Friday, October 4, 2013

A year without lattes - October

3 months and my debt is now 8,926 usd.

I have continued to bring lunch to work, and I have completely skipped the lattes. But I still find it difficult to say NO to social events, so again I went out to dinner couple of times. This month I didn't buy any books or any clothes but I did buy couple of gifts for friends' birthdays.

According to the app on my phone "Debt Strategy," my expected debt free date has moved forward to April 2016;) Some days I can really be furious with myself for getting into this mess. But what's done is done. And it is time to move forward and learn from my mistakes.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

a year without lattes - September

It has been 2 months since I made the decision to get out of debt by July 2014. My debt is now down to 9,343 usd from 10,000.

I have been successful in cutting out the lattes and the lunches at work (I bring my own now from home). This alone should save me around 300 usd per month. I have also changed my mobile phone plan, so I now pay 10 usd per month instead of 40. And finally I decided to cut out one of the two charities I have been making monthly payments to (about 20 usd per month). All together this should make it possible for me to pay at least 350 usd towards my debt every month.

Although I have cut out most of the non-essentials, I have had my weak moments. I did buy two kindle books AND I have been out to dinner with friends a couple of times. I had already planned these dinners before I started this project, and I did buy the cheapest thing on the menu, but still....dinners can be expensive and those dollars count.

I also downloaded an app on my phone called "Debt Strategy" to help me keep track of my debts. According to the app I will pay off my debt by December 2016! This takes into account my monthly payments, but not the extra income that I anticipate in the beginning of 2014. While this date scares me, it is also nice to have this as a reference point. And it will be my goal to move this date forward each month, by paying as much extra as I can. Before I started my "year without lattes" my debt had almost stayed the same for about 3 years, so without this effort my debt free date would probably be close to NEVER. But now I am determined to become free asap.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

my way

While self help books tend to emphasize that it best to have just a couple of goals at any time, I tend to have gazillion goals and ideas floating around in my head any given moment. And I can see why that is not such a great idea. It makes it difficult to focus, and if you are constantly shifting between all your goals your progress is of course going to be way slower than if you have only one or two goals that you are working on.

But here is a thought. Maybe it is still okay. Maybe there is room for types A, who strategically achieve one goal after another, and types B, who chaotically make progress towards various goals, but are less likely to ever check anything completely of their list.

When my husband (type A) is tidying up, he will finish tidying up one area before moving to the next. I (type B) on the other hand, move randomly around tidying up a little bit here, and a little bit there. So if he gets interrupted while tidying up we may have one room that is tidy and nice, while if it was me, there would be still be mess everywhere, although less than there was before. So is one situation necessarily better than the other?

When I took a drawing class a few years back, my teacher explained that when doing composition drawings (e.g. fruits in a bowl) many people tend to start with one piece in the setting (say an apple) an completely finish it before they move to the next. However this means that they do not see the composition as whole, and usually they end up drawing things disproportionately. So in this case, my trait was actually an advantage, as it was natural to me to be working on all the pieces at the same time:)

That being said. It can be frustrating. And although I know that I have been making a lot of progress in the last year, it has been a little bit of this, and a little bit of that, rather than having completely mastered some area of my life. But I am hoping that at some point it all comes together, and I will realize that my whole drawing is done in a nice balanced way:)

Are you type A or B? Do you think one is better than the other???

Thursday, August 1, 2013

accept your feelings. good, bad, and ugly.

When I read The Secret some years back, I decided to experiment with the teachings of the book. For one week, I would not allow myself any negative thoughts. I would be positive, grateful and happy. After couple of days, I got the worst headache ever. It really felt that my head was going to explode, and this headache lasted 48 hours. I wondered weather the headache had anything to do with my experiment. Weather I had so many negative thoughts, that just needed to get out of my head!

Today I have no doubt, that the headache actually came from my experiment. And from not doing it right. In my experience, denial and resistance do not work. You need to accept you feelings: good, bad and ugly. Then you can let go of them, and replace them with something more beautiful and positive.

