Top 5 Habits of Organized People

Top 5 Habits of Organized People

Have you found it to be harder to stay organized these days? I used to think I was an organized person. I developed a plan and worked the plan to accomplish my goal. But lately, I find that I’ve been falling into habits that sabotage my efforts to get things done efficiently.

Ever wondered how some people stay a lot more organized than others? Well, the secret is habits!

Those who appear to have it all together tend to follow the same habits day after day. They aren’t born super-organized, it’s a skill that can be learned by absolutely anyone. So, what are these habits you should be doing to make your life more organized?

Keep reading to discover the top 5 habits of organized people you can adopt today.

  1. Write everything down

In order to be organized, you either need to have an extremely good memory, or you need to start writing things down!

You’ll notice one of the main traits of an organized person, is that they appear to remember everything. They never miss sending out greeting cards on time, they’re always early and they know exactly what needs to be done and when it needs to be done. So, do these people just have a better memory than you? No! They simply make sure they write everything down.

I have notebooks for everything! I’m almost embarrassed to admit how much I write down. I have a performance planner for my business that directs what I plan to do each day. It also keeps me motivated by helping me realize how much I have accomplished and how to feel good about it.

My everyday notebook is where I “dump” everything – things I need to remember to do, bright ideas of projects to develop later, or household tasks I need to do. Then at a time when I have some time, I go back through the day’s entries and do something with them, such as move to a specific list for taking action later or take action now.  

So, start making lists for your shopping and always mark down important times and dates. It’s also better to write them down physically, rather than saving them as a note on your smartphone or tablet. While it may be more convenient to digitally make a note of things, it’s actually not as effective as having physical notes.

  1. They have a set routine

Another habit organized people have is a set routine. If you’re a parent, you’ll know just how important routine is when it comes to setting good habits for your kids. It’s exactly the same with adults too.

Just because we’re older, it doesn’t mean we don’t need a regular routine to keep ourselves happy and healthy. Organized people know this, and they use it to their advantage. They have a routine for everything, not just for bedtime or exercise. For example, they’ll also set aside 10 minutes each day to carry out specific chores or tasks.

One of the good things about setting routines is that you don’t have to exert energy making decisions about what to do. Setting a morning and evening routine can help set the tone for your day and help you end it relaxed for a good night’s sleep.

For example, my morning starts with what I call a “vitamin cocktail”, a blend of water and orange juice with polyphenols, flaxseed oil, vitamin B12, curcumin and vitamin C. It actually tastes very good! Then I have a quiet time of meditation. I read a passage in the Bible daily and listen to soothing audio tracks. Then, I map out my day and what I need to accomplish.

So, if you’re looking to become more organized, getting into a routine is going to prove crucial to your success. Developing habits of organization help you accomplish your goals.

  1. They create schedules and goals

Those who are organized don’t waste any time at all. They schedule their time and set goals to work towards. What’s more, they don’t stop until they achieve them.

When you have a schedule, you know exactly what you need to do and when it needs to be done by. This reduces the risk you’ll miss anything important. It’s important to remember that when you are making goals, you’ll need to make them as short as possible to ensure they’re achievable.

For example, you want to become more organized, so that’s your main goal. However, there’s a lot of smaller goals you need to reach before you can achieve the overall goal. So, start by writing your main goals, then work on splitting them down so you have a clear idea of the smaller tasks you need to work on in order to achieve them.

  1. They don’t put anything off

Do you tend to put things off for as long as possible? Organized people don’t! To an organized person, their motto is “Why put off something until tomorrow when it can be done today”. This simple rule can help you to become so much more organized.

Sometimes when I find myself putting something off, it’s because I don’t see a way to address the issue. If I simply stop and quietly think about what needs to be done and how to do it, a plan emerges that can efficiently get it done.

If you want your life to be much less stressful, getting things done as quickly as possible is sure to help. So, stop procrastinating and start getting things done.

  1. They know when to seek help

Finally, out of the many habits organized people have, knowing when to ask for help is a crucial one.

These days, it’s common to feel like you need to do everything by yourself. Social media has played a large role in making people feel like they need to be super human. You should be able to easily juggle your work, family, financial and social life without any help from anyone else. It’s a myth! Organized people know when to ask for help in order to maximize their time.

This is probably the hardest habit for me to develop. I’ve always relied on myself to do everything. I grew up thinking self-sufficiency was a most admirable goal. However, I am learning that people are very willing to share what they know with you. It feels good to help someone else. So, give people a chance to help you and let them feel good about themselves.

These are just 5 habits organized people have. While there are many more, if you focus on developing these habits, you’re going to become a lot more organized.

5 Ways to Boost Your Inner Peace

5 Ways to Boost Your Inner Peace

I don’t know about you, but my inner peace has been a bit shaky lately. It’s as if I’m living in some kind of Twilight Zone. It’s difficult to have inner peace when everything around you and the world is in chaos. But there are things we can do to nurture our inner peace amid the lack of outer peace.

Inner peace means being fully present in the now, not the past or the future. While it may be hard to come by in this day and age of uncertainty, conflict and fear, there are ways to obtain a state of serenity. Below are five solid ways to boost your inner peace. Like most things, they won’t work unless you apply them to your life. Maybe only one is what you need to strengthen your inner peace. But taken and applied in combination multiplies the effects on your sense of well-being.

  1. Exercise

Inner peace is the absence of stress and anxiety. According to the Mayo Clinic, exercise in almost any form can act as a stress reliever.

