Monday, January 21, 2019

Marriage Monday Focus

I haven't talked a whole lot about marriage, having a family, and the dynamics of a marriage much.  But I have been living in mine and learning a whole lot over the past few months that I want to share some of my insights and perspective shifts on it all.  And by all, I mean all.

On Mondays, for awhile, I am going to share what I have learned, how things have changed, and more.

A marriage needs a strong foundation before building on it.  It needs to be something that can help be a guide for the kids you are raising to learn and know about relationships, to feel safe and loved, and how to show and give their love.  They need to have their parents have a solid foundation in their marriage so there is a solid foundation in the family dynamics.

Marriage comes with a lot of twists and turns as life moves forward as it is.  Add in one kid, more kids, and it certainly does change thing.

But in the midst of it all, don't forget about your marriage and what it means.

So who is ready to go on this wild ride?

Let's grow, deepen our connections, rekindle, and change things up a little a long the way.

Friday, January 18, 2019

January Credit Card Blues ~ Let's Start Saving For Christmas Now & Why

Is the spending from the Christmas season starting to catch up with you now in January?  Are you feeling the stress of the credit card bill?

I haven't talked a lot about finances and budgets in my blog posts before, but I want to start sharing some perspectives on them that you may not have thought of or heard of.  Or maybe you have heard of, but you just never got yourself set up and taking the first step.

Let me tell you this, setting up a budget and finances doesn't have to be tough.  The more you do it, the easier it gets, the less stress there will be, and you will begin to set up some long term possibilities that will actually feel good, but you have to start.

I will also tell you, we don't use a credit card.  What? Gasp!  Yes, day to day living and even holiday spending can be done without a credit card.

We utilize the Dave Ramsey methods for saving, spending, giving and bills and debt.

For now, I am just going to focus on holiday spending.  However, first know that if you do have a credit card, being caught up on all your payments is important.  You need to, I repeat need to, have all the basic needs covered.  If you are caught up on all credit cards and you have the basic needs covered, then you can start setting up ways to save.

When it comes to saving, personally, I would start by creating an emergency fund.  It covers for the when it happens in our life.  Because inevitably something will come up, not if it will come up and it is better to be prepared.

Once you have a good foundation, you can spread out your savings.

Let's focus on Christmas time and starting to save now.  Start now.  But how you wonder.

Each paycheck set aside a predetermined amount of money.  We set aside $20 per paycheck.  You can set it aside in a separate savings account or you can pull the money of check as cash and save it somewhere at home.

Then when it comes time to begin shopping for your gift giving season you will have set aside money and ready.

Now here's the thing, use that money for your gift shopping, but also you need to be intentional about it.  Don't go over the amount you have.

Before you begin your spending, make a list of everyone you will be getting a gift for.  Then look at how much you have set aside total.  Decide then how much per person you will spend.

You can spend it all or if you have any leftover save it for next year.  But don't spend beyond what you have saved.  If you go over on one gift from what you planned, then you are going to have shift somewhere down the road and adjust the spending on others.

Remember, gift giving is not about the amount it cost or quantity of items given.  It is about the thought and being meaningful.

After the rush, the joy, the fun of it all passes and Christmas is done you will find yourself in a much different spot in January.  Hopefully a little less stressed, less worried, a little more peaceful, and more at ease.  Because you won't have that  post Christmas credit card bill coming in the mail.

We have been doing this type of saving for a long time.  The saving reason may change over time, but we have found so much more joyful and fun in it all knowing we won't have the post Christmas credit card blues.

I remember our first Christmas after a year of saving.  We had so much fun picking out presents, enjoying our time shopping, not feeling rushed.  We even had some extra at the end of our spending that we decided to go for a round two.

Now, we have more gift giving as we have two kiddos as well.  But our plan hasn't changed.  We still set aside the money, then at Thanksgiving we look at how much we have, list out who we are gifting to, and start budgeting.  And yes, now with kids we add in a Santa amount.  So it's extended family, friends, the four of us, and Santa times 2 (because we have two kiddos).  This year our kitty cat was added to our list when the kids asked if we could get him some new toys.

So when I say, list everyone out, I mean everyone you plan on gifting to.  It is also a good idea to plan in some extras.  Because it never seems to fail you decide to give a gift that you may have been anticipating.  But if you plan in an extra 2 or 3, then you can go with the flow and relax just that much more.

