#GivingTuesday

Random Acts of Kindness and My Sisters

About 7 years ago, my sister and a friend set out to make someones day. They decided to randomly give a gift of new matching outfits to a friend with twin boys. The gift was not expected and brought so much joy to our friend when she got something in a gift bag on a random day. At the time, Monikka and Megan were only 19 and 20 years old, but they wanted to bring joy to someone else in the form of giving a random gift.

They continued to make every Tuesday a day to give a random gift to an unsuspecting person for the reason of just wanting to make their day! I can’t even begin to tell you how much of an impact this made in our tight knit community.

Paying it Forward

The idea that someone would randomly give a gift, big or small, was just not understandable to most people. However, everyone was so grateful to receive a gift and that generosity became contagious. Once someone received a random gift, they were likely to pay it forward and give another person a random gift.

Shortly after Monikka and Megan began this venture, I started to notice the trend of people buying coffees for the person behind them in the drive-thru at Starbucks. Of course, most people then continue paying it forward by then buying for the person behind them and the random act goes on and on.

Make Someone’s Day

I try to do this as often as possible because it is just nice to do an unsuspected nice thing for a stranger. For those of you who know me well, one of my love languages is gift giving. I seriously enjoy giving gifts to people maybe even more than they enjoy receiving the gifts. It makes me feel so happy that I am maybe giving someone something that they wouldn’t necessarily buy for themselves. For example, when someone is pregnant and focusing on the baby shower and everyone is giving gifts for when the baby comes, I like to give the mom something that she can have for herself to spoil herself.

My oldest sister, Cassie, very recently gave birth to a beautiful baby boy! My first nephew and I am so in love! He has a sassy and adorable older sister that I know will be keeping mom busy all hours of the day. So, before I get off topic going on and on as one of my favorite rolls of Auntie Yoya, I’ll get back to what I think is something every mom needs: something to spoil herself. I didn’t do anything extravagant, but I sent her some goodies to take care of her skin and some easy use makeup that goes on just like a moisturizer. I knew once the baby came she would need a little something for herself!

Spread Happiness and Generosity

In the hopes of turning this crazy time during a pandemic into a time where we reach out to make someone else’s day, I would encourage everyone to think of something nice they could do for someone else in your community, or a complete stranger! Spread happiness and generosity. It’s as easy as taking the time to do something unsuspected and nice for a neighbor, family member, stranger, or friend!

When you go out and do your random acts of kindness, post a pic with the hashtag #GivingTuesday. Let’s spread some joy!

Leave your ideas of great gifts to give on a #GivingTuesday in the comments below!

Can’t wait to hear your thoughts!

XO,

Sonja

10 Things to do Before Christmas

Since the holidays are coming up soon, I thought I’d share a few things that I like to do before Christmas!

1) Decorate

In my household, we decorate the house and put up the Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving. I know some of you might already have yours up! But, for those of you who don’t, I recommend making it a party when decorating the house.

Gather some friends or family. Turn on some Christmas music. Grab a bottle of wine. Wear ugly Christmas sweaters. Decorate the tree. Simple, yet fun! Some of my greatest holiday memories are centered around decorating. It is going to be done at some point, so you might as well make a party out of it!

2) Gift Shopping

Some of you might have been planning all year what your holiday gifts will be, and some of you might wait until the week before the holiday to buy your gifts. Either way, you know it is a part of the holidays that you’ll have to complete before Christmas. For me, shopping for gifts is such a fun experience and I like to be semi-prepared. I don’t buy presents all year long and hold on to them because I would get too excited and give the presents early, so I like to get the bulk of my shopping done a month in advance.

I know this one can get pretty controversial, but Black Friday can be such a fun experience! Now, I don’t suggest cutting your Thanksgiving short to get door-buster deals, but if you want to by all means! I am more of a traditional, early morning Black Friday shopper. It is a great way to get some gifts at a good deal.

I am, actually, more fond of Cyber Monday–I can do the bulk of my shopping online in the comfort of my own home. Also, you can usually get these deals for a full week before. Plus, it is so much more convenient to avoid the lines and crowds while getting your shopping done!

3) Weekend Away

This time of year can get so chaotic, so it is good to remember how the holidays are meant to be spent: with the people we love. Plan a weekend to go to the mountains, downtown, or to a spa with your people. It will be the perfect time to bond and make new memories with your family!

Taking a weekend away is a good way to relax before the big holiday. There’s nothing like a break from work and real life to get you ready for the craziness of hosting the whole family or trying to make it to multiple houses on Christmas!

4) Go to a Tree Lighting

This is always a fun little outing. In the town I live in, there is an annual Tree Lighting Ceremony on the last week of November. Everyone gets together and watches as Main Street and all of the trees lining it are lit up with twinkling lights. It’s such a beautiful sight to see and they make a huge event out of it. It would be worth it to see what your town does around the holidays and check it out!

5) Go to a Parade

I love going to parades as an adult because I always participated in them as a child when I was on dance teams. From the Christmas City of the North Parade in Duluth, Minnesota to the Parade of Lights in Denver, I have made some of my fondest memories as a child dancing in them and watching them now as an adult.

There is nothing like getting a hot cup of apple cider and standing in the freezing cold to watch bands and dance teams wearing sparkly lights make there way down the street. It seems so arbitrary, but I always enjoy going and it is a fun time for those of you with kiddos, too!

6) Enjoy Thanksgiving

This one is important. Before Christmas comes along, you should take the time and really enjoy your Thanksgiving. Cook your old family recipes and watch football all day long. Sit and chat with your family at the kitchen table. Focus on being present in that moment without being too excited or overwhelmed by what is to come in the following weeks.

