One of all time favorite quotes “Not all those who wander are lost” by J.R.R. Tolkien and how I interpret it

I constantly think of phrases or quotes that have impacts in my life, when doing my life manifesto or weekly journals, I am always looking for inspiration on these timeless phrases that can so well summarize our thoughts and feelings at any given time.

Over time, this phrase has remained constant in my thoughts, every time I read it, every time I write it, every time I think about it, I feel as if the phrase is calling me, touching my soul, making me reflect on my life, on my journey.

If I think about my life, I can believe that in its natural state, I am lost. Always and simply lost. Maybe because I was born in another country and not having my family or friends close has always made me feel that I walk with my eyes closed. It may be that sincerely reflecting, I can admit that ever so often I wonder how I can be a better wife. It may be that sometimes I am afraid to think that as a mother I can do more, listen more, learn more, give more. Or as an engineer, my career has continued but there are many moments of doubt on how to set goals, and how to pursue them, without putting my family in second place.

As you can see, Not all those who wander are lost ”gives me comfort. Comfort that although I feel that I am walking in the dark while I try to do my best in every facet of my life, feeling that I am lost is part of the journey. Having doubt is part of the solution. Knowing that I am scared, makes me grateful.

Not all those who wander are lost gives me hope that in those moments when I don’t know where I came from, nor where I am going, much less where I am going, I can focus on enjoying my now, what I have today, what I am today. Holding my husband’s hand, hugging my children, talking with my family, being kind to myself I am sure I will continue to feel lost through the wonders of my path, through the wonders of my life.

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How can we be a better friend?

We are all unique in our essence, in our abilities and in our personal qualities that allow us to contribute positively to the lives of the people we love most and the people around us.  Many times, although we are aware of these wonderful people who are part of our lives, we tend to spend our time being able to fulfill our responsibilities and obligations and we do not do enough to show our love and our appreciation to these people.

I have been very lucky to have seen friendships that lasts a lifetime and through my own experiences, I have been a witness of the importance that a solid friendship can have in our lives.  After thinking for a while, I have come up with a list of the actions we can do for our friends. These actions do not have to be large or elaborated, but they have to be initiated by the love and gratitude we feel.

  • If you know of someone close to you who is recovering from an illness or struggling with a disease, make a casserole or lasagna and take them home, without asking if they want it or not, just knock on the door and hand them the plate so they have a meal (or two).
  • If you know of someone close to you who is recovering from an illness or struggling with a disease, make a casserole or lasagna and take them home, without asking if they want it or not, just knock on the door and hand them the plate so they have a meal (or two).
  • Participate in those activities that your friends are coordinating and need help or participants.
  • Go to the soccer, baseball, or dance recital of one of your nephews, especially if it is an important championship. Your friends will appreciate your sharing such a special moment in their lives with them.
  • Help a friend who has just started working on a new job, either with new unknown software, or by offering advice on his / her new line of work.
  •  If your friends are trying to make a change in their health and are taking actions to be healthier, support them and encourage them.
  • If your friends are asking for volunteers to help them in moving to a new house or painting their house or setting up a new office and you can, sign up and help them.
  •  Give a compliment if they got a new haircut or are trying to eat healthier.
  • Give thanks for something they have done for you, no matter if time has passed, take the time to say thank you and express appreciation

We all have high expectations of our friends, but at times is good to ask ourselves, are we doing all we can to make sure our friends feel loved and appreciated by us.  Next time you have the opportunity to show it, take it. You are cultivating a lifetime of great moments and experiences shared.

Family Rules Loving Life Personal Journal

Lessons Learned from my Mother

My mother has been a constant inspiration in my life.  She is kind, compassionate, realistic, assertive, composed and self-assured.  She is, by all I believe in, the wiser person I know. The use of “common sense” has always been her go-to-solution to all and every problem or situation and it is my goal to pass the “common sense” approach to my kids.

She has gone through the loss of her son, which is a pain that as I have learned, never goes away.   She has worked hard “38 consecutive years” as she says it, climbing up the professional ladder without holding back, always with loyalty, professionalism, honesty, and integrity. She has been, is and will be my idol. My go-to-person when self-doubt, fear, pessimism, and doubt snicks in my heart.

