Staying On Track When You’re Overwhelmed

IMG_0140Do you ever wonder why sometimes life is slow and easy and then bam! We get overwhelmed with everything that has to be done at the same time? I’m feeling that way today. I’ve made it through days of cleaning and cooking for our Christmas crowd, reclaiming my house by washing sheets, towels and putting away the decorations.

Now the New Year is flying by. I’ve got lots of work to do and am trying to take a deep breath before I freak out. Here are a few of my secrets to keep me calm and on track:

ROUTINE

I try not to mess with my established routine. For going on six years, I have followed Julia Cameron’s “The Artist’s Way” and it’s served me well. I start the day with three pages of journaling, a long walk and prayer. Even when I’ve got tight deadlines or a crazy schedule, there’s no way I’ll cheat myself of this time to get my head and body refreshed and ready for the day.

SWIM

Exercise is so important to staying stress free and to keep your mind clear. Unfortunately I have let go of swim practice when I’m too busy. It’s my New Year’s Resolution to be consistent with three practices a week. I’ve got a good start to January and I’m not going to blow it now.

PRIORITIZE and ORGANIZE

Figure out exactly what you need to get done and let go of the other stuff. When I’m juggling a bunch of projects at once, I figure out what is most important. If I do the harder tasks or work I don’t want to do first, the rest is easy. Getting the clutter out of the way helps, too. My daughter is big on color coding her work and putting it on a white board or calendar. I’m going to try color folders for each of my projects so I’m not searching through papers on my desk.

WORK AHEAD

When I have a few minutes of free time, I work ahead. Last week I was waiting on work, so instead of surfing the internet and reading news online, I made a list of everything I needed to get done for this week — and jumped in on it. Lists are my saving grace. I start each day with a list of to dos and work my way through the day. Then, I make a list for the next day, and start in on that, too.

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Views from my morning walk.

What are your methods to stay on track and focused when you’re crazy busy?

Food for Thought and Recovery

Back in the pool is my New Year’s Resolution. I’ve swam three days a week for two whole weeks and we’re not even into the second week of the year! I noticed, however, that I am not recovering. I feel tired afterwards and the next day, too. My daughter told me, “Make sure you drink some chocolate milk as soon as you get home!” Well, I forgot and after I showered and got dressed, I headed off to the grocery store, feeling weak and famished. “Shoot, I forgot the chocolate milk.” There was a Halloween-sized bag of M&Ms in the car, not quite chocolate milk, but I downed them thinking they’d be better than nothing. 

That incident reminded me of a story I wrote about nutrition and recovery a couple years ago:

 

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Nutella stuffed 1/2 cronuts. Food for thought?

I called one of my mentor swim moms, who has advised me all along the way from my son’s first swim meet in 2001 to navigating college recruiting years later. She worked as a dietitian years ago, and I wanted her input for a SwimSwam article about what kids should eat at meets. I asked a half dozen more moms what their kids ate at meets because we happened to be at UCLA and USC swim meets watching our Utah kids compete.

After I wrote that story, that you can read here, I thought, “Yikes! I do not practice what I preach!” I’m finding it harder to recover after a workout and perhaps if I looked at my own diet, I would feel stronger.

I’m swimming consistently three days a week, and after I swim I get so hungry. I have a tendency to believe that because I made it through a tiring swim practice, that I can eat whatever I want. Most often, I make terrible choices including a #1 meal at Taco Bell (taco and burrito supreme) or fried chicken! Seriously, what am I doing to myself?

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At USC for a swim meet.

Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s okay to eat unhealthy now and then. But this has turned into a habit to reward myself after a healthy workout with fattening food that lacks much in nutritional value! It’s totally unproductive.

I discussed this with another mom via text. This mom is crazily fit and works out for hours every day. She had some great tips that I’m incorporating into my daily life that she promised would improve my muscle recovery.

AVOID SUGAR AND CARB LOADING

“I’ve actually been learning to fuel my body with fat. However, I’m not a swimmer so I would not begin to offer advice. But, after doing research I started limiting my carbs to less than 50g/day and saving them until dinner. During the day, I fuel my body with healthy fats. I’ve noticed a huge difference! Swimmers need a lot of energy but they won’t get any energy from sugar.”

