Simplify

Living a Chronic Illness – Part 2

By on February 22, 2018

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In my last post, I wrote about starting out on my health journey. Today, I’m going to share the changes that I’ve made to live with my chronic illness.

Making Changes

I had lived with my health issues for several years until something happened that I couldn’t ignore. I went to work one morning, and as the day progressed, my legs stiffened up, and I was having significant trouble walking. It also hurt to stand for any period. With the job that I was working at the time, being on my feet and walking around was a key part of every day. What I later realized is that I had an autoimmune flare.

I left work and made an appointment to see a functional doctor the next day. The meeting with the functional doctor changed my life for the better. I met my functional doctor in her office, and we sat and talked for nearly two hours. She listened to my health history, and we talked about next steps.

The first thing that my doctor did was to put me on an elimination diet to see what my food allergies and intolerances were. After completing the elimination, I had to remove gluten, grains, dairy, soy, yeast, and eggs from my diet. I started eating an AIP diet and continue to do so almost four years later. It wasn’t easy to make such a drastic change, but there are multiple resources out there that gave me alternatives for what I was eating previously. My hubby played a significant role in this. He cooks for our family, and we both researched ways that I could eat with my food allergies and intolerances.

I had various tests done to help to give her an overall picture of where my health was. Blood testing was key in getting the diagnosis that I had waited for forty-five years to get.

The doctor also placed me on multiple supplements, as well. Each day, I take about twenty-five medications and supplements so that I can function each day. It seems like a lot, but I notice a definite difference when I miss taking them.

That flare was just the first of many that I would deal with over the course of the next few years. It was my doctor told me at an appointment just over a year ago that would change the way that I looked at my approach to my chronic illness and how I lived my life.

Until next time,

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Simplify

Living With a Chronic Illness – Part 1

By on February 19, 2018

chronic illness

In a couple of previous posts, I have mentioned that I live with a chronic illness. You can find them here and here. I’ve had several people ask me questions about how I deal with it, and I wanted to share some things in a series of posts.

To be honest, it hasn’t been an easy journey. There has been frustration, and setbacks, but also many positives. I’ve had to learn to simplify my life and make changes that I didn’t anticipate. All of this has been a learning experience, and I try to absorb as much information about it as I possibly can.

In the next few posts, I’m going to share starting out on my health journey, the changes that I made, and what’s next for me.

Starting Out

As a child, I wasn’t frequently sick. The one thing that I do remember is that I had chronic ear infections. I was also diagnosed with a lactose intolerance while I was a teenager. Over the course of about the first twenty-five years of my adult life, I had several health issues that I dealt with and multiple surgeries. What I didn’t realize is that these things connected to a much more significant problem.

One of the most significant issues that I had was that I felt exhausted all the time. I was also dealing with frequent illnesses and infections. After going to multiple doctors, and having many tests run, I was continually told that nothing was wrong with me. However, I didn’t feel like there was nothing wrong with me.

Many days, I would go to work, come home and eat dinner, and then go to bed. On the weekends, I was sleeping and recovering from the last week while preparing for the week ahead. I would spend Saturdays resting, and Sundays trying to clean my house, do laundry, and whatever I needed to do for work. My hubby was a huge help in that he would help with the cleaning, do the grocery shopping, and the cooking, and helped to run our kiddos to the activities that they had.

As frustrating as this cycle was, I did not have the energy to do much more than that. I was too tired. I lived like this for several years until something happened that I couldn’t ignore.

To be continued…

Until next time,

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Simplify

Six Meaningful Ways to Reconnect With Yourself

By on February 15, 2018

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I’ve mentioned before that I have dealt with a chronic illness for much of my lifetime. My diagnosis finally came just over three years ago. Since then, I’ve had to learn how to reconnect with myself and my body to start my healing journey.