Through the years, I have seen her suffer, adapt, change, dream, conquering happiness and peace, learning over and over to enjoy life, be loving and caring (and patient) to my dad, and be 100% available to my needs and wants.  

After going through my own self-improvement program and in my pursuit to understand my life purpose, I have come to realize that she is not perfect, however, that realization just made me love her more since although she has her own challenging shortcomings, she has managed to be stronger than anyone I know.  She has taught me life lessons that today I am sharing with you:

  1. Balance it out.  My mother would always tell me to balance it out.  Put the positive on one side and the negative on the other and make decisions based on the outcome.  From professional decisions, to love, to friendship, to education, it can all be put in the balance and decisions are made knowing the positives and negatives of each possibility.
  2. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes: Before judging try your best to put yourself in their shoes.  We don’t know what that person has gone through, we don’t know the whole story. Kindness and compassion should be your first impressions instead of baseless judgment.
  3. Be strong.  My mother is a stoic person. She is the embodiment of what a strong mind and a generous heart and profound faith can do together.  Even when I have gone through my good share of very low moments she has been compassionate but very clear… you are strong, you are mighty, you are a force, you are what you need to be to overcome anything.
  4. Got to be humble.  We are no better than the person next to us.  What we own and what we do for a living says nothing about who we are.  Be humble and treat everyone with kindness and compassion. Always smile, always shake hands, always exchange kind words, treat everyone (including those that are clearly making the statement that they have more than you) with respect and kindness.  
  5. Honesty goes a long way.  She always believes she was sufficiently smart to get to where she was professionally when she retired, however, she was always very honest when she would say that along the way she met people far more qualified than her, but that it was her honesty and integrity that made her a solid candidate for every promotion she accomplished while working.  If you don’t have integrity in the workplace, people will see through it. You can always be trained in the job, but integrity is what you bring with you.

At any time of my day, during a good moment or a low moment, I remember my mom and imagine how she would react, or what would she chose, or how she would handle the situation I am in, and by following her example, I have been able to move forward and in the positive direction.  I am grateful to her. I am grateful for her heart and her soul. I am grateful for her love. I am grateful for her lessons.

Mom and me

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Tips for your Morning Routine that works!

via Tips for your Morning Routine that works!

Mornings can be tough… The eternal juggling of managing people, pets, and oneself so early in the morning can be quite overwhelming. I remember getting out of the house and sitting in my car thinking… I’m ready to call it a day, and I still have to go to work!! With time, I started to pay more attention to our routine , and with practice my family and I were able to make it work. Of course it is still hectic, but not as chaotic as before. It has a flow that we have gotten used to as a family, and when I get into my car to go to work I can catch myself smiling, choosing a new podcast for the drive with a sense of accomplishment.

So what are my tips? I’ll share them with you and hopefully it will give you focus during those early hours of the morning.

  1. Get Up Early: IT IS IMPORTANT! Waking up thinking that you are already late is THE MAIN INGREDIENT for a recipe for disaster. Waking up early helps with my sanity. There are several ways I use this “extra” time; for example I do exercise (yoga, HIIT workout, or a treadmill walk/run), meditation, check calendars (mine and my family’s), check my social media (Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook), or read a self-help book. You can use this extra time for anything that is personal, or use it to do stuff that you don’t have enough time to do during the day.
  2. Pick your clothes (and your kid’s clothes) the night before: I pick my clothes the night before, including shoes and jewelry. I even make the decision on how my hair and make-up will be. I make it to where there’s NO decision to make in the morning. My kids have to pick their clothes too. Their shirt, pants, socks and underwear are ALL picked up the night before.
  3. Pre-prep the lunches: I prepare three lunches( for my two kids and my husbands). I make all the sandwiches and put them in the fridge the night before. In the morning I just put all the items together in their lunch boxes. I doubled the time I have in the mornings just by doing this simple night-before prep.
  4. Decide what you will eat for breakfast the night before: Just like the lunches, we know exactly what the breakfast will be. We usually choose either oatmeal, veggie/fruit smoothies, or energy bars. Just something simple we can prep the night before.
  5. Make the beds: It sounds like something that would be at the bottom of your to-do list, but it adds a sense of accomplishment once it is done. Not to mention that when you get back to your house after a long day and you see your bed done, it’s inviting and relaxing.
  6. Go to bed early: Studies show that the average person should be sleeping 6.5 to 7 hours every night. So if I wake up at 4:30 am I would go to bed at 10:00 pm. I do put the kids to bed by 8:00 to get time to reorganize the house, prep lunches and breakfasts, take long showers and do some reading or blogging.

Not every morning will be perfect , and we know it. A spilled glass of water, a grumpy/sick kid in the morning, even we can wake up on the wrong side of the bed sometimes, but when we put the organization into it, even the bad mornings become manageable, and most importantly LESS STRESSED!

Sometimes I do think that one day when my kids have gone to college, I will look back and see all those morning with gratitude. Each one of your mornings are a segment of your life timeline and should be enjoyed to the max. Maybe one day it’ll be just me and my husband waking up to a cup of coffee and those moments will surely be cherished and remembered.

Affirmations to start your day the best way

An affirmation can be defined as the practice of positive thinking and self-empowerment—fostering a belief that “a positive mental attitude supported by affirmations will achieve success in anything.” For years I kept hearing about affirmation and the powerful transformations that can cause in our emotional state, however, I was very skeptical and did not trust the power that a sentence could have in my life.

One day, following the guidance of a self-help book, I tried and I was taken aback with the impact it made in my day. Since then I have constantly changed my affirmation to match my state of mind or my goals, and I have also divided them doing morning affirmations and bedtime affirmations.

I have been doing the below affirmation for 30 days and the results have been great with the way my day goes on. I am enthusiastic and positive, I am kind and open-hearted, I am fearless and self-assured.

Below I am sharing my affirmations, but there are tons of them in the internet, Pinterest or Instagram. Find the ones that call your name.

Loving Life Personal Journal Wholesomeness is healthy

6 Tips to help you get your life organized!

Learning to be organized has been a learning curve for me.   When I look early on my marriage I wonder how my husband could have been so patient with my slow development into been a more organized person.  As I had kids and my job became more demanding, I honestly and sadly can say that my improvement in being organized was minimal. With that said, a lot of things just did not get done and very important areas of my life were just been attended when no longer could be ignored.  As I said, I and organization have come a long way… It was on my 10th wedding anniversary, when I turned 35, that a switch was turned on in me… I needed to work towards improving areas of my life that felt chaotic. But where to begin? I turned to books and magazines that were about been organized.  I learned to be patient with myself as I learned that it takes time to save time and that been organized is a process that is different for all of us. We all have different priorities and therefore how we organize our lives reflects our day to day as a person, a professional, a parent, a son or daughter, a friend, a spouse, a caregiver, etc. It works differently for all of us.

So below are the areas that at some point or other can be improved by taking the time to be organized:

  1. Meal Plan:  Simple but effective.  I remember for years I will plan dinner the same day. I will, therefore, have to go to the supermarket almost every day for one or two or ten things that I needed.  When I started organizing my meal plan for the week I was instantly rewarded with extra time and less stress. Additionally, organizing a meal plan provides me with the ability to stick to my budget and along the way, save money.   It also allows me to be creative in the kitchen and try new recipes. I usually plan my meal plan on Sundays. I search for recipes (usually recipe books, magazines, and websites) and write down day by day the recipe and at the same time make the grocery list that goes with it.  I have a planner for this and helps out when all goes into the same place including the recipes that “worked” vs the ones that were not as good or as simple or as fast as expected
  1. Pantry and Closets:  Organizing my pantry is a pain that I endured every couple of months.  As mentioned I am the opposite of organization so when I do it, it’s great but it gradually tends to gravitate back to chaos, so every few months I have to roll my sleeve and get to it again.  However, every time I am done I feel like a champion. Same with cabinets where we keep our kitchen tools, pots, and pans, closets or our laundry room, it all starts great and gradually becomes a mess, and again and again  I take the time to reorganize it. 
  1. House Cleaning: Nowadays you can find a really good home cleaning checklists and guidelines online.  There are plenty in Pinterest, and also apps that can guide you into a daily, weekly, monthly, bi-annual and annual cleaning schedule.  I do use my home planner to keep track of what I have done and what needs to be done, on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. My kids and husband are part of the planning as well with each one taking on the different tasks as needed.  Keeping our house tidy and clean has exponentially improved our quality of life and if we keep a daily and weekly schedule it becomes daily maintenance instead of daily cleaning.
  1. Garage:  We have a three-car garage and our goal was to be able to put our three cars on it and we did.  We had to move things around, choosing between what we “need” and “don’t’ need” and going to Ikea and other places that specialized in small spaces to come with our own system, but it worked.  Between labeled bins, bikes on the wall and tons of wall hooks we have three cars in the garage. Mission accomplished
  2. School and Sports Activities:  As my kid’s weekly newsletters from school are posted and sports emails are sent with all the upcoming practices and game schedules, I put everything on my calendar.  I set reminders 2 days in advance for any signup or volunteer activity I sign up for. I check upcoming tests, projects, homework that my kids have and put it on my calendar as to be aware of and be sure it gets done. I work hard on trying to make my kids organized as well, asking them to keep tap of what is coming up in their agendas.  My google home is great at making a quick introduction every morning with what is to be expected or done that day.
  3. Home Finances:  This was a big learning curve that unfortunately took too many late payments fees to make me pay attention and be organized. I have used several apps, but I usually use my bank app and a Google spreadsheet, as well as a home planner (the same as the meal planner).  I take two days a week to sit down and do the math and maintain taps on our spending, as well as make sure that bills are up to date and our saving goals are on track. At the end of the month a review all the info and make a smile or frown depending on the end-of-the-month results.

These are the main areas that have provided me with a rewarding feeling.  They were not easy and is a daily, weekly and monthly task that I am committed to. Ever since improving my organizational skills the house is more functional, the family is working in a more efficient manner, we are saving money and time,  and most importantly, I am not so overloaded with last-minute errands that could have been planned and executed in a more productive way.

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7 Tips for making a bedtime routine that works for you…

CREATING AN UNIQUE BEDTIME ROUTINE

With years of trying to perfect multitasking (and never really accomplishing), I have come to the conclusion that following a routine makes it easier for me to accomplish all that is needed to be done. I have a morning routine, a working routine, an afternoon routine, and a bedtime routine.  I have already shared with you morning routine tips and now want to share tips for making a bedtime routine that can work for you as it works for me.

My bedtime routine starts right after the kids go to bed and my “mom role” is turned off, here are my tips:

  1. Finish cleaning the kitchen / tidy up the living room:  I take the time to clean the kitchen, do the dishes, clean the stove, wipe and tidy up the kitchen island, swipe the floors and tidy up and declutter the living room.  Since I do this every day, it really takes no more than 15 – 20 minutes to complete this task and there is no better feeling than waking up to a clean and fresh kitchen.
  2. Check the calendars and to-do list: I take 10 – 15 min to answer any pending emails, check my family calendar and update my to-do list for the next day. Also, any bills or home expenses are done or updated at this time. 
  3. Take a shower: There is no better way to put an end to a day than by taking a shower. It’s the best way to wash off a hectic, crazy, and non-stop day.
  4. Beauty routine:  I am turning 40 in June so the closer I get to this date the more I pay attention to my beauty routine.  I keep it simple, by cleansing my face well and using face oil or serum and finishing with a face and eye cream. Twice a week a do a facial, usually a sheet mask.
  5. Read a book: From a self-help book to a mystery thriller to a romantic novel or a magazine.  Reading is a way that I calm down and take the time to relax and let my mind enjoy the wonderful world of books. I personally keep about 5 books in my nightstand and go one after the other.  If you are not a fan of reading, you can take this time to write in your journal or listen to a book, rather than reading it.
  6. Practice Gratitude:  You can use an app or say it out loud or write it in your journal.  Acknowledging what you are grateful for will give you inner peace, love for the people in your life and faith for a better tomorrow.
  7. Meditate:  Take 5 – 10 minutes to meditate right before you go to bed, it can be a breathing exercise or a guided meditation and you can use an app or even a YouTube video as a guide.  Meditation is key in helping you be present in the moment.
  8. Turn off the light… is nighttime!

No matter what your bedtime routine consists of, having one will create a sense of accomplishment at the end of your day.  It will also allow you to make sure that the last part of your day are dedicated, in part, to your self-care.  These tips are meant to inspire you to create your own, from adding a time to watch TV to going for a run or doing yoga, create a routine that works for your interests and passions.  And if for any reason, we have to deviate from our routine, it’s fine… there is always tomorrow’s bedtime.

 

 

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