About Me · Balance · Observations · Positivity

Tips for When You’re “Under the Weather”

We all have days when we feel just plain icky. Sometimes, we’ve caught some nasty bug. Sometimes, we are experiencing the lovely side effects of allergies. Sometimes, our bodies are just tired and burnt out. All of these qualify as being “under the weather”. It happens and it’s okay. Despite feeling like all you want to do is crawl back into bed for twelve ours, you can still have a productive and positive day. Here are some tips for when you’re feeling sick, but you still have to get things accomplished.

1) Take a day off IF you must: If you are running a high fever or are experiencing intense fatigue due to your sickness, take a day off. It is better to take a day off from work than to persist and get sicker because you didn’t rest. Don’t feel guilty. It’s okay. Rest is a good thing.

2) If you can’t take a day off, try to work on low-power mode: This sounds like we’re a bunch of robots, but we humans can work on low-power mode, too! If you have to go to work, be kinder on yourself. Don’t freak out if you’re walking or typing a little slower. Take things at a more leisurely pace. Don’t rush yourself. Once you get home, take a nap or go to bed really early. Rest is ultra-important when you’re not feeling well.

3) Drink hot teas: Tea is one of the most calming and beneficial drinks you can have. Most teas (unsweetened and hot) can be helpful in alleviating sinus problems, congestion, and fatigue. A cup of tea is a gift to yourself. You’d be surprised how much better you’ll feel after a good cup of green tea!

4) Give yourself permission to laze about and chill: Most of us feel guilty when we indulge in leisurely activities. This is utter nonsense, but most humans I know are workaholics anyway. If you’re feeling a bit low, go ahead and watch a TV show. Read a book. Play a video game. It’s OKAY. We all have days where we just need to check out from reality for a bit and enjoy a fantastical escape. It is healthy. Do it.

5) Engage in positive talk and thinking: I don’t know about you, but when I’m not feeling well, I tend to get a bit depressed.  This isn’t a conscious thing on my part, it just is. I always feel a bit somber, tired, and low when I’m ill. So, it is extra important for me to be positive about myself, my life, and my relationships. I also have to be sure I’m engaging in positive talk to othersIt is easy to let our deflated mood affect those around us. Don’t let it. Bring yourself up and be positive when you’re under the weather. 

 

I hope these tips encouraged you if you’re feeling unwell today! Get better!

 

~L.M.

About Me · Balance · Creativity · Thrift · Writing

Let Creativity Abound: Creative Cross Training

Alright, as discussed in this post, things have been kinda crazy at the Sherwin house. In order to keep my creativity alive for my writing, and to keep my sanity, I have been doing LOTS of craft projects. Crafting, artwork, and other bits of creative pursuits help me to keep my brain active with creating, while taking a break from what I do with most of my time: writing.

It’s good to take a break from your writing. Your brain needs to flourish in other creative pursuits to keep your writing flame fresh and strong. You WILL experience writer’s block. You WILL get tired of reading your manuscript a hundred times. You WILL be able to get over it and still produce good work. There are many ways to do this, of course, but one way I  keep my creative power flowing is to craft, produce art, and engage in creative thinking.

Now, I’m not one of those people who thinks you need to take a break from your writing for weeks or anything. I write at least five days a week for a considerable amount of time. At night and on the weekends, though, I do other creative things. Some of my favorite crafting projects are: knitting, crocheting, painting, drawing, digital art, and DIY house projects. These hobbies help me to keep using my creative muscles even when I’m not writing. They help me create new thinking patterns, develop new skills, and produce fun pieces to give as gifts or keep around the house.

Not sure what your creative hobbies are? Try some new things! If you’ve never done yarn crafts before, check out knitting! If you don’t like to draw, try painting! Watch  movies and imagine the story going a different way. Read a book and come up with a different ending. Find little ways to keep feeding your creative fire. It will draw your attention away from your first love of writing, sure, but it will make your writing stronger when you return to it the next day//week//what have you.

