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Jennifer Gregson Posts

I Hate to Cook, but I Love to Eat!

I’m on a quest this year to take better care of myself and my health.  This includes spending time in the kitchen cooking meals with real food.  If you love to cook this isn’t hard, but I hate to cook…I’ve had panic attacks in the kitchen while trying to cook.  Even just thinking about cooking can send me into cold sweats, but ordering in or eating crap food makes me feel crappy and keeps my weight at a place that doesn’t make me happy.  When I eat more veggies, more protein, and other real foods I feel better.  I have more energy and I get more done.  I have more overall patience and can take care of others better because I’ve taken care of myself first.


My word of the year is Courage so my nutritionist asked me to take that word and apply it to the kitchen, food, exercise, and my health in general not just my writing goals.  We came up with a list of ways to do this including trying new foods (both at home and when going out or ordering in), cooking more meals, and being more creative when it comes to meal planning and shopping.  So, I took some of my Christmas money and bought a cookbook called The Can’t Cook Book! By Jessica Seinfeld and I went through it and picked out one recipe to try.  Sweet and Spicy Chicken Wings and it was fairly easy to make and was super tasty so we added it to our monthly rotation of meals.  Then I picked out a 2nd recipe (who am I?) and tried that one – this time Chicken Drumsticks with various marinades – we chose the Mustard Rosemary option and I cooked those.  Again, fairly easy and really yummy!

Crock Pot

As you may remember, the gas in our building was turned off due to a small explosion (and then the building needed to upgrade pipes so it was MONTHS before it was turned back on) and we got quite a bit of use out of the crockpot.  Well, that was easy for me to throw stuff in and set it and forget it while working from home so I’ve been doing 1-2 meals a month this way, especially since my husband has been working a lot of over time (normal for this time of the year).  Usually I would just fix crappy food for myself for dinner, make sure my son had something to eat and call it good, because hubby is the one that really loves to cook and is good at it too, but this year I’ve been really trying to eat better even when he’s not home to cook dinner.

Done, not Perfect

Am I perfect?  Heck no, I slip up and fall back into old patterns all the time, but it’s one meal here or there not all the time.  I had already added good breakfasts and lunches into my routine a few months ago, so adding in dinners and working on my snacks (which I’ll talk about soon) was the next step in my journey to Intuitive Eating and being mindful about what goes into my body and how I feel when I eat a certain way.

What are your favorite dinners? Do you use the crockpot or the new favorite, the Instant Pot, to make dinners easier?  Do you have a great easy cookbook you could recommend?  I use Pinterest a lot to find easy meals, especially for my slow cooker, so hit me up over there with your ideas and suggestions!  And do you love to cook or do you tolerate it? Or…do you ignore it like I used to?  Maybe we can keep each other accountable in this area – just let me know in the comments!

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The Process of Learning as an Adult

I’m learning how to play the guitar!  My brother gifted me one of his old guitars – a Fender Squier Acousto-Electric – with a lesson book and DVD, some new picks (red, of course), and a really nice soft-sided case.

The first day back home with my new instrument, I held it in my hands and strummed some with both my fingers and the pick.  Tim, my brother, had tuned it for me so it sounded good but I did not.  Then I popped in the DVD and started, very slowly, working through the first lessons about how to hold the guitar and how to play certain notes using the strings.  Within 10 minutes my usual negative self-talk started – it said things like, “You are too old for this, why did you think this would be fun?” and “Wow, you suck – you’ll never learn this!”  I can be really mean to myself, but I’ve been working on this kind of negative self-talk with both my nutritionist and my therapist over the past year so I knew it for what it was – resistance, fear, and nervousness.

So, I took a break – for one thing, my poor left-hand fingers were getting sore – and put the guitar away, but here’s the thing, and this was huge for me, I picked it back up the next day!  I tried again. I didn’t let those voices get to me.  At least for one day, but they kept getting stronger and I kept feeling more and more stupid and old.  I have 4 decades of being on this planet and countless times where I had no idea what I was doing and needed to learn something and I always want to run away first and I always have to push myself through to get to the wonderful other side.

