#240 Sharpen Your Knives

In my (average) experience, it’s not so much the knives but the ability to sharpen them that counts. Thankfully, these days we don’t have to resort to a whetstone or a honing rod.

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.

#240

Sharpen Your Knives

It’s tomato season here in the mid-Atlantic which means that tomatoes are consumed almost daily in some capacity. Trying to cut through the skin of one with a dull knife is frustrating enough to rile any temper. When attempting to cut paper thin uniform slices, it’s imperative that one has a sharp knife. In fact, a sharp knife in the kitchen is perhaps, one of the most essential utensils. It’s one of those things that we don’t even know we need until we experience the frustration of not being able to cut our food.

Average knives are OK for most of us.

There are thousands of knives on the market, many touting their perceptual ability to sustain a sharp edge. Individual knives can go for hundreds of dollars each but I think the average household has pretty basic cutlery. In my (average) experience, it’s not so much the knives but the ability to sharpen them that counts. Thankfully, these days we don’t have to resort to a whetstone or a honing rod.

Sharpen it.

Electric knife sharpeners are easy to use and relatively inexpensive. Keeping one in a kitchen cabinet where it is easily accessible means that if you can’t quite get through that tomato, with just another minute or two you can run your knife across a couple of wheels and get back to slicing. There’s something quite satisfying about being able to go from dull to razor sharp with just a few slides across the sharpener and then the simple success of cutting through your food with ease.

Happiness from the simple things is sometimes quite easy and only a reach away. You can start by making the effort to …

Sharpen your knives.

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

#316  of 365 Ways to live Easier, Happier, & More Productive

Of course, there are some people who don’t want their feet touched… I simply cannot understand denying yourself that pleasure as it can be almost orgasmic with the right massage – but o.k…

Sharing a daily life lesson, tip, or hack; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#316

Get a pedicure

From the top of your head to the tip of your toes, life is better when things are put together. No, that’s not really the kind of poetry I referenced a few days ago. I’m talking about making your toes – and your heels – pretty. Even the funkiest feet are prettier with clean, trimmed nails and soft, smooth heels. This includes – YOU, gentlemen.

Admittedly, I was well into adulthood before I had my first pedicure but quickly understood it was such a simple pleasure that I added $25 to my monthly budget from anywhere I could in order to treat myself. I love to go barefoot and so – no visual needed – my feet were in constant need of TLC and I was slow to respond personally. The fact that there are people in the world willing to take on that task blows my mind but I try never to look a gift-horse in the mouth (sorry – for all my non-american or much younger readers, I’m not sure of a good substitute for that idiom). I graciously accept the loving care that anyone is willing to commit to my feet.

Our feet are important! They carry us where we want to go. They hold us in position. They are abused, squished, tormented, and only sometimes – temperature regulated. They deserve any extra attention they can get!! Additionally, when ‘professionals’ are regularly assessing a body part, they are more apt to discover early warning signs of potential problems (i.e., bunions, corns, fungus). Pedicures most often include a brief foot massage – improving circulation. And, if absolutely nothing else – taking 30 min. – give or take – out of your daily routine to completely relax has its own specific health benefits.

Of course, there are some people who don’t want their feet touched… I simply cannot understand denying yourself that pleasure as it can be almost orgasmic with the right massage – but o.k., I respect that a few will protest this suggestion. Winter, spring, summer, and fall… once a month and just because …

Get a pedicure.

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

 

 

 

#317 of 365 Ways to live Easier, Happier, & More Productive

Unfortunately – finding one often means visiting several and experimenting a bit. But… it’s just hair and anything that happens to it (outside of catastrophe) will ‘grow out’, be it length, layers, or colors; so be brave!

Sharing a daily life lesson, tip, or hack; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#317

Find a great hairdresser

How many times have you seen a photograph of yourself and lamented about your hair? How many days do you glance in a mirror and feel a slight sinking feeling because your hair just isn’t how or where you want it to be? Have you ever browsed a series of photos, realizing that you’ve had the ‘same look’ for waaayy too long?

Hair is an important part of our overall appearance – unless of course you have none. One look at a photo of DT boarding Air Force One on a windy day is all we need to understand the significance of good hair. A good cut, good color, and the appropriate style for the shape of our face can make a great difference in how we perceive ourselves – and apparently… how others perceive us.

Using those parameters for good hair will typically involve a good – no… great, hair stylist. Unfortunately – finding one often means visiting several and experimenting a bit. But… it’s just hair and anything that happens to it (outside of catastrophe) will ‘grow out’, be it length, layers, or colors; so be brave!

