Monday, January 19, 2015

My Thoughts on Equality

This is such a hard post to write, because people these days are so prone to be offended.  But here's what I say to that:  I have no agenda to offend.  I only want to bring people together as Human Beings.

Today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in the US.  For those who don't know, this day marks the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr.  Dr. King was instrumental in the non-violent activism of the civil rights movement for the US.  On April 4, 1968, he was assassinated by James Earl Ray (as records stand now).

He was a true leader -- one I wish we had here today.  His message of equality by peace is something we still need today.  If he were here, I know that he would work to curtail the riots and the hate that is being displayed now.

Look.  Here's one thing this blogger can say, without a doubt.  I think white people and black people and every other color people in these United States have the same opportunity.  The fact is, we want everyone in the US to succeed.  Because quite frankly, if you succeed, I will succeed somewhere down the line.  That's the way it's supposed to work.

I don't give a crap what color your skin is.  I want you to succeed as an American -- as a Human Being.  If you succeed, I succeed.  That's just the way it works.

However, if  you are someone that is not able to be successful because of racism or discrimination or whatever, then that's a problem for me.  Because it's holding back Human Kind, which is holding me back.

On the other hand, if you're one of these people who thrives at being held back so you can lament about it, and protest about it, and collect government assistance because of it, I have no time for you. And if you participate in stupid protests that hold up business productivity, you are even more on my shit list.  And I feel safe to say that you would be a huge disappointment to Dr. King.

Get it together, people.  We are ALL on this Earth together.  There's no getting around that.  We need to figure out how to make it work (it's really not that hard, folks) and stop this unnecessary misery.

I love you all.  Please give your fellow Human a hug, no matter their color, and tell them you love them.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

My Weekly Review: Jan 12 - Jan 18, 2015

Hi there!  I hope you had a good week.  I'm still having trouble coming to grips with the holidays being over.  But it's time to move on!

This week was pretty busy.  It started off a bit miserable, as I had a migraine for almost two days. That was not fun.  I haven't had one in a while, so I'm not really sure what brought it on.

I had quarterly reporting to do for work, and that took the whole week and a little bit of the weekend. I really like doing it, so it's not a burden.  But I know next week will be tough catching up with the tasks I had to put aside.

Schools had a two-hour delay for two days due to freezing rain.  Honestly they could have gone in at their regular time on the second day, but I guess it's better to be safe than sorry.  I've really been hoping for frozen precipitation, although I prefer that it snows.  Unfortunately it doesn't look like it's going to be cold enough for the next week.  Bummer.

Friday we went to a "regift" party hosted by a friend.  It was so fun!  The idea of a regift party is that you take a gift you received for Christmas that you don't particularly like or won't use.  All the gifts are put in a pile, and everyone draws a number.  As each person's number comes up, they either get to choose a gift from the pile, or they can "steal" a gift that someone before them opened.  I've heard it called by other names:  White Elephant, or Crazy Santa.  Anyway, the party was really a lot of fun!  I got to see friends I haven't seen in a while, and met some new ones.  It was great.

The weekend has been pretty quiet.  I had a little bit of work to do, and have been catching up on laundry.  Tonight there are football games to watch.  The two teams I usually route for:  Pittsburgh Steelers and Dallas Cowboys are done for the season, so I don't know who I'll pull for now.  It doesn't really matter.  I just like to watch it!

That's about it for now.  I hope your week was productive and fun.  Did you get any snow where you are?  How much?  :)

Saturday, January 17, 2015

On Dealing with Planner Fatigue

For those who don't know me, I am a paper planner nerd.  I have been ever since my first real job as a receptionist for a printing company.  Our bosses introduced the team to the Day-Timer planners. From the moment I saw it, I was hooked.  Even before the Day-Timer, I used the free pocket calendars from Hallmark to note birthdays and such.  But the Day-Timer was definitely the turning point for me.

I used a paper planner consistently for several years, and then backed off a little bit.  I don't really remember why.  And then I was introduced to the Franklin Covey planner system, and once again, it was love.  The Franklin Covey system was even more in-depth than Day-Timer, because it helped me focus on my goals, and getting those goals broken down into manageable tasks.

I continued with the Franklin Covey system for several years, becoming more and more dependent on it as the years went by.  My system became a well-oiled machine.  Soon I started to wonder about other ways I could use my planner, and so I started reading blogs and looking at photos of planner pages on Flickr.  Yes, I had it bad!

It was then that I was introduced to Filofax.  I had heard the name before, but never dreamed of moving away from my Franklin Covey, so didn't look into it further.  Until I saw the photos.  Oh, the photos.  There were so many!  From there I stumbled upon YouTube videos.  Yes, YouTube videos! People actually filmed themselves flipping through their planners, and sharing how they setup their planners.

It was nirvana!  I had found my Happy Place!  Not only was I able to see how others used their planners, but now I had a community of people who loved their planners as much as I did!  Woohoo!

