10 Life Hacks in Time for the Holidays!

Most of us look forward to the holidays, but not the stress that comes with them. I have learned several life hacks the hard way through trial and many errors. My family has four birthday celebrations between November and December so I had to learn how to stay chill and enjoy myself while hosting and organizing these events. Believe me.  I love it when everyone is together and want to be my best self. So how the heck do I do that?

Take care of yourself first.

Stress causes the build-up of cortisol which in turn makes fat. Sugar intake rises for most of us this time of year too. No one wants to gain weight over the holidays. Keep moving. Exercise gets those endorphins surging. It feels good.

Take a break from the hubbub. Walk your dog. Walk your neighbor’s dog. Do you have company? Ask them to join you for a walk. You may start a new holiday tradition!

The family on Thanksgiving day

Take the time to sit down and eat well. Drink lots of water. Turn off the TV and Internet an hour before bed to sleep better. I covered up the LED lights in my bedroom and it made a huge difference.

Recognize your limitations.

I could never figure out why I got so stressed out when others offered to help or to keep me company in the kitchen while I cooked. It would take twice as long and I missed out on a lot of the festivities. I finally realized I’m ADD and can’t concentrate. I’m so much happier in my own little world. I make a lot fewer mistakes too!

Have the opposite problem? Delegate. Ask for help. Give everyone a job. They’ll all feel like they contributed and you’ll have a lot more time to hang out together.

My son and daughter both cooked for Friendsgiving this year. Their secret is out. I will engage their expertise this year.

Lower your expectations.

No matter how you envision holidays, they are never what you expect. We are surrounded by images of perfect families, especially on Facebook. REALITY CHECK: There is no such thing. We’re human, remember?

Instead of using the time envisioning the perfect holidays, be productive…

Stop the constant updates on social media. Be in the moment instead.

Are you a Facebook or Instagram fanatic? Stop. I still can’t figure out why everyone is so obsessed with wanting to look at everyone’s personal photos. Think about it.

Would you go to a friend’s house to spend an evening perusing their photo albums?

Not me. It becomes addicting when posting to see how many people like them. I’m a blogger. I get that. But I a little goes a long way to connect with friends and family.

Have phone-free zones.

Have you ever looked around a restaurant and seen dozens of people with their noses in their phones? It’s terrible. Our population has grown exponentially, but we are more isolated than ever. Communicate the old-fashioned way. Face to face.

 

Purchase gifts online.

This is a no-brainer, but I still spent hours shopping for my husband a week ago. Why??? Looking back, I could have easily bought everything in a half hour and had it shipped to my door. Lesson learned.

Ask for links when getting loved one’s Christmas lists. My daughter is the bomb at this. She gets exactly what she wants.

Create some Hygge moments.

Hygge is a Scandinavian lifestyle. My previous post listed some Hygge moments to slow down and relax. Time is fleeting. Soon it will be January. Find ways to add comfort and joy to your holiday season. That last sentence seems so familiar…

Be thankful.

This may seem trite until you actually sit down and write a gratitude list. After my brother died in March, writing in a gratitude journal helped me through some rough patches by focusing on the most positive moments of each day. Before going to sleep, make a list of three good things that happened. It works!

Meditate.

Do you have five minutes? I bet you do. Go to Insight Timer or another one of hundreds of meditation apps. Listen to one and tune out the noise. Feel better. It will also help with focus. That’s something in short supply for me during the holidays. I’m like an ADD Tazmanian Devil. Yep. Slowing down for me is a challenge.

Stay organized – Make a bullet point journal.

This really blew up this year. When I first saw blog titles with that name, I shrugged. I already was a list maker. My super simple bullet point journaling is very different!

bullet point journaling tools

It really helps me to keep habits like meditating or entering in my gratitude journal. Filling in the bubbles is a rush. I’m all about endorphin rushes.

I’m sure there’s a ton more to add, but the holidays are almost upon us and my list is long. I hope you have a fabulous holiday season this year!

Do you have any suggestions to add to the list? Which one can you relate to most?

Click for more adventure on the Wild Ride!

Related posts:

Super Easy Bullet Point Journaling for the Holidays

How to Have a Hygge Life!

