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?

Happy New Year!

By: Katie Austin

It’s hard to believe that 2013 is behind us and that the door to 2014 is open, inviting us in to new memories and opportunities. Like last year, I decided to move away from making resolutions and instead list the areas in my life that I wanted to change or focus on. I feel that, for me, resolutions are easier to break. So instead, I am committing to making small changes throughout the year.

 “Tomorrow is the first blank page of a 365-page book. Write a good one.” —Brad Paisley

What an amazing quote and so true! What will I write this year? When I look back on 2014, what will I see and remember most?

To begin, you have to figure out what it is that you want to change and then make a checklist. Keep it simple and achievable. Below is what I came up for 2014. What will be on your list?

  1. Spend more time with family and friends. Eliminate business and make time. You never know when it will be your last chance to create a new memory.
  2. Replace something in your diet each week with a healthy option.  I have to confess to my Every Woman Blog family that I started my Dash Diet in July, but stopped soon after. I lost interest as I found the extreme change to my diet to be too much at one time. Instead, I think that small changes in my diet over time will be easier to cope with, creating a greater chance that this girl will keep up the healthy Lifechange for good.  For example, I love coffee, but need to cut back since I can drink it all. day. long. For myself (and those around me, haha!), I am going to replace one cup of coffee each day with a bottle of water. In time, my goal is to have no more than 2 cups of coffee each day and to increase my water intake. I also replaced my morning cheese grits with a packet of oatmeal. Small changes over time – that is the key. I also use My Fitness Pal to help track what I am eating, as well as to access quick caloric information to help myself make better food choices.
  3. Walk more, sit less. All day long, I sit at my desk. Then, when I get home from work, I am tired, so I just want to sit on the couch or in front of my computer. My goal is to get up and move every two hours (except when sleeping, of course) and to walk one or two days a week. Even if the walk is just 20 minutes, it is time moving and in the long run I will feel more energetic.
  4. Get organized.  I use a monthly calendar to physically write down events, information and tasks with upcoming due dates. I love it! I keep everything in one place and the act of writing an activity down makes me think about the tasks and see where it does or doesn’t fit. This method works for me and is helping me better organize multiple areas of my life.
  5. Do something new.  I think this item needs to be on my list every year! There are things I want to try and places I want to go, but I just haven’t made the time. This is the year to start. I’ll even write about it in an upcoming article 🙂

“The journey is the reward.” —Steve Jobs

Now that you know what you want to accomplish in the New Year, write yourself a letter and seal it, noting not to open until January 1, 2015. The letter should contain the small changes you hope to make and should be written as if you were talking to yourself at the end of the year, as if you had a crystal ball and could see yourself a year later. Place the sealed letter in a visible area as a reminder of your commitment to yourself. You know what is in the envelope, but at the end of the year you will revisit what was important to you at the beginning of 2014 and it will help you to decide what your focus will be in 2015.

KatieWhat are some of the things you want to accomplish this year? Share them here and let’s see how many items we can come up with, motivating each of us to reach a healthier, happier version of ourselves 🙂

I wish each of you a great start to the New Year and look forward to another year with my Every Woman Blog family!

Katie Austin

Celebrate the Best of 2014: Make a Memory Jar

By: Mary Pat Baldauf

 Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.

– Robert Brault

At the end of the year, I’m often filled with regret. My mind is on the money I didn’t save, the races I didn’t complete and other the lofty goals I didn’t achieve. 2013 was a little different, though, thanks to the “memory jars” I started last January.

The concept is simple enough. You find an empty glass jar or container. Every time something good happens or makes you smile, write it down, fold it up and put it in the jar. On December 31, open your jar and celebrate your wonderful year.

I saw the idea featured on someone’s Facebook wall, and it stroked a chord. I spent some time finding the perfect glass container (a decorative glass block with an opening in the top from Hobby Lobby) and colored slips of paper (a colorful twirl memo pad from Staples). I decided to do two memory jars: one for home, one for work.

2014

It was hard to get into the habit at first, but it soon became second nature. And almost immediately, it changed my mindset. I found myself seeing things differently, always being on the lookout for that “memory jar moment.” I also included sticky note messages, fortune cookie predictions and ticket stubs.

On December 31, I emptied both of my memory jars. What fun it was to read the many good memories of 2013 and focus on them instead of those inevitable regrets and unfinished business. These were just a few of the entries that made me smile:

  • “Flipping the calendar to a new month”
  • “New growth on my jade plant”
  • “Freshly popped popcorn”
  • “Today’s meeting was postponed, leaving my Friday lunch open”
  • “When knowing where to find the answers is just as good as having the answers yourself”

Join me in starting a memory jar this year. You’ll be glad you did, I promise!