 Exercise is one of the best ways to change your mental state to one of positivity. You don’t have to run a marathon to reap the benefits of physical activity either! Any type of movement will provide you with a greater sense of peace.

This can include practicing yoga and the breathing techniques that accompany the poses, going for a walk in nature and appreciating the smell of the flowers and the hum of insects and birds, or the waves crashing on the sand at the beach. However, you may enjoy a more vigorous workout as well, such as a spin class or running sprints.

I have to admit this is not been my choice for restoring inner peace. I am aware of the fact that any movement done on a regular basis can help you in so many ways. I do ride my incumbent bike daily, but I am motivated more by preparing my knees for a quicker recovery from upcoming knee replacement surgery.

  1. Set Healthy Boundaries

Boundaries help us take care of ourselves physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Healthy boundaries help us maintain a positive sense of self, trusting who we are and not allowing others to define us.

These are difficult times for setting and abiding by boundaries. The current necessity of social distancing makes this tip probably the most difficult to manage. According to news reports, we as a nation are indulging in mindless eating of junk foods, as if we will have no tomorrow for which we are accountable. According to reported shortages of flour in grocery stores, we must be baking bread as if we will be unable to purchase it. And projected meat shortages make this the perfect time to add more plant-based protein to our diets.

But letting the current life situation define our daily existence makes it all the more important for us to think about the healthiest ways to live through the pandemic crisis and to employ personal boundaries to make that happen for us.

  1. Socialize and Connect With Others

A Harvard study done by Dr. Robert Waldinger suggests that “meaningful relationships are a prescription for better emotional, mental and physical health.” 

 There has been over eight decades of research, among 700 men who were teenagers in 1930s (and over 60 men who are still participating in their 90’s) which shows that:

  • social connections appear to be good for health
  • loneliness appears to be toxic
  • relationship quality matters
  • good relationships appear to protect our brains 

There are a number of ways to strengthen connections to others, such as making new friends (by volunteering or joining a club, for example) and working to improve existing relationships with family and friends.

However, this way to inner peace has been denied to us in many ways. Social distancing is the current norm. And we long for the social contact that feeds our souls. Being apart from my family is excruciating and I’m sure it is for many others. We are forced to find less than satisfying ways to remain connected.

  1. Journal

Daily writing can help with organizing and processing your thoughts, clearing your mind and facilitating problem-solving. According to an article published by Michigan State University, journaling can act as an emotional release/escape and help you obtain clarity and rid you of negative thoughts.

I have been keeping a daily gratitude journal for over a year now. At the end of each day, I write five things I am grateful for, starting each sentence with “I am grateful for”. This has probably been the single most impactful way I’ve been able to cope with trying times. Simply recognizing my blessings invites more peaceful sleep and a feeling that everything will be all right at some point.

  1. Meditate (which may include more traditional meditation methods or calling on one’s faith to sustain us through prayer)

According to medicinenet.com, “a simple technique practiced for as few as 10 minutes per day can help you control stress, decrease anxiety, improve cardiovascular health, and achieve a greater capacity for relaxation”. Meditation produces a state of deep internal relaxation, regardless of what is going on externally.

My daily devotional time in the morning is of indeterminable value to me. If I miss a day, I feel as though I’ve lost something more valuable than the short time involved. 

Establishing inner peace can also have a positive ripple effect, spreading peace to others. When we are acting from a place of serenity, we are kind, generous, patient, and compassionate. We are less quick to judge and take offense.

We find joy in connecting with others and in turn, others act in a similar way. When we find inner peace, we help contribute to a better world! “Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin in me.”

Roots: Chapter 1

In a previous post entitled Roots and Wings, I spoke of Henry Ward Beecher’s beautiful quote, “there are only two lasting bequests we can hope to give our children. One of these is roots…the other wings”. The roots of my childhood made me who I am today. This post addresses those roots and how they are reflected in my current home.

I have many tangible examples of those roots throughout my home. I really did not realize how much my home was filled with these items until I began to list and take note of them. Some have been updated to fit in my personal style. Others are displayed as sentimental reminders of special family members on both sides of our families.

As I chronicle the expression of my personal roots through items in my home, I will be revealing them categorically by the room in which they are found. In this post, I am sharing general items that reflect my (and sometimes my husband’s) roots, which include doors, items in hallway and porch posts.

Welcome to me and

my home as you enter

through the front door.

Welcome to me and my home as you enter through the front door. Even as a child, I thought the exterior doors of our home were especially beautiful. They were finished with an almost black tar-like substance, which also covered many of the pieces of furniture. I did not realize how pervasive this finish was until I began to refinish the doors. 

The front door of my current home was also the front door of my childhood home. From what I know about my grandparents and when they were married, I assume my childhood home was built in the early 1900s. Therefore, I imagine this door was made prior to 1920.

I love the detail and design of the door. The outside has raised carvings and a small ledge just below the glass. I wish I could remember when I refinished it, but I’m sure it was long before we built my current home. My guess is that would be approximately 50 years ago, probably just before or soon after my wedding.

I do remember it took hours of scraping off the tar-like finish. It took many coats of paint remover and hour upon hour of sanding, which was all done by hand. The wood turned out to be a reddish-brown color, most likely permanently stained by the original finish that had been applied to it. So, I left it the color that emerged and simply applied some type of oil to protect the wood. I’m not sure what I originally used, but now I occasionally wipe it down with Danish or teak oil.

This door became the front door of my home in the mid-’90s during the first remodel of our home. I commissioned a local artist who created stained glass items to design, create and install a new glass insert. We also installed a lock. None of the doors in my childhood home had locks. We never even thought about locking a door. The porch doors had a simple latch that was used mainly to keep the screen doors from blowing open by the wind. But we seldom secured them.

