Word of the Year: NOURISH

There is so much pressure at this time of the year to set intentions and make big goals. And normally, I’m all about that! I set goals for myself every single month because I find that thinking about them in such short chunks really helps me make better choices in my daily life, and reflecting on them at the end of the month helps me learn how to do better the next month. It’s been a good system for me. At least, it’s felt like a good system, until the end of the year when I was mulling over 2019 and realized I spent almost every single day feeling stressed out and unworthy of rest, unworthy of joy, unworthy of peace because I was never DOING ENOUGH. Even though DOING was all I lived for. It’s a hard way to exist, never ever feeling like you’re enough. And honestly, I’m tired of it. I want this year to be different.

I’ve also come to the conclusion in this past year that I am only being negatively influenced by all the motivational messages on social media. Every time someone tries to “encourage” me to be better, it feels like another slap in the face, telling me I’m not enough. There’s such an intense pressure out there in the entrepreneurial world telling you that you always need to be growing, you always need to be doing something to be better, you can never just sit still and enjoy the life you’ve already made. For me personally, this trap really hit home a few years ago when the boys both started school full time and I felt this incessant need to prove myself and my worth, constantly searching for more accomplishments I could show off to defend why I’m still a “stay at home mom” with no kids in the house during the day – something that is definitely no longer the norm. And despite my best efforts, despite a business I did create from scratch and run successfully, I think I’m always going to struggle with people thinking less of me. I’ve been an overachiever my entire life, and it’s really dang hard to stop letting my accomplishments define who I am. But I want to make that shift this year. I want TO focus on WHO I AM, rather than what I can do.

I’ll tell you a little bit more about it tomorrow in my Favorite Things post, but I’ve been working through a goal tracking planner this past week and it’s really helped me to focus on what I want to do differently this year to enjoy my life and be a happier person. Ironically, it made me realize that I don’t really want to live by the goals of accomplishments anymore. I DID make goals, but they all center more around ways of living versus actual things I aim to accomplish, so I’ve decided not to share them publicly this year. Sharing means I’ll have to eventually own up to achieving or not, and I don’t need that pending sense of failure on my mind. I might go back to making some lighter monthly goals in February, because it IS fun to make doable and enjoyable goals that will pull me out of the drudgery. But for January, I’m taking a step back from all the doing to focus more on just being.

I’ve never picked a word of the year before. I’ve loved the idea, but there are just so many great words out there to live by, how do you narrow it down? Well, for me, it was really obvious what I needed this year. To focus on my health and wellbeing. And “health” is not an actionable or very exciting word, so I went with NOURISH. It fully encompasses everything I want and need to focus on right now. I want to nourish my body with healthy and wholesome foods. I want to nourish my physical strength through movement and exercise. I want to nourish my brain through life-giving books and meditation. I want to nourish my relationships with the people in my life I never want to lose. I want to nourish my heart with joyful activities. I want every decision I make to be filtered through the lens of nourishment. If it’s not good for me, it’s a no. If it will feed any part of who I am with a positive outcome, I’m going to say yes. I’m hoping that there really won’t be a lot of gray areas. I know what’s good for me, and I have permission to take those things I need. It’s a good word and I’m really happy with it.

I’m really excited about the year ahead. I want to be happy again. I want to be whole. And I want to be a lot healthier, in every sense of the word. And unlike every year before this, I feel ready to actually do the work to become the person I want to be.

Happy new year!

December 2019 Goals

We’re already almost a week into December and sitting down to write my goals for the month has been nearly impossible. But – good news – I just finished up all the Black Friday pre-order ornament dolls and I think I am done sewing FOR THE REST OF THE YEAR! I’ve been working insanely hard this week to try and get them done so I can get them out of the way (and my mind) before my big Favorite Things party tomorrow night. And I did it! I just haven’t had time to do basically anything else.

My goals are pretty low key and fun this month. It doesn’t make sense to try and actually be productive in December. It’s more about slowing down, managing stress, and enjoying the people around me.

1 – Read only happy books

I usually devote December to reading lighthearted Christmas romances. Unless I get tired of them, which can definitely happen, and then I’ll switch it up. The point is that I don’t want to read anything that’ll bring me down (like the sexual abuse against children book I was reading over Thanksgiving – bad idea). I’m hoping now that I’m (probably) done working for the month and after my party tomorrow, I can finally slow down a little bit and justify spending more time each day reading. I can’t wait!

2 – Treadmill OR walk outside 6 days a week

Last month I set a goal of walking on the treadmill every single day. I found that I was avoiding walking Annie outside on the nicer days because I needed to get my treadmill time in. Given the choice, I’d always like to prioritize walking outside because it’s good for her too – plus fresh air and sunshine for me. I’m sure the treadmill is a better actual workout, but the point is that I’m moving and it shouldn’t matter which location I’m doing it in. While there’s no snow or ice on the ground, I should be choosing to go outside a lot more often before I’m trapped in here for months at a time. I also want to give myself one day off without the guilt. I felt so much guilt every day that I skipped in November, no matter how justified my reason for doing it.

