Digital Detox: Grounding Ourselves

Okay, friends. We’re in week two of our December Digital Detox! First of all, how was last week? Were you able to find a day to be Facebook free?

I powered off on Friday and missed three birthdays. Oops! There were so many times when I wanted to open that app, especially as the notification bubble kept growing. I managed, though.

It was interesting to notice when I felt the urge to login to my account. It happened during two specific times: the quiet moment of waiting in the car lane after school, and the social moment of being out with friends.

These are habitual times when I reach for my phone. When it’s quiet, I tend to check in and see what everyone else is up to, and when I’m in the midst of fun and laughter, I want to capture the moment and share it with the world. So…my personal lessons from the week:

  • Use quiet moments to sit in stillness instead of filling it up with noise.
  • In the height of my joy, just be in the moment and let that be enough.

They both point to being more present, so I’ll keep working on that this week for sure. Let’s keep up with our Facebook Free Fridays this month and add one more helpful thing this week.

Grounding Ourselves

I don’t mean this in the angry, “Young lady, you’re grounded” kind of way, but in the super earthy, “Let’s get grounded” manner.

As I’ve been reading about detoxing from technology, I found an interesting article about how man-made electromagnetic fields (EMFs) emitted from devices like our cell phones, TVs and WiFi routers are thought to be unsafe for our health.

As we’re exposed to unprecedented levels of EMFs, we’re still learning about their effects on our bodies. Pro-technology people believe artificially created EMFs are completely safe. On the other hand, studies are emerging to demonstrate that EMFs may be unsafe. So what do we do?

Well, it never hurts to stay informed and be proactive about how much we surround ourselves with EMFs.

One way I plan to guard myself a little better is by putting my phone in the kitchen at night, so it’s not next to me when I’m sleeping.

Another thing I’m going to do is ground myself.

You can read about the benefits in this article, but it basically states that grounding is putting yourself in direct contact with the earth. Your skin needs to touch the grass, sand, soil, water or anything that’s in contact with the earth to neutralize your body.

Basically, being a tree hugger might be good for you. Lol!

The idea is that if your body has a positive electrical charge from EMFs, you can neutralize this energy by having contact with a negative charge from the earth.

The more you’re grounded, the better you’ll feel. In fact, people report better sleep, fewer headaches and less anxiety from just one session of walking barefoot in the grass or on the beach.

Now, this is my kind of detox!

The debate continues about how effective this process really is, but I’m willing to give it a try. If anything, being outside and enjoying some fresh air certainly doesn’t have any downsides.

What do you think? Have you tried grounding before? Are you willing to give it a try? Let me know!

In the meantime, I’ll see you next Tuesday with more digital detox tips and tricks.

XoXo,

Kate

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Top 5 Holiday Gifts for Tween Girls

As a mom of twin tween girls, I continue to learn what’s cool lit these days. It’s a never ending process, as things can turn from amazing to boring in a hot minute.

But, I have some good news for the upcoming holiday season!

According to my sources, the following items would make pretty much any girl between the ages of 9-12 happy campers come Christmas morning.

So…if you still have some shopping to do for the sweet little girls in your life (who are teetering on becoming full-fledged teens) you can start here!

(PS. I don’t have any affiliation with these products or stores, so it’s truly non-solicited.)

{ONE} Personalized PopSocket

A pop what?! PopSocket…it’s a phone grip, stand and mount – all in one. I didn’t realize how much I needed one of these until I recently bought one. It’s so much easier to hold your phone. Really, truly.

Here’s a good look at one. The bottom sticks right to your phone. And your fingers grip around the base. You can also get a mount for your car dashboard. But my girls aren’t driving, yet. We’ll hold on that – for as long as humanly possible!! >>
I know the girls will love having them for their silly selfies and Musical.ly videos. It makes a big difference for the reach-and-record. 🙂

Another cool thing about this brand is that they give to Parkinson’s research. Don’t you love supporting brands that give back?

PopSocket offers lots of fun designs, but I decided to go the custom route.