This time, my 6-year-old son is helping me with this process.  He works so hard going to school, learning new things – I mean, he is in first grade and is learning spelling words, has math tests, and just finished a report – he amazes me every day.  He also is a huge cheerleader for me.  When I play and I hit a wonky note and make a face, he giggles and tells me to try again or gives me a thumbs up or dances around the apartment while I plink out my new notes.  When I’m working out on the weekend and can’t do another set and I’m groaning, he runs into the bedroom and says, “Mommy you can do it!  Keep going!” and then when I’m done he gives me a huge hug.  When he’s at school and I’m doing the hard things, I remember his words and keep going.

Also, I see him struggle and want to give up and run away and I realize this has been the way I have dealt with new things for a while.  When I started singing Cabaret, just me and a piano in a small room in NYC, it was scary – I felt naked up on stage, exposed and raw – and I would finish a song and cry for what felt like hours, but I kept going back because I loved performing and singing for others.  It was hard and I wanted to run away, but I didn’t.  When I started working on my novel and things got hard or scary – I wanted to run away and hide and throw the whole thing in the trash, but I didn’t because I love writing and want my book to find it’s readers.

So I want to change how I deal with things so I can teach him that it’s okay to try, to fail, to fall down and get back up and try again, to keep going just because it’s fun, or you want to learn, without any other reason.  Yes, he has to go to school because it’s the law – but I want him to learn to love the process of learning and to do that I have to learn the process of learning.  For today, that means picking up the guitar even if I feel silly, even if I have fear and want to run away, even if I’m afraid it will never be “perfect” – because screw that! I want to have fun!!

What new things are you learning? Or do you run away from newness and learning and that horrible feeling of not perfect?  What do you want to learn?  Maybe we can help each other out – maybe we can be cheerleaders for each other and keep us on the “we’re doing this because it’s fun” path!


My Reader’s Group is officially OPEN!!

Join today to receive a free copy of her short story anthology, The Hit Parade!

Announcement time!!! My Reader’s Group is officially open and when you join you’ll get my short story anthology, The Hit Parade, for FREE….yup, three short Young Adult coming of age stories totally free!!  These stories all feature characters from the YA novels that I am currently writing or will be writing in the near future – so click here to join and start reading!

Send in the Clowns tells the tragic yet romantic story of a famous clown family – how they got started in the circus way back when and what made them decide to join the circus.

Take Me Out to the Ballgame shows Joe Marretti’s journey from promising pro-ball pitcher to back home in St. Louis nursing a broken heart and finding true love along the way.

Papa Don’t Preach is about Veronica and Michael’s unexpected teen pregnancy, family drama, and how love can overcome all obstacles.  The companion novel, The Art of Lying, will be available in Spring 2018 – more details coming soon!

I loved writing these stories and am so excited to offer them to you – as my gift – to you, my lovely readers.  By joining my reader’s group you will get insider info, sneak peeks into my book launches, freebies, and more! If you love Young Adult novels and free stuff – join today! 

Thanks….and share with your friends.    

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9 Ways to Keep your Inner Child Happy

Sometimes being an adult can really suck – dishes, laundry, bills, work, responsibilities – they all pile up and keep coming like a runaway train.  We can’t always take a vacation day (or week or, let’s be honest, a month) when we get stressed out so it’s always a good idea to have some fun activities around to bring out your inner child. 

This list might seem similar to my Self-Care list from a few weeks ago but that’s because my stress reduction techniques and my self-care techniques are one in the same, but these are more things you can do to be silly, remember that play is OK, and keep things light and easy when life gets dark and hard.

1. Playtime

Whatever this means to you – for me, it’s singing along with my favorite pop stars but for you, it might be painting, adult coloring books, a musical instrument (just for fun – not practice or drills), or sculpting with clay.  Whatever play or art or messy crafts mean to you, that’s what I’m talking about here.  Get dirty, have fun, try something new, do something for fun not because you need to do it – do it because you just want to.

2. Markers

I love using bright colored pens or markers in my planner – it helps make my boring old stodgy to-do list brighter, more fun, gives me some instant happy feels, and can even help me color-code my tasks to keep from feeling completely overwhelmed.