3 – Make SOMETHING on my Cricut

I had such grand plans to make everyone a Christmas present using my new Cricut skills. And then I went over a month without even touching it. I’m sure the two weeks between now and Christmas festivities will still fly by very quickly and be filled with other things to do, but I want to make sure I give myself a little freedom to be creative with it and learn a few new skills.

4 – Take two weeks of “vacation”

I was planning on making a few more dolls after I finished up these ornaments. But honestly, this week has been so incredibly stressful. Plus I made a lot more money over the big weekend than I was anticipating, so I feel like it’s okay to call it. I usually don’t work much in December anyway because I want to preserve my sanity! But I also tend to really miss it after some time away, so if the mood strikes I’ll make a few, but I think I’m going to save them for January to sell. I’m almost completely sold out of inventory, so I’ll probably put the shop on vacation mode in about a week and then reopen in the new year once I have a bunch of fresh dolls to showcase.

5 – Prioritize cooking

So I’ve been going through a cookbook this week written by a woman who lost 125 pounds in a year, simply by making all the same diet changes that I’m making right now. At first, I found it encouraging. And then I realized that if I want to have the same kind of success (or even remotely similar – I have no expectations to be THAT successful that quickly!), it’s going to mean devoting SO much time to making almost all the food I want to eat from scratch. Honestly, it feels like it’s going to be a full time job. A job I really don’t want. But apparently a job that’s unavoidable if I want to get us all on a healthier path. There are definitely nights I love making dinner. But there are many nights when I feel very resentful and stressed out that the responsibility is always on me when there are always SO many other things I’d rather be doing. My goal in December is to shift my mindset to focus on how WORTH IT doing all this extra work will be. I want to go through all the cookbooks I have laying around and be filled with new inspiration. I want to make better meal plans and grocery lists and carve out whatever time is necessary to make those meals happen. I want to try and make myself become addicted to the high of creating wholesome and delicious meals day after day. It’s really important. More important than most everything else.

6 – Be present

I’m noticing more and more often how much my own personal agenda gets in the way of actually connecting with people. On one hand, there are ALWAYS so many things that need to get done. Things that need to get done BY ME. On the other hand, my kids are rapidly growing up and I spend very little extra time with them. Usually almost none in the evenings because I’m so busy doing all the things I didn’t have time to do during the day when I was forcing myself to be responsible and actually work during work hours. This month I want to be better about saying yes when Greg asks me if I want to watch something with them. I want to think of ways to connect with my kids on my own. I want to stop planning out every minute of my every night and weekend, so I have more freedom and desire to spend time with them instead. It’s just….hard. I don’t know how to be less busy when I’m always behind on something. But I’m going to try.

November 2019 Recap

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.

November 2019 Goals

I was struggling to come up with a list of goals again this month because October was such an epic disaster. I’m still just in survival mode right now and can’t handle adding anything extra on top of the things I’m doing just to get through my days. So – I’ll stick with those! I think November is going to fly by so quickly. I’m going on a five day trip, which will immediately launch me to the middle of the month, even though the month just started. Then I’m hosting a big sign painting party which feels like it’ll basically consume a whole week of my time to prepare for. And then it’s pretty much Thanksgiving, which also means it’s basically Christmas! I am not AT ALL prepared for Black Friday/Small Business Saturday/Cyber Monday sales and have no clue how I’m going to get even close to making enough dolls to feel worth it. But….I don’t want to lose my mind to stress and being overwhelmed this month. I just want to focus on those couple of things that matter above all else and the rest will hopefully just fall into place. Or be good enough. And I’ll have to be okay with it.

1. Focus on health above all else.

THIS is what’s important right now. While my official diagnosis is up in the air and who knows if I’ll even figure it out this month, I NEED to start taking the steps to be a healthier person. Not a diet to lose weight (though hopefully that’ll be an outcome), but realistic lifestyle changes that I can manage for the rest of my life. I have three main things I want to focus on this month to kick things off.

