Screen Shot 2014-04-17 at 12.29.54 PMI am a self-help junkie. I’ve been DIY-ing my life for years. In the last year or so I’ve gotten more into what I call the spiritual self-help world. My inbox and Facebook feed are regular filled with women like Danielle Laporte, Marianne Williamson, Kris Carr and my new favorite Tara Bliss.

Words like universe, light, energy, resistance, ego and love come out of my mouth on a daily basis and are frequently used in everything I read.

I usually see Jina once or twice a week and she’s my first friend who is also in that world so I am surrounded by it, consuming it and breathing it in ALL. THE. TIME.

I love it! It’s my new life. It’s who I am now.

Lately I’ve been taking stock on how this new way of thinking is showing up in my life. What are the small changes I’ve made and what have been the results?

I’m meditating almost daily (thanks mostly to Jina)
I feel myself judging and experiencing judgment less.
I rarely experience guilt or anxiety.
I find myself smiling more and I’ve noticed my shoulders aren’t as tense.
I’m doing yoga on an almost daily basis. (An indirect result of the meditation. Hey, I’m already on the mat!)

Overall I just feel and show the love more.

If those aren’t enough reasons to check out anyone listed above then I don’t know what would be.

But. And this is a big BUT.

What I’m learning lately is that although this stuff, journey, path, way of thinking is all VERY important to me and VERY beneficial…

It’s not always about the inner work.

Choosing to see things differently doesn’t help me when I banged my knee after tripping over the shoes in our tiny entry way.

Trusting the universe doesn’t get me to my meeting any faster after getting a late start because I couldn’t find notebook.

And all of the meditations, visualization exercises and soothing yoga sequences are MUCH harder (if not nearly impossible) to do when I can barely find space to roll out the mat and then I step on a sharp dog bone that sends sharp pain straight to my brain.

Sometimes your external environment needs to be addressed before anything else.

And I don’t just mean cleaning. Although it helps it’s not the solution.

At Lifestyle Design Camp I focus a lot of time on teaching how the importance of your external environment. And by external environment I mean everything outside of your body, but within your control that you encounter every day. Like your home, car, office and purse.

These things trigger emotions constantly. And depending on what emotions they trigger your external environment can have a huge impact on your day, mood, health, relationships and the person that you become.

Think about all of the times you feel frustrated, annoyed or overwhelmed by something you encounter daily. That’s an external environment trigger that makes it THAT much harder to be the loving, kind and accomplished person you are trying to be.

That’s why I think it’s vitally important to address your external environment… as if your life depended on it. Because, well, it sort of does.

THIS is your whole life. This is MY whole life.

I don’t want to spend it in a negative state when I have complete control over SO many things.

The deeper and more faithful I get in my self-care, spiritual life journey the lower my tolerance is for external triggers that take away from my peaceful, loving and productive life.

It’s about time we all took back control over our environments and stopped allowing them to sabotage our potential. It’s time we raise our standards for what a good day feels like. It’s time to say I deserve better to the idea that it’s normal to spend all of your time, energy and money just getting through each day.

Because you do deserve better. We all deserve better.

Let’s say yes please to the inner work and realize that our homework is making our HOME WORK.

So my question to you is:

What’s one area in your home that triggers a not-so-positive emotion? Share below.

P.S. If you’re ready to work on your external environment you don’t have to guess where to start. I wrote an entire ebook on it that walks you through EXACTLY what to do. No paint gallons or design skills required.

address teaser

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Small Changes Have Big Immpact

Before I ever started The Small Change Project when I knew I had something to share, but didn’t quite know what – there was an underlying theme. Throughout our relationship and our travels Adam and I had discovered that certain small tweaks to how we did things had really big impact on our lives. Each time it happened we couldn’t believe it. Many times we felt like we should shout the results from the roof top. As if we had found the secret. It wasn’t until we’d made many changes that we realized it wasn’t the changes themselves it was just change at this level.

It was change on such a small scale that made the big impact so surprising.

Before we were even cognizant of it we had developed a process for making small changes. We knew how impactful they had been in our life. We didn’t really realize we had a process we just realized we liked the results and we wanted more.

Fast forward to our kitchen table when we were discussing what my business should be called. What was the essence of what I was about to do? What had we been doing all along. We talked about how all of the small changes we make in our life have such a huge impact for how small they are. That’s when the name The Small Change Project came up.

For almost two years now I’ve been thinking about, writing about and teaching about small changes that have big impact on our daily lives.

Oddly enough it wasn’t until the pilot Lifestyle Design Camp that someone finally asked me,

Why do you think small changes have such a big impact?

