5 Tips To Prepare For Christmas this Advent

Wow, this year Advent started much earlier. Advent started on 1 December which happened to be the first Sunday AFTER the Thanksgiving Day holiday. Honestly, since it was so soon after Thanksgiving, it really caught me off guard. As we are still in the first week of the Advent season, I’m reminded of the importance of being prepared and ready. Always.

And I’m not ready or prepared. Yet. Our (artificial) tree is up, though not decorated yet. The lights are up outside (my husband was ever grateful for a 47-degree day last week) Our home is slowly getting cleaned. (It usually takes me 2.5 full days to deep clean my home). I made some Black Friday and Cyber purchases online. But am I truly ready, am I truly preparing?

As I sat in Mass this past Sunday, I felt at ease and at peace. Knowing that the decorating of the home presents purchased and wrapped ultimately didn’t matter in comparison to being truly prepared and ready as we wait for the King of glory to return.

5 Tips to prepare for christmas this advent

Reflecting on Advent(ure)

I reflected on how the word Adventure stems from the word Advent. I began to prepare my heart for an “Adventure” in this season of Advent. I reflected on how Jesus isn’t a boring person, and how my relationship with Him brings me joy and a feeling of adventure and wonderment.

But yet, by Sunday afternoon, as I cleaned and started the process of getting our home ready, I started to feel “caught off guard” again and struggled with the idea that I wasn’t spiritually ready if Jesus was to come over for a visit. Can you tell me that I have some insecurities about being a tad ADD and disorganized? I asked my husband, my Dad and Stepmom to join me in praying a Rosary. Putting Christ at the center of this Advent season and Christmas is the only way I can feel that peace and joy. Does Jesus even care if my linen closet is clutter-free?

5 Tips To Prepare for Christmas This Advent

  1. Pray. Meditate on the Mysteries of the Rosary. A prayer is a spiritual form of working out. It’s a form of communication and petition. When you are able to focus on the miracle of the incarnation of Jesus Christ and how God was able to use a young faithful engaged couple for Him to become human, you might be filled with awe at how marvelous this gift was. Make time daily during this season of Advent to pray. Especially during moments of overwhelming anxiety.
  2. Keep A Journal. Keeping a journal will allow you to write down all of your reflections, cares, worries, and thoughts. Writing down 3 things you are grateful for each morning will help you reflect on all the gifts you get throughout each day and can help you be on the lookout for blessings God is giving you during this season.
  3. Seek (And Schedule) Out A Daily Quiet Break To Welcome Jesus. I don’t know about you, but I enjoy time alone. Every day. Whether it’s the time in your car, shower, or out for a walk or run. I turn off my phone, radio, close my laptop and I use that time to welcome Jesus more into my life. Perhaps in the quiet you will hear or be impressed with something He is asking of you. I’ve done this and this is part of the reason I am restarting this blog. If you can’t escape from everyone who is asking you for your time. Use a calendar and BLOCK out that time now. Just as you would if you had a meeting with a client or doctor appointment. This is time alone with yourself to center your mind on Christ. Besides, just 15 minutes each day without ANY distractions can help improve your life in so many ways.
  4. Learn That You Can’t Do All The Things. Accept FOMO. This year I’m not even taking out my baking gear. Yes, I know! SAD. But I usually bake around 10-15 dozen cookies during this season of Advent. This year. I’ve decided that given the timeline I simply will need to cut one thing out. Baking. My husband and grandson don’t know it yet as of the writing of this post. But I will be delivering the sad news to them that they will be lucky to get 1 dozen home-baked cookies. And that is totally okay. Advent is going to be minimal this year.
  5. Read a Scripture Outloud Each Morning. I’d like to invite you to join me in Advent: The Journey To Christmas via the YouVersion Bible.app. Each morning of Advent, over the next 25 days read just one verse or two from the Gospel of St. Luke and from the Old Testament Book of Isaiah.
5 Tips to prepare for Christmas this advent

December 25th will come whether we are ready or not. Jesus will also come back again someday, whether we are ready or not. Will I get caught off guard yet again? Or will I know that I need to prepare my heart to be joyful and peaceful no matter what is happening in the physical realm? A messy, cookieless house and all.

As we enter this Advent Season, what are some ways you are preparing your heart to be peaceful and joyful despite all the ACTION and BUSYNESS that seem to take over?

