It's Not Business, It's Personal

When people ask me what LifeSquire is, the short answer seems to only add more questions.  And as someone who has worked for the company for over a year, it's not a satisfying answer to give. How do you encompass what we do in just one or two sentences? It's almost impossible. But I'll give it a shot here in this blog. The question I get second after "What is LifeSquire?" is usually along the lines of "Why should I have LifeSquire?".

True, you could download a handful of productivity apps that, for most people, probably get the job done! And while they may make your to-do list more organized or send you haughty reminders about what’s left to do, they don’t promise that it will actually get done. The doing part still falls on your (already busy) shoulders. You can make more lists. You can make more money.  You can acquire more stuff. But you can’t make more time. Time that's needed to care for yourself, to be present with your family, to create memories; time to sit in silence with a good book.  There just isn’t an app on the market that adds extra hours to your day.

That's what makes your LifeSquire different than an app or even a call-in errand service. Do we run errands? Of course. Do we drive the kids and walk the dogs? On a daily basis! I don't need to bombard you with a list of what we do. But here's a thought: We are time benders, standing in for you during the day so that you can be present in other areas of your life that bring you joy. And there's no worry about whether or not the dry cleaning is going to get picked up. What we love to give our clients more than anything is peace of mind. Knowing that things are going to get done, and get done right.

And you're not just getting a personal assistant.  You're getting a LifeSquire, which includes all the security and comfort that comes with it.  We receive monthly training across a wide variety of topics related to client-care.  What’s more, when you hire LifeSquire, you aren’t getting just one person -  you're getting a whole team of expert caretakers with diverse skill sets and talents. Because of all the unique skills we each contribute to the team, we have yet to be given a task that can’t be handle. 

We do more than just cross things off a to-do list.  The kind of trust we build with our clients is a huge part of what sets us apart in the industry.  We take the time to learn our clients’ unique tastes and preferences.  We complete each task and project exactly to your specifications so it feels like you’re the one getting things done.  We know your favorite treat and how you take your coffee. Does an app know that Tuesdays are your busiest days and bring you your favorite Starbucks drink? If so, let me know what this magic is and how I can get it.

At the end of the day, I like to think that LifeSquire is more than just a company I work for. It's an entity that embodies support, dedication, and hard work. And it's why I do what I do for my clients!

Taking Care of You

Your relationship with yourself

sets the tone

for every other relationship you have”

-Robert Holden

Another successful Valentine’s Day is in the books.  But while you were making sure that your loved ones felt the love, did you forget to love your self, too? In theory, it seems like it should be one of the easiest things in the world to do: take care of yourself. But with family, kids, work, and everything else, how often do we actually put ourselves first? It’s time to remember how important it is to show ourselves some love, and figure out how that fits inside chaos.

Recognize Your Wins

Keeping track of your “wins” throughout the week is one way to keep a positive focus on everything you do.  Consider writing in a gratitude journal nightly, or as often as you feel up to it.  Not only is writing soothing for many people, it’s a great way to become more self-aware.  By writing down the things you are grateful for, you paint yourself a more accurate picture of what matters most and also what you can begin to remove from your life.  Journaling can be a useful tool in finding the silver lining in a crazy world.  But most importantly, it recognizes your accomplishments and strengths. Give credit where it is deserved. For a list of tips on keeping a gratitude journal check out this article or challenge yourself to this 52 Week Gratitude Challenge.

Treat Yo Self

Even if you don’t have time for a full day at the spa, you can still find ways to pamper yourself at home. Spend an afternoon trying out a DIY clay mask (this one here is amazing) or soak your feet while you catch up on your favorite shows. Also, pampering yourself doesn’t have to be all soap and lotion. Nourishing your brain is an important way to practice loving yourself, too.  Take a leisurely trip to the bookstore or check nearby community colleges for a class in a skill you’ve always wanted to learn. Just do something, anything, that brings you joy. We spend most days giving our time and energy to others – and that is a wonderful thing! But your being and self matter, too.

Go Outside

There is some serious healing power in nature.  Give yourself permission to carve some time out of your week to get out and soak in that vitamin D.  Researchers have found that being in nature, or even viewing scenes of nature, reduces anger, fear, and stress and increases pleasant feelings.  Exposure to nature not only makes you feel better emotional, it contributes to your physical wellbeing, reducing blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension, and the production of stress hormones.[1]

In fact, nature has such an effect on humans that just adding a single plant to your work space can have a major effect on your mood.  A study done by the Nursery & Garden Industry of Australia suggests that the simple addition of live plants to a work space can significantly boost creativity, improve air quality, and reduce anxiety[2]. So is putting a fern in your cubicle going to turn your life around 180 degrees? No – we wish it were that easy! But having love and care for yourself means doing little things that will make you happy. 

