A Couple Things I’ve Accomplished, Plus How I Plan To Go Forward

This year has been a pretty awesome year for me. I earned my black belt in March, ran my second half-marathon (which was also part of a three-day series including a 5k on Friday, an 8k on Saturday, and the half on Sunday), and my Damsel in Defense business exploded (I have a team, and my parties and vendor events are consistent, finally!)

I had people in one of my Facebook groups ask me how I did it. Answer, schedules, routines, and priorities.

First, I worked the minimum on my business while I was earning my black belt. Then I slowed down on Tae Kwon Do while training for my races, while building my business by pointing out my credibility as a person who could teach you about self-defense because I earned my black belt (plus I’m former military law enforcement, so I have that going for me as well).

Did I mention that I homeschool my four children as well? This is where the importance of a schedule comes into play.

Everyone has their preference as far as how to schedule, and I’m no different. I based my schedule on the “Managers Of Their Homes” from Titus2.com. Basically, list the things you need to do (meal prep, basic housekeeping, school time with the kids) and how much time it takes, list the things you’d like to get done (hobbies, a set declutter time, working out, quiet reading time) and how much time it takes, then transfer the must-dos to little bits of paper and stick them to your schedule board. Repeat with like-to-dos, then do the same thing for each child (you could try to schedule your husband’s time, but I don’t).

It takes time to set up, but it is so worth it! I may do a more detailed post about Managers Of Their Homes another time.

Now I’m in a new transition. I’d like to start lifting weights again, plus I’m training for a Marathon that’s happening in March 2016. Also, I’d be lying to you and to myself if I didn’t admit I’d like to lose 40 pounds as well, partially for vanity, but mostly so it’s easier to do Tae Kwon Do and run! As a black belt, I have a lot more jump kicks in my forms and fighting combinations, and hauling all that weight into the air is hard! I’d also like to get my run time down, and I know from past experience that its easier to be faster when you’re not dragging an extra 20-30-40 pounds.

Also, my kids are involved with more activities since they’re older, including swim lessons for the younger boys, Scouts for the older boys, and my nine-year-old recently got into rock wall climbing. And of course I still have two in Tae Kwon Do. It sounds like a lot, but it’s not.

It all comes down to scheduling and priorities. I have a set time every afternoon after lunch, after my youngest goes down for a nap, where the big kids read quietly and rest for an hour, and I make all my business phone calls, check in on my business-related Facebook groups, and answer business-related emails and Facebook messages. Some people refer to this as a “power hour,” and yes, intense focus for an hour can do some crazy things for you home business! I’ll write a post on the Power Hour later.

What have you accomplished this year, and how do plan on ending this year with a bang?

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31 Days of Spending Zero– Day 2

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Day two of 31 Days Of Living Well And Spending Zero has us cleaning out our pantries and cupboards and inventorying our freezers. Makes sense! This month we’re going to use up what we have, but how can we use up what have if we don’t know what we have?

Since my husband is retiring from the Army next spring, I’ve been using more of our food storage so we have less to take with us when the time comes. This project was actually really easy!

 

BEFORE:

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AFTER:

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And here’s my pantry inventory. Please don’t judge harshly!

 

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I put the inventory sheet into a page protector so I can easily wipe off stuff as we use it. Aaaannd, you can see that I did already!

 

 

31 Days Of Spending Zero– Day One

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My husband is retiring from the Army next year. Oh, yes, he’s actively looking for employment for when he gets out, but we have been so spoiled! In addition to his base pay, we also get housing allowance, and health, dental and vision insurance. Short of a job in D. C. (shudder), there is really no job out there that can match what he gets in the Army.

Before everyone starts jumping all over me (why don’t you get a job!), I feel I must point out that I homeschool our four children. I also run a small party-plan business that at this point is not replacing his income. Since home educating our children is a priority for both of us, I will not be able to get a job outside the home (well, I could go back to bartending a few nights a week, if we were that desperate).

