new habits in 2017

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Happy 2017! I am always anxious to start a new year. And 2016 was just particularly hard – and I know I’m not alone. It was just a sucktastic year in many ways. (Yeah, if you live in the U.S., and depending on your personal and political views, 2017 is shaping up to suck even worse. But I am going to try and stay positive anyway and at least put energy into things I can control.)

2016 was my year of zero waste. I started the year with a detailed plan of what I was going to accomplish in each month of the year, but I didn’t follow that plan at ALL. It didn’t make ANY sense to keep buying single use items and plastic-packaged stuff until I came to the month I was going to focus on it. That was not well-planned on my part. The good news is, I accomplished even more than I set out to. It’s NEVER happened before that I’ve completed and exceeded a New Year’s resolution. I think the reason is that it wasn’t something with a set end-date, but a lifestyle change that just made sense to me. It’s not even goal-motivated anymore; it’s just what I do. I love it.

In 2017, I am going to focus more on creating habits and routines. Rather than make statements like “In 2017 I’m going to ____” I am just resolving to set aside some time each week and each month to schedule appointments with myself for specific things. Basically it’s a way to use my planner to accomplish some of my goals in weekly and monthly bites. It was pretty easy for me to identify what I have done well in (downsizing possessions, being more social, going zero waste, etc) and done poorly at (taking time for myself and making time for one-on-one time with my husband). So my goals this year will focus on some of those things.

For example, I want to do more yoga. So every Sunday I’m going to spend a few minutes scheduling a yoga appointment for myself that week. If I plan a set day for something, I’m much more likely to follow through. So my plan is to spend time each Sunday planning a time/day to schedule time for my weekly goals. And then at the beginning of each month I’ll spend a few minutes planning or scheduling time for my monthly goals. I have a reminder written in my planner at the beginning of each month to schedule/accomplish these things, so I won’t forget.

My weekly habits will be:

  1. Identify and plan a new “learning theme” for the week for Hannah. (Each week I’ll come up with a subject or theme for the week, picking up some library books and planning a few activities to reinforce the theme. This is a kind of pre-preschool thing I want to do with her.)
  2. Meal plan for upcoming week (I’ve been doing this already, but it’s a habit I want to build into my weekly planning session specifically).
  3. Schedule one yoga session.
  4. Schedule time for one creative project – either new or work on something existing. Just identify it and set aside the time for it each week, even if it’s only for 30 minutes.
  5. Plan and execute one blog post.
  6. Work on planner spread for the week (with time for these goals blocked out).

My monthly habits will be:

  1. Schedule a “sanity day.” (Each month I’ll take part of a day to myself to do whatever I want! This involves arranging childcare in advance and making an appointment with myself!)
  2. Schedule a date with hubby (I need to arrange child care and make a monthly plan for couple-y time we desperately need!)
  3. Schedule a family day (or at least a fun activity to look forward to) that we commit to.
  4. Choose and read at least 1 book.
  5. Go over previous month’s budget, and create a new one for the month.
  6. Review upcoming holidays/gifts needed and plan accordingly (to accomplish zero waste gifting).

Best wishes for 2017, everyone!

be the change in 2016

GandhiHappy New Year! I hope everyone had a great holiday season to end a great 2015. Our holidays were fantastic. Hannah was a blast this year! The rumors are true that toddlers love the box the toy came in as well as the toy itself, if not better.

Every December after Christmas I agonize over my resolutions for the New Year. Last year I didn’t post anything regarding my resolution, but it was basically a decluttering to do list. I did pretty well, actually tackling many areas of the house. I must have made 6-8 donation runs and I sold off quite a few items on Ebay.

What I did poorly, however, is restrain myself from bringing more stuff in to the house; as a thrift shopper I easily justify the bargains. It occurred to me sometime around the holiday preparations that I am overwhelmed with stuff. I am good at decluttering and organizing/hiding things out of sight, so it can seem like we don’t have an excess of stuff. But I fight with it daily. Toys and books and dishes. Wrangling clothes and shoes takes up SO much of my day.

