The Scents of Fall – Create Your Own Projects

essential oilsAh, the scents of fall! If you are a big fan of essential oils, fall is a great time to incorporate them more into your life. Body/beauty products are a great way to start. You can make your own blends using cinnamon and ginger, or adding more woodsy scents like fir and eucalyptus. These products are easy to make yourself and have a lot of room to be customized.

Here’s an expanded list of scents for you to consider alone or in combinations this fall: Cinnamon, Lemon, Sweet Orange, Fir, Eucalyptus, Clove, Vanilla, Tea Tree, Rosemary, Peppermint, Pine, Frankincense, and Bergamot.

Try these as beginning scent combinations to achieve the essential oil blends you want:

Pumpkin Spice – For a pumpkin spice blend, try combing clove oil with nutmeg and cinnamon. This is a very basic blend of scents that tend to smell just like pumpkin spice.

Fall Air – For a blend that smells like those warm fall evening walks outdoors, try fir or eucalyptus with sweet orange and your choice of spices, like either nutmeg or clove.

Autumn Spice – Another spice combination is more heavily spiced with cinnamon, plus some sweetness added to the mix. This autumn spice can have cinnamon oil, along with clove, vanilla, and sweet orange or lemon.

Play around with the different essential oils until you come up with blends you love for the fall season. Use your blends in a diffuser so that it smells just like fall in your home every day.

In addition, try these and other DIY Bath/Body products:

Pumpkin Scrub

Who doesn’t love a good body scrub? It helps to scrub away the dead skin cells and leave behind soft, smooth skin. For a pumpkin scrub, start with white table sugar, add some coconut oil that is melted, vanilla extract, and the same amount of pumpkin pie spice. Mix it together and use it just like any other body scrub. It will smell like pumpkin pie or pumpkin spice lattes.

Apple Bath Salts

Add the scent of freshly-baked apple pie to your bath! It will be both relaxing and add some natural exfoliation. Start with Epsom salt, then add in your scents. You can combine apple and cinnamon scents on your own, or just get apple pie blends that are already mixed. To add color, you might use some powdered food coloring. Mix it all together and add to a jar for storage.

Fall Candles

Candles and fall just go together! Making your own candles with your desired essential oil scents can be especially enjoyable. You can use one scent per candle or combine any scents you choose.

Start with a good base, which can be beeswax or soy flakes. Melt the wax in a metal container and add your preferred scents – clove, ginger, cinnamon, and vanilla are good basics to use alone or in combinations. Put the scented wax in a container with a wick. *

Besides using them in your own bathroom, kitchen, or living room, these make great gifts for hostesses or general gift-giving.

  •  Amazon has a great selection of candle-making supplies including kits to make the process easier.  Check out what they have here: https://amzn.to/30YqVjgcandle-making kit

Using Planners and Journals to Make Fall/Autumn Most Enjoyable

Autumn treeNow that we are into a new season, it is a good time to reflect on your regular routine and what you anticipate in the coming few months. Even if you have not used a daily planner before, now is a great time to start creation a fall journal and planner routine.

Fall truly is the season of comfort and change. The weather gets cooler, and you want to get warmer and cozier in your daily life. The kids are back in school, with all their homework, activities and projects. You have things you want to accomplish before the end of the year. This is also the time of year when people like to meet up with family and friends, read and write more, practice gratitude, and spend more time relaxing.

There is so much going on! Using a fall journal and planner routine can make it all much more manageable so that you can do what’s important to you and your family and enjoy it more.

Journaling in the Fall

If you are new to journaling, you might not be aware of how beneficial this simple practice can be. Or maybe you are just not sure what types of things to journal. Here are some ideas, specifically for this season of the year.

