Habits

Goals - March 2017

Goals - March 2017 | RISING*SHINING

The year is trucking along and it feels like a good time to check in on my 2017 goals and recommit to them. At the beginning of the year I was reminding myself of CHOOSE on a daily basis and reflecting on gratitude often. February ended up feeling so full and I fell out of the practice.  March is a perfect time to recommit to choosing family and writing, gratitude, and action.

Big things happening in March:

+ St. Patrick's Day. Not usually a big deal for us but we love to make any holiday a little special for the boys. We're thinking of having either family or friends over for an Irish themed dinner that night. 

+ Family and friend birthdays. There are three this month!

In March I choose to...

+ Plan Dashiell's birthday party. Oh my heart - FOUR!

+ Create a photo book using our wedding photos. I have digital versions of photos from our 2010 wedding but have never made a book. Hoping to have this finished by our 7th anniversary!

+ Buy some new plants for our front yard. 

+ Not make many weekend plans. Last weekend we had a gloriously unplanned weekend and it was so good for my soul. I loved being together as a family and going with the flow of where the weekend took us. I'd love to try to create more of that in our life. 

+ Launch two new Neighborly Advice classes with The Girl Next Door Podcast. We'll be retiring the first two classes at the end of the month in case you are interested but haven't purchased yet. 

Recurring monthly goals:

+ Spend 15 minutes each day on creative writing. This is any writing that's just for me. It could be blogging, writing in the boys' memory journal or working on an essay.

Update: Still not getting to this every day but I love having it as something I'm striving to do every day.

+ Make Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday evenings for work and leave Thursday and Friday open. As part of CHOOSING family and writing I want to get my work done for my podcasts and Copper Quail Style early in the week so that evenings later in the week are free. It's easy to put this work off to another night since timing is flexible but getting it done earlier will mean I can relax sooner.

Update: Trying to get back on track with this after a full February and having weeks where I worked nearly every night.

+ Check Mint at least once each week. To CHOOSE savings I need to be mindful of every transaction and stick to my monthly personal allowance budget.

Update: Yes! Still keeping this up and I love how in tune with our finances we are. As a result of both Chris and I checking Mint more often we are staying on budget better than we ever have before. 

 

Happy March!

 


For the love of finishing things

For the love of finishing things | RISING*SHINING

Last year I read Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin and I still think of it often.  Erica and I even discussed it in a Girl Next Door Book Club

In the book, Rubin outlines four habit tendencies - Upholder, Questioner, Rebel, Obliger - which describe how a person responds to internal and external expectations. (You can take the quiz here to find out your tendency.) I'm an upholder and respond equally to internal and external expectations. In other words, I love goals and enjoy meeting them. Surprise!! I had so many lightbulb moments while reading about my own personality and having it articulated in new ways. Plus, what is more fascinating than learning about yourself?

After describing the four tendencies Rubin covers lots of other traits we should consider when trying to make or break a habit. Are you an early bird or a night owl? Are you a moderator (a little at a time) or an abstainer (all or nothing)? Are you an opener or a finisher?

Lately I've been thinking about this last one: opener or finisher. When Erica and I chatted about the book on The Girl Next Door Book Club I thought I was an opener. I have so many things going on! So I must love to start things. 

But one morning as I was grabbing my lunch and coffee, about to head out the door, a little collection on the counter caught my eye. It was a squeezed and nearly empty bottle of Aquaphor, a Burt's Bees so near the end that the internal tube of chapstick will pop out and an upturned bottle of Trader Joe's white pine lotion (an attempt to use every last bit). Later at work I found that I had another bottle of upturned Trader Joe's lotion.

Then I thought of the way I have a hard time buying new deodorant until I have nearly none left (still obsessed with this by the way). And also how I'm still wearing casual shoes that I love even though they have a hole in the toe and running shoes I've been wearing for nearly 4 years (it's a miracle I don't have chronic shin splints). I love to wear things until they wear out and since these are still functioning it's hard for me to buy new.

It's not just material things. At work I find so much more energy and satisfaction in finishing a project than starting a new one.  

And so it dawned on me that maybe, in fact, I am a finisher. I love to follow-through and complete something that I said I would do. I am an upholder, after all. Being a finisher definitely supports my somewhat frugal sensibilities and definitely my minimalist sensibilities. I do not have interest in trying lots of different shampoos, eye shadows, shoes or accessories for example. Maybe my finisher nature is why! I used to follow a blogger who shared a favorite beauty product round up each month. I realized that it actually really stressed me out to think of having 7 - 10 NEW products every month. There's no way I would ever use all of that! Or want to store it all.

