Monday, March 31, 2014

Feel Good : Beginning a T-Tapp Exercise Program

Although I've been focusing on overall health and nutrition for the past year, my exercise routine has consisted of NOTHING - 7 days a week! If I keep up this level of dedication to my current program, I'm guaranteed to see results: high blood sugar, muscle degeneration, fatigue, depression, and a short trip to an earlier grave. What a payoff!

Don't believe you can do it? Take a look at LiveStrong's 5 Consequences of Not Exercising and look at all the sad states you can achieve by underachieving. Enough is a enough and it's time for me to take a serious look at what I can do to build exercise into my daily routine.

After taking a detailed look at my daily schedule, first thing in the morning is the best time for me to begin an exercise program that I can stick to. I'm generally a morning person, so this shouldn't be too difficult for me to accomplish. In fact, before my son was born, I would go to the gym at 5:30 AM every day, shower there, and head on to work. Impressive!

But that required going to be at 9:00 PM each night and I haven't been willing to do that since becoming a mom; between 8:30 PM (bedtime for son) and 10:00 PM is *MY* time - to catch up on TV shows, surf the internet, etc. Although I enjoy that time alone, I think I'll get a bigger bang for my buck (alone-time-wise) by using that time in the morning instead.
I plan to add in a regular walking practice once the weather warms up but for now, I've chosen the T-Tapp Wellness Workout exercise program by Teresa Tapp. I first heard about T-Tapp from Alison Golden of Paleo/NonPaleo, who extols the virtues of its rehabilitative, low impact, yet very effective muscle building and body reshaping program. I am intrigued by the idea of a regular yoga practice, but Teresa Tapp's methods and the testimonials from users - especially those with autoimmune disorders - interested me enough to order the program and check it out.

I'll write more later this week about the routine and my schedule for moving forward. But now, I'm off to reset my alarm clock!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

The best laid plans... and what I can do to complete them

Hello, Orlando! Just what I needed to escape a snowy February in Virginia.
Whew! February started and we hit the ground running, traveling to and fro, going to basketball games, work events, conferences, scrapbooking retreats, you name it. And then March turned out to be more of the same (substitute wrestling for basketball and family obligations for conferences and that's it). And all of a sudden it wasn't so easy and fun to visit this space and make my Happy Little Habits updates (much less actually work on the habits).

April is coming soon and I'm ready to turn over a new leaf (again) but with some additions to my blogging tool belt. I've reworked my Choosing Happy Habits schedule and worked on an editorial calendar for the first time. This will allow me to work ahead when I can and see what I would like to accomplish in the coming month.

Here are some helpful resources that I found on setting up an editorial calendar:
Looking forward to being back on track in April!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Memory Making : Join a Book Club UPDATE

My Memory Making goal in February was to join a book club and I did just that, although the first month didn't go quite according to plan.

The February pick was Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov and I gotta say: not a big fan of this book at all. I can appreciate the writing style and the prose was lovely, but Humbert Humbert - the main character - was just too unlikable and I really had to knuckle down and slug through it to finish. But I was up for the challenge to be able to join in to the conversation at my first club meeting! And then it snowed. And the meeting was postponed. To a day I was going to be out of town.

The March pick was A House in the Sky by Amanda Lindhout and Sara Corbett, a memoir about a young female reporter's time as a captive in Somalia. This book was also difficult to read but for different reasons, mostly uncomfortable and savage situations that were very disturbing. I did enjoy it overall though, and this book represented the reason I wanted to join a book club in the first place: to get outside my comfort zone. I would have never selected this book on my own but I'm glad I had the opportunity to read it.

When the club met, I wasn't sure what to expect as far as how the discussion would go and I was so pleasantly surprised. It was a really nice gathering of women and we spent most of the dinner time discussing other books that we read and loved. We then launched into a discussion about the month's book and I definitely gained an enhanced understanding and varied viewpoint of the story.

I'm thrilled to be a part of this new group and looking forward to many more challenging books!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Weekend Reading : February 22, 2014

Every Saturday, I like to share some links that I found interesting during the past week... and I think you will, too!

Do Good

Do you know about Sevenly?
I recently stumbled across this awesome company that makes gorgeous shirts and other products. They run campaigns with specially designed items for a specific cause; this week's campaign is for a charity called END7 that seeks to eliminate seven neglected tropical diseases. Be sure to follow their Facebook page to keep up with the changing campaigns.
Feel Good

On Changing Dreams - A Beautiful Mess
I really enjoyed this discussion about being OKAY with letting go of some dreams to follow others. I had a small handmade craft business for several years and reached the point where I was going to expand to a level I wasn't comfortable with (hello debt!) in order to truly make a living... or return to a job. I agonized over the decision but sell the company but, once it was done, i felt a huge sense of relief and never looked back (and I love my current job). Sometimes you just have to roll with the punches and do what feels right, even if it means leaving behind what you thought was your "dream."
How I Found Strength from Letting Go of My Goals - Storyline Blog
With a similar theme, this post explores the possibilities of telling yourself, "I don't have to do this." Once we settle on a goal, we tend to do everything it takes to get there and I totally identify with Andrea's feelings when "I'm no longer in control of a plan I've been plotting." Sometimes we have to stop and ask ourselves, "Now that I've started this journey, is it what I really want? Is it what I expected? I don't have to do this."
Memory Making

