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Why Mistakes Are Actually Gifts (and why we get to say "thank you" instead of "I'm sorry")

You may not know this about me, but outside of running my business and hanging with my awesome hubby and pups, I love to choreograph musicals! I am very blessed to get to work with Champaign Central High School’s drama program - an awesome bunch of kiddos who work hard and are extremely committed (we usually do 8 shows each school year). Last night, I was in rehearsal with them and I noticed that every time they were corrected on a line, how to say a joke, where they should be in their dance formations, or on anything - Their first reaction was to say “I’m sorry.”

The amazing Scott Pullan recently explained to me why I’m sorry is just about the worst thing in the world to say. The meaning of sorry is hopeless, regrettable, or unfortunate. If you saw an ad for a house in “sorry” condition, you’d never consider buying it. So why are we constantly going around calling ourselves sorry?! When you say I’m sorry you’re literally saying I’m hopeless, I’m regrettable, I’m unfortunate. … WHAT?!?!?!? No wonder people have issues understanding they are worthy of success and greatness! (Thank you, Scott, for teaching me this!)

Instead of saying “I’m sorry” every time we make mistakes, what if we replaced it with “Thank you.” What if we looked at mistakes as gifts - as opportunities to learn and grow, and then thanked whoever was involved and got to help us in that process. With the drama students - what if they said “thank you” when they were corrected and had gratitude for the learning process they get during rehearsal in order to become better actors, rather than just feeling bad that they did it wrong? If you think about the last time you said sorry - maybe you were late, you forgot something, you bumped into someone… What if you thanked the other person instead of apologizing? Even if the mistake didn’t involve anyone else, you could thank yourself or the universe for the opportunity to learn from the experience and grow, which feels far more empowering to me than “I’m sorry.” I’d rather be grateful than “sorry.”

I challenge you for the rest of this month whenever you feel the need to say “I’m sorry” replace it with “thank you” and find something to be thankful for in that moment, then decide if you ever want to call yourself “sorry” again.

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If Your Home Could Talk

contemporary-cozy-decor-895227.jpg

Have you ever thought about what your home might say if it could talk to you? There might be a lot of things it would want to tell you, but here are 3 things I think it might say..

  1. “I am a part of you.”

    Your house is an extension of you. The care you put into maintaining your home says a lot about who you are and how you care for yourself. As some very smart people once told me - How you do anything is how you do anything. (Thanks, Klemmer and Associates! www.klemmer.com) So if your house is always messy, if it’s cluttered, if there are many projects that need to be done, if things are broken…. What does that say about how you care for you?

  2. “Stay on top of stuff, people.”

    My word for 2018 is intentional so I’ve really focused this year on being intentional with all the small habits in my life. I noticed that I was letting things build up over time and then having to deal with larger “problems” that would take a lot of time and/or money. For instance, I would let the dishes pile up and then have to spend hours to get them all done on a weekend. Or I wouldn’t think ahead about meals and end up spending a ton of money on eating out because no meals were prepped and ready to go when I needed them. When I’m intentional with these small habits (doing dishes every night, meal planning on Sundays, etc), my life is so much easier! If you stay on top of all the little habits around your house, that will make all the house work easier and make your home a more enjoyable place to be in.

  3. “Show me you love me.”

    Many of us are blessed to have a home (a house, apartment, condo, etc.) that we either rent or own. Many people don’t have that blessing. How much gratitude do you show your home for the warmth and comfort it brings you? Do you care for it? Do you maintain it and all of it’s components? Do you dress it up and make it pretty? Spend some time doing projects to fix things up and make it a beautiful place to live. Declutter the closets and other storage areas so they are organized and usable. Have regular check ups to make sure everything is working properly. Show your house you love it!

Your home is a part of you. Be grateful for it, show it some care, and love it, and I promise you will find more joy and less stress in your day to day life.

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Looking Up While Vacuuming

Why do I look up when I vacuum? Because there’s usually cobwebs and fuzz and who knows what else up there. Not just the floor is dirty, you know. Sometimes, I get so zoned in on the carpet, I forget there even is a rest of the house. There is stuff to be vacuumed everywhere though - behind the door, on the baseboards, on the ceiling… Sometimes it seems easier to go through life zoned in on the carpet. We watch the lines the vacuum is making, make them straight, and think, “Ah, Good Job Me. What straight lines!” But what are we missing? The dust and the fuzz on the vents? The cobwebs in the corner of the ceiling? Dirt on the baseboards? If we truly want to have a clean house (or a full life), we get to be open to all the parts - to open our eyes and look up. Look around. There’s more to life than straight lines on the carpet.

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When you say no, you're saying yes; and when you're saying yes, you're saying no.

Whaaaa? Well, if you think about it, when you say no to something, you're saying no so that you can say yes to something else. And when you say yes to something, you're also saying no to several other things. For example: if you say yes to attending a wedding one weekend, then you're saying no to staying at home and completing a home project. You're saying no to hanging out with people who weren't invited to the wedding. You're saying no to extra sleep. You're saying no seeing a movie, relaxing on the couch, or any other thing that isn't the wedding. Another example: When you say no to eating something that's bad for you, you're actually saying yes to taking care of your body, to losing weight, to getting more active, or any other result that comes from making the decision to not eat junk food.

Sometimes it's hard to be clear on whether we should say yes or no to things that come up in our lives. Or sometimes, we just make unintentional decisions, that are based on habits we don't even really know we have. When we stop for a second and consider all the things that we are actually saying no or yes to, it's like zooming in on a map on your phone and getting to see tons more details like traffic, exit ramps, and the names of buildings. Zooming in on the map and knowing what you're really saying yes and no to provide clarity on the path that you're choosing. 

I recently had the opportunity to zoom in on my life map and get clear on where I was. When I started my business five years ago, I was given the opportunity to also help real estate agents with their paper work. It was a great opportunity. I learned a ton, got to help people, created a ton of new friendships, and my business got to grow. Five years later, I zoomed in on my map and saw that I had gotten off on an exit into real estate “transactionville” and had never quite gotten back on the highway. I saw all the things I was unintentionally saying no to by saying yes to real estate transaction management as part of my business. I looked back at my original vision for my business and saw that I had wandered off the path without intending to. I decided to make a bold decision to say no to real estate transaction management in order to say yes to my original vision of growing a personal concierge business to help people get their to-do lists done and have more free time to enjoy their lives. My purpose on this planet is to be a light of joy, and while managing transactions is helpful to people, I didn't feel like me sitting a computer trying to stay on top of dates and emails was in alignment with my purpose and my vision. Saying yes to being in alignment with my purpose and my vision is more important to me than saying yes to managing transactions for the financial gain it brings to my business or because I don't want people to be upset if I say no. When I looked at it like that, the choice was clear immediately. While it's hard to let go of something I've worked hard on and I'm so grateful for, I can be grateful for the experience and let go at the same time. Sometimes you get to say no in order to say yes. 

I'm excited to re-focus on the original vision and to begin to intentionally grow my business. I get to continue to help more people get their tasks done and enjoy the time they have. If you go back to one of my first blog posts, you'll see a story about my friend, Ali, who was one of the most compassionate people I have ever known. She even lost her life trying to help someone. I started this business in her honor for two reasons. One, we don't know how much time we actually have with our friends and family. We don't know how much time we have on this planet to make an impact. The one thing we can't get more of is time. So I set out to find a way to help people choose happiness in the time that they do have on this planet. Secondly, I wanted to carry on Ali's compassion and commitment to helping anyone and everyone she met. While I never really lost sight of my commitment to helping people, I did lose sight of my vision to grow a business that can help as many people as possible, and one day people all across our country and the world. That's a really big vision and in order to get there, I will definitely have many opportunities to practice saying no to say yes. 

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Champaign-Urbana is Awesome!

As of Aug 2018, I have officially lived in Champaign-Urbana for ten years. TEN YEARS! (WHAT?!?) I was doing some work and having lunch at Panera today, and someone was talking about being from the Chicago suburbs, but was saying that she preferred living, here, in Champaign-Urbana. She said it's so much more chill, there's not much traffic, and there are so many cool places/restaurants/things to do. I didn't want to be a weirdo and intrude on her conversation, but every part of me wanted to be like "YES! I AGREE!" I am also from the Chicago burbs and I, too, love it in C-U.
In honor of being here for ten years, I'm going to list my top ten favorite businesses C-U and surrounding areas!
Feel free to comment with your favorites too! If you live in another city, please tell us some of your favorite businesses in your area! 
(Full Disclosure: None of these businesses have paid for me to say any of this or even know they are being featured in this post. These are just the places I personally love!)

10. Dallas and Co. 
dallasandco.com
Dallas and Company sells costumes, magic, and a whole bunch of other fun stuff! Since I moved here, I've always thought it was such a unique and cool place. Being part of a high school drama program here, I'm so thankful it's here so we can get all of our make up, fake facial hair, and other random theatre things there! If you don't live in C-U, don't worry! They ship all over the world!

9. Prairieland Feeds
www.prairielandfeeds.com
Prairieland Feeds is a pet supply store that has all kinds of treats, food, toys, and tons of other things. The best part about Prairieland Feeds is their kind and knowledgable staff. They are always helpful and can answer any question I have! Their yearly pet extravaganza is coming up at the end of September! Check out their website for more details!

8. Georgia's K9 Komforts
www.facebook.com/GeorgiasK9Komforts
Georgia's K9 Komforts is a newer favorite of mine! My husband and I were recently referred to their daycare and boarding services when we were going out of town for a week and needed a different dog care option last minute. They easily took our dogs on for the week and our pups had a blast! The best part is that they post pictures on Facebook constantly so when you're away and missing your pups, you can still see them having fun! 

7. Riggs and Triptych
www.riggsbeer.com
triptychbrewing.com
Ok, number 7 is a tie. I love both of these brewing companies so much it's impossible to choose which one I like more! Both have delicious beer and an awesome atmosphere! If you're in town, you'll have to check them both out! If you're not in town, you can find their beer in a lot of different cities now! Check out their websites for more details!

6. Harvest Market
www.goharvestmarket.com
Harvest Market is a relatively new grocery store in the heart of Champaign, that also has a coffee shop and restaurant area. They have tons of cool products throughout the store, but my favorite thing about Harvest Market is the restaurant area. Everyone that works there is positive and friendly, and the food is delicious! They have an amazing salad bar, a soup bar, restaurant menu items, and a hot food deli bar area. The food is super reasonably priced too! And if that's not enough, you can always go into the grocery store, find things, and take them into the restaurant area to enjoy (including going to the meat counter, picking out a steak, and asking them to cook it for you!). Harvest Market has been a great addition to our community!

5. HealthSource of Champaign
www.healthsourcechiro.com/champaign
I recently decided to up my health game, and take care of some back and leg issues I have been having. I randomly was losing some feeling in my left thigh and someone suggested seeing a chiropractor after a regular doctor wasn't able to find any issues. I had just met Hanna and Cameron (owners and operators of HealthSource of Champaign), and I trusted them to try it out. Dr. Cameron is amazing, and very good at explaining what he's doing and why. Hanna is on top of everything and has every detail covered! Best of all, they are two of the most compassionate people I've ever met. I'm grateful to have them helping me take care of my body, and to call them my friends!! 

