You are Sending Secret Messages to Yourself!

Resolutions are a message to yourself, but NOT in the way you think.

DSC_9604I'm a guest designer at Studio Calico this month

Resolutions are extremely important, but not in the eat-less-exercise more-spend-less-time-on-Facebook way.

No! Resolutions are important because they can relay your heart's desire and reveal your dreams. If you are feeling stuck in where to go next, stuck in figuring out what your dreams truly are, you can look past the eat-better and clear-your-inbox type resolutions to really SEE your REAL resolutions, your DREAMS! I feel that resolutions are the same as dreams, something that you want to reach for, something that want to improve upon.

Have you completely forgotten what your resolutions were this year? Were they the same as last year, maybe? Just because you've forgotten them doesn't mean you should give up on them completely! If you've resolved to do something, then it probably means it's something important to you.

Not counting the compulsory lose-weight and watch-less-TV, resolutions reflect our inner desires. The 'write a novel', 'run a marathon', 'start a family' resolutions are the ones you want to pay attention to, the ones you shouldn't forget about until next year. Let your resolutions guide your dreams! Expand on them, let them simmer in your mind until they blossom into a vision of what your future could be. 

Does it include more travel, learning something new or changing careers? Comment below and let me know what resolution feels like a secret dream message to yourself.

Then of course, you need a plan, check out this post where I walk you through taking those resolutions and turning the into a goal you can work towards. MAKE A PLAN

Just because it's no longer January 1, doesn't mean you can't make a resolution today or February 1, or April 23rd! Dream up something wonderful for your life and plan it out so it comes true!  

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Why New Year's Resolutions Fail and How to Fix It!

Why is it that most of us actually fail to accomplish any of our resolutions, year after year? Every New Year's, we all vow to be more active, eat better and declutter our houses. These are resolutions that we are so adamantly determined to achieve on New Year's Eve but then forget 2 days later. Well, it's because resolutions are just that, resolutions, dreams and ideas. They aren't plans. We may resolve to do something, but that does not mean that it will get done. We are creatures of habit and new habits and actions are hard to implement. That's why we need a plan!!

DSC_9772I am Studio Calico's January guest designer 

Basically, a resolutions is a dream! Whether you dream big and really reach for those stars, or you are simply resolving to spend less time on Facebook and eat more greens, I'm behind you 100%. Whatever the size of your dream or resolution, it's important. It means something to you. You can't just let it stay a dream, it must evolve and grow into a goal and have a plan attached. 

Most people forget their resolutions by this time in Janaury, only to remember them again on December 31 when they are making their next list of resolutions. They may have pushed away that pizza in favour of a salad for the first day or two of the new year, but without a plan, the resolve falters and they are back to their old habits. It's true, old habits die hard.

I may be sounding like a broken record by this point! How many times have I told you that you NEED a plan! But, you do, you really do if you want to accomplish anything.

My instagram feed, in the first week of the year, was full of 'just starts' and 'new year, new beginnings' which are all well and good, but once you start, then what?

You need a plan to know what to do next, to keep up your motivation and to know what to do when you hit a set back. 
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Project-1-main-smallOne of my projects as Studio Calico's January guest designer 

And you will hit set backs, many of them. It's not a big deal, we all make mistakes and if you know that going in, then it'll be eaiser for you when you do hit them. Don't think of a set back as a failutre, because that will make you want to give up. Just see it for what it is, a bump in the road, that you simply need to figure out how to get over (or around, or even under ;)

With a plan in place, you may be prepared for set backs, but you may come across unforseen set backs too. But, you're smart and I know you'll be able to figure it out!

What are your 2018 resolutions? Do you have a plan to achieve them? If not, don't forget I've got Plan Your Dreams at Big Picture Classes to help with all that.


Let's Review Your Christmas Season!

