How to show gratitude for a miserable day

I see you, Mama. You had a rough day, the kind where nothing went right. Your baby projectile vomited all over the living room carpet. While cleaning that up, your toddler managed to get into the linen closet and pull out every single sheet, pillow case and towel. Dinner burnt, bedtime was chaos, and now you’re sitting on the couch, completely spent, staring aimlessly at your phone.

At this point, gratitude is probably the farthest thing from your mind. You’d like to complain, drink wine, or stress eat, not put a smile on and be thankful for the day you just had. “How can I be thankful? Today was so horrible, I can’t even…”

How to show gratitude after a lousy day

 

Take 5

Take five minutes to sit and think back through the day. Remember that goofy face your toddler made? What about that cute little messy face after eating lunch?

Pick 3

Find three things that you are grateful for. Often, you will get on a roll and find more. I try to find one thing I’m grateful for that my son did that day, one thing I’m grateful for about my husband and one thing I’m grateful for about myself.

Be specific

Why are you grateful for this person or thing? I’m grateful for how my son called me up on his pretend phone (his hand) and said “Boop boop boop boop” (that’s him dialing) “Hello, Mommy?” I’m grateful for the way my sheets feel on my feet at the end of a long day.

It can be easy to get into a routine of saying things we’re obviously grateful for: our kids, our spouse, our home, etc. What specifically do you appreciate about that person? What was something they did today that made your life a little better?

Remember the basics

Ok, so there are some days when even coming up with three things is nearly impossible. Your child was screaming all day and you got in a big fight with your husband. On those days, think about the foundational things you can be grateful for, that people around the world go without. These could include:

  • A bed to sleep in
  • Four walls and a roof to keep out the weather
  • Living in a safe area
  • Having clean water to drink
  • Having food to eat
  • Being healthy
  • Having air to breathe
  • Having the gift of life for one more day

These are basic things that we take for granted. Just remember that for each of these things, someone somewhere on this earth was not so lucky. I know it’s grim, but it’s the reality. You have been given so many amazing gifts and all it takes is five minutes to appreciate them and realize that they are actually gifts.

“The days are long but the years are short.” – Gretchen Rubin

I love this quote because it reminds me how fleeting and temporary life is. Babies grow up and move out of the house. They stop thinking mom is the coolest person alive.

This season of your life might be incredibly tough and you’re doing all you can to survive. But it doesn’t take any money or much time to be grateful for what you have.

What are you grateful for?

If you have a chance, I’d love to hear in the comments below what you’re grateful for.

Action Item

When you’re laying in bed tonight, rather than worrying about how much you have to do, take five minutes to think of three things that happened today that you’re grateful for.

 

5 Ways to Save Time This Thanksgiving

5 ways to save time this ThanksgivingThanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. To me, it’s always been about eating good food with the people I love. Now that I am a mom, I’ve started brainstorming ways I can provide a memorable holiday for my family without spending the whole day in the kitchen.

Here are 5 ways to save time on Thanksgiving dinner without cutting corners:

Be intentional about your sides.

Do you really need 15 side dishes to enjoy the holiday? Think back on all the sides you’ve had throughout the years. Pick five or so that bring up the most warm fuzzies and forget the rest.

Use a mixture of homemade and store-bought sides.

Once you figure out the sides that are most important to you, decide which ones are worth the effort to make at home. Have an age-old recipe for stuffing that uses a secret ingredient? Make it at home. Think the supermarket’s coleslaw or cranberry sauce tastes about the same? Go ahead and buy it. (If you’re cunning, you could put it in a crystal dish so no one knows the difference.)

Cook whole chickens instead of turkey.

Did you know that baking a whole chicken tastes completely different than when you just bake the breast or the thigh? A few weeks ago, we cooked whole chickens for dinner, and I was surprised at home much it reminded me of turkey. Add to that the fact that it only takes 90 minutes to cook (turkeys take 3-4 hours to cook — on top of defrosting it for 4-5 days!). Since chickens are much smaller, you can cook what you need, saving you the agony of eating turkey leftovers for the whole week.

Involve your kids.

Okay, so maybe this tip doesn’t help you save time. But it can turn something tedious into a bonding moment. When I cook with my two year old, he gets to stir, mush, and chop (with my help)…but mostly he eats little pieces of vegetables I sneak his way. He loves being involved, and while it can greatly lengthen the time it takes to complete a task, it makes for some of my favorite memories.

Set intentions.

