This morning I got a great reminder from a green blogger I admire, and that I got to meet in person a couple months ago. The lovely Shane at Environmental Booty is asking others to share what they do to to find fulfillment and make the most of each day. It is so important to be able to find your happiness and joy in little things, each and every day and yet it is so hard to do for many of us. This is an important topic for me because I tend to be one of those “someday” people. I have big dreams. I have concrete ideas of what I want my life to be and what I want to do with it. There is nothing wrong with dreaming big of course but folks like me forget to live in the moment and seek out happiness right this very second. If I am not careful I find myself drifting aimlessly and starting to get depressed that someday is still so far off.
Last year though I made a resolution to spend greater time on self care and finding happiness NOW. It worked so well that my resolution this year was to have more fun. I would like to think I am getting pretty good at making the most of every day now. It is not uncommon to find myself thinking that if this, right now, was all my life would ever come to be, then I am pretty darn lucky. When you seek joy every day, you don’t have to worry so much about someday anymore.
So what do I do to find my happiness? These days I make time for myself and I seek happiness by going to the gym several times a week. It gets the day started right and I feel good when I do. I make time to visit the library usually once a week and just meander up and down the isles looking at books. Books=happiness. I take a class or go to a workshop on the weekend, for fun and to better myself. I visit thrift stores to find good deals. I go the movies by myself. I saw John Carter yesterday and fell in love.
Sometimes I tell my husband that we simply MUST go out for ice cream (while the kids are in school) and we go to Jeni’s ice Cream together. We did this just last week in fact. It is artisan ice cream with unique and amazing flavors. They also use local grass fed cream! Does this not scream happiness?!?!
Magnolia Mochi, Mango Kiwi, Icelandic Happy Marriage Cake, and Tres Leches w/Here and There Cherries
Mmmm, I think we need to go again this week. ;)
TODAY I have found my happiness in…
Getting up early so I could throw dinner in the slow cooker AND watch a few episodes of Friday Night Lights in peace and quiet.
Cooking yummy Garlic Ginger Chicken for me and two of my men folk, for lunch.
Buying myself some flowers and putting them on my desk to enjoy all day long.
The flowers teased me at the grocery all week long and I resisted their urges until today when I read Shane’s post. Then when I went out to get butter for the aforementioned chicken, I HAD to get them. I am so happy that I did. Someone at the store sprinkled them with glitter and it just gives them a magical feel. Every time I look at them I have to smile in contentment. Finding your happiness doesn’t only have to be about the big moments in life, it can be about all the small ones too.
What do you do to make every moment count and find happiness in the small stuff? Link up below:
When it comes to extended family my fave gifts to give this time of year are ones that incorporate photos of my kids. I have done mugs with the kids photos several times and even calendars with new photos of my darlings each month. This, I hear, makes it more tolerable to get by without seeing their cute faces in person every day. I am fortunate that I am not totally heinous in the picture taking department, and that I have a decent camera, because I have lots of good shots to choose from. This year will follow the same path as previous ones. I have already ordered the annual calendars, the mugs, and a new one for this year is big canvas prints of some of my fave shots.
Easy Canvas Prints saved me some dough by sending me a 16×20 canvas wrapped print of my choosing and that fits into my gift giving “plan” quite nicely. I knew immediately what photo I wanted to see mounted on canvas… a Fall photo of my youngest kiddo that I have fallen in love with.
was turned into this…
The photo of the print is a bit dark. I hate using a flash when taking pics of Christmas lights because it drowns them out. It came out lovely though. The ordering process was quick and painless and the shipping was fast. Perfect!
It was about two years ago now that I wrote about the issue of toxic bubble bath. That post was spurred by a Campaign for Safe Cosmetics report that highlighted known carcinogens in baby bath products and Johnson & Johnson appeared on the report several times. This just happened to coincide with a blogger campaign the company was running, trying to get mom bloggers to endorse their products. I was pretty livid at the time and while I hoped that J&J would clean up their act, I highly doubted they would. The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics called upon Johnson & Johnson to reformulate its baby shampoo and remove formaldehyde releasing chemicals. So did they?
Yes and no it turns out.