When I realize that I am on a negativity spiral, the first thing I do is to look at my negative thoughts and feelings. I try to observe what is going on in my head and my body without judging. I accept all those negative feelings. I love them. I am thankful for them, because I can learn from them. Then let go of them. Not forcing anything. But just tell those thoughts, thanks but you are not useful for me at the moment. You can go now;) When some of this negativity has left my body, I replace it by thinking of something positive or imagine positive and healing energy flowing into the space that was occupied by all those negative thoughts and feelings. Sometimes I write things down that I am thankful for. There is always something. It can be silly, and it can be trivial. But it can still get you off the negativity spiral and on the posirivity spiral.

While I feel happier on average since starting the happiness project, I also feel that the lower points have become more difficult. It is as if I've let go of some protective armour, and now the negative thoughts and bad feelings touch me at my innermost core. I think that part of it has to do with responsibility. Before, I was blaming people and situations for my unhappiness, probably more than I realized. Realizing that your happiness is 99% up to you and your attitude is empowering, but at the same time it can create a feeling of shame and blame. There is also added disappointment, when you are really working on your happiness, trying your best, but still fail at times...

But fortunately, I feel that I am also better equipped to deal with these low spirits today than I was before...

I am very curious to hear weather other people on the quest for a happier life have similar experiences with negative thoughts, and how they deal with them???

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

a year without lattes?

I love my lattes. And I love going to nice cafes, alone, with a book, newspaper or a magazine. On the other hand, I hate my credit card debt, which is almost 10,000 usd.

My bank is a bit like a leaky bucket. I put something in, and without spending anything the money is very soon gone. I am not blaming my debt entirely on the lattes, but they definitely contribute to this "leaky bucket" situation.

So, can I give my dear lattes up for a year?
And can I get rid of 10,000 usd debt (+ interests) within that year?

some fuzzy math.

I mostly got into this financial mess on my own, and I want to get rid of it on my own. I.e. I don't want the household budget to suffer for it. I also think it is healthy and necessary for me to take responsibility for getting myself into this trouble. While my husband and I mostly have joint finances, we have always kept some of our salary in our personal accounts. At this point, each of us keeps around 450 usd as our personal spending money each month. I use this money to buy the lattes, for food at work, train tickets, clothes, mobile phone, to pay the minimum on my credit card, and then some other miscellaneous things. As it is, this money is always gone before the end of the month.

Now, if I skip everything except the essentials, such as the train and the mobile phone, I should be able to use about 350 usd to pay down my debt each month. This requires no lattes, no clothes, no cinema tickets, and bringing my own lunch to work every day. This should give me about 4200 within the year. So not quite enough to wipe out the 10,000.

As I got inspired to get rid of this consumer debt asap I asked whether I could get some extra projects at work...and it looks like I will have some projects in the spring, that will pay about 4,500 usd.

So with no frivolous spending for a whole year, and by doing some extra work, I am almost there, but still missing some.

I need to figure out how to get these extra dollars, and will keep my eyes (and mind) open for opportunities to save, or earn, an extra buck. But I am determined that by 1st of July 2014, my consumer debt will be zero.

Friday, June 21, 2013

meditation on 2 dollars

As I walked out one morning earlier this week I found 10 krones on the pave walk. That is about 2 us dollars. I decided to take it as a signal. Abundance is coming, soon money will flow into my life, and all my financial worries will disappear...

As I walked to work, I caught myself thinking that now, with these 10 krones in my pocket, I could treat myself to a latte without feeling guilty...., and I realized how typcial this is for my relationship with money. As soon as it flows in, I find a way to throw it out. Everything I earn, is immediately spent. Actually, as I found out yesterday, it is even worse than that. In every dollar earned I find justification for spending a dollar and a half. In the case of the 10 krones and the latte....a latte costs anywhere between 20 and 40 krones. Finding 10 krones in the street does not equal a free latte.

So I took the 10 krones with me to work, put it on my desk, and it is still there, as a reminder that it is possible to have a different kind of relationship with money. A penny saved, is a penny earned.

I am going on vacation, so for the next two weeks I will not worry about weekly planners, and I will probably not blog much either....but I will be back:)

Have a great weekend! /D

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Money: Making peace with the past

The first step in the program introduced in YMOYL involves the following:

A. Find out how much money you have earned in your lifetime-the sum total of your gross income, from the very first penny you ever earned to your most recent paycheck

B. Find out your net worth by creating a personal balance sheet of your assets and liabilities

The purpose of this exercise is to get you to ground zero, to locate you in time and space. The authors emphasize that this should be done as accurately as possible, preferably to the penny….or at least to the dollar. In step B, you are supposed to add the value all of your assets that you could possible sell (craigslist, amazon, ebay). It took me some time to gather all this information. And I was definitely not able to count every cent that I have earned, or to put an accurate price tag on everything I own. But I did my best.