I uploaded a pic of Avery’s favorite bear (Mr. Fluffers) and made this for her. She’s going to freak smooth out. >>

Clara is more into monogrammed items…my Southern belle. So I hopped over to this darling store on Etsy to have one customized for her.

{TWO} Unicorn Fizzy Bath Dust

This gift is super girly and combines two favorite hits for tweens right now: unicorns and bath bombs! As a side note, anything with unicorns is “totally and utterly amazing.” And here’s a list to check out.

This fizzy dust is more like a deconstructed bath bomb. It comes loose in a plastic (non-breakable) jar that you can keep right on the ledge of the bathtub and scoop as desired.

Once this stuff hits the water, it releases a fruity fragrance. And more importantly, it FIZZLES in the water like some sort of magic potion!!

We bought a jar at a local boutique, but you can also get it here.

{THREE} Squishies

Clara has always had a funny obsession with squishing things. When she was a baby, I’d catch her squeezing packages of bread in the store as I wheeled her stroller through the aisle. Still cracks me up. So the invention of “squishies” is so up her alley.

Plus they’re adorable! >>

I don’t even know how the girls discovered these, but they wanted to give some to a friend for her birthday. I ordered online and when they arrived, we almost had to keep the gift.

It’s super calming and satisfying to squeeze these things – and to watch them slooooooowly go back to their original shape. My girls think it’s more fun than playing with slime (which is still a thing, too!)

PS. Slime ingredients make great stocking stuffers. (We don’t use the Borax recipe…we use use clear glue, baking soda, contact solution and food coloring / glitter for accents.)

{FOUR} Animal Onesies

This has been a longer-lasting trend than I had anticipated. The girls wanted bear onesies last year. We found some that were more like coats than jammies, though. They’re pretty thick. In fact, they wore them for Halloween with homemade TY-brand tags. Haha!!

Anyway, they wanted new ones to wear to bed, and the search was so much easier this year. (Trending, I guess!) I ended up finding these darling jams from Justice. >>

{FIVE} Board Games

While iPads and apps are still a source of entertainment for the girls and their friends, ol’ fashioned board games are making a huge comeback.

Here are a few on our gift list. >>

Spontuneous – No talent required, this song filled game capitalizes on the random lyrics that get stuck in your head. It’s a race to blurt out and play a crazy, updated version of Name That Tune but with lyrics as the challenge. It was the #2 Amazon bestseller last year, and is still wildly popular.

Not Parent Approved – Think Cards Against Humanity but in a clean, kid appropriate version. Crazy laughs and memories waiting to be made.

Hearing Things – Just new this year, this game is a lip reading challenge that involves wearing special headphones. Players take turns wearing noise cancelling headphones and have to guess what the other player is saying, as they read the phrases on the cards. Sounds sure to get lots of laughs – which is music to a mama’s ears.

That’s a wrap! What fun items would you add to this list?

XoXo with smiley emojis on top,

Kate

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A December Digital Detox

As we lit our first Advent candle on Sunday, we were prompted to turn off the electricity so we could see the light. I thought that was such a beautiful message.

In order for us to really see the light…light that is good, light that brings hope, light that delivers truth…we needed to power down for a moment.

What if we did this for the entire season of Christmas?

In the midst of such busyness and excess, what if we stopped for a minute and did nothing but breathe? What if we decided to put down our devices and enjoy the real, living faces that are in front of us? As someone who’s probably (okay, very likely) on my phone waaay too much, I’d like to find out.

Studies are telling us that social media appears to promote narcissism, smartphones could be causing insomnia, and screens seem to be making our kids less empathetic and more depressed. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to head down such a sad and tired path – and I certainly don’t want my kids there.

So what do we do? We learn to unplug every now and then.

I’m going to try a digital detox for the month of December. If you’d like to join me, come back each Tuesday for a weekly challenge. (You can log off once you’ve read each post. I definitely see the irony. Lol!)

For now, let’s start with this…

This week’s challenge: Pick one day (each week of December) where we go Facebook free. If FB isn’t your jam, select the social channel of choice – one that you typically can’t live without.

