SONGS MY HEART SINGS

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Happy Valentine’s Day! Are your favorite Love Songs listed here?

Every day, but especially Valentine’s day, music has the ability to alter my mood. With today being the national reminder to love one another, I pulled together a soundtrack of songs that put me in the mood… to skip down the sidewalk tossing confetti hearts at everyone I pass.

Love Will Keep us Together by Captain & Tennille

Your Song by Elton John

I Just Called to Say I Love You by Stevie Wonder

Crazy for You by Madonna

Groovy Kind of Love by Phil Collins

(Everything I Do) I’d Do it For You by Bryan Adams

Because You Loved Me by Celine Dion

Silly Love Songs by Wings

Still the One by Shania Twain

Just Haven’t Met You Yet by Michael Bublé

BONUS: Baby Baby by Amy Grant

I know, I missed a whole bunch that commercially were bigger love songs, but these are my songs that can break my heart and make it sing at the same time – what are yours?

What would be on your Valentine’s Day Mix Tape?
Share your all-time favorite love song – if you can pick one!
Any other favorite ways to say “I Love You!”
Any favorite Valentine’s Day traditions?
Wanna buy any of the songs? Click thru on the song title!

#lovesong #love #IHeartYou #Valentine #Baby #ILoveYou #LoveYou #Crush #BeMine #CaptainandTenille #Madonna #EltonJohn #StevieWonder #PhilCollins #BryanAdams #CelineDion #Wings #ShaniaTwain #MichaelBuble #AmyGrant #Soundtrack

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DON’T TAKE MOMZILLA ON VACATION

The power of 3 showed it’s magic this month when in one week, I suddenly received my first 3 invitations to wander off to destinations in our closest neighboring state: Northern California (OK Fine! Same state but so vastly different)! My tween daughter pleaded to join me. My teen son surprised me by stating that he would love to visit these destinations too. We compromised with them tagging along for 2 adventures, and I’m attending one alone, creating a one-woman writing retreat. Even though we’ve worked out a peaceful solution – someone threatens to rear her ugly head and ruin my vacation vibe – Momzilla!


The minute I commit to taking a vacation, preparation floods my consciousness:

  • Transportation
  • Packing
  • Lodging
  • Itinerary
  • Budget
  • Contacting friends in that area to meet up
  • Cleaning the house (so if something happens, your neighbors and family won’t know about your paper piles)

My mind feels even crazier than (hopefully) yours since I think in a spirograph pattern. Plus, I didn’t even take into account what I have to do with work before I can walk away from my desk with a clear conscience:

  • Emptying the In-Box
  • Reading/answering all unopened emails
  • Training a replacement (if applicable)
  • Cleaning your desk (so if something happens your co-workers won’t know about your… wait, they already know).

Now I don’t have the perfect process, but here’s one skill I’ve learned from my brief time as a manager – Delegate! With 3 trips coming up, I need the kids to take on more responsibility for themselves. You’ll see on my social media if it went well or not.

Great prices, comfy with free wifi!

TRANSPORTATION:
We’re trying something new! For this first road trip, we’re riding a Megabus to San Francisco! I’ve always had a goal to take the kids up the coast to explore northern California. As a passenger, I get to take in the gorgeous view on the way home! On the way up, I’m saving a hotel night by taking a red eye bus! We leave Los Angeles in the evening after work, sleep on the bus and wake up refreshed in San Francisco ready to hit the payment. Whenever I’m in San Francisco I always am inspired to walk everywhere anyway, plus uber can help with longer treks or late-night rides back to the hotel.

PACKING:
After the first summer packing a week’s worth of clothes for my son’s sleep-over camp, only to have him return in the same outfit he left in (albeit with clean undergarments), I retired from picking for my kids. Somehow the teen, who regularly produces 2x the laundry that his sister and I do, manages to get by on very little when travelling. Vacation miracle! My daughter still needs to finetune her packing but fortunately so far, every destination we’ve been to isn’t too far from a Target or cheesy touristy T-shirt shop.

CLEANING THE HOUSE & EMPTYING THE IN-BOX:
People, just do your best, zip up the suitcase, walk out and shut the door behind you. A very wise man once told me


Meaning, don’t kill yourself to finish everything (or to perfectly stage your home before your trip). 10 things will hit your inbox as soon as you read the last email, 10 more papers will land in your mail slot, and we all know how crazy it is to leave on a trip so yeah, there could be a small tornado that occurred in your home during that preparation time. Just get your home to the point that it will welcome you when you get home then hightail it out of there!

