Thursday, January 29, 2015

Channeling my mother...

When I was a teenager, I was embarrassed when my mother would get stern or assertive with people in public places.  (Because you know, teenagers are generally embarrassed by anything their parents do - up to and including breathing in the same room.) I can distinctly remember a situation when she got (in my silly opinion) pushy with a woman at a department store. 

Fast forward to today when I find myself grateful for the example she set on how to handle a difficult situation.  Looking back with adult eyes, I see that incident in the store completely differently. 

I would like to share what's happened in our home recently that has reaffirmed this feeling. 

WSSC:  When we got our first water bill from, it was ridiculously large ($2000).  We FREAKED OUT.  I'm not kidding you when I say blood pressures were raised.  My husband opted to handle it and figure out what the problem was.  We were sure there was a leak.

He called and the young woman he spoke with only made things worse.  Not only did she get snippy and say, "Well maybe you should run your sprinkler less" but she said they couldn't help us adjust the bill until it was paid. She refused to let him speak to a supervisor and basically blew him off, threatening that the water would be shut off if it wasn't paid in full. So we scraped money together as we went into the holiday season, right on the heels of the water through the dining room ceiling, and paid them.  My husband was so angry and admitted he lost his temper with the woman by the end of the call - and this is a man who RARELY loses his temper at all, even when it's deserved.

Fast forward to the next bill.  At this point, we have had the sprinklers turned off and the line bled.  We now know the previous owners had set the thing to run several times a day every day.  We were basically watering our house, the houses down the hill, and possibly the people beyond them.  Having never had a sprinkler system, it was a genuine mistake.  The bill however said we now owed $1400 and this time I decided to call (to save my husband's life, he was too angry to safely call them without his head exploding). 

I got a different customer service person, I'm sure, but I also made sure to control the conversation so that I couldn't be put off with pat answers.  Forcing the person on the phone to listen to what I was saying and being pleasant as possible about it while firm was a huge success.  The woman apologized for her colleague, told me some steps to get the bill corrected, instigated a request for a rate adjustment for the previous bill and gave me some other tips to possibly same money on our future bills.

When the bills arrived earlier this week, they were still not correct.  The amounts were smaller but there was no credit for the adjustment or the money we had already paid accounted for on the bill.  I called back and spoke with a lovely older woman at WSSC.  Funny thing is, I think she was prepared for an irate customer not someone being friendly so her initial tone was stern and aggressive.  Again I approached things in a firm but pleasant manner, keeping the focus on the concerns I had.  We chatted and I explained my concerns.  She realized something was wrong and pulled in a supervisor (who then had to pull in some other experts).  They called me back the next day with it completely fixed, apologetic and wishing me a great weekend.  I went from being "Ma'am" to "Ms. M" by the end of the entire situation.  Refreshing.

Washington Gas: In the midst of all this, last weekend we went to bed and woke up to a house at 58 degrees.  It was COLD and getting colder.  Plus there was a storm coming through (less of a storm than advertised, but still below freezing temperatures) and we had the kids for the weekend.  At first we thought, the furnaces are broken.  But logically, the odds of them both going at the same time were pretty bad.  So we called the gas company to see if there was an issue.

Now, we've been paying a bill to the gas company since last summer when we moved into the house.  The bill comes in my husband's name to our address - the same address receiving gas service - and we pay it.  So why was it cut off?  Because the account had the name "Occupy" on it and they thought someone was stealing gas.

WHAT?! You have our name and the address and we PAY you, so that MAKES NO SENSE.  Plus, before you cut off someone's gas service, you should give them notice.  You may also want to check the weather before you do it.  So, I offered (was asked) to please call them because my hubby was told, when he called, that they couldn't reconnect us until the following Monday.  During the snow event.  After two days at feezing temperatures.  With children in the house.

