September Resolutions Offer Fresh Start

059Back-to-school time was always a fresh start. Even after I graduated college, there was always something about September.

Perhaps it is the crisp, cool temperatures. Or maybe it is remembering the trips for new school clothes and supplies.

I like to think of it as my new year. This is the time of year when I make new resolutions and review the ones – if any – I made in January.

It’s the time of year when I really get organized. Maybe it’s all of the calendars on display, the planners for students, the colored markers. Whatever it is, I find myself making lists and figuring out what I want to accomplish between now and the end of the year.

If you’re ready for a fresh start in September, here are a few areas in which to maximize your fresh start:

Fitness I’m excited about the cooler temperatures. This summer I walked one million steps between Memorial Day and Labor Day. On the hot, humid days of summer it was a challenge My new challenge is adjusting to the lack of sunlight. I bought a light to use when I walk in the morning. In the evenings, I walk as soon as I get home from work. Then I eat dinner, which is the reverse of my summer routine.

Closets With the cooler temperatures, I am more willing to tackle the attic and the garage. Because it’s darker earlier, I’ll clean out files, and shred the papers while watching the new TV shows. I also reorder my closets to match the season and identify clothes and any other items to donate.

Writing I spend more time working on my books because I am not at the swimming pool or working in the garden. To keep myself on track, I’ve set daily and weekly goals, and I continue to meet with my accountability partner.

Finances This time of year, I always review my investments, track my expenses and begin thinking about travel for next year and how I will fund the trips. I make adjustments as needed and feel good knowing that I have trips planned and some savings in the bank.

Books Since the days are shorter, it’s the perfect time of year to tackle the pile of books I have amassed. Every year I say I’m not going to buy any books until the current pile is eliminated. Every summer I buy too many books and spend the winter catching up.

If you have additional September resolutions, please share them in the Comments section to inspire others.

What’s on Your Happy List?

I love big adventures and big, exciting news. But at the end of the day, it’s the simple things that matter.

Many years ago, I made a list of things that make me happy. I have a list because sometimes I do need to take it out and remind myself of the things I enjoy.

My happy list includes:

  • Enjoying a meal with friends
  • Riding my pistachio-colored bicycle
  • Getting lost in a good book
  • Feeding the birds
  • Going to the movies

I’ve also found that having daily rituals can make the day more enjoyable. My mornings begin with a walk. I enjoy the peacefulness of it. I’m shrouded in darkness when I begin and by the time I finish I have marveled at the beauty of another sunrise. Then I pour a cup of coffee and read the morning paper.


Friends surprised me with treats from Cafe Du Monde in anticipation of a trip to New Orleans. That made me happy!

After work I come home and grab my mail. Not many people get jazzed about mail anymore, but my mum and I write to each other each week. I love receiving an envelope from her.

I come inside and curl up in a chair to read the latest happenings at my parents’ home. As mum notes, it’s rarely exciting, but that’s okay because her words connect me with my family. I learn the latest pinochle scores, what was for dinner and what the neighbors are up to. Sometimes, there are clippings from the newspaper or magazines she reads – all things she knows I would enjoy. It’s a great ritual at day’s end.

Do you know what makes you happy? If you are willing to share, would you post your “happy” in the comments section? That would make me happy!






Creating a Powerful Presentation

I recently finished – or so I thought – my PowerPoint presentation for NFPW. However, as I always do with any presentation, I reviewed it through a checklist I created to ensure that I would be providing my audience with valuable information.

Because it was a new topic for me, I quickly realized that I had fallen into some familiar traps. I definitely did not want my audience to suffer a “death by PowerPoint” experience.

To avoid such an experience, I strive to make my presentations as visual as possible. This has several benefits:

  1. It avoids using slides as a script.
  2. It ensures that I have done my research, including finding images that reflect my key points.
  3. It enables audience members to focus on me the deliverer of messages instead of trying to read slides.

A TEDxRVA speaker toolkit noted that, “People need to process everything you are saying while simultaneously absorbing your slides.”

That means eliminating complex slides. With that in mind, I reviewed my presentation and realized I needed to do some tweaking, including:

  1. Using only one idea per slide.
  2. Identifying the great image that would convey my message.
  3. Creating short phrases for bullet points the few times I used them.

I reworked my presentation, and now I’m ready. I also must remember to pack the tools of public speaking. To learn more about them, check out this article from Inc.

If you are looking for tips on how to begin to build your presentation, check out this blog about how to use PowerPoint to support your presentation.