Here is what I found:

Total Money earned: 326,000 USD

My Net worth: -128,000 USD
(my student loan is the biggest culprit for this insane number)
My Consumer Debt: 9,858 USD

After going through step A, adding together all of the money I have earned through my life, I wasn’t sure what to think. I have no sense of whether this number is small or big. Actually it is a bit more than I expected, but still it is kind of abstract to me. If I had every cent that I ever earned in a saving account, I would be able to pay off my student loan. On the other hand, I would barely be able to buy a decent home for my family without a loan. It is perhaps shocking how much time and energy the average person spends in the labor market just to afford their house/apartment. I also can't help thinking about whether it was rational of me to spend all this money on my education.... I guess time will tell.

Doing step B, at first I was a bit shocked how little I have to show for my paychecks. I don’t really have any big assets. I don’t own an apartment, or a car…where has all the money gone? (well I guess food, rent, education, books, travels, clothes, too many cafe lattes....). On the other hand, going through every shelf and every drawer I was still amazed by the abundance in my life. So much stuff. So much luxary and convenience really, when you stop to think about it...

Not surprisingly I found my net worth to be negative (I thought it was nice of the authors to point that net worth does not equal self worth;)). I have managed to spend more than I have earned. In some sense this represents lack of freedom. Because borrowed money, is borrowed time. I owe many working days, in order to pay off my loans and credit card debts.

I have been super bothered by my credit card debt. Although when I look at the consumer debt next to these other 2 numbers, it doesn't look as overwhelming as it used to. But in any case. That is my first goal, to get rid of that consumer debt. At this point I am not sure how long it will take....a year? 5 years? but to start with this number should go down by some number of dollars every single month.

So the fog is cleared. I've stepped on the scale. No shame, no blame. This is where I am at.

And now I can start building up a healthier relationship with money.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

colors and precious moments

When I was living in the US I was impressed by the way most Americans seem to be able to talk about their strengths and talents without seeming arrogant or obnoxious. In Europe, I think, and in particular in the northern part, this isn't acceptable. The highest virtue is modesty, to the extend that you should never claim or believe that you are really good at anything.

So, breaking the rules of my upbringing, I want to tell you that I am really good with colors:) Like some people are with numbers. (Actually since I've started, I am not so bad with numbers either). I have always been interested in and fascinated by colors, and when I was a kid words and names had colors in my head. When I took a painting class a few years ago, the teacher constantly commented on my talent with colors. (And I scored perfectly on this test;)).

So, as someone who loves colors, I am really enjoying filling out the weekly planner in various ones. (The template for my weekly planner comes from the Positivity Project) ...Now I see my time in colors! In my schedule I have different colors for work time and family time, yellow represents appointments, and now bright aqua blue (perhaps I am not so good with the names of the colors...?) represents my precious, precious moments. In these hours I have planned things that will undoubtedly give me some really happy and meaningful moments in my week. Who says you can't plan and schedule your happiness...?

First: I just got home from a weekend getaway with a very good friend of mine. Whole 3 days of walking around the beautiful streets of Amsterdam with nowhere to go and nothing to do. Just chat,wine,chesse,coffee,food,museum,little bit of was absolutely perfect.

Secondly: I finally scheduled massage/spa treatment using a gift card that I received more than a year ago. I think it is crazy that it has taken me more than a year to squeeze this into my schedule. But finally I did. And I am really really looking forward to it.

Lastly: I have scheduled "a cozy night" with my children. En hyggeaften as we say here in Denmark. The plan is to make pizza together and then watch Winnie the Pooh. Not very original or extravagant. But the key here is just to be present, and to enjoy the company of my wonderful children.

So much happiness in one week:):):) Life is good.

