Posts tagged: simplifying

Snow Day

snow day

“A snow day literally and figuratively falls from the sky – unbidden – and seems like a thing of wonder.”  ~ Susan Orlean

Snow Day

Nothing like getting winter all in one week!  As I’m writing this on Sunday morning, a cardinal, blue jay and several winter robins are eagerly pecking at the bird feeder outside my window before the next storm hits.

In summer, we have beach days. In winter, we have snow days. I love a good snow day when you are forced to slow down, snuggle up and take stock of what you have.

These impromptu vacation days for me are filled with things that bring me joy. It could be a slow cooked roast in the oven, watching a movie or reading a book by the fire, even working without interruption. There is no expectation of the day.  There is no plan. I don’t have to be anywhere at any time. Instead I get to create my day.

Take Time Every Week to Slow Down

How can we take the lessons of a snow day to our regular days?

  • Remove expectations – Prepare for your day and then let go. Recapture the joy of the moment.
  • Be honest with time – You can’t do it all, so focus realistically on what you can do. Watch stress melt away.
  • Schedule time off – Take your vacation. Plan your personal days. Put them in the calendar and honor them.
  • Treat yourself – Snuggle in bed and read. Set the coffee to go off in the morning so it is ready for you. Take a walk alone.
  • Slow down – It is not a race…it is a journey
  • Tell someone you love them…every day.

This week try one or two of these.  Or, let me know what you do to carry the feeling of a snow day back into the regular world.

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Try Daily Gratitude

abundance and gratitude sara ban breathnaugh simple abundance


You simply will not be the same person two months from now after consciously giving thanks each day for the abundance that exists in your life. ~ Sarah Ban Breathnaugh

Clear Out Your Priorities



I finally cleared my garden this weekend. It feels like yesterday when I carefully put in the baby tomato plants that now I pull out with vigor ready for Fall’s squash and apples.

As we grow older, our lives seem to move faster.  What I realized today, is the pace doesn’t change, our attention changes.  With age we become distracted.  Whether it is with the daily to do list, or the worries about family, friends and business, we seem to fritter away our precious minutes, thus time appears to move faster.

My tomato plants don’t mourn that it is fall.  They don’t bemoan the upcoming winter season.  Instead they continue to cherish each ray of sunlight and rain drop until it is time to sleep.

We give so much of our time…ourselves away every day.  We over commit.  We push through.  We forget to cherish the sunlight, golden trees and even the rain.

After a day in the garden my priorities seem sorted once again.  Although I’m sure tomorrow I will feel sore, my garden brought me back to the present.  It felt more like two or three days instead of one.

This week notice what brings you into the present.  Is it spending time with your kids?  Is it cooking a fabulous meal in the middle of the week?  Is it walking through the woods?  Whatever it is, note it and remind yourself to go back there often.  You can recapture and slow time once you move into the present.

I’m off to make tomato jam (one of my newest discoveries this summer).  Enjoy your week!

Time Management Equals Self Management

time management equals self management
Time Management Lesson

Back in the day I didn’t manage my time well.  I worked way too many hours thinking I would be done sometime.  Of course, that never happened.

A good friend and my boss at the time, recommended I get some help.  Together we attended a Franklin Covey seminar.  I was hooked.  I didn’t want to be a crazy person any more.  My planner seemed to have all the answers.

Then real life stepped in.  All my great aspirations flew out the window.  Old habits kicked in. Even with the shiny new planner, I found myself starting to spin out of control.

There’s No Such Think As Time

No matter what I tried, new job, new planner, new resolutions nothing seemed to make a difference until I had a shift in perception…time management doesn’t exist. It is a made up way to control things.  You know even when Daylight Savings starts with it’s extra hour, by the end of the day things are back to normal.

Time management is truly self management.  It isn’t about squeezing more into the minutes of the day.  Instead it’s about setting boundaries, delegating tasks and letting stuff go.  I think that’s why so many time management programs don’t work.  You focus on the system, but don’t make the internal changes to match.

My advice is to take the David Allen approach.  Clear your desk.  Put all the stuff on it in a pile.  Go through the pile and find a place for each thing.  Get rid of the stuff that’s been on your to do list for the last 6 months by either scheduling time to do it or deleting it.

Be Realistic With Your Schedule

That’s another thing.  If you’re going to schedule time to do stuff, be realistic.  Before you start, put all the stuff that’s already been planned on the calendar, even travel time.  Don’t forget the personal things like picking up the kids from sports, making dinner and doing laundry.

