Just how flexible are you?

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Life does not always go as planned. We may have our day’s events all panned out and then one minor incident can change everything.

Yesterday was a busy day; a morning appointment and then a wedding in the afternoon. My appointment ended at midday and I was due to arrive home within 45 minutes. Unfortunately, there had been a traffic accident on the motorway. My heart sank as I drew nearer to the pile up. I called my husband and asked him to get the children ready, pack snacks and drinks.

I felt frustrated and knew I had to wait patiently. I told myself far worse happens to people – how dare I get upset over this. Eventually I arrived home after 2pm and we were one hour late for the wedding which was a wonderful occasion.

Once our emotions are in check we are able to think about the situation and decide which step to take. When I am stressed and flustered I do not think straight at all. It can be challenging when I know I have absolutely no control as above.

I can be rather stringent with my time and I like events and meetings going ahead as planned. Unfortunately, I have had to reschedule meetings in and outside of work for various reasons. I have had to reschedule evenings out (which are very rare), however I much prefer being told in advance.  

I am slowly learning not to overload my schedule as this makes it all the more difficult to move appointments around. I have this habit of trying to kill two birds with one stone giving little room for flexibility. My husband has a good laugh at me when I have squeezed a number of events into one day. By the end of the day I am exhausted!

Holidays and short breaks provide the “down time” I need – an opportunity to leave my projects, meetings, to do lists and the mundane tasks of life behind – even if just for a week or two. When abroad we book one or two excursions to see the “real country” but not too many that we get burned out. 

How flexible are you when doing business, at your place of employment or running your home? 

What lessons have you learnt which may be of use to others?

The art of organising family days out!

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As we are in the height of summer I thought it would be useful to give some tips on organising family days out. Whether you do not have children, have little ones or yours have flown the nest; you may pick up one or two pointers which will make planning in the future easier. 

My two children are still young so rely on my husband and me for entertainment. How fortunate are we? My daughter would go out every single day of the school holidays if she had her way – she has little concept of time or money.  To balance the days out (and because we are full-time working parents), we plan days out every other day. This way they have one day to relax at home and the following day we go out.

I have to admit, I get as excited about day trips as my children, especially when we are travelling a relatively far distance from home. I am a born explorer and thrive on being in new environments!

My five tips for organising day trips;

1. Identify your budget. What exactly do you have to spend on a short break/day trips for the month? Be realistic and give yourself enough room to live comfortably day to day. 

2. Identify the places you would most like to visit. Involve the family whether that be your children or other extended family members. 

3. Check the weather (applies to those in the UK) before assigning trips to specific days. It is probably obvious but we go to the beach/theme parks on the warmest days and museums/cinema on the coolest days.

4. As well as entry fees if applicable, consider lunch expenditure whether bringing a picnic or eating out, money for ice-cream, drinks and souvenirs.

5. Go with great expectations and be flexible. The day may not go exactly as planned but enjoy it anyway. Cherish the time spent with those you love. 

Do you arduously plan family days out in advance or are you more of a spur of the moment person? 

The balancing act of life

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Life really can be one big balancing act. I find as priorities change, one must take time out to re-evaluate. What matters today may not be high priority in a year’s time. Even when we think our days are pretty much the same, the world is constantly moving forward. 

There will always be something or someone to take up our time. It is down to us to decide what is most important. With all the best intentions in the world we could never meet the needs of everyone. Therefore we need to be realistic with what we can truly take on. It is far better to say no from the onset than to reluctantly say yes and be half in and half out. People will actually respect you for being upfront.

When I started my blog (almost three years ago), I began to network via Facebook and LinkedIn and I joined twitter much later.  I was determined to “put myself out there”. I joined only a few forums as I felt it was best to wade in slowly. I found twitter overwhelming to say the least and felt a little like a fish out of water.  I found many bloggers and entrepreneurs tweet almost every ten minutes. I knew I could not commit to this and quite frankly did not wish to. I worried I would fail to connect with others and my blog would suffer as a result.

A few years on and my blog is still going strong. I do not have 1000 followers – yet! However, I enjoy sharing my ideas and learning from other bloggers.  Yes, I want my blog to succeed but I also need to make time to pray, read the word, spend time with my family, serve in church ministry AND hold down a demanding full-time job. It is possible to bring balance in our lives. It will mean saying no and regularly identifying what is essential and what can be left whether indefinitely or for a period of time. 

Do you feel you are constantly juggling one task after another or do you put measures in place to bring about a nice balance? 

The joys of commuting!

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My daily journey to and from work is a few minutes shy of four hours.  Most days I do not give it much thought at all – just get on with it.  On the odd day when I am utterly exhausted I can throw a bit of a pity party. Surprisingly nobody turns up!

I have made this journey for 8.5 years, well 6.5 years if you discount my maternity leave x2. In the mornings I am bouncy and full of life as my 20 minute stroll to the station wakes me up. Come the evening I am grateful for a seat on the train, any seat (except those situated directly outside the public toilet for reasons I do not need to explain).

Ever since I left secondary school (high school), I have always travelled at least an hour to college, university and places of work. I guess I like the idea of having a clear divide between work and home.  

I usually accuse my husband of being over optimistic but here I am with my tablet and mobile phone intending to do something worthwhile and my eyes close from tiredness every so often. On opening my eyes I have a quick look around on the train and wonder if anyone saw me – my eyes fluttering and my head falling forward!