With our busy lives, it’s easy to lose sight of how important it is to take care of ourselves. I wrote about self-care in a previous post. Reconnecting with yourself is another element of self-care. There are several ways that you can reconnect with yourself.

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1 | Take a Break

Taking 5-10 minutes is helpful in reconnecting with yourself. Disconnect from what you’re doing and your devices. Take the time to relax and just breathe. Once your break is over, you can get back to what you were working on with a fresh perspective.

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2 | Get Outside

Getting outside can be a great way to reconnect with yourself. Instead of taking your device to listen to music, a podcast, or a book, take a walk or ride your bike while just taking in what’s around you.

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3 | Journal

Journaling is a therapeutic and creative outlet. Write or draw each day or whenever the mood strikes you. Personally, I write in a journal each night before I go to bed. It’s part of my evening routine.

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4 | Meditate

In a previous post, I wrote about how to get a good night’s sleep and linked the apps that I use to meditate each day. Meditating helps you to slow down and reconnect with yourself.

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5 | Rest

Sleep is so important and yet, people don’t always look at it as being as important a need as it is. Each night, we should be getting 7-9 hours of quality sleep. Take a look at your evening routine and make sleep a priority.

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6 | Travel

Whether it’s a day trip or a more extended vacation, travel can help you to slow down and relax. Instead of sightseeing, take a few days to rest and take in the scenery from your hotel or rental. If reading is your thing, use the time to catch up on your to-be-read (TBR) list.

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Take the time to slow down and reconnect with yourself. It doesn’t have to take much time and will help you to take a break from your busy life.

Until next time,

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Holidays

Sweet Valentine’s Day Ideas

By on February 12, 2018

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When my hubby and I were first going out, I gave him a Crock Pot® for Valentine’s Day. He expressed to me that it was one of the best gifts that he’s ever received. Since then, we don’t exchange gifts. Instead, we create cards to give to one another.

If you celebrate Valentine’s Day, there are several ideas that you can implement to have fun with the day and not spend a lot of money.

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Less is More

When my kiddos were younger, I would put together a bag for Valentine’s Day that included candy and a couple of little items. It was fun to put the bags together, and they didn’t cost much. When they got older, I would add a small gift card to keep it more age appropriate.

When your kiddos are old enough, you can create a scavenger hunt so they can have fun searching for their treats.

For my hubby, I create a card for him each year. I’ve also printed off favorite photos of us, or our family, and framed it. You can update it each year.

You could create a printable of 10 things that you love about your loved one or write out some of your favorite text message exchanges. The choices of what you can do are endless.

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Sweet Eats

If you like to bake, make some sweet treats for your loved ones that they enjoy. You can make heart-shaped cookies, cupcakes (add a marble on one side of the liner before baking to create a heart shape), or a cake. If your family has something else that they like, you can make that instead.

You can make dinner special by incorporating one of your favorite recipes using the dishes that you use on the holidays. It will be a fun surprise for your family when you sit down to eat.

After dinner, you can choose a game to play or a movie to watch together. Make some popcorn and settle in or make a hot chocolate bar with all the toppings.

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Whatever you choose to do for Valentine’s day, you don’t have to spend a lot of money to have some fun with it. Wishing you a Happy Valentine’s Day.

Until next time,

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Organize

Putting Paperwork in Its Place

By on February 5, 2018

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Last year, I took on a paper organizing project. I needed to sort through a large number of old papers and files and decide what to keep and what I could shred and recycle. The items that I kept also required a system that would work, so they were easily accessible when we needed them.

Paperwork seems to pile up until we have the time to take care of it. No matter what you do to contain it; it’s still there. There are several things that you can do before the paper piles become overwhelming.

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Sorting and Purging

Sorting paperwork can be overwhelming and time-consuming. You should manage mail and papers as soon as they enter your home. You need to determine what you need to keep, what you need to look at another time, and what you can recycle. We sort mail over the recycling bin or shred it if it’s needed. If you take the time up front and make it part of your routine, you don’t have to make the time later. The result is worth the effort of not having to sort through a large paper pile all at once.

