January 2017: A Look Ahead

Instead of doing a “year in review” for 2016, I decided to do a “look ahead” for the month of January.  I thought it might be fun (or scary) to lay things out for my month on the first day of each month and then do a check in at the end of the month and see whether my planning came to fruition or fell by the wayside.  There will be some affiliate links below.

january-scene-skating-early-1820s

January is a relatively relaxing month for me.  Grades are in and I don’t start teaching again until the 23rd.  BUT, this year I am in the midst of a course redesign for one of my classes and I will be working through the final stages of that before implementing in the Spring.  But, I don’t have any teaching or grading to do, which is a great relief.

I have decided to do Stephanie O’Dea‘s calendar pages for my “homemaking“.  I only got a month to see how they work out, but I absolutely love the way they look and the motivational messages on each page for January.  I was using Motivated Moms calendar and it worked okay, but I like the fun and more motivating design of O’Dea’s.  So, we’ll see if I can keep up with it.

We are going to my in-law’s for a few days this next week and I plan to leave my laptop at home (!) and just deal with absolute emergency work things while I’m there (hopefully there are none).  I’m going to be focused on reading a book for a new book club I’m starting on January 10 (we are reading The Girl With All the Gifts).  I will also be reading Blogging For Writers: How Authors & Writers Build Successful Blogs in an effort to learn more about this blogging thing and take me to the next level, hopefully.

When we return, my DD heads back to school for a day, then we have to head to Stanford for a heart clinic appointment. We will also be starting a new activity for her – our local regional children’s theater!  She loved doing the school play and a couple of friends of hers are signed up for this production, so she is going to do it as well.  She will have a practice every Monday and Wednesday until the end of April for it so, it will mirror her rehearsals this Fall, but now she will have to be there EVERY day (for her school play she got quite a few days off while they worked with the bigger parts).  So, the Stanford trip will be a quick one.  We will leave after play practice on Monday, appointment on Tuesday morning and drive back so I can make the book club meeting that evening.  Wednesday of that week, I have a parents’ meeting for our Girl Scout troop because we are headed into cookie selling season (!), then a service unit meeting for Girl Scouts on Thursday.  That weekend, we may be traveling back down to my in-laws for another visit as my hubbie is going for a competitive shoot in Ojai and that Monday is a school holiday, so we can stay an extra day, but that is a crazy week right there.

The next week, I have a Girl Scout meeting with the girls where we will start our Money Manager badge.   That Saturday, there is a Digital Cookie Training session that my DD will probably go to for Girl Scouts.  Then…SPRING 2017 SEMESTER BEGINS!!!

My schedule this Spring is four days a week, but days mostly instead of two evenings/nights, which I think I will like much better.  On Mondays and Wednesdays, I teach at my Community College regional center here in town (I had to commute 20 minutes to main campus in Fall, so this is a welcome relief as well) from 9 – 10:15 a.m. and then another class goes from 12:30 – 1:45 p.m.  So, I think I will try to stay between the two classes and do prep and grading.  It is nice because I don’t have people coming by to talk to me there like I do at my full-time teaching office hours, so I can actually get quite a bit done.  So, I’m done teaching completely on Mondays and Wednesdays at 1:45 p.m.  On Tuesdays, I have office hours at my full-time, four-year University from 10:30 – Noon and then I teach two classes back-to-back from 12:30 – 3:15 p.m.  I then have a break when I can come home and actually eat dinner with my family before returning to teach my one night class at 7 p.m.  Thursdays, I’ve scheduled office hours from 9 – 12:30 p.m., I then teach until 3:15 p.m. and I’m done for the week!  I am really looking forward to this schedule.  I am hoping that with this schedule, we can have family dinners together at home every night.

The last weekend of January, I travel to St. Louis for a Speech and Debate competition.  I am gone Thursday night through Monday afternoon (I think) so, I will have to plan something for my students for that Monday.  And then Tuesday is the end of the first month of 2017.

So, yeah…that’s my relaxing January.  Now that I type it all out, it doesn’t seem all that relaxing.  But, I know that not having classes and grading makes a huge difference in my life, so it will be somewhat relaxing for me.

What’s your January looking like?

Welcome 2016 – January Focus = Simplify

I’m back from my trip and it was a great time.  I will probably have some pics this week on Wordless Wednesday.  I’m now settling in to a house where it looks like Toys R Us and Bags n Boxes have exploded multiple times and filling in my calendar for January in my new Erin Condren planner (which I love so far) and noting that it is already filling up quite a bit.  So many things for my DD’s school, workshops for work and family stuff with the Spring semester starting for me the last week of the month! The new year comes fast and furious it seems!