Now you’re ready to add in the items from your pile.  Be smart about where you want to put them.  Just because you want to get them done quickly doesn’t mean everything goes on Monday.

By the time you do this, you’ll have a better idea of what is really important, what you need to let go and what you’re going to have to find someone else to do.

Remember time management doesn’t exist.  It’s all about managing yourself.  It’s a bigger task, but I think you’re up for it.


What If Packing

what if packing

photo credit: malias via flickr

Packing For Vacation

I packed way too much for this year’s vacation.  Clothes, books, notebooks, etc. are all being packed back up for the trip home never touched.

What was I thinking?

Ask my family.  I’m usually a minimal packer.  Not this year.

What If Packing 

Before I left, I kept thinking, “What if?”  “What if I needed more sunscreen?  What if I didn’t like the books I chose?  What if it rained and I had nothing to do?  What if I ran out of paper?”

These questions seem silly reading them now.  I would have survived.

I could have asked, “what was I afraid of?”

All That Stuff

In hindsight I realize I was afraid of being alone.  As much as I looked forward to this solitary vacation, it was unknown territory.  I’d never spent 2 weeks alone like this.

The stuff represented a comfortable nest I could fall back into like a warm bed. If I felt bad, I could turn to my favorite movie, book, notebook and cuddle up.

Didn’t Need It

Most of the stuff  could have stayed in the car because I didn’t need it.  This time alone was time for rest, reflection and reorientation.  All of which I achieved without my security blanket.

“What if” is the language of fear.  It’s your inner voice trying to protect you by allowing you to imagine the worst case scenarios. How many times have you gone in circles saying “what if” and none of the situations manifested themselves.  Yep, that’s what I thought.

“What if” doesn’t identify what you are afraid of.

Lesson Learned

The most valuable lesson I learned is stuff doesn’t make you feel better.  It’s just heavy baggage.  It doesn’t protect you from your fears.  Only identifying them and facing them positively will give you perspective.

Are You Packing For Vacation?

Look at what you’re bringing on your next vacation.  Ask yourself why you’re bringing each item.  Do you need it?  You may be surprised at the fears you didn’t realize you were packing.

Now I’m off to re-pack my car with all this stuff.  Take my advice.  Look at what you have packed and put away half.  You’ll be happier I promise.  Especially as you pack up to go home.

Taming The Shoulds

Life Simplified: A Day Without Plansphoto credit: 416style via photo pin cc

A Day Without Plans

Plans keep my brain occupied, but like you, I need time off.  On days without plans, I putter around first on the computer, then in the kitchen, and finally around the house.   When I start to feel a little aimless, the Shoulds come to visit.

Shoulds Make Unwelcome House Guests

I dislike the Shoulds.  They are unwelcome house guests.  They take the fun out of everything.

The Shoulds make me feel guilty.  They love that.  The guiltier I feel, the louder they talk.  It’s a relentless circle.

Take this weekend for example.  I took an entire day off.  I needed it, but the Shoulds didn’t leave me alone.  They reminded me I needed to cook, clean, make my bed and do laundry.  When I sat down to read my book, they needled me so I was popping up every 15 minutes to do another odd job.

Where Do Shoulds  Come From?

I have a theory.  They are homeless thoughts looking for vacant spaces in your brain where they can take up residency.  Once moved in, they spread out like weeds inviting their friends to come hang out in their new pad.

Friends of the Shoulds are the Coulds and Woulds.  When they all get together, it’s a party.  They shout, dance, and generally make a mess of what was once a calm brain.

Time To Take Control

It’s time we took a stand.  Just because the Shoulds have a lot of friends, doesn’t mean they can take over whenever we relax.

Here’s some tactics I’ve used to keep the Shoulds at bay:

  1. When a Should makes a suggestion, say something like, “That’s nice.  Thank you for the suggestion, I’m going back to my book now.”
  2. If it’s an insistent Should, look at your day,week or month and put it down at a specific day and time.
  3. If it’s a repeating Should, ask where did that come from.  Do a little journaling to see if it fits in your life or is a ghost of the past.

Finally if all else fails, take a nap.  Let your subconscious deal with those little buggers.  It will calmly tell them to quiet down so you can rest.  When you wake up, you’ll find them much quieter if not gone.

How do you corral your Shoulds?  Love to know.

I Love And Approve of Myself

Life Simplified garden 2012

Part of the Life Simplified Garden

Love who you are, what you are and what you do.  Laugh at yourself and at life.  Louise Hay


My Garden

Last weekend I planted my annual herb garden.  This year I’m also trying my hand at tomatoes, zucchini, peppers, spinach, salad greens and summer squash.

