balance, celebrations, Uncategorized

31 Days 2020 Style

Last year I blogged about my 31 days in January as it was the first month of my #1095days project. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary when I made the post, however I thought about how I needed to repeat this task each year to see how my life changed, if it changed at all. I made the calendar reminder and here we are with a post update. Here goes…

January just seems like the longest month ever generally speaking. During the month it may feel like a year has passed, but it is actually just one month. One single month of 31 days. Each day representing a day to make a difference in the world some way, somehow. Master planning for the year or recapping the previous year? Each year may be different based on environmental conditions and life in general, but the year always starts with 31 days in the month of January.

Over the past year my home environment changed. My workspace changed. I added a puppy to the mix which is close to resembling having a newborn in diapers. I adjusted to loved ones having health issues. I traveled to new places. I lived life, basically. I had no regrets.

Add the cold and chilling January weather, rain, rain and more rain and that equates to another whole level of awful. Sprinkle on a busy schedule and those 31 days were gone before you know it. Or maybe the 31 days go fast because I am always waiting for February to arrive. February is my birth month. I am always looking forward to February. Once February comes and goes it’s time to think warm weather, sunshine and vacations on the horizon or maybe it is just because the chill in the air is starting to depart.

Just as I did last year, this is a memory tracker where I write down 31 significant or interesting things that transpired in my life in January. May be boring to some but it’s part of my story. 10 years from now, I may not be around. If for some reason I am not around, my loved ones can see how my life view was in this snapshot of time. That is a pretty cool time capsule, if you ask me. Here is my 31-day reflection to start this month with a bang.

1. I attended a vision board party. This was a blast and I recommend it every January.
2. I completed a weighted CrossFit workout with my friend again. We now have an annual event!
3. I got tattooed. I didn’t even realize it was an annual thing until I did this exercise!
4. I booked travel to seven different states, all for different reasons.
5. I toured an assisted living facility. This was an experience in itself.

6. I wrapped up a coaching session with an awesome millennial. She is ready to soar on her own.
7. I gained weighed and lost weight. This surely hasn’t changed year to year.
8. I tracked my nutrition consistently. This may be a reset for many this time of year.
9. I worked on my 2020 goals like a boss. I have some lofty goals this year.
10. I rode my bike 20 miles in one ride to celebrate 2020.
11. I worked out on a Sunday at 5am with crazy friends.
12. I worked on taxes for multiple entities which is so boring, but I am ahead of past years.
13. I organized a large event and it went off without a glitch.
14. I signed up for a mud run and 10k race out of state.
15. I took a jump rope class.
16. I managed a concrete expansion project at a property I own.
17. I got a massage which I guess I did last year. Self-care matters.
18. I spent time with family and friends. This hasn’t changed since last year.
19. I made kale soup for the first time. This was so good.
20. I coached lacrosse. Watching my team grow is amazing but this is my last year coaching!
21. I took on more responsibilities on the work front. I just volunteer too much.
22. I cheered my daughter on during basketball games.
23. I dealt with a tenant full of excuses for this, that and the other.
24. I got to dress shop with my daughter for her first big dance event.
25. I got my hair cut. I did this last year, too.
26. I had a water leak at a property I own. This was not fun. It was expensive though.
27. I shopped on Amazon a little bit, but maybe not as much as last year.
28. I shopped local as well and this is a big goal for me in 2020.
29. I blogged. I blogged a lot more than last year.
30. I solidified a sale of a house. No more expensive storage space.
31. I planned for some upcoming challenges on the horizon. Fingers crossed all goes well.

2020 was the start of a new year, a new beginning mixed with new friends and old friends. It’s funny when you look at who is around your circle, who has passed by, who is excluded and who you are feeling lucky to have welcomed into your circle. I am thankful for opportunities on the horizon and at peace with all that is part of my history aka the past.

Last year I wrote: Even when life tosses you to the wolves, we are still empowered to find our inner sunshine and really just seize the day, the week, the month. I can safely say I feel the exact today as I did a year ago in relation to this statement. Each day is a new page in my story book. It could be a day of adventure or a day of emotional highs and lows. No matter how my day flows, I get back up and start again the next day looking for sunshine. Coincidentally, today I get a message from my friend stating: Love you and all the sunshine you bring to my life…. As you read future posts you will often see why the word sunshine is so meaningful to me. #buddy

In 2019, I wrote: Keep on keeping on and take a moment to reflect on your January. If you had only one day left on earth what would you do with your day? This rings a bell to me since I put out a 2020 challenge to my readers regarding what will you do with an hour a day. Funny how life circles around.