Mind Full?  Be Mindful

Meditation and deep breathing exercises are definitely not new practices to humanity.  And in our fast-paced world it’s really no surprise that meditation has seen an increase in participants seeking relief from their environments.  Meditation is believed to relieve a myriad of problems including  chronic painanxiety, stress, improve heart health, boost mood and immunity, and resolve pregnancy problems[3].  Give these meditation techniques a try at home. Don’t have time? Meditation expert Chad Foreman suggests making shower time meditation time. “A shower is also a great metaphor for washing away the past and cleansing the mind, revealing the natural purity of bare and open awareness which is always there but sometimes covered with a bit of dirt we pick up along the way[4]

But if “omming” your way to inner peace is out of your comfort zone, consider picking up an adult coloring book. They’ve become a hugely popular way to unwind.  Some experts even suggest that coloring can send your mind in to an ultra-relaxed, meditative state.  “[The] repetition, pattern, and detail, prompt positive neurological responses in participants. When you have things that you can predict will happen in a certain way, it's calming for us”[5].

You take care of some many other things for everyone else during the day, so whether it’s a shopping spree or leisurely nature walk, do something for yourself!  And if you’re struggling to find even the littlest of time, why don’t you give Lifesquire a call?  We’ll take care of all the extras so that you can take care of you.  The most important takeaway here is you matter: your mind, your body, and your state of wellness. Take care of you and be happy.

 

 

[1] https://www.takingcharge.csh.umn.edu/enhance-your-wellbeing/environment/nature-and-us/how-does-nature-impact-our-wellbeing

[2] http://www.ngia.com.au/Story?Action=View&Story_id=1686

[3] http://www.webmd.com/balance/features/transcendental-meditation#1

[4] http://www.thewayofmeditation.com.au/blog/shower-meditation/

[5] https://www.colorit.com/blogs/news/85320388-amazing-benefits-of-coloring-for-adults

How LifeSquire Can Benefit You

What Is Your Time Really Worth?

Having a LifeSquire is a luxury that many people don’t think they need in their life. There’s a cultural mindset that makes it difficult to ask for help, and we end up becoming overwhelmed with the expectations of having it all. Work doesn’t just happen from nine to five. Most adults start a different kind of work when they get home: laundry, home repairs, cooking, home upkeep, and the list doubles if you have pets or children. How are you supposed to manage all of that and have time to do the enjoyable things? Life can’t be filled with tasks to be checked off a list. We need to have moments that bring us joy and laughter and peace. But that’s a nearly impossible task when almost every hour of our lives is spoken for. So we tell ourselves that we just have to stick it out for another few years. It will get better when the kids are grown or work isn’t so crazy, right? But nothing is ever guaranteed. In the end, some part of our lives suffer – be it work or home.

A survey by Care.com shows that 30% of working adults cut back on six or more hours in order to make room for familial and household responsibilities.[i] So it’s no surprise that employees struggling with work/home life balance feel less engaged within their company. But stress doesn’t just hurt your performance at work, it can be detrimental to your health, too. According to the Mayo Clinic, stress is a major contributing factor in anxiety disorders, insomnia, memory loss, and depression[ii]. Stress is even shown to shrink the grey matter of your prefrontal cortex – the part of your brain that regulates emotion and regulates insulin[iii]. Of course, we don’t need to tell you that stress is bad. What's important to realize is just because it's become the norm, doesn't mean it's a healthy or normal lifestyle.

You’re not alone.

A solid 30% of working adults in the U.S report experiencing high levels of stress.  And the most widely agreed on factor for that stress? You guessed it: Work-Life Balance[iv]. This stress margin is more than doubled for business owners though– with 78% reporting that they experience high levels of stress[v]. Society makes us believe that we need to have it all, and having help seems like something only celebrities and athletes do. But the truth is almost all of us can benefit from having someone to take care of the little things and be intentional about taking care of us.

What does having a Lifesquire really save you?