In a previous post, I wrote about editing your mailbox. I included how you can minimize the junk mail and catalogs that come to your home. Reducing the paper items that come into your home can help you with keeping up with all your paperwork.

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Filing System

My desk includes a file drawer and instead of using it for storage, I use it for the files that I access most frequently. Most of these items are papers that are not essential, but that I have to keep to access when I need them. The files also contain booklets that are too bulky to include in the binders that I use.

Some of the items that you should keep for a period are legal documents, tax returns, mortgage records, automobile titles and records, insurance records, home improvement records, your will and power of attorney records, and retirement information and records.

Using Binders

Binders are a great way to keep frequently accessed papers organized. In another post, I talked about using them to keep your paperwork organized. Just recently, I arranged my medical paperwork so everything is in one 3-ring notebook that I can easily carry with me to appointments. As long as you have adequate storage space, using binders is an efficient way to store your essential documents.

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Going Paperless

My hubby has set up our bills, so we only get paperless statements via email. Setting this up has gone a long way to reducing the paper clutter that we have in our home.

You can scan and keep other paperwork items online, as well. Dropbox is one way that you can store your documents. Personally, the only records that I store online are ones that I need to access frequently. Even when I’m away from home, I can obtain them and share them with others.

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Put paperwork in its place by filing items, using binders or going paperless to keep things under control. Taking the time to sort through papers that come into your home will save you from having to make the time later.

Until next time,

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Simplify

How to Get a Good Night’s Sleep

By on February 1, 2018

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Over the last few years, I’ve developed a sleep routine that works for me. Unfortunately, I’m not able to fall asleep as quickly as my hubby (lucky guy) and I needed to do something that would help me fall asleep and stay asleep each night.

Sleep is essential for our overall well being. As adults, we should be getting 7-9 hours of sleep each night. With our busy lives, it’s easy to sacrifice the rest that we need. There are a few things that we can do to help us get the sleep that we need.

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Take Time to Wind Down

You need to take the time in the evening to relax and unwind from your day. Spend time with your loved one(s), take a hot bath, or read a book, or whatever works for you to help you decompress.

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Avoid Caffeine

Many of us need that morning cup of coffee to get us going. Consuming caffeine closer to bedtime inhibits our ability to fall asleep. Limit your caffeine intake during the day or cut it out of your diet completely. I switched to drinking only water, and I don’t miss caffeinated beverages.

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Put Away Your Devices

Your devices and television emit light that triggers your brain into believing that you need to stay awake. Make the last check of your devices about an hour before you head to bed. It’s best if you can sleep without keeping them by your bedside. If that isn’t possible, resist the urge to check them after you’ve crawled into bed.

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Use Essential Oils

I am an active user of essential oils and use them throughout the day. The essential oils that I use are from Young Living. I use single oils or a blend of oils in a diffuser to help me fall and stay asleep.

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Practice Meditation

Meditation can help you center yourself and relax so you can go to sleep. I take time both in the morning and before I go to bed. If I’m feeling overwhelmed, I will also meditate during the day. Calm and Insight Timer are the apps that I use.

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Making some changes to your bedtime routine can help you to get the sleep you need to be your best self. Wishing you sweet dreams.

Until next time,

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Organize

Keeping Your Teenager Organized

By on January 29, 2018

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Several years ago, my Mom shared with me that when I was a teenager, I disappeared into my room one weekend and didn’t emerge until I had it organized. My kiddos did not keep their spaces in order while they were teenagers. I had to learn to take a step back even though I kept things organized in the other areas of our home.

If you have a teenager in your home, you know that they have an individual organizing style. Many times it involves clothes and papers that are taking up residence on the floor and under the bed. Helping your teenager stay organized can become a battle of wills. However, there are a few things that you can do to help them maintain some organization in their lives even if their room doesn’t reflect that.

