January 2019 Goals

Happy new year!

Is everyone as THRILLED to go back to school and work tomorrow as I am?! These last couple of days have seriously just sucked the life out of me. I think because we were so jam packed busy the first half of winter break, we’ve been ridiculously lazy and unmotivated the second half. I’ve resigned myself to only wearing pajamas because getting dressed is too much work. I’ve been eating super crappy food because I haven’t had the energy to go to the store and buy fresh food to cook with. I’ve been laying in bed for hours every afternoon because I don’t want to face any people or responsibilities, and then I wonder why I can’t fall asleep at night. I haven’t been getting any exercise and I haven’t been giving Annie any exercise, and I feel like I’m about to lose my mind with the constant noise of video games and annoying youtubers. I miss walking (no chance for awhile after the ice that showed up last night), I miss quiet, I miss listening to my podcasts and watching my tv shows during the day, I miss only having to make a meal for myself, I miss working, and did I say yet that I miss QUIET? Tomorrow is going to be awesome.

Anyway! Our New Year’s Eve celebration was really lame and barely worth mentioning. I got too tired to make the meal I planned on, so we had chicken nuggets and jalapeno popper dip for dinner, with giant cookies for dessert that nobody wanted  to eat because I mistakenly believed my family preferred crunchier cookies since they complain every time I make softer ones… I drank too much sparkling juice and felt painfully full, so I never opened up the wine I’ve had waiting in the fridge for at least four months when a celebratory alcohol needing moment might pop up. Greg was in a bad mood from the get go because there was a huge dump of heavy snow that took way too much time and energy to shovel away. I was in a bad mood because I was so strung out from being surrounded by loud and obnoxious noises the last twelve hours (plus eleven days). We settled in and watched the movie Mowgli with the boys and sent them to bed at ten. And we finished the year watching Bird Box. Both movies were way too stressful and angsty to pair with the moods we were all currently in to begin with. It’s the first year in ages that I actually stayed up until midnight, but I probably would have been better off just going to bed when the boys did. Lame city, you guys.

So I’m really excited to jump into January! Fresh starts and all that jazz. I’ve been pretty lax with my productivity in the last month, so it’s time to take a deep breath and tackle some big goals. Ideally I think I’d like to stick with about three accomplishable goals a month so I can readily have them on my mind with every decision I make. But I’m going to go a bit above and beyond this month and flat out expect more from myself. We’ll see how it goes.

1 – No excess spending

This is the biggest one. After six weeks of crazy present buying and being way too indulgent with picking up things for myself, I need a bit of a detox. My plan is to avoid all online shopping – not even any looking. No new books, coffee, clothes, snacks, or treats. The only things I’m allowed to buy are perishable foods and household items we absolutely can’t live without – like cat food, which is just about gone. But I’d also like to get more creative with a lot of the random food we have stored in the basement and figure out ways to use it before buying anything else. My only exceptions to this rule is if I find birthday presents for my mom and Shepard (the February birthdays), and if I find an awesome Valentine mug. Since I decided to have rotating seasonal mug collections, I’ve been itching to find one or two great Valentine choices. So if I happen to see one in one of the few stores I’m allowing myself to walk in this month, I have permission to buy it. 🙂 Everything else? Off limits.

2 – Lose 3 or more pounds by the 30th

I have my next doctor’s appointment on the 30th to recheck my liver levels and blood pressure and everything. I was doing so great for about two months, and this last week just totally let go again. My original goal for this appointment was to lose 10 lbs since my appointment at the end of October. I’ve been hovering at the 10 or 11 pound mark for the last month. I want to get a lot more strict with myself and push for at least 3 more pounds and obviously still a lot more after that.

3 – No fast food

I think going without fast food in November was really helpful to resetting my system. I didn’t go overboard in December, but I did stop for food three or four times simply because I was really hungry and that was easy. Really, going hand in hand with my no spending, I’m just not going to allow myself to eat anywhere unless it’s using one of my gift cards (Chipotle or Qdoba!), or on a date. Dates get a free pass for any kind of food.

4 – Make 20+ Valentine dolls

Valentine’s Day is one of my biggest holidays for sales. I think because I usually take most of December off and then I’m freshly motivated and start pumping out pink and red dolls in January, everyone is itching to buy them. I’ve picked up a lot of new fabric in the last few weeks and I’m really excited to start creating again. But hopefully only in small batches so I don’t overwhelm myself and get burned out. I think making 20 should be relatively easy, though. It’s a pretty quiet month. (so far!)

5 – Read 4 books from my shelves

In my new bullet journal I wrote out all the books I own that I haven’t yet read. Want to know the number? Probably not, lol. 113. And there are three smaller areas of my house where I didn’t even count those books. So, I have a lot of books to read! One of my favorite hobbies is researching new books and getting excited about all the possibilities. As I was organizing my shelves and writing down all those titles yesterday, I was so excited about the books I already have. I genuinely want to read a lot more of them this year, even though the majority of them are nonfiction.

6 – Have a great anniversary getaway

Desperate to get something on the calendar for just the two of us and not ready to plan an actual anniversary vacation in May yet, I found a really great looking hotel through Groupon and booked us a night in mid January to celebrate our 19th year of being together. I think it’ll be really great to have two full days to ourselves.

7 – Spend time with friends

I’m hoping this will happen! When a bunch of us got together a few weeks ago on two separate lunch occasions, we all made a point of wanting to do that more often. I already set up a craft night and plan to get back into hosting those as well. And I’m trying to get together with one of my friends who moved away. I don’t want the months to keep passing by with no girl time on the calendar. I’m going to make it happen!

I think that’s enough to keep me busy this month! Happy January, everyone!

What I’m Looking Forward to in 2019

I recently discovered that instead of writing straightforward lists of resolutions and goals for the year, some people chose to write out what they’re looking forward to in the new year instead. It’s still a way to get your greatest hopes and dreams for yourself out in the universe, but you’re writing them as something to look forward to instead of something you have to do to make your life better. I loved this idea and became a lot more excited thinking about 2019 in these terms. I still fully plan on giving myself smaller accomplishable goals at the beginning of every month to truly focus my time and energy, but for the year as a whole I’m really liking this format instead!

In 2019, I am looking forward to…

1 – Becoming a healthier and more energetic human being.

I’m going to use what I’ve learned in the last two months and continue to take better care of myself. I’m going to go back to only eating the foods that I know will make me feel good and avoiding things like fast food which I know will make me feel bloated and gross the rest of the day. I’ll walk Annie as often as I can and find exercise videos to do in the house when I’m too freaked out to risk slipping on ice if I go outside. I’m going to continue to take my internal health into consideration with many of my choices because that’s what has a greater influence on my motivation than the number on the scale or the way my clothes fit.

2 – Having a better work-life balance.

I think a lot of my work frustration in the last few years is that I expected to be able to just jump into making this a full time job now that my kids are in school all day. I need to – and I WILL – accept that I only have a part time job slot in my life right now. And THAT’S OKAY. The internal war has been waging for years on what I should be giving the most of my time to and no matter what option I choose, it feels like the wrong one. This year I am going to give myself grace and remember that sewing dolls is not the most important thing in my life. People matter more. Life happens. I still want work to be part of my life – but only PART. I’d like to strive for only working 20-30 hours a week with as few nights and weekends as possible. I’d like to prioritize my family and friends if I’m in a busy season where that truly matters more. And I’m not going to feel guilty about it or start worrying what other people think of me. I believe I can have the best of both worlds and this is the year I’m going to figure out how to do it.

3 – Going on vacations!

I’m excited about going on some fun and much needed vacations this year. Greg and I have a one night getaway scheduled in a few weeks to celebrate 19 years of being together. In early February we’re going to Nebraska to see Guster play with the Omaha Symphony. We may or may not bring the boys, but either way we’ll be staying with my brother and spending some time with Hudson too (as long as the weather holds out!). In the middle of February we’re all going Florida to see Universal and Harry Potter World with Greg’s parents, which should be an awesome family vacation. In August I have tickets to Book Bonanza, which will bring me to Texas for the first time. I’m hoping we can take an actual three or more night vacation somewhere new and special for our 13 year marriage anniversary in May or June. Greg has been talking about wanting to take one or both boys to San Francisco, so if that happens I’ll either do something special with the remaining kid or have one heck of a staycation by myself! We’re hopefully going to have a really full year of getting away and making some amazing memories.

