Not Official Until There’s a Bracelet

By: Mary Pat Baldauf

Recently, I wrote about my 2017 word of the year: Simplify. Am I complicating things by adding one more to the mix? Because while I am trying to keep my life simple, the thing I balance_every woman blogneed to work on even more is BALANCE.

As I approach the two year anniversary of my ruptured aneurysm – which I call the two year anniversary of my survival – my energy seems to be coming back in bounds. When I have a day with great energy, it’s hard not to take on too much. I can write a list of at least 50 things I need to do, but have to keep in mind that I can’t always accomplish it all in a day or a weekend. I have to prioritize with balance in mind.

Take, for instance, this coming weekend. I have supper club, a band party and church. But those are only scheduled events. I also want to cook for the week ahead, take a long walk, straighten the house (kitchen, bathroom and basement, in that order), work on my finances and get caught up on This Is Us. And, and I really need to wash clothes. What I’m learning is that I can’t do it all, even in a weekend. My energy is coming back, but I still need to rest and relax.

So I’m doing some refining of my list by way of this post:

  • Saturday evening Supper Club is a must. We’re going out, so I don’t have to clean or cook. And it’s much needed time with friends.
  • The band party is a wait-and-see. It’s an event for The Animal Mission, and a band featuring a couple of friends is playing. I don’t get to hear them play much anymore, and it’s a short set. Still, with my voice issues, clubs aren’t my best venue.
  • Church is a given. It inspires me for the week ahead, gives me a chance to see friends and gets me up and out. The service isn’t until 11:15 a.m., so I can still sleep in or get up early to get started on the cooking.
  • Cooking for the week ahead has been on my list for a few weeks now. I generally don’t do it on weeknights because I go to the gym after work, and time is already tight. For me to eat healthier, I seriously need to do this. Which means…
  • …Straightening the kitchen becomes a higher priority. There’s no way to accomplish this without at least clearing the counters, making some room in the ‘fridge and switching out the dishes. The bathroom and basement are medium priority, because I need to get a plumber out soon to work on a few projects.
  • The long walk is creating issues in my mind. I’d hoped to walk to the park and Trader Joe’s like I did before the rupture. But I don’t want to wear myself out and ruin my other plans. Maybe I can do it Sunday afternoon or evening, when it’s okay to be worn out. It might even help me sleep longer and a little better.
  • Working on my finances is easy. I can do that on my laptop in bed Saturday morning. Or even tonight.
  • This Is Us. It’s on Netflix now, and I’ve heard so many good things about it. I usually don’t turn on the TV on weeknights because it distracts me and prevents me from getting a full night of sleep. While I’m excited it’s on Netflix now, that doesn’t mean I have to watch it all on one day. This is definitely not a priority, and I may start watching (aka NOT binge watching) next week.
  • Washing clothes. A job that’s never done. I miss the days that I took everything to the dry cleaner, but my bank account doesn’t. Maybe instead of shooting for everything, I can do laundry based on priority, i.e. what I need for the week ahead.

Boom. I’ve created a simple solution for the weekend that includes plenty of balance of those things Maslow told us were important. I’ll let you know how it goes.

So what’s up with the bracelet headline? I’m a highly visual person; I like visual reminders close to keep me motivated. I have a SIMPLIFY bracelet, but need one for balance. Thus, the addition of a “new word” won’t be official until I get one. Perhaps I need to add THAT to the list.

Is your life “in balance?” What do you do to maintain a balance in your life? What do you need to work on?

(INSERT LOUD NOISE HERE) Have Your Resolutions Hit the Wall Yet?

By: Mary Pat Baldauf

Every Woman Blog - stay motivated to accomplish goals

Did you hear that loud thud this morning? I think it was the many resolutions made in the heat of the New Year that finally hit the wall. Surprisingly, 75% of resolutions will be continued through the entire first week of January, but only 46% make it past six months. University of Scranton also stated that 39% of people in their twenties will achieve their resolution each year while only 14% of people over 50 years of age will achieve theirs.

As one in that final 14% group, it shouldn’t surprise me that even though I picked a word and not a resolution, per se, that I’m feeling a little flat and discouraged. I was encouraged, however, to read the following tips to stay on track from LearnVest. In case you need a lift, too, I wanted to share them with you. Whether you’re trying to save money or lose a little weight, they apply to nearly any resolution(s) you might have made:

  1. Start small. You can’t do it all at once. It took you more than a month to acquire said issue, so you won’t solve it in a month, either.
  2. Celebrate every milestone. That one pound may not be the 22 you want to lose, but it’s a lot better than gaining it. And 21 lbs. sounds better than 22, doesn’t it?
  3. Don’t get discouraged. Old habits die hard, but putting this off forever is only going to make it worse. Be nice to yourself. You’ve totally got it.
  4. Stay Motivated. Change ain’t easy, but you can do it.