Contrary to popular belief, talent isn’t the only important thing in being a writer or a creative mind. A lot of it has to do with devotion, dedication, and habitual practice. Writing is a creative endeavor. There is no getting around that. In order to be a better writer, you’ve got to have a stinkin’ HUGE creative muscle to flex. You reinforce this creative muscle by building it with constant writing practice and other creative pursuits. Think of it as “creative cross-training”.

Suggestions for Creative Cross Training:

1) Find three or four hobbies you love and delve into them!— It can take a while to find out what makes you tic in the creative sense, but it is well worth it. Creating is a part of your being and most likely, you feel compelled to produce your own work. Get a Pinterest account and try out different projects! Visit a craft store and take a class! Find a relative who does cool crafting projects and ask them to teach you!

2) Make Creative Cross Training a priority— Just like writing is a priority, other creative endeavors should be one, too! Maybe take one night a week for a fun craft or art project. It can do wonders for your well-being and your creativity! If you can make time for two nights, do it! You won’t regret it!

3) Don’t spend a fortune— Crafting doesn’t have to be expensive. In fact, you may even be able to do some projects for free! Some DIY crafts require only things from around your home. Others will have a minimal start-up cost. Find ways to be economical about your crafting. You certainly don’t want to spend too much and then feel bad about your hobby. Find creative ways to be creative without having to spend a lot of money. Again, Pinterest and other sites are great for this sort of thing.

4) Showcase your work or give things as gifts— Some of us are just too practical for our own good. One way we can rationalize our excessive creativity building is to showcase your work as household art or give away things you’ve made as gifts! For instance, I love to knit. I especially love to knit and give away my pieces as gifts. I made a sequined scarf for a friend last year and it was very special to her! People LOVE getting handmade things. It just lights people up inside.

5) View Creative Cross Training as Self-Care— There is a reason children and the elderly take an interest in creative endeavors. It is good for your soul. Crafting can expand your mind, heart, and spirit. It feels good to work with your hands on beautiful things. It can brighten your mood and help your body to relax. In other words, it keeps you YOUNG! Try it out!

I hope you enjoyed this post and that you’ll go out and try a new creative hobby! Trust me, it’s good for you. 😉

What sorts of Creative Cross Training do you like to take part in? Share, share, share! I’d love to hear! I’m always looking for new and fun crafting skills to learn!

 

~L.M. ❤

Balance · Observations · Positivity

Life Happens

The last two weeks have been extremely stressful. As most of you know, a tree fell on//beside our house, putting three holes in our roof. Next, a serious family emergency rocked our world. Then, we had a bad car battery. Simultaneously, we had our normal life obligations like work, house care, and relationships to maintain. As well, I just took on a considerable amount of work for Maiedae. Also, I have a book publishing deadline coming up in 46 days. ARRRRRRGGGGG!!!!! LOL.

When you lay out all the “bad” stuff that has happened recently, with all the “normal stuff” and even the “good stuff”, life can look extremely full and stressful. But, when you sit back and truly think about all the wonderful blessings that have happened because of some of those “bad” things, or even the  “normal things”, life doesn’t seem so stressful anymore.

For example, the tree is still lying on top of my patio. I could wig out about that, or (like I chose to do yesterday), I can sit at my breakfast table and watch the sunlight filter through the pine needles that are now much closer to my vantage point. I could look at family drama like a disaster, or I could view it as an opportunity for loved ones to grow and learn. I could sit and moan that my car wouldn’t start yesterday and it was oh, such a horrible experience, or I could be thankful that the battery had a warranty and I was able to get a new one for free. As well, it provided me with some really special time to spend with my dad (who is an out-of-this-world mechanic.)

Honestly, life just happens. Sometimes, it is not so fun. Other times, it’s great. But you know what? Usually, life happens and it is a mixture of all the good, the bad, and the normal. Perhaps things are easier to digest, move through, and move beyond in that way. Scriptures say that we’ll never be tempted beyond what we can bear. My husband and I like to apply that to the “not-so-fun” stuff that sometimes happens in life, too. We will never face something that we can’t get through. It may feel like we can’t at times, but those are just feelings. Feelings are great, but sometimes they overwhelm us and get us all psyched out.