4 – Reading all the books and tracking them closely.

Reading is and forever will be a huge part of my life. But it still deserves a big spot on what I’m looking forward to in the new year! I’m hoping that maybe audiobooks will eventually win me over and might start replacing some of my tv time. I think I could be much more productive sewing that way since I don’t need to constantly be looking at a screen! But I also have to get better at paying attention with my ears. In the meantime, I’m looking forward to reading MANY of the physical books I have on my shelves. I’ve re-fallen in love with physical books and may have gone a bit crazy buying them in the last six or so months. Now I need to read them! I’m also looking forward to tracking them much more closely on the Book Riot tracking spreadsheet, as well as continuing to track on my own spreadsheet and Goodreads and writing about them every month.

5 – Really just tracking all the things!

I’ve used a bullet journal for most of the past year and it’s been an awesome way to keep track of my daily to do lists, meal plans, work hours, gratitude lists, etc. This year I’m planning to take things a step further and track things like how much money we save, how much weight I lose, the dates we’ve been on, the books I’ve read from my shelves, as well as all my usual stuff – tv, podcasts, movies, happiness levels, etc. I want my bullet journal to basically be the one thing I can’t go a single day without sitting down in front of and writing in. Not because I have to, but because I love it so much.

6 – Writing more and reformatting my website so it’s more accessible.

I really do love to write! This year I’ve found the most joy in writing recaps and intentions and lists of things I’ve consumed each month, with books being my favorite. I feel like most of the stuff I write about is really personal and is probably much more interesting to me than anyone who happens to read it. And I’ve been okay with that. But I would like to try just a tiny bit harder at growing my readership. I will be more active on instagram to promote my posts, plus just more about my everyday life. And I’ll figure out how in the world to reformat my website so posts of similar content can be grouped together and easier to find. I have no clue how to go about doing that, but I will learn!

7 – Reenergizing my relationships.

Mostly with Greg. But also with friends. And maybe with Greg AS my friend and not just my parenting partner, which is sometimes what it feels like. I want to make monthly OUT OF THE HOUSE date nights a real and exciting thing that I cherish and look forward to more than anything else in the month. I want to kiss more and laugh more and find things to do together that we both enjoy besides just watching tv every night. I love watching tv together, but I think we need something more. I also look forward to spending more time with my friends and maybe making some new friends! This last year has been so weird with me being locked away in the house for so many months and everyone just being “too busy.” Well, guess what? If it’s important, we will make time. And I’ll start taking the initiative again to make sure those things happen.

8 – Using my cookbooks and making actual meal plans on a weekly basis.

I adore cookbooks. I have a ton of them. But when it comes to making my meals I always just look to pinterest because it’s fast and easy and convenient. But my cookbooks are overflowing with amazing inspiration and new ideas and foods that will bring us all joy and excitement. I plan to start with just picking one cookbook at a time and finding 2-3 meals I want to make from it in the next week or two. Nothing crazy or elaborate or stressful. Just take the five minutes it requires to open a book and find something fresh to make. It will be so worth it.

9 – Having one massive, mega, crazy garage sale and then donating whatever is left.

Our garage is overflowing with items that didn’t sell at our last garage sale, two years ago. I fully planned on having one last summer, but then didn’t feel up to it with my lack of walking abilities. This summer, hopefully right in early June, it will happen! And when it’s over I’m not going to save everything for some future sale. This is it. I want it all gone. It’s going to feel AMAZING to get rid of all those boxes of things we no longer need. It’d be great to make a little money in the process, but really – I just want it all gone.

10 – Learn how to be good at hand lettering. 

I usually have some hobbies at the back of my mind that I never seem to get to. This year the only thing I can think of are these two new hand lettering books and brush markers I got for Christmas. I would like to go through each of those books carefully, practice, and become pretty awesome at writing things out fancy and cool. I have no real purpose for this other than my bullet journal and my own enjoyment, but it’ll be worth it!

I think it’s safe to say that 10 is enough! I truly think that 2019 is going to be an amazing year. Happy new year, everyone!

Reflections on 2018

2018 was pretty much a year I would like to forget. Reflecting back, there’s really not a whole lot of joyous events that can redeem for all the sucky health related things that happened this past year. The whole year was just plain HARD. But I also think I learned a lot about myself and was able to come out ahead, despite all the trials I had to face.

January did get off to a good start with a lot of fresh enthusiasm for exercise and taking better care of myself. I did a 30 day yoga challenge and if I remember correctly, I only missed one day – if that. I was so proud of myself for following through on something that was really tough for me. I was also doing a lot of walking outside every chance I could. I was on track for really changing my habits around and getting in better shape. And then that awful day at the end of February went and ruined everything.

The day I slipped on that invisible bit of ice and broke my ankle in three places and severely sprained it enough to probably ruin my tendons forever was the worst day of my life. The proceeding surgery and months and months of recovery were a nightmare. The pain alone was horrific, but there was also so much stress and frustration and depression that came along with suddenly not being able to do ANYTHING for myself. There were weeks of slowly crawling across the entire house in blinding pain so I could shower and have one tiny bit of normalcy. Not that that was normal either since I had to wear a bag on my leg that cut off my circulation the entire time I had it on and I needed Greg’s help with everything. I lost control over what foods I could put in my body, what things needed to be shopped for, my ability to take care of my kids or Annie, and I felt completely useless, and worthless. You’d think with some forced down time I could have gotten some reading or rest in, but the pain was so bad and my concentration was completely shot. I was so angry and depressed all the time. I felt like I lost a lot of my friends, or at least the depth of our friendship. (Though the entire situation also showed me who my truest friends were, for which I am grateful.) When Greg had to go back to work I was suddenly on my own with a crazy hyped up dog that I couldn’t do anything for, even if she was practically attacking me because she desperately needed to go to the bathroom. The recovery was so much harder than I ever would have expected. Even now, 10 months later, I’d say my ankle is only at about 60% what it used to be, and the doctor told me that it might not get any better. That’s a sucky diagnoses at age 34.

On top of all my ankle stuff, which really just felt like what the entire year was all about, Greg was also going through some things and had to have surgery in August. It went fine, but he had to suffer through months of pain before the hospital could get around to putting him on the schedule. That definitely didn’t add any joy to our summer.

At the end of summer I was officially diagnosed with high blood pressure and was put on medication. A month later after a bunch of blood tests and an ultrasound, I was also diagnosed with mild fatty liver, which is basically an irreversible condition that happens when you’ve just spent thirty years not taking very good care of yourself. Both things were a huge wake up call that I think I really needed to finally make some changes in my diet. Both conditions would also really be helped with more exercise, but my ankle is still making that quite difficult, especially at this time of the year when I’m scared to death to walk outside for any reason if there’s even the tiniest possibility I might slip on snow or ice.

And to just add to everything else, I’ve also had an infected toe on my left foot for the last nine months. I was on three rounds of antibiotics that didn’t do a thing to help it. Finally, now, it’s just about back to normal.

We also finished up this year with both Shepard and Greg needing glasses. We are just on a roll with health crap. The good news, maybe??? We used up our massive deductible after my surgery at the end of February, so everything else the rest of the year has been “free.” But we also had to spend most of the year paying that deductible off which didn’t leave a lot of extra for vacations or fun.

Speaking of vacations, I did have to cancel my original spring trip I had planned to DC in April because of my ankle break. Originally the physician’s assistant told me that I should probably be okay to still take the trip, which in hindsight was absolutely ridiculous since I still couldn’t even walk without crutches until over a month after that trip would have happened! Fortunately, I was able to go in October and despite some lingering pain, I was able to enjoy it.