Friday, June 7, 2013


I have never thought too much about money. In fact I have probably given too little attention to money in the past. But as I am trying to move forward towards the calmer, simpler, and happier life, I have come to the conclusion that money is an issue that needs to be dealt with. Gaining control over my financial issues will give me peace and space to focus on other more exciting aspects of life. As it is, the stress that money gives me is contaminating other parts of my life.

Money seems to be a “blind spot” in my brain. I spend money without thinking. I buy without looking at the price tag. I think everything will somehow work out fine. Except when I get panick attacks where I think there is no way I can work out this mess. Over time my increasing overdraft and credit card debt have increasingly been causing me to feel helpless and out of control.

So it is time to tackle the problem: get out of debt, accumulate savings, and hopefully one day become financially independent. To help me “face my finances”, I am reading Your Money or Your Life: 9 Steps to Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Achieving Financial Independence. The book outlines a program to become “financially healthy” in 9 steps:

1) Find out how much you have earned in your life, how much you presently own, and how much you presently owe
2) Calculate your real hourly wage, and keep track of every cent that comes in or goes out of your life
3) Create a montly tablulation of all income and all expenses, convert dollars to "hours of life energy"
4) Look at your expenditures in terms of life energy, are they in alignment with your values and goals?
5) Plot your total monthly income and total monthly expenses
6) Minimize spening
7) Maximize income
8) Calculate your "cross-over point" (if you have savings and investments, when will the returns be enough to cover your monthly expenses)
9) Manage your finances

I am going to tackle these steps and will keep you posted on the progress.

Have a great weekend! /D

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

begin with the end in mind

The 2nd Habit in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is to begin with the end in mind, i.e. to create a clear vision of your life as a whole, and keep that picture in mind every day. That way it becomes easier to use each moment of your life so that it contributes to your journey in a meaningful way.

This requires you to think about what really matters most to you, and how you want to spend your precious time here. And it prevents you from getting caught up in a life where you are busy just for the sake of being busy. By beginning with the end in mind you make sure that you are moving in the right direction.

Imagine yourself as a 100 year old wise and beautiful person. You are looking back on your life, what are you happy about? What are your regrets? How will people remember you? What was your contribution? Did you treat other people well? Do you think that you had a positive or a negative effect on the life of the people around you? Did you treat the earth, its anmials and resources with respect? Did you treat yourself with respect? What would you advise the younger you?

This week I want to think about which values and principals are important to me. I am going to think about the roles that I have in my life, and the goals I want to accomplish in each area.

To think about the end may perhaps seem a bit morbid, but I think that it is a very powerful way of getting to the core, of finding out how you want to live your life. So I will meditate on this and write up a personal mission statement that incorporates my values and visions.

Friday, May 24, 2013

recipe for success?

When thinking about my goals and how to reach them, I find it inspiring to look at all the wonderfully successful people around me. I have a friend who recently reached her goal of shedding 40 pounds in 6 months (by exercising and eating healthy). I know so many people who have set out to loose weight but given up half-way through. So what made her succeed?

  • Positivity. She is in general a very happy, positive person. During the whole process she has focused more on the benefits of her changed lifestyle rather than the difficulties. I.e. she focused on how much better she felt, and looked, rather than on that ice-cream and chocolate she had given up, to reach her goal.
  • Goals. She set her self a clear goal, with smaller goals to celebrate along the way.
  • Babysteps. She didn't try to change all of her bad habits in a day or two. In the beginning she only focused on improving her eating habits. Then she gradually started exercising.
  • Resilience. Like most of us, she had her weak moments. The key to success is getting back on track rather than loosing oneself in self-pity and despair.
  • Role-model and/or support. One of her friends had recently succeeded in reaching a similar goal. This friend was both her role-model and support throughout the process.
  • Internal Drive. She was fed up, and wanted to loose weight for her own well being. I think this is essential and that it is difficult, perhaps almost impossible, to reach your goal if it is only motivated by what you think you should do.

Are there other factors that you consider important ingredients in the recipe for success?

Have a wonderful weekend! /Di.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Staying Healthy While On the Road

This is a guest post from Mike Manning, who writes about health and positivity on his blog Manning's Musings.

Staying Healthy While On the Road

We've always suspected, but now the Mayo Clinic confirms it for us that being on the road makes eating right and getting the right exercise a lot more difficult. Whether you are headed on the road for a much-needed vacation or you have to travel regularly for business, you'll find that it is extremely hard to find ways to stick with your regular exercise regimen. Here are some tips to keep up the fitness battle on the road.