But my finisher nature doesn't apply to all things. I abandon books if I don't at least enjoy them somewhat.  I also don't mind getting rid of things if I'm not using them at all as opposed to feeling that I must "use it up."  I've never been a pack rat but especially after reading The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up I don't like to hold on to something because maybe I'll use it. Or maybe it's that I can't stand not making progress on finishing something so I'd rather just get rid of it.

I was chatting with Chris about this and he also thinks he's a finisher. In fact he said, "Yeah, didn't you notice how I put some water in the body wash to make it last longer?" He wants to use every last drop of that body wash. I actually did draw the line at overly-diluted body wash and cracked open the new bottle. 

I've been trying to think of how this insight about being a finisher should apply to my life. Part of the power of getting insight into my own personality is recognizing the person I am and not fighting against it. Maybe it will even bolster my commitment to having less and buying fewer things. By having fewer things I can enjoy finishing them or using them up. For the most part I can't think of habits or practices that I need to change but it's interesting to see some of my habits in light of finisher tendencies. 

What about you - do you think you're an opener or a finisher, and how does that affect you? 

 


For the love of grocery lists and spreadsheets

171_grocerylist

What you see above is my new and improved grocery list. It makes me ridiculously happy. So does talking about grocery list habits (totally serious). So let's talk about it. 

Let me answer a few questions. Yes, the columns are arranged by aisle content at my Trader Joe's. And yes, our most frequently purchased items are listed according to where they are in the store. And yes! there is a spot for listing meals and items to purchase elsewhere (Target/other grocery store) at the bottom. I KNOW. 

Designing a grocery list template like this is something I had on my mental to-do list forever. Finally I made the time to do it. And like many things that I put off, it ended up taking maybe 30 minutes and I wondered why it had taken me so long to do it.

To make the template I created a spreadsheet in Excel and organized the columns to reflect the aisles at our Trader Joe's (where we shop each week). Since I had the room, I have most columns reflect just one side of one aisle. So if I were a tiny shopper in this spreadsheet I'd be walking down the line dividing the columns, grabbing jam from the right and vitamins and toilet paper on the left.

Then I added our frequently bought items on the correct "aisle." I was able to do this mostly from memory but as I find a frequent item that I missed I just update the template. I'm also finding that our frequently bought items change over time, so I'll update the template accordingly.

To make a grocery list I indicate an item that we need by circling it. If we need something that's not already on the template I'll write it on the correct "aisle" and then circle it. I prefer to take a highlighter to the grocery store and cross items off that way. Because I'm adventurous that way.

The best part about this layout is that it's exactly how my mom made our grocery list when I was growing up. So now you know where I get it.

I printed about 10 of these and have them clipped to the side of the fridge. Also on the side of the fridge is a small white board where we jot down items we run out of or need throughout the week. So when I sit down to make a grocery list I grab a grocery list template and first circle or write in any items from the whiteboard.

At the bottom I write out dinner ideas or anything special we are going to make (like if we are hosting friends for dinner).  Then I circle or write in and circle items that we'll need for those meals/recipes and round out the grocery list with anything else we need. Such as BOURBON for maple bourbon ciders on my big Christmas Eve/Christmas shopping list above. 

And if you are not already convinced to give this a whirl, have I mentioned that one day at Trader Joe's a 60s-ish man stopped to admire my grocery list and proceed to ask if he could take me home with him? Still got it, guys. But honestly, it was not creepy and he kept exclaiming to his wife throughout his shopping trip about my organized list. This is the kind of first impression you want to make on people! 

I'd love to hear how you make your grocery list! I've tried an app but I hate having to take my phone out a million times at the store and keep waking it up. For now old fashioned paper is working for me. Grocery list-making is one of those weird topics that seems mundane but that completely fascinates me. So do tell!


2017: CHOOSE

2017: CHOOSE | RISING*SHINING

In October, even when it was still hot, my thoughts were pulled towards the new year and what goals I would set. My day to day was feeling too busy and I was craving reflection and focus. In six years of developing a practice of goal setting I've found that a few quiet moments, a blank piece of paper and a pen (or even a fresh note on my phone) can be incredibly calming and powerful.

By my own design and doing my life is full. In 2016 I filled my plate more than I ever have. I got a sense of where the edge is for how much I can handle without sacrificing (too much) from what matters - taking care of myself and being healthy, being the best parent I can be, and being a supportive, present partner to Chris. 

A new year is an opportunity to reflect and focus, or refocus. Recently I came across a quote from Nikki McClure, the artist of the beautiful calendars I buy every year. She says:

"'What should I do differently?'  sounds much better than 'What should I have done differently?'" What a perfect sentiment for starting a new year.

All this was on my mind when deciding on my word and intention for 2017: CHOOSE. 