When we built our home, our front door was a double door. When we changed to this single front door, we installed sidelights to fill the remaining space. The local artist also created matching glass inserts for the sidelights.

I love the imperfection

in those doors…

a reminder of the

imperfection in all

of us.

These double doors are the entrance to the study. In my childhood home, they were exterior doors near my parent’s bedroom, opening onto the left side of the large wrap-around porch. They also were finished with the black tar-like substance on the exterior side of the doors.

However, unlike the front door, I paid a furniture refinisher to remove the original finishes. An interesting fact I discovered afterward was that one of the doors was originally installed backward. If you look closely in the picture, you can see that the molding on the panels of one of the doors is raised and it is inset on the other door. Apparently, when they were first hung, one of them was installed backward! I don’t think my parents or grandparents ever recognized that fact. And I don’t think I would have recognized it had it not been for the removal of the original finish, exposing the wood in its natural state. But I love the imperfection in those doors, making them all the more dear to me – a reminder of the imperfection in all of us.

 I commissioned the same artist who created the glass insert for the front door to create matching glass inserts for these doors to replace the original plain glass.

You had to go

 

through this door

 

onto the porch

 

to get to the kitchen.

The above door was an interior door in my childhood home. It opened from the hallway that connected the front entrance with the back porch. You had to go through this door onto the porch to get to the kitchen. In the wintertime, it was a very cold trek through this door onto the porch and to the kitchen. But the hallways were also unheated, so there was a lot of rushing to get from one heated room to another!

This door needed a lot less work to refinish. Since it was an interior door, it did not have the tar-like finish on either side. However, it was not tall enough to fit the exterior door opening in my home (from study to the side of the wrap-around porch). So, my contractor, who was my next-door neighbor, added about 6 inches of wood to the bottom, which I stained to match the door and had covered with a brass kickplate on both sides. Unless you examined the door very closely, you would never know it had been altered from its original state.

I requested that

particular post be 

placed at the front 

entrance and the 

words of  its origin

kept unpainted.

The above picture illustrates something I really treasure. When my childhood home was torn down, my father saved the front porch posts. When we remodeled the exterior of my home in the mid-’90s, we added a wrap-around porch and used those original posts. As we examined the posts to pick out the least damaged ones, we found an inscription on one of them where the paint had worn off. It read “Lilley Bros. Williamston, NC”. Those porch posts and I assume all the lumber and doors in my childhood home, had been cut at a sawmill owned and operated by three brothers, one of which was my great-grandfather! What an exciting find!

 When the posts were added to my new front porch, I requested that particular post be placed at the front entrance and the words of its origin kept unpainted.

 Also, the porch posts were too short for my porch, so we had to add a block of wood at the bottom, which we hid with molding. As with the side exterior door, you would never know the entire post was not original.

 

 

 

 

The shelves were

originally one long

board that was

13.5″ wide and 

almost 2″ thick.

The above bookshelf needs a detailed explanation, partly because I want to record what I can remember about its origin and partly because I want my children and grandchildren to know the story.

 There were many barns on our farm, and they were named according to their use. The Mule Barn, of course, was home to our mules. I can remember having seven mules. I can only remember the names of two of them, Molly and Big Red. During the day, they roamed and grazed in the “lot”, which was fenced off behind the house and barns. There was no fence on the back side of the lot, because it was naturally fenced by a creek.

In the evening, my grandfather would open the gate to allow the mules to go into their stalls in the barn. They would first stop at the water trough, which was the front of the pump house (this housed the water pump for the entire home). My grandfather and I would stand between the water trough and the road to direct the mules into their stalls. But each mule knew where to go, and they would obediently enter their assigned stall after a long drink of water.

My grandfather and I would then lock the doors of the stalls and climb the stairs to the upper loft of the barn where peanut hay was stored in bales. We opened the bales and dropped the hay into holes in the floor. The mules then ate it from triangular-shaped, slatted bins in their own stalls. In the morning, we would reverse the process by opening the gate and then the stall doors and the mules stopped by the water trough on the way to the lot for the day.

Now, to get back to the bookshelf in the picture. In the first stall on the left side of the barn was a long trough at the front of the stall. Although the details are a bit fuzzy in my mind, I think we put additional hay in it for the mules.

So, many years later, my husband and I removed the thick heavy board that was the front of that mule trough. It was so thick and heavy that we needed a chainsaw to cut it out.

We made this bookshelf from that piece of wood. The shelves were originally one long board that was 13.5 inches wide and almost 2 inches thick. Although I sanded and sanded the board, it never got completely smooth, because I assume it was rough-hewn. So, I’m guessing that particular piece of lumber was cut in the early days of the brother’s sawmill.

We used black industrial pipe and flange fittings to create the unit. Although we are happy with the results, especially being able to save that historic piece of lumber, it was not as easy as we thought it might be!

 

 

It was originally

the stair railing

of the home

in which my

father-in-law grew up.

When we built our home, we had this special stair railing installed. It was originally the stair railing of the home in which my father-in-law grew up. I love how smooth it feels to run my hand down it as I descend the stairs. And it means a lot to know our home has historic roots for my husband as well as me.

I realize this was a long post, but I wrote it for myself and my children and grandchildren. The My Home page of my blog is where I chronicle my story starting with my historical roots and going through the planning and building of my home and the many changes I’ve made to it to its current status.

