minute, dollar-store-supply setup.  It can be a quick text saying “Meet at Starbucks tomorrow at 9:00 for a Tired-Moms-Who-Need-a-Hawaiian-Vacation Bible Study.”  Be creative and have fun! You don’t need to be June Cleaver or Norma Arnold.

PLAN EVENTS. As I mentioned with “being the invitee,” plan events!  Did you attend a riveting webinar or conference that you can replicate with your own networks and with your own twist?  Is there a cocktail hour you can organize?  Would it be that hard to have a few moms over for some summer margaritas on a Tuesday afternoon?  Surprise yourself with how easy and fun it can be.  Building community means taking risks and being vulnerable as a leader, not just a participant.

BE CREATIVE WITH YOUR TIME. Building community can mean growing in business AND motherhood by hosting a SOCIAL MEDIA PARTY: Invite fellow mom bloggers or other entrepreneurs for coffee and tell them to bring their laptops!  Your creative energies can bounce off each other and lead to more productivity.  Building community means creating opportunities for others to become the best version of themselves.

RECOGNIZE THAT VULNERABILITY IS COMMON AND MUTUAL. Put yourself in others’ positions: They, too, want to feel included and invited and noticed.  Building community means being welcoming and empathetic to others’ needs.  It means showing compassion and care to others who want to meet goals and live joy-filled lives, but need a little push every once in a while in order to get there.

BONUS: HOST A CONTEST WITH GIVEAWAYS! This energizes your networks and connects others.  Who doesn’t like free stuff or chances to win?  I especially have to give credit to Paper + Oats, who hosted a Back-to-School contest for educators!  I won BEAUTIFUL PRINTABLES for the new school year!

In conclusion, building community in blogging, in business, in social networking, in motherhood, and in every area of your life is vital because no one likes to feel alone, even if sometimes they like to be alone. There’s a difference.  Building community doesn’t need to be exhausting and draining and political.  It can be positive and productive and the perfect opportunity to exercise kindness in your everyday.

Simple Living: Quit Multitasking

quit multitasking busy productive technology

I remember listening to an interview a few months ago featuring Katie Richardson from PUJ.com, entitled “STOPPING THE GLORIFICATION OF BUSY.”  It felt like brand new information that I couldn’t have articulated better myself, especially with the idea that the new response to “How are you doing?” is “Good!  Busy!” as if those two things are synonymous.  It has become so normal to associate “being busy” with happy, productive, and living a meaningful life that is not being wasted.  I realized that especially in this digital age, multiple tabs and multiple apps are running simultaneously and it’s not uncommon.  When I hear that a fellow mom is changing a diaper, preparing dinner, and running a 10k all at the same time, it’s typical.  However, I wondered if these ideas were taking away from my quality of life.  I was curious to know if choosing NOT to multitask would make me feel bad about myself, like I wasn’t doing enough for myself or my family, or that I was being lazy and inefficient.  But for the sake of living a simpler life, I knew that I had to reflect on how much multitasking I do on an everyday basis, and whether or not it supported other goals I had in life other than just crossing off to-dos as soon as possible in order to get to bed.

As a result, I came to the conclusion that less multitasking contributes to a happier, healthier, more holistic life.  I am not saying that I will never multitask again in my life.  It isn’t possible.  However, I don’t need to check my Instagram and Facebook while I watch my son play.  I can choose to simply watch my son play.  I don’t need to apply my mascara while driving work.  I can wake up ten minutes earlier and apply my mascara at home, like a sane person.  These, among several other ways, can limit multitasking in my and your life:

DO ONE THING AT A TIME.  I know, this is a groundbreaking idea.  However, I always find myself doing a simple task, only to have my mind wander into “what else can I be doing?”  I feel like it will help me catch up on the world and have tons of hours saved at the end of my day, week, and life.  Who am I kidding?  The extra seven minutes I save in a day will just turn into another two hours of watching Netflix before bed, which counters my multitasking logic in the first place.  I challenge you to see how many things you can do individually, and how many times in your day when you find yourself looking for something to do alongside it.

