30 November 2012

No Excuses - Let's Get Our Workouts Done

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If there is one excuse you hear from women it's that they don't have time to workout. I am as guilty as the next. But you know what? I have learned that this is generally just a lie we tell ourselves. I am on a roll right now with breaking down lies I and we tell ourselves. We have time to do other things we want to do. We talk on the phone, we read blogs, we pin workout ideas on Pinterest, we do crafts, we shop, we read, we watch stupid reality shows, and so many other things we want to do.

So then we go looking for motivation to get us out there - we read blog posts about great workouts, we read books about running and we talk about joining a gym. We research diets and workout plans, we sketch out extravagant weight loss calendars, buy expensive quick fix pills, or sign up for Weight Watchers online and never follow through. We discuss our weight issues or lack of time to workout with anyone who will listen. But guess what. In the end that's just another use of time we could be using to workout. We need to workout. So let's just get it done already.

If you say it's because you have kids, read this post about a mother who does not use a car but cycles all over town with her six kids! She also kills the excuse that you can't afford a gym. There are lots of ways to workout for free, even in limited space. If you want to join a gym, talk to friends or family who already belong to a good gym. I jumped in on a deal with The Man's gym and my annual pass is only $99/year. That's less than most women spend wandering at Target in a three-week period.

If there is a will, there is a way. Talk to your spouse if you need to about working together to find a time you can workout. I don't know any husband who is going to be against his wife looking fit and trim. Most men will be excited about it and willing to help. There are fringe benefits for both of you. The double edge sword here is that if you make a fuss about working out and don't follow through on your commitment, that can be really discouraging to a partner and actually damage the relationship.

Want to use the excuse that you're just too tired? This post from WebMD will kick that one to the curb. I know some of us put our workout clothes on and then get distracted doing all sorts of other things. Maybe we can set an alarm on our phones that will remind us to get out the door.

Perhaps you have an injury or health issue that derailed you or has given you concerns about your ability to work out. Go to the doctor and make a workout plan with your doctor that will allow you to get healthy and workout. There are people with cancer, or who have lost mobility due to a stroke, and are missing limbs who are working out every day. Remember last summer there was a runner at the Olympics missing part of his leg? There ya go, yet another excuse dead in the water.

Another frequent excuse...it's too hot outside or too wintry cold outside. Imagine me tilting my head with a look that says "Are you really going to go there?" We have options, let's find them. Walk the stairs in your apartment building, do videos in your living room, do all those at-home workouts you've pinned on Pinterest, swim at a local indoor city pool. Just threw that excuse up in the air like a clay pigeon and made a clean shot that blew it to smithereens!

Never having worked out in your life is also not an excuse. How long are you going to invest in your own poor health and a really bad aging process by accelerating it. It's not fair for other people to have to put in the work to take care of you when your health declines because you were unwilling to do the work to protect your health and prevent totally unnecessary wear and tear on your body. Do you want your kids to be overburdened taking care of you for decades because you refused to take care of yourself? Totally not cool.

Jack Lalanne was working out well into his 90s so age is absolutely no excuse either. If you want to stop working out when you hit 100 I'm okay with that, but until then, get up and get moving. You owe it to your body who serves you in such miraculous ways every day and to God who gave you that body and asked you to take care of it. No matter where you are, there is improvement you can achieve today.

Let's all hold hands and admit there is no valid excuse for not taking care of ourselves. Not taking care of ourselves damages our health, our sense of happiness, energy and well-being, our self-esteem, our ability to have healthy relationships, work, parent and live a happy life. There are no excuses, there is nothing more that needs to be done than to strap on those sneakers and get moving. Anything else is a fail. So let's do this already.

Remember there is an awesome emotional high that awaits you after every workout. There is a spring in your step that comes from regular workouts. There is a major boost of self-confidence, peace and courage that comes from conquering hard things in our lives and making and keeping commitments. I can attest that those are just some of the awesome returns for your investment. How about having a great body. That is a fantastic outcome to enjoy. Your skin and hair will be more shiny with the increased circulation to your body. There are just unending blessings to your life when you workout regularly.

Now, having said that I am going straight in to put on my workout clothes, grabbing my gym bag and heading to the gym. After 4 days of being sick I can't wait to get back out there today. Yay!

So I want to hear it. Did this post motivate you to do something today to improve your health? What was it?

Thankful November 2012: Day 30

It's the final day of Thankful November. November 30 is here. It's flown by and then in other ways it feels like it's been a very big month. I'm happy to see November go because that means December is here. Today I am thankful for all the wonderful things I have to look forward to in December.

There are holiday concerts to attend, cookies to bake, family to visit, a trip home, snowy mountains to play in, wintry clothes to bundle in, holiday movies and specials to watch. I have a little more shopping to do. Lots of fun things to think about.

We have big things on our plate of possibilities in December and they are all very good, good, good things. I am excited. And I'm thankful for the good energy and cheer that being excited and having things to look forward to brings. I always say life's a peach if you have something good to look forward to. I have a lot of good things to look forward to and I am getting excited for the new year too. It's a great time to stand tall and reach for new dreams. And there are some big prayers that look like they will be answered as well.

I am thankful for my life and all the good things I have and have to look forward to. Life is good! How about you? What are you thankful for today? What are you especially looking forward to during the holiday season?

image by kalanicut

29 November 2012

Thankful November 2012: Day 29

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Today I thankful that it has been a week I could rest. I came back from the weekend sick and I'm not even sure what I have...some sort of flu or combinations of something. I just got out of my pjs for the first time in three days because I had to go outside and move the car for street cleaning.

Thankfully I haven't been miserable or out of my wits, but if I get up and try to do too much I am worn out and back lying on the couch pretty quickly. Lots of catching up on sleep has been good since I haven't been sleeping well for a while.

I was so glad that I had half a pot of homemade chicken noodle soup in the freezer from last week. A godsend. Sometimes it's a blessing to be forced to slow down. It's been a pretty fast moving past few months with a lot on my shoulders, so it's no wonder my body needed to catch up. Rest is important and necessary. I'm glad it came at an okay time. I am thankful.

