Meditation for Beginners – 3 Ways to Start

meditation for beginners - 3 ways

Beginning to meditate can be daunting to some people. It sounds all so easy – just sit and quiet your mind. But if you are anything like me, learning to calm that crazy monkey mind is tougher than it sounds. It’s why so many quit trying to meditate so quickly. Their practice ends before it begins. Which almost happened to me too. So if you need a little extra help meditating, why not try a different method? Here are 3 ways to meditate that I’ve seen or experienced working for beginners or just people who have a lot on their minds.

Guided Meditation

meditation for beginners - guidedA guided meditation, uses visual mental imagery. By focusing on a relaxing scene, you give your brain something to keep it from wandering while also calming your thoughts.

To do a guided meditation, we actually like to use youTube. There are some great resources on there. One we particularly like is The Honest Guys. My daughter listens to a guided meditation by them to help her fall asleep at night. Boho Beautiful also has some great meditations I like to listen to.

If you have listened to a few guided meditations you may have figured out what works for you. In that case, you can always guide your own meditation.

Even if you haven’t, you can picture a scene that relaxes you. Perhaps you are on the beach at twilight, hanging on a hammock between two palm trees. You can close your eyes and listen to the waves peacefully crashing into shore. Or maybe you are camping in your favorite campground. Your sleeping bag is warm and cuddly around you. Close your eyes and listen to the crickets chirping. Think of whatever scene most relaxes you. I try to choose nature scenery. And then experience all of your senses using your mind’s eye. See it. What does it sounds like? Smell like? How does the  breeze feel? Can you almost taste the sea air on your tongue?

Walking Meditation

Ymeditation for beginners - walkinges, you can actually meditate while you walk. If you are new to meditation, this can be a good method because walking can be so peaceful and relaxing.

Find a quiet, calming location. Or somewhere you feel comfortable.

You can experiment with your focus.

Ffocus on the natural rhythms your body creates when walking – your breath or your footfall.

Or  use a focus word, such as “courage,” “dream,” or “create.” Say the word, out loud or in your head, with the rhythm of your feet.

Meditative Coloring

meditation for beginners - coloringColoring books are all the rage right now.

When you are coloring, your are completely focused on the task at hand. It helps keep you in the present moments and  let go of the other distractions.

It’s a great way to practice focus and mindfulness, if you have a hard time reeling it in.

 

Do you meditate? What method do you use?

 

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January 2017 Lifestyle Favorites

Lifestyle Favorites - January

2017 is already shaping up to be better than 2016. I’m already excited about what it has to hold. I know great things are in store for us. I have high hopes!

It’s so exciting when I find something or someway that makes my/our life a little easier, better, or more fun. I just thought I would share a few of my recent findings. So here are some awesome products/recipes/apps that I love.

        1. S’well Bottle
          My brother and sister-in-law got me this new water bottle for Christmas. I truly love it. I know S’well bottles are expensive but now that I have one, I totally understand why. I fill this puppy up every night (as well as multiple times during the day), put it on my bedside table, and when I wake up in the morning my water is still cold. It’s amazing and I love the color. It’s so fun and so pink which is amazing. But you can get almost any color or design if you prefer.
        2. Cuppow
          Another gift from my brother and sister-in-law. She gets me. 🙂 These are coffee style lids that go on top of mason jars and are then secured by the metal ring. They allow us to take drinks in the car or during family game night. (For some reason, cups and mugs seem to be ever more precarious during board games.)
        3. Minimalist Baker’s Peanut Butter Overnight Oats
          I am always looking for ways to streamline our routine. I love cooking, but I love even more when I find a way to make meals that are quick, easy, and kid-friendly. I love overnight oats because being able to toss a mason jar and spoon to my kids (and myself) makes mornings so much simpler. So when I found this recipe for overnight oats, I had to give it a try. We ALL loved it. My kids even said it tastes like peanut butter ice cream. I made it by the recipe (almost never do that!) and added bananas on top in the morning. It is absolutely superb!January Favorites - Overnight Oats
        4. Laser Tag
          I am always looking for ways to play together as a family – inexpensive and active ways especially. These galaxy blasters are especially great for that. My kids will happily grab one, toss one to someone else, and start firing without a thought for the TV at all. Of course, I enjoy being ridiculous because it makes it more fun for all of us. So run, hide, and roll around. They crack up and do it too. It makes us all laugh and hopefully creates some positive memories for them.
        5. App: Plant Nanny
          Plant Nanny is an app that my daughter found out about from one of her friends. Both of my kids have it downloaded on one of their devices. It’s an app that helps you to track your water consumption. When you drink water you record it on the app and the cute little plant grows. So they keep drinking water because they want to see their plant grow. After a while they will get sick of it, as they always do, but it’s nice that they become more conscious of their water consumption.

