Tuesday, December 22, 2015

How Run DMC and My Favorite Author Help Me #staymerry

My tweet today says it all-   #balance #HolidayAreComing #staymerry

I call it spinning plates, others call it the juggle. No matter what you call it if you are a mom whose family celebrates Christmas and it is 2 days, 12 hours and 20 seconds (as of this writing) until Christmas you are most likely doing more than one thing at a time, spinning plates, juggling, etc or you are paralyzed by all there is to do.
You may be somewhere in between but I know you get the picture.

And then the text comes in - "mom I need insert food item here & insert drink here for the insert name of  party tomorrow. they told us last minute nothing i could do about telling you earlier"

We were past this type of fire drill request for a while but now that my youngest daughter is busier with school and sports the last minute requests and emergencies are again part of the equation.

Here are a few tips to #staymerry

  •  Lists are your friend. Lock your phone so prying eyes do not see said lists but make them and check them 10 times. Twice just won't do it, at least for me with my executive function on overload this time of year. 
  • Don't forget to eat & stay hydrated. You are so busy planning meals and celebrations full of yummy food and drink that you may forget that you still need meals TODAY. If all else fails eat the lunch your son forgot to bring to school that is still on the counter. 
  • Remember to check your calendar. It happens to me once or twice a year that I will show up somewhere at the wrong time or on the wrong day and it is all the more likely to happen around the holidays. You are out of your usual routine and the days can get mixed up when there's a holiday on a weekday.
  • Ask for help. Spouses, kids, guests, they are all potential helpers. Don't be afraid to ask and don't be so controlling that you can't ask. I got over that years ago. (I think, I'll double check with my family to make sure that statement is accurate) 
  • This tip came from author Gretchen Rubin - "Act the way you want to feel." Have a headache? Feeling a bit grouchy? Take some advil, watch a funny video or listen to Run DMC's Christmas in Hollis Here you go, I'll even give you a link so you can do it right now YouTubeChristmasInHollis  Then put a smile on your face. Trust me it works.
  • Last but not least, get as much done as you can and by the time 3:00 PM on the 24th rolls around then let it all go and enjoy your holiday.
Merry Christmas to all who celebrate. Best wishes for the new year to one and all. 
Oh and if you'd like follow me on twitter @wendyenglish

2016 here we come!

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Wendy's Top 5 Holiday Flicks

There's nothing better this time of year than settling in to watch a holiday movie. Here are my favorites that I can watch over and over -

5. #5 is a tie between Charlie Brown Christmas, which is my teenage sons favorite of the season and Home Alone, my teenage daughters fav.

4. A Christmas Story -  The Bumpus hounds stealing the turkey right off the table is one of the most memorable scenes and having had 2 dogs plus a visiting cousin dog last Christmas I can relate to the craziness of the holiday with hounds.

3. Planes, Trains and Automobiles - Who wouldn't love the endearing Dell Griffin playes by one of the funniest actors of all time, John Candy? The theme of coming home for the holidays is a classic and the hilarious situations that John Candy and Steve Martin's characters find themselves in keep me laughing no matter how many times I have watched the movie (which is a lot!).

2. National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation - It is hard to choose a favorite part or favorite character. From Aunt Edna to Clark and Uncle Eddie the characters and story lines are all a crack up. I have laughed so hard at some parts that I miss what happens next giving me a great excuse to watch the movie again.

1. My #1 favorite holiday move of all time is Love Actually. Warning, there is some nudity so be careful who you watch with. Hugh Grant, Liam Neeson and Colin Firth in different holiday, romantic plotlines that are spoofs on romcoms is just the thing to get me in the holiday spirit. Add Rowan Atkinson and lots of Brittish accents and slang making this a flick I can watch year after year. The upbeat soundtrack adds even more to the fun.

It would be great for a new breakout, holiday movie to hit the screens. Until then I'll keep watching my hitlist.

What are your favorite movies this time of year? I'd love to hear from you in the comments.

My best, Wendy

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

3 Things I Learned From My 2015 "Smart" Year

"The days are long but the years are short." - Gretchen Rubin

Everyone I come across is saying it - "Where did the year go?" "How can the holidays be here again already?"

It is so easy to let days, months and even years slip by barely noticing. I am thinking that it must be a mid-life thing to finally take notice of this phenomenon. Or I am just really slow to catch on.

I am now in a place where I get it. Time flies by. The things that are important today will be distant memories soon, if we even think about them at all. Last year on New Years Day my husband and I made a list for our "Smart Year 2015". It was long.