  • Use the treadmill every day until it becomes a habit. No goals for specific times or distances yet, I just want to GET ON IT every single day. Well, every day except the five days I’m out of town this month. I started a notebook to log all of my walks, so hopefully I’ll feel a nice sense of accomplishment every time I add another one to the list. Caden also started a log so he can see how much he beats me every time…
  • Cut out almost all white flour and processed foods. I don’t want to be insane about this, or be super annoying to people who have to eat with me in the coming months. But I do want to make a conscious effort to avoid them as much as possible. Especially when I’m home alone and most prone to mindless snacking. But I don’t plan on being super strict with myself when I’m on vacation, or a date night, or like Thanksgiving day. But MOST of the time, I am going to learn how to just say no and find a better option. I’ve been working on this for two weeks now and it’s gotten easier, for the most part. I did have noodles at HuHot last week and pizza at my brother’s birthday party last night. I did try the lemon cake I made my friends on Friday. But I’ve been doing pretty good at all the times in between. As long as I have other options available, it’s going okay.
  • Avoid fast and fried foods. I think some of my biggest food related downfalls are when I’m running a lot of errands and extremely hungry and tempted by all the surrounding restaurants and just desperate to get something delicious and fast in my stomach. I actually don’t eat that much fried food to begin with, but fast food chains are definitely an evil temptation on my busy days. I’m nervous about feeding myself three meals a day for five days a week when I go on my trip later this week. I know it’s going to be challenging not to overindulge. But if I stick with the plan to avoid fast food and fried food, it’s a good starting point for picking healthier – and probably much tastier! – options.

2. Go to my Hope*Writers conference with an open heart and mind.

When I bought my ticket to this conference last spring I was SO excited about it. It felt like the best possible investment I could make in myself and the future I’d truly like to have as A WRITER. And then life, like always, got in the way. I still struggle a lot with what I’m really meant to be doing with my time and my life. I love doll making, I do, but it’s not essential to my happiness the way it was a few years ago. It’s definitely more a job now, and one that I’ve really been slacking on. In theory, I would love to be a writer, but I have some serious self doubt and just aren’t sure I could, or would even want to, make a full time career out of it. But I still want TO WRITE, whether it’s only on this blog or even just journal entries that nobody will read except myself. The majority of my writing comes out in emails to a friend – the truest story of my life for the last fifteen or so years. I would really like to direct that writing desire to other things and I’m hoping this conference will help give me hope again. Pour some optimism into my heart that I’ve lost along the way. I’m definitely nervous about the entire thing, but I know it’ll be good for me. I leave super early Thursday morning, have a few hours to explore Charlotte, and the conference begins that night and goes through late Saturday afternoon. Then I’m heading three hours east to the coast for two nights in a waterfront hotel just for the fun of it. For the last few weeks it’s felt like this conference couldn’t come at a worse time. But now – I’m ready for it. I’m excited for a break from my everyday life and maybe a chance to get some perspective on everything. I’m going to trust that no matter what, I am meant to be at that conference at this time in my life.

3. Buy/Craft/Plan at least 1/2 of all Christmas presents!

I really, really love gift giving. But I also get super swept up in the excitement of it all and go way overboard every year with impulse purchases that feel too good to pass up. This year I need A PLAN. A focused direction for every gift I give, trying to cut back on spending, be more creative (if I have time!!), and just generally be a whole lot more organized. I’m also trying to work up a treat plan – something to gift neighbors and friends that is maybe something different than cookies and candies. Baking was one of my first loves and continuing to bake without being able to freely eat the fruits of my labor…I think it’s going to be too hard. And I know so many other people are always trying to eat healthier too. Something I never have been that great about respecting. But now I get it and I want to only gift things that will truly be appreciated and used. It’s a lot to think about! But I’m hoping if I spend more time in November working on gifts, I can spend more time in December actually sewing for my customers. Most years I take the bulk of December off because I can’t handle everything happening at once. This year I’d like to be more accomodating. But only if I’m prepared with all the other gift stuff ahead of time!

October 2019 Goals

My October as started off with an extreme case of the crazies. This week got the best of me by Monday night and it’s only gotten more chaotic. Today began with realizing our basement freezer was unplugged and the hundreds of dollars worth of meat I had down there (including my entire Butcher Box order I was so excited about!) was past the point of being safe to save. The basement was also flooded because we’ve had an insane amount of rain the last few days with more to come tonight. Fortunately, Greg is pretty flexible, and ended up working from home so he could go downstairs every hour and fill up the shop vac again and again. Fun times!

October is my favorite month of the year. It’s my birthday month (if you haven’t already figured that out from my last few posts lol), so that’s always special. But I love the crisp cool weather, the colorful leaves, the abundance of all things apple and pumpkin. I’m feeling a little bit stressed about how jam packed our calendar looks, however, when we’re only on the second day of the month. So many appointments and school things and Halloween activities. The doctor and vet appointments will most definitely not be fun, but the rest should be exciting! It just feels a little overwhelming after an already super chaotic September. When will life slow down again?! I’m guessing not until January.

Anyway, I really struggled to come up with my goals for the month. Normally I have so many ideas it’s hard to narrow them down. This month I’m tired. I want to keep my life simple. So this is what I’ve come up with.