Well, in short, we give you your time back. And does having more YOU time really make you a better worker?  Can having less housework actually make you more productive? A 2015 study by the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that women spend an average of 2.6 hours EVERY DAY on household tasks (and men are close behind with 2.1 hours each day).  That’s nearly 20 hours a week spent walking the dog, folding laundry, or picking up groceries.  What are those hours worth to you, your family, and your employer? We’d say it’s pretty priceless, but we’ll let you be the judge of that. We offer free consultations to our clients. This is a time for us to come and talk with you and find out your needs. Our goal is truly to simplify our client's lives and be a blessing to them, in any way we can.

 

 

[i] http://workplace.care.com/betterbenefits

[ii] http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress-symptoms/art-20050987   

[iii] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22218286

[iv] http://www.forbes.com/sites/karenhigginbottom/2014/09/11/workplace-stress-leads-to-less-productive-employees/ - 71ea38c05bb2 

[v] http://www.denverpost.com/2012/12/16/small-business-owners-coping-with-greater-stress/

LifeSquire Holiday Traditions

For the last post of the 2016 holiday season, we wanted to do something special. As much fun as the baking and shopping and wrapping can be, one of parts we truly love about Christmas are the traditions. Some seem to be pretty common - anyone ever do the matching pajamas? But some of them are unique to a family or group of friends. We asked our staff tell share one of their favorite Christmas traditions, be it old or new. Maybe it will inspire you, or maybe it will just bring a little warmth to your heart. We want to wish the merriest of Christmases to you and your family! And we hope you enjoy reading about some of our special moments.

Liz

My family has always opened gifts on Christmas Eve and watched A Christmas Story. Then we opened stockings on Christmas morning. It's a tradition that I have now carried over into my marriage.

Ally

Every Christmas Eve in my dad's family we order a ton of cheap burritos from Taco Bueno and eat chips with a special dipping sauce my grandpa makes. 

Jae

For the last several years I've been having Christmas Eve dinner with my brother, Jordan, and his girlfriend, Lily. We make mulled wine, build a fire and play games.

Christina

Ever since I can remember, when Christmas morning came, my siblings and I would have to complete a series of games and puzzles before we could open our presents. Sometimes they were riddles, charades, a short scavenger hunt... basically anything to get all us kids laughing and working together. My mom still makes us do it even though we're all grown! It's my favorite part of Christmas morning.

Katie

I love to bake for my family and friends!

Lizzie

My brother and I convince my parents every year that we should open our presents on Christmas Eve because "the fun is basically over." It works every time.

Caitlyn

Every year my mom would let us open one present on Christmas Eve after we got home from family Christmas parties. That present would ALWAYS be new pajamas so we looked cute in pictures Christmas morning.

Allison

We would get together with all our extended family and eat a huge dinner and play cards and board games afterwords. Then we would all go to the movies the day after Christmas!

 

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5 Mason Jar Gifts to Give

If you're like us, whenever Christmas comes around you have the best intentions to give thoughtful, handmade gifts to your friends and family. You spend hours on Pinterest, Instagram, and Etsy to get inspiration. You find the perfect gifts. Maybe you even buy all the supplies. But then days come and go, and it all sits on the table. Taunting you. And before you know it, it's New Years Eve and you didn't get those gifts out. Hey, we've all been there! But we've found these amazing mason jar gifts that are a) easy to make, b) very cute and c) include ingredients to make some really delicious food. Read on to give a great gift.

Fudgy Brownie

Who could honestly say not to rich, chocolatey brownies? Get the recipe here.

Chocolate Chip Cookie

Forget the Tollhouse break and bake cookie dough. This is the good stuff - homemade without the hassle! Get the recipe here.

S'mores Cookies

Bring the comfort of a campfire to your kitchen. Get the recipe here.

Double Chocolate Toffee Cookie

I don't know if words can describe how good these cookies are gunna be when they are cooked. Not to mention, the smell will be heavenly. Give the gift here.

Chocolate Banana Bread

These are probably the easiest gifts you could ever give, and they'll make a great snack come Christmas morning! Get the recipe here.

 

 

 

LifeSquire Favorites: Christmas Edition

When this time of year comes around, there are a lot of reasons to be happy. It's different for everyone. Maybe you get excited about getting gifts. Maybe the thought of gathering with family and friends makes your heart happy. Or maybe it's just the overall joyful and giving spirit that makes you smile. One of our favorite things about the season is memories; remembering old friends and childhood Christmases. Not to mention sharing time with the ones we love now, so we can make more memories. For this post, some of our LifeSquires share their favorite Christmas songs, gifts, and books: all things that make up some of their best Christmas memories.