Also, I talked about how you shouldn’t let shopping end your Thanksgiving early, and I really believe you can do both. You just have to make sure you don’t rush your Thanksgiving plans in order to go out shopping. Enjoy the day first!

7) Watch Christmas Movies

There are some Christmas movies I could watch year round, like Love Actually, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and Miracle on 34th Street. I just love being curled up with a cozy blanket and hot cup of cocoa watching a Christmas classic on a snowy day. That is how I get myself into the holiday spirit leading up to Christmas.

8) Donate

I have mentioned before in my 4 Ways to Give Back This Holiday Season post that donating should be something to consider this time of year. Think of how many extra hats or gloves you could donate, or how many times you could drop your spare change in the red Salvation Army bucket. There are endless opportunities around the holiday season to give back. I think it is so important to include donating as part of your Christmas plans.

9) See the Nutcracker

Growing up as a dancer, I always think of the Nutcracker when I think of Christmas. I still remember the first time my mom took me to see the ballet and I had the time of my life. Honestly, I think that is what inspired me to pursue ballet so fiercely. I saw the ballerina’s leap and turn with perfect technique, and I wanted to be just like them.

Not long after, I began performing in the Nutcracker every year at my dance studio. It would be hours and hours of rehearsals and weekends at the venue for the beginning of December. I loved being a part of that ballet, and now I love watching it! It’s definitely something worth doing, whether it is put on by a studio or a professional ballet company.

10) Friends Gift Exchange

My friends and I have done a variety of celebrations for Christmas. One year we each only bought one present and exchanged gifts among the group in a White Elephant style. That way we would each buy a nice present and receive a nice present without having to buy 5 nice presents. Some years, we have gone with no gifts and just done a dinner and wine night. And other years, we have just bought presents as we have pleased and not done a formal gift exchange.

Of all of these, I think we all most enjoyed buying one gift and planning a night to get together around a Christmas tree to exchange the gift. It was cost effective, we each got a great gift, and we had a night to spend together in a holiday party style. I think it is a great idea to come up with something like this so that you don’t have to go crazy with even more gifts.

What I am Grateful For Today:

My little brother and Lady playing on the couch.

What are you grateful for today? Is there anything you like to do before Christmas? Let me know in the comments!

XO,

Sonja Hoff

25 Things Before 25: Week 6 Update

11/1/19-11/7/19

This week was a great way to kick off the second month of 25 Things Before 25! I have been working hard at work and on my blog. I began a blogging challenge at the beginning of the month and it has been exactly that: a challenge. I am so excited to share with you more about plans for November!

This Week

I began this week feeling very grateful, so I thought I would start it off by paying it forward. I am not wanting to share much about what I have done, because I’m not looking for praise. However, I did have such an awesome thing happen in one instant. I sent money over Venmo to my sister saying that I loved and appreciated her and to enjoy lunch on me. Not two minutes later I got an unexpected Venmo from my sister-in-law saying almost the same thing! I am telling you, what comes around goes around.

Also, I mentioned how this week was busy right? So, my sister-in-law took me with her to the Lana Del Rey concert on what was my only day off I had in about two weeks. We had a blast and it was one hell of a night. It’s so nice to break up a busy work week with a night out with your best friend!

All in all, this week was more working than anything else, but I have so many other big plans coming up to make it all worth it! It has been a lot of planning, and I am so excited!

What I Have Accomplished

The first week of November has been very successful. With the beginning of the my 30-Day Blog Challenge, I actually completed 7 blogs in the first week, but one of them was on the topic of this journey so that post doesn’t count towards the 25 Blogs in One Month category. Also, I added to another new category this month–Pay it Forward. I figured with 30 Days of Gratitude it would be a good month to focus on paying it forward. With that said, here is what I accomplished this week:

  1. Completed 4 of my routine workouts (Number 8)
  2. Went to the Lana Del Rey concert (Number 11)
  3. Memorized a new bible verse (Number 12)
  4. Paid it forward two times (Number 19)
  5. Completed 6 blogs of 25 (Number 24)

My Progress in Perspective

This has been an awesome week! Although it has been busy, I have blogged every single day and I have really etched away at some of these tasks. I completed 14 tasks, and while that is still short of my 17 to 18 tasks per week, it really has been an accomplishment this week! It truly set a good pace for the month, and I am on a blogging roll!

I am at 71 tasks completed, so I am behind in a big way. I do have a plan set to hopefully catch me up by the end of December. I should be at 104 tasks completed. That being said, over the next 7 weeks, I am going to have to complete 22 tasks per week! It is kind of a large number, but I know I can do it! I wrote a blog this week called Start Today! that talks about not waiting until the ambiguous “tomorrow.” And I plan to stick with that type of motivation I had writing that post for the rest of this journey!

Goals for November

In last weeks update, I mentioned that I think I took the wrong approach to my monthly goals. So this month, I decided to make my goals mostly about consistency. This way, I won’t be saying every week that I am behind. I think that each of the following goals will help keep me on track to complete 25 Things Before 25 in the next 11 months. My November goals are:

  1. Complete 22 tasks every week.
  2. Decide ahead each week what I plan to accomplish.
  3. Add to 2 more categories before the end of the month.

If I stick to these goals for the rest of the month, I will feel more confident in my ability to complete this journey. I only have 6 open categories left, so bringing it down to 4 will be a huge accomplishment! I bought a new planner and that has already helped me organize what I am going to do and when. For me, if it is written down, I feel more committed to getting it done.