Adding the Christmas acquisitions to the accumulation of stuff led me to another quick clutter sweep of the house earlier this week and another donation run. Just to keep my sanity intact. Between the stuff guilt, there’s the added wastefulness-that-is-Christmas guilt. The boxes, the cards, the wrapping. The made-overseas crap that will get donated over the course of the next few years, but remain in landfills for 1000 years after its useful life. We kept our family gifts minimal and fairly responsible, but it was so obvious on Christmas day just how out of line with our values we can behave on Christmas just because we get caught up in what everyone else does.

One of my awesome Christmas gifts this year was the Kindle Paperwhite. I was excited to download my first book, which has been on my list a while – Zero Waste Home by Bea Johnson. She’s rather famous as being the matriarch of the family that generates just one quart jar of garbage per year. It just seemed like an obvious choice given my guilt over wastefulness. The book is great (I finished it within 2 days)– her entire life is inspiring. Following her on Instagram has led me down a rabbit hole of a whole AMAZING zero waste community. It’s made me feel both uber guilty and incredibly empowered and motivated to change. I decided it’s not enough to do those minimal and easy things I’ve been doing forever and really make an effort in our household.

Zero Waste

So, my goal for 2016 is striving for zero waste.

I have lots of big ideas for the year, many taken directly from Zero Waste Home, and it’s easy to want to jump in all at once, but I am going to break it down because:

Continue reading “be the change in 2016”

christmas recap & farewell, 2013

Belated Merry Christmas to you! I hope everyone had a great holiday. Ours was pretty great!

IMG_2018I can’t believe 2013 is over. The holidays were fun and relaxing (believe me, it was tough to pare it down and learn to say no to things to make sure I could enjoy myself this year!), and now I can just relax through the homestretch of this baby-growing thing.

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Look how cute my sister in law is. She’s so much taller than me, she’s all bump and I’m all stump!

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I’m ready for 2014. 2013 was a pretty big year for me, but being pregnant for over half of it definitely slowed down the adventures. I love looking back to recap and appreciate the bigger moments, milestones, completed projects, adventures and silly little diversions that made up my year. It’s so fun to look back before emphatically leaping forward. Here’s my 2013 recap:

  • Spent the first 5 months of the year wrapping up my Capstone course and finally finishing my MBA! Graduated in June.
  • Got a new ride; a 2012 Toyota Highlander. Whole new worlds of thrift shopping and junk-scouting opened up.
  • Got chickens! It’s a family effort with my inlaws, and as they aren’t on our property it’s been pretty easy for me to just enjoy the benefits in the form of happy eggs.
  • Injured my back in the spring doing some yard work, and it continues to haunt me this winter.
  • Husband and helpers expanded the size of our deck, recoated/painted it, finished the walk-out basement under the deck, and poured a beautiful patio. Our backyard is really coming together and I can’t wait to put final landscaping touches in this summer and see it evolve into the plan we’ve been working toward.
  • Started my own seeds indoors with our homemade grow-light apparatus. I learned a lot for following years.
  • We also expanded the garden this year into a second plot at the back of our RV pad. We’ve got a LOT of growing space. This year I filled it with a lot of viney things like pumpkins, squash and cucumbers but next year I’m going to plan better for maximum growing and food preservation. Who knew I’d even love to play in the dirt so much?
  • Discovered early in June that I was pregnant with our first baby! After 8 years of just the two of us, we are going to expand and I’m still giddy with anticipation.
  • Pregnancy has been pretty drama free for me, which I’m posted a little about over the past couple of months. That doesn’t mean I’ve been myself energy-wise however. Productivity on big projects was slower this year, but it’s been a great experience. In October we found out it’s a girl, and I’ve been busy preparing the nursery.
  • Turned the big 3-0 in June!
  • Unceremoniously and untidily wrapped up my 30 before 30 challenge.
  • On my birthday, we discovered my brother and his wife are also expecting – 4 days before our due date! It’s a great story, and it’s been so much better, having Becky to go through all of this with! I can’t wait for them to be parents and meet my new niece. That was an awesome birthday present. I returned the favor by making OUR pregnancy reveal on my brother’s birthday (July 7).
  • Went on a couple camping trips nearby over the summer. Nothing too notable except my first up-close moose sighting!
  • Events: A fun Jazz game, Salt Lake City Urban Garden Tour, saw an Ani Difranco show for the second time, & went to my first Major League Soccer game. (Soccer fans are insane. That is all.)
  • Made soap! The easy way, but still. I’ll have to post on it soon because it’s great fun.
  • Hosted a cooking club (Squash theme!) and attended several others. Our little idea is still going strong after 5 years. I love these people.
  • Was thrown the world’s most beautiful baby shower in November. My work friends put it on and it was absolutely stunning, with amazing food, in a beautiful log cabin setting. We were showered with all kinds of great gifts and got to see all my favorite people in one place (other friends and my immediate family were also invited). I just wish I had thought to have someone take photos. I know there are a few out there who did and I need to get them all to save the memories.
  • Repainted the former guest room to make room for the new office. The room previously serving as the office is getting the nursery treatment. The office is only in phase 1, until I can huff paint fumes again (lots of stuff planned).
  • Assembled my first from-a-pattern quilt top (and have begun quilting it) for baby.

