Summary of resolution month #1

Well hello friends! Can you believe January is gone already? I am amazed at how quickly this month flew by! Good thing I have been keeping track of all the things I’ve been doing this month!

As I mentioned in the last post, I have done some purging. My bedroom and my downstairs bathroom have been purged and cleaned. They are still in great shape. (I sweep the bathroom floor every night to keep it nice!)  I am contemplating what room to focus on purging next. I will make a decision this weekend and start on it at the beginning of next week. I’ll let you all know what room I decided on.

2 lemon slices, 2 orange slices, 2 cucumber slices, a handful of blueberries, and 2 sliced strawberries. SO GOOD!

 

 

My salad eating has gone fairly well… I ate a salad six days a week for the first two weeks. I lost a bit of momentum in weeks three and four, HOWEVER, my husband and I started a water challenge, and I have taken that a bit further and making my water fruit infused. I feel that between that and the salads, I have been doing a bit better. We have been trying to make more meals at home. It has been going well.

 

 

I have been trying very hard to have less negative thoughts. I was doing really well, then the negativity began to creep in again. I tried something new. I made a subliminal music soundtrack to play when I fall asleep. My own words telling me to love myself… to let go of the hate, and just be happy. I think that has been helping. I have still had some rage-mode moments, but I feel like they are a bit better.

 

Anything is better than nothing. Keep plodding along. You CAN do it!

 

I have eased my way back into exercising on my treadmill. My foot has been a bit angry with me with the additional walking, so I have had to give it a little extra rest. I am VERY pleased with my progress through the month of January. Every barbell throughout the month is a day I exercised… anywhere between 35-67 minutes per session. During the month, I walked more than seventeen miles!

 

 

My “January Jump Start” spending freeze went extremely well. I spent very minimal money, which was super challenging! I pretty much blew that whole month of no spending, in my opinion, because I ended up purchasing a vehicle. We knew we were going to be needing another vehicle in the next few months, with jobs, and my son returning home. We weren’t expecting to get the car quite this soon, but the deal was great, and everything fell into place so easily, we decided to go ahead and get it now. So, because of that, I am labeling February as “Frugal February”. Not a complete spending freeze, but the goal is to buy absolutely nothing at full price, including groceries. Everything MUST either be on sale or have a coupon for significant savings. We will be going through our menus for the month to make sure we can make that happen.

I think that covers everything that happened last month. Man, there was SO MUCH going on! All in all, I think I did well… up until the last day of the month, when the car was purchased. Try, try again, right?

That’s the beauty of this crazy life. We all have our weak moments. Let’s regroup and start again. It will be okay.

YOU CAN DO IT!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

The projects continue: What have you learned this month?

Well, the month is starting to wind down, and I feel like I have accomplished quite a bit this month. I have learned some things as well.

The second part of this month has been spent cleaning and going through my downstairs bathroom. Even though this particular room is very small, we have SO MANY things packed in there, and so many of those items haven’t been used in years. Seriously! Why on earth are we holding on to ALL THESE THINGS? The counter top is small, with a metal shelf in the corner. That means that even a few things left out makes the entire counter look cluttered. The amount of things stacked up was kind of embarrassing. The same goes for the medicine cabinet. Perfumes… Numerous face lotions and other facial concoctions… First aid items strewn about… Also incredibly embarrassing. Under the sink was also packed full of various cleaning products some nearly full, and others just drops away from being empty.

I grabbed a large garbage bag and started with my counter first. What better way to start than to do the part that is seen every time someone enters the room! The calmness of a clean and organized counter is most definitely a motivator to carry on and finish the room. I sifted through every hair product, and every hair accessory. I threw away more than half! I had multiple products, which I use, that I was able to combine into one container. The majority of the hair accessories I tossed into the garbage. (I have this thing about used hair items… I just can’t donate them if they’re not washable… it seems so unsanitary!)

My four shelf medicine cabinet was tackled next. All the old band-aids, and other first aid items not really usable were thrown away. The good items that aren’t used frequently, but needed (like the thermometer for fevers, and sanitary band-aids), were put on the top shelf out of the way in a little box to keep them from getting spread all over. Perfumes and body sprays were set up on the next shelf down. I threw away any that were “so close” to empty, or ones that I haven’t used in the last three months. My face/beauty items went on the second to the bottom shelf. Any items that were purchased, used once, and never used again for whatever reason, were thrown out immediately. The remaining items were assessed thoroughly. I have a really hard time throwing these things in particular away. I see them and automatically think, “Oh yeah, I was going to use that before, but I forgot about it”. NEWS FLASH: if you haven’t used it yet, after months, it’s probably not going to happen. Say goodbye to it, and don’t give it another thought. You had already forgotten about it in the first place! Only the items I use regularly, and the ones that work are placed back in the cupboard. The very bottom shelf is designated for daily use items… toothbrushes, toothpaste, deodorants, facial routine, etc. The smaller items were organized in a clear little bin, and the rest strategically placed.

The space under the sink was honestly the easiest for me to go through. All but five things were tossed or designated homes elsewhere. We live in the country, so we have well water, which I mostly love. The water is full of hard minerals that, over time, stain porcelain toilets and sinks, and create a ‘lovely’ yellow tinge to the bathtub. There are very few cleaning products out there that I have found that work extremely well without spending an entire afternoon scrubbing vigorously. I hear about new products, so I will buy it, try it, and discover that it DOES NOT do what I had hoped. So, then it sits under the sink, with all the other disappointing bottles. I took everything out and did an assessment. The nearly full items that don’t work for my hard water issues, I have placed in a box, and I will be taking them to work with me to be used there. The mostly empty bottles were used up on the sink, toilet and bathtub, and the bottles disposed of appropriately.

All of our towels in the cupboard were gone through. All of the ones in good shape were put back. The decent ones with frayed ends were deemed good for cleaning and put in the cleaning rag bin. The worn out ones were thrown in the garbage bag.

