Monday, June 24, 2013

Monday Quotable

There isn't much to explain about this week's quote. I was at The Frying Pan this past weekend sitting in a rare, quiet corner (seriously, there isn't much that's quiet or subdued about The Frying Pan) with Ash. We were sipping sangria watching the sunset and kayakers rowing by. I had a great moment where I was thankful, happy and completely stress free. The day was one of those fly by the seat of our pants days that forces me to live in the moment. If you've been reading the blog for a while, you know I'm making an effort to do that all the time this year. I'm working on letting go of my control issues and all of that good stuff. I have to say, it's getting pretty easy! Why wasn't I doing this all along??

I'd also note that it is helping me in other ways. Yesterday, I had to give a presentation. Normally, I'd prepare and then stress out about what could go wrong, what people would think of me, etc. By the time I get up to speak, I'm shaky and freaked out. Why? Does giving up control lead to being more comfortable in your skin? Who knows but I'll take it. 

Friday, June 21, 2013

Feel Good Fridays

Today, I am kicking off a new feature on A Curated Life. I think taking a moment to focus on joy can make a difference in your day. It certainly makes a difference in mine and what better day to feature something warm and fuzzy than a Friday. So...(drum roll, please) I give you Feel Good Fridays.

Today's feature is a Buzz Feed video called The Best Feelings In The World. I think some of them depend on where you are in your life BUT most of these are pretty great feelings. My fave on the list is having someone play with your hair. What's your favorite?

Friday Playlist

Today's playlist features a selection of artists that performed at the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival last week. Enjoy the music and enjoy your weekend!


Live Life Avoiding Regrets

A little over a year ago, Bronnie Ware, a palliative care nurse working with patients in the last 3 to 12 weeks of their lives posted a list of her patients’ regrets on her blog (Inspiration and Chai). She later wrote a book called The Top Five Regrets of the Dying--A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing. I just heard a story about the list today (where have I been???).

After reading through the list, I realized that the regrets are ones I've dedicated myself to avoiding in recent years. I really do believe happiness is a choice--a worthwhile choice, even when it's not easy.

If I had to evaluate my life right now, I'd say my biggest regret would be working too hard. When you say that as a young person, people jump down your throat and assume you're lazy. When you say it on your death bed after a full life, it (hopefully) gives younger people some perspective. If you read this blog regularly, you know that I put work first for many years. To a certain extent, I still do. A prime example is that tonight, one of Ash's films is nominated in a film festival. I am going to the ceremony but we were trying to figure out if I could get there on time (it starts at 8 pm) or if work would interfere. It really shouldn't be a question. It's a big moment for my husband and being there is more important that whatever I could do at work by staying an extra hour or so. Seriously, almost anything can wait until tomorrow. If it can't, it can wait until after the ceremony. It's all about priorities. Actually, combating all of these regrets is about priorities. We have to choose to be happy. We have to choose to stand in our truth and we have to choose life over work. We have to choose to love out loud and not bottle our emotions. We have to value those that are here while we still have them. Life is short, choose happiness and move forward.

In case you haven't seen the list, here are the top 5 regrets and Ware's reaction to each.

1. I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

This was the most common regret of all. When people realise that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honoured even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made.

It is very important to try and honour at least some of your dreams along the way. From the moment that you lose your health, it is too late. Health brings a freedom very few realise, until they no longer have it.
2. I wish I didn't work so hard.

This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children's youth and their partner's companionship. Women also spoke of this regret. But as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence.

By simplifying your lifestyle and making conscious choices along the way, it is possible to not need the income that you think you do. And by creating more space in your life, you become happier and more open to new opportunities, ones more suited to your new lifestyle.
3. I wish I'd had the courage to express my feelings.

Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result.

We cannot control the reactions of others. However, although people may initially react when you change the way you are by speaking honestly, in the end it raises the relationship to a whole new and healthier level. Either that or it releases the unhealthy relationship from your life. Either way, you win.
4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

Often they would not truly realise the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying.