January’s resolution for this year was to focus on healthy, and while I didn’t anticipate the exhaustion of pregnancy to factor into every day, I feel like I’ve been pretty successfully focused (really, I’ve had no choice) on cleaning up some habits. Next year should be even better and I can’t wait for what it will bring.

I hope you all had a great year and 2014 is even better. 2014 resolutions to come!

happy 2013 (:

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I’ve been agonizing over my 2013 resolutions for weeks. I love that clean slate, the opportunity to improve myself. My first instinct is to fix everything. Do everything. So my first strategy was to write down everything I want to change or do, then prioritize it, paring it down to 10. Then I realized how unrealistic that was, so I instead mapped out a detailed plan to simplify my life, with goals, milestones, and a list of commandments. That one stressed me out equally. Then I thought, maybe I should take a yin/yang approach to goal making, sort of a list of to-dos that balance each other. For example, if I want to do something for my mind, I should also do something for my body. If something for my left brain, I should find something of equal weight for my right brain. It was a mess. Finding simplicity and balance should NOT be a complicated process.

This year, I have struggled to focus on my goals. It’s never been very difficult for me in the past, to accomplish the things I commit to, especially publicly. But this year, or at least the second half of it, my brain was just simply not cooperating. I have felt less connected, less motivated, and less energetic. Easily distracted, bordering on spacey. I’ve been sleeping poorly, less active, and more injury prone. I was sick in September. Then again from October… through… well, now (flu, then cold, then bronchitis..) My tendonitis is back. My shoulder is messed up. I’m always tired. My complexion is dull. Studying is a huge chore and work stress makes me emotional. I can’t focus on anything. I’ve gained back some weight I worked so hard to lose. It’s all connected. I want to fix it all, but it’s so daunting. I feel like my have-to-dos are so exhausting that I don’t get to enjoy the want-to-dos. So while I was trying to figure out where my 2013 priorities should lie, when I put it all down, all my ailments and shortcomings and guilt-sources, it got me down and made me feel hopeless.

So, in an effort to not give up and throw in the towel by January 5th, I’m reallyreallyreally simplifying my goals this year. No fireworks. No big declarations. Just one basic thing, for the first half of the year. Why? Because in May I will be done with school and priorities can be reassessed then.

So here it is.

Focus on healthy. Listen to my body.