  • Use Fall Journaling Prompts – Prompts are suggested topics or questions that give you ideas of what to write about. To download a list of 25 fall-inspired prompts, go here: http://carolbrusegar.com/falljournalingprompts
  • Write What You are Thankful for – You can also journal about what you are thankful for each day during the fall season, which is wonderful for creating a positive mindset.
  • Write About Your Year So Far – Look back to the beginning of the year and note what you have accomplished so far this year, and what you want to finish or get done by the end of the year.

Using a Daily Planner in the Fall

In addition to journaling, use a planner every day during your new daily routine. Break down your larger projects or goals into weekly and daily tasks. Schedule events and activities that you and your family want to do – visits to pick apples in an apple orchard, participating in some Thanksgiving activity that benefits others, road trip to see the changing leaves, etc. Use a Fall Bucket List to brainstorm and select ideas to pursue and schedule. Read more about this here: http://carolbrusegar.com/autumn-pleasures-and-treasures/make-a-fall-bucket-list/ You can download a sample Fall Bucket List form there.

Setting Up Your Holiday Plans

Use your planner and journal to prepare for the holidays of the fall through the end of the year. Here are some topics to consider:

  • Halloween party plans or costumes
  • Activities to do with your kids during the fall
  • Menu options for Thanksgiving and other holiday plans
  • Deciding on activities during Thanksgiving break
  • December priorities leading up to Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or any other holidays you celebrate
  • Plans for those holidays

End-of-Year Goals
Start it simple by adding in some end-of-year goals, then a schedule of when you would like to achieve these goals. Make a list of tasks to be completed, being as specific as you can so you stay on track.

I hope you will try this and will find value as we move into a very busy time of year.

The Benefits of Elderberries Throughout the Year

Benefits of ElderberriesDuring the flu/cold season, I posted “What are Elderberries and What Can They Do for Me” . The focus was on how they help during the winter. For many people, elderberry is their go-to to ward off or shorten flu and colds. But there are many other benefits of elderberries. The benefits of this unique fruit can be gained all year-round.

Before I get into that, I must tell you why elderberries have come to mind now. Late summer and early fall was when elderberries were ripe and ready to pick along the rural roads when I was growing up in southern Wisconsin. It was always such a treat to find them and bring them home to be carefully taken off the stems, washed and readied for pie or jelly.

Elderberries

Elderberries then were a treat which we looked forward to. Until recent years, when I found and began purchasing the jelly and learning more about it, I had no idea of all the health value of these tiny berries. They have become one of the superfoods sold in various forms: fresh or dried berries, syrups, extracts, supplements and tablets, and jellies. There are even gummies now for those who prefer that type of supplement!

Benefits of Elderberries 

Elderberries help lower blood sugar levels by stimulating glucose metabolism (study in the Journal of Nutrition). This can be both a preventive and assist if you are struggling with your blood sugar levels.

Elderberry is often used as a diuretic, whether as the fruit (fresh or dried), a supplement or syrup. Using it in your food – a smoothie, in tea, in baked goods, or as jelly on bread – or taking it in other forms are all helpful. It also improves digestion and general gut health.

Many berries are high in antioxidants, and elderberries are no exception. They have lots of vitamin C, flavonoids as well as additional immune-strengthening compounds. All of these help us stay healthy and fight off infections by protecting our cells.

Allergy season is actually multiple allergy seasons, depending on what you are specifically allergic to. Allergens tend to increase inflammation in your body, which leads to symptoms like swelling, redness, itching, coughing and congestion. Elderberry boosts your immune system as described above and also helps reduce the inflammation.

And there’s more! Elderberry can improve bone and joint health, thanks to the various natural properties of the plant, including the anti-inflammatory properties and the antioxidants. It can be of value to those with arthritis and osteoporosis.

In addition to the internal health benefits, elderberry promotes healthy skin by improving skin rejuvenation. There are commercial products like scrubs, tinctures, and masks available through shops that sell natural beauty products. These can provide softer, more supple, glowing skin and also help with acne and blemishes.

