You know you are a horrible procrastinator when you tell a friend that you have not yet gotten around to watching the anti-procrastination motivational videos they sent you. One month ago. Yeah, that’s pretty bad. Well thankfully, he didn’t feel bad at all about calling me out on it and he actually made me watch one on his iPod right then and there. Yes it was embarrassing, but it was really kind of awesome too. So that evening I spent some time in motivational video land finding my motivation. I didn’t accomplish much of anything else, but at least I found some inspiration.
One of the videos I watched was from self-help author and motivational speaker Tony Robbins. It was geared toward setting New Year’s resolutions, but I have come to the understanding that goal setting can and should happen all year round. There were a bunch of useful steps you can follow to make sure your resolutions stick that I have started working through. The biggest takeaway for me though was the idea that true happiness is not about the things you get in life or being 100% successful in everything you do, but it stems from the feeling that your life is progressing in the direction you want it to go. I can’t tell you how big of a revelation that was to me. I can give myself permission to be happy even though I’m not where I want to be, because I am at least making progress toward getting there.
Here is a pretty cool visual representation of my progress toward decluttering my desk at work:
Now that is definitely progress that makes me truly happy!!!
I hope everyone had a great Mother’s Day, I know I did! I spent the morning kicked back with a good book after enjoying the lovely handmade gifts from my kiddos. Then we drove up to Bloomington to take my mom out for lunch. It is always fun driving through our hometown reminiscing on all the good times and marveling over how much everything has changed. I envisioned more book reading upon returning home, but I felt guilty since my husband was out mowing the lawn. I didn’t want him to feel too abused, even though it was MY day, so I decided to get an early start on my before bed routine. Dishes done, clothes picked out for the next day, kids’ backpacks packed, and two loads of laundry washed, dried, folded, and put away. I’ll tell you there was no guilt when I picked up the iPad to finish my book after all that.
I was feeling pretty good coming into work this Monday morning, after such a successful before bed routine the night before. Then I walked into my slightly less cluttered office and my heart just soared!!! It is nowhere near perfect just yet, but I’m really digging the progress so far. Check out these before and after shots:
I still have some stuff to go through and organize on the shelf, but at least nothing is falling off the sides any longer. I can’t tell you the last time I only had one stack of papers on my desk in addition to the file organizer. I feel that one day soon my file organizer will actually organize files to help me work more efficiently and not just store junk I don’t want to mess with.
Baby steps are awesome! I hope you can join me by taking some baby steps of your own. You may not have a clutter problem like me, but all you have to do is search your heart for the change that would make you happier and make it happen one baby step at a time.
Things are starting to come together pretty well at home: we’ve finished some long overdue projects and are working on organizing the different spaces in our house. I am happy to say that we now have a place to hang up our coats. After years of hanging our coats on the back of our dining room chairs, my husband finally installed coat hooks in our laundry room. It’s not the same as having a closet, but at least it keeps them up and out of the way. One more step toward a simpler, more organized life!!!
This month’s theme is Pamper Yourself. With the redecorating of our bedroom, I’ve come to realize how important a nice clean space is to maintaining your sanity. We’ve still got a little ways to go before the transformation of our bedroom is complete, but I already feel so much more at peace when I walk into my room and when I lay down to go to sleep at night. Nothing is more pampering to me than to lay back and relax in a nice, clean and organized room.
This revelation has led me to believe that some of my work-related stress is in direct response to the lack of organization and cleanliness of my office. How could it not be? So a great way to pamper myself would be to not have to walk into an office that looks like this:
The sad thing is that I actually already spent about an hour organizing on Friday! I got rid of 3 or 4 boxes and a garbage bag full of junk. It was absolutely liberating, and even though I still have a lot of work to do I felt much better walking into my office this morning. Accountability is huge for me, so I’m going to post pictures of the progress I make in my office for the rest of My Happiness Project. Stay tuned!
I’m in the home stretch – only six more weeks of My Happiness Project! I can’t believe how fast the time has flown in some ways, and how in other ways it seems like a lifetime ago that I first began my journey. I’m not exactly where I hoped to be in some of my routines, so I wish I had more time to get there. But on the other hand, I’ve made such great improvements in my family relationships and my outlook on my life that I feel like I am a completely different person. I had an idea in the beginning that My Happiness Project would just be the first in a series of life changes, and now I am sure that is the case for me. I am content with the baby steps I have been taking and can see this continuing indefinitely beyond these last six weeks.