So, I called and I was... irate.  However, I didn't curse the unhelpful customer service rep out (I did raise my voice a little) and I just kept pressing my concerns to the forefront.  I finally realized she was unable to say anything but the scripted responses.  She couldn't commit the company to anything.  So, I pulled my mother out of my memory and said, "Look, I understand you don't have the authority to help me, but someone there does.  If there was a gas leak or explosion at my house, someone would have the ability to schedule service today at my house to fix the situation.  So, as this is an emergency for the protection of children, the gas needs to be reconnected immediately.  The paperwork issue is not one we're going to solve right now.  Please put the person who has that authority on the phone."

Voila, I was connected with someone who didn't have to read from a script.  We had a candid conversation and he contacted the dispatcher and someone came to my house and turned on the gas.  Now we still have a paperwork and bill issue to handle, but I'm convinced it will be fine.  I'll just remember to Keep Calm and Press On. 

There are times I open my mouth and my mother comes out, and I wince.  This was not one of those times.  All I can say is, "Thank you, Mom, for teaching me how to handle a situation like this."  No need to get nasty, curse, or scream.  Persistent professionalism wins! 

Even if it looks like an embarrassing situation in the eyes of the teens.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Boredom + Food = Unhealthy eating habits

Emotional eating is getting a lot of commercial attention these days.  Because of that, I feel like we all have a pretty decent handle on what it means.  Most people I know who struggle with their weight and fitness have some issues related to this. 
Whether you are overweight or underweight, because yes – this applies to the underweight as well, food issues very often can be related to emotional situations.  I am personally connected with people who are unable to eat when they are stressed, sad, angry, etc.  They drop weight rapidly and struggle to put it back on until they are happy again.  For however long that lasts…
Likewise, the overweight have the same issues.  It all comes down to figuring out what triggers your emotional eating and learning alternative coping mechanisms.  As with most things psychological, retraining the brain and the automatic responses we’ve allowed it to adapt is usually the key.  In situations where a genetic or physiological trigger is the problem, you may need additional help from the medical community to control and regulate those responses. 
Those situations are rarer, however, and a little time searching yourself and documenting your eating habits can help you form your own solution.  So, one of the things I’ve learned about myself is that I eat when I am bored.  
This is not weird or abnormal, but I can stick to healthy eating like a champ unless I get bored.  Then I start wanting something sweet or fat laden.  It’s almost Pavlovian.  I wonder if as a child I was “mollified” with sweets and fatty foods.  Perhaps even as an infant.  It’s like giving a puppy too many treats during training; they become the fat dog that is constantly begging. 
In doing the 21 day challenge, I’ve been starkly aware of every time I have nothing to do.  Since I can’t snack on anything but veggies and fruit, I am more aware of every time I reach for something and I’m not hungry. 

Shameful admission time:  I’ve made myself sick twice trying to force food in when I was physically full.  I'm not proud of this, nor was it a conscious decision.  So, why would I do that? When I realized it was happening, I stopped immediately but it freaked me out that I could, without thinking about it, do something that is obviously not good for me for no real reason.  It's not like I can't give up foods.  I don't drink soda anymore because I gave it up for 40 days (Lent) and it stuck.  I rarely eat ice cream because milk started upsetting my system and I basically gave it up.  Every now and then I have some because of some random situation, but I don't enjoy it anymore. 

For all these examples, however, I can't give up all cakes / cookies / breads.  I can do it for a while - months even - but I end up going back to it.  For a long time I blamed my severe anemia and a desire to keep my energy up, but really, I think it's more that those foods comfort me in a way other foods cannot.  Others find salty food or fat rich foods do the same for them.  I've known people who would rather just drink coffee and not eat real food if possible because it hits some sort of soothe point in them.  Why do certain foods work this way for certain people? 

So I started reading and found something I think is interesting and true: 
When you're bored, your body wants to increase the dopamine levels to negate the boredom. 