Early Morning Sunrise at Haleakala, Maui

If you ever go to Maui, Hawaii, don't miss the chance to go to the top of Haleakala National Park to see the sunrise. We drove two hours in the dark to arrive with a large crowd to watch the sunrise. We left the largest crowd just off the parking lot and hiked up to the top. It was like being in an REI or Patagonia commercial up there, everyone bundled up in stylish jackets on the top of a beautiful mountain overlooking other island peaks, cameras everywhere trained on the coming sun. The crowd was amazingly international.
I will tell you that after the many hours we spent in the car, and subsequent carsickness, on the Road to Hana, we weren't sure we wanted to go on another long drive. But it turned out to be the most memorable moment of our trip and one we are so glad we didn't miss. It did require that we get up and out the door at 3 am but it was totally worth it in the end. Especially when we could be back at the hotel in time for breakfast.
The morning hilltop communion brought out the yoga in my sweet sister. She has a beautiful yoga practice. I hope she's a yoga teacher someday. She had fun taking a few minutes to center at the top of the mountain. After a half hour or so of high-energy by the crowd waiting in the dark, cameras were clicking at high speed all around as the sun began to rise.

There's me, on two or three hours sleep and zero makeup, but peaceful and happy. I'm bundled as you can see. If you take this trip, bring warm clothes! It's very chilly in the dark at 10,000+ feet. A new day came and it was amazing to watch the transition as the sun crept up from the horizon, through the clouds and across the hillsides. A time for stillness and appreciation for each changing moment.

And then once the sun was up and daytime was upon us, it was another day and the magic of the sunrise transitioned into the normalcy of another sunny day. The crowds dispersed and day began. We headed down the mountain and went to breakfast, which was just what we needed after our big morning's adventure. Desperately needed naps were the first order when we got back to our lodging. Even after a nice, long nap we were still at the pool before noon for a long afternoon of swimming, sunning and lounging.

Have you been to Haleakala? What was it like for you?

all images by kalanicut

28 November 2012

Thankful November 2012: Day 28

image via Entertain Now

Today I am thankful for a lovely friend Diana that I worked with in the entertainment industry years ago. She taught me this lovely little philosophy she had called "Pulling a Sabrina." The gist was that like the film character Sabrina, sometimes in life you just need to go to "Paris," get a total makeover and find yourself. Especially at the end of a hard season or in the middle of great transitions, Pulling a Sabrina is a great way to refresh and reinvent yourself.

In the passing years since we talked that day, I have pulled a Sabrina or two myself. I decided yesterday that it was time for another Sabrina moment. A haircut, fresh highlights, a facial, massage and manicure/pedicure and a little shopping to put a spring in my step. Hair appointment is made and plans are falling into place to enjoy all these activities over the next three weeks. Can't wait. Thank you, dear Diana, for sharing your awesome idea with me! I can't wait to come back from "Paris" renewed.

Simplify Dealing With Mountains of Email

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Monday night I realized I had to face the mountain of emails that has accumulated into my email inbox. The longer I worked the more I realized I needed to find a more effective approach to handle the 2200 read emails I had allowed to stay beyond their welcome.

So I thought I would share a few lessons I learned -- hopefully writing this post will help me remember these tips next time too. Fingers crossed I do a little bit better keeping up and acting on the emails in the beginning rather than waiting to clean my inbox when it has become overwhelming.

1. To simplify clean up, temporarily arrange your emails by who they are FROM. Then go through quickly and delete in large groups the advertisements, old newsletters, etc. you get on an almost daily basis. I was amazed that I had pages of old newsletters and sale notices from businesses I subscribe to.

2. In the from mode, when most emails on a page should be deleted, use the "select all" button. Then go through and deselect (remove checks in the boxes next to) the few you want to keep. Then hit delete. Having to go down an entire page and click almost every box next to an email is a big waste of time when you are deleting most of the emails on a page. It's easier to deselect a few if you know you'll dump the majority.

3. Unsubscribe from any automated email subscriptions you have that are no longer meaningful to you. Also take the time to block those you were added to without your permission. Some years ago I somehow got added to the MTV networks email system. We're talking many networks with multiple marketing platforms. To this day I am still getting emails from even more MTV networks and I continually have to block & unsubscribe. Sometimes it takes some effort and time to extricate oneself from a marketing list that becomes many marketing lists.

4. Create easy to use folders. Having a folder for family, friends, church, travel, online purchases and other basics makes it easy to drop all those emails I want to keep in one easy to find place.

5. Once you have taken action on an email, move it out of your inbox into a folder. A tidy inbox keeps life feeling clean and simple. A full inbox is a lot of "electronic noise" you just don't need screaming at you each time you sign on. Keep it clean and simple.

So those are my quick tips to help make cleaning out the email inbox less overwhelming. Hopefully you don't need these tips because your inbox is tidy and clean. But for those days when it starts to feel unmanageable, hopefully these tips will help you wrangle things quickly.

27 November 2012

Thankful November 2012: Day 27

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It seems a little strange that we are still in November now that the Christmas season is in full swing. Today I am thankful for the United States Postal Service. Some of the best things that have happened this year have happened in these Priority Mail boxes. Thank you postal service for having "if it fits, it ships" for one rate boxes. I have become a pro at packing these babies to the hilt. 

I've sent out lots and I've received some great ones too. Potato chips, tortilla chips and holiday cookies are on their way out in one or two of these boxes soon. Thanks for keeping us connected U.S.P.S. 

Holiday Signage From Etsy

images via Etsy

There is so much pretty creativity going on for the holidays. Today I thought I would share with you some of my favorite Christmas signs available from the many talented artists at Etsy. Here are four of my favorites.

1. Joy -- Handcrafted by Carl McCoy of Americana Signs in Bigfork, Montana. Isn't that just the kind of place you want something rustic and woodsy to be made? I love how simple and pretty this one is!