MAKE A LIST AHEAD OF TIME AND PRIORITIZE IDEAS.  Sometimes this sounds and feels like more work, but it pays off.  When I keep a list next to my bed, I can wake up in the middle of the night and write it down instead of hanging on to it for the rest of the night and the rest of the next day.  When I have a list in front of me, I don’t need to constantly think, “Okay, okay, okay, what do I still need to do today?”  I can focus on one idea at a time and check them off as I go.  I’m sure it’s not surprising that I am a natural list person.  Moreover, prioritize your tasks.  What is the easiest to do?  Get those done quickly and cross them off.  What’s most important and time sensitive?  Add those to the top of the list too and decide accordingly.

GIVE YOUR TECHNOLOGY A BREAK.  This is an important one.  We are conditioned to being able to do anything and everything while holding our cell phones.  I would rather put my coffee in my purse than my cell phone, which has led to some very chaotic 8:00AM spills.  Be honest with yourself: do you take your cell phone with you in the bathroom?  Is it sitting like another family member at the dinner table?  Do you constantly look up with a big smile at your child or other loved one, acting like you’ve been listening the whole time?  Did you go for a whole drive without looking at your phone?  What about a whole morning?  Or a whole day?  This goes for iPads, computers, and any other device that enables you to multitask.  When you give your technology a little break, you are instantly more present.

WORK ON CREATIVE PROJECTS IN A SEPARATE SPACE FROM CHORE SPACE.  I am not nearly as productive with my writing and work at the dining table than I am at my desk.  If I work in the dining room, I am peripherally eyeing the dishes in the sink, the carpet that needs vacuuming, the blinds that need dusting, and an array of other chores.  I can’t focus.  Therefore, I need a separate space to keep my mind on one thing.  If this means going to the library or going to a coffee shop, do it.  Going offsite to work for one hour can be substantially more productive than trying to work at home for five hours.  Never underestimate the value of environment.

GIVE IMPORTANT THINGS YOUR UNDIVIDED ATTENTION.  Especially with blogging, I struggle with trying to use every second for brainstorming, writing, editing, graphic design, research, and networking, even if it means doing it while my son is playing or while he is sleeping.  Lately, I have found myself doing it more often than what feels comfortable, so I stop myself and toss legos around with him or stare at his fluttering eyes while he sleeps.  It is no surprise that multitasking means spreading your 100% in different directions.  Make time to give your loved ones 100% of you.

DECIDE WHEN TO DELEGATE.  Part of what makes me a multitasking machine (or monster) is my inability to delegate.  I can be bossy and crazy and I want the laundry done when I want it done or I want dinner cooking in the middle of a creative thought that I don’t want to lose.  Instead, I know that I could be relinquishing some of the responsibility to my husband, who would understand that I want to dedicate my time, energy, and diligence to one task and that I’m trying not to be superwoman.  Therefore, I encourage you to ask for help.  Resist any urges to control everything and let go of the idea that you are the only person in the house who can do certain things “right” (which is usually code for “I want that done RIGHT THIS SECOND, RIGHT WHEN I WANT IT, but I know you’re not going to do it right now, which is why I’m doing it myself”).  Your family is more willing to help when their mother, wife, sister, and friend is feeling less overwhelmed.

CARRY AROUND A GLASS OF WATER.  This might be a unique tip that you have never found on a Pinterest site.  Every time you think about doing something else, take a gulp of water.  This serves as a physical act to reset your brain and say “Hey!  You’re trying to multitask again! Stop it!”  In this way, you are also getting in your daily recommendation of hydration!

AVOID OVER-COMMITTING.  Multitasking habits don’t always happen overnight.  They stem from committing to too many things that all have coinciding deadlines.  Work and motherhood are hard enough to balance, but when you commit to volunteer opportunities, extracurricular groups, online communities, second jobs, and other areas, your brain is constantly looking for ways to get everything done in a timely manner so that no one is disappointed and every commitment is served.  This might be okay when you’re in high school, trying to get into college or if you’re retired and looking for new adventures now that your kids are grown up.  But it is important to never feel like you aren’t doing enough.  Maintaining a career and a pet might be enough.  Nurturing your family and going to school takes up plenty of time.  Socializing with friends and running your own business are certainly as productive as you need to be.  You can always be doing more of what you love, but never feel like you need to do it all at the same time in your life.  I learned this the hard way by working full time, working on two master’s degrees, and growing a baby inside me.

