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Archive for the ‘Happiness Project 2021’ Category

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We are at the mid-year point in 2021, dear reader, and it is time for me to evaluate the progress I have made on my 21 for 2021 list thus far. Yesterday marked the end of the second quarter, and I am pleased overall with the progress that I have made from April-June. I not only tried intermittent fasting for one month, but I also created weekly meal plans and maintained a regular fitness regimen. I joined the Fast Burn Challenge on 19 April and for nine weeks followed Dr. Ian K. Smith’s program outlined in his newest book, Fast BurnThe Power of Negative Energy Balance. Since I successfully lost 13 pounds, I am participating in a second round of the program. My hope is to lose another 10 pounds by the end of this nine-week cycle. In addition, I tried seven new restaurants (four just in Colorado) in the second quarter which brings my total up to nine new restaurants in the first half of 2021. I only have three more to go to reach my goal.

The only two goals that I did not reach during the second quarter is completing the WordPress Blogging course and Gretchen Rubin’s The Four Tendencies course. Additionally, I did not scrapbook at all during April or May. Honestly, I have had a difficult time managing my time since I returned home from my trip to Colorado. After really thinking about it the last few weeks, I have come to realize that COVID-19 restrictions started loosening up about that time and are almost nonexistant at this point since many people have received the vaccine. Like so many other people, I am doing more (a great deal more) since the first quarter of the year. Therefore, my schedule has changed dramatically because I added new commitments and summer activities to my schedule, and I am spending less time at home. Basically, this means that I will need to be a bit more strategic with managing my time, so I can accomplish both the items on my 21 for 2021 list and enjoy all the fun additions on my schedule.

So, what’s next for the third quarter of the year?

The third quarter (July-September) will essentially look similar to the first half of the year. I will continue to manage my time, eat more vegetables, focus on my health and wellness goals, and scrapbook at least two times per month. Before tackling any new items on my 21 for 2021 list, I will work on completing the WordPress Blogging course and Gretchen Rubin’s The Four Tendencies course. I have quite a few fun activities scheduled for July, and school starts back on 02 August. I want to be realistic with how I will be spending my time this next quarter without getting too overwhelmed.

In regards to the fun activities happening in July, one of them is a Summer Slasher Movie Marathon that officially starts today. Kelsi and I will be doing this marathon together and plan to chat about it. Originally, I had chosen 10 movies for the marathon; however, Netflix is releasing three Fear Street movies this month based on R. L. Stine’s Fear Street book series, so I added them to my list.

I will also be reading quite a bit during July. As many of you know, Kelsi and I started a book club, Chills, Thrills, & Kills Book Club, back in April of this year, and we really love our group. Our members are awesome, and we have had some delightful discussions. Our book club selection for this month is Children of the Dark by Jonathan Janz. It is our third selection for this year. Our first selection was Later by Stephen King (May), and our second selection was Video Night by Adam Cesare (June). Both books are terrific reads. I am 86 pages into Children of the Dark and enjoying it up to this point.

Today starts the third quarter of 2021, and I am hopeful (as always) that I will spend the next three months accomplishing some goals while having fun and boosting my happiness. With that being said, it is time to reFOCUS and get started. Happiness!

 “The moment in between what you once were, and who you are now becoming, is where the dance of life really takes place.” ~ Barbara De Angelis

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I divided this year into quarters to complete my 21 for 2021 list. I have added a few new items (*) from the list to complete this quarter (April-June) along with continuing to work on some ongoing items for the duration of 2021. I will continue to manage my time, eat more vegetables, and scrapbook at least two times per month. I am hoping to complete the WordPress Blogging course, so that I can start the WordPress Podcasting course in the third quarter. I am excited about all the items I will be engaging in throughout the next three months.

  • #1 Manage time.
  • #2 Maintain a regular fitness regimen. *
  • #3 Create weekly meal plans. *
  • #4 Eat more vegetables.
  • #5 Try intermittent fasting for one month (Fast Burn). *
  • #10 Complete The Four Tendencies course (Gretchen Rubin). *
  • #14 Take a WordPress Blogging course.
  • #20 Scrapbook at least two times per month.

