#59 Ride a Horse

Indeed, you are most likely in a beautiful location where there are endless opportunities for appreciation and gratitude.

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#59

Ride a Horse

I’ve spent a little time this winter watching a period drama on television where the only method of transportation was horseback and I have a client whose passion it is to ride; she trains year round. It reminds me of the couple of times my grandfather pulled me up onto his saddle and pranced me around his farm and a single trip down a Caribbean beach later in early adulthood. Both times, I recall feeling the horse beneath me and being amazed at the sense of power there.

Good for You

Horseback riding is actually good for you. Sitting on a horse, whether you know ‘how’ to ride, or not will challenge you physically. First, you’ll experience body awareness as you need to sit on the horse in a specific way in order stay balanced. As you do so, it’s likely that you’ll use muscles that aren’t used to being used – also, good for you (and those muscles). There’s an element of coordination required of riders that is also good for your body and posture.

The mental aspect of riding is also quite beneficial. If you are a recreational rider that only occasionally takes a trail ride – at the very least you are outdoors. Indeed, you are most likely in a beautiful location where there are endless opportunities for appreciation and gratitude.

If riding is a full blown hobby for you, the additional benefit is the connection and ultimately the relationship you have with your horse. Very different from that of a house pet, the energy shared with a horse takes trust to a whole new level when you are the rider. Often, that horse is five to ten times your size and while you are communicating through body movement and reign management, that horse can still do darn well do what it wants. When you work together, the symbiotic energy of the relationship is evident and can be quite lovely.

Grab the Chance

Obviously, we don’t all have the ability to step out and hop on a horse after we finish our morning coffee but if not, the next time you are on vacation and have the chance to take an excursion that involves a horseback ride along the beach, through the forest, or around the foothills, I hope you have the courage to…

Ride a Horse

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#60 Start a Collection

Moreover, it may function as a hobby which, is important from the perspective of broadening our interests and offering distraction from daily stressors.

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#60

Start a Collection

Today’s suggestion may seem counter-intuitive or even contradictory to yesterday’s position of ‘Keep It Simple’, yet having a collection of something has been demonstrated to promote happiness for some people and it doesn’t seem to matter ‘what’ is collected.

Motivation

From Coca Cola paraphernalia to cars and beanie babies to rare tins, a collection is generally something that has emotional rather than monetary value to the collector. Perhaps it’s representative of a hobby (cars), a fond memory (beanie babies) or time spent with a loved one (Coca Cola). It may also be something that stimulates our winning reflex – the thrill of the hunt (finding rare tins). Other’s still may be inclined to collect based solely on the social aspect, a shared interest either with a friend or a larger group (Boy Scout or Military items).

Meeting Needs

A collection can meet many of our psychological needs. It can be comforting and relieve anxiety. It can help us feel a sense of belonging. It can induce fond memories. Moreover, it may function as a hobby which, is important from the perspective of broadening our interests and offering distraction from daily stressors. A collection can be a statement of who we are; introducing us to the world in a non-verbal manner.

Dysfunctional

Collecting things with intent and purpose is generally a healthy activity. It becomes unhealthy when either of those elements disappears. When we accumulate things out of a fear of letting go or a fear of not having enough, we may be approaching or experiencing unhealthy behavior. Hoarding is a good example of what people may describe as a collection but without intent or purpose. Also potentially dysfunctional is when we become ‘too’ attached to the ‘things’ that we’ve collected; if/when we identify through the material elements. These are the ‘dark side’ conditions of collecting but are much more often the exception rather than the norm.

In most cases, having a collection of something meaningful is a rational, healthy, and potentially helpful past time. What would you collect if you were to …

Start a Collection

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#61 Keep It Simple

These six examples are areas that often get over complicated and I imagine we all have a story that starts with “If only I had….[asked for directions]”.

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#61

Keep it Simple

I’m sure many of you are familiar with the KISS principle [Keep It Simple, Stupid] – first used  when considering design for the US Navy in 1960. Since then, it’s been a staple concept in business theory by driving home the point of simplifying. Here, I am recommending that we remember to use this principle at home and in our own lives.