Here's how I want to practice CHOOSE in 2017 the goals that will support my intentions...

CHOOSE family and writing

When I ask myself what truly matters to me, what brings me fulfillment above all else, the answer is so clear to me: family and writing. When I'm faced with a new opportunity or a request for my time I want to choose family and writing above all else. For new commitments that would take away from time with family or writing I want to be ready to say "no," unless they return significant fulfillment (or are required of course).  Ultimately how I spend my days is how I spend my life and I want my days to reflect family and writing.

In addition, I want to lean in to my writing craft. I'm hoping to blog consistently at least once a week, or more, and to explore submitting essays or ideas for publication. This inspired a daily writing goal:

+ Practice creative writing for at least 15 minutes each day. Any writing for work doesn't count for this. My creative writing includes blogging and writing in the memory journal that I keep for the boys. I plan to use the same daily goal tracker that I did last year to establish a daily sunscreen habit.  

CHOOSE gratitude

Gratitude, like goal-setting, is a powerful practice and one that can be done anywhere without anything. I've written before about cultivating gratitude, like appreciating our house as it is, and while I do feel that I've cultivated a practice of gratitude, it's one that can always be strengthened.

For example, even though I've come to really love our home I'm always seeing things I'd love to change. It's a fun ongoing project for me, and especially so as I'm starting to feel more confident in expressing my taste and style in our home. But it's a fine line of being excited to make changes reflective of our style versus falling into the "want, want, want" and comparison mentality or to see every single thing that needs a fix or update.

Parenting two little boys can certainly bring frustration. Especially when I feel as if I can't complete a task or the house is a wreck. I want to choose gratitude in those moments as well. I can be thankful for my boys and being their mother, and remember that the house being clean isn't what matters. I know these years, while so demanding, will be what I look back on with nostalgia and longing, and I'm grateful to be living them now.

+ Be cognizant of thoughts of comparison or frustration and actively choose gratitude. 

CHOOSE action

I'm anxious and at times overwhelmed by the events in our country and around the world. I have mostly disconnected from the news for this reason although I do want to be aware. As we head into a new year I'm anxious about the new administration and president of this country and about the atrocities taking place abroad. Instead of dwelling in worry or sadness I want to CHOOSE action towards creating the world I want to see. This will include:

+ Creating a contact sheet for my local and national representatives. I want to make my voice heard and to pay more attention to how my representatives are voting. I learned from Pantsuit Politics that a phone call can be more impactful than an email. 

+ Make a list of nonprofit organizations to support. I can make a donation in a matter of minutes and support the people doing good and heroic work around the world.

CHOOSE savings

In 2015, Chris and I laid out an aggressive savings plan for ourselves. We want to save close to $100,000 in five years so that we can pay off our mortgage or achieve some kind of significant financial flexibility. In 2015 we saved $20,000, in 2016 we saved $16,000 and we have a goal of saving $20,000 in 2017. 

We had a little breakfast goals meeting recently and went over our budget and savings goals. We both need to commit to sticking to our personal allowance/entertainment spending each month, and to be better about tracking spending on gifts and the house. I want to be very intentional about spending and tracking my money. I want to CHOOSE savings over buying, knowing that saving will get us closer to our big goal. To CHOOSE savings I want to:

+ Check Mint at least once per week, categorize transactions, and assess monthly budget spending.

+ Have twice-monthly budget review meetings with Chris. We talk about finances all the time but have gotten away from sitting down with our computer, looking at Mint and the budget, and having more in-depth conversations. These budget meetings always make me feel more committed to our budget and saving so I think it would be a great tool as we work towards our big goal.

2017: CHOOSE | RISING*SHINING

And that's it! I'm excited about these CHOOSE goals but also curious how my intention will manifest in other ways this year. 

Wishing you light and love as we start a new year together! Happy 2017!

2016 (ha! Dash is wearing the same sweater!)

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011


The Year of Kelsey in review

Year of Kelsey in review | RISING*SHINING

Every year is significant but this past year felt especially so for personal growth. Heading into 2016 I hoped that over the year I would begin to emerge from the intensely demanding period of having two boys under three, waking many times during the night and breastfeeding. I was looking forward to reclaiming my body and energy, and focusing some of that new-found energy on myself.

So I declared 2016 The Year of Kelsey. I made goals of building a capsule wardrobe, a capsule skin care and makeup routine, going on creative field trips and traveling by myself. I worked on these goals all year and as The Year of Kelsey wraps up I feel really good about the progress I made.  

+ Create a capsule wardrobe of timeless, quality pieces.

I started 2016 with a limited wardrobe. I had worked to get rid of clothing I didn't love to wear or that I was just never going to fit back into - despite losing just about all of my pregnancy weight there are just changes in my body that are here to stay!