3. Stickers

This is also something I use in my planner or on my to-do lists to make me smile.  Yes, I have stickers that can be useful – like a laundry basket or half-boxes to keep track of a scheduled event, but what I’m talking about here are shiny sparkly stars, cute cupcakes or coffee cups – fun stickers that literally just make me happy. I was a child of the 80s so I had stickers books and traded fun ones with friends, and this reminds me of those carefree days of my childhood.

4. Laugh

You can watch funny YouTube videos (like this one), a comedy on Netflix or another binge site, or call up your best friend who always makes you laugh and ask them to tell you a funny story – you know they have one!  Just make sure you spend a few minutes each day laughing and enjoying life.

5. Nap time

Remember when you were a small child and you ran away from nap time – well, if you can, embrace that down time now.  Curl up with a good book if you can’t actually take a nap (this is me, I really have trouble falling asleep but laying down with a few chapters does the same thing). Basically, make sure you get your rest in – kids get cranky without nap time and adults get cranky when tired too.

6. Snack time

Another way kids get cranky is when they don’t have food – adults too (I mean, have you heard the phrase hangry – hungry and angry – there’s a reason) so make sure you keep good food on hand for easy snacking.  Now, this is another way to add in some fun – what did you like to snack on when you were little?  Ants on a log? Apple slices with PB? Teddy Grahams? Animal Crackers?  Pick up something fun to snack on and actually take the time to eat, relax, and breathe – even if just for 2 minutes.

7. Pick Your Battles

I’m a parent of a 6-year-old boy, so I know all too well when to pick my battles and when to let the little guy have his say.  It’s important for your inner child as well – pick your battles, if you’re trying to do something that you think is fun, but is more educational and your inner child is screaming for finger paints and a nap – then let the little one win and go do the fun, not so educational thing every once in awhile.  Trust me…it will be fine!

8. Time Out

Nap times are long times of rest, but timeouts are when you are close to meltdown mode – when one more thing is going to totally make you lose it – this is when you give yourself a timeout.  Even 5 minutes of deep breathing, meditation, a YouTube video, or making a really nice cup of tea can help fill your cup back up and calm the crazy.  The world will not fall apart if you take five minutes, I promise.

9. Reward charts

Are you trying to implement a new habit?  Drinking water or eating so many veggies a day?  Then use a reward chart – make it bright and colorful, use stickers – and give yourself a real reward.  You can make it any length of time you’d like – did you drink 8 glasses of water all week?  Give yourself a check and a treat.  Did you eat a green vegetable for one whole month?  Awesome, give yourself another treat!

How do you keep your inner child happy?  Do you have other ideas I haven’t listed here that work really well to keep you smiling, keep your joy shining, and pretend (even for just a few minutes) that you’re 12 again?  What YouTube channels make you smile? What movies or TV shows have you been binging on?  Need a list of my favorite sitcoms – go here!  If we can remember the innocence and joy of childhood even as an adult, I believe we can be happier, healthier, and have more fun!  Enjoy!


Five Minutes to Greatness

Do you ever feel overwhelmed?  Stressed out and anxious – especially when looking at your to-do list, project lists, goals, or general environment?  I know I do.  I was telling my therapist a few weeks ago that exercise and decluttering my messy apartment felt insurmountable.  Like I just couldn’t get past this unseen hump of “too hard” to actually start again.  She told me to start simple.  Really, simple.  Almost stupid simple.

Only one thing and one thing only

It seemed too easy, at first, but then I got into the rhythm of it and found that this is really good advice for just about anything.  So…if you are feeling overwhelmed, anxious, or like you can’t get over whatever stands in your way of having what you want (a decluttered apartment/house, a toned body, better health) then start really small.  Tiny, tiny, tiny. Think of an action, then ask – how can I make it smaller.  I rolled my eyes at her when we did this exercise a few weeks ago in my session, but I’m telling you – it works.

