How to Be a Boss Bitch

I’m gonna start this blog the same way most bloggers have started at least one blog…the whole “so, I took a break from blogging and now I’m back” intro. I’ve read enough blogs to know that no one cares. You’re just here for the content, maybe you’re not feeling like a Boss Bitch right now and you’re hoping something here will flip that boss bitch switch back on. Me too! So let’s get to it.

First, let’s define “Boss Bitch”. A Boss Bitch is a fierce badass who takes radical responsibility and total ownership of her life. She knows that if her vibe is low and things aren’t going the way she’d like, she’s the only one that can unfuck herself. She knows that her vibration is her responsibility and that no matter what is going on in her world, it starts there. She’s responsible for the energy she brings into a space.

A Boss Bitch leads even when her crown and heart feel heavy. She listens to the whispers of the Universe (or the SHOUTS to which she’ll probably shout back, “Fine!”). She’s not afraid to ask for help when she needs it, but she’s resourceful as fuck. She’s always looking for magical ways to get back into the vortex when she’s feeling off, which is how I know you’re a Boss Bitch (I see you, Gorgeous).

So, how do Boss Bitches get their Fiercedom back? Here’s how to BOSS UP when you need it most:

Take Inventory. With pen and paper (or laptop), do a Brain Dump of everything swimming around in that pretty little head. Konmari the fuck out of your thoughts and feelings. Lay them all out so that you can REALLY see what you’re dealing with. From there you can decide what sparks joy and what you’re ready to let go of with gratitude. Boss Bitches don’t shove everything in a back room to deal with “later”.

Ask WHO not HOW. If you’ve got things going on that you don’t know how to manage or figure out, stop agonizing over HOW and start asking WHO. Who can help? Who has been through something similar? Who might have the answer? Who has offered support to you in the past? And if you don’t know WHO? Who might know WHO? While this might sound like a Dr. Suess rhyme, Boss Bitches know that even though they often know how, it’s not their job to always know.

Shake it Up, Shake it Off. Boss Bitches allow themselves to feel what they need to feel, but they do it with awareness and they put a timer on that shit. When their inner timer goes ding, even if it’s before they feel ready they get hit their go-to list of things sure to change their state. This is their “Shake it Up, Shake it Off list” and today is the day you will make your own. Write out a list of 27 things (a fortuitous number in Feng Shui) that create a state change in yourself and your environment. Here’s my list:

  1. Take a shower
  2. Get gussied up
  3. Put on running shoes (for action) or heels (for sass)
  4. Make my bed
  5. Clean off my desk
  6. Speed clean the house
  7. Get outside for some fresh air
  8. Go for a run
  9. Brazilian jiu-jitsu training
  10. Call my mom
  11. Call/text my BFFs
  12. Hug my kids
  13. Snuggle with my BF
  14. Eat something delicious
  15. Have a strong cup of coffee
  16. Play with our dog
  17. Write
  18. Blast music
  19. Listen to a podcast
  20. Reach out and offer support to others
  21. Take a nap
  22. Write a gratitude list
  23. Do something bold and brave
  24. Do something I’ve been putting off
  25. Meditate
  26. Wine + Netflix
  27. Ask Spirit what I need most

Now it’s your turn. Take inventory, ask “who” not “how”, shake it up and shake it off. Whatever you’re going through right now, remember that you can’t have rainbows without a little rain. Any setbacks you’re experiencing are just setting you up for one hell of a Boss Bitch comeback! Roar!

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20 Ways to Improve Your Gift Giving (and Receiving) Skills

O.K., friends, with the season of giving upon us, it is a great time to talk about some gift exchange etiquette and guidance. We all know that the whole holiday gift thing can be super awesome or super awkward depending on the situation and the skills of the giver or recipient. As you give and receive this year, bring more joy and planning to your holiday season by considering these thoughts on holiday gift giving and receiving:  

