Monday Must-Haves!

First of all, happy marathon monday! Hopefully,  you’re planning on live-streaming the marathon this morning. Secondly, I hope you had a wonderful Easter weekend (hopefully spent with family, faith and food!). My husband and I attended a new church this weekend and we really loved it’s mission:

“We seek to build a diverse, intentional, affirming community animated by joyful worship and called forth into social action for service to the greater good.

We seek to hear God’s call not only as individuals but also as a progressive, missional community striving to reflect the Kingdom of God in the here and now.

We embrace the rich history of the Reformed Tradition and the storied past of our once-prominent, center-city church, as we welcome a diverse, urban community of seekers –  young and old, gay and straight, rich and poor, of all races and ethnicities.

We are called into a meaningful, transformative community that values the unique blessings and perspectives of each member and offers a place of welcome and healing to weary souls.

We seek dynamic servant leaders who serve humbly, embrace change, and boldly challenge injustices in the wider community.

Most important, we seek to proclaim the Gospel in both word and deed, following the life and teachings of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.”

Screen Shot 2014-04-21 at 8.54.21 AMWe started off our Easter morning with some heavenly baked oatmeal. I used peaches and blueberries but you can use any fruit that your heart desires. I also swapped the milk for coconut milk. This was a hearty breakfast for us, would make a great addition to any breakfast or brunch spread if you’re cooking for a group!

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After church, we had lunch with my brother and his family, and our mom who came to visit. My nephew LOVED my first attempt at carrot cake (I’m the queen of not trying recipes before I make them for an event, so far so good!). He walked around asking for more cake from everyone after he finished the piece we were “sharing.”

Screen Shot 2014-04-21 at 8.54.39 AMA fine weekend if I do say so myself! The husband is off to Chicago this week and I’m headed to Boston for an overnight on Wednesday. Quick trip to finalize details on a project and then back home on Thursday for our last weekend before wedding season starts!  So, for my Monday Must-Haves:

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#1: FitBit – it doesn’t matter whether you have the FitBit One or FitBit Zip, or any of the other options, any of them will motivate you to MOVE. I have the “zip” and it calculates my steps taken, calories burned, and mileage for the day. You can add a food diary in your app which will help with the caloric data. You’re supposed to take 10,000 steps a day (or around 5 miles), having this little device attached to you will certainly push you to get closer to that number. I hook mine on my pants or skirt each day (or on my bra if I’m wearing a dress), it’s easy to conceal!

#2: Herbal Essences Naked Shampoo: You can grab this at any drugstore or Target. I picked it up over the weekend and couldn’t believe how clean my hair felt after using it. Also, the volumizing aspect is actually there. I usually use Aveda products to make my hair perk up (or Big Sexy Hair What a Tease Back Comb in a Bottle for special events), but for every day use, this shampoo does a great job. Highly recommend it for only $4 a bottle!

#3: Beach Body 21 Day Fix:  If you’re able to be productive while working out at home, and capable of jumping around, I highly recommend this workout system. You get 3 discs of workouts, including: cardio, plyo, yoga, pilates, upper/lower body and other variations. The workouts are only 30 minutes each, and that includes a warm up and post workout stretch. If you also follow the meal plan that comes with this system, you’ll certainly see results. If you can’t follow the diet but need a quick workout in your life, it’s still an effective fitness plan.

#4: J.R. Watkins Hand Soap: When we moved in our new house, I grabbed a couple bottles of the aloe & green tea soap from Target, not knowing what a hit it would be! Everyone who comes out of our guest bath comments on how excellent it smells. Plus, it’s in a cute bottle so you don’t even need to transfer it to a soap-dispenser!

#5: Shark Navigator: my mom got us this vacuum for Christmas and it has literally been a God-send. We use it CONSTANTLY (in lieu of sweeping). Having two dogs who insist on shedding year-round, this is the quickest way to spiffy up the house – and it has settings for hardwoods or carpet. (Thanks, Ma!)

#6: Brita Water Bottle: this guy is my constant companion. Easy for grabbing water essentially anywhere, including airports – and not feeling gross. You see, it filters the water before you drink it. No need to purchase water bottles anymore if you have this one, you can fill it up anytime and be on your merry way!

Happy Monday! Try to make someone else’s day happy while increasing your own happiness!

Let it go

Sorry for all you Frozen fans, this post will not be about the beloved movie, but I do have it on my list of films to watch. Letting things go can make you a happier person. It seems pretty simple, but we all tend to harbor a little resentment about something, maybe hold a grudge over something that happened years ago, or can’t shake that angry feeling after being cut off in traffic. Unfortunately, even though you may be right in your feelings at the time, it doesn’t impact the other person the way it does you.