What I am Grateful For Today:

Writing this update has totally opened up a flood of gratitude for me. I have never been more grateful for changes I have made and adventures I have introduced into my life through 25 Things Before 25 and 30 Days of Gratitude. It is Day 11 of 30 Days of Gratitude today and I am so happy with where I am at.

Today I am grateful for:

  1. Family
  2. Friends
  3. 25 Things Before 25
  4. 30 Days of Gratitude
  5. Planning
  6. New adventures
  7. My puppy
  8. Snowy days
  9. Cute holiday movies
  10. Generosity
  11. Good workouts
  12. Busy work days
  13. My health
  14. Workout challenges
  15. Doggy play dates
  16. Days off
  17. Warm winter gear
  18. Sunshine on cold days
  19. Live music
  20. Random acts of kindness
  21. Good conversations
  22. Reading
  23. Improvement
  24. A warm house
  25. A great support system
  26. Invisalign
  27. Great coworkers
  28. Laughing with my brother
  29. Art
  30. Veterans and their service

Thank you to all men and women who serve and have served in the military! I am grateful for your service today and every day!

What are you grateful for today? Let me know in the comments!

Happy Veterans Day!

XO,

Sonja Hoff

Why I Joined An Accountability Group This Winter

So many people have asked, “Why would you do that right before the holidays?”

Well, that is the perfect reason to join an accountability group! I think that eating good food and adding on some holiday weight should not be mutually exclusive. The past couple of years, I haven’t kept track of my weight before, during, or after the holidays for comparison; however, I do know that my eating and drinking patterns were drastically changed in the past at this time of the year.

What holiday weight?

This is the biggest thing that I want to prevent. Since I have been transforming my life in so many ways including getting into shape, I want to take extra precaution when it comes to those extra pounds some tend to gain this time of year. My goal is to actually continue to lose throughout the holidays, and an accountability group will keep me on that track. I want to make it through the holidays moving forwards rather than backwards, and I know I can do this with the right tools.

Great Resources

With this challenge, there comes meal plans and recipes as well as personal training and new workouts. I think just having a constant contact with a personal trainer would be enough to propel me forward, but it is so much more than that. We have a group Facebook page, we have unlimited communication, we have assessments, and we have a support system of each person on the team. This is how we will be holding ourselves accountable.

I, also, signed up for group fitness classes for an extra expense that will be so worth it. They are geared towards fat burning or cutting, which are both beneficial to stick with my holiday health goals. This will be another way to hold myself accountable and make sure I am sticking with my workout and meal plans.

Beating the Resolution Crowd

We all know that gyms get more and more crowded in January and February because people have made New Years Resolutions and are getting their butts in the gym. While I think it is awesome for people to start their fitness journey at any time, I am not looking forward to the overcrowded gym.

Also, why wait? Why should I wait until after the holidays to move forward? I want to start now and not be held back by the idea that I will do it tomorrow!

Boosting My Confidence Before the New Year

I think by pushing myself harder now will give me the resources and creativity to maintain my workouts even after the gym packs up. I want to build on the progress that I have made already. I want to be prepared for having certain areas of the gym full and having to come up with a different workout on the spot. And I want to feel confident in communicating with other people at the gym.

I tend to avoid talking with people at the gym because I do have a ways to go to reach my fitness goals, and I think that makes me so self-conscious. In every other area of my life, I am not shy at all. Getting to know other people at the gym that I have been going to since high school will be a good change in my life and make me feel more comfortable there. Don’t get me wrong, I sweat and get gross, and I don’t wear makeup to the gym. I feel comfortable enough to do that. What I am seeking to gain is confidence in my technique and my presence at the gym in general. I always say, “At least I am here trying to make a change.” But I want to switch that to, “I get to be here and improve my health and fitness!”

Challenge Myself

This is, also, a new way to challenge myself and push myself out of my comfort zone! I want to be working my booty off everyday in that gym and I know that this will push me to do so. When you are working out by yourself, your workout routine can become just that: a routine. You can begin to feel complaisant and then, ultimately, you aren’t getting the maximum benefit any longer.

I know that by stepping up and trying these new classes and workouts, I will be pushing myself harder than I have been on my own. These classes have a pace that you are kind of set at and I am one to rise to a challenge. That being said, I am excited to work harder than I have before!

Overall Benefit

Overall, by being a part of a 60-Day Challenge, I will be keeping myself accountable and working throughout the holidays on my weight-loss and fitness goals. Just because it is that time of year, I don’t want to fall back into poor habits. I know that having weekly progress reports and monthly assessments will push me to stay on track! I am so excited to see where the next 60 days take me!

What are you grateful for today? Let me know in the comments!

XO,

Sonja Hoff

3 Gifts For Your Loved Ones This Holiday Season

I am not talking about lavish gifts… although I am sure your loved ones would appreciate it!

I am actually talking about those things that someone would love to do, but wouldn’t do alone or buy for themselves!

1) Quality Time

I know that I don’t need to tell you guys that the material things aren’t as important as the memories we make. That being said, consider spending time rather than money on your loved ones, first.

It is that time of year where everyone seems to be in a rush to prepare for hosting holidays, gifting, traveling, or going to holiday events. Combine those personal events with work intensifying this time of year, and you really get a shortage of free time. That is why I think making time to spend your valuable time on someone is so meaningful.

Intentionally setting a date to have a family dinner, a movie night, a cookie decorating competition is actually hard to do this time of year. That is why it is so important to create these opportunities. If that means you have to request a day off work or reschedule plans with someone else, do it. These memories with the people you love the most will last a lifetime! And their is no better way to spend the holiday season than with family.

