A Day of Thanksgiving

Five orange pumpkins sit in a row in front of a distressed, wooden background.

Happy Thanksgiving Friends!!!

What are you thankful for?

I’m seeing a lot of negativity on the interwebz around the celebration of Thanksgiving because of the history of that time period when “the first thanksgiving” allegedly took place. Welp…I don’t know about you, but…I don’t really believe much of what we were taught in school as kids, thanksgiving or otherwise, and I certainly don’t think about pilgrims or native americans when this day comes around.

So…I’mma celebrate!

Sorry, not sorry.

I love thanksgiving day. It gets the whole country on board with gratitude!

I think about my family, friends, and the amazing blessings we have in our lives. …OK and I think about a lot of food, too.

This thanksgiving is our second in this house, but the first that we’re celebrating at home and cooking a meal. We went to a restaurant with my extended family last year.

I’m excited for Thanksgiving because my daddy and my broby are in town for it. I kinda like those guys.

But, I have a secret:

be-thankful-always

I do thanksgiving every day. And you can too.

  • At dinner we go around the table saying what we’re grateful for in lieu of asking grace. Even Rohan and Kaya join in.
  • Every morning I use my gratitude app and list what I’m thankful for and happy about (the app is free, download one!)
  • Every evening when I’m journaling and planning for the day ahead I write something I was grateful for during that day
  • Thank people genuinely when they help you, directly or otherwise.
  • Send thank you notes, even. (I totally don’t do this one lol)

Keeping thanksgiving going throughout the year is easy!

If for some crazy reason you don’t think you have anything to be grateful for, let me help you out. AHEM: you’re alive, you have indoor plumbing and access to the internet, you can read, you’re likely reading this on a computer that fits in your hand, you’re loved (I love you!), and you have great taste in the blogs you read. ūüôā

That’s something to be thankful for!

always-something-to-be-thankful-for

Now, yucky stuff happens of course. In fact, John and I are dealing with a very stressful situation right now. We don’t ignore our problems by focusing on the positive. We address the issues, but choose not to dwell in the negative emotions that come with them. Keeping our minds on the great stuff in our life keeps our vibrations¬†(mood) up and more great stuff coming our way!

SO.

Today I’m thankful for you, my dear blog friend. Thank you for visiting and reading whether this is your first visit (sign up for my mailing list yo) or you’ve been around since 2010 (hey girl, hey!) I’m thankful that you’ve decided to visit today. THANK YOU.

I wish you a kickass thanksgiving full of family, friends, food, and fun. And I hope you eat some bomb food with lots of leftovers so you don’t have to cook again til Monday. (hug) If you’re alone this thanksgiving, I hope you find some connection with others, have great phone calls, text convos, or FB messages. If you’re lonely, email me or message me on Facebook and I’ll chat with you. Not even kidding. I live on my phone!

Happy Thanksgiving!!

How to Save Money with a No Spend Challenge

no-spend-challenge-okdani-blog

On Tuesday I whined to my husband about bills, debt and spending.

Yesterday I vowed I wouldn’t do any more spending until Christmas gift shopping.

Today I bought a present for the birthday party my son was invited to this weekend. #FMeL (the e is for entire)

This is the time of year that people spend the most money. From Halloween to New Year’s day we have so many purchase-inducing holidays. Then there are the other purchases for birthdays, showers, weddings. Ugh. We can’t get around gifting. (I mean, you can if you’re a scrooge mcduck, but gifting is fun!!) We can, however, avoid spending outside of the “necessary” gifting. (and we can get creative about the gifts we give, in some cases, to avoid spending.)

I’ve decided to create a No Spend Challenge for myself and share with you in case you also enjoy not being broke. ūüôā This can be done at ANY time of the year. Not just around holiday season. (Note: it’s usually best to do it during times where you won’t be pressured to spend, but we’re going wild around here!)

With a no spend challenge, the goal is to not only curb your spending to save a bit of cash… but also to be more mindful of how you’re using your money going forward.

