Monday, January 25, 2016

#MicroblogMonday - My Favorite Quote and Character from Last NightsEpisode of Downton Abbey

Downton Abbey's final huzza.

M'Lord and M'Lady how can this series be ending this season? I am savoring every moment of it.

Favorite quote from last nights episode: "What are we all doing? Trying to get through life as best we can." - Baxter

Favorite character from last nights episode: Sybil. Her kind deeds that her family knew nothing of continue to open their minds & touch hearts.

The feelings of the characters are palpable. I won't say much more so I do not spoil the experience for anyone who has not yet watched. Suffice to say I gasped, shed a tear and was left in excited anticipation for the next episode. This show is a masterpiece indeed.

'Til next #MicrobogMonday, Wendy

Friday, January 22, 2016

How a Monk Named Andy Helps Me Get Out of My Head

Having been in sales for the past 17 years I have spent a bit of time in classes, trainings, seminars and presentations geared toward being productive and focused.
When taking on a new project, career, class or when learning a new skill it is critically important to have the right mindset.

Today I want to focus specifically on the advice I have heard from super successful and productive people on staying the course and developing a strong resolve and mindset.

2 pieces of advice I hear over and over from successful, focused people is the importance of exercise and meditation when it comes to building strong resolve and having a positive mindset.

Apparently meditation not only reduces stress but it changes your brain, according to a study by Harvard neuroscientists. You can read about it here, very interesting!
I believe it. Sometimes you just need to get out of your head, even just for 10 minutes.

Have you started a new career? Taken on a project that requires mental toughness and a 'don't give up' mindset? Trying to stick to those pesky resolutions? Give meditation a try.

This is not a commercial for this app, rather it is me sharing a great tool I was turned on to because I love it.
All you need is 10 minutes a day for 10 days. The app is called Headspace. You can see what it's all about here
A kind voiced monk named Andy takes you through simple meditations that, at least for me, really do get you out of the noise and clammer that can go on in all of our heads.

If you end up giving meditation a try let me know how it goes. I love learning from all of you!

My best, Wendy

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Health week - January Challenges for a Happier Life

This week has been named "Health Week". As such I will be making all of the appointments that I have been putting off. For no reason. Basically just my poor time management. OK that's not true, that's me being tough on myself. Whatever the case may be I cannot put off these annoying appointments any longer. I actually made a commitment to myself to get these scheduled back in December and well, here we are.

Health week  to do's -
Squish appointment
Skin check appointment
Dentist regular check up (appointment set)

The difficulty with these tasks comes from the little things that need to happen before the actual tasks are done. For example for my yearly squish of the girls to check for the dreaded C word I need to find the contact info for the place I have been going for the last 8 years. Yes that's right last 8 years. You would think I would have that on hand but with the age of the smart phone upon us that contact info was lost 2 smart (or not so smart) devices ago. It has not been 2 years since my last squish. Just 2 phones ago.

As for the dentist appointment that has been put off because I really was not loving the office I had been going to even though it is super conveniently located. I bit the bullet yesterday and made the call to get an appointment at a much better office, at least I hope it is.

The skin check is an appointment that also has been put off a bit but in cleaning out my wallet yesterday I found the business card for the dermatologist my Dr referred me to. That contact info has been the thing standing in the way of that appointment.

It's Wednesday. It's a short week with the Monday holiday. I know I will be happier without these necessary appointments lurking around undone. Challenges for a happier life - take care of tasks that weigh on my mind. Get sh%$ done.

Thanks for reading. How do you handle getting in all the appointments that you and those you care for need in a given year? Do you have things you should be dealing with when it comes to your health and the care and keeping of you that you've been putting off? C'mon make me feel better and tell me I'm not alone in this.
I have resolved to do a better job with getting those regular appointments scheduled and taken care of in 2016. The next challenge will be actually getting to said appointments.

My best, Wendy

Monday, January 18, 2016

#MicroblogMonday Museum of Fine Arts Boston

What to do on a rare Monday off? Take a ride in to Boston (which I've been wanting to do for a year) and visit the Museum of Fine Arts. Fun, different and interesting.

Gorgeous colors
Gorgeous day
Gorgeous girl

Friday, January 15, 2016


We are halfway through the month of January. How's everyone doing with resolutions and the challenges that were set out at the start of the year? It's hard to believe that we are already halfway through January.

