A Quick Way To Clear Your Head and Relax

The holidays are here!

It’s the third night of Hanukkah and Christmas is only seven days away.  Are you feeling overwhelmed right now?

If so it’s time to take a break for a few minutes to clear your head.

A quick way to catch your breath, put  a smile on your face, and relax is to write out a Gratitude List.

Gather a pen or pencil, a piece of paper or notebook, and a timer (optional).  Find a quiet place where you can sit down and write.  If necessary you can go to a bathroom, or even a lighted closet to get away from the hustle and bustle around you.

Set the timer for 5-10 minutes.  Write down as many things as you can that you are truly grateful for.  Your health, your family’s health, the roof over your head, food on the table, your children’s smiles and kisses, etc.

When you are done writing this list read it over a couple of times.  You should be breathing slower now.  You should be more relaxed and not stressing out about all the things on your to do list that aren’t really that important.  You should have a smile on your face.

Now go enjoy your family and friends and the holidays.  Anytime you start feeling overwhelmed or frazzled, go read the list again.  You could even put the list on your fridge or bathroom mirror to constantly remind you of what really counts.

Happy Holidays,


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Is Holiday Stress Getting To You?

Is the stress of the holidays starting to get to you?

Do you feel like you won’t get it all done perfectly or on time?

If your expectations on what the holidays should look like have been influenced by other’s, especially the media, then it may be time to re-evaluate those expectations.

Check out the six questions below to find out if your holiday stress may be caused by unrealistic expectations.  If you answer ‘yes’ to any of the questions you’ll want to check out the next section below that.  There you will find a list of symptoms of unrealistic expectations and tips on how to cure them.

Test Questions:   

  1. Do you think your holidays/Christmas this year will be absolutely wonderful?
  2. Do you have more than two holiday shopping lists in your purse or pocket?
  3. Do you usually mail off your gift packages too late to arrive by Christmas?
  4. Do you feel that no mater how much you spend on presents you won’t have given enough?
  5. Do you usually get sick or injured at holiday time?
  6. Do you ever feel like giving up the holidays altogether?

Symptoms and Cures:

1.  Television and other media influence holiday dreams.

A.  Ideal Picture

1.  Blissful, happy families
2.  Neat, cheerful, and perfectly decorated homes.
3.  Time honored rituals.

 B.  Reality

1.  Rarely is everyone completely happy at the same time.
2.  With a change of routines it’s hard to keep the house looking perfect.
3.  Times change, people change. Sometimes rituals are outdated.

 C.  THE CURE: Lower your expectations on what you think your holiday should
‘look’ like to others. Focus on spending time with family and friends instead of spending time on trying to make the “perfect” Christmas. Be thankful for whatever happy moments do occur.

2.  Too much to do.

A.  Lists upon lists upon lists.

B.  THE CURE: Lighten the load. Make one list of everything then cross out half.

3.   Pocketbook panic.

 A.  Not making a budget or sticking with the one you made.

 B.  Charging everything and not keeping track.

 C.   THE CURE:  Realize what is happening.

1.  Children – explain budget (if old enough) and plan requests accordingly.
2.  Friends and/or family – agree to cut out gift giving or put a spending limit.
3.  Draw names to limit the total number of people you have to buy gifts for.

 4.   Illness and Exhaustion.

 A.  Causes:

1.  Doing too much by yourself.
2. Feeling guilty that whatever you do isn’t enough.
3. Feeling angry about the pressure to be happy on cue.
4. Staying up late or getting up early to get things done.
5. Filling our normal times for rest and leisure activities with stressful holiday activities we expect to be fun, but aren’t.


1.  Realize pressures may distract us from normal routines of healthful eating, exercise, rest, relaxation, and sleep. Try to balance it.
2.  Think in small time periods;

A.  Instead of; “In January I’ll get myself back together.”
B.  Say; “Today I’ll take small breaks during the day to rest or exercise.”

3.  It’s okay to enjoy the times when nothing is happening. Don’t over commit or over schedule.

 5.   Missing the point.

A.  THE CURE: get a better perspective on the real meaning of the holidays. It’s
not about having the best decorated house in the neighborhood or giving the most gifts. Think about what is really is important to your family, your religion, and your community.

When you focus your time and energy on what is really important to you and your family you will find you can have a wonderful holiday season.  True happiness is being grateful for the special moments spent with those you love.

The things above are just a few symptoms and cures to help reduce your stress at this time of year.  If you have any suggestions to add to this list please share them in the comment section.  I know all my readers (and I) would appreciate it. Thanks.

Happy Holidays,


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Clutter Free and Almost Clutter Free Gift Ideas

Part of celebrating Christmas and Hanukkah is giving gifts to family and friends. Sometimes we feel obligated to give but hopefully most of the time we give a gift to show how much we care about that person.

Christmas presentsAlthough we want to find the “prefect” gift for everyone on our list it’s not always easy.  We don’t want to give them something that will end up in a closet or drawer taking up space.  In other words, becoming clutter!


Below are some ideas of clutter free or almost clutter free gifts.  Maybe some people on your list would enjoy one or more of these things.

The old saying goes, “It’s the thought that counts.”

So put a little thought into it. If necessary go ahead and ask the person if they would like something from the list.  They may be very grateful that you asked.

