40 Weeks to 40 on Throwback Thursday: My 40 Favourite Songs

I love music. It shapes my mood, lifts my heart, sets my foot to tapping, and serves as a backdrop for my life.

Right now, in fact, as I take a break in my work day to get my thoughts out onto virtual paper, I’m listening to a Songza playlist called Soaring Morning because I was in need of enlivening and “Soaring Morning” sounded like exactly the right fit.

40 Weeks to 40 & Throwback Thursday My 40 Favourite Songs - mostlyfitmom.comThe countdown to my 40th birthday continues, and today I’m sharing a list of my 40 favourite songs. These are the ones I sing along to when I’m driving down the highway across these open plains, I dance along to in my kitchen as I’m putting away the dirty dishes, I bop my head to when I hear them in the grocery store and I’m deciding between baby kale and baby spinach. They are the songs that I listened to on my clock radio in the basement bedroom of my parents house when I was a teenager, that I sang along to as I danced with my high school boyfriend, that I absolutely had to include on all of my running playlists because they make me narrow my eyes and go for it. They are the soundtrack of my life, entangled with the most important of my memories. Enjoy!

  1. ACDC – Thunderstruck
  2. The Knack – My Sharona
  3. Counting Crows – Mr. Jones
  4. Bryan Adams – Summer of ’69
  5. Nitty Gritty Dirt Band – Fishin’ in the Dark
  6. Roxette – Joyride
  7. Journey – Don’t Stop Believin’
  8. Def Leppard – Pour Some Sugar on Me
  9. Poison – Talk Dirty to Me
  10. Bon Jovi – Wanted Dead or Alive
  11. ABBA – Take a Chance
  12. Madonna – Material Girl
  13. Billy Joel – We Didn’t Start the Fire
  14. Kenny Loggins – Footloose
  15. Living Color – Cult of Personality
  16. Motley Crue – Kickstart My Heart
  17. Nelly Furtado – I’m Like A Bird
  18. Tom Cochrane – Life is a Highway
  19. Elton John – Saturday Night’s Alright (For Fighting)
  20. Dixie Chicks – Ready to Run
  21. Foo Fighters – Learn to Fly
  22. Bon Jovi – Livin’ on a Prayer
  23. Rihanna – Don’t Stop the Music
  24. Bruno Mars – Grenade
  25. Bruno Mars – Locked Out of Heaven
  26. Usher – DJ Got Us Fallin’ In Love
  27. Pink – Raise Your Glass
  28. Pat Benatar – Hit Me With Your Best Shot
  29. Heart – Barracuda
  30. Honeymoon Suite – Feel It Again
  31. Justin Timberlake – Sexy Back
  32. The Killers – When You Were Young
  33. George Michael – Faith
  34. Ke$ha – TiK ToK
  35. Lenny Kravitz – Are You Gonna Go My Way
  36. Nirvana – Smells Like Teen Spirit
  37. Sara Bareilles – Love Song
  38. U2 – Desire
  39. Starship – We Built This City
  40. Bangles – Walk Like An Egyptian

Which songs bring up your fondest memories?

40 Weeks to 40: Dreaming of the Olympics in Rio

My husband and me at Olympic Stadium.  We were seated in the second row the morning of August 4th, around the 55m mark.  Amazing seats.

My dream since 2012 has been to go to the Olympics in Rio to watch my husband’s cousin – and her husband – compete. I even downloaded Rosetta Stone Portuguese to prepare for our Brazilian journey.

Little did I imagine that our financial position would be as ugly as it currently is following the purchase of my dental practice. Dentists are supposed to make lots of money, right?

Okay, so things didn’t go as planned with my business. It is what is it and I am choosing to take steps to change the practice into what I want it to be. I can live with that. Unfortunately, it may disrupt my dream of visiting Olympic Stadium in Rio and that makes me sad. *sigh*

Right now, we’re saving our Avion points and my husband and I are both working hard to build our businesses and seriously improve our cash flow and debt situation so that we can make Rio happen.

