5 Ways to Find Balance

Sunday, November 22, 2015

5 Ways to Find Balance

There are times when your life gets completely nuts and you just can't get it together.  Too much going on, too many commitments, little emergencies, illness, etc., can all make you feel like you are in survival mode all the time and just reacting to things as they are thrown to you.  Here are 5 ways to get your life back in balance!

1)  Spend some quiet time alone with your thoughts.  Even if you can't leave your house, close your door and just spend some time writing down your thoughts or just thinking without distraction.

2)  Make a list of your priorities.  You can't do it all.  Many of us suffer for the disease to please and we say yes to everything that is asked of us.  Is there too much on your plate?  Are you doing things that are not a priority to you?  Write it down.

3)  Cut it out.  If something is at the bottom of your priority list, but you are spending time doing it to the detriment of something at the top, then it needs to go.  Do not feel guilty about this.  Cut out the things that are causing stress and not adding to your quality of life.

4)  Get healthy.  Are you out of shape?  Are you overweight?  These things contribute to the unbalanced feeling you have.  Your health is a priority.  Better food means more energy.  Less weight means you feel better.  Get fit, get strong and feel better about your life.  Make yourself a priority!

5)  Family matters.  Move your spouse to the top of your priority list.  Put your children next.  Spend time together.  Family dinners have an enormous impact in children's future happiness and achievement.  Turn off phones, tvs, computers and spend quality time reading, hiking, playing games, cooking, laughing.  

If you do these 5 things, you will gain more time in your day to do the things you actually want to do and enjoy doing.  Move yourself and your relationships to the top of your priority list, your life will start moving to a more balanced state.  Cut out all activities that are not adding value to your life and start doing the things you really want or need to do.  It is craziness to continue doing an activity that we dread every week and that takes time away from meaningful pursuits.  Your children will still be successful if you take a season off of traveling soccer.  I promise.   Stop rushing from one thing to the next and instead have time to peacefully do the things you really want to do!  This is your only life, you owe it to yourself to at least enjoy it!

The secret to losing weight.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Let's talk about weight loss and getting fit.  I had surgery in June and then had to sit on my couch until mid August.  At the same time, my son was home from college and he and I watched The Office and Parks and Rec and ate a lot of desserts.  We had a great time with our tv and desserts.  However, this caused me to get fat and out of shape!

I needed to lose 15 pounds and my goal was the end of October.

Now, what you really want to know....how I did it...what was the secret.

The secret is...there is no secret.  I stopped eating carbohydrates.  That is pretty much the extent of it. I ate protein and fruit and vegetables.  I did not eat bread, potatoes, rice or pasta or dessert :)

I also walked around my neighborhood every evening with my husband which was good for the waistline and good for the marriage.

That is it.  No pills, no cleanse, no shakes or special food.  In fact, it saved me money.  I am always amazed at the amount of money spent on weight loss.  The simple fact is that you do not need to join a multi level marketing company and spend hundreds of dollars on supplements being sold to you by people who are not health care providers or nutritionists.  All you really need to do is stop eating crap and start moving.

I know it sounds simple and it should be simple but we humans get addicted to things that make us feel like garbage.  Sugar and starch.  I stopped eating them and instead of feeling starved, I had more energy and felt better.  Sure, I was hungry at times because I was eating less but I didn't die and a little discomfort was worth it to feel so good again.

Walking and hiking are the best exercise and even if you do nothing different but walk every evening, your body will change for the better and you will feel better.

So, I am sorry to tell you that there is no secret to weight loss.  It takes self discipline and motivation but this is what works and I didn't have to buy one single thing.

So, put a little less on your plate and put on your tennis shoes and move.  This is your year!!

Thursday, November 5, 2015

The last of the leaves are dropping off the trees and the first snow has fallen.  A fire is crackling in the fireplace while I sit on the couch with two books...The Wind is Not a River and Bread and Wine. Both are just lovely.  Winter is here.

I have not made too many great meals the last couple of weeks.  I need to do a big shop and get some food.  These people here literally want to eat 3 or more times a day.  If I had my way, we would all just have some apps and cocktails for dinner and call it good.  I probably should not give the children cocktails though, so there goes that great, happy hour for dinner idea.

I have finally really learned my camera so I have been taking a lot of photos.  Still struggling to learn editing which is harder than taking the bloody pictures.  That makes it sound like I am taking photos of crime scenes..but, really, I just like to sound Kate Winslet :)

Trying to get back into the blogging habit so look for more posts with hopefully something insightful or relevant to say.  Nothing like that is even remotely passing through my mind right now so I will just say good night.  Thanks for catching up with me!

The books of summer.

Friday, August 28, 2015

2015 was the summer of books.  Summer is a glorious time in the Flathead Valley.  It only lasts 72 days but the days are very long at the 48th parallel with only about 3-4 hours of complete darkness.  The people here appreciate summer.  It gets you through a long winter.  This summer was different, though.

I had surgery in early June that required 8 weeks of recuperation.  I was unable to hike, swim, run, climb, do housework, lift things...nothing...boring.  So, I ordered a stack of books.  And I read and read and read.  I haven't read like that since I was home alone with little babies.  These were my favorites of the summer.

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah.
I am not usually a fan of Kristin Hannah books.  They somehow lack a depth that will keep me interested.  This book is a departure from her typical book.  The story of the French resistance through the eyes of two sisters.  It is beautiful, heartbreaking, deep.  I love stories of World War II and this one rocketed up to one of my top 5 books of all time.  Beautiful character development.  I loved it so much I would only allow myself a chapter or two at a time so it would last longer.