This year I will sign off with, Happy Birth Month to ME. Looking forward to this time next year when I review my 31 days again. I love new traditions. I wonder if I will have another tattoo in January of 2021?

 

 

dare to be different, giving, inspire

Making Local a Priority

This year I decided to make a goal to spend money with local small businesses. I actually track my spends and make a firm commitment to choose local and small even if it costs more for a particular item. I’m not going cold turkey on Amazon Prime by any means. Just making a percentage of my spend hit the local economy.

So far so good. I am excited about these choices. I am excited about helping a small business live another day.

I went to a local restaurant with friends. It had a good vibe and allowed pets in its outdoorsy environment. I decided I’d buy a t-shirt and gift card. Each was given to a different person to build the hype. Hopefully they will buy something and share their experience with a friend. It’s that simple to stimulate the local economy.

A friend works at a pet store, locally owned and operated. I have pets. I bought some special treats. Those treat make my pets happy but also helps my friend have a job.

My car needs an oil change. I can go to the corporate dealership but I like going to the local shop down the street. The service is good and I get to talk to the mechanic. I can’t get that attention at the dealership. I can even see the work getting done in the bay vs. sitting in a lobby with the TV or internet. Check out my photo above for a view of my mechanic’s shop where I happened to drop by when this sweet car was in for a little tune up. Not sure the year but it sure did have a pretty paint job.

It’s crazy what you can observe if you just slow down and appreciate what’s right in front of you. At the holidays many shop online to avoid the crowds. I get that, but then we miss the human interaction with the workers. We miss the smiles exchanged. We miss the crazy customer who gets mad when they can’t find something. Isn’t there a value in shopping in the muck of it all?

I am going to enjoy my community a little more this year by opening my eyes to what’s right in front of me.

Having a small business is hard work and when you read about one closing, you immediately think what went wrong? Well many things could go wrong but at the end of the day if I never went in to that storefront and bought their cup of coffee or their dog biscuits then I didn’t really help them have a fighting chance.

Big companies have strong leaders making key decisions and a boat load of funding. A small business is a family behind the scene. It means a kid getting to play little league or getting new shoes when mom or dad finally takes a paycheck. It means that business lives another day.

This month a local coffee house shut down as in went out of business. Is it a coincidence that Starb**** opened up next door inside Kroger’s grocery store? Probably not as folks may find it easier to get their latte while they shop vs walking a few doors down. Convenience is good but once a week visiting the local independent coffee shop could make the difference in the owner making their rent payment that month. Just food for thought.

This post could go on and on but the simple point is take a little bit of your monthly spend and divert to a local small business. It could be a hair salon, a nail salon, a restaurant, a bike shop, etc. it may not be the cheapest but I bet the owner is passionate about what they provide to the community.

While you are at it, give a local company shout out on the web. So many people read reviews. Make sure to note it’s a local favorite to build trust. Today I made my Saturday a small business Saturday and hit a locally owned place I adore called Pat’s Eatery. A place where you can sip coffee with friends for an extended period of time and the owner is cooking up a storm on his Saturday morning. The server is a long-time employee who must love her job because she is as permanent as the sign on the exterior of the building. It’s always a pleasure when she serves you. Smiles and conversations are a must.

Have fun experiencing your local community. Put your own special twist on this. Visit a farmers market. Buy from a local artist. Have a sales meeting a local coffee shop. Make a difference in community with the money you are going to spend anyway.

fitness and nutrition, friendship

Just Show Up and Jump In

Screen Shot 2020-01-29 at 5.28.47 AM

“Our third teammate unexpectedly dropped out at the last minute with a sick kid.  Can anyone make it?”

A post to our gym community in the wee hours of a December Saturday morning.  I thought about it, but plans were already in motion for a day of chasing my daughter and her friends as they volunteered to help with a younger girls’ lacrosse team.  I sent my good wishes…hope someone can step in!

Then the text came in, just to me:  “Can you do the comp today and then come get the girls?”