We weren’t able to have a big anniversary trip this year, but Greg and I did spend one night away at the end of May to celebrate 12 years together. Honestly, I was still in so much pain from trying to walk that I really don’t remember any of it.

In August, I was feeling well enough to go ahead with the trip I had planned to Minnesota to see my favorite author, Colleen Hoover, at a book signing. I spent two days going to basically every TJMaxx and Marshall’s in the Twin Cities. 🙂 Then I drove down and met Greg and the boys in La Crosse for two more nights. That trip was overshadowed by the bedbug Greg found the first morning we were there. That was the first of not one, not two, but THREE bedbug scares/issues we had in three months. For the record, we never had any bedbugs in our actual house and the third issue turned out not to be bedbugs at all. But all three incidents were enough to make us wary of going to hotels ever again.

In September I was able to go on another little trip by myself to Chicago to see my favorite podcast, The Popcast, live. Greg’s sister joined me for the show which was a lot of fun. I enjoyed that trip even more because I happened to come across an amazing vintage market on my drive down. I’m planning to go to that market annually, it was SO amazing. I finished up the month going to Cranberry Fest with my parents as usual. Though between my ankle and my mom’s hip, it was a bit more of a subdued adventure than usual.

One of the saddest things that happened this year is that my brother and his family decided to move to Nebraska for new jobs. It came as an incredible shock after the rest of the family made the wrong assumption that they were in Wisconsin to stay after they just moved back a year earlier. We’ve still been able to see Hudson about every two months or so, but it’s really sad we can’t all be more actively involved in each other’s lives the way we thought we were going to be when we were given that new (and only!) nephew/cousin.

In Heartstring Annie related news, despite being out of commission for a month or two after breaking my ankle, plus taking almost all of October and December off for more personal time, it’s been my biggest year for sales. I made 224 sales and sold 297 dolls. Plus all the dolls I made that didn’t sell, and dolls I made for gifts and giveaways. That’s a lot! It kind of surprises me, especially at the moment when I haven’t had a single sale in over three weeks. This year has really proven to me that the more I put into it, the more sales I will make. I have a big enough following now that when I make something new, it almost surely sells right away. I got a lot more creative this summer and pushed outside the traditional Raggedy Ann boundaries. It was really fun to follow my more artistic side instead of constantly letting “what people want” force my creative path. I’ve definitely had some serious ups and downs trying to decide if sewing dolls is really what I want to do with my life, but after a month of trying to let myself focus a lot more on writing – my other favorite careerish prospect – I realized that I really do like making dolls for money and keeping the writing as a hobby. So for now, that’s what I’m going to keep doing!

I do think that in the midsts of all our trials, Greg and I have become closer this year. I never could have gotten through those horrible months without him. Without a single complaint he took on full time parenting and dog caring all while still working his full time job and doing everything around the house and out of it. He was truly amazing. I don’t think I would have lasted a week if our situations had been reversed. I don’t believe caretaking is in my genetic code! We definitely still have plenty of ups and downs. It’s really hard to stay connected in this stage of parenting when our kids still need us and want us (mostly him) and our attention constantly. We’ve also gotten a lot busier this year. But he is an amazing partner in life and incredible dad and I couldn’t have asked for anyone better. We’ve been trying to make date nights out of the house a more regular thing again and I look forward to prioritizing our marriage more in the coming year.

I think Caden has grown a lot this year as well. We still struggle – a lot. I might regret saying this, but I truly think he’s gotten better in the last few months. He’s becoming more mature. He’s also had to take on more responsibility, walking Shepard home from school when I couldn’t last spring. It worked out so well and I started feeling like it was such a waste of my time  to go myself that he picks Shepard up every day after school this year too. We continue to get raving reports from his teacher about how amazing he is in class – so helpful and smart and patient with his classmates. I still think he’s using up all that patience and helpfulness while he’s at school and saving very little for at home with his us, but…it’s okay. He’s getting there. I’ve been very proud of him lately, especially over the holidays when he’s usually at his worst. He’s really been great this Christmas.

Shepard continues to surprise me in how helpful he can be when he wants to be. He usually makes breakfast for both him and Caden every morning. For the kid who took seven years to fully potty train, it still comes as a surprise when he’ll just randomly start doing things that seem so beyond his years. Or at least things that are beyond Caden’s limited capabilities – usually in the kitchen. He has such a curious and silly spirit and is always up for new things and helping people with projects. Ask him to read for ten minutes or clean his room, though – NOT going to happen. His crazy stubborn streak is still very much alive and well!

And things continue to be well with my sweet babes. Jack and Rory turned 13 in April and are still healthy and well. Jack is starting to have some issues, but nothing decisive yet – he just drinks a ton of water and goes through a massive amount of litter. Both cats are pretty grumpy with each other and Annie, but love being around the four of us more than ever. And my beautiful Annie is happy and wild and still lives for the chance to play with other dogs at the dog park. Despite those rough few months (in which a few friends did help me out by bringing her out to play a few times a week), I think all three of the pets have had a really good year!

So looking back on the year, it was not as bad as it could have been, that’s for sure. I do think I grew as a person and I think I needed those internal health scares to really get me thinking about what I need to change to live a long and prosperous life. I can’t think of any ways that breaking my ankle helped me out. That just sucked. But it is what it is and I just have to keep working and hope it gets better. I’m glad to see this year come to a close, though. I think 2019 will be a much more exciting and joyous year and I can’t wait for it to begin!

December 2018 Goals

I’ve been having a hard time coming up with goals for December. I like my monthly goals to be measurable so I can look back and clearly see if I met them or not. But measurable in December feels overwhelming and like way too much pressure. My general attitude for December is to slow down and be open to enjoying life in ways that I have a hard time with in any other season. So even though it might be tough to decide if said goals have been accomplished, I’m going to structure my intentions for the month around them anyway.

1. Keep making healthy choices (DO NOT GIVE UP)

I was doing so great with this for about a month. Then Thanksgiving happened. And a lot of Thanksgiving pie leftovers. And a birthday party filled with delightful foods I’d been denying myself all month. And then I started buying awesome unique Christmasy treats and sampling them as they arrive. Then I started eating a dessert – or two – every day. Then the processed foods started creeping back in. Then the sidewalks got icy and my daily steps decreased by at least half every single day and I haven’t found anything to do in the house yet to supplement that regular exercise. In just over a week I’ve hit such a downward spiral and I’ve been losing so much motivation to stay strong and make the choices I KNOW will make me feel better. It doesn’t help that the rest of my family has become a group of nonstop grazers. They snack alllllll day long. I’m trying to put a stop to this and get them to actually eat more at meals, but it’s not working very well. So on weekends when we’re all home I feel very resentful of all their eating when I’m supposed to be saying no. My willpower has faded fast. But I don’t want to give up. My weight has pretty much plateaued the last two weeks. Which is better than going back up, but I still have a lot I’d like to lose. And really, I just want to FEEL good. So even though there are going to be tons of extra parties and treats and get togethers this month – which I’m definitely going to allow myself to indulge in if it feels worth it – I want to be making better choices all the rest of the time. Keep eating good breakfasts that fill me up. Keep making actual homemade lunches instead of waiting until I’m so hungry that I just grab a bag of something crappy. Stay away from the fast food. Try to limit the sugar. Find a way to exercise in the house. Basically, just stay on track and do not give up.

2. Prioritize people and memories

It’s well known that I have a very bad habit of putting my own agenda and to do lists above basically everything else. I want to be better this month. I’d like to be more emotionally available in the evenings and weekends when my family is home. One thing I’m doing to try to facilitate this is to have Twinkle, our elf, bring some family activities to do together every few days. Today he brought four small Christmas perler bead kits because I know we’ll have time tonight to all sit down and work on them together. I’ve also got some new board games, a holiday puzzle, and gingerbread houses in the next few weeks. I’m looking forward to a nice date night with Greg this Friday and there might be time to squeeze in a mini date with each of the boys before the month is through. There’s also tons of opportunity for large family stuff around Christmas. I just want to be present and open to spending time with people and stop revolving my life and energy around things that genuinely don’t matter in the big scheme of things.