WHOA!

Basically whats behind this foundational message of your entire company?

I’m glad she had the courage to ask because I can’t believe I’ve never had to explain it until now.

The short answer? Because most people have never thought about it before.

I’ll explain.

Reason #1: You’re used to doing so many things without any intention in the first place. Your cups are in the cupboard to the left because that’s where they got put when you moved in. You buy groceries on Sunday night because that’s when your mom bought her groceries. You eat cereal and a banana for breakfast because that’s what you at for breakfast in college. You work 8:30-5:00 because that’s what everyone at your office does. Never mind that there are other options.

Many, MANY times the things you’re doing without even thinking about it are not done in a way that best serves you and your life. So when you make a small change to how you do things you feel a huge impact. And since you never thought about it before it use only takes a small adjustment to be doing it the best way for you.

Reason #2: You haven’t taken the time to compare what IS working versus what ISN’T. You’re so close to perfect and you don’t even know it. That’s why all it takes is a small change to get there. So many things ARE going right and it’s often just one small thing that’s holding up the show. That’s why it feels like such a huge impact when you identify that one small thing and everything else falls into place. Plus when you look at any situation and really think about what is working and what isn’t working the changes to make become very clear.

Reason #3: Because EVERYTHING in your life is connected! You really feel the big impact as the results of the small change you made filter into all of the other areas of your life.

Let me give you a (based on real life) example.

Currently you come home from work to a messy kitchen that you don’t even want to look at, much less cook in. You get in a short argument with your partner about cleaning duties before you both agree not to fight then order takeout. The night is off to a rough start so you each grab separate spots on the couch to watch TV for the night.

You recognize that coming home to a messy kitchen is the trigger for all of it. So you shift your schedule by 10 minutes to give your and your partner time to do the dishes in the morning. (Definitely a small change)

Now you come home to a clean house. You know it’s clean on your drive home so you’re no longer prepping your mood for a fight. Instead you’re primed and ready for cleanliness and peace. Because your kitchen is clean you both feel like whipping up dinner together. (I’m guessing your home cooked meal is healthier than takeout) Since that experience was pleasant you decide to eat dinner at the table together. That turns into a wonderful conversation filled with jokes and stories from the day. You feel satisfied from the meal and happy from the time spent with your partner. You both start talking about what your going to have for dinner the next night and pretty soon you’re writing a grocery list and practicing meal planning.

By the time you reach the living room to relax you’re both in a really peaceful and happy mood. You snuggle up real close to watch the newest season of Mad Men. Maybe it’s Don Draper’s smooth ad lingo or Joan’s fabulous costume, but soon you no longer need Netflix for entertainment. ;)

I’ll let you fill in the rest of the evening, but you can start to see just how connected your life is. This small snapshot of an evening at home shows how being intentional with your daily life and making small changes can have a huge impact on EVERYTHING! Shifting your schedule by 10 minutes could have an effect on your eating habits, relationship with your partner, mood, and sex life. HUGE!

Now imagine the effects after doing this small change for a month. I’m sure you could get used to evenings like that. Imagine making other small changes. A month later you’ll be so far down the path of small change that you’ll forget how you even got started. All you know is you’re liking what your life looks like today.

Seem worth it?

I think so.

So get started! Make one small change this weekend and watch the impact unfold. If you’re stuck, I’m here to help.

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householdtasksgroceries

It’s time for me to share another small change that is totally rocking our world lately. We have changed who gets the groceries in our family. When I say it like that it sounds like a small change. And in the grand scheme of things it is, but this has been OH-SO-BIG for us.

Let me back up.

Over the course of our marriage and the many cities we’ve lived in we’ve had different strategies for getting the groceries. In Baton Rouge we lived very close to a Target and we often went together. In Santa Fe we didn’t do much cooking (because Santa Fe has the best food in the country) which meant our grocery shopping was minimal. We lived within walking distance of one Whole Foods and Adam’s office was within walking distance of the other Whole Foods. I KNOW! That awesome trifecta of 2 Whole Foods plus the best restaurants meant we ate VERY well and it was VERY easy. I would walk over and grab ingredients for dinner that night or Adam would come home with a baguette and some cheeses. It was heavenly!

Things changed when we moved to Minnesota and lived out in the burbs. We were pretty far from the Whole Foods and from Adam’s office. Since we only had one car I found the perfect grocery shopping option was to drop Adam off at work and then go to Whole Foods afterwards since I was already close. The perfect time? Friday mornings. The store was empty and I could get all the help I needed when I couldn’t find an obscure item on our list (which happens all the time.)