It wasn't long before I started taking photos of my own planner, and I even created my own YouTube channel and started recording videos of my own!

Fast forward to the end of 2014.  I was in a new, more demanding, position at work, the daughters' school and activity schedules were busier, and life in general was just more hectic.  You would think that I would have become more dependent on my planner than ever, but for some reason the opposite occurred.

My planner became a burden.  Suddenly it was too much trouble to write things down.  It was too much trouble to flip through pages and tabs to see if we were free for an event or already booked.  It was too much trouble to sit down every Sunday and do my weekly review and planning for the coming week, which had always been something I treasured as "my time."  Suddenly, I no longer wanted to use my planner.  And so in October, I put it away.

I started entering appointments and reminders in Google Calendar.  And my tasks went into Remember the Milk.  Everything was electronic, and so EASY!  I could access everything on my phone (iPhone 6 Plus = I can see!) or my laptop.  I shared my calendar with my husband so he could see on his own what was on our schedule, rather than having to ask me.  My tasks were set up to recur automatically.  I didn't have to rewrite anything, and just had to click a box to complete a task. It was awesome!

Still, there's a sadness in my heart -- a feeling of being unsettled.  I miss the paper, and the pens. And I miss my lovely Ochre Malden, with the soft, squishy leather.  I've tried several times over the past month or so to go back to a paper planner, but just a few minutes into it I'm turned off by having to write everything down.  I just don't have time for that.  And the desire is not there, either.

For those who are not in the paper planner world, I'm sure you think I'm a nutcase.

But those who do use a planner know where I'm coming from.  I'd love to get some feedback from you. What do I do?  How can I find a happy balance between using my paper planner, and having the ease of the electronic world at my fingertips?

Thanks a lot for stopping by.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Friday Funny: Police DashCam Confessional (Shake it Off)

Happy Friday, ya'll!

There's so much funny stuff out there in cyberspace!  Each Friday I'll share my favorite with you.

This week's favorite is a video I came across on Facebook.  This guy knows how to make his own fun!

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Throwback Thursday: After-Holiday Blues

Warm 'n Fuzzy

I've never jumped on the "Throwback Thursday" bandwagon before, but I thought it would be fun to partake in a bit of reminiscing here.  Since the first posts in this blog have long since grown stagnate, I thought it would be fun to look back and bring some of them back to life, as long as they are relevant to today.

Right away I found one from early January 2013 titled "After-Holiday Blues," and it certainly rings true for me a year later.  In fact, I think I get the after-holiday blues at this time every year.

The Fall, and the holiday seasons of Thanksgiving and Christmas, are my absolute favorite times of year.  I'll even throw Halloween into the favorites mix, not because I love Halloween (I guess I'm indifferent), but because Halloween's passing means that Thanksgiving is not far behind.  I love the cold(er) weather, the baking, the fellowship with family and friends, and the gift giving.  And the eating.  (My family is not an Army, but we can prepare food for one!)  I love the way strangers seem more friendly, and the Christmas music playing in the stores.  I love the football on TV, and reminiscing with family about past traditions.  I just seriously love it all.

And when it's all over, I get sad.

It always passes quickly, but for a few fleeting moments after all signs of the holidays are gone, I think, "Well, what do I have to look forward to now?"  That's silly, I know.  Of course, I have lots to look forward to.  But hopefully you know what I mean.

So, yes, I'm going through that period now.  Winter has settled in as rainy and dreary and cold (but not quote cold enough for wintry precipitation -- sad face).  But I know the sun will come out tomorrow.  (Bet your bottom dollar... sorry, had to go there.)

If you've got a spare minute or two, hop on over to my blog post last year.

Do you get the blues after the holidays?  Or do you still have your Christmas tree up in defiance?  :)

I haven't thanked you lately.  Thank you for stopping by!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

My Revised Bucket List


I revised my bucket list today.  I've had the list for many years, and things have been added or dropped off as my interests have changed.  For the most part, though, what is on the list today has been there since almost the beginning.

Here's my list as it stands today:

  1. Reach my goal weight of 165 lbs.
  2. Run a marathon.
  3. Publish a novel.
  4. Pay off all debt.
  5. Learn Italian.
  6. Visit Italy.
  7. Get paid for my singing. // Done!
  8. Journal as a daily habit.
  9. Build an interesting blog.
  10. Live at the beach.
  11. Become famous in a good way.
  12. Learn to snow ski.
  13. Swim with dolphins.
  14. Cruise to Alaska.
  15. Vacation in New York city.
  16. Learn to paint with watercolors.
  17. Regularly practice meditation.
  18. Visit the hot springs in Greenland.
  19. See the Northern Lights.
  20. Visit New England in the Fall.
  21. Read all of the classic novels.

You can see the most up to date list on my Bucket List page.  As I complete the items on the list, I'll write about it, and you'll be able to see the links to those posts there.

The funny thing about my bucket list is I've always kept it tucked away out of sight.  And what happens when things are out of sight?  They're out of mind!  A few of the things on the list have made it to my goals for the year, and that's what I'll continue to do to make sure I actually get them done!