HOW TO CREATE A NO SPEND CHALLENGE

  1. Choose an amount of time to commit to the challenge
  2. Spend no money outside of necessities (mortgage/rent, bills, food, transportation, etc.)
  3. Make a plan for the money that you save

Bonus: Repeat challenge as necessary

Note: If attempting the challenge during holiday season, set a predetermined amount of money aside as a “Gift Bill” and add it to your list of necessities.

Step One: Choose your time period

Most no-spend challenges run for a month. I’m on team “know yourself and do you”… so if you know a month is too hard a challenge to start with, then try 21 days, 14 days, a week or even a day! Now, I know it can be enticing to think big…but please¬†don’t set yourself up to fail and say you’re not going to spend a penny for the next quarter/year etc. Even if that’s your end goal, try at most a month at a time. Even one day of avoiding unecessary spending is valuable. #everypennycounts

Step Two: Spend no money

Yeah…so this is the whole “no spend” part of things. This is personal to everyone. For most challenges it means not to spend outside of necessities which means you’ll have to at least loosely deal with “the B word.” (Yes, I mean budget….but we can call it a spending plan if that makes you less grumpy.)

Write down all your monthly expenses. ALL of them. Including your daily latte, mani/pedis, and of course including the biggies like utilities, rent, child care, etc. I use a google sheet or excel sheet so I can log what it is and how much I spend on each.

Decide how “no spend” your challenge will be. This is where it gets personal. For me, hair appointments are not a necessity because I’m good at doing my own hair. But if you earn a living as an on-air newscaster and you have no idea how to style your hair…you should probably keep that on the spend list. Feel me?

So figure out exactly what you’ll spend on, and vow to leave the rest alone. You can go as strict as humanly possible, or loose like “no spend on fast food” or something similar depending on your lifestyle.


Step 3: Plan for your savings

With all the spending you’re not doing, ¬†your bank accounts will be nice and plump.¬†What are you going to do with the funds you saved? Before you start your challenge, make a plan for those coins! Will you pay off a looming debt? Put it to a rainy day savings account? Save for a specific goal like future travel? Make the plan, and make it compelling enough to keep you motivated to continue your no spend challenge.

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TIPS FOR A SUCCESSFUL NO SPEND CHALLENGE

Be Prepared

You are going to have to be creative in how you live your life when you’re not spending on the little things you normally would. Forgoing your morning Starbucks run means brewing coffee at home or drinking what’s at the office. Skipping your mani pedis or hair appointments means you’ll be adding at-home pampering time to your weekend routine. Be prepared for the life changes ahead and plan accordingly. Mentally go through your day or week and figure out what your free alternatives will be.

Read personal finance books

Stay motivated to keep up with your “fiscal fast” by reading books that teach you about managing money. If you have financial freedom and managing money top of mind, it’ll be easier to continue your challenge.

Have a buddy

With any challenge, it’s more fun to do it with someone else. Enlist a friend, sibling or your spouse to join you on this personal quest. If it turns out to be a miserable experience for you (it won’t I swear!) at least you have someone to commiserate with about the ordeal.

Create a diversion

Keep your mind off of your non-spending by figuring out some time consuming activities that don’t require you to spend one red cent.

Some ideas: 

  • learn to cook a new meal
  • start a workout habit¬†(use what you have, or use your bodyweight)
  • return to an old hobby (that you already have the tools/equipment¬†for)
  • visit the library and read some great books
  • bingewatch Prison Break? (or something better)
  • declutter your home room by room (bonus if you can sell some of what you want to get rid of)
  • volunteer somewhere locally
  • have a walking ‘date’ with a friend
  • Do that ‘someday’ project: Like organizing your photos
  • Write the next great American novel

Have fun with it

Are you a competitive person? Challenge your partner to see who can save more money over the time period. Find unique ways to trim from your budget. Or create a game for yourself with mini challenges on how you’ll save each day. You can also make a game of finding ways to EARN money during your no spend challenge. (Like selling some of your clutter on Ebay.com)

Notice your Mindset & Money shifts

You may realize you enjoy doing your nails at home on thursday nights while watching #TGIT and decide to keep it up after the challenge. (why I keep going to this mani pedi example is beyond me.) Maybe you will lose some weight packing your lunches from home instead of eating out for breakfast and lunch at work and want to keep the progress going. Notice the ways your views of money is changing during the challenge. (THIS is a great book to read on your relationship to money.)

