What makes you happy?

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Today your challenge begins. So what is the key to your happiness? Some of us know and some of us don’t know. It’s ever changing and varies daily.

The first thing we are going to conquer and simplify first is our attitudes.

Look for the things in life we overlook daily, simple things that make us happy. Don’t forget to document it on Instagram and use #simplifiedshonda

For my, today’s happiness is today marks the first day of National adoption day!

Today marks a new beginning as well and I am able to end my night extremely happy.

What about you?

Do you have the right attitude?

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Attitude is everything…it can make or break your day.  The way you think, feel, react, it all depends on your attitude.  If you wake up in the morning grumbling, you are not going to have a good day.  Period.

How many times a week do you wake up and your first thoughts are “I don’t want to get up, I really don’t want to go to work, I’d much rather stay home!”?

If you are in the 0-2 times a week category, then kudos to you! You must live an awesome life!

If you are in the 3-5 times a week category, then you fall right there in with the “normal” range and will benefit from a simplified life.

If you are in the 6-7 times a week category, then it’s time you start taking control of your life immediately!

This week has been a roller coaster of emotions for us.  We are currently in the Foster to Adopt program and if you know anything about being Foster Care Provider’s you know that you must expect the unexpected and do so with a smile.

After a letdown this week, I allowed myself 1/2 a day to be emotional, to feel all the emotions that I held inside until I was ready to let it out.  Once I got it out of my system I gave myself a pep talk (yes, I did talk to myself and let me tell you, I needed that!).  I told myself it was time to put the things that are beyond my control out of my mind and get back to working on the things I can control (like my attitude).

This morning, I woke up (late I may add) and I said to myself, today is going to be a GREAT Thursday!  Guess what…just by starting my day off like that, I had an awesome day.  Sure I was around some negative people today, and I could have easily fallen into that attitude, but I refused to allow myself to do that.  I worked extra hard today to be happy, and to keep my good mood going.  In doing so, I’m very pleased with how today went, and I actually feel less stressed.  (Funny how that works).

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For the month of November, we are going to work on the number one bad culprit in our lives — our ATTITUDE!

Your November Challenge is simple – Using Instagram, I challenge you to take a photo every day in November of something that crosses your path that makes you smile, or brighten’s your day.  This would be anything really, life’s little blessings that we tend to overlook because we have a negative attitude.

One sample may be a picture of the super cheeze it I found in the box of cheeze its.  This awesome cheesy goodness was four cheeze it’s in one (like they forgot to cut it apart!) simply awesome and brightened my day!

Maybe another sample would be a photo of perfect weather outside, or a good hair day, or a complete stranger smiling at you.  Get creative, open your eyes, and start seeing the happiness that truly is all around you.  Document it, don’t forget to add #SimplifiedShonda on your Instagram photo so we can all be there for each other and maybe in doing so, help out someone we don’t even know.

Start Tomorrow, November 1st.  We have so much to be Thankful for, just look around you…

Hard Goals Softened for Success!

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Now it’s time to get serious.  We’ve reached the hard category, once you hit this category it’s easy to give up, to throw your hands in the air and say nope, I quit!  Good thing we haven’t started the process of putting these into action yet and are still categorizing them!  That’s MUCH easier 🙂

For me, the biggest thing here still is going to be related to my time management.  I want to be less serious and laugh more, but when you book yourself the point you can’t enjoy life, it kind of defeats the purpose.  Rest more? Really, who does that?  I’d love to but who’s got time for that??  This one makes me laugh at myself…Church involvement, get involved with one thing at Church.  Um, Shonda, your goal is to simplify your life and do less not more, so why are you adding yet another volunteer avenue? (Don’t worry, I know why, and I know how I’m going to work it in without stress!); Open minded – this one is under Motherhood…without going into to much detail right now, we are foster care providers as well as going through the adoption process, so this is very important to me.  And last but not least Reactions – think first…is it really a mountain??

While it’s easy to list out the goals for this category, actually implementing them will be the challenge.  To make this process easier, it is imperative that I keep these goals on my mind from here on out, never forgetting them, always thinking about them and how they impact my life and how they could totally change my life for the better.