I can hear the collective groan coming through my computer speakers! I know the title of this post may sound like an incredibly tedious and boring task. Like when your high school English teacher would break down a lovely poem into bits and analyse each individual sentiment, and word even. But, didn't that make the meaning of that poem so much more evident and powerful? Don't you seem to enjoy the poems you've studied in depth better than others that you only know the basic meaning?

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You may be thinking 'Come on Cara, back off already! Christmas is over, done and dusted. The last thing that I want to do right now is to go back over and analyse my lovely Christmas holiday!'

Well, I'm sorry, but that's exactly what I'm going to make you do!

I'll be nice about it, but I truly feel that review is a very important part of your Christmas planning for 2018. Yes, Christmas 2018, that not a typo. I want you to take 20-30 minutes today to make your 2018 Christmas Season that much easier. 

It really isn't that hard and it won't take long. Promise.

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I simply want you to make 3 lists.  

The first is to list the awesome things, the definitely 'do-agains' to make sure you make the time and energy to do it again next year. I think this could be the hardest list that I'm asking you to write. It's usually the squeaky wheel that gets the grease, so those things that actually went well tend to go practically unnoticed. Take a few minutes to relive the best moments of your Christmas holiday and jot them down so next year, you can enjoy them all over again.

Here's a peek at my review: Most of the organisation went rather smoothly for me. We got to do all the things we usually do, there was little bickering amongst my geeklings and our meal was simple, yet wonderful. I love ordering all of our gifts online, it helped me avoid crowded shops, which give me the heeby jeebies, and it saved me a lot of time. 

Next, make a list of all the crap things. These can range from the small mishaps that a bit of careful planning next year can fix, to those awful events that everyone suffered through miserably. Maybe you can eliminate those events or at least make them more tolerable next year.

For me, my Christmas cards took a lot longer in the mail than usual. I had cut it close and sent them out a bit late as well. So my tardiness plus the slow post, meant that a lot of the cards going over seas, didn't reach their destination until after New Years!! I'm bumping my deadline for sending them out from Dec 10 down to Dec 5 so that if I do send them out 5 days late again (oops!) I'll have them out on the 10th and not the 15th.

Lastly, make a list of anything that you can do now or in the near future to help yourself out, come December 2018. Typing up those new or changed addresses now will help immensely when you are trying to get your Christmas cards out on time. Jot down the things you forgot to pack on your trip to your parents' home, or that you should buy a bigger turkey next year.

I'd like to make sure that we all get to the temporary rink that the city of Luxembourg puts up every year. I usually bump this activity first because I hate crowds and it means taking the bus with our skates and gear because there is never any place to park my big rig in town at calm times of the year, let alone Christmas time. However, the children always want to go and I really want to take them in 2018.

Basically, with these lists, you are trying to help out your future self by writing down everything you loved or hated about December 2017. WRITE IT DOWN, write it all down. Believe me you, you will forget.

If you need any more help, or guidance, or just want a few more tips, pop over to my Plan Your Christmas class at Big Picture classes and check out lesson 7. There's even a great handout with lots of questions to help prompt your review.

Plan Your Christmas - Lesson 7

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How to use the Motivation of Your Resolutions to Plan 2018

How many resolutions do you have written down for Monday?

DSC_9644sneak peek of my project as January guest designer for Studio Calico 

Isn't it great that New Year's falls on a Monday this year, the day of the frest start. How pumped are you to get started on your resolutions and goals? Super pumped I'm sure, if you are like most of us.

Unfortunately, most of this energy and excitement wears off by the end of the first week of January and so our resolutions that we set with such great intentions fall by the way side. What if we used that energy that's motivating us now to do the planning, NOW! If it's planned out and on your schedule, you are that much more likely to actually do the steps when it comes time to do them.  

Why not take out some time this quiet week between Christmas and New Year's to actually PLAN how you are going to acheive your resolutions. It's not enough to simply say that you want to: lose weight, read more, Facebook less, write a book, start a hobby, write more real letters or start a business. You NEED to plan it out. 

