Steps for Bringing Order in Your Home

Do you have a drawer or two or ten in which you stuff all your I-don’t-know-what-to-do-with-that papers? Is your closet overflowing with sweaters that are too small, too old, too big, too stained? Shoes that need to be polished? A basket full of unmatched socks? Do you have a room where you hide all your messes? A dining room table covered with unopened mail  and things that ought to be put away? Bills that are piled up and unorganized? A mudroom full of coats? A dish (or two or five) with spare change and mini-erasers and throat lozenges and paper clips? A basement that you are afraid to step into?

Been there, done that.

Got ten minutes? Just start.

If you are nervous about taking up too much time, set an alarm on your smart phone for ten minutes from now, or use this free program (www.marinaratime.com) to keep you on track. It’s amazing what you can accomplish in ten minutes if you set your mind to it.

STEP ONE: Grab a piece of paper (or notes on your phone), and take a walk through your house, room by room, and noticing and making a list of the tasks that are necessary in order to clear the clutter.

STEP TWO: Pick just one room–maybe the one you are in most of the time. In your planner (or on a piece of paper), write down what you can realistically do this week, and the one after, and the one after until all the tasks have been assigned to a week. Decide how much time you will give to each task every week and when the time runs out, you are free to be done for that week. When you are done with room #1, start on the next one. And then the next one.

Here is a start for you: Your closet!

  1. If you and your husband have separate closets, start with yours. Gather all the clothes and shoes you are never going to wear again–if you have not worn something for 12 months, there is a good chance you never will wear it again. Make three piles: throw out, donate and sell. Throw out right away, decide who you will donate to and make plans to do it, google consignment shops in your area for what you plan to sell and drop it off, or sell it on Ebay* (Ebay is great for any name brand clothing).
  2. Pile up what needs to be mended. Do it, or give it to someone who can do it for you.
  3. Wash what needs to be washed. If at all possible, do it yourself instead of going to the dry cleaner. Put away the money you would have spent.
  4. Go through your pockets and empty them. Put loose change in designated jar.
  5. Then go on with your husband’s closet, and your kids’ closet. And the chests of drawers. You get the idea. Don’t get frustrated if the job seems endless. It is absolutely attainable, ten minutes at a time.

And you are welcome to join my closed facebook group where we dig in deep and find the joy of reclaiming our finances and time.

We People are a Funny Bunch

I’ve been watching people and studying their ways for a very long time. And you know what? We people are a funny bunch.

I have noticed a remarkable trait among us humans: Those of us who have a tendency to overeat (me at the front of the line) have a tendency to accumulate stuff in our homes. And people who have a tendency to accumulate stuff have a tendency to overspend. And people who have a tendency to overspend have a tendency to be messy in their finances.

Even though this may not be the case for you, the reader, this brought home to me once again the importance of understanding and accepting this fact: every part of us is connected to every other part. If we are going to do well in any area of life, we will only do so by addressing the whole person–spirit, soul and body.

Think about it: when our spirit is a mess, we function at a very low level, and our homes wind up showing it. When minds and hearts are heavy rather than sharp, we forget to pay bills, or get lazy and don’t care about paying them on time, or even spend money just because–you know, numbing ourselves with Amazon prime. When our bodies aren’t at their peak, nothing seems to work well– we don’t “feel” like doing anything, or we act like robots, without being intentional. The result isn’t great. Sounds familiar?

At times, it seems easier to let chaos rule around us and on the inside of us than to deal with it; in reality, chaos is very much a false pleasure with ugly consequences that not one of us enjoys. In the long run, it brings along feelings of never being settled, disempowerment and lots and lots of waste. Chaos in one area creates chaos in many other ones. You might be shocked once you discover how much time and money your clutter is costing you on an everyday basis.

“Leave my mess alone,” you might say. “That’s just the way I am.”

I get you! We have that in common for sure: I don’t like it either when people mess with me either–no pun intended.

But you and I have another thing in common: you invested your time and money in this book in order to better handle your money and time so that you can have more time and money. And I invested time and money into this book to help you better handle your time and money so that you can have more time and money. So if we are both going to get the results we want, we both need to do the work required.

We don’t have to be perfect–just committed. Is it going to be difficult? Yes! Worth it? Absolutely!