Avoid Triggers

If you’re on a diet you’re not going to hang out in the food court, amirite? It’ll just trigger you to eat. So with your no spend challenge you’ll have to avoid the places that trigger you to spend. Block Amazon.com on your browser. Drive a different route home if you’re used to popping into target on the way home. etc.

What to do when the Challenge is over

  1. Put your saved funds to your predesignated place
  2. Reassess what you’ll return to spending on and what you’ll cut out of your life forever
  3. Feel super proud of yourself
  4. Plan for your next challenge

But, what if I fail?

First off… what is failing? Not completing the challenge isn’t a failure. Even if you avoid your unnecessary spending for just one single day, that’s a win! It’s impossible to fail.

No Spend Challenges are a great way to save a bit of cash for specific needs, or a general savings goal. They are also excellent as a way to jumpstart a new less spendy lifestyle. You can learn a lot about your spending habits and the way you want to use your money through these challenges. There’s no right or wrong. It’s just personal financial choices.

For my challenge, I am vowing to spend no money for the month of November outside of bills and necessary items (like that gift I mentioned earlier). I know I can do it!

And so can you!!

You have all you need to create your own no spend challenge. So go forth and save!!

Good luck!!

(Let me know how long you last!!!)

Have you tried a No Spend Challenge??

How to Become a Fitness Minimalist to Reach Your Weight Loss Goals

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This minimalism lifestyle has really struck a cord with me. The other¬†day, Kaya and I dropped off 5 garbage bags full of clothes, shoes, bags and toys/baby gear for charity. I came home and immediately noticed more things that just had to go. In addition to clearing the clutter in my home, and digital life, I’m becoming a minimalist in other areas. My hair routine has been pared down even further and skin care routine is using products with as few ingredients as possible. Minimalism is sneaking its way into my fitness as well.

It’s just making my life easier to be a Fitness Minimalist.

Here are a few ideas on how to start Fitness Minimalism in your daily life to reach your health and wellness goals:

Minimize your Meals

I don’t mean eating less, or even eating more simply prepared foods (both of which would be clutch for your weight loss/fitness goals) I just mean minimize your choices in meals. The goal with cozy minimalism is to simplify and feel good about it. So don’t pare down to just beans and water or anything crazy restrictive. Just choose your favorite healthy meals you enjoy preparing and repeat them frequently. This eases the hassle of meal planning, meal prep, and grocery shopping. You’ll be able to eat healthier more often and with less issues that lead to fast food or other unhealthy choices.

This is really changing my life. I’ve been eating the same few meals over and over and over. (OK Full disclosure this goes out the window the full week before aunt Flo, #ijs) There are a few staples we count on as a family and it’s just so easy to do and makes a big difference in stress level.


Make Workout Clothes a No-brainer

Well, most of my clothing is workout gear…I tend to wear them to work out and end up wearing them all day until I get a shower at naptime or at night. (Don’t be like me.) Have a few quality pieces that fit well and make you feel secure and comfortable on hand. Keep them in the same drawer or area of your closet. Have them all work well¬†together so you can easily grab and go for your workouts without having to dig through for matching items.

Remember, simplifying is the goal. If you feel good in what you’re wearing to exercise and don’t have to work hard to get there, you’ll work out more often. #noexcuses

Reassess Your Workouts

Take a look at your workout routine. Are you going to the gym and dreading it each morning? Maybe switch to at-home workouts that can save you time (and gas money). Are you doing lots of cardio but no weights? Figure a way to add it in. A solid routine should allow for cardio, strength and flexibility. Perhaps it’s time to sell, donate or give away your workout gear that’s cluttering your home an do workouts that use body weight and require no equipment.

