It’s A Cow

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Fall is my favorite season! Yesterday was an absolutely beautiful fall day here in Missouri complete with sunshine and soft breezes. Because of the mild weather, our front door was open with only the glass storm door between us and the outdoors.  My daughter and I were catching up on shows we DVR’d over the last couple of weeks while our Yorkie, Dexter, was resting on the couch beside me. All of a sudden Dexter goes into a berserk barking frenzy, pounces up on the back of the couch and starts pawing the window pane with agitation. I tried to grab him and shush him while I asked “What’s he barking at?” My daughter looked out the front door and calmly replied, “It’s a cow.”

Yesirree, there was a cow coming down our street and as we watched it skirted around our car, darted into our yard, did a little shortcut over our shrubs and sidewalk before it headed north on an adjacent street. I am no stranger to cows; I was raised on a farm and have had more than my share of cow experiences so it wasn’t a scary thing. It was a ‘where did a cow come from’ thing. As we stood in the yard watching the cow continue its great adventure a family in a golf cart zoomed by as the children exclaimed, “Cow on the loose, cow on the loose!” I assume the cow was apprehended, read its rights and as we speak serving time for its mad dash for freedom!

I saw a life lesson in this experience. Just when you think everything is calm and peaceful a cow comes along out of nowhere and takes you by surprise! Okay, maybe for you it isn’t a cow; it might be a flat tire on the freeway, or the boss you really like gets a better job and leaves, or the furnace needs replacing, or you or a family member has an unexpected emergency, or you lose an important client to a competitor, OR? You get the idea, things happen that we can’t control. In fact, most of the things that happen to us we can’t control, but we can choose our reaction.

So how do you react to unexpected occurrences?

-Do you panic?

-Do you blame someone else?

-Do you ignore it and hope it turns out okay?

-Do you take charge and start barking orders?

-Do you make a plan but never execute it?

We all deal with the unexpected differently but I suggest the following as a good start:

  1. STOP Take a moment for your senses to assess the situation before you react. That means no emotional outbursts, anger, or drama. For instance, I stopped instead of running down the street after the cow! Okay seriously, give yourself a minute before you do something you regret and/or react in a way that makes the situation worse.
  1. BREATHE Take a few deep breaths. Breathing allows you to de-stress and take control of your mind so you can react more rationally. Oh boy, I wish I could take back all the times I skipped this step and said or did the wrong thing! It doesn’t have to be a public demonstration; just pause and breathe till you feel it is right to continue.
  1. THINK After one and two you are now in a position and frame of mind to make a plan, prioritize your actions and figure out how to set those actions into motion. Remember to ward off negativity while you think so you don’t spiral back into a stress mode. If I can do this you can do this!

What works for you when the unexpected happens? Share your ideas with me and I will compile as a list for all my subscribers. We live in challenging and complex times; let’s help each other along the way. Send your tips and wisdom to:Darla@DarlaArni.com.

*Want to know where I first learned the STOP-BREATHE-THINK plan of dealing with life? I learned it from watching Blue’s Clues with my toddler in the late 90’s. I listened to Steve, Blue’s friend, say it so many times that it became a mantra. Wisdom comes in many forms; we must be ready to receive!

“Courage is not the absence of fear; it is the ability to act in the presence of fear.”~ Bruce & Stan

 

 

 

 

7 Ways to Handle Holiday Stress

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Rather than joy and anticipation the holiday season often brings stress, frustration and tension as we deal with the hustle and bustle. To help you cope, snap out of it, or at least feel a sense of balance I am sharing with you seven easy tips and tricks to lift your spirits and restore a sense of balance.

1. Forgive yourself and everyone around you: Holding grudges and blaming yourself drains you of energy and makes you no fun. Disagreements will happen during the holidays because everyone is on edge; consider the stress factor and don’t take it personal.

2. Be of Service: Doing for others is a sure fire way to help you both. Don’t do it because you should, do it because it is a great thing to do. Make it personal or join a group for a community service project. Volunteering for the good of others benefits everyone!

3. Be Realistic: Just because your mother made killer cinnamon rolls for the neighborhood and your father won the house decorating contest each year doesn’t mean you should. Scale it down and create new traditions that your own children will have trouble living up to when they are adults!

4. Keep Your Exercise Schedule: The holidays are no time to abandon your exercise routine. If you are bored, vary it a bit but do not quit. The time you save by not exercising won’t make up for the positive results lost. I have dodged a lot of pounds over the years by exercising through December.

5. Choose Wisely: Three dinners and one open house on the same day? No way! Make wise choices, without guilt, about what events you will attend in the month ahead.

6. Get Enough Sleep: Instead of staying up to wrap presents or staying another hour at a party you really didn’t want to attend anyway, go to bed! Sleepy people are testy, grumpy, make a mountain out of a mole hill people and that is one thing to avoid this time of year.

7. Be Still and Breathe: This works 365 days a year. Throughout the day stop what you are doing, sit back, close your eyes and focus on your breathing. Ten ‘in through the nose out through the mouth’ breaths will bring relaxation and clarity to your world.