PLAN AHEAD

“Have a plan. Know what you’re going to snack on after practice. Prepare eggs and a meat before you leave for practice so that it’s ready when you get home and you won’t eat the ‘worst stuff.’ Plus, the protein in the eggs will assist in muscle recovery. Or have peanut butter on a rice cake. But the important thing is to have it prepared so you can grab it right away.”

HOW ARE YOU FUELING YOUR BODY?

“Also, when eating your snacks, look at it and determine how you are fueling your body for recovery and the next day’s workout. That’s what keeps me honest with myself.”

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At my first meet a year ago with my good friend and fellow swim mom, Linda.

Yesterday, after practice I had a half banana and a hard boiled egg when I walked through the kitchen door. I was able to make it through until dinner without fast or fried food and I feel less sluggish and tired today. I’m curious to see how this plan works for me and if I’ll feel stronger after a few days. After all, I have my own swim meet coming up this month!  I’ll let you know how it goes.

What do you eat after working out?

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At UCLA last Friday.

 

Test Your Financial Awareness

When I started this blog, I was going to focus on women and investing. I have worked as a financial advisor and thought that it was important for many women to gain knowledge about how to handle their money. The financial articles didn’t gain the interest that my parenting tips did–and I enjoyed writing about parenting more–so that’s where my blog headed. However, here’s an article for early on about investing terms. The New Year is a good time to make some resolutions about our finances.

 

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I know you’ve heard them talked about and mentioned a million times. But, do you know what they mean? How many of these ten financial terms can you can define:

Equity

Bond

Yield

Risk

Mutual Fund

ETF

Dividend

Asset Allocation

Blue Chip

DOW

imagesIf we women are going to own the world, then we better know what we’re talking about. How many times have you listened to a financial advisor and your eyes glaze over? Is it because financial professionals take for granted that you have knowledge that you don’t have? Is it their jargon? Or, are they are just plain boring!

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Take a moment to quiz yourself. FYI, the answers are right here:

Ten Investment Terms

Equity  — stock, ownership in a company.

Bond — Unlike a stock, where you are an owner in a company, with a bond, you lend money to a corporation, municipality or government agency.  In return, you will be paid back your money plus interest.

Yield — This term is often found to be confusing.  There are several types of yield, but the basic definition is the income return you’ll receive on an investment.

Risk — The more risk you take, the higher your chance of reward and vice versa. There are many different types of risk including company, market, inflationary, reinvestment risk, etc.

Mutual Fund –  A pool of money that is collected from many investors and invested in stocks, bonds, options, commodities or money market securities.

ETF  — Exchange Traded Fund (ETF) is an investment traded much like stock on the exchanges.  An ETF closely mimics an index, such as a stock or bond index.  (SPDR is an example that follows the S&P 500.)

Dividend — Corporate profits paid to shareholders of common and preferred stock.

Asset Allocation — Diversifying your investments across different assets (cash, stocks, and bonds) to protect against volatility.

Blue Chip — Large, well known companies that have performed well over a long period of time.

DOW — The Dow Jones Industrial Average known as the “DOW” is a compilation of 30 blue chip companies, that gives a snapshot of how the overall market is doing at a particular time.

How did you score?

0 to 3  financial flounder

4 to 7 fiscally efficient

8 – 10 financial wizard

imgresHere’s a link to a great article on planning and saving for college education.

 

Top New Year’s Resolutions for Parents

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Quality time with kids.

With the new decade here, it’s a perfect time to think about what we want to change in our lives. As parents, we can reflect on what is working with our families and what we’d like to change. I am one of those people who like New Year’s Resolutions and one of my  tricks in sticking with them is to make doable goals. Like my husband says, “the way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time.” If I make resolutions that are too huge, I’ll let them go after a few weeks.

I read through several articles about parenting New Year’s Resolutions for 2020 and found some common themes. First, is to spend quality time with your kids. Be there in the moment–and put your phone down.

Here an excerpt of an article on CNN.com by David G. Allan, called, 8 resolutions for better parenting in the New Year. Click here for the entire article.