I would imagine this situation is worse when you are sad or grieving as well.  Some interesting reading on the topic:

The medical theory that we chase a dopamine high during boredom makes sense to me.  It’s why people have indiscriminate sex after being single and celibate for a while.  It explains why alcoholics and drug-addicts have to maintain programs to encourage and hold them accountable, because their brains have a natural little reactor that wants feeding.  It doesn’t care if the method you find isn’t healthy – it just wants the reaction.   There are even those people who get addicted to exercise and work out to the point of illness or injury.  They are trying to reach that high.  Only, as any addict would tell you, you can’t recreate the initial high ever again.  You have to find something stronger or more addictive to come close.  With food you search out something more decadent to hit that sensory overload.  This is one reason some doctors theorize that restrictive diets fail - your dopamine levels get so low you are absolutely doomed to go back to eating more of the foods you shouldn't to fill that natural craving.  So when you're bored, you also resort to what has worked in the past, only it never really works and it doesn't last because...
In the end, it doesn’t satisfy nor does it relieve the boredom. 
It also does not provide a sustainable rise to the dopamine levels.
And that’s the crucial part – it doesn’t solve the heart of the problem.  So you keep repeating the trial and error.  The human body in this way, to my way of thinking, becomes stupid at this point.  Because instead of recognizing the innate and potentially fatal damage being done to it, it continues to allow you to chase the high.  If the body suddenly rejected the intake of fatty or sweet foods because it felt it was dangerous; or attacked the food; or sent nervous impulses to your hands and mouth that made you tremble and drop the fork or your mouth refuse to open – wouldn’t that be a warning sign at least? 
It would most likely truly freak you out and you would HAVE to make changes or starve to death.  You would have to do whatever was necessary to rebalance and retrain your system. 

So, that doesn’t happen.  But we’re sentient beings capable of figuring out there is a problem without such volatile physical reactions. (Right?)  And to that end, I started trying to figure out alternatives to teach myself for when I’m bored.

To keep you from having to visit the bookstore, we’ll stick to the online sources.  Here are a few of the links I’ve found on the topic:

My biggest issue with some of these is the oral fixation solutions.  I don’t think continuing the habit of putting something in my mouth when I’m bored, even if it’s gum, is a good choice.  That, in my opinion, should be a last resort.  Here’s what I’ve discovered for me:
  • Exercise of course is the ideal solution, but for some of us exercise does not fill the dopamine requirement.  Sorry, I’ve tried to like it and love it.  I just don’t. 
  • I do find that upbeat music hits some sensory places for me.  So I add that to my potential arsenal for boredom.  Even at work, I can have some CDs available to listen and bounce along.
  • Chatting with someone I like or laughing at a comic is another one that settles that craving.
  • Complex puzzles also fulfills me (and exercises my brain!) so keeping puzzle books or apps on my phone around is smart.
  • Reading a book can do it, so long as the topic is light hearted.  The more serious reading has to wait for another time.  It actually can make me crave unhealthy foods more if I am saddened or stressed.
  • At work, walking away from my desk or sitting in my car for ten minutes can reset me.  Sometimes silence is what’s needed to soothe the gnawing.
  • Drawing, pencil and paper style, just for my own enjoyment or writing for my own enjoyment can be a short term solution.  If I get to into it, I can get stressed and start a whole other domino effect.
  • Going somewhere for a good cry.  I know, it seems silly and girly, but boredom can also be overwhelmed emotions for me.  My brain shuts down on focusing, since surely I have enough to do in my life that I should never truly be bored, because it’s unable to get past some huge issues elsewhere.  A crying jag can release the emotions physically, giving me room to refocus and process.  This shouldn’t be a regular thing, I think, but hey – sometimes it helps.
  • Lastly would be a bottle of water, stick of gum or a protein shake.  But if I’ve tried all of the above and I’m still fixated on food, then maybe I’m just thirsty or hungry after all. 
I feel like if I can retrain my brain’s natural reaction to boredom, I can control my eating in those times.  At least that’s what's been working for me so far.  I find the fact that so many of these choices are also recommended to parents of ADHD children as alternatives to help with their control issues to be fascinating.  The links there, IMO, should be studied. 

I also believe that the rise on addiction to video games is also a player in this realm.  Those games hit the dopamine button for many people.  To the point that they begin to lose time and control over other aspects of their life.   Seriously, someone should be researching this.  If we could find a healthy way, without drug therapy, to help people control and level their dopamine levels without risking addictive behavior patterns and downfalls it could really change a lot in our society.  What do you think?

