Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy

Some of the concepts I have tried to embrace from "The Happiness Project" have been...trying. As in, it is a lot easier (for me) to default back to a sad face when things go wrong. It has not escaped my notice that the daily meditation messages I subscribe to have segued into a series of thoughts on gratefulness.  Hmm. Point taken.

So this week, instead of grumbling how hard it is to "single parent" for a few weeks, I am grateful for time alone with my three girls. I am grateful the hubs has a great job to travel for when many people are not so lucky. I am grateful he will only be away three weeks, when so many other parents are on their own for months or years. I am even (trying to be) grateful that my four year old woke me up in the middle of the night because she didn't "have anybody to snuggle". The time for mommy snuggles is limited and one day I will long for these nights. That day is not today, but one day.  :  )  While I find many things in daily life momentarily frustrating, I realize that 99% of my "problems" are so insignificant. My email would not send this morning because of a server port issue. I fixed it. See, tiny problems. Re-framing what stinks into what I can appreciate has really helped me feel better.

I am still working on how to be grateful for procrastination, because I have done a terrible job on that resolution this month. Just insert your own "appreciating the slowness of life" statement here.  : )

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Maybe Bobby McFerrin Was Onto Something...

I am generally a negative person. Not in a Debbie Downer sort of way (I hope), but I anticipate worst case scenarios. I expect bad things to happen. It is not coincidence that my favorite Grateful Dead lyric (from the only G.D. song I have ever heard, much less know lyrics to) is "Every silver lining's got a touch of gray". If I met Snow White singing in the woods, I'd probably slap her.

However, several major life changes over the last few years have made me re-evaluate whether I am truly happy and how to "find" happiness. I've been vaguely aware of Gretchen Rubin's work on happiness through her blog and last weekend I finally read her book "The Happiness Project". I loved it. The idea of re-framing my perspective to create my own happiness is frightening and exciting at the same time.  I loved that she didn't gloss over the challenges of changing her outlook and gave some examples of her failures over the year. It has really challenged me to rethink my outlook.

In the run up to Valentine's Day, I foolishly pinned a ton of handmade valentine ideas on Pinterest, then felt guilty that I had neither the time nor energy to create, print, and assemble 75 valentines. It turns out my kids were perfectly happy with their store bought valentines. They could not have cared any less. Feeling guilty was a waste of my time so I let it go. I have also embraced the joy of hiding consistently negative people from my news feed in Facebook. I love reading blogs, but there was one in particular that made me feel frumpy and uncool every time I read it. It was a perfectly nice blog where the blogger is gorgeous and shows her very chic wardrobe in her big city life. The problem was the blogger was gorgeous and showed her chic wardrobe in her big city life. : ) Seriously, her blog is lovely but her style is infinitely more upscale than I would ever wear, we are not remotely the same size/body type, and I just couldn't gain any inspiration from it. So I stopped reading it. I try to read more blogs of people I think are smart, hilarious and I would want to hang out with in real life. Laura of Hollywood Housewife is one of those people who makes me laugh almost every day. (Side note: Both Gretchen and Laura responded to emails I sent them and were lovely. Especially considering they probably get a thousand emails a day.) I never realized how negatively I was inviting into my life until I really thought about it. I'll probably never be Pollyanna, but a little less Cruella would be nice.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

“The 5 Money Personalities” by Scott and Bethany Palmer

As the authors state in the introduction, this is not a book about how to create budgets or manage your money. Instead, it guides you though identifying your own relationship with money. Are you a spender, do you save money at all costs, are you seeking security through your financial decisions? The book explores five identified “money personalities” and helps you detect which primary and secondary “personalities” you identify with the most. Once you (and your significant other) identify your types, the rest of the book discusses the advantages and pitfalls of your personalities working together. 