Our grocery needs changed again when we moved into Saint Paul AND when I launched Lifestyle Design Camp.

The biggest change came from LDC. All of a sudden I had a huge workload and was swamped by my tasks for our life on top of that new workload. Something had to give. Like other times in the past we talked about what tasks Adam could take over. We knew it was important to choose carefully so it would actually work out for our family.

At this same time Adam had gotten really into cooking. He suggested that since he was the one cooking he should take over the grocery shopping. I was all for it. You know how everyone has those tasks that you would gladly pay someone to do for the rest of your life because you JUST. DON’T. LIKE. IT? That’s grocery shopping for me. I even researched if there was a delivery service in our city. (There isn’t.)

What I don’t like about grocery shopping is that is will never be finished. You make the list, drive there, go through the process of reading the ingredients list on everything and filling your cart with whole foods, bag it up, carry it into your house, unload it, put it away…ONLY TO HAVE TO DO IT AGAIN IN A WEEK! And this goes on for the rest of your life. I know I’m being dramatic, but that’s how I feel about grocery shopping. So when Adam offered to take my ONE task and do it, I said HELL YES AND I LOVE YOU!

But it’s really not that simple.

Here is what it took for us to make this seemingly small change.

Source: I was drowning under my workload and needed help. An easy task to hand over to Adam was the grocery shopping. (or so I thought!)

Steps: It wasn’t until after we gave the grocery shopping to Adam that I truly realized how many steps go into this. First I shared as many tips and rules as I could remember. A lot of the shopping was mindless because I had been doing it for so long. I shared about chemicals to watch out for on the ingredients list, cheaper alternatives for our basics and organic requirements. Then we talked about when he should go and what staples he should get every time. I created an Evernote list that he can access from his phone so I can add ingredients whenever I think of them. (That didn’t last long, before we went back to the good old paper list)

Then we realized that if he’s cooking and grocery shopping then he needs to choose the recipes. So now he sits down with the iPad (I save recipes on Pinterest that we’ll actually cook) and a bunch of cookbooks to decide what we’ll eat for the week. Then he writes the list.

Time: In total it probably took us an hour to discuss the process of getting groceries, but it’s taken a few weeks and a few trips to work out the kinks.

Investment: $0. It’s free to change tasks, but we’re paying with a time investment.

Effort: Again I thought this would be easier that it was. The hardest part? LETTING GO OF CONTROL! It’s not logical, but my instincts were telling me I was going to starve. I was handing over all of my meals and prep to someone else. Gah! It was REALLY hard not to micro manage, but I knew the faster I handed over total control the faster this transition phase would be over. We compared it to Adam making breakfast. He has it down to a system and he has been making hot breakfast for us every day for a long time. If one day I told him I was taking over I’m sure he’d have a hard time not micro managing my process (and he’d probably pack a secret backup breakfast for work).

It also took more effort to work out the kinks. After each trip we quickly chatted about how it went and what changes needed to be made for next time.

Outcome: Holy groceries! This changes everything! When I say small changes for big impact this is EXACTLY what I’m talking about. We are LOVING the outcome of this small change! Adam is a pro at getting the groceries and has been cooking up a storm. He’s loving that he’s in charge of the entire process. He also feels way better about his contributions to our family. (Not that he should have felt bad before) He literally comes home from the store beaming with pride and whistles while he puts away the groceries. (weirdo) He has since told me it brings him A LOT of joy to feed our family.

And it makes me really happy to eat his food. Win-win! Honestly, he is a phenomenal cook so if you ever have the chance – take it!

The outcome has been equally awesome for me. I feel SO good that we’ve finally successfully handed over a family task to Adam (after failed attempts in the past.) I have more time and I’m A LOT less stressed. Plus I feel like a queen when the groceries just show up. I can’t believe I’m lucky enough to have my ONE task done for me. An added bonus that I didn’t see coming is some time by myself. Adam and I spend every evening and weekend together (lucky us!) and with this extra hour-plus of alone time I’m getting so much done. I am one happy camper after this change.

Together – as you might have guessed – this has been great for our marriage. We reduced frustration for one of us, amplified happiness for the other and infused a must-do family process with joy and ease. Indirect outcomes have been more family dinners, more smiles, more kisses, noticeably more joy which leads to more of so many other good things.

This small change is a DEFINITE KEEPER!

So who gets the groceries in your family? Does the process need to be reevaluated? What’s one way you can infuse the process with joy and ease?

