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How To Improve Your Day With Simple Life Changing Habits

Welcome to Cooking with A Shoe

Inside: Simple life changing habits to reduce your stress and bring joy. You can reset your focus in finances, work, organizing, self care and rest for lasting results with these tried and true resources.

I opened the door, returning home from a last minute 3 day trip, and my breath caught in my chest. Papers were strewn about, half - finished projects covered the floor, and the kitchen counter was swallowed up by dirty dishes.+

Roasted veggies, whole- wheat rolls, and salsa all still had to be made. The hour hand on the clock was spinning too fast in the countdown to head out the door again.

Just a couple of years ago, this would have been enough to send me over the edge.

My voice would shrill as I barked out orders, tears threatening to slip out of the corner of my eye, as I shifted the clutter to have room to work so I could scratch off another task.

 My year of rest changed me.

Focus on current life priorities. On relationships. Self-care. 

Let go of expectations I place like a crushing weight on my soul.

And the unnecessarily high demands I strangle my husband with, when stress causes my eye to twitch because the to-do list is a mile long and needs to be done yesterday. +

To be kind… to myself and to him. To live as the person I am and want to be. 

Change doesn’t happen overnight

8 years, I ran myself into the ground.

Working 40-50 hours over six days a week, plus all the driving to each job. 

6 hours of sleep because the pressure of so many things to do and always feeling behind, not ever giving myself permission to rest.

Not a healthy lifestyle for anyone.

And I was becoming someone I didn’t like at all, exhausted, crabby, and drained of the ability to give.

When I started dreaming of being able to sleep and got sick 4 times one winter, it was time to make some major changes that would simplify my life and reduce the daily stress-induced panic.

Money stress is out the window

So much financial stress had just melted away in 2010 when I read the Total Money Makeover and became debt free. 

I learned how to set up a successful budget  and became intentional about closing out my budget every month, seeing regular progress in reaching my money dreams. 

Stretching my irregular income as far as possible, developing a mindset of saving money, living on less than I earn, being content with what I can afford.

Choosing to take care of my family as the best use of my money, instead of looking over my shoulder cross-eyed because I couldn’t have what someone else had. 

Using a cash envelope wallet to pay for groceries, gas, household supplies and clothing. 

When the money’s gone, I have to stop spending. I can make purchases without the guilt and wondering if there’s enough funds to pay for it now.

Simple life changing habits

Going to bed by 10 pm and making time to go to the park to recharge were some intentional ways I chose to rest and recharge.

I took the course Make Over Your Mornings which was instrumental in paring down my to-do list to just four things in the mornings. 

  • spend a longer time reading my Bible out on my balcony garden
  • going for a jog (finally exercising consistently)
  • getting ready for work
  • prepping dinner

  • I learned that self-care and getting enough sleep is not selfish, but rather vitally important through 15 Days to a Healthier You.

    I say No a lot more and am conscious about what commitments I add to my schedule, knowing where my priorities are for this season in life.

    I’d like to go through the Make Over Your Evenings course and the Make Over Your Year as well.

    I started reading again, painfully slow in getting through books now, quite opposite of what I used to be when younger and my dad called me ‘Fire Eyes’.

    The Broken Way has brought a lot of healing into my life and has helped me walk through some of the shattered, aching parts of my heart. Teaching me that there’s beauty and joy in being broken - and because of that I can give hope to others.

    The Mind Gut Connection has been a fascinating read about how our emotions/ stress and gut health affect each other.

    I make time for other hobbies such as gardening and calligraphy to fill my soul. 

    My happy place is outside on my balcony garden surrounded by tall green onion shoots, butterfly mix flowers, and watching the red-headed hummingbirds chase each other away from the sugar water.

    Working smarter not harder

    I quit working on Saturdays, evenings, and early mornings. And I left my part time job, choosing to work smarter and not harder by finding additional ways to increase my income

    I joined a monthly coaching group and have received so much clarity as I focus on bringing my business online. 

    I now have the mental space to be able to actively pursue my passion of transforming lives through the power of a successful budget. All because I stepped out of my comfort zone and started this blog

    Clutter has to go

    Clutter, especially papers and receipts, mocks me, especially when there’s not enough time to do more than just maintain by washing the dishes every night.

    My chest is lighter and I can breathe better when things are tidy.

    But I’ve had to put on blinders, ignoring the crumbs around the kitchen, the layer of dust on the pictures, and the laundry basket that sits there with rumpled clean clothes for several days.

    I can only be stretched so thin before snapping. And self care takes priority over a Martha Stewart house. +

    After spending some heart healing time over a year and a half, working through shattered dreams and disappointing delays, I am ready to tackle the clutter

    • buckets of yarn without a projects
    • books with an inch of dust
    • an old fish tank

    All the things I no longer need are leaving my house for good as fast as I can fill up the black plastic bags. +

    I’m ready to go paperless and have a seamless system of dealing with the constant barrage of papers and junk mail coming into the house.+

    Setting up systems

    Dreading the two hours a week it took me to menu plan, unable to come up with new recipes to break out of my rut of cooking the same enchiladas and soup, I started using eMeals which has freed up so much mental energy and time. 

    Using a old fashioned planner has always been a tried and true way to stay organized with jobs and the family schedule. My planners have to be pretty with room for notes. 

    I started journaling again. Pouring out my struggles in the form of prayers, scratched out with ink on the lined page, has always been cathartic for me.

    Can I admit something?

    I’d rather shop from home in my jammies. I put off any store trips as long as possible to avoid the hassle and temptation to spend more.+

    So I started doing all my shopping online.

    Well, except for groceries, I’m not ready to hand over picking my fruits and veggies to someone else.  

    My new favorite place for clothes is ThredUP, a fabulous online thrift consignments store that packages your purchases in cute polka-dotted tissue paper, all clothes crisply folded.+

    Ebates is a way to get cash back on online purchases from so many retailers.

    Scanning receipts or starting to shop through the app, I can also get cash rewards from Ibotta.

    Over a few months, I earned about $100 cash back from both Ibotta and Ebates which paid for a nice excursion on my 10th anniversary trip to Jamaica.

    I made a choice

    I’m choosing to live a simpler life. To slow down and treasure those around me. Building in time for self-care, filling my soul in order to pour out gifts and blessings for others.+

    To live without out stress that’s self-induced (as much as possible). I want to be gracious and kind, filled with joy and peace.

    I was able to hold my tongue, that night I came home to a whirlwind of clutter and mile long to-do list, choosing to chase the stress away with gratefulness.

    Now it's your turn

    If your heart is strangled with stress and you long for rest, give yourself permission to take care of yourself.

    1. Choose the one area on this list that causes you to be the most unsettled.
    2. Start to make changes with the resources mentioned.
    3. Take as much time as you need until a new habit is formed.

    Your life will change in dramatic ways. 

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    About the Author

    Hi! I'm Charissa. I was able to pay off all my debt, pay cash for my husband's education, and build up my savings-all because of using a budget. I love to share all the budgeting tips I've learned with you so you can have a successful budget too! Read more...