Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Back to Basics

Hello my dear friends!

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My, my, my! How fast does the time fly! It's been sporadic writing for the blog in the last couple of months... and I had some letting go to do! And after a rather successful few sessions it's time to get "back to basics". You had a short introduction to the concept early in the year and we will get to more details shortly. But for now I have few questions for you.

As we approach the end of 2015 it is typical to think about closing the old year off and start preparing for the new one ahead. Are you one of the people that makes resolutions, or list of things to accomplish in the new year, or you simply raise the glass to welcome the start of the new year and just take one day at a time? Well, I've done all of the above in the past and at this point leaning more towards the last two. Resolutions are great and exciting but at times lack the purpose, at least in my case.

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And this is the time when I would like to extend my introduction of the concept of going "back to basics" to you and why sometimes it is required for all of us. This might sound like a very simple statement and it really is. It might be presented in many different ways but the meaning does not change. The meaning is to start over. In my case, it sounds a little different - starting all over... again!

Yes, this is not my first re-start and I have a feeling will not be the last one. When you are at my age it sounds scary since  the shake up is needed in all aspects of my life: personal, physical, spiritual and business. I'd like to look at it as a rise of the Phoenix! And I am extremely excited about the opportunities ahead!

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Thus this sounds like a perfect opportunity to tell you more about my approach to going "back to basics" but it will have to wait. All in good time...

But you did not think I will leave you just with that, did you? Of course not! You know me well enough! Instead of talking about me (I can't believe I just said that), we will discuss the scenarios when "back to basics" approach  might be required and discover the steps to take in order to push the "re-start button". Let's get to it!

We will open by exploring the re-start of your physical being. It seems the most appropriate since a lot of people will be committing to more healthier lifestyle and gym membership numbers will increase immensely in the first month of the new year. But before jumping onto that wagon ask yourself following questions:

1. What is the purpose of your commitment?
2. How much time will your commitment require?
3. Are you prepared to dedicate that time?
4. Are you prepared to make adjustments as required?
5. Do you have a time frame for completion?
6. What is the end result expectation?
7. Are you being realistic?

Pretty clear, isn't it? Trust me, I have been there few times myself: making a new year resolution only to get disappointed few month into the year because life got in the way. And being a former "control freak" it was all or nothing.

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Now, let's have a look at your personal life expectations for the new year. It can involve your family life with children or without, your love life - either you're single or not, and of course your extended family relations. What are the questions to ask yourself here? To be honest, I suggest to look at the ones above. This might be a different aspect of life but the approach should be the same. If you are about to make a commitment to something in your personal life, it is still a commitment that will require time, consideration, adjustment and the end result expectation.

As a matter of fact the same approach will apply to the other two aspects of our lives - spiritual and business/work. They are all commitments that make up our lives and develop us as human beings. Does this make sense?

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So, where does the concept of going "back to basics" come in?" you may ask. Look at the list of questions above? Do they sound complex to you? Do they remind you of a new start, new project, new page in your life? Try to remember yourself as a child wanting to learn, experience and be more like grown up? You started at the base and by asking these questions or being asked these questions by a grown up, you stuck to your commitments and accomplished them.

I hear you, as adults we have more responsibilities and at times it is difficult to see the commitment through. I know, life gets in the way! That is why I had to re-start so many times! But don't make it complicated! Review the questions above again. Do you see the one about adjustments? Yes, you can do that! Actually I recommend you do it in-order to stay true to your commitment. Either it's time, result or approach, if adjustment is required go for it!

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There is one VERY IMPORTANT thing to remember - BE HONEST WITH YOURSELF! We all want the best outcome for ourselves and our commitments. But we are not in control of external factors of our lives and that is okay. If that happens, scrap your original plan and make a new one or make adjustments. Go "back to basics" and an honest end result is guaranteed!

Here is just a small example of my approach. The winter has finally arrived in Ottawa! Big snow storm with hauling winds, windchill of - 21C and up to 25 cm of snow expected. Well, it really messed up my few hours of work commitment outdoors today. But I am not going to give up. Instead of heading out at 8 am, I am waiting for the weather to calm down a little and adjusted my plans for the day (if you see me walking in your neighbourhood, say hello to your neighbour!). "Back to basics"!

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Another item to remember is to please, please, please don't get stuck in the past. It is gone, there is nothing you can do about it and you most certainly cannot change it. Learn a lesson and let it go! Move on and go "back to basics"!