Between July and October of 2011, the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics reviewed labels of Johnson’s Baby Shampoo sold in 13 countries to see if the products contained quaternium-15, a chemical preservative that kills bacteria by releasing formaldehyde.
We found that Johnson’s Baby Shampoo sold in the United States, Australia, Canada, China and Indonesia contains quaternium-15, while Johnson’s Baby Shampoo sold in Denmark, Finland, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, South Africa, Sweden and the U.K. contain non-formaldehyde preservatives.
Obviously, it is possible for Johnson & Johnson to make baby shampoo without formaldehyde, and that’s what the company should be doing in all countries.
Wow. They prove that they can in fact do the right thing and make a safer product but apparently have decided to do so only in the countries with tougher product standards. American babies still get the cancer causing chemicals. Only after this latest report came out has J&J promised to phase these chemical nasties out of their products worldwide but I think a boycott is in order until they do. There are plenty of other companies who were ALREADY doing right by babies and they should be the ones rewarded with our patronage.
A better brand to try:
Earth Mama Angel Baby - USDA Certified Made With Organic Ingredients. No 1,4-Dioxane, formaldehyde, or phthalates. No sodium lauryl sulfate, cocomidopropyl betaine or other synthetic surfactantsNo artificial preservatives (parabens, phenoxyethanol, etc).
In particular you might like the Angel Baby Shampoo & Body Wash. They also have some great soaps and washes for the whole family, mom approved.
They smell great, they work, and they aren’t filled with questionable and potentially unsafe ingredients. A+
For a budget alternative you can do what I personally do and use Dr. Bronner’s liquid soap. They have an unscented variety for babies. We use the peppermint. I dilute a few squirts in some water and usually add some essential oils as well, inside a Ball jar. The jar sits next to our shower and we shake it up and pour a tablespoon or so into our hand and then use on our hair and bodies. Works like a charm and my kids get snarly when some other shampoo product makes an appearance. They prefer the Dr. Bronners.
Do you have any alternative suggestions?
A reader recently asked me if I felt it was better to raise kids with less space and stuff. I have written about this several times but my posts on Minimalist Children, Helping Kids See Past Commercialism , and Simplicity Parenting come to mind. I am no parenting expert by any means and my kids manage to throw me for a loop all the time but in regards to this issue I think my husband and I have found something that seems to work very well for us. It was a journey to get there though. We certainly didn’t start our married lives or our family with any intention of being minimalist anything.
When we got married we did what many new couples seem to do in this day and age… we got ourselves into debt because we felt entitled to the big house, new cars, and nice things right from the moment we said “I do.” Our grandparents and likely our parents had to work their way up to having nice things and nice homes. If they wanted a big TV and new car they worked their arses off and raised the money for it. It they wanted to go on a family vacation they saved all year for it and paid for everything in cash. Now though the attitude that we deserve all the nice possessions and fancy vacations even before we have worked hard for them seems to prevail. It was only a couple years after marriage that we found ourselves drowning in debt. All the nice things we charged to credit cards did not make us happy. Our first child was barely two before we started thinking about bailing out on each other because life was just too stressful. We did kind of bail out on each other I guess because my husband took a job were he traveled all but 4-5 days a month. We had to find a way to pay for all this debt after all.
Because we felt we were entitled to it all, it makes logical sense that we passed this on to our first child. The kid filled an entire walk-in closet (the size of a bedroom in our current house) full of his toys and there were plenty more to bleed all over the house. Literally every single time I went to the store (which was a lot) I bought him more toys and clothes.
I am not sure exactly what caused us to shift our lifestyle exactly but I think learning about attachment parenting and green living helped move us toward a new understanding and life philosophy. Maybe we were just sick and tired of messy finances, clutter in our lives, and spending most of our days apart because we were reckless and irresponsible. Either way we changed.