1 – Curate and read from a seasonal book stack

I started dabbling with seasonal reading a year or so ago. Actually, I’ve always loved to primarily read mushy feel good Christmas books in December, but I’ve discovered the joys of moving beyond that. Typically I read the most thrillers and mysteries in October and the most romances in February. This month I’d like to go a bit more on the spooky/gothic/fantasy side. I already have a small pile I’ve been working on for awhile now, but I’d like to get it fully set so it’s super easy to choose my next book. Of course as soon as I try to prioritize certain books I rebel against myself and want nothing to do with them. So we’ll see what happens! But I would at least like to read SOME seasonal books this month!

2 – Continue exercise as #1 priority every day

Last week when I started this mission it was really easy and I was so proud of myself. This week has been MUCH harder. Constant rain and very busy mornings. It wasn’t my top priority of the morning, but I still did what I set out to do each day (so far). I know it’ll be so much easier better if I can be consistent with using the morning to take long walks or do yoga or another online exercise video. Life won’t always allow it, but I’m going to keep trying.

3 – Go to the theater!

Movie theater, that is. I’m not fancy lol. I have been DESPERATELY wanting to see a movie in the theater these last few months. But nothing good has been out! This goal is basically already checked off because Greg bought tickets this morning to see Downton Abbey on Sunday. But I’d like to go to a daytime movie by myself sometime too. It’s one of my favorite things to do.

4 – Establish a daily writing routine

I took an online writing class Monday night which has gotten me thinking about what I want or need to do to improve this part of my life. I’m going to a writing conference next month and I’d like to have something more to say than “I like to write about my life on weekends” when the question will inevitably come up again and again. I don’t have any grand plans yet, I just want writing to be part of my everyday life, no matter what. Hopefully that means more blog posts – on more varied and interesting topics. Or at the very least, journal entries for myself. I think I could use more of that type of cathartic release. It seems like writing every day would become more routine if it happened at the same time every day. But I hesitate to assign that time frame. Ideally, it would be in the morning. But my wake up times are sometimes really varied. And when I wake up at 4am (way too often), it usually seems like WORKING is my best option because I know I’m going to be too tired to do it by afternoon. Plus, I’ve got exercise in the morning too. And parenting duties. And errands. And sewing. So…for now, I will not assign myself a time of day to do it, I just want to make it happen. Every single day.

And that’s it! Happy October, everyone!

September 2019 Goals

Well, we’re down to the final few hours of summer vacation. I know about midday tomorrow I’m going to be thrilled to get back to a normal routine with so much more time to myself to actually work and get things done. But it’s really hard to shake that first day of school anxiety, even if I’m not the one going to school. I have no reason to be nervous about this school year. Caden’s basically an old pro at middle school by now. A few of his best friends are in his class. He’ll be fine, even if he’s not happy about being there. Shepard is in his last year at his charter school and it’s the year where they basically do nonstop awesome things. He’s the life of the party around his friends and once he’s back in the thick of things he’ll be so happy. But change is still hard. Even if it’s not as significant as the years when they’re changing schools and entering unknown territory. I’ve been trying so hard to distract myself today and do basically anything besides think of tomorrow. As hard as summer is on me, the end is always sad.

I’ve also been racking my brain today on which goals I should focus on this month. There are always a million to pick from. But September is such a hard month as we transition back. I don’t want to pile too much on my plate as I’m also transitioning back. Plus, September is always a crazy busy month for us too. It’s filled with a lot of amazing things that can be so much fun. But it can also be really overwhelming if I’m not rested and organized and both physically and emotionally prepared for it. So I’ve decided to focus on that and choose my goals around things that will help me feel more on top of my life, rather than add anything extra that might be impossible to achieve.

1 – Meal Plan Every Week

Honestly I think all food related aspects of having my kids home all day over the summer is what overwhelmed me the most. They were grabbing snacks ALL THE TIME. They were looking for more food five minutes after dinner was over every single day. They were complaining about what was on their plates at every meal. They (ahem, Caden) were refusing to do ANYTHING to learn how to serve themselves breakfast or a healthy alternative to a bag of chips or pieces of candy. It wore me down like nothing else because it was so essential to our life (obviously) and I just could not keep up or keep them happy and I finally just plain gave up. I don’t think I made more than one or two real dinners a week in the last two months. This last week and a half we’ve gone to restaurants or gotten take out almost every single day. This is clearly not a healthy or sustainable way to feed your family. SO. I will start with meal planning. It will take away all the last minute stress of trying to pull a meal together. It will make me actually excited about what I’m going to make since I can pick the meals myself and look forward to them. It will help me grocery shop better. It’s really just the easiest thing I can do to bring stability back into our evenings and a whole lot more peace to my life.

