2018 is the year of the Mini Habit

(Note:  This post contains affiliate links.  That means that if you buy a product through one of these links I will receive a little bit of money in return, at no extra cost to you.  However, I was not paid to advertise any of the products featured here, and all opinions are my own).

The start of the new year is a great time to turn over a new leaf and push on to bigger and better things, as a result, many people start the year off with a New Year's Resolution.  The problem is that New Year's resolutions have an abysmal success rate.  By the end of January, most people have already given up on their resolution.  We have these huge goals and start off the year with lots of motivation and hit them hard, doing things like going to the gym 2 hours a day every day.  That kind of motivation is hard to keep up though, especially if you don't see the kind of results you would like immediately.  Before long you are discouraged, skip a day, then two days, feel like a failure, and give up.

What if instead, you had a teeny tiny behavior that you had to do every day that supported your bigger overall goal, one that required you to do so little that you could do it easily every day, without fail?  Then every day you would make incremental progress toward your bigger goal, and since you were meeting your daily requirements every day you would feel like a success.  You would be encouraged rather than discouraged, and you would keep at it, right?

For a while now, I have been trying to figure out ways to create daily habits that would support my overall goals - getting fitter, writing for the blog more often, and doing research for the podcast every day.  I have tried Habit Stacking, and habits based on a cue, and habits based on a time of day, one habit at a time, multiple habits at one time, and every other derivation you can probably think of.  I always failed.  I didn't have enough motivation, or enough time, or enough energy.  Life consistently got in the way of hour-long workout sessions, and marathon research.  I tried to make myself do too much, and I just couldn't keep up - at least not with enough consistency to actually form a habit.

Then, after what seemed like ages of searching I found Mini Habits, by Stephen Guise.  The idea behind Mini Habits is that the thing you are striving to do every day is so minimal an obligation, so simple, and so easy that you could still do it on your very worst day.  That way you never fail, you stay encouraged, and keep working toward your goal.  You can always do more than what your mini habit requires, but you never HAVE to.  Even if you only do the minimum you have still succeeded, and if you exceed the minimum, well that feels even better.

So how small are mini habits?  As the author of the book likes to put it, stupid small.  Currently, the mini habits I am working on are;

  1. Preform one push-up or sit-up per day  
  2. Write 50 words per day
  3. Read the equivalent of one page in a book per day

I can complete all 3 of these in 5 minutes or less and I have every day since I started Mini Habits.  I have also exceeded my minimum in most areas on most days so far.  The thing that makes this so much easier than all of the other habit programs I have tried is that I have to do so little that I can always do it.  I don't have to get up the motivation to do one push-up, it is so easy that I just do it.  And usually, once I am down there doing the push-up, it is easy to do a couple more, and maybe a few stretches, and then why don't I turn on that yoga routine that looked pretty good - after all, I don't have to finish it since I have already met my goal for the day.  In the same vein one page usually turns into 10 or even 20, and 50 words (which is not much more than a tweet) often turns into 200 or more.  Once I start it is easy to keep going, but if I knew beforehand I HAD to sit down to write 200 words or read 20 pages I would never start, it would just take more motivation than I could generally muster on a daily basis.  I have a full-time job outside the blog and podcast, 2 kids, and a list of things that need to be done at home longer than my arm - doing more just seemed like too much, that is until the requirement became so small that it seemed easy.  Now, I may not be making leaps and bounds toward my goals, but I am making steady progress, and that feels really great.

If you are looking for a way to reach your goals in 2018 and have had trouble sticking with it in the past, I would like to encourage you to give Mini Habits a try.  The worst that can happen is that you spend a few bucks and discover it isnt for you, the best that can happen is that you finally meet your goals and live your dream.  For me, that is a risk worth taking.

 

 

 

58 Songs for the Ultimate Halloween Playlist

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Happy Friday the 13th, in October no less!  Halloween is just around the corner, and what better way to celebrate than with a Halloween playlist that sets the scene.  

Today I am sharing my Halloween playlist.  I have been putting this one together for a while now, and there are a few new additions this year that I hope you enjoy.