For me my challenges have been well - challenging. That said the concept of balance has come to the forefront of my thinking. The highs and lows of life, mostly the lows and the blows, can knock you off balance.

Each day trying to find that place of balance is a test but a test that is worth taking. When things are good it is the time to work at the things in your life you wish to work at because it can help give you strength during the challenging times. Does that make sense?

Shifting and adjusting instead of giving up is the way to persevere. Did anything pop up this week to take you off of your game or your plan? I know things did for me and I am shifting and adjusting but not giving up. A very small example is the dreaded spin class that I am going to make myself take. I say that with my tongue in my cheek because taking a spin class is something I've been wanting to do for a while.
My schedule got thrown off this week by a few unexpected things that came up (as they always do right?) and that spin class did not fit in the mix. But I am going. There is a class tomorrow morning at 7 am and unless something really extraordinary or out of the blue happens (struck by lightning type of event) I won't have much excuse, if any to not go.

Have a great weekend!

My best, Wendy

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Back to Work People, No Winner Yet

Easing in to things while developing good habits is for me the way to go. As everyone seemed to be rushing back to the gym I knew I needed to take the week to get back in the work/school routine.
The added pressure of getting to the gym would have been too much, I know that much about myself. That said, now it's time.

There was no Powerball winner so my question about whether it would be good luck or bad is a mute one for now. My challenge for this week for finding balance is to get some exercise squeezed in three times. A balanced life includes physical activity.

I will do a tried and true class at the Y that I know I love, yoga. Stepping out of my comfort zone I am going to try a class I have never tried, spinning. It is said that when it comes to fitness once you find what you love to do you will make time for it and it won't be hard to stick with it. Will spin be something I love?

"The worst enemy to creativity is self doubt." -Sylvia Plath

Although I've used my treadmill far more in the last 3 months than I have the whole time I have owned the contraption it is getting boring. The Sylvia Plath quote spoke to me in a couple of ways. Getting creative with my exercize is a must and trying something in spite of my self doubt fits the bill when it comes to challenging myself.

Are you a spinner? Do you love it?
To be quite truthful I have been afraid to try a spin class. My feeling has always been that it will be too hard. Seeing those spinners sweating thier a** off for an hour is just plain intimidating.

I'm not the type that will worry about it all week, which is good. I'm just too busy for that. Wish me luck! I'll be sure to let you know how it goes here. Are you stepping out of your comfort zone and challenging yourself in the new year? I'd love to hear about it if you are. Let's cheer each other on.

Best, Wendy

Friday, January 8, 2016

Friday Fun - Powerball Win Good Luck or Bad Luck?

I found a penny this morning but it was not heads up so I guess today is not my lucky day. Is tomorrow? The Powerball lottery jackpot is said to be over 700 million dollars and the winning ticket will be chosen tomorrow. Would it be lucky to win such an amount?

USA Today sums up the facts and the most interesting part of the article to me was that the winnings would be more than the GDP of some tiny nations in the Pacific. And some tiny nations in the Atlantic. In some cases 3 times as much. That's a lot of dough!

If you were a watcher of the hit TV series Lost you'll remember that the lovable character Hugo had a huge lottery win that brought him nothing but bad luck, including the plane crash that landed him on a deserted island. Leading up to the crash and after his lottery win poor Hurley experienced only bad luck, death and destruction. The numbers on Hurley's lottery ticket are a big part of the show and I have to wonder - has anyone played those numbers in this lottery? Would that be a good idea or no?

Still, it's kind of fun to think about what you would do with such a large sum of money. It's fun to dream. Car, house, boat, trips ... I need to get creative!

What would you do with a big win?

As it says on the penny I found 'In God We Trust'. If I am lucky enough to be the winner I'll do all I can to make it a lucky event. To the eventual winner (because according to all accounts the odds are that it is not me)  I say congratulations. My hope for you is that the win proves to be good luck.

Now to go buy my ticket because you can't win if you don't play.

My best, Wendy

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Focus for Today and Look Forward to Results - Tips For Not Letting the Post Holiday Blues Derail You

Stick to the knitting” is from the 1982 book “In Search of Excellence” by Tom Peters and Robert H. Waterman Jr. This means focus on what you do best. Focus on what will bring you the desired result. One of the most successful people I know introduced me to the concept of sticking to the knitting. 