Don’t check notices, post any statuses, or respond to someone tagging you in a photo. Turn off your notifications and spend the day being present. Maybe even try some bullet journaling?!

I’m going to pick Friday, which is the day I tend to post the most often. And it’s the day when I really should be enjoying and doing other things. Like this! >>

And spend more eye-to-eye time with these sweet faces…

So it’s Facebook-Free Fridays for me!! I’m already kind of nervous, which means I definitely need this detox. I hope you’ll join me.

Here’s to a more relaxed week for all of us, sitting in our true light, feeling the hope arise.

Blessings,

Kate

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LHOTW (Life Hacks of the Week)

It’s one of those “other” days, y’all. As my sweet Southern friends and I would say, “I’m praisin’ the Lord it’s Friday.”

That and, “Where’s my margarita?”

Somehow I managed to squeak by this week…even with a sick kid, no voice from a nagging cough, a full work schedule, and Christmas inching closer. Eek!

Thanks to a few glorious hacks, I found my way to Friday with some sanity in tact. Or at least I think so?

Here are five life hacks I relied on this week:

{ONE} Sunglasses Holder > Cord Wrangler

On Monday, I got to work and realized I didn’t have my phone charger or earbuds…oh, my!

When I got home, I made a little cord wrangler using one of my sunglasses cases. I know, first-world problems, but this hack really came in handy.

Oh, and notice I used loom bands to hold the cords together…a hack inside of a hack. >

LOOK! It goes in my purse in a snap. >>

{TWO} Neck Pillow > Stomach Soother

My son came down with the stomach flu early in the week, which was no fun!! Between moments of getting sick, his stomach would cramp up. Poor thing. I didn’t want to leave a heating pad turned on in his room, so I warmed up my neck pillow in the microwave. It fit perfectly across his stomach!

And since it’s filled with lavender, it smelled good and probably helped him get some extra rest along the way.

This is the back side of the pillow, which is silky soft. >

{THREE} Baking Soda > Laundry Detergent

We went to Nebraska last week for Thanksgiving, so we had a decent pile of laundry to clean when we got home. I also wanted to wash my son’s sheets and blankets once he started feeling better to freshen up his room. Needless to say, it was a big laundry week, and I wasn’t quite prepared.

I ran out of detergent at one point and decided to DIY my way through the next load or two until I could get to the store.

Did you know baking soda makes a great detergent? One cup of baking soda did the trick for a full load. I bypassed the soap dispenser and just sprinkled it in with our clothes. They came out clean and smelling fresh.

{FOUR} Appointment Reminder > Library Notice

My girls needed books (ASAP) for their reading assignment at school, so we hauled it over to the library. At the checkout desk, we realized we had a book (or two) overdue. Oops! Why do I always forget about those darn things?

After I paid our fine, I decided to put the due dates for the newly checked items in my phone. I just made myself an appointment to “return books.”

Now our books will be returned on time. Why didn’t I think of this sooner?! >>

{FIVE} Paper Clip > Ornament Hangers

Is it just me, or are there never enough ornament hangers when it’s time to decorate the Christmas tree? As I found myself decorating this week, which was a miracle in and of itself, I realized I was short a few hooks (sounds like a euphemism – haha!) and I didn’t want to run to the store.*

*Do you see a theme with some of these hacks? “Ways to not to have go to the grocery store.”

Anyway, I decided to raid my office supplies. It turns out, paper clips are a gem for the job.

I gently pulled the middle of the clip up, to make it into an “s” shape, like below. Hook the smaller loop through the ornament and use the larger loop for the tree.

That’s a wrap. Enjoy your weekend, lovelies. I hope you get some decorating done, if you haven’t already.

And most importantly, kick those heels up for a spell.

Cheers!

Kate

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Get Your Christmas in Gear with a Planner

Ho, ho, happy holidays! Friday is already December 1st, which means it’s go time, girls.

As we put up our festive flair, bake delicious treats, and make our lists and check them twice, I thought it I’d share a few fantastic planners to help keep us organized. At least we’ll try, right?!