Do you have a bucket list?  How many things on the list have you completed so far?

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

On Keeping Up The Pace


This is my thirteenth blog post in a row.  That's pretty good for me, but I am tired.  How do people do it?  It doesn't help that I've had a headache for four days and a migraine for two and a half of them. At this moment it hurts to think, so I'm going to take it easy and just ramble a little bit.

I've thought about writing a few blog posts in advance to have on hand for days like this, or when I have to work late, or whatever.  But part of the reason for me blogging every day is to practice the craft of writing, and doing it every day to develop the habit.  If I write advance posts and give myself permission to skip a day, well that's defeating the purpose.  So I'm going to trudge forward with blogging every day.  Just know that some of them will be boring.  Like this one.

On a happy note, we have freezing rain in the forecast for tonight and tomorrow morning.  Just a little bit, and knowing the way our weather rolls, it will probably fizzle out and do nothing, but at least it's in the forecast.  I'm ready for wintry weather.  I'd prefer it be in the form of fluffy snow instead of ice, but I'll take what I can get.  Incidentally, we had thunder ten days ago.  You know the old wives tale: If there's thunder in the winter, that means snow will follow in ten days.  Well, we're not going to have snow tomorrow, but it's trying!

For those of you who don't know, I'm a winter weather fanatic.  I love snow so much!  Mostly because we hardly ever get it in my neck of the woods.  I'm sure if I lived in Buffalo or Minnesota I'd be sick of it,  So if we do happen to have any of the frozen precipitation grace us with its presence, you can expect for me to write about it here!

I know this is short and sweet, but I'm going to end today's post here.  I hope you are well and warm wherever you are!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Book Review: "Up Island"

I finished a book last week, and am one step closer to meeting my goal to read twelve books this year.  I did start reading it in December, so I had a bit of a head start.

The book I finished is "Up Island" by Anne Rivers Siddons.  I read it using the Kindle app on my iPhone 6 Plus.  Side note:  this bigger phone makes it so much easier to read books.  I love it.

This is actually the second time I've read this book, so before I get into my informal review, let me take you back a few years to that first time, and how I came to read it a second time.

"Up Island" was published in 1997, and I read it just a few years after that.  It affected me in a big way, apparently, because I thought about it many times since then.  I only had a fleeting memory of the story, and couldn't even remember the title or the author's name.  But I did remember the vivid descriptions of a rough Winter in Martha's Vineyard.  Winter is my favorite season, snow is my favorite precipitation, and visiting Martha's Vineyard is on my bucket list, so the story had a lot of the elements that I love.

Fast forward to a month or so ago.  The Winter images from the story were on my mind more than usual, and soon I was drawn to try to find out what the title of the book was so I could read it again.

Can I just say how much I love Google?  I simply entered "book Martha's Vineyard winter" in the search box, and Google delivered the book title right to me.  I instantly recognized it, and reading the books description confirmed that it was the one I had been looking for.  Amazing!  I purchased it right then and was reading it in minutes.

Molly Redwine is the main character, and the story is about a woman whose husband of many years leaves her for a younger woman.  She grapples with the heartbreak and after-effects while soon after being faced with her mother's death.  She goes to Martha's Vineyard in the Summer with a good friend to get away from it all, and decides to stay by herself through the Fall and Winter.

She faces many obstacles, from dealing with the loss of her caretaker identity, to facing the harsh Massachussets Winter, to battling wits with a couple of swans.

I could relate to the main character and the challenges she faced, and later overcame.  She is a strong female character, and I think the story's message teaches a good lesson about finding your strength in the midst of adversity.

I enjoyed the book the first time I read it, and I enjoyed it even more this time.  I would even consider reading it again, just to relive the vivid Wintry description

What are you reading these days?  If you have suggestions for my reading list, please share in the comments!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

My Weekly Review: Jan 5 - Jan 11, 2015

Hi there!

My plan for this blog is to have a weekly review every Sunday.  This is where I'll just touch on what I did over the past week, what I accomplished, that sort of thing.

The week has been fairly harmless.  I've been really busy at work, especially coming back after the Christmas and New Year's holidays, but it was nothing I couldn't handle.  

My meal planning did not go as I had planned, but it wasn't a problem, as we were able to readjust and just move plans to next week.  It's really all about making a plan so that we know what to purchase at the grocery store.  Ideally I would like to go to the grocery store only once a week, but we end up going to the store every other day or so.  Since we live in an apartment on the third floor without an elevator, it's probably best that we don't shop once a week!

I don't really have the progress on my goals since I really just started on that Monday.  My plan is to report my goal progress once a month, so you can look for that at the end of this month or the first of next month.

I'm still finding my footing on writing here on the blog.  So far I've written eight days in a row (including today) which is a huge accomplishment for me.  But I'm really motivated by my commitment to write here every day, and I told you guys about it, so I can't let you down!

So this weekly review is going to be a little bit sparse, but I think it will get better going forward.