TAKE BREAKS TO AVOID BURNOUT.  We often multitask to catch up on things.  However, it is important to take breaks and give yourself time to rest and recharge.  When you are overwhelmed and feel burnt out, your brain has a harder time operating at its optimally focused level and you have a restless energy that makes you feel like you need to do everything all the time.  I’m sure we all know people who feel weird when they aren’t doing something and don’t quite know how to “chill.”  Learn how to take a break so that you can slow down a little.

HANG UP YOUR CAPE.  As I mentioned with delegating, give yourself permission to be ordinary, flawed, and incapable of saving the world in one day.  Your family will be much happier when they see you slowing down, or actually get to see you instead of the back of your screen.

BONUS:  MAKE TIME FOR HOME MANICURES AND PEDICURES.  I can’t do ANYTHING when my nails are wet, and I know I’m not alone.  All I can do is sit in bed or on the couch, relaxing and waiting.  Treat yourself more often and make time for a little pampering.  This also works with bubble baths!

Do you find yourself struggling with multitasking?  How does it affect your home, work, or other area of your life?  What other suggestions would you make to limit multitasking?  Leave comments for me!  I love learning from my readers!

Simple Living: Preparing for Fall

fall autumn season minimalism

As the end of summer approaches, I am excited to start a new school year with fresh ideas and a new last name, but sad to be away from my family for so many hours each day.  However, in the name of simple living, motherhood, entrepreneurship, good coffee, and all things kind and simple, I need to prepare for the fall season in order to be as productive, joy-filled, energetic, and stress-free as possible.  Whether or not you’re a student or educator, autumn is the perfect time to give yourself a mindset makeover.  It is your opportunity to give your New Year’s resolutions a test drive, get rid of old, bad habits, start new, good habits, reconnect with friends, purge items that are no longer usable or no longer add value to your life… possibilities are endless with the changing leaves and sweater weather.

For some people, spring cleaning happens in the spring.  But for simple living advocates, minimalists, essentialists, and any person seeking inspiration or positive change in their lives, I recommend several ways to give yourself a boost with the new month and new season:

Evaluate your wardrobe.  It is really easy to anticipate a new fall wardrobe with cute boots, pretty scarves, and a cashmere dress.  Fall is always a highly-pushed season to shop for the latest styles that can be worn to Back-to-School Night or the upcoming office holiday party.  However, I encourage everyone to reevaluate those trusted and timeless pieces, like that black peacoat, those bootleg jeans, and that chambray dress.  Do we need to shop for a new wardrobe, or can we resist the urge to buy something new simply because the season is changing?  Does your closet really need updating?

Research seasonal produce.  I am going to be really sad to see the berries and avocados with more expensive price tags, but I am eager to see more pears and pomegranates at my local farmer’s market.  Part of my personal simple living journey means shopping from more local sources, which encourages me to interact with local farmers and craftsmen.  Take a little extra time to see what you can expect with the changing season.  It’s the perfect time to try new pumpkin recipes from scratch!

Donate old office supplies to schools.  I can think of a myriad of teachers and students who would love my post-its, index cards, colored pencils, and other office and art supplies lying around my house.  I know that I’m not alone.  Before you drop off boxes at the donation center or toss them in the trash, see if your local neighborhood school is interested in taking items off your hands.  There’s always a new teacher, office administrator, or PTA mom or dad who can make use of your unwanted, unused supplies.

Enjoy more outdoor activities before it gets too cold.  I’m sure not many people need a push to jump in the pool, go to the beach, or have a family barbecue a few more times before lots of schedules change.  Whether it is fall or any other season of the year, enjoying the outdoors is always a great idea to add simple joys to your life.

Rearrange your furniture.  Again, who says that only students and educators get a fresh start?  Give your living space a new energy and rearrange a few pieces.  It can be as simple as rotating lamps or as dramatic as painting the whole house and switching bedrooms.  Do something bold!

