Only The Strong Survive

The strong don’t survive because they are lucky.

The strong survive because they know they must survive.

They plan to survive.

They anticipate successes and failures.

They see the big picture, makingĀ the small details all make sense.

They work day and night.

They hustle and grind.

They get back up every single time.

They live in offense mode.

They don’t accept any other outcome.

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Until next time, my friends…

Make it a great day,

Mari!yn

Life is Simple

“Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.” ~Confucious

Why do we as human beings live our lives bound and determined to make everything harder than it needs to be? Why aren’t we better at walking in a little bit of faith and really living in a way that “lets go and lets God?” Even for those who aren’t necessarily religious but work to live their lives in a way that lets life unfold before them, just to take firm control at a moment’s disruption. We’re the ones who make life so darn complicated.

Today, my goal is to continue to put one foot in front of the other, continue moving forward along the path I have set for myself, but to do so with mindful steps. While I am talking with my children about their first day of the new school year, I am going to be present with them rather than distracted and thinking of 10,000 other things. While I am sitting at my desk designing beautiful pieces of jewelry (which takes the form of staring at tiny details on a computer screen for hours at a time), I will focus completely on each detail of the design. While I am fixing dinner tonight or running on a trail, I will be there, then. For me, this is the first simple step in getting out of my own way, and allowing life to be a little more simple.

So, here I am with you now, encouraging you to also focus on being a smidge more “present” today, to get out of your own way and work on going a day without muddying the waters of life with stuff that doesn’t really matter or that will resolve itself in time if you will just insist on allowing life to unfold naturally.

Until next time, my friends…

Make it a great day,

Mari!yn

Love/Hate Relationship With Summer Vacation

This is the last week of school for my children, and although in many ways they are excited…there’s a flip side to their excitement. You see, each year as school winds down, I ramp up with my “GREAT MOM IDEAS” to keep the kids active, alert, and learning throughout the summer vacation.

Work, chore, and learning opportunities abound! wpid-fb_img_1430702899892.jpg

Projects and family-fun activities make my eyes brighten!!

Daily family fitness and “active play” ideas fill my mind!!!

…My kids hate this…

They’re not against doing stuff, but their Mom has a tendency to over-schedule their three months that are (to their minds) supposed to be a break from schedules.

So, once again I have busted out the notebook and been sprawling endless lists and schedules and time tables of what kinds of things we can be doing when, where, and how allllll summmmmmer long.

Oh yeah, kids…get ready! Momma’s got the summer well planned.

“Get up! There’s no sleeping in in summer!!!”

“I’ve been up since 4…it’s time to get up and have a great day!”

“I have the best idea for today! Remember how we talked about how great it would be if the garage were completely cleaned up and reorganized?!?!?!!!!”

“Let’s start running together, every day, as a family! How about getting up early before the summer heat sets in!”

“Math workbook time!”

Yep, they’ll love it šŸ˜‰

Until next time, my friends…

Make it a great day,

Mari!yn

Me First

Dear readers and friends, please prepare yourself for the most controversial thing I have ever published. Instructions that go against what we are generally taught to do. But stick with me, there is rationale behind this belief that, I promise, will come full-circle and not seem so stinking evil.

Primed? OK, here it goes.YouAreSuchARockStar

You are #1. Really.

Put yourself first and you will be so much better equipped to love, serve, and care for others.

I understand this goes against all conventional thinking and what we are guilted by society to believe. It can be a message that falls somewhere between a hard pill to swallow and a total mind-blower.

Putting yourself first does not mean that you neglect those around you. It does not mean that you no longer treat others as you would like to be treated. It is not even selfish, not when you take in the bigger picture.

You are going to have a hard time playing with your young kids or grandkids outside if you do not first take care of your own physical health, exercising and staying active. Getting winded kicking the soccer ball around or whileĀ tromping around the neighborhood park is not because you are older or because you have already had a long day. You are getting winded and tired playing with the kids because you have not put your own needs for good physical stamina at the forefront.