2. Starfish Christmas Tree -- Made by Shelly at Meet Me By The Sea shop in San Clemente, California. A perfect memory from a Christmas spent near the sea.

3. We Wish You A Merry Christmas -- Made in Graham, Washington by Mandy of Victory Decals. A perfect holiday wish in bright cheery colors and fonts.

4. Wooden Peace Dove -- Created by Slippin Southern, in New Orleans. Shopkeeper Gregory Morris styled this dove after the one that proudly flies above the home of the first president of the United States George Washington.

Check out the shops of each of these artists. They are many more beautiful things to see. I love how beautiful and simple these signs are. They seem to capture the essence of the season without overdoing it. All these and many more beautiful signs are available at Etsy. It's a great time to support local artists and set your home apart with something handmade.

26 November 2012

Thankful November 2012: Day 26

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My gratitude today is of a spiritual nature. I will keep it simple. I am grateful that we can pray to God and that even though He won't remove all our problems, He can always and will bless us with peace, comfort and calm. Calm is an amazing gift. So on this day, after facing some rough seas this past weekend, I am grateful for the calm that was prayed for and received for all. I am grateful to know and see God in my life.

What They Really Want For Christmas

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The holidays are officially here. I thought I'd take this opportunity to share with you a few secrets about what your family really wants for Christmas. Deep down you already know these things, but it might be a good time for a little reminder.

Here's a list of things your family wants for Christmas.

1) They want you happy rather than stressed out.
2) They want you well rested rather than crabby and short tempered.
3) They want you to spend time with them rather than trying to impress friends & neighbors with extravagant decorations and gift wrap.
4) They want experiences with you rather than stuff they'll soon forget about.
5) They want to make memories with you, rather than seeing you overdo it.
6) They want you to sit with them and laugh at silly things, rather than rush around.
7) They want you watch silly holiday specials with them, rather than throwing or attending fancy parties.
8) They want to serve others with you and make someone else's holiday brighter.
9) They want to see the family financially stable, rather than stressed and in debt after the holidays.
10) They want you to enjoy and appreciate what they give you, rather than fussing about what you are giving them.
11)They want your attention on them, rather than on a list, a detailed timeline, late night DIY projects or anything else that takes you away from them.

Your family wants your best, happiest you. And long after stockings are emptied, treats are eaten and toys have broken, the thing they will remember best about their holidays is how they felt with you, how close and connected they felt with you. The best decorations are your smile, the best sounds of the holidays are your laugh and kind words and the best gifts are your love and time. None of these things costs a dime. But they do require diligence and attention. Happy holidays. Hope you make many rich and beautiful memories with your family this year.

25 November 2012

Thankful November 2012 : Day 25

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It's Sunday and I don't usually blog on these days. But for the month of thankfulness I have prepped posts in advance to cover all the days of the month. Today I am thankful for Sundays. In my family for generations Sundays have been a day of rest.

We enjoy worship and communing with a group of people we are continually learning to appreciate  and love more and more. We also eat some nice, quiet, unrushed meals on Sunday. I try to always fit in a family oriented activity: maybe an inspiring DVD, sometimes a board game or visit with friends and family. Other days we walk around the neighborhood or on the beach.

There are no must-dos on Sundays after we return from church. It is restful time and time to be together. Naps are a welcome part of the day if they happen as well. I am glad that my family has made it a tradition to have one day of rest in our week. I think it is such a blessing for our relationships, well-being and the spirit of the home. I am thankful for Sundays.

24 November 2012

Thankful November 2012: Day 24

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I had the chance this weekend to sit down with a big, heavy book and peruse it's pages from start to finish. It was a design book so there were thousands of photos to enjoy. It was a great opportunity to rethink my interior design ideas and better learn what feels like me and what I do and don't really like. To figure these things out it takes time to really look at details and ask yourself questions and come up with answers.

I actually have a stack of design books at my house that I've been wanting to look through page by page. It seems a difficult task to fit into my day. But when I do have some downtime it is so refreshing to sit down for an hour or two and just turn pages. I've been through three or four of them now, with quite a few more to go.

There's something about holding a book and turning it's pages. I am thankful for artistic, well crafted, beautifully designed books. A happy way to inspire the mind.

23 November 2012

Thankful November 2012: Day 23

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Today I am thankful for great advice from wise people. Earlier this week I had a friend mention a great piece of advice from her personal experience that could come in very handy for me in the very near future. I so appreciated her thoughtful reminder and the kind way she shared her experiences about things that will soon be happening for me. Having kind wise people in our lives is such a gift.

I love hearing their perspectives and saving myself a little pain and suffering by learning from their experience. It's amazing how we expect that no one has been through what we're going through. Then someone shares that they've been through the same thing and it gives totally new perspective and hope. I am so thankful for kind, wise advisers.

Gorgeous Rosella Resin Jewelry

images via Rosella Resin

Oh, hello! I thought I would do a few gift idea posts this holiday season but I didn't expect to find such gorgeous subjects for my first post. When I saw this bracelet with the parrot feather inside I was stopped in my tracks. This gorgeous jewelry collection by Rosella Resin on Etsy is a fresh, fun look that got me excited about accessorizing again. Each piece is so absolutely stunning. Wow.

Rosella is a shop owned by Jessica and Gwynne Burgess from Ontario, Canada. I love the story of how these two sisters began their business. I also really like their conscientious business practices and their focus on nature. You can learn all about them here. You can see more of each piece of jewelry at the links below. What a great gift for a girl who likes to stand out in the crowd.

1. Parrot Feather Bangle
2. Lilac Ring
3. Bangles with Gold Flakes
4. Bright Pink Faceted Ring
5. Copper Flakes Ring
6. Sky Blue and Gold Ring
7. Grapefruit Ring
8. Teal and Gold Multifaceted Ring

22 November 2012

Thankful November 2012: Day 22

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Happy Thanksgiving to every one in the U.S. and celebrating abroad! Can you believe it's here already? Didn't we just celebrate New Years 2012 a few minutes ago? Where had the time gone?