Shortly after the birth of our third child my husband returned home and took a local job. I had created a business working at home and felt a sense of accomplishment and pride I hadn’t felt in a long while. We were suddenly debt free and not wanting to make the mistakes we had in our past. We financed a new “used” car but paid it off in only 6 months. We paid for a second vehicle with cash. We got rid of all credit cards. We decided to downgrade our home and move into one with barely over 1000 square feet. We now live in one with 1100 square feet. ;) We found new forms of entertainment that didn’t revolve around spending money. We nixed buying the kids anything unless it was a birthday or holiday. The perks I get from blogging are an exception, although 8 times out of 10 we donate the stuff as soon as we review it. We buy all our clothing at thrift stores. That was very drastic but for my two youngest it is just the way life is and they don’t see anything wrong with it. Our older child has had a much harder time with it because he remembers the days of excess. He has tossed around words like cheap and selfish when he cannot get something he wants. We don’t budge because we KNOW we are on the right track.
We know this because our marriage has improved 100% and our daily stress has gone down to almost nothing. Our kids are still happy and healthy even though they aren’t being bombarded with all the new toys and gadgets of this consumerist society. Of course there is still room for improvement. As I mentioned before, we are still on the messy side where finances are concerned. But we no longer spend more than we earn and we don’t have debt. Just recently we started putting money away for emergencies and retirement the way we should have been doing all along. We buy Amazon gift certificates once a week before the holidays so that everything is prepaid and we have no issue getting the kids what they want. And we don’t go crazy. They get one big ticket item and one small item. If they get lots of gifts from family then they have to donate some other stuff so that it evens out.
We went from stress, clutter, overspending, and lots of unhappiness and did a 180 with our lives. Here are a few of the ways we handle things now and make life more minimalist and manageable.
- When something new comes into the house, something else needs to be sold or donated.
- Kids are expected to work around the house daily (15 minute clean-up) AND keeps their rooms clean.
- Furniture and personal belongings are kept to a minimum so that cleaning is easy to manage.
- If you can’t keep your room clean you have too much STUFF and some of it needs to go.
- If we don’t love it and use it often then we can do without it.
- Everything needs a place to call home, preferably one that its out of sight.
- Buying used is always preferable to buying new.
- We don’t DO fancy round these parts. Simple and easy is more our style.
- Limit media consumption so that demands for new “stuff” wanes.
- Act like a one car household by sending hubby to work with the keys to the other vehicle.
- If you are bored… read.
- Feeling antsy? Exercise or play a game.
- Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.
What works for you? I would love to hear!
Thanks to my lovely, local library I have turned into a reading fool since we relocated to the East side of Columbus. My husband or I make 2-3 trips a week usually. This bookoholic has saved so much money on books!
This week I read Pedometer Walking. I saw it on the shelf and decided to dust off my pedometer and see what this book had in store for me. It is really a very interesting book about how much we should be walking daily… or rather how many steps we should be taking. According to studies too many Americans walk about 5000 steps daily… this is sedentary. To be considered active we need to be taking 10,000 or more steps per day. By using a pedometer I was able to see that I am REALLY lacking in my steps most days. Today for instance, as I write this post… I have walked only 6,787 steps and it is 5:00 PM when I typically start to relax and vegetate. In my defense I did not take a walk today and I like to walk 1-3 miles several times a week but still… I need to walk more.
Wearing the pedometer all day REALLY helps kick your butt in this regard. After I finish this post I will likely do some laundry (up and down steps) and cleaning just because I cannot stand to have such low step numbers. It gives you a goal to work towards every day. Also helpful is a little chart in the book that converts other activities, like swimming and cycling, to steps. When I go to my water aerobics class on Friday and complete the full 60 minutes I can convert this to 6,600 steps, provided I keep my legs moving. My husband has a pedometer too and it helped him to see that he takes over 16,000 steps just at work. Yowsa!
Anyway it is a fun book for helping you to start a walking program. It outlines the numerous reasons you may want to and helps create a plan for any goal you have whether it be weight loss or training for a race/walk. My motivation is mainly to get of my duff more often since I work a very sedentary job (on a computer for hours each day). I also want to participate in some organized walks in my community that are coming up, and not be winded.
What I like most about this book and the idea of pedometer walking is that is involves one small habit… wearing a pedometer each day and being mindful of how much you walk… easy peasy! I do suggest getting a quality pedometer though. The ones you can buy for $5 at Wal-Mart are crap. Mine broke after 2 days. Now I have a nifty one that closes to prevent accidental resetting when you rub up against something.
Are you walking 10,000 or more steps per day?