Be clear about what Thanksgiving is all about. Family, friends, love, spending time together — that’s what Thanksgiving means to me. My friend shared about her year spent in The Gambia. On Thanksgiving, they gathered together and ate tacos. Thanksgiving is not about the what, it’s about the who. It’s about taking time to strengthen the bonds you’ve created with loved ones.

I hope this post inspired you to create a memorable holiday that both you and your family will enjoy! What are your tips for saving time on Thanksgiving dinner?

7 Reasons to Keep a Tidy House

7 Reasons to Keep a Tidy HouseI’m a naturally messy person. I don’t clean in my free time or get excited when spring cleaning comes around. But in the last year of keeping my house relatively tidy, I’ve learned to love having a tidy home, and I think you will too. Here’s why:

7 reasons to keep a tidy house

1. A tidy house saves time.

Can you imagine how much time you would save if you weren’t always looking for your keys? I used to spend 10-15 minutes before leaving the house because I couldn’t find my wallet, phone or keys…or all three. Even if you only leave the house once a day, that’s over one hour every week wasted.

2. It can relieve stress.

It’s true, clutter can actually add to the amount of stress in your life, as well as making you distracted and less productive.

3. It takes less time to clean.

Sounds backwards, but things are so much quicker to clean when you do a little bit at a time. Just think about the time invested rinsing off a dish as soon as dinner is over versus trying to scrape that stuff off in the morning.

4. It teaches your kids good habits.

If your kids are used to throwing dirty socks on the floor, it can be a good habit for them to learn simple techniques to pick up after themselves. This is an important skill to have out in public or later on in the workplace.

5. It lessens the amount you have to clean.

To piggy back on #4, if kids know the proper place to put dirty socks, that’s two less dirty socks you have to pick up. For one child, that could mean 730 less socks to pick up every year! Teach them to clean off their dinner plate or put away their toys, you could save yourself from bending over thousands of times each year.

6. It allows you to get messy.

My son didn’t finger paint until he was 2.5 years old. Partially because he would put his fingers in his mouth, but also because my kitchen table was a hoarding zone for important bills and documents as well as junk mail and unread magazines. Everything that came in landed on the kitchen table. Do you think I would let my son finger paint (or do anything messy) on a table that had things like the yet to be paid electric bill? No! So imagine my surprise when I realized that having a clean table actually allows us to do more messy things. If paint gets on the table? No problem, just wipe it up.

7. They’re only young once.

This reason makes me tear up. We’ve been entrusted with these babies, who in the blink of an eye will be out the door on their way to college. We have these short short years to mold our children into decent human beings and to enjoy all of the snuggles and hugs while they’re young enough to think mom is cool. The main reason to keep a tidy house is to spend less time cleaning and more time jumping in piles of leaves or making hot chocolate on cold days. After all, as the old saying goes, “Home is where the heart is.” It’s not about living in a house that is so spotless you’re afraid to breathe. It’s about creating a home that is loving and warm and allows you to do the things you want to do.

Action item

Your action item today is to throw out one item that is no longer needed. This may be one item of junk mail or that spatula with the broken handle. Go around your house and pick just one thing.

What is the one thing you threw out?

How to Achieve Maximum Productivity

I recently wandered onto this video about how to schedule your days for maximum productivity.

Bullet points from the video:

  • Schedule in 90-day chunks.
  • Decide on a focus.
  • Once a quarter, sit down and pick 1-3 goals. (The number of goals depends on the size of each goal.)
  • Set benchmarks for each goal.
  • Write down every little task that needs to be done in order to accomplish that goal.
  • Schedule when you will do these little tasks.

Can I just add that “frazzlepants” is now my new favorite word? We call our son “crankypants” when he gets into one of his moods. Using silly words can really help to diffuse the tension.

I’ve started working on my plan for the next 90 days. My focus is to declutter the house, which has been a two year journey thus far. We are so close to having a house that is clean and organized at least 80% of the time, but we’re not yet to our goal. With a toddler who has recently decided that his job in life is to play with everything in reach, this goal has been pushed to the forefront.

So, my goals to lose weight, get in shape, eat healthy, create a monthly meal plan, etc etc, have been pushed to the back. In order to put all my focus on this one goal, I’m giving myself permission to cook a few simple meals on rotation and put the scale away for another day. I’ve realized that I’ve been working on the same handful of goals for the last few years with minimal success, and I would be better off purposely “quitting” all but one of those goals for a given time.