 

Feel free to join us at  the Own Your Life Academy Accountability Group on Facebook where we dig in deep and find the joy of reclaiming our finances and time.

 

When our lives wallow in clutter, there is no room for more of anything.  And no thing or person wants to show up if there is no place for them to hang out.

The first step is to make room, thus dealing with the chaos.

Remember the movie Field of Dreams (1989) with the famous phrase, “if you build it, they will come”? It’s the same principle here: if you make room in your life for more time and money, they will feel welcomed. They will come.

God Himself is “not a God of disorder” (1 Corinthians 14:33). There is order in all His creation, down to the way the earth revolves around the sun every  365 days; the sun shines by day and the moon and stars shine by night (Jeremiah 31:35). I find no instance in Scriptures of God being messy or praising His people for chaos.  We actually read that “everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way.” (1 Corinthians 14:40)

Ready to be more like your Father and de-clutter (un-chaos) your surroundings? Ready to make room for more time and money?

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” Ecclesiastes 3:1

Six Powerful Principles to help You handle Time and Money God’s Way

 

When all is said and done, our lives are successful–or not–because we yield to God’s principles–or not.

Principles are fundamental truths–or laws– that govern every facet of life. We can try to fight these principles, but we won’t win. Take gravity, for example. Whether we like it or not, we cannot not yield to its truth as long as we have our feet on this earth–it is an integral part of decisions we have made ever since childhood. We know that if we jump off a bridge, we will fall into the water–it’s that simple. We can pretend all we want that rain won’t make us wet, but without an umbrella, a walk in the rain will make us wet 100 % of the time.

We are much better off when we cooperate with the way God has set things up.

 

 

Did you ever stop to consider how much time and money have in common? I find it absolutely fascinating! And I have discovered that the same principles that work in money management totally work in time management.

Below, you will find the six Godly principles about time nad money that I have uncovered at this point; these have stood the test of life lived over centuries.

Think of these principles as a small series of books on a bookshelf. The books tell a story: the first and the last ones act as bookends, introducing and summarizing all other truths. The middle ones are the story itself; as you listen and yield to it, one book at a time, you will see your personal story move forward in a new direction. No longer enslaved to time and money, you will find yourself empowered to use them as tools to glorify God and enjoy life fully.

Here are the titles of the books in the bookshelf:

  1. Time and Money Management Success: Chaos has to go
  2. Time and Money Management Success: Where the mind goes, the man follows
  3. Time and Money Management Success: Your habits are powerful
  4. Time and Money Management Success: Your attitude matters big time
  5. Time and Money Management Success: The harvest will not be denied
  6. Time and Money Management Success: Currencies are spent and saved

Over the next months, we will dive into each one of these. But let me give you a warning first: there is a very good chance that you will become somewhat uncomfortable as you discover places where your story doesn’t match this one.

The good news is, you are free to change your story. It’s simply a choice.

If you want more insight on managing your time and money God’s way, please make sure you come visit us at the Own Your Life Academy Accountability Group on Facebook!

 

My Journey from Pauper to Quite Okay

For years, we did T-ball on Tuesdays and Thursdays and spaghetti and meat balls on Sundays. We drove to church, did homework, shoveled snow in the winter and mowed the grass in the summer.

My husband and I are as ordinary as people come.

I was born in Brussels, Belgium. My mom came from aristocracy (“old money”), and my dad had a very good job working as a demographer for the European Union (E.U.) then called the Common Market.  We were well off growing up, but it just felt normal to my three siblings and myself since we did not know anything else. Money just was never talked about; it was one of those taboo subject, like sex and drugs.

I quit college and moved to Germany as a young bride of 21. My American husband’s salary took care of our needs, but either way, I wasn’t really worried–money did not mean much to me. He paid the bills and we were happy.

A year after our wedding, we moved across the ocean, pregnant and full of dreams. With no college degree, Rich found a job at a deli and I got busy raising our son. I learned about checkbooks and paying bills. We had enough money for donuts on Sunday. Life was good.

Eventually, we moved again, and my hubby got a construction job.  We now had two babies to feed, and the paychecks were barely enough to pay the rent of our basement apartment. With a shock, I found out that money did not grow on trees–when it runs out, it runs out. Thank God for credit cards.