Now I only touched on 3 things here, because when planning agenda and lodging, I am like a Hungry Hungry Hippo not wanting to miss any tips, savings, coupons and reviews that roll into view.

Now, our trip is more simple than say a cross-country or international trip. I’d love to hear what you do to streamline your travel preparations and outrun your internal Momzilla. Please share your biggest travel prep gem in the comments!

Where are traveling next?
When are you leaving?
Traveling alone or with others?
Share your tips to staying sane!

 

#Travel #RoadTrip #Bus #Journey #Megabus #LosAngeles #SanFrancisco #FamilyVacation #WeekendGetaway #Momzilla #Organization #Sponsored #Blogger #MakesMeWander

TOP 10 VIDEOS TO GET YOU IN THE MOOD (for the next Star Wars film!)

With tangible anticipation, the seduction tickles each of our 5 senses pulling us closer.  Whether we go full-body all in, or pulled in inch by inch, we feverishly mark the date on the calendar and before it’s upon us, already hope for multiple experiences. I’m not talking about the next 50 Shades of Grey,  I’m talking  

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At first I thought I was heading full-blown into a midlife crisis when I started buying t-shirts, light saber earrings, and my stomach was aching for the release date of the last film!  Then once we saw the film, Star Wars fever exploded upon us as we went to our first Convention (details to come soon). We’ve already purchased our tickets to go see the next film at El Capitan Theatre!

I never really realized how big a Star Wars fan lived inside me, but here’s why:

  1. As a writer, the fact that George Lucas started this whole thing out of his mind and created films, tv series, comic strips, etc. Just amazes me.  He and JK Rowling are my creative idols for what they’ve accomplished.
  2. Star Wars was something that I shared with and handed down to my kids. I still remember seeing the original in the theatre as a (ahem!) young girl!  To be able to share this world that still carries such weight and wonder in this generation warms my heart.
  3. In this instant gratification generation, this keeps them longing for more, anticipating something to come.  I loved to that the films inspired reading and now my teenage son could teach a college class in. He tests me before allowing me to move forward through each episode!  
  4. It’s something my two kids share in common – one of the few things. I love what makes them individual, but I love that they respect each other’s knowledge and affection for the franchise.
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WTF (Wow, they’re FUZZY!)           Get your own robe! thinkgeek.com

Almost as much as I love the films, I love the fan video snippets that are inspired by the film. With another film on the near horizon from that galaxy far, far away. Here are the Top 10 videos we love to help us get in the mood (in no particular order)!

I’ll NEVER JOIN YOU
Improv Everywhere shows just as much creativity and finesse as George Lucas to be able to pull off a live Star Wars scene on the New York Subway. I only wish I’d seen this live!


THAT BOY IS OUR LAST HOPE
You know how they say setting things to music helps you learn them? Weird Al’s song helped me learn about Anakin Skywalker’s branch of the Star Wars family tree.  He’s done a few Star Wars songs, but this is our favorite.


AREN’T YOU A LITTLE SHORT FOR A STORMTROOPER?

This projects my mind for the world to see. While I didn’t make this video, it’s exactly how I envision stormtrooper street dance crews battling. They’re the only crews I hope to see twerking ever again.
BONUS: I’m sure they opened the way for this Britain’s Got talent act.


LAUGH IT UP, FUZZBALL
Seriously, what is cuter than jedi kittens yielding light sabers?! 


YOU DON’T HAVE TO DO THIS TO IMPRESS ME
With a chance to not be outdone by the kittens, the dogs come in with the song that gives me chills every time I hear it, with any lyrical style.


THESE AREN’T THE DROIDS YOU’RE LOOKING FOR
Since 1977 I’ve hoped that when I grew up that every house would come with it’s own R2 unit.  This parakeet budgie may be the best option until that day.


I HAVE YOU NOW!

In a great example of Star Wars coming to life, it’s easy to imagine how thrilling it’d be during the middle of your daily routine, to find yourself armed with a light saber and drawn into battle!


JUDGE ME BY MY SIZE, DO YOU?
For a brief return to the Cute Side, check out a day in the life if your Star Wars fantasies came true and instead of cats, people had AT-ATs!