Monday, January 26, 2015

CLIP: Working it while working it!

Happy Monday everyone! 
In today’s Challenge Yourself, we’re going to cover the dreaded exercise.  I say dreaded because I am not, nor will I ever be, a person who like exercise for the sake of exercise.  Now I can spend hours dancing, because I love music and can’t help but dance to it, but anything resembling working out for the sake of “fitness” makes me break out in hives*.

The truth is, with my schedule, exercise is hard to fit in.  When I worked in a building with a gym or one a block away that I walked past daily, it was easier to concede and go in to work out.  But right now, I don’t work anywhere near a facility I can use easily.  By the time I get home, I don’t have the inclination to work out (and frankly, the time) because I only get a little time with my husband as it curerntly stands.
However, all this eating better is only going to show true progress if I’m also working on toning and keeping my body burning fat.  So that means getting up and doing something, right?  Whether you’re a stay-at-home parent or an office worker, we all have full schedules.  Unless you have the funds and time for a personal trainer, it’s hard to stay committed to a physical routine.  Right?  Wrong.

Sadly, so wrong… I’ll be the first to admit losing my excuses for not working out stings a little, but getting my butt back in shape will be worth admitting I was wrong.  Especially since the solutions I’ve discovered won’t actually affect much except adjusting my existing routine by 5 minutes or so.  As an example, the attached image is a routine that could be incorporated into your daily life if you have a place to do it and 20 minutes to spare.  Some people would rock it out in the morning or evening every day.
First, let’s look at the ideal schedule for an office worker trying to incorporate exercise into their day.  1.  You don’t have to leave your desk.  2.  You can set a reminder on your Outlook calendar or cell phone.  3.  5 minutes (while you’re on the phone, reading a report, or simply listening to music) is all it takes – once per hour. 

You work for 8 hours at a minimum, so that’s a 40 minute per day workout.  Did I just blow your mind or what?  It will also be a mix of aerobic and strength training.  Oh, and as you get more fit, you can adjust your five minutes to include more high intensity elements and maintain that fat burning.  So no excuses.  Also, 5 minutes won’t work up too much of a real sweat – so no need to change clothes, though you may need to catch your breath before the next meeting.  If you get really ambitious, instead of once per hour, try every 30 minutes.  That will make your workout total around 75 minutes, which is pretty great daily by anyone's standards. 
Goal Office Workout Schedule
  • 9 am: Arrive to work.
  • 9:30 am: Get up and move around for five minutes.
  • 10 am: Five minutes of stretches. Start your day with a shoulder stretch, upper arm stretch, and chest stretch.
  • 10:30 am: Five minutes of wrist exercises. Do the prayer stretch, wrist flexor, and wrist extensor.
  • 11 am: Five minutes of strength training. Pick a few exercises from this list or this list you're comfortable doing in the office. Water bottle weight lifts, leg raises, and calf raises are all excellent ways to get a little strength training in the office without drawing too much attention to yourself.
  • 11:30 am: Get up and move around for five minutes.
  • 12 pm: Five minutes of stretches. This time do back stretches. Do a Lower back stretch, back and bicep stretch, and reach for the sky.
  • 12:30 pm: Wrist strength training. Do squeezes, wrist rolls, and wrist curls.
  • 1 pm: Five minutes of strength training. Pick a few exercises from this list or this list you're comfortable doing in the office.
  • 1:30 pm: Get up and move around for five minutes.
  • 2 pm: Five minutes of stretches. Time for some leg stretches. Do five minutes of hamstring stretches, standing thigh stretches, and leg extensions.
  • 2:30 pm: Get up and move around for five minutes.
  • 3 pm: Five minutes of strength training. Pick a few exercises from this list or this list you're comfortable doing in the office.
  • 3:30 pm: Get up and move around for five minutes.
  • 4 pm: Five minutes of stretches. Do a chin tuck, head turn, and side neck stretch.
  • 4:30 pm: Get up and move around for five minutes.
  • 5 pm: Leave work
Now this schedule, as you can see, doesn’t include when you eat or have snacks, but you could program those into your schedule as well.  When you can see your day and week laid out, including exercise, it makes it hard to say you don’t have time for it.  5 minutes chatting with a coworker while doing secret leg lifts or power walking from desk to desk passing out reports isn’t hard to add in.  Plus – more face to face contact strengthens relationships, right?!
Here are some links for exercises you can add into your desk or office routine:

Do you not work in an office?  You can sign up for a service like to send an alert to your cell phone, tablet or home computer to remind you to get up and move for five minutes.  There are other apps that can do this for you as well or work out bands (like the UP by Jawbone) that will buzz at regular intervals to get you moving.
Now, let’s not forget people with non-traditional jobs.  Teachers, stay-at-home parents, and nail technicians for examples all have jobs that can keep them from a normal workout routine.  Some of these office and desk exercises can be incorporated into their day, but in addition there are a ton of other options they can do away from the corporate or professional environment. 

So these following links are easily adapted from being just for parents at home with kids.  One of the things to remember is most, if not all, of these can be done while holding a baby (or with a toddler nearby) for five minutes.  If you replace “baby” with books, bricks, tools, bottles of acetone, or whatever is heavy at your job, you can do many of these.  Chair squats?  Put the baby in a sling and they will love the up and down ride!  Balance books on your lap and get a core work out as well.  Be creative in your application!  Run (or walk quickly if carrying precious cargo) up and down the stairs for 5 minutes while carrying something.

So there you go.  No more excuses, we have tools we can use to add into the lives we’re already living.  No cost, no extra time tools.  Now, to start using them!
Even if you don’t manage to do it every hour the first day, try – and keep trying until you’re popping up before the alarm and getting your five minutes in or adding an extra five minutes in here and there. 

Challenge yourself!  Anyone have some other great tips to share?  Put them in the comments, great ideas are always welcome.

*This is an exaggeration.  I don't break out in hives. I usually break a body part or get ill.  See, same thing.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Hiatus: Over!

Hi guys, I had to take an unexpected break from blogging.  There are multitude of reasons but they all sum up to "mental refreshment break".  There were too many balls in the air and trying to produce productive blog posts while being scattered is much harder than it seems.

I hope you all enjoyed your MLK holiday break and are equally enjoying the stupid weather.  I know I am. /sarcasm

At any rate, in case I haven't mentioned it, I am in a production here in MD called "I hate Hamlet".  We're coming into the end of the rehearsal period and gearing up for what's looking like a very funny show.  If you're in the Bowie, MD area - come see it!

This week was additionally stressful because I had some followup on the TTC front and I'm super nervous about the results.  All the changes to be more healthy are for me, but they are slow going.  I am hoping that when we officially begin trying again things are quickly and wholly successful, so finding out there is a problem now scares me. 

All that aside, I will say I'm pretty pleased with the changes in my life.  The only thing I realized today was that you can still have too many calories going in even if they are healthy calories.  I am working on managing that issue.  I didn't realize I was drinking so many calories throughout the day!Are any of you taking the 21 day challenge with me?  Tomorrow will be the 2 week check-in post.  Let's see who is still playing from home.  I'll also be sharing some tips and tricks I've accumulated over the past 14 days.

Oh! I almost forgot!  Monday I started on my master bedroom project.  I had to stop halfway through (I hurt my back) but the small progress I've already made is amazing!  My goal this weekend will be to get through the second portion of the "Keep - Toss" section before moving into the organization of what's left.  Then I will tackle the closet and bathroom respectively. 

By Spring, it will be clean.  (Hopefully sooner as I have a ton of other projects I'd like to tackle as well!)  The next step will be finishing the garage (which may happen first if the weather keeps being naughty) and then painting the few areas that haven't yet been painted.

Whew - I'm worn out already!  But it's good and I hope you'll enjoy the 2015 ride with me.

