Guest Post by Bryan Miles: Life Lessons from the Future You

NOTE: The following is a guest post written by my brother, Bryan, and I am grateful for his support in this endeavor and more proud of him, his family and his business than he realizes.  Enjoy his post below! ~Brooke  

Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to give your younger self some well-earned advice? I find it a habit to do self-reflection daily. Daily in my prayer, meditation, and journaling. It is so important to me and my personal health. As the gray in my hair and beard take over … I reflect on personal lessons I have learned and how I can leverage them in my future.

What would you tell that early version of you, knowing what you know now?

Well, here’s a summary of lessons learned for me. I hope you’ll find them beneficial for you.

  1. Wisdom Matters. While you may very well be as smart as you think you are, your intelligence will only be marginally useful in the real world. As time goes on, you’ll come to rely less and less on your brains and more and more on the wisdom, self-confidence, and strength that comes from your experience and the gray-haired wisdom of others. Lean in to others who are wise. Listen closely … wisdom is speaking.
  2. Get Over Yourself. The sooner you get over yourself, the better. The sooner you grow up and stop thinking you’re special … the sooner you realize that you’re just another guy trying to carve his own path in the world … the sooner you fall down, get up, dust yourself off, and realize that wasn’t so bad … the better. Most times, the person thinking about you the most … is you.
  3. Take BIG Risks! The older we get … the more “risk adverse” we become. It gets much harder as you get older and begin to acquire and achieve things you don’t want to risk losing. If Sam Walton started his first Wal-Mart at 44 years old … you can certainly take some risks … right NOW! Don’t wait. Qualify the risk/opportunity … then say “yes” and figure it out as you go.
  4. Leadership … What?! Leadership is often lonely. Leadership is not about telling everyone else what to do. It’s about casting vision and serving others. Don’t let fancy business magazines fool you … leadership is not all gum-drops and lollipops. There’s a significant cost to be a leader. Leadership is a stewardship … you are accountable for the leadership entrusted to you.
  5. Find Your Passion. If you don’t think you’ve found it yet … then you haven’t. You’ll know when you have. When you find your passion … increasing opportunity, responsibility, and accountability will naturally come to you. Passion will make your senses come alive!
  6. Fail Fast. You’ll achieve confidence from success … and wisdom from failure. Failure builds a strong foundation. When you know you will fail … fail fast … remember how you got there and don’t do it again. Learn from your failure … it’s a great teacher.
  7. Be Generous. Give your money, your time, your experience, and your influence. Give a bunch of you away to others. No one … and I mean no one … owes you anything to prohibit you from giving yourself away.
  8. Sweat Every Day. Find a way to break a sweat each and every day. Do it for the future you. Prepare your body for its future. 
  9. Forgive. Life is too short to let others pin you to the ground with their actions and decisions. Give yourself the life-giving gift of forgiveness. Forgive for them … but also for you. There’s no greater model on this topic but Jesus.

These are nine lessons I have learned to share. I’ve learned many more … and most are captured in my journals since my college days. 

The future you is begging you to do things that benefit you. I’d encourage you to consider that a life lived with intention is a rich life lived. Be about the things your future you is telling you. It’s a gift. If only I had listened when I was younger …

==============================

:::

Bryan Miles 

CEO & Co-Founder

bryan.miles@belaysolutions.com

855.55.BELAY x 1000

www.BELAYsolutions.com

@bryanmiles – Twitter

@bryanmiles – Instagram

Bryan Miles – LinkedIn

5 Things Married Couples Need to Consider Buying

I feel a little bit like the gal in the movie, Julie and Julia, when she is starting her blog.  Is anybody reading this? Does anybody care? And yet I still write this blog because well, I enjoy it at least.  And hope you do too.  All three of you. LOL 🙂

After being married almost 30 years I started to think about what some of our all-time best purchases have been and wanted to share them with you! So with the Christmas and gift giving season upon us, (and tax refunds in the spring!) I thought I would share what have been, in my humble opinion, our best purchases in our married life to date. Here we go!