I had never even heard of food stamps until we found ourselves applying for them.

Every fiber in my being was filled with awful shame–government help was for “those” people–you know, the ones who smelled bad and drank–not me! To this day, I have never told my mother about the stamps. But I had to feed my babies, so I used them, trying so very hard to be as discreet as possible as I handed the strips of paper to the cashier in the grocery store. Tithing on the stamps made me feel a bit better.

The construction job dried up, and we had to add welfare checks to the food stamps. I was dying of shame on the inside. But even welfare did not pay for the rent and utilities. Reluctantly, we sold the two pieces of gold we owned –one received with each birth as a gift from my parents. The sale paid for four months’ rent.

Now what?

No job, two babies, a credit card bill and food stamps. What was happening to us? Where was God in this mess? We ate a lot of pasta. I cried a lot. I washed cloth diapers by hand.

Rich tried to get back into the Air Force, but they  would not take him back because he now had dependents. He enrolled in the Reserves, which netted us $117.00 for one week-end every month. He scored two part-time jobs, making $3.35/hour for about 25 hours a week.

The welfare checks stopped because of the jobs, and I felt like I could breathe again…but financially, nothing changed–we just traded a hand out for a real pay check.

We were dirt poor, but I refused to think of ourselves as poor. I learned how to figure out how much extra we needed at any moment of any day, listing our monthly expenses and income on a piece of paper. I color-coded everything–too much red everywhere. Every day, I would study it, changing it with each expense or income coming in. I went through a lot of erasers and papers! I literally picked up and counted pennies. And I spent a lot of time on my knees, asking for miracles to make up the difference between the income and expenses each month. I prayed about every single little need, because buying envelopes or dishrags was not even a possibility.

We made it through one year, and Rich got a $.25 cents/hour raise at one of the part time jobs. That meant a few extra dollars each week. I put those to good use. I was getting very good at stretching  the food stamps we were still getting.

We made it another year, and Rich landed a better part-time job–more hours and a bit more money. Now there was money for toilet paper and plastic pants to go over the cloth diapers–yes, I literally did not have money for those for a while since food stamps did not pay for toiletries. I remember dancing in the living room with my son when God provided the $2 necessary for a pair of plastic pants.

We had three babies by now, and we felt like maybe we were going to make it.

The part-time job turned into full-time with benefits. Things were looking up and we thanked the Lord. I still charted every penny that came into and went out of the house.

I went to work making minimum wage when all my babies were in school. The bills were getting paid each month by now, so we started to pay off our credit card debt.

One tiny penny at a time. And we bought a house one penny at a time, paid for twelve years of college one penny at a time and started to save and invest–literally, one penny at a time.

We are as ordinary as they come. To this day, both of our incomes together don’t add up to six figures.

But this we did:

  • we committed ourselves to the Lord,
  • we educated ourselves,
  • we yielded to His principles,
  • we gave
  • we budgeted every single thing
  • we worked hard.

Today, our net worth is quite nice. And we still pick up pennies.

Over the next few months, I am going to help you get there as well!

And you are welcome to join my closed facebook group where we dig in deep and find the joy of reclaiming our finances and time.

Are You Doing Okay with Your Time and Money?

There are more people caught in a prison of debt and time pressure in our western societies than there are people who are free to enjoy their time and money. And when out of control, time and money are mean, ugly slave masters.

The numbers are staggering:

  • Only 20 % of Americans live free from debt, and 69 % of Americans view non-mortgage debt as a necessity–that’s almost 7 out of 10 people! *
  • 48 % of Americans are pressed for time. **

When these are not in order, daily life is chaotic, pressure fills in every hour of every day, marriages fall apart, people live on edge, health goes in the dumps and people are prone to bursts of anger; all of life seems to revolve around the lack of them… I can’t even count the number of my friends who “spend” their time being miserable over not having enough time and money.  Life just doesn’t taste good anymore.

The problem is, we can’t live without time and money; they are basic necessities.

The good news is, there are simple principles that, if followed, will bring your money and your time back to you.

That’s a pretty bold statement, isn’t it?

But I say this confidently.

