November felt like such a long month. Which was odd when every other month has been flying by. So many things happened and the days just kept coming! Overall it was an emotionally overwhelming month in both good ways and bad. I only gave myself three goals to focus on, but they were big ones. I think I did pretty well.
1 – Focus on health above all else
It seems like I spent every waking minute thinking about my health in November. Mostly agonizing over what I could eat, when I would eat, what I could make, what I had to avoid, how I’d survive when it felt like the control was taken away from me. Plus all the accompanying guilt when I realized just how terribly I’m letting my kids eat too, putting them on the exact same path I am on, but not knowing how to drastically change their diets without a war on my hands. It’s been exhausting. But it’s actually been easier than I expected it to be to make some healthier swaps and eliminate, or mostly eliminate, certain foods from my diet. I’m still taking it relatively slowly, not making EXTREME changes and not doing anything that’s going to make myself feel crazily deprived and depressed. For the most part I’ve cut out almost all processed foods since about mid October. The first couple of weeks were really hard and then all those cravings that used to rule my life disappeared. It was incredible. I feel like I’ve been a slave to my salty snack and sweet dessert cravings for my entire life and now after a few weeks of forcing myself to say no, I finally have control. I’m still having a tiny amount of chocolate almost every day, but JUST a tiny amount and it’s enough to satisfy me and move on. The hardest thing to eliminate has been coffee creamer. I haven’t yet. I assume it’s a big contributing factor to fake junk that’s destroying my liver, but none of the substitutions I’ve tried are coming even close to hitting the spot. I don’t want to give up coffee since I’ve become so obsessed with it in the last year, but I also don’t want to drink it if it’s going to taste like crap!
Cutting out white refined carbs has been a little harder. Baking has always been such a huge part of my identity. It’s also one of the biggest ways I’ve been able to show love to my family, through special breakfasts and desserts multiple times a week. I’ve been experimenting with a few gluten free and whole grain recipes, but it’s just not the same. If I had to give up ALL grains I wouldn’t survive. I consider myself pretty lucky that whole grains are good for me! But I keep finding myself wanting to rely on them a little too heavily to keep me satisfied. Brown rice and certain whole grain breads have proven to be great alternatives and I barely miss the white stuff. But I do miss baking and knowing whatever I make is going to taste amazing.
Avoiding fast and fried foods has been pretty easy too. My only real issue was when I was in North Carolina and never had a ton of readily available options. But I did my best. I did eat at Taco Bell the night of Caden’s lego league competition. But other than that I’ve steered clear. I think it’ll really only upset me when I go to a sit down restaurant and see all my favorite fried foods as an option. But I haven’t been to many restaurants lately because of that fear.
2 – Go to the Hope*Writers Conference with an open mind and heart
Though it already feels like ages ago, I definitely did this! I honestly think that conference was one of the very best things I’ve ever done for myself. But it also kind of feels like a dream, in retrospect. It’s easy to get super excited about your writing aspirations when you’re away from home and away from responsibilities and surrounded by people with the same dream. Then you come home and you’re hit again with all these lifestyle changes you need to make on top of all your regular responsibilities and the added pressure of running your own business at the busiest shopping season of the year AND Christmas just around the corner. I was affirmed at the conference that I am a writer if I write. And I DO write. But not nearly as much as I’d like. Or as elequotely or with a solid direction. My biggest fear in going to the conference was that I’d get there and only feel like I’m failing at one more thing in my life. I didn’t really feel that while I was there because the community of writers was so encouraging and kind. But now that I’m back at home and I can barely even get a word to the page for days at a time…it’s discouraging. But I’m really glad I went to the conference.
3 – Buy/Craft/Plan at least 1/2 of the Christmas presents
So Christmas shopping has basically become my full time job this last week. I was desperate to figure out what to get everyone and at the best possible prices during all the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales. I’m trying not to agonize over it and become extremely stressed out the way I was last year. I have a lot of people to buy for! My original plan was to MAKE a lot of gifts this year, but it’s clearly not going to happen. I couldn’t even get new dolls in my shop, let alone explore other crafting avenues for gifts. Oh well. Looking at my list I’d say I’m probably 75% done right now. Basically just the hardest people left – the male in-laws. I am very relieved that a few weeks ago I didn’t have a clue what to get the boys – literally not a single idea. But a few things came to mind recently and I’m close to being set with them, I think.
That’s about it! I’m glad to have just survived November. It was a hard month, mostly because of all my liver and diet changes. But the vacation and conference were a great escape from reality for a few days. And I came up with a great Black Friday sales plan, putting November at my biggest month of sales ever, despite not selling a single doll the first two and a half weeks of the month! We’re obviously already a few days in (no time!), but I’m excited about December and hopefully having some down time in the midst of the crazy to have fun and relax and remember all the reasons life is good.