…BORING CONVERSATION ANYWAY. LUKE! WE’RE GONNA HAVE COMPANY!
Ever wonder what you would have these characters say if you were the word wizard? Bad Lip Reading cracks me up!!  ALERT: Some language will (hopefully) go over the heads of the young ones, some might not. You’ve been warned.


DIFFICULT TO SEE. ALWAYS IN MOTION IS THE FUTURE
Close your eyes and picture the motion of the ocean with this tune.  Remember, the original Star Wars film came from decades a long, long time agowhen Disco was King! 

ALWAYS PASS ON WHAT YOU HAVE LEARNED!
MAY THE FORCE BE WITH YOU!

What about you?
Do you have any favorite Star Wars snippets that get you excited?  Share links below!
Do you know what characters really said the above QUOTES?
What’s your favorite Star Wars film?
Or were you more of the Star Trek fan?
Is it possible to be both?
Which Star Wars character are you most like?
Do you already have your tickets for the next film?
Dark Side or Rebellion?

 

#StarWars #TheForce #RogueOne #R2D2 #Luke #Jedi #DarthVader #Skywalker #DeathStar #GeorgeLucas #WeirdAl #ImproveEverywhere #BadLipReading #Disco #StormTrooper #LightSaber #EpisodeI #EpisodeII #EpisodeIII #EpisodeIV #EpisodeV #EpisodeVI #EpisodeVII #EpisodeVII #Cat #Kitten #Twerk #Disney #rogueoneastarwarsstory
(C) DISNEY

NOW WHAT? REMEMBER WHAT YOU’RE GRATEFUL FOR…

I’m late with my post for Tuesday 11/8/16 for #NaBloPoMo. I’ll admit that I couldn’t tear myself away from the TV even after the election results were known.  This morning, now that the political  campaign circus has come to a conclusion and we’re all waiting to see where this goes, it’s time to focus inward and find center again.  Remember who you are and the good that you possess and what you can offer the world.  Also, be grateful for the gifts that you have.  It’s the little things that matter most and will help restore joy.

I love the exercise of focusing on gratitude in November – not just on Thanksgiving but everyday!  Since I missed the first few days, I will go back and reflect, then move forward from there through November. Feel free to share one thing you are grateful for in the comments or feel free to copy the list for yourself!

Day 1: What smell are you grateful for today?

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Yesterday Today and Tomorrow flowers. One of the greatest gifts from an apartment I used to live in was that somebody in the neighborhood grew these plants. At the end of any day, when the witching hour (after dinner, homework, procrastination, laundry, cleaning time) was upon us, a quick smell of their fragrance wafting by instantly sidetracked me to pause and wander with wonder.

Day 2: What technology are you grateful for?
I’m grateful for the technology that helps people quickly detect large medical problems whether it’s full-body scans for early detection or DNA decoding to educate people how best to care for themselves based on what they learn could be present in their genetic background. When you know better, hopefully you do better.

Day 3: What color are you grateful for?
RED! Usually the rest of my wardrobe tends towards black or white but I feel more energetic and powerful when wearing this color. As simple as a red flower in my hair to a bold red bag helps me shine internally! I also love editing with a red pen.

Day 4: What food are you most grateful for?

 

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Pioneer Woman’s – Roasted Garlic MMM, you won’t regret it!

Garlic makes me grateful because it provides such a wonderful layer of flavor to almost every meal as well as providing health benefits. It’s become a comfort food for my family and no matter how simple or fancy our meals are, we pour on garlic! It’s a bucket list item to get to the Gilroy Garlic festival one year.

Day 5: What sound are you grateful for today?

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My kids voices. I am grateful that they still get excited to share things about their day with me. I’m less excited about the voices they use to bicker – but to restore overall balance, there are the remarkable moments where they team up and share inside jokes that Mom would never get.

Day 6: What in nature are you grateful for?

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Coast lines. I always pause to reflect that standing with my feet in the sand with the waves crashing on my toes means I’m on the western most point of that chunk of the US.  I also turn my sights towards the horizon wondering if this will be the one time I can actually see all the way to Hawaii.

Day 7: What memory are you grateful for?
How in the world do I pick just one when on a daily basis I’m adding so many more to the memory bank?  I am grateful for my grandparents’ houses because, depending on which one I was visiting, there was a surplus of unconditional love, closets or shelves with treasures just for the grandkids, music pouring from the walls, and outside hideouts that we lit with lightning bugs.  I am grateful that as the oldest child, I remember them and not just the stories of them.

