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.

Giggs, Side Hustles and Second/Third Jobs

Side Hustle - Uber

People have been working second jobs forever. As economic conditions change, fewer or more may be engaged in them to augment their main income source. What that looks like and who is involved also changes. Most often the part time jobs people take on are to augment an income that isn’t enough to support themselves and/or their families. Do you now or have you in the past worked a second job? Are you considering or looking for one now? You may get some ideas or inspiration here.

A recent article in the Minneapolis Star Tribune newspaper gives a current snapshot of the phenomenon with examples from the Twin Cities. Author Kevyn Burger, in “From Millennials to Seniors, Twin Cities Workers Embrace ‘Side Hustle’ Economy, cites a 2018 survey by Bankrate that found that 37 percent of Americans have “side gigs.” She notes:

Some pick up cash through the ever-expanding array of internet platforms, logging on and landing on-demand service work – driving, delivering, walking dogs, tutoring, running errands, cleaning or babysitting. Others rely on their creativity and connections to cash in on their marketable skills….While there have always been temps, moonlighters and freelancers, the sheer number of people involved in what economists call the ‘contingent labor force’ represents a shift in how Americans make a living, according to Sarah Kessler, author of Gigged: The End of the Job and the Future of Work.

The motivation or need for taking on part time work varies by population group. From millennials to seniors, there are reasons to explore moneymaking options. They range from funding desired luxury items or activities to paying off college loans to keeping active and involved and many more.

Whether you call it a second job, a side hustle, a gig, or anything else, this is a thriving part of the economy. Read the entire article at Side Hustle Economy

A review of Sarah Kessler’s book Gigged: The End of the Job and the Future of Work says:

“With deep reporting and graceful storytelling, Sarah Kessler reveals the ground truth of a key part of the American workforce. Her analysis is both astute and nuanced, making GIGGED essential reading for anyone interested in the future of work.” —Daniel H. Pink, author of WHEN and DRIVE

 

Planning Your Valentines Day if You Are Not Part of a Couple

hearts

The cards and gifts have been in stores since right after Christmas and advertising is hitting the airwaves. The pressure is building for those in relationships to make Valentines Day a meaningful expression of how much you care for your significant other. Some look forward to this as a highlight of the year; others know it’s important for at least one of the couple and go along.

But what about the rest of us? The ones who are not in an intimate relationship? We can ignore it as much as we can. Or we can let it make us regret our singleness and go into a funk.

Or we can decide now to spend that day in a way that affirms us and others. What could that look like? I was fortunate a few years back to experience one such alternative. A friend invited 5 single women who didn’t know each other well to her home for dinner. We had great food and wine and shared our stories. It was a lovely, affirming evening.

Interestingly, when I googled “ what to do on Valentines Day if you’re single”, there are 40,200,000 results. Clearly there are a lot of people with ideas. A few are rather negative (like an anti-Valentine party), but most are interesting ideas. Here are a few of my favorites, in the categories of things to do by yourself and things to do with others:

SOLITARY ACTIVITIES

A self-care/spa night, including a bubble bath with candles and candy
Make yourself a fancy meal of foods you really love
Do something you’ve been putting off: something that will give you a sense of accomplishment when it’s done
Treat yourself to a bouquet of your favorite flowers
Buy yourself something you really want
Update your bucket list and get excited about your future plans

THINGS TO DO WITH OTHERS:

 Have a group spa night – facials, manicures, pedicures, massages
 Go to a movie with friends – anything but a romantic theme
 Have a potluck dinner with friends
 Host a sleepover/slumber party with silly movies and lots of junk food
 Brighten other people’s day by showing them you care – your parents, siblings, cousins, etc.
 Host a dance party with friends who love to let loose, dance and sing
 Have a Golden Girls–style gathering around the kitchen table with a few friends – ice cream and/or cheesecake and lots of conversation – serious, silly, whatever happens
 Have a game night – board games + whatever makes you and your friends laugh
 Have a Secret Valentine exchange (a variation of Secret Santa) with other single friends, including parameters on cost, etc.

A simple reminder – stay off social media if seeing the posts of couples having fun bums you.

And there’s always the alternative of simply ignoring the whole thing. It’s a weeknight; do what you usually do if possible. If not, stay home and read or watch television. No biggy.

Hygge as Self Care in Tough Times

HyggeWe are in the midst of a winter of extremes – record-breaking temperatures, rainfall, snowfall, etc. – depending on where you live. Millions of people are facing severe below zero windchills, the worst in decades, perhaps in a generation. Hygge attitudes and practices can help us get through weather extremes and other stresses any time of year. In fact, if the tensions and conflicts abundant in the country right now are getting you down, I recommend you give this a try.

I invite you to embrace the Hygge principles of self-care like togetherness, relaxation, indulgence, presence, and comfort. Small effort and not much money are required for this and the payoffs can be significant.

Anne Roderique-Jones’ article, “I Practiced Hygge and It’s Kind of the Best Thing Ever” appeared in the December 25, 2018 issue of Self Magazine. After reading The Little Book of Hygge and implementing its suggestions, her conclusion was:

While hygge is not just about making sure you have (certain) elements in your space—after all, the main component of hygge is that you’re feeling present and spending quality time with yourself or your loved ones—the book did offer up plenty of advice that helped me get to that feeling of coziness and contentment. All in all, I can say with certainty that hygge is my jam. … Right now, when our world feels a little bit uncertain, hygge is a way to practice self-care that feels sincere.

Self care isn’t an escape from reality. It is a way to refill yourself with the energy, focus, and peace that will enable you to do your best, whatever the situation.

The Little Book of Hygge will get you started.

Hygge – the Art of Coziness in Winter and Beyond


Time to Hygge

Baby, it’s COLD outside!  It’s time to hygge!

You have probably heard the word “hygge” or seen Pinterest photos related to it. The Cambridge Dictionary defines it as “a Danish word for a quality of coziness (= feeling warm, comfortable, and safe) that comes from doing simple things such as lighting candles, baking, or spending time at home with your family.” The practice originated and thrives in Denmark, and other Scandinavian countries as well. The Danes believe in simplifying your life in order to bring in more positivity, comfort and contentment – and it is effective. Denmark regularly comes out as #1 in the World Happiness Report.

Hygge is all about being cozy, warm, comfortable, positive, and happy. You spend more time with family and friends. You forget the notions of material possessions and simplify your life. You spend more time in front of the fire while snuggling under a warm blanket.

This and so much more is what hygge represents. This brief video from Denmark provides a window into what it means and how it is lived there:  Hygge

Some basic elements of Hygge include creating a relaxed atmosphere, encouraging more family time, and inviting friends over for non-electronic activities. This is easily done by having lots of blankets and pillows where you spend relaxing time, adding candles and essential oils for flickering light and pleasant aromas, having great books laying around, playing relaxing music, utilizing your fireplace if you have one, and indulging in treats – beverages and sweets in particular.

Some may see this as indulgent; the Danes and others recognize it as effective self-care. If you haven’t tried it in an intentional way, this winter is a great time to do so.

If you want to learn more about it from a Dane, here’s a link to the book mentioned in the video, written by a researcher at the Happiness Research Institute:        The Little Book of Hygge

Journaling as a Tool to Create the Life You Want

journal writingYou may love your life overall; you may love parts of it, but one or more parts may be frustrating or unfulfilling or disastrous. Regardless of your situation, journaling can be a powerful tool.

If you love your life overall, journaling about it will allow you to appreciate it even more and have that record for yourself. As you increase your appreciation and gratitude, it radiates out to others to inspire and uplift them. Your journaled words can be something for you to read again in times of stress or unhappiness. They will remind you of what is possible and help you move forward.

If there are parts of your life that just aren’t what you want them to be, consider journaling to assist you in sorting out the issues and options. Journaling draws out things of which you were not even aware. It can be almost magical.
There are a variety of purposes for journaling, and often they mingle together as you write. Here are a few purposes and how they can be of benefit.

Journal for Personal Growth

Often the beginning point of this kind of journaling is to really articulate your situation – what you appreciate and what you struggle with. Getting it out on paper can clarify the muddle that you may be experiencing.
As you lay out those things, you begin to realize what it is you want to be different and in exactly what ways. You are creating a vision for the future and you can take steps toward it.

Journal for Self-Discovery          

Self-discovery is, of course, related to personal growth. As you journal you go beyond the particular issues with which you began and discover more about yourself. This can include going deeper from what you like and don’t like to what priorities and values lie beneath those preferences. It allows you to explore those values and additional ways you can live them out in your life. This can move you in new, exciting directions.

Journal to Gather Ideas and Brainstorm Solutions

Journaling is also a tool to use to gather ideas and put the best into action, and to brainstorm solutions to issues.  Gathering ideas is an ongoing, even daily activity that will pay big benefits. And when you encounter obstacles as you pursue what you want or you’ve faced a significant setback, journaling can provide clarity. Write down possible solutions from different perspectives without prejudging and you will see more possible alternatives. The sorting out is a next step. A simple journal like this can get you started: My Idea Journal   It is free to download and you can make as many copies of the journal pages as you choose.

Journal to Capture Your Life Experiences

An additional type of journaling focuses on capturing and reflecting on your life experiences. This may be a more occasional effort in which particular events, situations or turning points are the basis of your writing. These journals can be precious accounts of your life when you look back in later years.