Defined

For our purposes, we’ll define ‘simple’ as uncomplicated and easy and since I don’t generally use the word ‘stupid’ – I’ll say that this post is really about uncomplicating and simplifying your life.

Say What You Mean

It’s frequently surprising to me that we tend to complicate our communication by ‘beating around the bush’ and ‘hinting’. We use passive aggressive speech and get wrapped up in defensive postures. How amazing would it be if we simply said what we mean (compassionately, of course)? Here are a couple of examples:

V1: It would be nice if you thought about asking me on a real date some of the time, like taking me to the movies.

V2: I’d like to see a movie on Saturday, would you like to go with me?

Or

V1: Do you think you can put your phone down long enough to pay attention to me?

V2: I’m feel pretty lonely when the phone gets most of your attention.

In both cases, V2 is a more simple, clear, and distinct than V1 and also less provoking. When we keep things simple, it’s often much easier to be understood.

More

Many of us tend to think that more is better when more only tends to complicate things. I’ve heard dozens if not hundreds of times “Life was more simple before we had money” or “The only thing that came with this big house is bigger problems” and “I have too many responsibilities”. In each case, having more only served to increase the complexity of a situation. Of course, having [more than enough] money may sound good when your pockets are light – it frequently comes at an emotional cost.

Invention

The concept of ‘keep it simple’ is perhaps best thought of in this arena as we so often tend to reinvent things that don’t need reinvented. Here are a couple of examples:

  • Borrow a tool instead of buying a new one you may only use once
  • Read the directions before you attempt to assemble something
  • Ask for direction
  • Ask for help
  • Stop trying to please everyone
  • Eliminate the need to be perfect

These six examples are areas that often get over complicated and I imagine we all have a story that starts with “If only I had….[asked for directions]”. If you can relate at all to this post, it’s a sign that you may need to sit back and consider how you might reevaluate life and work to …

Keep it simple.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#62 Make a Collage

It’s more about composing something meaningful in the way that you give it value. Others opinions are unimportant.

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#62

Make a Collage

As I organized the last of the holiday ‘piles’ I noticed that I have quite the collection of Christmas cards – some of which are quite beautiful. Normally, I cut them up to make gift tags but either I am getting a lot of cards lately or I am giving less gifts because they are starting to pile up.

It made me think of a craft project that I had my girls do one year – in an effort to keep them busy while I was sidetracked with executor responsibilities after the death of my grandparents. I gave them a pile of  condolence cards and asked them each to make a collage from the cards. They turned out to be a beautiful collection and ultimately, a keepsake of the sentiments from people who had once known them.

Style

A collage is cleaner and less complicated than a scrapbook as it is usually just one page or piece – as big or as small as you choose. It can be neatly organized into squares, rectangles, or circles or it can be haphazard and random.

It can be a kind of word cloud – cut outs of sentiments or words grouped together in a way that has meaning or conveys a meaning.

Mixed Media

A collage can be made from most anything or a combination of several things. I’ve seen beautiful picture collages that have included brooches and hatpins as well as a more simple design using only white paper with black text in a variety of fonts and sizes. It can be decoupaged, glued, or epoxied. It can be under or on top of glass; in a frame or not.

Gift Giving

Along the lines of memory boxes; those deep frames that contain a collection of mementos from a specific year or occasion, a collage makes a wonderful gift. It can be comprised of all the little yellow sticky notes that helped you reach a goal. Or, perhaps it is a collection of the poetry that your father wrote your mother while you were dating – a phenomenal gift for a significant wedding anniversary or commemorating a life well lived.

Yes, a collage with take a little time and perhaps a lot of thought as you move through the memories and decide what goes where… remember there are no rules and creativity is not that important. It’s more about composing something meaningful in the way that you give it value. Others opinions are unimportant.