(CNN) If you’re looking to improve your parenting, you’re not alone. In my opinion, it’s an essential area of course correction, up there with weight loss, better eating and better spending, arguably more essential.

What’s beautiful about parenting resolutions is that your kids benefit too, and likely your spouse and any potential future grandkids. You get a lot of bang for your resolution buck.

As with any resolution, honestly examine areas where you feel you could be doing better or want to improve. Below are eight parenting resolution thought-starters in categories we all probably need to give more attention in the coming year.

Being there

There’s a lot of talk, many articles and a long shelf of books on mindful parenting. But it all boils down to this: When you’re with your kids, give them full, curious and happy attention.

Listen to them, respond, don’t let yourself be distracted by your phone, or future-thinking or your own agenda. Be fully there for them, giving what they need the most: your attention, combined with an openness that encourages them to share whatever is on their mind or what’s happening with them at that moment.

The dividends of this effort are deep and long-long lasting — from fewer tantrums to stronger bonds. If you only pick one resolution, make it this one

Don’t drive under the influence of your phone

Here comes your PSA: More than 40,000 people died on US roads in 2016, according to National Safety Council estimates. Many roadway fatalities involve drunken driving, speeding and not wearing seat belts (so don’t do any of those things, clearly), but increasingly, accidents are being caused by people texting or talking while driving.

Fifty-one percent of teens reported seeing their parents checking and/or using their mobile devices while driving, according to a Common Sense Media poll last year. And when you repeatedly model a behavior in front of your kids, that’s called teaching.

Once they have a license, do you want your kids texting or talking while they drive? Do you want other drivers texting or talking while driving anywhere near your children? Me neither. When you stop doing it yourself, you are immediately modeling the behavior you want from them when it’s their time to be behind the wheel. And help spread this gospel to friends and family. The lives we save may be our own.

Yell less, breathe more

There are many other great and valuable tips discussed including treating yourself, slowing down and limiting screen time. Here’s how to keep track of your progress:

How to track and succeed

One of the major tenets of resolution and habit success is tracking. And while “better parenting” is difficult to measure, more specific action is easy to. Just give yourself a grade on your resolution at the end of every day on a piece of paper. Research suggests that the average time it takes for an action to become automatic and habitualized is just over two months, if you stick with it daily.

Another useful device is accountability. Tell your spouse or your family, and even your kids, what you’re working to improve. They will remind and support you because they want you to succeed and the family to thrive.

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In 6 Parenting Resolutions You Can Keep in 2020 from Positive Parenting Solutions there are more tips to think about trying:

1. Rethink the Way You Spend Time With Your Kids

“Wait, what?” you might be asking. “I spend 10 HOURS with my kids every day! What is there to rethink?!

I hear you, friend, but consider your day-in-day-out time with the kids. How often are you multitasking with dinner or laundry or the bazillion other things on your list?

While we’re physically WITH our kids, we’re not always fully present in mind, body and soul. (Myself included.)  

Because of that, we pay a price. If kids don’t get some “fully present and engaged” time with us during the day, they will have their attention baskets filled one way or another – whining, clinging, interrupting, fighting with siblings. Do any of those sound familiar?

All of these behaviors get your attention – albeit negative attention. I know that may seem silly to think a child would seek out negative attention if they didn’t get positive attention. But the truth is, kids simply want their baskets filled.

However, you can turn those behaviors around by making a small tweak to the time you already spend with your kids. I’m talking kid-centered, intentional, and directly labeled time.

I’m suggesting you spend 10 INTENTIONAL minutes each day one-on-one with each of your kids. Here at Positive Parenting Solutions, we call this Mind, Body and Soul time because it has incredible effects on the health of your child’s mind, body, and soul.

By kid-centered, I mean your child is in control of the 10 minutes—they call the shots. A tea party? Lego building? Dressing up daddy? A tickle fight? Listening to their favorite music with your teen? Whatever the kid chooses, you oblige. (As long as it’s an activity that can reasonably be accomplished in 10-15 minutes.) By giving your child the power during this time, you help fill their power buckets in incredible ways.

By intentional, I mean no distractions—put down your phone, don’t answer that email, turn off the show you’re watching. Your child is the center of your universe for these 10 minutes and it’s critical you are fully-present for your time with her.