If I have left off your favorite Halloween song, let me know about it.  I am always on the lookout for great new additions.

Why I switched to a Lego Christmas Village

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In our last house we stored our Christmas decorations in the attic, the opening to which was in the middle of the garage about 14 feet from the floor.  We used a winch system to get things into and out of it – including ourselves occasionally.  Using a ladder with a large box that high up was just terrifying.  One day, as we were getting the Christmas boxes down from the attic for the season, one of the boxes slipped from the winch harness a foot or two from the floor.  That box happened to contain my fragile glass Christmas village.

The damage really wasn’t as bad as it could have been, but I was still pretty upset.  I glued the houses back together, telling myself the cracks gave them character (like they had been through the blitz).  That year, and for several years after, I displayed the houses on a high shelf, far out of the reach of kid’s hands, and dog tails, and even me.  And then one year, after the kids asked to play with the little houses for what seemed like the 400th time, and I had said no for the 400th time, I realized that the Christmas village had become something that caused me stress rather than joy during the holiday season, and I wanted to change that.  I still wanted a Christmas village, I had fond memories of my Grandmother’s Christmas villages and tiny train sets from my own childhood, but I wanted one that I could let the kids play with and didn’t have to worry about them breaking.

The boy’s Christmas time Lego catalogue provided the answer – a Lego Christmas village.  I had seen the Lego Christmas houses previously and thought they were adorable, but it suddenly hit me what a good idea they were.  If they fell out of the attic, they could be rebuilt.  If the kids broke them they could be rebuilt.  If the dog knocked them off the table they could be rebuilt.  I could let my kids play with the Lego Christmas village, and the tiny houses, and people, and cars could become fond Christmas memories.  And it was just so cute! My Christmas village could again become part of the joy of the holiday season, rather than a source of stress.

 

Now I have several pieces from the rather small Lego Winter Village collection.  They come out with a new model every year, and every year I look forward to adding to my little village and sitting with my kids and putting the pieces together.  The only stressful part is making sure that I place my order before they all sell out.

Consumable Christmas Gifts

On Episode 2 of Hang your Hat, Firebeard and I did a segment on consumable christmas gift ideas.  These are gifts that are meant to be used up, so they don't hang around cluttering up the house.  Since then I was asked if I might be able to do a visual version of the list perhaps with  links to some of the products we mentioned, and I am happy to oblige.  

Note:  This list contains gifts big and small.  While some would be appropiate for the year's "big" gift, there are also several that would make great stocking stuffers. 

Consumable Gift Ideas

Bath/Body/Grooming (many of these are easy to DIY):

Food (Most of these are easy to DIY):

  • Candy, Cookies, or Carmel
  • Hot Cocoa Mix (Single servings are good presents for office mates).  Add some homemade marshmallows to make it really special.
  • Flavored Sugars or Salts
  • Infused Liquors or Vinegars
  • DIY Vanilla
  • Flavored Simple Syrups (great for drinks)
  • Good Quality Olive Oil
  • Bottle of Wine
  • Meal Kit 
  • Fancy Coffee
  • Local Honey
  • Drinks Kits (ex. Cocktail kit)
  • Special Snacks (that are not normally on the menu)

Services: (Think Gift Certificates)

  • Massage
  • Facials
  •  Mani/Pedis
  • High End Barber Shops / Hair Dressers
  • Oil Change or Car servicing (especially if the person you are giving the gift to normally does these things themselves)
  • Baby Sitting
  • House Cleaning
  • Photographer

Subscriptions:

Gift Cards:

  • Any Favorite Retail Store the recipient is likely to shop at (maybe somewhere that is normally too pricy for the recipient – just make sure that the gift card could cover the cost of an item at the store)
  • Itunes
  • Grocery or Gas Cards (good for college students or recent grads)
  • Coffee Shop
  • Book Store

Entertainment/Events:

  • Burlesque Shows or Vaudeville Performances
  • Sporting Event.  Of course Football and  basketball games come to mind first- but why not a fencing or ballroom dance competition
  • Tickets to the Movies 
  • Tickets to an Amusement Park, Museum, or zoo
  • Fancy Tea Party
  • Concerts or Plays

 

Active Pursuits:

  • Pay for a Goruck Challenge
  • Gym Membership (Think outside the box and go for something like a rock climbing or cross fit gym rather than the standard gym)
  • Sporty Classes (like belly dancing class)
  • Goods that are consumed while participating in a sport (ex. Bike tubes for a cyclist, chalk for a rock climber or gymnast, and dehydrated food for campers)

Miscellaneous:  

  • Hobby or Craft Supplies (ex. Scrapbooking paper or stickers, yarn, paint)
  • Kids Craft Supplies (ex. tape, stickers, erasers, glue, pipe cleaners, pompoms, googly eyes)
  • Fireplace Supplies (ex. Wood, fire starters, matches, bundles of dried herbs, pinecones dipped in wax)
  • Personalized Photo Calendar
  • Starting a 529 College Savings Plan

Halloween Playlist

Halloween season is back, and I am ready to set the mood.  I have created a Halloween playlist that is suitable for the whole family (although it may be a bit spooky for very young children).  If you are a member of Spotify simply click below to gain access.  If you are not a member of Spotify, you can still make your own version - all of the songs in the playlist are listed below.

Enjoy!

Happy Easter

 It has been a rainy Easter today here in the Big Bend.  We celebrated with out first ever egg hunt in our new house, our first ever indoor egg hunt, and our first ever game of find the chicken lego man (a game invented by The Boy).

I hope your family has also had a great Easter (or a great Sunday if you don't celebrate Easter).  If you have some interesting old or new Easter traditions, I would love to hear about them in the comments.

 

Jingle Bell Run

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This Saturday the girl ran her first 5k.  She ran with Fire Beard, in the pouring rain, and loved every minute of it.

I was very proud, from the top of my head to the tips of my wet frozen toes.  Seriously though, it was miserable out there.  I stayed cold for hours after we left, and we didn’t even stay for the big Christmas parade after the race.  I was shocked and proud when she came over the finish line with a smile on her face, and told me she wanted to do it again next year.  I guess the girl is one tough cookie!

St Nicholas Day

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St Nicholas Day is a children's holiday celebrated on December 6th throughout much of northern Europe.  It is celebrated in memory of Saint Nicholas who was known for his generosity and gave treats to poor children around Christmas Time.  On the night of December 5, kids leave their shoes out for St Nick.  If they have been good, they will wake to find little presents St Nick has left in their shoes.  Often these presents are candy, or small toys.

My family has never celebrated St Nicholas Day before, (and neither has the vast majority of Americans from what I can tell), but we did this year.  On December 5th my kids left their shoes out, and the hope that I would fill their shoes with treats if they were good (they were).

 

Earth Day

I hope you all had a wonderful Earth Day. My family celebrated by spending some time outside in nature at the lake near our house.

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While we live in Florida, no it was not warm enough to go swimming this weekend.

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This was the result of indulging in cold water fun.

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Once they warmed up a bit, the kids decided that playing on the shore was just as much fun as swimming.

~Gerwerken

Embroidered Anatomy - Thyroid and Larynx

This weekend I had planned to travel with the kids to New Orleans and celebrate Mardi Gras with my sister. I was going to regale you with all of the interesting sights that Mardi Gras had to offer. Then I got sick, really sick. I couldn't eat, and I could barely walk for days. Since Mardi Gras was no longer an option, I stayed home with the kids this weekend, and the sights I'll be sharing this week will instead what I was able to accomplish this weekend in my reduced capacity, and stuff I've done previously, but haven't shared.

Every year I make my friend, the good doctor, at least one piece of medically inspired embroidery. This year, after my thyroid starting giving me problems, I decided that the thyroid, and it's immediately adjacent structure, the Larynx, would be my subject matter of choice.

This piece took me over a month, and probably over 1000 French Knots to create, but I think it was worth it. It is one of my favorite embroidered anatomy pieces to date.