Monday, December 31, 2012

Things I want to do in the 2013

Here is my to-do list of 25 Things I want to accomplish in the new year. 

Research shows we are 80% more likely to reach our goals if we write them down.   Research also shows that we are more successful if we focus on one clear goal at a time. (I will have to keep this in mind). 

I will provide monthly status on my progress...
  1. Run a 5k
  2. Take a Tropical Holiday
  3. Hike to Lake Annette and camp
  4. Go Kayaking
  5. Lose 50lbs
  6. Get 10,000 fans on Self Care Girl
  7. Simplify everything I can
  8. Make a Sourdough starter and bake our bread, instead of buy
  9. Continue to maintain Debt Free lifestyle (Focus on mortgage pay down)
  10. Grow an herb garden
  11. Go Sailing
  12. Sew something
  13. Use my Art Supplies
  14. Begin writing book
  15. Be the most amazing Matron of Honor EVER
  16. Go at least 4 times to see Jake's band play
  17. Remove the Mercury from my mouth
  18. Switch to healthier household cleaners
  19. Read 12 Books (1 per month)
  20. Replace my old furniture.
  21. Remodel the Rental Property
  22. Re-read Decision Modeling Text Book
  23. Eat Better - Learn more about (and incorporate) more Raw and Fermented foods
  24. Take Weekend Away with My Sister
  25. Unplug on Sundays

Monday, December 17, 2012

31 Days of 'Elf Care, Tip #15 & 16: Giving & Receiving

Tip #15: in giving away some of the stuff that is cluttering up your spaces and your life is a great thing to do this time of year.  Start by clearing a drawer or cupboard and see if you don't feel heaps lighter immediately.

  • Think about first removing duplicates.  How many can openers, pairs of scissors, nail clippers, tweezers, rain coats, you really need?   Sometimes having one of an item is best.  Having one of an item, and a specific location for that item increases its value to you and the likelihood of not losing it.
  • Remove any item that you haven't worn or used in a year.
  • If at all possible leave empty spaces - an empty area of a drawer or an empty shelf conveys openness to receive, it is also aesthetically pleasing.
  • GIVE away your excess stuff to friends, family and charity.
  • After the holiday...repeat!  Don't bring anything new into your home without removing something else.
Tip #16: in receiving things gracefully
  • Say thank you.
  • If it is beautiful, say so.
  • If it is something you always wanted, say so.
  • If it is not beautiful-or not something you ever wanted- say thank you and add how happy you feel that the giver thought of you.
  • If it is too much, accept it graciously if received in public, speak to the giver privately afterward if you are concerned.   
  • If you have received a gift and don't have one to reciprocate, say thank you.  Do not make an apology or excuse for not having a gift, or a promise to deliver a gift in the future.  Do not make the giver feel uncomfortable in any way.  If you want to, reciprocate at a later date. You are not obligated to do this...and please do not feel you need to match with a gift of the same  value, especially if you cannot afford it.  
  • Consider always the generosity and thoughtfulness of the giver and always behave with gratitude...that is the true key to being a gracious receiver.
Take Good Care!
Self Care Girl
Holiday 'Elf Care Specialist

Saturday, December 15, 2012

31 Days of 'Elf Care, Tip #14: Strive for Some Holiday Imperfection!

One of the best trees I ever had in my home was decorated heavily in low places with clusters of frosted dinosaur gingerbread the joyful season progressed, many of the cookies lost legs and tails, or completely disappeared -extinct, but for only a trace of crumbs.

This holiday strive for fabulous memories....not perfection....just let go, and let it happen!

Take Good Care!
Self Care Girl

Friday, December 14, 2012

31 Days of 'Elf Care, Tip #13: Take Some Time To Enjoy the Holiday Preparations

Holidays take a lot of preparation.  If you are one of the holiday organizers for your family, you know how stressful this time of year is...especially because nothing else in life really stops to allow for you to engage fully in those preparations;  everything has to happen in addition to your normal routines and obligations.