It is common for anyone in a busy lifestyle to let friendships slip. But when you are faced with your approaching death, the physical details of life fall away. People do want to get their financial affairs in order if possible. But it is not money or status that holds the true importance for them. They want to get things in order more for the benefit of those they love. Usually though, they are too ill and weary to ever manage this task. It is all comes down to love and relationships in the end. That is all that remains in the final weeks, love and relationships.
5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realise until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called 'comfort' of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content. When deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again.

When you are on your deathbed, what others think of you is a long way from your mind. How wonderful to be able to let go and smile again, long before you are dying.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

So, money isn’t the sexiest topic for most people but getting your finances in order is a must if you ever want to be something more than broke and fabulous. SO, let’s talk.

When I was in college, I fell prey to the low balance high interest credit card pushers outside the student union. I racked up some debt and went over my limit.

My mom was upset as she was always a stickler for maintaining good credit and not living beyond your means. When I graduated from college, she gave me a book by Suze Orman. I skimmed it a bit but never really committed to reading the whole thing. I was 20. I didn’t have a job yet and was going on to law school. I decided to worry about finances at the end of my education journey.

I did manage to pay off my credit card debt during law school. By the time I graduated, I had no debt except my school loans. My car was paid for and I was saving to buy my first home. Then, the economy tanked and I lost my job. I found a new job within 6 months but it was for about an eighth of my former salary (no, you didn’t read that wrong). I liked the job because I felt I was making a difference in my community but the salary was a serious adjustment…one that required Ash and I to dip into our savings to pay bills until we could find a new place and downsize.

Ultimately, I was offered and took a new job and we didn’t have to move. We did deplete our savings and we had credit card debt that had to be deferred. Now, we are rebuilding our savings but we’ve pretty much cleared credit card debt.

The whole experience was a crash course in financial planning and the lesson is ongoing. Now that I’ve finished the longest introduction ever, I can get to the point. I decided to start a new feature for the blog. I’m calling it Money Matters—because, well, it does. It doesn’t buy happiness but it makes a difference and if you plan correctly, it will save you a lot of stress.

I’ll post about savings, investing, budgeting, shopping deals, and anything else you want to hear about money. Have a request? Post it in the comments section.

I’m kicking it off by recommending some online tools you can use to get a sense of how you’re spending your money. It really helps to get all of your information in one place before you prepare a budget. Then, the budget will be more realistic. Trust me, it’s easy to say “We’ll spend $200 a month on entertainment” until you realize that you are currently spending twice that amount.

Here are the sites I’ve used. If you have sites and tools you love for budgeting and tracking, feel free to leave the name of the program in the comments.

Mint-- Mint keeps all of your expenses and balances in one place. It will also calculate your average spending in any category to help you easily create a budget based on historical spending. You can also use it to compare your spending year-to-year or month-to-month.

Rich Dad, Poor Dad Personal Financial Calculator—You have to fill in your expenses each month and the spreadsheet will analyze your spending habits and give you tips on what to do to be “financially free.”

Suze Orman Expense Tracker—Suze Orman is a known financial guru that helps you get honest before you can get moving on your goals. The expense tracker will help you set out all of your expenses so you know exactly what’s coming in and what’s going out.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Disconnecting to Connect

In the past 5 years, I’ve only been on 3 vacations where I truly disconnect. One was my honeymoon so I felt entitled. The second one was panic inducing because I hadn’t been prepared to be completely without cell service. I worried a lot about what was going on with work and how my work was being handled. For our 5th anniversary a couple of weeks ago, I was again without service. This time, I was prepared to be totally disconnected from work and when I tell you it was just what the doctor ordered, I am not exaggerating. I was able to truly live in the moment and let my biggest stressor go for a full 7 days. You know how people make up all of these words to describe great things? Amazeballs, fabulosity, awesomesauce? Yeah…it was all of those. It was also life changing.

