Dusting Off the Ivories


In a short amount of time – just over a week – I’ve gone from stumbling through this piece of music to being able to confidently (but not perfectly) play the first page.


I learned to play the piano as a child. My mother is a classically trained musician and music teacher, and I took lessons from her advanced students (you can’t teach your own child was her philosophy). I practiced, sometimes for hours at a time (in my mind), but usually not my lesson songs. I was drawn to show tunes and some popular music (most notably “Nadia’s Theme” also known as the theme from “Young and the Restless.” [listen here]). Sitting at the piano was a form of meditation for me; I could get lost in singing and playing and not worrying about homework or grades or what I was going to do when I grew up.

Despite all that “practicing,” I wasn’t a great pianist. Good enough to make it through a few hymns on Sunday if my mother (the church organist/pianist) was unavailable (and the substitute pianist was also unavailable). Good enough to entertain myself once in a while with a song or two. Good enough to help my children with their lessons.

Recently I started listening to Pandora Radio before bed, and I chose a channel I called “Lullabye Radio.” It has turned out to be a nice variety of contemporary lite music and classical. Often there are beautiful piano concertos, again contemporary and classical. And I started yearning to spend some time at the piano again.

So everyday, I take no more than 10 minutes to sit down and play. I started with Tchaikovsky’s Opening Theme from Piano Concerto No. 1, [YouTube video, but not of me!)] which I randomly selected from my mother’s music cabinet. After a week, I’ve gotten fairly confident about page one. Page two is decidedly harder, but I’m going to start tackling that soon. (My version is shorter than the YouTube video to which I link above).

The point of this rather long winded story is that in a short amount of time – just over a week – I’ve gone from stumbling through this piece of music to being able to confidently (but not perfectly) play the first page.  I’ve spent 5-10 minutes a day going over the same piece of music. I don’t sit down with the intention of perfection, but rather the intention of improvement. And each time I get a little better. Better than if I were to have sat for 2 hours straight and repeated the selection over and over. Each day I’m focusing on one thing for that brief amount of time – a form of meditation for me. My spirit is uplifted, I’m refocused and better able to attend to my other tasks of the day.

Do you have a meditative habit that you use to refocus? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below or on my Facebook page.

Why Self-Worth Leads to Success

Self-Worth and Self-Care

Yesterday I treated myself to a foot massage. It was fabulous! The room was low lit with soothing music playing softly. I climbed up on the table and was instantly enveloped in warmth from the heated blanket beneath me. A few deep breaths later and I was completely relaxed; Jamie hadn’t even touched my feet yet. And then the massage began. Ahhhh. I hadn’t realized I could become even more relaxed than I was. It was heaven; pure heaven.

This was the first time in 11 years that I’d had a professional massage. Why did it take me so long to do it again? The previous (hot stone!) massage had been a gift from my sister as part of a spa weekend. I loved it. Why not treat myself at least once a year or so?

As I gave that some thought, I thought there might be several factors that contributed:

  • cost
  • time
  • self-worth

While a weekly massage probably wasn’t in the budget (or was it?), I realized that I easily spend the cost of a massage each month on things far less satisfying or necessary. So while I tried to use cost as an excuse, it really wasn’t true.

Lack of time was probably only a little bit more true than the cost excuse. Certainly if getting a massage was a priority, then I could find an hour or so in my schedule once a month to fit it in.

And now we come to the self-worth issue. Here’s where the buck stopped. Apparently I thought I was only worth a massage once every decade; scheduling that kind of treat for myself was only for a super special occasion. And in my mind, when I really took the time to analyze my feelings about this, I saw a connection between very powerful and successful people and those who got frequent (say, every month or so) massages. Certainly they had money and time, but most importantly they were worth it. My conclusion was that when I saw myself as powerful and successful, THEN I too would be worth getting monthly massages.

Well, that notion seems a bit ridiculous. Furthermore, what if the “reward” for getting more frequent massages (or any other “treat” of that nature) was BECOMING powerful and successful? What if I had things in the wrong order the whole time?

This notion did not seem as ridiculous, although it may to you. I know from changing my morning routine these last few months into a very focused first hour early in the morning, I’m able to get a lot more done throughout my day. The first part of that routine is meditating – entering a very relaxed state. I felt even more relaxed at my foot massage. What if each month I had that additional deep relaxation through massage? Could my productivity increase even more? More productivity means more is accomplished which means I’m helping people change their lives to be happier and more successful which, in turn, makes me happier and feel more successful.

