Week #9: Carve Out Time For Yourself – 52 Weeks to a Healthier and Happier You


“I restore myself when I’m alone.” – Marilyn Monroe

Welcome!!    I am spending the next year working my way through 52 Small Changes:One year to a Happier,  Healthier You by Brett Blumenthal.   We all have different challenges in our life, but join me in continuing to move forward to a healthier and happier life.  We will all make it to the end in our own time and will be  happier and healthier for it.  I am 9 weeks into my journey to become healthier and happier.   I am glad you have joined me and I hope you are seeing positive changes. We all have different challenges in our life, but join me in continuing to move forward.  We will all make it to the end in our own time and will be  happier and healthier for it.

This Week’s Change:  Carve out  a minimum of half an hour for yourself each day. 

This week I want you to dedicate time to work on your goals, meet your personal needs and explore aspirations. I am a full time caregiver and social worker, so I know how hard it is to carve out time to be alone, but it is so important.  I actually have been working on this for about a month.   My life is so full of “have to dos”, that I was never find time for my want to do.   So many aspirations put on the back burning until I have time, which never occurs.  This includes blogging, reading, reviewing books, writing and this 52 week challenge. When I have those rare moments that I have time alone, my outlook changed  – I feel restored. 

How to find the time?  That was the question I have been asking myself for years.  If I stayed up late, I was never alone as my hubby would also be up with me.   Getting up early…..so not my thing!  I have struggled with mornings for years.  My mom worked nights while I was growing up.  When I was little my brothers would keep me up late so I would sleep late the next day.  This allowed my mom to get a few hours of sleep after work.   As an adult, I  struggled every morning to get out of the bed and rush to get everything done to get to work.   Rushing to get kids to school, fighting over who showers next , etc.   I have lived that way for nearly 40 years.  

I found a book called  Early To Rise by Andy Traub and my life slowly has begun to change.   A lot hat has changed is my attitude.  I look forward to quiet mornings alone reading and reflecting.  I am finding a few minutes for my want to dos.   I plan my day and feel so much more prepared for the day when I get to work.  Time alone helps me to better manage my stress. Being able to manage daily stress makes a huge difference in my day.  Being a full-time social worker helping people during the day and in the evening I am a caretaker of my family  including my nearly 90 year old father in law.  It is easy to lose yourself in caring for others.  Someone always needs something and then you fall into bed, literally.    Now instead of hoping I will have energy at the end of the day, I give my first hour of the day to myself!


My Current Habit:  Most mornings I am awake around 5:00AM – I start the water for my coffee and let the dogs outside.  I grab my coffee, my devotional, the book I am currently reading and curl with in my favorite chair with the littlest puppy.  I am finally finding time to read review books once again.  I am still working on finding the time to write book reviews and blog more Smile    I am a work in progress!  For accountability, I post each morning onto the 5:00am club page on Facebook to check in that I am awake!

Changes I would like to make: I am trying to add fitness to my morning routine.  I would like to be on the treadmill a minimum of 15 minutes each morning.  This is definitely is a habit I hope will be mastered.

Last Week’s Change: Add more veggies to your daily intake. 

How did you do last week??   I am trying to make different veggies for the family so we don’t get bored with the meals.  This week we tried a endive and persimmons salad, which was  a new vegetable and fruit for us.  I also found I really enjoy roasted squash in my salad  at lunch.  . 

What worked for you?   Menu planning and finding recipes for more vegetables through my subscription to TheFresh20.com    I do post our menu every two week on the blog, Living in White Bear Lake.   I have all the ingredients for those meals in my home. 

Stop by for the next change and share your progress.  Since I am not always consistent with my weekly postings, subscribe to the blog and never miss a week of this “52 Weeks to Healthier and Happier You” series! 

Previous Changes:

1.   Hydrate with water.
2.   Get 7 – 8 Hours of Sleep
3.   Get Routine Activity Every Day
4.   Keep a Food Journal
5.  Develop an Optimistic Outlook
6.  Multivitamin Daily
7.  Keep Allergens Out of Your Home

8.  4 to 6 Servings of Vegetables a Day

9.  Carve Out Time for Yourself


New Year – New Goals – New Focus

untitledAnother New Year is upon us and as always my thoughts go to what I want to work on in the new year.  Do you make resolutions??   I dropped the habit of making resolutions a while back, instead making yearly goals.  While goals are similar in nature to resolutions, they allow me to break down what I want to accomplish into smaller steps throughout the year and track my progress.

Goals from past years are still firmly in place within our home.  Once I had the goal that I would menu plan each week to save money and time.   We have faithfully been planning a menu for years, which has saved us money and reduced our stress over the years.  Hopefully menu planning is slowly improving our health as well.   We continue to try to limit the use of processed food and make most things from scratch.

Our attempt to stay away from processed food is also changing our taste.  This year for Christmas Eve as we were starting to come down with a virus of sorts in our home we tried to make the appetizer spread more convenient.  We bought a few boxed appetizers at Sam’s Club to add to our homemade ones to make meal prep a little easier.   The comment heard around the room, “your eggrolls are better”, “Your (insert boxed food item) is better”.  My family rarely likes convenience food anymore.  Except of course my hubby’s preference for Kraft Mac & Cheese vs my homemade Mac & Cheese.

Three years ago my hubby and I set the goal to address our financial life.   We attended Financial Peace University and made a goal to become debt free.   By March of this year we will make last payment on our credit card debt.  We will be free of credit card debt!  WOW!!   We then will conquer our massive student loan debt in pursuit of a simpler, debt free life.  We have faithfully had a weekly budget meeting to discuss our financial goals each week since our first meeting on October 8, 2010.