  1. First and foremost, our Select Comfort Mattress Bed! This was a huge purchase for us years ago! We are not extravagant people by any means, so to purchase this was an investment. An investment in our comfort, an investment in our backs, an investment in our marriage! Truly. A person sleeps a third of their lifetime so getting a quality mattress bed just makes sense! We were having trouble finding a mattress that was “just right” for both of our discerning spines, so finding one that was adjustable for each of us was a wonderful discovery. And for goodness sake, while you are making this investment, get a KING sized mattress! You might seriously come hug me on that tip in a few months! You add in a dog, a kid that can’t sleep through the night, or kids that beat feet to your bedroom during an overnight thunderstorm and well, square footage becomes scarce! And once the kids leave, you just like your sleeping space! Yeah, get the biggest bed you can find!
  2. Next, our Suburban vehicle (or truck, if you prefer!) I cannot tell you how many times a larger vehicle has come in handy! From moving bulky items like love seats and beds, to helping out a friend, to bringing sheet rock and lumber home from the hardware store (and not having to pay for delivery charges!), to going on week long vacations with the family and/or transporting 6 foot tall teenagers and all their gear to sporting events or off to college, yeah,  the Suburban has been an invaluable investment. Bought used years ago and its still pulling it’s weight! Get ya a large vehicle!
  3. A quality tent should also be on the list.  Being a big believer in family vacations but also not wanting to break the bank or use a credit card, a tent can save a TON of money on lodging costs! We bought one that was small, very small, when we were first married and as we had children, we bought a larger tent. But seriously, when you can camp away from home at state parks or KOA campgrounds for around $30 a night and a decent hotel now costs well over $100 these days, the savings really adds up quickly over time! And the savings can allow you to do FUN things like eat out or pay for a family activity. Plus kids love tents!
  4. Fourth, buy a home.  When you have an emergency fund set up, a sizable down payment (20%) and no debt, then purchase a home. Purchase one that is affordable on your income,  NOT one the loan company says you can afford! Not only will you be buying a place where memories will be made for years to come but you will be saving money in an equity fund over time.  It’s probably the largest purchase a couple will make together but one that will be the most special.
  5. And last but not least, a membership to Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University DVD set and books. For $100 bucks on sale, this 9 week course can set you and your spouse up to make quality financial decisions that will not only get you on the right course but potentially change your family tree financially!  Nope, it’s not a get rich scheme, and no, none of the products I’m endorsing today are paid ads ( I wish!) it’s simply a plan of action to get your finances in line and help you get out of debt if you find yourself there.  It’s not rocket science either,  you can do this program once you set YOUR mind to it, it’s pretty much straight common sense but you have to be willing to put in the time and effort.  www.daveramsey.com

So, there you have five of the best purchases I can think of to enhance your married life (and family life too really!)  I’m sure there are more we could add to the list but here’s a good start. Feel free to comment on things you would add if you were creating a list!

Blessings Friends,

~Brooke

Celebrating a Manger Baby

Growing up in a Christian home and going to countless church services throughout my lifetime, I never want the Christmas or Easter stories to become mundane or boring.  So each season I pray that God would show me some NEW aspect about the events that I did not know before. And every year, without fail, God faithfully answers that prayer.

I think God can’t help but answer the prayers of his children that truly seek Him and want to get to know Him more. The answered prayer revelations have come through a variety of sources: books, shows, sermons and such. And it’s been fascinating and interesting to learn new aspects of his birth, his resurrection and his story.  It helps to be open to learning, because he’s a dynamic God!  He’s always doing things we can’t see and yet always remaining the same, stable, steady Lord we need.

I look forward to what He shows me this year! What about you, what are you anticipating most about Christmas? What if he revealed more of himself to you, would you be open to that? Would you be open to receiving the greatest gift of all and of all time?