 

As the benefits of elderberry have become more widely known, more and more products like syrups, supplements, gummies, etc. have been developed. A variety of them can be found here: https://amzn.to/2KRWZkd
Dried elderberries and powder can also be purchased: https://amzn.to/2Hkc4sz , as well as teas: https://amzn.to/31U5cK8

These tiny berries pack a wallop! Give them a try and see how they benefit you.

Need More Clarity, Creativity and Focus?

woman writing in journalI am finding this time of the year, end of summer leading into fall, particularly overwhelming. The year is more than half over (can that possibly be?) and my intentions and goals are way behind where I wanted them to be. There are multiple events and of course the usual fall holiday anticipations to consider and prepare for. What about you?

If you ever experience times of overwhelm – when you have so many things you would like to accomplish in any/all areas of life – consider this routine.  I found an article, “This 10-Minute Routine Will Increase Your Clarity and Creativity” which provides a way to both focus and to boost creativity.

The author Benjamin Hardy reminds us of Napoleon Hill’s words, “Your subconscious mind works continuously, while you are awake, and while you sleep.”  If that is the reality, it may be a really good idea to focus that work for our benefit.  How does that work? Hardy again quotes Hill: “The subconscious mind will translate into its physical equivalent, by the most direct and practical method available.”

Sounds like a good idea to me, then, to harness that power. Part of the routine described in the article has to do with using a few minutes before you go to bed and within 10 or so minutes of waking up to do the suggested activities.  For many of us, checking our electronic devices fill that space both before bed and first thing in the morning.  As we do that, we are focusing on input into our thoughts and consciousness.  This approach instead puts our attention to output from our subconscious to our conscious in a targeted way. It expands our creativity.

Try This Routine

To summarize the two parts of the routine, Hardy suggests we:

  1. “Take a few moments before you go to bed to meditate on and write down the things you’re trying to accomplish. Ask yourself loads of questions related to that thing….make some ‘requests.’ Write those questions and thoughts down on paper. The more specific the questions, the more clear will be your answers.
  2. “Now, first thing in the morning, when your creative brain is most attuned, after its subconscious workout while you slept, start writing down whatever comes to mind about those things.”

You can include any areas of your life – relationships, work, life balance, or anything else you want to address. Perhaps start with one topic. This approach is a routine and also a skill to develop and in which to become proficient. As with all routines or habits, it is a good idea to commit to practicing it for a minimum of 21 days in order to assess its effectiveness for you. I would love to hear how this works for you! 

For more details, you can read the entire article here:  “This 10-Minute Routine Will Increase Your Clarity and Creativity”

And you can see the books Benjamin Hardy has written here: Books by Benjamin Hardy, PhD

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Does Perfection Slow Down Accomplishment?

As I look at the early framework of my business plans for the 3rd quarter of the year, it looks exciting. When I look at the individual projects on that list and what it will take to get them done in a high quality way (perfection), I am overwhelmed! Am I crazy to think I can really do all of that and do it well, along with the rest of my life? Is accomplishment of all this possible?

Then the gift came. A Facebook friend and mentor posted a link to an article: “It’s Never Going to Be Perfect, So Just Get It Done” by Tim Herrera. I read it and feel more hopeful and confident that with this approach I can accomplish a great deal.

Of course, it’s one thing to read an article and quite another to incorporate what you read into daily thoughts and actions. This article provided some clear concepts that I can remember (probably assisted by posting them by my desk as reminders).

Tools That Move Us Forward

Herrera writes of the M.F.D. – Mostly Fine Decision which he describes as the “minimum outcome you’re willing to accept.” He notes that the approach assists us with making decisions and getting things done – and that people who practice this are generally more satisfied with their accomplishments.