What to Do With Leftover Halloween Candy

After Halloween, I was amazed at the amount of candy my grandson got, especially after I counted up the total calories. It really made me think there’s no way a toddler could eat ANY of that candy, but i could but should not, so we ended up taking 5 pounds of candy and donating to our local food pantry. It seems like many people feeling the same way because I keep reading about all kinds of things to do with leftover Halloween candy besides eat it, from donating it to soldiers overseas to using it to make a gingerbread house. Read on for some of the best ideas of what to do with all that leftover Halloween candy. Donate it: There are lots of charities that will take extra Halloween candy whether you’d rather give it to a soldier or children or the hungry. Here’s an entire post on how to donate you candy. Reuse it: I love the idea of repurposing candy to make your holiday gingerbread house from MomEndeavors Get Crafty With It: If you want to take the repurposing a step further Alphamom has some beautiful ideas for making things like an advent calendar, a harvest tree or a turkey pinata with leftover Halloween candy. Trade It: Lots of people seem to like the idea of just convincing their kids to trade the candy for a new toy or book, whether you call it the Halloween or Candy Fairy or the Switch Witch as AChildGrowsinBrooklyn does.

Starting Over…Again

Sometimes we’re afraid or embarrassed to say that we had to start over or that we need a Mulligan on our journey. At this point in my life, I had allowed my health and fitness to take the backseat. I’ve put on over 30lbs from where I was 3 years ago. I’m starting over. I’m learning that extremism in anything is never good. I had given up carbs, I had given up wine, I complicated my fitness doing outrageous things all while I gained and gained.

So since Saturday I have started a walking regimen of 1 hour daily and began Weight Watchers on Sunday.

I learned at my first Weight Watchers meeting to create my success story.  That includes a clear “WHY”.  Your why should be your motivation for starting down this path. It should be specific and detailed perhaps even visual.

My “Why”

I’m doing this because I love my clothes and I no longer FIT into my clothes.
I’m doing this because I enjoyed running and the friendships it gave me but I can’t run more than 2 miles without a walk break and feel like I broke an ankle or injured my knees.
I’m doing this because I love playing and chasing after him, but I get winded keeping up with Baby J.

If you are stuck and feeling like this is, I encourage you to start over. Start slow. Don’t do the extreme. Take small steps but look ahead. Don’t look back. Find your reasons why. Write them down. Tell someone. Ask for accountability.

My 2018 Whole30 Journey

Hi everyone! I have not kept up with this blog and I am truly sorry! So much has happened over the last year since I started this blog, my attention was shall I say scattered and honestly, I’m so ready to dive in and get 2018 started off strong and positive.
As of today, I’m on DAY 4 of my WHOLE30!  I figured I should share this news with you in hopes that you have tips, recommendations, suggestions or just want to send me a virtual high five!

As you may have noticed if you’ve followed me on Facebook or Instagram, this is NOT my first time trying to complete a Whole30, this is actually my 4th attempt since having completed my first one in 2014. Yes, I basically have tried each year since my successful 2014 Whole30 to do it again and for some reason or another, I simply quit.

 Even after I knew it was the most amazing 30 days of my life I would start and then after Day 3 or 4 I would fizzle out and run back to finish an entire row of Oreos.
But not this time. NO MA’AM (or SIR). This time is different. I’m approaching this one with complete and utter respect and learning how to re-slay the sugar dragon who has invaded my mind and body. To help me on this journey I’ve ordered Food Freedom Forever and can’t wait to get through it. See, over the last 2.5 years, I’ve neglected and avoided being good to my body and taking care of it from the inside.  It was like I was sabotaged every good thing I’d done. I had conquered my goals in fitness and strength and even had my weight somewhat under control. But I somehow went down this ugly spiral with food and that turned into a sheer mockery of running or going to the gym.  Sure I had the occasional motivation to run/walk for a mile or 2 but I resisted.
I have to be honest with myself and without any judgment be completely frank on this topic. This isn’t about vanity. This is about health and fitness. As a forty-something Gigi, I have crossed into territories I had promised I wouldn’t go and found myself feeling sluggish, lethargic, sick and it’s all because I’ve had a really bad relationship with food.

I’ve put on almost 10lbs per year starting with 2015 and I’ve had enough. I want to be healthy and fit for my family, so I can chase my daughter’s toddler up and down stairs without gasping for my breath. I want to teach my son who is in recovery the proper way to fuel your body pre and post workout. I want to travel to places with my husband and not have to opt out of paddleboarding or skiing because I’m not flexible or fit enough.
I’m so grateful for my husband for accompanying me on this journey. He offered 1000% support in doing this.  He said he would eat Whole30 meals whenever he is home.  Which is fair because I offered to help locate compliant food choices in the cities he travels to.

So because I’m ultra busy running a business, re-starting this blog, bored with scrambled eggs and because I’m sometimes kitchen-challenged I signed up for Realplans  Whole30 online meal planning tool. Talk about easy and delicious.

Whole30 Meal Plans Made Easy realplans

Whole30 Meal Plans Made Easy realplans

I even get to have a 1-on-1 meeting with them to help me get really geeky. I’ll keep you posted on that! 