2) Spa Treatments

As I mentioned in yesterdays blog, this is the stressful time of the year. The one thing that people forget to do or don’t allocate their own funds to is self-care. Now, you don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars to send your mother-in-law on a spa day, rather get a Groupon for a salon appointment, a massage, a pedicure. And, hey the massage would be good for literally anyone.

I shared in one of my first ever blog posts about how I got everyone of my family members a massage for Christmas one year, and believe me, it was worth it. While some of my siblings would never in a million years have thought to go and get a massage, they all enjoyed it. Then again, it truly isn’t for everyone. I just love this idea because it is sometimes the last thing someone would think to do for themselves at this time of year.

The very rare family photo with my parents and each of their six kids (Christmas 2015).

3) Plan an Outing!

Is there a spectacular site to see in your area in the winter time? For us in Colorado, it could be anywhere from Denver Zoo Lights to the Ice Sculptures in Vail. It might be a trip, but it is worth planning. Take a day to spend time with your people. After all, isn’t that the most valuable thing we have to give?

Spoil your loved ones with a day that you know they’ll love and some quality time spent. There is nothing like ooh-ing and aah-ing at a beautiful site with your favorite people. PLUS, it is a new memory made and a new experience for you all to have.

This can be done in a lavish way or on a budget. Do some research to see when your local parade is, what events are happening, where the best places are to see Christmas lights, and so on. There will be something available on any budget, so planning an outing is so worth it.

My dad and I at the Denver Botanic gardens (2015).

What I am Grateful For Today:

My sister and I at the Denver Zoo Lights in 2015–a wonderful family outing.

Coming from such a huge family, there was always so much going on during the holiday season. As adults, it takes so much coordination to get the whole family together for any event or occasion. I am so grateful that we all have been able to spend a holiday together along with trips to the Denver Botanic Gardens and Zoo Lights. Each one of these memories are ones I will cherish for my lifetime and I am so grateful!

What are you grateful for today? Let me know in the comments below!

XO,

Sonja

5 Reasons You Should Take Your Dog to Doggy Daycare

I am one of those crazy obsessed dog mom. I am not ashamed about it either. For those of you who have followed along with my blog, you know that having a puppy has been nothing short of a learning experience for me. The one thing I am so happy I got Lady involved in after she had gotten fully vaccinated is doggy daycare. Here’s why:

1) Burn Off Energy

Lady is an Australian Cattle Dog which means she has a lot of energy. When I first adopted her, they told me that she would need a lot of activity. Living in a suburban home without other dogs to play with or cattle to herd means that she needs something else to burn all of the energy she has. Outside of our morning run, doggy daycare has been the best way for Lady to burn off all of that energy.

Usually when I am driving her home, she falls asleep all curled up with her head resting on the center console. It is seriously the sweetest thing ever. I just know that she had so much fun and is so tired from running around with other puppies all day long. Usually, Lady is tired the next day, too!

2) Socializing with Other Dogs

Since Lady is my only pet, she only gets interaction with other dogs when she is at doggy daycare. This has been the most helpful for when we are on a run or hike and Lady sees other dogs. She knows how to interact with them better and is excited rather than threatened.

Also, this has helped when my brothers girlfriend brought her dog, O’Ryan, over. The dogs that I have had growing up were always very territorial, but they were never socialized like Lady has been. It is so nice that my brothers girlfriend could bring her dog over and they could play so well together! I know that this is because of her experience at doggy daycare.

3) It is Hard Work!

Being a dog mom is hard. I am always pouring my attention into my pup, and sometimes you just need a day to get things done. Lady, my puppy, goes to doggy daycare every Tuesday and Thursday even when I don’t have work. This way, I have two days to do whatever needs to be done: whether it be house chores or a lunch with my girl friends.

PLUS, you don’t have to feel guilty for leaving your pup at home. I always feel bad leaving Lady, even for a short period of time. If she is at daycare, I know she is having a blast playing with other dogs while I am running errands or (usually) working. It’s good to give yourself a little bit of a break while spoiling your fur baby.

4) Learning

It is important for your dog to learn to listen to commands from other people. It reiterates what you have been teaching your dog and can help with them learning boundaries. At home, your dog may run up to you and give you kisses, but that isn’t necessarily how they interact with other people. At daycare, they learn how to better interact with dogs and humans!

Also, by having your dog around other people who are experienced with dogs, they will learn how to better interact with other humans. You can always tell when someone knows how to interact with dogs by how they approach your puppy. I remember one time when I was hiking with Lady and this woman asked to pet her. I agreed and warned her that she sometimes gets so excited she’ll jump up, and she just gave her these neck scratches in a way that made her unable to jump. I was so impressed with how Lady responded, and I knew it was because of her time at doggy daycare.

5) Comfort for Boarding

There are times where you have to travel for work or vacation, and your dog cannot come with. In this case, you’ll usually board your dog, right? I honestly don’t know if other dogs are apprehensive when it comes to boarding because Lady boards at the same place she does daycare.

I have only boarded her twice, but Lady will run straight to the back with her tail wagging fiercely. I lie and tell myself that she doesn’t know that she is boarding so that is why she is so excited. I cried the first time I took her to boarding because I didn’t feel like she would miss me. I know that is silly, but it actually is comforting to me now knowing that she is so comfortable at daycare that boarding isn’t so difficult for her.

Since boarding is just something you have to do as a dog owner, it will make it so much easier to have your dog in doggy daycare and used to being in that environment.

