Sunday, November 24, 2019

Week 47: Basement Makeover Failure!

I don't like to admit to failure, but it's good "agile" practice to be comfortable with failure and view it as a "learning opportunity." A good number of the goals on my 60 until 60 list have been about cleaning up my basement. I've been debating about whether or not I should have it professionally finished for years. I settled on a little mixture of DIY projects along with hiring some professionals to do stuff that was too hard for me.

There's one room that had been partially finished and I went ahead and hired some contractors to put drywall in and texture the walls and ceiling.  I figured I could save some money by doing the painting myself. I bought a dark blue paint, wanting to make it dark since I'd planned to make it a 'theater room.'

Well, the whole painting project has been a disaster. The room currently looks as though some culprit came in and vandalized the room. As embarrassing as it is to post a picture, here goes:

There have been a lot of problems. First of all, I accidentally used two different colors of paint! I won't get into how this happened, but I assure you, I've been mentally saying "HOW COULD I BE SO STUPID?" every time I think about this.

Besides accidentally using two different colors, as you can see, I really had trouble with the roller getting the paint to cleanly and uniformly cover the walls. So, not only am I upset at my stupid paint color mistake, but that I don't even have the skill to paint walls. I know I can't paint pictures, but I thought I could paint walls!

Being an Agile Coach, I realize that it is inappropriate to call myself "stupid" or to mentally beat myself up about my obvious lack of home improvement skills. With more effort (and more paint), I could eventually do a better job with this. (How could it possibly be any worse?)

What did I learn? I discovered in all this, that I don't really like that color, and don't want a 'theater room.' Instead, I'm going to create a cozy 'girl cave.' So I'm going to change the color completely and (here's the important learning) hire a professional!

I had also planned to lay down "DIY" tiles:

However, I think, instead, I will also hire professionals to do the flooring in the finished room and stick to area rugs in the unfinished sections of the basement:

What worked well

  • I'm glad I didn't paint the whole room or hire someone to paint the room dark blue before figuring out I didn't like that color or want a 'theater room' anyway.
  • My daughter, Megan, is totally AWESOME with interior decorating and she's going to help me make my new 'girl cave' beautiful! She was so great when I told her what I mess of it I'd made and reassured me that she would help me fix everything.
  • I like my new cozy area rug and that's a lot easier than laying tile!
What could have been better
  • The 'finished' room currently looks terrible! (But it's all fixable!)
  • The flooring is also uneven which may be a result of expansive soil. I'm kind of worried that putting flooring in may end up being an expensive endeavor.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Week 46: Practice Kindness

This week included World Kindness Day, so it seemed the appropriate week to blog about goal number 14 on my 60-until-60 list:

Practice a mindset of kindness and gratitude and journal weekly about reflections

This is one of those goals that is more about developing a mindset than one that you can check off of a list.  However, I haven't missed a week of writing in my "reflections journal" noting the positive things that I experience on a daily basis!

Every day I have a goal of doing these four things:

  1.  Exercise (Always getting in at least 10,000 steps!)
  2.  Learn something (Haven't missed a day of Spanish study in over 250 days!)
  3.  Have some positive social interaction
  4.  Help someone in some way

The positive social interaction and helping people are pretty loosely defined. This might be as simple as smiling and giving a compliment to someone. But doing these things regularly have really helped me intentionally practice kindness. I was very pleased to see that many of my AirBnB guests have used the word, 'kind' to describe me!

And I feel so grateful to be the recipient of kindness constantly from friends, family, and even strangers.  Every text message, email, phone call, and conversation is an opportunity to be kind and to have gratitude.

I became interested in kindness and it's relationship to happiness many years ago.  I've been subscribing to a Random Acts of Kindness newsletter and  I've blogged many times about kindness including this post which included 100 ideas of ways to be kind.

A few examples of the kindnesses I've received and that I'm grateful for this week:

  • Getting invited to a delicious home-cooked dinner by a friend who's a great cook!

  • Attending the Monet exhibit at the Denver Art Museum as an invited guest of a friend

What worked well 

  • Practicing gratitude and kindness has become a wonderful habit that has absolutely added to my happiness.
  • I feel like this goal is a lot easier for me now that I'm not working full-time. I'm much more patient and less judgmental these days.
  • Kindness is very contagious. It's interesting that even the tone we use when we speak to someone makes a huge difference in their responses to us.
  • Being more intentional about this has made me become a better person with stronger relationships.
What could have been better

Normally, I have at least one place at which I'm regularly volunteering. It's kind of ironic that this year, when I'm not working, I'm also not volunteering regularly anywhere. With all my travels and projects, I haven't done much that requires commitment.  