Taking some time for yourself right now...a day off from work...or trade an afternoon or two of child care with a friend, so you can engage fully and enjoy those preparations-like shopping, or decorating-rather than just rushing to get the done.

Guard against trying to accomplish too much during one of these sessions.  Choose one or two tasks that can be reasonably accomplished in your allotted time frame.   These sessions are intended to be fun and rejuvenating, not stressful!

Take Good Care!
Self Care Girl

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

31 Days of 'Elf Care, Tip #12: It Is Ok For You To Have Everything You Want

I am the first to admit that I am a little bit spoiled rotten.

It wasn't always like this.   I used to just dream about being spoiled rotten.  

I wanted to travel, and to have a nice home, and a nice car, and a nice husband...a garden, a good paying career, a happy healthy child, a good computer, to lose weight, a Master's degree, to fly business class, a closet full of nice clothes and a cat.

My life completely changed when I realized a few very important things:
  • You can have anything you are willing to focus on and work for (in fact it is the best way to get what you want- when you work for something you want you have time to consider if it is really what you want...and you appreciate it more because you worked for it.)
  • You don't have to settle for less than you want
  • If you surround yourself with people who do what you want to do, and have what you want to have, not only will they show you its possible to do it and have it, but they might also show you how!
  • Reconsider any relationships you have with people who don't believe in you, your dreams or your ability or right to have what you want (especially when you are willing to work for it or earn it)
  • Recognize that sometimes you do have to make a choice between two things you want (in my case...the nice husband or the cat, LOL!)

 I am proud to say that I have everything I want...except for the cat.  

 Make your list, and then choose one thing on it to aim for in the new year.  

Take Good Care
Self Care Girl
Holiday 'Elf Care Specialist


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

31 Days of 'Elf Care, Tip #11: Engage in Some Holiday Hugging

“We need 4 hugs a day for survival. We need 8 hugs a day for maintenance. We need 12 hugs a day for growth.” - Virginia Satir

Hugs are a good thing throughout the year, but I think you simply cannot beat the feeling of a warm hug during the festive, chilly Winter Holiday season.

Have you hugged your child today? Your spouse? A friend? Hugging is good self care, and it also benefits the person you hug!

Why hug?

  • Hugs (and human touch) enhance our feelings of security and well-being
  • Hugs reinforce our connections to each other.
  • Hugs tell people that you love them
  • Hugs tell people you want them close to you.
  • Hugs are warm.
  • Hugs are free.

Some Dos and a Don’t of Giving and Receiving Hugs:

DO: Aim for 4, but know that the more hugs you get (and give) the better
DO: Hug first and let go last!
DO: Hug often – you can give one hug to four people or 4 hugs to one person (it all counts!)
DON’T: Be pushy (or creepy) in your hugging- people have different comfort levels with being touched. Always ask first if you don’t know someone well enough.  

Take Good Care!
Self Care Girl
Holiday 'Elf Care Specialist

***Hug O' War is from Shel Silverstein.

Monday, December 10, 2012

31 Days of 'Elf Care, Tip #10: Say YES to Self Care!

"Don't get so caught up in the daily grind that you never find any time to enjoy yourself."


I am writing this after a very hectic weekend.   I was so busy bustling about trying to get things done, the thought of practicing self care didn’t occur to me until I plopped down on the couch at the end of the day – exhausted- and began to sort through my mental to-do and done lists.  Some things got done...some things didn’t ....and unfortunately self care didn’t.  

I had a good think about this after kicking myself for not making myself a priority.   And then I decided that step one should be to not kick myself.

Some days are like this.     It’s okay.  The important thing is to recognize how important self care is and commit to do better the next day.  