Sounds appealing to me! However, how does that happen? Thankfully Herrara offers two strategies to help: the “magic of micro-progress” and “reframe how you think about things you have to do”:

“First, embrace the magic of micro-progress: Rather than looking at tasks, projects or decisions as items that must be completed, slice them into the smallest possible units of progress, then knock them out one at a time. …

“Second, reframe the way you think about the things you have to do. Focus far less on the end result, and far more on the process — this allows you to be aware of the progress you’re making, rather than obsessing over the end result of that progress.”

Although there’s still a thread of perfectionism in me, I am more and more convinced that this kind of approach is a good one. One verification of this came when I realized how quickly I consume articles, books, training, and other things. I am not looking for every detail to be exquisite – I want the main points, I want clarity, I want to be able to follow the thoughts and I want to be able to implement it if that is appropriate.

As I tack up the reminders (M.F.D., Micro-Progress, Focus on the Process More Than the End Result) near my desk, I note that this can work only if I have done the detailed planning first. I need to make sure I have goals broken down into projects into tasks, etc., for this to work. So I will tackle that first for my current top priorities.

I invite you to check out the entire article and see if the approach will work for you and your life!

 

I Celebrate Books for Opening Vistas

Reading Journal Cover

(Get your Reading Journal here: http://carolbrusegar.com/Reading Journal for Book Lovers)

I LOVE to read! Do you? Reading has always been a favorite pastime for me. As a child, I attended a rural one-room school and we had one large bookcase of books to read. What I remember best is reading each of the biographies – a series of books with orange covers. The stories of people in different situations and historical periods fascinated me. We also used the library in our nearby small town and I recall checking out books including Mrs. Piggle Wiggle, the Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder, and earlier the Flicka, Ricka and Dicka series. Do any of those ring a bell with you?

As I moved into high school and even more so in college and young adulthood, I read non-fiction almost exclusively. Books about current events, theology and history primarily. My interests went in those directions because I moved from living in small town/rural in southern Wisconsin into inner city communities in Chicago and Minneapolis – in the mid-1960s and beyond. With the great societal change occurring during those years, there was so much to learn about. My deep involvement in an inner city church and related social justice efforts led me to reading theology books. It wasn’t until about fifteen years ago that I began regularly reading fiction, especially historical fiction, along with an expanded variety of nonfiction books. I wish that I had written down what books I read over the years, but I didn’t. I do know that the reading I did shaped my understanding and the directions I went in my life in dramatic ways.

Have you kept lists? What kind of patterns, if any, do you see in your reading habits over the years? Can you see significance in those patterns?

Since finding Goodreads.com a few years ago, I have used it as an easy tool for recording the books I am reading. Using their Reading Challenge to set a goal for number of books I will read in a year has been both fun and motivating. Having access to reviews, ratings, suggestions a way to keep track of books I want to read is wonderful.

I still had a desire for a book in my hands where I can record other things. I wanted to identify books both that I have read and want to read by genre. And I wished to have in one volume notes, quotes and reflections on some books I especially value. This could be a reference and a treasure for me in the future.

So I designed a reading journal that met those criteria! If you see a value in such a tool and treasure, I invite you to check out my newly published Reading Journal – For Book Lovers Who Take Their Reading Seriously.
The link will take you to Amazon.com where you can read more and preview the journal.  It is a handy, portable 6″ x 9″ size.Reading Journal Cover

Happy Reading!!

How About a Midyear Check-in?

check inIf you are anything like me, you are amazed to realize that the midpoint of the year is upon us. It’s a great time to do a check-in with ourselves. It can be about personal goals and situations, family or groups in which you are involved, work, business or any other area of life. As the days, weeks and months seem to whiz past us – or we whiz through time on a roller coaster – a milestone like mid-point of the year can be a good reason to assess and refocus.

(If you are reading this at another point of the year, you will probably see that similar questions can be used at any point when you want to assess and regroup.)