Surrounded by livestock, Jesus was wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger. Would you be open to unwrapping His love this year and learning more about Him? The Bible is a great reference starting point. Turn to the book of Luke and read his birth story and how Jesus humbled himself coming down to earth as a baby.  And keep on reading his Word.  He’ll reveal himself more and more to you as you earnestly seek him. Wise men still seek Him, as the Christmas cards portray, but a camel isn’t required. Just an open heart.

Find a Bible preaching church, get in a Bible study, and/or meet with other Christians for encouragement and support. Pray and don’t be afraid to ask questions to others and to God  Sing songs of praise, listen to Christian music radio stations, or even join the church’s band!

As Christmas nears, and time flies at a furious pace this season, please don’t lose sight of the real meaning of CHRISTmas and what God may be wanting to show you about Himself.

Celebrating the Lamb of God this season,

~Brooke

What do you find most miraculous about the Christmas story? Comment below and share with us!

Lung Cancer, I’m NOT a Fan

I’m warning you this post is extremely personal. I wish it wasn’t. I wish I could say it’s fictional. But it happened. It happened unknowingly. And it happened…to my Dad.

The doctor told him it was bad. He’d just reviewed my Dad’s chest x-ray and gave him the solemn news. My Dad was in disbelief. He thought he just had allergies or maybe now pneumonia. No, it was indeed lung cancer. The white glaring mass said so. More testing would reveal just how bad: Stage IV,  inoperable, metastasized to his neck lymph nodes.  Oh, and nine months to live.

Dad was only 52, his first grandson had just been born THE very morning of his diagnosis. Heart wrenching stuff. Are you serious? Is this really happening to OUR family? Why now? Why at all? WHY, God?

YES he smoked! Doesn’t everyone assume that if you get lung cancer you must smoke? Not always true ya know! But, he’d also quit smoking 25 years prior to his diagnosis when he became a Christian. They say the lungs can improve in time but “they never forget”. Oh how I wish they would have!

I remember him quitting when I was six years old. Dad honestly and openly told God in a prayer that he loved smoking. Told God that he no longer had a smoking problem but that God had a smoking problem because he was giving the burden all to him. And he wasn’t lying. He was a true chain smoker too. And a good one. Smoked 3-4 packs a day! Sometimes had one cigarette going in his hand and another burning in the ashtray. A real Marlboro Man. Without the horse.

I remember him laying on the couch. Covered up in our orange blankets and shivering with his eyes closed for three long days. As a child I didn’t fully understand what was going on. Daddy was sick I thought. Years later I would realize he was quitting smoking and going “cold turkey” as they say and was suffering the horrific withdrawals of a powerful drug called, Nicotine. God was indeed taking his smoking addiction and answering my Daddy’s prayer. He never smoked a single cigarette again. Ever.

Get this, his older sister had introduced him to cigarettes when he was a child. I’m not joking, a mere child! Guess it was the times then. Guess it was innocence. Guess it was the stupidest thing ever. No, I don’t guess, I know it was! Everyone was doing it, it was “cool” to smoke… and so they thought. 

Why am I writing this? I’ve wondered that too. It’s painful even now. Let alone recount it. You see I miss my Dad every single day.  We were close. Tears are welling up as I type. I’m posting this on the anniversary of when he went to be with Jesus. November 26, 1999. 7:10pm. He was only 56. 

Maybe someone will read this that smokes. Maybe someone else out there hates lung cancer as much as I do. Maybe you have lung cancer. I don’t know. But this month is lung cancer awareness and screening month. I don’t want another person or family to be devastated by this horrible disease. So if you smoke,  I implore you, please quit.  I’m sure my Dad would have loved to be a Grandpa longer than 4 short years. Maybe you can.