When giving…

1. Do start with a list. Do a brain dump of everyone that might be on your gift list. Consider doing this on your computer with a program like Evernote or Google Docs so that you can easily refer to it next year (or even refer to it for birthdays, etc.). Don’t forget to include things like “stocking stuffers” and “Santa gifts”. You may want to organize your list by family, friends, coworkers, service providers (e.g. hair stylist), and kids. As you purchase things, write it next to their name so that you can refer to it next year and remember what you gave and to whom. This year, I’m loving the iPhone app The Christmas List

2. Do create a budget. Once you have your list, set a budget for how much you plan to spend on each person (you can use excel, Google spreadsheets, or an app with a budgeting feature like The Christmas List). This will shape your list and your gift choices – don’t be afraid to trim down your list.  Gifts purchased out of guilt or obligation, especially when we are on a budget, leave us financially AND emotionally depleted. Having a clear budget will reduce your stress by making sure you still have enough to take care of your regular monthly expenses. With your budget in mind, next year you can plan to put a little aside each month in a special savings account just for the holidays. 

3. Do take some time to really think about what would make someone’s life easier or bring them joy. What do they love? What do they struggle with? What do they talk about but not do for themselves? The holidays are a great time to really LISTEN to people. Make it game to play detective; observe and take notes about the things your friends and family are talking about and admiring.

4. Do think about what YOU love. For gift inspiration, look at your daily routine and find those items or little things in your life that you can’t live without. Think about your favorite coffee, snack, lip gloss, lotion, pen, book, service etc. that you could share with others. 

5. Do keep some small gifts on hand for hostess gifts and people on your list that you may have forgotten. Keep a bin of these types of gifts that you can add to all year round. This is a great way to re-gift little things that you won’t use or aren’t your style…just remember who gave them to you first to avoid the embarrassment of giving back what someone gave you! Consider doing a “re-gift swap” with your closest friends as a fun and free way to do some holiday “shopping”. 

6. Do put some thought into the presentation. Unwrapped gifts, plastic grocery bags, ratty old used bags (especially the ones that say “To” and “From” someone else) give a message that your gift was a last minute thought. It doesn’t have to be fancy, a simple brown paper gift bag with a holiday label or sticker and the recipient’s name shows that you put some thought and effort into the gift.  

7. Do reduce your stress by simplifying and optimizing your shopping. Having a theme for all your gifts (stress reduction, farm-to-table, fitness) and buying the same thing for multiple people can help you to feel less overwhelmed and reduce decision fatigue as you shop. Batch your shopping errands together and avoid peak shopping/traffic times or avoid the crowds altogether by shopping online. 

8. Don’t focus on cost, focus on value. You don’t have to break the bank holiday shopping. Write someone a heart-felt letter about what makes them special. Check out Pinterest for DIY gift ideas. Give the gift of experiences. Gifts given from the heart are the most memorable and appreciated. In fact, being over-extravagant can make people feel uncomfortable if they can’t reciprocate.

9. Don’t call yourself a “bad gift giver”. No one needs to know about your gift-giving insecurities. It’s hard to get excited about getting a gift from someone who is telling you they plan to disappoint you. This gives someone the impression that you don’t care enough to really take the time to think about what you would like. 

10. Don’t pump it up too much either. On the other hand, don’t go on and on about how amazing the gift you got someone is. You might be actually be a terrible gift giver or maybe you got them something they already have, so don’t put someone in the position of having to pretend to be as excited as you. Let the gift speak for itself. 

11. Don’t tell people what you got them. You’re not five years old. Keep a secret and don’t ruin the surprise because of your lack of self-control. Share your excitement but don’t be an impulsive bean-spiller. 

12. Don’t say, “Just tell me what to give you.” It’s really just no fun and puts someone in the uncomfortable position of having to ask for a gift. Awkward.

When receiving…

13. Do savor the moment. Remember everything you were taught as a toddler. Read the card first. Take your time to admire and reflect on the gift before hurriedly moving on to the next. Make eye contact. Say “thank you”. Be present and savor the moment.  

14. Do write down what people gave you. This is a nice way to keep track of who you exchange gifts with on a regular basis and will give you the opportunity to write them a thank you card or just express your gratitude for their thoughtfulness. You can add this to your same holiday shopping list so that you can refer to it next year. 

