Taking a Walk in a Park

Today is national take a walk in a park day.  I think that the parks we have around the USA are so important and special.  We’re so fortunate to have so many parks and natural places to visit.   If you’re not from the USA I invite you to share some website resources or your favorite parks below so others can enjoy them too!

Before we get to the park, let’s get some motivation going!  Who should go to the park and what is so interesting about walking there?  Friends, partners, families, individuals, coworkers, anyone!  Everyone can take advantage of and benefit from walking around a park today.  Whether you visit NYC’s Central Park, the little park in your town, or you visit a park like Yellowstone, find a park you can get to easily, and hopefully more often than just every March 30th.

What about the interest factor?  What makes visiting a park more exciting than walking on a treadmill or in your neighborhood?  Visiting a park is a great opportunity to interact more closely with nature than you would walking around your neighborhood (unless you live in an isolated area).  Now is the perfect time to see the flowers beginning to grow, see the animals racing around after winter’s cold and snow, and smell the fresh air that you don’t smell in your crowded neighborhood.  You may also see deer, rabbits, hawks, ducks and other animals that you wouldn’t necessarily see around your home.  It’s also the perfect place to relax and think about something other than the responsibilities you have to take care of.  Finally, a park is a great place to get that essential exercise and be a change of scenery for all of you who are stay at home moms or dads, work inside an office all day, or work from your home.

Don’t know where there’s a park near you?  You can check out the America’s State Parks website, State Parks website or National Park Service website to get started.

Hiking is another great spring activity that brings the whole family together. You can find lots of hiking trails for families of all skill levels at LocalHikes, Trails, and American Trails.

Do you have a favorite park you and your family like to go to?  What makes it so special?  I’d love to hear your park stories and suggestions below!

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Spring Organizing for the Whole Family

Spring is hopefully officially here.  But whether nature is ready to give up it’s persistent focus on snow and winter or not, the birds and people all have spring cleaning on the brain.  So roll up your sleeves, get out your garbage bags and get ready to do some spring organizing (and cleaning), as a family!

Contests
See who can clean up their room the fastest.  Or find the most clothes that don’t fit any more. Or can put back the most toys.  Or can put everything back the neatest.  Make it a contest so that the kids are motivated, and you and your partner also stay focused.  Specify what must be cleaned and organized, how long they have to stay focused on the task at hand or how many things must be picked up and put away before they can be done.

Rewards
Maybe it’s an extra book at bedtime, a special trip to the ice cream store, picking out something special at the grocery store, a small amount of money, alone time with mom or dad, extra time outside or an extra 30 minutes of TV or video games.  If it’s just you and your partner two ideas are the partner who won picks the restaurant, or a night out with your friends.  The possible rewards are endless, just choose ones that will motivate you or your kids the most.

Timed
Say that you’re all going to clean the kitchen together for 20 minutes, then go outside and play and clean up in the yard for 20 minutes, then come inside to do the kids bedrooms for 20 minutes, then a snack and break for 20 minutes (cleaning & organizing makes you hungry), then organizing in the parent’s room for 20 minutes.  You can adjust the times to be appropriate for your kids and family, but this way you’re all working together, taking breaks, and changing locations so that no one can get too bored or be too distracted.

Plan B
If all else fails, put on a spring movie or show for the kids to watch. Or have 1 partner take them outside for 30 minutes while the other partner cleans, then the partners switch.

One final thought, what should be cleaned especially in spring?
1. Check those clothes.  Make sure they still fit and you still want them.  Donate those you don’t want to the Veterans or Salvation Army.
2. Switch clothes if you keep winter and spring/summer clothes in different locations.  Don’t put away what you can’t or won’t wear next season.
3. Clean under the bed and in the kitchen.  Get rid of those dust bunnies, the crumbs under the fridge and stove and other locations that you don’t check for dirt frequently.
4. Go through that bookshelf and see if there are books you could donate to your library.
5. Check the kitchen for pots and pans you don’t like or use that could be donated.
6. Clean up around the outside of your house. Organize the sticks into a pile or put them in a bin to get rid of, clean up around the flowers and make sure you’ve got gardening tools that still work and are usable.

Don’t forget to open your windows and let the fresh air in while you’re cleaning and stirring up all the dust!

Share your thoughts and ask your questions below!

Pancakes!

In 1882 in New York City pancakes were first made.  Today I thought we would celebrate all the fun things we can do with pancakes as a family!