This will be my smallest gathering for Thanksgiving ever. Three people. But I get my mom's home cooking and my favorite pumpkin pie so that is pretty good. My Dad and I have been joking about how we are each responsible to eat 1/3 of a pie today.

Today I am thankful for the abundance we enjoy in life. We are so very blessed. A roof over our heads, enough clothes, a warm bed, a car to get around in. We truly do live in so much more abundance than we even realize. Counting our blessings is a good point of focus today. Life is so much better when we see how much beauty and abundance there is all around us.

21 November 2012

Thankful November 2012: Day 21

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Today I am thankful for family. I'm headed to my folks to spend some time. I'll be the only kid there, but we'll have fun. Then on Friday The Bug will join us. Thinking a lot about taking this time to just enjoy family and have downtime. It's important and I realize more and more than we rush too much and stress too much and freak out too much. Focusing on what is most important is all about family and sanity. I'm thankful for both!

20 November 2012

Thankful November 2012: Day 20

As women we spend much of our time caring for others. It's easy to get tired, frustrated, worn out and want to ask "Who's taking care of us?" After looking at current circumstances I had a moment of thinking that very question with a little frustration, feeling bled a little dry. So I sat and thought about it for a minute. Who was taking care of me?

The Bug is praying for me every day and loving me in every way, The Man prays for me and is ever watchful to protect and take care of us in big and small ways, My parents watch out for me and are so kind, loving, giving and fun to be around. My aunts watch out for me and are so lovely. My sisters would fight off wild dogs for me. My friends care about me, check in and provide peace, fun, and laughs. I am well taken care of. And yet the person most responsible to take care of me is ME! Am I watching out for myself?

I am the only person who knows what is right for me. I don't always know what I need but I probably know some of the time. Sometimes other people can more clearly see it. I am the only person who can totally protect myself when needed because I know my borders. It's my job to keep myself in a good place, healthy, safe and well.

Today I am so grateful for everyone who watches out for me and that I am getting better at taking care of myself in the ways only I can. So glad to see myself getting a little smarter and better at that.

Now let's talk for a minute about how totally cute these gloves are! Charming. They are from Instanbul, Turkey, from the Etsy shop Yastikizi.  You can buy them on Etsy and have them shipped right to you. a fun gift for friends or addition to your own holiday wardrobe.

19 November 2012

Thankful November 2012: Day 19

Today I am thankful for journaling. I was up early this morning thinking about some important things. It was so nice to be able to grab my journal and pour my thoughts out on paper. It helped me figure things out and see things from a bigger perspective.

Journaling is like talking to a friend. It seems like when you start talking or writing about what you're thinking about you immediately start unraveling things you couldn't see before and solutions you've been looking for. While friends are not always available, a journal is. And sometimes it's just better to figure things out on your own than sharing it with other people.

I have many boxes filled with journals now. Treasures indeed. And what a gift they've given me to help me understand my life better and to record the stories of my life that are so quickly forgotten. Thank you journals.

Here links to a few posts about journaling.

Five Quick Ways To Clear Your Mind
Plan Now For A Blissful Winter
The Best Therapy You Can Buy for $7.99

Pick Me Ups For Gloomy Weather Days

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It's been dark and cool here more than usual lately. On the rare days when the sunshine isn't blazing in the sky it's a bit of a shock to the system for us SoCal people. While it's a nice change of pace, it can be a tad bit depressing too. So while I was sitting inside on a cold, dark day I decided to create a list. Here are 10 Pick Me Ups For Gloomy Weather Days.

None of these is a mind-blowing or shockingly new idea, but I find that sometimes on a gloomy day I'll slip into the blues a bit before I even realize what has happened. So if I have a little reminder list to review I can very easily and quickly find a few things there that turn the mood around and bring out your inner sunshine instantly. 

1. Light candles! -- I love having a 100-pack of IKEA tea lights on hand at all times.

2. Put on cheery music. -- Try Michael Buble Christmas on Pandora. A great mix.

3. Put a pot of good scents on the stove. -- Try this Pin Test recipe I love.

4. Make soup, buy bread, make a salad. -- Here's a favorite salad and Chicken Noodle Soup recipe.

5. Exercise -- It keeps your energy high and keeps you healthy. A few other healthy winter tips here.

6. Talk to friends -- The best therapy ever.

7. Do something creative -- Here are a few ideas for you to try.

8. Watch a fun movie -- It's a great time for silly holiday movies. Something like this.

9. Read a good book -- Blankets, a cozy corner. Mmm. Maybe with a little one and this.

10. Plan, Dream, Scheme --It a great time to make a Vision Board or map out your Dream Life!

11. BONUS: Do something kind for someone else. -- This picks the spirits up immediately.

Do you have a favorite you would add to the list. Add it in the comments section below. I love your fresh ideas. Hope this list will help you keep spirits high this winter and focus your energies on things that bring joy and connection with life. Have a fantastic day!

18 November 2012

Thankful November 2012: Day 18

Today I am grateful for nearly dead flowers. Last week when we arrived back from my parents' house I knew that our elevator was broken which meant we were toting everything from the car up three flights of stairs. And when I say we, that's me and a six-year-old. Sigh.

She was awesome enough to carry one bag and I put my messenger bag across my chest, computer bag on my back, a tote bag over my shoulder and picked up a very large basket of freshly laundered clothes and started the trek that would take us out the parking garage across the yard, up the sidewalk, up the stairs to the front door of the building, across the courtyard and up two more flights of stairs.

When we got to the stairs at the front door, loaded down, The Bug had to stop and pick some flowers. She delivered two very full roses to me as a gift, on their last legs with petals about to fall off. She dropped them on top of the overloaded basket I was carrying and honestly they were falling all over and were quite a pain to get upstairs in one piece along with everything else I was carrying on.

But they made it upstairs miraculously. She immediately went and found a vase, filled it with water and placed the flowers on a table in the living room. (I was impressed, she's never done this before). The next morning it became obvious that one of the stems was not actually in the water. Within another day the other flower was shriveled and dead. I have to say I loved them even more at that point.