I live by, swear by lists – especially this time of year. Having things written down somehow takes the pressure off. I can relax knowing two things: 1) I can only do one thing at at time, and 2) I have a list to guide me along.

I also try to stick to being realistic about what I can and can’t do. Some things on my “to-do” list are more of a “wish to-to” list. So if they don’t get done, my world won’t crash down. #perspective

Here are three planners that I’d recommend this season. >>

{ONE} From Yellow Bliss Road

I found this on the blog Yellow Bliss Road, and I just ordered it. I love how it includes so much more than a checklist.

Kristin @ YBR describes it as “a 28-Page Christmas Planner to keep you organized for the holidays! There are calendars, a weekly agenda, budget and gift trackers, and so much more! There is even an editable Christmas Card AND editable gift tags! All available in the YBR Designs Shop.”

Did you see the part about a budget tracker?! And it all has such a pretty design. She forgot to mention that part. The planner and gift tags cost me $8.99 to download, which was a small price to pay for my sanity.

PS. I downloaded the smaller, A5 size so I could slip it in the front pocket of my Day Designer. Which, btw, they have super fun designs for their 2018 planners. Check them out!

{TWO} From Cottage Market

Aren’t these super cute? I think my kids would like them, too. I plan to print them for their own personal gift lists.

I also like that this has an order tracker (to keep up with all of those online purchases). And it includes a a planner for handmade items, so you can plan out everything you want to make for gifts. Love it!

Oh, and did I mention this one is free? It is! Thank you, Cottage Market for this darling bundle.

{THREE} From Any Bookstore!

This idea is more of a DIY. It’s called a bullet journal. So you’re free to craft your own lists as you go.

Bullet journals are ideal for people who like to doodle, journal and keep lots of little to-do lists going. If you’re still not sure what a bullet journal is, this graphic might shed some light. >

Also, this article is helpful (and funny…and has some language…but funny). You can use this approach to not only plan your holiday, but also document the season to reminisce later.

Here are some great ideas for a holiday-themed bullet journal (and they’re all from this article if you want more details!)

Christmas bullet journal idea

{record family gift ideas and purchases}

Christmas bullet journal idea

{keep track of gifts received for prompt thank yous!}

Christmas bullet journal idea

{have a list of last-minute gift ideas ready to shop}

Christmas bullet journal idea

{include your Christmas card roster}

Christmas bullet journal idea

{spend some time making personal goals}

Christmas bullet journal idea

{keep track of your favorite holiday recipes}

Christmas bullet journal idea

{remember the things you’re grateful for}

Christmas bullet journal doodle ideas

{…and doodle ’til your heart’s content!! You can find more design ideas here.}

I’m off to do some planning…and doodling. Let me know what tips and tricks you use to stay organized through the holidays!

XoXo,

Kate

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Sleep Your Way to a More Creative Life

The phrase “let’s sleep on it” might actually have significance – other than helping you end a long meeting.

Neuroscientists believe that while you’re sleeping, you continue to work through ideas that were planted in your mind when you were awake. So essentially, you can keep creating cool stuff while your body gets its beauty rest. Ahh. I love the sound of that.

There’s a particular type of sleep that’s most beneficial for our creativity, too. According to this study, REM sleep helps the brain connect unrelated ideas, which in turn helps our creative problem-solving.

Fun facts about REM sleep:

  • What does it do? This type of sleep increases brain activity, promotes learning, and creates dreams.
  • When does it happen? It takes place after you’ve been sleeping for around 90 minutes.
  • How long does it last? The first cycle lasts about 10 minutes, and the length of each cycle increases with time. It can last up to a full hour in the phase right before you wake up. Basically, the longer you can sleep, the more REM you’ll get!
  • How does it affect us? According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, a study depriving rats of REM sleep significantly shortened their life span, from two or three years to five weeks. (Yikes! So a deep sleep might even help you live longer?)

During the REM phase, when you’re in a dream state, your brain is busy making sense of your thoughts, memories and experiences. And these connections often prove inspirational. Steve Jobs was noted for saying, “creativity is just connecting things.” And we can definitely do this in our sleep.