Day 8: What book are you most grateful for?

bigmagic
Right now, Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic. Where the rest of my mind tells me to make practical choices, this book gives me permission and renewed drive to be creative! It’s one I return to frequently.

Here is the full list of Gratitude prompts inspiring me that I found on textmyjournal.com.. Even if you don’t commit to the whole month – what is something you’re grateful for RIGHT NOW?

gratitude journal prompts

 

#Healing #Gratitude #Journal #November

19. IF YOU HAD TO MOVE TO A STATE OR COUNTRY BESIDES THE ONE YOU CURRENTLY LIVE IN, WHERE WOULD YOU MOVE AND WHY?

This question fits well into the conversations being held about the results of tomorrow’s United States Presidential election. While everyone else who threatened to move to Canada packs their bags, I’ll be heading to a different region. Right now it’s a two-way tie between 2 locations where it’s a gift to be able to take up residence in either town.

PROVENCE, FRANCE

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Click on photo to book a room to stay here. I don’t earn commission but I might beat you to it!

To me, this charming yet sturdy medieval area offers a romantic lifestyle filled with rolling lavender fields, weekend mornings spent walking through narrow streets to wide-open markets only to return with a basket filled with fresh flowers, produce and meat. One’s country home truly may be a castle, as sturdy as the medieval ones sprinkled throughout the valleys.  Walking into the ruins of any castle sends you back in time in history.  

Life feels simpler, yet more luxurious when starting the day rising slowly from your cloud of down beds and comforters. Vibrant purple lavender covers the countryside, bright yellow sunflowers populate the fields, and lemon yellow, blue, green and red cover many tables in town.  At the same time, one may wander from their farmhouse into a Michelin starred restaurant that serves the region’s best vintage wines and unforgettable food.

SANTORINI, GREECE

santorini

Rent this spot through airbnb by clicking on the photo. Save our spot in the chairs, I’ll grab wine!

A certain confidence comes from living on top of a volcanic eruption, separate from other parts of the world on this island in the Aegean Sea.  One feels closer to God (or the Gods, based on Greek Mythology) based on the altitude and the frequency of beautifully domed churches.  In other parts of the world the layout of the island, with literally so many people living on top of each other, could test even people’s strongest nerves. In Santorini, the proximity means you have others to appreciate nature’s gifts with – as witnessed by how the whole island seems to take a break during the transition from day to night celebrating each sunset.

One feasts like the Gods with fresh Greek salads, feta cheese, phyllo dough drizzled in honey, fresh meats and sea foods nourishing our bodies. Suddenly the sculptures of the Greek Gods seem accurate in their portrayal of health and strength and totally achievable… until the ouzo and baklava comes out.  

Both of these places slow life down unapologetically and remind us that we are fortunate to inhabit this Earth. They’ve both been around for ages so stop and sit, listen and learn a while.

So VOTE in the comments! Where should I go? Where would you go?
Would you stay in your country, but just visit another state/province/territory?
Where have you visited that was the strongest departure from where you live?

 

#Greece #Santorini #Provence #France #SouthofFrance #MedievalFarms #MarcandAngel #HackLife #Vote #Election2016

CURRENTLY: November 2016

Here I am again, daydreaming and trying to distract myself from the election!  I’m hopeful for a quick and final decision so that we can shrug and move onto holiday preparation!  If you’d like to give yourself something else to think about and and do this exercise, share your links below!

CURRENTLY LOVING
Holidays are a family affair and I received this fun Knock Knock stuff that will weave the family together for this season. The 20 Holiday Vouchers help you enlist the family for assistance, but also remind you all to take family time over the holiday. The sweet Spread the Love journal becomes a keepsake remembering what about that person tugs on your heartstrings …and I guarantee it’ll pull on theirs!  Sorry, but the Vouchers already sold out for this year, but browse the Spread the Love journals – available in a variety of styles!

nov-hello2

CURRENTLY INDULGING IN
Don’t ever feel guilty about only sending a card again!  Letterpress Holiday cards by Papermum Press are a gift in and of themselves. The impression of the letterpress gives your card depth, and emphasizes the quality of the paper. For every color on the card, they pass each card through the printing press again. The printer’s expertise and artistic eye comes through in every card. Maybe we’ll get an up close look one day soon

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CURRENTLY DAY DREAMING ABOUT
My next themed birthday party.  I love doing themed parties – in the past I held a non-tragic TITANIC party for my son, a SPY TRAINING CAMP for my daughter.  For work, we recently hosted a conference but gave the guests the true California experience. Now, I’m creating an Oceans 16 themed event. Being a Walt Disney fan, creating events that appeal to every sense with unexpected surprises invigorates me. Pictures to come!