3. Be done with everything by December 16th (possibly the 12th)

I usually like to take most of the month off from sewing because there are lots of handmade things I want to do for gifts and get too stressed trying to do it all. Unfortunately, since I took basically all of October off from work, I’m still just so very far behind on doll making. I’m not sure how much more I can do in the next week and a half, but I’m going to try my best. But come December 16th – I’m done. I will officially be “on vacation” the last two weeks of the year. Ideally I would also like to get all Christmas prep done by the 12th. That’s the day I have my next ortho appointment and find out if I need a bone graft surgery before the year is out. I’m praying I won’t need the surgery at all because that would suck. But if I do need it, we’re hoping it happens before the 31st so the surgery will essentially be free since we used up all our deductible in February with my first surgery! I really do not want to start another year with a pile of medical bills. It’s incredibly stressful not knowing if this will happen until the 12th because it’s kind of a big deal and something that needs to be planned around! I’m just hoping to have absolutely all presents bought and wrapped by the 12th with a freezer full of easy meals just so we’re prepared for the worst case scenario.

4. Read. A lot!

December is basically my time for fluffy reading. I just want happy and sweet and uplifting books to fill my life. Most of the books are also relatively short, so I’m going to shoot for 12 books this month. It really doesn’t matter, but most months I read 9-11, so it’d be nice to have it be my biggest book month of the year, and also round out my total books for 2018 at 120. Basically, I just want to give myself permission to sit down and read and enjoy the decorations and candles and piles of blankets and pillows any time the mood strikes!

I think with all the potential uncertainty I’m facing right now, four intentions are enough to keep me busy and focused for the month! I’m sure the days are going to continue to fly by and I just want to make the most of them and feel like my time was well spent, precious memories were made, and I truly lived my LIFE to the fullest – focusing more on people and doing the things that make me happy instead of only thinking about what “needs” to be done.

Happy December!

November 2018 Reflections

Happy end of November!

I’m so behind in my posts, I decided to just go ahead and do my monthly recap instead of trying to remember what I did every day the last two weeks and just write about that. It feels a little irrelevant and boring at this point. Or maybe always?! 🙂

Looking back at my goals from the beginning of the month, I was planning for a slow November. It was far from slow! Something about this school year, or this fall, seems busier than it’s ever been. We’re constantly running around, seem to have things going on almost every night, and I am just crazy busy trying to balance everything during the day. It’s so exhausting. I don’t know if I’m doing something wrong or this is just the season of life we’re in right now and I need to learn to deal with it. I’m really hoping winter will finally quiet down. Because I’m terrified of walking on potentially slippery ground EVER AGAIN, I think winter will be quiet just because I’m going to flat out refuse to go anywhere!

Anyway, here’s a quick recap on the goals I was aiming for in November. I think I did a pretty great job this month!

1. Write EVERY DAY

Well, I gave up on this one in the middle of the month because it was stressing me out and putting too much pressure on my already overloaded mind. It’s funny how by giving myself permission to prioritize writing, I suddenly had very little interest in doing it. I’ve just been too busy to even want to stop and get my thoughts down. But…it’s okay. I guess this is why I’m not a career writer. Maybe that is never meant to be.

2. Stop eating fast food for the sake of having a fast meal

This has been really tough, guys. This whole weight loss journey I began about five weeks ago has been A STRUGGLE. So many emotional ups and downs. So many days of the scale going up and down. As of today, 34 days after I started, I’m down 8.4 pounds. Which is great, I think! My goal was to lose 10 pounds by the end of January, so I’m doing far better than I expected of myself. But most of the loss was in those first few weeks when I was using Noom and Lose It. I’m proud of myself for still going down now that I’m doing everything totally on my own without counting calories, but the changes day to day feel very insignificant. Anyway, I definitely have times of being totally hangry pretty much every day. I miss eating  what I want, when I want, and not thinking about portion size. I REALLY miss grabbing fast and easy food choices when I’m out running errands and feel like I’m starving. I realized that I just can’t have a full shopping day and expect myself to still come home and take the time to make a healthy late lunch for myself. So once a week I’ve been going to Qdoba or Chipotle which feels like a very worthy reward for being pretty good the rest of the week. And since errand days are always the days I get the most steps, I feel justified in splurging for the extra calories. As for actual fast (fried) food, I’ve only had it once. I planned it, which was within the rules I set for myself. I ordered a chicken and waffle sandwich from KFC. And it was SO not worth it. I’m going to stick with this goal for next month too. I just want to remember how crappy I feel after eating certain foods and drill it into my brain that it is not worth feeling like crap just for the convenience of something fast I can eat while I drive back home.

3. Finish 75% of my Christmas shopping

Okay, I’m not going to do the math, but I’d guess that I’m at least 90% done!! It’s been a pretty crazy two weeks of doing research on what to get everyone, finding the best deals, trying to take advantage of all the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales. But with the exception of a few small filler gifts, I’m basically done. With everyone! I’ve been a bit overwhelmed, though, because when you do all your Christmas shopping for about 25 people – most of them needing multiple gifts – in a week and a half, all of those gifts start showing up at your door at the same time. Part of the reason I feel like I’m getting absolutely nothing done this week is that every single day a massive pile of boxes is delivered to my door and I need to figure out what to do with all of them. I did a round of wrapping earlier this week to try and further get ahead of everything, but it’s just A LOT to deal with. But when it’s all done, hopefully within the next week, I will be SO relieved to just sit back and relax and not have to worry about gift buying anymore in the month of December.

4. Write a Book Bonanza reading list

This is probably one of the easiest and most enjoyable things I’ve assigned myself, but I haven’t done it yet. There are maybe around 120ish authors who will be at Book Bonanza in August, and I’ve at most read books by 5-8 of them, I’m guessing. I’d really love to do a quick search on every author and find at least one book of theirs I’d like to read by the time I head to Texas in August to meet them. I suppose the month isn’t over yet, but I did buy my Book Bonanza ticket almost three months ago, so I really need to get going on this list!

5. Have a meaningful date with Caden

We did this! A few weeks ago we went to The Mineshaft and shared a huge pile of appetizers followed by games in the arcade. It was really nice! I want to make this a more regular part of our monthly routine.

Reflections on the last two weeks

Treat your delivery drivers

I heard about this idea last year from Jessica Turner at The Mom Creative. You fill up a box of treats (ideally food AND drinks, but the drinks are too risky in the below freezing temps most days around here) and leave it out for all your delivery drivers. I started a this a few weeks earlier than last year since all of my packages have already been rolling in. I also got a cover this year because last year the squirrels realized that box of snacks existed and raided it every single day, leaving food wrappers strewn around the neighborhood. Anyway, I think it’s just a really fun thing to do. Maybe they’ll take something, maybe they won’t, but at least the gesture means something. My dad has worked at FedEx my whole life and I know how insane this time of the year is for all delivery workers. I hope that getting a little treat when they stop by our house brings a joy to their day! And because I love variety, I have about ten different options in that box and try to switch things out every few days, taking note on what gets eaten the most (Little Debbies) and make sure things like that are in stock. 🙂

Pre-Thanksgiving date night

Exactly one month after I left DC, I saw Dianne and Jack again as they were in town visiting her dad for Thanksgiving. It’s nice that she can always kill two birds with one stone when she’s in the area and make some time to see me too! The four of us went out for Mexican the night before Thanksgiving. It was fun! I wish we could do couple dates more often.

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving began the way every holiday begins – with a sick child. Caden, who rarely gets tummy sick, was rolling around with a bucket and moaning and groaning. He sort of spit up once and then laid in bed all morning, while we tried to decide what to do. Seeing as he seemed to be getting better, we continued on with our initial plans.

We always have Thanksgiving at Greg’s parents’ house and my parents come too, so we don’t have to eat two meals anymore. Shepard and I worked on this gingerbread turkey before the meal.