In order to capitalize on your dreams, keep a notebook by your bed. As soon as you wake up, write down any thoughts that come to mind – even if they seem nonsensical at the time. They will be ideas worth mining!

In addition to dreaming, it’s important to get a regular amount of sleep each night. By establishing how much sleep you need (for me it’s 8 hrs) and sticking to a routine, you’ll create a rhythm for your body. A rhythm that will help you think more clearly, aid your memory and make creativity flow more freely the next day.

Author Stephen King King believes a regular sleep pattern encourages our wakeful minds to unlock the similarly creative imaginations we access in our sleep. He said, “as your mind and body grow accustomed to a certain amount of sleep each night, you can train your waking mind to sleep creatively, and work out vividly imagined waking dreams, which are successful works of fiction.”

Whoa. Coming from a master of mysterious, bone-chilling novels, I’d say he’s on to something. That dude has quite an imagination.

So as you begin to work on your next creative project, seriously consider “sleeping on it!” And then take notes the next day.

Before you lull into a creative slumber, though, I’ll leave you with some of my favorite quotes about sleeping. >>

XoXo,

-Kate

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Wishing You Thanksgiving Blessings (with a Side of Laughter)

Happy Thanksgiving, lovelies! I hope this holiday is filled with all of the good stuff. >

And I’d like to add one more item to this list…”share a smile!”

Here are three ways you can add a dash of humor to your turkey dinner.

{ONE} Lighten things up with a mad lib

Mad libs are an easy and fun group activity. Ask someone to be the scribe. As everyone takes turns shouting out words, such as adjectives, verbs, and nouns (as instructed by the story) the scribe writes them down. When the sheet is full, the scribe reads the full story to the group, which usually takes a hilarious spin. You could even do this a couple of times with the same sheet!

Try this Thanksgiving-themed story compliments of Real Simple:

{TWO} Share a few silly jokes

I’m a sucker for silly jokes. That’s pretty much the best part of Laffy Taffy candy for me. When I found these Thanksgiving jokes, my kids and I giggled and shared them for hours. There are a few are eye-rollers in here, but that’s kinda the point with these jokes. Have fun sharing these around your table!

{If the answers are a bit hard to read, here are the full jokes for you.}

  1. What always comes at the end of Thanksgiving? The letter G.
  2. Why did the turkey cross the road? It was the chicken’s day off.
  3. What did baby corn say to mama corn? Where’s popcorn?
  4. What’s the best thing to put in a pumpkin pie? Your teeth.
  5. What sound does a turkey’s phone make? Wing. Wing.
  6. What key won’t open any door? A turkey.
  7. What does a vampire call Thanksgiving? Fangs-giving.
  8. Which side of a turkey has the most feathers? The outside.

You can find more jokes here!

{THREE} Play a game or two

When you’re ready to get up from the table, you could jump into some of these lively games. They’re like minute-to-win-it games, but with a Thanksgiving theme. And they look pretty hilarious.

Here’s to full bellies and full hearts this Thanksgiving!

XoXo,

Kate

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Five Personal Ways to Share Kindness

World Kindness Day was on Monday, but we should at least celebrate all week. Right? So it’s not too late to join, if you haven’t already.

Here are five terrific ways to share kindness – and on a very personal level.

Sometimes it’s easier to do random nice things for strangers, like hold a door or share a smile. Isn’t that strange, but true? It takes time and effort to do something extra for the people closest to you.

Hopefully one of these ideas gives you some inspiration. >

{ONE} Notice Them

Yesterday’s post is still sitting deep with me. In my 21-day gratitude challenge, I was asked to think about the people around me whom I might take for granted.

When I started running down my list, I realized a couple of things. One, I have some incredibly awesome people in my life, and two, I probably don’t tell them enough how special they are.

In an effort to share more kindness, I think the simple act of noticing can be huge.

Let your eyes light up when someone walks in the room. Put the phone down, ask about their day, and be present for them. Notice something beautiful about them, and then speak it.