Going to work and doing your job day-in and day-out may get to feeling tedious and like you are on a constant cycle of being overworked and underpaid if you do notĀ first feed yourself and feel satisfied before you ever hit the office door in the mornings. Spending some high-quality YOU TIME before it is time to start the jam-packed schedule will do wonders for your well-being. Taking time to meditate, study or read, sit and enjoy a nice hot cup of coffee or tea, and maybe even watch the sun rise will, in turn, energize you for the day ahead. You will get more accomplished once you get going and you will feel better about what you are accomplishing, too!

When you make sure that YOU are healthy and happy, you can care for and serve those you love better than ever before! By putting your needs first, you eliminate the bitterness and resentment that comes with the busyness of parenthood, spousehood, employeehood, serving on every board and committee and still trying so hard to fit in time to take a shower in peace.

Place yourself, your health and your mental well-being at the top of your to-do list and watch how fulfilled and ready toĀ pour your improved energy and enthusiasm on those you love most! You will serve others better by first taking the best care of yourself!

Go get ’em, ROCK STAR!

Until next time, my friends…

Make it a great day,

Mari!yn

Happy & Healthy

Charlottes Spring Performance 020 croppedWhen our kiddos have performances, I tend to go through the range of emotions from “oh, yay, that sounds adorable,” to “you’ve gotta practice, you’ve gotta pick out your outfit, you’ve gotta do this and that to be ready,” to “how in the world am I going to ever fit this into my schedule,” to “OH MY GOSH…that was completely adorable and MY KID ROCKED!” to “how quickly can I get out of this school and onto the next critical thing on my daily to-do list?”

It’s no wonder we’re not sleeping, struggling to stay healthy, and fighting to keep our marriages and our families protected, happy and healthy. We have so much inner turmoil every day to the point we (I should say “I” and quit speaking for you) struggle to be in one place at a time, focused completely on that one thing or person or event or need.

Today, as I look through the pictures of Charlotte and her class, all smiles and joy and visions of great health and happiness, I realize that even with all of the apparent struggles of juggling life and kids and significant others and parents and friends and jobs, jobs, jobs, and organizations, and on and on and on…I believe we are all doing a pretty great job! Moments like this are validation that all of our hard work and stresses are well worth the effort!

Hang in there! Vent when you need to, and keep taking care of everything you have on your plate each and every day. Days like this make it alllll worth it šŸ™‚

Make it a great day,

Mari!yn

I Make Time Work For Me, Not The Other Way Around

I wish I had time to volunteer at my kids’ schools more. I sure would like to spend more time with my girlfriends; I feel like I never see them anymore. My husband and I haven’t had a date night in months, and I sure miss it. I wish I could learn to play the guitar…the piano…the saxophone…the harpsichord. I wish I could pursue my great idea for a business, but I’m just so busy with my “realĀ job” to get around to my own passion. I wish I had time…

Does any of this sound familiar to you? I know it sure hits home for me! It’s just too easy to wish we had time for EVERYTHING, and –in turn– feel so guilty for all that we can’t seem to make time for in our already jam-packed schedules. It’s time to regroup!

We cannot do everything, serve everyone, be everything to everybody, and also give ourselves the time and attention we so desperately need for survival. There truly is a time for work and a time for play, a time to be together and a time to be separated. There IS time to do all of the things that are truly the most important to us–the key is that we must figure out what most deserves our precious time!

The best way I have chosen to do this is to sit down–yes, this takes time, too–and jot a list of alllllll of those things that I would like to do. Read for an hour a day, exercise for 45 minutes three times a week, have time with each of my children individually each day, play golf every week, have two hours of TV time each night after work, wake up each morning before anyone else so I have some moments of peace and quiet before the hustle and bustle of the day begins. List ALL of the things that you currently make time for, add the things you wish you had time for, and still add those things that you feel guilty that you rarely have time for in your life. The list will likely be extensive…and if you put the calculator to it, your extensive list will likely require your week to have many more hours in it than are available.

ā€œDon’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michaelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein.ā€ -H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

168.

That’s how many hours each of us have available in each week.

Seven days a week.

52 weeks a year.

168 hours.

Some inevitable time-consumers to that 168 hours are: sleep, food, basicĀ self-care, and likely at leastĀ someone’s time-clock. Other choices we’ve made and people and things we have prioritized eat up more of our time. We chose to get married, we chose to have children, we chose to attend school, we chose to work to join this committee or work with that political campaign. Now, it’s time to choose how exactly you would like to spend your 168 hours a week.