The key is: Make sure your workouts fit your schedule, your personality, and your current lifestyle. Doing a workout you dread, or one that was convenient when you were at your old job….that’s not fitness minimalism. Pare down the drama, pare down the stress and you’ll notice your excuses for not working out will be pared down as well.

I’ve been going for efficiency in my workouts lately. I don’t have too much time to work out and I don’t want to wake up any earlier than I already do. Orangetheory Fitness classes have been a lifesaver. They’re super efficient. Just one hour 3 days a week and I get my cardio and weights in.


Don’t Chase The Fads

Pick your workout routine, schedule, style, type… and stick with it. Find your exercise soulmate! New workouts are popping up all over. Resist the urge to buy the latest equipment you see advertised, or try the new local class. Know what works for you and stick with that for simplicity’s sake.

While I’m currently doing a “trendy” boutique workout, I also still have my gym membership and use it for my tried and true workouts. I’ve been receiving (and happily ignoring) ads in the mail and online for barre classes, crossfit, and boot camps. I may try them in the future, but for now I’m keeping it simple with what I know is working well for me and my schedule.

Easy Logging

Logging workouts is crucial for motivation as well as seeing¬†your ongoing progress¬†with your fitness and wellness goals. Make it easy to stick to, and fit into your life. If you’re a digital person you can log your meals/workouts online or on many apps on your phone. If you’re a paper and pen person just pop the notes into your daily planner or even on your wall calendar. The simpler the better.

This is something I’ve done forever. I have to keep my records of workouts, but I know if I create an elaborate system I’ll get overwhelmed or get unhealthily obsessive. For me, an easy system of simply checking off the day on the calendar, or quickly jotting down miles or what workout I completed is best. This way I don’t need a separate planner (but if you want one, check¬†out the ones below) and I dont have to…think. LOL #minimalistthinking


Those are just a few of the ways you can become a fitness minimalist. It just makes life easier, lowers your stress, and removes your roadblocks to working out or eating well. Best of luck on your journey!!

Read about Cozy Minimalism Here

Other Minimalism Posts:

Minimalist with Children

I Threw Away My Kids’ Toys

Do you think you’ll become a Fitness Minimalist?

Monthly Goal Setting Tips

monthly goal setting tips okdani blog

You already know I’m a personal development junkie so I thought I would share my monthly goal setting tips and techniques for this fresh month. I’ll be honest,¬†I usually complete my monthly goal setting a day or two before each new month so I’m ready to start the month off with a bang.

Monthly Goal Setting Tips

Look back to look ahead

Take a look at your major goals you’ve set for the year (or quarter) and see where things stand. Don’t judge yourself if you haven’t completed them, just look and be aware of where you are.

Purge

Do a Brain Purge of everything bogging up your mind. Old to dos, projects, errands, appointments, ideas, future events, everything. Get it all down in one long list. Order doesn’t matter, neatness and spelling doesn’t count, just get it all out so you can move forward with a clear head.

Sort & Filter

Sort your list. You may be able to just delete some items, move some to later down the line, give some to other people to handle for you. Then filter your list by area of life.

Decide on your month’s focus/plan

What areas of life are you going to be focusing on? What makes the most sense in your life right now? What would be the best focus for what your larger/longer term goals are? Decide on what area you’ll focus on so you don’t dilute your efforts and “waste” time on less important tasks.

setting goals okdani blog

Set Goals for just the month

Use your bigger goals to determine what you will tackle this month. We can consider your monthly goals mini or midsize goals. Get them down on paper. For the love of god do not try to wing it.

Make your goals SMART

I know we’ve covered this before but SMART is an acronym meaning Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound. So make sure your goal isn’t vague and fits the SMART criteria.

Create Actions and Prioritize

This is where folks fall off. And it makes all the difference in the world. We cant just write the goal and walk away. We have to break it down into what needs to be done to actually attain it. Then we decide what needs to be done now vs later.

Calendar it ASAP

Whip out your planner or your google calendar….whatever you use…and pencil in the action steps for the next month.¬†I don’t suggest you log action steps further than that because things may need to be tweaked.