Failure! Failure?

By: Crissie Miller Kirby

I loathe the word failure.  By nature, for me, “failure is not an option.” So, as I paused to reflect on 2012 and those resolutions I made, and posted here for the world to see, I had to determine whether they had been a lesson in torture or triumph.

First, I took a few minutes to actually reread the post, not quite remembering what I written.  I had resolved to be healthier, be more organized, and to stop being ashamed of my failed marriage.

When I started thinking about those items, I first thought, “Oh, great Crissie ~ you FAILED!  Miserably!”

But, then again, did I?

Okay, I will be honest ~ when it comes to being healthier, I did not do well, at all.  I rarely got to the gym and my self-imposed ban on sweet tea and soda, well, it fell by the wayside.  So, I’m trying again.  “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.”  Tonight the boys start a karate class and I will start kickboxing.  Yes, I promise, I will keep you posted on how that goes.

In regards to more organization; honestly, I didn’t do as well here either.  But, when I got down to the nitty gritty, I didn’t totally fail.  It has taken me 34 years to really realize that, while I am a pack rat and a hoarder by nature, that I CAN break the cycle and I CAN get rid of things.  To that end, I have thrown away more things this past year.  I have not stored as much stuff or held on to things that are, really, meaningless.  I’ve realized that being more organized is a process, which, after spending 34 years collecting “stuff,” is going to take time. So, I’m going to give myself a little pat on the back for this area because at least I have started and I believe, in the end, I will succeed.

Now, to the area where I think I have made the most progress and had the most success.

Essentially, my goal was to stop being ashamed of the fact that I am divorced.  I AM DIVORCED.  I am divorced.  Divorced.  Single.  But, I am not dead, and it is time to hold my head high.  And, I think that I did accomplish this goal from 2012.  Sure, I hate being divorced, but not because I desire my “old” life back; I hate being divorced because I still don’t like divorce in general.  But, I have taken comfort in knowing that in my own situation it was a last resort, and it is not the end of the world, and I am still alive and well.

I can honestly say that I feel like I came alive in 2012.  I lived life to the fullest.  I started going to church more often, when I was home (the boys and I traveled to the coast a lot this past summer).  I had shied away from church activities because in some ways, I didn’t feel as if I belonged anymore.  But, I do belong.  My children belong.

And, I’ve started dating again, somewhat, in small baby steps.  But, that is not an area that needs to or will be rushed.  I’m in no huge hurry to be married again, although some day, I would like that, simply because I enjoyed being married, but not because I HAVE to be married.

Now, I look back at 2012 as a lesson.  A lesson in life.  A lesson in areas that need a little work and areas that just need to keep going at the pace at which they are moving already.

2012 was NOT a failure.

I Resolve Not To Make A Resolution

By: Roshanda Pratt

I hate resolutions. I feel like a broken record because I think I said the same thing last year. Honestly, the reason why I hate them is because I stink at them. You may know what I mean. You decide on the cusp of the New Year you will break a nasty habit like nail biting (which I am still working on) and then crash and burn by July. Experts say if you make it pass the end of this month you have a greater chance of keeping your resolution. Dictionary.com defines resolution as “a resolve or determination; the act of resolving or determining upon an action or course of action, method, procedure, etc., the mental state or quality of being resolved or resolute; firmness of purpose.”

For several years now, I have boycotted the dreaded resolution. Instead, I have opted to make goals. Well, aren’t they the same thing? No, not really. Dictionary.com defines a goal as the result or achievement toward which effort is directed; aim; end.

Personally, I have found that my good intentions of resolving to do this or resolving to do that had a lot of well-meaning determination but very little aim. Instead, I have decided to make goals to work toward. I try to make small changes every day that add up to real change. I try to make specific goals, since experts say they see more attainable than vague goals.

My 2012 Goal ListHere’s how it works: Most often by November, I know the goals I want to achieve in the New Year. Within the first week of the New Year, I sit down at my computer (before I used to write it out), and name all the things I want to accomplish in the upcoming year. The list will include family, personal, spiritual and professional items. It will also include goals that I may have come close to or did not fully happen from the previous year. I strongly believe that if a goal is attainable, you should not drop it just because the year has ended. Instead, you should keep putting it on the list until it happens. Then when it does happen, I put a check and the date. This also serves as encouragement to me through the year.