Pancake Recipes:

Chocolate Chip Pancakes with Cinnamon Cream Sauce

Almond Pancakes

Ricotta Infused Pancakes and Thyme Syrup

Blue Corn Pancakes with Orange Honey Butter and Cinnamon Maple Syrup

Whole Wheat Pancakes with Nutty Topping

Banana Sour Cream Pancakes

Blueberry Buckwheat Pancakes

Swedish Pancakes

Vegetable Pancakes

Green Apple-Sourdough Pancakes

Buttermilk Pancakes with Orange Syrup and Raspberries

Low Carb Maple Pecan Pancakes

Pancake Fillers:

Veggie Stuffed Pancakes

Pancake Rollups

Sweet Potato and Cumin Filling

Spinach and Feta filling

Pomegranate Syrup

Fruit rollups

Pancake Fun:

(Use any pancake batter you wish, take these as ideas not necessarily recipes!)

Heart-Shaped

Piggy Pancakes

Snowmen Pancakes

New Years Pancakes

Add food coloring to the batter (watch out for allergies though!)

Mickey Mouse is another favorite pancake shape

Do you have favorite pancake recipes or fun things you do with pancakes?  Share your stories below!

Welcoming Spring

Today I thought we would talk about spring!  Sunday was the official start of spring and I’m honestly excited to start carrying my tissue box around while I smell the flowers.  My question to you is: What is spring?  To me

Spring is new growth.
I love seeing all the little plants sticking their heads out of the ground.  After the winter we’ve had in New Jersey I’m sure they’re looking forward to sun just as much as I am.

Spring is relief.
Winter is cold and challenging for many people.  It’s so encouraging to finally see the snow melt away and trees begin to grow leaves again.

Spring is new life.
It’s always exciting to visit a park or lake and see the little ducks or baby bunnies that pop out in spring.  It’s the perfect time to plant seeds and begin thoughts of summer vegetables.

Spring is change.
Spring means that you’ve entered that new phase.  Your life, and life around you is just bursting out with opportunities and fresh starts.

Spring brings hope.
Winter can really take a toll on you even if you’re not prone to seasonal affective disorder (winter depression).  No matter how rough the past few months have been for you, you see hope in each returning robin, hopping bunny and bit of color.

What is spring to you?  What do you enjoy most about spring?  Share your thoughts below.

Write This, Not That!

Running a business is often challenging.  One of the biggest challenges for everyone, whether you have a business or not, is communication.  I admit I’m not a perfect communicator, but I strive to do my best.  Today I thought I would share 4 things that you should pay attention to whether you’re sending out (written) communications to a client or to your boss at work.

Spelling: this seems like the most obvious, but I keep finding programs and websites that DON’T check your spelling!  If I’m not sure the website is checking my spelling, I type in some random letters like “ljeic” and make sure it shows the squiggly little red line underneath.  If I don’t see the line I know I’ve got to copy/paste my work into a Word document or blank email to check the spelling.   It’s one extra step, but it can make all the difference.

Abbreviations: believe me, I know how busy you are.  But, that doesn’t mean your communication has to suffer.  Abbreviations like don’t, can’t, would’ve etc, are fine to abbreviate.  But when you start abbreviating things like tomorrow  is (tms), and would (wld), you’re going down a slippery, and unprofessional, slope.   Also, don’t cave to some of the texting abbreviations we use like u for you and thx for thank you.  Rather than abbreviations, apply my next point.

Get to the point: there are a lot of things you could say in your communication.  Make sure that what you’re saying in your communication has a point and is necessary.  If you’re apologizing, don’t share the whole story, just say that you’re sorry and move on.  Share the important details in a calm, polite manner, making sure to answer all their questions.

Noninclusive: one of my frequent frustrations is people who don’t include enough information, or say it clearly enough.  In a couple of emails I’ve seen people actually label their links below their signature (Facebook: xxx, Twitter: xxx, Website: xxx etc.)   which is helpful.  If you’ve been interviewed or have videos you could say something like “See us in action with our home organization clients on YouTube” and then provide a link after that, don’t just say “We’re on YouTube”.  If you don’t want to clutter up an email with all the extra information of how someone can get in contact with you, say that you’ll include it all below your signature, but make sure you do include it.  If you place an ad for a secretary, reply to several emails and set up interviews, but don’t say that you work with animals until they show up at your address for the interview, you could be putting a person with allergies in a difficult situation.