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Home Organization

1 | Using a basket gives you a space to contain the items that your kiddos leave lying around the house until they take care of them. You can designate one basket for each child.

2 | You can use a wall mounted letterbox to collect your kiddos mail or school papers. The paperwork doesn’t accumulate on your counter, and your kids know to check it for their important items.

3 | Having an individual laundry basket for each of your kids can help when it comes time to do laundry. Clothes can be washed and dried in separate loads, folded, and returned to their rooms using their basket. When my kids were in middle school, I had them start doing their laundry. I helped them with it when they first started.

4 | If your children do daily chores, it is helpful to have a list that they can follow. I posted ours in the kitchen next to our family calendar so everyone could see it. Some of the tasks such as setting the table, helping to make dinner, cleaning up after the meal, and emptying the dishwasher were rotated each week.

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School Organization

1 |  Using a planner to keep track of appointments, homework, tests, and practices can help your kiddo take control of their schedule and time management. They can keep track of their calendar using a  paper planner or on their device.

2 | Creating a homework spot gives your kiddo a place to settle in and get things done. Stock the area with school supplies that they may need while working.

3 | In a previous post, I talked about creating a back to school routine. There are some other organizing ideas listed there that you can implement, as well.

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Helping your teenager to be organized is something that they will be able to implement at home, at school, and in their personal life. Do you have any tips that you use to help keep your teenager organized?

Until next time,

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Budget

Setting a No Extra Spending Goal

By on January 25, 2018

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This year, my hubby and I are working on streamlining the spaces in our home. We are simplifying and getting rid of items that we haven’t used in at least a year. Honestly, I tend to feel crippled by the amount of extra stuff that accumulates in our home and we don’t want these items to direct the choices that we make now or in the future.

To simplify our spaces, one of the goals that we set for the new year is no extra spending. My husband and I decided to use what we have instead of acquiring more things. This goal isn’t entirely easy for me because I enjoy browsing through stores, and there are so many beautiful things that want to jump into my cart.

Adopting a no extra spending goal is possible if you follow a few steps to make it happen.

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1 | Meet Your Needs

To meet my no additional spending goal, I ask myself if something that I want is indeed a need. I’m pretty ruthless and have gotten good at talking myself out of items. If there is something that I want, I’ll add it to my birthday or Christmas list. Nothing has made it on the list so far.

Decrease your shopping online and in stores if you find yourself wanting to buy things. Meet your needs, but don’t give in to your wants.

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2 | Edit Your Mailbox

I like being able to have some control over what appears in my inbox and mailbox. I do not sign up for direct, store emails and have put myself on a list to cancel the junk mail and catalogs that we receive.

You can edit both your inbox and mailbox so you aren’t receiving catalogs and sale notifications which can be tempting. Use Unroll.me to manage your inbox and control the emails that you receive. Unsubscribing works well, also. Catalog Choice can be used to cancel junk mail and catalogs.

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3 | Set a Monthly Budget

My hubby and I have a monthly budget. All of our expenses go into the budget. Seriously, everything.

In a previous post, I wrote about how to shop without overspending. Setting a budget helps to manage your spending, and if you track it, it gives you a clear picture of where your money is going.

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You can adopt a no extra spending goal if you do a few things to make it happen. Set a monthly budget, consider your needs and take control of both your inbox and mailbox. Doing these things, and figuring out what else works for you will help you to reach your goal.

Until next time,

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Organize

How to Keep Your Purse Organized

By on January 22, 2018

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Most women carry a purse with them each day. My bag contains only the items that I will need throughout my day. I carry my keys, wallet, phone, earbuds, business cards, reading and sunglasses, pens, lip balm and lipstick, and my essentials oils that I may need. If I’m going to an appointment, I will carry my Ipad so I can read my book while I’m waiting. During the winter, I also have a pair of warm gloves that will go in my purse when I am not wearing them.