CURRENTLY LISTENING TO
This music choice perfectly represents my gemini-ness:
21 Pilots Heathens perfectly portrays the delicate line between pained control of Marvel’s Suicide Squad’s outward appearance but also the betrayal that deeply scarred their hearts.

The Weeknd (featuring Daft Punk) produced a song Starboy that takes me away! The strong beat supports The Weeknd’s dreamy lyrics and the melody just makes my body move –  I’m a star girl!

CURRENTLY OBSESSED WITH
In a world where life is often lived online for the world to see a gift with a secret code feels like something my loved ones would cherish. Though Morse Code was built for communication to connect two individuals, reinventing it into cherished modern jewelry as a way to connect two individuals warms my heart.  The style of the code easily fits with the styles worn by men or women!    

nov-morse

CURRENTLY ANTICIPATING
Every amazing movie from the 80s culminated in the new series Stranger Things!  My children and I binge-watched the series over two nights.  Though they don’t appreciate all of the symbolism from my teen years in the show,  they love the characters and the suspense.  We were thrilled to see that STRANGER THINGS SEASON 2 recently started production!

stranger-things

CURRENTLY WANTING
I know I’m in my mid-40s but the sloth ring may be the cutest thing I’ve ever seen and I love the way the designer builds multiple parts to the ring to create depth with her animals. Maybe I’ll get one for myself “and for my daughter” (but it may escape and wander over to my jewelry box one night…)

nov-sloth

WTF: What?! Toes? Feet?

CURRENTLY AVOIDING
The media of all kinds (at least for the next 60 or so hours). Though this blog lives online and we all live in a social media world now, I feel as though the news agencies’ competition for ratings result in exaggerated, sensationalized and even falsified news. This crazy election exacerbated the problem.  So until the election washes over, my screen will be dark except to write my #NaBloPoMo posts. Now if only I could stop political mail from hitting my mailbox.

What favorite song represents you the best?
What indulgence reminds you of your childhood?
What happened to Barb?
Did you vote?

What about you? Consider these:
CURRENTLY REFLECTING
CURRENTLY DRINKING
CURRENTLY WATCHING
CURRENTLY PANICKING
CURRENTLY COVETING
Or dream up your own!

 

#Election #Vote #StrangerThings #MorseCode #Holidays #Sloth #Ring #Jewelry #Journal #KnockKnockStuff #TheWeeknd #21Pilots #Disney #Marvel #SuicideSquad #Heathens #Starboy #Letterpress #HolidayCards #NaBloPoMo #StarboyAMAs

PJ WILDERNESS: 2nd STEP – ASK FOR TIME OFF

Welcome back to the PJ Wilderness!  So now you’ve picked a destination but aren’t sure if you have the time.  Why is it we slave away being everything to everyone, meeting every deadline, closing deals, racking up vacation time, yet when it comes time to use it we feel guilty!?! Yet, how crazy do we feel when Monday rolls around, as always, and we haven’t found Me time?  These tips will help you find time to wander off through the PJ Wilderness whether you have vacation time to burn or not.

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WTF: Wanted – Time Found

Give yourself time off:
You must give yourself permission to pay attention to you – it’s not selfish!  Your inbox will constantly overflow and your house will continually get messy (rapidly, if you have a family or roommates). Whether you feel the stress creeping up on you, or you have hit the wall and need to change now, you deserve to be a priority in your life.

How Much Time?
Start small: I am re-reading “Don’t sweat the Small Stuff” in my restroom.  It’s a small book broken down into even smaller chapters of 1-3 pages so I go in to brush my teeth and promise myself I won’t leave until I’ve absorbed another lesson.  It takes me off of auto-pilot and brings me to the present and I’ll chip away at the book (and it keeps me from rushing through my dental hygiene)!

…or leap! Following my divorce, I forced myself into a large goal and recurring commitment to train a few hours a week for a marathon.  Also, because it was for charity – it got me around feeling guilty about taking the time for myself.