So, for the apartment – I declutter one thing a day. I pick up one thing and ask myself a few questions.  Does this need to stay or go?  If it stays, does it need to live here or somewhere else?  If somewhere else, where? If here, how can I group it with other similar items?  If I can’t do that right now, then I put it back and have a plan.  If it goes, does it get thrown in the garbage or can it be donated?  Done! Now, it’s been a few weeks so I’ve slowly moved on to doing one bin or basket or shelf or section of books.  But still, one small tiny thing.

Turtle Slow…but who won that race?

I know, you are doing the same thing I did in that session – you are saying to yourself, come on, things will never get done if I do them that slowly.  My apartment or house will still be a mess 6 months from now at this rate. Maybe, but if you don’t do anything what will it look like it 6 months? Exactly.  At best it will look the same and at worse, it will look more cluttered and drive you even more nuts!  Trust me, I thought the same thing and I said the same thing, but in just a few short weeks, I have areas cleared off enough to add some pretty – a few statues, small paintings and pieces of art, and plants to areas that were once a giant pile of mess. It makes me feel better when I look at those areas because I know this one tiny small thing is working.

Okay, sounds great…but how do you scale this down for working out?  Well, we came up with 1 down dog (yoga pose) a day.  That’s it.  Again, I decided as I was doing this that I like to get into table pose and run through a few cat/cow stretches then go into down dog, but again – one thing.  One move but with full intention and questions. How does my back feel today?  How do my legs feel?  How about those shoulders?  Where can I release stress and tension? Then I come out of the move and usually go into child’s pose for just one or two breaths. Then I’m done.  I can check off that little box.   Will I always just do one yoga pose a day?  No, probably not. In fact, I’m already working on a plan to start doing a 7-10 minute bodyweight routine in the morning with an app I found on my phone.  Because exercise doesn’t seem insurmountable anymore.  Decluttering my place doesn’t seem so “hard” anymore.  I made it easy so I could check off the DONE box and make myself feel good about my progress.

Done is better than perfect!

I like to call it 5 minutes to greatness – because I usually do my down dog and my decluttering together in one 5 minute segment and when I’m finished I feel like I can take on my whole day.  Here’s my tip – do one thing.  Just one thing today.  Don’t try to do five small things for five different areas.  Start with the thing that’s really bugging you.  Your space, your health, a goal that just seems out of reach and think of one tiny daily action you could take that would help with that.  Declutter one thing, one exercise move, write one sentence, floss one tooth – think of the smallest daily action you can take then go do it.  And then congratulate yourself. Don’t tell yourself, this is stupid – it’s too easy – it’s too simple.  NO! That’s the whole wonderful point.  Say to yourself, holy crap I did it!  I did my thing! And go on with your day. Wake up and do your thing again tomorrow and again and again and feel good about yourself and your progress.

Your turn

What small action can you take today? How can I help you?  Do you need motivation? An accountability buddy?  Drop a note below and tell me what small tiny wonderful action you’re going to take today to work on your goal.  And remember – Done is Better than Perfect!

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How I Use Pinterest To Help Me Write My Novels

My debut novel isn’t 100% ready to be published yet, but I have already started working on my 2nd novel.  Right now I’m still in the very beginning – or outline mode – but before I blink, I will quickly be descending into research, drafting, and revision modes so I already started a Pinterest board to help me.   

The working title of my second novel is Leo’s Decision which is set in my hometown of St. Louis, it has ties to Cardinals Baseball as my lead’s father was a pro baseball player, and I want to feature some of my favorite things about St. Louis including the food on The Hill, an old Italian neighborhood I grew up near.  Now, I haven’t lived in MO since 2001, and although I have visited and did live there for 25 years, I don’t remember everything – especially street names or where certain counties are located within the city limit – so I use Pinterest to help me find maps, restaurant menus (so I can spell food correctly!), and other goodies.

Also, I’m not a huge baseball fan.  Okay, full disclosure – I understand baseball, even played one summer as a kid, but I’m not a sports fan – so I have also pinned a few things about baseball including lingo, the uniforms from the 1990s, and other research links to help me when I need to write about the sport.