Here's to Christmas next year and beating the credit card blues in January!

Start saving today!

Who is going to start their gift fund?

If you do have a savings plan, share below how you go about it all.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Want to Get Creative? Try Paint By Number

I have a passion for being creative.  It fills me, it is a total energy booster, it is calming, it makes me happy.

I like finding little projects here and there that I can do, make, recreate.  However, at the end of last year I looked deeper into it.  I want to simplify things around my house, inside and out, in me and my flow.  But I didn't want to keep accumulating physical items from my creative side.  But I knew I needed to find a creative outlet to build into my day, the week, the month without it needing to take up a lot of space.

One thing I know I love to do is to color.  So for Christmas I asked for mandala coloring books and some markers to go with it.  I have a coloring book that I pulled back out as well.  Both are easy things I can pick up at any point in the day.  I can spend five minutes on it and feel the benefits of getting creative time.  If I have more time, then I can do more.

Down the road I am going to give hand lettering a try and see where that leads.

I also found this awesome app for my ipad.  It's called Happy Color.  Simply said, it is a color by number.  You have thousands of pictures to choose from.  Then you tap on a number, those spots turn gray, and you color them in with a simple tap.  When you have filled all the spots with the color, it checks off the color circle.  Then you move on to the next color.

I love it because it is easy, but can get intricate.  I can take it anywhere.  Anyone can do it.  My oldest has been enjoying picking a picture to color with me or finding a simple one that he can do by himself.  Any theme you can think of to fit whatever mood you are in.  When you finish it you can watch it animate how you filled it in, which in a way is fun and yet sometimes calming. 

Anyone can be creative.  We all have it in us.  Sometimes it gets buried or lost, but it is there.  Once you tap into it though, there is this flood that comes with it.  You have to find what works for you, what direction you want to head in, what fills you.  Then open your heart, let go, and delve into the possibilities of where being creative can lead you.

How do you like to be creative?

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Health & Fitness, & A New Year

It's part way through January as this post goes live, but I want you to think back to end of the year, or to New Years.  Did you set any goals?  Any resolutions?  Any going to stop doing  xyz or let go of xyz?

I know some out there started the new year, the month off strong.  While I know some will keep going with what they set, I also know some (a lot) that now just a couple short weeks have given up, let it go, or haven't thought about it since.

It is just how some of us run.  Some of us run on setting goals, laying them out, and working towards them.  I also know some just do a resolution because, well because isn't that what we are supposed to do?

I encourage you to try to set a few attainable goals and really put forth the effort in reaching them.  I love the quote, "what can you start today that your future self will thank you for?"

Well, what can you start?

It takes time to get where you are going and want to go.  But you have to start where you are and actually take that first step.  Because that first step can lead to another, and another, and so on.

It took time to get to the point where you are at  now and it is going to take time to change, grow, and get to where you want to be.

So, how does this play into health and fitness?

Well, simply put, you have to do it little by little.  Being consistent, checking in, adjusting when needed are just the basic part of changing and reaching your goals.

It takes 28 days to create a habit.  So it can also be said it takes 28 days to change a habit.  If you keep persisting and adjusting, you can change those habits, creating new ones.

But also remember, just throwing all in at once may not get you the end result you are hoping for or looking for.

If you are looking for, hoping for lasting change and better habits then you need to remember it takes time.  So give yourself the time to get there.

What are you health and fitness goal for this year?  What habits do you want to change or create?  What do you want "to start today that your future self will thank you for"?

*Photo credit: google search for quote

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Calendars, Planners, Lists & More ~ Simplifying, Streamlining, & Setting Up My Planner

A few posts back I talked about my planner and laying things out just a little bit, but said I would come back around to a blog post just about my planner.

I typically have a planner for out at home, a wall calendar, a calendar for the diaper bag (and don't forget the week calendar on the fridge).

Holy cow, that is a crazy amount of calendars to keep up to date.

Here's my reasoning.

The planner for at home was to be a monthly one where I would write down all the happenings.  It is also broken out by week where I can write the day to day stuff.  My focus on it in the past was primarily the day to day side of it

The wall calendar is up for month to month planning and hung where all can see and add to it.

The calendar for the diaper bag is just for that.  It is small, easy to take a long, always there to be able to check open days and to schedule things while out and about.