I was so glad I was careful with them and got them upstairs. How thankful I was that she was so thoughtful and picked those roses for me and took such care to put them in a vase and leave them somewhere close to my workspace where I would see them regularly. I left them there days beyond their passing and let all the petals fall off on the table. Each petal drop was a reminder of her tender love and care. Mmmm, thankful for those flowers and all they mean.

17 November 2012

Thankful November 2012: Day 17

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Today I am thankful for "getting schooled" this past week. I had an older man, who has been working with me on some big projects, really get after me for not having the courage to fight for what is right no matter what. Honestly, he yelled at me for nearly 20 minutes. But it was good yelling. I was appreciative. I started to cry and when I apologized he said, "You should be emotional! This is important!"

He taught me that I must do what is right, I must fight, no matter the procedures, processes or people that stand in the way. I thought there was only one way to proceed in this situation, because that is what everyone else had told me and my past experience had also seemingly proven this to be true. I was doing it all the way I'd been told it was supposed to be done.

This fighting for what is right is a great lesson I have learned the hard way throughout my life. I was raised to be respectful, polite and stay out of trouble. Unfortunately, at times I have put standing up for myself and others and doing what is right behind these virtues, mistakenly thinking I was taking the higher road. Which in the big picture was not the right thing. These moments have haunted me and particularly the past few years I have had life lessons that have forced me to find my "radical protester" side and silence momentarily my "good manners."

It is okay to create a stir sometimes, to raise a little hell even. This man taught me that "the way things are supposed to be done" doesn't mean a hill of beans to anyone if you go in fighting courageously and stand up for what you think is right with great passion. You never know what you can turn on its end if you shock the status quo a little bit, give it a surprise blast with your own enthusiasm, conviction-filled defibrillator.

The funny thing is when I first met this man I thought he was going to be the worst thing that had ever happened to me. I had looked him up online and he could not be more unlike me and everything I stand for. In fact, we should inherently completely ABHORE each other. He has pushed me, questioned me, and even insulted me at times. But what I found was that we actually agree on many things, but we believe in taking paths that differ ideologically or politically to getting there.

I am grateful that he has made me stronger by questioning me about what I believe. I have had to do some soul-searching about why I believe what I do so that I could defend myself - and I have! Excellent. I have also had to break down, burn up and throw out some of the things I have always believed about how the world works - because guess what, they aren't true. Thankfully, this man has also taught me some very valuable lessons from his world that I will take forward into mine.

Our paths are not as far apart as I once thought and I am very grateful for the lessons I have learned from him. We had a big laugh at the end of our conversation the other day when he cracked up and said "Look at me, lecturing you." We laughed so hard and I said, "I know, how shocking! You of all people are one of the best things that ever happened to me." We laughed hard. I think this crusty old man is starting to like me and I am starting to be very soft-hearted for him. Shocking. There are many things in this association to be grateful for and that's not even including the big outcomes I am hoping for. Thanks for yelling at me, friend!

16 November 2012

Thankful November 2012: Day 16

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Life can be challenging that is for sure. The challenges around here have been pretty intense the past few years. But I am so grateful to have had the reminder this week that sometimes really great things happen out of the blue. I have seen some situations that I have no control over make some amazing changes over the past few weeks to the extent that I'm so surprised I don't know how to take all this in. This, I realize is not a bad problem to have.

So I am grateful that good things do happen. Surprises come to our lives. Things can change for the better in our lives without any warning or expectation. That is so awesome. So awesome. I am grateful to have this moment to pause and to be in awe of this moment and appreciate it as deeply as I possibly can. I want to remember this throughout my life so that I keep things in balance when things are hard. I want to be able to remember that great things come as total surprises too, because they do!

Before you head off for the weekend, pop by my Pinterest boards. I just update them and they are looking so pretty. Would love to connect with you there, let me know and I'll follow you back. You can find me at kalanicut.

15 November 2012

Thankful November 2012: Day 15

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I am thankful today for a healthy, strong body. I have been having such a good time working out the past few weeks. I have been pushing it and it has been fun. I have been doing so many different activities and just loving feeling connected with my body and enjoying the results. It has really energized me and got me so excited about continuing strongly, setting some fun goals and being ready for big adventures with The Man next summer.

My most interesting workout was skipping the shuttle at the Ronald Reagan Library on Veteran's Day and hiking up the mountain top the library sits on. Part of that time was with The Bug on my back. I was glad I have been so diligent about my workouts because that could've been rugged. But I had a great time and it was so much more fun to hike up and down than to stand in a stinky, crowded shuttle bus with our faces on some big guy's arm pit holding on for dear life. The views were fantastic and our conversations during our hike would've never have happened if we'd been sitting in a big crowd on that shuttle. So grateful for healthy strong bodies. Want to make the most of them and enjoy every moment.

Driftwood Garland Two: Hawaiian Style

Here's a quick look at my second driftwood garland. You may remember I was scheming a couple of week ago about what I would make with my latest stash of driftwood. After some thought and experimentation I decided to just go with the basic garland. To see my basic Driftwood Garland DIY check it out here. You can also find a collection of driftwood project inspirations here.

On this project I learned a few more things that I thought I would share. Here is my update.
  • Use a strong poly cord. I used a thin but hardy poly cord that can hold up to the weight. A few weeks after I made my first driftwood garland it came crashing down to the floor when the cotton cord I used broke. So I had to restring the entire thing. I put a match to the end of the poly cord to give me a good, firm melted edge which made it a lot easier to thread it through the driftwood.
  • Last time I used a small drill bit then had a hard time getting my cord through the holes. So this time around I used a 5/32 bit, which made bigger holes and made it much easier to string the driftwood. Big timesaver!
  • When drilling the holes in the driftwood, on bigger pieces you need more pressure pressing down with the drill. But on small, more dainty pieces pressing too hard can cause the drill to shatter the piece. So in those instances it's good to take a very light tough. Something you can experiment with.
  • After you drill through on one side, then run the drill quickly through the back side hole to clean it up. Rough edges make for a nightmare when trying to string the cord through.
  • This time I organized all the pieces before I started threading by color, shape and size. That way I could do a better job balancing out the flow and appearance of the garland.