If you have lost a loved one to lung cancer too, I’m so very sorry. I know how it hurts to your inner core and I know how it is to cry until the tear ducts run dry. If you have lung cancer, I want to encourage you. My Dad was a fighter to the end. You can be too! I asked him one day how he did it, how he lived each day knowing he had a terminal illness and his tender answer is one I will NEVER forget.  He said, “I have just as much chance of living out this day as you do.”  Whoa. Go back and reread his reply. Think about that for a minute. He was right. We don’t know what the future holds or even what the next hour or day ahead holds. But I know who holds our future and thankfully so did my Dad. (and you can too, his name is Jesus Christ and He is the source of my hope.) 

And I have no doubt that the 19 years he’s been in heaven now have been a wondrous time for him! Dad’s not coughed once, had an excruciating backache or suffered one bit up there! He’s had the privilege to be part of the welcoming committee for his dear family and friends that have already passed through the pearly gates of paradise. And I imagine him laughing, visiting and sitting on soft green grass with his brother, Lee, his friends, Tex and Dan, alongside Jesus, Moses and the like! And that brings me comfort.

Another thing Dad assured me was that “Eternity is a lot longer than our fleeting time on this earth and we’ll all be together again one day.”

Jesus, my Dad and all who follow Him.

God is good,

~Brooke

*This post is dedicated to, of course, my Dad. He taught me so much about life, Jesus, people and business. He was and still is the most influential person in my life! I’m so grateful to have had an earthly father that led me to my Heavenly Father years ago. Dad’s desire was not to be forgotten by his family and friends and for his legacy to live on. I can honestly say he’s remained with us through stories, memories and pictures but I’d sure love to put my arms around him and hug his neck! His earnest prayer was for ALL of his family members and friends to love and follow Jesus – so that one day we could ALL be reunited in heaven. I pray that now too. If you know someone that would be encouraged or inspired by reading this account with lung cancer and how it impacted our family,  I’d be delighted if you shared it with them.

Today is the Day: A Seasonal Story

I never know exactly when I will get in the “Christmas Mood”. Though I’ve been dragging my heels waiting to turn on the Christmas carols, lights and candles, the beautiful pictures of people’s homes decked out already for Christmas on Instagram, the cold weather and for goodness sake, SNOW literally falling outside my window within the past week,  I’ve succumbed to listening to Christmas music. Bing Crosby is now crooning on my iHeart Radio station! Today is the day!

I was trying to wait patiently for Thanksgiving, truly I was. Poor turkey day just doesn’t get it’s due! It’s tightly wedged in-between Halloween and Christmas like a left out and overlooked middle sister. Cue Jan and the whole “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia” bit! The Pilgrims and Squanto aren’t really even taught much anymore in schools and that’s a sad fact because if you DO read the biographical account, it is a FASCINATING story of God’s faithfulness and the courage of so many brave families seeking religious freedom. Careful, the homeschooling Mama of yesteryear is coming out in me! 🙂

Just the other day I was making our Thanksgiving meal plan and the list of groceries yet to buy for our feast.  The boys are each bringing things with their respective ladies to the meal this year and I’m so excited – we will be so Pilgrimish! Are we too old for construction paper Pilgrim hats, probably so. But “note to self” to bring those back in fashion when the grandkiddos come along. And so Thanksgiving gets its five minutes of fame. As usual.

I found myself buying new stockings for the young ladies our sons are in love with, painting a nostalgic SLED HILL sign in red for my husband, ordering Etsy Christmas pillow covers, buying candles in holiday scents of peppermint and frasier fir and was inspired to make a new handmade plaid decor item. Maybe I was in the Christmas mood all along and didn’t realize it?!

The Christmas trees aren’t up…yet. And I did say trees, we have a large one for the family room and 2-3 other little ones of various sizes that each have a responsibility of their own. The skinny one goes in the front window with white lights, the 3 foot multi-color lighted one is for my vintage ornaments and I want to get a little flocked one for just my Hallmark snowman ornaments. (Haven’t told the hubs that idea yet though!) The large tree in the family room gets to be decorated in whatever mood I’m in on a particular day on a particular year.  This years theme is yet to be known. I’m just hoping that last year’s lights we left on it work again THIS year. SCORE!