Plan Ahead

When you are booking your hotel, it is worth your time to see what kind of exercise facilities that they have. For example, many people find that staying at a hotel with a gym allows them to keep up with their exercise while they are on the road. Make sure to do some research on reviews sites on what type of amenities that hotels offer in the area. On a recent trip to Las Vegas I searched many reviews on hotels in Las Vegas that were in my price range. I ended up booking one that fit my personality and price range perfectly. It will truly make your trip much more enjoyable if you are in a place that fits your personality. You may get a chance to try out new exercise equipment when you are there, or maybe you can get a few laps in in the hotel pool. If the hotels do not have a gym, consider finding a hotel with a trail area where you can walk or jog.


When you want to make progress with anything, you need to think about how you can do it consistently. If you are someone who has created a workout habit, do not allow your time on the road to break it. Too many people allow their exercise routines to get disrupted while they are traveling. Not only does this make your exercise harder to get back to, you will also discover that it can slow your process. When you are consistent about getting exercise even when you are on the road, you will continue to progress.

Eating Well

Part of staying healthy while you are on the road is eating well. When you are traveling, you are often confronted with a lot of food options that are not your usual choices. Skip the fast food, and if you cannot, stay away from anything that is fried. Opt for green salads and fruit. If your hotel has a kitchen, do some of your own cooking instead of eating out. Not only will this keep more money in your pocket, it will prevent you from taking on calories that you do not need.

Exercise After Driving

Have you ever noticed how tired you feel after driving? Many people feel quite fatigued after they have been driving for a while, and all they want to do is to slouch around the hotel room. The truth is that after all of the time cooped up in the car, it is a lot better for you to do a small amount of exercise. This will reinvigorate you and help you sleep more soundly. Remember that even doing a bit of exercise is far better than doing none at all.

Take a few moments to consider what your options are when it comes to eating well and getting enough exercise while on the road. It takes some time and some planning, but it is an entirely possible goal. Think about how important exercise and good food are to your schedule and move on from there.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

weekly planner

Experts agree that one of they keys to success when it comes to reaching your goals is accountability.

I have been thinking about how to make myself more accountable, and just came across this idea. Christine from the Positivity Project has made her own weekly planner, including all her goals and commitments, and updates it live.

I think her template for the weekly planner is awesome, and it incorporates most of the things that I would want to have in my weekly overview. And by making your plan public you get an extra incentive to keep your commitments...which is exactly what I need!

So I've filled out my weekly planner for this week, and will be updating it daily:) I am looking forward to the week ahead. Cheers, Di.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

next project

It's been almost a year since I started the "happiness project". The project has brought many good things to my life. I feel happier, more positive, stronger, even a little bit healthier. On the other hand I am still chaotic, I still have problems with time management, with procrastination, and with completing tasks and projects.

There are many things that I would like to achieve in life. In my ideal world there would be no stress. I would have enough time to enjoy being with my kids, to do yoga, meditate, draw, paint, read. I would be near nature, climb mountains and swim in the ocean. I would be a vegeterian, grow my own food, make everything from scratch. I would give to others and find a way to help others improving their quality of life.

As I look back on the last 12 months, I realize that I was trying to do everything at the same time. When you try to do everything at the same time, the changes in each area can be so incremental that it can be a bit discouraging. So perhaps it is more effective to tackle one thing in you life, before moving to the next? So where to start?

Well after some consideration, I decided to start with money. Not because I think money is the most important thing in my life, but because I think it is necessary to get my finances under control. My debt, and perhaps more so my inability to get rid of it, causes me stress, sense of failure and imprisonment.

My consumer debt is about 10 thousand usd. About the same as it was a year ago! The main focus for the next few months is to improve my relationship with money, improve my financial skills, and find ways to spend less and/or earn more.

But I still want to focus on happiness, positivity, peace of mind etc. So here is an idea that I think will not take my focus too much away from my financial goal. I recently watched the Ted talk below: Fake it until you Become it. And was very inspired. So I thought that each month I could focus on a quality that I would like to possess, and focus on "becoming it". E.g. as I want to be more confident (energetic, positive, healthy, etc.) I will take a few minutes in the morning to pose as confident person, and think about how I can go through my day as a confident human being.