3 Things to Watch Out for When Buying Healthy Snack Bars and 4 Recommended Snack Bars

3 Things to Watch Out for When Buying Healthy Snack Bars and 4 Recommended Snack Bars

Did you know those healthy snack bars you’ve been consuming might not be very “healthy” at all?

It’s common to assume they’re healthier than traditional granola or cereal bars, making them a good, easy switch for some of your fatty or salty snacks. However, while health food snack bars may seem like a great idea, most are anything but healthy!

If you’re worried about getting a health bar that may be just as bad for you as other snack bars on the market, consider looking for warning signs. Here are a few to watch out for the next time you’re buying healthy snack bars.

Sodium

One of the first things to look for when you’re buying healthy snack bars is the sodium count.

Remember that high sodium intake can cause water retention. This in turn can lead to weight gain and bloating. If you’re eating a snack bar that is organic and healthy, the sodium count should not be that high.

If it seems very high to you, then it is likely sodium found in preservatives and not in the ingredients of the food itself.

Sugar

Sugar content can be very high in certain healthy snack bars. The problem with this is, most people don't tend to look at the sugar content.

It’s worth keeping in mind, some sugars are natural and come from the fruit contained within the snack bar. So, if you have a fruit bar versus a nut bar, then you will likely see more sugars. The sugar should come from naturally sweet ingredients, not added sugars.

If you are buying a bar that is nut-based, as well as high in protein and oats, you’ll likely want to consider it a warning sign if there’s a very high amount of sugars.

Consider this – one can of cola contains approximately 40 grams of sugar. If you are staying away from sugary drinks because of the sugar content, and the snack bar that is supposed to be healthy contains around the same amount, it is probably not a good sign.

Flavorings

Flavorings are a dead giveaway that your healthy snack bar isn't exactly healthy.

Ideally, it should have natural flavors and natural colors. When you see additives like artificial flavorings, it’s a warning sign that what’s in the bar is not necessarily as healthy as you might think.

Ideally, the best healthy snack bar is the one you make at home. You can control the ingredients, add only the things you want in the bars, as well as control the quantity. If you go down this route, remember to get everything as fresh as possible and be sure it’s not overly processed.

Real Simple recommends these four snack bars as being the most healthy and also taste good. I cannot attest to the taste because I haven’t tried all of them. Also, consider that these are snack bars, not meal replacement bars. Look at the size before you buy. Most are very small because they were designed to be a snack and therefore have fewer calories

  1. Health Warrior Chia Bars actually have chia seeds as the first ingredient listed, which is a good sign. Chia seeds have proven health benefits and the bars also include plant-based Omega-3 fatty acids and fiber. You can get them HERE.
  2. KIND Dark Chocolate Nuts & Sea Salt are great if you like extra crunchy. I have tried these and love the flavors. They feature heart-healthy nuts and a small drizzle of chocolate. Click HERE to find these.
  3. RXBar Coffee Chocolate is the next recommended snack bar. The extra sugar in these is naturally-occurring and comes mostly from the dates. These bars, except for ones with peanut butter are Whole30 compliant. You can find a variety pack HERE.
  4. GoMacro Granola and Coconut bars are the final recommended healthy snack bar. Their plant-based ingredients are sourced from organic and non-GMO certified growers. Click HERE for these bars.

Of course, the healthiest snack bars are homemade. If you are interested in a few recipes for healthy snack bars, comment below and let me know. I have tried several that I think are good.

Fix Your Brain – Fix Your Habits – Fix Your Life

Fix Your Brain – Fix Your Habits – Fix Your Life

How happy are you with your life? Did you know that anything that isn’t making you jump for joy can be fixed or changed? The key, however, is that only YOU hold that power to make your life joyous. It’s not up to your spouse, kids, parents, or boss. You are the only one in complete control of your life, so you deserve to live the life of your dreams.

It has been one year since global lockdowns began. You would think that would seem like a tremendously long time for all we have been through. And for some of you, it may have been. For me, it seems as though I was stuck in “Groundhog Day”, the movie where we live the same day over and over. After a while, you don’t even know what day it is. It stagnates the mind.

Mindset and mindfulness are buzz words we hear a lot about. They refer to those learned attitudes we hold about absolutely anything. We have a money mindset, a career mindset; in a business setting, you’ll hear terms like ‘fixed’ or ‘growth’ mindset. Starting with a mindset that works for you is certainly important to how we perceive life and being mindful of how we think affects what we get from life.

To make real and lasting changes in our lives, embrace the development of tiny habits.  Tiny habits combine over a period of time become automatic habits that we don’t have to think about. These automatic habits compound into many small successes, which can also help change our mindset. It’s a huge cycle but one which can be changed at any point.

How to Add Tiny Habits to Your Day

Since every person’s goals will be different, so will every person’s tiny habit choices. These are just a few ideas and certainly not a comprehensive list. Choose whichever tiny habits make you happy and more fulfilled (and moving toward your goals) and continue building on those.

To begin, decide what exactly makes you unhappy then think of a resolution. Now, what is one small thing you can do to start to change the situation? It’s not enough to just THINK about a resolution; you must then take action. Creating tiny habits one at a time will change your life.

Some general tiny habits that anyone can add to their routines include: meditation, yoga, cardio exercise, writing a gratitude journal, journal about all areas of your life or your goals, listening to empowering podcasts, praying, and healthy eating.

If you’re specifically unhappy at work:

  • Spend 5 minutes a day looking for a new job; apply for a new position inside your current company; rewrite your resume; seek a mentor for advice; get active with business networking groups; upgrade your skillset; write down a daily work goal and cross it off the list when achieved.