2 – Watch Less, Listen More

I really love to watch tv while I work. But I’ve noticed this past month when I’ve mostly been watching Queer Eye, that I’m so distracted by the show (how can you look away?! They’re having so much fun!) that I’m really not being very productive! I always have a ton of podcasts available to listen to, but ideally I’d like to start trying audiobooks again too. I think I could really increase my productivity if I took away that extra visual distraction. Not ALL the time. But most.

3 – Read Atomic Habits

I really need to add in some sort of reading goal every month, just because it’s fun for me. This month it feels like I need to challenge myself a bit more and start reading books that could inspire me to be a better person. I’ve heard great things about this particular book and it feels especially fitting for September.

4 – No Working on Weeknights

I’m not going to go crazy and say no nights or weekends. Though honestly every Saturday in September is already booked, so I don’t have a ton of available weekend time to work anyway. But I DO think I need some sort of work/life balance and the best way to do that is to establish a cut off time for myself those five days a week. I’m thinking maybe 4:30, about when I’d start making dinner. If for some reason the guys are all gone for the night and I WANT to work, then it’s allowed. But I’d like to give myself the freedom to do whatever I darn well choose in the night, even if it’s just laundry and dishes. And guilt free too. It’s not like most of the workforce is coming home after their 8-10 hours and feeling like they still need to be working the rest of the night. Just because I’m surrounded by my work doesn’t mean I always need to be paying attention to it. This is a boundary I’d really like to try and keep.

5 – Take Care of Me

One thing I’ve really noticed in the last few weeks is how little joy I have. Sure there have been plenty of fleeting moments of happiness and contentment. But I want to feel joy all the time. I want to be the best person I can be without feeling like I’m killing myself over it. I want to take a break if I need one and not feel an ounce of guilt. I want my worth to stop being determined by the way other people treat me. I want to find a reason to be happy with who I am and what my life is from within myself. And really the only way I can think to do that is to start taking a whole lot better care of myself. Move more. Eat less, eat better. Rest when I need it. Laugh with Greg. Be more lighthearted with my kids. Find time to see my friends. Play hooky. Or work really hard if that’s what’ll bring me the most joy that day. I mean, my “work” can be insanely fulfilling when I’m not overwhelmed by it. I’m not proposing that I shirk all my responsibilities this month because there are a lot of them and everything would fall apart if I stopped caring. But I want to be extremely in tune to what I NEED every minute of every day. I want to live the best life I can make for myself. And if I consider my own needs first maybe everything else will just fall into place.

I think that’s enough for September! Happy first day of school!!

August 2019 Goals

It’s the last month of summer and I am giving myself a break! August is when I can reap the rewards of working so hard in June and July. It’s also a chance to let go and have some fun before September rolls around and life gets CRAZY. I’m particularly excited about August this year because there are so many exciting things on the calendar! My goals for the month are going to be short and sweet!

1 – Family First

This is kind of a weird month. Well, maybe not because I basically did the same thing last August when I went on a solo vacation to Minnesota. It’s becoming a tradition for me to go on a trip by myself every summer at the point when I’m desperately craving a break from nonstop mothering. This year it’s a really big one as I’m going to Texas for six days. So before and after that trip, I want to give as much as my attention as possible to my family. Greg and I are going away today for a few nights. And then once I’m back from Texas there will only be three more weeks before school starts! I know the pressure is going to be STRONG to jump right back into working after a few weeks off. But I want my highest focus to be on my time with the boys and doing everything we can think of to make awesome memories in our remaining weeks of freedom.

2 – Read like crazy!

It only feels appropriate that in a month when I’m taking a vacation purely to see authors and hang out with other book obsessed people, that I take my reading life very seriously! I want to read every chance I get this month and NEVER FEEL GUILTY about it. The number is really arbitrary, but for the fun of it I’d like to aim for 15 months this month.

3 – Enjoy Texas to the Max

I bought my ticket to Book Bonanza eleven months ago. This trip has been in the works for almost a full year and I can’t believe it’s only a week away! I’m really excited about it! I’m spending the first three nights in Grapevine for Book Bonanza. The whole thing is going to be so much crazier than I had anticipated. I’m a little worried that my introverted side is going to come out in full force and I end up feeling dumb or left out. But there are so many people attending alone and lots of meetups planned to make new friends. I want to at least be open to that possibility. Then to recharge from the fun, but sure to be insanity, I have two more nights in Dallas. My hotel is downtown and surrounded by coffee shops and Tex Mex restaurants, so I’m pretty sure I’m just going to chill out, read, and eat a lot of great food. It’s pretty hard to ruin a solo trip when I get to follow my own dreams and make all my own plans, but there were definitely some frustrating parts about my trip to Minnesota last year, so I’d like to avoid those pitfalls and just HAVE SO MUCH FUN.