To keep going.  There is a dry erase board on the fridge that I write out that weeks specifics for activities and dinner menu plan.  My thought, it would be the one actually seen.

Even as I type this, I am thinking it's a bit much.  Why, if I am trying to simplify other areas of my life, why would I not try to simplify this and streamline it more.  But I am left with how and then also trying to remember to take calendars when they need to go with.  And quite frankly, I  am tired of the dry erase boards falling off the fridge.

I am already menu planning a month out and that goes on the fridge.  So off goes the menu white board.  I am going to move the wall calendar into the kitchen for on the fridge (if there is enough room).  The calendar in the diaper, came out and when a calendar needs to go with it's my planner.

So that brings me down to my planner.  This year I am going to really utilize it.  I have my usual appointments in it, scheduled activities, birthdays, holidays, etc.  I am going to continue to use the day to day section to plan out my day a little bit more.  I am using this part to schedule my quiet times, workouts, creative time, and writing time along with more details about the plan during that time.

I know, that may seem a bit over the top to some.  But something I have learned is that if I put it to the calendar, I save a spot for it, and it is more likely to get done.  So, I already put in appointments and the other stuff, why not add the things that I want to do or need to do personally.  The things that fill me up, my hobbies, my energy boosters, self care, etc.  I put the flow for my day down on paper.

I also added in my word for the year and my monthly word.  Lastly, I added in my goals for some areas and the end result by when.

Now I have it all in one place and see it regularly.

I took some time at the end of last year to really clarify my goals, routines & rituals, what makes my day go better so I can be my best for those around me.  So why not give those things a space of their own on the calendar?  And why not put it all into a place where it will continue to be in my line of sight, right?

So that is what I did.  I transferred all the important dates from the wall calendar to my planner.  Consolidated calendars where I could.  And built up my planner to make it truly work for me.

I even took inspiration from my friend Nor and got creative with my planner.  Added some color, more organization, filled in the sides and not it's ready to go.

What do you make sure to schedule out?  How do you use your planner or calendar? What type of system do you have in place to help you plan, schedule, etc?

Have you ever thought about adding in a space on your calendar for your hobbies, for quiet time, for just the simple things?

I would love to hear more about how you set it all up and keep track of it, as well as make room for all that needs to get done and wants to get done.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Back at the end of 2011 I was given the challenge to come up with a word to carry me through the next year.  I say challenge because at the start of 2011 we lost our daughter Samantha and as I went through the grief process I found a wonderful course called Illuminate by Beryl Young to be a part of.  We used photography to process our way through our grief.

For those who may not know, I love taking pictures.  Give me a DSLR camera and I am in my element even more.  I love capturing the moment.

We also had journaling questions to answer with each lesson.  The last one of the course, which happened to end just before Christmas, was to pick a word to carry us through the next year.  I don't typically do resolutions, though I will set goals.  But choosing a word for the year was what I needed.  It was something to carry me through, to step forward, to grow.

The word I chose? Trust.  I needed to learn to trust again.  Trust myself, my body, my relationships, and above it all to trust God again.

So each year I choose a word to carry with me for the year.

For 2019, I chose my word, but also added a little something to it.  From taking the Abundant Mama Course and being in the Peace Circle for a bit, I got to create Simple Clarity cards.  During my time in the Peace Circle we had a monthly focus (i.e. you, to ease, to joy, etc).  I decided to combine all three of these ideas into setting up a month to month  word as well.

For 2019 my word is rejuvenation.  While I am not sure quite where that will lead, it does resonate deeply and seems to fit well with the direction I am headed in.  I then chose a word focus for each month.

So my overall word will be rejuvenation, but each month will have an extra focus to help dig in a little deeper, to grow, to be grounded.  Here's what I came up with:

January ~ Open
February ~ Calm
March ~ Leap
April ~ Heal
May ~ Fearless
June ~ Soften
July ~ Brave
August  ~ Kindness
September ~ Ease
October ~ Journey
November ~ Support
December ~ Ritual

I have also been doing a series of 3 card Simple Clarity card pull sets to help me set myself for the season.  So each season I work through this, think on it, and pick a word to represent the season.  For the Winter season my word is playful.