Lastly, be sure to label Mind, Body and Soul Time at the outset (you can call it whatever you want) and when it’s finished, say, “I sure enjoyed our special time today! I can’t wait to do it again tomorrow!” Your child will benefit from knowing you’re committed to your time, plus you’ll get credit in his mind for time well spent.

Note: For Positive Parenting Solutions Members, revisit Session 1 to learn more about Mind, Body and Soul Time and check out the advanced module “The Busy Parents Guide to Mind, Body & Soul Time” for extra help.


2. Ensure Your Child Gets Enough Sleep

Sleep matters…a lot. Kids would never admit it, but they need regular bedtimes and plenty of sleep to be at their best. These key components to a healthy, calm lifestyle, however, are sometimes the first things we abandon as we celebrate the holiday season—and they’re the most daunting piece to restore in January.

So how do we back up bedtime from the late hours we’ve grown used to keeping?

The most effective way to get your kids more sleep is to keep bedtimes early and consistent throughout the week, without much more than a 15-minute difference on the weekends. If you give in to a late bedtime once, kids will think the hour on the clock is always up for negotiation.

IMG_0283Now that the New Year is here, what are your resolutions? Do you have any tips to help stick with them?

New Year’s Resolution Going on Five Years!

Palm Springs Aquatic Center where my kids spent their youth.

The home town pool.

Five years ago in April, I joined Masters. It was my New Year’s Resolution, but it took me months to get up my nerve and dive in. This year, my number one resolution is to get back to consistency with my swimming. I’m starting with three days a week, rain or shine. I went way backwards thanks to my eye surgeries this fall and my ski accident two years ago. I am sporadic at best.

Yesterday, I celebrated New Year’s Eve with my Piranha Masters in a swim-a-thon for Angel View Crippled Children’s Homes. It’s a nonprofit that doesn’t take tax dollars and provides homes and care for people who are too intellectually disabled to live at home. They have a home for life. I’m so proud that our Masters raised more than $20,000! It was a special way to start the year and be part of something so good. What a way to start a new decade!

Here’s the story I wrote in 2015 about joining Masters:

I tried something new this week. I’ve been thinking about it for months. In fact, it made my New Year’s Resolution list. Yet, it took me until April to get started.

I joined masters! Yes, I got in the water with a group of strangers and a coach. This is the first time I’ve been in a pool with a swim coach since I was 10 years old. It brought back a few scary memories from my childhood. Like, not being able to breathe during a 200 meter freestyle test, where I had to swim four long laps in a row. I think I was around 7 years old and I thought I’d never make it. I was pretty good at the sidestroke though, so I switched to that, and the coach let me get away with it.

oldswimI gasped for air on Tuesday, my first day. I began breath-holding and I thought I’d sink. I also was sure I’d be kicked out of the pool, I was that bad. Or, that I’d drown. The coach assured me he’s never kicked anyone out of masters, nor has he lost a swimmer. It appears my fears were unfounded.

It got better. The coach gave me a drill to work on my breathing and I worked through it. I went back again on Thursday and will try again today. One of the satisfying things about swimming is you can make progress pretty quickly. Hopefully, my strength will come, too. I feel like a weakling—which I am. If I stick with it, I’m bound to get stronger. I’m talking a friend into joining me, too.

My daughter with her first swim instructor.

My daughter with her first swim instructor.

Another benefit of swimming is that it makes you so tired! I’m definitely sleeping through the night, after I swim.

Sometimes it’s fun to try something completely new. Get out of your comfort zone and you’ll find out it’s not that scary out there after all.

Make a list of things you’ve always wanted to do. Take a painting or dance class. Go to a movie alone. Hike. Whatever it is on your list, give some new things a try. It’s not too late and you might have fun.477145_10200347112424226_867714522_o

Jump in with both feet and get wet!

To swim or not to swim.

To swim or not to swim.

 

What new activities are you going to try for 2020? What’s your number one New Year’s Resolution?

What a week it was!

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Waffles at the park. Some unknown person decorated park benches.