The last two months of My Happiness Project were supposed to be themed “Enjoy the Outdoors” in April and “Pamper Yourself” in May. With the weather still being a little iffy from time to time and some other opportunities, I’m kind of doing a little bit of both at the moment. Here’s what I’ve had going on this month:
Enjoy the Outdoors
- When the weather is nice, the kids and I like to play out in the front yard. I’ve been working with my youngest on her bike riding skills (she still has her training wheels) and my son has been teaching me some tricks on his Razor. We’ve drawn sidewalk chalk pictures on the driveway and jump roped and hula hooped. Not only is the exercise great, but the fresh air and sunshine do amazing things for your mood. Even if there isn’t much sunshine or there is a decent chill in the air, it is still awesome to be outside spending time with your family.
- Last weekend, my son went to a friend’s house, so my daughter and I planned a girls’ day. I had my sights set on more of a “Pamper Yourself” kind of a day, but I let her pick so she decided she wanted to have a picnic at the Borden Park. We had a great time eating a healthy lunch, walking around the track, swinging on the swings and throwing rocks in the creek. A mani/pedi would have been nice too, but I was completely sold on her choice each time I saw her face light up when she would declare, “We’re having a girls’ day!!!”
- I can’t talk about enjoying the outdoors, without mentioning that the Y spring soccer season has started back up! Both of the kids are playing this year which will give us plenty of an opportunity to be outside. Their practices are back to back, so each of them gets to explore Binford Park while the other is practicing. There isn’t much there at the park, so we’ll get to know the playground pretty well!
- Being a supreme procrastinator, I finally used a spa gift card that my husband got me for Christmas. I mean, who else waits four months to use such an awesome gift card? This needs to be my next quest after My Happiness Project: My Anti-Procrastination Project! Anyway, I had a lovely time at the spa getting a facial and a mani/pedi and I definitely felt pampered. Shameless plug: you really need to go see my friend Mary at About Face Salon & Spa for the best facial ever!
- I decided this month that there are two easy things I can do to take better care of myself and therefore feel more pampered. One is drinking more water. Your body just functions better being adequately hydrated, and I have not been adequately hydrated in quite some time. I always fill up my water bottle every day at work, but now I’m trying to make sure I actually drink it; and then refill it and drink some more. I’ve been peeing like crazy so it must be working. The second thing is getting more sleep. Your body also functions better when it gets adequate sleep, so I’ve been trying to go to bed at a decent hour each night. The new bed has definitely helped with this goal and I think has also helped with the quality of my sleep.
- This month I also began a daily meditation. I’m completing one of Deepak Chopra’s 21-day meditation series entitled Free to Love. So far I’ve explored forgiveness, healing, giving and receiving love, being grateful and joyful, and inviting love into my life. What could be a better way to pamper yourself and to boost your happiness?
I’ve been busy getting back into the swing of things since returning from California, so I think it’s time to remind myself of everything that has contributed to my happiness over the past couple of weeks.
- My trip to California went off without a hitch. I was completely prepared and ready to go well in advance of our flight’s departure. In fact, on the way there, I had all of our stuff together a full 12 hours before we had to be at the airport! In no way was I going to let my nightmare of being late come true.
- Getting to see my brother, sister-in-law, niece and nephews is always a huge happiness booster. We don’t get to see each other very often since my brother is in the military and usually stationed across the country or even across the world. Seeing my kids play with their cousins and have such a blast was heart-warming. They’ll have some great memories to treasure just like my brother and I have with our cousins.
- While in California, my sister-in-law and I got to have some time together shopping and getting mani/pedi’s. We had a great time and were able to become even closer. I just love her death, especially for the love, support, encouragement she has given, and for the sacrifices she has made, as my brother has served our country for the last 19 years.
- The reason for my California trip was for a celebration of my brother’s latest achievement in the Air Force. He just earned the rank of Chief Master Sergeant, which is the highest enlisted rank. At the ceremony, I was in awe of the military rituals and customs, and completely overwhelmed with the pride I had in my big brother. All of these lieutenants, captains, and colonels were telling our family what a big deal it was for him to attain this rank, and although I knew it was a pretty awesome achievement beforehand, I just didn’t have a clue as to the extent of his awesomeness!
- Apparently my brother’s other talent is as a mattress salesman. He and my sister-in-law had been talking up this new iComfort bed they had, so of course I had to check it out. They have one with all the bells and whistles. It has an adjustable base that can prop up your legs or your head with a touch of a button. It even has a vibrating massage feature. Bottom line, it is the most comfortable bed I have ever laid on. So as soon as I got home, we stopped by Denver Mattress and ordered one for ourselves. That was probably the easiest sale that lucky salesman ever had! I wonder if there is a way I can get them to give part of the commission to my brother and sister-in-law?