If you’re unhappy with your relationships:

  • Start venturing out with groups of friends; reconnect daily with spouse or partner; go on regular date nights where you don’t talk about work or kids; try a new hobby or activity together; reconnect with old friends or family members.

If you’re unhappy spiritually:

  • Start keeping a Bible planner, such as My Bible Planner (click to see); create a meditative morning and evening routine; spend time every day doing self-care routines; seek advice from religious or spiritual leaders; listen to spiritual podcasts or music; volunteer to help the less fortunate.

As you can see, there’s no magic wand that can change your level of happiness. It’s up to you to take the action and to implement these tiny steps toward your ultimate goals. Need a system to work through this process of creating tiny habits to change your life? Here’s an excellent book that helps you define the exact process that works for you – Tiny Habits: The Small Changes That Change Everything by B.J. Fogg. You can do this! Time to get your life on track and come out of the fog (no pun intended, B.J.) of pandemic shutdown.

New Habits Take Willpower

New Habits Take Willpower

All you need to create a new habit is willpower.

No – willpower won’t get you there! In fact, I’ve found that willpower always fails me in the end. It’s hard to keep up willpower for any length of time. Yes, we can stick to a low-fat 1,000 calorie diet and go hungry for a week or two, but eventually, our willpower fades. And yes, we can do exercise we hate for a while… until we run out of willpower.

But what about getting up to take the kids to school every morning, brushing our teeth, or going to work every day. Those may not be our favorite things to do either, but we do them daily without the risk of running out of willpower. That’s because they have become habits. They are so ingrained in what we do and who we are that we do them without even considering skipping a day or a week. We don’t have to make a conscious decision each day to shower or drive to work. It’s just what we do – a habit.

When you start to think about it, there is an inverse relationship between habits and willpower. When you first want to build a new habit, it takes a lot of willpower to get it done day in and day out. As you start to establish that habit, it becomes easier and easier to do until you don’t even have to think about it anymore. Just being aware of this process helps us stick it out.

While we’re in that transition from willpower to habit, we can use tools to make it easier. Use a to-do list or set a reminder to help stay on track. Find an accountability partner so the two of you can motivate each other and help bolster that willpower when it starts to fade after the first enthusiasm wears off. Even something as simple as laying out your running clothes the night before and keeping your sneakers by the door will make it a little easier to go out for that run.

And that’s the simple version of creating a new lifelong habit. There is much more to creating new habits that stick. And there are tools and hacks to help get you there. Stay tuned…

 

Mindfulness – It’s Not All in Your Mind

Mindfulness – It’s Not All in Your Mind

As much as many of us choose to overlook it, there is a lot wrong with the way most of us currently live our lives.

We sit in chairs all day long gaining weight, we eat processed foods and we face constant stresses from work, from our relationships, and from our finances.

What’s more, we are constantly in demand and constantly ‘plugged in’ and ‘stressed out’. Our phones are always ringing, texts are always coming in, we get a new e-mail every two minutes… And even when most of us aren’t working or being bothered, we have a near addiction to technology that means we’re still unable to really decompress.

And while our attention spans are not really shorter than a goldfish, it is not surprising that our attention has become more demanding. We are always demanding to be entertained as we flip from one video to another or one app to another.

And all this amid a raging pandemic.

Is it any wonder that mental health problems are skyrocketing?

Using mindfulness to escape modern stress is probably a big part of the reason that mindfulness is so popular right now. Mindfulness simply means directing attention in a purposeful manner. Sometimes this will mean focusing on our thoughts (in an objective and non-judgmental way) but in other cases, it will mean simply being more present and focusing on our breathing and our environments.

Either way, the idea of mindfulness is to enjoy calmness and stop the incessant chatter of our minds. Instead of being completely engaged with the world around you, we need to learn to disengage with your thoughts, providing you with relief from stress and from fear and allow you to simply relax and recover.

The opposite of mindfulness is mindlessness. How many times have you realized you devoured the entire bag of potato chips while binge-watching your favorite Netflix series? Or how many times have you suddenly asked yourself “where did my day go”? Often before bedtime, we can’t even remember what we did with our time during the day.

I realize the damaging toll the pandemic has made on our lives. Everyone has suffered in some way. How are we coping? For many, we have tried to escape the reality of it all through overeating, binging on Netflix, or staying glued to our phone or iPad screen.

There is a better way.

It starts with being aware that we are not being aware.

Boiled down to its essence, mindfulness is the observation of one’s own thoughts and emotions. In other words, it means stepping back and then simply being aware of what you’re feeling, what you’re thinking and what you are experiencing. This can then, in turn, be used to help treat a wide range of different psychological problems and to generally improve your psychological health.

The reason for this is that it brings more attention to the way that we handle various different events and to how our thoughts and emotions normally control us. This then in turn allows us to anticipate them, to deal with them, and ultimately to prevent them.

Mindfulness is a broad tool to be used in a number of different ways. In almost every scenario though, the true end goal is to be aware of the present moment and to find an inner calm that often eludes us.

Ready to work on your mindfulness? Start with Designing Your New Normal Mindset to guide you in defining your best state of mindfulness. Available now. Available HERE.

The 2021 Best Time to Buy Anything Calendar

The 2021 Best Time to Buy Anything Calendar

Sometime around the first of each year, I get stingy. Maybe it’s the fact that I overspent on Christmas gifts for my family, which seems to be a personal weakness of mine. Or maybe it’s that I subconsciously make a New Year’s resolution to be more thoughtful in my purchases. That means I plan to not get excited about every new trend that I’m sure will make my life easier and more enjoyable and therefore give in to my uncontrollable urge to buy it!