Your homework is to get those hard categories listed out separately and add your short term and long term goals to them.  Start now in thinking of these goals daily.  If need be, write them on post its and stick them on your bathroom mirror so you see them every morning.  They aren’t there to give you anxiety, they are there to give you courage and hope for a simplified life.

Take a deep breath, this weekends post will be on the Impossible Extremely Hard category.  Don’t worry, we can get through them!

Doable Medium Sized Goals

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Goal Planning is one of the hardest things to do sometimes because you really have to think about it.  On a day like today where I’ve been extremely busy and am just getting home and sitting down to do it, it really wasn’t at the top of my list.

One Blog Goal of mine is to eventually type up my topics in advance and schedule them to auto post in an effort to simplify my blog lol but for now, you get to see the reality of a hectic lifestyle and to be honest, I think that will help you out in knowing you aren’t alone.

This morning, I had an appointment, as I headed out, I got stuck in traffic due to an accident.  Knowing I would be late if I sat there, I did a U-Turn and went a different route.  I arrived 10 minutes late and in doing so, pushed my appointment out even longer causing me to be rushed to get gas and grab some breakfast on my way to work.  I finally got to work at 9:45 am only to find my computer wasn’t working properly and I had to get some assistance in getting it back up.  Mercury is definitely in retrograde!

Work felt rushed, I didn’t take lunch since I arrived late and had to leave on time as I had a team meeting for Relay For Life followed by a Committee Meeting for Relay For Life and even after that another impromptu team meeting for Relay For Life.  Since I didn’t take lunch at work, I also didn’t eat lunch today at work and by the time we left the meetings and got home I was dizzy, starving and trying to not be grumpy about it even though I could tell my DH was not thrilled because he too was starving.

So…now that you know my crazy day, can you see why it was so hard for me to sit down and figure out goals and then blog? 🙂

Medium Sized Categories are ones that aren’t easy but yet aren’t too complicated that you can’t handle them and they won’t stress you out too bad.

The good thing about these categories are you can be working on them alongside the easy categories and not feel overwhelmed.

Reading through your list, start working on your short term and long term goals for the medium sized categories you established on your list already.  Feel free to add any more that you may have forgotten or change any that need changed.

Time Management is huge for me right now.  I am double and triple booking myself on things that are for others and forgetting about myself in the process.  To Truly work on my overall happiness, I need to get my time management under control.  As I was working on my medium sized categories I was realizing that my schedule controls pretty much everything on this list including finances.  I am already starting to see where the first area is that needs immediate attention.

As you work on your goals, you may start to see a pattern and recognize the area in your life that is the main culprit to your unhappiness.  You may see one, two, three or more culprits so don’t panic if you haven’t yet narrowed it down, it will become more clear as we progress into the next level of goal planning tomorrow.

Homework:  Establish your short term and long term goals for your medium sized categories.  Try to define a pattern and see if any one area stands out the most.  For now just think about it, don’t write it down or anything like that, we’ll be getting more in depth later on that 🙂

Before you go to sleep, look in the mirror, take a deep breath, smile and say “I am on the right path to making my life more simplified!”

Categorizing Your Life…Setting yourself up for success!

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How many times have you said on New Years Eve that this year is the year you will change?

How many times did you actually change?

What do you think went wrong?

How can you avoid the constant disappointment in yourself?

Every year, these questions would be on my mind as I watched myself fail miserably and not obtain any of the goals I set for myself.

It wasn’t until recently that I realized why I keep failing…I’m setting myself up for failure instead of success!

So how do I break the cycle and set myself up for success you ask? It’s actually very simple, and you don’t have to spend a ton of time (or money) on simplifying your life.

It’s all about categorizing your tasks or challenges (or in our case right now your area’s of your life) into one of four different categories:  Easy, Medium, Hard, Extremely Hard.

You can do this one of two ways: Written on your paper already is your list, and your categories.  I suggest getting out four different colored highlighters and assign each category a color.  I did it similar to a stop light:  Easy=Green, Medium=Yellow, Hard=Orange, Extremely Hard=Red.

The second way – Excel, type up your area’s and using the highlight tool, change the cell the color represented for each category.  I prefer to do this step in Excel because it will make the next few steps easier as we go through the process.  If you don’t have Excel, you can get Open Office for free and use their program that is similar to Excel.