Sleep at an earlier hour.  Nobody likes losing an hour of sleep when daylight savings occurs.  Instead of shocking your system, ease into an earlier bedtime.  You will feel the difference sooner than you expect and you will be so much happier and so much more productive.

Set positive goals.  Aim to get half of your Christmas shopping done through Amazon Prime before Thanksgiving.  Bake ten pumpkin pies for families in need.  Sew and sell Halloween costumes on Etsy.  Drink a glass of water as soon as you wake up.  Walk half a mile before lunch and half a mile after lunch.  These, among countless other ideas, can all be positive goals that you set for the new season.  It is important to use ANY EXCUSE, even a new season, to set a goal and work hard to achieve it.  Big or small, set one and surprise yourself with how quickly you accomplished something positive in your life.

What are some positive ways you can prepare for autumn?  I would love to read your comments!  Maybe it’s something new that I will try!

Motivational Monday: Free Downloadable PDFs

Happy Monday, everyone!  I hope you had a spectacular weekend.  This weekend, my mother-in-law, Shane, Liam and I painted our bedroom a tranquil sage-ish green color and I am so excited about it!  This is probably why my Motivational Monday downloads mirror a similar hue.  I hope you enjoy these printables and put them to use!  If anything, I hope they make you smile this week and inspire you to do great things, remember what matters, and strive to be the best version of yourself.  Have a wonderful week! (For last week’s downloads, click here!)

To download: Click the text link above the image for the full PDF.  By clicking the image, you will only get a smaller png.

Click to download: Family First

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Click to download: Lead by Example

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Click to download: lead with love

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Fun Post Friday: I’d Rather Be Watching Netflix Than…

NETFLIX

Before my husband married me, he knew that he was marrying a Netflix-obsessed binge-watcher.  I love watching Netflix.  I love lying in bed, under the covers, with my hair in a bun, next to my sleeping baby, watching episodes on a Friday night (or any other day that ends in a “y,” for that matter).  I know that I’m not alone.  For you, it might be Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, HBO Go, or Youtube videos.  Regardless, I’m sure many people can relate to the fact that there are several things I would prefer to skip in order to enjoy Netflix and call it a night.  Enjoy this Fun Friday post!

I WOULD RATHER BE WATCHING NETFLIX THAN…

GROOMING MY EYEBROWS. Or doing any sort of primping or womanly maintenance for that matter.  Bill Nye the Science Guy loves me in spite of my bushy, furrowed brows and chipped nail polish.

HANGING UP CLEAN LAUNDRY.  I’m not opposed to putting in a load while I pause an episode.  Hanging up clean laundry and putting away folded shirts and pants is another story.  Thank goodness for capsule wardrobes and minimalist wardrobes, since half of my closet fits in one load anyway and I was planning on wearing them before they had a fighting chance to sit on a hanger.

CLEANING OUT THE REFRIGERATOR.  I have a unique approach to cleaning out the refrigerator: I prefer to save the fun task of cleaning out moldy items for those mornings when I’m in a rush for work and I realize that I haven’t packed my lunch but can no longer do so because the cheese has expired… and the bread… and the strawberries… But who am I kidding?  I wanted an excuse to go out to lunch with my coworkers, anyway.  Thanks again, Netflix!

DATE NIGHT.  I love nice dinners as much as the next gal, but Shane and I are mac and cheese kind of people.  We make up for it on morning strolls and hikes.

LIFTING WEIGHTS.  I enjoy going for walks and hikes, especially with my family.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t dislike exercise and I like to maintain a healthy and active lifestyle.  However, I am not one of those people who like to multitask when I’m streaming television  and movies.  I’m committed.  I am no idiot, and I know that Netflix is for watching in bed, not on a yoga mat.

DETAILING MY CAR.  Does my car run?  Does it have gas in it?  Do I have a reasonable place to sit when I drive and a place to put my coffee?  If all of the answers are “Yes,” than I don’t have a strong urge to pick this chore over watching The Office.