Dear Holiday Diary, Mistakes were made.

Super Easy Bullet Point Journaling for the Holidays

The first time I read a blog title including bullet point journaling, I rolled my eyes. I mean, most of us are list makers, right? After seeing other posts around, I finally clicked on one. Whoa! It blew my mind.

The key to bullet point list making is it also becomes a journal.

How?

By recording a weekly list. Don’t roll your eyes yet. I’ll show you mine in a minute.

When I clicked on some posts through Pinterest, I could see how making these journal pages could become super labor intensive. I thought, No way. I’m always working against the clock. Adding something that could take an hour or more to make would soon become a chore. I don’t need to add another chore to my list.

So, I came up with a no-brainer solution.

bullet point journaling tools

Tools:

A notebook.

You decide the size. I like the standard 8.5 x 11 since my lists are long even though the day is short. You’ll see why in another minute or second if you skim.

Markers, colored pencils, highlighter, or pen.

You can make it as cool or as boring as you want. It’s your journal. I can’t look at something that monochromatic or all in one color pen or pencil. Even if I don’t spend a lot of time making it, the journal still has to be eye appealing or I won’t use it.

But I don’t want to take a lot of time, right? I’m not going to color code things or use fancy-like tape. Instead, when I complete a task, I fill in the space or “bullet point” with color. I prefer a highlighter but have used colored pencils.

Ruler.

My first few journal pages were pretty raggedy. I decided to break down and use a ruler to make straight lines. Here’s a cheat! Use another lined sheet of notebook paper as a guide underneath.

Here’s my bullet point journal!

List your work on the left side with the days of the week on top.

Bullet point journal super easy

I refer to the journal when I complete a task to see what else needs to be done. At the end of the day, I peruse my list. Several times, I’ve hustled to fill in as many boxes as I can. Don’t judge. I’m an overachiever…

Obviously, I don’t always get everything done, but that’s where the journal comes in handy. Journaling shows progress over a period of time. Sometimes life gets in the way, like yesterday when I had a painter, a plumber, landscapers and a cleaning service here all at once.

If I’m putting off a task, I ask myself why. It’s usually for a stupid subconscious reason. Once I’ve faced it, I can move on. Sheesh!

Leave a few lines open to add the tasks you want to complete once during the week like calling for appointments, cleaning out a closet, shoveling out your kitchen, organizing a junk drawer. List those things you put off from week to week.

If it’s a major chore, break it down into small parts. That way you’ll feel satisfaction after making a little progress.

I’ve added my appointments because why not? It’s my journal!

I’m all about positivity and working hard. No one is around all day to give me those atta boys when I finish. Bullet point journaling gives me those self-congratulations and pats on the back. Way to go, me!

At the end of another long day, I fill in the spaces. I feel good about myself right before going to sleep. When I wake up, I take a look at my list and start filling in squares again. I accomplish a lot more when I use a bullet point journal. It guides me and keeps me on track.

Give it a try. Maybe you’ll accomplish more too!

Do you bullet point journal? Would you consider making one? Are you a list maker or a journal writer?

Click for more adventures on the Wild Ride!

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How to Have a Hygge Life!

More bullet point ideas.

How to Have a Hygge Life!

When I learned about Hygge and what it meant, I wanted to add more to my life here in Colorado.

Hygge is a Scandinavian word, pronounced hue-gah, used to describe an extraordinary moment during an otherwise ordinary day by being aware of the feeling of coziness and charm in order to slow our fast-paced life.

The word blew up in 2016 and was soon added to American dictionaries. Life has become more stressful for a lot of people. Hygge focuses on what makes you comfortable and happy. As the northern hemisphere slides into winter, I am all about Hygge moments.

Hygge can be experienced through a solitary or group activity. I’ve seen many examples, from wearing pajamas while sipping hot chocolate and reading a book, to small gatherings with friends.

Hygge’s definition depends on your unique lifestyle. Colorado is known for its active people.  When I’m not tapping away on my computer, I’m looking for outdoor adventures. I tend to shoot through life in hyperdrive. It’s important to slow down and enjoy its simplicity.