I was in charge of desserts, like I always am (and am thrilled about!). I always try to make my most unique things for Thanksgiving that still kind of fit the traditional offerings, but with a few twists. This was an apple gouda sage pie. The gouda was in the crust and I didn’t taste it at all. I only put in half the sage because I don’t like sage, but I couldn’t taste that either. But…it was a really good apple pie!

This was a triple cherry pie with a chocolate crust. My dad told me I ruined it with the chocolate crust and refused to even taste it, which is kind of a shame since I halfway made it for him because I know he loves cherry pies. But Greg also loves cherry pie and this was his request. Of course the recipe called for fresh cherries, which you will not find in November! I used frozen cherries, twice the amount called for, and it was kind of a juice explosion disaster. But if you only ate the top crust and a scoop of the filling it was delicious! And I normally don’t like cherry pie at all.

I only planned to make two pies since our group was pretty small this year, but I was so worried about the cherry pie being too juicy to eat that I stayed up late to make this black bottom peanut butter mousse pie. I added a bit of salt to each of the layers and it was PERFECTION. In retrospect, three pies for six eating adults (the boys didn’t have any) was definitely overkill. But as we’ve already established in this blog post, I love variety!

Shepard showing off the themed desserts he made on Wednesday night with my mom. He was very proud of them!

A moment of calm in the midst of a pretty trying day with a certain child. I know he wasn’t feeling the greatest, but he was also still being the way he is at basically every family gathering these days. It was rough. It’s ALWAYS rough.

And finishing the evening with some Thanksgiving Mad Libs and clay art projects with Shepard and the grandmas and me. I love how much of a kick he gets out those stories! Overall, it was a very nice Thanksgiving and I am forever thankful that I’m not responsible for the turkey or the sides!

Black Friday

I had big plans to work together to get the house fully decorated on Friday. But Thursday was so difficult with Caden that Greg decided to go into work so he didn’t have to spend the day with us. I still really wanted to get the tree up, but of course I had a few other things I really needed to do first (shopping!). Shepard was very impatient with me and started the tree on his own. He gave up right after I joined him and I ended up doing pretty much the entire thing myself. The boys spent the rest of the day playing with their friend while I decorated and cleaned.

After dinner we all went down the road to the Christmas parade! It’s really like the tiniest parade that has ever existed, but so many people show up and the atmosphere is festive and fun. Afterward Santa and a few people make a super long speech at the library that I have never been able to hear a single word of – I have NO CLUE what they talk about for so long every year. But then Santa lights the Christmas tree and everyone cheers.

Since everyone was actually in a good mood after the parade we powered through and finished decorating the tree. Greg and Shepard also put up the smaller tree in the family room and went crazy hanging twinkling white lights around the entire room. Our main tree shifts positions in the living room every year, but I really like this year’s placement. I have a perfect view from my big reading chair to the left.

Work Stuff

I spent a lot of time debating how to make sales over the Black Friday weekend. I decided to stay up late Thanksgiving night to finish these 12 ornament dolls. I offered one free with every order placed on Friday and Saturday. On Small Business Saturday I added an extra 15% off. I had exactly 12 sales on those two days so it worked out perfectly. On Cyber Monday I offered 25% off everything and made a giveaway doll that every sale for the day got entered in to win. Overall, it was very successful. I’ll probably do the same series of sales next year. There were a lot of people who wanted to just outright buy the ornament dolls, though, so this week I’ve been working on a batch of 24 of them to list for individual sale. I’ve just been so busy with other stuff I’m still not done with them.

McKenna’s Birthday Party

On Saturday night we went to my goddaughter McKenna’s 6th birthday party. It was also her sister Alaina’s 3rd birthday party – they have the same birthday. It was so fun to hang out with them! But also really sad that it’s been an entire year since I last saw her. This year just flew by.

Such a happy and fun little girl!

House Stuff

One of my totally random purchases in the last few weeks were new shades for our living room. Before we had a pretty translucent white curtain that was broken and couldn’t properly be opened (See tree pic a few paragraphs earlier.). It definitely looked a little bare at first, but I LOVE this new upgrade. I got the light filtering shades so it’s still pretty bright in here even when they’re closed. But I also feel like we finally have a lot more privacy in this room in the evenings, which makes me really happy. Unfortunately, that big curtain was also hiding a bunch of paint that peeled away when we put those plastic window sheets on our first winter here. I was really hoping to immediately patch all that up this week, but again – NO TIME. I’m hoping in the next year or two we can replace all the regular blinds that are left in the house with shades like this. They just look so much nicer.

Other Decorating

It’s taking me so much longer than I’d like, but I am very slowly making sure the rest of the house is decorated and ready for Christmas! One of my completely unplanned for Black Friday purchases was this little Christmas tree for our room. I love it so much! This is the first tree that I was ever able to pick out – not a hand me down or one we got on super clearance because it was the only one available. Putting this tree up inspired me to finally clean up our dresser top and reorganize my whole makeup area. Our room is looking very spiffy right now!

Edible Slime

Shepard saw a video the other day of people making edible slime and insisted he had to do it too. I bought the ingredients he told me to (gummy bears, cornstarch, sugar) and he and Greg made it. It looked so gross!

I’m not sure I’d call it a successful experiment, but they certainly had a lot of fun doing it! What a sticky mess, though!

End of the Month, by the Numbers

  • I worked about 61 hours this week over 21 days. Most days just 2-4 hours which is pretty realistic for what I can fit into my schedule right now. I’m still hoping to someday just have a normal work at home DAY and not work on nights or weekends at all. But I haven’t figured out how to do that yet!
  • I took Annie to the dog park 13 times. Our number is going up because I’ve been driving the boys to school more often with the cold or snow or their inability to get ready on time. If I’m already in my car with Annie it just makes more sense to get a little dog park time in!
  • I ate at restaurants 9 times this month. Better than last month’s 15, but still feels like a lot. At least I know my choices this month were a lot healthier.
  • I know they were healthier because I concluded that I “felt good” 22 days of the month. In October I only felt good in my body 9 days of the month. That’s a lot of progress!
  • I felt like I did some sort of nourishing self care 13 days of the month. Not so great. I’m hoping that number will jump significantly in December and I stop letting my to do list stress me out and rule my life and happiness so often.
  • I had a pretty even amount of quality time with Greg, Caden, and Shepard this month. I had 3 days of friend quality time.
  • My average happiness rating for the month was 6.7, only a tiny bit higher than October’s. I’m not very generous in my rating system – I’ve never given myself a 10/10 day. But I did have a lot of 7-9’s this month.

And that’s it for November! Happy December!!

 

Mid-Month Check In

One of my top goals for the month was to challenge myself to write something every day. I thought that the challenge would inspire me and actually get my creative juices flowing because I had permission to write before and above all else every single day this month. Usually, writing is pushed aside, even though it’s the thing I want to do the most. But when I’ve been giving myself the chance to make it a top priority? I suddenly have nothing to say.

The biggest struggle has been actually putting it first. I keep assuming that if I wait until evening I will have thought of something amazing to talk about by then. Instead I’m exhausted, my brain hurts, and writing is really the last thing in the world I feel like doing. I’m also highly distracted by the fifty other things I hadn’t gotten to yet that day and hope to squeeze in before bedtime. Writing under those circumstances is not enjoyable or affirming. It’s just another task on my to do list.

Overall, I’ve found myself just about as dissatisfied with life as I was in October, when I basically took most of the month off from work, thinking that was the source of my anxiety. And it really is still a pretty large contributing factor. I just do not feel like I’m producing enough and I can’t understand why. I guess if pressed for a solid reason, the answer is probably that I used to spend every waking minute sewing. I’d easily sew 10-12 hours a day, seven days a week. Aiming for more balance in my life, now I’m lucky to get in 5 hours a day and I try pretty hard not to work much on weekends. I think it’s better to live this way, but it doesn’t change the fact that I used to make maybe 20 or more dolls a week and right now I’m struggling to even get a handful done. Last week I made six. This week it appears I’m making four. And most of those ten were custom orders – which is obviously still money in my pocket, but it leaves a huge amount of customers anxious and waiting for Christmas dolls that should have arrived in the shop by now and haven’t. It makes me wish I hadn’t worked so hard all those years (when it didn’t feel like work because I genuinely loved giving all of my time to it) because I set myself up with unrealistic expectations for how much I can produce in a week, now that I’m trying to find more balance in my life with everything else going on.

