Happier, Definitely Happier

Image

So whatever happened to that Happiness Project?  I’m still committed to my happiness commandments but I fell off the blogging about it wagon.  Focusing on energy for January, marriage for February, work for March and family for April definitely pulled me out of the funk of 2013.  I feel like my old self again!  I am so happy about the results, but the elevated mood, increased energy, better days at work and at home have had a negative impact on my blogging.  Having to stick to a monthly focus made the blog feel like a project instead of an opportunity to just share.  So I’m ditching the official project part and keeping the happiness part.

A quick list of happiness triggers for me lately:

God answering prayers and showing me positive signs, good friends, my Bible Study group, watching my son play lacrosse, a weekend where I felt like I excelled at my role as daughter, wife and mother, expressing my creative side at work, a sunny vacation, my mom’s pancreas biopsy yielding great news, BodyPump classes, gardening and planting flowers, long days, springtime, accidentally leaving my suitcase at home for a 3 day weekend and not freaking out, learning new things about my industry, home-made ice cream, Game of Thrones, helping others, meditation and walks around the block.

Taking My Own Advice

WorryI haven’t posted in a few weeks.  I have been in a bit of a funk.

Nothing too serious, but there are times when my work life can take a toll on me.  I know better and am the first one to tell others to stop worrying.

Today, for the first time in a long time I felt like I had a small, public win at the office. I needed it and I can’t take any of the glory. God is so good.

What made the difference?  I read these four points below.  I wrote these to myself a few months ago when I was feeling very lost. Here was what I focused on today:

  1. God is a perfect father, who doesn’t compare me to his other children, he loves me.  HE loves ME.  He loves the imperfect me.  I don’t need to waste my time comparing myself to others and spending so much time on my flaws and “growth” areas.  God loves me in this moment and he’ll love me when I’ve improved and he’ll love me if I take steps back.  God loves me right now.  Right this minute, right this second.
  2. I can do nothing without God.  When I’m overwhelmed and stressed it is because I’ve forgotten that he is in charge and somehow I think I’m in control.  I’m not in control.  God is in control and I can trust in his plan.  The evil one distracts me into thinking I can control anything and everything.  I am his instrument but I give it over to him to be the controller.
  3. It is ok to ask the Father for favor.  I have been paralyzed by the belief that I must only serve others and God and that I should never expect favor for the seeds I sow.  I spend too much time thinking I don’t deserve favor because I am caught up measuring the way I worship.  Am I reading the Bible enough, getting on my knees or spending quality time in prayer enough to ask the Father for help? God is a loving and giving God.  He will expand his favor on what the evil one tries to take away 7 fold.
  4. God admires boldness.  I tend to take the humility/meek thing to heart and forget about being bold. I put on the breast plate of righteousness to go and do great work in the world.  God has given me the gift of leadership and I will not put it on the shelf because of fear of what others may say about me.  God never fails.

I will be bringing this out more regularly as a self-coaching technique.  I love to encourage and mentor others and there are times when I need to coach myself.

I’m sure many of you can relate to getting yourself out of a funk. What do you do when you need to build yourself up?  How do you overcome criticism?

The Good Wife

Happiness Project - Marriage MonthI remain committed to my happiness project and this month’s focus is all about my funny Valentine.  I’m upping my game on my marriage.

My husband is a wonderful man.  Like so many (ALL) of us, he isn’t perfect, but he is the answer to my prayers.  He is a Godly and humble man with a positive outlook.  He would lay down his life for his family and will do anything to serve or protect us.  He is smart, capable, considerate, selfless and funny.  He has a level of integrity that continues to amaze and inspire me and at 48, he is still a total hunk.  What’s not to love?

He deserves a month of extreme good-wife-y-ness and I’m going to give it to him.  Here are my new habits for February.