4. For the Love of Hair
www.facebook.com/For-The-Love-of-Hair-368152636616440
For the Love of Hair is a hair salon in Philo and is well worth the drive. Abby Schopp is the owner and is one of my favorite people on the planet. She is extremely easy to talk to and is kind to everyone, and on top of that she is SO good at what she does. I have never known what to do with my sort of curly, sort of straight, mostly just frizzy hair; and after the first time I went to Abby, I was like "OH! That's what my hair is supposed to look like!" She has truly helped me love my hair. You should definitely check out her services, but call soon - She's booked up for a while because she's so awesome!

3. Cactus Grill
www.cactusgrillchampaign.com
Cactus Grill is so yummy!! If you've never been there before, it's a burrito, taco, quesadilla type place, where you can choose what goes in your order. Their food is so delicious, and they even have options like tofu and fish! Their prices are great and the service is always excellent. Rick, the owner, is also very supportive of our community and cares very much about Champaign-Urbana. He has generously supported my drama program with low-cost lunches several times. Our drama students get the energy they need to perform all day and they all get to choose something they like, so everyone is happy! If you have never eaten here, it's definitely time you go! My go-to order? Honey chicken burrito with lime cilantro rice, pinto beans, lettuce, tomato, onion, mild salsa, cheese and sour cream! 

2. Norris Tire
www.norristire.net
I don't know a ton about cars, but I do know that I love my car and want to take care of it so it can last as long as possible! Norris tire has been my go to place for my car since I bought it back in 2010. They are completely trustworthy, and extremely knowledgeable and good at what they do. Any time I've tried taking my car somewhere else (usually because their waiting room is full, or because I'm out of town and need car service immediately), I've been lied to or the other car care places have made mistakes. Travis works at the front desk and is my favorite to work with there. I know that I can go to him for car advice that I can trust. They don't take appointments, so as long as you get there early, you can usually get your car in!

1. Prospect Bank
www.bankprospect.com
Prospect Bank is the best. bank. ever. I know a lot of people are switching away from brick and mortar banks completely and doing the online thing, but the service and the people at Prospect are worth the drive to the bank. I always tell people it's like going to your grandma's house, but instead of a house, it's a bank! Everyone there knows my name (and my dog's names), and they truly care about me and my business. They have saved articles from the paper for me about my drama program, and they always ask how my dogs are and how business is going. They truly care about each of their individual clients. They helped me navigate getting my business set up when I had no idea what I was doing. And since it's the dog-friendly bank, you can bring your pup in when you visit! I originally chose to have my business account at Prospect Bank after a ton of research because they had accounts with no fees, but I stay because of the service. I'm so happy I chose to have my business account there. They are the best! 

Well those are my top ten favorite businesses in C-U, but there are a ton of others that easily could have made it in the countdown! Here are some other favorites that we'll call "Honorable Mentions" - Keller Williams, Weldon Pest Control, TLC Pest Control, Padanos Pizza (St. Joe), Pizzeria Antica, Papa Dels, Ask Joe to Mow, Oishi, Starbucks on Neil St., Espresso at the Crossing, Lodgic (opening soon), Aldi in Savoy, Custard Cup, Capitan Jack's Antiques (Savoy),
V Picasso, Esquire, Seven Saints, Ferran's, Smoothie King, Curtis Orchard, AND SO MANY MORE!

Bottom line: Champaign-Urbana and surrounding areas are awesome. If you have never been here, you should come check it out! Share you favorites in the comments! 

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Living a Joyful Life

I am blessed in many ways, and one of the biggest blessings I have is amazing, inspiring, and hilarious clients.

Every day I do things that most people consider "chores" both in the sense of tasks to complete, and things that most people don't enjoy doing. I, on the other hand, wake up excited to do these things because when I do these chores I get to live in my purpose of bringing joy to others, AND I get to receive joy from all of my clients. 

Sometimes when I go to clients' houses they are home, and then I get to have the best conversations with them while I work. Even when clients are not home, I get to receive some amazing words of gratitude that always fill me back up after a long day. Here are some of my favorite moments with very special people that I get to call my clients:

1. Laughing about people falling on their faces and then yelling out boom boom (and many other ridiculous what if life scenarios)

2. Getting to hear about people's life experiences - what their families were like, how their children were named, important moments in people's lives

3. Getting fed iced tea and yummy snacks

4. Getting to see pictures of a grandson's first birthday party

5. Learning about healthy eating and ways to keep my body healthy

6. Getting to read letters and journal entries from the 1800s

7. Getting to explore Pepsi memorabilia from the past 40 years

8. Receiving messages that say things like "You're a life saver, thank you for making my life easier."

9. Having conversations about the universe, creating abundance, making an impact on the world, and continuing to grow and learn

10. Making people laugh and getting to be my goofball self all day long

While I love the fact that my work is focused on making people's lives easier and better, really I'm the lucky one. Everyone that has come into my life through my business has been a blessing and has made my life infinitely better. Thank you! 

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Top Ten Ways to Leverage

Why would you want to pay someone to do your chores? It seems like if you only worked a little harder you could get it all done, right? But why does it always have to be hard or about working harder? Why not leverage out the things that are necessary in order to spend your precious time doing the things that are important and meaningful - and doing them with the people that matter to you most. 

Leverage is having an assisted advantage. Leverage is your way to make everything easier AND get it all done. When you can use your resources to create leverage in your life, you can truly focus your attention on what matters to you. If what matters to you is creating a growing a business, you can focus on that. If it's spending time with your children while they are young, you can focus on that. If it's finding time to honor yourself and do something fun and enjoyable, then you can focus on that! Life is far too short to continue to say some day. Make some day today and use these ten ways to leverage the tasks you have to do so that you can do what you want to do. 