There’s a great Henry Miller quote that says “Our own physical body possesses a wisdom, which we who inhabit the body lack. We give it orders, which make no sense.” I’ve been so guilty of ignoring the signals my body gives me and trying to compensate. I don’t have energy because rather than do the things my body wants me to do (move more and sleep more) I chug more coffee or eat more sugar. My tendonitis is back and my stress levels are high because I haven’t been going to yoga. When I do jump back into a good workout schedule, I overdo it and hurt myself rather than just easing in. When I need a day off, I guilt myself into chipping away at a to-do list I’ve created for myself. I can’t turn off that voice that says “must.be.productive.” If I actually were as productive as my intentions, that would be one thing. But what comes with trying to do it all is often frustration, guilt, disappointment, stress, and exhaustion. And when my life is out of balance, I don’t take something away; my instinct is to add something. Example: spending an hour at the gym is selfish, so I need to spend an hour doing something for someone else. This is well and good til every yin needs a yang. It becomes a bit of a monster.

So, my goal for 2013 is to focus on the foundation, take better care of myself. Let the other things fall into place. Do the things I know make me a happier person, like yoga and dancing. Be kind to myself, not beat myself up. Simple.

I’m going to do lots of other things this year. House projects and creative endeavors and getting my Masters, but those are all just life. I’ll get to them because I’m a doer. I don’t need a list of things to accomplish to be productive because I just am. But there are things I clearly need to focus on to make happen sometimes, and this is it right now. A little shift in mindset. And believe it or not, this is SO hard for me, to whittle it down like this. It’s not my nature, but I’m hoping this is exactly what I need right now.

What about you? What lies ahead for your year?

2012 & resolution recap!

 

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I love to reflect on the previous year’s moments and milestones. Here’s last year, and 2010. Here’s what happened this year:

  • Jonathan turned 30, and we celebrated in Vegas
  • Road-tripped it from Vegas to Death Valley
  • Brought little miss Paisley home!
  • Jonathan spent over a month away from home, working in NM.
  • I completed my first half marathon!
  • Took 5 classes for my MBA (two to go!)
  • Started a (sort of) new job with the company who took over my contract. It’s been a stressful, emotional 6 months helping this small company get up-and-running but I have learned a ton.
  • Said goodbye to my grandma Reta.
  • Concerts.. Fiona Apple & Garbage
  • Hosted a fun Halloween party and one (food-on-a-stick) cooking club (and attended lots of others, o’course).
  • I paid off my undergraduate student loans last summer!! – yesssss
  • Started a garden at the new homestead.
  • Camping at Jordanelle & Yuba Res.
  • Went to NYC! Awesome trip.

As for resolutions.. I made a LOT this year. And you know my theory on goals is to plan big knowing some will probably fall to the side. Here’s how I fared:

  1. Finish the half-marathon & the Dirty Dash – Kinda Win! Finished the half, but was injured for the Dirty Dash so I spectated.
  2. Fit in fitness 4 days a week {I already do this – just a goal to keep it up!} – Fail! After July work got crazy and I somehow let this completely slide. Gotta get back on that plan!!
  3. Get my goal weight and stay there {I have been doing Weight Watchers and I am getting there!} – Fail!
  4. Take 4 classes for my MBA. Win! I took 5.
  5. Pay down $6,000 on my student loans. Win! I paid them off completely!
  6. Save $ for a trip to NYC for my 30th birthday {June 2013}. Win! And we already took the trip!!
  7. Write 2 blog posts every week. Fail! Obviously.
  8. Live super frugally! Scrimp on the unnecessary to pay off student loan debt and save for trip. Kinda win! I didn’t follow this to the letter but definitely saved money this year by gardening, cooking, farmers markets, DIYing, spending more nights in, and making do.
  9. Lastly, some house projects that are our highest priority in 2012:
  • Build a shed – Win!
  • Put in a vegetable garden and an herb garden – Win!
  • Paint interior doors and trim – Win!
  • SUPER organize the garage – In progress!
  • Re-caulk shower, and get new or fix up old shower door {maybe frost it?} in master bathroom – Nope, but I was able to salvage the existing door after all!
  • Hang curtains in the office and spare bedroom and figure out something for the bay windows in the kitchen – Fail.
  • Get outdoor lighting – Got path lighting, but have yet to replace the fixtures.
  • Replace kitchen faucet – Win!
  • Make the laundry room also a functional mud room – Fail.