Happy Thursday!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Soapbox moment: The media today

If you live in the DC area, you surely have heard about the situation on the Metro yesterday.  If not, I'll give you the short recap:
"Around 3:30 January 12th, 2014, the platform at L'Enfant Plaza began to fill with smoke from an unknown location.  It billowed so quickly that the people on the platform and in the train cars in the station were unable to leave immediately.  The people on the platforms and in the station were able to leave first but those in the train cars were trapped for some time before finally leaving the cars and walking through the station up to the street level.  Sadly, roughly 80 people were affected by the seemingly toxic smoke.  Some were unconscious, some were violently ill, and two remain in critical condition in local hospitals.  One unfortunate woman died shortly after emergency services got her to the hospital.  As of this morning, the explanation for the event was an electrical fire."
See - that's how you report an event.  The facts that you actually know.  No need to brow beat in how sad this was or how scared people were.  In fact, if they hadn't been scared THAT would have been worth reporting.  "One man said he didn't see what the big deal was, he had his charcoal mask handy and was able to resume his book by the light of his cell phone flashlight app.  He assumes the rest of the riders were simply weak."  Sure you need to tell us how it will affect traffic and why your commute may suck for a few days.  It's important to know what city officials plan to do to correct the situation and aid the injured.  You can even talk about progress within the Metro system since the last major event and ideas for better preparedness in the future.  But with a tone of sharing information and knowledge, not like the host of the latest fright night show.

I have about had it with the sensationalism.  There are stories that need reporting.  Facts that should be shared.  As a reporter for a NEWS show, you have a responsibility to stow your opinions and colorful descriptors.  Don't speculate unless you're on a talk show or comedy pundit review.  Don't make jokes about the events that shape a nation in small steps.  Spend more time on the positive and less harping on the negative, unless you plan to follow it with a solution!

If every news channel is going to treat their reporting as an editorial talkshow - a current events version of TMZ - then stop calling yourself news channels.  Find a new name... like "Neighborhood gossip" or "The Bridge Club".

That's all I'm going to say, but honestly - take a hard look at where you are getting your information these days and the people delivering it.  Hold them to a higher standard.  If we don't, no one will.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Back to the House...Master Bedroom!

Y’all, I’m not gonna lie.  After the move, I’ve come to realize a cold hard fact:  I have a lot of crap in my master bedroom.  I’ve done pretty well paring down and organizing everywhere else, but my master bedroom has been my secret stash spot.  After all if “it’s personal” I should get to keep it, right?  Only…now that I have this large spacious room, I don’t want to keep it all.  I want it organized and pretty.
But figuring out what to lose and what to keep has never been my strong point.  I’m paranoid.  I like to keep it all just in case.  Preparation will save us in the end, right?!  Err…right…so… I started looking for some plans to figure out how I’m going to revamp my bedroom.

Jan 19th is a holiday, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, but I’ll likely spend it locked in my bedroom making much needed changes – so I need a plan!  Expect a recap post with pictures once it's all said and done. 

Step 1: Find a place and put away non-clothing items

This link, Organize a Cluttered Master Bedroom, has a lot of really great tips on getting started.  It’s more geared towards general cleaning but the takeaways I like are:
1: Bring a trash can into the bedroom
2. Divide the bed into keep in the bedroom and put away elsewhere in the house sections
3. Work from the floor up.  (This is important.  In the past when I’ve decluttered,  I used the floor as the sorting / dumping ground but as it has much more space, it can be overwhelming.  Having limited space to put things as you sort forces you to consider discarding more.  Also, as you clean the room really feels lighter when there aren’t piles on the floor.)

Step 2: Organize clothing in respective locations

I am a planner, so one of the things I like to do is make a drawing or list of the various areas and storage spaces I have available to me.  Then I designate, in general, what will go in each of these spaces.  For instance:

-          Dresser will have underwear and loungewear. 

-          Chest of drawers will have swimsuits, socks / hose, specialty undergarments, and “work around the house clothing”.

-          Closet will have main wardrobe, shoes, accessories, and season specific clothing.