 

Have you found any new passions, strategies, or discoveries so far this year? How has January been for you?

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Make Family Dinnertime Work for You

Family Dinnertime

We’ve all heard that kids who eat dinner with their families:

  • get better grades
  • are less likely to do drugs
  • have higher self esteem
  • have an increased chance of graduation
  • have a lower risk of childhood obesity
  • etc, etc.

It seems like everyone is always touting the benefits of family dinnertime. But you are busy! You work late. The kids have sports after school and play rehearsal in the evening. There’s hours of homework to be done and dishes in the sink. So how are you expected to do this whole family dinner thing too on top of it all?

Firstly, don’t stress over it and don’t beat yourself up. There are ways to make it work for everybody.

It doesn’t have to be dinner.

A lot of the benefits of family dinnertime come from the sense of togetherness it brings, not solely from the food.
So if you tried to find a day that would work for you but there just isn’t one try a different meal. Maybe in the morning everyone leaves at the same time, so you could plan to have breakfasts together. Or after Saturday morning soccer games everyone gets back home at thes same time so you could arrange to do Saturday lunches every week. If that doesn’t work either, try a snack time before bed.
Food is an easy excuse to gather a family around a table, but if there really is no way to schedule a meal together, any kind of regular family time that allows for or facilitates conversation and togetherness can provide many of the same benefits.

Keep it stress free with easy meals.

Dinner doesn’t have to be gourmet. Trying to create entire fancy meals can be daunting and stressful. If you are stressed out during mealtime, you and your loved ones will probably not receive the full benefits of being together. Make it easy.
That Taco Tuesday we mentioned? An easy meal to throw together. The kids can even help rip the lettuce or take toppings to the table. Another favorite of ours is simply veggie sandwiches or wraps with homemade fries. Baked potatoes with lentils, veggies, or even just broccoli are great. Soups are easy to make. Rice bowls are quick if you make the rice ahead of time. Know simple recipes that everyone likes and keep simple foods on hand.
Meal planning can also help with this. Make ahead meals, slow cooker meals, things that are ready for you when you walk in the door are wonderful. One way that I make meals easy when I know we have a crazy week coming up is by utilizing a meal delivery service. Purple Carrot is one I use and highly recommend. (Read my review here.)

Get everyone involved.

The kids can help cook. They can also help clean up. They can put their dishes in the sink at least if they are really little and the older ones can put them in the dishwasher. The more people pitch in the easier it becomes for all.FamilyFamily Dinner - Make it Work for You

Pick a day and schedule it.

If you can’t have family dinner everyday, find a day during the week that people are home or at least, less busy. Maybe your kids don’t have anything scheduled for a certain day or your spouse can come home early one day. Dedicate that day to family dinners and let everyone know they are expected at the table.

Make it an event.