Plan your party

Decide what you’re going to do to celebrate your wins. You’re all organized now with your goals broken down into actionable steps so you’re definitely going to get ’em done.

Take action NOW

Do one tiny thing…anything! Making even the tiniest action step forward does a lot for your motivation/drive and esteem. Get to work!!

Now you can just do the bite sized actions each day to reach whatever your goals are. For some folks (including me, sometimes) looking at a list of big lofty amazing goals feels good…and can feels daunting/overwhelming at the same time. That’s why it’s extra important to break it down each month. Things feel better when they’re doable. Good luck!

What are your top goals for the month?

5 Quick Ways to Find Your Zen on Busy Days

Quick and Easy Ways to get centered and Find Your Zen on hectic busy days

Life is more hectic than ever. We are pulled in so many directions at once and we need to be able to find our zen and get re-centered quickly. It would be nice to be able to do a full meditation or yoga class whenever things get crazy stressful but that’s just not always practical. Here are 5 quick ways to find your zen on busy days.

Use Music

Put on a song that you love. This doesn’t have to be some zen instrumental or ocean sounds (unless that’s what you absolutely love.) Use whatever song you’re feeling at the moment and lose yourself in it for those few minutes. If I’m stressed out I will take a quick break, pop my earphones in, close my eyes and listen to Pac lose his mind on Hit Em Up before returning to care for the kids. When the song is over, try to stay in the mood it took you to, whether hyped up and ready for anything (as with the song mentioned above) or chilled out and peaceful.

Create a Focal Point

When things are crazy at work do you notice your eyes drifting to the picture of your family on your desk? This is one way to find your zen. It’s calming to have¬†a focal point photo or image on your phone or computer, even a photo in your wallet to turn to when things get hectic. This helps you shift your mode from cray to zen. Another focal point to use is a mantra. This is just a brief word saying that you can repeat to yourself when you’re ready to go postal. A few mantras to consider are:

  • This too shall pass
  • I am strong and capable
  • Good things are coming my way
  • I am peace, I am love
  • Blessings are all around me
  • I can handle this

Deep Breathing Exercise

OK Stop. Relax your shoulders. Take a deep breath in for four counts. Hold it for four counts. Release it for four counts. How do you feel? Good, now do it 2 more times.

It takes under a minute, and it can relax you and get your head back in the game. You can easily find your zen once you’ve given your brain a minute to pause, enjoy the extra oxygen, and prepare to move forward.

This is just one of many breathing exercises that can help you get your mind right in the middle of a busy day. The benefit of this find-your-zen tactic is that nobody else has to know what you’re doing. You can do this practice while your boss (or your evil toddler) is screaming at you. They’ll be none the wiser and you’ll be better able to respond with love.

Moving Meditation

Don’t let the word meditation scare you. A moving meditation can be anything from a morning run or yoga session to washing the dishes or wiping a counter. I like doing a full body stretch when I need to get centered. I literally just stand and touch my toes, remembering to breathe, and turning my focus onto the good stretchy feelings in my back and legs. If you’re at your desk you can just reach both hands in the air and take a few breaths before releasing them.

If a quick stretch is not an option you can flex and release your muscles from your feet all the way up to your shoulders. The point is to take a second to move your body in the way that feels best for you at the moment to find your zen.

Close your eyes

I left the quickest get-zen-quick tip for last. So easy we even guide our toddlers to do it. Just close. your. eyes. (I mean…..unless you’re driving…then maybe do a different tip.) Take a minute and close your eyes. That’s it. You don’t have to do anything else, but you can couple this with a deep breathing technique or repeating a silent mantra….or both.

Closing your eyes physically shuts the stressor out of sight and subconsciously shuts them out of mind. With your eyes closed you can either just enjoy the “blank” space, or visualize your happy place. When super stressed I like to close my eyes and visualize my next step. Then I can just open my eyes and calmly get it done.

It’s your choice!

These are just a few of the many ways you can find your zen during busy days. It takes just a few second to get yourself back on track when things are hectic. Which tactic will you try first?

How do you find your zen?