A pause.  A stomach clench. My only job was transporting my kid and her friends and and now a friend was offering to take all that over so I could help on the team.  So how could I say no?  More stomach clench, I texted back.

“Ummmmm ok.  If that’s the best solution.”

(Inner voice of doubt saying:  “There must be a better solution!”)

From that moment, the whole day took a turn.  What are the workouts?  Do I need a shirt? I was already on the way to the gym…thank goodness I wore black shorts.

I turned the car around to head toward the competition site. The doubting voice crept in again…I haven’t eaten well!  How many burpees?? One rep max complex?!? I haven’t showered and shaved! I can’t do those weights!  I haven’t practiced!

WHAT. HAVE. I. DONE?!?!?!

Well, I was helping friends. I could do at least something and I would give my best. Just show up and jump in, I told myself.  Just show up and jump in. Every time I wanted to turn the car around, I’d tell the doubting voice to pipe down. Just show up and jump in.

And so, I got there about 15 minutes before the first workout.  Quick chat. Waited in the bathroom line, switched shirts, did a few stretches and bam, jumped in and competed.  Looking back now, it is awesome to be fit enough to just get there and give it a go.  Granted, I couldn’t lift as heavily as I would have liked to, but I jumped in and did what I could.  My two Ginger Thruster teammates did the heavy lifting, and lift they did! It was awesome to watch and be a part of.

By the time our first workout was over, some people were just seeing the early morning SOS post.  My friend Milagros asked if I needed anything – extra coffee and water, really.  She showed up with all that, plus some snacks and some needed encouragement.  Another part of the network coming together to solve a need.

Screen Shot 2020-01-29 at 5.29.10 AM

We pushed ourselves. We laughed a lot.  We fought for all the reps, strained for every pound.  I’ve never done so many jumping pull-ups in my life. It was a great day.

One great thing about this competition is they have a box member who is an amazing photographer, Davison Wheeler.  He generously shared nearly a thousand photos of the day, including the ones in this post.  It’s equal parts amazing and humbling to look at the people competing – their stamina, their strength, their skill.  When scroll through to find I the pictures of me, what I noticed is that I am often cheering for my teammates.  I may not be able to lift a huge number of pounds, but I try to lift spirits when I can.

Screen Shot 2020-01-29 at 5.30.21 AM

And a lot of that comes from just showing up and jumping in.

 

 

 

 

health, inspire

Emotional Hygiene

 

Part of my goals this year are about using my time more thoughtfully. (I’m looking at you, hour long commute! You too, meal prep marathon!) Instead of riding along listening to 70s music (again) or the usually depressing news, I wanted to start listening to podcasts. I loaded some up and have enjoyed quite a few (while easily deleting others after a couple of episodes.)  I’ve learned that some are pleasant to listen to, even inspiring, and will linger with me.  Then, there are others where I am actively nodding, mind completely engaged, stopping to jot notes down to think about or follow up on later. I’ll share interesting tidbits once in a while.

The first one I wanted to share here is an episode from Lewis Howes’s School of Greatness podcast. Specifically, an episode with Chris Voss, a former FBI hostage negotiator who now trains people to negotiate across many fields, especially business.  This is definitely an episode I would have skipped based on the topic / title except for one thing…I was going to a car dealership later that day to buy a car.  People who know me can guess I’d be nervous about negotiating anything, so when I saw this episode title I thought to myself…well…maybe I can learn something that will help me feel more confident in negotiation for this car.

As I listened, most of what stood out to me was about mindset.  He talked about the way much of our brains (around 75%!) are neurologically wired to be negative – to defend ourselves for example, but we are actually significantly smarter when we are happier.  Like, 31% smarter.  That’s huge! This comes from Harvard professor Shawn Achor’s Ted Talk, The Happiness Advantage.  Who knew that just by being happier we boost our smarts?  Left me with a lot to think about.

Another tidbit that struck me was Voss mentioning the importance of gratitude in starting your day.  He recommends that we write down 1-3 things to be grateful for at the beginning of the day as “emotional / spiritual hygiene.”  I’ve known the importance of gratitude for a while.  I’ve even written about thanks on this blog. But I think the idea of how gratitude is as necessary as taking a shower or brushing your teeth was a mind shift for me.  It’s not just nice to do, it’s necessary in order to get your brain framed up the right way for the day.  Gratitude is a way of taking care of ourselves. It is a daily practice that keeps us on track.