So, after I’ve figured out where all the general stuff that needs putting away should go, working on those areas require a separate plan.  I like the tips Organized Home has to share.  If I utilize the same plan from above and section off the bed for each of the respective clothing storage spaces, then I can see just how much of a certain item I have and can put it away accordingly.  Likewise, it gives a real view of “You have too many socks that you never wear.  Get rid of half of them, now.”  versus “You honestly only have 10 pairs of underwear?  No wonder you do so much laundry.”  Instead of a trashcan, a Goodwill or Salvation Army bag (and list) could be your standby for giving things away.  If the drawer for t-shirts simply can’t hold more than 20, you have to give the rest away.  Pick your favorites and, as Elsa says, let it go.

Step 3: Get Specific in each area

OK, so you have things sorted generally into piles.  It’s time to get specific as things are put away.
With the non-clothing items:  Once sorted, take everything that goes in a room other than your bedroom (let’s say the office for example) and put it in a laundry basket or container, bring it to the office and put it all away.  That way you can’t get distracted on multiple trips and by putting it away so you can reuse the container you’re not just shifting stuff from room to room.   Don’t do multiple rooms at the same time.  It can get confusing and distracting.  Once you’re done, only the items that belong in your bedroom should be left.  If you can put them away (because you have a designated storage space already) then do so, if not put them in the laundry basket for now. 

The bedroom requires necessities be within reach and a pattern of living must be respected.  If things you need regularly are stored across the room or in the closet, that seems silly, instead look for a pattern of where you need items to be on a consistent basis.
With the clothing items:  Take each storage space individually and plan out the usage in detail. Don’t just shove stuff in drawers or in the closet unless you want to be super frustrated when you’re rushing to get ready in the morning.  This example from Home Storage Solutions on organizing the Master Bedroom Closet is a great use of this idea.

Once you’re done with this, there is one last step.  You’ve removed clutter and organized, but now it’s time for the coup de grace.  Cleaning your now neat and planned space.  Dust and debris will take away from the real accomplishment you’ve made, right?  Check out About Home’s cleaning plan.  It’s brilliant!  The main gist of it is that every surface should get a cleaning. Sweep, mop, vacuum, strip linens, dust, clean off the draperies, wipe down the fan blades and really enjoy your haven.
After all this, it will be a well-earned relaxation!

Step 4: Redecorating for the best bedroom ever... to be continued.  This will be a much more involved decorating post and I feel like this first section is overwhelming enough.  Plus, I'm still curating pictures.


Wednesday, January 7, 2015

2015 Mental Survival Kit

Since this year is all about improving oneself, I want to make sure we all have tools to help with this.  Today, here is the first piece - getting your head together.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

CLIP: January 2015 21 Day Challenge

So it's January and I figured we'd start with a simple challenge (Hah!) regarding discipline.  This challenge is food related, so the first question everyone has asked me is "How much am I supposed to lose on this?"  Well, there's no specific answer to that because that's not what the challenge is about.  Mind you, it's almost a guaranteed result for most people, but since it's not the specific intent there's no definitive answer.  The point of the exercise is to challenge yourself to give up a list of edible indulgences and implement some generally healthy habits for 21 days.

Now, as with all the challenges, the week following the challenge is your week to relax and let go of the restrictions.  You can review the previous 21 days and decide if you want to keep any of your new routine and habits long term.  Even if continuing the changes is not for you, you can honestly say you've truly given it a try.  Perhaps you'll have ideas to adapt the challenge and apply it to your life in a way that WILL work or at a minimum learned new things about yourself.  The potential benefits of each challenge are endless and all in what you choose to do with them.

So the first challenge is (and this is what I'm calling it, nothing official):
Cut it Out!