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My husband says I will die on my principles. He also says that sometimes I spend too much energy trying to prove a point. Anyone else do this? When I know I’m right, I want to make sure that others do, too. In fact, I rarely shout out answers unless I am 150% sure that I’m correct. But when I’m not listened to, not given credit, or someone argues (when I KNOW I am right), I tend to get ready for battle on the subject and continue trying to prove the point. I am also a sharer. Over the weekend, I shared a terrible experience with a local Charlotte Photographer. This photographer asked me to model some poses for her so she could practice them, and in exchange she would give me free headshots. Felt like a good trade-off at the time. I spent almost two hours in her home studio on February 23, 2014. I waited until March 3rd to ask her when I might get the photos and she responded that I would have them by the weekend (3/7). Without going through all the details and multiple times I attempted to contact her after that without response, I decided to share the story on social media. Upon doing so, I found others who had similar experiences with this photographer and also found reviews online of her poor communication and terrible customer service. The social media got her attention (as it often does). Within an hour, I had 9 shares of one tweet to almost 2500 followers. How’s that for a PR nightmare for a small business? My goal was not to cause the nightmare for her, it was to bring attention to how she was treating me (and other customers), and to get her attention on the subject. She responded (threatening legal action for my libelous truthful comments) and told me that she had lost my images and wouldn’t be able to provide them. She did offer a new session and that I could sit there while she edited the photos and get them then and there. A) I don’t have time for that B) I don’t care to work with her and C) I don’t think her work could be that good based on the rest of her business practices. The point is not about the photographer here, the point is about how much time and energy I wasted on this person. Time, reviews and word of mouth will sink her business, and I didn’t need to spend part of my weekend putting forth the effort I did. My husband told me to let it go and if I still wanted headshots, go to someone who is a little more professional and just pay fo them (great idea!).

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It’s not just with the photographer that I do this. If I have a bad day, I tend to think (and over think) what happened, who was involved and who should be responsible. I think we’re all a little guilty of this on some level. In order to be happy, we have to let go of those moments that steal our happiness. Let go of bad days, angry phone calls with your cable company, that driver who swerved in front of you, the TSA agent who slowed you down, and be more forgiving overall. Try to understand where others are coming from before you get worked up or upset. A lot of times we interpret things differently than the person speaking to us meant them. Maybe that text that said “fine” actually meant “that’s a good plan. I’m fine with it!” and not that they hated the idea. Trying not to jump to conclusions can help with our attitude and level of happiness. Try to assume that people always have the best intentions (without being completely naive), and see how that effects your outlook. Try to let go of any grudges you may be holding onto. Forgive people, especially for those things that really no longer matter. The longer you hold onto something, the more important it seems, but in reality, it’s just a tiny blip on your map of life. Just has happiness trumps money, happiness wins in the attitude arena. Take a deep breath, stop proving points until you’re short of breath, forgive, spend your energy doing something you love instead, and let it go.

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Choosing Happiness

I’ve been reading a lot of books on marriage, happiness, change and if anything has resonated with me it’s that you can CHOOSE to be HAPPY. When something doesn’t go your way, you have the option to huff and puff, tell everyone you know about it and be worked up for the rest of the day, or you can choose to not let it bring you down. In reality, that person who uploaded something incorrectly for you on the form that you created, probably just did it wrong and wasn’t actually trying to sabotage your work. Maybe the person who cut you off on your drive to work wasn’t trying to cause an accident but was running late because their kid forgot their lunch box and they had to go home and get it. Trying to focus on the big picture can help you determine if that one incident really matters and if it should send your day in a downward spiral. I’m guessing 95% of the time, it won’t matter in a week and your heart would be better off if you hadn’t spend that time griping about it.

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I’m working on doing what makes me happy. We all have a lot of things that have to get done, but we don’t have to spend all of our time doing those and none doing what will brighten our lives until we’re done with the “have-to” list. It should be a compromise on how we spend our time. For me, there’s nothing better than a good run. If I had to make a list of other ways to get instant happiness in my life, I’d say:

  1. A dinner/movie date with my husband (or a cuddle session with one of the dogs if hubs is out of town)
  2. A spontaneous weekend escape to the beach
  3. A pedicure and/or massage
  4. Hot yoga (even better after a run)
  5. A catch-up session with a friend

Spending time working on your own happiness is imperative to achieving it. Obviously, there will be moments where you won’t be happy (and shouldn’t be) but in the times where it’s a choice to either let something slide or think on it all day, choosing to let it slide will get you to happiness 100 times faster. I’m making a deal with my husband to only talk about the good things that happened in a day for a week, and not complaining about the bad. Sometimes sharing feels good, but you’re not only letting other people thing you’re miserable, you tend to bring them down too.

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If you’re up for reading some excellent books on happiness, I recommend:

  1. The Happiness Project (Gretchin Rubin)  *follow up with Happier at Home if you need more!
  2. Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff (Richard Carlson)
  3. Happy Wives Club (Fawn Weaver)

And my next book is “Loving What Is” by Byron Katie (thanks, Lo).

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Removing things from your life that make you unhappy is okay. You can’t make someone else want to be happy (although, I am still working on trying to find a way to do this). Spending time around negative energy doesn’t do anything positive for your own mental state. Happiness is a choice we make every day. When you wake up, tell yourself it is going to be a good day – and mean it. Do things that will make you happy throughout the day. Start with a breakfast that will give you energy (and is healthy!), take a walk if you need a break at work, have lunch with your other half or a friend (getting out of the office for lunch is a MUST – even if you’re eating what you packed at a picnic table – just don’t set at your desk!), plan time to workout or walk in the evening, do some stretching or reading to relax at night. Do whatever makes YOU happy. Life’s too short to not be happy.