My other favorite thing to do when starting a mood board for a new novel is cast my characters.  If you head over to Leo’s Decision on Pinterest you will see I’ve picked a few people to play the characters in my head….and yes, I choose Steve Carrell for my lead’s step-father and John Stamos as my lead’s father – they have the right looks and I can imagine those actors walking around playing out the scenes as I write them.

During the outlining phase, I like to use Pinterest for inspiration as I work out scenes, come up with my complex characters, and help me finalize a research plan.  Once I start writing, I use the images to help me with descriptions, help give my scenes a sense of place, and can sometimes help me with tricky dialogue.  And after the book is all edited and ready to go to a book cover designer, I can look through other YA book covers and add to my mood board so all of my vision is in one place to send on to the artist to create my cover.  Exciting!   If you’d like to see an example of that, check out The Art of Lying’s Pinterest mood board as I added a bunch of covers so I’ll be ready for that part with my debut novel.

Do you use Pinterest to help you with writing or your artistic endeavor?  I’d love to connect with you over there, send me a friend request, show me your favorite board, or share an image you think might help me with my novels!


My Writer’s Toolbox

Did you read that title and go, what is she talking about…writer’s don’t have toolboxes.  Okay, true – I don’t have a giant red Craftsman toolbox where I keep my writerly things, but I do use tools to write and that’s what I want to talk about today.

First, my laptop – I use a MacBook Air that I bought 2 years ago.  It’s lightweight, fast, has all the programs I need on it (more about that in a minute) and I can carry it around the house, or around town, if I need to.  I’ve been an Apple girl pretty much my whole life – my sister started me young, she bought either the 2nd or 3rd Apple computer that came out back in the late 1980’s.  I adore Apple products and although I’ve used PCs at my corporate day jobs, I wouldn’t want to write on one for long.

Next up, the programs I use to write.  Evernote for research and Scrivener for the actual writing.  I love Scrivener!!! (Oh man, do I sound like Oprah in those annoying Weight Watcher commercials where she tells us she loves bread?!?!) I even wrote a whole blog post about how I use Scrivener to organize and write my blog posts – you can find that gem HERE.  I do love this program though and I do use it to write pretty much everything from my blog to my short stories, to my longer novels – it keeps me organized, gives me freedom to write the way I want to write, and has a fantastic snapshot feature so I can keep track of edits and different versions to make the whole revision process a snap!

I use Evernote to keep links, documents, websites, articles, and everything else I use for research all neat and organized and in one place.  I usually create a notebook with the working title of my books and keep everything inside.  With The Art of Lying, I kept articles about art galleries, famous artists, information about New York parks and subways, maps, and other handy tidbits I needed during the actual writing sessions.  For novel #2, which is about St. Louis Cardinal’s Baseball, The Hill (a great Italian neighborhood), and the joys of being a teenager I’ve already started saving articles and research links for everything above.  I grew up in St. Louis, but I don’t currently live there so I will need maps and pictures to accurately describe things.

Third in my lovely toolbox is all the non-tech stuff. I use plain old spiral bound notebooks, gel pens, and index cards to help me plan, plot, outline, and revise.  Right now I have two notebooks being used – one for my short stories and one for Novel #2 – they have notes, ideas, character interviews, plot points, research to-do’s, and more!  Once I have notes and ideas out of the way, I grab a giant stack of white index cards and start writing down plot points, scene ideas, and anything else I want in my books or stories then those go into Scrivener and off I go.  But I still keep my notebooks around.  I use them while writing to make notes of character names, character descriptions that I don’t want to forget, and any other notes to myself.  I also use the notebook (or grab a new one if it gets full during pre-writing and first draft) for revisions.  I create reverse outlines, timelines, revision notes, and anything else that needs to happen during that process.

Now it’s your turn…what do you use for your creative endeavors?  Are you an artist?  If so, what kinds of materials do you work in?  If you’re a musician, what apps or computer software do you find most helpful?  Let me know in the comments and if you’re a writer too, what things do you just have to have in order to write?