Another source of frustration is my lack of making self care a priority. I wrote about this last week, but I’m doing a pretty poor job of living that way myself. At night when I fill in all the tracking boxes in my bullet journal, I have a box for self care. I sit there for a minute and think back on my day and try to decide if at any point during it I put some area of my health or happiness before a mundane task or chore and the answer is almost always no. I have not been prioritizing myself and my enthusiasm for life has clearly been lacking. This isn’t the kind of life I want to live, but again and again and again it just keeps coming back to my stupid to do list and everything I SHOULD be getting done, yet no matter how hard I try I never feel like I’m doing enough. And how do you fit in a break for self care when there are six loads of laundry waiting to be folded, a pile of dishes at the counter, and you know you haven’t had a solid conversation with your husband in a week? I KNOW everything would feel better if I took the necessary time to feed my own soul first, but in practice it is so incredibly hard to do.

This whole weight loss ordeal has also been getting me down. I was using the Lose It app for a couple of days after I cancelled Noom. And I did really like it. It made calorie counting more fun because it attached little images to everything you ate during the day, and it gave me a more manageable amount of calories to strive for while still telling me I’d lose weight. But the actual act of counting – and more importantly, just needing to THINK about counting every minute of every day was making me so distressed and angry. This is why I hate actively trying to lose weight. It takes over your entire life and whether you want to or not, you’re forced to think about it with every decision you make during the day. Or it’s at least that way for people like me who work at home and have constant access to food and no one to witness me eating day in and day out. The stress of counting everything and feeling like I had to starve myself in the morning when I’m most hungry to try and save calories for dinner when I clearly would still want to eat the dinner I was making for my family was making me absolutely miserable. So…I stopped. It might be temporary, depending on how this week shapes up. Maybe I need that accountability even if it feels like it’s ruining my life. But I’d like to think that I’ve been learning enough after a few weeks of tracking, and because this is the first time I’ve genuinely wanted to live a healthier life, that I’ll continue to make better choices. And even if the weight doesn’t drip off, I’ll at least FEEL better. And while I don’t want to be defined by the number on the scale (more than a number!), I am continuing to weigh in every morning so I can keep myself in check and evaluate what I did right or wrong the day before and continue to improve how I take care of myself physically.

There are a number of other factors that have been contributing to my general malaise this month. I’ve had almost no connecting time with Greg. I think we need a real date, or something, but we’ve just been so busy. We’ve also been dealing with an onslaught of ten year old attitude problems. And “attitude problems” is putting it mildly, believe me. It’s hard to muster up much joy when every single night is hour after hour of battling and everyone just wanting to escape to their own corners of the house to just not have to deal with any of it anymore. Family time is supposed to be those sacred hours when you’re all together and you’re all made better for it. I feel like family time in our house just brings out the worst of us all. And I don’t know how to change that. The truth is that I’m often not even part of it because I’m still dealing with my stupid neverending to do lists every night. I’ve been trying to get the boys to help out more because hey, I wouldn’t have to work so hard if I had help. I don’t want to ask Greg for more help because he already works so hard during the day for us and then he spends every possible minute trying to keep the boys happy at night, at the sacrifice of never, ever having a minute to himself. But it makes sense that at ages 10 and 7, our children should seriously be held more accountable to help out around the house. They’re part of the family too. But at the mere mention of doing something unpleasant they retaliate in extreme anger and I usually just give up. Which leaves them resentful of me for even asking, me resentful of them for never helping out and putting everything on me even though I’m at least supposed to be working ON WORK all day too. And then it comes back to me being exhausted from to do list items and having nothing left to give Greg and him being exhausted from sassy and angry children to have anything left for me.

Anyway! I didn’t mean to ramble on quite so much and sound quite so depressing! To be honest, last week was just pretty sad because of those two trips I thought I was going to get to take next year and now neither of them are happening. I was also taking this all natural mood enhancing vitamin thing that I found at Costco, figuring it couldn’t hurt, right? Well, I think it did. I stopped taking it this week and I feel so much better about everything. I’m also going to release myself from my writing daily challenge and just write when the mood strikes. If I have something to say then I still have full permission to make it my highest priority of the day. But it’s no longer a requirement. What should be a requirement, though – SELF CARE. I think I should require myself to do something joyful and lifegiving every single day, no matter what. Ideally that will happen in the evenings when still working on household chores starts to really grate on me.

As for work, it still needs to happen. I still need to make those dolls. But maybe I need to set better boundaries for myself to help limit my anger over never feeling like I’m producing enough. I usually take it day by day and just work as much as I can in between doing everything else. But maybe I need to get better about setting nonnegotiable hours where I will do or think about nothing else except sewing. I’d probably get more done just by avoiding all the multi-tasking. I’ll have to think on this one.

I’m hoping the second half of the month will be much happier than the first half. It’s exciting that Thanksgiving is already next week with Christmas just around the corner! I’ve been having so much fun working on my holiday shopping and hope to make a pretty great dent in my lists by the end of November. There is a lot to look forward to and I think now that I’m starting to shake that funk I’ve been in for the last few months, I can finally start turning things around.

November 2018 Goals

Happy November! I can’t believe with the flip of the calendar we are now a mere THREE WEEKS away from Thanksgiving and then it’s basically Christmas! This month is going to fly by. Typically one of our slowest months of the year (thanks goodness!) I’m looking forward to a hopefully somewhat slower schedule and maybe actually getting some things done this month before the pace picks back up again in December. I’ve landed on five specific goals to try and get me to where I want to be at the end of the month.

1. Write EVERY DAY

I’ve been toying with the idea of joining National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) for over a year. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s a program where people all over the world commit to writing a 50,000 word novel in the 30 days of November. I love how given the short time span it can really drive people to do something they’ve always dreamed of doing – with the support of thousands of others. The problem, for me, is that fiction does not call to me. I feel like I only have words inside of me that are true to ME. Not stories about made up people and plots. So, I’m not going to write a novel this month. But I AM going to write. Every single day. I’m a little bit tempted to still try and hit that word count, but I don’t think I need the additional pressure. My daily writing will instead come in the form of extra blog posts (be prepared for a bit more creativity than just recapping my weeks!), journal entries that I just write for myself, and maybe, possibly, a short story or two. I’m still feeling pretty apprehensive about it, but I’m also going to a creative writing workshop tonight, and that will maybe help boost me along on this journey. I’m very nervous about opening myself up to a group of strangers IN PERSON about what I’m writing, but I keep reminding myself how the creative writing class I took in high school was my all time favorite class of my entire schooling career, so maybe it’s worth going to this single one hour class!

2. Stop eating fast food for the sake of having a fast meal

As I’ve shared in abundance these last few weeks, I am on an official mission to lose some weight to better my health. I next see my doctor at the end of January and I need to prove to her, and myself, that I’m giving my full effort to this weight loss journey. I was toying with a bunch of different goals for this month. Eat a specific number of fruits and vegetables a day. Walk 10,000 steps every single day. Stay within a certain calorie limit every day. Instead, I decided to go with something that I can take full and complete control over and succeed with by the end of the month.