Well the snow continues to fall down at an impressive pace for this time of year in our region. The sleigh bell songs continue in orderly succession on the radio but it isn’t till Johnny Mathis sings his “Winter Wonderland” for the first time that Christmas season is truly kicked off! Anyway, that’s how it is in our home.

May you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving!  (I’ll save the Merry Christmas for later posts!)

~Brooke

Please leave a comment of your favorite Thanksgiving food or tradition below! And if you know someone who would enjoy reading my blog, please share it with them.  I’d be so honored.

What’s in Your Bucket?

The commercial asks,”What’s in your wallet?” but I want to know today what’s in your bucket? You know, as in, bucket list? Do you have a bucket list? Do you even have a bucket? Well before you kick the bucket, grab a bucket and let’s make a list together and check it off!

I think it was my recent milestone birthday or the fact my Dad died very young that has me reflecting on and compiling bucket lists. Life happens quickly and it can happen without highlights if we don’t make a concentrated focused effort to grab life by the reigns! A bucket list can help you seize the day and live life to the fullest, making the most of our days on this earth. 

What goes on a bucket list you might be asking?  I’d say anything YOU want! You could put down places you want to go, things you want to try, fears you want to overcome, books you want to read, people you want to meet, things you want to learn, foods you want to eat, and/or people you can help… for starters. Get the idea?

Maybe it’s easier for you to think backwards.  Think about what you want your legacy to be someday. What do you want to be known for,  remembered for or loved for over the passing of time.  Those things that came to mind might make for great starter points for your bucket list.

Have you ever wanted to go to Iceland, or China or take your kids to Disney World?  Jot it down.  Have you ever wanted to learn how to make French pastry, watercolor paint or surfboard? Write that on the list. Have you ever wanted to help in an orphanage, feed the homeless or take Bibles to faraway lands? Might want to include those things too!

What about overcoming your fear of spiders, flying or public speaking? Life it too short to live fearfully – include steps to facing these issues head on with your bucket list. 

Do you want to meet a celebrity, research your ancestry or spend more quality time with a loved one? These are great bucket list items! Perhaps you want to read a famous novel, own a bookstore or write your own book, yep, you guessed it – write it on your bucket list.  Do you want to climb a mountain, take a Gondola ride in Venice, or go to the Sydney Opera House? What wonderful experiences to fill your bucket and share with others!

Here’s the key! When you write things down and keep it out to see, you are more likely to accomplish the list than if you keep them just in your thoughts.  And another thing – Tell other people about your list! Dream big and dream aloud! I learned this lesson seeing it played out first hand. So from now on,  I’m sharing my own bucket list with others.  *And I’ll start today by sharing it with you! And by sharing yours with others, someone might just be able to help make your bucket list dreams come true!

Feel free to leave a comment with your bucket list items,  let’s INSPIRE each other,  and if someone can help another person with their list, well how awesome would that be?!

Cheers to our Bucket Lists,  Friends!

~Brooke 

*Some items on my own bucket list include:

  1. A vacation to Switzerland
  2. Publish a book…or maybe two!
  3. Go to all 50 United States – I have 20 more to see!
  4. Meet and a get a picture with Jim Cantore and Dr. Forbes,  weather geniuses  (why? because I’m a big weather nerd, just ask my husband!) 
  5. Always be open to God’s calling

What’s on your list?

 

 

Retire Inspired, a Book Review of Sorts

I have to be real with you here. To me, retirement was just a word.  Retirement seemed “blah” and so far off in the distance I did not give it much thought. That is, until I read Chris Hogan’s book,  Retire Inspired.