{TWO} Shower Them with Cards

A very kind and inspiring girl from my sorority is fighting colon cancer as we speak. She started chemo treatments last week and needs lots of support and encouragement right now.

One of our sisters decided to organize a card party (with snail mail). She started a Facebook page to get the word out to all of the girls who lived in the Delta Gamma house during the time our friend was there. And she’s encouraging all of us to mail a card, poem, pictures, or any kind of day-maker on Monday. We hope to flood her mailbox with love.

I absolutely ADORE this idea!!

Wouldn’t this be such a great thing to do for anyone special in your life? Pick an unsuspecting day – like not their birthday or anniversary – and organize friends and family to send cards that include special messages.

How fun for them to check their mail?! Not everyone’s letters will arrive on the same day, so it could span a full week.

{THREE} Listen with Love

Everyone needs a friend who can listen…like really set the world aside for a moment and listen. It’s such an important skill, but doesn’t always come naturally.

I recently read an article about “conversational narcissism” and couldn’t believe how many times I’ve done this or had it happen to me!

Here’s how it goes. A friend shares an emotional story, like how their kid got in big trouble at school, and you can tell your friend is embarrassed and pissed at the situation. You find yourself digging through your archives for a similar incident so you can empathize and make her feel better. That’s your intention, anyway.

What can end up happening is you make her feel like you’re one-upping her situation. Even if you don’t mean to. The kind thing to do is listen and let it be about them. Instead of saying, “Me, too!” stick with, “I’m so sorry. What can I do to help you through this?”

{FOUR} Speak Their Language

Waaay back at the beginning of my marriage (almost 17 yrs ago!!) Brandon and I discovered this book about love languages. We thought it might be kind of cheesy, but we also wanted to be good spouses. While we had dated each other for several years, being a wife and husband was definitely new territory for us.

When we opened the book, it also opened our hearts. I know, sappy, but true!

It outlined five types of love languages people gravitate toward: gift giving, quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service (devotion), and physical touch.

Once Brandon and I figured out the secret to each other’s love, it was so much easier to make each other happy.

So…if you want to truly share kindness with someone close to you, it would be good to figure out what’s most meaningful to them. Then do it, give it, be it, feel it, or say it!

Acts of service (above) is my cheat sheet for Brandon!

I happen to cherish quality time, so any of the ideas below would make me super happy. 😉

{A full set of downloadable prints for each love language can be found on this awesome post.}

{FIVE} Capture Their Kindness

Starting this week, the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation is sponsoring a 14-week photo challenge. They encourage you to capture an act of kindness and then post it online using the hashtag #CAPTUREKINDNESS. You can win awesome prizes and inspire more people to join.

Even better…you could double down on your kindness by taking a picture of someone you know who’s caught in the act of doing something nice. When you post the pic, you could win a prize and give it to him or her!

————————————–

That’s a wrap! For more ideas check out these posts on Acts of Kindness. You’ll find Kindness RocksMaKayla, our kindness elf, a few inspiring quotes, and more!

XoXoXo,

Kate

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Thankful for Awesome People

We’re at the halfway mark of November, as well as day 15 of the 21-day Gratitude Challenge! So I’m sharing today’s message and personal reflection. >>

Front

Back

The white text is little hard to read, so here’s what it says:

Who are the people around you – friends, co-workers, neighbors – that you don’t always pay attention to? Are there certain people whose presence you may take for granted sometimes? List some people below and write a brief reason why you’re thankful for them.

In the next few days, tell one of these people why you’re thankful for them. It’ll be an encouragement to both you and them.

———————————————————

Personal Reflection

Gosh, this message struck a chord. I can get so wrapped up in my day-to-day schedule…keeping work projects moving, carpools rolling, kids studying and playing sports – not to mention fed, that I probably take a lot of people for granted.

This bums me out just thinking about it, because I don’t mean to overlook the generous people or acts of kindness in my life.