As I’m sure those of you who are also stay-at-home-moms know, one of the best ways we can help with the family finances is to be frugal. I’m no spendthrift, we don’t hit the drive-throughs, we try to mainly make food from scratch, we shop the grocery sales and buy generic, we hand down clothes and shoes until they’re falling apart, we shop thrift stores and clearance racks (sometimes I find clothing on a clearance rack that costs less than the same thing used from a thrift store), we outright own our older used vehicles, and we don’t have cable.

BUT, I am guilty of almost daily Starbucks beverages. And not the $2 cup of plain coffee, the $5.83 grande pumpkin spice latte type coffee. That’s *gasp* about $30 a WEEK before tips! That’s $120 a month! And don’t get me started on the ice cream runs, and the couponing (uh, that will be the end of me). “I thought couponing saves you money?” No, not always. Sometimes it tempts you to spend a whole lot, a dollar or two at a time.

So when I saw this “31 Days of living well and spending zero” challenge hosted by Ruth Soukup at Living Well Spending Less, I decided now was as good a time as any to cut out the extra spending. I think it would be a great kickoff to a new habit of overall spending less than I do now.

With pledge signed, I’m ready to embark on this fun challenge!

Blog I’m loving right now

Several years ago, while visiting my in-laws in California, I found a Sunset magazine amongst the stacks of reading material my in-laws displayed on their coffee table.

One particular story really grabbed my attention, and it has been on my mind ever since. It’s about a zero-waste family, yes, family, with kids and a dog. They bring their own jars and bags to the grocery store, only buy clothes from a thrift store, and compost everything. They end up with only about two handfuls of actual trash A YEAR. The clean, minimalist look of their home both took my breath away and made me a little envious.

This morning, as I was thinking about how I’d love to own even less than I do, I thought about that article. After a quick search, I was delighted to discover that yes, the magazine actually posted this story online!

 

Even better, it turns out the female head of the household has a blog!! Check it out for a little zero waste/minimalist inspiration!

Make Money Using Free Sites

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I’m in the process of becoming debt-free, but as a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom, I don’t exactly have time to get a job outside the home. I am a Damsel in Defense Pro, helping women find the self-defense and security solutions that are right for them, and I am a Beachbody Coach, helping people meet their health and fitness goals, but when you’re working at paying off debt at a gazelle-like speed (Dave Ramsey reference, check out his book!), you have to use every resource at your disposal.

 

So for me, I use a couple different FREE sites! And yes, I personally use them and have used them for a couple years, so I can certify them as 100% NOT A SCAM!

 

The first is Inboxdollars. I have done the surveys and made anywhere from 25 cents to $2 for 10-30 minutes worth of work. You also get two cents per email (on their page) when you click the “confirm this paid email” button. If you actually complete the offers in the emails, you can earn more money, and I will sometimes fill out the email list ones (using an email account I set up just for junk I have no intention of ever reading, like those email lists), but I NEVER complete the offers that require a small purchase to get more money. NOT WORTH IT.

But I mainly use Inboxdollars for the search bar, where I get paid one cent per two searches, with a ten cent bonus every week that I do a search most days. Another money making opportunity I take advantage of on this site are the coupons. Regular manufacturer coupons you can print, and you make ten cents per coupon redeemed. I only recommend this route if you are familiar with couponing and know how to get great deals using coupons.

 

The next I’m featuring today is ebates. Make internet purchases through ebates and get a percentage back. I mainly use it for back-to-school deals, Black Friday purchases (I do NOT like crowds, so if there is a deal I really want, I’m buying it online), and when I’m low on candles from Bath and Body Works (they make cleaning my house easier, and it’s one of my few justifiable splurges). There are also discount codes, and I will only buy when there is an actual need (like recently when my youngest needed new pants), and I buy clearance, use discount codes, and use ebates.

 

Both of those sites are FREE to sign up on, and neither cost money (except when you make a purchase from the external sites on ebates, but ebates itself does not cost a penny, ever). There are a boat load of apps I want to feature in the future, so stay tuned!