I've been "figuring out" my style for a while and am finally starting to feel confidence in what kind of clothes I want to wear: classic, pulled-together, understated and with a hint of my modern aesthetic. I've also realized that I prefer simplicity and eliminating choice. I don't love shopping and while I do have a style preference I don't want to spend time and effort on my style. I want to buy clothes that fit well and look great and then wear those until they wear out.

Over the year I invested close to $1,000 to update my wardrobe. There are still items I would love to add to my capsule wardrobe, like tall boots, but I've eliminated stress about clothing from my life. I don't feel an urgency to purchase new clothes because I feel like "I don't have anything to wear." And the clothes that I do have feel like good expressions of the style I want to have. It feels really good.

Here are some of my favorite items of clothing purchased this year:

+ High-rise skinny ankle jeans. Were these jeans designed specifically for me? Unlikely. But they are my favorite jeans ever so I like to think that maybe they were. I only have two pairs of jeans - in dark denim wash and dark grey - and they are this cut. 

+ Black blazer. I've wanted to wear a blazer for years and I still get a tiny thrill every time I wear mine. Wearing a blazer makes me feel so pulled together. I wear it to work now that it's cooler or with jeans and a blouse for a date.

+ Flowly blouses. Pictured above, and similar to this and this.

+ 24/7 classic t-shirt bra. Favorite bra I've ever owned. I have two and plan to get another this year.

+ Pea coat. In my signature plum color. :) 

 + Create a capsule skin care and beauty routine.

Similar to my feelings about clothes, I don't want to spend a lot of time or mental energy on skin care and makeup. I want to take care of my skin and have a makeup routine that leaves me looking pulled together but natural (and diminished tired eyes, ahem). But I don't see myself ever being someone who has multiple mascaras or eye shadows. I want to find the one thing that works for me and then not think about it.

To figure out what to buy I read my favorite Beauty Uniform posts and talked to girl friends for makeup recommendations. (Last year, Erica and I chatted about beauty uniforms if you'd like to listen in.) And over the year built a skincare routine that I love and that leaves my skin feeling healthy and smooth. This includes wearing sunscreen daily which is a habit I set out to acquire in 2016. 

I also started consistently painting my nails this year! Thanks to tips and encouragement from my neighbor and nail guru Erica. I've mentioned that I have a bad habit of picking at my cuticles and painting my nails helps with this so much.

Here are my favorite finds:

+ Orly Bonder base coat, Seche Vite top coat and Essie nail colors. Using these I can paint my nails on the weekend and the color will last through the week with minimal chips. My favorite color right now is Carry On, and I love to do one nail with Penny Talk.

 + Paula's Choice toner and exfoliator. I also loved this article and this one explaining what these products do (granted, they are written by the company but I still found them helpful). I've noticed that my skin feels smoother and looks healthier when I use these consistently. Plus I love the simple twice-daily routine of wash-tone-exfoliate.

+ Paula's Choice Resist Youth Extending Daily Hydrating Fluid SPF 50 - my daily sunscreen. Light, non-greasy and no lingering scent of sunscreen.

 + Go on at least three creative field trips.

I love the idea of creative field trips - any kind of outing with the simple goal of being creatively inspired. This year Chris and I attended a talk by Johnny Depp, I went to a lunch-time poetry lecture and recorded my birth stories as part of the Creative Push project.

Certainly I found inspiration at many other times this year but having a creative field trip goal did help me to glimpse all the creativity and art that surrounds me. I'd love to keep seeking it out and have plans to see Push Comes to Shove: Women in Power with this awesome lady in early January.

+ Take a solo trip.

This is one I didn't get to do. But I did have an awesome writers' retreat with Erica and Sarah and an amazing adventure to the Pacific Northwest with Chris. While a solo trip didn't happen this past year I'd love to make from time to time. Although I love to meet new people and be social I'm an introvert and relish quiet and time alone.

 

Becoming a mother a little over three and a half years ago was the most significant and best change of my life. It's a role and identity that is the most demanding and the most rewarding. As the boys get older I have more time and energy to invest in myself, and over the past year I felt that shift. My Year of Kelsey goals highlighted the importance of investing in myself even as I give so much to others.

This year I invested in a foundation for taking care of myself - a quality wardrobe and reflecting on my style, taking care of my skin and finding a simple makeup routine, nurturing my creativity, and traveling without my children. By establishing this foundation I don't have to spend as much energy on these things in the future (especially the wardrobe and skin care/makeup) which lets me extend myself to things that really matter, like my family and my creative pursuits. A perfect place to start a new year.

P.S. New Matrimoney episode today is us chatting about our 2016 finances - what we made and where ti all went.