From the list you made, what are your top priority items?

I work at a wonderful coffeehouse, which allows me to meet all kinds of exciting people and be at the central hub of the city in which I live; this takes about 40 hours of my time each week. I have a goal (and I really do mean GOAL, because if I don’t prioritize this goal I tend to fall VERY short) to sleep eight hours a night, which comes to 56 hours each week. I have a husband and three kids still living at home that I enjoy having quality time with; so I need to make sure my schedule includes these wonderful people so that it doesn’t exclude them as my week unfolds. I want to make time for this website, and for my YouTube channel, and other of my social media sharing, but these things require time. I want an hour to myself every morning and an hour of relaxation time each night before bed; this adds another 14 hours a week to my prioritized time needs.

The next critical step is to actually schedule every hour of your coming week. If you take the first step of seeing what is most important for you to make time for, but do not look at your calendar and see how it will all fit into the schedule, you’re selling yourself short and you will NOT be able to fit everything in. However, if you schedule every hour of your week–including sleep time–you will see exactly how your priorities fit into your life, and where you may still even have more time for some play here and there.

“You CAN have everything you want in life–just not all at the same time. And this, by the way, is a GOOD thing! Spread the joys over a lifetime so you always have something to look forward to in your tomorrow!”

weeklytimeplanning.jpg

I prefer military time, which is why my time listing along the left edge of the paper is written in 24-hour segments.

Above is my first 168 Hour Schedule that I created last October in it’s most rudimentary version. Ā I plan my week ahead when my coffeehouseĀ job’s weekly schedule is posted, then I organize the other time categories around my work week. I take into consideration all upcoming family events, other obligations and priorities, and finish up by color coding the different categories so that I can see at a quick glance how my time splits–like a pie chart in my mind.

This doesn’t have to be a slick professional presentation, but the numbers do have to add up. Making time work for me makes all the difference in the way my weeks unfold–planned and prioritized, 168 hours at a time.

Make it a great day,

Mari!yn

How Much Income Would it Take for YOU to have “Arrived?”

Have you “arrived,” financially speaking? What would your life look like if you had? What are the similarities and differences to your current reality?

In his bestselling bookĀ The 4-Hour Work Week,Ā Tim Ferriss has his readers go through an exercise he calls “Dreamlining.” The purpose of this dreamline is to think of things you could foresee having, doing, or being, over the next 6 to 12 months that would give you the security of being free to live your life the way you want to live it. I’m a HUGE fan of Ferriss’ work, both in this book and across media outlets, and I appreciate the basic premise of his dreamlining exercise.

Ferriss’ dreamline is an eye-opening experience, the basic point being that you oftentimes don’t really have to be earning much more money than you’re currently making to get the sense of more freedom and higher-quality living. As many 4HWW dreamlines as I have completed for various spans of time, I wanted to take it a step further. I would like to expand on Ferriss’ dreamline for my own purposes, and share with you.

We dream of making $100,000, $500,000, $1,000,000, or more dollars. As children, we all wanted to be bazillionaires, but as adults doing the daily grind of balancing work and family, those numbers have become a little more realistic…but how realistic are they, really? I could say I would like to earn $500,000 a year, but that’s just a pie-in-the-sky number if there’s nothing to back it up. Until you have actually done some of the math, you don’t really know what your truest goal annual income would be. This is where my update on Ferriss’ dreamline comes in.

I’m calling my update the True Earnings Goal Assessment (“TEGA”) and here’s how it works:

HAVING: List three (3) things you would like to have within the next 12 months. Would you like to have a new car? Would you like to have a solid college fund set up for your child(ren)? Would you like to have a facelift? Would you like to have an RV and the freedom and budget to travel? Would you like to have an office space outside of your home so you feel like you can work and focus without interruptions?

Once you have your list of your top three “haves,” put a price tag on them. If you want that new Subaru OutbackĀ that’s calling your name from the showroom floor, factor how much your monthly payments will be plus insurance. If you want $12,000 worth of plastic surgery, factor in $1,000 a month for that. If your new office is going to cost you $1,700 a month to rent and operate, factor that in, too. Whatever it is you want to have in the next 12 months, estimate the monthly expense would be, if it’s of top three priority to you then it makes the list!