It starts with a goal. You need to be specific about what you want to achieve and when you want to achieve it, 'I want to lose 20lbs by April 30' and 'I want to write my novel by December 31' are great examples of specific goals.

Once you know WHAT you are doing, you need to figure out the HOW. 'I'm going to excercise 3 times a week, eat less processed foods and, more real food and cut back on sugar,' and 'I will write 2-3 hours a week,' are some examples of where you can start.

Next, you need to PLAN these in to your daily life. There is no magic power at midnight January 1st that will automatically make you a better person - you've got to do the work, so plan it into your day!  'Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays go to the gym or run 3K or go to pilates class.' and 'Write 1-1.5 hours on Mondays and Wednesdays before work,' are places to get you started. Decide on the steps you need to take to get you closer to your goal and write those into your planner.

Now, you simply have to follow the plan. You've got the appointment with yourself, you simply need to show up and do the work. Don't let yourself down!

Project-2-close-upsneak peek of my project as January guest designer for Studio Calico

Dreams always feel amazing and do-able on December 31, and with careful planning they can become reality. The trick is to use the momentum of the excitement and get it planned before mid-January rolls around, when real life sets back in and you start to think your dreams are an impossibility.

If you need more help with goals setting, that planning process or even deciding on what your New Year's Resolutions will be this year, pop over to my favourite class at Big Picture Class, Plan Your Dreams. If you don't have a membership yet, you can take a 2 week free trial which is plenty of time to turn your dreams into goals and get them planned out!

Plan Your Dreams


Merry Christmas

Wishing you and yours the very merriest of Christmases. From my family to yours.

Card photo 2017 copy

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10 days until Christmas!! Will you be ready?

Did I just stress you out? Not to worry, 10 days is plenty of time! I can help make sure that you are ready, with all your checkboxes ticked come Christmas morning!

Even still, life happens, the weather can get frightful. Things take longer than you thought they would. Unexpected "field, floods, rocks hills and plains" come up and you can get behind, fast!

Sometimes, we simply plug away at our Christmas planning haphazardly without any real focus or direction. Maybe you're late getting your Christmas cards out so you spend all your time on those and baking gingerbread cookies with your children or grandchildren gets bumped to next week. Maybe next week, you'll be late with the wrapping so those cookies get bumped again.

In our house gingerbread cookies are non-negotiable. My 14 year old told me this year, that baking gingerbread cookies is a 'RULE' and if a teen boy is interested in a Christmas activity with his younger brothers and sister then I know it's not one to bump or skip!! We are baking them today after they get home from their last day of school. 

What activities do your family consider a rule at Christmas time? You need to make sure that the non-negotiable activities get done!

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So, what happens if the Christmas cards or the wrapping is taking too much time? They need to get done too! Well I have a few questions that you can ask yourself to help you decide if your are spending the right amount of time on the most important tasks and activities this Christmas Season. Here we go:

  • Is there anything that is less important than your non-negotiables that you can drop from your to-do list? Even if it's only for this year. Do you really need to go to that boring office party when your kids/grandkids want to go skating? Maybe you can buy a ready made scarf, hat and mitten set from the craft stall in the mall instead of trying to rush and finish the one you are struggling to knit in between baking, wrapping and shopping. You can finish it for next year. 

  • Is there anything that you don't want to eliminate completely, but you can simplify? You could take the kids skating for an hour and then pop into the office party afterwards. You could knit just the scarf instead of the elaborate hat, mitten and scarf set that you planned to knit back in October. Don't we always think we have all the time in the world in October? ;)  If the Christmas cards seem to be taking a long time, maybe type your message and include it as a letter and only handwrite your signature, instead of handwriting a personal note in each card. If you are making the cards yourself and it's taking longer than you thought it would, simplify the design of it. Even if some of them are finished already, they don't all have to be the same. Maybe you are organising a party, it's ok to buy ready made food if you are short for time. No one will know that you had planned to make it all yourself! 