My last project was the walls and floor. This for me, is the hardest part. My house is nearly one hundred years old. I live in farm country. My house gets dusty in a record amount of time. Add to that a steamy environment, and you have the amazing potential for the kind of dust that sticks to steamy walls, and then dries there. Even when the little fan is turned on during a shower, it doesn’t help much. Years ago, I purchased the Swiffer wet mop wipes, and they are used most often in my bathroom. I attach one of those to the simple mop and wipe down my walls to get all the clinging dust off with little effort. Then, I mop the floor. I flip the “wipe” inside out and get the floor as clean as I can. Then, I get a new wipe and go over the floor again to ensure that it is clean. I know, I know, I could use altered microfiber towels to mop, in a homemade solution, instead of the disposable wipes. I have tried this, and for me, I find that this works better. At some point, I will probably revisit this subject, and work on finding a different cleaning recipe that cuts through the dust, sanitizes, and leaves a nice scent. For now, this is enough.

So now, I have two rooms completely done, from top to bottom. What have I learned from this? It is great to go through your stuff, clean, organize, and get rid of things. There is another factor, however, that is just as important. MAINTAINING. What’s the point of going through this if you aren’t going to put in the effort to keep it that way? It has been two weeks since the completion of my bedroom. I am proud to announce, that I am making the conscious effort to maintain it. In the past, I would let that small pile of clothes sit there “until tomorrow”. I have committed myself to taking care of those piles immediately, or not letting the piles happen in the first place. Shoes go back in their spot as soon as they leave my feet. Clothes are hung up immediately. Everything goes back in its place. I love it. I love walking into my room and feeling relaxed and satisfied when I look around. It takes less time to take that extra two to three minutes and simply put things away, than to take an hour to go through a pile of things every week or two. SUCCESS!

The month is almost over, and I will be giving you all a month end review then. I am so happy with the progress I have made. I am still excited about this ongoing resolution to literally clean up my life. (Haha!)

So, until then… KEEP GOING! You’re doing great! If you have faltered, that’s okay! Recommit to your goals and give it another go! You CAN do this. You WILL do this. Your mind, body, and soul will thank you! ❤

1030-blank-sign-illustration-pv

 

January resolution progress report

Hello my friends! Happy Saturday! How is everyone doing so far? Have you kept up with your resolutions you made on January 1? I sure hope so!

On New Year’s day, I also started the year by making some goals for myself… publicly. I figured, what better way to make sure I stay on track than by telling the whole world about it. If that isn’t the best motivator, then I don’t know what is!

Here’s a reminder of the resolutions I made for myself:

#1 – Eating better by eating healthier foods

#2 – Letting the negativity go

#3 – Exercising routinely

#4 – Purging my belongings and organizing what’s left

Nearly two weeks have passed, and here is what has happened thus far…

Resolution #1: I have figured out how to make the lovely vinaigrette salad dressing that my friend told me about, and I am extremely excited! I have salad greens in my refrigerator, salad dressing made, and homemade croutons in a vacu-sealed jar all ready to go. I have eaten a salad 11 out of 12 days so far. I discovered that slivered almonds and dried cranberries are a delightful addition to what I have in my bowl already. The possibilities are endless! I’m always willing to try something new and different. So far, my ideas have been surprisingly delicious. One thing I have decided to do, however, is have a limited ‘cheat’ day. That day is Thursday. Thursday evenings is when I meet with my girls, so I think that will be the day that I can cut loose a little bit and have a drink, and eat, in moderation, a few of the lovely foods that I enjoy so much. Hey, if I NEVER eat the foods I crave so much, the possibility for failure is much higher. I CAN do this!

Resolution #2: I have learned quite a bit about myself over the last 12 days. I take things WAY too personally. I have learned that I have a hard time letting things go.  I have a hard time not complaining about it. I have a hard time keeping my mouth shut, especially when I’m tired. I have had to stop myself multiple times from blurting negative things out loud. Even then, I haven’t been 100% successful. I need to find a different, positive perspective on all of the things going on around me. They say it takes thirty days to make a habit. I am hoping to prove that theory to be correct. We’ll see what happens as the month continues.

Resolution #3: I purchased a calendar/planner to log all of my activities in. This includes my workout schedule. I have set aside three days/evenings a week for doing my treadmill workouts. As much as I would love to have four or five designated days, I know from past experience, that I tend to burn down within a month when I do this. I also know that I have to give my foot some extra time to recover between workouts. I don’t want to do any damage that will have me spending extra time sitting on the couch any more than necessary. I have completed every scheduled workout so far. I did end up getting sick for a couple of days, but I managed to make up those scheduled workouts within the next week. So, I have, ultimately, completed all of the workouts I had planned for myself. I am already seeing a difference in my body. Yay! There’s some motivation for me to keep going!

Resolution #4: PURGING TASK #1- MY BEDROOM: I have completely gone through every shelf, drawer, and tote in my bedroom. I have gone through every piece of clothing I own and have been brutally honest with myself about my things. I looked at every shirt, pair of pants, coat, socks, dresses, and my unmentionables. I threw away the items with holes, and the other things that I had set aside “to fix” that had been piled up in one of my laundry baskets. I hadn’t missed any of them after all this time, so they are leaving. I made a pile of the pieces that were nice enough to sell online. I made another pile that weren’t as nice, but will put them in a garage sale that will happen in the spring. I put my summer items in a tote that I labeled “seasonal”. I also put my Christmas clothes (ugly sweaters) in this tote as well.  I went through my purses, bags, wallets, scarves, gloves and hats, and was able to eliminate more than half of those items as well. The majority of the extra hangers have been removed and put in a tote to use in my upcoming yard sale. The items left, that I wear regularly, were returned to my closet. Any item that I’m undecided about has gone back into my closet with the hanger hung up backwards. After two months, if I haven’t worn the items, they will be sold, either online or in my garage sale. More than half of my clothes are out! I dusted all the shelves, and all the flat surfaces in my bedroom. I have vacuumed the carpet, and used my carpet cleaner as well. I AM OFFICIALLY DONE WITH THIS ROOM!

 

SIDE NOTE: Part of my process of purging a room is having to post all of the nicer items I want to sell online IMMEDIATELY. This does a few different things for me. I AM COMMITTED TO MAKING THAT ITEM LEAVE MY HOME. I can’t keep it for myself if I have it for sale. I can be motivated by earning money when I sell them. I can’t move on to another room if I haven’t finished all of my processes. I have heard good things about Poshmark, so I took pictures of all those clothing items and posted them. That is part of my plan… posting my items. It keeps me motivated to get it done! I have already sold five items for a total of $45.00 in less than a week. NICE! All of the money I make from my belongings will be going into my emergency savings fund.        https://poshmark.com/

priority mail boxes      So far, I have been very happy with this website/app. They, of course, take a percentage of your selling price, BUT, it is all up front before you officially list your items. The shipping is super easy. Poshmark takes care of the shipping end of things. All you have to do is package up your sold item (very nicely please!), print out a shipping label (that they email to you), and tape it on your “Priority Mail” box (you get them FOR FREE from the post office!). Then you take it to your local post office, they scan your label, and you’re done!  I’m all for it!