Be flexible: You may not have the luxury of months off like Elizabeth Gilbert did. Bill Bryson didn’t make the journey in one large chunk of time, he took breaks.  Stay flexible like Cheryl Strayed did, whether you encounter spots that are tough to navigate through, or unexpected things pop up that require you to detour.

Where to find time: The trick here is allowing yourself time to play, or be still, or scream, but then draw a hard line!  Knowing you’ll have the opportunity again later should make it easier to set boundaries. When things ooze past the boundaries, we start to feel yucky.

  • Hit snooze 1 less time (10 min) to meditate or pray
  • Hit snooze 2 less times (20 min) for yoga/stretches
  • Occasionally while eating (20 min) bring the company of a good book over people
  • Make lists (varies): Overall you’ll spend less time looking for things or  recall what you were doing
  • Leave the phone home: Instead of checking texts, emails or social media, consider closing your eyes and listening, feeling, or with eyes and minds open, chat with someone close in proximity or people watch. Let your mind wander after each sense.
  • Allow time for distractions: To make it easier to be able to shut down the static we live in give yourself 10 min. to read the headlines, check on the latest celebrity gossip, or your friends’ amazing adventures. Then draw the line and move on.
  • Take a long cut: Take a different route to work, or home, or explore the neighborhood you find yourself in while running errands.  You may find some new cafe, some old bookstore, or a sparkly bit of inspiration!
  • Stay in a hotel (Min. 1 night): Rather than catering to everyone, be catered to. Stay in, order room service, hog the bed and remote, and indulge in comfort items such as lavender plants, potpourri, or favorite lotions. Get out, people watch or introduce yourself to fascinating folks you find in the lobby bar! Significant others optional.

But it’s not “alone time”:  Until you learn to steal a few moments to yourself, learn how to check in with yourself at the drop of a hat.

  • At the stop lights (Varies) to stretch, take a few deep breaths, turn up the volume of your favorite song and sing along or feel the textured steering wheel to get present!
  • While at kids’ practices: (varies – 30 min to an hour) walk around where their practices are held, or sit with headphones in so you can unwind while flashing thumbs ups. 
  • Divide and conquer: While folding laundry, catch up on DVR’d shows. While the kids empty the dishwasher, I lay down for 10 min. When they’re making their beds, I step outside and tend to my plants outdoors.
  • Change it up! Grab friends or family and shock your routine to supercharge your creativity and increase your fun tolerance!  Movies on a school night, stick your toes in the ocean or in the grass, or get a mani/pedi – though I can do my own nails, I love going to the salon to catch up on my gossip magazines. Sometimes the secondary benefits are just as rewarding.

Simply put, when you decide to make something a priority, it will be. So put yourself at the top of your list.

Next time we’ll talk about mapping your destination!

What about you? Where do you steal a few moments for yourself?
Which do you find easier: Time Management or Time Travel?
When’s the last time you did something just for you?
Have you read any of the above “Find yourself in the wilderness” books?

 

#EatPrayLove #Gilbert #Bryson #AWalkInTheWoods #Strayed #Wild #Time #MeTime #PersonalTime #AloneTime #Down Time #MentalBreak #NaBloPoMo

HOW’D I WIND UP LIVING IN ONE OF THE 10 BEST PLACES IN CA?

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Shhh! Don’t tell anyone or housing prices will continue to skyrocket, but [whisper] my city was voted one of the 10 Best Places to Live in California! Upon hearing this announcement, (you can call it a midlife or nostalgia) I wanted to retrace our journey that directed us to Redondo Beach.

On my first visit to the area, 15 years prior to setting down roots here, it wasn’t the sunshine that drew me in, but the taste of the salty air and sound of the waves crashing against the pier pilings. Running between the hot spots, lost in the woody maze of the pier, the texture felt familiar. It was reminiscent of the boardwalk edging the east coast of my childhood. That night, I was there for one fun time and didn’t realize that the sites and sounds would seep into my being (and eventually dictate the feel of my blog).

Later, when I found myself rewriting my 5-year plan (divorcing, starting over), I felt going home to San Diego would be giving up, but I knew I couldn’t stay put either as my time was up. Initially, upon moving to the coast, I didn’t recall having been there before. Plus, I didn’t know how long I’d stay. 