Once you define your colors, look back at your list and start categorizing your area’s by what you think will be the easiest area to change, the medium, hard or extra hard areas as well.

You may have to actually think about this a little longer than you’d think, because I found that as I was reflecting on these area’s tonight  I struggled with picking the easier areas but knew right away what the extremely hard areas would be.

Feel free to use my guide in the photo above to help you out.

This is your homework.  If you aren’t quite sure, think about it before you categorize.  You can add, remove, or change your areas at this time as well.

The object is to identify the easier area’s to battle FIRST as they will show you success.  You save the harder items for last, but yet you’ll soon learn, we will actually be working on them alongside of the easy ones.  I promise, this will all come together for you as we go through the processes over the next few days.

In the meantime, rest knowing you are simplifying your life already just by doing these steps!

Digging Deep-Reflection

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Digging deep – reflection for perfection improvement on specific areas of your life that need simplified.

If you don’t have your list nearby, take a quick moment to get your list that you made on Friday. Hopefully over the weekend you had time to reflect on your list.

Part of simplifying your life is not just listing the areas that need simplified but actually looking deeper into what it is that needs simplified in that area. It’s easy to say that you want to simplify your Health but it doesn’t really tell is specifically what about your health needs simplified.

Digging deep has shown me what in each area I feel I need to work on, improve and simplify in order to take control of my life.

*Attitude-less negativity, more positive thoughts, happiness
*Laughter-stop being so serious all the time!
*Time Management-3 meetings in one week after hours as well as a hectic overbooked weekend is not a reflection of good time management but is my current schedule. Work on this!!
*Health-eat right, rest, exercise
*Spirituality-pray more, get involved at church, reflection and praise time
*Romance-be an AWESOME wife!
*Motherhood-be a fun mom, care for others children as if they were mine (adoption/foster)
*work-stop stressing out! Get organized and stay focused
*Stress-when feeling stressed find alternate ways to react and deal with the stress
*Finances-Save more for rainy days
*Emotions-it’s ok to be emotional…but control it
*Reactions-not everything is a mountain so don’t make it out to be

Once you define exactly what in each area needs simplified it will put you on track for a more simplified life.

Your homework: pull out your list and next to it write down exactly what in those areas need simplified. Be thinking about what it is that will help you regain control in these areas and be truthful and honest with yourself. If it’s hard to admit even to yourself, it should be on the list. We all have areas in our lives that we aren’t happy with or are embarrassed about. You cannot “fix” that area if you don’t acknowledge a problem exists.

This is one of the hardest parts of the process because it is digging deep inside yourself but you are worth the time spent in reflection to regain control of your life.

Dig deep, write it out, and be thinking about these areas and what they mean to you.

Make time to stop and smell the roses or bake banana nut muffins

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Yesterday you all wrote your lists and hopefully treated yourself!

Today is Saturday, the beginning of the weekend. To simply put it, the weekends are generally our busiest moments.

The old saying has always been take the time to stop and smell the roses but generally most people say they don’t have the time to do that. I challenge you to make time this weekend for something as simple as smelling roses and smile knowing for the few seconds it took to breathe in such a beautiful aroma you did something to make your day even brighter!

To help keep it more simpler this weekends homework is simple! MAKE time to stop and smell the roses or bake some banana nut muffins. I did both and today couldn’t be more simpler for me.

Enjoy your weekend and on Monday be sure to come back with your list for your next step in simplifying your life!

Stop denying and start simplifying!

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Welcome back to day 2 of beginning our journey to simplify our lives.

Yesterday your homework was: to take a deep breath and repeat after me…I can and WILL simplify my life and I WILL begin today!

How many of you actually did this?  If you did, I’d love to hear about it and if you haven’t yet, don’t worry, you can begin today!

How much of your time does your thoughts consume you?

Some of my usual thoughts:

  • Thoughts about what you need to accomplish for the day
  • Thoughts about what you’d really rather be doing instead of work
  • Thoughts about what it would be like if you won the lottery
  • Thoughts about vacationing somewhere tropical
  • Thoughts about money
  • Thoughts about your health
  • Thoughts about how you really should be walking on the treadmill instead of reaching for a candy bar
  • Thoughts about the stress that is consuming you
  • Thoughts that express day dreams of how you wish your life would be

So many thoughts consume us day in and day out.  If you are like me, these thoughts are present when you are in the shower, driving to or from work, during your lunch break, when someone is trying to talk to you but you just aren’t able to focus on anything other than your own thoughts.

