You Say You Want a Resolution…

How are those New Year’s resolutions going?  happy-new-year-2014-hq-wallpaper-740769

Still working for you?

With the help of my personal Happiness Project, I am tracking towards my best self-improvement year ever.  (just when I needed it most! )

I don’t know about you, but I need accountability and I need the win.  I am a rule follower and an admitted achievement junkie.  Put my name next to a task and it will get done.  If there is a chance there is recognition involved (even if it is with my virtual blog community) it will get done faster and better.  Knowing this about myself, I adopted a scorecard strategy (just like Gretchen Rubin)  for tracking and scoring monthly goals.  My first scorecard for January/Energy is complete and here are the results.


High Scores:  The mental goals of under-reacting, staying positive and faking energy levels yielded immediate payoffs.  Instead of wasting energy on negative self-talk, anxiety and resentment or feeling like I should save my energy for later (was I going to need to lift a car off of someone in a few hours?) I could choose a virtuous cycle of seeking out the positive, talking myself up instead of putting myself down and faking higher energy levels just to see what might happen.  This left me feeling strong, capable and ready for anything.  Nailing these 3 goals definitely contributed to higher energy and feeling like the old me again.  Life changing.

Above target but not perfect:  These goals ranged from the fun stuff like planting email seeds (sending out love into the email universe and looking forward to what came back to my inbox) to matters of pure discipline like taking my vitamins and not staring at my blog stats all day.  When it comes to the blog, I have to admit that the days I was successful at not peeking until my must-do work objectives were complete were days I was so busy I barely had time to eat or escape to the ladies room let alone do anything personal on my laptop.

Needs Improvement:  The lowest tier consisted of writing things down at work (detailed notes), sleeping, eating and exercising.  Writing things down?  What does that have to do with energy?  Well it helps me learn and also helps me with anxiety and feeling overwhelmed.  Some days I have nothing but meetings all day and I catch myself taking little mental vacations (kind of like Walter Mitty) and coming back to earth and realizing I have no idea what is being discussed. Even though I didn’t hit target on sleep, I know that having a goal to get good sleep got me in bed earlier most nights.  The days I could put a solid checkbox in the sleep column were great days.  There is just something so satisfying about the guilty pleasure of 8 good hours of slumber.  Even though eating clean and getting my 10K of walking didn’t score as high as I would have liked, compared to where I was pre-January, I have to give myself mad props.  To get 10K steps in 50% of the time is a big deal.  If I had been measuring in December, my score would have been closer to 10%.  So huge jump there.  The eating thing is a day by day journey.  I did pretty good until my supply of Costco peanut butter pretzels was replenished.

All in all, 80% is the target and 80% is my average.   I’m feeling energized by my success and that energy is showing up as more of me to give away (one of my 12 commandments).  I will keep the January scorecard going in February (in addition to February’s goals) to make sure I don’t lose ground.

Have you ever had a New Year’s resolution that landed real change in your life?  What was it and what was your secret to success?



This morning my son met me in the hallway with a big smile on his face and let me take in the wonder that was his outfit. He announced, “it’s pajama day!” and I could see he was looking forward to a day of fun and comfort in his fleece pants.

My shame sheriff rose to the surface and I quizzed him. “Are you sure it’s pajama day buddy, it would be embarrassing to show up in those pants and it NOT be pajama day.”

He assured me it was but I couldn’t let it go, “why don’t you wear jeans to school and bring those bottoms in your backpack and change later, just in case you’ve got the wrong day.” Maybe I was having a flashback to my 18 year old self showing up at the restaurant I was waitressing at in full cowgirl gear only to find out it wasn’t rodeo-days anymore. I needed to protect him from being embarrassed. Just as I was stringing together another warning he smirked at me, did a little dance move and said, “YOLO Mom.”

(You Only Live Once) Wise words.

Oh, and today’s ZerotoHero challenge is to link to blogs you love. Here is Gretchen Rubin’s Happiness Project.


gps…but those who hope in the Lord shall renew their strength.

Yesterday I caught myself thinking…”Hey, I actually feel good. I feel energized.”