 

Oh, and one last note, I am NOT being paid by either site for my review. I’m pretty sure neither site knows my little just-for-fun blog exists!

My Summer-Ready Plan

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Summer is on its way, and while I have no intention of becoming a bikini model ever, I do want to slim down a little bit

First, I very much believe fat loss comes from eating right and exercising moderately, but sometimes we all need a little boost. I know you’ve seen “those crazy wrap things” all over social media, but I’m telling you, I’ve seen a difference in my midsection’s skin tone (skin a little firmer, belly a little flatter, stretchmarks slowly fading) since I started using those wraps almost a month ago. If you’ve been on the fence as to whether to try them or not, just do it! I’ve read, “One wrap is a treat, four wraps is a treatment, and 12 wraps are a procedure.”  Find them through this link!

Second, to go along with the first link is the “exercise and eat right” part of the equation. Starting next week, in addition to my daily yoga and tae kwon do practice, I’m going to be incorporating an eating and exercise plan called 21 Day Fix Extreme. Thirty-minute workouts and little portion control containers? Sounds like a plan I could follow!

How are you prepping for summer?

The Media Fast

I forgot to mention in my last post the other thing I need to give up for Lent, MEDIA. I admit it, I’m disgustingly addicted to my phone and to social media. I start out telling myself that I am going to do a little networking for my Damsel in Defense business, maybe even snag a few pictures to use on my Facebook page. Next thing I know, it’s hours later and I haven’t even booked a party. All I did was look at pictures of cats and get into arguments with strangers. Even worse, I ignored my kids, sending the horrible and clear message that my phone comes first. Not them, my precious gifts from God, but a piece of plastic and internet strangers. Yuck.

So starting Wednesday, I’m going offline, sort of. I will still blog, I will still do Facebook parties (I have some scheduled, and I can’t not work). I will not hang out in the groups, I will not obsessively check my news feed, I will not go to the various humor sites I enjoy. I will limit the blogging/ Facebook party, work-related stuff to 60 minutes per day. I will have a timer next to my computer.

Going a step further, the TV will stay off. Even though we don’t have cable, the TV seems to stay on all day, every day, and the noise makes it hard for me to focus. So, no PBS Kids, no Netflix, no DVDs, even the educational ones. I will somehow figure out how to keep the younger kids quiet and entertained while I’m working with the older kids, and that will be the biggest hurtle. The exception to the no TV/DVD rule is my yoga workout DVDs. I’ve made a commitment to do yoga every day, and the DVDs are helpful to me.

Saying no to media/electronics will be a real test, but I believe the blessings will be IMMENSE. More time focused on family? More time to read Scriptures? More time to write letters to far off friends and family? All good things to come out of fasting from electronics 🙂

For further reading on the subject of giving up TV/Internet, I strongly suggest you read the book “7, An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess” by Jen Hatmaker

The Declutter Project

I’m not Catholic, but I love participating in Lent every year. In the past I’ve given up coffee (hard), caffeine (even harder), and decluttered forty bags of random stuff in forty days (not as hard, but way more rewarding).

Fast forward to now, I no longer drink coffee, I’m still a caffeine addict (I love you Red Bull, even though you are horrible for me!), aaaaaannnnd I still have loads of clutter. The Red Bull thing is sorting itself out since I’m on a 30-day no spend challenge (and what a challenge it is! I’ll blog about it some other time), and energy drinks are most decidedly NOT an essential item. So this year I’m focusing on the clutter again.

Recently I’ve read, and reread, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo, which is not so much about “getting rid of stuff you don’t need” as it is “only keeping what you love.” She works by categories, not rooms or spaces. I’ve already gone through my clothes and my books, and when you gather up everything in your house that belongs in your current category, it’s overwhelming, if not a little horrifying. You don’t truly know how much you have until it’s all piled on your bed or in the middle of the kids’ playroom floor.