Having established my productive mode is in the morning and very late evening, I set tasks for myself at these times. For example this blog is being typed early hours of the morning and I honestly feel I am on a roll. 

For those of you who have long commutes, I suggest you make it work for you until your situation changes.  Aim to use your time constructively whether to work on a project, read a book leisurely or for studying or simply to reflect. I guarantee this will ensure your commute is more bearable.

We cannot always change our situation but we can change our mindset and approach towards it.

How long is your commute? 

What do you do with your time assuming you travel by bus/train/coach? 

Do you enjoy “the” moment?

Group of multi racial people jumping in the City
Group of multi racial people jumping in the City

Hermann J Steinherr quoted:

“Life is to live, so enjoy every moment it offers us.”

Moments are with us but for seconds and minutes. If we do not enjoy or appreciate them the first time round – there is no second chance.

Often, I can become caught up in the organising of an occasion, forgetting I should also be enjoying myself. Organising is great but there has to be a time in which one switches off.  I am not the solution to everything, nor should I want to be. It is too much of a responsibility! 

Sometimes the mishaps of a day out or occasion can actually help one to remember the day. How many people do you know who roar with laughter about funny events which took place years ago?  I can think of several which my family bring up from time to time. Life is short and to be honest there are often quick solutions when things do not go to plan. 

I recall my wedding 11 years ago (how time flies);  a few day guests left their seats and an evening guest sat in what they thought was a spare seat. I beckoned over one of the co-ordinators and asked them to deal with the issue. What was the worst that could have happened? It really was not that big a deal but I wanted my wedding day to run as smoothly as possible.  There were several other mishaps which guests would not have even noticed. Of course, I will be keeping these to myself! 

I have found when we are focused on the process rather than the person – we miss it.  My husband always reminds me that people matter far more than anything.  Take my children for example; when they spill a drink either on the kitchen floor or themselves, my first thought is “Look at the mess I now have to clean up”. 

I may will tell them off which only makes them feel bad. Cleaning up the mess/changing their clothes is easily rectified whereas restoring a strained relationship is not.

Are you thankful for each moment in your life? If not for the event itself then perhaps for the lessons learnt.

How do you stop taking life for granted?

It is all in the bag!

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Ladies, if I were to take a look in your handbag what would I find; make up, body freshener, comb and brush, keys, travel pass, mints, snacks, hand cream, diary and not forgetting your mobile phone?

Generally women carry the world and its friend in their handbag. It is our safety net, we can turn to it in emergencies. I cannot imagine going anywhere without a handbag – I would feel lost. I wonder how men cope with just slipping their wallet and mobile in their pocket and going on their way. Are they not worried an item may slip out? This has happened to my husband but we will not go there today!

I have all the above mentioned in my handbag which is sturdy enough to accommodate my “must haves”. When we are out and about my husband will often slip his wallet in my handbag. On Sundays when we are leaving church both my husband and daughter’s bibles find their way into my bag. I have come to the conclusion that they walk in of their own accord! 

I own several large tote bags which are perfect for work. They have various sections (as bags do), one stores my travel pass, another my concealer, lip gloss, Vaseline, hand gel and cream and the third my work passes. When rushing I can grab what I need with my eyes closed as every item has its rightful place. It is important to maintain a level of order in your bag.

I own several cross over bags for the weekend, one of which I bought in Marrakech, Morocco. I recall spending what seemed like half a day bargaining with this young man whose intention was to get as much money as he could out of me. In the end I walked away loudly stating I would buy from another vendor and bingo – the price came down! 

My daughter is a lover of bags and carries one wherever we go. It has lip balm, hairbands, pencils and paper in it which of course spill out into the car. I guess she wants to be like mummy!

Ladies – do you have a love for pretty bags or do you place your belongings in the nearest holder?

Men – do you feel your wife/partner carries far too many belongings?

De-clutter your home today!

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You may remember me stating in previous posts, I am somewhat allergic to clutter in my home! I am a stickler for items being stored in specific places in my home. One of my pet peeves is when a particular item has been used by a member of my family (ahem my husband) and not returned back to its rightful place. I then spend a few minutes looking high and low for it. There goes two minutes of my life I will never see again!

Adopting the “every item has a home” rule ensures that your home is kept tidier and the general running of it is smoother. 

I prefer to tidy up as I go along – little and often is far more enticing than spending half a day at the weekends doing housework. My husband works alongside me – we are a team!

We still need to prompt our children to pack away their toys come early evening. Strangely enough my daughter tends to feel achy and tired the moment we ask her to pack away her toys. The fact that she was dancing and singing two minutes earlier does not appear to phase her at all!

My six tips for keeping your home in tip top shape;

1. Tidy up as you go along with cleaning and general housework. It then feels manageable rather than overwhelming.

2. If you have children, encourage them to play with a few toys at a time. Rotate their toys, specifically those which take up space. Allocate a set time in which they pack them away each evening.

3. Deal with letters as soon as you receive them, preferably in date order.

4. Keep hallways and entrances to rooms clear. If possible move your coats and jackets upstairs. 

5. Encourage your children to take part in keeping the home tidy. As much as my daughter complains, she is responsible for packing away her clothes once they have been washed, dried and folded. Yes, it takes longer and would be far easier to do myself but how will she learn if we do not encourage this from now?

6. Have a good look around each room in your home and identify what is neither pretty to look or of any use. Do not have more than you need in each room as it grows more and more challenging to keep in order.

Do you keep your home clutter free?

If not, what do you find most challenging?

Light hearted tips and advice from an organised lady!

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