So far, podcasts are an interesting new way to learn for me…I’m late to the party, I know, but I’m figuring it out.  Do you have any podcasts you enjoy or recommend?

As for negotiations, I have started to notice all the subtle little negotiations we make during our days, from the coffee line to casual conversations at work.  Will I improve at them using what I’ve learned?  I’ll let you know.  In the mean time, I still haven’t bought a car, but that’s a story for another post.

 

 

 

 

perspective, working women

The Value of Time

This year I will most likely talk about time and its value many times and in many ways on this blog.

It may sound odd but every time I turn around an obstacle could arise because of time in general or how our most precious commodity (time) is spent thus making us have limited time or maybe it’s the perception of less time vs. the reality of time.

To keep the focus I purchased a new clock for my office. It’s a cool clock made up of words that illuminate in five-minute intervals. Thank you Sharper Image for offering cool gadgets.

5 minutes past the hour, 15 minutes past the hour and so on. The illumination is eye- catching and is a great conversation starter.

The clock is also a great visual reminder of time, my need to write (words), and my need to evaluate my time continually to insure I am on track with all that I do.

Today’s thought spurred after I read an article on the time limitations of males vs. females. It was interesting but as I reflected I sighed and said hmmm I can relate.

I can relate to the roles women are depicted in. The wife, the mother, the corporate executive, the cook, the laundress, and so on. Now some households have a male counterpart who contributes or pulls a fair load but “moms” end up as the go-to for many things, people and so on despite having to work these days.

Just random food for thought here. Until next time, please use your time wisely and make you a priority at least one hour a day. I know you will thank me if you schedule you time one hour a day.

You could read a book. You could research something on the internet. You could get your nails done. You could do many things in an hour. Try it!
And a special thanks to Dove chocolate for the time traveler reminder!

dare to be different, inspire

New Year, New Decade, New Opportunities

I think I will start with writing something profound or brilliant in my mind.

2020 is upon us and like many I have goals to write, tackle and conquer but this year is different. It’s the start of a new decade and thus the magnitude of go bigger is something I want to do in many areas of my life. I want to escape the ordinary. Of course, my 2020 journal (pictured below) is perfect for cataloging my ebbs and flows of the year. #2020hereIcome

Lucky for me I have an amazing tribe around me willing to jump in on adventures, shenanigans and overall badass challenges I find intriguing. Some are extreme while others just take time.

Time is valuable to me. One of my most precious commodities. Where to use it? Who gets my time? What’s the value of my time and so on. Keeping this in mind I will share a few tidbits about my year of awesome!

It started in December of 2019 when I decided on a 2020 theme of me. What can I do 2,020 of to level up my fitness, for example.

Goal one was finalized: run, walk, jog, crawl, bike, row or ski erg 2,020 extra miles in 2020. This is in addition to any other regular daily workouts which is the kicker. It’s extra time. Who can commit? Who will commit? Who will cross the finish line?

Today I have about 10-15 willing participants tracking their miles along side me. Each for different reasons and each have their own path. Some have daily goals of extra miles, some weekly, some monthly and some want to count backwards. Whatever the method the miles add up to the same total of 2,020 miles. 365 opportunities await each participant. Each individual has to make a choice to put in work today, tomorrow and the the next day and stay the course of time.

Some will need a fixed routine to succeed. Others may need variety. Some may take big bites out of miles while others may take smaller steps. The power of choice. The power of self will and desire. The strength required to commit long term.

I started my first four days of the year with 7 miles a day and then jumped up to 10 miles and 9 miles respectively. Most of which I completed on my bike erg, which I love. (Thank you concept2). 47 miles down and 1,973 to go for those who like to count down. I may not keep this pace but as the hype is fresh I will bank those extra miles for the days I am traveling, sick or unable to hit my strides.

I’m pretty excited about this challenge. Will I finish? Will my friends finish? Will anyone join me virtually? Will I be able to push myself when times are tough? Can I manage my time? Basically this is a solo task. Only I can make it happen. Only I can decide if I finish. But as a bonus I have a tribe willing to attempt it with me. How lucky am I?

I am lucky, loved, blessed and all so appreciative of the opportunities I have and the memories I can make. You are also lucky as you have a front row seat to my adventures. This could be good or bad. I have not only set a lofty goal, I actually shared it with the world in this blog. How about that for a massive accountability partner?

