Friday, September 30, 2011

Going Pink For October

Support Awareness images

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and Unchained is going Pink Ribbon!

For the entire month of October, I am donating ALL net proceeds to the cause.

I'm very happy to debut a new program starting October 1:

Single Shot Stress Management
These single sessions begin with an expanded version of the Holmes-Rahe Life Stress Inventory, so we can assess your current stress level and its potential impact. Follow that with stress management coaching, customized for your score and your life, so you can implement ideas immediately! All for a flat $39. Need a shot?
Call me at 480-273-1357 (MST) or email me at to let me know.
• We'll schedule your Single Shot session and I'll provide you with payment info.
• I'll call you for your appointment, we'll go over the inventory (takes about 10 to 15 minutes), and then devote the rest of the session to coaching.
• And don't forget, all net proceeds to directly to breast cancer awareness and research!

I hope your first week of Autumn has been awesome, and that you'll join me in spreading awareness. Now I'm off to save a life - there's a Red Cross blood drive, I've got type O blood, and I'm not afraid of needles!

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Thursday, September 22, 2011

Relationship Reality Check

I've haven't written anything about relationships for a while, so maybe this is a bit overdue. Here are a handful of points that seem to have the most impact on the sustainability of a relationship; apply them to your situation, make decisions and take action accordingly.

• Everybody forgets to fight fair once in a while. But little arguments may escalate into full-scale verbal attacks, complete with accusations, criticisms, name-calling, or the old standby, bringing up the past. If these kinds of things happen rarely (and by rarely I mean less than once a year), fine. If it's happening once in every ten disagreements, that's not so fine. (Yes, I know that equates to just 10%. But ten disagreements can happen within the space of a week! So really, that means this could still be a pretty frequent thing!) And of course, if it's your preferred form of argument, you've got a problem.

• Sometimes our mouths engage before our brains and we say things that we instantly regret. Being critical of your partner's opinions, feelings, or desires is a no-no, and ladies, I'm sorry, but PMS is only an excuse. There's no good reason for this kind of behavior between adults who supposedly like each other. If it's an exceptionally rare and random slip of the tongue, fine. More than a handful of times a year; it's becoming a pattern of behavior. And it's a problem.

• Communication between partners is never 100% clear 100% of the time. Maybe it's the whole Mars-Venus thing. Anyway, misunderstandings happen, and they tend to happen pretty regularly. Don't sweat it. BUT, if your partner (or you) usually seems to perceive words or actions more negatively than they were meant, there's a problem. Often, it's a self-confidence issue imposing itself on communication. Sometimes, though, it's a days-at-a-time downer! If your partner isn't bipolar, you've got a problem.

• Partners are called partners because they're supposed to be ... well, partners. Sometimes partners approach problems from different perspectives, sometimes they arrive at totally different solutions. But being partners means that ultimately, you're on the same page. If your relationship feels like you're on opposing teams, it's a problem.

• As much as we can too easily do the foot-in-mouth thing, we may hold back our thoughts or feelings. And there are situations when it's okay to do that. For example, ladies, if you have to ask if it makes you look fat, you're putting your partner in that situation. But do you find yourself keeping your thoughts, wants, and needs to yourself on a regular basis? Why? If it's not safe to vocalize, it's a problem.

• Have you ever felt alone when you were surrounded by people? It's a lonely feeling. It's possible to feel lonely with the best of relationships, if distance or travel keep partners apart. But when geography isn't the issue, loneliness is not normal. It's often a sign that you can't share your life with your partner. And if you can't share, to the point that you're feeling lonely, your relationship has a problem.

• People respond to disagreements and differences of opinion in many ways. When one partner withdraws, it tends to mean something big. (I'm not talking about physically leaving the argument to go cool off.) Intentionally giving someone the silent treatment is about as extreme a form of rejection as humans can show. We're social creatures; to be deliberately excluded is painful. Sometimes the withdrawal isn't the silent treatment, but a surrender, if one partner does not feel heard. Sometimes people just can't handle conflict well and would rather escape than participate. It almost doesn't matter why it happens, as much as it matters that it happens, and how often during disagreements. If it's a pattern of behavior, it's a problem.

Obviously, there are a lot of other potential red-flag areas to watch for in relationships. But these few can show up between two people on their third date as easily as they can show up between two people celebrating their 30th wedding anniversary. They don't mean the relationship is doomed! These are just signs that things aren't going well, and you both need to address them together to get the relationship back on solid ground.

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Monday, September 19, 2011

50 Power Questions to Ask Yourself

Feeling stuck in life? Here is a list of questions to get you thinking differently and help you re-focus your action.