Our lives were a bunch of moving parts: Me going through a divorce and starting a new job, my oldest child entering kindergarten, and the youngest at her most active age of 2. I was falling fast, flailing my arms to pull together loose ends and create a new normal.  I’d chosen the area for the following 3 reasons: 1) Great schools; 2) Closer to family; 3) I felt I could just slip right in unnoticed.  Part of me was led by a romantic notion that the sea air and sunsets would heal my uprooted spirit.

past-future

At first, I felt I was nothing but noticeable (in my own head) as the divorced mom in a field of adorable married couples. But that big D on my shirt got less noticeable as I focused on helping my kids build their new community as quickly as possible by joining teams! Through my son’s soccer, daughter’s t-ball, and my Team In Training, we met amazing people and slowly started tipping the scales as our happiness grew and life experiences became richer.  

We met other parents who helped me set the kids on a positive and hopefully long, windy path of discovery about themselves.  Growing up, I’d moved a lot and lived places for on average 4 years. I started a lot of things, then left many of them undone. I never did a drastic mid-school year move or anything, but as soon as I’d get to know people, or be introduced to something fun, we’d move, and do something different. So when it came time to choose where we’d move, it was a significant decision that I didn’t take lightly.

I love that our city that feels larger than some of its neighbors, but occupies a small footstep within our county. It is anchored with main streets with entertainment, food and shopping, yet at the same time, the horizon is wide open with opportunity and possibility. I love that we’ve actively worked to become a Blue Zone – I’ll explain in the next few weeks – which increases the strength and health of a community!

10 years is the longest I’ve ever lived anywhere. I laugh as I ponder that to newcomers, I’m a local! While I never hope to repeat the circumstances that brought us here, I’m certainly glad for where we landed and grew roots.

TOP 10 BEST ADVENT CALENDARS

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Now that we howled through Halloween I feel like life becomes a game of Chutes and Ladders leading up to Christmas!  On the one hand, time slows down the hourglass a bit as your to-do list becomes filled with larger projects and many social gatherings. On the other hand, it always comes too fast for me. I always wish I had a few more paychecks between now and then to play, gift and donate to everyone I want to.

So let me start by leap-frogging to December 1st!  For me, anticipation builds my excitement for any holiday! For Christmas, my internal clock gets a break because Advent calendars builds my holiday spirit – one day at a time! While some people carry a traditional method of counting down, I love to mix it up a bit to keep my kids on their toes.

In no particular order, because my vision of the holidays changes annually, here are my family’s favorite Advent Calendars!

advent-lego-swars

So many adventures come from one tiny calendar! Play well with other Legos too!

1.  Lego Star Wars – After getting this calendar you may not need to do Christmas.  Lego and Star Wars tie for favorite toys with my children so while this calendar carries a larger lifetime – the life of its daily toy is longer than any other from this group. Plus these daily lego toys spawn creativity and the engineering side of my children’s minds which also goes a long way.

advent-chocolate

Treat yourself!

2.  Chocolate – Coming off of Halloween, you may not be as eager to rush out and get a chocolate calendar – until I tell you it’s made by Cadbury!  You may want to buy one for yourself (and a bottle of red wine) and treat yourself during the season where you’re considering everyone else’s treats!

advent-ring

For a how-to tutorial, click the picture!

3.  DIY Paper Rings – I’d say most of us made these rings out of construction paper and hung them on the wall or framing our door to count down days for the holidays or vacations. Whether as a calendar or decoration, its a fun tradition to sit together and make these. During these still quieter moments, the fun stories of old come forth again.  

advent-mel-doug

4.  Melissa & Doug Tree – This lovely calendar will become a family tradition as everyone remembers their favorite ornaments to hang on this wooden tree.  The whole family’s excitement will grow as the ornaments decorate more and more of the tree! Melissa & Doug products last long enough to be passed down.

nativity

5.  Nativity Scene – As a beautiful reminder for the reason for the season, these calendars recreate the Nativity story with a new addition each day. This gives one plenty of time to ponder each new addition to the story and stop to really consider its significance!

advent-tsum

WTF: Welcome These Favorites to your home!  (C) Disney

6.  Tsum Tsum – Your favorite Disney characters win you over again now that they’re adorably oval! Tsum tsums were this year’s hottest collectible and create stacks of smiles! Again, the hours spent with these will outlast the holiday!

paper

I love the simplicity of this look from the allfortheboys.com blog!