I finished my monthly budget as well. It is very strict, but very doable! There will definitely be some self control needed, but we can do it! January is already my spending freeze month, (Boy, I have SO MUCH going on this month!), which coincides well with our new budget. I have done very well. Yes, I have been tempted of course, BUT I have squashed the urges to spend. Nothing I have been tempted by is a NEED, simply things I WANT. That’s the important thing to realize… the difference between the needs and the wants. ONLY NINETEEN DAYS TO GO!

*Budget done.

*Bedroom purged.

*Items have been put up for sale.

*Exercise happening routinely.

*Eating healthy regularly.

*Actively aware of my words and actions.

gold star

I’m giving myself a gold star for the progress I have made in these first twelve days. I have been successful in many things, and those I haven’t been completely successful in, I am aware of the problem and have committed to doing better and being better.

I hope you are finding great success this year. Stick with it.

YOU CAN DO IT!

Happy Holidays! Time to clean up your spending habits

Can you believe it? Christmas is finally here! In some ways it feels like just yesterday was the beginning of 2018. It also feels like it’s been, well, a year. How is everyone holding up? Have you all opened your presents after waking up entirely too early because of children or just sheer anticipation?

Merry Christmas one and all

This year has been a bit different than any other one I’ve ever had. My kids normally would wake us up around 8 am so that we can open presents, whether they lived at home or not. Today however, my son is spending some time in Japan, and my daughter and her husband (I love saying that!) are coming over this afternoon to exchange gifts and stay for dinner, along with one of my nieces. How bizarre it is, now that my children are all grown up and living on their own. Traditions are morphing into entirely new ones. I don’t mind, as long as my family is happy and healthy.

As I was getting ready this morning for the upcoming festivities, I was thinking about several things… First and foremost, I am gearing up for January. Those who know me know that January always means SPENDING FREEZE. The last month has been filled with buying presents and spending extra on groceries. It doesn’t take very long for my attitude and outlook to change when it comes to spending money. The Christmas season is brutal on me. I’m sure it has taken a toll on many of you as well. I have become accustomed to seeing things suitable for a gift and buying it. I will make a little side note here however… I AM very proud of myself for the amount of money I spent. With the help of coupons, store rewards, and rewards from my Amazon rewards credit card, I only spent around $25.00 out of pocket. My budget for Christmas was set at $250.00. I can’t complain about that! Every year millions of people go deep into debt because of Christmas. Maybe it’s the frugal side of me talking, or maybe it’s the budding minimalist emerging, but I am proud to say that I have incurred ZERO debt this holiday season! In fact, I am setting aside my saved $225.00 for next year!  WOO HOO!  

The second thing I was thinking about was a new budget for the upcoming year. In years past, I have dreaded drawing up a budget. We had a mountain of debt… multiple credit cards, car loans, house payments… It was incredibly stressful, and there was always too much month left at the end of our money. What a horrible existence! We have since paid off every credit card, and have locked them away. (I am still fighting with myself over closing some or all of those accounts.) All we have left for bills is the standard things… Mortgage, home and auto insurance, natural gas, cable/internet, cell phone, fuel, groceries, garbage, and our Amazon rewards credit card. There are still too many bills for my liking, but, I refuse to go without a phone, internet, or cable in some capacity. Please note that I DID NOT mention electricity. We invested in solar panels quite a few years back, and have never regretted it. I haven’t had a power bill since the month after we had them installed.  The panels paid for themselves in about 2 years! It is such a help to our finances. My husband renegotiated our cable/internet bill and got it lowered by $90/month. We did the same with our cell phone bill. Our natural gas bill is paid on an equal pay plan. No matter summer or winter, we pay the same amount. I always budget and pay an extra $10 per month to offset the winter months, just in case. They send me a check in the spring if there’s an overage. That goes straight into savings. I cannot stress this enough… HAVING A BUDGET AND STICKING TO IT IS SO IMPORTANT! I urge all of you to sit down over the next week and make a budget for 2019. I have included some helpful worksheets to help you. Dave Ramsey’s “Total Money Makeover” is an amazing book that I have read and reread over the last several years. These worksheets, which I have included two below, are amazing tools that will allow you to build your budget. I highly recommend acquiring this book.

I’m going to let you in on a secret here. As much as I detest credit cards, I am in love with the Amazon rewards credit card. I pay every bill I can with that card… cable, cell phone, insurance, doctor bills, garbage, gas, and groceries. I budget the hell out of everything just like I would if I was paying cash. You have to have a lot of self control, but I am going to spend the same money, whether I pay with cash, check, or debit card. If I use my Amazon card, I get money back. True, it is only useful on Amazon, BUT, I can get just about anything my heart desires there, and sadly, usually cheaper than a brick and mortar store. On top of that, since I live in a smaller city, there are many things I can’t get locally. You might not get the item instantly, but I can get it FOR FREE. I have had this card for just over a year, and I have made more than $800! Items for my daughters’ wedding? Paid on that card. Homeowner’s and car insurance? Yep. Cable, cell phones, gas, groceries… everything possible, and I get a percentage back… anywhere from 1% – 5% depending on what I use it on. Every little bit helps. I pay my credit card bill every two weeks when my I get my paycheck, and I love it. My frugal self is ecstatic about it. Yes, I am still frugal about the things I spend my free money on, of course. I still want the most “bang for my buck”, after all. If nothing else, this card has funded my hobbies, and that in itself is a beautiful thing. There are other rewards cards out there, and I’m sure other types of rewards could be more useful to all of you… airline miles, literal cash back, etc. If that works for you, then by all means, go for it! Just remember the reason you’re using the cards. If you choose to use a rewards card, use that credit card solely. Do not be sidetracked by the rewards though, YOU STILL HAVE TO ABIDE BY YOUR BUDGET!