If you’ve been having a stressful week or month in your life, just remember to look for the little blessings that crop up here and there. Life is hard enough without dwelling on the bad things all the time. Chin up. Watch the sunlight paint the leaves outside. Have a hang-out date with a friend. Spend time snuggling with your hubby or wifey. Sit and soak up the good things when they come. They can help you make it through the next “bad” situation that might crop up. When life happens and it isn’t necessarily the way you’d like it to, just remember that you’ll never face anything you can’t make it through.

You can do it. Whatever you are facing, you can pull through it stronger than you were before you were faced with it. Be brave. Be strong. Be gentle. Be happy. All of those things are a choice.

Thanks for stopping by today! I hope that these words were encouraging for you if you’re facing a tricky work or life situation right now. Just remember, we all have hard times. Even if you’re having a bad day, try to lend a listening ear or give a kind word to someone around you today.

Happy writing and working to you all!

~L.M.

Balance · Positivity

Managing Stress

It would be nice if life would slow or calm down when things get busy and tough, but that is rarely the case. For most of us, we have to deal with the storms of life while continuing to work and managing our relationships. It isn’t easy. I’m certainly no expert, but I’ve experienced my fair share of stress. Here are some of the ways I manage my stress levels:

1) Cry-— It is 100% okay to cry. In fact, crying is wonderfully cathartic and can help you to “let it all out”. Even though you may not look glamorous after a huge sob fest, it can still help your heart to release its tension.

2) Pray— Prayer is one of the best ways to sit down, relax, and ease your mind out of its anxious turmoil. Prayer is a way of separating yourself from your problems and stressors and seeking the direction of God.

3) Be intentional about relaxing activities— Find out what helps you to calm down in periods of stress and be intentional about doing those things. If taking a long, candlelit bath just does it for you, then DO IT. If it is reading or watching a long movie, DO IT. Go for a walk or hike. Exercise. Whatever you need to do to bring your mood up in depressive or stressful environments, do it.

4) Communicate with your significant other— Be very open about how you are feeling with your spouse or significant other, but do not swamp them with information. If you are experiencing stress, anxiety, or worry, it is important to rationally express this to your spouse, but try not to place blame or discuss other people’s faults. Simply express how you are personally feeling and be honest about how they can help you.

5) Be flexible— Tough situations call for flexibility. You really may not want to do some of the tasks involved in dealing with life disasters, but you may have to. It’s okay. Just be flexible and tell yourself that you can do it. It may not be fun, it may not be ideal, but it’s okay. You can do it.

Life is hard. Often, there are terrible, tragic, and unhappy things surrounding a lot of us. But, unfortunately, it rains on the just and the unjust. Take your life each day at a time. Remember that it is okay to make mistakes and it is okay to move on. Take care of yourself. Learn to manage your stress so that it does not overwhelm or derail you when things go bad. Breathe.

 

Thanks for stopping by today,

 

L.M.

About Me · Balance · Thrift

Saving Money While Working From Home

Good Morning, all!

Since I’ve moved from day-jobbering to working full-time on my writing, editing, and Maiedae work, the Philosopher and I have had to rework the budget a bit. Until I publish my book (sometime soon!) we are living on a reduced, but livable income. In order to be kind to our budget, I have found some creative (and some, really healthy ways) to save money:

Examples

>>If you have it, cut out the cable//satellite TV.— My husband and I have never had either of these our entire married life, but we still love to watch movies. We have a Netflix subscription and HuluPlus, but no cable.

>>Cut out the data on your phone and use wireless devices instead.— My husband and I decided it was worth it to us to keep using “dumb” phones and just have personal media devices with wireless access (like an Android Galaxy, iPod touch, etc.)

>>Eat less meat.— I could never go vegan//vegetarian all the way because I have a soy and bean allergy, but in order to save $$ on groceries each week, I don’t always cook meals with meat in them. If I do cook with meat, I try to buy in bulk and freeze meats for later. This can help save a good bit, because meat is MUCH more expensive than using vegetables, cheeses, and grains for meals.

