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Archive for the ‘Happiness Project’ Category

Happy 2017, dear readers! I am back for a new year. It has been quite some time since my last blog post. I am planning to strive to do better this year with my writing, as well as in other areas of my life. RENEWAL. That is the one-word theme I have chosen for this year. I have also decided to attempt another happiness project. Years ago after reading The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin, I participated in my own happiness project and had a fabulous year. I am looking forward to a new year with new possibilities and opportunities. New Year’s Blessings to you, dear readers. Happiness!

“Hope smiles from the threshold of the year to come, whispering, ‘It will be happier.'” ~ Alfred Lord Tennyson

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Happy New Year!

I’m always looking for ways to improve my life by making it better. And, making your life better requires change. Change can be challenging; however, it can also be exhilarating. I’ve decided this year to use the month of January to start some challenges I find interesting, beneficial, and fun. In addition, I plan to use the month to set some goals for the remaining eleven months of the year. Trying to set goals during the holiday season doesn’t work for me because of all the holiday distractions. I, like so many other people, quickly abandon those goals before January ends. I want a clean slate, time, and some enthusiasm to fuel the resolutions to achieve those goals. The number one goal for every area of my life is to be happy, feel good, experience the joy of life itself. According to Danielle LaPorte, it is not so much achieving the goal as it is how you will feel when you actually achieve that goal.

Challenge #1 (8-Week Weight Loss Challenge)

I weighed myself Saturday morning (133 pounds), and not surprisingly, I gained seven pounds. I deserve every pound I gained. I ate the fig cookies, pralines, carrot cake, raspberry chipotle meatballs, dips and chips, fried turkey, etc. I’m grateful it wasn’t more because I definitely indulged this holiday season. Thank goodness I exercised during the holidays. It could have been so much worse. I put seven marbles back in the container for “pounds to go” and plan to get back on track tomorrow morning.

I’m planning to do an 8-Week “Get Healthy” Challenge sponsored by SixSistersStuff.com. They even have the challenge on Facebook. I’ve talked to mon frere, Moonius Maximus, about joining the challenge so we can hold each other accountable. We will start tomorrow Monday 7 January. This challenge will give him some much-needed motivation and will help me lose the weight I gained during the holidays. I like this challenge because it is based on clean eating and exercise, which is the lifestyle I’ve adopted. The site includes a packet which has charts to record your progress. I encourage everyone to take a look (just click on the green titles above, and you will be brought to the links).

Challenge #2 (21 Day Relationship Challenge)

I’m all for trying things to bring more happiness and joy to my life. Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project and Happier at Home, has come up with the 21 Day Relationship Challenge. Basically, you will receive an e-mail each morning for three weeks with a resolution to strengthen your bonds with others. The challenge will begin on Monday, 14 January, so if anyone is interested in participating in this challenge, visit the link above (green) and join.

Challenge #3 (Making Money in Commercials)

I’m taking a workshop this month with my acting coach, Lance E. Nichols. I enjoy acting even though it is extremely challenging for me. The experience is helping me to become fearless.

Challenge #4 (Reading List 2013)

In 2012 I challenged myself to read at least 24 books for the year (2 books per month) from three categories: children’s literature, adult fiction, and adult non-fiction. I created a list of 32 books. Unfortunately, I could not stick to just the books on my list. I deviated a little bit; however, out of the 32 books on my list I read 18 plus 20 more off my list giving me a total of 38 books for the year. There are just TOO many terrific books, and I can’t resist going to the bookstore! Creating the list, as well as joining the Goodreads website helped me read more last year. One of my resolutions every year is to read more. I haven’t put my list together for 2013, yet. I WILL post it this week. It will include titles from last year that I didn’t get to read plus quite a few new titles. I bought two new books from BAM last night which will be included on the list, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak and The Technologists by Matthew Pearl.

As you can see, I’m starting 2013 with some energy and enthusiasm. Throughout the month, I will be writing down my goals and resolutions for different areas of my life to implement for the remainder of the year….all of which I will share with you, my dear readers. In the meantime, hoping everyone is enjoying the new year with a grateful and loving attitude. Happiness!