I did make one slight change to my list. Instead of trying intermittent fasting for one month using Dr. Ian K. Smith’s Clean & Lean book, I am using his recently published book, Fast Burn: The Power of Negative Energy Balance. I also joined his Fast Burn Challenge on Facebook which starts on Monday, 19 April. The challenge will be slightly longer than one month. It is actually nine weeks long. Shelly also bought the book and joined the challenge which will make this whole intermittant fasting adventure even more enjoyable.

Why now? Well…I had read Mind Over Weight last year and had planned to start eating clean again and exercising more regularly in June. Well, that did NOT happen. I read the book, completed the journal exercises, got my food journal ready, marked my calendar for 01 June, wrote a blog post about it, and NOT a damn thing happened. NO excuses! I have no excuses because I had plenty of time (all summer), resources, and the knowledge to accomplish the goal I set for myself in June. I had already successfully completed Smith’s The Clean 20 program in the fall of 2019 and was walking at least 20 minutes daily. I chose not to follow through, and that is all on me. As a result of my poor choices, I have gained more weight and feel tired all the time which is hindering me from making positive changes in other areas of my life. Therefore, I am ready to FOCUS on getting healthy during the next nine weeks.

Wish me luck, dear reader. Sometimes, it feels bewildering to start something brand new even when you are excited; however, it seems arduous to restart something that requires a great deal of effort like weight loss. It is definitely time for me to get off the struggle bus with my weight and get healthy. Happiness!

“If you believe in yourself first, then believe in the plan, and then put in the work, you will find that at the end of nine weeks, you are a different person physically and mentally than you were when you began the journey.” ~ Ian K. Smith, M.D.

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What a busy week! So many adventures, surprises, and milestones happened throughout the past week. I had to take my car to the dealership to check on an emissions leak that turned out to be nonexistant. I received an Easter surprise from my dear friends, the Picone family. I hit the one year mark of walking daily for at least 20 minutes per day (walking streak). Kelsi and I had a ZOOM meeting to finalize details before we launch our virtual book club on April 1st. I got my 2nd COVID shot. And, Sophie, my German Shepherd, turned 13 years old. What a blessed life!

Not only has the past week been busy and a blessing, but the first quarter of the year has also proven to be stellar. I have some PROPS and FLOPS for the first three months. As you know, dear reader, I created a 21 for 2021 list with goals, activities, and courses that I want to accomplish this year. For the first quarter, I chose seven items to work on during January, February, and March. I’m happy to report that I get props for six of the items on my list with only one item being a flop.

PROPS

First of all, I completed #11 (Read Atomic Habits by James Clear) and #8 (One NO spend month). I picked up some great strategies to build good habits from Atomic Habits and saved some money during Frugal February. I now subscribe to Clear’s weekly newsletter to continue receiving terrific information and inspiration about habits, and I plan to do another NO spend month later in the year since it was a vast victory.

#1 (Manage Time) is going well. I schedule my time weekly, and it has been quite effective. #4 (Eat more vegetables) has been a huge success thanks to my hubster. He enjoys cooking way more than I enjoy it, so he has been the one cooking the new veggie recipes. He definitely deserves the props for this item. #14 (Take a WordPress Blogging Course) is going smoothly. I am half way through the course and have picked up some helpful tips. I anticipate completing the course next quarter. #20 (Scrapbook at least two times per month) has been a delightful way to spend my time. I’ve been catching up on the journaling portion of Andrew’s Ireland scrapbook. All of these items are ongoing, so they will appear again on my 2nd quarter list.

I’m happy to report that the various schedules that I created back in January, with the exception of one, have been working really well. I’ve been wholeheartedly sticking to my housekeeping schedule and course schedule. As for my self-care schedule, I have (for the most part) been sticking to everything in that category. My daily routine (#Read21in21, Walk 20 for 2021, gratitude journal, and daily Instagram photo) is an enormous happiness boost, and I look forward to it every day.

Finally, I must mention that I have engaged in some additional fun and fulfilling activities this first quarter. I completed one movie marathon in February and started another one in March that will conclude in April. I am participating in RCIA at St. Margaret Church where I am sponsoring Mr. Mike (Shelly’s step-dad). He will become a member of the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil, and I will become his Godmother. I’ve been involved in a project called Tranquility by Tuesday with the author, Laura Vanderkam, who writes about time management. And, last but not least, I’ve been working with Kelsi to create a Horror Book Club which will launch this upcoming Thursday. There is still time to take a survey (deadline on March 31st) and help us choose our book club name.

FLOPS

My one flop this quarter was #6 (Declutter and organize each room in my house). I created a decluttering schedule back in January that would have me decluttering and organizing one room in my house each month. Needless to say, it was ambitious and unrealistic to think I could tackle such a monumental item, even broken down into smaller tasks, with everything else I want to accomplish this year while also working a day job. Does that mean I am abandoning this item on my 21 for 2021 list? Absolutely NOT! However, I have set it aside for the time being until I can shed some of my other responsibilities.

My other flop is minor but still needs to be addressed. Since Daylight Saving Time has started, I have not been going to bed on time. I can now walk later in the evenings which puts more pep in my step, and I stay up later doing all sorts of wonderful things. Thus on Friday evenings, I am in bed and asleep by 8:00 p.m. because I basically run out of steam. I need to practice better self-care and adhere to my bedtime, so I do not get sick.


Not too shabby, dear reader. I am pleased with my progress and productivity. So many activities and adventures await me in April. The second quarter will mean the end of some events and the beginning of others, including a book club, Easter break, and summer break. Anticipation, what a glorious feeling! Happiness!

Easter Surprise from Jeff, Joanna, and Jackson

“The reward for work well done is the opportunity to do more.” ~ Jonas Salk

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The day has FINALLY arrived! It is the first day of Daylight Saving Time, and I cannot be more elated. For me, springing forward one hour is a game changer. During this period of time, I am more enthusiastic, energetic, and effective in all of my endeavors.

The time change is not the only celebration for this weekend. Yesterday, Son #1, his girlfriend Kayla, and I celebrated my hubby’s 55th birthday at The Steakhouse located in downtown Hammond. This is also my second new restaurant of the year (#18 on my 21 for 2021 list). We enjoyed a splendid dining experience which included a terrific meal, excellent service, a relaxed atmosphere, and awesome conversation.

Our waiter for the evening was Lance, who was super sweet. We started our evening off with drinks. The Barrys ordered Blue Moon (beer), and Kayla ordered a Coke. I ordered a Watermelon Martini which contains fresh watermelon, house-made simple syrup, and Luksusowa Vodka with a touch of mint. Yum-Yum! We all skipped an appetizer in favor of dessert at the end of the meal. I tried to order one of the specials for the evening, BBQ Shrimp and Grits, but it was unavailable. Instead, I ordered Grilled Salmon, which is seared with their rub and glazed with local honey, and a side salad with honey mustard dressing. Barry, Sr. ordered a 6 ounce Filet Mignon, a cup of mushroom soup, and a loaded baked potato. Barry, Jr. ordered an 8 ounce Ribe-Eye, a house salad, and a loaded baked potato. I ate some of his baked potato. Kayla ordered a 6 ounce Rib-Eye, corn and crab bisque (which she gave to Barry, Jr.), macaroni and cheese, and french fries. We all enjoyed our meals. Finally, to end our delightful evening, Barry, Sr. and I shared The Steakhouse Bread Pudding, and Kayla chose the Louisiana Creole Creamcheese Cake. Both were great choices.

It’s hard to believe, dear reader, that we are a full year into this pandemic. Thankfully, the future is looking brighter. Tomorrow begins the final quarter of the school year which means summer break is just around the corner. I’m optimistic it will be a much better summer break than last summer with more opportunities for me to stretch my creative wings. In the meantime, I will revel in more daylight. Happiness!

“With the coming of spring, I am calm again.” ~ Gustav Mahler

Photo Credit: Alarm Clock photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

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Happy Birthday to Me! My birthday was this past Monday (11 January), and I’m officially 52 years old. I do not feel it mentally or physically although I’m sure I look it. No matter, because I’m happy and grateful to be alive another day and can celebrate another year of life. Despite my special day being brutally cold (thankfully, no carpool duty) and having to work, it was a terrific birthday. I received cards from my fabulous co-workers, a gift and card from my fantastic roommate Julia, and lunch was provided for me by two of my fab friends who work in the school library, Kathryn and Debbie. Throughout the day, I received numerous happy birthday messages, texts, and emails. I even received cards in the mail.

When I arrived home from work later in the afternoon, I had a Desert Beauty plant (succulents and cacti) and a card waiting for me from my sweet friend Denise. Andrew and I had our regular take-out dinner Monday evening from Kirin (sushi for me and ramen for him). My gift from Andrew was a book that I have been wanting by Mary Higgins Clark called Piece of My Heart. (Barry, Jr. is getting me Spellbound by Estée Lauder, my favorite perfume.) I relaxed for the remainder of the evening, reading and responding to birthday wishes. I thoroughly enjoyed celebrating the day of my birth. However, since my birthday fell on a Monday, and my hubby was out of town, my birthday celebration extended into this weekend.

I requested that Barry take me to the movies and then dinner afterwards at a new restaurant. Yesterday, he and I went to the afternoon screening of Wonder Woman 1984. While it was not as good as Wonder Woman, the first movie in the franchise featuring Gal Gadot, Barry and I still enjoyed it. After the movie, we went to dinner. Originally, I wanted to try One Thirteen in Hammond. Unfortunately, we did not make our reservations soon enough to dine inside, and neither one of us had the desire to dine outside in the cold. Therefore, we did a little research and ended up dining at Paolo’s Restaurant and Wine Bar located on East Pine Street in Ponchatoula. Paolo’s features northern Italian cuisine. This is my first new restaurant of the year (#18 on my 21 for 2021 list). What an excellent choice! A terrific atmosphere, a friendly and experienced restaurant staff, and delicious food made for a wonderful dining experience.

Our waitress for the evening was Haylee. Since it was our first visit, I asked her for recommendations before I ordered anything, and everything she recommended was AWESOME. I wanted a birthday cocktail and couldn’t decide between the Blood Orange Cosmopolitan and the Moscow Mule. Haylee recommended the Blood Orange Cosmopolitan which contains Vodka, Blood Orange Liqueur, Cranberry Juice, Triple Sec, and Fresh Lime Juice. Yummy! Barry ordered a Bud Light. Barry and I skipped an appetizer, so that we could save room for dessert. I ordered one of the specials for the evening, Grilled Atlantic Salmon over braised brussels sprouts, and Barry ordered the Blue Crab Ravioli. Both of our entrées were scrumptious. Of course, we had to try each other’s entrée. Finally, to end a perfect evening, we ordered the Crème Brûlée which we shared. It was heavenly! Furthermore, since we were celebrating my birthday, our dessert was complimentary which made it even sweeter.

In Other News

I am still tracking my time for the week. Weekends are also tracked even though they look differently from the rest of the week, Monday through Friday. My week technically ends at 4:30 tomorrow morning (Monday, 18 January). I will analyze my time log to see what it reveals and share my findings with you, dear reader. I have already started jotting down some ideas of how I am going to divvy up my time based on the first few days of my log. I have to be realistic.

Also, the room in my house that I am focusing on this month is my office. Andrew and I share this room. I use it to write/blog, and he uses it for school work. The office has furniture in place and one framed print hung up closest to the door. The goal is to clear out the piles of paperwork on top of my desk and in a couple of boxes under my desk. I also have a box of memorabilia that needs to find a home in my house. Eventually, I will hang a bulletin board in this room and possibly a white board. The ultimate goal is to declutter and organize each room in my house by the end of the year (#6 on my 21 for 2021 list).

There is not much else to share at this point, dear reader. I’m grateful to have tomorrow off (Martin Luther King, Jr. Day). Andrew and I both have eye appointments with a new eye doctor in Ponchatoula. In the meantime, I will enjoy the rest of today which includes catching a live stream of Kelsi on Twitch at 2:00 this afternoon. I hope you enjoy the rest of the weekend. Happiness!

Be happy and enjoy your sacred time on earth.” ~ Lailah Gifty Akita

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Happy New Year! It feels wonderful welcoming in a new year after living through a year of disappointment, turmoil, and unpredictability. While there were aspects of 2020 that I am grateful for, I am happy with moving on from that chapter of my life and currently focusing on the next chapter with the anticipation of new opportunities to learn, grow, and increase my joy factor.

FOCUS is my word for 2021. I’m choosing to focus on my health, my home, my happiness as it relates to my career (focusing on creating a new career I have wanted for many years), and my hobbies. My 21 for 2021 list will FOCUS on these four areas.

Kat’s 21 for 2021 List

  1. Manage time.
  2. Maintain a regular fitness regimen.
  3. Create weekly meal plans.
  4. Eat more vegetables.
  5. Try intermittent fasting for one month (Clean & Lean).
  6. Declutter and organize each room in my house.
  7. Write a will.
  8. Try one NO spend month.
  9. Revisit A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle.
  10. Complete The Four Tendencies course (Gretchen Rubin).
  11. Read Atomic Habits by James Clear.
  12. Read The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron.
  13. Create a vision board.
  14. Take a WordPress Blogging course.
  15. Take a WordPress Podcasting course.
  16. Purchase podcasting equipment.
  17. Complete Write a Bestseller course (Jeff Goins).
  18. Try 12 new restaurants (one per month).
  19. Take Becky Higgins Classroom: Photo Tips + Work Flow.
  20. Scrapbook at least two times per month.
  21. Learn how to use my Cricut Maker.

During the month of January, I will focus on managing my time. I want to establish a better daily routine, create schedules for decluttering, housekeeping, working on my courses, and self care, as well as continuing to participate in improv and RCIA. Essentially, I want to use my weekly 168 hours more effectively. I also want to try to break down the remaining 20 items on my list into the four quarters of the year to make accomplishing them more manageable. Naturally, several of my items are designed to run throughout the entire course of the year which is also totally fine. I’m excited about all the possibilities this new year has to offer and look forward to the journey through 2021.

Other Plans for 2021:

  1. On Goodreads, I joined the 2021 Reading Challenge, and my goal is to read 50 books again this year. 
  2. I am participating in Gretchen Rubin’s #Read21for21 challenge. Basically, you read for 21 minutes every day in 2021. While I do read a great deal, I don’t necessarily read for pleasure every day. I’ve also decided to read specific books during my daily 21 minutes to see how many books I read throughout the year just in that daily timeframe. According to Gretchen Rubin, “If you read for 21 minutes per day for 365 days, that’s 7,665 minutes, or almost 128 hours of reading. You can read a lot of books in 128 hours!” 
  3. This year, I also plan to keep a TA-DA list for 2021. Many times I accomplish goals that are not included on my list, and I should be celebrating those accomplishments, too. 
  4. Hopefully, I will be attending my annual scrapbooking convention with my gal pals in June. We didn’t get to attend last year because of the pandemic, so I REALLY hope and pray we can get together this summer. 

What do you have planned in 2021, dear reader? Have you made some resolutions or a 21 for 2021 list? If you could choose a one-word theme for this year, what word would you choose? Let me know what your plans are for 2021. Happiness!

“Focus is the key to accomplish what is necessary – easy word to spell, it contains only five letters but it is probably one of the most powerful words there are in order to move forward with confidence and with the expected results.” ~ Bryan Pulsifer

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