>>Cut out needless spending for items you can easily make at home.— For instance, did you know you can make your own laundry detergent for really, REALLY cheap? You can buy all the ingredients you need at Wal-Mart or another supermarket. I recommend this recipe. Because you can buy ALL of these ingredients for what it costs to buy 1 giant gallon of detergent, it is a huge money saver. The store-bought detergent will only last about 48 loads, whereas the ingredients for your own detergent will last MUCH longer.  Also, cooking spray, for example, can be made by mixing 1 part olive oil and 5 parts water in a misting spray bottle. There ya go! Homemade cleaners are the absolute EASIEST to make. Simply mix vinegar, essential oils of your choosing (most people like citrus), and a little bit of dish soap and you’ve got a mega-good cleaner for next to nothing. Also, things like dish towels can be knitted or crocheted. Dishwasher detergent can be easily made and just use vinegar as a rinse aid. Check out the interwebs! There are lots of eco-friendly, cheap solutions for many needed household items. I could go on forever with the things you can make at home for really cheap with maximum satisfaction on use!

>>Keep the lights off and the thermostat way up (or down depending on the season).— If you are not in a room, TURN THE LIGHTS OFF. This seems like a no-brainer, but it is one that can really save on the power bill. I actually keep all the lights off during the day unless I absolutely need it for cooking or something. There is plenty of natural light to be had outside. However, don’t open the blinds in summer unless you need light in that particular room. Keeping the blinds and drapes shut may make your house look like it came out of something written by Edgar Allan Poe, but it keeps your house cooler in summer and warmer in winter. Keep your fans on in summer. This can make you feel MUCH cooler than you actually are. In the winter, turn the switch on your fans that allow them to pull the air up. This can also save money. Keep your thermostat at 78 in the summer and 68 in the winter. I know that might be against some of your religions, but it will save a TON of money. If you get hot, wear less clothing. Get cold? Wear more! 🙂

>>Don’t buy bottled water unless you have a REALLY good reason.— Bottled water is wasteful and expensive, unless you have disgusting tap or well water. However, a cheap solution for that would be to buy a good water filter pitcher to keep in your fridge. Also, keep your own water bottles and refill them.

>>Unplug devices you aren’t currently using.— Most people don’t know that if you leave a phone charger plugged in, it still uses electricity! It may be a small amount, but if you have a whole house full of plugged in, but currently not in use, devices, you can be using a good bit of extra electricity. It can be eliminated by just unplugging the chargers, kitchen appliances, etc. until you are ready to use them.

>>Be a closet-shopper.— No, I don’t mean that you have a secret shopping addiction. I mean that you literally go “shopping” for clothes in your own closet. You may have a ton of clothes tucked away that you didn’t even remember you had! If you have items you love, keep them and WEAR THEM! If you have items you just hate and can’t imagine wearing, give them away! You don’t need as many clothes as you think you do. Besides, there are plenty of people out there who would be glad to have them. Donate gently used clothing to places like Goodwill or Salvation Army. For the ones that are falling apart or you think no self-respecting human being would wear, use them for dusting rags or other home crafts. 🙂 Don’t spend money on new clothes unless you literally have nothing else of the kind to wear.

>>Meal plan and grocery shop based on a list.— This can really be a budget saver. If you would just sit and plan out your meals for each week and then shop according to what you need for those plans, you’d be surprised how much extra spending you’d save yourself. Also, it cuts down on wasted food in the fridge or pantry.

That’s what I’ve got for the day, folks! How do you save money each month? I’d love to hear your ideas!

Thanks for stopping by,

L.M.

Balance · Observations · Writing

Using a Rewards System During the Workday

In transitioning from working full-time at a day job to working full-time from home, I’ve learned a few things about how my brain works. One thing I’ve noticed is that I need incentives to get a good block of work done at a time. Some days, I can just sit and crank out each of my tasks with no attention problems at all. These days are rare, but they do happen. Most other days, I’ve got to have breaks. However, I don’t just take breaks willy-nilly. I find out things I either need or want to do and then I create a system for rewarding myself with breaks.