Journaling can be done in many ways and used for a variety of purposes. Try out some of them and see what you learn about yourself, others, and the world around you.

Remember to check out the free My Idea Journal

Are You Feeling Stuck?

StuckAre you feeling stuck? Do you have intentions and just can’t seem to do what you know you need to do? I suspect most of us have, if we aren’t right now. Somehow the motivation and focus on those tasks isn’t there. At this time of the year, you may be running into this in relation to your new year’s resolutions or plans.

I am facing exactly that. It is easy to get into a downward spiral of feeling badly about myself when I continually fail to do what will lead me in my preferred direction. Some popular advice and counsel would be to exert will power: make myself do what I am not doing. Sometimes that works. Many times, however, it fails to have the desired effect. In fact, it makes it worse. Emma Brooke Gilding in an article entitled “Why Willpower Isn’t the Answer to Your Problems” says:

“I don’t believe in willpower. That sounds like a whole lot of effort and nonsense. Trying to cultivate a power which makes things easier is not easier. It’s harder. What I DO believe in, is the ability of every individual to achieve their goals with the right self-awareness and self-compassion.”

Perhaps your intentions are to let go of something or move onto something new or to heal from something. Or perhaps just leaving behind the disappointments, hurts and failures of the past and start anew. There are specific things you want to do, and yet you are not doing them.

Gilding suggests that means you and I are not ready to let go, move on or heal. Until we get are in touch with what that is about, progress is unlikely. What is holding us back isn’t a lack of willpower or discipline or laziness. It’s unfinished business.
Taking time to unearth what is holding us back may be the first and most important step if you and I are stuck in this way. We can then move forward and access the motivation, energy and focus that we desire.

Go to my earlier post on Looking Back and Moving Forward and scroll down to where you can request a free Year-End Review Journal. In the journal there are questions that will help identify areas for work.

Mindmapping as a Multi-faceted Tool

mind mapAre you a mindmapper? That is, one who uses the technique of mindmapping to help create and organize ideas and information? I sporadically use this tool, coming back around to it after sliding away for a while. I have used it to take notes at conferences, prepare agendas for meetings and then taking meeting notes right on that mindmap, and create visuals of my business.

I recently found an article that explained the technique, demonstrated in a clear and simple way how to use it, and suggested resources. It both inspired me to get back to mindmapping for some current needs and to share it with others because the article makes the technique so clear and useable.

“How to Make a Mindmap” is a WikiHow article, a group creation co-authored by Paul Chernyak. Behind the technique is research about how our minds work, described as ‘radiant thinking’ by researcher and educator Tony Buzan:

When our brains lock onto something – an idea, sound, image, emotion, etc. – that “something” stands at the center of our thinking. Radiating out from it are countless other things, ideas, other images, emotions, etc. that our brains associate with it.

A mind map helps you make connections between and among these different pieces of information and concepts. And, the more connections or associations our brains make to a thing, the more likely we are to remember it.

I am using this article to refresh and improve my knowledge of the technique and then use it to work on my plans for the coming year and to outline some upcoming products.

Check it out and give it a try if you haven’t. I would love to hear what you think and how it works for you!!

Have You Discovered Timeboxing?

timeboxingI have used a variety of time management techniques over the years but somehow had never discovered Timeboxing. The idea behind it – of establishing blocks of time for certain tasks, sections of projects, etc. – certainly isn’t a brand new idea. But I’ve learned that it is ‘a thing’ in a way I had not known.

Perhaps you are like me: the likelihood of me trying a new technique or practice is increased if I know the benefits I may gain ahead of time. I need the ‘sales pitch.’ Thus finding Red Tani’s article, “5 Reasons to Practice Timeboxing” was really helpful.

Here are two of the five reasons; more explanation and the rest of the reasons are in the article:

+ Timeboxing is flexible and customizable – you can be as specific (“Write a 100 word description of my main character.”) or as vague (“Make some progress on my novel.”) as you like. …Timeboxes can also be used for activities other than work. You can timebox chores to turn them into games….(and) timebox unproductive activities.

 

+ Timeboxing lets you flow – …During flow, you focus all your emotional and intellectual capacity on the task at hand, allowing you to achieve your best work.

The only thing you need to use this technique is some kind of timer. It can be on your phone, watch, or computer; there are lots of options for timer software online. It’s much better to set a timer than to be checking your clock to see what time it is. Just work on your task until you hear or see the signal indicating the end of the appointed timeframe.

I’m looking forward to using this technique as I move into the new year. I would love to hear your comments if you already are a Timeboxer (is that a word?)!!