Liz

Christmas song: Any Christmas song sung by N*Sync

Christmas book/movie: A Christmas Story, Christmas Vacation

Gift received: My iPod nano that my parents gave me 10 years ago. I haven't added any music to it in about 5 years but it's my go to whenever I'm cleaning and want some throwback music.

Ally

Christmas song: "Blue Christmas" (Elvis)

Christmas book/movie: White Christmas, Christmas Vacation

Gift received: Favorite gift I ever got was my first camera. It was just a cheap point and shoot, but up until then I'd only had disposable cameras. Took that camera with me everywhere. 

Jae

Christmas song: "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing" (Sufjan Stevens)

Christmas book/movie: The Polar Express

Gift received: I can't think of any gifts that really stand out in my mind. Anytime I get to spend time with my family laughing, eating, watching movies, eating, playing games and eating is a gift!

Katie

Christmas song: "Angels We Have Heard on High"

Christmas book/movie: Love Actually

Gift received: Brita Water Filter when I was 8. I actually got two, because it was the only thing I would say I wanted for Christmas. Also, my kitten Guy Smiley when I was about 4 years old. We had also gotten bikes that year from Santa. We found Guy Smiley because he managed to knock over all the bikes first thing in the morning.

Lizzie

Christmas song: "Last Christmas" (Wham!)

Christmas book/movie: The Polar Express. Not because I like the story (or even remember it) to be honest, but because when I was little and my dad was gone on a business trip, he brought that book home for me as a gift. And it felt extra special because he thought about me when he was away! And I had missed him a lot!

Gift received: My parents got me a brand new car for Christmas and it was great because my car was totaled a few months before. Also because it made my brother mad. 

Caitlyn

Christmas song: "Let It Snow"

Christmas book/movie: The Night Before Christmas

Gift received: The best gift I've ever gotten was my first car, a '94 (same year I was born) manual soft top Jeep Wrangler with a straight six engine. We opened presents at 4am that morning and I fell back asleep in that car.

Allison

Christmas song: "Carol of the Bells", "Baby It's Cold Outside"

Christmas book/movie: It's A Wonderful Life

Gift received:  It was our first Christmas here in Oklahoma away from our extended family and my parents flew my cousin out here as a surprise so we could be together for the holiday. And it snowed! 

Christina

Christmas song: "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" (Frank Sinatra)

Christmas book/movie: The Polar Express, Elf

Gift received: I can't remember exactly how old I was, but when I was a kid, Santa sent a gift to "the kids" (me and my brothers and sisters). When we opened it, it was a bunch of Wii controllers and we thought, "He messed up! He gave us all these games and controlled but we don't have a Wii!" Then after we opened all our other presents, there was one hidden in the back - guess what is was? We all flipped out!

10 Holiday Books That Will Fill You With Cheer

Is there really anything better than curling up with a good book? Only if you add something hot to drink and a little Christmas! One of our favorite traditions is to read a different Christmas book each night. There are a ton of great stories out there, but we've picked our favorites! Sit down with the kids, the dog - whoever - and get a healthy does of happy.

1. Snowmen at Christmas, by Caralyn Buehner

What do snowmen do at night while we are fast asleep?  here.

2. Llama Llama Holiday Drama, by Anna Dewdney

Little Llama Llama has had enough of the holiday hustle and bustle and is losing sight of the reason for the season. Get it here.

3. Merry Christmas, Mouse, by Laura Numeroff

We all know what happens when you give a mouse a cookie, now Mouse is back and he’s decorating and preparing for the season.  Get it here.

4. The Longest Christmas List Ever, by Greg Spiridellis

Trevor is determined to not forget anything on his list this year – so he carries it with him for the WHOLE year, adding to it every chance he gets. Get it here.

5. The Night Before Christmas, by Clement C. Moore

…And all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse…Get it here.

6. Dream Snow, by Eric Carle

Readers of all ages will delight in the beloved Eric Carle illustrations. Get it here.

7.  How the Grinch Stole Christmas, by Dr. Seuss

A classic Christmas tale full of true Seuss-ian wonder and whimsy. Buy it here.

8. Olivia Helps with Christmas, by Ian Falconer

Not a piglet was stirring…well maybe just one. Read more here.

9. Olive the Other Reindeer, by Vivian Walsh

Follow Olive on her journey to the North Pole to help Santa and his team fly the sleigh. Get it here.

10.The Polar Express, by Chris Van Allsburg

This is a personal favorite. How can anyone not be happy after reading this magical book? Buy it here.