  • Is there some one who could help you? You don't need a maid, simply involve the kids, grandkids and young neighbours. My younger ones love stamping our address on the Christmas card envelopes and adding the stamps. The older ones write the addressses some years, though they are less enthusiastic about it! Sometimes I wonder if the listening to their grumbling is worth it, but it always is. Is there a teenager in your family or neighbourhood who could help with the wrapping, take your children skating (if you haven't been on skates in years) or help with the baking? I'm sure that she would love a little extra cash to buy gifts for her friends and family.

Don't be disappointed with yourself if your original plans are too time consuming, we all only have 2 hands and 24 hours a day. We can't do it all. I know a lot of us would like to feel like we could do it all  *coughcough raising my hand*  so I'm telling myself as much as I'm telling you.

It's ok to not do it all.

If you arrive on Christmas morning with all your boxes ticked on your to-do lists but so completely exhausted that you fall asleep while you're opening presents, it's not worth it. You deserve to enjoy Christmas too, and not just Christmas day but all the days leading up to it too. If you are too stressed out, you'll end up being a grinch and no one wants that.

I have printable review sheets in Lesson 6 of my Plan Your Christmas class at Big Picture Classes. There are more questions there and they will really keep you on track in these last days until Christmas.

Plan Your Christmas

Leave a comment below with what you are going to drop, simplify or get help with.

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My Secret to Avoiding Stress and Anxiety with Christmas Planning

DSC_9204goodies in the pockets are from PaperHouse Productions

As we head into Christmas, I'm sure many of you have activities, events and/or parties to plan and all the tasks involved can get stressful! How's the planning looking now? If you are anything like me, you got giddy putting all the tasks into your planner, but are starting to get overwhelmed by the amount still left to do. Ok, I realise that it's really weird to get giddy over organising, but if I'm being completely honest, I was beyond giddy with Christmas planning by the end of September. ;) This stuff is really fun!

Now...DEADLINES.

Ick.

Now I'm not so giddy anymore.

I have such a love/hate relationship with deadlines. I work really hard under pressure. I honestly feel that I do better with a little stress. Notice I said a LITTLE stress. That said, I'm a pretty zen person (I kind of need to be with six children). I don't get stressed out and worried when the crunch is on, and I can keep my cool. I have to admit, it's one of my strong points. I also have things planned ahead. I know what needs doing, and I get things done in a timely manner in advance so I'm not scrambling to do everything at 2 am the night before. I only need to feel just that little bit of pressure. 

I wasn't always like this. I used to get so worked up that I'd get panic attacks, so I don't feel bad admitting that it's a strength of mine now. I worked at it, and with careful planning, I was able to overcome the stress and anxiety. 

So, what's the secret to planning to avoid stress and anxiety?

DSC_9156cutie pie hedgie sticker and clips are from PaperHouse Productions

The first step is to add into your planner, all the other deadlines and big things that are going on in your life besides Christmas stuff. The dentist appointments and soccer practices, a busy week at work, or a project, be sure to include anything that will take significant time away from your Christmas planning. 

Next, add in any Christmas dates you already know. For example, School concerts, tree lighting, Santa visits. It's good to know when you can and can't work on the preparations for your event or party. Having all this in your planner will give you an overall view of what blocks of time are free for the tasks for your event or party.

Now, we're going to add in smaller deadlines for different parts of the event preparations. Unfortunately, there is just ONE BIG DEADLINE—the date of your party or event itself. It's too much and too overwhelming to try to do it all for this one date, so we're going to break it down and get intermediary deadlines. 

That's the easy stuff...

The hard stuff is making sure you hit those deadlines. Some of us are better at hitting deadlines than others. If you are one of those that struggles with sticking to a deadline that you've imposed on yourself, here are a couple of tips to keep you on track, stress and anxeity free:

  • Trick yourself. Set the deadlines for earlier than you think you'll need it. For example, if you want your decorations up by December 15th so you can start the rest of your planning, give yourself  December 13th as a deadline. If you're a couple days late, you'll hit your "real deadline." This works best for us forgetful ladies.
  • Tell someone. Have a friend or family member hold you accountable. Maybe invite a friend over to help hang up the decorations on December 15th so that you'll need to have all the preparations done before she arrives.