“Your life does not get better by chance. It gets better by change.” ~ Jim Rohn 

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Aaaah…. another successful Auction at WYES-TV in NOLA. I spent the last two weekends working as a director on the Art Auction. Happiness! WYES-TV is one of my favorite places to work. My connection with the public television station developed in 1991. I took a class at the University of New Orleans called UNO Video. Through this class, I did volunteer work at the station to gain valuable television experience. I started out as a floor director for Membership Drives and the two annual Auctions (Showboat & Art). Later, I learned floor producing, and directing. Eventually, I became a staff member (Associate Producer). Out of all the jobs I have worked, it is the job I like the most. Not just for the work, but also for the people. You know who you are….M & M! WYES is like a second family. And, I’m fortunate to be able to freelance there twice a year, and sometimes more if the work is available. I’m already looking forward to my next project.

Happiness is doing work you love with people who make you smile. ~ Kat (my first quote)

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A huge serving of Middendorf’s fried thin catfish, a dollop of creamy coleslaw, a sore left hip flexor, and a tremendous sense of accomplishment were my rewards for running the Middendorf’s Manchac Run on October 15th. I had been training since August 1st to become a 30 minute runner. Becoming a 30 minute runner meant running 3 miles,which meant I could run a 5K.  And, I did it…in 32:49. My happiness bucket had definitely been filled to the brim.

Honestly, at first I was a little bummed with my time because I really wanted to finish in 30 minutes. However, the race included something I did not prepare for during my training…a bridge.    

Moments before the race started, I saw my ex-step instructor and stopped to chat. During out conversation, I asked her about the race course. Imagine my surprise (my face resembled Janet Leigh as she was about to be stabbed in Psycho) when I learned the course involved crossing the old Manchac bridge, not once, but twice. For a split second, I thought about running back to my car. All my training up to this point had been done in my subdivision on flat ground.

The race director called all runners and walkers to the starting line.  The more I looked at bridge, the more it looked like a mountain. The national anthem played. I gave my hubby and my doggie, Comet, a quick good-bye kiss, and I was off.

Of course, the bridge was at the very beginning of the race. Going over it at the beginning was not too bad. I was slow. Once I got over the bridge and reached flat ground, I got my groove on and found my pace. At 1.5 miles, runners had to turn back around and run for the finish. There was a drink station at the turning point. I grabbed a cup of grape Powerade from a cheerful volunteer, took a swig, swished, and spit. The remainder went into the garbage can. I made the turn, feeling the runner’s high. Life was GREAT! I was on the other side of the road observing everyone on the side before the 1.5 mile split. EGO reared its ugly head…for a moment, for up ahead was the bridge, and this time it was not so easy to go over. Ahead of me was Frank, a 76 year old man I had met at NOTC’s Sneaker Speaker Series a couple of years ago. He was my motivation. I focused on him instead of the bridge. Literally, I felt like I was running in slow motion. I refused to walk even though I probably could have walked faster. Finally, I made it to the top of the bridge. Frank had finished descending and was not too far from the finish line. I started my descent, careful not to go too fast or get too sloppy. My left hip flexor started to feel tender. Once on flat ground again, I sprinted for the finish. My smile was wide, really wide. I FINISHED. So, even though I did not finish in 30 minutes, my time was not really too bad considering I had to run over a bridge, not once, but twice. I felt like a winner.  

“Life begets life. Energy creates energy. It is by spending oneself that one becomes rich.”   ~ Sarah Bernhardt

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Frustrated…that is the word that best describes me at the moment. Frustration does not equal happiness; however, it can motivate oneself to make a change or two. What is the source of my frustration? Well, my weight. My goal weight on September 26th was 140 pounds. I weighed in Monday morning to the tune of 144 pounds. UGH! Now, I have not been eating like a sparrow, but I also haven’t been eating like a Spartan. All month my weight has fluctuated between 141 to 144 pounds. I find if I exercise and have a good poop before I weigh in, I get a much better result. Needless to say, I had neither this past Monday. So, I have decided to abandon a goal weight until I can really make a commitment to change my eating habits.

I eat out of anxiety and my peak time seems to be in the afternoon after picking up my little guy from school. The key is getting back to my original resolutions. Part of not keeping my resolutions in the “eating better” department is not being a good time manager. I’m working on being a better time manager. I have been drinking more water. Getting up earlier has not been a problem since school is back in session. Going to bed on time has also not been a problem since I have been working every day.

While my weight has not decreased, my running has increased. This has brought much happiness to my life. I have been moving every day. I am running at least three days a week whether it is in the heat, fog, or rain. Today, I registered for the Middendorf’s Manchac Run, which will be held in October. It is a 5K (3.1 miles). This week I am walking for 2 minutes and running for 8 minutes…repeating this three times for a total of 30 minutes. Of course, this does not include my 10 minute walking warm-up, cool-down, and stretch. Next week, I am walking for 1 minute and running for 9 minutes…repeating this three times for a total of 30 minutes. The following week I will be running 30 minutes with no walk breaks. My goal is simply to finish this race in 30 minutes. The only exercise resolution I have not been keeping up with is strength training two days a week. It has been hard fitting it in; however, I know it is important. Again, being a better time manager will help with this resolution, as well.  