I recently tagged the following on my vision board, and it’s a good reminder:

Don’t think about what can happen in a month. Don’t think about what can happen in a year. Just focus on the 24 hours in front of you and do what you can to get you closer to where you want to be.

How do you keep yourself motivated?

Try a Guiding Word Instead of Resolutions

By: Mary Pat Baldauf

Resolutions are for the birds. Until last year, I made them every year, and like many of you, had abandoned most by the first week in February. Last year, I decided to select a single word that summed up the essence and focus for the next 365 days of my life.

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My guiding word for 2017 is “simplify.” The textbook definition is to make less complex or complicated; make plainer or easier. It literally applies to nearly every facet of my life that I would once try to tame with a resolution: my weight, my finances, my house, my health, my relationships and more.

Simplifying isn’t as easy as I thought; I really have to re-think things. I keep the word on the top of my mind, and try to use it when applicable. Here are just a few examples:

  • After searching high and low for a lost FSA card, I simply requested a new one. Most things can be replaced easily and with little hardship. Simpler and much less stressful, for sure.
  • When I have a store return, I keep it in the car until I pass the store I need to visit.
  • simplify-mugInstead of keeping a travel cup whose lid has a design flaw and leaks, even if it does keep my water cold for 10 hours, I gift it to someone who will appreciate it and get one better suited for my needs. (Stanley has a great one. The lid shifts shut AND has a straw hold!)
  • When I couldn’t find my Just Wanna Melt scrub bars at the usual spot, I just ordered them online instead of making additional stops. (Sometimes a shipping fee is worth the time and money you’d spend on an extended search.)
  • When I get a new coffee mug, I get rid of an old one to make space for the new.
  • Instead of taking time to search for a “legal” photo of a pause button, I make do with two images of my own. (See what I just did there? Simplified when writing a blog post on simplifying.)

What can you do to simplify your life in 2017? Any tricks or tips to share?

Giving Thanks One Postcard at a Time

By: Mary Pat Baldauf

Writer Ralph Marston once said, “Make it a habit to tell people thank you. To express your appreciation, sincerely and without the expectation of anything in return. Truly appreciate those around you, and you’ll soon find many others around you. Truly appreciate life, and you’ll find that you have more of it.”

A few years ago, my friend Julie Turner Smith did a yearlong Thank You Project. It was a letter writing and blog project in which she recognized and thanked people who enriched her life and/or made our community an even better place to live. I loved the project and started one of my own that year during Lent. I enjoyed it so much, and I’ve tried to keep it up, though not as formally.

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It’s been a sentimental holiday season, and though I didn’t take time to do Christmas cards, I’ve thought many times how fortunate I’ve been to have such a great support system over the past 21 months. Today, I was cleaning my office and found a book of thank you postcards that I bought months ago. A quick flip through it showed that I had not used even one. Then I had an idea to start a new project, similar to my friend’s project, only with the postcards. I have no details other than to send all 24 by the end of 2017.  With each one I send, I’ll make a note in the book cover, and that’s as detailed as I’m going to get.

The first postcard is on its way to someone I don’t know who lives in my neighborhood. Every Christmas, they have the best light display I’ve ever seen. The big bushes in the front yard are each a different color, and it looks like a Pantone wonderland. Some years they put it up later than others, but every year we squeal when we see it and ride by it countless times. It’s not Christmas until the lights are up on Ponte Vedra Drive.

So the next time I remember a kindness out of nowhere, I’m going to send a little postcard to the sweet soul(s) who made a difference in my life.

Do you have a way of tracking the people you are grateful to? If so, what do you do? Do you journal it, send an actual thank you note, or something else?

The Season of Love

By: Mary Pat Baldauf

Another great story about the kindness of others and how 20 months out from the aneurysm, it still flows freely. (I never get tired of these, and I hope you won’t either!)

prayer wallOver the weekend, I saw a friend and her family at the House of Pancakes in Forest Acres. She told me that she and a group of nine others were headed to Israel this week, and asked if I would like to give her a prayer for her to place in the Western Wall (also known as the Prayer Wall.) It nearly brought me to tears. We quickly grabbed a coloring sheet, and I tore off a small section on which I wrote a short prayer of thanks for my recovery, friends and wonderful support group. At 6:19 a.m. Israel time, she sent a picture and let me know it was there.