Well, I have finally decided that today is the day I start taking control of all these thoughts and areas I’d like to see improve in my life and I challenge you to do the same.

The first thing I did this morning while taking my shower was think about all the areas in my life I want to grab a hold of and simplify to make it much more pleasant.

The second thing I did was write them down in my planner in the notes section.

Here is my list:

  • Attitude
  • Laughter
  • Time Management
  • Health
  • Spirituality
  • Romance
  • motherhood
  • Work
  • Stress
  • Finances
  • Emotions
  • Reactions

After looking at the words on my paper, I said to myself now what? I have this list what will I do with it?  I decided that today, all I am going to do with it is just think about these words and what they mean to me.  Really define what each area is that needs to be simplified.  Don’t worry or think about what your plans are to get there, just think about how these areas are affecting your day to day attitude and life.

After you write out your list, treat yourself to something that makes you happy.  If you have to buy something, keep it at $5 or less, don’t go overboard, just something small that brightens your mood.  For me today, it was hot cocoa and a muffin from Panera for breakfast.  Just that small gesture to myself as well as writing out my list lifted my spirits and set me off in the right direction.

I am a firm believer that it’s easy to deny, deny, deny, and continue your life in a path of destruction.  Taking ownership of your life, and the areas where you struggle will greatly improve your life overall and it doesn’t have to be difficult to do.  Take one day at a time, one step at a time and soon you’ll realize just how wonderful your life truly can be if you just take the time to look.

Your homework for today has two parts:

  1. Make your list of the area’s in which you are currently struggling with in your life.  The list doesn’t have to be in any particular order, just write down as it comes to you what stands out to you as needing something changed no matter how big or how small.
  2. Treat yourself to something that makes you happy.  If you have to purchase something keep it under $5 (this is very important to follow this amount which you’ll know later on as we continue this process together).  If you aren’t going anywhere today, look around your house, is your favorite drink or candy there?  If so, it’s ok for you to splurge a little today because I’m telling you, once you do something for yourself that’s simple, you’ll see an improvement in your attitude immediately!

You are valuable, you are important, you are amazing, you are worth it, and for once, you can do it!  Simplifying your life begins now, so pick up your pen and paper and get started.

If you’d like to share your lists, you can do so in the comment section of this post or you can take a photo of your list and/or your treat on Instagram and add #simplifiedshonda to the photo.

Begin Today! Taking control of your life!

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For the past year, I have said that I was going to start this blog and begin on my journey to simplifying my life once and for all.  Each day passes, and I still haven’t started.  Why? There are many excuses that I can come up with off the top of my head like:

  • I’m so busy now, I really don’t have time to do this
  • I’m working 9+ hour days at work each day and driving over an hour (to and from) each day
  • I’m trying to get caught up on my clients with my photography and we all know fall season is the busiest
  • I’m the Even Co-Chair for Relay For Life of Springboro and that takes up what free time I have after work, photography and family
  • I’m afraid of being laughed at or worse yet, failure

That last one really is what has had me stop and say “maybe a different day I’ll begin”.  So consumed and worried about what others may think or feel when they see how non-simplified my life really is right now and afraid they will laugh at me as they watch me try to regain control and simplify everything and regain control of my happiness.

Yesterday, I was listening to my favorite radio station and what I heard was “We want others to like us because we don’t like ourselves.  Put yourself first!  Like yourself and say no to people.  Understand YOU!  When you say no to someone else, you are actually saying YES to yourself!”  E.D.

How ironic those words were spoken yesterday and even more ironic, I wrote them on a sticky note and have them sitting on my desk where I’ve stared at them all day.

So for now, during my quick lunch break, I am taking time for ME to start this blog, for it is time, I WILL Begin Today!

If you are in need of taking control of your life, your hectic schedule, and find that happiness again, you’re in the right place!  We begin now!  Stay tuned for more information on an awesome challenge I am creating, right now it’s in the beginning stages and I’m looking for interested parties to join me on this epic journey of daily happiness.  

Your homework for now is to take a deep breath and repeat after me…I can and WILL simplify my life and I WILL begin today!