I’m scheduling a hot stone massage for mid-August!

Affirm the Positive

You know how you get all warm and fuzzy inside when someone compliments you? A nice feeling. Have you ever stopped to consider that you can tell yourself complimentary things about yourself as well? It’s okay. As a matter of fact – it is necessary for success.

Those statements of self-compliment are positive affirmations, and thousands of successful people use them to shape their minds into accepting the affirmed truth and then acting upon it.

I started using positive affirmations about two months ago. I began simply: three short statements that I recited out loud each morning. I also recited them before bed. I’d sometimes reciting them while driving to and from appointments. They were:

  • I have many financial opportunities.
  • My home is clean and tidy everyday.
  • I am grateful for the many blessings in my life.

Four days later I rewrote them, tweaking the existing affirmations and adding a few more:

  • I take full advantage of the many and profitable financial opportunities that come my way.
  • My home is always clean and tidy and my family helps keep it that way.
  • I am worth the time and effort it takes to make myself and my family healthy and delicious meals.
  • I focus on the tasks that propel me forward towards my goals.
  • I am grateful for the many blessing in my life.

Today I have 16 affirmations, including those above, that I recite every morning, some evenings, and whenever else I choose.

I began to see results immediately. Not all of these statements were “true” when I wrote them (and some still aren’t). But I want them all to be true and feel true. I am grateful for my many blessings, but I didn’t use to take the time to reflect on what those blessings are. Now I do – everyday. I’ve found myself become more gracious and forgiving.

The bane of my existence was the daily questions from my children of “what’s for dinner?” I don’t particularly like to cook (so much time to make – so little appreciation). At the same time I wanted my family to eat healthy meals, but I was often choosing quick, processed foods because it was an easier choice to make. My family deserved better – and so did I. Once I began reciting “I am worth the time and effort it takes to make myself and my family healthy and delicious meals” – I found myself in the kitchen contemplating and preparing something more complex that frozen pizza. Interestingly, my family has started verbally appreciating the new meals; I didn’t even prompt them, and they weren’t aware of my affirmation.

If you don’t already incorporate affirmations – positive affirmations – into your daily life, I encourage you to do so. Start small: three simple, short sentences with action verbs. If when you say it the words just don’t seem quite right – tweak it until it flows easily. Repeat each one three times every morning, out loud. You can also write each affirmation ten times daily if you prefer not to speak aloud.

Here’s a few to get you started:

  • I make healthy eating choices.
  • I have many financial opportunities.
  • I am in a loving and supportive relationship.
  • My home is clean and tidy everyday.
  • I let go of fear and pain. I live in love.
  • I am full of energy and vitality.
  • My mind is calm and peaceful.
  • I am beautiful/handsome.


I Like My Sleep

I really do. So it may surprise you to learn that I have given up sleeping in – completely.

It all stems from a podcast I started listening to a few months ago: Achieve Your Goals with Hal Elrod. I had chosen to listen to a few older episodes to get a feel for whether or not I wanted to subscribe to the podcast. In almost every episode Hal mentions his Facebook group, The Miracle Morning Community. So I decided to go check it out. 

It’s a closed group, but your request to join will be accepted. Full of positive people who start their day, not only early, but with a routine that involves self-reflection, exercise, reading, and journaling. I noticed that one of my FB friends was already a member, and I then remembered that she has mentioned her new routine a few times over the last few months – and how it has changed her life.

So I hopped over to Amazon and ordered Hal’s book, The Miracle Morning: The Not-So-Obvious Secret Guaranteed to Transform Your Life (Before 8AM)  [affiliate link] It arrived on a Friday – just in time to trade in my sleep-in even later weekend mornings for a 5:30 a.m. alarm. 

I’m never up at 5:30 a.m. unless I’m traveling and have to be on the road early. What the heck was I thinking?

I spent most of Friday evening devouring the words, especially the chapter on snooze-proofing your morning. I was going to do this, because it would be worth it, in time.

I’ve continued to work on perfecting my daily routine since creating my weekly tracking sheet, but life was often getting in the way. I could barely find time to get the “real work” done let alone find time to read for personal growth, to exercise, or to even breathe slowly. 

While getting up earlier was always a solution, it wasn’t the solution that I was looking for – until I was motivated by Hal and the others from the MM community. It was certainly worth a try.

So that Saturday morning I set my alarm for 5:30 a.m. I don’t think I slept all that well that night, probably wary of how quickly the morning was going to arrive. But one of the keys to getting up early is to affirm before going to bed “I like getting up early.” Upon waking your first thought should be along the lines of “I am rested and ready to start my day.”