Planting each seed and seedling, reminded me of how I’d once again stopped doing my inner work.

The meditative work of planting my garden, reminded me of life’s simple law.  Plant seeds.  Care for them.  Tend to the weeds.  In the end you’ll be rewarded with the seed’s unique gift.

The same is true for our personal and professional inner work.

What Mental Seeds Are You Planting?

If you plant a tomato seed, you don’t expect a zucchini.  Yet every day you the mental seed of I’m not worthy and expect love.  Spend 24 hours monitoring your thoughts.  They are subtle, so listen carefully.

What do you say to yourself if you are running late?  What do you say to yourself if a bill comes and there is no money in the bank?  What do you say to yourself when those summer clothes are tighter than last year or you have to put on your bathing suit for the first time?

Are those seeds you want to grow in your inner garden? I thought so.

I Love And Approve Of Myself

One of the most powerful, yet simple affirmations I use I learned from Louise Hay, “I love and approve of myself.”  When I decide to plant this seed rather than other negative seeds, I find life, personally and professionally, takes on a whole different hue.

Imagine walking into a situation saying, “I’m fat.  No one wants to talk to me because I’m so boring.”  Got it.  Now imagine the same situation and instead you’re saying, “I love and approve of myself.”  Can you feel the difference?When I do this work with clients, I see them sit up straighter, smile and relax.

Tend To Your Garden Daily

If you’re a gardener or just have a few herbs from the grocery store on the windowsill, try planting this mental seed while you’re tending your garden.

As you water your garden, repeat, “I love and approve of myself.”  As you weed your garden, repeat, “I love and approve of myself.”   As you smile with pride over your first tomato, repeat, “I love and approve of myself.”  

You can certainly repeat the affirmation other times as well.  The garden just gives you some time to meditate the feeling of the affirmation.

By connecting this practice with your garden, you’ll find you’re not just reaping tomatoes this summer.

You will see the little miracles occur in your life.  The things you are ready to eliminate will go of their own accord.  The things and events you want will pop up in your life seemingly out of the blue.  you will get bonuses you never imagined! ~ Louise Hay

Pioneer Dreams – A Simple Life

Little House on the Prairie House - Pioneer Dreams: A Simple Life

phot credit: sheilascarborough via flickr

Simplify.  Simplify.  Simplify.  ~ Thoreau

Pioneer Woman

I have a long standing fantasy.  I live on a farm in the 1800’s out west somewhere.  We don’t have a lot.  We make  do with what we have.  The closest neighbor is 10 miles away.  The town is nearly double that.

This could have sprung from all the Little House on the Prairie, books and shows I watched in the ’70’s.  There’s something intriguing about making a life from what appears to be nothing.

I was addicted to the PBS reality show, Frontier House.  Modern families lived on the Montana frontier for 6 months as if it were 1883.  Watching what they struggled with made me realize how much we all take for granted in our lives today.

Why do I fantasize about living the pioneer life?

Pioneers were people like you and me.  They had to survive with next to nothing.  Many could not, but many did.  Those that did had a strength I admire.

Their simple living has inspired me to learn to bake bread using a starter rather than store bought yeast.  Build a pantry of ingredients rather than pre-made meals.  Survive even the most difficult days at work.  And even simplify my life.

Today I’m in need of a little simplification.

Around this time in January, the Christmas decorations have been down for a while, but the house (and especially my office) still feels cluttered.  It’s probably because, here’s another confession, I’m a piler, meaning I create piles. You may not have guessed this when you visit because I’m also an expert pile hider.

Behind the simplified facade, I know there are piles that need sorting.  Papers that need recycling.  Books that need donating.  And unused items that need to find new homes.

I’m excited to clear out

Today is going to be a simplification day.  I’m giddy with excitement.  Simplifying helps me in so many ways.  It helps me prioritize, a great thing to do at the beginning of the year.  It makes me feel lighter versus weighed down by all the excess baggage.

Why do I simplify?

More importantly simplifying allows me to realize the abundance in my life that is over looked on a daily basis.  I have so much to be grateful for, too much, but I forget that when I’m rushing around day to day.

There are so many people out there who can use what I have stored somewhere in a pile.  Why not liberate that energy?  Sharing what you don’t need any more, can make someone’s day.

Today I’m adapting my pioneer woman attitude.  What do I need?  What do I love?  What haven’t I used in a while?  Where can it go to help someone else?

Do you have simplifying days?  Feel free to share your experience!

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