  1. Don’t nag, my schedule isn’t his schedule. He is going to do it when he is going to do it.  I tend to notice a task needs to be done around the house and I ask him to do it without respecting what he’s doing.  We talked about creating a better system to get things done and settled on communicating about the honey-do list via email.  I’m pleased with the results so far.
  2. Check in each day via a text, email or phone call.  My husband and I have very similar, self-sufficient personalities and we don’t need to talk several times a day. But a phone call or text to say I’m thinking of you would be a bright spot in the day. I need all of the bright spots I can get!
  3. Show affection coming and going.  Hugs and kisses hello and goodbye are such an easy thing. I realized a few weeks ago that somehow this had become a not every day thing.  It is back on the everyday list now.
  4. Make him laugh.  We have always had similar senses of humor and we find the same things funny. I’ve challenged myself to share/do/observe something chuckle-worthy every day. I also, make it a point to laugh at his or my son’s jokes. The sound of all of us laughing is music to my ears.
  5. Choose grace.  My significant other has his moments. Trust me, I’m no picnic either. For the month of February, I’m burning my membership card to the legion of the easily offended and am biting my tongue.  I don’t care what he says or does, I’m going to react with grace, humor or worst case scenario walking into another room.
  6. Just do it.  I admit that I am guilty of procrastinating when my hubby asks me to or suggests I do something.  “I’m so busy” has been a handy excuse to ignore requests.  I’m focusing on doing it as soon as he asks and with a smile.
  7. Listen and give him my full attention when he’s talking.  I am sure I am not the only one who sits with the laptop open and pounds away at the keys thinking I’m somehow participating in family life. I miss a lot doing this.  On all fronts.
  8. No complaining.  My husband is an amazing cook and cooks me dinner almost every night (I am the primary breadwinner).  However, some nights I turn my nose up at the dinner I didn’t have to lift a finger to prepare.  Too fattening!  We just had that!   So ungrateful, That is just bad form.  Another thing I complain about is his questionable taste in television shows. Why are reality shows based in Alaska so popular all of a sudden?  I don’t win the battle for the remote control anyway, so I’m not going to complain about it.
  9. Praise him.  This is an easy one.  He does great things every day.  I’m proud of the man he is every day. Consciously expressing it makes me happy.
  10. Serve him.  My husband is a true renaissance man and he can do just about anything.  He can cook, manage our finances, install new flooring and carry a new toilet up 2 flights of stairs so when he needs me to help him, I will be his willing and eager helper.  I am committed to proactively finding ways to serve him and lighten his load.

…”Recalculating”

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

Quote

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. 

 

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?

I may need a Pintervention

Keeping up with the ZeroToHero Challenge.

I was so blessed to have 2 entire weeks off from work over the holidays. I used it to indulge my Pinterest addiction among other things (like starting a blog!). Here is one of my many projects.

The Pinspiration:

…and my work in progress:

corks3

I promise to finish my Cliffhanger post soon!

Smells Like Tween Spirit – Part 1 (Cliffhanger Challenge)

Yesterday was the last day of the Christmas break for my 12 year old son.  During his 2 weeks and 3 weekends away from school he grew accustomed to many things:  hanging out with new friends in our new neighborhood; texting “stop stalking me” to his mother on his new cell phone; staying up late with his grandparents in their MIL quarters; and sleeping in late, very late.  He regularly snoozed on the g-parents couch past noon as two dogs climbed all over him and the TV blared (senior citizen loud) just a few feet from his head.  The kid has mad sleeping skills.  So, not shocking at all when it was extremely difficult to get him up and moving at 8 AM on a Sunday morning for church.  As I put the finishing touches on my own morning routine I could hear my husband hurrying him into the shower “get in there and wash your hair with shampoo AND conditioner!”

A few minutes later, as I was applying mascara (the last step in my primp) I heard my husband yelling from downstairs, “Whoa, whoa, whoa!  Where is that water coming from?  Something is leaking!”   I ran down the stairs to the kitchen and passed my husband along the way as he ran up to my son’s bathroom.  In the kitchen I could see that water was leaking through the recessed pot lights in the ceiling onto the counter and hardwood floors.  Upstairs, my husband was pounding on the locked bathroom door.  “Open up! Water is going everywhere!  What are you doing?”   I joined him at the doorway just as our sopping wet boy came out looking panicked.

As suspected, water was all over the floor and the shower was going full blast.  However, as my husband shut off the shower and swept back the shower curtain, we could see the curtain had done its job of keeping the water inside the tub.  As our brains completed the shower water to shower curtain math, our attention turned to the  sink and the faucet that was running full steam ahead (hot water) and overflowing out onto the countertop and onto the floor.  We had the source.

My son started apologizing.  “I fell asleep” he muttered.  I’ve fallen asleep in the shower myself, so I understood that much but what I couldn’t wrap my head around was why the sink was running and what was with the hot water?  His father was yelling the same questions just I was thinking them,  but we didn’t have time to investigate.  We had a mess to clean up and we still had to get to church on time!  We mopped up the bathroom then moved downstairs to the kitchen.  Looking up at the kitchen ceiling, we could see a few wet spots near the lights but it didn’t look like a cave-in was eminent.  Once we were reasonably sure of the integrity of the drywall, my mind immediately jumped to the next potential catastrophe Black Mold.  Then the next, electrocution… and fire!  My husband assured me that since we are running the heat most of the day, everything should dry out just fine and risks of any electrical problems were low.  I put blue painters tape over the light switches so we wouldn’t accidentally turn them on when we got back from church.  Better safe than electrocuted.

It all happened so fast and within a few minutes everything was dry and we were all dressed and headed out the door.  As we walked to the car I had a moment alone with my son.  He was hanging his head and was (what I interpreted as) uncharacteristically remorseful.  Don’t get me wrong he’s an amazing, big-hearted kid, but at 12, he is no stranger to excuses and justifications when something goes wrong.  It typically takes longer than a few minutes for him to get it.  This time was different though, this time he clearly felt awful.  I pulled him close and gave him a reassuring hug and asked him, “Why was the sink plugged and running full blast with hot water while you were simultaneously taking a shower?”

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2014/01/06/weekly-writing-challenge-cliffhanger/