These are just 4 thoughts on how to be a better communicator in your written business communications.  In two weeks I’ll share about some tips for verbal communications.  What are some of your biggest frustrations with business communications?  Share your challenges and thoughts below.

Puppies, Peace and Pausing

As we’re thinking about family this Friday, I thought we would talk about pausing.  What does it mean to pause in life?  Well, if we think about the end of winter, it seems like life pauses right before we get to spring and all then of nature explodes.  It means taking a deep breath before you rush to your next meeting. It means taking time to count to 10 before you yell at your partner or kids.  It’s about stopping when you see that cute YouTube video of those puppies to just enjoy a minute of their cuteness (warning: these videos are addictive, only watch one per day).  It’s about taking the time to properly answer an email instead of typing out a quick answer and sending it out with spelling mistakes and lots of (inappropriately) abbreviated words.

Why pause?  Well, it lowers your blood pressure.  You’re a much more enjoyable person to be around.  You have less stress and think clearer.  You’ll have better relationships and people will enjoy being around you more.  You will be more respected at work and you’ll be more professional too.

Stop, pause, take a deep breath, stretch, or close your eyes for just 10 seconds an hour or five minutes a day and you’ll be amazed how much more focused, relaxed and patient you are.  Make pausing your default action instead of yelling or freaking out.  Another great activity to do during your 5 minutes of pause time is yoga.  By doing the movements each day you’ll be more flexible and feel better about your body.  Take a deep breath right now, and enjoy the rest of your day!

These thoughts are part of one of my Path Plan Track courses, “10 Daily Habits”.   Click here and scroll down about 2/3 of the page to learn more about my “10 Daily Habits” course and other courses and programs I offer.

Do you take time each day to pause?  Have you saved yourself or a situation because you paused?  Share your thoughts below.

What do you see in the mirror?

Sometimes we just don’t like what we see in the mirror. A little makeup, good food and exercise can help with that.  But, what if you don’t like what you feel on the inside?  Today I’m sharing some thoughts to help you transform what you find inside.

Read
Pick up inspiring books by Dr. Wayne Dyer, Deepak Chopra, John Maxwell and other great individuals.  Find books that help you learn about yourself and inspire you to greater things.

Music
Listen to inspiring music.  Putting something good between your ears is one way to dramatically improve your thoughts of yourself.  If you watch more than 2 hours of TV a day, cut back.  Don’t watch news period.  Every day I hear people say “I don’t have time for that” or “I can’t afford that.” If you watched one less hour of TV a day and listened to inspiring musicians while you built a side business, not only would you have more time, you would also have more money.

Seminars
I’ve always attended seminars but about a year ago I discovered that there was such a thing as a ‘teleclass’ and a ‘telesummit’.  This means that you can attend a seminar or class virtually, from your home, on your computer or phone, in your pajamas, often at any time you can.  I share any seminars or telesummits that I learn about in my weekly Business Newsletter.

Talk with a coach/counselor/friend/pastor
There are so many people in this world who can give you encouragement and guidance about what you feel inside.  I believe that everyone has the potential to shine and do amazing things with their life if only they try.  You don’t have to be perfect or a big star, you just have to be you.  Coaches, counselors and pastors know how to help you if you’re really struggling, but often a friend is just what you need.

These are just four of the things you can do to change what you see and feel inside.  Don’t forget to make sure you’ve got great people around you who inspire and encourage you and not drain you.  What have you done to improve who you are?   Share your insights below.

Transforming Closets II

Two weeks ago we started talking about organizing closets. You can read that post here in its entirety.  But to briefly review, we talked about cleaning out our closets, donating or selling what you don’t want, and making sure you’ve got a good base structure to help you organize that closet.  Today we’re going to talk about organizing strategies.

Organize by color, season, type, size.
Organizing your clothes by season and/or color is a great idea.  Depending on how much room you have you can use a combination of these two ideas.  As for other types of closets, like food, store your items by type or size.  Organize jars by height or type, and put the boxes of pasta behind the other foods since they’re tall.

Put things in boxes, put things over the doors.
Take advantage of that extra space you have by using boxes and putting things over doors.  Rather than storing all your small paint containers individually on a shelf, store them in a box so they’re easier to manage and you can store other things with them.  I talked about using boxes and over the door storage ideas in this recent blog post too.

Use space wisely.
If you didn’t take my advice last time to invest in a proper closet system, it’s even more important to use your space well.  Putting things in accessible boxes can help with this, don’t forget to label them!