 

What Are You Waiting For?

clipartclockSeveral years ago I had the wonderful adventure of sorting through 60 years’ worth of my parent’s stuff for the purpose of organizing, sorting, and preparing for an ultimate sale. Once I got past the cabinets full of every coffee can, glass jar, Styrofoam container, and magazine that ever entered the house I moved on to the land of appliances that don’t work, recipes saved but never used, buttons in jars, and shelves of fabric saved to make things that never got made. Needless to say, this has made me examine what we save and why.

Something that really stood out were the items carefully wrapped up and tucked away or stored on high shelves that I had never seen before in my life. They were nice items; a never used lace tablecloth, crystal stemware and sets of dishes, enough bath and body products to open a store and much more. These were the things my mother was saving to use for a special occasion, a special dinner or special company. I have to tell you, that revelation changed my life.

Besides the fact that I immediately started letting my daughter use the good glasses instead of plastic ones obtained from restaurant chains, I am slowly changing the way I handle my life. I had to ask myself, “What am I waiting for?’ and I came up with lots of answers.

I was waiting until I was:

-thin enough

-old enough

-tall enough

-successful enough

-happy enough

-loved enough

-bright enough

-rich enough

and just plain ENOUGH!

As a recovering perfectionist, I realized I am never going to be ENOUGH of whatever it was so I’d better just do it, use it, try it, get on with it now! If I fall on my face or get laughed at, who cares? I’ve always learned to live, learn from it and move on, so what’s stopping me now?

How about you? I believe we all have a mental list of things we are waiting for, and like my list and my mother’s treasures, instead of being true and precious, it is only keeping us from achieving, enjoying and becoming what we were meant to be.

So make your list, challenge it, tear it up, throw it away and stop saving yourself and your talents for some ‘out there’ magical time that will never come. NOW is the time and you make your own magic.
“Magic is believing in yourself, if you can do that, you can make anything happen.” ― Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

 

My Corner of the World

This is my ‘decked out for fall’ front porch. I love this porch because it has room for our whole family and more to hang out and the ceiling fans make it comfortable through at least three seasons of the year. I obsess way too much when I decorate the porch, but it all works out and I think this fall I did an outstanding job! (maybe I went a little far with that statement but I’m leaving it in!)

    This is guy started out as a dried gourd, but every time I looked at the gourd I saw a bird so I turned it into my version of a quail. Now he perches on my front porch steps in a nest that blew out of a nearby tree. I think he’s pretty happy!

   I found awesome mums this year and using the two colors really walks the eye up and down the steps, don’t you think? For the other props I walked around my house and scavenged through my basement and attic to pull out items to accessorize the look.  Below you can see more details of how the decorations carry up onto the porch. Wish you were here!

 

 

Multi-Tasking

Βethan / Foter

You hear it on the nightly news and network morning shows. You read about it in newspapers, self-help books and magazine covers. Everybody is supposedly doing it and wanting to learn how to do it better. Therefore, it must be a good thing-Right?

Wrong, just because it makes a good sound bite and EVERYBODY wants to say he or she is doing it does not make it right for you. (Didn’t your mother ever give you the ‘If everyone is jumping off a cliff does that mean you should’ speech?) Are we so programmed that we are eager to jump on the latest bandwagon without questioning the validity for ourselves?

Multi-tasking sounds like a great idea but the premise is false; you cannot possibly be doing several tasks with equal attention and emphasis. If you have ever driven on the interstate and watched someone put on their makeup, tie a tie, or dive for something on the floorboard as they hurl their vehicle down the road at 75 miles an hour, you know what I mean. That being said, I admit to being a victim of the multi-tasking mindset until I realized that I was losing focus. I was doing several things in mediocre fashion and not even remembering most of it.

There are plenty of people, organizations, and companies ready to solve your time management dilemmas. I did a Google search for time management and came up with 756,000.000 sites. If you really want to multi-task and waste a lot of time, sort through all those someday! In the past couple of days I have run across the following article titles:

-11 Time Management Tips
-5 Categories for Effective Time Management
-12 Easy Ways to Organize Your Work Life
-10 Quick Time Management Tips
-Top 10 Time Management and Productivity Tools

Titles like these leave me wondering, is it 10 tips or 11? If more is better, maybe I should go with the 39 tools. Is a category better than a tip? How can there be 39 tools if someone just told me there were 12 easy ways?

Time management tips, books, and articles are as prevalent as diet books and should be treated the same way. There are undoubtedly some good ideas in all of them, but that does not mean every method or idea is right for you. You will have to make choices. Choices require thought, reflection, and being honest with yourself.

It is often easier to accept someone else’s solution or opinion, but they rarely work for us. Multi-tasking can be a form of avoidance used to distract us from facing the situation and doing what needs to be done. To gain focus so you can make intelligent choices on how to best use your time, try the following exercises.