And I just signed up with Walmart online shopping for my groceries to make life easy because like you, I simply don’t have 2 extra hours to go rummaging through the produce and butcher section of the store.
I’m going to be adapting most of the recipes I make to my Thermomix!
Needless to say, I’m feeling strong and ready to get past DAY 4! I’m not quite at Tiger Blood yet! But once I am I will shout it out! I strongly recommend everyone try a Whole30 at least once in their lifetime.  
Have you ever finished a Whole30? How’d you feel afterward? Have you started one like I have and given up?

7 Ways to Stay Focused (at the office, school or home)

We’ve all been there. We have a list as long as the length of a full marathon with items, tasks, important things that need to be handled because that project deadline at school, work, or even at home if you are your own boss, is inching its way closer and faster than you can say HELP! Add to that the fact that life DOES happen and things you didn’t anticipate or see coming, happen! The dog gets sick, the nanny calls you the night before to tell you she’ll be late, your better half announces that they’ve got another business trip to the West Coast. Well hopefully these things won’t completely derail your pending day, week or month. But you still crave to get everything off of your To-Do list and for once feel accomplished or move on to the next step.

Assuming that you already have your project or goal well-defined and planned out with all the required steps and tasks that are needed to complete it, here are 7 tips or insights I learned from reading Eat That Frog to help you stay focused on those steps and tasks so you can cross them off and feel ready to move on to the next set of tasks

  1. Start your day before everyone else.
    As hard as that sounds to do and I’m just as guilty as the next girl that I love hitting snooze. Whenever I jump out of bed 2-3 hours before the rest of the house wakes up, I’m able to spend time with God in those quiet and still moments. I can pray, read and meditate on the Daily Mass readings  without feeling rushed or having anyone else ask me for anything. It really helps set your day. You can be armed in peace when LIFE and the world start to wake up around you. This is also when I ask God to help me as I offer my work, joys, and sufferings of this day back to Him. I ask for His will to be in my goals, projects, tasks and each step. This is just one way I workout my spiritual life.
  2. Look at your To-Do or Task List and concentrate on the most important one.
    As you take a look at your list for each day add a metric value for each item. You can use 1, 2, 3 or A, B, C, with 1 and A being equal to MOST Important, cannot be delegated, the world might stop, your life or someone else’s depend on this getting done, or you won’t be able to sleep at night if you didn’t handle it. I know this sounds dramatic & extreme but it really isn’t. If your end goal/project is to get a new job by the end of the year and part of your to do list is to update your resumé and write cover letters so you can move on to next step to submit them. Well true the world may not stop if your resumé hasn’t been updated with your most current experience by tomorrow morning, etc. however if you’re unhappy with your current position and you are stressed out daily, can’t take you commute, that’s one additional day that you’ve have lived without a step closer to your goal. I know what you’re thinking…I was one of the world’s biggest procrastinators when I was younger…I think I’ve passed it down to my kids. But you CAN work towards your goals each day you are here on this planet.
  3. Plan out your day the night before.
    It’s worth the 10 minutes it takes to look at your to do list or even create it. For every minute you use planning, you are saving yourself 10 minutes. When you do the math that’s about 100 extra minutes that you saved in wasted time and effort throughout your day. All you need is a pen and a notepad.
  4. Say NO to Screens.
    Refuse and resist the urge to check your email, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram…whatever social media. This is a HUGE time thief. I don’t need to lecture you on this. You tell your kids all the time. Put the tablet or smartphone down and get your action step done!
  5. 25/5 x 2 = 1 Hour!
    I like to set a timer to keep my focus. I like the idea of working for 25 minutes continuous without interruptions and then take a 5 minute break to get up and stretch, walk around, dance. If you do this 2x you have just found 50 minutes of productivity. If you work a full day, that’s almost 7 hours of REAL PRODUCTIVITY!
  6. Move it
    Speaking of dancing. Before you get started on any thing. M-O-V-E! Dance, run, jump! Get your heart rate up and active BEFORE trying to be productive with your day! Not only will you be able to concentrate and focus but you will also feel wonderful. I also try to workout in the morning at least 5 times per week, this too is when I rev up my body for the day that is starting. Ladies…start your engines!
    How is your desk area looking? Can you find and access all that you need? Resolved RIGHT NOW to make a clean organized clutter free zone of your work space. For years I had clutter and piles of paper littering my keyboard real estate and not only did it drive me crazy but it took my focus. If your desk is covered with unopened mail, post its, scratch paper, and broken pens do yourself a big favor and declutter it NOW!

How are you staying focused on your work at home? What are some tips you rely on daily?