The last thing I learned this week is how masculine a garland with bigger pieces of wood would look. The pieces of wood I used for my first garland were pretty small, so it inherently looks more petite and girlish. This garland is full of much bigger pieces and it has a much more edgy, rough, masculine feel. The bolder look and feel definitely give this garland the feel of the rugged side of Hawaii.

That stronger look affects where I want to put it, how I want to hang it and the total weight of the piece as well. So while I wanted to try one with bigger pieces, in the end I learned that I like the look of smaller pieces of wood better. If you have any questions please feel free to leave them in the comments below and I will definitely answer them.

image via kalanicut

14 November 2012

Thankful November 2012: Day 14

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I had to do something this week that usually makes me totally sick to my stomach with stress. I have done this task many times over some years now and I've always felt sick to my stomach, my heart races and my entire muscular system ties up in knots. This is all for good reason actually because dealing with this situation has been the most stressful of my life and there have been many times when things went very badly.

So I couldn't be more grateful this week to realize that I went through this same process once again and even though situations looked difficult, I didn't get all knotted up. I just told myself that it would all work out fine, so rather than anticipating everything that could go wrong, I just kept reminding myself that all would be well. I noticed that my stomach and muscles didn't knot up, I didn't feel tense. I just felt calm and confident that I could handle it. And I did and boy was I thankful for that. It's great to look back and think, "Hey, I've gotten stronger! I've learned to overcome something that was really hard for me.That means I can overcome other challenges." That is one great realization filled with gratitude!

13 November 2012

Holiday Inspiration from Terrain

I was so happy to have a little hello in my inbox from Terrain a few days ago that I knew would be full of great Christmas inspiration. Any day of the year, Terrain's website is full of gorgeousness for body, home and garden.

The folks at Terrain have put together a lovely collection of very charming animal tree ornaments, wreaths, garlands and light strands. Here are a few of my favorites. You can see all of Terrain's beautiful holiday collection here.

images via Terrain

Thankful November 2012: Day 13

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Gratitude is all about the most simple of things some days. Today I am grateful for clean laundry and being able to use a regular old washer and dryer rather than our apartment building coin-operated machines.

Most people who are reading this probably don't live in the coin-op laundry world and can't imagine it. Life in a large city presents many extravagances and some downfalls. Being stuck using machines that have no special settings and don't ever seem to get the laundry very clean can be pretty frustrating.

Last weekend we visited family and I took the overflowing laundry basket along in the car. I felt grateful I could use our down time to catch up on the small mountain of wash that has accumulated the past couple of weeks. It was so nice to be able to do the laundry at my leisure, without a pile of quarters and in machines I had the ability to set to a variety of settings. It was a relief not to feel like I needed to set a timer to keep my laundry going so that other tenants weren't waiting and angry or starting to do laundry when I still had more loads to do.

I can't tell you what a pleasure it was to do the laundry in such ease. So nice. I'm extra grateful this week for a basket of clean clothes.

12 November 2012

Thankful November 2012: Day 12 - Veterans & Families

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This year I have had an up close and personal view of the sacrifices that our veterans make to protect our freedoms. I have watched a little girl and her dad hang onto each other for half an hour while I watched and cried. I have seen a tiny little boy collapse into his mother's arms, wailing "Dad...Dad...Dad..." as his father rode away in a bus for a year-long deployment. The sacrifices of our military families are immense and daily.

Imagine living for a year wondering every day if your husband will come home from the war, fearing phone calls or home visits delivering bad, life-changing news. Imagine consoling a little one who breaks down into a bucket of tears after Skyping with her dad because she can't bear how much she just wants to touch her dad. It's easy for us to shed a tear now and again when we see a YouTube video of a Dad coming home from the war, hear news of a young soldier from our town who has been killed or when we see a commercial from a non-profit assisting desperately injured warriors. But military families live with those tears and fears every day and we owe them our gratitude and appreciation.

Yes there are blessings to being part of the military community for these families too. They learn to hold on tightly to each other no matter the distance. They learn to be strong and independent and what it means to sacrifice. Great blessings.

So to all our veterans who have served I say thank you. Thank you for all the many things you have sacrificed to stand before us in your boots. Sending big love to The Two Star, The Flying Ace and LCDR and all the wonderful military members and families we know. THANK YOU VETERANS!

Do you understand the purpose of Veteran's Day? Do you know the difference between Memorial Day and Veteran's Day? You can learn more here.

11 November 2012

Thankful November 2012: Day 11

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Today I am thankful for the opportunity to help little people grow. One in particular of course, but I have had many different kinds of opportunities to be there for children I've taught and friendshipped in a variety of different ways. I am grateful that I have been able to help them feel safe, loved and cared about.

Children are great fun, a joy to be around (most of the time.) They bring sunshine, lots of hugs, unending love. What a blessing to be around them and be there for them.

10 November 2012

Thankful November 2012: Day 10

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Today I am grateful for teamwork in a relationship. Last week I reached out to The Man about something The Bug had asked for. She was basically asking for a bigger, yet identical version of a stuffed toy she already had. I mentioned that if we were going to get it, we needed to order it soon for the holidays.

The Man asked if she really needed it. He so wonderfully said he would gladly get it for her, but just wondered if she really needed it. His question turned a light bulb on in my head about how much we didn't need this...she didn't need this. Yes, she had asked for it a couple of times, but I know it wasn't a need or even a high priority want for her. It didn't make sense when we need to buy her outdoor winter wear, are traveling for the holidays and already have gifts for Christmas for her. She's even getting some cool things from other people too, so we don't need to overdue it.

I got a little too caught up in how cute this purchase was and didn't think much beyond that. In a place in life where we are really focused on not accumulating stuff, being mindful of expenses and living simply, this purchase went against everything on that priority list.