 

Your demographics do not matter. Whether you are thirteen or eighty-three, whether you are a stay-at-home mom or the head of a few corporations, whether you are almost homeless, have more debt than you know or were born with a silver spoon in your mouth, these principles will work for you if you apply them diligently.

The havoc of money and time mismanagement is an ugly weed in today’s families. But if we simply pull the weed, it is eventually going to grow back–ask any farmer or gardener you know. We need to dig out the root connected to the weed, the part that’s hidden in the dark. And much of this root has to do with the very thoughts we hold on money and time. Success will come when we start from the inside out.

Neither my husband nor myself holds a college degree, we live in a small Pennsylvania town, and at the time of this writing, both of our incomes together still don’t add up to a yearly six figure income. But we did are completely debt-free and have an acceptable nest egg.

We also went from working more hours than I can count and not having time for enough sleep or for each other to having daily, weekly and monthly times set aside for dates, fun events, volunteering in our church and enjoying every day moments.

This is not only feasible, it’s absolutely realistic. If we did it, you certainly can, too.

Stay tuned as I will give you some beautiful nuggets of wisdom in the next few weeks.

And you are welcome to join my closed facebook group where we dig in deep and find the joy of reclaiming our finances and time.

Did You Brush Your Teeth Today?

Brushing your teeth is not very glamorous. Neither is exercising or eating healthy or feeding your mind good stuff on a regular basis. These are just things we do because it’s good for us. Necessary. Wise.

If you go look at yourself in the mirror after a hard workout, you probably won’t see much of a difference– actually, you probably will look pretty sweaty and yucky. And if you go look in the mirror the next day, you probably won’t see much of a difference–actually, by then, you might be in pain as your muscles feel the workout from the day before. At that point, you might decide that exercise is for the birds–who needs the sweat, the pain, the hard work anyways if you can’t see any result?

I love this quote from Aristotle: “We are what we repeadetly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”

Habits are a strong predictor of success. Show me your habits and I can probably show you the quality of your life in ten years.

I did a lot of growing up the year I finally accepted that the law of the harvest in undeniable. I will reap the fruit of my habits, good or bad. My life is a mirror of my habits thus far, and my future life is clearly being designed by the habits I establish in the now.

So, no. you don’t see the result of exercise overnight. And no, you don’t see the result of eating a candy bar overnight. And really, if you just eat one, it’s no big deal. It’s the repetition that makes it count. An extra candy bar every day for 365 days, that’s a lot of calories that your body has to process… might have to store quite a few of them in the fat cells.

Telling your kids that you love them once might not impact their lives forever. However, if you habitually tell them that they are loved, this becomes part of who they are.

Habits shape your future.

What kind of future are you after?

Want to join a group of ladies who are accountable to each other? Join our OWN YOUR LIFE ACADEMY ACCOUNTABILITY GROUP on Facebook! We’d love to have you with us!

 

 

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The Power of Kindness in Your Life

Dear Friend,

Kindness has within itself the power to deeply impact the life of the person receiving it.  We have all heard of stories in which one act of kindness completely changed a person, and possibly saved their life.

Kindness has an amazing impact on the giver as well. Not only do acts of generosity and kindness lower our blood pressure, give us a better night’s sleep, put us in a good mood, but they also cause us to view the world and others differently.

Kindness is powerful beyond words.

We can all train ourselves to be kinder and more generous, one small act at a time. It starts with a simple commitment to it. Then, one act of kindness after another, a habit is birthed into us and one day, we realize that we have been changed from the inside out through the process!

But we have to actually do them.

kindness_1bemusl-1bemuso

Acts of kindness come in all shapes and forms.

They can be extravagant, small, colorful, loud, silent, apparently insignificant, marvelous…

You don’t have to be a grown-up to perform them, and you don’t have to be a kid either. You don’t have to have lots of money, nor do you need a lot of time.

But there is one thing you need: you need to choose them.

Acts of kindness are done on purpose.

And you know what? When we commit to acts of kindness, we are changed.

In my personal life, intentional acts of kindness have powerfully transformed me. They have given me the freedom to not be self-involved in times where every part of me wanted to pout. They have revealed to me the joy of seeing that giving is better than receiving.  They have placed a song in my heart when there wasn’t any.  They have caused me to see the power of one.