- With the excitement of a cool new bed on the way, I FINALLY convinced my husband to finish our bedroom makeover that has been in the planning stages for over 5 years. As I write this, new paint is on the walls and the Pergo flooring that has been stacked up in my room for 5 years is installed. We expect our new bed this afternoon and our new bedroom furniture should arrive in the next couple months since it was on backorder. None of this would have been possible if we hadn’t been working so hard to get our clutter under control and our finances in order over the last several months. Thank you My Happiness Project!!!
Before I started My Happiness Project, fairly often I would dream about being at home and realizing I haven’t packed anything for my vacation. The flight is leaving in one hour and I live two hours away from the airport. The dream would always end with me deciding not to go or deciding I would call the airline to see if I could get on a later flight. In this original version of the dream, it was always me going on vacation by myself and trying to figure out what I was going to do by myself.
After starting My Happiness Project and incorporating daily routines into my life, the dream changed. In week 2, I wrote about how the dream now included my family and all four of us were on our way to the airport when I realized I forgot to bring my daughter’s backpack which contained her entertainment for the flight. Not having enough time to go back, the dream ended when I decided we had all of the important stuff and we’d just buy her a book and a toy when we got to the airport. In this version of the dream, my family was with me but I was the one trying to figure out what to do on my own. I had several other variations of this same dream in the following months, but it was always the same basic concept. I forgot to do or bring something, but decided on my own that I could fix it once we got where we were going.
In February and March, I worked on reconnecting with my spouse and working together as a team. I had the dream again recently and here’s what happened:
The four of us were on our way to the airport to go on vacation and one of my children realized they forgot to pack pajamas. Since we were just 10-15 minutes away from home and had left about an hour earlier than we needed to, we discussed our options as a family. We can continue on and get some new pajamas once we get there or we can turn around and get the pajamas and anything else that we may have forgotten. We decided to turn around and make sure we have everything we need since we had plenty of time.
So this progression of dreams tells me a couple things. First, it is important to have routines to help you be more prepared and to reduce anxiety. Second, it is still stressful if you try to do it alone. Having your family help and support you makes a world of difference. Obviously I still have some work to do on my routines since we’re still forgetting stuff in my dreams, but I can see that we are on the right track. Tomorrow morning, in real life, we are getting on a plane to go to California. I have been packing for the last couple days, so I know I’ve already made it past the point of my first dream. I’m pretty confident that if we do forget something, it will be minor and that we will work it out as a family. Wish me luck!
My Happiness Project theme for March of “unfinished projects” quickly transformed into “massive spring cleaning” with my husband’s influence, and I couldn’t be happier!!! Our house is nowhere near perfectly clean and organized, but we have made a great big dent in the clutter. Throughout the month we’ve cleared out the spare bedroom, the master bedroom, our son’s bedroom, the living room/dining room, and the garage. There is still a lot more organizing left to do and a lot more stuff to go through, but just getting on the right track makes my spirits soar!
Throughout the month, one thing that has become abundantly clear is that clutter truly affects your happiness and your relationships with your family. My husband and I had been a little crabby toward one another, but once we started to make progress with our spring cleaning, the house looked nicer and much of the tension between us disappeared. We worked together as a team, capitalizing on each other’s strengths to get the job done. The kids even started wanting to help keep the house looking nice!
I’m just going to throw it out there and say that a big part or our clutter issue is that we live in a 1,250 square foot home with very little functional storage space. Where are you supposed to hang up your coats when you have no entryway or hall closet? Apparently, for us, that leaves the back of our dining room chairs for coat storage. Small bedroom closets mean shoes are lined up in the laundry room at the entrance to the garage. Little kitchen storage means that kitchen appliances overflow into the laundry room. Our bedroom is then the catch-all for anything else that doesn’t have a home.
Unfortunately, we’re not in the market to buy a new home, so I had to admit to myself that we just have entirely too much crap. As my favorite home organization expert, the Flylady, likes to say, “You can’t organize clutter.” Once again this month, I reminded myself that if I don’t love it or if I don’t use it, there is no reason to keep it. It is very liberating to toss out all of the junk that holds your spirits down, but it’s even more exciting to dream of a new house with closets galore. At least I’ll know what I want when the time is right to make our move!