As you move through your year cleaning out drawers, purses, and pockets – consider items that may be memorable in some way and put them in a jar for that rainy day when you can finally sit down and…

Make a collage.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#63 Use Your Voice

Using your voice doesn’t mean that you automatically say everything that comes to your mind without thought and intention.

Wishing you all a very Happy New Year! My hope is that 2019 is everything you desire it to be!

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#63

Use Your Voice

The phrase ‘use your voice’ is interpreted differently across gender, culture, and age but for the purpose of this writing, it is specifically referring to the effort of speaking the words that run through your mind and heart. You may wonder why that isn’t a universal automatic event because certainly, some people speak with very little consideration and yet, so many do not.

The Unspeakable

Perhaps as soon as we learn to speak we realize that there are things not to be spoken. It’s not polite to verbally address someone’s size or age; to ask about their income or sexual interests; or to openly condemn or criticize. We’ve learned how to be politically correct and how to keep the peace. All of this however, comes at the price of forgetting how to ‘use our voice’.

Shut up & Shut down

When we discover or realize that by speaking our mind or sharing our heart – we may experience negative consequences, we tend to adopt coping mechanisms to make communication easier. In many cases, it stimulates the reflex of shutting down and silencing those thoughts and feelings that might otherwise be shared. We may have grown up with a parent who wasn’t open to other opinions or lived with a spouse who lived within rigid parameters. We might live in a strict culture.

There may also be internal factors that keep us from vocalizing our thoughts; ‘will people still love me?’, ‘ will I sound stupid?’, ‘will anyone pay attention?’. Sometimes, it is the inner voice that controls our courage to vocalize.

Listen & learn

The first step in learning to use your voice is listening carefully to your thoughts and deciphering what you want to say. Clear out the clutter and get to the heart of the matter. Once you do that, make sure to deliver the message in a clear and constructive manner so that it can be heard. Learn how to avoid blaming language, use “I” statements, and offer solutions. Learn to have confidence in your thoughts, knowledge, and presence.

Delivery

Using your voice doesn’t mean that you automatically say everything that comes to your mind without thought and intention. Making sure to speak with clear intention is perhaps, the most important element. Choosing every word – especially when confronting a problem – on purpose is often the key to a successful outcome. And right behind that is the requirement to speak everything in kindness. Confrontation doesn’t have to be ugly to be effective.

If you find that this is an area of your life that could use more resolve, consider a New Year’s resolution to more effectively…

Use your voice.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#64 Clean Out Your Kitchen Cabinets

Even if you aren’t in a position to replace what’s tired, you can make a list so that you’re aware the next time you stop in at TJMAXX or you see a great sale.

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#64

Clean Out Your Kitchen Cabinets

As the new year approaches, it’s a great time to consider taking a good look through your kitchen cabinets for all of those things that you may not have used in the last year. Unlike cleaning the pantry, this entails sorting through your plastic storage containers, matching lids and bowls; cleaning out the junk drawers that have accumulated more than the pens, paper clips, and batteries, and tossing anything at all that has rusted over the year.

Organization

My kitchen is a mess after the holidays with all the cooking that gets done and a number of different helpers putting away dishes. I’m lucky if I can find the most basic items usually. Everyone has a way that they like their kitchen staffed and the new year is a great time to reorganize your cooking tools so that they are in the places that make sense to you. It’s also a good time to reassess if things work where they are. Do you need the Vitamix on the counter day after day or do you use your mixer more? Do you like the toaster out or would you like a cleaner line for 2019?

Pots & Pans

Cleaning the cupboards means taking stock of your pots and pans. How worn are your cookie sheets? Do your muffin pans have rust spots? Are your cake pans warped?  How scratched is that frying pan that gets used everyday? Even if you aren’t in a position to replace what’s tired, you can make a list so that you’re aware the next time you stop in at TJMAXX or you see a great sale (May is a good time to purchase cookware).