THIS book revolutionized my thoughts on retirement!  No longer was it a 2-D word it was a changing evolving 3-D word! I realized that retirement was no longer so far off in the distance and that retirement didn’t have to be “blah” but actually could be exciting, dare I say, “inspired”!  Well it can be!

The author, Chris Hogan, a Dave Ramsey personality and professional finance guru, expertly lays out each chapter in a down to earth, easy to read format for even the less financially minded of people.  Like myself. 😉

He talks in the book about retirement (of course!), dreaming, budgeting, debt, investing, and reality. These topics are presented in a relational way and not in a boring way at all. Real people and their scenarios are highlighted in such a way that you might see yourself in the examples presented. Chris defines and helps you determine your own “Retire Inspire Quotient”.  This quotient aspect alone was a total eye opener AND GAME CHANGER for me! (The R:IQ can be found on his website at chrishogan360.com)

It could have been that I took this book to one of our very favorite vacation spots to read AND the very place that we want to retire that made this book resonate with me so much.  As I looked out over the beautiful scenery that I would love to have in my backyard someday, sooner than later I might add,  my husband and I discussed the book and determined our own Retire Inspire Quotient.

Once I saw THE number, the number we needed to save up to, to comfortably live on in our retired years, THEN the planner in me busted out! As well as the excitement too because now I knew what we needed to do to achieve our goals! So once I saw the quotient number, I did the division required (and that’s about the extent of the highest level of math I like to compute-ha!) and our budget took on a whole new look and feel.

We learned that day what we needed to be saving per month, saw where we fell short and then devised a plan! A plan to get where we needed to be in the short term so that in the long term we could be doing and living where WE desire in our retirement years.  Retirement now looked exciting and attainable. But the KEY was to have a solid plan in place.  What about you, do you have a plan? Many Americans do not.

And that’s where the book, Retire Inspired, comes in.  Get the book (it’s on sale for only $10 bucks at daveramsey.com), read the book, then sit down with yourself or with your spouse along with your budget and discuss what your plan needs to be! I tell ya, it was the PUSH I needed too!  Retirement is going to come whether we are ready or not and I don’t know about you but I’d rather be ready for such a big life event.  We are on our way now and you can be too!

The book, Retire Inspired, did just that, it truly inspired me to see how quickly retirement was coming at us and it was the kick in the pants I needed to get a more focused plan in place and implemented immediately.  And we have! We’re increasing our emergency fund, increasing our ROTH contributions to max,  adding more money each month to our investments and then once that’s all established next year, we are going to start paying down the principle on our home! Retirement here we come!  (Baby Steps at Financial Peace University, anyone? – check out my resource page for more information!)

So, do you have a retirement plan going?  Do you need some retirement reality checks?  I hope this post has inspired you as Chris Hogan’s book inspired me to get a solid plan in action. Chris also has a radio show and ya’ll wait till you hear his voice, Barry White step aside!  In his deep resonating voice he’ll help you see what YOU need to do to also retire inspired!

Happy saving and retirement,

~Brooke

More than just Donuts

I’ll get to the donuts part but first…

Good Morning! I’m so excited, it’s my designated blogging time and I love blogging with you! Just sitting here this morning with laptop in front of me, thinking about you and praying that God would use this blog to inspire, help, or encourage my readers.  Even if there are only a few of you at this point.

I’m looking out on a beautiful fall day – clear blue sky, orange, gold and red leafed trees, candle burning with the most delicious scent of apples and cinnamon, listening to my favorite classical station as a string quartet crescendos into the next verse and hearing my laundry going in the background.  Seriously,  I love this!

Now on to the donuts part. This weekend my husband and I attended a wonderful concert and afterwards we rounded out the evening by going to a donut shop. (No pun intended there but if you thought that was funny, I’ll take it.) It was fun to order a donut and coffee and sit and enjoy each others company catching up on things that happened during the week and just relax a bit before going home.  I love a night cap of sorts.