Have you ever checked in with yourself and thought, “I’m doing better and better!”?

This is a far cry from my thought process just a few short weeks ago which consisted of “I must by dying, how could I be this tired all the time?”

I have been working a multi-pronged approach to improving energy. Two areas I’m focusing on are reframing situations to find the positive opportunity and stopping myself from having an emotional overreaction that triggers a physical reaction and sends my body into fight or flight mode.

I am living proof that you can change your energy, attitude and overall mental health by changing your thoughts.  Here is a glimpse at how my new thinking is kicking my old thinking’s butt.

1. My Dad called me on my drive home from work and asked, “Could you stop and pick up a new prescription for pain medicine for your Mom?” (Mom broke her shoulder last week and is in terrible pain)

Old thinking: I work hard, sometimes 60 hours a week. Now I’m the errand girl, too! How did my life turn into this? It is only going to get worse, they are not getting any younger!

New thinking: My parents need me and I’m lucky to be able to help them out. These are the good days where we all live together and work as a team. I can approach these tasks with resentment or with light. The extra time in the car will give me more time to listen to my current book on tape, The Happiness Project. Cool!

2. When I got to the pharmacy, the pharmacist shared, “We don’t stock that strength at this pharmacy anymore, you can go to our other store 6 miles away though. They have it and we can tell them you are coming.”

Old thinking: Are you kidding me! I don’t even know that part of town. What if that’s a bad neighborhood. Forget it, this is not what I signed up for! I quit!

New thinking: Mom needs this better pain medicine and I want her to be comfortable. It’s no big deal. I’ll plug it into the GPS and I won’t get lost. I’ll get to see some new parts of my new city and this will give me more time to listen to my book!

3. Yesterday, I had a meeting scheduled in a building I had never been to before. All of our senior LT would be there and it is important to me to be on time and to show up early enough to get a seat at the table. I allowed more than enough time but with 20 minutes to go I realized I was lost and discovered i had typed the wrong address into the GPS.

Old thinking: You are so stupid, you are going to look like an idiot walking in late. Everyone will think you are worthless and don’t deserve to be there.

New thinking: I still have plenty of time to find it, I need to relax and imagine I have all the time in the world to figure this out. Just take your time and do it right. This is not a big deal. Breathe deeply. Don’t give up. You’ll get there. People are always a few minutes late. More time to listen to my book and get into a powerful mindset for the meeting. (I was on time, too!)

4. This afternoon, I had another meeting in yet another building that  I had been to once before but knew I would have trouble finding. So again, I looked up directions online, and again, I somehow fat fingered the address on the GPS and ended up in the wrong place. I realized my error 10 minutes before the start time .

Old thinking: SERIOUSLY! Two times in two days! Just don’t go. How do you twist these things around every time?  You are losing it!

New thinking: Everyone makes mistakes. It is no big deal. I just passed that building a few minutes ago, I can retrace my path and go back to it. From now on, I need to measure twice and cut once when using the GPS and driving to unfamiliar places.  More time to listen to my book!  (Again, I made it on time!)

Finding Strength


Do you not know?
    Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
    the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
    and his understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary
    and increases the power of the weak.
 Even youths grow tired and weary,
    and young men stumble and fall;
 but those who hope in the Lord
    will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not grow weary,
    they will walk and not be faint.

Isaiah 40:28-31
New International Version (NIV)

Zero to Hero Day 19

Slap Happy

I’m currently listening to Gretchen Rubin’s book The Happiness Project.  If you are not familiar with this book I encourage you to check it out.  Gretchen chronicles a year of personal growth where she takes on a new focus area each month all in the pursuit of making a good life even better. 

I don’t think it is by accident that I started a similar journey at the New Year just prior to learning of this book.  Although my focus has been finding the spring in my step and living more intentionally to not get swallowed up by a big season of change, the similarities and winning formula are too great to ignore.  I’m adopting her approach and am excited to join the community of Happiness Project bloggers out there.