Everyday Dishes

Several years ago (ten maybe?) on Black Friday, I purchased two boxes of white dinnerware that was deeply discounted. In all, it was service for 16 – which, I’ve never needed to use. I put 8 place settings in the cabinet and then each year as I do inventory for chips and cracks, I dip into the box of extras. White was universal and has been a stable in my kitchen, no matter the changing decor. When I clean out the cabinets, I check for cracks and discoloration and then replace damaged or missing items to bring my stocked selection back up to a serving for eight.

The same goes for my silverware. Each year it seems that I still have all the knives and tablespoons but for some reason, the forks and spoons are always down one or two. In my younger days, I had a haphazard collection of whatever pattern my parents were discarding and a few Goodwill additions. When I could, I picked a pattern and waited for it to go on sale – then I bought two. I use the same strategy as I have for my dinnerware.

Drinking containers

One look at the cupboard that contains glasses and cups demonstrates how eclectic I really am. I’ve attempted to fix this over the last couple of years, finding mugs that I like and getting several; updating the glassware so that there is more than one of any one kind, and ditching all the kiddie plastic cups that were collected from restaurants.

The wine glass and to-go cupboard is the same… somehow I adopted all the containers my children made at birthday parties and graduations over the years and there are more than a couple depicting sorority letters. The fact that they are still there indicates my reluctance to purge that particular cabinet but time is running short!

I’ve decided that 2019 is a year to take charge and I’ll be starting in the kitchen. Won’t you join me and …

Clean out your kitchen cabinets!

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#65 Digitize Your Old Photos

For those of you still thinking about the money you spent to print all those film shots, here are the reasons you’ll want to and a couple of ideas of how to go about it.

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#65

Digitize Your Old Photos

Every time I think of this task – one that remains always on my ‘to do’ list – I find something else that has a much higher priority; often watching reruns of Game of Thrones. It seems that anything would be better than attempting the gargantuan job of digitizing my collection of photographs. The fact that I have a huge collection certainly dates me as anyone in their twenties or younger barely remembers the challenge of buying film, taking a photo, and then remembering to drop it off to be developed. For those of you still thinking about the money you spent to print all those film shots, here are the reasons you’ll want to and a couple of ideas of how to go about it.

Physical photos

Keeping all those photographs takes up space and forces you to be protective of them because paper prints are easily damaged. If you eventually get them out of shoe boxes and into albums, the amount of space they require quadruples. In reality, only a fraction of the photos that we have are keepers. Many of them are random scene shots from a location we visited a decade ago and/or of people we barely knew. As you go through them, if you can’t remember who is in the photo or where it was, discard it.

Share

The best part of having the photos is the ability to share the memory years later. My children loved sitting down and looking at photos of me growing up and they like to reminisce about their own childhood now yet a paper photo is difficult to share unless you are side by side. Digitizing them allows you each to have a copy with ease and the ability to share them with a couple of digital clicks.

Access

Perhaps this is the very best part about digitizing your photo library, it’s available to you at any time and with very little effort. Whether you opt to store them on a flash drive, a hard drive, or the cloud – digital photos only have to be a swipe or click away. While there are varying opinions of cloud storage, I use Google photos and absolutely love it. I know I can’t lose it, it’s available on my phone at all times and it does some pretty cool things like grouping similar faces together so that I can access only photos of the person I want to see.

Digitizing

Now here’s the hard part. Getting all those paper photos into digital format… There are several options if you have the time, it’s probably better to do it yourself. That way you can ‘clean out’ the ones you don’t want and/or send along paper copies to those who may love them the most. You can do it with a scanner designed exclusively for photos (the easiest way), with a regular scanner [the one incorporated with your printer] or you can use a smartphone app. All of these methods will take some time and dedication.

Or… you can pay someone else to do it. A service like GoPhoto.com or ScanCafe.com will do it for you if you send them your photos/slides/negatives and there are local brick and mortar services in most areas as well. Some allow you to bring whole photo albums in and will do the tedious work for you!

No matter the direction you opt to take, the benefit will be great as you realize the joy of being able to stroke the keyboard a couple of times or swipe a couple directions on your phone and access all of your life memories because you made the effort to …

Digitize your photos.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.