Amongst the hustle and bustle of parties, wrapping and then unwrapping presents and bites of sprinkle covered cookies, this season is also a good time for reflection. It seems that two blinks ago we were welcoming in 2017, and now the start of a new year is almost here.
What did you achieve and not achieve last year that you wanted to? What stood in your way? What goals did you have that you were afraid to go after?
I had many great things happen in 2017. I finally put myself out there to achieve a goal of writing a book. I got back on skis despite a crippling fear of hurting myself. I even got my first article into the washingtonpost.com.
AJ left the industry he has known for over 15 years to start a career as a real estate agent. He was comfortable but felt that there wasn’t many places for him to go. He craved a new way to challenge himself while also making a better life for his family.
I have named 2018 the year of the book as far as my life goes. But, there are other things I want to achieve besides just finishing my book by my mid-October deadline.
I’ve decided to finally treat my writing as a business in 2018. Much to my detriment, I’ve never really looked at my writing as a business. I haven’t kept good track of my income. I haven’t put money aside for taxes. I haven’t done much in the way of deductions for my business. I’ve never created a real set of goals through a business plan. With my book coming out, I figured 2018 would be the year I finally need to buckle down and do so. I spent an hour at night this past week building a business plan. I have gaps to fill in, but it will come with time.
There are other things I want to achieve including revamping my website (currently in process) getting a better grasp on our household budget, putting back into some investments and being better about knowing where our money goes to. Sitting down and writing what matters most to me in the New Year will is also going to be helpful in making sure the money spent goes towards things that are important to me. I spent a few morning hours this past week putting in our bills etc. into a app for better financial tracking.
There are great systems out there for everything- goal tracking, business planning, finances, everyday life planning. I’ve been reading a A Simplified Life by Emily Ley. I have been a fan of her everyday planners for years. The book is simple (happy for that), but what she says makes total sense. It’s refreshing to read that someone as successful as her still has the same daily struggles.
As far as systems go, you can go as simple as you want or as fancy as you want. With technology today, you can even create something that will work best for you on your own. So far, I am using Google Sheets for my business plan, an Emily Ley planner, Power Sheets for goal setting and tracking and mint.com for finances.
These systems may or may not work for you. It’s all about finding out what will work best for you and sticking with it. I hope your 2018 is full of what your heart desires and that you achieve what is most important to you.
I am never much of a sentimental person when it comes to things. When my sister passed away suddenly in August 2005, my middle sister wanted so many things of hers while I only wanted a few things I have strong personal memories about.
The holidays have always felt different without her (she was big on celebrating, decorating etc.), and I’ve always struggled with trying to keep her memory and spirit alive during this time of year.
Now 4, Emma is beginning to understand more when I talk about my sister Laurie to her. She even seemed to understand the importance of seeing Laurie’s gravesite when we were back in Illinois for Thanksgiving.
Last year, I got Emma a pair of Peanuts Hanna Anderson pajamas that featured the gang skating on ice like the scene from the beginning of Charlie Brown Christmas (and somewhat the Peanuts movie). The scene was always my sister’s favorite because the song “Christmas Time is Here.” My thoughts turn to her and her love of the season when the song comes on. Even Emma recognizes the significance always saying, “Mom, it’s Aunt Laurie’s favorite song,” when I can get her to tolerate the Christmas XM stations versus Kids Bop and Radio Disney.
I’ve been slowly purging through Emma’s clothes, the baby toys etc. In October, I pulled out the pajamas along with some other too small now holiday clothes. I originally promised the pajamas to a friend, but then realized that they weren’t in the greatest condition. Emma has a habit of wrecking her pajamas for some reason.
Pajamas that were now dingy, stained and way too short in the arms and legs would typically go in my throw away pile. But looking at them up close, I just couldn’t part with them. I’ve searched on eBay and Craigslist. I put out requests on Hanna buy and sell Facebook groups to no avail to find a larger pair.
I’m grateful that Emma humors me and still wears them even if they do look a bit ridiculous! When I see Emma in them, I can’t help but feel Laurie’s presence.
For anyone missing loved ones this holiday season, may memories (and maybe a pair of pajamas) give you comfort.
A long time back, I did a post with the message that gratitude starts with attitude. At Emma’s age, it is hard to teach about gratitude. Kids at this age are naturally self-centered and sometimes it is hard to break through. Here are two things you can do to help your kiddo. It might even help you be a bit more grateful in your own life too.
Demonstrate Gratitude– Perhaps the easiest thing to do is to show gratitude in your everyday life. It doesn’t have to be a big production. A simple thank you to someone for holding the door, sending thank you’s, pointing out things to be thankful for…… Try to be natural
Talk About Gratitude in Daily Life– while this one isn’t the easiest to apply, I have found it has had the most impact on Emma. The dinner table is a great place to add this to your daily conversation.
Speaking of Good Deeds Elf, Olivia made her return to Erie, CO before Thanksgiving. I need to get some creative juices flowing (and my Pinterest research skills) and find new ways for Olivia and Emma to give back this holiday season! Here are some of our favorites from the past.
- Pay for the person behind you in the drive through line and tell the checkout person to tell them Happy Holidays. Emma loves doing this!