Hey, if you have something else that you're rather see on Sundays, let me know.  I'm always open to your feedback.  I want to provide the content that you like, so let me know!

I hope you've had a good week.  Anything special happen for you?  

Saturday, January 10, 2015

2015 Goals Series: Finish My Novel

This post is part of the 2015 Goals Series, where I'll share my goals for the year, why they are important to me, and how I plan to accomplish them. You can follow along here


This goal is definitely the most stressful, yet the most life changing for me.  And it is the one I have been avoiding the most.

Hi all.  This is the last post in the 2015 Goals Series.  Thanks for sticking with me.

So, even as I'm sitting down to write this, I feel my core start to tighten, and I start to feel my usual urge to run away when things get tough.  I feel the urge to give up, but at the same time I know that this is what I'm meant to do.  So giving up is not an option.  Sometimes I think, if it's so hard for me, then maybe it's not meant to be.  But almost before I can get that thought out, something inside me screams, "YOU CAN DO THIS!"

The last, but not least, of my goals for 2015 is to finish my first novel.  Well, not exactly finish, but make great headway.

It all started when I first attempted NaNoWriMo in 2003.  I don't even remember where this story idea came from initially, but it has grown to be such a part of me it almost seems real.  I have dreams about it to this day.  I just played around with the idea for a couple of years (I did not successfully finish that 2003 NaNoWriMo), but it did not really pull at me until the beginning of 2006.

In late 2006, my life had become a bit tumultuous.  I had lost my dad suddenly just months before, my marriage was ending, and I was unsure of what to do next.  My writing had become extremely important to me, and I picked up on my novel idea.  I suddenly felt an extreme need to finish it, like time was running out.  I became obsessed with it.  Soon I had in my head that it would be a good idea to quit my job and take three months to finish my book.

I quit my job.  I was the Firm Administrator of a CPA firm, where I had worked for 11 years.  I had a corner office.  And I left it.

I know we're not supposed to have regrets in life, but that's one of mine.

So I left my job, with plans to live off my 401K until I could finish my book and have it published, and then I would go back to work temporarily until I made my millions.

What a foolish, foolish girl I was.

I did manage to squeak out a first draft of 50,000 words.  I was really proud of that, and still am.  But as far as having a publishable product, I failed miserably.  It was a bad move financially (obviously) and totally crushed my confidence as a writer.

Fast forward to now, and I am ready to give it a go again, but without all of the silly sacrifices.  

I still feel like I am struggling with the self-confidence in a big way, but I'm determined to overcome that.  The time has come for me to stop worrying about what other people would think of my story, and just get it written.  The first draft was, um, a shitty first draft.  So much work has to be done, it's overwhelming.  

But I'm doing to do it.

So, I have a plan for finishing this book, but it won't happen until next year, according to my calculations.  However, I can get a boatload of work done this year.

Here's my plan:  

1. Prepare story outline. (1 outline)
2. Prepare chapter outlines. (35 outlines)
3. Prepare chapter blueprints. (35 blueprints)
4. Edit chapters. (35)
5. Prepare final draft.

Steps and timeline:

1. Prepare story outline in one week. (1 week)
2. Prepare one chapter outline per week. (35 weeks)
3. Prepare one chapter blueprint per week. (35 weeks)
4. Edit one chapter per week. (35 weeks)
5. Hand off book to Mom to read and comment. (4 weeks)
6. Prepare final draft of novel. (2 weeks)

112 weeks total = 28 months

So, you're probably wondering, where in the heck do I come up with this.  What in the world are chapter blueprints, blah blah blah?  

That's for another blog post, but it's a technique I learned long ago from Steve Manning, before I even started working on this book.  I've used it for many smaller projects, mostly for work, and found that it really is fool proof.  I'll write a more comprehensive post on it soon.

The technique is fool proof, as long as you do the work.  That is something I have not done with this book.

But this year that will change.  I'm determined.  I have to, right?  I have this fear that I will die before I finish it.  I would go to Heaven really unhappy if that happened.

I'm sorry this was so long.  It could have been longer, believe me.  This is a subject that is so close to my heart.

Do you have a project that is pulling at you?  I'd love to hear about it.  It would be helpful to know that I'm not the only one.  :)

Thanks again for reading. 

Friday, January 9, 2015

2015 Goals Series: Maintain Our Household on a Regular Basis

This post is part of the 2015 Goals Series, where I'll share my goals for the year, why they are important to me, and how I plan to accomplish them. You can follow along here.


Hello again!  Welcome to post number seven in the 2015 Goals Series.  There's just one more after this one, but today we're going to talk about my goal to maintain our household on a regular basis.

I'll go ahead and say it right now.  I'm a horrible housekeeper.  I just don't like to do it, and seem to put it off and put it off until it becomes a "situation."  It would be most helpful if my family members shared in the responsibility, but they don't.  And for me, the drama that ensues when I bring it up with them is just not worth it.  So I don't.  That makes me feel resentful, though.  I have a full-time job that keeps me very busy.  I resent the fact that I'm the one expected to do the chores.  But, it is what it is.