1. During the day, preferably first thing in the morning or last thing at night, empty your mind. Do this without distractions and interruptions. This can be done by writing out everything that is on your mind or sit quietly and mentally click through what is junking up your brain and visualize dumping the contents into a dumpster. Experiment and find out what works best for you. As you do this, you will begin to notice recurring patterns, concerns, and even worries. List them, invest your time, and deal with them so you are free. Often dealing with them means changing the way you view them or your attitudes.

2. You may not realize it, but every waking moment your brain is filled with mind chatter. This internal conversation is framing the way you see yourself and everything that happens to you, and most of it is negative and judgmental. Your mind chatter, or whatever you choose to call it, makes you feel both afraid to do something and guilty if you do not. Good news! Research shows that even a slight decrease in your negative self-talk increases your ability to respond to the world more creatively. My favorite way to combat negative messages is the rubber band trick.

Wear a rubber band around your left wrist if you are right-handed or your right wrist if you are left-handed. Each time you catch yourself thinking negatively, pull on the rubber band and give yourself a flick. I guarantee this will wake you up and make you take notice! If your wrist is red and swollen at the end of the day you know your negatives out weigh your positives. I use it myself and like it so much I had special rubber bands made to use and share with others

Darla Arni 2011

Fall Bounty

Fall is my favorite season. The cooler temperature, especially after this summer’s record high 100 degree and above days is more than a welcome relief.

Thomas Hawk / Foter

And I love apples! The vibrant colors, the sweet but not too sweet smell the crunchy sound that’s made when you bite into one. We live in mid-Missouri apple orchard country and a September ritual is to visit an orchard or two and collect the bounty of fall. Yesterday afternoon the whole family, including Dexter the Dog went to a local orchard in Waverly, Missouri. We spent an hour carefully picking out our purchases of Jonathon, Fuji, and Jonagold apples.  Did I mention that I love apples? But there was more!

We gathered pumpkins, acorn squash, spaghetti squash, sweet potatoes, ornamental gourds, apple cider and red potatoes.  The final thing we do is get a glass of homemade apple cider slush for the road! And watch those beautiful puffy clouds on our way home!

For an easy to make yummy apple treat that requires no baking and little time,  try my Apple Dippity Doos.

Apple Dippity Doos

Both kids and adults will love this easy to mix up treat!

Crunchy Dip

Mix: 1 cup chunky peanut butter, 1/2 cup crispy rice cereal, 1/4 cup raisins

Cut up apple wedges and dip away. Feel free to customize to your taste by substituting chocolate chips or other small fruit bits for the raisins. Try it warm by zapping the dip a few seconds in the microwave before dipping.

Creamy Dip

Mix: 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter, 8 ounces of vanilla yogurt, dash of cinnamon,  and 1/2 cup whipped topping.

Slice apples, dip, and repeat!

A day like today

MalNino / Foter

I know 9/11 was yesterday.

I know the ceremonies are over.

But for me, 9/11 was a day like today. I had taken my happy first grader to school on a perfect, sunny almost fall mid-west day when the temperature is warm and trees make a soft rustling sound in the breeze. I stood in my kitchen looking out at crazy squirrels terrorizing my yard as I drank my last cup of coffee and listened to the Today Show.

A breaking news bulletin flashed on TV a little before 8 a.m. our time and everything changed. The world seemed to stop and I didn’t care anymore about the crazy squirrels. As a six-year-old at the time, my daughter remembers very little; her most vivid memories are people around her being upset and a video about planes being played over and over on TV.

What do I remember?

I remember praying and crying for those lost and hurt by the actions of a few and thinking, “My child will never know a world without the fear of terrorism.”  She only knows about long security lines in airports, baggage searches, screening machines and preparedness drills.

Yet life continues, years pass, children grow, and we have much to be thankful for. Wouldn’t it be great for us to remember that every single day? We cannot let fear define us nor deter us.

Welcome!

Do you have too much to do but not enough YOU to handle it all?             

You are not alone. I feel like I’m living with a full plate of ‘to dos’ and no fork to move them off the plate. In fact I believe most of us are. One day my daughter came into my office and forever changed my life by saying to me, “Wow, you have a full plate with no fork.” (See About FPNF for more of that story.) And the rest is history. Or it will be when I’m rich and famous and sharing this story with Barbara Walters. Okay that might be pushing it but a girl can dream.

I grew up on a farm as an only daughter with two older brothers. In fact, there wasn’t another girl for miles around so I played boy games or I couldn’t play at all. I vividly remember being exiled to the outfield with a left handed glove and told to stay there but don’t tell my brothers I said that; they have a different story. They are wrong. Really, trust me on this.

I live in small town Missouri with a semi-retired husband, a teenage daughter, a Yorkie, a Terrier mix we saved from the pound, and my mother who lives in the local nursing home. I am a speaker, author and artist (in a past life I was an art teacher) who regularly uses stories about my family in my work, which is why I NEVER want them to travel with me when I speak. We tried it once in Baltimore and it wasn’t pretty.

I spend most of my days trying to cram all the living I can into the time I have! I hope you enjoy my blog. You can count on me sharing day to day revelations, lots of stories, recipes, and how tos and pictures of my art and DIY creations.

As Rosanne Rosannadanna would say, “It’s always something.”