In the meantime and as an active affirmation that I will get to watch the Olympics live, I’m going to tackle learning Portuguese as part of my 40 Weeks to 40 series. My goal is to spend 40 minutes x 40 days on Rosetta Stone by the time I turn 40. That way, I can at least ask someone where the bathroom is when I’m in Brazil. Asking where the facilities are has got to be the most important thing to learn in any language, don’t you think?

40 Weeks to 40: 3 Simple Steps for Easy Decluttering (How I Got Rid of 40 Items in Less Than 10 Minutes)

3 Simple Steps for Easy Decluttering - mostlyfitmom.comI have too much STUFF. Papers on my table, old shoes in my mud room, decorative items that I tolerate but don’t love on my shelves… Clutter leads to stress and increased cortisol levels, so why not make the choice to become happier and less stressed by clearing those items you don’t love out of your life? Simplify in a few easy steps.

1. Set a decluttering goal. Start with something easy. 5 items, 10 items, 25 items, or whatever magical number suits your fancy. In keeping with my “40” theme, I set myself of goal of finding 40 items to delete from my environment.

2. Set a time limit. If you know you have a limited time to work with, you’ll usually be more efficient and just get ‘er done. I set a timer for 10 minutes and began. I basically went from room to room, looking for areas in my house where stuff piles up and stealing things from those hot spots. In about 7 minutes, I had found the 40 items I was looking for.

Labeled Items Decluttered3. Decide what you’ll do with the items. If it’s broken or plainly garbage, then toss it. Clothing, shoes, or books can often be donated or given away to friends, while expired drugs can be taken to the pharmacy for proper disposal. If you’re into garage sales or eBay, consider selling your goods and making a little cash. In my case, a few items will be placed in the garbage or recycled, the clothing and household items will be donated, the expired meds will be taken to Shoppers Drug Mart, and I’ll check with my friends to see who wants my books.

Forty items are a start, but I know that over the next several months, I have a lot more to let go of. Decluttering is a habit that can be cultivated. It can be difficult to do, though, because the items tucked away in your junk drawer or in the basement storage room require that you make a decision about them, and that can be tough, especially if you’re sentimental and items serve a physical reminders of people, places, and events.

Does decluttering make you happy? Do you struggle with clutter or is everything in its place in your home?

40 Weeks to 40: 40 Movies in 40 Weeks, A Birthday Project

40 Movies in 40 Weeks A Birthday Project - mostlyfitmom.comI love watching movies. I’m not a movie nerd, but certain movies have become part of my life. Jaws ensures I will always be afraid to swim in deep water, whether it’s in the ocean or in a lake. When I tell my husband, “I love you,” and his response is, “I know,” I don’t take that as an insult but as a nod to our shared adoration of Star Wars. When I hear Jump by The Pointer Sisters, I start to giggle inwardly at the memory of the scene in Love Actually where Hugh Grant as the British Prime Minister is dancing around his house and caught by a one of his staff.

I try hard not to spend too much time glued to screens, but I do spend some time watching TV and so I figured I could make my screen time a little more meaningful over the next forty weeks by watching forty movies, one for each year starting in the year of my birth. Some are favourites, some I’ve never watched but are on my “to watch” list, and some just bring up special memories because of what was going on in my life when I saw it or who I saw it with. The movies are listed by year because I thought that was the best way to provide some sort of organization to the list.