Even though I'm not a committed volunteer anywhere right now, I'm realizing that helping others is something we can all do every day, just by listening and providing words of encouragement and support.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Week 45: Read a Best Seller - You Are Awesome

This week the goal from my list of 60 that I accomplished was #40:

Read a book that’s on the best seller list

"You Are Awesome" by Neil Pasricha came out this week and since he's an author I follow, I had pre-ordered the audiobook from Audible and was able to listen to it as I was driving around Florida this week.

Now, I'm not sure that this book is on the best seller list yet, but I predict it will be! Neil Pasricha is a best selling author, after all, and writes about one of my favorite topics: positive psychology and happiness.

In fact, in one of the first chapters of the book, Neil talks about adding the word 'yet,' any time you start to think negatively about accomplishing a goal.  So instead of saying, "My book is not on the best seller list," you'd add the word yet, to say, "My book is not on the best seller list yet!" (implying, of course, that you have full confidence it will be!)

I also listened to the book rather than reading it, which was even better than reading it. I love audiobooks! Neil, himself, read the book, and I really enjoy the added benefits that come with hearing his voice. All the nuances in tone and delivery really added a lot! And it's great to be listening to an interesting audiobook while driving or traveling!

You Are Awesome was another entertaining Awesome book by Pasricha - this one tackled the topic of resilience. It had some great insights about how to establish a mindset of positivity, despite what challenges might come your way.

Besides listening to this book (and feeling self-assured that I Am Awesome) I reserved a couple of other 2019 best seller audiobooks on Overdrive: "Where the Crawdads Sing" and "Becoming."  Those will come in handy to listen to as I continue my Snowbird travels.

Speaking of Snowbird travels, Snowbird season has begun! My 10-day trip to Florida was somewhat spontaneous, and included 2 Disney Parties (both Halloween and Christmas), trips to both the east and west coast Florida beaches, daily walks in beautiful places, and fun with friends, both old and new!  I have so much to say about it all, that I may write my own best seller book: Single Snowbird! Stay tuned!

Wednesday, November 06, 2019

Flying for Free by signing up for Sapphire Rewards Card

One of the things about retirement that I've most looked forward to is being able to take long vacations to warm-weather places in the winter.  However, now that I'm not working, I'm a lot more aware of travel costs. 

Learning how to optimize all those frequent flyer points has been one of those things I've always wanted to do, but never made the time for...  until now!

There are a lot of books and sites out there that will teach you about "Travel Hacking"...  just google it. It can be overwhelming and, I have to admit, even though I heard about people traveling all around the world for free, it sounded like it would be complicated and time-consuming to figure out.

However, I found this great site: 10XTravel that included a free eBook about getting started, and I found out I'd be able to get a few free trips just with a single credit card.

The first thing you learn is that the best card to get right now is the Chase Sapphire Rewards Card.  It's got a $95 annual fee, but when you spend $4K in the first 3 months, you get 60,000 Rewards points which are awesome! You can turn around and get $600 cash back if you want, but they are estimated to be worth $1200 in travel because you can use them with a lot of partners. 

I was able to get almost all my winter travel, including trips to Orlando (where I am now!), Sacramento, Costa Rica, and Mexico, using points!

I also get 15000 points by referring others, so I'm spreading the word! Use this link and start earning points yourself!

Monday, November 04, 2019

Week 44: Thanking the Police

I've been enjoying a wonderful vacation in Orlando (stay tuned for a bonus blog post!), but I didn't want to miss completing a goal from my list of 60.  I just accomplished goal #11 on my list:

Write a gratitude letter to the police who helped me during a family emergency

So often we take the police for granted..  or maybe we get annoyed at them when we get a ticket.. but, I, for one, am so grateful for help they provided during a family crisis we had in 2011.  I know I'll never be able to adequately thank those who helped us, but I hope the cards I wrote today will remind them that they make a huge difference in our lives.

November is a month when we typically practice gratitude, so I felt like this was a good time to complete this goal!

Thank you, too, Michael Bolé, for giving me the idea for this goal last year when we were talking about the police and all they do to keep us safe. I appreciate your service and the service of those who work and sacrifice so that we're protected and safe.