My kids love the idea of Taco Tuesday. That is an event they would never miss.
Often, on Fridays, we have picnic night. In the winter, when we can’t go outside, we put blankets and a tablecloth on the floor and have an indoor picnic.
My cousin has 4 daughters and 6 grandkids. He loves to cook out so the whole family – kids, grandkids, husbands, and boyfriends all get together and have a big family dinner on the weekends. It’s such a beautiful event with so much love and energy in the air that everyone looks forward to it and can’t wait to get together.
Big or small, making an event of it makes it fun for everyone.

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How do you find time for family bonding?

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Break the Pattern! | Stress Management

break the pattern | stress management

“I dropped my cereal. I stepped in a puddle. My socks are wet. I don’t like these I didn’t have time to do my hair properly. And I can’t find a headband!” My daughter began to sob in my car as she began her Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day type of tirade. I felt like I was looking at the me from certain parts of my life in the past. I knew where this could be headed. So I had to do something about it.

Not many people know this but I’m a pretty big Tony Robbins fan. And in the recent documentary I Am Not Your Guru, he reiterates one of his techniques which is to “break the pattern.”

My daughter was creating a pattern in her head. She was looking for all of the bad things that happened to her that morning. And I was afraid that she would continue to look for the bad things that happened to her during the day and just be miserable.

So I thought I have to break the pattern but how?

Tony Robbins uses humor a lot and sometimes adult language among other methods (but for some reason that’s what popped into my head in the moment) neither of which would work in this situation. Mostly because, while I think I’m hilarious, my kids don’t always feel the same way.

So I said “Man that seems like a lot of bad stuff that happened already this morning. Now tell me something that happened good this morning.”

She got quiet. She had to change her thinking. I did it. I broke her pattern.

“Anything, even the littlest thing. The weather. Do you like the change in weather?”

“Meh.”

“Okay tell me something else then.”

“Well I wasn’t mad when I woke up.”

“You woke up on the right side of the bed. I’m happy for that!”

“No I didn’t. . . I woke up on the left side.” Humor! She had now broken her own pattern and was creating a new one. “I have three tests today.” I asked her if she knew what was going to be on the test and she said yes. “So you’re prepared!” I exclaimed. She agreed and continued to tell me about the tests and the classes. By the time we got to school, she hopped out of the car with a smile on her face and walked into school standing pretty darn tall.

Have you ever seen yourself or someone you love start that negativity spiral? Break it! Try to pull them out of that funk before it becomes a pattern that hangs over them like a dark cloud.

  • Use humor.

    Making someone laugh can begin to break through that negativity and open a door for further conversation.

  • Surprise!

    The element of surprise can change a person’s thinking by figuratively knocking them off balance. It has the power to stop people in their tracks. Then there’s the opportunity to change their focus.

  • Physical Activity.

    Movement, changing your body’s position in space can change your perspective both literally and figuratively. Go for a run. Do mountain climbers. Drop and give me 50. Or whatever. Exercise releases endorphins and dopamine – feel good chemicals. Plus when I finish exercising, I always feel slightly more accomplished. Like I can check something off of my to-do list or like I’m worth taking some time to take care of myself. This is also a great long term strategy. (See more below.)

There are also long term strategies to help you naturally improve your abilities to deal with stress.

  • Physical Activity.

    Regular physical activity can improve sleep, mood, concentration, and memory. It can help to handle stress and increase daytime energy. Over time, some studies even show that regular exercise could help symptoms of depressive and anxiety disorders. Just make sure to check with your doctor before you start an exercise program.

  • Practice Mindfulness.

    Mindfulness involves staying in the present, allowing things to happen without judgment. There is mindfulness meditation (see below), but you can also use mindfulness in your everyday tasks. Stay in the moment. If something bad happens. It’s okay to experience, to feel upset, but then let it go. Because right now is the only time you can experience right now. So why waste it worrying about the past or the future. (Of course that’s not to say you can’t mourn or grieve, that is important. Or do tasks that will improve your future – everything you do right now should be for a better future, but enjoy doing it, not fretting about it.)

  • Meditation.