I’ve decided to follow in the footsteps of some of other bloggers and podcasters and rather than having New Year’s Resolutions, which I always seem to fail at, I’m going to have My One Word (which is “myself” if you haven’t been following along or have forgotten) and a monthly “focus” where I work on a habit or behavior I would like to establish and/or change.  So, I’ve decided that January is going to be all about simplifying for me.  With my house piled high with STUFF and my calendar filling up with STUFF and my feelings of overwhelm in the past, I think this is a great place to start.  I have a few specific areas of my life I would like to simplify:

  1. Things I own/have in my home.
  2. Things for my classes – grading, assignments, travel planning for the team, etc.
  3. Things I have to do – I want to simplify caring for my home, making meals, getting exercise, my schedule, etc.
  4. Money management

SIMPLIFY JANUARY 2016

I realize those are pretty broad, but I think that spending a week or so on each one this month will really help a lot.  I have some choices in how to simplify things – the first, and probably the most difficult for me, is to GET RID OF IT!  Whether it is getting rid of things in my home or getting rid of certain assignments in classes or delegating things to others for the team or my home or figuring out a system that simplifies HOW things are done for work or at home, I definitely have some choices.

So, I’ll be talking some on the blog about what I’m doing to simplify and hopefully sharing some of the resources I find with all of you.

Countdown to 2016 – Things I’m Looking Forward To

countdown

Well, it is almost 2016.  Ten days left in 2015.  I had forgotten just how badly 2014 ended last year (and 2015 began) – with me losing my voice and my husband needing a molar extracted, all while we were out of town at my in-laws.  Sigh…hopefully this year will end better and 2016 will start with a great family trip to Monterey (already booked – we just need to stay well for it).  I thought I would do a Countdown to 2016 with my Ten Things I’m Looking Forward To in the New Year.  As you all know, I recently changed my word of the year from Grounded (which I still like – and relates to my new word I think) to Myself.  So, I’m going to focus on Ten Things that Myself is looking forward to – starting out with positives rather than changes that need to be made.  I’m looking forward to a spectacular 2016!  So, let’s start the Countdown with (referral links included):

erin condren planner

My new Erin Condren planner!

I have had serious planner envy for a couple of years now.  I tried to win an Erin Condren planner multiple times and once I got close.  But, I ended up with one of her journal items instead.  It was nice, but not a planner.  I just could not justify spending $50 on a planner, or so I thought.  But, because of my recent focus on MYSELF, I really thought about how much I WAS spending on planning items.  I’ve bought apps (anywhere between $.99 and $4.99).  I’ve bought multiple cheaper planners.  Never totally happy with them, but thinking I could “make it work” only to lose the ability to “make it work” and give up on it (anywhere between $4.99 and $12.99, probably two or three a year).  And every single review I see of this Erin Condren planner is a RAVE!  And there are so many people online who have hacks and ways to use the planner and some real ways of maintaining interest and using the planner well.  I figured, I might as well just drop the funds (Christmas present to myself) and get one for 2016.  It should arrive on Christmas Eve before I leave for my in-laws on Christmas Day, so I’ll be able to work on getting some of it filled in while I’m there!  I am very, very excited about it.  I got the Vertical layout out of the three to choose from:

layout guide erin condren

I toyed with the hourly layout, but felt like it was too constricting.  I also got some “Do-it-all Dots”:

do-it-all dots

I have some favorite Erin Condren visuals that I’ve found online (not that I will be able to keep mine looking as good as these, but I can dream!

weekly view pure sugar
Pure Sugar

I like the cover of mine – “Let the Adventure Begin!”  Because this is MY year and it will be an adventure, to be sure!  I will obviously need to get some cute stickers as well.  I already have some colored pens I should be able to use…

erin condren planner used.JPG
BelindaSelene

Ch…ch…ch…changes – taking first (baby) steps

Welcome to Monday, which right now looks a lot like Saturday and Sunday in my world.   But, that is all going to come to a screeching halt next week and we’ll be slammed forward into a new school year – no air bags provided.

are you ready-!-

I’m not.  I hope to be more ready six days (!) from now when my DD starts back to school (I can’t believe she’ll be in First Grade…there was many a day when I wondered if she would ever come home from the hospital, and now she’s going to be a First Grader!).  I hope to be even MORE ready when I start back to teaching thirteen days from now (holy cow – that’s less than two weeks people!).  BUT…I’m not going to try to do the same things I’ve done in the past (which haven’t worked and I think Einstein was a pretty smart guy and he says its insane to continue doing the same things and expect different results).  So, I’m really trying to do things differently.  What am I doing differently?  Well, let me tell you!

