Uncategorized

10 Changes for the Last 155 Days of 2019

As of today, there are 155 days left in 2019. We are well past the half way mark, with 210 days gone for 2019. I feel like 10 changes is realistic for 155 days. Some will be easy. Some will be more difficult. All of them will be not only good for me, but good for the world (or at least the community). So, here goes my 10 Changes:

  1. Shop local. This will be good for numerous reasons. First, I have been really bad about the easy, breezy Amazon Prime purchases this past 210 days. I buy too much or spontaneously. Plus, Amazon is a wonderful innovative company, but it doesn’t always treat it’s workers great and it doesn’t give much to our local community. So, I’m going to try to raise our local tax base, support local business owners and really think about my purchases before I make them. This will include my holiday shopping. So, it will have an impact.
  2. Decrease my single-use plastic waste. I have been feeling more and more committed to this (note it has been a feeling, not necessarily an action) over the past few months. My family uses a TON of single-use plastics. I know I won’t be able to end it, but if I could just significantly decrease it, I would be happy. I’ve been looking at bulk shopping (we have a few places here where you can bulk shop for things like shampoo and conditioner and soaps) and will be doing that as soon as I use up some of things in my house already. Which are numerous. This brings me to…
  3. Use it up! Seriously. I have food items, cleaning supplies, body wash, lotions, soaps, books, scrapbooking stuff…the list could go on and on. And I don’t use hardly any and then I will actually purchase new stuff! Why??? I can’t explain it. But, I do. Compulsively. I have shampoo in my shower, but I bought a tester bottle at CVS two weeks ago and then bought a bottle of shampoo at Trader Joe’s this week. Why? Who knows? Again, those impulse buys get me every time. So, I’m going to do a thorough inventory of my house and commit to not buying anything new until I use up what we have.
  4. Read it or Rid it! I have so many books. That is an understatement. I have books in my room, the hallway, the garage, the living room, and more. I have not been reading much in the last decade and I go to the library pretty often. The books have just been sitting there on my shelves. I took two pretty big loads to the thrift store today and I’m going to make a commitment to only keep what I truly feel is worth keeping and get rid of the rest. I can get whatever I want to read at the library at some point, so I don’t need to have all these books in my home.
  5. Meal plan. I NEED to meal plan. We are so bad at not using food in our refrigerator and freezer. We eat out way too much, pay way too much for food we don’t eat, and we often have no idea how to make a meal out of what we have in our house. So, meal planning is a must. It ties in to #3 – Use it up. I buy stuff and then end up throwing it away because we don’t have a plan to use it. So, I’ve joined Kitchen Winners at Jessica Fisher and I’m going to try to really meal plan effectively.
  6. Digital Detox. I am on my laptop way too much and I tend to overuse my phone as well. So, I’m going to really try to digitally detox this Fall. I’m going to set firm hours for being online. I haven’t figured out exactly how it is going to work (one dark day a week would be nice, but seems a little beyond possible with my job and travel, etc.), but I’m going to put some limits on myself and commit to following those limits strictly. I didn’t take my laptop on vacation last week and it was pretty spectacular. I used my phone a little too much, but it kept dying, so it wasn’t too bad on most days. But, I’ve been bad on my laptop since returning home. And much like my purchasing decisions, a lot of it is not really necessary or helpful.
  7. Engage in my community. I used to be really active in the community when my DD was a baby. We went to a ton of local events and participated in a lot of fun things. But, since she started school, our participation the community has really fallen off. We don’t go to our Farmer’s Markets on regular basis anymore. We don’t do the downtown events when they happen. We skip museum events. I want to re-engage in these events for a couple of reasons. First, I feel like being involved in our community is important. Second, I feel like going to things like the Farmer’s Markets and museum events gives us access to people we wouldn’t necessarily meet or talk to in our day-to-day lives and those conversations can be important. In addition, it is often very fun! Once it is habit, I crave doing those events. But, when you fall out of habit, it seems like a lot of effort to expend.
  8. Do less. Better. This is my teaching philosophy for Fall 2019, so why not make it a life philosophy? I want to do the things I decide are important enough to do better. I’ve been floating through life not really doing well at anything. I now want to narrow my efforts to a few things and do those really well. What will those things be? Parenting, Home Management (including that meal planning, but also decluttering and keeping house better), Teaching and Coaching, and Leading Girl Scouts. That is not a small amount of things. In fact, it is a lot. Which is why I need to get off the laptop and phone and focus on doing them.
  9. Be hospitable. We are getting our backyard redone. It should be completed by the time school begins and we will have grass, an area for a patio table and plants, etc. I want to host people in our home and have dinner and play games and generally be hospitable. Our house is not great. In fact, it is mostly pretty ugly and worn. But, our backyard will be lovely, so we can use that until the rain comes. And maybe even then if we are strategic.
  10. Plan and implement. Last, but not least, I want to use my planner and actually implement the plans I make there. I am notorious at using my planner to write plans down and then ignoring those plans. I was better at using the planner and calendar in the Fall and I forgot way less things, but I would still not follow through with my daily plan and priorities. This next 155 days, I want to plan my days (at least a bit) and then implement those plans instead of just forgetting them. It sometimes feels good to abandon the plan, until the next day comes and I have even more things to do and still the things I didn’t implement.