Even though I am not hitting the mark on all my resolutions, I’m still happy with myself for making the attempt. It really is a journey. The real goal is to find as much happiness along the way.  If anything, this happiness project has made me rediscover the joy I get from running.  Running puts things in perspective for me. This is one resolution I’m trying very hard not to break.

“Remind yourself that a run will make you feel better mentally and emotionally.”         ~ Howard J. Rankin

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wDO5ea8MwgY&feature=related

Lately, I’ve been feeling a little like the white rabbit in Alice in Wonderland. School has started, as well as all the activities associated with school. Fortunately, I’m not teaching again this year. However, my schedule is still quite full, and I feel like I’m literally running from one activity to another. This has put a little bit of a kink in my own Happiness Project plans. I’m late! By now, I should have already designated my resolutions for September. I’ve been giving plenty of thought to my new monthly resolutions, mostly while working out. I’m determined not to give up.

I’ve decided I need to address two areas of my life that are lacking luster:  Time Management and Organization. Clearly tackling both areas at the same time is not feasible, especially with me starting a freelance job in the middle of this month. So, I am more inclined to begin with Time Management. Keep in mind that this resolution will be added to the August resolutions. To get started, I will revisit the book Time Management from the Inside Out by Julie Morgenstern. This book has some good advice. The key is making the time to reread the Quick- Start Program section.

I am famous for exclaiming, “I don’t have time!” I wish it was true, but it really is not. I don’t intentionally go out of my way to speak this untruth. However, the reality, truth be told, is I do have pockets of time. Time just escapes me or is hidden to where I don’t recognize it. The truth is I’ve become unconscious to how I really spend my time. I believe by becoming more efficient and a better time manager, I can accomplish my work-related tasks, as well as the things I want to do for leisure. Granted, there are days when I do not have a moment to spare; however, those days are not the norm for me. For example, yesterday evening I could have written this post; however, I chose to watch Animal Hoarders on Animal Planet. It was the first time I have ever watched it, and based on what I saw…probably the last. If I would have planned my day more efficiently, I could have done both. The first step is being more conscious of how I spend my time.

On a totally different subject, I think I may start carrying a small notebook with me. While driving, waiting or even running, I often have ideas or think about things I need to do or solutions to a situation, etc.; however, once I get to my destination, I forget. Now, I don’t know how cool I will look running down the street with my pen and notebook. I’ll have to think about that one, maybe on my next run.    

 

Happiness Project

September: Time Management

  • Reread the Quick Start Program in Time Management from the Inside Out.
  • Create my Resolutions Chart to track progress of success with resolutions. (left over from August)
  • Track how I am actually spending my time.

September Goals: Weigh in at 140 on 9/26.

“Time is the coin of your life.  It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent.  Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you.”  ~Carl Sandburg

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I have completed the first week of my happiness project. Honestly, I feel I did pretty well. Even though I still have not created my official resolutions chart, I tallied up my accomplishments.  My trend these past few years has been to allow stressful situations or my busy lifestyle to influence my health and fitness decisions.  I realized as I was making my resolutions that my life is always going to be busy, and that stressful situations arise; however, those two factors are not a free pass for me to not take care of myself the majority of the time. It really boils down to choices.

My week started off really great. My little guy’s birthday was Monday. To celebrate, my husband and I took him to Chili’s for dinner. Since we had planned this ahead of time, I planned my meals throughout the day to bank some extra calories for a restaurant meal and a couple of bites of dessert. Earlier that morning, I did a 20 minute cardio interval DVD and my run/walk interval training. Tuesday and Wednesday I continued eating well and exercising. Thursday I hit a bump or a few bumps throughout the day. And, amazingly that day snowballed and led to a stressful event. Of course, I blamed it on the fact that I did not get out of bed earlier, as I had done successfully the previous three days.