After forgiving myself for being human, I decided to develop a list of quick, small tasks I could use in the future to get my little self care fix in when time is of the essence:

1) Be gentle with yourself (no kicking or beating yourself up- be loving!)
2)  Make a list like this for yourself (What little things rejuvenate you?)
3) Create a "done" list in your head or on paper - give yourself credit for what you have accomplished!
4) Take 10 deep breaths
5) Do only what needs to be done...and nothing more.  (I like to clean house before I go to bed, but I really needed to just go to bed)
6) Have a piece of chocolate, a cookie or some little treat.
7) Stop and get yourself something to drink...refocus your eyes and stretch
8) Grab some lotion and massage your hands, arms...feet, legs. 
9) Name 5 things you are thankful for
10) Ask for help.

 Despite my concerns about getting everything done before our vacation on Wednesday, I did manage to stop scurrying about and accepted a movie date with Mr SC last night.      Ironically the movie was set in London (our holiday destination) and it was really nice way to whet our appetite for our upcoming trip!    You never know what kind of joy a little break from the holiday hustle and bustle may provide you.   Be sure to say YES to the self care!

Take Good Care!
Self Care Girl
Holiday 'Elf Care Specialist

Sunday, December 9, 2012

31 Days of 'Elf Care, Tip #9: Winter Skin Care

Moving from crisp cool outdoors to a variety of indoor climates can play havoc with our skin.  Here are a few tips for fighting the Wintertime effects:

  • Hydrate - Drink plenty of water and reduce your soda and caffeine intake.  Remember that what you put in your body is as important as what you put on it!
  • Avoid the temptation to take long hot showers.  Hot water dries the skin more than warm water does.   A good tip is shower at night before you go to bed.  You will sleep better and you are less likely to leave a warm shower and go straight out into cold air. 
  • Rinse your face with cool water and use mild cleanser to avoid drying. 
  • Apply moisturizer immediately after you get out of shower when you pores are open and your skin is most receptive to moisture
  • Use a humidifier to keep the air in your home moist.  Alternatively, placing pots of water in front of heating vents works too!
  • Exfoliate - removing dry, dead skin also makes your skin more receptive to moisturizer
  • Wear sunscreen on your face.  Harmful UV rays also exist in the summertime and reflection off of snow can be especially brilliant 
  • Avoid aggravating your skin with thick materials like wool. 
  • Protect you lips with a good balm   
  • You can find a multitude of easy homemade recipes for your skin under this Self Care Girl  August 2012 link.   These are 2-3 ingredient recipes using ingredients most of us have in our cupboards. 

Friday, December 7, 2012

31 Days of 'Elf Care, Tip #8: Go Walking In A Winter Wonderland

"Sleigh bells ring, are you listening?  In the lane the snow is glistening.  A beautiful sight, we're happy tonight, walking in a winter wonderland..." Richard B. Smith, Walking in a Winter Wonderland

Photo was taken by Jonas Aarre Sommarset:

Walking in the wintertime may be something you are tempted to resist.  The weather outside is frightful, after all, and why would you want to go outside and freeze when you can stay inside on the couch,  toasty warm in front of the fire, with a cup of cocoa?

Ah....I sounds so cozy...and inviting...and I have almost talked myself into it.....

However, scientific evidence supports that walking in a winter wonderland can also be quite delightful for your health.
  • It lifts your spirits 
  • Regular doses of winter sunlight helps to ease seasonal depression.  
  • The air is fresher and more exhilarating
  • You will feel energized
  • It puts healthy color in your cheeks
  • The serenity of snowy scenes about you creates inner peace.
Be sure to dress well before you leave the house.
  • Layers are best.  
  • Wear a hat (body heat leaves through your head!)  
  • Choose mittens instead of gloves (increased body heat from your fingers being together)
  • Synthetic or Wool socks will keep your feet dryer
  • Wear boots with good traction 
  • Put on a dab of lip balm to protect your lips.
  • Carry a cell phone or take someone you love along 
Be safe and warm!

Self Care Girl
Holiday 'Elf Care Specialist

31 Days of 'Elf Care, Tip #7: Peppermint is an 'Elf Care Staple

Peppermint is a popular ingredient and fragrance during the holiday season.   But did you know that it is a potent plant which boasts a multitude of beneficial properties that can keep YOU healthy and happy?