It’s snowing here in the mountains and I’m having a Hygge moment right now!

How to add Hygge to your lifestyle

My Colorado Hygge moments:

Some of my Hygge moments could be enjoyed by anyone in the world, others not so much.

Spend time with friends.

October Haunted book club at my house included eating appetizers in my living room. See the ghost, (Wendi) on the couch? Cooking dinner ran late so we had extra time to catch up! Our group has been together for more than fifteen years.

Haunted book club

Stop to enjoy the view.

No matter where you live, you can find and appreciate beauty. Instead of rushing down the sidewalk, check out a building’s architecture, the nature that surrounds you, or the clouds that scud across the sky. Embrace life when you can.

On the way back down from the mountains last weekend, my husband, Danny, and I drove to Echo Lake located below a 14,000-foot peak, called Mount Evans. As the sun set behind the mountains, the thin ice proved reflective and breath-taking in its texture.

Echo Lake, Colorado

Do what makes you happy like decorate for the holidays.

I have boxes filled with Halloween and Christmas decor and unpack them whether we entertain or not. Being surrounded by my favorite decorations makes me feel warm and happy.

Take time to make a meal.

Instead of inhaling food, it’s important to sit down and enjoy meals. I can smell the bacon sizzling in the pan. Okay, I’m really salivating now…

Mountain breakfast

Take a break.

To warm up and rest my muscles when I ski, I pour a hot chocolate and relax in the lodge. I prefer to sit near a window while enjoying the sweet concoction.

A Hygge Day in Colorado

Watch Memories on my iPhone.

I discovered a great new way to embrace special moments. I may be the last person to find “Memories” at the bottom of Moments in my iPhone’s photos. It’s a slideshow that includes snippets of video. Now I realize how important it is to delete pictures of my feet since it sometimes includes them. Ha!

Take a bubble bath in or outdoors.

I had a tough workout last Wednesday and took a hot tub to silence the screams of my minuscule muscles. The hum of the motor and the rush of water always soothes me.  I love watching birds flit from tree to tree and always watch for wildlife. A mountain lion and lynx have been spotted recently. Whoa!

Sometimes a friend joins me. So, I know hot tubs are no place for dogs, but she jumped in and finally lost her curiosity. Ha!

A friend in the hot tub

Light a candle or stoke up a fire.

In Colorado, most fireplaces are gas since we have a problem when heat inversions which trap pollution in the atmosphere. I love to flip the switch on my gas fireplace and mellow out in pajamas while watching the flicker of the flames. Or if the fire danger is low, have a bonfire with friends or family. Tell a ghost story or two. Surely you will experience a Hygge moment when you cuddle in a blanket and a shiver ripples up your spine.

bonfire

Meditate.

Insight Timer is a terrific app for tuning out the world to center and release stress. You can choose from guided and unguided meditations. It is good for the body and the soul. Find a warm, comfy space and peace-out for ten minutes. Enjoy your Hygge moment!

Create.

When our brains unlock creative flow while writing, painting, drawing, or when engaging in any other arts or craft activity, a sense of peace is released. Embrace this amazing feeling. Be aware of what you accomplished!

NOTE TO SELF: Start on this year’s Christmas card. Tick, tock…

illustrated christmas cards

Bake!

Ever since my kids went to college, I’ve baked a lot less. Making cookies and cakes for two can be hazardous to one’s waistline. Now that the weather is colder and the holidays approach, I yearn to bake bread and rolls. There’s nothing like the accomplishment of creating while the heavenly scent rises from the oven. Yum!

 

Cooling on the racks.

Spend time with family.

Since my son lives in California and my mom lives in Wisconsin, the moments we share are precious. Being an empty-nester, I truly cherish the time when everyone is home. I try slow down and live in the present moment, like this one.

Courtney, Grandma, and Kelly

Last night, I took a long hot shower. While wearing my favorite fleece pajamas, I made a cup of Sleepytime tea. I flipped the switch on the gas fireplace and slipped under the covers to read a book. Roxy cuddled next to me and kept me warm. After my Hygge moment, I slept really well!