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Binge Worthy – Drama Edition


You know I love my Television – I’m a TV girl from way back (in fact, next time I think I’ll talk about my favorite childhood shows)!  I’ve covered my favorites overall and sitcoms…next is the dramas!  I really didn’t think I watched too many of these as sitcoms are my jam, but as I listed them out earlier this week (I outline my posts a few days in advance) I realize there are quite a few, due mostly to Netflix.   Here’s the list….and again, like always, gifs included – but since these are dramas, they are way more serious than usual – HA!

Stranger Things

Of course, I’m going to start with that wonderfully nostalgic show that all of my friends are talking about – Stranger Things.  The upside down, the music (both good and bad), the characters – I mean those kids are genius actors, and the scary factor all makes for some fine good TV watching.  We loved both seasons and really enjoyed Behind Stranger Things as well – if you watched the show, check it out on Netflix for some fun cast interviews and behind the scenes stuff.

Jessica Jones

I know I mentioned Marvel shows in my first Binge Worthy post a few months back…but it’s because most of them are sooooo good (minus Iron Fist – whoohoo baby did that show blow) so I’m going to list them in my personal preference starting with Jessica Jones.  I adore this show, she’s my favorite of The Defenders and I can’t wait for Season 2.  It’s got humor (although very dry), ass-kicking, day drinking, and an amazing cast of crazy characters – what more could you ask for?


My second favorite of the team.  Season 2 wasn’t as good as Season 1 was for me  – only because I felt The Punisher character was a bit shoe-horned in to get ready for his own series – but I like the ninja/fighting stuff, the blind superhero with enhanced other features – the actor playing Daredevil is very good, and I kinda dig his bromance with Froggy in the first season.

Luke Cage

This is where I shall end my Marvel talking because Iron Fist sucked so bad and although we watched The Defenders, I kinda like the original series of each character better than the mishmash – but I will most likely watch Season 2 of Defenders all the same.  Sweet Christmas….this was a complicated set of people. I liked that this series was set in a different part of New York City – a part we don’t always see on TV – Harlem…and the music was wonderful. I like Luke Cage as a character because he truly wants to help people, but he also just wants to live his quiet life.  It’s very real…if I developed superhero powers overnight I could imagine feeling similarly.

The Crown

I simply adore the British Royal Family – always have.  My Mom even let me stay up (or stay home from school?) to watch the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana many moons ago and I was in college when she died and I remembering feeling so sad – like I knew these people personally or something.  I also used to know who was next in the line up to the 10th person or something crazy but I don’t anymore, so when The Crown came out on Netflix I was all over that like crumpets and scones at High Tea.   If you like the Queen and want to know more about her and the royal family, check it out!


I know I talked about these boys before but it is one of our favorites…although some seasons have been better than others – and there are a LOT of seasons (I think they’re on 14 or something now?).  These two brothers have literally been to heaven and hell and back and everywhere in between.  There are ghosts, vampires, werewolves, demons, angels – it’s pretty amazing how many things they discuss.  There was even a musical version!  LOVE

Black Mirror

This show both scares the crap out of me and excites me overtime I watch an episode.  It’s all about technology and how it’s taken over various aspects of our lives – usually to the detriment of society as a whole.  It’s very well done, disturbing on so many levels, and one you can NOT binge watch.  Seriously – don’t even try it.  Watch one here or there and then sit back and let it wash over you, think about it, obsess over it, then when you finally have your brain back – watch another episode and be freaked out all over again.

And this where I think I will end…we watched a few others, but these were my favorites of the current TV season, as it were.  What dramas are you watching?  What do you think I should check out based on the list above?  Anything I’m missing?  Anything I should watch right away?  Let me know below!

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10 Sneaky Ways to Fit in Self-Care

Well, it’s 2018 and that means New Year’s goals and resolutions have been set and laid out.  One of the things I wanted to be more mindful of was taking better care of myself – or Self-Care – but who has the time? Am I right?  So here are some sneaky ways that I’ve found to fit in some very basic, very needed self-care during the day.  NOTE:  I am not a therapist, and I don’t know what your stress level is like, but these are some tips I came up with for MY life.  If you need help, please seek it out – don’t just think a candle and some veggies are going to solve your problems.  Word!