So rather than complain about it and feel mad about it, I'm going to renew my dedication.  I want to live in a clean, and tidy, and well-maintained space.  Doing it on a daily basis will make the job easier and less time consuming, and will allow time for other things I like to do.  And, I won't feel guilty doing the fun stuff if I know that I've taken care of the unfun stuff.  And who knows -- maybe by being a good example to my family, they'll be motivated to join in.

I used to have a complicated schedule for my chores, but I've made it more simple by just assigning a room a day.  That way, I really shouldn't have to spend more than an hour on chores.

I'm sure I'm not the only one who hates housework.  What do you do to stay motivated and push through the unfun stuff?

Thanks for reading.  I appreciate your time!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

2015 Goals Series: Declutter Our Home

This post is part of the 2015 Goals Series, where I'll share my goals for the year, why they are important to me, and how I plan to accomplish them. You can follow along here.

Sean MacEntee

Hi there!  Welcome back to the 2015 Goals Series.  Today is the sixth post in the series, and we're going to talk about my goal to declutter our home.


Let me just preface this by saying my family and I are not hoarders in the extreme sense, but we all tend to have an attachment to our things.  The daughters are emotionally attached to the toys they played with when they were younger, and their school papers going back to kindergarten.  The husband is attached to receipts and bills and other paperwork.  He hates to throw anything away for fear he may need it someday.  And me, well, I'm attached to notebooks and office supplies.

In addition to that, our home is pretty small for two adults and two teenagers.  It's barely big enough for the four of us, but throw all of our junk in the mix, and we have a space crisis!

I don't have a problem hanging on to the things we love.  But those things need to have their own space.  Because if they are out in the open, they tend to attract other things -- the unloved junk kind of things -- and before you know it, things are out of control.

So this year is the year of decluttering.  My goal is to get rid of the things that we do not love and that do not serve a purpose.  And then, find a home for the things we do love and bring us joy.

Here are the spaces I plan to work on.  Yes, this is every single space in our home.

  • Coat closet Living room
  • Laundry room
  • Girls' bathroom cabinet
  • Girls' bedroom
  • My closet
  • Girls' bedroom closet
  • Kitchen pantry
  • Kitchen cabinets
  • Dining room
  • Master bedroom
  • John's closet
  • Master bathroom cabinet
  • Storage room
  • Garage
  • Balcony

Some of the spaces don't have that much clutter, but they all need attention on some level.  

I don't have a plan, at the moment, for getting this done.  I've tried several methods of getting rid of clutter, but they never seem to take hold.  So this month I'm reading "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing" by Marie Kondo.  In the book, Ms. Kondo shares her thoughts on our spiritual relationship with things, and how to clear the clutter once and for all.  I've just started it (I'm at 11%), but it's an interesting read so far.  I'll share my review of it here once I'm finished.  I'm hoping the book will give me a fresh perspective on things, and allow me to knock the clutter out for good.

Do you "suffer from clutter" like me?  Or is your space under control?  I'd love to hear all about it!

Thank you for popping in today.  I hope you are well!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

We Interrupt Our Regularly Scheduled Broadcast...

Victoria Nevland
Hi there, friend.

I had planned to continue with the 2015 Goals Series today.  I have three more goals to share. Coincidentally, they are the three goals that will be the most challenging for me, and the three that I have been procrastinating on for the longest.  But, I'm tired, folks.  It's only Wednesday, but I'm tired.

So I decided to take a pause in the series posts, and just pop in to chat.  I don't really have a particular topic in mind to discuss, so this will be one of those rambly posts I warned you about.

(I'm not procrastinating.  Really.  I'm not.)

I still find that I'm struggling with my time.  I'm struggling with finding enough time to do all of the things I want to do. There are so many things!  Yes, I could wake up earlier.  Or I could do something on my lunch hour.  Or I could go to bed later.  The problem I face is, I love to do all those things, too! I love to sleep until the last possible moment in the mornings.  And I like to use my lunch hours to unwind, when I can.  The truth is, most days I don't even step away from my desk for lunch.  And staying up late?  Ha!

I also have trouble with prioritizing.  I tend to do the fun things first -- the things I really want to do -- and then bemoan when I run out of time before I can do the un-fun stuff -- the things I really don't want to do.

The thing is, I know that it's all about choices.  I have to choose how I want to spend my time.  I have to either live with the choices I make, or make different choices.  It's quite simple, really.  But at the same time it's so hard!


This turned out to be a whiny post, didn't it.  Not what I intended, but I won't apologize.  I want this blog to reflect who I am.  And, sometimes I'm a bit whiny.  But don't worry, it won't last long.

Now I'm going to go put on my jammies, have a cup of tea, and meditate.  And tomorrow will be a new day.  And it will be more productive than today, because that will be the choice I make.