We can never underestimate the power of kindness. One simple act of kindness can bring forth a forever change in someone, who will then bring change into others. Kindness is contagious.

Kindness is like a seed. One seed can bring about a million oak trees. One act of kindness can revolutionize the world.

seeds_zps4dc72e93

Here are some ideas to get you started….

  1. If you walk by a car with an expired parking meter, put a quarter in it.
  2. Bring a meal to a tired Momma
  3. Compliment someone publicly on Facebook!
  4. Smile big at the cashier and thank him/her for his/her work
  5. LISTEN at a child telling you a loooonnng story
  6. Initiate a conversation with someone sitting alone at a party
  7. Write someone a snail mail
  8. Let someone go before you
  9. Call your mom
  10. Rake leaves or shovel snow for someone
  11. Be generous tipping your waiter
  12. Compliment someone on purpose
  13. Bake cookies for work
  14. Send flowers
  15. Babysit
  16. Pay for someone’s coffee, toll, meal, newspaper, candy
  17. Say THANK YOU to your child’s teacher, or your teacher, or your friend, or your dad
  18. Hold the elevator
  19. Let someone know they matter to you.
  20. Buy lemonade at a lemonade stand
  21. Pick up the garbage can that fell over

 

Don’t forget to join our little Own Your Life Academy Accountability Group on Facebook. Let’s encourage each other to be kind, shall we?

 

 

What does Fitness really mean to You?

So, we all know we ought to be fit. Fitness is good. Fitness keeps you young. Fitness keeps you healthy. But the word itself might mean something completely different for each one of us. This is dictionary.com’s  definition of fitness:

FIT·NESS

/ˈfɪtnɪs/ Show Spelled [fit-nis] 

noun

1. health
2. capability of the body of distributing inhaled oxygen to muscle tissue duringincreased physical effort.
3. Also called Darwinian fitness. Biology .

  a. the genetic contribution of an individual to the next generation’s gene poolrelative to the average for the population, usually measured by the numberof offspring or close kin that survive to reproductive age.
  b. the ability of a population to maintain or increase its numbers in succeedinggenerations

So, what does this really mean? And what does it mean to YOU? To one, health might mean being able to take a walk, to another, the ability to run a marathon. It may mean not being depressed to one, and being happy all the time for another…

fit

I think that we all need to take a balanced approach. Not one of us is “healthy” if he can run a marathon but cannot control his anger.

I broke it down for us to three fundamental values:

F is for Fun

Whatever we understand by fitness and health, it should add joy to our lives. We are healthy when we do things for our spirit, soul and body that are enjoyable and add value to our life. Let’s face it: if we hate what we are doing, we won’t keep it up–it’s that simple. People need to enjoy what they do on a regular basis–especially if it does not involve the reward of money–or they will either skimp on it or quit all together.

Fun makes us feel alive.

So you hate going to your gym? Maybe it’s time to find a different way of moving. Your personal development book bores you to pieces? Maybe it’s time to reconsider what you are reading. You can’t see to motivate yourself to eat right? Maybe your meals just don’t taste satisfying–or fun.

I is for Intentional

We are born neither fir or unfit. You choose to be healthy or not healthy by the choices we do or do not make–which, by the way, are choices as well. This is definitely The Slight Edge philosophy: easy to do, easy not to do.

Everything we are involved with in life is at some level intentional–on purpose. We don’t love by accident, we don’t just happen to go to college, we don’t somehow just wind up running a marathon. We are intentional about the areas we want results in, we make plans and link those plans to behaviors. Some of us even hire life coaches to get there. It’s no different with health, no matter what our definition of fitness is. We don’t wake up fit one day just because. We plan to be fit and act accordingly. The results follow.

T is for Total

This one is probably the most important one: “Fitness” does not have to do only with a strong, healthy body, even though it certainly is one component of fitness. Fitness has everything to do with wholeness, from the inside out. For it to be true health or fitness or wholeness, “it” has to address the entire human being, not just legs and heart.

Fit people are balanced people who are making choices that bring about:

~a mind that is alert, challenged and always growing,

~a body that is moving toward health because of what it is fueled with and how it is being trained,

~a spirit that is awake and always responding.