It taught me the importance of disconnecting every now and then so I can connect with the world around me. I don’t have to be in another country to do it. I can take a Saturday or Sunday to go out and enjoy the day without my electronics. I can enjoy food, wine, family and friends without constantly looking at my phone to check every little buzz. I can silence and only allow VIPs through (just in case of emergencies). I can wake up on a Saturday and NOT PLAY CANDY CRUSH!! And I can sleep peacefully without watching 3 hours of reality TV before bed. It really is very simple. I just have to tell the friends and family that I talk to every night in advance so no one worries.

I think I am going to aim to disconnect twice a month to start and see how it goes. That may sound small to you but you know that girl in the hospital bed that is hooked up to oxygen and an I.V. and still answering work e-mails and participating in conference calls? Yeah, that’s me. (That sounds so crazy and I would yell at my friends for doing something like that yet, I am guilty). So, yeah—I’m starting small and hopefully expanding from there. Moments happen when you’re belly laughing and creating memories with friends, not when you’re LOL-ing through the phone.

Do you take time to disconnect? What do you do to make sure you stick to it?

*The item in the picture is the Cell Lock-Up. Yes, cell phone jail is a real thing. There is a timer and everything. If that's not a sign that we all need to disconnect sometimes, I don't know what is.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Monday Quotable

This weekend Ash and I broke away from our regularly scheduled programming (read: same old COMFORTABLE routine) and went to a birthday party and then to a rooftop lounge. We got home mid-sunrise. It was a great night but it had the opportunity not to be that way. I wasn't really in the mood to go out and didn't know what I was getting into. The party was for one of the cast members of a movie Ash recently finished. I couldn't find anything to wear. Once I settled on an outfit, I didn't know if I'd be under dressed. I wouldn't know anyone there except some of the people from the crew. One isn't exactly on my list of favorite people. I was comfy lounging around after spending the day at a barbecue. You get it. I had all types of excuses for why I wouldn't have any fun.

Then, I realized I was being a miserable lump of crap and needed to make a choice to be happy and enjoy the night. Ash pushed me into that mindset by reminding me that some of our best times were on random nights where we didn't have a plan and didn't know what we were getting ourselves into. I could either choose to second guess the entire evening or let go of my need to control everything and just go with it. It turned out to be a pretty awesome night. The lesson was that happiness is a choice that requires effort sometimes. I pulled my mood out of the muck and ended up having fun. Lesson learned (or re-learned). Happy Monday!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Friday Playlist

Mentally, I am still on vacation in the Caribbean and today's playlist is inspired by that. It's all reggae music from old to new with a big collection of Bob Marley songs, because let's face it, Bob IS reggae. Lay back, picture the sand on your toes and relax. Happy Friday!!!

Father's Day 2013 Gift Guide

Father's Day is just around the corner (literally). Here are a few gift ideas for the dad(s) in your life. Whether he's into sports, grilling, golf or novelty items, here are some ways to show him some love. You could also just write a thoughtful note. It's all about expressing your gratitude for him being there. Show him some love!


Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Mini Challenges

We're about halfway through the year. How are your New Year's Resolutions going? Unless you are totally on track or ahead of your goal (shout out to you and your fabulous self if you are), you might need something to invigorate you. I found something to revive my drive. It's all about the mini challenge.

It started on vacation. I wasn't quite where I'd planned to be with my optimal health resolution. After talking to my mom, sister and close friend, we've all decided to set a 6-week mini challenge to get back on track. For me, that means turning off the TV and going to sleep earlier, doing some type of exercise at least 3 times a week, going to walk the dog in the morning instead of snoozing until the last minute and leaving it to Ash, and reverting back to a diet that is more vegan than vegetarian.

A big part of the mini challenge is INCENTIVE! We decided to all put a base amount of money into a pot. Then, we will each weigh in every week. If we gain in any given week, we have to put in a penalty amount that week. It won't be a huge pot of money at the end but, it is a little carrot dangling out in front of us enticing us to get moving.