I can’t say I jumped out of bed gleefully that morning, but I didn’t hit the snooze button either. I completed the six practices that   lead to achieving your potential. I felt good. Proud of myself for taking the initiative to make a change. I quickly realized that this was how I was going to get in my personal growth reading as well as strengthen my spiritual needs (an area that has been lacking greatly for the last few months). For the first time since I made it, I was able to take time to study my vision board; a practice that should be done daily, but that I never took the time to do. 

I’m happy to report that today was day 26! The first ten days, as Hal described in his book, are “unbearable.” It took a lot of will power to get out of bed – especially since I was traveling and staying up later than usual. The next ten days were indeed “uncomfortable.” More travel yielded later nights (3 hour earlier time difference didn’t help) – but I kept at it. These last few days have been wonderful. 

Daily Routine: Finding Your Rhythm

Figuring out your daily rhythm is important to setting your daily routine. If I had my druthers I would sleep until 10 am and be up until 1 or 2 in the morning. I can be very productive in the evening and tend not to get interrupted. However, I’m a wife and mother and my schedule has to mesh with the rest of the family.

Kids have to get to school in the morning with completed homework and packed lunches. Husband works outside the home and believes everyone should be up by 7 am since he has to be. So I’ve had to adjust my natural rhythm and it doesn’t always work out so well for me.

Currently I’m up between 7 and 7:30 a.m. By 8:30 the day is usually mine. At 3:00 p.m. school is out and kids return home. From then until about 8 p.m. I’m in mom mode – snacks, homework, dinner. Then there is some time available between 8 – 11 p.m. Depending on what has occurred during the daylight hours, my brain may be dead by 8 p.m. or I could be raring to go.

Unfortunately, I tend to enter a high productivity mode around 2 p.m. which then gets interrupted by the kids coming from school. I used to hit a high productivity mode in the evening, around 7 p.m., but that mode eroded away when my children were small. I have noticed that it’s showing signs of returning. The morning is peppered with interruptions from phone calls, emails, and the occasional visitor. What can I do make my available time more productive and weed out some of the distractions?

Firstly, I need to have a firm grasp on what must be accomplished that day, that week, and that month. This is being addressed by the task list worksheet I created at the beginning of this series. There are certain things that need to be done everyday, and some tasks that need to be dealt with less frequently. Unexpected things come up all the time and need to be added.

Secondly, I need to block out some distraction-free time. Do not answer the phone, the door, or emails. Do not check Facebook or Twitter. Potentially go media free for a bit. It is likely that this block of time will vary both in duration and in start time each day to fit in with my scheduled appointments and other obligations. But that’s okay. I’m coming from a very flexible and organic schedule. This flexibility suits my personality, but it would not necessarily be beneficial to everyone. Ideally, I will block out a part of the day that includes my high productivity mode.

Thirdly, I need to start taking a look at which tasks can be delegated to someone else – either a family member (in the case of planning meals), or a virtual assistant (for some of the business oriented tasks).

My work for the next few days is cut out for me: creating a system for this week that focuses on a schedule that best uses me highly productive modes and fits into my family’s schedule.

Have you determined your natural rhythm? What time of the day is your most productive time and does that fit in well with the rest of your schedule?

This post is Part 4 of a series on Daily Routines. Read more of the series:

Daily Routine: Anatomy of My Worksheet

Progress! At least there is something tangible to work with in my strive to create a daily routine and keep things from slipping through the cracks. It certainly isn’t perfect yet, and will undoubtedly transform as it gets used.

I went with a single sheet that will represent the entire week. There are several things that should be done EVERY day, but there are other tasks that just have to be completed within that week. One piece of paper keeps it simple, shows what has been accomplished so far – and what hasn’t.

Let’s take a look:

Weekly Checklist and Schedule
Thumbnail of my Task Checklist and Schedule sheet

Bare in mind that this is designed by me for me. So this particular sheet will not work for anyone else – BUT you will be able to get some ideas for formulating your own sheet.

At the top are a series of small circles – let’s call them dots – that each represent a task that should be completed X number of times a day. The first is “Tweets” with purple dots. I would like to tweet 8 times a day, everyday. Each time I tweet I check off a dot. The next set of dots is for “FB Posts” and are also purple. I would like to post on my “I’ll Take Success” Facebook page 4 times a day, six days a week. The next set of dots is in green and is for “Calls.” These are my ten daily calls (five days a week) for my Arbonne business. My goal is 50 calls a week, so if I don’t get all ten done in a day – or some days do more – I can just keep checking off those dots.