I was so grateful to have a partner who said, why do you think we should do this? His question made me pause and realize I hadn't thought enough or maybe at all. How glad I was for that backup check. More important than the decision about this unnecessary purchase was my appreciation for our work together as partners and how much I appreciate all he brings to my life. He is good stuff. We are good stuff together.

09 November 2012

Thankful November 2012: Day 9

image via MCA

Today I am grateful for blogging friends. I have been in touch with quite a few lovely blogging friends the past couple of weeks. It is always a delightful surprise to see an email from one of them in my inbox and equally fun to send a hello.

Every one of these awesome, inspiring ladies I have met through blogging. Some of them I have had the chance to meet in person. Others I have not yet met but enjoy a lovely sense of connection with from across the miles. I hope to get around to all the cities they live in at some point and have a cup of tea or lunch with every one of them.

Thank you ladies for your online inspiration and even better our friendship. Your encouragement, understanding and care are a great treasure to me. Knowing you encourages me to be more thoughtful about my life, my well-being and the choices I make. I appreciate you so much. Here's hoping I will meet a couple more of you in the coming year and see as many of you as possible. Sending you love and best wishes.

Anthropologie Holiday Fashion Inspiration

I always look forward to the arrival of the Anthropologie catalog. I am always inspired by the jewelry, hairstyles, and styling. This holiday season I had to share a few favorite looks from the catalog to inspire the mind for fashions for holiday celebrations. Isn't is so wonderful to see something besides little black dresses and velvet! Love the variety!

I love anything that takes conventional fashions and turns them on their ear. Anthropologie has done that over the years better than anyone. So before you start dreading your work holiday party or even worse your partner's (much more stressful, right?!) plan something fun to wear that will give you the confidence to shine.

08 November 2012

Thankful November 2012: Day 8

Besides my immediate family there is nothing I am more grateful for in my life than these two.  Boy do I love them. We've been on quite a roller coaster life together and the love that we share is rock solid and  deep. I miss them so much that just writing this makes my heart sting. This is one of my very favorite photos of them from 2011. The Bug has grown an awful lot since then. She's at least up to her Dad's elbow now. Amazing how fast the time goes. So grateful for them and looking forward to a beautiful future all together.

07 November 2012

Thankful November 2012: Day 7

Today I am thankful the beautiful world God created for us. To be able to stand at the top of a beautiful mountain and watch the sunrise is a amazing experience. The one thing I believe we can take with us from this life is our experiences seeing this beautiful world. I am grateful for all the beautiful places I have had the opportunity to stand.

image by kalanicut

Finding Animal Faces in Driftwood

Okay I had to share this with you. I mentioned last week that I brought home a bag of driftwood from Hawaii. When I got home I washed the wood down well and then left it out in the sun to dry for a few days. I started looking at the pieces of wood and found two that totally looked like duck heads. Then I kept looking and can you believe all the different animal creatures I found in the ends of the pieces of driftwood. Pretty crazy, right?

I had a lot of fun photographing these and I probably could have found a whole bunch more faces in the driftwood. So do you see what I see or do you see something different? I would love to hear what you see or imagine in the silly old broken off ends of wood. Tell me all about what you see in the comments below.

images by kalanicut

06 November 2012

Thankful November 2012: Day 6

image via mca

Oh, isn't it wonderful to take a few minutes every day to think about thanks. Today I want to thank Holly Becker, blogger, author and teacher of the Blogging Your Way Boot Camp I am involved in right now. While the spirit of the class is to learn how to be better bloggers and improve our experience in social networking, great goals, Holly's inspiration extends far beyond that. I have learned a lot about how to improve my efforts online, but what I most appreciate that I am taking from the class this time is a lesson from Holly's life philosophy that I want to incorporate into my life more passionately.

Holly's perspective may not be exactly this but this is what I am taking from it. In everything we do in life, we will have successes and failures. We must work hard. In our successes we ought to be gracious and grateful. In our struggles we all have the right and deserve to take a few minutes to be sad, to cry, to feel sorry for ourselves a bit. But not for too long. Then it's time to get up, dust yourself off and charge forward yet again.

We so often get stuck, stop our journey or detour off our paths when things get difficult. I am grateful for Holly's example, her drive and her willingness to share that spirit with others. This is my day, my moment to charge forward and I am so appreciative of Holly and all the others who have appeared in my life and encouraged me to make things happen and have faith in the inspiration that has lead me to this point. Thanks Holly!

05 November 2012

Thankful November 2012: Day Five

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I am thankful today for something that I normally don't like at all. How is that for learning to have gratitude in all things?! This year I am particularly grateful for the darker, cooler nights. Here's why. This past summer was such a hot, uncomfortable summer here. The heat was just unending and impossible to escape from, even when visiting friends and family. So this year I am so grateful for time in the day to enjoy the dark, cool evenings.

It's so refreshing to my soul and provides me opportunities to enjoy a cup of tea, wear a sweater, light candles and enjoy other things that make me happy in life. Change can be quite delightful. In fact I am learning that change is necessary and in the end usually refreshing. We humans are not always big fans of change, but it generally brings more blessings we just don't know it yet.

So I am very grateful for this change of seasons and daylight time. This year I am learning to be present and enjoy it. Even if it's only six p.m. and I think it's 10 p.m.. I am reminded to take those dark evening hours and  enjoy them, make the most of them and do things that benefit and feed my soul. It's also a wonderful time to spend quiet time with people you love, read a book, knit or do another hobby, listen to fantastic music and enjoy the quieting nature of this season. Happy Thankful November Day Five!

What are you thankful for today? Let's start a gratitude wave. Leave a comment below.

PS - You'll laugh. After I wrote this I saw the weather report - It's supposed to be 85 degrees here today. Sigh....

12 Tips To Increase Interest In Your Pinterest Boards

Putting my marketing career cap on here to share 12 ways you can pump up the interest and influence of your Pinterest boards. These are all fun and easy things I've considered as I work on making my boards pretty - lessons I've learned in the trenches. Each one will help make your Pinterest site more eye-catching to visitors. All right, let's jump in.