Jaws 1975
Rocky 1976
Star Wars IV 1977
Grease 1978
Rocky II 1979
The Empire Strikes Back 1980
Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark 1981
ET 1982
Return of the Jedi 1983
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom 1984
The Breakfast Club 1985
Top Gun 1986
Dirty Dancing 1987
Die Hard 1988
When Harry Met Sally 1989
Pretty Woman 1990
Silence of the Lambs 1991
Unforgiven 1992
Jurassic Park 1993
Forrest Gump 1994
Toy Story 1995
Scream 1996
The Lost World: Jurassic Park 1997
Blade 1998
The Matrix 1999
Gladiator 2000
Harry Potter and the Philospher’s Stone 2001
City of God 2002
Love Actually 2003
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind 2004
Serenity 2005
Cars 2006
Gone Baby Gone 2007
The Reader 2008
Star Trek 2009
Blue Valentine 2010
Warrior 2011
Pitch Perfect 2012
The Dallas Buyers Club 2013
Unbroken 2014

Are you a movie lover? Do you have favourites from your childhood? What movie is your current fave?

40 Wonderful Things to Enjoy at Walt Disney World

40 Wonderful Things to Enjoy at Walt Disney WorldI’ve been a Disney fan ever since I was little. Watching a Disney movie Sunday night was one of the most exciting highlights of my week as a kid. When we went to Disneyland when I was in Grade 2, and Walt Disney World the following year, it was like walking into a movie.

In the past several years, my family and I have had the opportunity to visit Disney Parks several times and I have to say that my love for all things Disney has only grown. I’ve even done work-related training through the Disney Institute.

In this, my fortieth year, I thought that I might add a runDisney race to my agenda as part of my celebrations, but we’re saving up to potentially go to the Olympics in Rio next year, so a Disney trip isn’t in the budget.

Dreaming of Disney brings me joy, though, and with this year being all about happiness and joy, I am indulging my Disney side by writing about 40 wonderful things to enjoy at Walt Disney World. If you are already a Disney lover, it is my wish that my list of favourites brings up a few happy memories for you. If you’ve never been to Disney, I hope that my list can inspire you as you plan a trip to Walt Disney World. If you’ve found that you’re not a Disney lover, then you may just have to eye roll as you read my list. Ready?

Magical Experiences

  • Being there for rope-drop when the park opens. There’s something magical about being one of the first people in the park.
  • Fireworks! My favourite part of a day at Disney. I pretty much tear up every time I watch the show.
  • Going in the off-season. Fewer people, shorter lines, and a more leisurely pace mean the joy of Disney with more relaxation.
  • Walking down Main Street and looking up at the castle. It makes my heart expand in my chest.
  • The Halloween-themed parade. The Headless Horseman is my favourite part.
  • RunDisney races. The crowds have so much energy and running through the parks, even for just part of a race, is uplifting.
  • Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. Disney + Halloween = True Love.
  • Planning to go. The anticipation of visiting the happiest place on Earth makes me feel like I’m 7 years old. In a good way. Except I’m paying the bill.
  • VIP Tour Services. My mom sprang for this the last time we went with her, and it was an amazing experience.
  • FastPasses. Having them is awesome. Standing in line – not so much.
  • The Pirates and Pals Fireworks Voyage. Awesome snacks, completely different view of the Magic Kingdom fireworks, kid-friendly entertainment. And you get to have your picture taken with Captain Hook. Arrgh!Pirates and Pals

Rides

  • Pirates of the Caribbean. My long-time favourite ride.
  • Jungle Cruise. Cheesy, yes, but it’s on my must-ride list, along with Pirates.
  • The Teacups (officially “Mad Tea Party”). Classic.
  • The Tower of Terror. Love the feeling of my stomach dropping.
  • The Haunted Mansion. Another of my childhood favourites.
  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. Sure, you’re mostly going in a circle, but my entire family loves it.
  • Star Tours. I’m an unapologetic Star Wars fan. Becoming part of the Rebel Alliance is a good time.
  • Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster starring Aerosmith. My daughter’s first big roller coaster, and now one of her favourite rides.
  • Expedition Everest. I love fast rides, and I love the Yeti story and theming.