Ninety days breaks the goals into manageable chunks. It means that I could pick 4 goals over the next year and see a world of difference from where I am today.

What goals are you working towards? I know it can seem like a step back to only pick one and let the others slide, but the idea is to focus all of your energy towards one goal and pursue it with passion.

If you’d like to check out more from Allison at Wonderlass (I know I do!):

9 Ways to Reduce Stress (That Don’t Involve Food)

9 ways to reduce stress (that don't involve food)Dear Mama,

I see you working on your third bowl of ice cream of the day. I know you’re stressed out about finances and a toddler who is deep into the temper tantrum twos, and I know that sometimes food is the only thing that gives you a little bit of relaxation. But any sort of benefit derived from junk food is short-lived and is a form of self-sabotage against your goal to lose weight.

So, today, I’d like to give you a few ways you can reduce stress with little spare time or money on your hands.

9 ways to reduce stress that don’t involve food

  1. Not only does dancing lower your stress levels, but it also includes exercise (see #6) and listening to great music (see #8).
  2. Prayer can reduce stress, help the body heal faster and lead to lower levels of depression.
  3. Deep breathing tells your brain to calm down, which in turn tells your body to calm down.
  4. Spending time outside helps with stress reduction by allowing you to get a little exercise (see #6), absorb some sunshine, encounter neighbors or have friendly small talk with strangers, and gives you peaceful time to process your thoughts.
  5. Spending time with loved ones: Okay, so your child can be a source of stress. But taking time to do a fun activity as a family can help to lower stress as well as strengthen bonds.
  6. Exercise has shown to lessen some symptoms of anxiety and depression.
  7. Meditation can boost your emotional well-being, as well as reduce stress. And since it often incorporates deep breathing (see #3), it’s a double!
  8. Listening to slow-paced music can help you calm down, with the possibility of inducing sleep. Even if the music is not slow paced, music is a powerful mood changer.
  9. Yoga incorporates deep breathing (see #3) and exercise (see #6). It promotes overall well-being.

There are many ways to relieve stress that don’t involve self-sabotaging your goals. Often times, these healthy stress reducers are longer lasting. Pick one, or a few, to try out. See what works best for you. Find the thing that allows you to reduce stress while continuing to walk forward in your journey.

Action Step

Today, I want you to spend 5 minutes doing something you love. It can be reading an old favorite, or adding more stitches to that scarf. It can be five minutes of the gentle yoga stretches you never get around to doing because you don’t have time for a full routine.

Pick one thing and spend just five minutes doing it.

How did you spend those five glorious minutes?

Sources:

 

Discomfort is your friend

Today is day two in a series of posts dissecting Joe Rogan’s speech about discomfort and success. Click here to go to the first post in the series. The video is full of so much gold that I’m taking the next few days to go through it bit by bit. Yesterday, we talked about how act of reaching a goal is much more difficult than the act of maintaining a goal, yet most of us give up because of our fear and associations with discomfort.

My second aha moment of this video comes around 1:52. Joe talks about how often your level of success correlates to how much discomfort you can tolerate, saying “Discomfort is your friend.” The animation by After Skool really sums it up. As your level of discomfort goes up, so does your level of success.

This reminds me of an exercise I read about in “The 4-Hour Workweek” by Tim Ferriss. In this exercise, he instructs you to go to a crowded public place and lay down on the ground for 30 seconds or a couple of minutes.

When I first read this exercise, I immediately felt uncomfortable. “No, I don’t want to do that! It’s dirty. People will think I’m crazy. This exercise is stupid.” I dismissed it and moved on. But the whole point of the exercise is to help you push past discomfort. The more you practice being in a situation of discomfort, the more it becomes normal to you.

“Discomfort is your friend.” Meaning, if your goal doesn’t make you sweat, you’re not dreaming big enough. Furthermore,

“You must be willing to do the things today others won’t do in order to have the things tomorrow others won’t have.”  –Les Brown

Are you willing to do the things others won’t do to create the level of success in your life that others will never have? What things are keeping you from making discomfort your friend?

 


If you haven’t read the first post in this series: Pushing past discomfort

If you haven’t watched the video (or would like to watch it again, like me):

Before you watch the video, be forewarned that the F bomb is used liberally. If kids are around, best to put on some headphones or wait until they’re in bed. If foul language bothers you, you can just skip the video, but that would be a darn shame to miss out on how much great content is packed into a mere seven minutes.