I will definitely open my eyes and take a moment over the next few days to thank these people in particular:

> My husband for being more than my better half. In fact, many days he’s my better 3/4. He’s such a great listener – no matter what I’m rambling about. I can vent about hard days or chatter about craft supplies and he patiently listens to it all. We tag-team on pretty much everything around the house, and he always runs errands with me (even when his schedule is full) because he knows spending time together is my love language. He’s a calming presence when I get weird bouts of anxiety, and life just wouldn’t be the same without him.

> All of the moms and families in our carpools. They save my bacon on a weekly basis. Honestly, I can’t imagine life without carpool. (Someone needs to put that on a t-shirt.)

> All of the teachers and coaches who carry the baton of making my kids amazing people while I’m at work or cheering from the sidelines.

> My dearest friend in California who never gives up on us no matter how much time passes between visits, as well as my super fun friends in Kansas City and here at home.

> My kids who continue to be good eggs no matter how much I mess up. My adoring parents, talented brothers and sisters, in-laws whom I honestly love, and nieces and nephews who make me feel incredibly proud.

> My sweet neighbor who’s always willing to help feed our rabbit, bring in our mail, watch over our house, or even visit over the fence about life. She’s amazing in so many ways.

> My co-workers who not only inspire and push me to new levels of creativity, but also take time for lunch and sharing parts of their lives beyond work.

> The people at DogParty who give sweet Leo a home away from home when we take trips.

> The girl who cuts my hair and doesn’t get mad when I trim my own bangs between appointments.

I know there are so many more…

I appreciate you all and send you my deepest love.

XoXo,

Kate

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Creative Tip: Are You Asking The Right Questions?

If you want to awaken and nurture your spirit of innovation and creativity, one way to crack that egg is by asking questions. When you get super curious about an idea or problem, you can break new ground and walk away with a brilliant solution.

Questions stir up new connections between two or more concepts, or they lead you on a path to new questions and different angles. So how do you enwreathe an idea with just the right question?

Here are three approaches to try!

{ONE} PLAY “TEN QUESTIONS”

Remember the game 20 Questions, where one player thinks of a person/place/thing and another player asks up to 20, yes-or-no questions before guessing what they’re thinking about? Well, you can take a similar approach to a creative problem.

Think about what you’re trying to accomplish. Then write it in the form of a question – in at least 10 different ways.

For example, if you want to invent a new way to walk a dog, you could start with “How do I design a better leash?” Or you could ask, “What’s the problem with leashes on the market today?” Or better yet, “What would make a dog want to stay next to his owner on a walk?”

As you explore, your questions might get deeper into the issue and closer to a creative fix.

{TWO} THINK LIKE SOMEONE ELSE

Instead of sitting there feeling stuck inside of your own head, try to slide into someone else’s perspective.

For example, if you’re designing a better sippy cup, ask what changes your kids would make. What would make it easier for them to hold it? What would make it more fun for them to drink from it?

Think through the problem from their angle and ask questions from their side of the equation.

{THREE} REMEMBER TO GET FACTUAL 

Phil McKinney wrote a book that’s dedicated to this entire topic of digging deeper and asking the right questions. It’s called Beyond the Obvious. I haven’t read the book yet, but I recently stumbled upon one of his concepts.

He came up with two basic categories of good questions: factual and investigative.

As the name implies, the objective of the first category is to get information…real, useful info that provides detail and context. It’s the “who, what, where, why, and how” kind of questions.

They serve an important purpose, though. Sometimes people glaze over details or make assumptions, when a simple, factual question could be the missing link to uncovering a solution.

For instance, there were two sisters who always cut the ends off their ham before cooking it for the holidays. One sister finally stopped and asked why. When her sister didn’t really know, they decided to ask their mom. After all, she taught them how to cook a ham. The mom said she cut the ends because she didn’t have a pan big enough…not because it had some sort of culinary benefit.

So discovering a new way of doing things can certainly come from asking factual questions.

And remember to keep following the question train. Keep asking why, and follow up with another question until you’re satisfied.

McKinney believes you’re more likely to get creative answers from open-ended, investigative questions – like what we explored above in options 1 & 2 – so it’s good to give all of these approaches a try.

Let me know what works best for you.

Have a creative day!

Kate

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