I was often directed to books of styles and asked to choose one – my stylist would then accommodate my request by cutting, curling, or coloring my hair to match the picture I provided. The one MAJOR problem with this method is that my face never matched the photo. Had I cut a few of those styles out and tried to visualize them on my face, on my body – I might have saved months of regrowth time and hundreds, if not thousands of dollars – over time. Today at least, we can use Photoshop to try this method of style selection, or…

We could let the professional use their best judgment after they consider our hair texture, patterns, and face shape; not to mention the amount of time/money/energy it may take to sustain the style! Finding a great hairstylist may take time and money. The dude I’ve been using for 13 years now is NOT cheap and from time to time I have allowed other people to cut – thinking they could just follow ‘his’ lines – but NO! It’s never the same and I finally conceded that I’d rather drink less Starbucks and have him do the cutting. The trade off it totally worth it! Some things in life are just priceless so do yourself a favor and …

Find a great hairdresser.

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

#322 of 365 Ways to live Easier, Happier, & More Productive

They can offer a needed diversion from stress, an opportunity to relax and unwind, and the potential for humor and camaraderie.

Sharing a daily life lesson, tip, or hack; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#322

Host a party

When was the last time you entertained for no particular reason?? We celebrate birthdays and anniversaries, promotions and retirements, and weddings and babies. We come together for Tupperware, candles, baskets, kitchen knives, bake ware, leggings, and lingerie but when was the last time you had a party for no reason other than you wanted to party with a few of your friends?

We don’t ‘need’ a reason to celebrate friendship or to get to know acquaintances better. It’s as easy as setting a time and date; run the vacuum and swipe a dust rag (if you must); and pick out a great playlist. It can a BYO beverage, chip, app, chair, etc., or whatever you want it to be. It can be themed (think s’mores and a backyard fire), adults only, or a girls night out. I’m sure some of us can even make it totally impromptu – making a same day invitation.

Parties – or lessor defined ‘gatherings – can remind us that we belong; that we have a tribe, that people care. They can offer a needed diversion from stress, an opportunity to relax and unwind, and the potential for humor and camaraderie. If formality is more your thing… send invites, polish the silver, and pull out your most elaborate serving dishes.

Either way, the value is in assembling your peeps, winding down, and engaging in the social interactions that are a deeply rooted in our humanity when you…

Host a party.

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

 

#323 of 365 Ways to live Easier, Happier, & More Productive

I’ve never known someone who was sorry they took a yoga class. It’s a generally affordable way (there’s always a Groupon for Yoga classes) to get in shape, relax, mange breath, strengthen cardio, and improve flexibility.

Sharing a daily life lesson, tip, or hack; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#323

Try Yoga

Unless you’ve been under a rock or tucked away in a cave for the last several decades, you’ve heard – ad nauseum probably – about the benefits of practicing yoga. Kudos if you practice a form of yoga on a regular basis… pass this post along to someone you know who doesn’t and come back tomorrow. If you have wanted to or have been confused about it – read on.

Yoga is one of those things that you have to try a few different times to find the kind you like, the teacher you prefer, and the environment that is conducive to something you want to do regularly. How do you choose between the 11 different types? Try ‘em all and keep doing the one you like the best. Here are a few of the most popular and easy to find…

Hatha yoga – generally refers to any yoga practice based on the practice of physical movement. It’s generally where people start.

Iyengar yoga – Here the focus is on alignment and precision. A teacher is a necessity for this type of yoga because the workout is in the precise pose with controlled breath.

Kundalini yoga  – combines spirituality with your workout. It’s fast paced and may include meditation.

Vinyasa yoga – Known as the most athletic form of yoga, movement is deeply coordinated with breath and movement is designed to flow from one pose into another.

Bikram yoga – If you like to sweat, this ‘hot’ yoga may be for you. There are 26 poses, performed sequentially in a room that is 105 degrees with low humidity.

I’ve never known someone who was sorry they took a yoga class. It’s a generally affordable way (there’s always a Groupon for Yoga classes) to get in shape, relax, mange breath, strengthen cardio, and improve flexibility. Once you’ve learned the poses and develop good form, participating in a yoga class is as easy as opening a YouTube page or tuning your TV one of the many channels offering a selection of classes.

Why not take the time to treat your body and your spirit to one of the world’s oldest and most helpful forms of exercise…

Try yoga.

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

 

#352 of 365 Ways to live Easier, Happier, & More Productive

Best friends call us out on the shit we dish up for ourselves. We tend not to defend ourselves to them the way we may our spouse or partner. Because we don’t question their love for us, we generate very different reactions by their challenges and we take in more of what is said.