So, there you have it, my 10 Changes to Make in the Last 155 Days of 2019. Let’s do this!

Get Sh*t Done

Get Sh*t Done: July Goals

I am linking to Steph The Bookworm’s Get Sh*t Done post for July and trying to motivate myself in some small way. So, I’m going to set some goals for the month of July.

  • Get outside! For part of the month, this will be very simple. I’ll be “camping” for a week. I put that in quotation marks because this year, instead of staying in a tent like we have the last three years, we are staying in a cabin next to the campground. It is furnished, has a full-size refrigerator, wi-fi and all the amenities, so it doesn’t really seem like camping. But, I’m hoping that it allows us to enjoy things more than we did last year. The tent was fine when it was just my DD and myself, but last year it was all three of us and it stormed one night and we had not put the rain cover on the tent (because when does it rain in July where we were? Hardly ever!) and it was rough. We still had a good time, but It was miserably hot and while everyone else we were camping with had an air conditioned trailer to go to, we did not. So, there was no escaping it. So, this year, we have a cabin with AC that is in the campground the group is staying in and we’re staying in what is supposed to be a cooler area (although with the way things are going, it will be in the high 90s there as well). Anyways, other than that week, my goal is to be outside at least 30 minutes everyday with my DD. Today I went to our local park twice. Once with just my DD to collect some driftwood to make a craft. Then back this afternoon with a friend of my DD’s for them to swim in the river. It was great. Tomorrow, we’re taking a friend to the local public pool to swim. The next day it is a water park in a neighboring community. After that, I don’t have plans, but will be making them.
  • Redecorate the house. I have been wanting to do this forever. I don’t know how much I will be able to do, but I have finally settled on a style of decor I want. Rustic Farmhouse. It seems to fit with all of our animals, our deer head mounts in the living room, etc. So, now I just need to focus on a few key pieces. A new dining room table and chairs is definitely on the short list. I also would not mind getting a new couch. My daughter’s room needs a makeover as well. It would be nice to get some paint on the walls after 10 years of living here. So, I’ll be asking our landlord. I would love some new floors too, but that may be too much to ask. We shall see.
  • Eat at home. I realize I won’t be able to do this every meal the whole month. But, I feel like we have been preconditioned to eat out almost once a day, every day. It is truly ridiculous. I’m a horrible meal planner because I will plan something and then find it too difficult or not appealing when it comes time to cook it. Mostly it is habit. Well, that and doing dishes so the counters and sinks aren’t overflowing with dishes.
  • Declutter the house. Seriously declutter. I got rid of seven coffee cups today, a monopoly game (one of the three or four that we own, all with different themes) and two stadium chairs we used once three years ago and never again. Tomorrow, I plan to continue on the route of getting rid of things.

I will leave it at that. That seems like a lot when I look at it. I plan to track my trips outside, my changes in the house, my meals at home and what I get rid of decluttering. I will do that for the month and report back at the end of the month with how I did. Thanks for the inspiration Steph!