Hopefully this post helps you to understand the concept of going "back to basics" better and perhaps even helps you to look at some of your complex commitments in the different more basic light. I know for myself, we as adults make things quite complicated at times, so this concept certainly helps me. To end this conversation I would like to sum up "back to basics" approach:

1. Make a meaningful commitment.
2. Do not make things complicated.
3. Make adjustments as required.
4. Let go of the past approach if it failed.
5. Be realistic.
6. Be honest with yourself.

That's it, that's all! Very basic! Imagine yourself as a kid as you endure on a new adventure - time of innocence, time of "I can do anything" and time when nothing stood in your way! And go for it! I know you can do it!!!

Thank you for stopping by! Enjoy your day and the rest of 2015! Have fun, stay safe, healthy and grateful! And remember,

Be Active! Be Involved! Be a Current Woman!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Are Holidays Stressing You Out? Part Two

Hello my dear friends,

Today is the day when I will share with you the tips that help me to avoid holiday stress. As the discussion started yesterday, perhaps you need a little reminder how we ended the first installment. Well, the best way is to visit Part One. This will definitely help you to follow my thoughts.

So let's begin! I will follow the pattern I created in Part One post and hope you can follow with me:

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1. If you are staying in town or leaving town - DO NOT STRESS OUT! If you are hosting a party or family diner or heading out to number of parties - DO NOT STRESS OUT! All you have to do is remember couple of little things - no matter what you do, YOU WILL DO YOUR BEST and what is in your control, whatever happens besides that IS NOT IN YOUR CONTROL! This is VERY IMPORTANT to remember! You cannot control outside factors such as weather, traffic and of course other people's behavior! You are just a human, as wonderful as you are!

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2. If you have special family traditions or special dinner plans - DO NOT STRESS OUT! If you have special plans for dinner your are cooking or contributing to a special dinner, or if you are or you have "special eaters" - DO NOT STRESS OUT! All you have to do is remember couple of little things - YOU WILL DO YOUR ABSOLUTE BEST and the rest is NOT IN YOUR CONTROL!

3. If you are connecting with people over the holiday season either they are family, friends or special people - DO NOT STRESS OUT! And remember the important factor - they are on your list and it already shows that you care and YOU WILL DO YOUR BEST to visit everyone! But you are just one person and there are just so many days in the holiday season. And sometimes THINGS BEYOND YOUR CONTROL get in the way.

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4. If you have children or large family or special projects and charities that you would like to contribute to - DO NOT STRESS OUT! In this case you are the one IN CONTROL of your spending and yes at times outside factors might ruin your plans (this is my Christmas this year). But once again THIS IS NOT IN YOUR CONTROL! And if you did not get everything everyone wanted, the important part to remember YOU DID YOUR BEST! And the best part is that you can share your time with all of the above (believe me, kids will understand, if they don't.... it's another post).

5. And now, this is a VERY IMPORTANT - this is "you time". I cannot emphasize enough to make sure you take few hours to yourself before, during and after holidays. With amount of preparations, activities and after-mass it is very easy to get stressed out. So I ask you - DO NOT STRESS OUT! YOU ARE IN CONTROL of "you time" and yes there could be some outside factors that can interfere but unless someone's life is in danger, I suggest that YOU LET THINGS BE.
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That's it! Those are my tips! Are you disappointed? I hope not! These are very easy to remember and there are only two - DO NOT STRESS OUT and YOU ARE ONLY IN CONTROL OF WHAT YOU YOU CAN DO! Very simple!

Sure I can expand on how to please everyone and make everyone happy; how to make the best meal and consider everyone; how to find the best dress to the party and throw the best party; how to budget properly to make sure everyone got a great gift, etc., etc., etc.. But I do not want to waste my time right now for two reasons:

a) There are plenty of articles on-line that can teach you all of the above. You will read them and some of you will try to follow them to the letter. And when it does not work out as suggested you are going to say: "Well, they don't know what they are talking about."

b) My post is a remind for you - DO NOT STRESS OUT! I understand that it is easier said than done so I ask you to remember only one things that can help you - FOCUS ON THINGS THAT ARE IN YOUR CONTROL! That's it!
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I am very grateful and consider myself very fortunate to understand that and know that my son is learning this simple concept as well. Yes, I am not perfect and few of these are still on my "not done" list but I am work in progress. My goal is to help people to recognize what's IMPORTANT DURING THIS TIME of the year - TO BE HAPPY! And if you are stressed out I do not believe you or anyone else around you will be. I hope that you help me by sharing this post with your crowd to make sure more people understand this simple concept.

To conclude this post I would recommend to give yourself time to prepare for holidays. The length of time depends on your personality and  the level of control you like to have (just remember outside factors, Plan B might be a good idea). I suggest you take about an hour or two 30 minutes of quiet "you time" in mid or late November (or the year before for some of you, few of my friends, just remember Plan B) and make your plans for the holidays.