Doing a mini challenge with others is also great INSPIRATION. We are already sharing good, healthy recipes and checking in with each other on a regular basis. Some of us are tracking on Sparkpeople. I find that helps me a lot. Hearing everyone else's stats is also great because it sparks my hunger for fair, healthy COMPETITION.

Incentive, inspiration and competition will be the fuel for the 6-week challenge. In that vein, I'm trying a couple of new/different (for me) exercise routines to spice things up. I'm so bored with bikes and treadmills. One thing I'm doing is the boot camp workout on Sparkpeople. Sparkpeople is free so if you're interested, you can get access to the short exercise videos and recommended additional cardio schedule. I am also going to try the 5 Tibetan Rites workout.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Monday Quotable

First, let me just say I LOVE STORY PEOPLE and the line by Brian Andreas is amazing!! That is where this week's quote and art are from. I was first exposed to Story People at a friend's baby shower. We were asked to bring quotes or blessings for the mother to be and the baby. My friend's sister used a Story People quote. It was so sweet that I started looking them up on my phone as soon as the shower ended. I've been a fan ever since. Make sure to check out their products. I already have a wall in my bedroom picked out for a few of the relationship prints. LOVE LOVE LOVE. Ok, you get it (and no, this is not a sponsored post).

As for the quote, I chose it because I am trying more and more these days to just go with the flow. Of course I have my goals in sight and am working towards them but realizing that things happen in their own time and I am just stressing myself out by trying to control everything spawned me to take a breath and let go of the handle. (How's that for a run on sentence?? Sorry.)

Waking up in the morning, expecting the best and asking God to help me handle anything that comes my way with grace has made my outlook so much better. There were a few weeks in the spring where I was totally miserable. Work was in a tailspin and I faced every morning wondering what would go wrong that day. Thank God I am out of that rut. I refocused on the positive and realized that the one thing I can control is my outlook. Everything else...everyone else isn't within my control but when my outlook is good, my reaction is balanced (most of the time--I am human, after all) and my life is happier. So, today, I am letting the wind carry me. How about you?

Happy Monday!!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Friday Playlist

Wango Tango was a while ago but the festival/concert is a good source of all things pop. Every now and then, I just need a good pop playlist. This week's playlist continues the Summer feel from last week by focusing on the artists that performed at Wango Tango. Happy Friday!! Cheers!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Life Lately: Vacation Edition

As you can see, life lately has been all about vacation. You might remember me posting earlier in the year about me and Ash renewing our vows (and our commitment to living life to the fullest). After all of the scary, life altering hospital time I faced last year, it seemed like a natural decision. So, last week, in the waters of St. Maarten, we did just that.

1. Fish circling for more food in St. Maarten
2. Shot of the coastline in St. Maarten
3. The beach in Nassau, Bahamas
4. Headed out to open water in Nassau, Bahamas

5. Ash on the balcony at sunset
6. Ash and I kissing a little bird left in our room by our attendant
7. Sipping wine on the balcony just before sunset
8. Snorkeling in St. Maarten

9. Caipirinhas were the drink of the week.
10. Roti for lunch in St. Thomas
11. Ice cream Sundae for 2 on Asher's b-day
12. Rum punch in Nassau

Monday, June 3, 2013

Monday Quotable

I am back from vacation and trying to maintain the "live in the moment" mindset I cultivated during my week away from the daily grind. There is a strong message running through my life on this topic lately so I had to honor it. This quote was perfect for it.When I say the message is strong, I mean everyone is reminding me to focus on the present. Ash got me an Alex and Ani bracelet last week that said "Live in the Moment." Then, we went on vacation and there was a giant framed photograph of a man reading a book called " How to Live in the Moment. Another book laying on the desk in front of his was titled, "How to Live in the Moment After That. I think the message is pretty clear. Here's to be grateful FOR the moment IN the moment. Happy Monday!!

Be sure to check back this week for vacation photos in the Life Lately post. This photo is the sunset over the Bahamas.