I suggest a few simple questions to get started. Here they are:

What do you consider your accomplishments and high points of the first half of the year?
What attitudes, habits or practices helped those things happen?
What held you back from being at a different point at mid-year in each of the areas you are reviewing?
What needs to change so those things don’t hold you back in the second half of the year?
What are your major goals for the next six months? (or three months)
What do you need to do to make them happen?
What additional resources (of any kind) do you need?
When will you do your next check-in?

I am finding this very helpful. I am ending the first half of the year with a very productive last month. By actually writing down what contributed to that will help me build in things to maintain and accelerate my momentum. Identifying what held me back earlier in the year allows me to make sure those same things don’t sabotage me in the coming months.

Although it is easier to read through questions like this, think of some responses and move on, the impact will be so much greater if we write down answers. The resulting document can be kept where it is a visible reminder on those days and even weeks when life takes us off course.
May your second half of the year be enhanced by your thoughtful assessment and planning!

The link below will take you to a free PDF of the questions – a worksheet you can use for your check-in.

Midyear Check-in

Day Trips: Including Getaways and Mini-Vacations in Your Plans

car on highwayDay trips are often scheduled into a vacation week in a distant location – you spend one day at a location away from your primary base for the week. But day trips can be a year-round adventure right from our homes. We often have more time for them during summer when there aren’t as many regular activities scheduled on weekends. In fact, they can augment summer vacations, or even substitute for them when there are multiple people’s schedules to accommodate.

Strategically planned and scheduled day trips can provide many of the benefits of vacation: change of scenery, breaking the routine, exploring something totally new, trying out different foods or activities, and more. They also are more affordable than vacations that require greater transportation costs and hotel or motel stays.

Day trips provide a way to try out something new without committing too much time or money. For example, one person may be excited about a seven-day tour of Civil War monuments and battle fields that is available in a few months. Another person may have never visited anything of that kind and is very hesitant. A day trip to a nearby battle sight or cemetery would be a great way to assess if a seven-day tour would be enjoyable to both parties.

Regardless of your stage in life or family configuration, there are day trip options. In many cities and towns, churches, organizations for seniors, and other groups provide day trips for older people. They do all the planning and provide the bus or van transportation for a reasonable charge. It’s a great way to spend time with a friend or two and you can meet and even develop ongoing relationships with other people.

Research, Lists and Notes

Most people drive their own cars and make their own plans for each day trip. Have you ever had the impulse to get out of the house for the day (or an overnight) and then been at a loss as to what to do or where to go? You may have ended up just staying home being bored. What if you had a list of possible things to do at your fingertips from which you could choose a perfect activity or destination for that day?

Take some time to research types of day trips you would enjoy and create an ongoing list of specific destinations and activities. You can continually expand it as you discover more possibilities. This will make it much more likely that you will both take more spontaneous trips and schedule others in advance.

To get you started, here are some categories of places to go and things to do on a day trip:

Outdoor Activities and Exploration – scenic locations of all kinds, activities like fishing, horseback riding
Historic and Cultural Destinations – explore the history of your area
Museums, Zoos and Aquariums
Shopping – flea markets, antique malls, vineyards with winetasting, Amish or International Markets
Using Different Modes of Transportation – take a train ride, boat cruise, hot air balloon ride
Scheduled Events – sports, outdoor fairs, concerts

Having a designated notebook or planner to collect information and make plans can make it more likely that you will take more trips for relaxation, enjoyment and learning. It can also be fun to journal about your experiences

Perhaps you would be interested in my Planner & Journal for Day Trips: Getaways and Mini-Vacations which is available on Amazon.com as a 8×10” paperback.Cover of Planner & Journal

How About Bucket Lists for Summer?

Summer Bucket List
It’s summer!  Despite the view as we enter June that we have a long summer laying out before us, full of potential, we all know how quickly summer passes.  Before we realize it, it will time for school to resume and the regular schedule of activities with organizations in which we participate to be back in full swing. Don’t let the summer get away from you! I encourage you to consider create one or more Bucket Lists in your household that include things you really want to have done by the end of summer. You can have individual family members write lists and create a family list as well. These are the basis of making plans that will make this a great summer full of meaningful memories for all.

Although Bucket Lists are generally seen as a way to keep track of things we would like to do before the end of our lives and hopefully to move us toward actually doing them, they can be used for shorter time frames to help you prioritize what’s most important and make plans. Here’s a particular kind of Bucket List that I recommend: A 3-Part Bucket List.

A 3-part Bucket List includes:  1) “Things I Want to Learn About” 2) “Things I Want to Learn to Do” 3) “Things I Want to Do.” You may find some overlap between them; that’s okay.

The “learn about” list will probably have things about which you’ve been curious: the history of your town or neighborhood, your ancestors and family history, the newest knowledge about outer space, etc.

The “learn to do” list might include things like excel at new swimming strokes, type at a rate of at least 40 words per minute, write short stories, expand art techniques, play an instrument, take better photos, etc.

The “do” list can include simple things like “read one book per week”, “have a home vegetable garden”, explore at least one new area of town each month, etc.

Taking Next Steps

Of course, once all the lists are written – even if it’s only two – it is time to compare notes and discuss what is reasonable to accomplish in the limited weeks of the season. Perhaps that will mean each person prioritizing their own list and making plans to make sure at least those top items can happen.

Some items can likely be put on a list for another season, or even next summer. It can be a fine balance between desires and reasonable expectations, particularly as the number of people involved increases.

Make it your goal to end your list preparation, discussion and planning process with each person (as well as the whole group) having things to look forward to and confidence that they will happen.

Here’s a free 3-Part Bucket List for you to download, print and adapt for summer and get started. Happy Summer!!!

http://carolbrusegar.com/3-PartBucketList

 

Women’s History: a Window Into Our Past

Women's HistoryMarch is Women’s History Month – an encouragement to explore that vast and varied history of our gender. I recently found an article that opened up a window into the years when my mother was a young woman – early 1930s into the 1950s. It is entitled “How Marjorie Hillis Changed the Way the World Thought About Single Women With Her 1936 Book ‘Live Alone And Like It’” by Dr. Joanna Scutts. I have never heard of Marjorie Hills. Have you?

She published her first book in 1936 while working as an editor at Vogue Magazine in New York City. That book was titled Live Alone and Like It: A Guide for the Extra Woman.

Dr. Scutts describes the book in this way: “The book offered ‘old maids’ and ‘spinsters’ an enviable new identity. Instead of ‘extra women,’ surplus to society’s requirements, they could reinvent themselves as ‘Live-Aloners,’ defined by what they did, not what they lacked.” She spoke around the country on the topic and department stores did tie-in promotions.  It was quite the splash!  Ms. Hillis followed this book with others which reflected her life changes over the following 20 years. The article scans the societal changes during those years as well and how they impacted women’s lives and expectations.

The last paragraph of Dr. Scutts article is a statement for all of us to ponder:

Yet there is still something subversive in Hillis’s call for women to live exactly as they chose — to “be a Communist, be a stamp collector, or a Ladies’ Aid worker, if you must, but for heaven’s sake be something!” She was radical in her awareness that singleness was not just the happy, voluntary, temporary state of the young but that older women, widows, and divorcées had a right to their own pleasure and needed to defend it throughout their lives. Even today, it’s hard for a woman to declare that she has made her choice to live alone, and not have people assume it’s a fallback option, or denial, or just what she’s doing until she meets someone. There are still limited ways of talking about happiness, fulfillment, and a good life outside of the model of the nuclear family. As Marjorie Hillis preached, exercising the right to live your life as you choose is still a political act.

There is great value in knowing our history. It gives us perspective, appreciation, and a challenge to reflect on who we are and who we can be.
In addition to reading the article, you may be interested in Dr. Scutts 2017 book: The Extra Woman: How Marjorie Hillis Led a Generation of Women to Live Alone and Like It.