Food and Dining

  • Fudge. It’s delicious. Enough said.
  • ‘Ohana at the Polynesian Resort. We love the character breakfast here. Go hungry, because there is so much food.
  • Dole Whip. Cold, tart, and delicious. Available in Adventureland and at the Polynesian.
  • The chocolate-covered Mickey-shaped crisped rice treats. A sweet and simple snack.
  • The Garden Grill character meal at Epcot. Again, so much food, but you get to see Chip ‘n’ Dale, Mickey, and Pluto.
  • Disney World now has Starbucks. Sometimes caffeine provides a welcome boost as part of a long day in the park.
  • The Kitchen Sink at Beaches and Cream. So much ice cream. So much whipped cream. It’s an experience to share with the whole family.Kitchen Sink

Disney Magic

  • The attention to detail. Hidden Mickeys, music appropriate to each attraction, the way the pavement changes to reflect the area of the park you’re in, the special touches that you often aren’t conscious of until someone points them out. You are immersed in Disney-ness.
  • It’s super clean. If you go to other theme parks, you really notice how Disney takes care of its environment.
  • There’s always something different to try: a new ride, a specialty drink, a different restaurant. No trip to Walt Disney World is ever exactly the same.
  • Seeing what’s off stage and what goes into the show. It’s pretty cool.
  • Customer service. It’s not always perfect, but cast members have provided us with some of our favourite Disney moments.

Staying On-Property

  • The Magical Express. It’s included in your resort stay, they worry about your luggage so you don’t have to, and it starts the magic right at the airport.
  • The Contemporary Resort. You can walk to Magic Kingdom. No waiting for a bus or a monorail.
  • The pool at the The Beach Club Resort. It’s huge and the kids have a blast.
  • Going back to the room in the middle of the day and chilling out. I love visiting the parks, but you can get burnt out.
  • The Polynesian Resort. It’s on the monorail, so there’s easy access to Magic Kingdom, and I love the South Pacific theming.

Polynesian ResortSharing the Love

  • Tucking my kids in after a long day at the parks. Those are some sweet dreams they’re about to have.
  • Having my kids tell me that I’m the best mom in the world for taking them to Disney World. Hey, I like having my ego stroked, too.Kid 2 sleeping

What’s your favourite part of Walt Disney World (or Disneyland)? What do you love about Disney? Or, if you’re not a Disney fan, why not?

40 Weeks to 40: 40 Day Gratitude Challenge

Forty Day Gratitude Challenge - mostlyfitmom.comI try to practice being grateful every day, right before bed, but I have to admit that I’ve been slacking lately. No big deal, right?

I disagree. Let me say that again: I DISAGREE.

I think it IS a big deal.

When I first started working with my life coach last fall, one of the first suggestions she made was that I start making a mental list of what I was grateful for every night before bed as I prepared to sleep. She told me that this subtle shift would have a huge impact on my life because it’s not possible to feel bad when you are feeling gratitude, except she said it much more eloquently. I may have inwardly rolled my eyes, because it sounded hippy-dippy to me, but darned if she wasn’t right – as she is about many things.

I also started sitting with my kids at bedtime and had them start to list a thing or two from their day that they were grateful for. It’s interesting to see how my son, who’s pretty relaxed and chill, will usually have no problem listing a few things from his day that were awesome, why my daughter, who is prone to anxiety, will jump around to the things that made her unhappy during the day, even as I encourage her focus on the parts of her day that she enjoyed. Hmmm, that seemed to be significant. Maybe there is something to this gratitude habit that can lead to more life satisfaction.

There’s research to support that gratitude and happiness are linked, and since I’m on a quest to make the next 40 weeks as awesome as possible, it’s a fantastic time for me to get back to practicing gratitude at the end of my day.

Guidelines for Gratitude

It can be hard, particularly if you’ve had a rough day, to come up with things that you feel wonderful about, that you’re truly grateful for. When I ask my kids about their day, I have a few simple prompts to help them get rolling.

  1. What friend were you grateful for having today?
  2. What food were you grateful for having today?
  3. What was your favourite part of today?
  4. What was your favourite activity today?

When I reflect on my day, I ask myself a few questions, too.