With all of the resolutions of the new year come work. Tasks, jobs, activities that will get us to those end goals. If you are like me the tasks are all around and weighing down. The Christmas tree is dry and needs to go. The gingerbread houses that were once adorable are starting to look a little gross. Email inboxes that got less attention over the past few weeks need clearing out and attending to. The calendar needs to be filled with appointments that will bring business. Bills need to be paid.

Anyone else feeling the after the holidays blues this week? It can be tough getting back to the regular routine after the fun that was had over the holidays. For some if the holidays did not live up to your expectations there can be that let down as well.
In addition to that this year that there were many deaths around the holidays. And anniversaries of loved ones passing. A sad reality for those in my age group. My peers parents are older and some passed on over this past holiday season.

I spent some time thinking about shaking the holiday blues and finding balance again in the new year. I found a great quote from Vincent Van Gogh - "Great Things Are Done By A Series Of Small Things Brought Together."

Doing things each day to reach your goals, whatever they may be, can be tough. Keeping your eyes on the horizon and looking forward to the results are a way to keep going strong.

"What you do every day is more important that what you do once in a while." - Gretchen Rubin

The 21 Day De-Clutter Challenge I did this past fall was great because I was able to do small things each day to reach that big goal.  End goal - a (mostly) clutter free house to entertain in for the holidays. The challenge part of it with a defined ending is what helped keep me going and stay motivated. I had my eye on the prize.
My tip - take a little time today to define what the "prize" is for you when it comes to all of the tasks and activities on your to-do list. This exercise will help you gain clarity and momentum to keep forging ahead. I know we are only in the first week of the new year but this first few days can be the toughest.

One more tip is to have small things to look forward to along the way. If you are exercising like crazy go get a new outfit or sneakers to make it more enjoyable. Eating right? Look for a new recipe to keep from getting bored with your menu. Working on your time management? Go get a fun new planner or learn one more thing about the online planner you are using to make your efforts more efficient.

Last tip - I do like a sharp pencil and piece of paper for some things. A commenter on this blog recently mentioned Trello to me, which is a similar online tool that I may give a whirl but for this week it was pencil and paper.
To do - doing - done
My system is very simple. A blank sheet of paper held the long way labeled at the top
To do, doing, done across 3 columns. I have also done this on large sheets of paper and hung it on the wall for big projects but for a few days or a weeks worth of to-do's this approach works out well for me. Nothing complicated, no learning curve just the satisfaction of seeing the little things you have accomplished. Which will lead to big things.

How are you doing in this first week of the new year? I'd love to hear from you about what challenges you are facing and your strategies for those challenges.

All my best, Wendy

Monday, January 4, 2016

What Do Those Do-Hickey's Do? Tools I Love That Save My Life

One thing I know about myself for sure is that work is a big part of who I am.
To keep all the plates spinning as a working mom employing technology is a must. On top of the typical demands of work my profession requires responsiveness 7 days a week and unplugging is only an option if there is coverage while unplugged. The flip side of that is that I do have some flexibility in my schedule, which fits my lifestyle.

Technology is helpful when it solves a problem or makes tasks more efficient.
More efficiency in your work life theoretically leaves more time for play.

Technology is not so helpful when it creates problems (too much time online mindlessly, not enough time working) or texting while driving.
Finding balance in online pursuits is key and considering how to strike that balance is proving helpful to me as I look toward the New Year.

Here's my list of my 5 favorite tools that contribute to my efficiency which as it happens helps with balance,
4 out of 5 of the tools are apps.
1 out of 5 is on good old paper.

Note that this list is in no particular order.

Evernote - This app is for just what the title states - taking notes so you have them whenever and wherever. Evernote is on my laptop, smartphone and tablet. I just referred to a note yesterday from February 2013. The info needed from that note (about clean eating) would not have been available to me had I not used Evernote when taking it all that time ago. Believe me when I say a post it note would not have lasted all this time. Some people can be very organized with planner books and notebooks but I am not one of those people.

Waze - Waze is a social GPS. The great thing about it is that the info is in real time as reported by other 'Wazers' who are on the road. Plug in a location and the app will guide you on the fastest route and will alert you to pot holes (hugely helpful in my area) and other hazards along the way. I have just started using Waze and I'm sure I have not utilized all of the tools that come along with it but have already seen the benefits. When leaving a big sporting event on New Years Eve Waze guided me out of traffic and home far more quickly than I would have been able to get home if left to my own devices or google maps. The area is one I am familiar with but I never would have thought to go the way Waze sent me. Whoever created this app is a genius.