Overall Benefits

I am so grateful that I found such a great place to take care of my puppy and give her the type of love that I do when I am not there. If the alternative is to leave her in a crate for hours, I definitely would choose to have her running and playing with other dogs. Definitely look into having your dog in doggy daycare once in a while, especially if your dog is the only pet at home!

What I am Grateful For Today:

I wrote today about doggy daycare because I was just feeling so appreciative of this service. Having other people, outside of my family, that love and care for Lady like I do is so incredible.

What are you grateful for today? Let me know in the comments!

XO,

Sonja Hoff

8 Tips for Managing Anxiety

Alright, this is going to be a very personal post, but I think it is so important to share as we head into a very stressful time of year. I am a high anxiety person, but I am a highly functioning person with anxiety. I thought that I would share with you all steps that I take to prevent or reduce my anxiety.

1) Spend Time Alone

This is the fastest relief for my anxiety, personally. Getting away from a bunch of different noises and so many things going on at once brings me instant peace. I am actually pretty used to chaos being that I am the second youngest of six kids, and there was always so much going on at any given time. I always had my own space that I could escape to, even as a kid, when I would feel overwhelmed or anxious. It is always my first step to alleviating my anxiety.

2) Journal

Once I am alone, I find it very therapeutic to write without a filter. When I am feeling extremely anxious, I write vigorously to the point where I couldn’t read it even if I wanted to. And that is okay because no one would ever has to see it or read it. It just feels good to get all of my thoughts out on paper–even if they are dramatic or unrealistic.

After I get all of that out, I write what I am feeling in that moment. Do I feel more calm? Do I feel less strained? Can I see with a clear perspective now? I like to answer these questions so that I know there is a point to venting on paper… And that point is not to dwell in the anxiety, but to recognize what may have brought it on and work through it.

3) Get Away From Social Media

I know it is so easy to get sucked down the rabbit hole with social media, so I suggest putting your phone away. Switch it to “Do Not Disturb.” But if that can’t keep you off of it, put it in the next room over. Personally, I find peace in seclusion and silence. When you have all of those apps that can pull you in to drama, it can really exacerbate your anxiety.

The only reason I say to get away from social media rather than your phone in general is because sometimes you need your phone. Listening to soothing music or chatting with a friend or loved one are two good uses for your phone when you are trying to reign in your anxiety.

4) Listen to Soothing Music

This is calming in and of itself. I listen to meditation music all the time whether I am meditating, trying to fall asleep, trying to focus on a task at hand, or when I am trying to sooth my anxiety. I absolutely believe in the healing affects of music in general. So when your mind is racing and panic ensues, listening to something soothing can change the pace of all of that. You might slow your breathing to the rhythm of the music. You might be transported in your mind to a rain forest or beach. You might think of the last massage you had. You might begin to meditate. All of these counteract anxiety.

I actually have a specific playlist on my phone that I play in these instances. I’ll set the playlist to play, tuck my phone on the side of my bed (out of arms reach), and focus on my breathing.

5) Talk to a Friend or Family Member Who Gets It

This is something that I do not usually do. I find that when I am in a panic or upset, others tend to either portray the same emotion or exacerbate my anxiety. Obviously, that isn’t their intention, but it is how I respond to their words or actions when I am experiencing high anxiety.

Sometimes you just need a good listener or someone to distract you and lift your spirits. I find it really hard to know what I need from others in these moments, so that is why I don’t usually reach out. Sometimes you want to say, “the sky is falling,” without someone telling you it’s not–you just need to vent. And other times you need someone to show you solutions and help you realize that you might be overthinking. This is why I tend to vent on paper and then start planning so that I know there is a logical solution. I haven’t always been this way, but you learn a time goes on what suits you better.

In high school, I remember going on drives with my dad weekly because I would have get extremely anxious, like clockwork, every Sunday night. Both of my parents are very calm and are great listeners, so my dad and I would chat and by the time we got home, I was calm. As you grow older, the same things don’t always work or are no longer convenient, but I have always taken drives as a part of my solution.

6) Drive (in an area without traffic)

Like I said, I like to take a nice, long drive when I am anxious because nothing clears my head better than long and windy road. It is, also, a way to remove yourself from an anxiety triggering event. Once I get in my car, I will literally say, “Thank God.”

It just gives you that seclusion and gets you focused on something else. Although, I do not recommend to drive if you are having severe anxiety or a panic attack as these could hinder your ability to drive.

7) Lavender

This is one good way to prevent anxiety throughout your day. I wake up and put Lavender essential oils on my wrists and neck like it is perfume (I mean, it kind of is). I honestly feel like it prevents me from really experiencing unwarranted anxiety throughout the day. I would recommend looking into this, and I am sure you all know someone who sells essential oils!

8) Exercise

Hitting the gym can really benefit you in any feeling you may have. I love working out as a preventive way to counteract my anxiety, but, also, as a way to work through it. There is nothing like a run or throwing weights around to process through anything. Plus, the more physical work you do, the lower your anxiety levels will be in general. By getting your body moving, the endorphins that your brain releases will seriously make you happy.

When you exercise, your body releases chemicals called endorphins. These endorphins interact with the receptors in your brain that reduce your perception of pain. Endorphins also trigger a positive feeling in the body, similar to that of morphine.

WebMd

What might work for me might not work for you, so try a few of these out and see what suits you best.

I would, seriously, recommend using Lavender essential oils and exercise as a way to reduce your overall anxiety.

What other ways do you reduce your anxiety? Let me know in the comments!

What I am Grateful For Today:

I am so grateful to have the support system that I do: my family!

After years of struggles with anxiety, I came up with a list that I would physically grab in order to quickly see what to do to relieve my anxiety. These 8 steps are what I have found to be the most beneficial to me overall.