As you can see, setting a focus goal each year has allowed us to add our goals into our routine and maintain the progress we made.  Goals we set three yeas ago are firmly implanted in our routine and we feel very off balance it we don’t plan a menu or have a weekly budget meeting.

The last few days I have been spending some time thinking about what I would like to improve for our family in 2014??  It finally came to me as I lay in our bedroom battling the illness that has spread through our house since Christmas Day.   Do you love the feeling of being on vacation?   I do, one thing I love is being in a room with very little stuff.   Surfaces in the hotel room are clear of clutter and everything is easy to tidy each day.  It provides me with a sense of peace, relaxation and rejuvenation.

I look around my bedroom and only think, I wish I felt better so I could clean this place up.   I want a simpler life and for me the more simple my life becomes the more content I am in my life.   I love my life, but I would like to spend less time looking for misplaced items, trying to straighten up things we rarely use.  I no longer want my bedroom to be the dumping ground for things without a home.  I want to value relationships and not the maintenance and upkeep of our possessions.

I am not just talking about just de-cluttering our possessions, but de-cluttering our lives as well.  As a working mom, I know the value of my time.  Am I doing things with my time that I am doing out of obligation or wondering what others would think if I quit doing this. Time to de-clutter those things to add more time to bless others.

While our house is fairly organized, it takes time to maintain that.  Our home is not large, but it is the home of many people with many things.   Our household consists of my hubby and I, our youngest son, my brother-in-law, my father-in-law, my niece and her 1 year old son.   We also have a PCA that comes daily to assist my father-in-law each day while we are at work.  So the simpler our life, the easier it is for us all to live together and maintain a home that runs smoothly and doesn’t take all our time to maintain.


So my goal for 2014 …….We’re simplifying in 2014!!  My goal is to pare down our possessions this year and live a simpler life. We will value our relationships and not our possessions.  While I have been attempting to get closer to my definition of simple living each year, 2014 is the year to really focus on this goal!!   I want to have a home full of what I love (nothing else) and inviting!

Wishing you a happy New Year and a simpler life in 2014!


2013 Financial Goals

We are happy with our progress in our goal to become debt free except for our mortgage. We are following Dave Ramsey’s baby steps.  It has become very exciting to see our snowball finally moving.  We are keeping our eye on our goals!  We are finding it very helpful to write yearly goals and share a weekly victory to keep us motivated.  This has been LONG process for us and it can be a struggle to keep motivated.

1.  Increase Deferred Comp/Retirement Savings   DONE!

This is a secondary retirement amount.  We started this account by only putting very little into this secondary retirement account.  We will double our amount we save into this retirement account.  We also have a primary retirement account matched by our employers.

2.  Pay off our Chase Card by March 2013.   DONE! 

3.  Accomplish Tommy’s MCS through 5th grade. DONE!

Tuition paid for 6 years of private elementary school.  A wonderful foundation for our son, worth every single penny.

4   Pay off our last credit card by December 2013.

We are on track to pay our final credit card off just before Christmas, if no major unplanned expenses hit us.  We are so excited to think we will be going into 2014 with no credit card debt!

5.  Update our will to reflect changes we have discussed.

It is time to change our will now that our children have gotten older.   It has been 9 years since we had our will initially written.


What are your 2013 Financial Goals??




Paul and Jen
Faithfully Living Below Our Means!


Goals/Priorities for 2010

I have been reflecting the last few days on the things I would like to improve in 2010.  I must say I am very content with my life.  Of course, there are always things I would like to improve, but overall I am very blessed.  I wake up each day trying to be a better wife, mother and person.  I was looking back at the previous year’s blogs about goals and can really see all the work I have done.   It feels good to know I am making progress.  


My priorities for 2010 remain the same……God, Husband, Children, Home



So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Isaiah 41:10


Goal for 2010:   Time Daily with God’s Word / Our Daily Bread – Daily Devotional



Medically, I have had a good year, with little illness.  But, honestly this is still the area I need to work on the most in my life.  I rarely take time for myself and I spread myself pretty thin a lot of the time.


Goals for 2010:

·Continue to go to the Community Center 2 – 3 times a week to run 

·Establish a better sleep pattern – up by 6:30 am each morning/in bed by 10:00.

·Take medication daily to maintain health.

·Make and Take lunch to work daily



This year I am going to focus on maintaining the progress I have made with Homemaking.  I have a good system and routines in place, but I just fall off the wagon far more often than I would like to and find it so discouraging.


She watches over the ways of her household.- Proverbs 31:27


Goals for 2010:

·Complete Bedtime and Morning Routine Daily

·Complete chores daily from the Motivated Moms Planner

·Wash dishes every evening.


Remember: Be generous with praise – cautious with criticism.

Motherhood is a privilege, and our children our crowning glory. -(1 Timothy 2:15)



We have done very well with living within our means in 2009.Christmas was paid for in cash and no debt was accumulated.  I want to continue this journey with a long-term goal of living Debt Free.

  • Continue Weekly Budget and Debt Repayment Program (Debtproofliving.com)
  • Pay extra towards debt each month.


As I think of this area of my life, I know this is an area that I don’t prioritize.  Partly this is due to my personality.  I am more of an introvert and a bit uncomfortable in social settings, so I avoid them.   I just love being at home with hubby and the kids.  Recently, I noticed this same thing with my son.  He would rather be at home hanging out with us, then going out and experiencing new social experiences.  I can SO relate to that!



That is a run down of my priorities for 2010.  I would not be successful if I was to think I could accomplish goals in every area of my life.  So this year I will focus mostly on my spiritual, physical, financial life and homemaking.  You might think that it would be easier to just make a list of goals.  I think my thinking of each area individually is helpful in really examining what I want to work on.


What are your goals/priorities for 2010????


Wishing you much happiness and success in 2010!