Put things you need more frequently within easy reach.
This is one of the simplest things you can do, and also one of the most impactful.  Don’t keep the cherry pitter in the main closet in your kitchen if you use it once a year.  Don’t put your winter boots where your sandals should be if it’s summer.  Don’t store your towels where you really need to store clothes.

These are just a few ideas to get you started with cleaning and organizing your clothes.  Ask your questions and share your thoughts on organizing below.

Celebrating Family Heritage

In the USA St. Patrick’s day is right around the corner.  The day when all the Irish Americans (and many others) celebrate being Irish.  But here in America we’re fortunate enough to have people of many different backgrounds present, from Italian and Czechoslovakian to South African and Chinese.  Today I thought we should recognize these other backgrounds that make many of us who we are, and include celebrating and honoring them in our lives.

Who

Everyone has some history.  Even if you’re totally American, your ancestors traveled from other countries to America.  If you don’t know your ancestry, it’s even more important that you spend a little time talking with family members and learning about who your relatives were.  If you’re adopted and don’t know what your birth ancestry is, that’s ok, celebrating the cultures and history of your adoptive family is just as important.  The same goes for couples, celebrate both (all) of your ancestral traditions with your children and with each other.

What

Celebrate and share the stories, traditions, food, language, games, music and customs that are unique to your heritage.  Since most of us have ancestors from more than one country now, you’ve got a variety of things to celebrate.

When

Holidays are a great time to include a cultural blessing, food that is customary and music from throughout history.  Or you could incorporate it into your daily life with food, colors and traditions.

Where

Most people celebrate around their dinner table, in their homes and in bars.  Although, if you have an opportunity to visit a museum, such as Ellis Island, to see some of that family history, I do encourage you to do so.

Why

I think it’s important to know what your heritage is, how that country or group celebrates life and what makes you, you!  I’m not talking about totally changing your life or doing things you don’t enjoy, I’m just suggesting that you include the diversity and uniqueness of your heritage in your life.

How

One of my favorite ways to celebrate my heritage is with food!  Whether you are talking Oktoberfest, Christmas, St. Patrick’s day or another holiday, food is always involved.  Food is a great starting point for talking about family and about culture.

How do you celebrate your family heritage?  What customs and foods have you incorporated into your life?  Share your stories below.

Make or Break: Relationship Changes

This month on my blogs and in my newsletters I’ve been talking about change.  Today I’m approaching the ever sensitive issue of (romantic) relationship changes. I’ve got three points to consider with you today, and I’d love to hear your thoughts on changes in the relationships you’ve had at the end.

There will be changes.

This is perhaps the most sensitive part of all.  Some people go into relationships expecting that they can change the person, or that the other person will never change.  The reality is that some things won’t change and other things will change!  Your partner’s choice in music may not change, but their treatment of you may improve in leaps and bounds over the years. Your allergies may never change, but they may develop them.  Accept when you go into the relationship that there will be changes!  Some will be scary, but if you’re open to communicating with each other about the changes you’re going through, it will be much easier to accept the changes as normal.

Making the best of changes.

You’ve got two choices, the choice to be completely ruined by the changes you, your partner and your relationship, goes through, or make the best of them.  Learn how to work together through the changes, to support each other with the changes and above all, to communicate when things need to be changed!  While I do encourage married couples to always try to work through their challenges and changes, taking a break if necessary, the bottom line is sometimes a real separation is the best change that can be made.  If this is the case for you, don’t be bitter, be better!  Make extra effort to communicate with your partner, make sure that you’re financially prepared and you are emotionally prepared for the upheaval that will happen.  Take this experience as an opportunity to be a new and better you, learning and growing from your experience with your partner.

Choosing in favor of you.

When relationships go through changes often we make sacrifices as a result of those changes.  If you’re making sacrifices for your partner all the time, stop.  You’ve got to choose in favor of you at least 50% of the time.  If you don’t, not only will your relationship with your partner suffer, so will your kids.  You can’t care for your kids if you’re not caring for yourself.  Make sure that you and your partner have communicated how long this time of change and sacrifice will last, and make sure that the person doing the sacrificing has support from outside friends and relatives or at least the kids.  In situations where you’re considering divorce, don’t just choose in favor of the kids, because if you don’t consider yourself, you aren’t considering your ability to care for your kids.

What are your thoughts and tips for dealing with and working through the changes in your relationships?  What great choices have you made and which would you do differently?  Share your thoughts below.