The new year is almost here, and I want each and every one of you to succeed. I want all of you to achieve your goals. Plan now, and reap the benefits in the months to come.

I hope this day has brought you love, peace, time with family and/or friends, and fond memories to reflect on later in your lives.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS TO EVERYONE

Love to everyone

The art of humility

Over the last few weeks, since my surgery, as I have been forced to stay off my foot the majority of the day, I have learned a valuable lesson in humility. I have always been a do-it-myself, independent woman. Over the last three and a half weeks, I haven’t been able to do… well, not very much. I went back to work two weeks ago, with the understanding that my foot has to be elevated for at least fifteen minutes every hour. All of this has reigned in my ego.

Not only have I had to rely on other people to fix my food, get me water, and pain medication, I have had to have help putting on my clothes, going to the bathroom, taking a shower, climbing the stairs, and getting situated in bed. I am so very grateful for all the help that my family and friends have given me.

I have always had a problem accepting help. I don’t want to say that I feel like it’s charity… It just makes me feel like I have no control of myself, I suppose. It makes me feel weak. It makes me feel incapable. I have had to ask for help… straight up, verbally,  ASK for help… Not beating around the bush hinting that “it would be nice if… but I don’t want to trouble you just because I need to go to the bathroom” asking. It has been an eye opening experience for sure. I think the internal struggle within me stems from my shyness. I am happy to say that I am getting better about that.

Ah, the things we do to be pain free… eventually.

So, as I sit here reflecting over the last nearly four weeks of recovery, I can honestly say that this foot surgery has been the most painful, challenging experience that I think I’ve ever had as an adult. Seriously! I don’t think even childbirth was this bad. I deal with pain pretty well, but WOW! I’m sure it’s probably because it’s a foot, after all. I’m thinking that it will all be worth it if I can eventually walk without pain anymore.

 

My lovely daughter having a movie night with me.

 

 

My daughter, bless her heart, gave up an evening to have a movie night with me. She brought me a chocolate milkshake and we watched Hocus Pocus, the movie. I had never seen it. I know, I know… I’m probably the only one who hasn’t. It was cute, and dramatically, wonderfully cheesy. I loved it.

 

 

I have had a little bit of fun through all of this though. I have never used one of those electric motor carts at the grocery store. I got to use one at Costco, and it was so much fun! That made me pretty happy. I just wish that it went quite a bit faster!

 

 

What I’m trying to explain here is this…  It is okay to accept help when you need it. It is okay to feel like you don’t have it all together all the time. People feel the urge to help others. LET THEM. Not only is it good for you to receive the help, it is good for other people to provide it. Let people have the opportunity to provide a service to their fellow men and women. We need to feel needed.

So, what are you going to do to help someone today?

 

 

Wedding overview – WE SURVIVED

It has been a few weeks since I have posted anything. I have been wrapped up in wedding prep and planning… So sorry about that, but hey, what’s a girl to do?

Three days post wedding, and I am sitting at my computer with my feet propped up. I cannot tell you how thankful I am for requesting a few extra days off from work to recoup. This is when I truly come to realize that I’m not in my twenties anymore. I am SO exhausted! My actual job is a very physical one… lots of heavy lifting, customer service, and thinking mix ratios, timelines, etc. That is a cake walk compared to this whirlwind of a week. I’m pretty sure that every muscle in my body aches. My feet are destroyed. My brain hurts. I am, surprisingly, ready to go back to work for some normalcy!

Here’s a rundown of my last week. I’ll have to sort some things through to make sure all my facts are in order. Bear with me here.

Last Tuesday, the 21st, was a normal workday. Mostly. My brother, John, along with his wife and thirteen year old son, started their journey from Idaho by car. He texted me throughout the day to give me updates on their travels. I was so excited, I could hardly contain myself. They arrived at my work around three in the afternoon. I was overjoyed to see them. I cried a little. My only sibling, and I haven’t seen him in nearly two years. I miss him! They spent the last two hours at my work visiting. I’m sure my coworkers were a bit annoyed with that, but, honestly, I didn’t care. It was so nice to see them. We all went home after that and unloaded their car. I gave them a tour of the house, and showed them all the changes since they had visited last. They got to meet my two new doggies, Joshua and Maya. My nephew bonded with Maya almost instantly. It was adorable. We spent the rest of the evening relaxing and chatting about anything and everything. It was so nice.

Wednesday morning, the 22nd, I made a call to the contact person for the wedding venue to try and set up a meeting for Thursday afternoon. I had three phone numbers. The first number was disconnected… Uh oh! I left voice messages on the other two. I was a bit nervous about that, but I tried to push that to the back of my mind. I DID NOT say anything to my daughter. That was the last thing she needed to hear. She was starting to stress a bit. That’s what brides-to-be do, right? After that, John and I went through all the electrical components I had collected over the last few months to figure out what we still needed to make all the audio work for the wedding. (I have been collecting items for my music group here and there for future performances.) We had just about everything except for an amplifier/receiver and a few connectors and cables. We ran into town and found everything at one store. Hallelujah! My hubby had a receiver, RCA cables, and speaker wire, so all in all, I only spent about $30. YES!  That afternoon, I took the family, and met my music girls in Corvallis to do a music video of our first song, “Incontinence”. (Yes, you read that right!)  Corvallis has this wonderful event called “Play Piano Play” every summer. They place pianos all over town out in parks and on street corners for people to play. All free… just so people can enjoy music and talent. It is the neatest thing! We made a spur of the moment decision to go and perform. Why not? John recorded the song for us, and the wedding photographer came and took some photos. It was so much fun! 

  After that, we drove around Corvallis for a bit, and then took a little tour of the historic homes in downtown Albany. There are so many beautiful homes. After we got home, I made the family Instant Pot ribs for dinner. I have been raving about my Instant Pot to my brother for a few months. I figured I’d show him what he had been missing! They were perfect, fall off the bone, delicious… IN AN HOUR. He was impressed. We had another evening of chatting, drinking some adult beverages, and laughing. My daughter and her fiance came by to say hi for a few minutes. Another great day. 

Thursday, the 23rd, I left another message about the venue. I still hadn’t heard anything back, and I was starting to freak out a little bit. John mentioned that he would like to take his family to The Enchanted Forest.

Located on I-5 in Turner, OR. A charming little amusement park, established in 1971.