Here is my list showing what I will focus on each month.  This schedule aligns to key activities and events and is not prioritized.  They are all very important and I know none of them truly standalone anyway.  They will be interwoven into each day let alone each month.  You get the idea.

January – Energy.  This fits the best with the work I’ve been doing.

February – Marriage. 

March – Work. 

April – Family.

May – House & Garden.

June – Friends.

July – Money.

August – Fun.

September – Faith.

October – Motherhood.

November – Health.

December – Celebrating.

I have been focusing on finding energy this month and it is working!  I keep noticing that I’m not dragging myself to do things.  The funny thing is, I started doing many things at once, right after Christmas so I’m not sure if one item is delivering more energy than the next or if it is a combination.  So I need to keep them all up!  Here is my plan for the rest of the month:

  1. Eat clean.  Avoid junk food and processed foods.  Lots of vegetables and protein. Stick close to the earth. I’ve got work to do here, but I see the cleaner I eat the better I feel.  Telling myself I’m allergic to things really does help. Will power just isn’t enough for me, but when I can physically feel the difference after ingesting something full of sugar and empty calories, it is a strong deterrent.  Incorporated into this should be my Diet Coke addiction.  I’m committing to cut back for now, but I’m not ready to give this up.  I don’t drink coffee, this is my morning routine.
  2. Take vitamins and medicines every day and on time.  I’ve recently started taking a brain function blend vitamin and have renewed my commitment to my adrenal support regimen.  My brain fog is lifting and I’m connecting more dots at work.  Color me pleased.
  3. Get enough sleep and allow for snooze time in the morning.  I have been having trouble getting out of bed in the morning because A. I’m Exhuased and B. it is so dark where I live now. I find if I set the alarm for 30 minutes before I actually have to get in the shower, I can do some prayer, take my time getting up and embrace the day with the right mindset.
  4. Don’t overreact.  I have been diagnosed with adrenal problems which means I have overused my fight or flight instincts and they are out of whack.  In other words, sometimes my body overreacts and I have a very intense physical response to something that shouldn’t be that big of a deal.  Did you know it can take up to 4 hours for your body to return to normal when this fight or flight mechanism gets triggered?  I can usually control this with a lot of prayer, deep breathing, re-framing my thinking and quieting my inner critic.  Staying on top of this is key to maintaining good energy levels.
  5. Walk the walk.  I’m addicted to my Fitbit and my target of 10,000 steps per day (70,000 per week).  I’m parking farther away, taking the stairs, walking the dogs and hitting the gym.  I am feeling better physically than I have in months.  Everything I read about adrenal support recommends gentle exercise like walking or yoga.  In the past I have resisted this as “not good enough” and elected to do something more intense that I couldn’t keep going for very long.  Now with the Fitbit, I’m embracing the gentleness of it all and feeling great.
  6. Blogging as a reward.  Having a bunch of incomplete tasks hanging over my head is draining. So I make sure I accomplish what needs to be done at work and at home before I dive into blogging.  Whether it’s reading or writing.  I don’t get to do this until I’ve done all my must-haves for the day. 
  7. Minimize inbox attacks.  Another huge monkey on my back is the overflow of my work inbox.  The culture at my company is to stay on top of it, so I can’t just ignore it until tomorrow.  I don’t mind responding to emails at night but there have been times when I get upset (fight or flight!) by email grenades and I’ve let that ruin my evenings or weekends.  This has been a tough one, but I have recently developed some new habits that find me happy to check email versus dreading it. First off, I’m unsubscribing to any retailer emails or anything not work related that shouldn’t be filling up that box anyway.  Sometimes just seeing 100 new emails are in there can freak me out so I need to stop feeding the beast.  Second, I’m making it a habit to send out seed emails that will yield a wonderful, warm response.  I regularly send out great job!, you are special becausethought you might like this or just thinking of you emails.  People are genuinely touched by my outreach and send back the nicest replies. 
  8. Fake it until you make it.  You hear this one all of the time and now I know why, it works!  The best way to find that energy I wish I had is to just pretend like I have it and press on.  Next thing I know, I’m over the hump and I’m not faking anymore.
  9. Write things down.  My memory just isn’t what it used to be. My new practice is write everything down and save myself the stress of not remembering or not being able to find what I need. OneNote is great for this and I’m becoming a power user.  I’m taking detailed notes and tracking my actions and my delegations. I’m capturing my blog ideas and articles and Bible verses I want to reference. It is a big relief to unclutter my mind in this way. I’m finding that without the clutter I’m actually doing better on my recall.
  10. Turn that frown upside down.  A big drain on my energy is thinking negatively or being around others who are negative Nellys.  Another great bit of advice out of the Happiness Project is to remember, these are the good old days, this is the fun part.  Whether I’m at work trying to get our team to solve a difficult problem or I’m stuck in parking garage traffic with my husband on date night:  we are lucky to be here!  These are the salad days!  Let’s reframe the situation and have some fun. 


