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!

September Goals

Happy September!

The calendar has turned, the kids have returned to school, and my heart is filled with joy! I can’t even tell you how much I struggle with summer and how much happier and free I feel in fall. I love my kids, but I’m a much better mom when I’m not with them 24 hours a day. I think they’re happier too, having a normalized routine, seeing their friends every day, using their brains and bodies for more than just laying around the house, eating three solid meals with a lot less random snacking, and feeling a greater sense of purpose in their own lives. I love the fresh beginnings, the cooling temperatures, and most of all – seven blessed hours at home to myself every day. I can breathe again and I love it.

I’ve been thinking a lot about goals now that the season has shifted and with what mindsets and intentions I want to carry with me into the fall. I was going to do an all-encompassing fall goals list, but I decided that September, October, and November are all so vastly different, I’m better off keeping these on a month by month basis. I do much better with short term goals that I can think about often and actually reach.

1. Get back to routine.

Easy enough, right!? I feel like with my own personal routines I’m pretty good at staying on task for 11 months of the year, and then August comes and everything slides away. I start sleeping in later, I stop persisting with Annie’s and my exercise routines, and I let meal planning and cooking really fall to the wayside. It’s hard to pick it all up again in full force come September. But I’m ready. The hardest part is going to be getting disciplined in the mornings. I never have much issue waking up early, but more often than not I end up wasting so much of my best mental energy just doing stupid things on my computer. Anyway, I’m going to write out what I’d like my ideal routine to look like. I think about 90% of school days should be able to follow this routine without much hiccup!

A. Wake up by 5:30 every day and take a shower immediately if it doesn’t interfere with Greg’s morning schedule. (I get way too lazy when I put it off until later in the morning.)

B. Start each morning downstairs with a quiet time, devotional, writing a short gratitude list, and going over my bullet journal – which I definitely want to be consistent about using again.

C. If there is any remaining time before the boys get up, use it to do something for myself. Read, exercise, bake, write, etc.

D. Fully focus on the boys from 6:30 until when we leave for school. If I’m not trying to multitask with work or the internet, I will be a much better mom in the limited time I have with them.

E. Walk them both to school and walk an extra 15-45 minutes with Annie before coming home. Never go on my computer until after this whole morning routine is done!

F. Get down to work by 9:00. Hopefully most days that means actually working! Otherwise if it’s an errand running day, don’t put it off. Just go and get it over with.

G. Pick the boys up from school and just focus on them and homework and dinner until after we’ve eaten.

I. End each evening going over my bullet journal, writing about the day, filling in my tracking stats, and preparing for the next day.

2. Focus on WORKING.

Summer is over! I have the great privilege of working for myself and taking any time off whenever I need it. But that doesn’t change the fact that people are relying on me and if I’m not producing enough dolls, I’m going to lose their interest. And their money! 🙂 I’ve given myself a lot of leeway over the summer, which I think is the right choice. But it’s time to stop coddling myself and just sit down and focus. Fall and Halloween dolls are always huge sellers and I’m definitely behind on where I should be at this time of year. So unless I have a grand excuse not to be, I’d ideally like to put in at least six hours a day for the rest of the month.

3. Take care of my body.

My high blood pressure at the doctor’s appointment the other day has been a bit of a wake up call. I often think of my being overweight as just being an inconvenience to finding clothes that fit and look good on me. When you realize that you actually have internal things going on that ARE NOT GOOD FOR YOU, it’s kind of eye opening. I mean, I’m not stupid and I realize I’m not exactly healthy. But it’s also been hard to put exercise first when I broke my ankle and couldn’t walk for three months and the following three months have still been filled with pain. But it needs to be a higher priority here on out. I have sub goals for this too!

A. Walk Annie for at least 30 minutes every morning and take a second afternoon or evening walk when time and mosquitoes allow it. (They are a NIGHTMARE right now.) Always bring earbuds wherever I go because it makes walking a lot more interesting and takes my attention off of how my ankle feels.

B. Do the Yoga with Adriene Commune 14 Day Challenge. In January, I did a 30 day yoga challenge with her videos and I actually rather liked it. There were days and poses that I absolutely hated, but there were other days when I realized how much better I would feel if I made this a regular practice in my life. My doctor is all about the yoga. My best friend is all about the yoga. I think it’s time to give it another shot. I don’t see this as something I’ll do every day of my life, but I think doing a 14 day challenge will help propel in the right direction to do it at least 2-3 times a week.

C. Eat better. Just plain eat better. Plan meals. Breakfasts, lunches, and dinners. Stop buying so much crappy food. Stop eating so many crappy snacks. Fill the fridge with healthy choices every single week. Drink a whole lot more water. Be a healthier person by making the healthier decisions.

4. Give Caden a great birthday month!

September is the start of birthday season in our family. Caden and I and at least half of our extended family has birthdays these last four months of the year. It gets a little crazy. (And expensive lol) But I think I have two good yet easy and manageable birthday parties planned for him now, as well as whatever he wants to do on his actual birthday. I still need to brainstorm some good gift ideas. But I’m on track for everything going well, I think! I’m not always the greatest at making people feel special, but I really hope he comes out of this birthday time feeling loved and important.

5. HAVE FUN!

The last few weeks have been very much about just surviving. Getting through life without losing my mind. I’m hoping September will be a lot more fun! It SHOULD be. But sometimes I let all the chaos overwhelm me and I can’t really enjoy anything. But starting with this weekend I’m going to a Popcast Live Show (CANNOT WAIT) and having a super mini vacation by myself. At the end of the month I have my beloved Cranberry Fest trip with my parents. I’m hoping to get to the awesome fall farmers markets as often as possible on the weeks in between. I’m hoping to reconnect with some friends after barely seeing or talking to anyone all summer. And I want to give myself a good amount of self care and fun excursions when I know I need them. It’s going to be great!