This is not my only goal, rather one of many. Many more than others I know but for me this is a year of me. A way to launch into the new decade and see what I can really accomplish if I focus and prioritize. Dreaming big in most areas which will test me, but of course I’m ready.

What makes me ready? To start, I was invited to a vision board party. What in the heck is that? It’s a gathering of key influencers in your life who you feel inspired by. People you like to spend time with vs. those people you have to spend time with (or coworkers). You write your story so to speak on a poster board using words, pictures, objects and whatever other flair you can put your hands on. This was so in my wheelhouse. Why did I never do this before? Who cares, I’m doing it now. It’s a new decade and a new opportunity!

I wasn’t sure what to expect but I learned a ton about myself and those around me. It was empowering to say the least and fun. I don’t think I’ve used a glue stick, scissors and tape like I did that day for a long time. Talk about the memories of the good old school days before the internet became front and center.

One pal even bought magazines for the first time in ages and couldn’t believe how much they cost nowadays. See how old I am!

I will leave you with this glimpse of the sparkle we all shared that day. No need to name who did what rather it’s meant to provide a visual inspiration for others. Maybe one of my readers will feel motivated to host a vision board party.

Some chose to fill the board up while others left room to grow. Captivating just to see how folks approached the task and invested themselves into the outcome. Mine is posted prominently in a space where I can see it and be reminded of the mindset I had when I made it.

What will you do to make your decade launch special in 2020?

author moments, perspective

The Story Within a Story

Every story has a hidden story within. The why or the why not of the subject. Maybe the storyteller shared the hints, maybe they didn’t.

For example, I may write a blog post or story that shares a fun adventure but within the story is another story of personal triumph for a person on the journey with me. Maybe it’s even highlight a memory that is meaningful to me yet just a unique story to another. That is the beauty of storytelling.

In our last book we invited children to be authors with us. We did this intentionally. We wanted to provoke learning without telling them they were learning. We wanted to promote creativity. We wanted to share our love for writing. You wouldn’t know that from the book cover, but we left hints all around the book. It’s one of the coolest author notes we share with kids when we read and engage at book signings. Talk about a wow factor. It’s the story within the story.

Often times online we invite our readers to join us on the adventures we write about. We invite, provoke, engage others to do more with what they have. Be a better version of themselves. That’s a story of inspiration from within the bigger story.

Maybe my co-author is writing about something she wants to share and it includes her vantage point. Could there possibly be another vantage point within? Maybe you have to find the hidden door to find the message. Maybe that is her hook within her story. Of course there can be a story within a story, maybe even more than one story.

For each post we write we have many who like, some who don’t like and others who just breeze through the content. Whatever the reason or the season for the read, whatever the outcome is, we enjoy sharing our stories as authors. It’s what we choose to do.

We write our way. We leave clues in one post that may link to another or maybe not at all. We may write about the same topic yet it seems so different based on the voice we use or the vantage point. We may provide a visual or maybe we don’t. No real rhyme nor reason to our madness rather we just create what feels natural much like any other artist.

Our blog is a glimpse or a snapshot of us, not a biography or novel. For a tell-all you will most likely need to purchase our upcoming publications. Our blog space is a tool. A tool to motivate and share who we are with others. Today, tomorrow, and in the future.

Our interests will change over time as will our appearance and influences. This is another reason to check in with our site often. We change like the wind. We bend and flex with life. We share the ebbs and flows of life, even the tough stuff.

Since we are talking about a story within a story, I will share the inner secret of this post: bravery.

We are brave enough to share to the level we do. We are exposed. We have readers from Serbia to Japan and beyond. We are forever thankful for all of our readers (see our reader map below). We have friends and family who read our posts. We may even have business and professional colleagues who see us in a different light on this site.

To visualize the magnitude of our bravery: We could be on a plane and somebody notice us but we not notice them. This is a level of fearlessness that many will never encounter. For that, we share our story of boldness, bravery and unwavering sense of self with the wild and tangled web called the internet. The super highway of today.

We invite readers into our world. We are depositing a piece of us for our future grandchildren to read and learn about. There may be secret clues or passages within but you don’t get the full Monty online. We save the juicy stuff for the books and unfortunately we charge for those.

Until next time.