- Buy some large candy canes from the store and secretly place them on strangers cars (we call this candy cane bombing). Be sure to include a note to say Seasons Greetings. This is Emma’s favorite!
- Donate some new toys to Toys for Tots. Emma likes to be part of the selection process and always has the biggest smile when we place the toys in the collection bin.
- Tell 5 strangers Happy Holidays. It instantly brings a smile to their faces.
- Leave change on a vending machine or a popcorn surprise on a DVD rental machine.
Some new ones we are going to try:
- Stash dollars in random places in a store for people to find.
- Be a helper by picking up five things around the house that aren’t yours.
- Pick up trash at the park or in the neighborhood.
I created a Pinterest board with great ideas too.
We had a great trip to Chicago for Thanksgiving. It was quick, but we maximized our family time. Emma even did a task from Olivia that was delivered by a Charlie Brown stuffed animal my parents had since Olivia went back to Santa’s Workshop for Thanksgiving.
I am pitching new outlets this week while also working on an article for coloradoparent.com on drop off date night places in the Front Range. I wrote a piece on running in Philadelphia for motivrunning.com that is live now. And, I am always working on my big project.
Enjoy the season and adventure on,
I’m not good at working at night. I am much better getting up in the morning to get in some writing. I don’t like always having to spend the time Emma is in school and in classes always writing. Sometimes, I have to run errands, want to get in a workout or just plain sit in the couch and watch TV (a rarity but especially difficult during the holidays where those cheesy Hallmark movies call my name).
Right now I am trying to find a good balance between working on a project that in the future will make me money or focusing on writing articles that will bring in money in the meantime. It’s a tough balance that I feel myself struggling with.
I’m trying to make better use of my time, but I’m not always the best at it. Through this, Emma has had to have a bit more of independent play time as I try to sneak in twenty minutes here and there writing copy, sizing photos, emailing questions or seeking outsources.
I had intentions of really focusing this past week on my big project, but I found myself saying yes to two last-minute article assignments knowing that it’s approaching the slow season where freelance budgets are maxed out for the year. Another outlet I occasionally write for is coming to a halt. That makes saying yes to any assignments that come my way even more important. It’s a tough business pitching, endless follow-up emails and sometimes even begging for payment. An article could be a go or not a go based on whether a source or interview subject responds.
I think balance is a key to life whether its work, play or combination of both. Sometimes it is an easy find. Other times not as much. Just yesterday, Emma wanted to play outside in the amazing weather. I had an article subject finally get in touch with me that afternoon- literally the day the article was due. I told Emma that I would play with her for twenty minutes, but then I needed twenty minutes to dictate my interview while she put together a puzzle. Thankfully this isn’t a typical scenario and I usually have more time to get articles done. While the money is needed, my thoughts turned to next year and how Emma will be in school all day. That time I will never get back.
How is Thanksgiving like a week away? The time is just flying by. Last week, AJ came home from dropping Emma off at school with information on registering for Kindergarten. Yes, registration starts Dec 1st for us- insert huge tearing up eyes.
Olivia, Emma’s good deed elf, made her return this week, so we can do a few good deeds before we are off to see family for Thanksgiving. Emma was so excited to come out of her room and see Olivia sitting there. I hope that even when Emma is old enough to understand it all that she will still want to do good deeds with Olivia. It is truly my favorite holiday tradition.
Stay tuned for my post on gratitude and giving back.
A few weeks ago, my mother called to tell me that a very close childhood friend of mine lost her son at 18. This friend and I had grown apart sometime around when middle school started. Distance, interests, life choices etc. really led us to not talk unless we saw each other at “family” celebrations and gatherings.
Her son’s age, the manner in which he passed away- the whole thing is hard to still comprehend. Life can be incredibly cruel. A few bad choices and some difficult life experiences and he was caught up in the world of drugs looking for an escape.
My thoughts have been with my childhood friend since I heard the news wondering how she can find the energy to get up in the mornings, to do the simple tasks and to stay strong for her other children. How are his four siblings feeling right now? At their young age, how much can they really comprehend?
I never understood why my sister is gone and I was almost 29 years old when she passed away. The same week, a friend’s sister had her first child- a baby girl. When one life ends, another is beginning.
I can’t believe how fast October came and went. We only have a few things left on our fall bucket list that includes playing football on Thanksgiving (a neighborhood tradition) and showing our gratitude.
We are doing our 30 days of thankfulness challenge again. It might be called a challenge, but it is really easy considering all the blessings we have in our lives. I’m the first to tell you that I have trouble showing gratitude on a consistent basis. It’s something I have struggled with demonstrating to Emma at times. But my overall goal is that Emma finds gratitude in her heart as she continues to grow up and that helping others is important to her in all stages of life. She has a heart of gold. Sometimes, you just have to bring it out. Look for a post about helping children (and yourself) find more gratitude in your daily lives to be posted soon.
I finished two listicles for motivrunning.com and just sent off another article for ironman.com. I am writing a second piece for parksandpoints.com on our recent trip to Goblin Valley. My focus this week will be finishing that, pitching outlets and taking in all the things to be grateful for around me.