Right now, I’m obsessed with Pinterest. I adore it. It is like magical fairy dust for my little creative heart. However, if I didn’t check myself, I’d be on Pinterest all day! Just because I work at home does NOT mean I can do that. So, I make deals with myself. I’ll say, “Alright, L.M., Get one full-page of writing done, then you get to look at Pinterest for 1 minute.” You know what? I got my writing done ON time today and still got to have breaks and Pinterest time. It was a huge incentive for me to write a page and write a good page. I didn’t want to rush through it to get to Pinterest. I really wanted to work hard and get a good page of writing done before I took a break.

The mini-breaks work well for me and they don’t always look the same each day. The rewards aren’t always the same either. Here’s some advice if you’re working from home, but are having trouble with your attention span. Start setting incentives and rewards for yourself. Examples below:

Reward Examples

>>Checking Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or other social media sites

>>Getting a healthy snack from the pantry

>>Taking a quick walk or doing a yoga vinyasa

>>Doing some housework

>>Doing ONE step in a crafty project but no more

>>Journaling

>>Planning//List-making

Now, you might say, “Wait…what? Housework isn’t a reward!” It is if you are pressed for time in the evenings and would like to knock out some stuff during the day! Besides, as Marry Poppins once said, “In every job that is to be done, there is an element of fun. You find the fun, and SNAP! The job’s a game!”

Rewards you might not want to include in your list

>>Sugary or overly salty snacks— This can lead to a bad habit that negatively effects your health

>>Super time-consuming rewards like a major house project or errands.— If you must run errands, you’ll already have to re-work your day around them.

>>Going to the bathroom.— This is not a break. This is a necessity. Go when you need to! (Unless you’re just writing that absolutely perfect paragraph and absolutely CANNOT go until it’s done, LOL.)

>>Talking on the phone— People have a hard time limiting talk time even when there is a lot of work to be done.

Now, after you’ve made a list of rewards you’d like to have, you need to figure out how you’ll earn them during your workday. I recommend setting up a “get a certain amount of work done” system instead of an “every hour” etc. system. This will ensure that you get a lot of work done. If you say you’ll take a break and reward yourself every hour, you might just sit and stare at the screen with no real incentive to get any work done. However, if you set certain amounts of work you must have, you’ll work hard to earn your break//reward.

My examples are:

>>Get one page of good writing done, then take a mini-break (1-5 minutes) and reward myself

>>Get five to ten pages of editing done, then take a mini-break (1-5 minutes) and reward myself

>>Get all of my Maiedae work done, then take a break (10-15 minutes) and reward myself

>>Get all of my editing and other tasks done for the day, then take the evening off! (i.e., finish a full workday, then relax at night.)

Find out what your incentives will be and how you’ll organize your system. I think you’ll see an increase in your own productivity and you’d be surprised by how much it can lift your mood and keep your brain happy.

What sorts of reward//incentives system do you use for your work? I’d love to hear!

~Thanks for stopping by,

L.M.

P.S>// I realize I have a picture of candy as my image today. I also realize the irony of it, since I recommend NOT using sweets as a reward for your work. CANDY=BAD REWARD! DO NOT USE! LOL. I just put it up there since most people identify candy as a happy, child-like thing. 🙂 LOOK at the candy and get happy feelings. DO NOT eat the candy as a reward for your workday!! Don’t start a bad sugar habit during the week!

About Me · Balance

Developing a Morning Routine

I mentioned in here how I wanted to start developing a more structured morning routine. Well, I am actively pursuing that dream. In organizing this dream, I had several goals for myself:

>>go to bed before 11:30

>>wake up at 6:30

>>do yoga first thing (just a twenty to thirty minute vinyasa, nothing crazy, so it is sustainable)

>>do the morning portion of the Daily Office (I use Celtic Daily Prayer)

>>spend time with my husband

>>drink plenty of water

>>eat a nutritious breakfast

>>do a small bit of housework (just one small task)

>>sit at my desk by 8:00

Have I done it every morning? No, but I am easing myself in. With all of the tree drama and traveling that my husband and I did this weekend, I slept until 7:55 yesterday. Today, though, I immediately got up at 6:30, splashed my face with lots of cold water, brushed my teeth, and changed into yoga clothes. I did the 20 minute morning flow created by Reiko. It is really a great, challenging flow that helps wake me up a LOT. I don’t even feel tempted to fall back asleep once we make it to shabasana (corpse pose//restorative rest)!  After that, I did my Daily Office and then got ready for work with my husband. I made oatmeal and ate it after I put in a load of laundry. I was at my desk well before 8:00. I was awake, refreshed, and ready to go.