It is a quaint little amusement park about thirty minutes away. It has been there since 1971. The story behind the park itself is wonderful. It was a nice distraction from the worries going on in my head. We arrived at about eleven o’clock. The parking lot was full. It wasn’t too hot. Perfect.

Just have to take selfies with the family!

My nephew and I had a great time going through all the little rabbit holes, slides, and kiddie attractions. We were about to enter the haunted house, when I finally got a call back about the venue. The meeting and handing off of the key would happen at four that afternoon. WHAT A RELIEF! The rest of the afternoon was carefree. We rode the log ride and got soaked. We rode on the roller coaster. (Thank you, John, for not throwing up in the hood of my sweatshirt!)

Checking out all the cute little shops at The Enchanted Forest

The beginning of the roller coaster ride.

 

 

 

 

 

 

We had lunch, did a little souvenir shopping, and made it back down for the venue meeting in plenty of time. We did a walk through of the place, exchanged monies and keys, and then things started to “get real”. My daughter was getting married… in a day and a half! I had my hubby make dinner that evening, since I was gone most of the day. He made a delicious manicotti.

The grange. The venue for my daughter’s wedding

I met my daughter down at the venue at six to practice. She asked me to rearrange a Metallica song for piano. For their first dance, she wanted to sing part of “Nothing Else Matters” to him as a surprise before they started dancing. The practice went really well. The room where the dancing would happen had amazing acoustics… just the right amount of echo bouncing around. I teared up as she was singing. It was absolutely beautiful. As soon as we finished up our rehearsal, we headed back to my house for dinner. My music girls were already there. We had another great laughter filled evening, visiting with my family.

Friday, the 24th… the day before the wedding. John and I woke up roughly around the same time. We decided to load up all the sound gear and haul it down to the grange to set it up and do an audio check. Everything worked great. He ran back to the house to wake up his wife, so I started working on the basement decorations. I put silver glittery ribbon around all the columns. It was simple, but very nice. Ron, the photographer, showed up to start setting up his equipment and taking photos of all the progress, and the bridesmaids arrived a little while later to help with the decorations. It was tough. We didn’t have as much stuff as we thought we did. Some ribbon, string lights, and other things that I had no idea what to do with. I had one set of people downstairs putting up lights, so I went upstairs to see what I could do for the stage and seating for the reception… I hung up all my mason jar lights in the windows, and the bridesmaids attempted to make some bows for the front of the stage. I didn’t like it. Not at all. I’ve never decorated for a wedding. Yet once again, I was in a panic. The groom, and several of his entourage showed up and helped in the basement with the lights. I guess the plan for the string lights was different than what I thought. I’m so glad they knew what was going on. They did a great job hanging them up. Carmen came and set up the tables in the basement with tablecloths, car centerpieces, and little canning jars with nuts, bolts, and battery powered tea lights in them. Then, my dear friend, Kate, (one of my music girls, and the officiant for the wedding) showed up and had brilliant ideas. We wandered around the venue and she assessed everything. She said she would come back the next day with a variety of things and help decorate. Seriously love this lady! We had the rehearsal at 6:30. We ran through the ceremony a few times to get things hammered out. It was good. Most of the wedding party left after that. I got a phone call from my florist friend, Rosa, that she was in my driveway with Carmen’s last minute bouquet, so I quickly drove back to my house to get it.

Modern Florist Oregon did a fantastic job with the bouquet! Beautiful!

IT WAS GORGEOUS! I gave her a huge tip for her effort, quickness, and delivery. I wrote the best recommendation I could on her business page. Modern Florist Oregon did a spectacular job! I am not even ashamed to give her business a boost here. The bouquet STILL looks perfect 5 days later! After I ran back down and showed off the bouquet, Kate and I did some more planning, and then my other dear friend, Janet, drove up. She had surprises for us! She made the most beautiful hats for us! Big, decorated hats to wear at the wedding! It’s amazing what tool and flowers can do!

These girls are seriously the best! These hats are FABULOUS!

It was decided that once the ceremony was over, we would wear them. How fun! By the time I got home that evening, John and his wife had gone over to a friends’ house for the evening, so I sat down at my computer and started getting Carmen’s playlist for the reception together. She had run out of time and couldn’t get it done. She sent me two pages of songs she wanted to have played. I was up until almost 2 am getting all the music together on my iPod. I had my feet on ice bags. They were so sore! My hubby finally came in and made me go to bed. I went to bed hoping to be able to sleep. I slept decent enough.

Saturday, the 25… THE MORNING OF THE WEDDING. I was up early yet once again. I drank some coffee, and my brother and I went into town to rent a couple of plug in lamp posts for near the stage. I had been looking online the night before for something to add that “extra touch” and decided on those. We get there, and… they don’t have them in their store. They had another store in Salem that showed they had a set. We went back to my car and called up there. Yes, they had them. I reserved them, and then called another dear friend… Super Bob. He said he was willing to drive the distance and pick them up for me. He also said he had a few tables that he could bring. What a life saver! After that, we headed down to the grange again. I was discouraged. Nearly half of the decorations we had put up the day before had fallen down. Panic… again. I went through and reattached everything with pushpins instead of tape. Kate arrived with fabric, hair ties, a big step ladder, and a variety of other useful things. She had incredible, doable ideas! We put up a beautiful purple swag above the stage, using hair ties to attach to the hooks above. The hair ties also were used for making poufs. BRILLIANT! (I seriously have THE BEST group of friends!) She commissioned the bridesmaids to do various tasks, and they did great! They decorated the photo booth area. We put some neat fabric on the backs of chairs in front of the keyboard and audio equipment to hide the eyesores. The groomsmen, all VERY tall I might add, attached a silver ribboned wall behind the keyboard as well. It looked awesome. Bob arrived with the lamp posts, after some major delays in weekend traffic on the freeway. The lights looked great, however, one bulb was burned out, and one post had bright white bulbs, and the other had soft white… Two completely different color bulbs. Yellow-ish vs white. Bob volunteered to get some more white ones, and left to get those and to get ready for the actual event.  Carmen and the bridesmaids left around two to start getting ready. My husband showed up with the backdrop for the ceremony… Natural lattice with braces attached to each side and the middle. John, Kate, and I grabbed Carmen’s lovely purple fabric and screwed it to the backside. Kate and John then took the long black tool Carmen had purchased and wove it from the back to make lovely little poufs on the top and sides. It looked gorgeous. Kate left, John left, and I finished checking things over before leaving at nearly four. I was hot and sweaty, and didn’t even have enough time to take a shower. I went and changed all my clothes, did my hair and makeup, and then waited for Carmen to show up so I could help her put her dress on and the final prep.