As we sat there and visited it was interesting to see the myriad of people coming in late at night to get a donut.  And what made it fun was hearing all their reactions to the assortment of donuts when they came in.  Some giggled at all the possibilities,  one exclaimed to her friend on the phone that she felt like a kid in a candy shoppe,  others just studied the display cases while stroking their chins and carefully made their decisions like their life depended on it.

The man at the counter was the most patient person I’ve witnessed in a long time.  He just waited, answered questions and helped them.  If it seemed like they were only getting a couple,  he’d bag the donuts.  If it sounded like they were getting several he’d start a box. He’d even help them count backwards to get their dozen, saying things like “you need 4 more”, “you have 6 now” and the like. At the register, the man would kindly ask if they had an online coupon to get a discount.

People of all kinds came in that night.  Some were teenagers,  some were middle age,  some were in college, and some were senior citizens. Some of the customers were white, some black, and some Asian. Some looked like they could use a donut and some looked like they’d ate too many already.  Some were left wing, some were right. There were customers that were quiet when placing their order and others that didn’t mind if the whole place heard what flavors were going in their box.

Later, as I reflected on this experience and thought about this becoming a blog post,  I came to the realization that it seems like a thing as simple as a donut could be the great equalizer.  In an ideal world, I wish we could all share a donut, even with all our varied similarities and differences nowadays, and just get along.

Like everyone was doing in the donut shop the other night.

Glazed donut, anyone?

~Brooke

How to Clean and Organize a Closet

With the holidays coming as well as company, you might just want to clean out a closet or two. After all,  gotta make room for hanging Grandpa’s coat and hiding those Christmas gifts! So how about we clean out a closet together and I’ll talk you through each step.  Misery loves company, right?!

Ok, so first, let’s decide on the closet you want to clean out.  Maybe it’s the coat closet so you can hang all your relatives jackets or how about the kitchen pantry to make room for those extra ingredients for holiday baking?  You can’t go wrong here- just pick a closet.

Next, now that you have your closet decided on, clean it out.  Yep, take out everything! Take out every hanger, box and item and set it aside.  (we’ll talk more about what you took out in a bit)

Third, let’s clean the empty closet.  Maybe the shelves need dusting, maybe the carpet needs vacuuming or the tiles need scrubbed. Perhaps it needs a coat of paint or a light added? Whatever it needs, complete this important step and make it scrubby dubby clean.

Alright, now look to see if you like the configuration. Are the closet poles appropriate heights for want you want to hang? Do they need to be raised to accommodate dresses or lowered to give you more shelf space above?  Do the shelves need to be adjusted as well to hold purses or all those games? What about containers? Do you need to add some baskets or purchase some clear tubs with lids? What about labels? Need some hooks? Consider what you want to put in this closet and how you want to protect/store the items.

So you see that large looming mountain of items you just took out of the closet? We are going to summit the pile of stuff right now.  Scrutinize each item and make some new piles – let’s call them TRASH, DONATE, SELL and KEEP.  Be ruthless in this step, ask yourself to keep only the necessities, what you’d want to move, or what you’d be sad to lose. Let me give you some examples.  Trash items that are broke, missing pieces, or dirty.  Donate items that others could use and enjoy,  toys and clothes have a lot to give to others! Sell items that would have some value, maybe it’s your designer purse or an electronic you no longer use but someone else would.  Many online apps like Mercari are good to resale items.  And for those items you want to keep – read on!

Here comes the fun part!  We are only going to put back IN the closet what you absolutely LOVE or NEED.  If you don’t love how that sweater fits, get rid of it, do not put it back in! If you don’t need three pair of black flats, then donate two pair.  If your kids have not played with that broken toy for three years, yep, time to purge. If you have a rare vase or a collectible, sell it on eBay. Just carefully consider what items you put back in the closet. Remember, you are cleaning out the closet,  not hoarding items for “I might need/wear it someday” category.