Regular consumption - a daily cup of peppermint tea (not candy canes, sorry!) has been shown to provide the following benefits:
  • Promotes digestion (helps alleviate that awful feeling of overindulgence!)
  • Relieves constipation and diarrhea
  • Soothes Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • Reduces heartburn
  • Induces relaxation
  • Controls mild asthma
  • Calms menstrual cramps
  • Alleviates muscle pain and stiffness 
  • Fights insomnia
  • Strengthens the immune system
  • Antimicrobial, Antiviral, Antiseptic, Antifungal
  • Relieves skin rashes
  • Relieves migraines
  • Boosts mental power
  • Controls herpes simplex
  • Reduces morning sickness
  • Suppresses appetite
  • Controls bad breath
  • Improves mental sharpness
  • Increases physical endurance

Seek out high quality tea.   I am a big fan of the Traditional Medicinals Organic brand you can find this at health food stores and some of your better grocery stores  - Any good quality, non-gmo brand will do though!

For more information on the properties of Peppermint that make it so beneficial, I recommend this link:
Take Good Care 
Self Care Girl
Holiday 'Elf Care Specialist

Thursday, December 6, 2012

31 Days of 'Elf Care: Tip #6 Give From Your Heart!

Holidays can be especially stressful when money is short.   

My best advice for anyone experiencing financial difficulties- whether it’s the holidays or not- is to focus on your basic needs first.    For most of us, the foremost needs are:  1) a roof over your head, 2) food to eat, and 3) heat/electricity.    There is something about outlining and focusing on this reduced list of priorities that calmed me when I was barely making ends meet several years ago.   Once you meet these, then focus on other important things like: any medications you need, a way for people to contact you (you don’t have to have your own phone!) and Transportation.    Look at your own personal needs and prioritize what works best for you.    Then address one thing at a time starting at the highest priority. 

It is my firm belief that any gifts we give to others should be from the heart.   The good thing about this is that giving from your heart is the most valuable type of giving and in most cases it can be the least expensive too!  The worst thing you can do when you are struggling with finances is make the matter worse by blowing money you don’t have on gifts that others don’t need out of obligation or pride or just plain festive zeal.     We don’t want the post holiday season to be all about dealing with the stress of charge card debt and regrets!    

Here is a list of 10 free- or almost free- ways to give: 

  1. Offer your time via a handmade coupon:  Weeding, childcare, window washing, housecleaning, errand running.  (Be sure to follow through!)
  2. Send a letter telling the person what they mean to you
  3. Bake a batch of cookies or candies (this is especially good for young adults who have moved out of the house!)  Or use your craftiness and make gifts.   If you like to crochet, knit, sew, scrapbook, design web pages, etc... Pull out your scraps and get crafting!    One of my favourite things is crocheted wash cloths- they are durable, and I know that my mom thought of me when she made them! 
  4. Pass down that family heirloom
  5. Put together a photo album documenting a personal history.   My sister compiled pictures chronologically for me from my infancy through the birth of my son.   It was one of the best presents EVER!
  6. Put together a file of favourite music for your Sweetie! 
  7. Focus heavily on your reasons for the season- especially if you have children- they need to experience the traditions and special family time fully with you.    Not spending money when you don’t have it is also an important –albeit difficult-example to teach your kids. 
  8. Friends of ours started a tradition when their kids were small.  They wrap holiday books to be opened and read at bedtime each night from Dec 1 to Christmas Eve.  Initially they used some library books to fill the gap (wrap them in different paper so you can return them before they become due!).   They also shopped at thrift stores throughout the year to compile this treasure cheaply.    At the end of the holiday, these books are put away and reused the next year.   (The kids are more interested in the surprise of opening the books and the time spent reading together- not so concerned that these were the same books as the year before!)
  9. My mother used to wrap everything individually.   Understand that much of the joy for kids at Christmas comes with the unwrapping.   A small quantity of inexpensive items like crayons, toy cars, bubbles, a large candy bar, etc...Can bring as much joy as one large expensive gift.    I once wrapped a box of Pop Tarts- my son loved them, but it wasn’t something I would normally buy for him.   So for Christmas it was a real treat!
  10. Give away something you don’t use anymore.   Or sell it on Craigslist and use the money to buy a gift.   I bet there are many things in your home that you don’t use, which have value.  Clear it out!
Whatever you do, put your heart into it and it will be okay!  I promise!