Thanks for listening.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

2015 Goals Series: Develop a Consistent Meditation Practice

This post is part of the 2015 Goals Series, where I'll share my goals for the year, why they are important to me, and how I plan to accomplish them. You can follow along here.


Hello there.  I hope you are having a good day, and are happy and healthy.  Me?  I'm feeling a little bit scattered and restless, so I thought now would be a good time to talk about my goal to develop a consistent meditation practice.

This goal has been on my radar for several years.  I've managed to meditate once or twice a week for a while now, but because I'm so inconsistent, I don't feel like I'm reaping the full benefit.  Meditation is important to me for several reasons, but mostly because it helps to reduce my stress, helps me to settle my mind, and helps me make time with my God.  I've learned that if I don't make time to quiet myself and my mind, things get out of control.

I'd like to practice on a daily basis, and that's what I'll be working towards this year.  Right now I prefer a guided meditation, because I think that helps me to focus and sit still.  I've been using a free app from Deepak Chopra and Chopra Center Meditation called Living in Love.  The app comes with one or two free guided meditations and music tracks, but there's the option to buy others for a nominal fee.  I like it because I can easily program how long I want the meditation to be.  That comes in handy for those times when I only have a few minutes.  It will also work well as I attempt to increase my meditation time over the coming months.

So here's my plan:  

  • January - Meditate for 5 minutes daily
  • February - Meditate for 10 minutes daily
  • March - Meditate for 15 minutes daily
  • April - Meditate for 20 minutes daily
  • May - Meditate for 25 minutes daily
  • June - Meditate for 30 minutes daily
  • July - Meditate for 35 minutes daily
  • August - Meditate for 40 minutes daily
  • September - Meditate for 45 minutes daily
  • October - Meditate for 50 minutes daily
  • November - Meditate for 55 minutes daily
  • December - Meditate for 60 minutes daily

I'm allowing this plan to be pretty fluid.  For instance, this month I've been meditating for ten minutes each day instead of five.  Five minutes just doesn't seem long enough, and ten minutes is pretty easy for me to do since I've been in the practice of sitting for that period of time for a while now.

I also am not that concerned about working up to an hour a day.  Would it be nice?  Absolutely!  But I recognize that sitting on a daily basis is more important than how long I sit.

I think this will be a bit hard for me to accomplish, because I'm not in the habit of making time for myself.  I have to learn that if I give myself permission to sit quietly for a few minutes, I will ultimately have the energy to devote to other things.  It's a win-win situation!

Do you have a meditation practice?  How do you manage to sit still and quiet?

See?  Even just writing about meditation has made me feel better!

Take care out there!

Monday, January 5, 2015

2015 Goals Series: Read Twelve Books

This post is part of the 2015 Goals Series, where I'll share my goals for the year, why they are important to me, and how I plan to accomplish them. You can follow along here.


Hi again!  Welcome to part four of the 2015 Goals Series.  

So far I've shared a summary of my goals for this year, and reviewed in detail my goals to blog daily and reach my goal weight.  Today I'll talk about something short and sweet:  my goal to read twelve books this year.

Now I know that seems like a light goal for some of you hard core readers out there.  I've seen some of my friends on Goodreads who read sixty books or more last year!  That's amazing!  But considering I only read five books in 2014, I think my goal of twelve is a good place to start for me. That's a book a month, and that's something I should be able to do easily, now that I've rekindled my love for reading.  (Haha -- get it?  Kindle?) 

I used to devour books when I was younger.  I have my Mom to thank for that.  She has always been an avid reader, and we would visit the library once a week or so.  Some of my fondest memories are of time spent in the old library in our hometown, scanning the books on the shelves for what seemed like hours (in that regard, I totally judge a book by its cover!), poking around in the card catalogs (oh I miss those long drawers stuffed full of notecards).  I even remember the dark and dingy basement that housed all of the old newspapers.  Oh, and I can't forget the librarian, who at the time was a scary old lady.  Sadly I don't know what her name was.  I'll bet she was really nice....

Eek, sorry!  Back to my reading goal...

I still love to read, but once again I allowed life to bust in on my free time, and reading took a back seat.  So sad.  So I'm working to change that for 2015.  As I said, my plan is to read at least one book a month.  I mentioned Goodreads a moment ago.  That's the tool I use to keep track of the books I want to read, as well as the books I'm currently reading and those I've already read.  I can also see what my friends are reading and read reviews and recommendations.  And I can also share my progress on Twitter and Facebook.  It's pretty cool.

As far as my method of reading, I'm all over the map.  I have a few paper books that I'm planning to read, but I also love my Kindle app.  I have a Kindle Fire but mostly I use the app on my iPhone.  It's so convenient to not have to carry a paper book around.

I have also started using the Overdrive app that allows you to borrow ebooks and audio books from the library!  I absolutely love it!  I downloaded an audio book just the other day to listen to while I'm walking on the treadmill.  It helps to pass the time while I'm exercising, and I'm learning something at the same time.  It's great!