What are you grateful for today? Let me know in the comments!

XO,

Sonja Hoff

7 Cleaning Tasks To Do Daily

There are a few things you can do to prevent having to spend a whole day cleaning–it just takes daily discipline to do a few simple tasks.

1) Make Your Bed

Everyone says this, but it really is a great way to start the day. Plus, once your bed is made, you are less inclined to get back in it. Make your bed and start your day off with one less thing to do later.

2) Vacuum

If you have pets, allergies, or both, you should absolutely be vacuuming daily. You’ll have less dust, dirt, and dander floating around in the house. Also, those nice vacuum lines make your whole house look cleaner than it actually is. If you can only get one of these done, do this one!

3) Wipe Your Counter Tops

This is a good idea for the bacteria alone, much less it really adds up. If you wipe them with a disinfectant daily, there is less of a mess to clean up later. This, also, gives your home a cleaner look without doing deep cleaning.

4) Throw Empty Things Away

This is just a good clutter rule in general. Don’t put back nearly empty milk cartons in the fridge or leave empty shampoo bottles along the shower. Getting rid of it as it comes along saves you time in the long run. And it’s less clutter! If you can’t get use out of it, get rid of it!

5) Wipe Down Door Knobs

This is so important, especially this time of year. If there is more than one person in your household, this is a must! Since this is a place that everyone touches, it is the number one place that you are likely to spread germs. It’s a simple task, and it could keep those nasty viruses from spreading through your household.

6) Tidy Up/Put Things Away

When you walk in the door, do you have a set place for your jacket, purse, or keys? I do, but I find myself sometimes rushing in and leaving it all on a chair in the kitchen. I’ll go back eventually and put them where they belong so my stuff isn’t just sitting on all of the furniture in the common areas. It would be so much simpler to take that extra five seconds to put my outerwear where it belongs.

This is the same with ingredients you use while cooking, makeup/skincare products, and office supplies you take out as needed. Use them, and then put them back in their designated place! Again, something that takes so little time in the moment and saves you a lot of time in the long run.

7) Keep Up on Dishes

This is one thing that has been ingrained in me from the time I was old enough to do dishes: when the dishes are dirty they go straight in the dish washer, when the dish washer is full start it, and when the dishes are clean put them away. This way, you’ll never have a dirty dish sitting in the sink. You were going to load the dish washer at some point, so why not keep up on it daily?

Cut Down On Your Overall Cleaning

If you do these chores daily, you won’t have to scramble to clean the house before guests come over, and you won’t feel like you have so much cleaning to do at any given time. By doing these tasks daily, you will be living a clutter-free and mess-free life this Winter.

What I am Grateful For Today

I am so grateful for this little cutie and these adorable socks with her face on them!

Today I was so grateful for the fact that a few simple cleaning tasks can do wonders when you stick to them daily! I am happy to share these ideas and everything else that I am grateful for!

What are you grateful for today? Let me know in the comments below!

XO,

Sonja Hoff

How to Save $5000 FAST

I have mentioned before how important planning is for me when it comes to my finances because of the type of job I am in. This especially becomes important in the winter time when business slows down and spending increases (gifts, travel, etc.). I have had a few people reach out to me asking how I make it through the winter, so I thought I would just share this with you here.

1) Know How Much You Are Making

Salaried Workers Need Not Apply (for this one)

I know that many people have a guaranteed amount of money they are making on biweekly checks whether they are making a salary or are working regular hours with hourly pay. This section might not apply to you lucky folks, since you know how much you make! However, if you are paid biweekly rather than twice monthly, it is nice to figure out which months you could take in 3 paychecks. If that happens to be November like many people, that’s a great opportunity to set aside some extra cash before the holidays!

Tip Based Workers

Since I can remember, I have always kept a note in my phone of how much money I made in tips and how many hours I work. At the beginning of this year, I found this app called Tip Tracker that made this so much easier. It allows you to enter in your hourly wage, hours worked, and tips earned each day. It even creates a graph of your hourly wages earned, tips earned, and combination of the two. Also, it shows you your average dollar per hour wage you make on specific days of the week. I am seriously in love!

By tracking what I make, I know which days I make the most money and my monthly income. And, I don’t have to crunch the numbers myself–remember, I am a numbers person! Knowing which days of the week I make the most money per hour helps me decide when I want to plan my vacations and which days I want to work overall. For example, I make all of my short vacations Monday through Wednesday so that I am not missing my highest money-making days. It pays to know how much you make and when you are making it!

2) Know When Your Bills Are Due

Add a Reminder For Each Bill in Your Phone

I get a reminder every morning of the bills that are due each specific day and how much each bill is. The alarm is definitely not the one I wake up to, because how disappointing would that be! I set it for 8 am so I see where money needs to go for that day, but I honestly just glance at it without giving it too much thought. That is why I love my desk calendar that I walk past multiple times a day.

Buy a Desk Calendar

Seriously, another great investment. I got mine for less than $20 and it has helped me stay financially organized. As I mentioned, I have each bill in my calendar on my phone, but it helps to see it all written down. When I walk past this daily, I get to see what I have due tomorrow and the rest of the week and month.

I, also, add how much I need for my total bills due the following week to every Saturday. I love this because I can just make sure I have that money in my account, and I don’t have to think twice about auto-pay bills for the week.

Never Miss a Due Date

By doing both of these, you shouldn’t ever miss a due date unless you are strapped for cash. This helps you avoid paying late fees, which is basically paying money for being forgetful or unorganized. Wasting less money means you’ll have more to save and make your money work for you!