15. Do focus on intent, not the gift. Someone thought of you enough to give you something. It doesn’t matter what it is. Before you even open that gift, express your gratitude and appreciation of their thoughtfulness.

16. Don’t say, “I have this already”. Not cool. Even if you have a dozen exactly like whatever it is, keep it to yourself and just say “thank you.” 

17. Don’t say, “I didn’t get you something.” This takes the wind out of the moment and puts the attention on you instead of acknowledging the thought and intent of the gift giver. Giving feels good, so don’t take that away from someone when they present you with something by making it about what you did or didn’t do. People don’t typically give because they WANT something in return and saying, “I didn’t get you something” makes you look like the kind of person that is keeping score. A simple, “Thank you so much” is sufficient. 

18. Don’t tell someone you are giving them something because they gave you something. If you do decide that you want to reciprocate a gift that was given, don’t say, “Here, I got you this because you got me something and I felt bad.” All the gift giver is going to hear is, “I felt bad” and that was NOT their intent when giving you something. 

19. Don’t tell people what you want. Unless you are a kid, presenting people with your Christmas list is pretty tacky. Allow yourself to be surprised and focus on giving instead of receiving. That being said, the holidays are a great time to practice the fine art of subtle hint dropping. Admire things openly, talk about what you love, etc. Kids are great at helping with this (“If anyone asks, this is what mommy really wants for Christmas”).

20. Don’t allow gift exchange angst to taint your holidays. Above all, gift giving and receiving should be FUN and MAGICAL! Don’t be a grinch! Remember that every time we give or receive a gift, it is an opportunity to express gratitude and love and inspire others to do the same.

Wishing you a fun-filled, stress-free, warm and fuzzy season of giving! May your heart and the hearts around you grow three-sizes this year! 

Looking to bring more joy, order, productivity, and simplicity your holidays and 2015? Join me this Sunday, December 7th at 1:30pm at Happiness U for my 90-minute Time and Life Optimization class! I’ll be sharing bonus materials for a fun, efficient, and organized holiday season!

Artwork by niallers on Fiverr – so cute, right?! Sign up for Fiverr here and GET A FREE GIG! 

Monthly Planning: Mariah Carey Holiday Edition

I remember reading an article once about how much Mariah Carey loves Christmas. She said she’s like a big kid and admittedly goes overboard every holiday season with decorations and festivities. She has assistants arrive early to her Aspen home to decorate the entire house like a winter wonderland, which includes turning her bedroom into a snow-clad North Pole. When arriving at the airport, she is even greeted by limo playing holiday tunes and handed a glass of champagne. 

Seeing as how Mimi reportedly makes somewhere around half a million a year in royalties from her version of “All I Want for Christmas”, it’s no wonder she loves the holidays and has the resources to manifest her sugarplum visions each year. Until we have our own hit holiday tune, we may not be able to do things exactly like Mariah, but we do have the very same power to define and design OUR vision of our dream holidays and dream month. This weekend, or perhaps over the long Thanksgiving holiday, consider dedicating at least an hour to creating your vision for the next month. You can do this on your own or get your family involved. Grab your favorite warm festive drink, your laptop (I use Evernote for all my planning) or a plain old notebook, your calendar, and find a comfortable place where you can do some uninterrupted planning. 

As you sit down, channel your inner Pop Diva, and begin dreaming, designing, and planning your December. Taking the time to get centered and clear before the new month hits is a great way to reduce your stress and bring more fun and joy to your holidays! To help you to brainstorm, here are 10 questions to consider before the new month:  

1.     What tasks do I still “have to” get done this holiday season? Creating a gift list, shopping, wrapping, cooking, holiday cards, travel, hosting a party, social/work/school events? Get it all on paper so you can get clear about what you have on your plate this season. 

2.     What non-essential or less important tasks can I put of until the new year to free up time for the things I want to do over the next couple months? Often, much of our holiday stress is caused by trying to pile our holiday tasks on top of our regular schedule and commitments. Remember this mantra – you can do it all, but not all at once! 

3.     What would make this month special and memorable? Are there new traditions you would like to start in your family? Perhaps there is something you’ve always wanted to do but have never been able to do it or something you used to do every holiday season, but haven’t done in a while. Think big, think fun, think joyous! 

4.     What do I dread every holiday season? Be real honest with yourself and just vent about the things that drag you down during the holidays. Brainstorm ways that you can delegate them (your kids don’t look too busy right now), make them fun (holiday wrapping party, anyone?), or just dump all together (let go of the guilt – the best gift you can give to those around you is always your authenticity and true happiness). 

5.     What are the most time-consuming or energy-draining holiday tasks that I do each year (that you enjoy and want to do but must be done by you)? Once you have this list, brainstorm ways that you can create more efficient systems for these tasks. Examine your processes and don’t get stuck doing things a certain way because you’ve always done them that way. Can you do more shopping online? Go digital with your Christmas cards? Group your errands together? 

6.     What things on my calendar this month are “shoulds” or obligations that I can let go of or decline this year? Again, don’t “should” all over yourself this year. To make room for your dream holidays, let go of the things you do just because you feel like you have to. Have a short, simple script prepared for declining events this year. Usually, “I’m so sorry, I can’t make it this year” is sufficient. 

7.     What are my anticipated challenges this month and what is my plan for navigating them? Knowing ahead of time what you are up against and having a plan for managing those challenges helps you to be empowered and prepared instead of blindsided and overwhelmed. 

8.     How am I going to maintain my physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health this month? Don’t make the mistake of putting off your health until the New Year. You will have more energy, sanity, and peace if you commit to taking time for yourself each day. This is not selfish; it is absolutely essential for a happy, healthy holiday season. Schedule your workouts, eat unprocessed nutrient-dense foods to off-set the party fare, limit your alcohol and sugar consumption, hydrate, get lots of sleep…you know the drill. 

9.     How do I want to want to feel this month? Instead of asking what you have to do over the next few weeks, ask yourself how you want to FEEL. Joyous? Peaceful? Happy? Connected? Relaxed? Write these down and post them somewhere or carry them around with you as a reminder of what is truly important to you. These feelings are the filter through which you can make decisions about what you want to do and how you want to respond to things over the holidays. Use these desired feelings as your guiding light throughout the holidays and make these feelings your goal instead of measuring your success by how many things you checked off your list. 

10.  How can I be more present, attentive, engaged this month? If you knew these were your last holidays, you’d certainly put down that cell phone and hold your loved ones close. Life is precious, life is unpredictable…give yourself and those around you the gift of your presence and love this month. Your kids may tell you they want an iPad, but more than that they really want your undivided attention and playfulness. Cool presents are nice, but eye contact, affection, and feeling loved and appreciated is what all of us REALLY want. Commit to unplugging and connecting this month and beyond.

Be sure to communicate and share your monthly plan/thoughts/vision/goals with your family and friends. Review what you’ve written each morning throughout the month to keep them fresh in your mind. Just as you are the designer of your life, YOU are the designer of your holidays! Put down that cell phone, pick up that glass of champagne, and make some peppermint-kissed holiday memories that will live in your heart forever. 

PS – Reduce your stress this holiday season and beyond! Join me for my Time and Life Hacks class at Happiness U on Saturday, December 7th at 1:30pm. I’ll be sharing tons of tools and strategies for maximizing your time and living a more efficient, productive, and FUN life! I’ll be sharing bonus tips and apps just for the holidays. Reserve Your Spot

Essentialism, Online Coaching, Easy Cash Exchanges, and Pinot Tracking

Happy November 1. What are you working on this month? I’m committing to more writing, more sleep, more joy, and more quality time with friends and family. I’ve really been inspired lately by multiple podcast interviews I’ve heard with Greg McKeown, the author of Essentialism, the Disciplined Pursuit of Less.  Here is a description of the book:

The Way of the Essentialist isn’t about getting more done in less time. It’s not about getting less done. It’s about getting only the right things done. It’s about challenging the core assumption of ‘we can have it all’ and ‘I have to do everything’ and replacing it with the pursuit of ‘the right thing, in the right way, at the right time’. It’s about regaining control of our own choices about where to spend our time and energies instead of giving others implicit permission to choose for us.