  1. I am NOT trying to do every possible Pinterest perfect project for back-to-school.  We got my DD’s First Day of School outfit today and I’ll make a sign for her to hold before leaving that morning so I can take a picture.  That’s it.  No best breakfast or special lunch or crazy pre-first day party.  So, in a more wholistic view of things, I am being REALISTIC.
  2. I am starting a routine THIS week instead of trying to start on the first day of school.  My DD THRIVES on routines.  She loves a list and completing the list is a serious big deal for her.  So, I took an archived Kid’s Routine from My Simpler Life, changed it up a small bit and printed it out for her last night.  I posted one upstairs and one downstairs and she has one she can carry around with her.  It includes all the things I need her when school kicks in, but she is doing all the other stuff this week.  So, when school starts, she will already have a routine and will just add in school.  Brilliant!  She’s loving it so far.
  3. I am prepping my classes COMPLETELY for at least the first month of school.  I’m hoping that I can get even further than the first month, but four weeks being completely done and posted on Blackboard with notes in my day planner for what needs to be printed out or added in, etc. will be awesome.  Most of the time, I’m trying to do this the weekend before school starts and I never get it done, so I end up flying by the seat of my pants in at least half the classes and trying to make technology work for things that it doesn’t really work for and getting frustrated and overwhelmed.  So, now I have almost two weeks to get it all done and I think that will be enough time (I already have one class done through Week Three and just a couple of more things to add for Week Four).
  4. I am really looking for places to delegate.  This is a HUGE weakness of mine.  Part of it is my lack of organization makes it difficult for me to hand things off to other people.  I’m either so late doing things that I need to do it myself because it would take too long to bring someone else in on it or I can’t get my $#@! together enough to make it understandable to someone else and when I do, it is an abject failure which makes both them and me feel bad.  So, I’m trying to get ahead of the game, figure out where I need help and asking for it in plenty of time (e.g. babysitting in three and a half weeks – I need that…and I can start figuring out who is available now; having dinners figured out so I can tell my hubby what to do to get it on the table while I’m at work).

The book Say Goodbye to Survival Mode is really changing my life.  And I’m only through 41 of 220 some pages!  I feel like Crystal Paine GETS me.  I’ve read other books and they always seem to be saying, “just do this and everything will be great.” and I would try to do the things and it wouldn’t be as easy as they said and everything was not great.  But, she makes it clear that it isn’t going to be easy and its going to require changes and we need MARGINS (spaces for us to make mistakes and still recover – time cushions, planning for disasters that are sure to occur, etc.).  It isn’t something that I haven’t heard before, but the way she says it is in MY language.

Anyways…I’m really trying to get to bed by 11 p.m. every night and up by 6 a.m. everyday.  Getting on that schedule/routine myself before school starts.  So, I’ve got to hit the hay.  Although I’m terrified, I’m also excited about the new school year and what it will bring.  I just hope I can stick with some of my new found baby steps!

What about you?  What are you doing, if anything to prepare for the new school year/new season?

Thumbs Up Thursday – Focusing on the Positive

optimism-640x492

Or, as some might say, ignorance is bliss.  And sometimes I feel like I have way too much information to maintain optimism.  But, this is Thumbs Up Thursday so I’m going to focus on the positive and give some thumbs up today.  Despite the Great White Shark nipping at my heels…

thumbs-up

Hallmark Movies and Mysteries Channel  Seriously, if I created a channel, this would probably be it.  I mean, I might choose some slightly different movies and I would probably have some Golden Girls on there, but overall this channel is like my entertainment Mecca.  It has Murder She Wrote, Diagnosis Murder, Hart to Hart and movies that are right up my alley as well.  I feel like it is my entertainment comfort food.  And I’ve been in need of serious comfort food lately.

hallmark movies and mysteries

Google Calendar  I have decided that I have a slight problem with planners/calendars/lists, etc.  I am constantly trying new things.  The amount of money I have spent on planners thinking that they were going to change my life could probably buy us a new car.  But, let’s not think about that.  I have settled on Google Calendar as my go-to online planning source.  I still have a calendar hanging in my kitchen so others know what is happening and I still carry around a planner, but I rarely look at it.  Google Calendar sends me reminders, automatically adds Meet-up events into my calendar, adds Facebook birthdays and events into my calendar.  It is frigging fantastic.  I still miss things, but it is much less likely if I put it in my Google Calendar and actually have the reminders set to happen.  My frustration right now is that I can’t get it to work right on my phone, but I’ll work on that.

GOOGLE CALENDAR