Category: Personal Growth


We are blessed to have two homes in two very unique and beautiful locations.  Our summer home is located in Bend, Oregon which you have seen me mention here and here.  Our second home is located in Charleston, South Carolina.

Typically we spend the winters in Charleston as the weather in Bend gets extremely cold during the winter months.  Not to mention the days get VERY short between November and March and that has a pretty dramatic impact on my mood.

One of the nice things about the Bend house is that we have speakers throughout that allow us to listen to music whenever we want.  The home in Charleston is quite old and to add speakers in the ceilings would be both expensive and cause significant damage to the walls and ceilings.

So we decided to speak to a local company about what our options might be.  Audio Evolution is the Charleston home theater installation company we decided to work with.  They proposed a solution using a company called Sonos.  All of the speakers are wireless.

We decided to give it a shot, though both my husband and I were concerned that the quality wouldn’t be what we were used to from our other home.  Boy were we impressed!  These little wireless speakers actually perform really well.

On top of their high performance, the interface for controlling the speakers couldn’t be any easier.  Everything is done from an iPad or iPhone.  You simply select the room or rooms in which you want to listen to music, then select the album or song, and away you go.

It integrates with all of our favorite music services including Pandora and Rhapsody.  It’s so simple to use ,that we’re even considering replacing our system in Oregon with a Sonos system.  While I would consider our Control4 system there very simple to use, this system is even more intuitive.

Personal Growth


My favorite part of the day is the mornings.  I have a particular routine that I go through each and every day that ensures that I am both mentally and physically prepared for everything I need to accomplish.  I start out by meditating for at least 20 minutes, then I start focusing on what I want to do.

My Morning Routine

I’ve found that I’m most productive when I work somewhere between 4-6 hours per day.  This may not sound like a whole lot, but I’ve consistently found that when I work more that 6 hours in a day that I’m not nearly as productive with the additional time that I put in.


One of the things that I find helps me keep my focus during the working part of my day is to listen to classical music.  For whatever reason it helps me to keep my mind active but it doesn’t interrupt my thought patterns since there are no words.  A couple years ago we had a bunch of speakers installed throughout the house by a company that installs high end audio dealer in Los Angeles.  While I always work from my office, we have these speakers everywhere.  So I can listen to my favorite music at a relatively low volume throughout my workday.


Improving Your Productivity

One of the best ways to help improve your level of productivity is to take the time to actually focus on it.  There are a number of effective techniques out there, but one of my favorites is the pomodoro technique.  This technique is based on the fact that it’s difficult for most people to focus on a task for more than 20 minutes at a time.  So this technique has you work non-stop for 20 minutes and then take a five minute break.


Why is this method so effective?  Well to begin with when you’re working for long periods of time, especially on a computer, it’s easy for distractions to take hold and for you to lose track of your day.  Distractions like emails, Facebook, and even phone calls can cause you to break focus and completely forget the task at hand.


The technique is very simple.  You set  a timer for a reasonable amount of time, say 15-20 minutes.  And then during that time you do nothing except work on a specific task.  When the timer goes off you take a 5 minute break.  This means you can check Facebook, browse the web, take the dog out, essentially whatever you want to do that has nothing to do with work.


This is a great way to keep your mind fresh and allow yourself to work more efficiently without getting burned out.  I was somewhat skeptical when I first heard about it.  I mean seriously, you’re using a kitchen timer to keep track of your work time.  But after you’ve done it for a while you find that your productivity actually does increase dramatically.


I’ve even convinced my husband to try it when he’s working in his shop.  He too has experienced some efficiency gains, though I will say it seems to be more effective for tasks that require creativity and thinking more so that physical tasks.


So if you’re struggling with your productivity levels consider giving the pomodoro technique a try.  It can make a dramatic difference in how much you get done each day.

Personal Growth


New Year’s is right around the corner.  And what does that mean?  Millions of people worldwide will make a resolution to lose weight and get in shape in 2014.  While this is a great goal, the vast majority of people will quit after just one month.  So how can you make sure you’re not one of them?  We’re going to show you a couple ways to help shed the pounds and keep them off.  I’ll even fill you in on one that is a bit of a surprise.  It’s a paleo chocolate cookie.

One word.  CrossFit.

What is CrossFit?

For those that don’t know, CrossFit is an exercise regimen developed by Greg Glassman in 2000.  It started out as one gym or ‘box’ in CrossFit terminology.  Now there are more than 7,000 affiliate gyms across the world.  The reason for this impressive proliferation is that CrossFit gets back to the core of fitness, literally.


Each workout is called a WOD or workout of the day.  It is typically a mix of olympic style lifting, body weight exercises, plyometrics, and endurance exercises.  The exercises are posted before each workout, so everyone in the class knows exactly what they’ll have to perform that day.


All of the exercises are performed in a group environment.  This encourages motivation from other members of the class.  And this is a major reason for CrossFit’s success.


Rather than just going to a gym on your own, or one on one with an instructor, CrossFit engages you in a group atmosphere.  While you’re not necessarily competing with other members in your class, there is a certain motivating power behind watching others pushing themselves to new personal bests (PB).


Some of the Olympic-style exercises that are performed include dead lifts, the snatch, and cleans.  Instructors are there every step along the way to insure you are performing the movements correctly and to provide motivation.  Thus far it has proved to be a very successful recipe.


Endurance exercises include running, though rarely for more than a mile.  Rowing is also a popular exercise as it engages so many muscles within the body.


Finally there are any number of body-weight exercises.  These include air squats (squats with no weights), box jumps, sit-ups, pull ups, muscle ups (pull ups using olympic rings), and the infamous rope climb.

What You’ll Need

In terms of gear, there is very little you will need that you don’t already have.  Because of the running, jumping, and rope climbs you will most likely want a good pair of shoes.  There are any number of shoes designed specifically for CrossFit on the market now.  This guide for selecting the proper shoes will help you find the best shoes for CrossFit if you need help in choosing.


And since CrossFit can be tough on your body you’ll need to help it recover.  This is key to building muscle.  The muscle building supplements for men aid in both recovery and cellular growth.  It’s worth looking into them if you’re serious about the sport.  There’s more information available at


Other than that you just need some shorts and a shirt.  Dry-fit clothing is a good idea as you will tend to sweat quite a bit during the WODs.


CrossFit Goes Hand in Hand With the Paleo Diet

CrossFit also teaches about nutrition.  If you’re not properly fueling your body, you won’t be able to keep up with the workouts.  One term you will hear thrown around is the Paleo diet.  You can read more about it here.  Essentially it involves cutting out grains, refined sugars, and processed foods.  That’s not to say that you’ll have to cut out everything that you enjoy eating.  Companies such as cookies and treats that conform to the Paleo guidelines.


While it’s not all about the best Paleo chocolate chip cookies and treats from, the diet does make a huge difference in conjunction with CrossFit.  It’s definitely worth investigating.  Find more here.


So if you’re one of those people that religiously starts a diet at the beginning of the year, maybe it’s time to try something different.  It’s worked for millions of other people, and it will work for you too.  And it never hurts to start a diet with a Paleo cookie.

Food and Eating Personal Growth