I’ve fallen into the really bad habit of going through drive thrus basically any day that I’m out running errands, which can be 2-3 times a week. I’m always starving and know I’m going to be way too tired to make myself a meal by the time I get back home and unload all my groceries. Grabbing a chicken sandwich at Wendy’s to eat on my drive back home feels harmless. And I think it is – in extreme moderation. It really adds up and contributes to an unhealthy lifestyle when it’s happening multiple times a week. Anyway, I am committing to planning out my errand days to avoid this desperate need to get a fast lunch. I’ll eat a better breakfast. I’ll have a quick lunch already half made for me in the fridge. I’ll bring along a water bottle and a healthy snack to tide me over. And if I know it’s going to be a really long day of errands? Eating out is okay. If that was my choice all along and I picked a place that I will go inside and sit down and make it worth my time and calories because I planned it into my day that way. I’m also not saying NO fast food, because I know there will be a few instances this month where I might be out with the boys and it’s a big treat for them to go out, so it might happen. But I’m going to really, really limit it and stop eating it just for convenience sake.

3. Finish 75% of my Christmas shopping

This might be a hard one to calculate, but I’m going to do my best! This year we’re planning to have a leaner Christmas and I’m hoping gift buying will be a bit more manageable and affordable than it’s been in the past. It’s been a very expensive year with all my medical bills and hopefully everyone understands our need to start being more frugal. Which is really hard for this woman whose primary love language is gift giving! But I’m hoping to really double down this month to research out the perfect gifts for everyone and get most of our shopping done. I think the hardest to buy for will be the boys! They don’t play with toys anymore, they don’t play with legos anymore, they already own every outdoor sporty play equipment imaginable, they have more video games than they’re ever allowed to play, and Caden still has a massive pile of books he got last Christmas and refuses to read because he prefers to keep rereading all of his favorites. What does that leave!? Plus needing gifts for St. Nick’s, from us, and from Santa. I’m CLUELESS this year. I need to get that creative brain working and come up with some solid ideas!

4. Writing a Book Bonanza reading list

As you can see, I was trying to write really tangible goals this month that are measurable and obtainable! This will be a fun one! But it’s also been something I’ve had on my to do list every day for the last month and still haven’t set aside time to work on. I’m going to Book Bonanza next August and it’s filled with tons of authors – most of which I’ve never even heard of. So I want to go through the list and then research all of their books, and choose one from each author to try and read by then. I know Book Bonanza will be a much more enriching experience if I at least have some knowledge of as many authors as possible.

5. Have a meaningful date with Caden

I mentioned in my October recap how I continue to leave the least amount of quality time with Caden. He is 100% a daddy’s boy and really has zero interest in ever doing anything with me. Usually I just tell myself that if he doesn’t want to do anything, I’m definitely not going to force him. But this weekend I’m going to make him sit down with me for two minutes to figure out something we can do together in the coming weeks that we would both enjoy. I know it’ll still be ridiculously hard to get him to actually GO on that date with me when it means knowing Shepard is at home getting all the Daddy attention. But we are going to do it!

And that’s it! Have a great November!

October 2018 Reflections

I made it through October! Usually one of my favorite months of the year, this one was a bit more tough. I talked about it a lot in some of my posts last week, so I’m going to try and keep this relatively brief. I had five main goals this month and didn’t do the greatest job at most of them. But – I’m okay with it. I believe I needed the breaks I was taking from a lot of things this month and that was ultimately more important than following through on my original goals.

1. Stick to three!

I had the full intention of prioritizing my long daily to do lists into a section of three I absolutely thought I could accomplish each day, and the rest of the list would just be a bonus. I thought if I finished those top three things every day, I would feel good about myself and my accomplishments, even if I didn’t touch the rest of the list. I do still like this idea. The problem is that it felt pretty rare to get all three of those things done. I often chose the biggest and most day changing things to be a priority, and sometimes you just don’t have enough time in the day to do three major things. At the end of the month I tried to make it more manageable, so I could check those items off. I still like this system and will probably continue to write my to do lists this way, I’ll just alter the priorities a bit to give myself some grace.

2. Implement Writing Wednesdays

I continue to battle internally between wanting to write and wanting to sew. Well, this month I didn’t really want to do either. I don’t always feel like I have enough time in my life for both, which I know is ridiculous. Plenty of people are MUCH busier than me with jobs outside the home, running kids all over the place in the evenings, and they still have time for hobbies. I really have no excuse. Needless to say, I failed at this Wednesday thing. On the weeks I was sewing, and even the weeks I wasn’t, there was something going on every Wednesday that was ultimately more important. I love this idea in theory, but I have a new thing I’m going to try in November to get a healthy mix of both. But more on that tomorrow!

3. Work 20+ hours a week during the day

Well, we all know I totally failed at this one! I needed the break to do some soul searching. I worked 20 hours in the first 11 days of the month and then I took 17 days completely off. And then I got back to work this week. I’m not sure that hourly goals are going to work for me in the future. I’ve been wanting to see Heartstring Annie as my full time career and I honestly think that’s been my downfall. After all my reflecting this month I decided that I want to stick with it and keep making dolls. But I want to do it on a smaller scale than I’ve been trying to force myself to keep up with these last two years. I’m going to make the dolls on my time table, on my terms, and my customers will just have to be okay with that.

4. Finish at least 3 nonfiction books

I started so many nonfiction books this month! I have stacks of books in every room and I want to read all of them all the time. It’s just so hard to fit in! Especially when I’m always deep into a fiction book that almost always takes precedence. But I have TONS of nonfiction unread books in my house that I need and want to start working through. I did finish three this month. I’m almost done with another. So check this box off as one goal completed in October!

5. Have a lot of fun!

Even though October felt pretty tough overall, I definitely had fun too. I went on tasty birthday restaurant adventures with a few friends, family, Greg. I had my vacation in DC. We had a lot of great Halloween memories. Overall, I think I did let loose a little and enjoyed myself more than I have in the past. Probably because I took all the work pressure off myself for most of the month! Ideally it’d be nice to have fun AND work, but it’s okay.

And a few random facts from my tracking this month, just because it’s fun…

  • Annie got to go to the dog park 9 times this month.
  • I ate at restaurants 15 times in October. Mostly between birthday and vacation, but that’s a lot. Really, way too many! But it was so delicious.
  • I felt I had some sort of quality time with Greg all but one day that I was home this month. I had quality time with Shepard almost every day. And Caden continues to be the one with a lot of gaps because he simply never wants to do anything with me. But I’ll work on it.
  • I had some sort of quality time with friends eight times this month – half those days because of DC, but still. It’s more than usual, which is great!
  • I felt I gave myself a span of self care time during the day 19 days of the month. Often this means I took an extra break, usually in the evening, to read for awhile. Sometimes it means a special shopping trip or walk or adventure out of the house.
  • I always rate my day on a scale of 1-10. My average this month was 6.45. I had a few pretty low days, but I also had a lot of really high days.

And that’s it for October! See you tomorrow with my November goals!

October Goals

It’s the third day of October and I already feel like whatever I had planned for myself this month needs to be readjusted. Yesterday I had this great special day planned out just going to the big Barnes and Noble on the west side of Madison and spending hours browsing through books. I ended up going at least ten different stores first, rushing, stressed, and completely exhausted. After five minutes in the bookstore I realized I wasn’t in the right headspace to enjoy it, so I left. By evening, when there were still all these things I had wanted to do waiting for me, I honestly just felt sick and ready to drop. So I had to take a bit of a step back and reevaluate the goals I’d like to set this month to keep myself both sane and productive. And happy!