I can’t wait to celebrate our family birthdays and holidays in November and December.

Lots of Hygge moments ahead! Onto that Christmas card…

 

Had you heard of Hygge? What are your favorite ways to bring a sense of comfort and coziness to your life?

Click for more adventures on the Wild Ride!

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A Gym Where Nobody Knows My Name

Chances are, you’ve been a member of a gym or fitness club sometime in your life. You probably made some friends and they helped motivate you to work out. What do you do when you burn out even though everyone knows your name?

My gym experience started in an auspicious way. I snuck into Vic Tanny – the first fitness chain in the US – a few times with a friend to use the hot tub for my notorious knee injury in the 80’s. One day, I got busted. I threw up my hands and signed up. Best thing I ever did. I’ve continued to belong to fitness clubs ever since. I joined the last one to meet others from my neighborhood. I played competitive tennis as a member until diagnosed with stage 1 breast cancer and subsequent double boobectomies in 2013, but it was a partial knee replacement a year later that really slowed me down. I tried physical therapy, fitness classes, and yoga, but nothing made the impact I needed to get back into fighting shape.

Typical day in 2016:

“Come on, let’s go to class,” I said to myself.

“But I’m in the middle of writing,” myself countered.

“You’re always writing,” I said.

“In a minute.” I adjusted my focus back on the computer and another day passed.

In January, I set reasonable goals for myself. All are within my own control. Priority #1 is to become fit and strong once again. How would I accomplish my goals if I couldn’t motivate? After being a member for sixteen years, I needed a change.

My kids are members of 24 Hour Fitness, so I checked it out. I looked forward to a gym where nobody knows my name. It would be fun to start fresh and meet new people. Maybe I’d learn something new.

During a three day trial, I checked out a few classes including yoga. The gym filled with Boulderites. I rolled out my mat between a middle-aged woman who had a lot of plastic surgery and a cross-dresser complete with blond wig. I had found my people!

My membership came with a free hour of personal training. After a wicked session with TRX, (straps used by Navy Seals when stationed on ships), free weights, and dead lifts, my muscles groaned. But it felt good to wake up with sore muscles. I hadn’t considered weight training, but remembered hearing how it strengthens bone. My anti-cancer medication, Anastrozole, obliterates estrogen which is what my cancer ate, but also dissolves bone. I don’t want to become shrinky dinky because of skeletal fractures. That would not be good, at all. I’m short enough at 5’4″.

With the help of Brian, the fitness manager, and Sam, a personal trainer, I am officially locked and loaded with sessions bought through a package. Soon, they’ll set me loose to train on my own. Oh, wow… That’s coming up soon. Scheduling me for gym time started a new habit. Endorphin addiction will keep me going.

In the meantime, I’m learning all kinds of torture chamber methods to wake up my minuscule muscles. I trained today and can feel them crying out for mercy. They are total wimps and woosies.

“Pipe down,” I said to my whiny muscles, “You need to be exercised. It’s good for you! We can try new adventures again knowing that I won’t hurt myself because of your puniness.”

“All right. You don’t have to yell.”

I’ll let you know how it goes. In the meantime, two people know my name at my new gym and that’s A-okay.

Clowning around at 24 Hour Fitness

Do you belong to a gym? Do people know your name? Are you a gym rat or a occasional user? I’m striving for the rat category.

My Crazy Mind and Eating Without Inhaling

My Crazy Mind and Eating Without Inhaling.What if there was a way to slow down and enjoy what we eat? I would love that. Sometimes, when I’m hungry, I inhale my food. I look at my empty plate and think, “When did that happen?”

You might have heard about mindful eating. It means savoring each bite by setting down your fork to chew your food and really taste it. That would be swell, but when I think about what I eat, it hardly deserves the time.

  • A piece of toast with coffee.
  • Granola, fruit and yogurt between 9:00 and 10:00.
  • A half sandwich and soup for lunch.
  • Something cooked quickly for dinner or leftovers. I love using the crock pot and made enough beef stew last night for a family of eight. 

So this morning, I ate a bowl of cereal – I have no idea what kind – and had an AHA moment.

This is how my crazy mind works. See if you can follow along…

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