1. What areas of your life could be upgraded or tweaked for improvement?
2. What could you start to change now that would make the biggest difference?
3. What are you tolerating or putting up with?
4. What are some things you do regularly that don't support your goals?
5. What will it mean to achieve your goal?
6. What would you do if you knew you would succeed?
7. What are some things you could do regularly to move you toward your goals?
8. On a scale of 1 to 10, how excited are you about your goals?
9. In what way is your current situation absolutely perfect?
10. What's your favorite way of sabotaging yourself?
11. What are you most excited about in life right now?
12. If your career/relationship/life was ideal, what would be different?
13. What is your life really about?
14. What do you do when the unexpected happens?
15. What is the most uncomfortable emotion for you to feel?
16. Who are three people who support you?
17. Is it possible to learn without failing?
18. Do you have a favorite song that really inspires you? Where could you use that in your life?
19. What are you proud of in your life right now?
20. What are you grateful for?
21. What did you learn yesterday?
22. What did you give yesterday?
23. Where have you lowered your standards? Why?
24. How have you contributed to the life of a stranger?
25. What have you released?
26. What is your intention for today?
27. What do you need to get better at?
28. What is your role model doing and how can you replicate that?
29. How can you enjoy your life today?
30. How good do you want to be?
31. What can you do to be more productive while having more fun?
32. What are you exposing yourself to?
33. Who are you becoming?
34. How do you prioritize your time?
35. How do you honor your values?
36. What are you willing to do in the next 30 days to make progress?
37. What would have to happen for you to be able to do that?
38. Before you jump to a negative conclusion, what else could an odd event mean?
39. If "X" wasn't an issue, would you be able to achieve what you wanted?
40. What might be more important than you think?
41. What might be more important than you think?
42. Are you sure enough to be unsure?
43. How do you most want to feel?
44. What would others be surprised to know that you care about?
45. What lies have you been believing about yourself?
46. What belief would be hardest for you to let go of?
47. How do you recharge?
48. If you had to completely rewrite your personality, what three things would you keep?
49. When are you the most productive?
50. What do you want?

That should be enough to keep you busy until the next post!

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Monday, September 12, 2011

12 Ways to Plan Ahead for the Holidays

We had a lovely weekend here - cloudy, slightly rainy, and blessedly cool. Well, comparatively cool. I know we're going right back into the low 100s today and will be there for the foreseeable future. Fine.

But I know fall is coming, high temps or not. The animals know it, too. I saw a desert fox the other night, not long after sunset. First one since January! Squeaks (desert ground squirrels) are everywhere, starting to stockpile food.

If you're ready for a change in season too, maybe this list will help you get ready!

1. Create a master list on your computer of everyone you'll be gifting this year. For each person, indicate your gift budget and possible ideas. Be creative and you may find several gift items well before the holidays begin. If you start making smaller purchases each week, your budget won't be as strained later! But don't dismiss Black Friday and the biggest shopping weekend of the season: door-busters and all-weekend sales are a smart way to fill in the rest of your shopping list.

2. Plan your holiday dinner menus now. Assemble your recipes and make a master list of all ingredients. Watch grocery sales and start purchasing non-perishables so you'll have them on hand when you need them. Also start stocking up on cheese, crackers, nuts, and soda so you're prepared for drop-in visitors.

3. Haul out decorations a week before you plan to decorate. This gives you time to figure out how many bulbs need replaced, whether you need new batteries, how many candles you need to get, and so on. And it gives you time to actually get the stuff you need, so when decorating day comes, you're ready. If you're like many people, you'll be going through this four times between now and the end of the year: Autumn, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas or Hanukkah. Be prepared.

4. Avoid some of the stress of holiday meal hosting by getting food prep done ahead of time. Peel and chop carrots and dice celery, and then freeze them until you need them. Bake cookies and snack breads the day before. If you're making pies from scratch, mix up filling ingredients the day before and refrigerate overnight.

5. If you don't already have holiday cards, get them early. (If you really want to manage your time and money, you get a couple boxes when they're discounted most, after Christmas, usually right around the beginning of January.) Take an hour or so and print labels or address them by hand, the week before you want to mail them. Take another hour or so and get all the cards signed. Then get them stamped and get them in the mail. No rushing!

6. Including a family photo with your holiday cards? Schedule family haircuts first, then schedule your sitting today for as soon as you can; otherwise, the wait for photos may delay getting the cards mailed on time.

7. Get holiday stamps as soon as they're available at the Post Office - in most areas, it's October 13th this year.

8. If you'll be traveling, finalize plans and make reservations.

9. If you're expecting company, start de-cluttering the house to speed the decorating process.

10. If you're hosting a meal, make sure you have enough flatware, table service, glasses, etc.

11. If you're anticipating going to holiday parties, check your wardrobe: be sure you have what you intend to wear and that it's ready to wear (including hosiery and accessories).

12. If you're shipping gifts, be sure they're well-wrapped and that you have an adequate box to put them in, plus adequate packing material.

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Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Getting Fall Cleaning Done Before Fall

If you haven't flipped your calendars to September, you might want to do that first. Then note that the first day of autumn is the 23rd this year.

I know some of you haven't implemented my "Never Do Spring Cleaning Again" idea. That means with the change of season upon us, you've got some heavy duty cleaning to do again.

Don't let it drag you down. Here's a COMPLETE list, beyond regular and frequent cleaning, of everything you need to do to get your home ready for fall:

1. Get rid of clutter accumulated over the summer.
2. Pack up summer stuff and store it.
3. Assemble the items you'll need for cleaning and maintenance.
4. Clean and maintain.
5. Decorate.