10. Use the Reminders app on your phone. - I don't know about you, but throughout the course of my day, I must think of 8 million small but important tasks that must get done, and usually while I'm not able to do them. Things like text that person, respond to that email, order that thing from that website, etc... By using the Reminders app, you can quickly record the item and set a time to be reminded. Then at that time a reminder will pop and, voila!, you will get it done. 

9. Use a meal-in-a-box service. - There are many companies now that offer assistance with food preparation and meal planning by creating menus then shipping you the items needed to prepare the meal. You follow their simple instructions, and poof! You have dinner ready! I've never actually been able to try one of these services because I don't eat animal products and haven't yet found one that is vegan... But in general it sounds like a great way to take the stress out of grocery shopping, meal planning, and cooking. 

8. Use automatic bill pay. - I know some people are not a fan of this option, and if writing out checks on a regular schedule works for you, more power to you. I know I struggle with remembering to get things paid because of the day to day craziness of my schedule. Automatic bill pay is a way to remove that stress and headache. Enter in the dates, amounts, and information for the person/company receiving payment, and you're good to go! (I would also recommend using the Reminders app to remind yourself to check on your payments once in a while to make sure everything is going smoothly.)

7. Use the Calendar app on your phone to time block and manage your schedule. - I think its safe to say that these days, almost everyone is busy, has something to do, and somewhere to be - even little kids! By using the calendar app on your phone, you can block out time for events you need to be at, as well as for things you want to get done. When you have a set day and time, the stress of needing to find time to get it done goes away, and you are much more likely to actually get it done. For example, if you find you are always saying something like, "I would like reorganize my kitchen, I just don't have time right now." Go into your calendar, pick a day that has available time, and block out a set of hours for reorganizing your kitchen. Then, the next time you have a thought like "I wish I had time to reorganize my kitchen but I'm just too busy." You'll think "Wait! I'm going to reorganize on the 12th. Great!" And then with the 12th rolls around, you will finally get to make time to reorganize your kitchen! 

6. Use a virtual assistant (especially if you're a small business owner). - If you are a small business owner, you probably have a million administrative tasks to do that are impossible to get done because you're also serving clients and trying to run your business. Or maybe you aren't a small business owner, but you have tasks like sending out wedding invitations, creating a poster or flyers, or addressing and mailing your holiday cards that you want to get done. Using a virtual assistant is a way that you can leverage any administrative task you might want done, so that you can move on to more important things, like meeting with clients or spending time with family. 

5. Hire someone to help you with yard work and lawn care. - Some people enjoy gardening, and some even enjoy mowing (me...). If you are not one of those people, you can hire someone to get those things done for you. Why spend an hour or more of your weekend mowing, when someone else can do it, and you can spend your weekend relaxing and having fun with friends. 

4. Hire someone to help you with cleaning. - Similar to #5, some people enjoy cleaning. Others hate it. So if you hate it or can never find the time for it, why not have someone else do it? Just like with lawn care - why spend your weekend or days off catching up on house work, essentially working more, when you could let someone else do it and enjoy your time off?

3. Use childcare. - Whether your'e a stay at home parent or a working parent, child care is an essential way to leverage caring for your children, so that you can get things done at home, run a business, have a career, volunteer in your community, etc. I know many teachers that use day care even in the summer in order to get things done that improves life for their family. 

2. Find a coach. - I believe that most of the stress we feel around getting stuff done in our lives is more the mentality we have behind our goals and life choices than anything else. Finding a life coach or business coach is a way to talk through the reasons why you may not be achieving what you want to achieve. Having someone to support you, and hold you capable and accountable to doing the things you say you want to do is one of the best kinds of leverage you can choose to use in your life to move yourself forward. (Big shout out to my coach, Autumn, for always pushing me forward!)

1. Use a personal concierge! - Using a personal concierge is almost like a way to roll all ten of these suggestions into one! You can use your local, friendly personal concierge ;-) as leverage in almost all of the areas on this list! Your personal concierge can help plan, prepare, and shop for your meals; clean your house; mow your lawn; care for your child (or find you trustworthy childcare); let your dog out; schedule your time and remind you of things; address and send your holiday cards; set up and tear down your wedding decorations; help you organize rooms in your house; and so much more! Almost anything you might want to leverage out to someone else, your personal concierge can get it done. I've done all the things I've just mentioned (most of them even in this past week!) and more. I LOVE knowing that I'm helping people be less stressed by doing something that's important to them but that they don't have time to do. 

Whether its simply by using apps on your phone that you never thought to use, or by hiring a personal concierge, I truly hope you consider using leverage in your life. Once you start to do so, you'll see how much more enjoyable life is when you get to choose happiness over stress. 

Choose Happiness. 

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Choosing Happiness Instead of Stress

    Starting a new business has been both exciting and stressful. As my business grows, my schedule gets more full and I am jump from one client to the next. While it has been exciting to see new clients come to me from referrals and new avenues of business open, I find myself often wishing for more time to get things done, like my own chores or working on a plan for the future of my business. It’s not that I don’t want my business to grow and to have new clients, I am just finding myself overwhelmed and stressed, which then makes me feel like I want things to slow down. Instead of giving into the stress and becoming crabby and tired, I use some techniques and thought processes to stay positive and productive. In a time where everyone seems to be constantly busy and stressed, having some tools to overcome those negative emotions are a must. None of these concepts are new or surprising, it’s just a matter of actually doing these things to help ease the stress and craziness of everyday life. 

Three Simple Ways to Get Out of Stress and Choose Happiness:

1. Think about why you’re doing what you need to do. 

     Having a purpose behind doing what you must do is essential to push through hard times. Even down to household chores, if you have a bigger reason as to why you must do these things, it will make doing them so much more enjoyable. For instance, if you need to go grocery shopping and do laundry, but you find that these are stressful activities that you do not want to do, you can think about the benefits you provide to yourself and your family by completeing them. What are you giving to yourself and your loved ones by accomplishing these tasks?

    You can apply the same thought process on a larger scale to your career. If you find you are dragging your feet to get out of bed and go to work in the morning, think about why you are doing the job you have. What are you bringing to the world by doing your job? I often struggle to get out of bed. I have just never been a morning person. When I wake up, though, I think about the people I am going to help by getting up and doing my job that day. I love helping people, no matter the size of the task. I always have. Being helpful to other people makes me feel whole and like I have a purpose. So by thinking about the actual people I will be helping that day and how I help them, I find energy and strength to get up and get moving. 

    You can put up small reminders around your house or in your car that will help you be in your purpose rather than be in stress and negativity. Put a post it note next to your bed or on your mirror with your reason for why you do your job. Put a picture of your family or your friends at your desk to remind you of what you will be able to do with them by going to work everyday. Having little triggers around to bring you back to why you do what you do will be extremely helpful when stressful events and tasks come up. 

This is an example of a trigger that my husband has in his office. He is a real estate agent and must keep himself motivated and focused. He uses this picture of us with this note as a trigger to remind him in the office of why he does his job. The note says: "Never forget why you are here. Always remember what you are capable of." 

This is an example of a trigger that my husband has in his office. He is a real estate agent and must keep himself motivated and focused. He uses this picture of us with this note as a trigger to remind him in the office of why he does his job. The note says: "Never forget why you are here. Always remember what you are capable of." 

2. Time Block

    Have you ever felt like you have a million things to do and don’t even know where to start? I often felt that way as a teacher and I definitely do now as a business owner. I use time blocking to get all my tasks scheduled and completed. It is a technique that takes some planning ahead and time commitment but it is well worth it. Time blocking is when you physically write out a schedule of when you will do tasks and how long they will take.

    A good system to have is to create a master to do list of everything that needs to get done. You can choose any period of time; I like to go week by week, filling in my schedule on Sundays. Once you have your to do list for the week, you can get a calendar of your choice - a paper one, your phone calendar, google calendar, etc - and start filling in the items on your to do list. As you fill in your schedule, you can block in time for your work, your chores, and even for your family and personal time. Once you’ve done that, you are sure to feel less stressed, as you know when everything will get done, and you even know when you will have time to do what you enjoy doing.

     One of the keys to time blocking is making sure that you stick to the schedule you create. For instance, if you time block two hours in the morning for a work task, it is critical that you stick to only using those two hours for that task. If you allow yourself to become distracted by email, phone calls, facebook, or whatever else might come along, your time block will become less effective. 

This is an example of my time block for this week. You can see jobs scheduled in, as well as time for choreography and theater rehearsals (one of the things I like to do in my free time). As the week goes on, I will modify and add to my time block to accommodate new tasks that come up. 

This is an example of my time block for this week. You can see jobs scheduled in, as well as time for choreography and theater rehearsals (one of the things I like to do in my free time). As the week goes on, I will modify and add to my time block to accommodate new tasks that come up. 

3. First Day/Last Day

    A little less than a year ago, I started personal growth work through seminars put on by a company called Klemmer and Associates. If spend any time around me, you will no doubt hear me talk about it because my Klemmer experiences have become some of the most important and meaningful experiences of my life.

    One of the lessons I’ve learned through my experiences with Klemmer and Associates is to treat every day like it is your first day and your last day. If you think of each day as the first day of your life, you can come at it with excitement and no regrets. If you think about the way you felt on the first day of school, the first day of a new job, the first date you went on, you will probably remember feelings of excitement. What if you could have that feeling of excitement every day and with no feelings of shame or regret about past decisions? That would probably make each day feel quite different and would make getting out of bed each morning more enjoyable. 

    While you think about each day like it is the first day, you can also think about it as if it was your last day on the planet. If you thought about each day as your last day, you would come at it with urgency and no fear of what people might think of you. What if today was really your last day? What would you want to get done? Who would you want to be with? The truth is, you really don’t know when your last day is, so why not treat every day with the urgency you would have on your last day. If you’ve ever lost someone suddenly, you might know the pain of not getting to tell someone you love them one last time, or not getting to accomplish important goals before it’s too late. Why wait for someday when someday could be too late? 

    When I wake up and think of everyday as my first day and my last day, I am excited to get out of bed and accomplish my tasks. I am urgent because I want to make sure I get done what I want/need to get done and to make sure that the people I care about know how I feel. the balance between excited and urgent get me up and moving, without feel crabby about having to get out of bed or feeling stressed about everything that needs to get done. 

    Everyone is busy and have tasks that could give them stress. You get to make the choice of how you deal with those tasks. It is easy to give in to the negativity and comiserate with others over how stressed we are. I have been there too. We complain to each other about how much we have to do and how we don’t know how to get it all done. We make jokes about it and vent thinking that will make us feel better. The thing is, if you focus on stress, then you will feel more stressed. Instead of focusing on how stressed you are, why not try one or more of these techniques and see if you feel any different? Focus on all the joys and happiness you already have in your life, and I think you will find that you will still be busy but you won’t feel stressed or crabby. Value your time because it is the most precious thing you have, and once it is gone there is no getting it back. Choose Happiness. 

If you are interested in learning more about these techniques, check out these links:

http://www.the1thing.com/

http://www.klemmer.com/

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People You Should Know - Kari Croop

This past summer, I got to be part of the CUTC production of Mary Poppins and had the privilege of meeting one of the most amazing people I know, Kari Croop. Not only was she a perfect (not "practically perfect") Mary Poppins, but she is an all around awesome person that everyone should have the chance to get to know! Don't worry if you missed out on seeing Mary Poppins or you've never happened to meet her while she is grocery shopping with her 3-year-old triplets, I recently interviewed Kari so that you can get to know this Champaign-Urbana star! Thank you to Kari for being my first interviewee and always being so supportive! 