Keeping your purse organized should not be a struggle. There are things that you need to have with you each day, but they should only be the essentials. What can you do to help you keep your purse organized?

Carry the Essentials

You need to consider what is necessary to have with you each day. If there are extra items that you think that you might need, you can either keep those things at work, in your car or carry a tote bag.

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Contain the Clutter

Small pouches can be extremely helpful in containing the clutter. You can use bags for makeup, medications, essential oils, receipts, business cards, electronics, and change. You could also use a pouch to contain the smaller items in your purse, so they aren’t getting lost on the bottom of your bag.

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Clean It Out

Take the time to clean out your purse each week. Remove any garbage, receipts, change, and anything that isn’t necessary to your daily activities. If you use a pouch for your receipts, sort through them each week and store only the ones you need to keep in the bag, so they are readily accessible if you need to return an item.

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Use a Tote Bag

When you’re away from home during the day, you want to make sure that you have whatever you may need throughout the day. In a previous post, I talked about putting together a work tote. Your purse should carry the essentials, not the extras.

Use a Smaller Purse

If you don’t want to carry both a purse and a tote bag, use a smaller purse that will fit into your bag while you’re on the go. Your purse can hold your essentials like your ID, money, phone, and glasses. The remainder of the items can go in your tote.

Until next time,

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Organize

Completing a Large, Organizing Project

By on January 18, 2018

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Our winter project is to organize our lower level. The lower level includes our family room, a couple of bedrooms, a bathroom, and work/storage room. Each of our children has occupied the bedrooms at one point or another, and all but one of our children have moved into their own homes. Our goal is to organize the lower level so we can use the family room and repurpose one of the bedrooms for a guest room.

Tackling an organizing project can seem daunting especially if it is large and involves multiple components that you need to complete. How can you approach an extensive, organization project, so it’s not quite so overwhelming?

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Make a Plan

Making a plan for the entire organizing project is essential. It gives you a visual outline of what you need to complete. Ask yourself what the end goal is that you are trying to achieve and plan out the steps you need to take to obtain it.

As much as you would like to be able to complete the entire project at once, it’s not possible. You need to focus on the individual steps that you need to take to achieve your end goal. They should be manageable so you can complete them and not feel defeated.

In our case, we knew that we wanted to be able to use our family room more frequently and create a comfortable guest room that also serves other purposes. That is our end goal, and the overall plan and the steps that we take will help us to accomplish this. We divided up the project into rooms and then individual tasks within the space to complete it.

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Make the Time

In a previous post, I wrote about the tools that I use to complete an organizing project. One of those is time. Making the time to organize is essential to making the progress that you want.

Typically, I will create multiple steps that vary in the length of time that they take to complete. Even though the overall project seems daunting, it makes it easier to tackle by creating individual steps that I can make the time to finish. We don’t work for more than a two-hour stretch at a time before we take a break or move onto something else.

Purge as You Go

As you’re organizing, it’s important to purge as you go through each space. You need to ask the following questions when you are deciding if you want to keep an item.

1 | Do you love it? Is it something that you want in your home, or are you keeping it for sentimental reasons?

2 | Are you using the item? If you are, how often are you using it?

3 | Do you have room in your home to keep and use it?

4 | Does the item fit in with your current decor? If it doesn’t, are you still willing to use it? Can it be updated so you can use it in your home? Are you ready to take the time to update it so you can use it?

5 | Do you see passing this item down to a family member? Are they going to want it?

If the answer to the any of the above questions is no, then you need to consider giving away or selling the item.

We had quite a few things that we purged. I am setting them aside in one space for now and will be holding a garage sale this summer. Even though the items have not been removed from our house yet, I know that they will be gone relatively soon.

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Taking on a large, organizing project can be incredibly overwhelming. It’s essential to create a plan and break it down into manageable steps so you can complete what you’ve set out to do.

Until next time,

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