I hope you enjoyed reading my post and hopeful that you take the main idea of this post and work with it! It took me sometime and I believe I am pretty close to perfection, well in my own "perfection way" (we are all different!). Please share it and DO NOT STRESS OUT!

Thank you for stopping by and remember

Be Active! Be Involved! Be a Current Woman!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Are Holidays Stressing You Out? Part One

Hello my dear friends,

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It is difficult to believe by looking outside that we are just few days away from Christmas Eve! I am really not sure what to compare this weather of rain, frost and thaw to. And the little snow we got early Saturday morning is gone! Some will agree with me that having mild spring temperatures at the end of December is nice but it will be great to have some snow on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day! We live in Canada after all! Well, all I can do is to put a good word with the main man himself, Santa?

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And since during this time of the year we are bombarded with TV and Radio ads and questions from family, friends and others about our readiness for Christmas, I would like to ask you just one question
- are holidays stressing you out?

Of course I know there will not be one answer to my question and if you know me well, you know that discussion is in-order. Maybe a little one-sided for now but I am sure you'll have something to add. So, let's begin!

Christmas is my favorite time of the year! I grew up in Russia and during that time we did not celebrate this holiday, New Year was the BIG one! This was the time when we decorated the tree and the house, spent time with family and exchanged presents. It has changed now and Russia celebrates Christmas just like Canada. A little trivia for you - it is celebrated on January 7th. So, I'll be off till the mid-January, but perhaps this is another post... Back to our story now.

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I was however introduced to celebration of Christmas in 1995 - my first year in Canada. It was a magical and exciting time: it was my son's and my first Christmas - "Canadian" Christmas. There was a beautiful and fragrant live tree, lots of pretty lights and of course many presents. It was time to learn Christmas and family traditions, try a lot of new food and open lots of presents. It was fun!!!!

But as years went by, I had a slightly different and confused sense about the celebration. I still loved Christmas time with the tree, the lights and the presents, but I also noticed that there were a lot more grumpy people. They were complaining about the traffic, the lines in the stores, the fact that they could not decide what to wear to the next Christmas party, the fact that they had to visit their in-laws, the fact that they ate too much at the last Christmas party and of course the fact that they spent too much money. And there was only one word to describe all that was happening to them - holidays were stressing them out!

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It puzzled me for years! And yes, at some point I fell into that trap as well. But I was lucky enough to realize that this was a wrong approach to the holidays and Christmas spirit. And what I though in the past was a disadvantage for my son and me, now recognized as blessing in disguise.

You see, since I am not your "normal" person, there were many financial struggles over the years. That of course always added some stress during Christmas time. The other fact is our family is very little - it consists of my son and me. Yes, Daniel has his Dad's side of the family of course but it is not that big either. And my family is still in Russia and has been reduced over the years as well. So, I mostly did not have to make many choices but work with what I had.

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Some might say: "Lucky you!". And you know what, I would agree! Those disadvantages taught me what are the most important aspects of Christmas. To me it is not about getting or giving the biggest and most expensive present, it is not about hitting the hottest parties in the hottest spots wearing hottest attire. To me it is about giving, appreciating what you have and reaching out and spending time with your family and friends! It is about LOVE! And LOVE should not be stressful!

So, I would like to share few tips on making your Christmas a little less stressful. We are going to start with a list of things to consider before Christmas:

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1. What are your plans? Are you staying in town or leaving? Are you hosting a party? Are you hosting a family dinner? Are there number of events that you have been invited to?
2. Do you have special family traditions? Do you have special plans for Christmas dinner? Are you cooking Christmas dinner or a contributor to one? Do you have "special eaters" in your dinner party?
3. What people on your list you would like to visit or connect with before, during and just after Christmas? Are they family or friends? Do some need a special visit this year?
4. What are you plans for presents this year? Do you have children? Do you have a large family? Do you have any special projects or charities to consider this year?
5. What are your plans for "you time"?

I believe those are the most important items to consider. They cover plans, food, people, presents (aka budget) and "you time". If I have forgotten anything I am sure you will quickly remind me. And thank you!

"Well, this is all wonderful and fantastic," you might say: "but what about your tips for dealing with all of the above?". They are on their way and you can read about them tomorrow.... I believe I've already dropped a lot to consider on you today!

So for now, I hope you enjoyed reading first installment. Here is my request, please send me other questions or items to consider. If I have not covered them yet, I will do my best to include them in tomorrow's post. In the meantime please share and remember....

Be Active! Be Involved! Be a Current Woman!