13 Gifts under $20

On the third day of Christmas my true love gave to me…an awesome present without breaking the bank! Okay, so maybe song writing isn’t our strong suit. But know what we are good at? Finding amazing and affordable gifts! Whether it’s for the office Secret Santa or that cousin you hardly know, we’ve got the perfect gifts.

1.    The holidays can be stressful.  Give the gift of mindfulness this season with this Mandala coloring book. Get them here.

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2.    Bring the scents of the season to your loved ones.  Diamond Candles have a surprise piece of jewelry in every candle.  Jewels range in value from $5 costume pieces to $1,000 precious stones! Find them here.

3.    The perfect mug for the astronomer in your life.  This mug reveals constellations as it warms to the temperature of your drink. Pick your star here.

4.    Spice it up with this kitchen herb trio.  The kit includes everything you need to grow your own kitchen herbs. Start your growing here.

5.     Spread some holiday cheer with this set of 4 stemless wine glasses. Get them here.

6.     Chalkboard canisters are functional and fabulous.  Grab your set of three here.

7.     Baby, it’s cold outside!  Bundle them up in this cozy cable knit set before they go dashing though the snow. Get warm here.

8.     For the expressive, office supply enthusiast in your life, Kate Spade offers these fun paperclips. Get organized here.

9.     The perfect gift for those who love to entertain and eat cheese. Check out this slate state cheeseboard here.

10.  Coffee + Wine = Merlot infused coffee beans. You better grab some before we buy the whole stock! Get them here.

11.  When you’ve got time to kill waiting for Santa to come, this puzzle will keep you busy! Get it here.

12.  Stackable mason jar measuring cups. Can’t. Even. Get them here.

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13.  Love beer? Love tools? These tool-shaped bottle openers are just the thing. Get them here.

 

 

 

Sweet Treats Santa Will Love

Centuries of sugar cookies and gingerbread men – don’t you think Santa’s a little tired of the cookie game? These treats are guaranteed to get you a few extra presents under the tree, and they’re super easy to make. Or you could always asked your LifeSquire to make them for you…

1. Peppermint Bark Brownie

These are probably the best brownies you will ever have! I’ve been making these since I was 13, so I may be a little biased. But they’re always a big hit, and super easy to make. Find the recipe here.

2. Puppy Chow

This is a classic snack, and one of our assistants swears by it for a Christmas treat! Want to make it more festive looking? Add in some red and green M&Ms. Find the recipe here.

3. Rice Krispie Treats

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Let’s be honest – you could probably just buy the premade treats and mush them into the shape of a Christmas tree! But if you want to make them from scratch, find the recipe here.

4. Covered Pretzels

These are amazingly easy and amazingly delicious! They can be topped with anything you like. Pro tip: dip the pretzel stick in caramel and then chocolate – tastes just like a Twix! Find the recipe here

5. Peanut Butter Chocolate Bars

Chocolate? Check. Peanut butter? Check. Doesn’t require an oven so if you eat the batter it’s pretty much okay? Check! Find the recipe here.

Eat, Drink, & Be Merry!

We’re kicking off our 12 Days of Christmas right – with a few spirited spirits! Now, we didn’t have the pleasure of taste testing these delicious drinks, but we’re certain they’ll keep you and your guests smiling and singing the whole night through! Just what the big man and his little elves ordered. Whether you’re planning a big holiday bash, or just a cozy night in with friends, we’ve got you covered! Would you expect anything less? 

1. Bourbon Pecan Pie

All the goodness of your favorite dessert, but without all the guilt – at least that’s what we’re telling ourselves. Find the recipe here.

2. Vanilla Cranberry Mimosa

Holidays + Brunch + Bubbly…what’s not to love? Find the recipe here.

3. Santa Clause-mopolitan

Do you get it? It’s a CLAUSE-mopoliton. Because Santa Clause! The name is reason enough to try this bad boy. Find the recipe here.

4. Jingle Juice Holiday Punch

These ice cubes are not only festive and fun, they’re beautiful too! Find the recipe here.

5. Happy Elf

We’re not saying this is Buddy the Elf’s favorite drink…but if he had one, don’t you think this would be it? Get your happy on here.

6. White Christmas Margarita

I’m dreaming of a White Christmas…Margarita! Bing Crosby step aside – a few of these and we’ll be singing our own Christmas carols. Get merry here.

7. The North Pole Cocktail

The Season just wouldn’t be complete without a trip to The North Pole! But remember folks, if you’ve had a few of these, leave the sleigh driving to someone else! Find the recipe here.