Take Back the Fun - What Really Makes You Happy? - Whole 9 Life
"What would you do with your day if you didn't have to worry about money?" It seems like a simple question, but sometimes it can be so hard to answer! I often feel like my time away from work needs to be spent doing the rest of my life's "work" - home projects, shopping, running errands. I need to focus on the fun!
Memory Keeping

Before You Had Kids, You Had a Story - Jennifer Wilson on Becky Higgins
This is a project that I'm working on right now (compiling childhood photos to get my stories told) and, to be honest, it's pretty daunting. I particularly like Jennifer's suggestion to select the photos that really tell the story... that show a little something more about my life. They may not be the best quality photos or show the perfect smile, but it's the details that are so important. I'm super-interested in signing up for Jennifer's upcoming class and am planning to explore it a little more this week.
Have a great weekend!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Random Thoughts Thursday : The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

I know I'm a little late to the party with this one, but I finished The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society last week and absolutely loved it!

I'd seen the title around for several years (it was published in 2009), but it just didn't reach out and grab me. English literature (and by that I mean fiction set in England, particularly in "olden days") has never been a genre that interested me, but Jane Austen and Downton Abbey are showing me how wrong I was about myself!

This story begins with a single woman writer who receives a letter from a gentleman on Guernsey who has come across a book of poems that previously belonged to her. They begin a correspondence and he goes on to introduce her to a whole host of endearing characters that ultimately change her life. The story also provides lots of historical context with the Nazi occupation of Guernsey that kept me on the edge of my seat (well, not literally but you get my drift!).

I particularly enjoyed how the story unfolded through a series of letters, notes, and telegrams. It moved so quickly and I found myself not being able to put it down. Lots of humor, drama, and bittersweet surprises throughout. Highly recommended!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Happy Mail Freebie : Elephants Never Forget to Say "Thank You"

Hey, y'all! This is my very first Happy Mail freebie!

A Happy Habit that I started in 2013 is to regularly send handwritten cards and notes to friends and family. I haven't been as regular as I'd hoped, but I think the new framework set for this year will give me the little push I need to keep up with it. All it really takes is putting it on the calendar.

To that end, I'm going to offer a Happy Mail freebie every month to share the gift of connection. This month, I needed to send some late thank you cards and used these sweet little graphics from ToddDesign. All you need to do is download the PDF file, print on your favorite cardstock, cut in half, and fold. I also like to use a corner rounder to spiff the presentation up a little bit.

All Happy Mail downloads will fit in a standard A2 envelope. These are terrific to have on hand for making quick cards... just cut your favorite patterned paper down to 8 1/2" by 4 1/4", fold in half, and voila! Instant card.

Download this month's Happy Mail freebie here.

Send a little love in the mail!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Memory Making : Join a Book Club

Okay, so I'm already technically IN a book club. We're a quartet of dear friends and while our group dynamic is magical, we fail miserably as a "real" book club (but are oh-so-awesome at covering the super-heavy-duty real-life stuff). We do read books together, but have grown into a kind of group therapy setting and recent reads have been more of the self-help variety (such as Brene Brown's terrific The Gifts of Imperfection). I wouldn't trade our time together for anything.

But I still long to be in a book club! I've come to realize that it might be more satisfying in this regard to join a group where I don't know everybody so well and that has an established program already in place. And I've found one!

I was able to find a local book club using Meetup. They've been meeting for a couple of years and I do actually have a couple of friends already participating in the group. I was able to join the group, pay my annual dues (very minimal, just to help pay for the site), read about past book selections to be sure I would "fit," and check out this month's choice.

My first book for this group is Lolita, by Vladimir Nabokov - one I've always heard about and NEVER would have chosen on my own to read (which is really the point of joining a club, right?). The meeting is this week and I'll give my thoughts on the book after that... you never know, my opinion might be swayed!

There are several different ways to find a book club in your own area:
  • Once again, Meetup helped me find a local group right away
  • My Bookclub is another online venue that helps you find a local in-person club
  • Goodreads has tons of options for virtual groups if you like that idea better than in person (you can follow me on Goodreads here, if you'd like)
  • BookTalk is yet another online opportunity; you can browse the site for your interests and see what you can find
  • Your local library! Lots of groups host their meetings at the library and your librarian will have all the scoop on local happenings
  • Start your own! Just remember my cautionary tale and think carefully about whether you want a group of close friends (which is, of course, lovely in its own right) or one that you will open to the public
I'll let you know how the new book club works out!