1) Use a nice avatar photo. This is often the first thing people will see when they visit. Use a lovely professional photo of yourself or something to do with your business. First impressions are important. Not everyone loves a photo of your scruffy but lovable pet or something else not clearly connected to what you're doing on your boards.

2) Take the time to write a nice introduction to who you are, what you do and what to expect from your Pinterest boards. Again this is a first impression thing. Take the opportunity to draw in visitors with words as engaging as your pins. Don't leave this space empty or fill it up with meaningless junk. Say something welcoming and pleasant.

3) Think about your brand. Regardless of whether you are running a small business, a blog or are just pinning for fun, you are building a brand whenever you post anything online. What kind of brand are you creating? Is it consistent with who you are, who you want to be and where you want to go with your blog, business or online presence? Keep your online personality consistent and likable if you want to build a following and create opportunities for yourself.

4) Keep your board names short and simple. Give pins clear descriptions. There has been a real trend to use catchy names for boards that do not clearly identify what they are. For instance you might use "Ring-a-ding-a-ding" for a wedding board. If you want people to find your beautiful board on weddings, put wedding in the title. People are more interested in your content that how cutely you can name things. Give your pins clear descriptions so they are easy to find in a search. If you are hard to find they won't find you or your pretty pins.

5) Add your own content. Don't just pin other people's pins. Go to some of your favorite sites and pin your favorite products, fashions and designs - things that inspire you. There's always a genuine need and room for more beautiful pins on Pinterest.

6) Smartly organize the layout of your boards. There are different ways to do this.
  • Focus on holidays. Now is a great time to move your Christmas decor and DIY boards to the top of your Pinterest page. After the holidays drop your holiday boards to the bottom and move anything to do with Valentine's Day, Spring, Easter, etc. up at the top of your page.
  • Consider the season of the year. During the winter drop the summer oriented boards to the bottom and vice versa. 
  • Put business first. If your board is business or blog oriented try to keep the boards most strongly associated with your brand at the top. If you sell pretty things on Etsy that you want to display but also have a board associated with your love of ugly dogs maybe put the dogs at the bottom.
  •  Make sure the boards at the top of your page are pretty and robust. If you have some boards that would be good at the top of your page but don't have a lot of pins, take a few minutes to beef them up before you put them center stage.
7) Select gorgeous cover shots. Pick your prettiest, most eye-catching pins for the cover shot on each board. Make sure the photo fits in the space available and is clear, then center is so it looks pleasing to the eye. Next consider how each looks along side the boards surrounding it. Don't pick cover shots that don't look good next to each other. Try to find harmonious color combinations with all your cover shots so that your main Pinterest page feels cohesive and inviting.

8) Switch things up often. Move your more generic boards around and change up your cover shots regularly. This will help repeat visitors see that you are constantly improving and adding new things to your page. This is something I learned when I used to do craft fairs. Moving things around in the booth during the day would cause something to suddenly jump out and catch the eye of people who may have already visited several times before.

9) Clean up your boards once in a while. To keep your boards manageable and pretty, go through and delete those pins that you look back at and can't believe you pinned or that aren't meaningful to you anymore. Look for ways that tighten up your themes and organization. I recently went through my Wedding board that had gotten too big and unwieldy and broke it up into several smaller, more tightly themed boards. I also divided out my Kitchen board to be two more cohesive smaller boards.

10) Think about the mood you are setting. My best example here is all the really snarky, sarcastic cartoons on Pinterest. There are also a lot of bitter and depressive saying on Pinterest. Yes they are funny, but most are also pretty rude or just plain depressing. Some people won't care about this a bit, or will gladly stand by their love of snarkiness. But if you're trying to attract people to you for business, networking, friendship or even dating relationships it's something to consider. What are your boards telling your audience?

11) Leave nice comments. Snarky put downs are bad for brand. But leaving plenty of nice comments is great for your business, brand and online persona. See #10. You can create or destroy relationships in the comment section. You don't have to say everything that goes through your head.

12) Promote yourself and others graciously. Everyone wants followers on their social networking sites don't they? At the same time, no one likes pushy, heavy handed "invitations" to follow someone. But  you can easily offer a gentle invitation to check out your latest updates, tied into some event going on. You can send a tweet like this "Spent the evening doing holiday crafts. See my inspirations on my Pinterest board here (include link)..." It doesn't have to come across as a used car salesman pitch nor does it have to feel like it to you. When you add in a few tweets, Facebook or blog mentions about some other people's boards that you love it helps show that you are spreading the love and not purely self-promoting.

There we go. Let me know which of these tips are most helpful to you. If you have any questions leave a comment below and I'll reply. Which ones have you already tried? Which ones do you want to try soon? If you aren't on Pinterest yet it' easy to join. You can sign up right here. If you are one of the many people who joined Pinterest, maybe months ago, and haven't yet created a board or pinned anything, I say try it out. It's great fun!

You can see my Pinterest boards here and of course you are welcome to follow. Share your Pinterest link in the comment section below so we can all visit you too. Thanks for coming by. Have a fantastic day. And Happy Pinning. See you there!

image by kalanicut

04 November 2012

Thankful November 2012: Day Four

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Today I am grateful for big, clean windows. Last week I cleaned the patio. This is a chore that has to be done more regularly than I even do it. Due to the constant ocean breezes we have here and all the trees we have around our building, any time of the year there are leaves to clean up every day.

Another thing that is a constant problem is the grimy dust that quickly accumulates on windows, window sills and the patio itself. Living between the two SoCal freeways makes air quality a bit of a problem. I cleaned the patio and cleaned the big windows looking out on the patio. I have been enjoying it every day since. It is such a delight to open the windows up wide, with a clear view and enjoy the wonderful light that comes in. That view and light is what I am thankful for today.

How about you? What blessings are you counting today? Please leave a comment below.
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