My goal is to share a daily life lesson, tip, or hack. They are the things I want my children to know and the things that I teach to clients. They are the things that make my life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#352

Schedule friend time

This is one of those happy life tips that we innately ‘know’ and yet it is the one most frequently thrown on the back burner. As we build careers, family, and homes it seems that friendship moves steadily down to the bottom of our priority list.

I say… move it on up!

I postulate that the reason our friends stay our friends for so long is that we don’t live with them 24/7. Unlike our life partners and children, our friendships get space. When we are frustrated with our friends, we go home. When we are disappointed, we let a few days go by before we call. If we aren’t really on the same page- we take a break until the memory fades. And then, regardless of the pejorative infraction, we rally back together to enjoy the connection that is often impervious to the daily stressors we experience in our familial relationships.

Our friendships ‘feed’ us because they are often without expectation. They can be a ‘resting ground’ where we go to step back and gain perspective. Our friends are almost always voices of reason while simultaneously having our back. Spending time with friends allow us to regenerate and realign our attitudes. They provide a platform for fun and laughter; for stillness and acceptance; for reflection and honesty. And spending time with them needs to be more important than weeding our garden or changing the sheets.

Best friends call us out on the shit we dish up for ourselves. We tend not to defend ourselves to them the way we may our spouse or partner. Because we don’t question their love for us, we generate very different reactions by their challenges and we take in more of what is said.

If your life is short on time (like it is for many of us), double duty some of your errands by asking a friend to tag along and have lunch or dinner along the way. Chores are more fun and often more productive when shared with a friend and laughter. Some of my favorite memories are those everyday tasks that were shared in friendship.

Don’t forget a weekend trip or two throughout the year as well. Time away from home where your focus is on yourself and wrapped in friendly acceptance and fun cannot be undervalued. One’s ability to be a better parent, partner, and worker is elevated when friendship is also valued and incorporated into life.

Take a quick look at your calendar and …

Schedule friend time.

 

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

Photo on Foter.com

#355 of 365 Ways to live Easier, Happier, & More Productive

Indeed, it’s a terrific – non-electronic – way to spend a rainy afternoon with a little Bon Jovi in the background and a glass of wine in the non-dominant hand.

My goal is to share a daily life lesson, tip, or hack. They are the things I want my children to know and the things that I teach to clients. They are the things that make my life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#355

Jigsaw puzzles

I’m not quite sure why puzzles have such a bad rap. In my younger days we put puzzles together, mod podged them (wasn’t that the original use for mod podge?), and use them as inexpensive wall art. After all… we spent all that time putting it together and it felt sinful to instantaneously break it back into pieces and box it up.

I guess that’s one of the arguments against puzzles. Why bother if you are going to undo it? Furthermore, puzzles are like books for some – once you do it, there’s no enjoyment in a repeat experience so it may feel rather futile all together.

I may argue however, that puzzles are a great tool in the pursuit of mindfulness. They encourage our attention and concentration unlike television or reading. They allow us to simultaneously converse and engage. They provide a common ground and in some cases, allow for teamwork (“help me find this red piece”).

Having a puzzle ready for assembly is a great tool for breaking habits. When it sits out and is available as a distraction tool, it can replace energy that might otherwise be directed toward a smoke or snack break. It’s something that can be addressed five minutes at a time or in a five hour stint without recourse. Indeed, it’s a terrific – non-electronic – way to spend a rainy afternoon with a little Bon Jovi in the background and a glass of wine in the non-dominant hand.

In the UK at least, puzzles are making a comeback. So much so that puzzle manufacturers there are adding staff for the first time in decades. And, if you want to get REALLY serious… the big kids, the puzzle kings, the masters… have compiled this list of puzzles for the especially dedicated. The top one having 48,000 (!!!) pieces.

I suggest the use of jigsaw puzzles to clients who are anxious as a means of helping them to slow down, focus, and learn to quiet. As one might imagine, this suggestion is frequently met with resistance and lots of objections. “I don’t have time / space / patience…” – yada, yada. My rebuttal is a questioning  rise of the eyebrows to challenge the rote response. There is not a legitimate objection (in my mind) as we all could benefit from giving up 30 min of television or Instagram time in favor of some mindful moments with a partner or child searching for the ‘brown corner barn piece’ or ‘the inside of that pink flower’. Beginning your puzzle on a puzzle mat (a yoga mat works) so that it can be rolled up and tucked out of the way without disturbing your work typically nullifies the rest of the objections.

A simple way to increase your mindful activity, reduce anxiety, and increase family time is found in the pursuit of …

Jigsaw puzzles.

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