THAT is what I want every morning to look like. It was super relaxing, quiet, and I gradually eased myself into my work-brain. But, is it easy to roll out of bed when your body is screaming, “More sleep! more sleep!”? No. It’s not easy. In fact, it is super hard….for the first ten minutes. Then, you’re awake and ready to keep staying awake.

How can you develop a standard morning routine?

1) Be flexible— It will not always be possible to stick to your morning routine. You might be ill, have an ill spouse or child and will then need to alter your routine. You may be traveling or have some appointment come up. Be flexible and don’t beat yourself up if you have to alter your morning routine for one day.

2) That being said, make your morning routine a priority— Depending on how close you live to your work, you might need to get up earlier than others. However, never sacrifice sleep to fit in a huge amount of stuff in your morning routine. You need a good 7 to 8 hours of sleep to function properly. Once you’ve identified what time you want to wake up, DO IT! Make it a priority in your life and you will make an effort to make it happen.

3) Set a time and stick with it, even on weekends— This is not one I’ve quite gotten down yet, but I plan to. Sleeping in one or two days a week can upset your natural body rhythm for sleep and can make it more difficult to keep a set schedule during the week. This post from WholeLiving.com talks about the fact that you don’t get “two biological clocks, one for weekends and one for weekdays”. It is so true. If you must sleep later on the weekends, the article recommends only staying up and getting up one hour later than your normal schedule. That way, you’re body won’ t be thrown off so much. I plan on putting this into practice this weekend. I want to start getting my body on a natural sleep rhythm.

4) Establish the few things you’d like to get done in the mornings and figure out how much time each takes— For me, I set several priorities for myself. I definitely wanted to move the first thing in the morning and yoga is one of my absolute favorite lifetime practices. I decided it was worth it to me to factor in an extra thirty minutes for a yoga vinyasa. I also knew I wanted to have devotional time in the morning, time with my husband, and a good breakfast. Waking up at 6:30 gives me plenty of time to do those things and still get to work on time. The fact that I work from home means I can go to sleep and get up a little later than someone who might work far from their home. Be kind to yourself. Don’t wake up at 4 am just to get a bunch of stuff done. Find a few important things and maybe wake up thirty minutes earlier so you can do them.

5) Keep the mornings quiet and calm— This may not be your style, but for me, I adore quiet in the mornings. No music. I like to listen to the birds outside and the sounds of the fans spinning in the house. The only sound I’ll allow is the instruction of the yoga teacher on the video and the sound of prayer. After I’ve had time to chill and wake up, I’ll talk with my husband (who is usually getting up about that time) and I’ll engage in other sounds. For lighting, I keep the house lit up only by natural light during the day. It saves on electricity and there is something magical about sunlight peeking through the blinds and curtains.

6) Be willing to re-evaluate your routine to see what is or isn’t working, and add or subtract accordingly— Sometimes, your routine just isn’t working for you. I happened to find my exact sweet-spot for waking up and the routine I established, but that may not happen for you the first time. Don’t be afraid to wake up a little later or earlier. Don’t be afraid to try a different morning exercise or habit. This is YOUR routine. Let it flow organically and change it as you need to. If you are only feeling sleepy and lazy one morning, that does not mean you need to change it. You only need to change it if your routine is not working with your sleeping patterns, body needs, or work needs.

>>>>>>>>>

I hope you enjoyed this post and that it is helpful to you! Dare to get up a little earlier and get a nice morning routine going! I’d love to hear about your plans. Already have a morning routine? I’d love to hear it! Share in the comments section.

Thanks for stopping by,

 

L.M. ❤