Honestly, I think this will be the easiest goal for me to achieve this year.  But I'm still excited about it!

Do you like to read?  Do you have any book recommendations?  List them down in the comments if you like -- I'm always open for suggestions!

Thanks again for stopping by today.  I hope you're doing well!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

2015 Goals Series: Reach my Goal Weight

This post is part of the 2015 Goals Series, where I'll share my goals for the year, why they are important to me, and how I plan to accomplish them. You can follow along here.


Hi there!  Thanks for joining me for part three of the 2015 Goals Series.

So far I have shared a summary of my goals for 2015, and focused on my goal to blog here every day. Today I want to look at another one of my goals:  to reach my goal weight by the end of the year.

I'm sure this is on the minds of many at the beginning of the new year.  Frankly, losing weight has probably been on my goal or resolution list every year of my adult life.  I think it is an admirable goal.  I think everyone should strive to be as healthy and fit as they can.  It just helps you enjoy life more.

I have been slightly overweight for most of my adult life.  It all probably began when I got my first job, had my own money, and started ordering from Domino's Pizza.  Oh, the freedom!  My weight began to increase slowly, and I didn't really pay attention, other than occasionally needing to go up a size in my jeans.  Amazingly, that did not sound any alarm bells for me.  

My need to lose weight and get healthy culminated near the end of 2010.  I was at my heaviest, unhealthiest, and unhappiest.  I was close to 250 lbs. (I'm 5'8" in my head, and 5'7" in the doctor's office), but most troublesome to me was my declining health.  Suddenly I was on several prescription medications, my knees were giving me problems, and I was seeing a cardiologist.  I had enough trouble dealing with my dress size of 20, but I was not ready to start feeling old at 45.

So in 2011, I started researching gastric bypass surgery.  My brother had gone through it a few years before, with great results.  My husband went through it the year before.  I knew the ins and outs of the surgery, but I wanted to make sure it was right for me.

Towards the end of 2011 I made the decision to move forward with the surgery, and in March 2012 it was done.  Fast forward to today -- I'm 40 lbs. lighter (I was down 55 lbs., but have gained some back) and am definitely healthier (no longer on prescription meds, heart is fine, but the knees still click and creak).  But, I want to lose the 15 lbs. I've gained back, plus another 25 lbs. or so to get to my goal weight.

So, one of my goals for 2015 is to reach my goal weight of 165 lbs by the end of this year.  It's important to me because I want to be healthier, happier, and more confident.  I think they are the cliche reasons, but they really ring true for me.

How am I going to do this?  I'm so glad you asked!  Here's my plan for achieving my goal:

  • Exercise for at least 30 minutes every day. 
  • Weight myself every Sunday and keep a record to make sure I am on track.
  • Avoid fast food and fried foods and limit sweets.  All of these are my weakness.  :(
  • Use Fitbit to monitor activity, food, and water intake.

I'm most excited about my new Fitbit, and will be doing a review on it in the coming weeks.  It's proving to be oh so helpful so far, even on day three of my journey.  I'm really excited and motivated, and am really confident that I will easily meet this goal.  Sharing my progress here for all the internet to see doesn't hurt, either.  

Do you have any weight loss or fitness goals this year?  What are you doing to stay motivated?

I appreciate that you stopped by to check in with me.  You're awesome!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

2015 Goals Series: Daily Blogging

This post is part of the 2015 Goals Series, where I'll share my goals for the year, why they are important to me, and how I plan to accomplish them. You can follow along here.

Kristina B

Hi there!  Thanks for joining me as we continue with my 2015 Goals Series.  

Yesterday we started with my reasons for setting goals for 2015 in the first place, and shared a little bit about what hasn't worked for me in the past.  For the next several days, we'll explore each goal individually.  

Today we'll delve into my goal to publish a daily blog post.

I've had this blog for a long time -- since April 17, 2010.  There have been several attempts like this one to jump start the blog, but over the past four years I have published only 89 posts.  I immediately start to chastise myself for that, but no more.  This is a new beginning, and you know I love new beginnings!

In order to really solidify this goal, I took some time to really think about why it is important to me. Why do I feel the need to publish a blog post every single day?  The answers to that are pretty clear to me now.  

I want to develop the habit of writing every day.  

I want my Muse to know that when I sit down with my laptop and cup of something hot, I mean business and am ready to work.  If I leave a day or more in between writings, then that just leaves the door open for skipping another day, and then another day, and then before I know it a month has gone by.  They say that it takes 21 days two to eight months to develop a habit.  If I'm able to keep the daily writing thing going for twelve months, I should be set!

I want to practice the craft of writing.  

As you saw in yesterday's summary, another one of my goals is to finish writing my novel.  These days I can't even pretend to put together any kind of coherent story, because I'm so dreadfully out of practice.  Writing every day, even if it's not related to my novel, will eventually prepare me for getting back to my novel.  Practice makes perfect!

I want to share my knowledge with others.