Take Good Care!
Self Care Girl
'Elf Care Specialist

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

31 Days of 'Elf Care, Tip #5: Keep Yourself Healthy

"It is easier to stay well, than to get well" 

The last thing you want this joyous season is to be cut down in the middle of the festivities with an illness.   Take these 5 steps to keep your’elf healthy:
  1. Get enough sleep- your body and mind need time to refresh and recharge
  2. Wash your hands- more people are out and about this time of year and they aren’t just spreading holiday cheer.  Reduce your exposure to germs by lathering up.
  3. Eat healthy and unprocessed as much as you can.   Schedule in healthy snacks.   This time of year, we are prone to overindulge and if we are not consciously fitting in the good stuff, we might miss it. 
  4. Go outside.   Walking in a Winter Wonderland is a good way to get some exercise and some fresh air.    It will also put some healthy color in your cheeks!
  5. Watch your sugar intake.   There is lots of it about these days.   Studies show that eating even a little bit of sugar may depress your immune system.    Seek healthy sweetener alternatives in your baking.
 Got a good tip for staying healthy?   Please let us know!

Take Good Care!
Self Care Girl
Holiday 'Elf Care Specialist

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

31 Days of 'Elf Care, Tip #4: Make Play a Priority

"We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing. - George Bernard Shaw

"Your children need  your presence, more than your presents" - Jesse Jackson

Come know you want to!   The best 'Elves  knows how important play time is.  Its brings us joy, spreads cheer and is very good for our souls!

Here is a list of fun stuff that you may have forgotten to do while you have been bustling about making the holiday memorable:

1) Make a snow angel (Yes, that is Self Care Girl in the photo above.   I am a professional snow angel artiste!)
2) Build a snow fort.
3) Have a snowball fight (especially good if you can throw the first one and run away in time!)
4) When you come in from playing outside, serve up hot cocoa and pull out a board game
5) Go Sledding!
6) Build a snowman
7) No snow?  Go ice skating or roller skating!  Try something new!
8) Play poker and bet Christmas cookies
9) Build a Gingerbread McMansion  (Play Christmas music loudly too!)
10) Have a caroling party with friends

Don't put off playing this holiday.  Try to sandwich your holiday chores in between the play time, instead of the other way around...the chores are NOT as important as the play time is!  Seriously!

Take Good Care
Self Care Girl
'Elf Care Specialist

Monday, December 3, 2012

31 Days of 'Elf Care Tip #3: Remove Your Expectations

Things rarely go as we imagine they will.  

We worry needlessly that something will go wrong, or dread something bad will happen...and then it doesn't...  

Or we envision a Norman Rockwell kind of holiday where everything is perfect and lovely, then we work our butts off because we believe we can and must achieve this unrealistic, impossible ideal...and then the reality strikes...something breaks, or gets overcooked, or the kids are misbehaving, Uncle Max gets drunk again, your mother and aunt get into an argument, or (fill in your own family/life/holiday drama here)....and the whole holiday feels ruined. 

This year, instead of imagining how things can be or might about just removing your expectations completely.   Let go!  Focus instead on the things that really matter and just enjoying moment by precious moment exactly as it occurs.   

A few examples of where to put your focus:

1) You are surrounded by imperfectly perfect people who love you
2) You have a warm house and a tree/ electricity/ furniture/ stuff
3) Aunt Bess made your favorite sugar cookies
4) The kids are going to have unique memories of family holidays when they grow up (Even if Uncle Max gets drunk and knocks over the tree, and especially if their grandma and aunt start pulling hair...sadly)
5) You are relaxed and having fun- watching the memories unfold.  (Better - and easier- than forcing those memories into tight little "joyful"packages, right)

It can be wonderful and NOT be perfect.  Trust me on this, okay?