I've learned to impose deadlines on myself, but I work better with external accountability.  When I set deadlines for myself, I rarely meet them. However, if I tell someone my deadline, I'll definitely have that task done for them by the time the deadline I've set comes along.

If you have an event or party to plan and you are overwhelmed and stressed out, or you just need some helpful tips, pop over to my latest class with Big Picture Classes, Plan Your Next Event.

I've got time-tested method for organizing and implementing a process to make event planning simple and easy. At the end of this class, your event guests will be begging you to plan their next event

 


Doing it All versus Doing it Well

When you’re scrolling IG or FB and you see all the fantastic Christmas activities and crafts and parties and baking that people are posting, you may be tempted to add these to your to-do list. Which is completely fine if you have room on your to-do list, and in your schedule this busy season, to do so.

On the other hand, if your to-do list is already bursting with never ending Christmas tasks, you’ll have to check it twice, and think twice about adding new things!

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There are 2 solutions that can work for you when you see a fantastic Christmas thing that you just have to do/buy/have/make/attend. You can either bump something else off of your list, to make room for this new and exciting thing, or you can forget about the new shiny thing and save it for next year. 

Maybe next year, there will be more time, maybe not… probably not ;)

When you try to do EVERYTHING, something is going to give. Often times it’s a tradition that you absolutely love that gets bumped for something shiny and new, because you no longer have any time left for that wonderful tradtion. Otherwise, it’s your sanity that gets up and leaves when you’ve spread yourself so thin, trying to squeeze in more and more into the very short Christmas season. 

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To make sure this doesn’t happen, it’s a good idea to take a real good look at the activities, crafts and tasks that you are already doing, plus those that you want to add. Prioritise those things that you and your family really love, the things you really want to do this Christmas. Ditch the ones you don’t. It’s ok to let go of traditions and things that you are no longer enjoying, or never actually enjoyed in the first place. It's ok to let go of the things that you don't enjoy but do each and every year because you simply felt that was the way things had to be. Just because somehting is done every year, doesn't make it good or enjoyable. If it doesn't make you happy and you can skip it, then go right ahead, I give you permission!

Think of it as decluttering your closet, get rid of all the things that no longer serve to make you happy this Christmas, just like you get rid of the dress that’s no longer trendy and the jeans that are too tight. Fill your Christmas season with the things that make you happy and get rid of the stress that builds up so easily and so quickly. 

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If you need any help figuring out how to get rid of the unwanted Christmas to-do's and need a hand making your Christmas the best it can be, pop over to my class Plan Your Christmas. I walk you through the process of deciding what to do and how to plan it out so that you don't end up a stressed out mess come Christmas morning, instead, you'll be fresh and ready to enjoy the day.

PLAN YOUR CHRISTMAS

 


The Incredible Importance of Gratitude and a Gift for You!

Apparently Americans think that it was Thanksgiving this past week, well any Canadian will tell you that Thanksgiving was back in October!! Haha silly Americans.

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All jokes aside, no matter what country you live in, any time is a great time to show your thanks. An attitude of gratitude will go a long way in your happiness. When you are grateful for what you have, no matter how meager, you make a mind shift from wanting to having, and that makes all the difference.

It's one thing to do it for one day a year, and quite another to make it a habitual part of your every day. Being grateful for what you have in your life works wonders at driving away frustration, disappointments and anxiety. When you see what you have and what you've accomplished, it actually makes you confident as you move forward with goals and projects instead of fretting over the work and effort needed to get where you'd like to be.  Being happy, content and thankful with where you are makes life so much more wonderful that you can't help but smile all the time.