I’ll be honest, the next category on the KonMari method list is papers, and I’ve been procrastinating for a couple weeks on this. With Lent coming up, and my goal to complete another 40 bags in 40 days, I should be tackling those huge stacks and boxes soon. And until I get the courage to attack the paper, I’ll be working on the rest of the stuff in the house.

My secondary goal is to post 40 blog posts during that time. Ha ha! Wish me luck on that one!

What are you giving up/doing for Lent (which starts this coming Wednesday)? Let me know in the comment section!

Born to shine!

“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is today.” ~~Chinese Proverb

 

It’s getting to be that time of year! I know, we still have to get through Thanksgiving and Christmahanakwanzika, but still! It’s almost New Year’s Resolution time! The time of year we make promises to ourselves that we’re going to break in less than six weeks.

 

“This year will be different!” you say. And I agree. I really, truly, madly, deeply (ha!) believe that 2015 will be better than 2014, and 2014 rocked pretty hard! I went from white belt in Tae Kwon Do to red belt decided in a year. “What does that mean?” It means that I am 6 months away from my first degree black belt. Think about it, black belt in EIGHTEEN MONTHS! I am already an assistant instructor, and I’m in the process of learning down-and-dirty self defense with plans to be an assistant instructor in that!

 

This year I ran my first half marathon, and I am very close to completing 100 miles run for the sake of running (I’m not training for anything right now) in November.

 

My kids are rocking their school at home, and my 8 year old, who may or may not be on the spectrum (I’m too afraid to get a diagnosis), is thriving in our quiet, less chaotic environment. He’s making progress in his ability to process loud noise and excessive activity, and I credit a lot of that to time at the dojang (tae kwon do studio), lots of prayer, and the essential oils I’ve been using on him.

 

I am loving life!

 

But I feel like I’m not accomplishing as much as I could be. I have so many goals, but I lack the ability to schedule time to work on all of them on any given day. Like blogging. It should be easy enough, right? I’m on the computer all the time anyway, it shouldn’t be hard to bang something out. No, seriously, I may never have one of those super-popular blogs (I kind of lack focus), but it still requires 30 minutes AT LEAST of uninterrupted time (that’s the key, with four little boys running around, it’s hard to get much writing done during the day).

 

I keep telling myself that I’m going to do 30 minutes of yoga every day, both to help with my flexibility for my martial arts and for run-related injury prevention. And I tell myself I’m going to do the first nine forms twice through every day. It should take like 20 minutes. And then there’s the running. Even after the 100 mile challenge is over, I’d like to keep going because I have noticed a marked improvement in my focus and ability to memorize forms and fighting combinations. But that takes an hour to an hour and a half. A thirty-minute run isn’t enough for me.

 

More than anything though, I want to succeed in business. I am a Damsel in Defense Pro, and I am on a mission to educate, equip, and empower women to protect themselves and their families.

 

Also, I have a debt that I’m working on eliminating. I’m following the Dave Ramsey Program, and I have baby step number one done, but it’s hard to pay down debt when you’re not bringing in much money.

 

I am confident, however, that 2015 will be the year that I accomplish more of my goals, because I have had success in 2014 in some of my other goals. I have successes to look back on and say, “Look, you’ve accomplished other stuff then, you certainly can accomplish stuff now!”

 

Sorry for the rambling! The TL;DR version is “I accomplished stuff in 2014, but I’m going to straight up SHINE in 2015!”

 

What are your goals for the next 12 months?

 

I’m back, kind of? Maybe?

So I’ve been working on my fit project, which I tried to turn into a blog, but ended up doing a Facebook page instead.

Lately I’ve had a few things floating around in my head and I thought, “I should write a few blog posts about this stuff!”

So, I’m not going to promise amazing, informative content seven days a week, but I would like to make blogging a habit over the month of December. Until then, I’ll post a few things here sporadically, like the art projects and food crafts we have planned over the next couple weeks, with plenty of links back to the original source (I’m not *that* creative on my own!).