So this is what I am thinking, although I am still figuring out the details.

I would also love to hear about your own experience with doing a happiness project:) What has worked for you? And what has not?
cheers, Di.

Friday, May 3, 2013

May: Impeccable Faith

hello! it's been a while...

Although I've continued to think about and work toward my goals in the last few weeks, it has been a little bit unfocused and disorganized. I am inherently a rather chaotic person, so I think that in some sense I needed a break from resolutions, goals, to-do lists, etc. But although I accept that I am a bit chaotic by nature, the chaos in my life has grown out of control, and I need to (and want to) continue my journey to a simpler and happier life...

So now I am back to blogging and making resolutions charts:)

May is the 12th month of my project. I am going to use this month to reduce the chaos, to find more peace and serenity in my life. I also want to focus on faith. For the next 30 days I am going to have faith that things are as they are supposed to be, I will let go of the need to control all things in my life. I'll to have faith in myself and in my abilities, and I am going to believe that I am able to reach the goals that I set for myself.

Instead of introducing new resolutions, I decided to look back, and focus on the resolutions that helped me finding peace and happiness in the last 11 months. So this month I will:

  • go to bed before 10pm
  • read
  • meditate everyday
  • do yoga everyday
  • keep gratitude journal
  • drink plenty of water and herbal tea
  • keep my nightstand uncluttered
  • have faith

I am happy to be back:)
luv, Di.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Working Your Way Through Illness

This is a guest post from Melanie Bowen of All About Health and Happy Runnings. Very much worth reading. Thank you Melanie!
Contrary to some beliefs, fitness programs are not harmful to patients who have been diagnosed with cancer. Just the opposite is true.  Patients who have been going through treatment for a great length of time, those suffering from just about anything from breast cancer to mesothelioma, and people who have been newly diagnosed can all benefit from regular exercise during their struggle. Exercise strengthens the body rather than weakening it as its fights off cancer cells.

The types of exercises that are beneficial to cancer patients are not those that are long and strenuous. Routines such as these can leave them feeling drained. Patients undergoing cancer treatments are often already in a weakened state due to radiation therapy and other forms of conventional treatment. Exercises that provide benefit are mild activities such as walking and resistance workouts that keep the body active during the course of treatments. Studies have revealed that people engaging in light to medium exercise during cancer treatments live longer and have much higher survival rates.  Women suffering from breast cancer who perform daily exercises have been shown to live 50% longer than women undergoing treatment without any type of exercise program.

Exercise has been shown to lessen the side effects of treatment in addition to lengthening the survival time of patients. Patients, who lose their appetite and feel nauseated due to traditional cancer treatments, have reported a return of appetite after engaging in mild exercises.  Many patients also face problems maintaining a steady weight during treatment.  Exercising assists in regulating the body's metabolism to help keep this aspect of treatment under control.

Patients going through cancer treatments have also noted that exercise considerably enhanced their quality of life during the experience. Cancer sufferers are extremely prone to depression and difficulty sleeping.  Exercise continually proves to be a remedy in these areas by inducing the release of endorphins throughout the body. The activity and the fresh air that comes with walking or jogging elevates the mood of the patient, allows them to set goals for themselves, and combats feelings of isolation. Prostate cancer, the most common form of cancer in men, also reflects lower mortality rates when conventional treatment is combined with regular exercise.  There is a 30% reduction in the number of deaths.

Even after treatments have ceased, patients in remission still report the benefits of maintaining a regular exercise program.  Exercise is effective as both a treatment and a preventative measure. The positive effects from a steady regiment of activity impact heart health, bone density, muscle strength, and provide pain relief. Talk to your doctor today and get started on a program that will help you mentally and physically.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

February: wrap up

The main goal of February was to love infinitely and husband, family, friends, everyone...and maybe most importantly myself.

I focused on love, the heart chakra, thought about love, meditated on love...

During these last few months I've become much more aware of the self-talk that constantly goes on in my head. And it often amazes me that I've been living with this, often very negative voice, for so long without paying attention. Without challenging it.