BEING: Similarly, list three (3) ways you would like to be within the next 12 months. Would you like to be a great pastry chef? Would that entail going to culinary school, and if so, how much would that cost you? Would you like to be a skilled photographer? How much would classes at your area camera shops cost you and add to your dream? Would you like to be a triathlete? Do you already have the gear you would need or would you need to purchase it? Would swim lessons or tri classes help you better prepare for your goal of triathlon success? Now, estimate your monthly expenses for being each of your top three priority items and add those to your list!

DOING: Again, list three (3) things you would like to do within the next 12 months. Why not choose now to begin (doing) an annual family tradition like trips to Disney World or visiting all 50 states? Would you feel so much better to be actively repaying (doing) an old debt that’s been looming for too long? Take this opportunity to make that happen and get that monkey off of your back! How would it sound to even keep it closer to home and plan (doing) a weekend get-away for just you and the love of your life to go off to a cabin in the woods and just enjoy the peace and quiet of some alone time? What would your monthly budget look like to be doing each of your top three priority items in this category?

Now, on to the math (AKA: the fun part).

  • Calculate your current monthly living expenses and multiply that amount by 1.3 to allow for a little wiggle room in case of emergencies or whatnot.
  • Add up your monthly HAVING dream total.
  • Add up your monthly BEING dream total.
  • Add up your monthly DOING dream total.
  • Calculate the total monthly expenses of these four items (current expenses x 1.3, having, being, and doing).
  • Multiply that monthly total by 12 to arrive at your annual earnings goal amount.

THAT, my friends, is your truest earnings goal amount. THAT is the income amount to strive towards, not some random number picked out of thin air. There’s a difference in setting the bar high and setting it too high to realistically reach. Your goals have to be attainable or you’ll quit just shy of success. For example, prior to doing this modified version of Ferriss’ dreamline, my random goal earning amount was $150k. Boy, was I surprised that even with all of the BIG ticket items I put on my TEGA, my true annual goal earning amount was just $82,200. That number is almost half what I previously thought I would have to have to live large and in charge in my own little world! This was a huge relief and pleasant surprise!!!

Depending on your current lifestyle, your numbers are likely significantly different than mine. But, I hope you find–as I did–that having a hard number to put on your dreams as you go through your life and business choices will make your work more productive, your choices more fact-based, and your dreams much more attainable. You don’t have to be a bazillionaire to feel like you have “arrived” at financial freedom. You have a number, it’s just up to you to find that number, then strive for it.

You’ve got this!

Make it a great day,

Mari!yn

Week one, day two

6am: Up but not feeling very well rested. I got 7 hours of sleep, but in the last few weeks I’ve not been getting enough sleep consistently, and I believe this morning the cumulative effect has taken hold.

Weight: 120.0

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1/2 c Grape Nuts, 1/4 c Craisins, 1/2 c whole milk = hearty yumminess this morning!

This morning’s breakfast is high in fiber, protein, and iron, which is awesome because my system is still feeling a little “clogged” from yesterday’s Red Robin Royal Cheeseburger. This breakfast ought to do the trick and get my body running on all cylinders, again!

8am: Kids are out the door for school and I’m ready to hit the gym! It’s chest, shoulders, triceps, and abs day. Let’s do this!!!
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Workout: 10 min cardio warm-up on elliptical machine, 22 min weight training (keeping the body moving, super setting exercises to allow some muscles to rest while others work and have the most efficient session possible!), followed up by 7 min of relaxing yoga to reset and stretch. Ahhhh…note I’ve got that awesome post workout head fog that comes after a truly great workout! Time to refuel!

930am: Clean, post workout meal. Lentils, a poached egg, and mixed veggies. Yummmmm!
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After this, it’s off to another day at the office…errr…coffee shop :-*

7pm: Tonight’s dinner after loads of green tea was a scrumptious bean and long grain rice casserole. Yummm-o!

10pm: With all of the normal family dealings and chores checked off for another day, it’s time to think “ME”…I’m off to my bedtime routine and a great night’s rest!

Rest well, y’all!
Marilyn