The Matchmaker by Elin Hilderbrand.
I love a good beach read that takes place in Nantucket.  If you can't get to a place, go there in a book. All of her books are great Nantucket reads.  Not deep but satisfying!

Hannah Colter by Wendell Berry.
This book is a little bit slower.  Berry is a master at character development.  There is no great plot twist or climax like a traditional novel but more of a collection of scenes that highlight a typical era in American history.  Worth reading.

The Paris Wife by Alyson Richman.
Another World War II story about two lovers separated by war.  The fact that people survived such tragedy and heartbreak in their lives just really makes me feel spoiled and entitled.  I loved these characters and their spirit.

The Vacationers by Emma Straub.
I devoured this book.  It is like eating dessert.  A funny, witty story about a dysfunctional (aren't we all?) family on vacation in Mallorca.  Loved every, single sentence and hated it to end.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald.
Sometimes you just want to visit with an old friend.  Fitzgerald is one of my favorite writers whom I love to reread now and then.  Other favorite rereads..Hemingway and Jane Austen.

Little Women by Louisa Mae Alcott.
Another favorite from my childhood.  I adore the characters, I feel every single heartache.

As soon as I was released from the couch, the smoke descended from hundreds of forest fires.  Over 70,000 acres have burned in Montana so we choke and cough in our little valley where you can no longer see any mountains due to smoke.  So, we sit inside, ready to start another book :)  What are your recommendations?

Navigating Midlife

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

It has been awhile since I last blogged.  It is hard to write about this time of life.  
I have a lot of young adults and teenagers and you can't really blog about them.  
At the same time, I still have little kids at home and I am 20 years older than the other moms.

So, I feel the need to transition the blog away from homemaking and more toward fulfilling goals.
I am at a time in my life that I feel like I need to start meeting some of the goals I set when I was younger.  The writing and the adventure and the peace.  

I hope that you will continue to read along.  I will throw in my parenting tried and trues and, as always, try to be a source of encouragement to other moms. 

It is good to be back :)

Top 10 Things I Have Learned As A Mom.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014


1.  Babies don't stay babies very long.  The first year is exhausting, but it does get easier..or else you get used to lack of sleep!...Enjoy those first 12 months and be present.  Do not decide not to have another baby based on the first 12 months.  Give yourself time to think about it when you are not exhausted and in a hormonal haze.

2.  Kids need sleep.  No one, not even adults, act their best when they are tired.  Make sure your kids sleep enough so you don't have to fight battles you don't need to fight.  This is especially true of teens..they need as much sleep as toddlers.

3.  I am not my child's mistakes or their successes.  They come with their own personalities and just like me they are on a journey to learn.  When they mess up, it does not mean I am a failure as a mother and screwed up my kids...similarly, when they do something awesome, it is their success, not mine.

4.  Teach them to do stuff.  Don't do it for them.  Little kids can do stuff if we allow them to, instead of doing it for them.  They can do chores and take care of their things.  They are smart, we just need to let them learn instead of being in a hurry and doing it ourselves.  Your child's teacher will thank you for letting your child be responsible for his own things and for teaching him to do things himself.

5.  Don't coddle them.  Let them feel disappointment.  The more you shield them from these emotions in early childhood, the harder they will feel as a teen.  Life is hard and sometimes does not go your way, don't let it surprise them when they are 20.

6.  Teach your kids to work.  Chores are important.  Work ethic matters.  If you don't raise kids who have to lift a finger at home, they are not going to lift one for an employer.  Chores teach kids much more than work..they teach responsibility, doing something for the good of the family, and pride in a job well done. Chores and responsibilities are what give your child self esteem, not getting trophies for every little thing.

7.  Reading is one of the most important skill for kids to master.  Reading is the gateway to all learning.  You cannot learn anything in later grades if you are not a good reader in early grades.  Read at home, read aloud, listen to your kids read.  Read more than you watch.  It will pay off.

8.  The big things are the little things.  Your kids will not remember the details of the pinterest party you threw them one year What they will remember are your the traditions...ice cream on Tuesday nights, reading in bed with you every night, board games on Sunday afternoons, picnics and fishing. Similarly, they won't remember when you yelled at them either, so give yourself a break.  We all lose our cool now and then :)

9.  Teach them accountability.  Every time you rescue them from a mistake, you make them less accountable.  Have them take responsibility for the things they do.  Make them write letters of apology, don't scream at their little league coach, don't make excuses to their teachers for them.  They have to learn that they are a person of integrity and honor.  Help them learn that.  Don't let them grow up with excuses on their tongues.

10.  Self discipline is THE single most important thing a kid can learn.  If you are self disciplined, you can accomplish your goals from running a marathon to getting a scholarship to landing that big job. You have to be self disciplined enough to take every step toward your goal. There are kids who persevere and there are kids who give up.  Raise a child who perseveres.  Kids love goal charts and keeping track.  Teach them to discipline themselves and you will make the teen years so much easier on yourself and raise productive members of society.

Gretchen Knuffke is a mother of 10 children ranging in age from 4 to 22.  She is a freelance writer and a preschool teacher.  She owns Maternal Instincts, a parenting education company and is an motivational speaker for various mom ministries and the founder of Kalispell Moms for Moms.

Book Club Reads

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Here is the list of books that my book club read in California.  Most of these are so good and worth the read.


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