1. Where are you from?

I was born in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. (It’s the state capital.) But technically, I grew up in the smaller towns of New Cumberland and Mechanicsburg. I spent my entire childhood in Central Pennsylvania, except for an 18-month period – around second and third grade -- when my dad took a job in Manhattan and we lived outside of Philadelphia.

2. What do you do?

Right now, I spend more hours of my day working as a full-time mom to very busy 3-year-old triplets. But I’m also a part-time writer and editor for Netflix, and I write a handful of television reviews each month for a nonprofit website called Common Sense Media, which is what I used to do full-time before becoming a mom. My writing/editing work accounts for maybe 10-15 hours of my week on average now, whereas parenting is more like 70.

3. How would you describe yourself?

Like anybody, I’m full of contradictions. I’m outgoing when I need to be but prefer lots of time to myself, so I’m pretty quiet and introspective most of the time. I’m a person who craves order and respects rules, but I can also think very creatively. I’m pretty intellectual in terms of my taste in books and movies, but I also love Pee-Wee Herman. Just try to figure me out. ;)

I will say this: When I’m excited about a project, I have a laser focus on it, and I’m very methodical about preparing for it. I put in a lot of “think time,” sometimes months in advance if I can, and I do a lot of research to come up with the absolute best way to pull something off. There’s perfectionism there, yes; but I see it as more of a drive to create something amazing that’s personally satisfying to me, something I’m proud to put my name on. If I’m doing something, I’m doing it full out. Not to impress other people, but to challenge myself creatively and see what I can do. Of course, when I’m not particularly inspired by something or feel stumped about where to begin, I can be a horrible procrastinator. I really can.

4. What is a typical day like for you?

I don’t set an alarm; I let the kids wake me up, which is usually around 7:30 a.m. Then we go through our usual routines getting ready for the morning, eating breakfast, and maybe watching some TV. But I always try to have somewhere to go with them – or at least something tangible to do around the house, like a game or a craft – around 10 a.m. so that we can break up the morning. On Mondays, we might go grocery shopping. (Yes, all of us!) On Tuesdays and Thursdays, we go to the YMCA, where I run the track for a bit while they play in the child care center, and then I take them to an on-site gymnastics program. On Wednesdays, we might go to the Champaign Library for story time or to an indoor playground. On Fridays, we go to an amazing playgroup at the Tolono Library, where they mix with all kinds of kids. So the secret is, we just keep moving. After three years with these kids, I’ve learned that they need that stimulation, or else they go a little stir crazy. (And, by extension, so do I.) We almost always do lunches at home, followed by a nap (for them) around 1:30 and some much-needed alone time for me, since I almost never get more than a few minutes to myself while they’re awake. And I really, really need that alone time to recharge. They get up again between 4 and 4:30, and then they play or watch a movie while I make dinner. We eat together as a family around 6, and then bedtime is at 7:30 p.m. 

I used to use nap time to do my paid work, although lately I’ve found that it’s much better for me to save that until the late evening when they’ve gone to bed for the night. I get a longer stretch of time to myself then with fewer interruptions, so it’s a lot more efficient. If I’m working a “full day” then, that means I’m with the kids from roughly 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., then again from 4 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. And then I will give myself a short break before logging in to do my paid work from 9 pm to midnight. It’s an exhausting day even without the paid work, no matter how you slice it, so I obviously can’t pull that kind of schedule off all the time. But I try to give myself at least 2 nights off a week where I don’t do any paid work whatsoever -- usually Monday and Tuesday since I have to submit my work hours for the week on Sunday -- and that becomes my “weekend.” That might sound strange, but that’s my life right now.

5. What do you and your family like to do for fun?

The kids actually think that it’s fun to do the mundane stuff we have to get done every week, like grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning. So we always involve them in that. For special things, usually on weekends, we might go out to dinner or on some type of fun daytime outing to a children’s museum, a movie or the Y. We keep things pretty basic now because the kids are still small. But when they get older, who knows?

6. What is one of your life dreams or goals?

I’m a goal-setter for sure, but I don’t think anyone who knows me would describe me as a “dreamer.” I’m too practical. Taking exotic trips, having a glamorous career – at this point in my life, those types of dreams feel very alien to me. I wanted to have kids, and boy did I ever. So for now, I want to raise them to be awesome people to the best of my ability. 

On a personal level, I’d love to get to a place where I feel like I’m physically fit and healthy enough to be a good role model for my children, especially my daughter, because that’s something I’ve struggled with my whole life. So I’m setting short-term goals for myself in the next year like working out three times a week, running some more 5Ks to improve my pace, drinking enough water -- things like that. I feel better when I set smaller, more achievable goals for myself and build from there, rather than targeting a “dream goal” that feels so out of reach.

7. What is your best cleaning or organizing tip/trick?

When the kids are awake, messes and clutter are inevitable, so I just let it go and try to encourage them to clean up on their own when possible. But my husband and I always put everything back in order each night so that we can start the next day fresh, kind of like hitting a “reset” button. I personally find living, and especially working, in clutter really distracting -- like, almost suffocating. Thankfully, I’m lucky enough to have married a guy who’s even more orderly than I am, if that’s possible. He actually does the lion’s share of the “resetting” these days while I’m dealing with other things, and I’m so, so grateful for that.

We also believe in streamlining our “stuff” on a regular basis -- and with three young children, we have a lot of it. It’s so much easier to stay organized that way. So if I have two or three items that serve the same purpose, I keep the best one and sell or donate the items we no longer need. It actually makes me happier knowing that they’ll be going to someone who needs them more than we do.

8. What is your favorite local business/group/place in town that you would recommend to everyone?

I think the Champaign Library is an amazing resource. The facility is beautiful, with a great selection of books and movies, and the librarians at the children’s desk have been part of our lives for years. I feel like they know my kids and really care about them. We’ve logged a lot of hours there.

I also love the Stephens Family YMCA; we got a family membership as a Christmas gift from my mother this year, and it’s been literally life-changing for me. With the on-site childcare, I can budget my exercise time into my daytime hours with the kids now rather than having to do it at night, when I’m already physically exhausted. (I can’t believe I used to work out after 8 p.m. when they were infants, but I had no other options!) The kids have also done so many fun new things at the Y – from the open gymnasium time to rock-climbing – so I have nothing but positive things to say about it so far.

9. What is your favorite dish/recipe?

I’m known for baking desserts; I used to make fondant cakes and cupcakes before I had children and had more time. But I think my personal favorite thing to make is homemade soft pretzels. Soft pretzels are my favorite food, and not many people attempt to make them from scratch, so it’s a nice surprise to make for somebody, as long as I get to have one too.

10. How do you choose happiness in your life?

I have perfectionist tendencies, and I set really high standards for myself. In the past, that caused me a lot of stress and anxiety, most of which was self-created. But particularly since I’ve become a mom – and to triplets, no less -- I’ve learned that perfectionism on all fronts is impossible, so I prioritize what’s most important to me and let the rest of it go. Instead of being ruled by some sense of obligation or other people’s expectations, I’ve learned to listen to myself. If something in my life feels “wrong” -- whether that’s a job, a pattern of behavior, or a person who’s draining my energy -- I work to change it by taking small steps toward something (or someone) that feels “right.” Those small victories make me happier, and I eventually get where I want to go.

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How to... Make Vegan Chicken Salad!

I love cooking. I love cooking almost as much as I love eating, and I really love eating. I also happen to be vegan. Most people assume that vegans only eat salads or bland tofu, or worse, that we eat grass! (Yes, I have actually been asked if I eat grass.) While I enjoy a good salad or slab of tofu (hold the grass), I often find myself craving other things, like mac and cheese or a burger with fries. It's not that I want to go back to eating animal products, I just want to enjoy the comfort foods that I have loved my whole life. So, since I love cooking, one of my favorite things to do is to turn typically non-vegan comfort foods into easy-to-make, non-weird vegan options. And, as it turns out, it is actually pretty easy to make vegan, semi-healthy, totally delicious food.

While being vegan has some awesome ethical benefits (yay for guilt-free eating!), there are also many health benefits. Plant based diets have been proven to reverse the effects of many diseases, and they tend to be lower in fat and cholesterol. Admittedly, the "comfort foods" that I love to make are not as healthy as a salad, but it still is slightly healthier than regular comfort food without negative qualities of the actual dairy and meat. I totally understand that a vegan lifestyle is not for everyone, but I wanted to share some of my recipes in the hopes that people might see that it's really not as difficult or weird as it seems to be vegan. 

One of my current obsession is chicken salad on avocado. Since I obviously don't eat the chicken or mayo that is traditionally in chicken salad, I had to come up with my own version to satisfy my cravings. Try out my recipe and see what you think!

Before getting started, I have to admit that I am not very good about measuring while cooking... I generally just eye ball my measurements unless I'm baking. My philosophy is just try it and if it doesn't work, try something else next time. The amounts listed below are estimates of what I use, so don't worry about getting them exactly correct. One tip though, start with a smaller amount of mayo and sour cream than you would think you might need. Mix it in and then see if you need more. A little goes a long way. 

INGREDIENTS:

1 package of Gardein meatless crispy chick'n

1 cup chopped celery

1 cup chopped onion (I use yellow onion)

1 cup vegan mayo (I prefer Just Mayo or Earth Balance brands)

2/3 cup vegan sour cream (I like Tofutti brand)

2-3 tablespoons of relish

1-2 tablespoons of yellow mustard

1-2 tablespoons of brown or dijon mustard

1-2 tablespoons of lemon juice

garlic powder

onion powder (optional)

sesame seeds

salt and pepper

avocados for serving (optional)

 

PROCESS:

The first step is to sauté the meatless chick'n. Heat a pan on the stove and add some olive or grapeseed oil to the pan. When the oil is hot, add your chick'n to the pan. (In the chick'n package there is a pouch of sauce, which you won't need.) Cook the chick'n on medium heat until browned on both sides. While it's cooking, you can season it with the garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper, and sesame seeds. 

Once the chick'n is done, set it aside. Chop the celery and the onion, and add to a medium-sized bowl. Roughly chop the chick'n into smaller pieces and add to the bowl.

Add the vegan mayo and sour cream, both kinds of mustard, the relish, and the lemon juice to the bowl, and mix.

Once the wet ingredients are evenly mixed with the veggies and the chick'n, add all the seasonings to the bowl (you should season again, even if you seasoned the chick'n in the pan). The trick to vegan cooking is to season very generously! Since there aren't animal products to add flavor, it's necessary to up the seasoning levels. I think that's why many vegan foods are bland and people don't like them - they are seasoned like regular food and that just isn't good enough. 

Anyway, add the seasonings to the bowl. A good gauge to go by is to do a light covering across the whole top of the ingredients in the bowl. You can always taste it and add more. So if you're not sure, add a little and then taste, and just keep going until you like the flavor!

Once everything is mixed together, your vegan chick'n salad is ready! Yay! Now you have to choose how you will eat it. You can put it on bread, on a bun, wrap it up in lettuce, on a salad, etc. Currently my favorite thing to do is to put it on top of an avocado. I definitely recommend doing this. Get an avocado, and cut it in half. Remove the pit. The trick for doing this (if you don't know this already), is to VERY CAREFULLY karate chop the pit with your knife. Then you twist the knife and the pit will just pop out of the avocado. The tricky thing is then getting the pit off the knife. I usually bang the handle of the knife on the edge of the garbage until it falls off. 