Headspace - Want to try meditating for more balance and just to feel good? Time can be a major hinderance to fitting in all the things you'd like to fit in to your day. That overwhelmed feeling can actually paralize me sometimes. Headspace is a great way to clear your head and get the day started and fitting in 10 minutes is do-able. You will love Andy, the kind Monk, who leads you through 10 10 minute meditations. If you like it there are more paid meditation tracks that you can purchase but that first 10 are free.

Passion Planner - A colleague introduced me to Passion Planner last summer and I must admit I have not purchased one. (imagine a souped up Daytimer/Journal and that's Passion Planner)
The website has free downloads that I love for weekly planning. I tried Google Calendar as a way to keep a family calendar and it just did not work. This was not in any way Google Calendars fault, in fact, I love it for my own calendar. It just did not work as a family planner.
In a perfect world on Sunday nights for the last 6-7 months my husband and I sit down together and map out the week. Because it has proved to be so helpful we are pretty faithful about it. Sometimes it happens on Monday or even later in the week but I'd have to say that except for a week here or there we have made this happen regularly.  On the weekly calendar there is also space to talk about what went well in the prior week and what the focus will be for the week to come. Sometimes we add meal plans to the calendar. Yesterday I even got fancy and used a different color for each childs schedule for this coming week. That won't last long ... who knows where the colored pencils will be when I go looking for them next week.

Google Calendar - I love Google calendar for the same reason I love Evernote. Enter something in on one device and it can be found on all of your devices. One of my goals for 2015 was to be on time as often as possible, especially for work meetings. Setting alarms and notifications with Google calendar helped me improve with that dramatically. If better time management is one of your aspirations in 2016 give google calendar a try.

What are your favorite tools for creating work/life balance or just for creating more available time for fun? I'd love to hear from you in the comments.

My best, Wendy

Friday, January 1, 2016

2016 - The Challenges Continue

Challenges for a Happier Life 2016 starts now!

Holiday creations
The Challenges continue and the theme for January is balance.
Work, family, marriage, friends. Required work that must be done, work that brings Joy.
Figuring out what brings joy and creates balance was for me the first step to adding those things to my days.
The monthly challenges that I worked on the last 3 months of 2015 helped me understand that being creative is a huge piece of the balance puzzle for me.
Getting creative over the holidays was a blast. My husband was very thoughtful and my gift from him was a really nice camera and I'm so looking forward to having fun with it and learning to take great photos. Until then, my phone camera photos will have to suffice. Excuse the ametuer nature of them, thanks.

My creative challenge for January is to find a desk to refinish and create a home office that I love to work in. My space at my office also could use some help so I'll also spend some time making that area one that I love to work in. I tend to use the conference room in my office instead of my private space because things are not exactly neat. (even after my big de-clutter!)

Project piece
2016 arrived last night and with it new energy.
I plan on writing 2 posts this month that may be of interest and I thought I'd mention them today and then spend some time thinking through the ideas. Follow my blog or subscribe by email to get notified when these posts are up.

The first January post that I am working on will be a recap of all of my influencers from in this past year and what I learned from them. Documentaries, Ted Talks, movies and biographies are all part of my media consumption.  I am a big reader and there are several authors who spoke to me in 2015. There are also books that I could not complete, which is always interesting in its own way.  In a given year I take classes that are for my professional growth, some mandatory and some by choice, and classes for my own personal growth. This past year was no exception.
In January you can expect a post with my take aways from a year of listening, learning, watching and reading.

The second post that is on the horizon is my take on being an 'Intreprenuer'.
When considering how to become more engaged in my work life and make it more exciting I took on the mindset of intreprenuership. There is a lot of discussion and hype surrounding entreprenuership and I admire entreprenuers. That said many of us work for employers, companies or operate under a franchise and in those settings there is room to innovate just as entreprenuers do without the risk. Real estate agents who work under a broker are intraprenuers. (at least in my book)
I'll leave you with the dictionary's definition of the word intrepreneur. It is a word that is new to me although I now know it has been around for 150 years:

in-tra-pre-neur (In¹tre-pre-nur) n. A person within a large corporation who takes direct responsibility for turning an idea into a profitable finished product through assertive risk-taking and innovation 

As you can see I've got big plans. Check back here to see how I'm doing. As always your comments and feedback are welcome. I love learning from all of you.

Happy New Year! Wendy

9/24/16 - finished desk