  1. Who was I grateful to have in my life today?
  2. What made me happy today?
  3. What situation did I get through and learn from today?
  4. What was the best part of my day?
  5. How did I love my body today?

I’m setting myself a challenge to not only practice gratitude, but also to write down what I am grateful for for the next 40 days.

Do you keep a journal or otherwise deliberately practice being grateful? Do you think gratitude is linked to happiness?

Interested in joining the 40 day gratitude challenge? Don’t be shy! Leave a comment below.

40 Weeks to 40: How to Really Celebrate Your 40th Birthday

How to REALLY Celebrate Your 40th Birthday - mostlyfitmom.com

I celebrate my 40th birthday in 40 weeks. It’s kind of a big deal, right? Forty seems to be a big milestone for a lot of the women I know. There’s a sense that the frivolity of your youth is over, but that there’s a whole lot of living to do, and as someone with forty years tucked under her belt, you now have a sense of exactly what kind of living that is.

I thought that I would be dreading the big 4-0, and while I guess I’m not exactly loving that I’m getting older and closer to death, I’m certainly not avoiding the idea of my big birthday at all. In fact, I’ve decided to celebrate being alive for 40 years through a series of challenges over the next 40 weeks.  I think it’s really a great time to focus on healthy habits, reviewing where I’ve been and where I’m at in my life, and plain ol’ having fun.

40 Challenges for 40 Weeks

It’s cheesy, but why not celebrate your 40th birthday for more than a single day? Why not do something that will make you a better person, reflect on where you’ve been, and get you having fun all the way to 40? These are not all week-long challenges. Some of them span 40 days, others involve compiling lists about your life, while still others will end on your birthday. Ready to see the list of challenges? Here we go!

  1. 40 Days of Gratitude
  2. 40 Favourite Songs
  3. 40 Favourite Things About Disney World (or your favourite place to visit)
  4. 40 Items Decluttered – Challenge #1
  5. 40 Movies in 40 Weeks
  6. 40×40 of Portuguese (or another language)
  7. 40 Favourite Movies
  8. 40 Gifts Challenge
  9. 40-Song Running Playlist for Spring
  10. 40 Facebook Posts by 40
  11. 4×40 Electronics-Free Hours by 40
  12. 40 Acts of Kindness by 40
  13. 40-Song Walking Playlist
  14. 40 Days of Planks
  15. 40 Ways to Show Employees Appreciation
  16. 40 Days of Saving by 40
  17. 40 Favourite Books
  18. 40 Loves Notes Before 40
  19. 40 Fun Things To Do by 40
  20. Run a 10k By 40
  21. 40 Days of Yoga
  22. 40 Healthy Things To Do before 40
  23. 40-Song Summer Running Playlist
  24. 40 Things To Do with Your Kids by 40
  25. 40 Sunsets
  26. 40 Days of Writing
  27. 40 Things To Do This Summer
  28. 40 Items Decluttered – Challenge #2
  29. 40 Nice Things To Do for Your Husband by 40
  30. 40 Nice Things to Do for Your Family and Friends by 40
  31. 40 Emails by 40
  32. 40 Meditation Sessions by 40
  33. 40 Days of Pushups
  34. 40 Work Goals by 40
  35. 40 Ways to Feel Uplifted
  36. 40 Days of Stretching
  37. 40-Song Fall Running Playlist
  38. Run a Half Marathon by 40
  39. 40 Selfies Collection
  40. 40 Days of Joy

As the year unfolds, I’ll be posting exactly what each challenge involves and how I’m doing.

To Party or Not to Party

You might be thinking that challenges are all well and good, but is there going to be a party? At this point, for me, I’m not sure. I love planning birthday parties, but it’s different when it’s my own. My gut is telling me to plan something with just my family, maybe a weekend away somewhere fun, doing stuff that brings me joy. All I know is that THERE WILL BE CAKE.

Do you think that forty is a big milestone? What’s your idea of a fabulous birthday celebration?