3) Look at Your Monthly Spending

Miscellaneous Spending

Some things have to go! Think about those $20 lunches, $10 trips to the gas station, and $5 Starbucks coffees. If you do at least one of these per day, every day, for the whole month, that is between $150 to $1050. Even to take $150 and put it savings is a huge start. This is why you need to know where your money is going. Saying, “Oh, it’s only $10,” thirty days a month can really add up!

It’s not about never indulging, but just acknowledging the money you are spending and deliberately choosing that the money you are spending is worth it.

What Subscriptions Are You Paying For?

I have this app called Clarity Money that is so helpful because it shows you your monthly subscriptions and gives you the option to cancel them through the app. I realized, when I first got the app, that I was paying Apple $10.00 more that 6 times a month. AND, I had no idea what for!

Although I couldn’t cancel Apple (LOL), I began researching what all I was paying them for monthly and weekly. It was for apps I never used as well as my very useful Apple Music, which I didn’t mind. I am happy to say I was able to get rid of these apps and am putting that money to a better use!

Also, if you are one of those who has every single streaming service, I suggest you choose one or two and get rid of the rest. OR, if you have a friend with Netflix and you have Hulu, you guys could share and not have to pay for both.

These are all apps that I use daily to track my spending, savings, earnings, and investments or reimburse friends and pay bills.

Is There a Better Deal?

Try buying generic at the grocery store when you can. Buy in bulk to save per item. Use a coupon, or buy the item that is on sale. This way, you’ll be able to make your dollars stretch further.

Also, you can review your cable and internet plans, phone bill, and car insurance to see if you are getting the best deal. Sometimes you can even have companies offering the better deal pay to get you out of your contracts. My sister and I did this with our $400+ Verizon phone bill a couple of years ago and are saving $80 a month each. Also, when my cable bill went up, I called and they said it was because the promo that I had originally purchased was only for X amount of months, but I could sign a new contract and get another discounted rate. That saved me about $60 a month. Just by looking for the better deal, I saved myself $140 a month on things I already had.

Finally, look for the Groupon! You can get almost anything on Groupon now. From facials to vacations, they have everything. I know you don’t want to cut out every one of your favorite pastimes, so consider booking your next tee time through Groupon!

4) The Money

Now that you are spending less, let’s get down to putting money away:

The Math

So, “fast” is pretty ambiguous. Let’s say that you want to save $5000 in 3 months. That means you need to save approximately $1667 per month, about $417 per week, or about $56 per day. That seems like a lot, right? But it is going to be so worth it!

Reallocating

Above we talked about possibly cutting out up to $1050 of spending each month. That is 62% of your monthly savings goal. On the low end, we said $150 which is nearly 9% of your monthly savings goal. Just by reallocating your funds, you could put yourself anywhere from 9% to 62% ahead!

I, also, told you above that I saved myself $45 on Apple subscriptions alone. That is 3% of the monthly savings goal. And it was money that I was spending for things I wasn’t using!

Finally, I told you about how I saved $140 each month by switching my services over to the better promotion or better company. This is over 8% of the monthly savings goal. In my scenario, say all of these funds were put into savings, I would be at 20% to 73% of my savings goal without putting away any extra money.

The Other 27% to 80%

Now, where do we come up with the rest? This is the fun part! How in the world are you going to be able to save the remaining $432 to $1332? Don’t worry, I will break it down for you.

You may need to live more frugally for a few months, or work more hours possibly at another job. I actually love when I work more because I have less time available to do things that cost money. For example, you won’t spend money on nights out if you don’t have the availability to participate in them. I, actually, picked up a second job that just needed seasonal help for the end of summer this year and got a huge leap ahead on my savings in doing so.

Another option is to be savvy. Aside from taking on a regular part-time job, you can look for other opportunities to make money. Sign up for Uber or Lyft, walk dogs, babysit, clean, sign on with a temp agency, become a virtual assistant. There are countless side hustles that can monetize your free time; however, I know working more isn’t always the answer for everyone. This is where diligent budgeting and savings come in.

Putting the Money Away

Every Saturday, transfer $417 into your savings. No excuses. Treat it like a bill. Once you make this a habit, you will just be used to putting that money aside weekly. Also, you can set up a recurring transfer into your savings if you want to do so automatically. If you get biweekly paychecks, you can transfer $834 each check instead. The idea is to get used to putting money into a savings account regularly.

I leave work every day with cash and work near my bank, so I try to make daily deposits. When I deposit cash, I always deposit 25% into my savings and 75% into my checking. Then, when I get a paycheck, I put 100% into my savings. This way I am used to making a residual deposit into my savings and when I look at my account, I can add more money into my savings as needed to keep up with the $417 weekly. Every Saturday, I balance the total.

Here is what your savings account should look like after each week:

WeekAmount
1$417
2$834
3$1251
4$1668
5$2085
6$2502
7$2919
8$3336
9$3753
10$4170
11$4587
12$5004

And, look! You have an extra $4 to spare!

If you do it little by little, it really adds up. SO, keep these tips in mind when you are saving for your next vacation, car, wedding, or just rainy day money! Saving doesn’t have to be difficult because there is money in places that you might not think of!

I am grateful every day that I have an opportunity to earn more!

What I am Grateful For Today

I am so grateful for Megan and enjoying a concert with her!

I was actually so inspired to put this post together today for a few of my dear friends. I am so grateful for this idea and so much more today!

What are you grateful for today? Let me know in the comments!

XO,

Sonja Hoff

25 Things Before 25: Week 5 Update

10/25/19-10/31/19

This week was one of my favorites! It was filled with learning a lot about myself and growing in my faith and relationships with my family and friends.