So, in my quest to be more frugal with money and at least make my purchases a “bargain”, I researched the best times of the year to buy just about anything. You know a bargain is not a bargain if you don’t need it. My husband always gets worried when I tell him how much money I saved on something! Of course, not purchasing something saves you even more!

If you actually plan purchases you need, there is little reason to purchase anything unless it’s on sale. Sales are an everyday occurrence. However, you can save a lot of money just by knowing when the lowest sale price for an item is most likely to happen. This is especially true for big-ticket items. 

I researched Consumer Reports for the best months to buy things. Consumer Reports is probably the most credible and least biased organization that reviews and rates products. I always check out their recommendations for buying big ticket items and many other things.

From this research, I compiled an annual calendar for The Best Time to Buy Anything. Holidays and annual sales drive many of the best times to purchase some items. For instance, the Consumer Electronics Show in January unveils many new models of electronics, which makes early January a good time to buy TVs, especially if you’re willing to consider older models. January is also known for white sales on bedding and linens.

The best use of the buying calendar is that it allows you to plan purchases, especially for expensive items.

You can get good deals on products at almost any time of the year, so you’ll see some of the same products listed in several months of the year. And clearance sales of some larger items occur several times a year, because retail stores need the space for newer inventory.

You can download your free copy of the 2021 Best Time to Buy Anything annual calendar here: https://vickiloves.me/2021BestTimeToBuy

 I hope you find it useful! Do you have anything to add? Comment below!

Three Simple Steps to Make 2021 Your Best Year Ever

Three Simple Steps to Make 2021 Your Best Year Ever

It’s something we’ve all been waiting for – the end of 2020. A new beginning – 2021! But is it? Exactly what do you expect to be different on January 1, 2021?

In 2020 the world changed, and we had no choice but to change. It was thrust upon us and there were lifestyle changes that we had to make to adapt to the new world around us. But did we thrive throughout this process? Or did we just survive?

What are your expectations for 2021? Something better? We need something to look forward to. We need to believe that our lives will be more within our control. 2020 was a year that continually spiraled out of control. And it made us feel out of control.

So, let’s consider our personal expectations for gaining – or regaining some semblance of control in our lives.

Do you make resolutions at the beginning of every new year? Why?

I don’t think I’ve ever made a New Year’s resolution at which I’ve actually succeeded. So, when you think about it, I have set myself up for failure every time I’ve resolved to make life changes. Every resolution I’ve declared had to do with something I wanted to change about myself. But change is evolutionary, not revolutionary. Let me say that again. Personal change is evolutionary, not revolutionary!

What does that mean in terms of our behavior? It all begins with our mindset. If we don’t change that, we have no chance of changing our actions. That doesn’t mean we have to do a 180, a complete turnaround of the way we’ve been thinking. But it does mean we need to be intentional with how we approach life and how we deal with circumstances and situations that make up our daily living.

First of all, let’s consider January 1, 2021, as just another day, like any other day. Change your mindset to see every day as a new beginning. Every day is a chance to make life better for ourselves and those around us.

Next, if we think there are changes we need to make in our lives, start with just one thing. Make it a little thing. And do it every day. Make it become second nature to you – make it a habit. That is setting yourself up for success, not failure. 

And finally, I propose that we start this new year being kinder to ourselves. Yes, be kind to yourself first. Because when you do, you are kinder to others. When you take care of yourself, you are in a position to take care of others. That is not being selfish. It is being considerate of others by treating yourself with kindness and respect, which in turn extends to others. It’s somewhat a twist of the Golden Rule of doing to others as you would have them do to you. Do good to yourself and then do good to others.

Need some ideas on how to implement this process?

If you need to start with simple changes to your mindset, I suggest my ecourse, Designing Your New Normal Mindset. It consists of easy activities to identify your current mindset and guide you to make mindset changes that work for you. Check it out here while still at introductory pricing!

If you need to keep up with progress on the one thing you are going to change about yourself, click and download my free gift to you, My One Thing Daily Habit Tracker. Keeping track of your progress helps ensure your success in developing habits that naturally become part of your daily life. (Your free tracker is interactive, so you can complete and save it online or print it out and complete it!)

If you think self-care is selfish, download my free report – Self-Care Hacks. And start treating yourself with the respect you deserve. That makes it second nature to extend the same kind of respect to others.

All my best to make 2021 a truly successful, joyful, and peaceful year for you!

Antique Quilt Projects

Antique Quilt Projects

I love beautiful quilts. Maybe it’s because my mother loved to quilt. It seemed as though she always had a quilt in some stage of creation. Everyone in the family, which included me and three sisters, our six children, and five grandchildren own at least one quilt Mama made. And anyone in the community who had a baby during the time she quilted was given a baby quilt lovingly created.

My sisters and I have many quilts that were made by our mother, grandmothers, great grandmothers, and great-great-grandmothers. We don’t know the origins of all of them, but each one is a treasure.

We grew up in a large old farmhouse with my parents and paternal grandparents. My mother and grandmother were both avid quilters, as were many members of the rural community in which we lived. Individuals would create a quilt top, sewing it either by hand or sewing machine, and then host a quilting.  A bottom layer of fabric, usually unbleached muslin was topped with cotton batting on which the quilt top was laid. All three layers were stretched taut in a quilting frame supported by four corner quilt stands just high enough to pull up a chair underneath the edge.

Neighborhood quilters worked side by side, quilting the area in front of them in a pattern decided upon by the host. As the quilting progressed, the finished area was rolled under so quilters could continue until the entire quilt was finished.