Saturday, the 25th… THE WEDDING. The photographers showed up for the final photos of the prep with Carmen. She showed up a few minutes later. We went upstairs, stressed and feeling the time crunch. Carmen’s official ride down to the wedding showed up. Thank you to Fred, for volunteering at the last minute to drive his beautiful black Chrysler 300, so she could arrive “in style”. We got her dress and shoes on with no issues. She had a few photos taken, and then I left her with Fred and her daddy. I rushed down to the grange to get situated with the rest of the wedding party. I pulled up, hot and heavy, and I see a nice turnout of people. Good! I had gotten a few last minute cancellations, so I was hoping there would be a nice turnout. There was. Janet came over and helped me carry all my stuff, and then it all happened. Carmen arrived in the beautiful black car. The music had been playing Diana Krall love songs while the guests arrived and sat down outside in the sunshine… a pleasant 80°F. Kate was already at the front when Jacob, the groom, walked up the aisle. His groomsmen followed behind, the first one carrying my tablet with a picture of the best man on it. He couldn’t attend. He is in the military, stationed out of the country. They built a scarecrow type man to hold the tablet as his face. It was perfectly humorous.

Handsome groom!

What a beautiful bride

Carmen and her daddy.

The best man was there in spirit

Myself, my son, and a groomsman

I followed the last groomsmen, holding a photo head of my son as a bouquet… Carmen’s brother. He couldn’t attend either. He is also in the military… stationed out of the country. The bridesmaids followed behind. Then, Carmen stepped out of the car, and walked down the aisle on my husband’s arm. My heart melted, seeing my hubby’s smiling face as he walked with my beautiful daughter, in her beautiful dress, up to us. He handed her to Jacob, and the ceremony began. Kate did a wonderful job officiating her first wedding. There was humor, seriousness, and it was heartfelt. I was impressed. They said “I do”, and the kiss was so very sweet. We walked back down the aisle, and that part was over! We did photos with the photographer while everyone went down to the basement to eat pizza and salad. We went down, ate, took some more photos, and then, after a bit, came the first dance. I got my microphone, and announced the first dance. I sat down at my keyboard, and started to play. It sounded really good. Carmen started to sing, and it sounded beautiful… and then the soundboard overheated and the keyboard cut out, in the middle of the first verse. She nervously turned her head towards me, and I loudly whisper, “Just keep going!”… And she sang it acapella until I got the electronics up and going again. She did a beautiful job! She stepped up to him at the end of the first verse, and I then serenaded them through the rest of the song after a few finger flubs of frustration.  At the end of the song, Jacob wiped a tear from his face. My heart was full. Everyone loved it, even with the glitch. How could they not? Metallica gone classical… enough said! Carmen had a daddy/daughter dance with my husband… “Wanna Be a Baller”, and then a dance with her biological dad… “Mental Health”. Odd? Not if you knew my daughter. They were the perfect choices. After that, the dancing was on, and my soundboard repeatedly shut off throughout the rest of the evening. SO FAR FROM PERFECT. I was stressed and irritated by it, but no one in my circle of friends thought it was a big deal, so I calmed down. “It is what it is”.

Carmen and Jacob’s first dance as husband and wife

There was much conversation, laughter, dancing, consuming of adult beverages, and overall enjoyment. The grange was just about empty by nine o’clock and we started winding down. Jacob sat in the basement with his friends from out of town for awhile. My family went back to my house. Carmen followed me there to get a few things before heading home… and it was over. We conversed for awhile about the wedding, and got ready for bed. It was then that I realized that my underwear had been on inside out the entire evening. I had been in such a hurry, I didn’t even realize it. Now that’s funny! I sent a text to Carmen informing her of this, (she gets a good laugh from this type of information.) and went to bed.

“Wanna Be a Baller”

Sunday, the 26th… the day after. I got up at 6:30 to see my brother and his family off. They didn’t end up leaving until almost 8:00, but that’s okay. I cried, of course, as they drove down the street and out of sight. I had fully planned on going back to bed, but I couldn’t sleep… Too much crying. So, I left a note for my hubby, and headed down to the grange to get going on the cleanup. I had all the ribbon down and rolled up, trash off the tables, and all the jars gathered together by the time Carmen and Jacob showed up. We got all the tablecloths off of the tables, all the jars boxed up, and everything completely out by three in the afternoon. (And yes, she laughed hysterically at my informative text from the night before.) We left the grange with nothing left to do but vacuum the stairs and mop the kitchen area. I went home and took a break for a few hours, and spent another hour vacuuming and mopping. I did another walk around check and left. I collapsed on the couch and did nothing for the rest of the evening.

Monday, the 27th… two days after. I got up at a decent time, after feeling ill in the middle of the night. Thankfully, I felt better when I got up. Mind you, I was even more sore than the day before. Today was my day of running around. I had to have the rented lamp posts back in Salem by noon. I also needed to run by the courthouse to drop off the completed wedding paperwork. It took me longer than I expected with all the traffic, to return the posts, but I made the deadline and headed back. It was noon when I got back, so I couldn’t go to the courthouse until after lunch, so I made a few stops, put gas in my car, and went to my daughter’s house for a bit. We talked about all the unique problems that happened at the wedding. She wasn’t upset at all. She laughed about it and said, “Well, that’s kind of how things go with us, isn’t it?”. LOVE this girl. She’s already ready to tell the story of her perfectly imperfect wedding.

You may kiss the bride

I have learned a few things from this whole wedding experience.

#1- It’s okay to fire your friend from being your free wedding coordinator when she doesn’t actually do anything. (Taking over a week or two before the wedding is not for the weak!)  Actually hiring a coordinator may cost money, but there won’t be nearly the amount of stress when your big day arrives. OR, be sure your person is going to be able to handle the responsibility. You HAVE to know stuff is going to get done!