Here’s what happened this week:

Travel Plans

My first category I announced was to travel to 25 states I haven’t been to before. I mentioned last week that I planned some trips. I did book 3 trips for the remainder of the year, and just planned to go by myself for two of them. I had mentioned to some friends and coworkers where I was going, and two of my friends decided to book flights to come with me!

I am so excited and have looked at so many ideas of things to do in these two cities: Nashville, Tennessee and Seattle Washington. So, if any of you are from either of these cities and/or have any good recommendations, please leave them in the comments!

I talked last week about planning, and I am just so pleased that my plans are coming to fruition and are becoming this great adventure. That is what I was looking for at the beginning of this journey anyhow.

This Amazing Read

Another huge part of why I started 25 Things Before 25 was to learn more and improve myself. I am so pleased to have read and gained all of the knowledge I did from Marie Forleo’s book Everything is Figureoutable. I hope to apply all of her teachings to the rest of this challenge and the rest of my life.

In doing so, I am never going to let anything stop me from moving forward: not money, not time constraints, not work, not people, and definitely not any limiting beliefs. I struggle with limiting beliefs when it comes to my career path. I actually realized that for the first time while doing one the first “Insight to Action Challenge.” That being said, I won’t be giving any excuses but will simply figure out how to do what needs to be done. Always.

I would definitely recommend this book! Purchase it by clicking the link below.

What I Have Accomplished

As I mentioned, the weather kept me inside for nearly two days, but I had a lot of fun on those snowy days. I got to catch up with my mom and brother and start and finish a great book. My best friend, also, came over and we made two different vegan and gluten free cookie recipes. To me, there is no better way to spend a snowy few days than with friends and family. Mixed in with all of this, I worked a lot and did a lot of research which is like going down the rabbit hole for me. This brought me to the non-profit I found to make a donation. I am so happy to have completed so much! Here is what I accomplished this week:

  1. Read Everything is Figureoutable by Marie Forleo (Number 2)
  2. Donated to Women’s Global Empowerment Fund (Number 6)
  3. Completed 7 of my routine workouts (Number 8)
  4. Memorized a bible verse (Number 12)
  5. Learned a word in a different Language (Number 13)
  6. Went to a local restaurant for the first time (Number 14)
  7. Tried a new product (Number 18)
  8. Tried two new recipes (Number 21)

My Progress in Perspective

Can I just say that I owned Week 5?! I completed a total of 15 tasks with the struggles of a snow storm and dangerous driving conditions. It feels good to think that I got so much done in the 5 days where I could actually leave the house (although, I did go to workout both days of the snow storm).

I am at a total 57 tasks completed! PLUS, I met the rules of Number 8 with 25 routine workouts in the first month, which sets a good pace for the remaining eleven months! I am closer to my goal average of 17 to 18 tasks per week, as well. Like I said, I am killing it! It may have just taken getting used to it in the first month.

Goals for October

So this is one area where I struggled. I didn’t have as strong of a start as I would have hoped, but I am not letting that diminish what I have done. In fact, I am removing the emotion from it and am going to analyze this topic objectively. My October Goals were:

  1. Have at least one thing in each category completed by the end of the month.
  2. Post 2 or more blogs per week describing these adventures.
  3. Add videos of my experiences to Instagram!

I did not complete one thing in each category by the end of this month. This week, I did add to 3 categories for the first time which makes it a total of 8 open categories. Last week, I mentioned that it wasn’t realistic to meet this goal for a variety of reasons. I might not make it out on a mountain again until next summer because of the snow. And that’s okay. I didn’t meet this goal, but I accomplished so much in an effort to meeting this goal. 17 out of 25 categories ain’t bad, huh?

I did not average out 2 or more blog posts about my adventures each week. I did post 2 blogs each week, but not specific to 25 Things Before 25. During October, though, I have created more blogs than I ever have in one month with a total of 10 blog posts! I think that a lot of these posts are some of my best yet! And I think that is something notable.

I did add videos of my experiences to Instagram, but not as many as I would have liked. I’ll say I met this goal because I have never posted videos to Instagram, so even doing it at all was a feat. I think I actually improved all of my social media interaction and participated in a lot of good conversation.

What I Learned for Next Month

1) Monthly Goals

I learned a lot in the first month of 25 Things Before 25. The first would have to be how to set my goals and achieve them. I think these monthly goals should be more about consistency rather than achievement unless it is trying something new. I have a few good goals in mind for November that I will share with you in the Week 6 Update!

2) Apply My Knowledge

I am really going to take the lessons I learned in the two books I read to heart and apply the lessons I have learned. One book was mostly based on relationships while one was based on facing adversities: both of which have been present in my life overall and had a huge impact on me this month. I learned that I need to pretty much just trust that everything will work out while also working my a$$ off to reach my goals. If I know how to do something, I should, and if I don’t, I will figure it out.

3) Weekly Planning

I learned that, in order to stick to my 17 to 18 tasks a week, I need to intentionally do so. I kind of just waited to see what I would accomplish each week and write about it. I, also, wrote about being disappointed in myself. Looking back, I don’t know how I could have ever thought I would accomplish 900 tasks without diligent planning. Now that I know I will be consistently behind until I implement some plans, I know what it will take to meet this huge challenge!

Treated myself to a glass of wine for a successful first month!

Thank you all for following along on this journey and I am excited to see what next month hold with all of the knowledge I have attained in the first month of 25 Things Before 25!

I look forward to hearing your thoughts on the first month! Let me know in the comments!

XO,

Sonja Hoff

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