I encourge you to choose the one thing from the list below that speaks to you the most, and start right now! List 1-5 things that you are thankful for, today and everyday.  They don't have to be big things, you can mix in little happy moments with your children, the fact that there was no traffic on the way to work and a quiet 5 minutes with a cuppa in the morning light, along with a promotion or a trip of a life time. The little moments are a lot easier to come by and add to your list, and they are also the ones we tend to over look. They are the wonderful bits of our day that make up our lives and make it amazing. The more we are able to see these moments for the joys that they are, the happier our lives will be.

Here are 10 easy ways that you can make gratitude a part of your daily routine:

  • Stick a new post-it with your list on your bathroom mirror each day
  • Find a gratitude buddy and email or message your list to each other everyday
  • Add fresh flowers or a pretty picture to your home and come up with one thing to be thankful for every time you see it
  • Keep a journal - list your items at the same time every day
  • Set an alarm on your phone and list the things you are thankful for out loud or jot them down
  • Write a quick message to someone for whom you are grateful
  • Write your list on a chalk board in your kitchen, change it out each day or have a running list that you can erase at the end of the week
  • When you are frustrated, stop and take a look around and find something to be thankful for, there is always something
  • Pray or meditate on this at the same time every day
  • Have everyone say what they are thankful for at the dinner table before the meal, everyday

I've had an alarm on my phone set for 10:47am (no idea why I picked that completely random time, haha!) and I would list out loud 3 things everyday. I turned it off for a while but I'm turning it back on today and I'm also going to write my list down if I happen to be at home when it goes off. I recently found an old gratitiude journal of mine and it's an amazing feeling going back and rereading those little lists of everyday wonders.

The first item on my list today is going to be YOU! I am so grateful that you come and read my blog. I am grateful to be able to share my thoughts and experiences. Thank you!

To show my thanks, I thought about having a Black Friday sale. Instead, I really want to do something more than simply give you a discount, so I'm giving away my hand drawn Christmas printables for you to use however you'd like. Follow the link below to download all three sheets and please tag me if you post them online so that I can see! Enjoy!

Whimsical Christmas Printables

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Finally! It's Acceptable to be Planning Christmas, and I've Been at it Since August.

Yes, I've been planning Christmas since August, nothing too drastic, just slowing picking away at my tasks. Whenever I tell people this, they usually think I'm a crazy, Christmas obsessed fool. You know what, I have a huge family and I NEED to start early. Now that it's November, people are putting up their trees and starting their shopping so it seems like now is the 'acceptable' time to start planning. Some people still think it's too early.

But is it? Is it really too early?

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The Christmas season is very short for all the tasks and activities we want to cram in. Why not start early and slowly pick away at it so that you arrive at Christmas morning fresh and ready to enjoy the day instead of worn out and ready to fall asleep. 

It's not enough to arrive at Christmas day with all your tasks done and all those pretty checkboxes checked if you are tired and cranky. 

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When I was at PlannerCon in Brussels a few weeks ago, I taught my Plan Your Christmas workshop. I told the ladies (and gents) that if you leave things too late, you'll end up being that crazy-eyed, harried lady in the stores on Christmas Eve, being rude to everyone because you're so stressed out. 

You want to be home on Christmas Eve snuggled up by the fire with a nice mug of hot cocoa, drooling over Jude Law in the Holiday. And if you start early and then, end up finishing early, all the better. More time for Jude :)

So feel free to start planning early, don't over schedule yourself, don't take on too many tasks, schedule it in and follow your plan!

Do you need help? Did you miss PlannerCon Europe? Then, check out the online version of my Plan Your Christmas class. It's at Big Picture Classes and it's got everything you need to have a peaceful well organised Christmas season, a season where you enjoy every step of the journey towards Christmas as well as Christmas day and all your activities and parties.  So pop on over and take a look, and if you don't have a Big Picture membership, you can get a free trial and that will give you plenty of time to review the class lessons.

Plan Your Christmas

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