By focusing on unconditional love, I realized how much self-hatred I've been carrying around. If someone had asked me a few monts ago whether I experienced self-hatred, I would have said no. I didn't realize, I wasn't aware. But although it subtle, this voice that constantly tells me I'm not good enough, I'm not worthy, I can't do this, I don't deserve has a big impact on who I am and what I do. I think that this voice of negativity is already getting weaker. But I still need to practice and strengthen my positive self talk.

I am learning and I am growing. I am 33, which somedays feels old, and other days feels young. I wish I had gone through my teens and 20s with more confidence, and that I had found more peace and balance earlier in life. But as Bikram puts it: "You're never too fat, you're never too old, never too sick; and, it's never too late to start...":)

Although I have been neglecting the blog, it is super important to me and my project. And I really LOVE reading the other "happiness" blogs. It is so unbelievably inspiring to read the stories of people who are on similar paths.

So I think it is appropriate to end the month of impeccable love by sending my love and gratitude to my readers, and fellow bloggers ♥

Monday, February 11, 2013

Weekly Commitment 2: drink more water

My first weekly commitment was to eat mindfully. It was more difficult than I expected. The first couple of days I forgot about it quite a few times, but even when I remembered it was not easy. Just eating felt inefficient and unproductive. I felt líke I should be checking my email, reading a newspaper, or even watching the tv.

But it got easier, and eating more mindfully helped me to eat healthier as I became more aware of how the food actually tastes and makes me feel. I realized that some of the things that I grab as treats, actually make me feel bloated and bad.

This week it is simple: drink more water. I constantly forget to drink water. Most of the liquid I consume during the day is coffee. Sometimes tea. I rarely drink juices or sodas. According to health experts it is very important for your body to get enough fluids to work optimally, and even slight dehydration can apparently drain your energy and make you feel tired.

From what I read 6-8 glasses is approximately the amount of water one should drink during the day. I'll start by drinking at least one big glass of water each time I sit down to eat something, that should be about 5 big glasses per day...and is definitely considerably more than I am currently drinking.


Friday, February 8, 2013

February: Impeccable Love

This month I am focusing on love and kindness.

Marriage: With two young children (I use them as an excuse for everything;)) it is easy to forget to nurture and take care of the relationship with your spouse. The goal for this month is more hugs, more kisses, more talking. Perhaps even a date.

Everyone: Love and accept everyone as they are. Put more love into all relationships, all interactions with other people, love unconditionally. Do random acts of kindness.

Myself: Love and accept myself as I am. As Ashley puts it: "Loving yourself is the key to loving others." This is something I've been working on for a while, and I know that I still need to put effort in here. I think that this list of "How to Love Yourself in 17 Ways" is a great inspiration.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

January: wrap-up

January was a bit chaotic, and things did not always go as planned. But that's life, and when I look at my goals for January, I actually think that I did quite well.
  • made meditation part of my daily routine
  • wrote in my journal almost every day
  • read again about the 1st Habit in Covey's 7 habits, although I didn't and blog about it
  • wrote a blog post on the Now Habit
  • re-established my exercise routine, practicing yoga for 10-15 minutes every morning (including the wide-legged forward bend), and 2x a week I do longer workouts with push-ups, sit-ups etc.
  • improved my diet. I tried one week of mindful eating which definitely helped me to eat better. My eating habits are far from perfect, I have a weakness for lattes and croissants....but I've been indulging less and less and instead I've been eating more fruits and veggies.

What is left is to define my health goals, and do more random acts of kindness. I am sure I will get to that at some point:)

Overall, I am very happy about the progress I made in January. I've been more proactive, and have become better at standing up for myself when needed. I have also been more present, more in the "now", than usual...and I believe that is one of the keys to live a happier, more meaningful life.

In February I am focusing on love, marriage and kindness:)

Friday, January 18, 2013

Creating a Safety Net

To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don't need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself. - Thich Nhat Hanh

The first step in the The Now Habit: A Strategic Program for Overcoming Procrastination and Enjoying Guilt-Free Play, is to create a safety net. The goal is to learn how to lessen your fear of failure and to bounce back from your mistakes by creating an inner self-worth that does not depend on how well you'll do at the task at hand.