    You can meditate. Trust me you can. So many people say that they can’t, but I don’t know anybody whose mind can be in so many different places at once as me. Seriously for months, I would sit down to meditate and write stories in my brain, my head would go as far as to make up my own songs or greeting cards. I would think about work, school, the kids, something funny. And of course the never ending to-do list was running like a loop in the background the whole time. It’s okay if it feels like you are just always thinking. (Kind of how I’ve always said I do my best writing in the shower. It’s a time when things slow down and my mind just feels free to roam.)When your mind has a mind of it’s own, it’s okay to observe that thought. But then let it go. Don’t judge it. Just release it. Bring your focus back to your breath or intention. It takes time. Start with something small like 5 or 10 minutes a day. It didn’t take long before I began to see a change in my ability to handle stress and to have internal happiness, not dependent on external forces. I learned to slow down and process where I was in the moment. I’m not perfect, but progress is progress.

  • Practice Self Care.

    It’s not selfish to take care of yourself. In fact it’s just the opposite. If you don’t take care of yourself and are already hanging on by a thread, one more stressor could make it snap. Take care of yourself. Build yourself up so no single event can knock you all the way down.

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LIVE – The Word of the Year

Live - Word of the Year

I’d heard of the word-of-the-year before. I always thought they were cool, but I never came up with one before because it was just too hard for me to figure out a word that could encompass a whole year. But while I was reading a post, suddenly it hit me and the word “LIVE” popped into my head. And that was that.

2016 was a rough year for many people. My family had a rough one too.  My father had a stroke. My mother was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia and passed away a couple months later. My kids and I gave up a lot to be there and take care of him. I’m not complaining about it. I understand that it’s something that has to be done sometimes in families. But there was more screen time than I would normally condone. And a lot fewer outings, sporting events, birthday parties, etc. It was fine. We survived.

But I want to make sure 2017 is no longer about surviving. It needs to be about more than that. It’s about learning and laughing. Working hard and pursuing passions. I want my kids to enjoy life, to experience the world they live in, to question, to try, to feel joy. I want to work harder than I’ve ever worked and play more gleefully than I ever have. I want our family to grow closer, smarter, stronger, safer. We will be grateful with what we have. We will explore and seek to understand what we don’t. And we will make sure to give more than we take, to love, and mostly to LIVE.

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“What’s on your Shelf?” Reading Challenge – Books I Need to Read in 2017

Reading Challenge - What's on your Shelf

My shelves are beginning to suffocate me! They are teeming with books that I simply couldn’t resist! Those straight spines, those cover images, those intriguing titles, and most of all the calling of the potential information contained within.  I have always had trouble controlling myself when it comes to buying books.

Pair that with the overwhelming obligations of being in the sandwich generation, the emotional stressors of dealing with the death of a loved one, being a single mother, and you know…life, you can imagine just how many of those books have actually gotten read.

As mothers and caregivers, it is so easy to let parts of our own well-being slide. Mommy brain anyone? So as part of trying to keep my brain from turning to mush, I am desperately trying to rekindle one of my old hobbies. Reading! It feeds my mind and my soul.

I remember one time hearing about a “What’s on your Shelf?” Challenge. I feel like that is so fitting for me right now. I’m all about living intentionally and using what you already have. It’s time to apply that to my books. I’ve decided for this challenge I am going to read 12 books from my bookshelf, that’s one for each month. (Just for the record, I also read kindle books while putting the kids to bed because I can turn the light all the way down but still see it and I listen to audiobooks in the car.) These 12 books are books I’ve purely picked from the physical books on my bookshelf that have been sitting there, on the shelf, watching me sleep for over a year now.

These are the 12 books I’ve picked from the myriad of unread books. They are going to be read and/or donated THIS year!
(Please note that while these are affiliate links, I have not actually read them and cannot personally recommend them. Although, I am super excited to 

1. Awaken the Giant Within

This book was gifted to me by a sweet soul who knows about my secret love for all things Tony Robbins. It was only recently that I discovered him. I read a book called Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod. In it, he mentions Tony Robbins a few times. I figured this guy was worth checking out. And I fell in love with his words. For a long time, I started everyday listening to a Tony Robbins talk. It gave me motivation to give it my all once more.
Awaken the Giant Within is his classic tome. I cannot WAIT to read it!

2. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

So this book actually isn’t mine. It’s been on my parents bookshelf for…ever? And I’ve been gazing longing at it for the longest time, but never dared pick it up because I knew it would just end up sitting on another bookcase. After cleaning my parents’ house, anything that my brother didn’t want either got donated or is now mine – including this book.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is such a classic for those interested in self help (which, for some reason, I’ve only recently admitted). Even those who are not interested, reference this book. It was even cited in motivational talks at my last job. It’s just time for me to read this.

3. 1984

Talk about classics, right? In highschool, I was so into this sort of genre of book – future dystopias, etc. Loved Orwell, Vonnegut,Gibran, Huxley, and so on. A lot of those books are still on my shelf because I still love them but read them all entirely. I think I started 1984 on a plane ride one time and when the plane landed it got stuffed into the bottom of my carry-on where it remained (thought lost) until I was deep into another book. So somehow it never got finished. We’re talking like 15/20 years ago here! But it has managed not to get lost on all of my moves and is still on my shelf to this day. So it will finally get finished THIS YEAR.

4. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Not entirely sure what happened here. I’m assuming it’s pretty much the same story as above. I was just SUCH a voracious reader back in school. So I had way more books than I could read. But my favorites and my unread still come with me everywhere I go. But this year, if it wants to remain on my shelf, it has to prove itself to be a favorite. Meaning, I actually have to read it.

5. Jane Eyre

For some reason I keep saying I want to read this and never do. My Bronte days were even before my Vonnegut days. So I found this shoved in a corner in my old room at my parents house. I can’t even imagine how long it’s been there. No more wanting to read. I will read it!

6. 30 Lessons for Loving

This book hasn’t been on my shelf for years – more like months. My mom gave this to me last spring. She also bought one for herself. We were going to read it and talk about it, but she got sick and passed away. I’m still going to read it because I know she wanted me to get something out of it. She wanted to make sure I don’t make the mistakes I made with my last relationship – or that she made with hers.

7. The True Memoirs of Little K

Another book bought for me by my mother. I began reading it at a time in my life when paper books were just not working for me. I was using the Kindle app on my phone then. So it didn’t get finished. There are so many benefits to reading fiction and I need to do more of it. So this book made the list. My sister-in-law is also supposed to be coming up with a list of her favorite fiction books for me so we’ll see what made the cut!

8. A Year of No Sugar

Again, I have not had this book for years. Actually, it was fairly recently. And I really want to read it. I love food/exercise/wellness/anything books. And sugar is one of my many foes. Also I love books by bloggers as I hope to soon write one myself. I’m afraid this will get buried in piles of unread books. So on this list it goes!

9. Le Petit Prince

An easy read. Except my copy’s in French. I need to brush up on my French and I know this is a great book, recommended for kids, adults, those learning French, and those fluent. There are really no people who speak French where we live right now and it’s a shame just how much I’ve lost. (I’m from Montreal!) So this book is one way to kill two birds with one stone.

10. The Secret

My parents have always pooh-poohed meditation, affirmations, self-helps books, and the like. So imagine my surprise when I found this by my mom’s bed! I have the film saved to my Netflix cue as well. I cannot wait to read this little, yet mighty book.

11. Animals Make Us Human

I cannot tell you the number of times we spoke about Temple Grandin when I was an undergrad (studying therapeutic recreation). She has autism and is an advocate for both people and animals who may have a harder time advocating for themselves. As a people animal lover, dying to find ways to give back, she was and is a huge inspiration to me. I look forward to reading her book. (Or the one of her books that is currently on my shelf.)

12. Silent Spring

As a young child, Rachel Carson was one of my heroes. (Along with my mother, Jane Goodall, Albert Schweitzer, and so many others.) I was a huge environmentalist. My mom bought me this book and I read it in elementary school I believe. Then my daughter got to be Rachel Carson in a school performance a couple of years ago and I bought the book again for her to use as a prop. I want to read it again since it’s been so long and now that I’m older and my love for the cause has grown so much deeper, I think I can get more out of it.

13. Stumbling on Happiness

Because I can never stop when I’m supposed to…I found a couple of these “happiness” books in my mom’s house – okay so maybe she’s not as anti-self-help as I thought she was. I couldn’t really pick which one and we’re already over 12, but I think I’ve heard of this one a few times so I thought it would be a good place to start. I’m really interested in this elusive happiness. We are all searching for it. Why does it seem so hard to find?

 

So there you have it folks, my 12 errrr…13 books I am going to read from my shelf this year. No more just hanging there guys! Either I love them or I donate them. It’s time.

What book is on your shelf waiting to be read?

(Also check out A House with Character. She is reading through NPR’s book pics this year and they seem like great books – I’m attempting to exercise great restraint in not buying them…yet!)

Reading Challenge - What's on your Shelf

 

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3 Types of Journaling that have Changed my Life

Journaling life changing ways

As a writer (and long time aspiring writer), journaling is something I’ve always done. Even as a young child, I had journals to use as diaries, some to use just to make lists, some to write short stories in, and some to come up with ideas for exercises and choreography for dances, just to name a few. It was rare to find me walking around the house without a journal tucked under my arm. And my mom could never take me to the store without my begging for a pretty new journal I happened across. 

I stopped journaling sometime in college (because it wasn’t cool enough), but began again a year or two ago. Since then, I’ve changed my thinking and worked through different situations in my life. It helped me to tap into my creativity, find clarity, and sometimes just practice writing. There are many different ways to journal. I’ve tried, and still use, many versions of journaling. They all serve a purpose at different points in time. Three types of journaling that have really had an impact on my life include:

Stream of Consciousness

I began regular journaling again as an adult one summer on a family vacation. I still had the horrible habit of going to bed with a television. But the house we were staying in had only one television and it was in a communal seating area – not really conducive to sleep. So I pulled out my big journal I was using to just take notes, make lists, pull out paper, whatever. I put the date at the top of the page and began to write. That first day, I figured out where the problem in my budget was and ended up laying out a whole new one. The second day, I started to understand my relationship with certain people in my family and came up with ideas to try to begin to mend them. And on and on. (I now journal on a regular basis.)

Stream of consciousness writing simply means just that. Just pull out paper and start writing. Whatever comes to mind, put it on paper. Sometimes, you will find yourself writing gibberish and sometimes you will find yourself addressing major stressors in your life. Just the other day as I was journaling, I found myself doing just that. Venting, rephrasing the question, and brainstorming solutions.

The entry went something like:
“I love my kids so much. Why am I getting so frustrated and stressed out around the same time as when they get home from school? I don’t want to yell at them. I hate when I do that. What is wrong with me??? Wait no bad questions get bad answers, let me try again. What can I do to alleviate the stressful feelings I experience in the evenings?”
Then I started brainstorming solutions. The next day, I worked on implementing many of the ideas I came up with and now, I’m still not perfect, but I am much calmer.

Stream of consciousness journaling has allowed me to work through many issues in my life. It has given me so much clarity and allowed me to sleep so much better. I’m able to clear my thoughts and get everything out of my mind and onto paper. This is my #1 type of journaling that has had the most impact on me and my life.

Visualization

Visualization journaling involves picturing a future event or a future you and writing about it. You can write in any fashion or as broadly or as specifically as you would like. Picture your future – where you will be when you accomplish your life goals or doing the tasks that you need to do tomorrow (or today depending on the time of day you journal). You can write about how great you feel accomplishing your biggest dream (even if you haven’t yet). Or you can write about how good your morning routine will feel.

For example:
“The buzzing sound penetrated Valerie’s ear drum. She sat up and smiled knowing that today she would get one day closer to her goals. It was one more day to experience life. It was one more day to hug her kids and fill their hearts and her own with love. She plodded to the bathroom, put her hair up, and washed her face before beginning her morning workout…”

Visualization journaling helps to keep me on track and keep me motivated. It makes me excited for the future and for accomplishing my goals and dreams.

Gratitude

Gratitude journaling is simply writing down things you are grateful for. I did a post on it last year.  Simply get out a journal and write down 3 things you are grateful for. The first few days are easy. I was able to rattle off things like “my kids, my health, my kids’ health, etc” no problem. But I challenged myself to name 3 different things every time.

Gratitude journaling can easily be done at night or in the morning. I like to journal at night before bed. It calms me and puts me in a good mindset for calming sleep. Doing my gratitude journaling at night, slows me down, and gives me a chance to really think through my day, and all the beauty and happiness it has brought me. Some people (including Tony Robbins) advocate for gratitude in the morning because it is a good way to start the day off on the right foot. My opinion is that the best option is whatever works best for you. Either way, feeling grateful and feeling miserable cannot happen at the same time.

No matter what time of day it is, thinking about things you are grateful for will retrain your brain to search for the positive in any situation. I often find myself searching for the good in any given situation, not only because I’ll need something to write in my journal that night, but because my brain is now trained to find the good now.

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Resolutions that Stick – Part 3: Goal Setting

Resolutions Part 3

We’re back to the third, and final, part of Resolutions that Stick!

So you figured out your priorities in Part 1 and then figured out where you want to be with them in Part 2. If this is enough for you, then by all means stop there. Just doing those two steps changes how I approach days and situations. I remind myself of my priorities when I get sidetracked or am having trouble figuring out just what to do.

But to make real progress, weekly goals are where it’s at!

It’s also the fun part if you ask me!

Let’s start with a brainstorm, or brain dump if you will.

Get out the list you created in Part 2 and start breaking them down into weekly goals. Write down any and every task/tactic that can be done in a week to get you closer to where you want to you want to be in the next month/quarter.

The reason we do this is because it is too easy to start writing your goals for the week and suddenly realize you have now have 567 goals to accomplish in 5-7 days. I fell into that trap time and time again.

So to avoid overloading yourself immediately, just write down everything. Take a piece of paper and write down ALL the goals you can possibly come up with. Once you have them all out and on paper, it is easier to look at them and choose the ones you can focus on this week. Try to keep it to 10 or under if possible.

Your goals should be action oriented (use a verb!) and measurable.

(Example: Exercise 3 times this week. At the end of the week, you can definitively check off whether or not you accomplished this goal.)

When writing your to-do lists, consult your weekly goals. Make sure that you include activities that will help you achieve your goals. And then at the end of every week, review your goals. Did you accomplish them? Are they getting you closer to where you want to be? Then decide on the goals for the upcoming week using your brainstorm, making changes, or adding tasks/tactics you hadn’t thought about before.

If you continue to set quarterly (or monthly) and weekly goals, you will not only keep your resolutions but you will SMASH them!

Don’t forget to check out Parts 1 and 2 if you haven’t already!
Resolutions that Stick Part 1
Resolutions that Stick Part 2

Resolutions that Stick Part 3

For more information and inspiration on making goals check out:
The 12 Week Year – a great book and guide on breaking your year into 12 week “quarters” and setting weekly goals, it’s more from a business standpoint, but also includes examples with personal and familial goals
Money Saving Mom – weekly goal examples from Crystal Paine here
Making Sense of Sense – Michelle gives us all a monthly income report, looking back on her past month, and sets her plans (where she wants to be) for the upcoming month
I plan to share my goals in 2017 as well.