McKeown talks about the importance of doing a quarterly inventory of your life to identify what is truly essential. When we are trapped in the daily grind, we tend to feel like everything is essential and important, when in fact, very little actually is. He suggests that the quickest way to identify what is essential to you is to ask a few simple, but provocative questions: If you had only one week to live, what would you do? If you had only a month to live, what would you do? If you had only a year to live, what would you do? And if you had the rest of your life to live, what would you do? 

Try this exercise and you’ll quickly discover whether or not your lifestyle and the things you are doing each day are in alignment with your values and your heart’s desires. We tend to delay our dreams and the things that bring us true joy for a time when “things settle down” or “when we get through this or that”, but that day never seems to come and suddenly you realize much more time has passed than you had intended. Instead, see what non-essential tasks, obligations, or other stuff you can dump, delegate, automate, simplify, or optimize so that you can make space for joy TODAY. 

Don’t just think about what you want to achieve this month, this about how you want to FEEL. Commit to pursuing the RIGHT things for you. And as you do, here is a round-up of a few fun apps I’m loving right now that you can incorporate into your dream lifestyle. 

Lift and Lift Coaching Lift is a cool app and community that helps you to “put your goals into actions”. There are expert-led plans or you can create custom goals. You can use Lift to help hold you accountable and keep you focused on anything you are trying to achieve. There is a great story in the productivity/life hacker community about comedian Jerry Seinfield’s secret to success. He simply committed to writing jokes everyday, good or bad, and marked each day that he wrote on a calendar. Us humans have something inside of our brains that makes us not want to “break the chain”. Lift works in the same way. Psychologically we start by simply wanting to keep the chain going, and then eventually we’ve created new habits. I’m extra excited about Lift now because they have just launched “Lift Coaching” and there is code currently on the site for 2 weeks free coaching (otherwise it is $14.95/month). I just hired a coach to help me create a daily writing habit, something I’ve been really struggling with. She has already messaged me with great advice and the accountability factor of having someone checking in on me to see if I’m writing is exactly what I was missing. 

Cash by Square Inc. I learned about this cool app from Less Doing guru, Ari Meisel. I’m currently participating in his awesome 8-week Less Doing Bootcamp and I’m totally geeking out on some of the cool tools we’re learning more about. If you aren’t familiar with Ari’s work, drop everything and get his life-changing book “Less Doing, More Living” – the man’s a genius! The Cash app solves the mildly annoying problem of cash exchanges. In the past week I’ve saved myself the time and stress of having to run to the ATM or trying to remember that I have to pay someone back for something multiple times. You simply download the app to your smartphone and link your bank card to it (read all about Cash Security here) . The person on the other end does the same. You can request or send money. It’s similar to Paypal but it’s FREE. I’ve used it this week to send money to a friend collecting for a birthday gift, to pay an assistant, and to collect money for a Community Supported Agriculture bag of veggies that I front the cash for.  

Delectable Wine App  I love a good glass (ok, maybe a few glasses) of Pinot Noir once in a while. When I do indulge, I want to make sure I’m drinking something that I absolutely love, but I never really had a great system for tracking the wines that I fall in love with. I would take photos of wines I like, but then they would get buried forever in my iPhoto, meaning I end up buying the same 2 wines again and again. Enter, Delectable! This FREE wine app is like Instagram for wine lovers. You take a photo of the wine label and it will show you what other Delectable users have said about it and how they have rated it. You can use this app to track the wines by taking your own photos and note and you can also use it to help you determine what you want to purchase. You have the option to follow sommeliers and other users. You can even tag who you are sharing a bottle with and where you are so that you can remember special moments. My last Delectable post – A smooth and delicious Chilean Pinot Noir from Pinot Evil Cellars I discovered on sale at CVS for $5! I rarely trust cheap wines, but this one was outstanding and the reviews confirmed it. Here is one Delectable member’s take on it: “Clean, light raspberry nose. Dry, medium acidity, low tannin, light body. Flavors of raspberry and red plum, hint of damp hay. Short finish.” 

Cheers to your “Essentialist” November. Wishing you lots of mental space and time to design and create your dream life, full, but not too full, of the all the RIGHT things for you.