Reputation Schmeputation — Zero to Hero day 16

ImageWhat is my reputation?  I am not exactly sure of what others think about me and sometimes my inner-critic tells me that people don’t get me at all, but I keep moving forward.  Like Dory says in finding Nemo, “just keep swimming, just keep swimming.”  I make a conscious effort to be a positive force in the world no matter what the world throws at me.  It isn’t always easy but that’s why reputations are built and not handed out as free gifts with purchase.

If I was a fly on the wall of a meeting where a team of experts had to sum me up, here is what I would hope to overhear:

Loving and Encouraging.  She has an amazing way of acknowledging other’s talents and contributions.  Last week she gave me a sincere compliment when I was having a really rough day.  She is not afraid to show gratitude and love and goes out of her way to make people feel valued.  

Insightful.  She sees beyond the obvious.  Reads people and situations.  She has helped me grow by identifying where I may have a blind spot or growth opportunity and then shared it with me in a way that was non-threatening so I could absorb it.  She sees the cause and effect in situations and helps others avoid the school of hard knocks.  She has great intuition.

Smart.  She is creative, innovative, connects dots and is not afraid to try something new or do nothing when appropriate.  She looks at a situation from multiple angles and tries on different options and then makes a decision.  She doesn’t suffer from analysis paralysis, she takes action. If I had a tough problem to solve, a party to plan or a story that needed telling I would want her on my team. 

Fun.  She has a great sense of humor and doesn’t take herself or most situations too seriously.  She is always willing to break the tension with a joke.  I walked into her office and caught her dancing the other day!  She is a positive and happy person and shares her joy for life with everyone she meets.  I just like to be around her.

Hard working.  She does what she says she will do and gets things done.  She symbolizes excellence and expects excellence from others.  She doesn’t have much tolerance for half-hearted efforts and can be hard to please.  She seems to catch me every time I rush through something just to get it off my plate.  I have learned a lot from her.  When she tells me I did a great job I am very proud. 

Making Time — Simple fixes to gain 4 hours per week

amed4hoursPart of my strategy to get to just whelmed is to just live smarter already.

Being messy or disorganized  has probably never been as endearing, cute or loveable as I’ve managed to convince myself that it was.

I have been living a split personality by telling myself “this is who I am” and “don’t sweat the small stuff” only to do a 180 when I can’t find or remember something or I have to walk the entire parking structure to find my car.

In these situations, my frustration and self-loathing goes to DEFCON 4.  I have a very loud and persistent inner voice and when I’m suffering from a self-inflicted time suck due to disorganization or memory lapse it is screaming “you are a loser!” “your brain is turning to mush!” and “this is why you can’t have nice things.”

As I blog my way into living more intentionally, I’ve noticed some very cool side effects that qualify this post for the everything it’s cracked up to be daily challenge.  I have adopted some new and improved behaviors that give me back something critical on the journey to just whelmed – time.

Here are 9 strategies that I estimate are giving me back at least 4 hours per week and have the added benefit of making me feel good about myself by putting a muzzle on my inner critic.  Sure some of them take a little time to make the time, but the investment is insignificant compared to the payoff.