What a whirlwind week we had for Christmas. It was fun, but I’m exhausted. We had our second annual Christmas with my son’s girlfriend’s family. We are a family of four and they are a family of nine, plus my dad. Looking back on the past few days, I did a lot of cooking and dishes. It’s a good thing I like to cook — and I don’t mind cleaning up!

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Some of the fun stats from our week included the food we went through:

7 dozen eggs

6 dozen Honeycrisp apples

1 full-size prime rib

2 hams

8 packages of oxtails for soup

8 packages of sweet Italian sausages for sausage and peppers

1 giant pot of split pea soup

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We also enjoyed my son’s charcuterie and veggie platters before each dinner.

I can’t say how much fun it is to be around an energetic, athletic, intelligent and musically-talented family. I’m inspired and in awe. Also, I was amazed to see how well everyone got along — all the time. Coming from a small family, I feel like I missed out on something by having only one sibling.

I will admit as much fun as the past week was, I’m glad to have my quiet and solitude. I’m ready to start the New Year and get back to my work.

On Christmas Eve, we were treated to a viola concert by two of the siblings who are professional musicians. Although the lighting is terrible, here’s a snippet:

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

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Waffles in his Christmas sweater.

What are your thoughts about family togetherness for the holidays?

Reflections on my own swimming

I wrote this two years ago in January after my second swim meet. It’s interesting to look back on where I was with my swimming, as a relatively new swimmer, and how far I’ve fallen. Literally fallen. A year after I wrote this, I was struggling with a torn ACL and meniscus from a ski accident. Talk about getting out of shape and lacking consistency! Then this fall I went through cataract surgeries over a two-month period where I didn’t get a chance to swim. Then the holidays came and I convinced myself — “why bother?”

Today, it’s pouring down rain but my daughter is home and she said she’d go to practice with me. I wish I could turn back the clock to where I was in 2017 when I was better at swimming and showing up for practice. There’s only one thing to do and that is dive in once again!

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Our beautiful Palm Springs pool.

From January 30, 2017:

This past weekend, I was at my second swim meet where I was the swimmer. I made the plunge once before—a year ago at the Palm Springs Piranhas hosted meet. I worried all week as the date of the meet approached. What had I done to myself? Why did I sign up for the meet?

Here is a partial list of things I worried and stressed about:

ONE

Standing on the blocks. It’s scary up there.

TWO

Diving off the blocks. I was afraid my goggles would fall off and I’d lose my contacts.

THREE

Doing a flip turn. In practice, I stick with slow open turns. While practicing flip turns the day before the meet, I got water up my nose and hit my head on the bottom of the pool.

FOUR

Breathing. I worried that halfway through my 50 free I’d start to panic and revert to breath-holding.16387450_10155016389794612_6785187209915237532_n

Then, I realized that last year I couldn’t get out of the pool and I had to swim to the ladder. This year, I didn’t have to worry about that. I can now get out of the deep end. That thought made me realize all the things that I had done to prepare for the meet and what was under my control:

ONE

I had gone to practice consistently for an entire year.

TWO

I had improved my diet to make sure I was properly fueled.

THREE

I stayed hydrated.

FOUR

I worked on dives and flip turns with Coach Jeff and felt more confident.

FIVE

I started a stretching regime that included warming up my shoulders.

SIX

I was one year stronger and better at swimming than at my first meet.

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Here I am with a few of my Piranha Masters friends.

 

I was mentally prepared. I was physically ready. I know I’ve made huge progress. Maybe at the next meet, I won’t get so worked up.

My only regret is that I didn’t start swimming when my kids were young. I’ve learned so much from swimming masters about how hard they work, how great their technique is and how hard it is to swim fast. I took it all for granted. I would have had a different perspective on swim meets and practice if only I had begun swimming years ago. I would have shared this bit of wisdom my favorite ref, Paul, told me at the meet, “Relax and have fun. It’s only a swim meet!”

Why do you think swim parents should compete? What makes you nervous before swim meets?

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Me and Linda. Two swim moms and swimmers.

P.S. One of my most favorite things this weekend was to see and talk with three “kids” who swam with my children on Piranhas at my Masters meet. They are all grown-up and continuing with the sport they love.

Photos courtesy of Piranha Swim Team.