Here's how to get it done easily by the 23rd:

Start at the entry.
1. Sweep the cobwebs and dust from the front porch.
2. Shake off or hose off the mat.
3. Clean your front door inside and out - especially the bottom foot or so, where animals often "mark" and inside around the knob.
4. Clean the rug and flooring in your entry way.
All this should take one person no more than an hour.

Next, the living areas (living room/family room)
1. Dust ceiling fans and light fixtures.
2. Clean dirty areas on walls around air vents, light switches, and doorways.
3. Clean smudges on doors and doorframes. Dust framed art and clean the glass.
4. Clean your window coverings, vacuum your windowsills, and clean your windows.
5. Vacuum upholstered furniture.
6. If you want your carpet cleaned, just vacuum but book a cleaning by the end of the month because October fills up fast. Otherwise, vacuum and spot clean.
Allow a day for this area - cleaning your window coverings requires either a soak and shower (for mini-blinds) or wash/dry or dry-cleaning for curtains or draperies, which is a little more time consuming.

Moving into the kitchen
1. Dust any ceiling fans and light fixtures.
2. Clean dirty wall areas around air vents, switches, outlets, behind the stove, and above the backsplash behind the sink.
3. Clean doors and doorframes.
4. Clean window coverings, dust windowsills and clean windows.
5. Degrease the range hood and clean the filter (you can soak it in the sink or run it through the dishwasher on the top rack).
6. Pull out the refrigerator, unplug it, and vacuum or sweep the coils.
7. Clean under the stove-top.
8. Clean the oven if you didn't do it last spring. (Use regular cleaner, spray, and let sit overnight.)
9. Clean out the freezer and refrigerator.
10. Clean the microwave and coffeemaker and dump the crumbs out of the toaster.
11. Wipe down cabinet doors. Use polish if appropriate.
12. Clean out the utensil drawers and wash the divider trays.
13. Clean the counters and sink.
14. Sweep and mop the floor.
The kitchen is a 2-day job, mostly because of the oven, and of course the window treatments. Otherwise, each individual task takes between 3 and 30 minutes.

Dining room
1. Dust ceiling fan and light fixtures.
2. Clean smudges on walls, doors, and doorframes.
3. Clean window coverings, dust windowsills, and clean windows.
4. Clean and polish table.
5. Sweep and mop or vacuum and spot clean carpet.
The dining room shouldn't take more than about an hour, except for the window coverings.

1. Dust ceiling fans and light fixtures.
2. Clean smudges on walls, doors, and doorframes.
3. Clean window coverings, dust windowsills, and clean windows.
4. Turn or flip mattresses.
5. Dust framed art and mirrors and clean the glass.
6. Dust lamps and knick-knacks.
7. Dust furniture.
8. Vacuum.
The dusting in a bedroom seems to take the most time but unless you're also re-organizing or re-arranging the furniture, and except for the window coverings, it can be done in an hour.

1. You got it, lights and fans.
2. Right again, walls and doors.
3. Windows and coverings.
4. Might as well do the shower/tub/toilet combo.
5. Clean out the medicine cabinet and linen closet.
6. Clean out under-sink cabinets and re-organize.
7. Clean sinks, mirrors, and countertops.
8. Clean rugs, sweep and mop the floor.
Bathrooms, except for window coverings, can be done in an hour unless you're doing heavy-duty re-organizing.

Laundry Room
1. Clean walls and doors.
2. Clean windows, etc. if applicable.
3. Wipe down outside of washer and dryer, clean inside of washer lid.
4. Pull out washer and dryer and sweep behind them (and find missing socks).
5. Clean dryer vent and exhaust areas.
6. Clean rugs, sweep and mop the floor.
Laundry rooms go fast - you can incorporate these tasks into your weekly laundry and it will only require a few extra minutes.

Miscellaneous and Maintenance
You're nearly done!
1. Check your air conditioning/furnace filters and replace or stock up as needed.
2. Hose down the outside of your air conditioner unit.
3. Clean the outside of the windows (within reason) and for you cooler-climate readers, deal with the storm windows.
4. Clean out your gutters.
5. Clean off your outside furniture.
6. Clean your grill if you're retiring it for the winter.
7. If you have a fireplace, schedule a chimney inspection and cleaning.
8. Wipe down your vacuum cleaner, wash out the collection chamber on bagless units, hand-wash filters and allow to air-dry or replace, and remove hair and carpet fiber from the beater bar.
9. Drain sediment from your water heater.
Some of these things will take a while, like getting service scheduled! But you can still get the rest done on a Saturday, easily. And you've got 2 before fall officially starts.

Once you're done, go celebrate by picking out some new fall decor. Take note of the popular colors for this fall (according to Pantone): phlox purple, chocolate brown, cherry popsicle red, and cedar green. Any combo of two or three would be tasteful, all four would be even more festive. BUT, I'm not seeing much of these colors in stores! All the "name brand" stuff at big box stores seems to be clinging to the "Tuscan" color theme of 5 years ago, reminiscent of the 70's. Yuck. I'm sticking with Pantone this year - the colors are more clear and vibrant. Easier on the eyes after all the work, I'm thinking!

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