Simplicity Sunday

Simplicity Sunday #16 – When Nothing Much Has Changed

Well, as I jump back into blogging, one of the things I wanted to do was clean up the blog a bit (decrease the number of categories and tags that are present and make them more meaningful, add some links in posts to make connections that are here that may not be apparent for those visiting and maybe even clean out some of the old posts that aren’t really helpful). This is requiring that I go back through the last six years of blogging. Some years, there isn’t all that much to go through. Other years, I was pretty active. But, one thing that I notice is that where ever it is that I jump into a post, it often seems that not all that much has changed in my life. This is disappointing, to say the least. Take for example, the second post on this blog, from July of 2013, the first of these Simplicity Sunday posts, “The Great Purge,” where I have a photo of our entryway closet, which looks much different today, but much the same. What do I mean by that? Well, I don’t have much in that closet anymore. I have a hanging organizer for art supplies for my DD and an umbrella hanging in there. But, my husband has taken it over for storage and it is very full of stuff still. Simplicity Sunday #2, “Purge, Purge, Purge,” has me focusing on getting rid of things and I will say that I have gotten rid of quite a few things in the past six years. But, as I wrote in the most recent Simplicity Sunday, from almost exactly three years ago, “No such thing as ‘simple’,”

So, decluttering my house (I feel like I have rid myself of VOLUMES of stuff in the past six months, but we still have VOLUMES AND VOLUMES of stuff left.  What is with that?!?), decluttering my schedule and establishing routines so I don’t have to constantly think about what I should be doing next is vital. 

It is now three years later and I am still struggling to declutter my house (same task, different stuff). I still feel like I have rid myself of VOLUMES of stuff and still have VOLUMES AND VOLUMES of stuff left. And I still feel like I need to declutter my schedule (again, different things are on my schedule, but still too many of them) and establish routines.

So, here we go again. Maybe this time it will “take”. I hold out hope. I know that I have been better this past year than in the past ten, probably. But, some of that is because I have not had to deal with any major medical issues in the past three years (that last Simplicity Sunday was written write after we came home from the hospital with my DD’s newly placed pacemaker. I can only imagine the tailspin another medical emergency would send me into at this point. I have no plans in place for such an emergency, which if you ask any transplant kiddo’s mom (including me), one should ALWAYS have those plans in place so you don’t have to make a million phone calls begging people to come and feed your animals and figure out how to get them a key to check the mail or coverage at work is easy because you have a plan for each class that someone can easily pick up and run with. Yeah. None of that. I also got an email from PG&E that we may be without power for up to 48 hours because we are located near a wildfire area. This means we should have a 48 hour emergency plan. I could always go to my sister’s 90 minutes away and be okay. But, it would be better to have an emergency kit and a place for my pets to go and have it figured out. I have never been one to plan for the worst, but sometimes it isn’t the worst, it’s just the bad that really gets to you.

So, on this Simplicity Sunday, I am realizing that I can’t just type words, I have to do things. I’m going to start out slow and easy. I have an inordinate amount of coffee cups and I am the only one who drinks coffee in our household. I don’t even like that many of them, really. Some have a memory attached. Some were gifts. Some I just hold on to for some unknown reason. So, I’m going to narrow down my coffee cups. I’m going to keep three at-home cups and three travel cups (well, four if you count my Yeti, but I don’t think of that as only a coffee cup). This will give me less decisions to make in the morning (choosing a coffee cup should be simple) and will give me more space in my coffee cup drawer. And space is a key factor in simplicity, as I discussed in Simplicity Sunday #6, “Making Space,” and Simplicity Sunday #11, “On Space,”. Those two posts were written nearly three years apart and now another three years later and I’m still saying the same things. Those things hold true. I may not have achieved my goals, but it doesn’t make the messages any less true. So, I’m off to create some space in my coffee cup drawer and tomorrow, I will seek out somewhere else to make some space. Each day, more space.

homemaking

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?

Uncategorized

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.

Uncategorized

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

Motivational Mondays

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?