So first, I decided to be fancy and put the chick'n salad in the avocado, which looks great, but isn't very practical for eating. So then I scored the avocado and scooped it out on to the plate. Then, I just laid the chick'n salad on top of it and it was ready to go! 

I hope that you decide to try this out whether you're vegan or not! I love cooking so much and it makes me happy to share it with you! Hopefully my directions are easy to follow. If you do try it out, let me know how it goes in the comments! Happy cooking! :-D

Choose Happiness. 

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Success Story - Emily Kaffel

Emily Kaffel is a local high school math teacher, who is committed to leading a healthy, active lifestyle through Crossfit. She completes Crossfit work outs daily, competes in Crossfit competitions regularly, and follows a Paleo diet. Emily’s diet primarily consists of vegetables and proteins, but does not include dairy, sugar, or processed foods; therefore, she buys a large amount of produce every week. 

As a teacher, Emily has a very busy schedule. Her work extends beyond the school day, as she helps students before and after school, and plans lessons and grades papers on nights and weekends. In addition to teaching, Emily tutors students from Champaign-Urbana and surrounding areas in math. With such a hectic schedule, it is easy to see how staying committed to her strict exercise schedule and diet could be difficult. 

With my help, Emily is able to focus on getting her work done and enjoying her Crossfit work outs without stress. Every Sunday, I go to Emily’s house and prepare her produce to her specifications. From her various kinds of lettuce to her sweet potatoes, everything is prepared for her meals for the week. So when it comes time for her to make her lunches, all Emily has to do is assemble her salads. At dinner, she can cut down on cooking time because everything is already washed, cut, and prepped for her meals. When Emily is at her busiest, she can even send me her grocery list and I will buy her food and prepare it for her, sometimes before she even gets home.

One weekend recently, Emily was out of town for one of her best friend’s wedding and wasn’t returning home until Monday morning of the following work week. Because of my services, Emily was able to focus on celebrating with her friends, rather than having to stress about completing chores before the work week began. Monday after work and Crossfit, Emily came home to a stocked fridge, full of food prepped for her week. No stressed needed. 

Emily has successfully taken back one to two hours of her weekend every Sunday, which she can use to grade papers, complete other chores, or simply relax. When reflecting on the work I’ve done for her, Emily said, “Having Sarah Mohr come to my house every Sunday and clean, cut, and prep all my fresh produce for me saves me time and energy.  I really value eating healthy and living a healthy lifestyle.  However, the prep that goes into it, gets old really quickly.  Sometimes I want to skip it and then it becomes more difficult to be healthy.  Now that Sarah Mohr does it for me, it is like a huge weight off my shoulders.  I LOVE cooking, hate prepping.  While she prepped away, I got 3 meals cooked and ready to go for the week.  I also finished up my weekly cleaning chores and ate a healthy, home cooked meal. Having Sarah Mohr help me out with this task, frees up time and energy and allows me to continue living my healthy lifestyle more stress free.” 

Think about how much time you spend weekly on shopping for and preparing food. What would you do with the time you could save by allowing someone else to shop for you and prepare your meals? Could you use this service? Do you know someone who could? Email me or message me on Facebook if you are interested in making your life less stressful and more enjoyable, like Emily did. You only get one life. Why not enjoy it? 

Choose Happiness. 

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My Friend, Ali

You might be wondering, "Why would someone want to do someone else's chores and errands anyway?!" And most of the time when I tell people what I do I get a pretty strange reaction because most people do not like to do chores, so why would someone want to do extra ones that aren't even hers? But for me it's about more than just getting chores done, and I found this purpose thanks to my friend, Ali. 

Ali was the best. She had the kindest heart and always wanted to help other people. She was always positive and brought happiness to everyone around her. During high school Ali and I bonded through theatre, and spent many hours in rehearsals together. While many friends were in and out of my life, Ali was always there. But as high school ended and we went off to college, we grew apart.

From Facebook I knew that she was still doing her thing, being an amazing friend to everyone in her life. I saw that she became a teacher and got married, but we really didn't reconnect at all. While I was happy for her and enjoyed catching up on her life through Facebook, I took our friendship for granted and didn't reach out to make sure she knew how much I loved her.

Then, one night, I got a call. The call that you never want to hear. A mutual friend informed me that Ali had been hit by a bus while she was in the middle of the street, trying to help an injured motorcycle driver. The news articles that covered her accident called her "the Good Samaritan." As she had always done, she just wanted to help, even if it meant her own life was in danger.

I have struggled with her death ever since that day. I have a hard time understanding why such a good person would be taken from our world so early in her life. I always thought if you did the right thing, you would have a good life. Ali always did the right thing, so how could she be gone? I don't know that I will ever know the answer to that, but I do know that if Ali was still alive, she would still be helping people and creating joy in all the lives she touched. So I have made it my mission to help people and carry on Ali's legacy. 

I created this business so that I could make my life doing what Ali always did - help people and create joy in their lives. By taking on other people's chores, I can give them the gift of time to enjoy life. The truth is we never know which day is our last. I never want to lose another person from my life without him/her knowing how much I love and value him/her, and I don't want other people to either. Through Ali, I now know that my purpose in life is to give people the ability to spend time with those they love, enjoying life, and not getting caught up in the to-do lists and busyness that plagues our society these days. 

At the end of the day, make sure what you decide to do is worth your time. Make sure the people you love know you love them. And make sure that you enjoy in your life because you never know how much time you have. Instead of someday, say today and decide to choose happiness now. 

Ali - I miss you and I love you! 

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