After removing the quilt from the frames, the quilt owner finished the edges herself. She usually folded the backing over the front edge of the quilt, turning under the raw edges and hand hemming it to complete the quilting process.

Hand quilting is hard. I have quilted a few quilts with my mother, but my work was never as good as hers. The stitches of a good quilter are short and even. While you stitch with one hand, you keep the other hand underneath the quilt so you can feel the needle pierce all layers of the quilt. Needless to say, pricked fingers were the norm, at least when I tried to quilt.

I have a set of quilting frames that were my mother’s, but I seriously doubt they will ever be used by me. I intend to simply appreciate the beautiful quilts I own and the hands that made them.

I love to cut up the most antique quilts I have and create items to give to family members. I want them to have a connection to their heritage and also learn to appreciate things created by previous generations.

While clearing out my mother-in-law’s house to sell following her death, we found several antique quilts. Since I never saw my mother-in-law or her mother quilt, I knew these quilts were very old, but I do not know who made them. So, the quilts must have been made by my husband’s great grandmothers or great-great grandmothers.

One of the quilts found was in colors of red, green, and white. Acknowledging its Christmas color combination, I made several things to be used as Christmas decorations and gifts for family members. Here is a list of possible projects to make and then the following video shows some of the items I actually made from this one quilt.

A few suggested quilt projects include:

  • Mantel garland of Christmas-related items, such as snowman, Christmas tree, stocking, mittens and triangular banners
  • Pillows, in the shape of a heart, bell, and larger representations of the items in the previously mentioned mantel garland
  • Wall hangings of portions of the quilt in an antique picture frame or old window frame
  • Wall hangings of quilt pieces stretched in old embroidery frames
  • Upholster the top of a stool or lid of a storage box with quilt pieces
  • Potholders
  • Coasters

In my recent YouTube video, I showed several projects that I made with this old quilt. I also included a download link for patterns to make the Christmas garland for my mantel. Check it out: Antique Quilt Projects –

https://youtu.be/bBjsmq3vaI4

To view items I made from this antique quilt, click on the first picture in the gallery below. Then click on the arrows on either side of the pictures to navigate from one picture to another.

Anything you make is a way to save and appreciate the beauty of antique quilts and the hard work that lovingly created them. If you are lucky enough to have antique quilts and know their origin, what a wonderful treasure to pass on to future generations. And creating small projects with them is a great way to share a piece of your quilt heritage with family members.

You are invited to subscribe to my YouTube channel at https://YouTube.com/c/herlifehacks. I continue to add videos related to home, lifestyle, and food to save you time, energy, and money. Make sure you are notified when new videos are added!

Breaking News: Chocolate Chess Pie Replaces Pumpkin Pie as Thanksgiving Favorite!

Breaking News: Chocolate Chess Pie Replaces Pumpkin Pie as Thanksgiving Favorite!

When you think of Thanksgiving and pie, what comes to mind? Pumpkin Pie? Today, I’m offering another suggestion – Chocolate Chess Pie! Everybody loves chocolate, right? And all of us could use a little chocolate comfort.

I’ve made Chocolate Chess Pie from a lot of different recipes, some of which have been labeled as the signature recipe of some famous restaurants or from prize-winning cooks. I even set up a blind taste test of two award-winning pie recipes along with my humble recipe. And I asked the most discerning connoisseur of Chocolate Chess Pies that I know to be the judge – my grandson. I’ve seen that handsome tall skinny kid devour half of a pie at one sitting!

The winner of the blind taste test of Chocolate Chess pies was…(drumroll, please!)…my Chocolate Chess pie! I will admit that my grandson said one of the other recipes was a close second, but he still picked mine as the certified winner.

I want to give you a little back story to my humble rise to pie stardom (at least in my family’s estimation). My family celebrated my daughter’s birthday one year at a famous steak restaurant, which shall remain nameless, in Raleigh, North Carolina. After a sumptuous steak dinner, she ordered Chocolate Chess Pie for dessert. I thought it was too expensive for such a simple dessert, one that I could easily make at home and could probably make several pies for the cost of that one slice.

However, when the waiter served the pie, I tasted it and was struck by how smooth and creamy, as well as downright chocolate heaven it was! When I returned home, I started experimenting. How hard could it be to make a Chocolate Chess Pie as good as the one in the famous restaurant? Turns out – not so hard!

The recipe I had been using was from a local cookbook, assembled and sold by a rural women’s community service organization. They started the cookbook in 1958 and its popularity has continued to grow along with sales. These are recipes from country cooks who have lived their lives cooking for their families and everyone else in the community. I can’t say it contains the most nutritious recipes. But I can say it contains some of the best-tasting recipes!

But I digress. The recipe listed only six ingredients and the directions were simple: “Mix ingredients. Pour into unbaked pie shell and bake 30 minutes at 350°.” After a few tries, I came up with what I and my family thought was a much better pie. So, I rewrote the recipe to include every step I followed to create a smooth, creamy, and delicious Chocolate Chess Pie.

So, how did I change it? Check out my YouTube video to see! And subscribe to my YouTube channel to be notified when more videos are added! Go to https://www.youtube.com/c/herlifehacks/

You’ll also find my rewritten and renamed recipe there for The Ultimate Quick and Easy Chocolate Chess Pie! And I’d love to hear about the pies you make. Do you have a favorite recipe? Email me at vicki@herlifehacks.com!

Now – move over Pumpkin Pie. Let’s make Chocolate Chess Pie the new Thanksgiving pie!