TA-DA! You should now have a clean and cleaned out closet that is organized, neat and ready for you to be able to easily find and store things going forward.  That wasn’t so bad was it?  We did it together – good job!

Happy cleaning out, Friends!

~Brooke

 

 

 

7 Ways to Best Prepare for the Holidays

The holidays are upon us! Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas decorations and items are already in the stores. Have you seen them too?  So far, I’ve only let myself look at the Halloween and Thanksgiving aisles.  Can’t deal with Christmas…just yet.  So today I thought I’d share some easy ways for us to prepare for the holidays! Here we go:

1.  Each time you go to the store purchase a bag of Halloween candy and stash it away.  This keeps the budget in check and also keeps you from eating it all up, if it’s out of sight! (Also avoid buying your favorite kind of candy bars too, this helps a lot!)

2. Decide on a Thanksgiving theme now.  I’m thinking a “black and white” theme for us this year. So by deciding early, you can keep your eye out for cute decor items and serving pieces when you’re out and about and can add to the theme along the way. Do you choose a theme? It’s kinda fun! Kids can get in on the action too!

3. If you are hosting or bringing a dish or two to the Thanksgiving table this year, start buying your ingredients a little each week.  Again, easier on the budget this way and it also is easier on your back instead of carrying in sack after sack of extra holiday goodies all at once.  For example,  I look at my list that I keep from year to year, with all the ingredients needed, and then start buying the can goods I need early.  Maybe it’s the canned yams or the cranberry sauces or something that will keep. Then I just put them in a space in my pantry till the big day! Designate a place to keep them at your home too.

4. Stock up on the basics!  With added company coming and going for the holidays,  you want to be well stocked in things as basic but necessary as toilet paper! Watch sales for toilet paper, paper towels, kleenex, coffees, sodas, (wine!) and ice bags.  With extra people come extra need for such things!  Trust me,  you’ll be glad you have these things in the house already and don’t have to run out and get them with a house full of friends and family.

5. Now let’s talk about Christmas! First of all, scale back! Take a serious look at your budget and see what you CAN afford to spend, in CA$H. Then maybe scale back some more.  It’s ok really,  I give you permission. Though it IS better to give than to receive, you don’t need to get everyone a gift.  And for those you truly want to buy for,  you also don’t need to spend a ton of money on them.  Really you don’t.  Ya’ll spending time together, writing a hand-written note,  giving one special gift,  gifting of  your time/service,  and creating a memory can ALL be done on the most meager of budgets. We all get so caught up with keeping up with the neighbors or the latest crazes, we lose our sensible heads. (Yes,  I’ve done it too!) Bottom line,  whatever you can afford to do, pay in cash. And enjoy! Paying for Christmas for months afterward on a credit card though is no jolly fun.

6. Start your Christmas shopping early.  You knew I was going to say that, didn’t you? Well,  I’m a planner by nature, it’s true.  I’m also all about not blowing the budget and not creating a lot of work to do as Christmas draws near.  The last thing I want to be doing on Christmas Eve is wrapping presents instead of visiting with my family.  And going out and shopping on Christmas Eve,  no thank you!

7. Maybe this one should of been first on the list but I’m including it here.  Take a moment (or 10 or an hour!) now for yourself to mentally prepare for the upcoming busy season. Find a quiet place with just you and your thoughts – no TV, no cell phone, no social media and no kids.  Reflect on your life, your goals, your plans.  Plans not only for the upcoming holidays but also your life plans.  Are things going in the direction you want them to? Are you on course? Are you staying the course? You make the decisions and choices that steer your life in the direction it’s currently going or can go.  Vow to make only good decisions and choices for you and your family from here on out.

I sincerely hope you got some inspiration from this list today,  even if it’s just one thing that sparks an idea or a positive change in the upcoming months to make things easier on YOU.  If you did,  I’d love to hear about it! Drop me a comment and share with others here as well.

I hope it’s a blessed season ahead for all of you!

~Brooke