Pushing past discomfort

I recently came across a Youtube video of the comedian Joe Rogan talking about getting in shape (profanity alert). The video is entertaining, but more importantly, it’s chock full of great information.

Over the next few days, I will dissect and reflect on a few key points in this video that created light bulb moments for me. Before you watch the video, be forewarned that the F bomb is used liberally. If kids are around, best to put on some headphones or wait until they’re in bed. If foul language bothers you, you can just skip the video, but that would be a darn shame to miss out on how much great content is packed into a mere seven minutes.

 

My first aha moment comes at just 33 seconds in. Joe talks about how people fear the discomfort of exercise, but that in fact, exercise is only uncomfortable in the beginning.

I’ve long had this inkling that the journey of getting to a goal is much more difficult and time intensive than the act of maintaining that goal. It may take you hours of hard work to clean your house, but once it’s clean, it takes minutes every day to keep it clean.

Same with exercise. Not only will it take less time to maintain your physical fitness once you have it, but you’ll also enjoy exercising because you are past the point of discomfort.

So often we look at a mountainous goal and think, “Well, that looks too hard” or “It looks like too much work” or (and this is the big one) “I don’t have the time.” But what if reaching and maintaining that goal is actually more time efficient than never reaching it at all?

It takes a heck of a lot of effort to get a heavy boulder (or car) rolling, but once it’s in motion, it takes significantly less effort to keep it going. I’m reminded of the times in my life that for one reason or another, I’ve had to push a car. First, we start by rocking it back and forth. Each time it rocks, the car goes a little bit further until the time when it starts to roll forward. Once it’s rolling, it just takes consistent pressure to keep it going.

What are the areas of your life where you resist even starting the goal because of the association of discomfort? Do you ever quit before you really get going because you assume it will always be that hard?

Writing my own story

Alan Alda of M*A*S*H fame has written a new book about the power of telling stories. I stumbled across his video on the Big Think (below), talking about how to use your story to connect with others.

 

It’s a great video, and he got me thinking about my own story. What are the obstacles in my life that I’ve overcome? Furthermore, what are the obstacles I have yet to overcome that would make a great story?

Currently, I’m struggling with indecision, self-doubt, and fear. These things get in the way of me living my dream life. So I have a choice. Do I let my story turn out to sound something like this: “These were the obstacles and here’s how I overcame them” or something like this: “These were the obstacles and that’s why I didn’t succeed.”

So often we do the latter. We don’t look at our obstacles at detours but as reasons why the road ends there. In writing the story of my life, do I want it to end up that way? Heck no! That just sounds so pathetic in hindsight.

I want to use this technique of seeing my life as a story to be told to help me write it out the way I want it. I want to tell the story of how I pushed through indecision, self-doubt and fear to become successful. In the story of my life, I want to see myself victorious.

What will be the story of your life?

Settling down is not the same as settling.

I’ve noticed a trend among young women who think that “settling down” is the same as “settling.” I am here to set the record straight.

You are settling when you:

  • Marry someone who looks good on paper, but with whom you are not head over heels in love.
  • Marry someone because you’re afraid no one better will come along.
  • Marry someone because you don’t want to be the only one of your friends who is not married.

You are settling down when you:

  • Find the person of your dreams and want to build a life together.
  • Make a conscious decision to grow your family by having children.

“Settling” means to make a decision based on fear (i.e. fear of being alone, fear of missing out). “Settling down” means to make a decision based on love.

Make decisions based on love, not fear.

When I was in my mid-twenties, I was in a serious relationship with the man I thought I would marry. I asked my parents how would I know, and to my frustration, they answered, “You’ll know.”

Fast forward a few years, I was dating the man who would become my husband. And I knew. It wasn’t a question of whether or not I wanted to marry him. I just did. I liked my future with him in it, with us planning together.

From my tumultuous twenties, I have definitely settled down. But I didn’t settle.

You deserve an amazing life. You deserve to be happy whether or not that is with someone by your side. Don’t settle for someone who doesn’t treat you with respect. Don’t settle for someone who is “alright.” Marriage is hard (awesome, but hard) and you are worthy of the time it may take to find “the one.” You’re going to see this person day in and day out for decades to come, so don’t rush it.

But when you do find that person who is worthy of all of your love, put your heart and soul into the relationship. Work together to build a life full of love, laughter and passion.

What are your thoughts about settling vs. settling down? Have you settled down or plan to? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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