Mixed results on the resolution front, especially with my fitness goals. :/ You KNOW that means it’s gonna take priority on my 2013 resolutions (or, my intentions will be great, anyway!)

Hope you all had a great year, and the next is even better. ♥

365 photo project recap

One of my 2011 resolutions, the 365 photo project is over, and was also much, much more of a challenge than I anticipated. Can I admit that I’m so glad it’s over? A photo-a-day seems so easy, right? But it was harder that I thought to have a camera on-hand to capture the moments, and always remember to do so. (I can’t have it at work so it must stay in my car if I remember to put it there each day). And some nights I was struggling to find something interesting to capture before bedtime because I realized I hadn’t taken my photo yet.

I took a LOT of bad food photos, but I really am glad I captured my first year experimenting with vegetarian and vegan cooking nonetheless. Food photography is HARD. You cannot fake it with a point-and-shoot and some Photoshopping skills. Slightly off coloring, a shadow here, etc, can take something that’s real-life pretty and make it look completely unappetizing.

But, I managed to capture 343 days of 2011. Here are a few random faves!:

2012 resolutions//to do list

Happy New Year, everyone!

Wishing you all the very best for this upcoming year. We ended our year right with a fun party, bubbly drinks, and lots of laughing.

I recapped 2011 and all the resolutions I made for it yesterday. I am so excited to work on my 2012 goals!

And here they are:

  1. Finish the half-marathon & the Dirty Dash
  2. Fit in fitness 4 days a week {I already do this – just a goal to keep it up!}
  3. Get my goal weight and stay there {I have been doing Weight Watchers and I am getting there!}
  4. Take 4 classes for my MBA
  5. Pay down $6,000 on my student loans
  6. Save $ for a trip to NYC for my 30th birthday {June 2013}
  7. Write 2 blog posts every week
  8. Live super frugally! Scrimp on the unnecessary to pay off student loan debt and save for trip. Some ideas:
  • Limit “extras” to $100/month. Includes clothes, shoes, books, alcohol, coffee runs, household items like décor, kitchen stuff, gym stuff including passes
  • Make my own dishsoap, laundry detergent, cleaning supplies, etc.
  • Start a garden
  • Eat $1 dinners twice a week (pasta+sauce, veggie+rice, grilled cheese sandwiches, baked potatoes, pancakes…)
  • Make menus every week
  • Be a better couponer
  • Come up with a free or VERY cheap date once a month
  • Buy or make Christmas gifts months ahead
  • Reuse//revamp
  • More DIY//craftiness!
  • Blog about this monthly!

9. Lastly, some house projects that are our highest priority in 2012*:

  • Build a shed
  • Put in a vegetable garden and an herb garden
  • Paint interior doors and trim
  • SUPER organize the garage
  • Re-caulk shower, and get new or fix up old shower door {maybe frost it?} in master bathroom
  • Hang curtains in the office and spare bedroom and figure out something for the bay windows in the kitchen
  • Get outdoor lighting
  • Replace kitchen faucet
  • Make the laundry room also a functional mud room

*PS: It might seem like a lot to take on with all those penny-pinching plans, but it’s how we roll. If there’s one thing we do well in our household, it’s save on the little things so we can pay cash for the things we really want to do. The last two months of 2011 I fell out of the mindset and went rather crazy on the spending {compared to my norm} and it’s time to get back on track!

What are your resolutions and plans for 2012?