I usually post my word for the year somewhere that I will see it most days.  I have yet to decide where around the house I may do that.  I say may, because I am not sure if I will post my year word yet.  But for each month's word I will write it and design a picture on a frame that sits on my kitchen counter and I will put my Simple Clarity card in a holder I have by my bed.

I also decided to add the words to my planner.  Each month has it's own word written at the top, as well as my 2019 word.

So how about you?

Do you choose a word for the year?  Or maybe the month?

If not, maybe it is something you would be interested in trying.  If you have, share some of the words you have used in the past, how you use the word, and if you display it anywhere.

What will your word be this year?

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

Today is New Year's Day

I wish you a year full of blessings, joy, space, happiness.  May your heart open, be full.  May you find growth, strength, and courage.

Take a moment to think about the past week, past month, the past year.  Reflect, change, and grow.

Take some time today to rest and just be.

Take some time to think forward, to dream, to set goals.

Merry Christmas! 

And a Happy New Year to you!

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Devotions, Coloring, and Books to Grow From

I am working on compiling my book list for 2019.  I have some books that I just never got to last year and one that I read, but have decided to read again along with using the journal that goes with it.  I had a list of books I wanted to work through, but I never gave myself the time to sit and read.  This time, I am going to set aside time to read.  Instead of saying I am going to read a book a month, I am going to set aside time several days a week to just sit and read.

And yes, I am putting it on my calendar planner.  I usually use my for appointments and birthdays, but this year I am going to set it up differently and actually use it.  But I will save that for another post.  For now, I am adding in reading time.

The pictures show what is on my book list.  From devotions to start my day out, to mandala and coloring books to use during my creative sessions, to journals and books.  Can you sense a theme though in my titles?  Lots on creativeness, some on parenting and being a mom, and some to grow in my faith with.

I am excited to dive in, see where the books take me, and dig in deeper.

I have yet to decide on what order I am going to go in for the books.  But I do know I will be starting with "Be Your Finest Artist" by Joanne Miller & Dorsey McHugh.  This one I read a few years back when I first got it.  This time around, I ordered the journal that goes with it and plan on working through both together.

Incidentally, a few other books on my list got onto my list because when I ordered the journal, Joanne was out of town and it wouldn't ship for a couple of weeks.  I said no problem and to my surprise I was gifted "Creating a Haven of Peace" and "The  Empowered Artist".  Which led to a discussion with my mother in law, and she is loaning me the other creative themed books.

My list got built further after Christmas and was gifted with a blessing of other books.

Through the recommendation of friends, family, add ons to books I have read,  even winning one my reading list and direction is coming together.

So, what is on your reading list for 2019?  I would love to hear what is on your list and also if you have any recommendations please share!

Friday, December 21, 2018

It's Okay to Break, It's Okay to Cry

Here we are, 4 days away from Christmas.  And oddly enough, my most recent post was about the magic of Christmas.  Maybe not oddly, maybe more ironic, but a few days to prior to today were not my finest.

After what seems like months of dealing with same negative behaviors that seem like no matter what don't feel like they are going away, I was done and ready to throw in the towel.

As a parent we set expectations and boundaries, we love our kids beyond words.  But the constant loud volume, yelling at each other, not listening the first time (or second, or third, or, well you get it), lack of interest in helping, lack of interest in being kind to one another, and the list goes on left me worn and weary.

Well, needless to say, I have not, was not much in the holiday mood.  Not quite bah humbug, but not too far from it if things didn't change.

A few days ago, it changed.  I hit my own low, my own just done with it, my own breaking point.  I was done, done with those behaviors, not feeling the magic of the season, and ready to throw up the white flag.

Yes, I know.  God doesn't give us more than we can handle.  And he gave me these two boys, put me on this path that I am on.  But I was feeling a bit broken.  So much so, the tears just came flowing.

After the umpteenth fit from my youngest, my oldest picking on his brother all morning for yet again another day, being kicked twice during a diaper change, I ended up on the floor.  My youngest snuggling in, and the tears just flowing down my face.  The tears stopped long enough until I went to bed, and I shed some more.  And the next day, some more again.

But then I began to feel a shift.  A shift in me, my attitude, my perspective, a weight lifted.

It was like I needed that moment.  That moment to break, to let it out, and let it go.

Nothing in life is perfect.  There are moments that are perfect, only in the sense that had the pieces not falling together the way we did and we noticed it wouldn't have happened.  Sometimes we have it all together and sometimes it all falls apart.