7 Ways to Make a Hygge Home

7 Ways to Make a Hygge Home

I didn’t realize I had a hygge home! I’ve been decorating it for years to achieve exactly that, but I didn’t know there was a name for it.

Comfortable and cozy are the defining qualities of a hygge home. Hygge, considered a Danish or Scandinavian term and pronounced “hoo-guh”, is defined as “a quality of coziness that makes a person feel content and comfortable”. Isn’t that exactly how we want our home to make us feel?

Decorating our home in this way is one of the highest forms of self-care. Home should be our haven from the rest of the world, a place to rest and refresh. I know I always feel a sense of contentment and peace when I arrive at my home. It just seems to invite me in to stay and I love that feeling.

You may already have a hygge home. Perhaps you have some, if not all, of these 7 items that help to make a hygge home.

  1. Candles, especially ones that are natural and organic and help to set the mood of a home are a vital element.
  2. Lighting that is deliberate is another hygge element. The Danish people often spend a great deal for just the right lamp, one that not only provides light, but is also artistic in the mood it promotes. Fairy lights that seem to dance around the room are another common form of hygge lighting.
  3. Houseplants help to bring the outside in. In especially cold climates like the Scandinavian countries, this becomes even more important and houseplants, along with natural and ambient lighting are just the trick.
  4. A fireplace creates that cozy warmth like nothing else. If you don’t have a fireplace, it has been suggested that you can “stream” a fire on your TV screen! Even the suggestion of a fireplace may be enough to provide extra coziness.
  5. If you don’t have a fireplace, you might find a comfortable nook provides a place of respite. Can’t you see yourself curling up with a good book and a mug of hot chocolate?
  6. Layers of texture add to that comfortable hygge feeling. You can achieve that feel with texture in pillows, blanket throws, draperies and seating cushions.
  7. Comfortable seating completes the hygge look and feel. Soft cushions with layers of textural throws and comfortable pillows just add even more coziness.

What about your home? Do you already have a hygge home and were unaware of it? How can you add to the warmth, comfort and coziness of your home as we enter colder weather of the winter months?

How about creating your own mood board of items that would make your home more of a hygge home? Check out mine below. You can click on the numbers to take you to a purchase page for the item.

    |         |          |          |      5      |      6      |      7       |           |

If you want to know more about how to make your home more hygge, here are a few books recommended by those who know and write about hygge.

The Little Book of Hygge appears to be one of the most popular books on hygge. Click HERE for a link to it.

And click HERE for another link to two popular books (sold as a set) on Amazon.

Finally, coloring books are very comforting activities on the hygge list of a lot of people. Click HERE for a hygge coloring book.

I would love to hear how your home is already a hygge home! Or how do you plan to make your home more hygge? Just comment below!

The links in this article are affiliate links to products. If you make a purchase through them, I would receive compensation.

Are You Ready for Some Hygge?

Are You Ready for Some Hygge?

Are you ready for some hygge? I know I am. The weather is turning cooler and even more days are expected to be spent at home and inside. If “cabin fever” has not already set it, you might want to prepare to ward it off, and if it has already set it, keep reading for some ways to send it packing.

First, you might be asking, “what the heck is hygge”? It’s pronounced “Hoo-gah”. I know – how can something that is spelled like that be pronounced “Hoo-gah”!?

“Hygge… is a Scandinavian way of life that celebrates coziness, shared meals, and companionable interactions with loved ones. Emphasizing warmth, kinship, and an appreciation for the little things, hygge is a perspective on life that started in Denmark and has contributed to the nation's consistently high happiness ratings. Now, Americans are turning to hygge as a way to find happiness from within.”   

Brinton Parker, (December 10, 2019), 11 Ways to Embrace the Hygge Lifestyle This Season. PopSugar

Hygge is a great way to embrace self-care that extends to all family members. Think about all the things you love about your home and the things you like to do there that provide that much-needed extra layer of comfort.

I just put together my hygge list to support and comfort me:

  • Time alone in the comfy leather chair in my office for journaling my thoughts and renewing myself spiritually
  • Adjusting my power chair in the den and watching a PBS Nova nature series program with my husband. (I love the ones about the big cats!)
  • Sipping on a warm cup of cocoa with mini-marshmallows
  • Decorating my home with items of personal family memories (I’ll show you around soon and point out all the “old things” that are so special to me!)
  • Watching HGTV – any shows on HGTV (personally, I love the Property Brothers and Home Town, among many others!)
  • Putting on an eye mask and listening to soothing music as I take a short afternoon nap
  • Curling up (OK – I mean metaphorically curling; it has been a long time since my knees allowed me to actually curl up!) with my iPad to play Candy Crush, Soda Crush, Hearts and Rummy. I’m ashamed to tell you how high I’ve gotten on Candy Crush. I am curbing my “addiction”.
  • Playing Sudoku and Kakuro. There is just something satisfying about being able to solve one of these puzzles.

Now, how about you? Do you have a hygge list, even if you don’t call it that? Comment or email me at vicki@herlifehacks.com and let me know one or two things on your hygge list. I would love to be able to write a post of collective hygge experiences.

Want to know more about hygge? Here are links to several popular books about hygge.

https://amzn.to/3jLmUId is the link to the book in the featured photo at the beginning of this article.

And here is a link to two popular books on Amazon – https://amzn.to/35SUgA6  .

Finally, coloring books are very comforting activities on the hygge list of a lot of people. Here is where you can get a hygge coloring book: https://amzn.to/382GwW9.

Get started now on your hygge fall and winter. It will help comfort you through these times.