Want help deciding who should get the groceries (or do any task) at your house? Feeling stuck? Let’s have coffee. We’ll get it figured out.

letshavecoffee

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Have you ever taken one of those personality quizzes? You know the type. They tell you if you’re an introvert, leader, or compulsive shopper. Probably not all at the same time.

You get the answers and you smile, nod and giggle a little because the description is so spot on it’s as if your BFF wrote it.

You know the drill.

Well earlier this week my friend and business partner sent me a quiz. This quiz to be exact. We swap business resources all the time so I didn’t think this would be much different. Before I took my quiz I read her results. The one page description perfectly described her and I found myself smiling as I read it. I don’t know why, but I was happy for her that her results were so right.

Then I took my quiz. I got my results and I freaked out.

THAT’S NOT ME AT ALL!

I sent the results to Jina and hoped with all my might she’d find the silver lining. She agreed with the results and we agreed to discuss it at our next meeting. That didn’t happen for two days and in those couple days I did a tailspin.

I couldn’t believe someone would describe me this way. Even Adam nodded and said “yeah that sounds like you.”

WHAT!?!?

For the next two days I felt out of it, depressed and confused. I felt like I didn’t really know who I was. I felt like I’ve been kidding myself this entire time.

The crazy part is that I was having such a severe reaction to an online quiz!

Over-senstive much?

To make a long story short I chatted with Jina yesterday for about an hour about our results. After we talked it out I realized that it was more right than I thought. In fact it was truly spot on. I just didn’t want to admit it. The results of the quiz showed an aspect of myself that I’m not quite comfortable expressing. And yet, I do every day. Maybe I’m just not comfortable expressing it in my business

The more we talked about it the more my memory was bringing up instance after instance demonstrating how true those results really are.

So although this has been a rough week of self-reflection and discovery I am happy with the outcome. A better understanding of who I truly am.

In an effort to learn from this experience and to hopefully help you if/when you go through the same thing. Here are:

3 tips to get through those times when the truth hurts

1. Notice it and don’t dismiss it. When we have strong reactions to something there’s a reason. And almost always it’s not the reason we think. Don’t just say “this is stupid.” “that’s not right” or “they’ve got it all wrong.” and walk away. Stop and notice your reaction. When it’s strong, visceral and automatic that’s a red flag. A red flag letting you know to let this sink in for a while.

2. Talk to your trusted advisors to gain perspective. Tell your story to your spouse, best friend, parent and whoever knows you best. They will give you a non-emotional perspective that can completely change how you view the situation. They can shed some light on the truth and perhaps even why it hurts so much.

3. Highlight the positive and move on. (aka: act!) So I got a result that I didn’t really like, but the plus side is that I have a better understanding of who I am. Sure it describes me in ways I don’t prefer, but those who know me best have reframed it in such a beautiful light. What am I going to do about it? I’m going to accept it, embrace it and work it into my life and business. This quiz identified a core aspect of who I am. Now I want to incorporate that into my brand, my products and my actions in and out of business.

What’s the plus side of your harsh truth? And what are you going to do about it?

Although the truth can be tough to swallow sometimes it can teach us so much. It can teach us about ourselves in ways that denial, image and social expectations never can.

So the next time you have a strong reaction to something don’t turn away….

look closer.

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‘Try This Tuesday’ is a weekly series dedicated to new ideas, tried and true methods, and simple
solutions for experiencing life while rocking your day-to-day. Go ahead, try it!

2014-03-16 15.39.37

I shared the photo above with my LDC ladies, because I wanted to show them the reality behind my words. At camp I explained that Adam and I know that our systems work because when they are taken away chaos happens. At home we’re organized and neat, but that doesn’t come naturally to either of us. We have systems set up to work with our personalities so that even though we’re both not naturally very neat our home stays that way.

We see just how well our systems work when we travel some where else. Just ask my sister who is ALWAYS shocked by the state of her guest room hours after we arrive.

This picture was taken 2 days after we got to Florida last week. And minutes after I put away the iron and ironing board. So it’s even cleaner than it was.

This photo reminds me how worth it is to design a lifestyle that works for us. Otherwise we’d be living in a room like this, but not just on vacation. ALL THE TIME!

So if you’re looking around feeling defeated, stuck or lost…

Try This

Recognize what IS working for you.

Perhaps you’re doing a great job of getting enough sleep.

You’re eating well.

Or you’re nurturing your relationships.

Maybe you set up system that is doing it’s job so well it hasn’t crossed your mind since.

It’s important to take a few minutes now and then to recognize what IS working. Both to give yourself some credit and to amplify or replicate whatever it is that works.

So what’s working for you right now? Leave it in the comments below or share it on Facebook.

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