4 – Prep and Plan a Ton of Dolls

So I can’t ignore work completely. My customers are counting on me! But I want to do a bit of soul searching and figure out how I want to proceed with my doll making in the fall. I had so much fun over the summer experimenting with some new colors and styles and looks. I don’t want to give that up for what is usually a solid four months of only making the obligatory fall to Halloween to Thanksgiving to Christmas themed dolls. I still want to make those! But I want to leave room for other ideas too. Even though I might not have time to sew them right away, I want to prep out a huge pile of dolls to work on when I get back from Texas. Make sure I don’t lose those ideas.

And that’s it! Happy August everyone!

July 2019 Goals


Time for July goals. I’ve been struggling with this – mostly because I have so many abstract ideas of how I’d like this month to play out, but feel like putting them all out there is just going to set myself up for failure. I’m fortunate in that July and August are almost always completely open to whatever I want to do. It seems like I should really take advantage of that and not force myself to buckle down and feel like I NEED to do anything. I’m very good at staying on task the rest of the year, why not live it up a little in summer? At the same time, I like having goals. I like working toward accomplishments that I can be proud of. The more unstructured I am over a stretch of time, the more stressed out and frustrated I get with everything. So, goals need to be made. And if they’re not met? It’ll be okay.

1 – Live by the mantra “No Extras”

So I’m going to Book Bonanza in just over a month. It’s going to be a really expensive solo vacation. I need to seriously cut out ALL extra spending this month to save up and prepare and allow myself to go on this trip without any guilt or worry. I need to muster up some discipline and say no to all the random things I pick up for myself at my favorite stores and online shops. I want to cut out business purchases too, unless it’s something I genuinely need in my day to day operations – not like an order of new fabric just because it’s pretty. It helps that the boys will have to come with me any time I want to go somewhere starting tomorrow, so that’ll definitely cut back on actual trips to stores. I’ve been thinking it’d be a great time to start doing online grocery shopping too – where we won’t even have to step foot into the stores and avoid spontaneous purchases. (Kids want A LOT of things!) And online things…better to not even look. Delete those sale emails before they ever get opened!

2 – Work as much as possible to earn a break in August

Same as #1 – the more money I can make this month, the better. If the boys are outside playing with friends and we don’t have any other plans for the day, I want to be working. Sewing IS my job and I can’t be so laid back about it. Not this month. My goal is to really try my hardest and feel like I earned at least a solid two weeks of vacation time in August.

3- ENFORCE the No Screens Before Noon rule

I wrote up all the components of this new rule last night and hung it on the fridge. Shockingly, the boys seemed totally fine with it. They thought it was hilarious that one of the suggestions for things to do in the morning was “Do something fun with Mom.” Their response? “You’re not fun! You don’t even know how to run!” So apparently running is the epitome of a fun time. My goal is to really stay strong with this and hopefully after the first few days they won’t even think to ask me to change my mind. I’m considering forcing myself to stay away from screens in the morning too… It would certainly encourage me to get a whole lot more done.

4 – Go to at least 3 Madison dog parks

I’m sure it’s probably the same everywhere, but the Columbus dog park is SO ridiculously overrun with mosquitoes right now that it’s miserable being there. And if last year is any indication, the mosquitoes will still be there and even worse, well into October. That’s not the reason I want to go to Madison, it’s just a good nudge to try someplace new. I’ve been wanting to take Annie to new dog parks all year and could never find the time. At least with the boys along it’s more of an adventure for all of us. Plus we can pack picnics and make a whole morning of it.

5 – Read my shelves, including at least 2 nonfiction books

My TBR shelves are really full. I want to start working through them and weeding out the ones I don’t want to keep around forever (and make room for more new ones!). I’d also really like to finish the two nonfiction books I started last month, Introverted Mom and Burnout. Maybe if I set a goal of reading at least a chapter a day from either of them? Before my fiction?

6 – Make a wish list of things to do with the boys this summer

Hopefully this will happen tomorrow! I don’t want to be super ambitious, but I do want to get a solid list of things we can do before school starts. It’d be nice to get the boys’ input so there are things on the list they’re actually looking forward to and not just things that I think sound fun.

7 – Be intuitive to what I need – emotionally, physically, mentally

So this is pretty abstract. But I usually know what I actually need to be happy and healthy and more often than not, I ignore it to power through with whatever feels most pressing on my to do list. While I DO want to keep making a lot of dolls this summer, I also want to rest and read and enjoy my kids. I’d like to learn to be more in tune to my needs AND feed them.