7.  DIY Grab bag – Who doesn’t love opening presents?  This way your family gets a small daily gift you can tailor to fit your style!  Go as simple as a brown paper bag with raffia, all the way to decorative cellophane bags. Gifts can range from Bonus tickets: Watch an extra Christmas special! to favorite treats, or notes to your family! To really torture them, give them 1 clue a day about some surprise that will come their way at Christmas!

advent-grat

Click thru to learn how to make the Gratitude Calendar (originally from pragmaticmom.com blog)

8.  Gratitude – I saw this idea on another blog and LOVE it!  This idea is similar to the one above, only fill each bag with a random act of kindness to complete for others.  OR you can create a Gratitude Journal as they do in the blog post and write down the things you’ve completed – or write down one thing you’re grateful every day. Warms your heart better than hot chocolate!

advent-alcohol

9.  Alcohol calendar – To warm your hot chocolate one step farther – may I suggest Alcohol Advent calendars.  I found a company that creates a calendar for you featuring scotch whisky, bourbon, rum or vodka (to name a few). You can peruse their site like a kid in a candy store and custom make your own calendar.  You’re welcome!

wedge

10. Wedgewood blue and white jaspar ware (Limited edition of 3; only 1 available online) – For that relative who has everything, why not surprise them with this amazing calendar. Wedgewood’s delicately decorative exquisite pieces set the tone for an exquisite holiday.

What about you?
Do you mix it up each year or use an heirloom calendar?
Can you share other ideas for wonderful ways to count down to the holidays?
Feel free to share ideas or links!

Please note that some of these posts contain affiliate links through which I may earn a few coins should you purchase your calendar through them.

CURRENTLY: SEPTEMBER 2016

It always amazes me how quickly time flies. 6 months go by in a flash and half of me feels like I didn’t get anything done and the other half feels reborn or off on a crazy tangent. So here I am again, checking in with myself. If you do this exercise, share your links below!

CURRENTLY COOKING
Though true fall is still two weeks away, I find myself making comfort foods. I blame the pumpkin spice latte for the change in the air and for the city-wide panic that it might rain in the morning (El Niño aftershocks?). I still need to make a pot of Gazpacho to end this delicious summer.

CURRENTLY LOVING
My new bamboo mobile device charger and matching key organizer  that started an organization revolution! These were the first pretty home accessories purchased and affixed to our walls since last year’s flood!  The immediate organization gains were obvious but the unexpected healing of our psyche helped us settle down.

Click descriptions to learn more!


CURRENTLY DAY DREAMING ABOUT
After attending two blogging conferences, I have numerous plans for changes rolling around in my head. Meanwhile, it’s my favorite exercise to figure out ways to work with all sorts of people in a synergistic and symbiotic – an SAT word – way. Full reviews of both conferences coming soon.

CURRENTLY READING (Just starting)
The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling
As one of my two favorite living people who astound and inspire me with their ability to create fascinating worlds, I am eager to feel J.K.’s words embrace me in a much more charming locale.

jk

CURRENTLY PANICKING
My teen son’s and my tween daughter’s school schedules.  With challenging classes and sports, I feel like every Friday we’ll celebrate surviving the week.  I am panicked and amazed every week at how much they accomplish.

CURRENTLY LISTENING TO
This is Acting  by Sia.
I love that she’s not into celebrity, just into the songs. She performs her own, and writes so much for others. With that knowledge, I have no problems picking out her music when others perform her material.  Love her laugh most of all.

sia

CURRENTLY NEEDING
The housing market in my area to stabilizes. The LA Rams rammed the rental rates and house prices up and I’m sitting here quietly trying to stay put.  Though this place saved us, it’s not my favorite, but the options are ridiculous right now.

CURRENTLY ANTICIPATING
I love hosting themed events.  For work, we’re hosting a conference but want to give the guests the true California experience. For fun, I’m creating a Vegas Oceans 16 themed event. In true Disney style, creating events that appeal to every sense with unexpected surprises invigorates me.

What about you? Consider these:
CURRENTLY REFLECTING
CURRENTLY AVOIDING
CURRENTLY DRINKING
CURRENTLY INDULGING IN
CURRENTLY WATCHING
CURRENTLY COVETING
Or dream up your own!

#SIA #JKRowling #TheCasualVacancy #IBelieveInDisneyMagic #Vegas #ThemedEvent #organization #clutter #CESupply #BambooChargingStation #BacktoSchool

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