1. A favorite mug or glass

I have two coffee mugs that I adore – one says Writer and has a typewriter on it and one is an artsy mug with a Matisse print on it.  They make me smile and give me a sense of feeling special when I drink my coffee.  I also use either one of our tall glass glasses for water or my plastic Mickey Mouse cup with bright colored stripes. This makes water way more fun to drink!

2. Music!

As I write this, I’m listening to a playlist I created for myself on Amazon Music (you can listen to it here.) It’s all pop music, really new stuff (like JT from the Trolls soundtrack and Ed Sheeran) because that’s what I was into the day I created the playlist.  But if you’re like me and music feeds your soul, then listen to something, sing along, get out of your head and into your heart.  It’s the best way for me to instantly feel better.

3. Candles, Incense, and Essential Oils

Basically, light something or use something that smells nice. I got an Essential Oil diffuser a while back and it makes the whole apartment smell nice.  I also have a lovely Peach scented candle and some fun sage cone-shaped incense and a tiny holder that makes me feel cool, high energy, and grounded.

4. Lotion

To go along with the nice smelling stuff, grab a lotion and keep it by you all winter long.  Put that stuff everywhere!  It helps keep your skin looking amazing and keeps you smelling nice….and let’s face it, giving yourself a mini massage when you rub the stuff in is an added side benefit (and keeps you warmer!)

5. Top 3 List

I know for me, I can get overwhelmed looking at my massive to-do list, so I started creating a Daily Top 3 of the highest priority items in both my personal life and day-job life categories.  Anything else that gets done is gravy.  I know, this might not seem like self-care, but keeping from being stressed out all day every day definitely helps me feel better.

6. Stretching

I have found a really sneaky way to fit this in – every time I switch tasks I stretch.  Holy moly does it feel awesome!  I either do a whole body type stretch or I deal just with my shoulders or lower back.  Try it, right now…stop reading and stretch just one area – do you feel better?

7. Deep breathing

And when I stretch I take really deep breaths, at least five of them.  In slowly, hold, out slowly – rinse and repeat.  I try to sync the stretching with the breath but sometimes I do one then the other.  Depends, but I do this every time I switch tasks.  I take just a few minutes and give myself that pause that my brain and body needs.

8. Healthy Snacks

My biggest vice is snacking and chocolate so I started writing down a list of easy, quick grab snacks and keeping things on hand like cut up veggies, hummus, cheese cubes, fruit, peanut butter, nuts, and hard boiled eggs.  This makes it so easy to snack on something yummy, tasty, and healthy.  I also want to find a brand of dark chocolate that I like (it’s not my favorite) so I can eat a tiny bit each day with a cup of tea for an indulgent treat. Suggestions?

9. Flowers or something visual and fun

We live in New York and for some odd reason, cut flowers here are fairly cheap.  My husband and I both like vases full of flowers, but when my son was little we stopped buying them because he wanted to pull the petals off and we were afraid he would knock the whole thing either on the floor or on his head, but since little man is getting older I think we can definitely go back to buying weekly bouquets.  Also, I love having bright colors, images, and inspirational quotes around me – see my vision board for this quarter, it has my main goals at the top and some images to help motivate me throughout my day (and yes, that’s a picture of Nathan Fillion as Richard Castle telling me to write).

10.  Accept a complement

I find this so hard to do, but it actually helps your self-esteem.  When someone pays you a complement don’t shy away from it – say thank you and let it really sink in.  Don’t wave it away or say, No or Don’t….allow them to say something nice and really believe it.  The more we accept compliments in this life, the more we receive them.

So, what have you been doing to get a little sneaky self-care in your daily life?  Let me know in the comments which tip was your favorite or which one might be tricky for you and why?  I’d love to help you!


Goodbye 2017, Hello 2018

Ah, another year is coming to a close.  It’s out with the old and in with the new, that weird old man is retiring and baby new year is bouncing onto the scene.  Side note: how does that baby age so much in one year?   Okay, back on track.  This is my last post for 2017 and I thought I’d talk about what most people are talking about at this time of year – goal setting.