My 2013 Goal ListPutting it in list form keeps me focused on one thing at a time and holds me accountable to myself, as well as those who see my list. I actually post my list near the bed. I can see it first thing in the morning to continuously remind me of my expectations.
Some of the things on my 2013 Goal List include: getting passports for my husband, younger daughter and son, running a 5k, getting a Mac computer, giving more, and taking a few courses of study.

Whether you set goals or resolution I wish you much success on your journey to a better you in 2013. Remember these words by Aristotle, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”

Happy New Year!
Roshanda

Reasonable Resolutioning

By: Summer Brons

With the end of January on the fast-approaching horizon, we’re at a logical checkpoint to assess our progress on all those resolutions we set just a few short weeks ago. In the face of a promising new year, it’s easy to hold our heads high and jot our lofty ambitions down on paper (or scrawl them across a keyboard), confident that THIS will be the year we refocus and really buckle down on the pursuit of our dreams. “2011? What a joke! 2012 is going to be MY year,” we say to ourselves, a confident grin spreading from ear to ear.

So…reality time: How are things going so far?

Whether your goals are centered around health, work, home, family, or even a simple vow to spend more time doing absolutely nothing at all – it’s easy to fall off the wagon if you’ve set the bar too high for yourself.  We tend to be results-driven creatures with a love for instant gratification, disregarding the concept of a step-by-step process. This explains why many resolutions are discarded (or forgotten completely) before we’ve even it made it through the first quarter.  Folks throw in the towel because all they see on that list they wrote on December 31st are statements like, “lose 40 pounds,” “get a promotion,” “spend more time painting.” These are all great things to strive for, but where’s the plan of action?

The road to weight loss is paved with consistent exercise and a balanced diet. Instead of getting frustrated because the scale isn’t registering the numbers you’d like to see each morning, break the process down into bite-size chunks. You didn’t gain the weight overnight and you’re not going to lose it overnight, either. Figure out what steps you need to take to put yourself on the path to losing those 40 pounds and go from there. At first, your success may be found in getting to the gym four times a week and bringing a healthy lunch with you to work instead of eating fast food each day. Next, you’ll see success by realizing you’ve dropped five pounds. And guess what? Five pounds turns into eight turns into 15 and so on until one day…you’re at your goal weight! But be realistic, because it’s not going to happen by default just because you slapped a shiny “RESOLUTION” label on the idea and you happened to notice it’s nearly the end of January.

The same goes for your other goals. You want a promotion at work? Great! Figure out how to best position yourself to catch the eye of your boss and make them think of your name first when that new management position opens up later this year. Perhaps you can offer to take on additional responsibilities, assist coworkers without having to be asked to do it, show up on time (wait, that counts for something?), or…here’s a thought, ask that boss of yours if he or she has a few minutes to spare, then sit down with them to share your thoughts. A well-spoken “I really enjoy being a part of this company and I’m looking forward to future opportunities here beyond my current scope of work. Is there any advice you can give me that might help me along a path to advancement?” can go a long way in garnering respect and displaying ambition.  Remember, just like the weight loss intentions, just because you’ve decided you want a promotion does not mean you’re going to walk into work the next day with a corner office and a generous raise, so don’t get discouraged and give up hope when April rolls around and you’re still daydreaming about throwing staples at that loud, obnoxious coworker who sits two cubes up.

Finally, just to round out the few examples I mentioned above, Ms. “I’m going to paint more often in 2012” shouldn’t be prematurely tossing out the oil canvas, either.  Sure, it’s wonderful to take time out of each day to devote to creative efforts, but it doesn’t always happen. Besides life getting in the way, sometimes you just flat don’t feel like it. The creative muse can be a fickle thing, so quit beating yourself up if you don’t hit that goal to write 500 words each day or to practice your crochet technique for an hour each evening. Try something more manageable, like blogging three times a week instead of seven, or taking just two photos per day instead of ten to improve your photography skills. If you’ve included your hobby, passion or artistic endeavor in your new year’s resolutions, don’t forget to be just as realistic about your goals in this department as you are with everything else. Very few things happen overnight, bestselling novels included.

Remember, the key is to keep things MANAGEABLE. Don’t stand in your own way with an “all or nothing” mentality.  Progress is just as successful as seeing a goal ultimately come to fruition, so use those stepping stones along the way as motivation to keep going and as validation that you’re on the right track. You’re the only one who can make things happen for yourself, which, in turn, means that you’re the only one who can prevent things from happening, too.

So go ahead and take inventory of those 2012 resolutions.  If there’s any you’re struggling with so far, take some time to break them down further and create a plan to get from point A to point B…preferably in once piece.

Good luck!