As you can see I'm starting this Jan 10th, so it can end at the end of the month and give you the first month of February off.  Also, there are several holidays in this time frame so you can have more time to work this challenge at home... away from the general public... cause you might be grumpy at times.
I will.
At any rate, I'm excited to see if I can actually DO this.  Giving up white bread, chips, soda, juice, ice cream is a piece of cake for me.  Mmm....cake... yeah so it's the cake, cookies, and chocolate along with the not eating within 3 hours of bedtime that are going to kick my rear end.  But if I can do this for 21 days then it gives me a serious leg up on continuing to control my sugar intake (one of my personal battles).  Each of us will be different.  Some people look at this list and say, I can give up any of that - no problem.  But can you do it for 21 days straight?  It's much longer than you realize.  It requires planning to make sure you eat at consistent times or you end up going to bed later than you'd like.  Fruits and Veggies require regular grocery visits, cleaning and preparation.  If you can't have soda or juice, what will you have?  I am giving up Iced Tea in lieu of soda and juice, as I don't drink them now, but I'm good with just having flavored water.
So here you go, your first challenge for 2015.  Are you in?

Monday, January 5, 2015

2015: Challenging Oneself or CLIP

Welcome to 2015 here at Fortunately The Next Day!  Instead of getting wrapped up in resolutions and such, we’re just going to use this year to plunge into things.  2015 will be the year of “Challenging Oneself”.
2015: Challenging Life Improvements with Purpose (CLIP)
Challenge number 1: Money Plans!  First thing will be starting all the necessary savings accounts for the end of the year – Christmas, travel, etc.  To do this, I’m going to use the 52 week challenge to save the money.  Week 1: $52; Week 2: $51; Week 3: $50 and so forth until the final week is a dollar.  Well at least that’s the basic plan, I think once I get down to 20 bucks, I’ll just hold at that number and put in 20 dollars every week until the final week.  That should leave a healthy Christmas fund.  I’m hoping DH will agree to do a similar fund and we might even be able to squeeze in a little trip.  Who knows?  I have also wondered about doing something similar to this with my 401k. (I can hear the financial planning sorts freaking out over the internet!)  I said might, guys!  I have to see if it would make a big difference in our available funds.  After all this year is going to be costly for us, which leads to our…

Challenge number 2: Operation TTC is back on!  And it’s not cheap.  So around April, I want to have enough saved up to start the processes again without worry.  This will involve not using my tax refund for anything else.  (Which will be hard because we want to replace the deck with composite and do some fixes in the basement.)  I’m praying that things go much better this time since I am working hard already on…

Challenge number 3: My health!  This year will be getting back on track with my weight, sleep schedule and exercise in general.  No more excuses or wallowing in guilt or grief.  Life is passing me by and I want to enjoy it, not endure it.  So the starting step in this will be the monthly health challenges I will post about here.  I will also be on searches for healthy recipes that the kids will also eat.  The funniest comment from the teenage boy over the holidays was during dinner when vegetables were served, “Are we on a diet?”  I replied no.  “Then why are we eating vegetables?”  I am on a mission to change the family outlook (well mostly the stepkids) that vegetables are only for the dieting.  Less junk and sugar in 2015!  I am going to also include exercise and sleep challenges over the next 12 months.  It’s easy to develop bad habits in many areas but only focus correcting one or two.  Health is so much more than a number on a scale or calories burned.  Which leads to…
Challenge number 4:  Improving Mental, Spiritual, and Emotional Well Being!  I separated this from general health because it’s a more delicate and personal area for each of us.  This will involve committing time to specific people in your life dedicated only to connecting with those people; enriching your mental sharpness; and lastly but most important of all the rest – adding daily focus time for spiritual growth and maintenance.  For me this means spending more time with people I love one on one.  It also means working my graphic design business purposefully and possibly taking some classes (if there is time).  Lastly, I plan to take time every day and revive my "Chats with God".

Four challenges for 2015 – not goals or resolutions.  Goals and resolutions are things you can fail to achieve and then cause a domino effect of emotions that usually don’t help.  Challenges are ongoing opportunities to try again and improve on your last performance.  If week one is a struggle, week two can only get better and easier, right?  By the end of the year, these challenges will be less about the struggle and more about satisfaction in oneself for perservering!
So let’s go 2015!

Now that I've posted the first challenge for 2015, I'm sharing a blank challenge card for you to use.  If you want to create your own personal challenges vice the ones I'm posting, here's a tool to help.