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Breakfast Quinoa – Easy Breakfast Ideas

Easy Breakfast Quinoa

Easy breakfasts that are also healthy, filling, and delicious are like gold in our house. They are what make our morning routines run smoothly.

This recipe for breakfast quinoa is not only all of those, but it is nice and warm for these colder mornings. It can also be a make ahead meal or as a bulk meal – you can keep it for a couple of days in the fridge and warm it up with some more milk (or make the quinoa and add the ingredients in the morning. And it’s good for a backup plan meal because it uses ingredients I generally have stocked while still being plant based – not processed! After a nice big bowl of this, I feel like I’ve given myself and the kids a good start to the day!

This can be made the night before or made in the morning with fairly little fuss. It does take about 15 minutes to cook quinoa but it’s fairly low maintenance. So I can start waking the kids up once I’ve turned the heat down. Just make sure to set a timer and don’t forget it’s on the stove!

Breakfast Quinoa with BerriesEasy Breakfast Quinoa

Ingredients
1 cup water the
1/2 cup quinoa
1/2 cup-1 cup frozen berrie
maple syrup (approx 1-2 Tbsp)
almond milk (about 1/2 cup)
cinnamon (approx 2 tsp)

*Easy Breakfast Quinoa Recipe*This is generally enough for my kids and myself. I’ll often double it and then keep whatever’s left for the next day. It will be super pink from absorbing the liquid and might need an extra dash of milk if you like it a creamier consistency the next day.

Make it:
Boil 1 cup water.
Rinse off the quinoa and add it to the boiling water.
Turn the temperature down, cover your pot, and let the quinoa sit for about 15 minutes or when the water has been absorbed and you can see the “tail” separating.
Add the frozen berries when the quinoa is still warm, mixing them in to melt them.
Stir in the maple syrup (to desired sweetness), almond milk (to desired consistency), and cinnamon or other spices (to desired flavor).

 

Let me know what you are loving for breakfast these days!

Easy Breakfast Quinoa

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Resolutions That Stick – Part 2

Ah, back to setting our 2017 resolutions! Now that we’ve set our priorities in Part 1, we need to break down our year.

I think that part of the reason New Year’s Resolutions are so easy to break is because we have a whole year to do them! If you wanted to get in shape, but you don’t today. That’s okay! Because you have a whole year to get in shape. But tomorrow, we can just say the same thing. And the day after too. And the day after until we realize the year is almost over.

So we break the year into smaller chunks before beginning to work on our resolutions. You can decide how you want to break down your year. It can be into quarters – or 12 weeks with 4 buffer weeks (as in Brian Moran’s 12 Week Year) or into months as I used to do. I find that the “12 week year,” gives me enough time to plan long term and short term, but at one point I needed to stay focused on the short term.

So maybe you want to experiment with this a little or maybe you already know which works better for you. This week we are going to break down our year and write our goals.

You are going to want to grab your list of priorities from last week, and then decide where you want to be after the first quarter, or month, of the year. These don’t necessarily have to be quantifiable goals yet. They can be. If you know you want to be making $xx, then by all means, write it now. But maybe you just know you want to be more patient with your children. And you’re not sure how to quantify that right now, it’s okay. That will fall into place next week.

So your challenge for this week is to:
– decide if you want to do quarterly or monthly goals
– using your priorities list, write out your goals for your time frame

Try not to make too many. 1 or 2 for each priority is probably plenty. Have fun!

Resolutions Pt 2
Pin Me!

Click here to read:
Resolutions that Stick Part 1
Resolutions that Stick Part 3

Example

Priority 1: My Children
1. Show more patience.
2. Maintain our new after-school routine.

Priority 2: My finances
3. $XX – Yup that was me in the example. 

Priority 3: My health and wellness
4. Maintain my morning and night routines.
5. Improve my meal planning system.

Priority 4: My Blog
6. Increase my reach.
7. Create a course and 2 pdf booklets.
8. I want to continue to grow my knowledge in my field and in the business field. Continue to update and get better.

 

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