Get more time in your day…

We all want more time in our days. How often do you hear others say (almost daily) there are not enough hours in the day? It is true. I feel it and I am sure that you feel it too.

Did you know we each have 168 hours in a week? In some ways it does not sound like a lot, but if we work 50 hours, and we sleep 56 hours a week (8 hours a day), that leaves 62 hours to do everything else. Whether that be hanging out with kids, family, housework, errands, exercise, you could divide 62 hours over the rest of the week and you would have another 8-9 hours. Or 6 hours each day on weekdays, and 8 extra on the weekend. Where did all this come from? I just finished reading: “I Know How She Does It: How Successful Women Make the Most of Their Time” by Laura Vanderkam who discusses the idea of how to utilize 168 hours in a week in the best and most efficient way.

One particular area where I know I could gain time back is during my work day. I am literally always in back to back meetings all day. What if I could change the amount of time I spend in meetings? What if they were cut short? Vanderkam says:

“You can also schedule meetings for shorter slots. Just because Outlook tells you meetings should take 30 or 60 minutes doesn’t mean these blocks have been determined by divine decree. Shorten meetings you can’t kill. Two 60-minute meetings turned into 45-minute meetings buys you 30 minutes a day. Personally, I like the idea of 22.5-minute meetings or 37.5-minute meetings. Everyone will assume you have an incredibly detailed, thought-through agenda.” Page 44

I think the idea is plausible. Not only could I benefit from it, so could those involved in the meeting(s). A ripple effect. The key though is that the freedom of shorter meetings means that you get more time to do the things you need to do, and not instead go to more meetings. (I need to listen to that advice). I am going to try this and see if it brings good results!

Random Recipe: Dark Chocolate Molten Cakes

Some people are chocolate fiends. I am not one of those people. However, I do like chocolate. I am of the variety that likes chocolate with something: berries, vanilla ice cream, that sort of thing. I especially like it when it is warm and there is vanilla ice cream on top and it melts with the warmth and congeals (I know, great visual word) to form a sort of gooey result. Mmm…so when we found this Chocolate Molten Cakes recipe I knew Chris would be game right away. He was. We’ve made it our own (using dark chocolate), and the best part is that you can make them ahead of time and keep them in the fridge until you want to bake them. A wonderful idea because it means you can have them warm and right from the oven each night.

Dark Chocolate Molten Cakes [Adapted from Everyday Occasions]

This recipe makes 12 small individual cakes

2 tablespoons of butter, melted
2 tablespoons of dark chocolate cocoa powder
……

3/4 cup of butter
12 ounces of dark chocolate chips
1/2 cup of heavy cream
5 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
2/3 cup of flour

Prepare ramekins by coating the inside of each with melted butter by swirling it around. Then sprinkle the insides with cocoa powder, completely coating the bottom and sides.

To make the batter, put dark chocolate chips, butter, and heavy cream in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds at a time, stirring in between, until the chocolate is smooth. When chocolate has cooled slightly, stir in eggs, sugar and flour. Pour into prepared ramekins. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour (and up to a few days).

When ready to eat them, bake them at 450 degrees for about 8-10 minutes or just until the outsides and most of the top have set, but the centers are still a little runny. Let them cool for a few minutes, then flip them over onto a plate or bowl. We topped ours with vanilla ice cream and sprinkled some cinnamon on top. Yum!

Decisions, decisions…

Depending on what you do for a living, you might find that you make decisions all day. For some it might be an adrenaline rush, and for others it might drain the crap out of you. Regardless of whether decision-making is easy for you, it can be a draining part of your life. You need to be able to have a time to recharge the batteries in your brain to ensure all the wires are working properly. Without that recharge time, it might mean you begin to make decisions that are not the best for you and those impacted by your decisions.

How do you recharge though, if there never feels like an open window that will allow you to do so? Sometimes talking things through out loud is just enough to know the right answer. Other times you might just need a day off, and delegate the task of decision-making to someone else. You might also just need a long night of sleep.