 

So that’s my take on Fitness.  What about yours?

Who do You want to be?

There is so much pressure in today’s world about how we ought to look, behave, think…

I often hear that the best way to attain happiness and most of the time it involves spending money. Buy the best, go on the morst luxurious vacation, go to fancy restaurants, you know the drill. But those of us who are learning to own our lives, we know that we can be absolutely content and comfortable with ourselves without spending money. We are living intentionaly.

Do not be bullied into being something you are not. If you are not happy with any aspect of life then it is up to you alone to change it. Life is what you make it and you can be the person you want to be.

Here is how to start:

Take a good look at yourself. Do you like what you see? Are you happy with the person you have become? Is there anything you would change? Don’t ask the opinions of too many people because in this instance, what you want and like is what matters. If you feel it is time for a hair-cut, do it! If your weight leaves you feeling negative about yourself, then start doing the rigth thing by asking the right questions (life coaching can help!). If a fashion revamp is in order, then get rid of those pieces of clothing that really don’t fit or suit you. Wear those pink hot pants while cleaning the floor, if you don’t think they are appropriate for outdoor wear but you just can’t give them up. Wear what you feel comfortable in and what reflects your personality, not what you want other people to see. Dress for yourself.

Are you starting to feel liberated?

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Forget about the past, put it away, thinking about it won’t change a thing–actually, it will only stress you out! Never mind  the future because it never comes and plans often go awry.

Take time to think about what is important to you today.   Keep your thoughts and actions in the moment.

Think for yourself.

Be true to yourself.

Listen to that little voice inside called intuition and if something does not feel right, don’t do it just because others are.

Sounds simple, doesn’t it?  It is.

The secret is in doing it!  Until it becomes a delightful habit.

Try it–you won’t regret it! And by the way, you are not being selfish. You are just being real. And that is very attractive. Just sayin’

We are a small group of women who help each other own our lives with joy and play full out. You are welcome to join us HERE.

Do You Need a New Mindset?

What’s Your Mindset?

In other words, what’s your intention, your inclination? Where is your mind set? Where is your mind going?

Even if our minds are not purposefully set, we all have what we call a “mindset.” Because your mindset, it’s the whole of your thoughts and beliefs that you think everything though. It shapes your habits of thought. It’s the frame around how you think. It’s actually how you frame what you think–isn’t that interesting that we use the expression “frame of mind?


frame

 

In my career as a personal trainer, I once had a lovely client who saw herself as an “ugly fat cow.” Every time she saw herself in my wall-to-wall mirror, she pointed her chin to the mirror and say, “you ugly fat cow!” At least three times a session. Sometimes more.

She said it. She believed it. She was it in her own mind. That was her mindset. And as long as that is where her mind was set, her body never changed. No matter how hard she worked. No matter how little she ate. Nothing changed.

You ugly fat cow.

fat-cow

I began to talk to her about her thought habits that ruled her speech. We eventually got to the place where she was willing to “re-frame” her thoughts about herself. She changed her thoughts. She changed her mindset. And her body changed.

Life happens from the inside out. But we often we want to do things backwards, looking for the outs before we get the ins. Investing into changing our inside first by nourishing our minds, cherishing our souls, changing our mindset seems a bit seems lame. Too labor intensive. Stupid.

Yet come to think of it, controlling and growing our inside life–our thought habits, our mindset–in the right direction is truly the first pillar of change. Because we always, always live from our mindset.  And this one pillar, it is the one that will cause all other pillars to line up just right. And only when this one pillar is well established can we actually change for real.   

Your mindset reaches into your past, your present and your future. How you interpret your past has everything to do with how your frame it. And how you frame your past will determine how you feel about it, how you think about it, what you choose to do about it. Your mindset causes you to interpret your past, so in a very real way, your past is subject to your mindset today, and you can change it. Now, let me tell you, that is very good news because your very own mindset, not your situations, is what shapes what lies behind you, before you and within you.

So, how about working with it a bit? Hmm…

Read this. Share it, post it on Facebook, send it to a friend. We all need a bit of help.

We would LOVE to have you join our little OWN YOUR LIFE ACADEMY ACCOUNTABILITY GROUP if you have not yet. We are a group of women who are learning to play full out and own our lives with joy.