Over a million notes are placed each year in what has become a custom, not only for tourists, but also for high-profile dignitaries visiting Israel from abroad. The notes are collected twice a year and buried on the nearby Mount of Olives.

This reinforces my belief in the goodness of people, and every time something like this happens, my heart swells.

Happy Holidays to you and your family, and best wishes for a grand 2017!

3 Easy Steps for Sustainable Holiday Gifts

By: Mary Pat Baldauf

It’s the most wonderful time of the year: time to start shopping for holiday gifts. A shopper at heart, I love buying gifts for the special people in my life. As a “green girl,” I shop with sustainability in mind and wanted to share some tips so you, too, can be a more sustainable holiday shopper.

Think local. The Midlands area has really become a mecca for unique, locally produced items. One of the best locations for finding them all in one place is Soda City, Columbia’s Main Street market open every Saturday morning 9AM – 1PM, year-round, rain or shine. Recycled ornamentLocally produced products support the local economy, and they’re created here – not shipped in from across the country or even across the world. The footprint of your gift will be smaller and result in a cleaner environment.

Consider consumables. Having issues with clutter myself, I refuse to create more for the holidays, for me or for others. My standard gift is usually a recycled-content ornament, but this year I’m only buying gifts that can be used or eaten. The Cotton Mill Exchange at the SC State Museum has a great selection of Palmetto State gifts, including gourmet foods produced within our borders. Or select a gift card to a local restaurant, bakery or micro-brewery. Personally, I’ll be asking Santa for a gift certificate to Spotted Salamander, a downtown Columbia café featuring inventive Southern cuisine with fresh, high quality local ingredients.

Another favorite consideration? Think experiential. In the Midlands, it’s easy to find something for everyone on your list to enjoy, like tickets to a play or attraction you know they like. A donation in the name of your recipient will go a long way, too. At the top of my list is a membership to The Nickelodeon, Columbia’s art house theatre on Main Street.

Where is your favorite place to buy sustainable holiday gifts? And what is it you recommend there? What’s on your list for Sustainable Santa?

It’s Never Too Early to Celebrate

By: Mary Pat Baldauf

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One thing I’ve learned over the past 19 months is that if you’re lucky enough to get a second chance, you shouldn’t waste it. In that spirit, I’m already thinking ahead to the two-year anniversary of my aneurysm rupture.

Y’all know that since I started working out about five years ago, I’ve been wanting to do a 5K. I was starting to train right before the rupture, then everything went south. During the first three weeks, my muscles atrophied, and I couldn’t stand up or walk. Even at Shepherd, the consensus was that I would probably end up having to use a cane. (As an aside, my doctors credited my health and fitness level as one of the reasons I survived!)

I learned how to walk again, and since I came back home in July, 2015, I’ve been working with a trainer to regain my balance and increase my strength. Sadly, due to the damage done to my vocal cords during the intubation, if I overdo it – in the gym or just walking down Main Street – I lose my breath. My voice specialist is working wonders, but for now, she says no to running and/or training to run.

Recently, I saw a blurb about the Five Points Get to the Green St. Patrick’s Day Race, on (get this) March 18, 2017. On the spot, I decided to walk it just because I can! I looked at GTTG2015_ShoeprintLogo_VectorBWthe race website, and saw that you can register a team. Since this recovery and rehab has been a team effort, I decided that a team would be quite apropos.

Fitness friends, please join me in celebrating on March 18. We can meet up before the race and perhaps toast ourselves with a beer afterwards. I’d love to have some company for the walk, but if you’re a runner, I don’t expect you to slow down for me. Registration for Get to the Green is only $30, and you save $5 if you register on a team. You’ll also get a t-shirt, medal/bottle opener and free admission into the festival. The team name is BAMFs for #MPBStrong.

I close this post with a word of thanks to my fitness friends, folks I worked out with back in the days of those 5 a.m. workouts. My gym friends have been so supportive; they visited, prayed, sent cards and lavished me with love. Even now, they continue to encourage and motivate me.

One friend, Jenny, ran the Palmetto Half in April 2015, and then came to the hospital to give me her medal. At that time, she challenged me to get better so I could do that run. I don’t know if she thought I’d ever be able to do it, but the encouragement and tangible symbol kept me going. (And that medal STILL hangs in my room.) And while I may not run, I am gonna do that 5K, two years to the day that aneurysm ruptured.

Is there something that has always been on your to-do list? What is it and what steps can you take today to move you closer to achieving it? It’s never too early to start planning!