Two sheets of 8 1/2 X 11 printer paper taped together vertically with a colorful magic marker list of all of the things we were going to tackle in the new year. I don't have the document itself handy but I will tell you that it hung on our closet door and then on a kitchen cabinet for periods of time in 2015.

Although we made the list together and were enthusiastic at the time we were writing it (over a bacon & egg New Years Day breakfast) that list became a source of true conflict between us.

On it were things like date night, the 52 week saving plan, Sunday outings with our kids with each child getting a turn at picking the activity and more. I think we included eating right and exercise. Sounds great doesn't it? While we both would agree that all of the "Smart" things on the list were worthwhile the list created arguments and strife. It took a lot of soul searching and research to figure out why. Many lessons were learned. Here are the top three -

#1 - Don't take on more than you can realistically handle. The "Smart Year"  list was too long. Taking on one thing at a time would have been the truly "Smart" way to tackle saving money, spending more quality time together and eating right and exercising. Some of the goals could be paired together and later in the year without even knowing it we did that by joining a walking group. That group paired together date night that was not going out to eat, exercise and saving money (it was 5 bucks to join!) Pairing is a strategy I learned about in my 21 Day De-Clutter Challenge. Read more about the De-Clutter Challenge here - 21 Days To Less Clutter

#2 - Time it right. Only YOU know when you are ready to tackly big goals. Although all of the ideas sounded great in theory to both my husband and I we had differing levels of commitment to each of the "Smart" goals. The start of a new year may feel like a great time to embark on a journey of self improvement and resolutions if you are not ready it is not the best time. Resolutions and goals can be started at any time
Some goals are best worked on together, others are better individual goals. My guy was not ready for the eating right portion of the "Smart" year.
As of this writing though he is about 10 days in to a 21 day period of eating clean. Lots of veggies and lean meat, no gluten,  dairy or alchohol. We are thinking he may have a gluten allergy and he has always been sensitive to dairy products. Because he is feeling so good he is very committed to the 21 days of eating clean.

#3 - Prepare to succeed. A big reason we did not succeed with the "Smart Year" is that we needed to learn some things. Read a book written by an expert, take a class or talk with someone who has successfully done what you want to do.  Another one of the more important lessons learned by our "Smart Year" experiment gone wrong is to take big goals and break them down in to small steps. How do you eat an elephant? A bite at a time.
That seems to be theme of mine since it was the title of a previous post -
Does eating elephant bite at time work?

For 2016 one of my goals is to keep posting. Hold me to it!

As always thanks for checking in and I'd love to hear any comments and feedback.

My best, Wendy

Monday, December 7, 2015

December Challenge

My advent wreath
Here I go again - Challenges for a happier life.

Doing the things you want to do, need to do, know are good for you and you feel better (or even feel awesome when you do them) comes naturally for some people. 
For others, like me, we get stuck in ruts, develop bad habits and forget or neglect the things that bring health and happiness.

Through my series of personal challenges that I started back in April I learned that I am better at sticking with good habits when a few key things are in place. 

Number one on the list of key things that help me stick to a habit I need is a defined time frame. A month, 21 days ... it helps me to have a defined period of time for the challenge. During that time I am able to evaluate whether or not the activity is worthwhile and whether or not it delivers the results I am looking for. For example the task of de-cluttering a family home can seem daunting but breaking it down in to 21 tasks over 21 days makes it less so.

Second on the list of  key elements to a challenge for me that helps me stick to the challenge is having a buddy. Doing things with others automatically makes it more fun and provides accountability. A buddy can bring needed energy. You can cheer one another on when needed and vent about the ups and downs faced in the challenge.

Lastly, blogging or writing about the challenge I am doing always seems to help me stick to it. What gets written down gets done. I have heard that statement said many times in different ways and I find it to be true.

So what is on tap for December? My challenge for a happier life for December is going to church service every week of Lent. As of this writing I have 2 down and 2 to go. Why this challenge? I have found that I am not making the time for church, even though it is something that I love. Hopefully my dedication to going in the month of December will get me in a great frame of mind for the Christmas holiday. 

Truth be told there are 2 other things I put on my "challenge" list for December and I have not faithfully been doing the other 2. What were they? Meditating for 10 minutes a day 10 days in a row (I got as far as day 2) and walking at least 20 minutes each day. It is only December 7th so as I am writing this I am resolving to get those 2 additional challenges back on my to-do list.

What things do you wish you had the time for or would you like to make the time for that you think would improve your life? Would a challenge like this help you fit it in? I'd love to hear from you in the coments.

All my best, Wendy