Clutter-free gift ideas:

1.  Gift certificates:

  • Restaurants
  • Movie theaters
  • Live theater; one show or season tickets
  • Concerts
  • Sporting events
  • A day of pampering at a local day spa

2.  Donation made in their honor to their favorite charity.

3.  Membership to a Public TV station or their favorite subscription website.

4.  Membership to a local museum, zoo, or other attraction they frequently visit.

5.  Buy items for a needy family in their honor. (check local charities for info) They may want to help with picking out the items.


Almost clutter-free gift ideas. 

1.  Favorite food items: cookies, cakes, gourmet coffee or tea, candy, etc. Make sure that the container you give the items in won’t add to the recipient’s clutter.

2.  Gifts for pampering themselves: lotions, shower gels, perfume, candles, etc. Like above, make sure there aren’t containers that will add to their clutter such as baskets or other fancy gift boxes.


Clutter-free gift ideas – mostly your time:

“You give but little when you give of your possessions.  It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.”                                              ~Kahlil Gibran

1.  Create a gift certificate that can be redeemed for a service. Many of these would work great for older grandchildren to give to their grandparents.  These also work for neighbors, friends, adult siblings, aunts and uncles, and even your own parents.

  • Cleaning the garage or basement
  • Yard-work
  • Car washing
  • Special household projects (painting, minor repairs, etc.)
  • Babysitting
  • Dog/cat/pet sitting

2.  Create a gift certificate that promises someone that you will spend time and share the activity together.  If you don’t want to spend much money look for free local attractions you can attend together.

  • A movie
  • Lunch/dinner
  • Special event
  • Visit a local museum/attraction of their choice.

“A hug is a great gift – one size fits all, and it’s easy to exchange.”  ~Author Unknown

If you have more clutter-free ideas to add to this list please share them in the comment section. Thanks.

To a lighter load along the way.


If you’re feeling overwhelmed preparing for the holidays the eBook “Tips To Simplify and Organize Your Holidays” can help you with planning, organizing, shopping, and reducing stress so you can enjoy the holidays.


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Say “No” to Emotional Dependency Cords

After a baby is born she will depend on her mother to meet her physical and emotional needs.  As she reaches toddler-hood it is natural for her to start cutting the emotional dependency cords. This is to show her independence as an individual. We’ve all seen a toddler stamp her foot and say “no”.

All forms of animal life from baby birds to humans find a way for offspring to cut the cords of dependency.

Bird in flight-2


Can you image how restrictive and tangled up everyone would be if none of the emotional dependency cords were ever cut?  It would be a cluttered mess!  Continue reading

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Prevent Holiday Clutter Build-up

It’s that time of year where we start shopping for holiday gifts for family and friends.  But will adding more things to our homes (and other’s homes) make them more cluttered? Donald-Duck-Gifts



It doesn’t have to be that way!

Continue reading

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Are You Ready for Halloween?

Sometimes life throws roadblocks in front of you.  The detour to get around them may be short or long.  When the detour is long certain things get pushed towards the bottom of the priority list.  Unfortunately this blog was one of those things.  But now I feel life is a little more under control so I’m back.

I’ll be sharing many of the lessons I’ve learned about clutter (my own and inherited clutter) in future blog posts.  But for now I want to help you with planning for Halloween.  Continue reading

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Take Time For Gratitude

If the craziness of the season is starting to get to you then it’s time to take a a few minutes to relax.  Think about what you are grateful for in your life.  It can make a world of difference in how you feel.

Below is a prior post from my other blog, Organize By The Month.  Listed at the end are other posts I wrote on gratitude.  I hope they inspire you to be grateful for all that this holiday season offers.

To speak gratitude is courteous and pleasant, to enact gratitude is generous and noble, but to live gratitude is to touch Heaven.                        ~Johannes A. Gaertner

Continue reading

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Some Clutter-free and Almost Clutter-free Gift Ideas


“It’s not how much we give but how much love we put into giving.”                               ~ Mother Teresa

Has someone told you not to buy them any gifts? They don’t “need” anything. They claim they have way too many things in their home already.

You still want to get them something but don’t want to add to their “too many things”.

Maybe it’s time to consider some clutter-free gifts that they will enjoy and you won’t feel guilty about giving it to them..

Below are some lists of clutter-free and almost clutter free gift ideas. Continue reading

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Prevent Holiday Clutter Build-up


Are those mouth watering cookies and candies already blowing your diet?



Is it overwhelming you just thinking about getting all the Christmas decorations unpacked and put up?



Christmas presents

Are you starting to panic about all the gifts you have to wrap? How many have you already bought and how many do you still need to buy?


Continue reading

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Diary of a Kitchen Remodel Update

It’s been a few weeks since I wrote about the kitchen remodel.  The contractor started on November 18, so we are half way through the 3rd week.  Of course with Thanksgiving last week we lost a couple of days.

I’m amazed how much has been done in 10 working days, most of those with only one person working. So far there have been very few glitches. Either I have a fantastic contractor or I’m incredibly lucky. I think it’s a little of both.

When I think about all the horror stories about kitchen remodels I keep my fingers crossed and hope each day ends on a positive note. Continue reading

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