Take Good Care
'Elf Care Girl

Sunday, December 2, 2012

31 Days of 'Elf Care, Tip #2: 10 Ways to Say NO

 "I don't know the key to success, but I know the key to failure is trying to please everybody" - Bill Cosby.

We appreciate that saying NO can be difficult when you're a  busy 'Elf.    For many caring people, saying NO can also feel downright bad sometimes- it can make you feel guilty, or selfish, or just very uncomfortable.

However......Managing YOUR time IS very good 'Elf Care.  

The more YOU respect YOUR time as valuable,  and begin to set limits with others where YOUR time is concerned by saying NO to those things that you don't want to do...or shouldn't do...or wouldn't do if you didn't have to...etc..., the easier managing YOUR time- and saying NO- gets.  You might find that others become more respectful of YOUR time too.  

Today's 'Elf Care tip is 10 Ways to Say NO.   Practice saying each of these phrases a couple of times - choose one or two that work for you- and before long you will find them spilling from your lips (at the right times) almost effortlessly!   

10 Ways to Say "NO":

1) "No"
2) "No, Thank you. No."
3) "No.  I can't this year.  No."
4) "No. Thanks for thinking of me, but I already have plans. No."
5) "No. I would love to, but I just don't have time. No."
6) "No, I don't want to do that. No."
7) "No. Sorry, I promised _________, I would ________instead. No."
8) "No, doing ______always makes me feel bad/sad/tired/overwhelmed. No."
9) "No. Our family has decided to focus on being home spending time together this holiday. No."
10) "No. That doesn't work for me. No."

A few important notes:

--Notice how each of these statements begins and ends with one little word: NO.  I put it in both spots to emphasize and reinforce the message (and people usually remember the first and last things they hear!). Say it firmly.  If someone persists (RUDE!),  Look them straight in the eye and say NO again and excuse yourself.

--Something to consider:  Saying NO is adequate on its don't have to provide an excuse.   I have provided a few example with justification because I read somewhere that people are more likely to listen and understand (and let it go) if you follow your NO with a reason....and any old reason- in a concise format of one sentence- will do.  

If you feel guilty, know that the more you say this little word and aren't struck by lightning...and actually take control of YOUR time, so YOU can do other important stuff  BETTER...the easier saying NO gets.

Take Good Care-
 'Elf Care Girl

Saturday, December 1, 2012

31 Days of 'Elf Care - Tip #1: Do What Brings You Joy

"You have to decide what your highest priorities are and have the courage - pleasantly, smiling, non-apologetically- to say 'no' to other things.  And the way to do this by having a bigger 'yes' burning inside you."  - Stephen Covey

Pull out a sheet of paper and write down all the things you love about the holiday season.   Engage all of your senses..
1) I love the sound of children laughing- their pink little noses and cheeks and how their hair looks all static-y and flat when they come in, take off their snow gear and warm up with some hot chocolate

2) I love Christmas lights and the smell of pine needles

3) I love baking cookies while playing Christmas music and singing at the top of my lungs

4) I love going to see the Nutcracker ballet
5) I love having Christmas dinner with the whole family together.

Next, write down those things that stress you out over the holiday...
1) Holiday shopping - the traffic, the crowds, the consumerism
2) Uncle Bob and Aunt Carol's bickering

3) Driving in the Snow

4) Writing Christmas Cards to Everyone.

5) Too many holiday parties

Now- focus on the first list...Say YES to these things!  These are your reasons for the seasons.  These are your PRIORITIES!

Focus on the second list...Say NO to these things.  Set limits where you think saying a complete NO will cause more stress or compromise aspects of what you do love (ie: Love the family dinner, but limit time spent in the room with or at events with the bickering relatives)

I would love to hear what's on your holiday JOY lists! 

Take Good Care-
'Elf Care Girl
"'Elf Care Reform Specialist"