I found the descriptions of the five money personalities interesting. I always assumed I was a blanket “saver”, but it turns out I am primarily a “security seeker” with a “saver” backup personality.  The authors did a good job describing how similar outlooks on money bring some drawbacks (imagine two spenders together) and how differing views can complement each other. I didn't read this with my husband, so I probably missed out of some of the usefulness of the book as a whole. However, there is still value in learning more about your own views on money. It is clearly intended for couples to use together, so I would primarily recommend this for couples seeking to better understand their views on money and make more harmonious financial decisions.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Monday, February 11, 2013

Be Your Own Valentine

I have never been a fan of Valentine's Day. The idea of showing love and appreciation is wonderful, but it seems like it has become more of a competition to see who is loved more. I can't WAIT for all the Facebook posts of "Look who got breakfast in bed!" or "Just got these gorgeous flowers at work!" (That was sarcastic in case you weren't sure.) I'll probably stay off FB that day.  :  )

I'm absolutely not complaining about my hubs and what he does/doesn't do to show love (hi, hubs!). I also think it is great to publicly build up the people you love. It is more the idea that this one day is some winner take all expression of love and people who get less than or nothing at all are somehow less loved. It's ridiculous.

Whether you have a romantic interest in your life or not, you have people in your life that love you. I hope you love you too! Instead of sitting around thinking how much you wish someone would give you flowers or candy, go buy yourself some flowers. Are those flowers any less beautiful because you bought them? Of course not. Buy some special candy or invite friends out to dinner. Or stay home, take a bath and watch Netflix. Whatever floats your boat. Be your own Valentine!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Procrastination (a lesson in irony)

February's resolution is to tackle my procrastination and disorganization habit. No, the irony that I am posting this eight days into the month is not lost on me. I am a terrible procrastinator. I will put off doing the smallest thing, for no particular reason. So far, it has not caused any major issues, like missed work deadlines or failing to pick up kids from daycare but it does cause a lot of undue stress. I am feeling particularly overwhelmed right now with a lot of professional, personal and "extra" obligations coming at me at one time. I am in the thick of one responsibility I probably should have turned down in the first place (see January's resolution) and am having a difficult time getting motivated to do it. I "should" be working on certain things but I would rather work on fun things that need to be done, so I end up doing nothing.

Two things are helping me this month. The first is a plan of my ideal life. Hubs and I wrote out a schedule of how we would like our life to be. Some commitments have to be included, of course, but we also planned out times for personal time alone and time together. I like having time alone to read a book, go window shopping or just take an uninterrupted bath. He likes to hear live bands. Now that we put in the schedule, we don't need to feel guilty for taking time for ourselves (me) or feeling silently resentful for not having time to do things we enjoy (also me). I am also getting more of the boring tasks done, like getting kids to do some daily cleaning and hubs doing the weekly grocery run. The second thing helping me is so simple, I feel stupid that it has made such an impact on me. I can't recall where I heard it or I would for sure give credit, but it said "Don't put off anything that will take less than a minute to complete." See, simple right? The fact this has stuck in my brain probably reveals how awful my procrastination has been. I am really making an effort to follow this advice. It is mostly small efforts, like putting a cup in the dishwasher instead of by the sink or putting away small items throughout the day but it really has made a difference. Any one else struggle with putting things off?

Friday, February 1, 2013

January Rewind

Can you believe it is February?! January just flew by. I should probably not mention that there is still a Christmas tree in my front room. It is in the box ready to move back to the garage but still. Just sitting there. Judging me. Sigh.

My daughters G and S attended their first school dances last week. I had to go into the school to pick up G and was able to sneak a little peek. If you haven't seen third through fifth graders dancing their butts off, you are really missing something. I happened to catch the DJ/technology teacher play "Whip My Hair" and trust me, there was a LOT of hair whipping going on. G complained later that her neck hurt from, as she called it, over-whipping.  My baby, E, had tubes put in her ears last week- our first family surgery. I realize on the scale of medical problems, tubes come in pretty low but it is still so hard to leave your baby in an OR. She's doing great and I'll be really interested to see how much better her hearing is at her checkup.

You may recall my January resolution was to be be more selfish. I bought myself Starbucks every week, picked places to eat, had a kid-free dinner with the hubs and (finally) started planning a little sister vacation. Okay, I'm still only using Starbucks gift cards instead of my real money, but it is improvement. : ) Guess what happened? The world kept turning!  My family didn't notice or care most times, and other times really enjoyed the things I wanted to do. (Hello, Ted's Montana Grill.) No one suffered any dire consequences and it brought me a much needed self-esteem boost. I feel a lot more confident in saying no to things without feeling bad that I can't do every single thing. I also learned that when I recognize my limitations and say no, the things I say yes to are a lot more meaningful. I can really enjoy talking with and really listening to my kids when I am not distracted with all the things I "should" be working on.  I'd call that a success.