The following thought experiment is from the book. The task in your life is to walk a board. Consider how you would feel about the task in each of the following situations:
Situation A: The task before you is to walk a solid board that is thirty feet long, four inches thick, and one foot wide. You have all the physical, mental, and emotional abilities necessary to perform this task.
Situation B: ...the task is just the same...only now the board is suspended between two buildings 100 feet above the pavement.
Situation C: are still on the board suspended between two buildings, 100 feet above the ground...While thinking about what to do, you suddenly feel heat behind you and can hear the crackling noise of fire. The building supporting your end of the board is on fire!
Situation D: You're back on the board again, 100 feet above the ground...But there is no fire this time, only a strong, supportive net, just three feet beneath the board.

How would you feel about the task in Situation A? What about Situation B?

When we over identify who we are, our worth as a person, with the outcome of our work, we move our task from Situation A to Situation B. When a failure or a mistake makes us feel worthless fear can make it impossible to start our project. Perfectionism raises the board 100 feet from the ground.

In Situation C we can choose between possible death (walking the board between the buildings) or certain death (waiting for the fire). Most of us would take the chance and walk the board. When we procrastinate we are setting that fire, we are moving from Situation B to Situation C. If we think that our performance reflects our inner worth, procrastination gives us a buffer...we do not have time to do our best, thus our work is not revealing our real ability.

If we are in Situation C we need to find a way to turn it into Situation D. We need a way to let ourselves know that failing does not mean the end of the world. We need a sense of inner worth that does not depend on our success, our performance, etc. We need to know and remember that we have a spirit, an inner self, that is perfect, and will always be perfect.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Weekly Commitment 1: eating mindfully

In The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People the first habit is to be proactive. One thing that the author Stephen Covey encourages as a way to become more proactive is to make small commitments and keep them.

Starting today I will make small weekly commitments every Monday. Hopefully some new and healthy habits will come out of this, but my focus is only on one week at a time.

My first weekly commitment is to eat mindfully, i.e.:
  • turn of distractions such as computer, tv, radio, etc. while eating
  • put down the cutlery between mouthfuls
  • always eat of a plate, i.e. nothing goes straight from the fridge/cupboard to my mouth
  • concentrate on the taste and texture of the food
  • focus on my body, my feelings, and my reaction to the food

Bon Appétit!

Saturday, January 5, 2013


Here is a list of some of the things that I want to do in 2013

I still want to focus on my impeccable year that I outlined last May. However I also want to make sure that I focus on the basics.

In January I will:

  • Make meditation part of my daily routine
  • Write in my journal every day
  • Read again about the 1st Habit in Covey's 7 habits and blog about it
  • Write at least 1 blog post on the Now Habit
  • Do Random Acts of Kindness 4x

And as January is health month I will also:

  • Re-establish my exercise routine
  • Do yoga and focus on Wide-Legged Forward Bend
  • Find two ways to improve my diet (any ideas??)
  • Define my health goals

cheers, D

Tuesday, January 1, 2013


In 2012 I completed a chapter, and started a new one. I finished my ph.d. and got a job. It was an end of an era. I learned so much in the last few years, and at times I really felt that I was pushed to my limits and way out of my comfort zone. I was also stressed and had no sense of peace or balance as many areas of my life and personality were heavily neglected. After I could close this chapter, I really felt that I needed to reinvent myself. I needed to work on myself, my happiness, my habits and attitudes, and I needed to find better balance in my life. So I started my happiness project and I started blogging.

I've already learned a lot, and although the progress has often been slower than I would have liked, I feel like I took the most important step...that is the first step.

The Yogi Tea Quote above says "Wisdom becomes knowledge when it is personal experience". I feel like that in 2012 I have perhaps become a tiny bit wiser;) I understand better what it means that happiness comes from within, that people make their own reality, and that anything is possible. On the other hand, while anything is possible - not everything is possible at the same time. And while our personality is perhaps more malleable than many would like to believe, changing your attitudes and habits is not easy. It takes time and effort. Persistence and resilience are very valuable personal traits, and I feel like I managed to strengthen these characteristics a bit in the last 6 months.

Now I am thinking about the year ahead, what I want to accomplish. I am sure that 2013 will be an amazing year where I will find more balance and grow a lot as a person:)

Happy new year to you lovely people who visit my blog. You mean a lot to me. May 2013 be the best year ever for all of you.