Thursday was my little guy’s Supplies and Hi’s Day at school. He would have the opportunity to meet his teachers and drop off his school supplies. I’m convinced NOW that I must have a “sabatoging demon” that resides in my body. Of all the days to lollygag in bed, I choose the busiest day of my week to do it. Reluctantly, I dragged myself out of bed. I was cranky because I did not get up earlier. I still managed to do my strength training. However, I had to wash my hair, so I got even crankier for not getting up earlier. Even though I dislike getting up early, I am MUCH happier when I do because it allows me the time to do the things I need to do to keep me healthy. The day proceeded with other activities, and I was irritable and antsy all day. Everything managed to aggravate me. Even going to Books-a-Million didn’t even help. I skipped an opportunity to get a mocha latte. Why? It is August, and they still had the July newspaper with all the book reviews. I already read July. I wanted August! I had a mental temper tantrum. I couldn’t wait to get home. Once home, I made a cup of coffee and ate about 15 M & M’s. Then at 6pm, all hell broke loose.

My husband always goes out in the backyard when he gets home to spend time with the dogs. My little dog, Comet, spends the majority of the day inside. However, when my husband gets home, Comet wants to be out there with the big dogs, too. Apparently, in the short time he was out there, he ate something poisonous. When Comet came inside, he started vomiting and collapsed. He went into a trance-like state and wasn’t breathing very well. After calling the vet, we quickly left home headed for an emergency vet hospital in Mandeville, which is about 30-40 minutes away. It was an extremely stressful drive. There were lots of tears, lots of fear, and lots of prayers. Thankfully, we made it to the hospital in time.  Comet stayed overnight, as well a Friday night. We took him home on Saturday afternoon. He is doing well considering his liver was assaulted, his blood wasn’t clotting, and he almost died.  

Now, I could have used that stressful event to make the choice to eat poorly and not exercise. However, I chose to keep my resolutions. I also decided not to get irritated with myself if I didn’t honor one of my resolutions. Soooo, I didn’t get up earlier; however, I still exercised, ate well (minus the M & M’s), and drank enough water. I would do better tomorrow. And, I did do better. In fact, I even lost a pound this week, which puts me at 142.5 pounds. Remember, I’m working on getting to 135 pounds by August 29th.

Okay, share time. I tried a new recipe on Sunday. The recipe is “Bacon Cheeseburgers to Die For.” I wouldn’t really go that far, but they were good. Even my little guy liked the burger. He can be picky. I’ve attached the link: http://www.justapinch.com/recipe/cookin4me/bacon-cheeseburgers-to-die-for-better-than-gourmet/beef?k=bacon+cheeseburgers+to+die+for&p=1&o=r.  I opted to use water instead of beef broth. I may try the beef broth the next time, as well as making my bacon bits a little bigger.

Something that I discovered that makes me happy: Double Chocolate Biscotti. Not terribly high in fat/calories. I enjoy one when I’ve had a good day (eating/exercise) and want something sweet without the guilt. Keep in mind: having one of these treats everyday lessens the happiness quota.   

Also, I want to share how I’m becoming a 30 minute runner using a run/walk interval program. The program is outlined in the book Running and Walking for Women Over 40 by Kathrine Switzer. The running schedule can be used by both men and women. It is designed to help you become a 30 minute runner in ten weeks. I started Week 4 (walk 6 minutes/run 4 minutes, repeat 3X) today. If I continue successfully, I see a road race on the horizon.

“Life is the sum of all your choices.”  ~Albert Camus

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     I’m sitting here having a déjà vu moment, except I’m eating grapes (planned snack…explain later). I’m at the start of a new school year without a job. Sound familiar. Yes, last school year I decided to leave the teaching profession with my family’s blessing to pursue other things. And, I did. I was suppose to blog about my year. And, I didn’t. I was kind of busy going in a few different directions trying to figure out what I wanted to be when I grow up.  However, there is a slightly different plan for this year. I will not be returning to the teaching profession as a full-time teacher; however, I am planning to return to the teaching profession as a substitute teacher. My thinking…it will provide me with a much needed paycheck, while giving me much needed flexibility to continue to pursue other things. One year was not quite enough. I’m still trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up. This year I will blog more about my year. This year I will arm myself with monthly resolutions in the name of “happiness.” Hopefully, with a more planned approach, I will not flounder as much as I did last year. I have no regrets concerning how I spent my time last year. It gave me a much needed mental break, and I was able to explore different avenues of interest, while being more active in the role of mother. I know what I don’t want for my life, so this year I must find out what I do want for my life. I do want to be happier, and for me I must dust off all the areas of my life and make some much needed improvements.

     Last month I read the book The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin, and I am obsessed with doing my very own happiness project. It really is kind of insane considering school is about to start, as well as scouts and working full-time. My resolutions are designed to gain back more control over my life, and provide me happiness at the same time. I also will set some goals throughout the year as I work on these resolutions. Making this public gives me some added motivation to work harder. I need to be held accountable in order to succeed.

     Yesterday, I started my own happiness project. I do not have my chart created, yet…plan to do it today. One of these months, I have to tackle TIME MANAGEMENT. Below are my resolutions for August. Now, some resolutions I can do everyday, others are throughout the month. I basically get a gold star for each resolution I keep during the month. Then next month, I have new resolutions PLUS the previous ones. We’ll see how well I do all year. If I can gain some more control over my life, it will ultimately make me happy. These reolutions are all about gaining control and making my life happier in the process. Gretchen Rubin started off her happiness project with Vitality (boost energy) for her first month, so I thought I would do something similiar. It makes sense. The more energy you have, the happier you are and the better equipped you are to tackle other areas of your life that need improvement. I decided to concentrate on health and fitness.
 
So here goes:

August: Health and Fitness
 
• Eat Better: In order to do this I have four resolutions.
 
1) stop mindless snacking throughout the day (if I do have a designated snack, they need to be healthy-fruit/veggies/yogurt, etc. (no M & M’s). Hence, the grapes I was eating earlier during my déjà vu moment.
2) keep a food journal
3) eat more fruits and veggies (fruit is not hard for me, veggies much harder)
4) plan my meals ahead of time
 
• Exercise: I have three resolutions under this category.
 
1) Move everyday.
2) Run at least three days per week.
3) Strength Train at least two days per week.

• Drink more water (at least 6 glasses). 
 
• Get up Earlier (no hanging out in the bed unless I’m sick).
 
• Go to bed ON TIME (no staying up late to read).
 
Then I have some activities each month to challenge myself (learn something new).
 
1) Make one NEW recipe per month.
2) Take an Improv class (acting) – two classes in August (last two classes in September).
3) Take a Scene Study class (acting) – three classes in August (16 hours of instruction).

August Goal: Weigh in at 135 on 8/29.
 
Anyway, as you can see…NO MORE EXCUSES. Pardon me now as I go strength train.

 

“To excuse by definition means “to regard with indulgence; to view leniently or to overlook; to pardon.” So I ask you, what would happen if you couldn’t use even one excuse this year?” ~ Debbie Ford

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     Hola, my friends! Yesterday, I decided to learn how to make “easy” chicken enchiladas for my family’s dinner. Since I do NOT cook very often, this was going to be a feat of magnificent proportions. Clarification is necessary before I continue with my tale. I am NOT a terrible cook, I just choose NOT to cook. As a child, I spent little time in the kitchen with my mother. I never had a strong desire to learn how to cook. Before marrying Barry, I did forewarn him I would not be cooking on a regular basis. He enjoys cooking, so it has worked out quite nicely. Besides, when I do cook, Barry tends to offer some tidbit of criticism instead of just saying “thanks.” I admit, I take it personally. It irks me. Therefore, he is in charge of the spatula.

     Currently,  I am reading The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. As part of my happiness project, I want to learn new things. Learning new things helps you to grow. And, growth makes you happy.  Tuesday evening I read her section on marriage. One of her resolutions was “give proofs of love.” My inner lightbulb began glowing with what I thought was a brilliant idea. I could increase my happiness in two ways by completing ONE task. Efficient, right! By making enchiladas, I learn something new, and I give proof of love toward Barry. He had the evening off from kitchen duty.

     The recipe was easy, and did not require many ingredients. The chicken was boiled earlier in the day and shredded. The meal was put together in about 15 minutes, and baked for another 20 minutes. Barry arrived home a few minutes after the chicken enchiladas were removed from the oven. He didn’t say it; however, I think he was impressed. He enjoyed it. He did say he would have added more cheese on top…only because he likes lots of cheese. I smirked knowing he had to add a tidbit, but amazingly, I did not take it personally (trying to practice my Four Agreements). I was happy. I accomplished my task with satisfaction. Now, I confess my meal was not enjoyed by all in the family. Andrew ( aka picky eater) told me the enchiladas were not horrible, but they weren’t great either. He ate half of one, which surpassed my expectations.

     For those of you out there interested in recipes, I’ve included the link below. My tale is done, and I’m going to eat some leftover chicken enchiladas for lunch. Adiós!

http://www.kraftrecipes.com/recipes/easy-chicken-enchiladas-121713.aspx

 

“Get over the idea that only children should spend their time in study.  Be a student so long as you still have something to learn, and this will mean all your life.”  ~Henry L. Doherty

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