  1. Put keys away in the same place every time I use them.  Amount of time saved per week digging through my purse or combing through the house: 15 minutes.
  2. Fold and put away laundry as soon as I take it out of the dryer. Put like items away with like items.  Mate the socks.  This may seem like an obvious one and maybe most people already do this, but this has been a long time coming for me and I am still on a day by day (load by load) basis.  My husband suffers from the same affliction, so I know I’m not the only one who does (or doesn’t do) this.  Time saved per week hunting for missing items or digging through clean laundry: 30 minutes.
  3. Decide each night what I’ll wear to work the next day.  Time saved per week trying things on or standing there staring at my closet:  25 minutes, 5 minutes per work day.
  4. Put 7 day’s worth of pills and vitamins in the pill container every weekend.  Yes, I’m that old.  Time saved per week opening each bottle and shuffling through drawers:  21 minutes (3 per day).
  5. Keep the makeup I use every day in the same drawer within one drawer organizer.  Time saved per week pushing the “occasional” items aside to find my must-haves: 14 minutes, at least 2 minutes per day.
  6. Put my purse and my coat in the same spot each time I come into the house.  Gloves go inside the coat pockets.  Time saved not hunting for these items each week:  15 minutes.
  7. Write all of my passwords down in a central location.  Time saved typing in wrong passwords, racking my brain or waiting for the “forgot your password” cycle:  30 minutes per week.
  8. Park in/near the same spot every day at the office.   Use memory techniques to create a picture image of where I parked on those occasions I must park in unfamiliar territory.  For example when I park on level 3 in the blue zone facing the wall of windows of my building, I visualize 3 Blue Man Group members staring at me and my car through the windows.  When appropriate, I use my phone to take a picture of the parking spot number (like at the airport).  Time saved hunting for my car:  30 minutes per week.
  9. Save running a Saturday or Sunday errand and just buy it on Amazon if the price seems fair.  Time saved per week:  1 hour (at least).

What are your time-saving strategies?

A Post-it Note – Zero to Hero day 12

One of my favorite quotes is from Einstein: “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”

I love this because it reminds me to that not all miracles are on the momentous scale of parting the Red Sea or feeding the multitudes from a few fish.  I’ve read many blog posts since I began blogging 12 days ago.  This post by GoodGraciousness really spoke to me because she chooses to see the miracle of God’s hand at work on a small and personal level and knows not everyone else will. 

Liebster Award!

liebsterWow, I am really enjoying connecting with the wonderful community of bloggers.  I’m thrilled to receive my first award, the Liebster Award from Vida the creator of GoodGraciousness.  Check out her blog, it is truly inspiring!

The award translates to mean “Beloved” in German and is given out to new bloggers with less than 200 followers. This is a very cool way to get to know my fellow bloggers and pay forward even more connections and goodness.  So here we go!

Here are the answers to the 10 questions posed to me as part of this award 🙂

1. Why did you start your blog?    Accountability to live more intentionally and more focused.  I’m just over a week in and guess what, it’s working!

2. What is your favorite hobby or activity – one that really makes you feel happy and peaceful?  Last year I picked up tennis after a 13 year absence.  I loved playing regularly again and as soon as the courts dry (and on an upcoming weekend away to Palm Springs) I will be back at it.  A big part of the renewed love of the game involved taking lessons.  What I loved about taking lessons was learning to take feedback and immediately put it into practice.  You make mistakes but there is another ball coming in a few seconds and you can try again.  I work in a job where we constantly give each other feedback and the lessons have helped me get better at giving and receiving.  Another fun thing about playing is that my husband and I are basically the same level of player.  We played constantly (and competitively) before we got married as I had courts at my condo.  Once we bought a house, we stopped.   We’ve had fun competing with each other again.  We have more aches and pains post-game then we used to but it’s still very fun!

3. What is your favorite book?   I like to both read and listen to books.  A recent favorite that I have listened to no less than 20 times is Andre Agassi’s “Open.”  It got me to pick up my racket again.  What I loved about the book was the rawness of his personal struggles.  Tennis is so mental.  I can relate to that in my work, which is very intense and stressful.  My meetings aren’t the French Open, but there are many similarities.  Anywho… this book really hooked me.  Check it out.