June 2019 Goals

Ready or not, June is here! With just two days left of school, it’s basically summer. I still don’t feel ready, but will I ever? I admit I’m definitely looking forward to some less structured days and making fun memories with my kids. I’m just dreading the days like today where Caden starts whining and begging and freaking out about NEEDING to play video games at 6am. And who am I kidding, despite all the rules we already set up to try and avoid this sort of thing, basically every day will start this way. Guaranteed. I am SO not ready for the constant arguing and negotiations and pushing all my buttons with the sole purpose of wearing me down to the point of letting them do whatever they want before I totally lose it. Summer strips me of all control and makes me feel very, very weak. At its core, that is why summer is my least favorite time of year. BUT, I’m going to try my best to suck it up and make the most of it.

June is still a pretty busy month. We only have a couple days of break before summer school begins next Monday. That’ll give me a few hours of reprieve each day to get some work done and run errands without needing to bring them with me just yet. (Stores are Caden’s WORST NIGHTMARE and he acts accordingly.) But we’re also having a garage sale that week, so I’ll really just be spending all my time doing that. Caden’s also doing a basketball camp that first week immediately after summer school, so it’s going to be a lot of rushing around with a VERY exhausted and cranky child after three of his four summer school classes essentially being gym classes, followed by two hours of basketball. Can’t wait.

With most of our days still being fairly structured – just in a shorter time frame – I’m not giving myself too many goals this month. I’m still in survival mode. June is also the worst month for my allergies, when I try to avoid going outside at almost all cost. I don’t have any lofty visions of day trips or making memories beyond hanging out at home or the pool. That’ll come in July and August. Instead I want to focus on things that make me happy and bring some joy to my days.

1 – Read like it’s my job!

I want to devote every possible spare minute of my life to reading this month. It’s been so busy the last few I haven’t had time to read the way that I want to. This month I give myself full permission to sit down and read ANY time I don’t want to do something else. So far I’ve already read two books this month (okay, technically one was on the 31st, but I already wrote my book post, so it’s counting for June) and it’s only the 2nd. I’m also all about the FUN books this month. I normally try to intersperse the lighter books with things that are a bit more serious and heavy, but I just want to go wherever my heart leads me in the next few weeks. Though I would also like to buckle down and read two nonfiction books on my stacks that I think will help me mentally get through all my summer challenges. They probably won’t be much fun to read, but hopefully so very helpful.

2 – Have one awesome clutter clearing fresh start feeling garage sale!

We had our last garage sale two years ago and left all the remaining items in boxes in the garage for the next year. But I was recovering from my broken ankle last summer and literally could not fathom the idea of having another sale. So this is the year! Our goal is to basically get rid of every single tiny thing in our entire house that we don’t want. And to list everything as cheaply as possible because we just want it gone. It’s already taken up a lot of our time the last few weekends, but it’s basically going to be my full time job for the next two weeks. I hate all the prep work, but always think it’s so fun to have the actual sale! The boys are really excited too. I’m going to let them skip that Friday of summer school if they agree to actually help out.

3 – Embrace the chaos

In other words, let go of all my perfectionism and need to control every aspect of my life at all times. I want to give myself grace to rest and relax and just go with the flow. Do things with my kids they might not expect instead of always hiding away with my to do list and agenda (last night we played basketball!). I also don’t want to place too many work related expectations on myself this month. Normally I’d still try to be working pretty hard while the boys are in summer school and I have a few uninterrupted hours to get things done. But the garage sale is kind of throwing that off and I expect I’ll be crazy tired and need a break the week after. I don’t want to stop working entirely, but I’ve lowered my expectations and know it won’t be a very productive month. I also just want to be more open to taking the boys to the pool if they ask to go, taking the pets on walks, and just plain giving more of myself and my time to the people I love.

4 – Designate Writing Wednesdays to work on my Hope*Writers course

So despite all the plans for goal #3, I DO want to be disciplined enough to spend a solid chunk of time each Wednesday this month working on my writing course. Enough to feel like I’m accomplishing something, but not so much that it feels overwhelming or like I’m setting myself up to fail.

I had one more goal in mind, but I think four is enough for June. It’s certainly enough to keep me busy! I hope if I can just keep these four actions in mind, it’ll be enough to direct all my decisions toward the path of having a great summer. Wish me luck! And if summer feels like stressful insanity to you too – know you’re not alone. If summer is the greatest three months of your life every year – I don’t want to hear it. 😀

May 2019 Goals

Whew! I didn’t think I was going to get this post written today. It’s been a day of total insanity, trying to get ready to leave on our vacation tomorrow morning. I only got about half the things done I wanted to do, with no break in the last 15 hours. It probably would have been fine if I hadn’t spent three hours running unexpected errands in Madison. But Greg apparently really needed mouthwash. And Target FINALLY had a deal on cat litter. And Shepard was desperate to get the new sandals I ordered, but weren’t supposed to come until we were gone and I wanted to see if I looked at a different Target if I could find them. (I didn’t. But then they came in the mail today anyway, even though tracking still says tomorrow.) I was doing twenty different things in five different directions and I am about at my wit’s end. I’m ready to call it, though. The only major thing left is three loads of laundry that should have been folded and put away. But it’s just going to have to wait. I can possibly get it done before we leave tomorrow. Maybe.