Chris is used to me knowing what I want most of the time. Just because I know what I want, it does not mean that my desire is the answer. We still need to talk about it and come to a decision together. At times he might share information with me that might sway my decision and other times I feel clear from the beginning and know just what needs to happen. There are days when I come home (usually it is Friday) when I let him know I do not want to make the simplest decision — such as what I might want to eat for dinner. What throws him off is that 99% of the time I have an opinion, so that 1% of the time just feels odd and he can feel under pressure to then figure out what would make me happy or be best in the situation. The reality in this case is that my brain just cannot process another piece of information and I feel like a zombie.

Be sure to take the time to recharge your mind and body so that you can continue to make the best decisions for you and your family. It all starts with listening and it helps when you have an advocate that looks out for your best interest.

Do you have emotional pica?

We all have our own emotional childhood trauma. Some of us have differing degrees than others. There are those of us that had a fairy tale childhood, where we got everything we ever wanted and needed and then some. Others had to scrape by, were poor, or had many traumas to work through. However, all of that is relative.

I know perfectly normal people (whatever normal means these days) who had the perfect childhood and yet that is just what it looked like on the surface. They had all they needed and wanted, and yet maybe they did not really get what they needed most — a deep connection to those around them. That happened much later in life for them. Without it you do not always know what you might be missing. For those that had a childhood of heartaches and challenges, they might have learned early on to deal with the shift and feel deeply and in adulthood finally find out what it is like to have a normal life.

I am of the latter variety. I recently read this line from Kim Korson’s book: “I Don’t Have a Happy Place: Cheerful Stories of Despondency and Gloom,” and it was like an aha moment for me: 

“Buzz suffers from a bad case of emotional pica, an insatiable craving to fill himself up with the sand and dirt of childhood he missed out on. It’s draining but (on my compassionate days) I understand it. I roll my eyes while rolling out pizza dough or ordering the piñata because I know what it feels like to be slightly defective. And so when Buzz said to me, ‘Kim, we’re going to Disney World,’ I wanted to politely decline and say there was no way in hell I was making that trip, but I smiled and nodded, then took to the bed, and secretly thought, Good grief.” Page 224

I was pulled in with the mention of emotional pica. We all have some version of it in our life. Chris is great about making sure I fill out my days with things I never got to do as a kid. He is overly conscious of it. I am one to be frugal, say no to something, or say something is not needed or extravagant and he pushes me to pamper myself and do the thing(s) that I never got to do before.

While I hope it is not draining for him to be so conscious of what I lacked in my childhood (does he have my emotional pica?), I do know I can assure him we will not be going to Disney World any time soon.

To love and be loved

At the end of the day we all just want to be loved. We do. I think you are crazy if you do not agree with me. Wanting to feel loved is the cantankerous colleague that never seems to be happy and wants to stir the pot without realizing it. They just want to be heard. Being heard is a form of love. It is the family member or friend that calls attention to themselves (maybe without realizing it) because deep down they just want attention. They want to feel loved.

Often we do not know how to verbalize the love that we want in our life. We assume that others will know how to love us in the way we want to be loved. And yet, is that even possible? If we do not tell others how we most feel loved, how will they ever know? We have to find a way to tell them (that is if we care to feel their love – we might not think it is worth the effort). Recently I came across this Marianne Williamson quote:

“The meaning of life is to love and be loved. To be the light that casts out all darkness. To replace fear with love and remove the suffering of the world.”

The first line is all that matters. To love and be loved – is the meaning of life. It is so true. When we get into an argument with our spouse or friend and we are angry, often it is because we felt ignored, not heard, and thus not loved. If we feel left out of an adventure with friends we may feel unloved by them. The list goes on, but it always circles back to being loved.

If we all focused more on how we best receive love and share that with others, we might just find that we feel loved. If we focused more on how those we love most feel loved and we respond in that way, they just might feel more loved. When you look at it like that it feels simple. Right?