I needed that moment.  That moment to let the tears flow.  I don't always like to admit it, but though it may seem like it from the outside, I don't always have it all together.  And when the same thing, same negative thing, keeps happening it has a tendency to grate on me.  It wears me down, tears me apart, and I want to throw in the towel.

But I am me.  I am a wife, a mom, and so much more.  And just like my kids, I try to be in control of too much sometimes, even if it isn't something I can truly control.  Then we all butt heads, and we start pushing past the boundaries.

Until we just need to unload.  I unloaded through tears.  My oldest asked me if I was okay, and I flat out said no.  That is where I left it, that is where he left it.  Nothing more was said.

Now today, and well yesterday.  Things began to feel better.  They began to run more smoothly.  They began to change.

I am now feeling more in the Christmas spirit.  I am now beginning to see the magic of the season.  I am now more at ease.

I don't know what or why it all happened the way it did.  I don't know if the behaviors are fixed or how long this change with last.

I do know that it was what was needed  It was unexpected.  And it is the season I, we, are in.

I am trying to raise great kiddos who are respectful, helpful, loving, kind, gracious, and content.  Ones who let their personality shine through, use their strengths and gifts, know and understand their weaknesses.  Beyond that, I am trying to raise great adults.  So that one day, they will do these things on their own and be able to guide others.

Some days are easier than others.  But that is life.  We work through it.  We come out stronger on the other side.  We come out with more wisdom.

If you are not feeling the magic of the season, I get it.  But take a moment to look into why.  Sort it out, let it go, and find a calm that can carry you.

Being a parent is and has been the hardest job I have had by far.

It is okay for your kids to see you, your emotions, and realize it is okay to not be okay.  Because in the long run, they will learn the most from watching.

These next few days, I am going to try to see the magic of Christmas the way a child does.  Then, I hope and pray it is something I can continue to carry through the months ahead.  Because at the end of the day, there is still so much to be grateful for and so much glory in our lives.  We just need to ask to see it or help seeing it every now and then.

Today, today I am grateful for the grace of God, the love of family and friends, and the release that comes from letting tears flow.

I may not have it all together sometimes, but I have what I need surrounding me each day.

May you find the peace, the calm, the joy in the days to come.  May you see these days in a way that uplifts you in a way you never have before.  May you find space and presence in the moments in your day.  And may you truly see the magic, even if only through tears.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Believe in the Magic of Christmas


There is something truly magical about this time of year.  For those of you who know me well, I have been choosing a word a month since about February.  I use this word to guide me through the month.  I also pick a word for the year or theme, and even do some word brainstorming for the season.  I have found a great sense of peace, reminding, transformation, and joy out of going through the process of picking a word and having it around the house.

This month, my word is magic.

Why?  Because there is so much more to this season, this month, this time leading up to the holiday if you believe....believe in the magic of Christmas.

I know, in the hustle and bustle of the month, as an adult, it can get hard to sometimes see the magic.  Sometimes it's hard to slow down.  But usually when we slow down, when we pause, we become present.  We become more aware, and not only can we see the magic, but we can feel it too.

All to often as we get older, we loose sight of that.  Having kids or being around kids can bring that back.  I love watching this time of year through my kids' eyes.

You can really see the joy, the peace, the hope, the light in the season if you take a look around you, listen, and let yourself be in the moment.

The beauty of this magic is that it doesn't have to go away after Christmas has wrapped up.  It doesn't have to go away as we get older.

We can carry this magic throughout our lives, year after year.

I see the magic of Christmas
  • in the eyes of my children
  • catching snowflakes on our tongues
  • looking at twinkle lights
  • advent devotionals
  • lighting candles
  • learning the Christmas story
  • finding special gifts to share with others
  • sharing our own gifts and talents with others
  • a simple smile
  • snuggles
  • hot chocolate or coffee or tea
There is so much out there where we can see the magic.

Where do you see the magic?  If you are having a hard time believing in the magic of Christmas, what can you set aside, what can you change that will open your eyes and heart to it?

Christmas, believing, magic are not just something that is in the month of December.  Let's try carrying it on in to the new year, the next seasons.

I hope you can find a way to see the magic, to believe in it, to feel it, hear it, and share it.

Merry Christmas!