1. Stick to three!

I write out my to do list for the next day every night before I go to bed. I often add more things in the morning. Usually there are anywhere from 10-20 things I’d like to accomplish in a day. And, well, it’s impossible to do that much and do it well and still feel like a happy person by the end of the night. So I’m going to try out a slightly new system where I think long and hard before deciding on the top three things I want to get done every day. I will do those things first and I’ll do them to the best of my ability. And if I accomplish just those three things in a day, it will be enough. IT WILL BE ENOUGH. There will always by a million more things to do. But can you really enjoy life if all you’re doing is trying to check things off a list as fast as possible? I want to be genuinely honest with myself and my schedule that day before making my list and considering three things that truly are doable and will make me feel the most accomplished. Ideally I’d like my top priorities to be in three separate categories – like self care, home management, work, outside obligations, family relationships, etc. My goals today were to walk Annie for 45 minutes (it was tough to keep going today, but I did it!), clean the family room (because Greg keeps tripping over things and it always looks messy and it’s driving us both nuts), and write this blog post. I’m still going to add to my list beyond the three things, but the point is that all I NEED to do is the three. And then I can congratulate myself for a day well done. 🙂

2. Implement Writing Wednesdays

I’ve been struggling with how to give myself permission to write more. I know this isn’t really the case, but it feels like I always need to decide if I want to take my life in a sewing direction or a writing direction. Writing will give me more personal fulfillment, I know that. But it’s a long shot that I’ll ever make money from it. Sewing is enjoyable, but it’s not really my passion in life anymore. But it brings me a bit of income and the more I put into it the more money I make. Nobody is forcing this on me except myself, but I feel like if I want to keep staying home while my kids are at school, I need to at least be making a little bit of money while I do it! So sewing always feels like the priority. And lately it’s making me resentful. Anyway! I decided that to start with, I am giving myself full permission to write on Wednesdays. Not only permission, that is what I SHOULD be doing, every Wednesday. Blog posts, journal entries, short stories, letters, whatever. Wednesday will be my writing day. I’m also going to try not to schedule much else or run errands on Wednesdays, so I have as much home time as possible to actually make this happen.

3. Work 20+ hours a week, during the DAY

I feel like this might be a tough one. I’m already taking away Wednesdays, and I usually spend most of either Monday or Tuesday running errands, with at least one other day of random errands as well. I’ve definitely still been living on the high of being able TO run errands by myself again, after the long summer of never going anywhere because taking my kids with me was miserable. But it’s seriously time to buckle down and get into a better habit of staying home and focusing on making money rather than spending money! I want to get a lot more focused with all the holiday dolls and potential sales I have coming up in the next three months. I also want to try and go back to only working during the day. I should save things like laundry and house cleaning for the evenings when I can try and recruit the rest of my family to help out. I should start treating Heartstring Annie as my true job again, that needs to be done during the day. Because it IS my job and I’m allowed to make it a top priority.

4. Finish at least 3 nonfiction books

I have soooo many unread nonfiction books. I’m constantly finding more nonfiction books I want to read. And they all look incredible! But finding the time to sit down and actually read them is nearly impossible. I’m always so hooked on whatever fiction book I’m reading that it’s hard to pick up something else, no matter how enticing it is. But this is the month I’m going to do it!

5. Have a lot of fun!

Yes, I feel like I almost need to make this a full goal for myself every month or I get too caught up in the to dos and stress and never really enjoy myself. But October is my favorite month because it’s my birthday month! It’s my birthday week right now! I have a lot of special dinners planned with different people in the next week. I have a full weekend of potential activities that I get to force my family to go along with because “it’s my birthday!” The boys are going to a hotel with the grandparents next weekend so Greg and I can go on a fun date again. The next weekend I’m finally getting to DC to hang out with my best friend for four days. And the following weekend is trick or treating and our annual Halloween party. This is another month jam packed with opportunities for fun and memory making. I want to work really hard during the days so I can fully enjoy myself with every other part of my life this month!

That’s it for goals! I think they are all fully achievable. Hopefully I’ll be back here in four weeks to say I actually did everything on this list!

Quick September Goals Recap

September is almost over! I realize that nobody else probably cares about all these goals and intentions posts, but it really helps me to organize my thoughts at the beginning and end of every week and month to make the most of my time and live life with as much intention as possible. For awhile I was making goals by season, but every month holds so many different priorities that I’ve switched over to just focusing on each four week block at a time. So here’s a (hopefully) quick recap on how I feel like my September goals played out!

1. Get back to routine:
– Wake up by 5:30 and get ready right away
– Start each day with a quiet time and day organization
– Use any remaining time before 6:30 to do something for myself
– Focus on the boys and school stuff until it’s time to leave
– Walk them to school and walk extra with Annie
– Get to work by 9:00 and stay focused
– Focus on the boys between school pick up and dinner
– End each day with the bullet journal, tracking, and prepping the next day

I think I did a pretty great job with this one! I never have a problem waking up early and most days I was up around 5. I had enough time to shower and get out of the bathroom before Greg woke up. I wasn’t great about it on weekends, but every weekday I’d start with a quiet and devotional time and do a bit of prepping for the day in my bullet journal. And most days I used that remaining me time to read. There were a few days I chose to get a little bit of work done in that time, but I tried to stick with things that were purely for my own enjoyment. Getting back into the school day routine was easier than ever this year. I walked them every day, except the days they rode their bikes, and a few days it was raining. And with the exception of the rain days, I also walked Annie. Not always as long or as far as I would have liked, but more than just coming straight back home. I wasn’t particularly great at getting to work at 9 because there were just so many weird days and random errands I had to run. But I did try to be done with my random internet time by 9 every day so I could focus on actually accomplishing something. I made dinnertime prep a higher priority than I put it during the summer and tried to be more emotionally available to the boys, though most days they were with their friends during that stretch. And I ended almost every day doing a little bit of journaling. Some days time got away from me and I chose to go watch tv with Greg instead of making him wait any longer. But overall, I think the routine stuff was kind of a breeze! I LOVE fall when I can finally get back into the swing of everything. Summer is too chaotic and random.

2. Focus on working

I was not super successful with this. It was a busy month. It’s hard to work at home when there are always eight million other directions my mind and energy should and could be going. Ideally I wanted to average working about 6 hours a day. I did track it and it averaged to about 3.5 hours per weekday, though really it was like three days of no work at all a week and two days of super long full day and night spans. I’d really like to be more consistent, only work during the day, and find a bit more balance between everything. But…it takes time. I didn’t write it in my goals blog post, but I also wanted to create 30 dolls in September. I made 29. I sold 21. Not too bad, but I hope to be better in the future.

3. Take care of my body
– Walk Annie at least 30 minutes a day with an extra nighttime walk
– Do the Yoga with Adriene 14 day challenge
– Eat better

I think I did better this month. I’ve been thinking a lot harder about everything I put into my body. I don’t always make the best choices, but I’m much more conscious about what I’m eating. I’m trying to streamline my daytime meals and snacks so I’m not tempted to overindulge. I’m trying to make healthier meals at night so we’re not just throwing junky things together last minute. I have a potential diet plan I MIGHT sign up for, but I wanted to be a little more lenient on myself until after my birthday next week. I’m not sure I’m ready to commit to it yet. Anyway, I think I hit my walking goal most days. It’s pretty easy to get 30 minutes in. Those days were rough with the mosquitoes, though! I would have liked to have walked more and longer all of those days, but the bugs were horrific. And I totally failed at the yoga challenge. I did the first four days and then my ankles were so ridiculously sore that I could barely walk. I was also feeling really sick around day five from getting on the new blood pressure medicine and I just had to give it up. I like yoga – on occasion. Every day is too much for me. It’s definitely too much for my ankle still, seven months in.

4. Give Caden a great birthday month

I think I succeeded at this! We kept everything pretty low key this year, which really worked out. Trying to make things extravagant and super exciting never really goes over well with Caden. He likes to be home, he likes to do simple things. We had a nice small family birthday party, a very low energy video game friend birthday party, and a quiet real birthday split between playing games and going to a fall activities place. He seemed very happy with all of it.

5. Have fun!

Sometimes September really stresses me out. Oftentimes, actually. The boys are gone during the day, but they’re in horrific moods every night. I want to have great birthday parties for Caden, but it’s so stressful making sure the house is clean, the food is great, and everyone has a good time. And I’m often frustrated with myself for my inability to ever accomplish as much as I want to. But this time around – I really did have fun! I had my mini Chicago solo vacation with the added bonus of finding a great vintage market on the way, we had very low key birthday celebrations that didn’t really stress me out at all, Greg and I had a really great date night and picked out a reading chair that I’ve been wanting for like 15 years, I had a great time at Cranberry Fest with my weekends, and I kept my workload light enough that I still had lots of fun to just read, relax, and enjoy my life! Overall, it was a pretty great month!