4. Tell us something about you not many people know.  I work very hard at being positive and encouraging on the outside.  On the inside, I battle a very harsh critic.  I’m working on it.

5. What was the most magical day of your life, and why?   It may sound cliché but I’d have to say the day my son was born.  We had a scheduled C-section so the day was pretty fun and exciting versus painful.  We listened to Creed’s “Arms Wide Open” in the car on the way to the hospital and cried tears of joy. That will forever be our baby boy song.  I have brown hair and brown eyes and my husband is a blue-eyed blonde.  I just assumed (like I learned in school) my genes would dominate and I’d have a dark haired baby but they took out this little guy with blue eyes and white tufts on his head.  The surgery was a breeze and the drugs afterward really did the trick.  So easy!

6. Do you believe in love at first sight? Why or why not?  I may be Cupid’s biggest party pooper but no.  I believe in chemistry at first sight but not the real deal.  Why?  The important parts of a person are their character, values and how that all unfolds in actions.  No way you can see that in a single glance.  Don’t get me wrong, attraction is important, too and can be the catalyst to learning about what’s inside, but no way is it the only thing.

7. What is your favorite childhood memory?  I was a very good student and always did well at school.  As a result, my mom didn’t have any heartburn letting me take a day off once or twice a year and we’d just go shopping. Seems like sacrilege in retrospect knowing all the homework kids have these days and how meticulously attendance is tracked.  We’d go to lunch and go to the mall.  It was our special time and there was no guilt.

8. Describe yourself in three words.  Hardworking, Capable and Caring.  (my 4th word would be tired 🙂 )

9. If you could spend a day with one person, living, or dead, who would it be and why?   My immediate thought is my older brother who died almost 4 years ago of cancer.  He has come to me in a dream (someday I’ll write a blog about that) and told me he is with Jesus.  So if I could spend a day with my big bro, I would not only see him, I’d get to learn about heaven and Jesus, so kind of a two-fer.  It is hard to even imagine just 1 day though and saying goodbye again.  I hope that doesn’t make me sound negative. We’d watch several really funny movies back-to-back and eat red vines.  I would have to share him with all our family and friends who also miss him and would love to spend another day hearing him laugh. Note: this is exactly how we spent one of his last days. We watched “It’s Complicated” and laughed hysterically. If I ever meet Meryl Streep or Alec Baldwin I would thank them and tell them how they had a positive impact and created a treasured memory during a very tough time.

10. Who is the one person who can always make you smile?  My 12 year old son.  He is a riot.  He is an instant reminder about what is important.  He is getting to that stage where he isn’t my little baby anymore and doesn’t want to just hang out unless there is XBOX involved, but the young man he is growing up to be impresses me to no end.  He has a big heart and he has mine, too.

For my nominees – if you decide to accept, here are the rules:
1. Thank the person who nominated you and link to their blog.
2. You must answer the 10 questions given to you by the nominee before you.
3. You must nominate 10 of your favorite blogs with fewer than 200 followers and notify them of their nomination.
4. You must come up with 10 questions for your nominees to answer.

Here are 10 great blogs that I’m nominating (in no particular order):

  1. Fingerprints
  2. Never Perfect Always Perfecting
  3. Eyes Like Glass
  4. Beautiful Industry
  5. Musing Mellifluously!
  6. Mrs. Holpepper: Bookworm
  7. l’avocat mode
  8. The Ellieverse
  9. Complexity Through Joy
  10. Silver Linings Project

My questions for these wonderful folks:

  1. Why did you start your blog?
  2. What is your favorite thing  about having a blog?
  3. What do you do for fun?
  4. What is your favorite book?
  5. What is your favorite movie?
  6. If you had really good news to share who would you call first?
  7. On your 85th birthday what do you hope your loved ones are saying about you as they celebrate your life so far?
  8. Thinking back to the last time you laughed so hard you couldn’t breathe, what was so funny?
  9. Thinking back to the last time you cried, what moved you?
  10. What is one of your favorite quotes?