UNSUBSCRIBING TO STORE EMAIL PROMOTIONS.  We all have the flood of emails that attack our inbox every morning, thanks to that one 20% off coupon we wanted from Bed, Bath, & Beyond, Carter’s, or Shutterfly.  Frankly, I’d rather be doing a LOT of other things before unsubscribing to these endless emails that I never use.

PERUSING SOCIAL MEDIA.  Sure, I use certain social media platforms regularly, but if you ask me, the lives of characters on The Gilmore Girls are much more fascinating.

RESPONDING TO TEXT MESSAGES. I have no idea where my cell phone is hiding and I haven’t known for over a month (a post for a different day).  On my iPad, I only iMessage about 5 people.  They know that if I don’t respond for several hours, I’m either playing with my son, watching Netflix, or sleeping.  We have an understanding so this choice isn’t difficult.

FOSTERING RELATIONSHIPS WITH ACQUAINTANCES.  Just like everyone else, I could always try harder in this department.  However, most people know that I’m home with my baby and Planet Earth, so we see each other when we see each other and we can still manage to act like no time has passed, no feelings hurt.  I admittedly need my “me” time after mothering, working, blogging, networking, and doing everything else.  And I understand other people need their own “me” times for however they choose to spend it.

What would you rather be doing other than some of these things?  What would lose the battle to Netflix (or other streaming) in your life? Share in the comments! I’m eager to know what else I can happily neglect, guilt-free!

The “LIKE” Button: Its Influence on Blogging, Social Media, and Our Psyche

social media blogging instagram facebook popularity

I will never forget when Facebook added the “Like” button.  A college buddy and I joked about it, saying “Oh, cool!  Sometimes I can’t come up with an original comment and I don’t want to be the millionth person to say ‘How cute’ so this is super convenient!”  Then, as other social media platforms popped up that used “Like” buttons, like Instagram, Youtube, and WordPress, it somehow became a defining factor of popularity, success, beauty, intelligence, and wit, among other things.  Gaining “likes” validated your status, photo, or idea, and unfortunately for many people, encouraged insecurity among those who did not receive many “likes.”

This made me wonder how such a simple act, performed within a millisecond, could have such a powerful impact on a person’s mood, self-confidence, and day.  I admit, that when my wedding photos received hundreds of “likes” on Facebook, I felt appreciated, as if every “like” was a virtual cheer.  When I didn’t get very many likes on certain photos of my son, I wondered, “Do people think that he doesn’t look very cute in this photo?”  Sure, it would be easy to say that it doesn’t matter and our timelines and gallery of photos and ideas are simply a manifestation of what’s in our heads and hearts, which not everyone will like anyway.  But why do people feel so good when they get lots of “Likes” and so unsure and sad when they don’t get as many?

I realized that similarly to the “Like” button, a millisecond smile from a friend or stranger can brighten our day.  Sure, there are lots of people who can quantify the smiles, compliments, and positive glances they receive in a day and base their confidence and happiness on that.  But for others, one is enough.  For others, zero “Likes” doesn’t have to mean the end of the world.  It doesn’t make us bad writers or poor photographers or stupid, brainless people.  If my mother had a Facebook or Instagram, she would probably like every single thing I post, whether or not she actually liked it, simply because she likes me. I do this all the time.  Because I have friends and family I support, they could be capturing a picture of a fly on a hike, their son with a bloody nose, or the lyric to a Styx song and I would probably “Like” it, just to support them and make them smile.  If it’s positive, I’m all for it.  However, once it makes a person question his or her self-worth, I worry.

In fact, I always like to think about the pool of individuals who hit “Like.”  Do they comprise of perverts gawking at an underage girls’ chest?  Are they millions of teenagers who “Like” a viral video of drunken tomfoolery and upchucking?  I would rather have a handful of genuinely honest and kind “Likes” than a popularity contest or fanbase of followers who do not share my mission and values, which are more substantial and long-lasting.

So “Like” away and spread positive energy!  I fully support that intention and attitude.  It’s the other stuff that doesn’t quite ring true to me.

What are your thoughts?  Share in the comments!!