#2- DO NOT PROCRASTINATE! “We’ll do that later. We’ve got time”, DOES NOT WORK! Even when we all have jobs, and lives, things have got to get done. Every time you say that, that’s one more thing added to your last minute list… that you don’t have time for.

#3- Having reliable friends and family is so, so important! There is NO WAY I could have gotten this all done without my husband, Kate, Janet, Super Bob, John, Rosa, Fred, Ron, and so many other people!

#4- It is okay to let people help you! Don’t let your pride get in the way. If people volunteer to help, LET THEM HELP! I have been humbled by this experience. Even though I feel that I need to do everything myself, other people can do things too! Ask. Delegate. Trust. Accept. Just let it happen!

#5- Don’t expect perfection. Nothing will ever be perfect. Of course you want it to be. I did. This is my baby girl. Of course I wanted it to be the perfect day for her. I told her, very frankly, to not expect perfection. Whatever is going to happen, will. Whatever isn’t, will just be one of those great stories you laugh at when you tell your friends about your wedding. She has a lot of things to laugh about for sure!

I present the bride and groom

 

So, now, my lovely daughter is a married woman… married to a wonderful man. I have another son. (I honestly don’t care about the “in-law” part.)  She is happy. They are happy. I am happy. And that, my friends, is all I could ever hope for…  And no one got arrested.

Why music is my passion

Everyone has their “thing”. You know, that something that has always been there… The thing that puts you at ease, that calms you down, relaxes you like nothing else can. For me, that thing is music. I don’t mean just listening to it. I mean creating it. Sure, I have other things that I truly enjoy doing… Writing and photography… but music is my first love.

Music has been my passion for as long as I can remember. My mom used to say that I would sing harmony when I was a toddler. I don’t even remember when I started playing the piano… It was that long ago. I have always had a song in my heart… A tune running through my head. It is a bit distracting sometimes, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Sometimes I feel it’s easier for me to let people hear how I feel, rather than just use my words. I am fortunate enough to be able to put those feelings on paper.  I was so fortunate to have parents and music teachers who pushed me to follow through with my music education when I wanted to quit. I’m grateful now that they saw my potential. I feel so blessed.

I wish I had more time to do what I love. I would love to dedicate all day, every day, to my creative outlet. A few hours a week just doesn’t feel like it’s enough. Just when I’m getting into “the zone”, it is time for bed, it seems. At least I get some time. I try to make the most of the time I have. I’m making progress. I am starting to spread my wings.  That’s the important thing.

I have also been blessed with amazingly talented friends. They are my soul sisters. These ladies are so creative and fun. I’m a lucky girl. Together, I think we have the potential to do something wonderful. I don’t think there isn’t anything we can’t accomplish. Someday, I hope, with the poetic partnership of my gifted friends, to be able to bring OUR music to life. Our whimsical interpretation of adulthood could bring a new perspective on life. Sure, it might have been done before, but I think we have some unique experiences to bring originality to the table. I have faith that our time will come. (I will let you know when it happens. Trust me on this!)

There’s something about the whole creative process that brings me so much satisfaction and joy. It’s one of the best feelings in the world.  I lose myself in the notes, and it transports me to a wonderful paradise. It really is a part of my being, and I am so thankful for it.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCq6hSvcwoz6LrNZwvuz7Eaw

Enjoy your life. Make the most of the talents you’ve been blessed with. Lose yourself in what you love.

 

 

 

Finding myself

When I was young, I was painfully shy. I would literally hide behind one of my parents when someone talked to me. It was crippling to my social life. I couldn’t even order a burger without the pickles! It was difficult to reach out and make friends, so I honestly didn’t have very many. I was always the weird one… the quiet one… the poor one… the emotional one… I hated all these things about myself. I would try to take on a different persona to try and fit in. All I wanted was to blend in with everyone else. It wasn’t until high school that I found “my tribe” of people that I could really be myself around. These people didn’t care how weird I was. They didn’t care that I would laugh so much that I would get the hiccups. They didn’t care how I dressed. They enjoyed the same music and humor that I did. Most importantly, I could truly be me. They didn’t try to change me, and I didn’t feel that I needed to change myself.

After high school, we went our separate ways, and I started to lose who I was. The big world was full of selfish, cruel people whose sole desire in life was to make me suffer. Then came a bad marriage, a bitter divorce, and split custody of my kids. I became an empty shell… damaged goods with a trunk full of baggage. I lost myself somewhere in there. I hid behind a false smile. I didn’t know who I was anymore, and no one else really did either.

Fast forward 25 years….  20+ years remarried. My kids have grown into amazing adults and are doing great things with their lives. (Proud mama moment here!) There has been a lot of struggles, laughter, and sorrow. It took a long time to crawl out of the hole I was in and start to discover myself again. There was constant soul searching. It was hard, but I did it.

The tribe is back together too. There was a long time period in there when we lost contact. That was before I had a cell phone or email. Everyone was off to various colleges, and doing incredible things. I was a terrible letter writer. (I still am. Go figure!) My people found me on Facebook.  I was elated. 🎶 Reunited, and it feels so good!

Having these beautiful friends return has brightened my life and helped me see the part of me that has been missing for so long. I was most definitely me, but I didn’t realize what part was missing until it was restored.

I am back to being that “me” that I actually love. The more confident me… the adventurous me… the genuine me… the me that accepts ME for who I am. Sure, I  have my moments. We all do. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could be happy and accepting of ourselves all the time? If you figure it out, please let me know!

What I do know is that doing things that bring me joy helps bring that feeling of accomplishment, satisfaction, and self back into my life. It helps me find my balance. It helps me relax.

Summer's little guilty pleasures

pink flip flops

Finding out who you really are can be a difficult process. When you find that part of you that makes sense, hold on tight and let the good things take you on an amazing journey. Find those people that accept you for who you are. Being true to yourself and loving who you are is extremely important. We all lose ourselves sometimes. Just be sure to take time for you and find your way back!

FIND YOURSELF. LOVE YOURSELF. BE HAPPY.

Finding balance: How I get more out of my personal time

I’m a busy woman. I have a husband. I work a full time job, and I have a multitude of hobbies and interests. By the time dinner is done, there doesn’t seem to be much time left for ME. How do I find time for myself and all those things that I enjoy so much? I refuse to get up any earlier. I am so very NOT a morning person. Waking up earlier will not do anything for me. I’ve made multiple attempts, and it just doesn’t work for me. I can’t stay up too late either… 5:30 comes too quick as it is. I require a lot of sleep. When am I supposed to have time for my hubby, my job, housework, writing music, doing photo shoots, photo/video editing, blog posts, exercising, taking online classes, doing my craft projects, meeting with my girls…. Oh my gosh, just looking at the list here is stressing me out!