Anyway! I really wanted to write this out tonight so I could have my goals in mind this coming week, even if I’m not officially counting it as a time frame where I NEED to be thinking of my goals. I know I’m going to feel just as stressed the day after we get back as I do today, so better to be prepared! I’m trying to take it easy on myself again this month because there is SO MUCH going on. There isn’t much spare time for anything besides getting through life and all the fun activities and celebrations coming up.

1 – Have an AWESOME vacation!

I need it. Greg and I both need it. I feel like there hasn’t been a whole lot of fun or relaxation in the last couple of months. I really can’t even believe how busy our schedule has been without our kids really even being in more than one activity at a time. Plus my sleep schedule has been so messed up for like six months which never helps with anything. I’m looking forward to GETTING AWAY . I was actually quite stressed about it, but multiple people have told me I’m allowed to forget about everything for a week, so I’m going to try. As best I can. 🙂 We have a pretty loose itinerary for the week, which doesn’t always work out very well with our super anti-spontaneous personalities. But way too often I go on trips expecting to do so many things and then I’m disappointed if we can’t fit something in. So I created large lists of possibilities with a ton of restaurant choices and we’ll just see what we feel like. Or do that the first day and if it feels too stressful I’ll create super detailed plans each night for the rest of the days! At any rate, I’m really excited to see Colorado – a state we’ve never been to before. It’ll be really great!

2 – Treat myself to a special Mother’s Day weekend

So because I have very little control over what happens on actual Mother’s Day, I have a longstanding tradition of spending the Saturday before out shopping by myself. Last year I couldn’t do it because I couldn’t drive yet and I could barely walk with my crutches. My family still took me to the farmer’s market, but that was a far cry from the kind of day I like to have. This year’s Pre-Mother’s Day will be my first time at the farmer’s market this season, so it’ll be extra special! I already informed Greg that I will be gone the entire day. Maybe I’ll see a movie or just browse every bookstore in Madison until I don’t even want to look at another book. No matter what, you better believe I’m going to make the most of that day! I also strongly encourage other moms to do something like this too, especially if you spend most of Mother’s Day celebrating grandmas. It’s SO worth it treating yourself to a special day doing whatever YOU want to do.

3 – Do a 6 year anniversary Heartstring Annie giveaway and sale

I was hoping to have my giveaway doll finished up today so I could jump into this right when I get back, but no such luck. But hopefully by the middle of next week I can get going on my belated anniversary celebration. It’s a great way to drum up some new customers, plus I’m sure I’ll be needing that boost in sales!

4 – Finish my Hope*Writers 90 Day Direction course

So it’s still a little unclear to me if this course is supposed to take 90 days to complete, or it’s supposed to give you a timeline for your first 90 days of deciding the direction you want to take in your writing. I’m pretty sure it’s the latter, because I think most of the videos are taken from the conference they did 2 years ago. So three day’s worth of conference material spread out over almost four weeks. It’s going to be tough with all the doll stuff also going on, but I’d like to make it a higher priority than I have these past two weeks since I signed up. I’d love to have some sort of plan for how I want to proceed with both of my career directions over the summer, so hopefully this will help me figure out how much time I should be devoting to writing versus everything else in my life!

5 – Go through all my new cookbooks

I still have the two cookbooks from Christmas. I have another I bought a few weeks ago. And two more came today on release day. So five cookbooks. A ton of new recipes to peruse. Infinite possibilities and inspiration! Even if it takes me an entire day, I want to get through them all and actually start making new foods.

I think that’s enough! I didn’t want to make it an actual goal because it sounds kind of dumb, but basically I really just want to enjoy the month of May. There are always so many fun things going on, but I can’t help getting depressed about the school year coming to an end. Summer is really, really hard on me. I am an extreme introvert and not the most patient or fun mom, especially when I’m often trying to continue on with my own full time working in the middle of all the added responsibilities of kids being around all day. I’m hoping this is the May I can let go of my worries and just enjoy each day as it comes. We have a week of vacation, which will be great. I have a long overdue night out with a few friends scheduled. My pre-Mother’s Day festivities. Actual Mother’s Day. Greg’s birthday. The Happier Podcast live show in Milwaukee. My goddaughter’s dance recital. The school carnival. Shepard’s soccer practices and games. Our 13 year anniversary. And maybe, I think, seeing Hudson for the first time in almost four months! It’s such a busy month, but it has the potential to be really great if I can just get out of my head and enjoy my life. I think I’m ready.