I have learned a little about a lot of things in my forty-plus years on this Earth.  A lot of what I have learned has come from the internet.  I really love to share what I know, and if the information I have to offer can help just one person, I will be a very happy girl!

Finally, I want to build a community.

I'm not the only one who has learned a little about a lot of things.  We all have, and we all have information to share and contributions to make.  I would love to build an online community of friends who are interested in similar things.  It will be hard to resist all of the growing and sharing!

My plan for accomplishing this goal is pretty simple.  I'm going to write here every day.  Don't worry, I'll work hard to provide interesting content, although I hope you'll forgive me for the occasional meaningless ramble thrown into the mix.  I do have an extensive list of posts and topics under my belt, which is great news!  I will try to develop a bit of a schedule so you'll know what to expect and when, but that won't be written in stone.  I believe it's good to shake things up once in a while!

So, there you have it.  I'm really excited about starting out fresh, and I'm feeling really motivated. And this is post number three under my belt.  Only 362 to go!

How many of you have a blog?  Do you have any tips for keeping up the momentum?

Thanks for reading. :)

Friday, January 2, 2015

2015 Goals Series: A Summary

This post is part of the 2015 Goals Series, where I'll share my goals for the year, why they are important to me, and how I plan to accomplish them.  You can follow along here.


I am so happy to be writing this post.  I'm happy because this year I made the choice to think about the things I want to accomplish, and then was motivated to actually write them down.  This time last year -- not so much.

First I'll go back to 2013.  In 2013, I made grand plans for my annual goals.  They were well thought out, and well planned, and I had good intentions.  Very good intentions.  But something happened.  I don't even know what.  I let life get in the way, I guess.  I didn't stand up for what I wanted to do, and I didn't protect the time I needed to do it.  That's not to say that anyone stopped me.  That was all my doing.  I got lazy.  And then I got busy.  And then I was motivated, but too busy to catch up.  And then I was depressed because I couldn't catch up.  And then, I just gave up.

So last year, in 2014, I decided to take a different approach, and did not plan out what I wanted to accomplish.  I didn't want to put too much pressure on myself.  I had become quite busy with work and family and all of the stuff that goes with it.  I didn't want 2014 to end the way 2013 did -- me feeling depressed and sorry for myself because I had not accomplished anything.  So I figured I would just let things happen.  I had an idea of what I would like to do (like, everything on my list from 2013, and then some), but I told myself I would just fit it in when I could.  You know, when things slowed down, or when I found some spare time.  Well that just didn't work at all.

I've always know that I am a list-oriented type of worker.  Ask my husband.  The two of us grocery shopping together always ends up with someone getting mad (usually, that would be me).  When I shop, I have to have a list, in order by store sections, and I cross items off the list as I go along.  If it's not on the list, it doesn't exist.  My husband, on the other hand, prefers to just zip all around, going here and there, picking up this and that... it drives me insane!

Lists provide order for me, and organization, and something to strive for, and something to cross off so I can see what I have accomplished.  I don't know why I ever thought I would complete any of my goals without having them written down.

That brings us to 2015:  a fresh new start.  I love fresh new starts!  It didn't take me long to prepare my list of things to do this year.  They've been up in my head, poking at me and nagging me for two years!  And this time, I decided to share them with you, just for an extra dose of accountability.

So, without further ado, here are my goals for 2015:

  • Reach my goal weight
  • Read twelve books
  • Finish writing my novel
  • Publish a daily blog post
  • Declutter our home
  • Regularly maintain our household
  • Develop a consistent meditation practice

In this "2015 Goals Series," I'll go into detail for each goal.  I'll explain why I want to accomplish it, and share my plan for how I will accomplish it.  I'll also post a monthly review of how I'm doing, so you can follow along as I'm being the most productive I've ever been.  It'll be fun, I promise!

Do you have any goals or resolutions for the coming year?  If you do, I'd love to hear about them. Please share them in the comments below, so we can cheer each other on!

Here's to a productive and fulfilling year ahead.  Let's get this party started!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Happy New Year 2015!


Hello again, and Happy New Year!

Can you believe it's 2015 already? It seems like Halloween was just yesterday. Our poor Christmas decorations haven't even had a chance to get warm! Time flies by faster each year.

Our New Year's Day has been relatively quiet and relaxing. We all slept until 9:00am (it was much needed, and delightful), did a little shopping, and watched college football. John and I made a commitment to fitness by purchasing Fitbits, so once we got them configured and working properly, we went out for a thirty-minute walk. That was a huge accomplishment for us!

The rest of the evening will be quiet as well. The husband and daughters are on their laptops playing various games, and I am fine-tuning my goals. I'm feeling more motivated than I did this past year, so I'm taking that as a good sign that I might actually accomplish something!

One of those goals is to be more present here on the blog. I have lots of plans for this space, including sharing my goals, and reporting on my progress on a regular basis. That will help me hold myself accountable, but I hope it will also help someone out there follow their own dreams and accomplish great things!

Well, that's it for now. I hope you have a very happy and healthy 2015!