It is so hard for me to find balance!

I’ll admit, there used to be days that I didn’t do much of anything when I got home from work… at least nothing that requires much moving around. We all have those days. I’m just too tired. I’d sit on the couch and watch tv, or play games on my tablet. There I’d sit until bedtime. It still happens on occasion, but not nearly as often as it used to.

I found some motivation.

I want more out of life. I’m tired of spinning my wheels and seemingly not moving forward. In order for me to get more, I have to do more. That’s pretty obvious.

I started making to do lists. This worked… kind of. I had an impossibly unrealistic list of all the things I wanted to get done. I would do great at three or four, and then I would get sidetracked. At the end of the day, my list was still incredibly long. I was frustrated. All I could focus on was all the things I didn’t get done instead of the things I DID get done. It was so depressing. I decided to come up with a different angle…

Doing more example #1:

My friends talked me into take some free online classes. (My girls really are the best!) They have the best “sales pitch”! Honestly, I’m really excited about it. I’m not sure why it never occurred to me to do it before. After all, I love learning. I always have.

Summer is just around the corner. My daughter is getting married in August. I also have a class reunion coming up. I started up my treadmill routine again. I don’t need to lose weight, but I would like to tone up.

My solution to #1:

I can take my online classes while I workout. I use my tablet to take my classes, and I can still do my walking and my free weights all at the same time. I get around 45 minutes of exercise AND get my courses done. Success!

Doing more example #2:

Music is my passion. I love playing music… as in playing the piano, among other instruments. I love writing music. It relaxes me. It excites me. Music speaks to me.

I thoroughly enjoy photography. I love the challenge of that perfect shot. I have recently branched out into the video end of shooting too. I love the art of editing my photos and videos. (I really do enjoy not having to edit them at all though!)

My solution to #2:

I started a YouTube channel (thank you, my friends, for yet another suggestion), and have incorporated my music together with my videos and photos for the world to see. Not only is learning how to edit video interesting and challenging, but it has given me a different, eye opening perspective on my music, and how to meld the two together. It has also helped me to step out of my comfort zone. Brand new territory for me!

When I get home from work, dinner and chores are first priorities. If I do some preplanning, (think menus!), I can have dinner over, chores done, and dogs fed by 7:00. Then I go upstairs with my tablet, and start up the treadmill. I’m done with my online classes and my workout by 8:00. Next I go to my computer room and power up my computer. I get to work on my music and/or photography. By 9:30, I’m trying to button things up and start getting ready for bed. 10:00 is bedtime. (My schedule varies from day to day.)

My weekday schedule looks something like this:

Get organized!

This definitely isn’t an exact science, but the routine works well for me. When I try to stick with my schedule, I seem to get a lot accomplished in a relatively short amount of time. At the end of the day, I am satisfied with what I’ve done. That is honestly what makes this worthwhile to me… being happy with what I’ve done with my day.

 

My weekends vary a bit, but they usually look something like this:

Get more out of your weekend!

You may have noticed that I wake up pretty late on the weekend. Hey, I mentioned before that I’m not a morning person. It takes me a while to wake up and get ready to face the day!

This may all seem like a lot, but as I said before, it works for me. Yes, life happens, and things don’t always work out like I plan them to, but having the routine helps me stay on track. I get so much more done when I have at least an outline to go by. I may not get everything done on my schedule that I have planned, but it helps to keep me focused. Sometimes I set a timer. It is so easy for me to get side tracked. (Squirrel!)  My friends know all too well how distracted I can get. I find it embarrassing, but they find it hilarious.

 

Whichever way you decide to plan your time is fine… as long as it works for you! Make your list of things you want to get done and do it! It’s such a satisfying feeling when you reflect on your days and see all the things that have been accomplished.

 

Make the time you have work for you.  You’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish

Plan out your days and get more out of life. You’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish!

Resisting the impulse buy and emotional shopping

It’s been a rough day. I’m not talking your average crappy day. I’m talking about the: “I have the worst possible migraine but I’m working anyway, every person I come in contact with is being the worst version of themselves, my car decided to have a flat tire, and I ran out of gas”, kind of day. “I’m so depressed. You know, if I bought myself a little something, it would cheer me up” kind of day.

Sound familiar? I don’t have these specific things happen to me often, and certainly not all at once, but circumstances are inevitable and out of our control. Crap is going to happen! How we deal with it is critically important. I can guarantee that if you choose to spend to try and make yourself feel better, you will end up feeling worse when you get home!

There’s also the: “I have cash burning a hole in my pocket and I just feel like buying stuff” scenario.

Enter the guilt phase. It really is a vicious cycle. Feeling down? Buy something to make you happy. Get the bill, and then you’re feeling down again… Better buy something to make you feel better…. I’ve been there! It’s tough to break the cycle and rage against the machine, but you CAN do it!

First and foremost, realizing and understanding the cycle will aid you in making better decisions for yourself. This is another case where self control is key to your success. The simplest and most obvious way to avoid the cycle is to NOT GO TO THE STORE. Several things have happened… you didn’t spend money, you didn’t use any gas, and you didn’t waste your time. There’s still temptation though. Our “everything is at our fingertips” life creates its own set of problems, doesn’t it? You can buy just about anything anywhere, and at any time. Modern technology is fantastic, isn’t it? If you’re fighting that urge, focus on something else. Play some music, work on a project, take your dog for a walk, talk to a friend, read a book, bake some muffins, do some laundry… anything that keeps your mind thinking about something else. The urge WILL pass, and you will have success. Little successes are still successes, and each one makes you stronger.

So what if you’re out with friends? Then what? Are you obligated to buy things because everyone else is? Um, NO! Even if you have to have a rehearsed speech to tell your friends… you CAN resist. Deep breaths. You’ve got this.

One step at a time. One situation at a time. You are strong. Flex your will (or won’t) power. You can do this!  And when you do, find joy in your success.

Be strong

Stay strong and enjoy your little successes.