Now, I use quite a few systems that I’ve learned over the past few years to plan out my goals.  I’ve gotten them from various webinars, books, courses, old planners, and online blog searching.   I have no idea who to attribute most of what I’m going to talk about to specifically because at this point it’s a hodgepodge of styles with my own added flair!

I like to start with a general brain dump of things I would like to get done, accomplish, get better at, finish, etc.  That list usually looks like a hot mess, but from there I’ll separate the do-able from the wishes, the first things first to maybe if I have time, and then I make a quarterly plan.  This year was easy, actually, because I know I want to launch my newsletter (with that freebie I keep hinting about) in February and my debut novel will be self-published on Amazon (more about that in 2018) in either March or April so my Quarter One goals were set.  I have a few things bulleted out for Q2, including writing the 1st draft of book #2 and researching blog guest posting, and then I just have a list called: ????  This is a maybe/future list that includes starting a YouTube channel, planning our August family vacation (we know we’d like to go somewhere this summer, but we’re not sure where we’re going this year yet so, for now, it’s on the ???? List), and when to publish/launch Book #2 – only because I have no clue how fast I’ll be able to write and edit since this current novel has taken me years!

I also added some health & wellness goals to my list, music and hobby goals (I want to start singing again and I think I’m getting a hand-me-down acoustic guitar and would like to learn that as well), and some overall family goals (like taking my little one to more museums, doing more things around Queens, and getting the rest of the apartment organized and finished).  My year is shaping up!  It’s all very exciting, shiny, and new.

I am definitely getting excited, especially after I did one final step of my yearly planning…the tarot cards!  I bought Biddy Tarot’s 2018 Planner this year but not to use as a plan-your-day type calendar (I’m still using my Erin Condren bullet journal hybrid), but to help with tarot study – it has monthly spreads, weekly cards, new moon and full moon intentions, quarterly reviews, and some fun journaling prompts along the way.  I did the big New Year’s Eve spread and that was nice, but then I went ahead and also did the Q1 Manifestation Spread (where you talk about your biggest goal for the quarter – mine was launching The Art of Lying) and baby, hold on to your socks – because this was a doozy of a spread.

You basically go through questions about where you are right now with your goal, what weaknesses and strengths you have surrounding the goal, what you need to let go of, what action steps you need to take, and what…overall…the next three months might look like.  These cards were totally speaking to me, they were extremely positive and point to the fact that I am on the right track to finishing Q1 strong!

I won’t bore you with the nitty-gritty details, but I will share with you what I wrote in the summation box of the planner:  This spread has shown me that I need to continue the New Year with hard work and expert planning.  I need to let the creative side celebrate her wins and much earned success, while my business side makes decisions based on knowledge, research, and gut intuition.  I need to stay true to myself, be authentic and human in my marketing and promotions, stay down to earth, but don’t neglect my health in striving for perfection!  If I do these things, keep up my confidence and courage, I should achieve my goal!!!

Now, I’ve done quite a bit of 2018 planning – last week’s Word of the Year and this week’s goal planning, but I’m not done yet.  The writing mastermind I am a part of is having a big Planning Party soon and my mentor will be sharing a workbook PDF that will have questions, prompts, and other goodies for us – now I doubt any of that will have me changing my plans much, but it might help solidify things for me – things I’m worried about, things I’m trying not to freak myself out about (like all the decisions that business side of me actually needs to make soon), and it might just help me narrow down my daily tasks and to-do’s better.  And, I love a good planning party.

So…what have you been planning for the new year?  Any goals you’re just itching to get started with?  Do you do the whole goal setting thing or resolutions?  I personally think both can work as long as you have a plan in place and not just a wish…like I wish I was 25 pounds lighter, but actually, say – I will work out three times a week, cut down to carbs at one meal per day, and meditate daily to help alleviate stress – now that would be a plan!  Also, that sounds very similar to my plan for health and wellness.  HA  So, share!  I’d love to hear what you’re working on next year and where we can maybe each other stay on track.

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year,  and a Lovely 2018 to you and yours!!!

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