Closeup of dots for checking off daily tasks
Closeup of dots for checking off daily tasks

So the dots work great for checking off any task that requires a quota per day or week, but doesn’t need any specifics recorded. That is, I don’t need to record what I tweeted, just that it got done.

The next part of the sheet is broken into sections. Each section is for a particular segment. Some sections have more dots – for those tasks that are not necessarily daily, but have more of a weekly quota and are pertinent to segment. For instance, the first section pertains to “I’ll Take Success” and concerns this blog. There are six dots, because I’d like to post six times a week. There is space for me to make notes about ideas for posts and also for my weekly newsletter.

I’m still playing around with the sections. It did occur to me that this layout would be ideal on a large bulletin board or white board. I could easily make notes throughout the week as things came up and needed to be added. But for now I’m sticking with the single sheet of paper as I work out the kinks.

And kinks there are. My sheet doesn’t give me a clear indication of what is most important to get done each day, so I’m going to need a way to prioritize my tasks. I do know that I don’t want to just have a long list of things that need to be done. That’s overwhelming, at least to me.

Next, I will take a look at how I can prioritize my tasks.

This post is Part 3 of a series on Daily Routines. Read more of the series:

Daily Routine: Goals and Tasks

Plan your work for today and every day, then work your plan. – Margaret Thatcher
Yesterday I wrote about wanting to nail down a workable daily routine and my homework was to create a list of the goals and tasks that would be part of this routine. Because I work from home, I have integrated some home tasks with work tasks.Here is what I have so far, broken down by goal and supporting tasks:Increase the visibility of my blog

  • Tweet 5-8 times a day
  • Post new content 4-6 times a week
  • Interact on Facebook
  • Read/write email
  • Weekly email newsletter

Further self-growth

  • Read book(s) 15-20 minutes
  • Read blogs 15-20 minutes
  • Listen to podcasts (when traveling in car)
  • Social interaction in person and social media

Write e-books

  • Research
  • Write
  • Prep and Publish

New Year, New You Series

  • Develop content
  • Research
  • Write
  • Schedule venues
  • Promote

Arbonne (MLM company)

  • 10 calls/interactions
  • Check stats and website for updates
  • Place orders
  • Interact with team
  • Coaching

Fine Needle (online yarn shop)

  • Read emails
  • Ship packages
  • Update web store
  • Knit on sample(s)


  • 1-2 loads of laundry
  • Sort mail
  • Pay bills
  • 15-20 minutes organizing
  • Plan meals

Wow! Will there be enough hours in the day?! Seems a bit daunting, but some of the items don’t necessarily have to be done every day. And some of the items may be outsourced, although most of the tasks listed will be handled by me at this point.

The next step, other than continuing to refine my list, is to determine how much and how many. How much time should be devoted to task and/or how many tweets/posts/calls in daily quota. Some of those numbers I already listed, but now I want to see what things I can group together, even if they are tasks from different goals.

How do you combine or group your daily tasks?
This post is Part 2 of a series on Daily Routines:

Daily Routine: Getting One

Having been self employed for close to 20 years, I’ve had a very flexible schedule. I’ve generally lived each day as “what do I need to accomplish today or this week?” With launching this new business, I’m finding that my usual lackadaisical attitude just isn’t going to cut it. I need a real daily routine.

Between making connections on social media, writing blog posts, and working on my Network Marketing business, there are a lot of little things that fall through the cracks if I’m not careful to keep a checklist of tasks and goals.

Notice I mentioned goals. Because every task, no matter how mundane, should be contributing to a goal. Otherwise, why would you do it? Equally important is to make sure that time is wisely spent. No sense in spending 3 hours on something that ultimately won’t make a significant impact on the goal.

Now this new daily routine isn’t going to magically come together in one day – or probably even one week. Most likely it will require constant tweaking as my goals are met and change. But I’d like to get a basic foundation in place within the next couple of weeks.

So today I am going to list my goals and the daily and weekly tasks associated with those goals. If you are interested in developing or revamping your daily routine, then join me on my journey. Make your list of goals and tasks. If it seems daunting, then focus on one goal and the tasks required to make it happen. Check back tomorrow to see my preliminary list!

What tasks are part of your daily routine?

This post is Part 1 of a series on Daily Routines. Read more of the series: