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Goals for 2014!

2014The year 2014 is nearly upon us–just a few more days to go.  And, I, like many people around the country (and probably the world) have been reflecting on the year that has passed and looking forward to the year to come.  Over the past year I have made some changes in my life both big and small and have made some accomplishments that make me feel proud.  The biggest change is that I took a leap and accepted a new position within my school district in a co-team-leader type position.  I really hadn’t thought about changing jobs, but I am glad I took the plunge.  This job lets me use all of my skill sets well, and I get to work with amazing people.  I also tackled some personal goals I have been wanting to achieve–with the help of NaNoWriMo, I wrote and finished my first novel!  I also took my very first digital photography course–something I’ve wanted to do for ages to help me learn how to better use my camera.  My daughter started kindergarten–big kid school!–and we’ve all had a fairly good adjustment to her new schedule and celebrated some big milestones like losing her first teeth, first holiday program, and being a girl scout.  My husband graduated from grad school and immediately took on the challenge of a doctoral program and has taken on some big work challenges this school year as well.  It seems like our whole family has been moving at lightning speed this fall and have all undergone some significant life changes.  What a year!  It’s so good to look aback and see what we’ve accomplished, and also to look forward to see what goals I’d like to tackle for this upcoming calendar year. (This post is a little longer–hope you stick with me!)

I’m not big on resolutions, because as I read somewhere, they are pretty easy to break and most people forget about or give up on them pretty early on.  I am walking proof.  So, instead I have decided to set goals.  These are mostly measurable items that I can track and easily say I have done or not done.  I found that if I am specific and hold myself accountable by keeping track of my progress, I am much more likely to follow through on things I want for myself.  I am still working on the tracking system, as I am debating on a paper system or an online system.  There are merits to both.  Once I make a decision, I’ll share.

Once I started writing down my goals, I realized I could easily organize them into categories (go figure).  I also searched around on Pinterest to see what other people had done for goal sheets and decided to make mine somewhat fancy without going overboard.  I simply inserted shapes into a word document, changed their color, added text boxes, and voila!

My 2014 Goals List!

My 2014 Goals List!

Let’s look at each of the categories for moment.

1)  Family.  Really I just want to be more present, be more loving, and really listen to people around me.  It seems like we move at break neck speed all of the time, and we are constantly focused on what’s coming next without really enjoying the here and now.  I hope to slow down, and seek the joy.  Listening is also a huge goal for me.  I mentioned in another post that I am trying really hard to listen to what my daughter wants to do.  Instead of throwing  her into dance and swim lessons and girls scouts and whatever else comes our way, I asked what she really wanted to do.  She wants to keep doing girl scouts and wants to take a craft class and have time to play at home.  Since there weren’t really any affordable options for kids craft classes (outside of the ones at Michael’s), I chatted with some friends, and we ‘re going to get together once a month for craft time!  A little work on my end, but a big reward for my kiddo and a great excuse to see our friends.  Also in the listening department, I need to do a better job of keeping my lips zipped when others are talking.  My biggest problem is that I jump in too soon trying to solve a problem or finish someone’s idea that I don’t actually let them finish.  This drives some people that I love dearly a bit crazy.  It’s a fault I am aware of, and it is my goal this year to work really hard on focusing and listening (which is amazing, because I ask my daughter to do that all the time!)

2)  Personal.  I want to be less attached to my smartphone–I don’t need to be connected all of the time.  I’m going to set some limits for myself, so that I can really be more “in the moment.”  I also want to read more things that I enjoy.  I branched out this year and read more non-fiction than I have in years and really enjoyed it.  I hope to continue that and add on by finding new blogs and websites to read as well.  I want to keep my life-long-learning going and practice the skills I learned in my photography class and search out some other online or in person classes to take.  A class to learn how to use my sewing machine would be really nice.  I read somewhere (sorry can’t remember where) a post someone wrote about how resolutions don’t work–and therefore she set the goal to try one new thing a month.  I LOVE that goal.  I also hope to try one new thing a month, whether it’s a new recipe, a new color of nail polish, a new class, whatever!  That kind of change can be exciting.  And finally, I want to spend more time with my friends.  We rush and rush and are all so busy, we never seem to have time to see or talk to each other.  I’m hoping that I can change that and see my friends  a bit more often–and I really want to make time for one of my best friends who I haven’t seen in a few years (and she only lives 3 hours away–SHAME ON ME!).

3)  Writing.  I enjoy writing and want to make sure I make the time to do it and have a focus on it.  My writing goals are pretty clear, but the big one I want to really make certain I do is to journal.  I have a journal I keep for my daughter that I haven’t written in since she started kindergarten (crazy, crazy fall semester).  I am going to get caught up and write in it at least once a week from now on.  Also, I plan to keep a one sentence journal where I write down one sentence that sums up my thoughts every day.  Another fun sort of journal project is the photo a day.  This should be pretty easy for me (and a great way to practice my camera skills).  At the end of the year, I want to put them all in a photo book.  And, finally, I have heard of the jar you keep with slips of paper in it for things that happened during the year and then on New Year’s Eve you read all of them.  Love this idea, but I think we’re not going to write one for every day, just for the bigger stuff like lost teeth, last day of kindergarten, birthday parties, etc.

4)  Health.  I need to be healthier–for me and my family.  Long story short, I have a bad knee to due to a car accident (not my fault) and have had trouble doing my normal exercising which has led to weight gain which is in turn even more bad news for my knee.  Grrr.  I created a list of knee friendly exercises, and every morning (at least 5 days a week) I will roll out of bed and start my day off right.  Which is why I need to go to bed on time so I have the energy to be active and eat healthier.  I also plan to track my progress to hold myself more accountable.

5)  My professional goals are not that exciting for anyone but me. I plan to continue some outside committee work and make some changes in my new position.

6)  Organization.  I am pretty happy with what I put in place this year.  I just need to revisit those areas, make sure they are working well, and strive to maintain the order I have put in place.  If I get more sleep and am more active, I’m hoping I will be less likely to let things slide.  Another huge thing is to actually stick to our routines.  Look for more on this next week.  Since our house is smaller and I’ve tackled quite a bit of it, I don’t feel a huge urge to organize everything like I did the past two years.  I do plan though to try and do an organizing project every month–some big, some small.  I’d really like to make my laundry room a little prettier, and I need to figure out some storage solutions for our living room or starters.  Also, I signed up to do a 10 week organizing challenge which will be so much fun (and something new!).  If you want to join, here’s the link


There it is folks, in black and white (and a bunch of other colors)–my goals for 2014.  I’ve share them with you and now I can’t abandon them.  Tracking my progress and quick updates here will keep me in line, I hope.   I am very excited for 2014.  Here’s to a wonderful New Year!

What big plans or goals do you have set for 2014?


Taking a little time to reflect…

This week I plan to spend time with my family and friends and really enjoy the Christmas holiday.  No big projects or plans to speak of.

What I want to do is take a little time each day to revisit places in the house that I have organized or changed over the past year and make sure that everything is working the way I wanted it to, tidy up a few places that may have gotten a little messy during dash and grab moments, and see where I want to make some changes.

All of this will help me put together my goals list for 2014.  I don’t really like the idea of resolutions, because they have never really panned out.  But, I feel like goals are things I can and want to accomplish.  Coming soon, I will post my 2014 goals list which will include not only my home/organization goals but also some personal and professional goals too.

Wishing anyone and everyone a happy holiday season full of friends, family, and love.


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Let it go…

If you are the parent of a small child, chances are you have gone to see the new Disney movie Frozen in the last few weeks.  My daughter has the soundtrack and has been playing and singing the songs non-stop since we saw the movie.  She has even choreographed routines to the songs–which means that some of the songs have been played over twenty times in our house.  To say that in my quiet moments those songs sneak into my head would be a giant understatement.  I can’t get them out of my head.

Which is why the title of this post is what it is.  One of the songs repeats over and over “Let it go” in regards to one of the characters embracing her frosty side.  Those words, while not the same meaning for me, have really resonated in the last week.  With the holidays looming, tons of work projects in process, a bazillion kid related activities, and tons of fun family activities planned, it seems like there is not enough time in the day.  Not to mention the nightly visits from the elf, our 25 days of giving, and even a visit from the tooth fairy thrown in–our plates are pretty full.

Sometimes it can be really hard to get into the moment of life–on a normal day–instead of focusing on what is going to happen next while the thing you are doing is going on.  I am guilty of this more often than I’d like to admit.  We will be in the moment doing some fun outing or activity and my brain is focused three steps ahead on what I need to do to get ready for what happens later or tomorrow instead of really enjoying the here and now.

So, I realized, sometimes I just need to “let it go.”  Though, at times I still find this difficult.  The temptation to be the “perfect” everything is ridiculous and I just need to let it go.

How I’ve let it go in the past week.

1)  Bake sale at daughter’s school.  At first, I just said, I don’t have time for this right now.  I knew I wasn’t going to be able to produce something to the standards of the treats I saw at the last bake sale (we’re talking gourmet goods here in fancy packaging that put my rice krispie treats in sandwich bags to shame).  I didn’t want my baked goods to be stuffed to the back like they were last time and not get sold–I mean what’s the point?  Then, I realized the bake sale was to gather funds for a needy family.  Instant guilt.  So, I thought about what I could realistically handle that was still within my ability and time frame.  So, I bought those pre-cut out cookies with the printed pictures and baked 48 of them, packaged them in festive red and green sandwich bags, and put leftover seals from our Christmas cards on them and called it a day.  I did what I could to support the families in need.  If anyone had issues with what I was able to make-then that’s on them.  Not me.  I just had to let it go.

2)  Ugly sweater day at daughter’s school.  How in the world do you find an “ugly” sweater for a 5 year old girl?  For goodness sake!  I was pretty sure I couldn’t find anything, I didn’t want to spend money on this event, and I didn’t want to alter any of the sweaters she already owns–but I didn’t want her to not be able to participate.  Thank goodness for Pinterest.  I saw on someone’s blog that they had made an ugly skirt instead.  Brilliant.  We had an old skirt that was going to be too small to wear again in the spring, but fit ok now.  I also have a glue gun and a dresser full of craft supplies.  A little imagination and 20 minutes of creation and my daughter had a decorated skirt to wear to school.  She was convinced it wasn’t really “ugly,” so we called it her crazy skirt.  Because I am still a little nuts, the night before I also made a crazy skirt for her elf to wear.  A little felt and craft dresser items, Voila!  Elf skirt.  Both were a success and she received many compliments at school, though they wouldn’t let her be in the ugly sweater picture at school.  Boo!  I knew I couldn’t make the ugly sweater thing happen, but I let it go and went with another frugal and easy option instead.

Our "crazy" skirt...

Our “crazy” skirt…

3)  Christmas shopping.  We usually do Black Friday shopping.  We didn’t this year–we didn’t want to brave the crowds for stuff we didn’t really want and might not even be there when we arrived.  Plus most sales started on Thursday, and we felt it wasn’t right to support companies making workers miss family time on the holiday so others could shop.  We haven’t really done that much in store shopping as parents/family either this year.  Most of my shopping has been done online in the comfort of my jammies from my computer.  So much easier.  I let go the idea that I had to scrounge the stores and sales in person to get thoughtful presents for my family and friends.  Instead, I let my email inbox alert me to offers and took advantage of gift lists from family to search for the just right present.  A few hours of watching tv with the hubby and wrapping presents and that part of the holiday stress is mostly over.  Just waiting on a few more things to arrive.  Yeah!

Our elf even got in on the action...

Our elf even got in on the action…

4)  Plans.  I have tried really hard not to plan every single moment of our free time.  This is an ongoing goal for me.  We are working on having more time at home together and only picking those activities that mean something to us.  There are a ton of free, fun, interesting things going on about town.  We don’t have to do ALL of them.  We have our traditions that we stick to and enjoy, and sometimes all that other stuff just gets in the way making celebrating the holidays less fun.  There are so many things we can do at home that are just as entertaining.  Just let some of that other stuff go!

We did crafts one night at home as a way to spend time together.  I need to make somethings for work colleagues, so kiddo made fun tree pics!

We did crafts one night at home as a way to spend time together. I need to make somethings for work colleagues, so kiddo made fun tree pics!

5)  I can’t do everything for everyone all of the time and remain sane and healthy.  There are times when I have to say no.  (If I write this down, maybe I’ll actually follow that advice.)  It can be incredibly hard to turn down or postpone someone’s needs or requests or what we feel is IMPORTANT!  But, sometimes we just have to let it go and focus on what we find to be most important.

What have you “let go” of this holiday season?

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Taking a little me time…

I don’t really have any pictures to post this week.  Instead, I’m going to write a little bit about something I have been really thinking about lately.  I am a working mom to a little lovely who just started kindergarten.  During the fall semester, I also teach a university class part time.  And, I started a new full-time job this school year.  And, my husband is working full-time and attending grad school.  And, I helped my mom and brother both move to new apartments and helped my dad get my grandmother’s house ready to sell.  Plus, I am on several committees and boards in my professional field that take up a bit of my “free” time.  Basically, the majority of my time is spent prioritizing how I am going to meet the needs of others.  And, I am really happy in the job(s) I have, with the commitments to my family, and my general nature of wanting to help others.  I’ve always been the type of person (as a lot of moms are) that puts the needs of others before myself.  For sure my daughter dresses much better than I do, and I know that frequently the plans I have take a back burner to whatever is needed by someone I love.  And, I am 100% honest in saying that most of the time I am very happy doing that.  Seeing my loved ones, coworkers, and friends happy really and truly does create happiness for me too.

Sunshine & Smiles

Credit: Nanagyei – from Flickr

But, sometimes we all need to take a step back and say, if I keep going at the pace I am going without any thought to my own needs and desires, I will become a shell of my former self.  That may be exaggerating a bit, but you get the idea.  It sort of came to me that by not thinking of myself at all, I was doing a disservice those around me as well as myself.  I can’t be the best me for others if I do not devote time to myself.  I read a book recently called 18 Minutes: Find Your Focus, Master Distraction, and Get the Right Things done by Peter Bregman.  This is a great quick read, and I highly recommend it.  I had several major takeaways from this book, what it mainly did was help me refocus the way I think about my life.  I like The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin for the same reason.  While I am generally very happy with my life, I sometimes forget to take the time to enjoy that happiness.  And, one of the things Peter Bregman reminded me to do was to focus on my goals–not just for work or my family but for myself as well.  So, I decided to key in on a few “just for me” areas that I thought could use some assistance and have promised to devote more energy to them.


1)  Writing.  I have always loved writing–in many different forms.  As a kid I wrote fictional stories, and as a teen I wrote for my high school paper.  As an adult, I have taken up several types of writing.  I write this blog for one.  I’m not sure how many people actually read it (which was never my actual goal), but I enjoy the act of writing it.  What I have decided to to is to make the commitment to post once a week and to promote my blog.  So, if you happen to be here reading this, you probably found me via a link party.  I had no idea what these were at first, but I realized I can get people to actually visit my blog this way (and I get to see their cool stuff too!).  And, let’s be honest, checking your stats is a lot more if you know people have actually seen what you’ve spent your time writing, editing, and adding cool photos and graphics to.

I also have been published over a dozen times for journals in my profession.  I really enjoy sharing my ideas and seeing them end up in print.  I want to continue to do this and actually set a goal of a certain number of publications per year.  I’m not sure how many just yet.  And, this November for the first time I joined the NaNoWriMo challenge.  National Novel Writing Month challenges people to write a 50,000 word piece of fiction.  I have started many “books” in my life, but I have never finished one.  I am proud to say that this November I wrote an over 50,000 word book with a clear plot line and ending.   Actually setting the goal for myself was not something I think I could have done on my own.  But the act of posting my words every few days and striving toward a goal pushed me to accomplish something I never thought I would be able to do.  Thanks to NaNoWriMo, I actually do feel like a winner–as the giant graphic below proclaims me to be.  My next goal is to edit the book and see if I want to go any further with it from there.  I look forward to the editing process starting after the holidays.

2)  Photography.  Another hobby of mine is photography.  My hubby gave me a lovely Cannon digital DSLR camera a few years ago as a gift.  While I get much enjoyment out of taking pictures with it, I know that I am not using it to its full potential.  It has always been a goal of mine to learn to use it properly.  I even tried to take a couple hours long community college class to learn more.  I left it feeling like I knew even less than when I walked in the door.  Then, I stumbled upon the fact that I can take FREE online courses in photography through my public library and  Four weeks into the 6 week course I feel like I understand much better how my camera works and what I need to do to take better pictures.  I just need to find the time to do practice what I’ve learned.  That is another goal of mine (especially when the weather isn’t frigid and snowy as it is right now).  In the future, I hope to take a few more photography courses and a few Adobe Photoshop classes as well.  I am hoping these skills will not only improve photos for my family, but also for this blog.

3)  Friends.  Spending time with friends is vitally important to happiness, I believe.  And, being able to spend time with girlfriends is something that helps all moms stay sane.  While I really enjoy the play date time I have with friends where out kids get to also be friends, there’s something to be said for that just grown-ups, no spouses, girl time.  Almost ten years ago when I started my first full-time teaching job, I was lucky enough to be welcomed into a group of friends in my building.  A decade later, we are all working in different jobs in different educational settings (still in the same city), and we are all still good friends.  We’ve all got kids now and many outside of work commitments, so its hard to find the time and the finances sometimes to get together.  What we’ve stumbled upon are Groupon/Living Social Dates.  I keep my eyes open for some sort of deal on a fun outing–usually where we make something–and we all agree whether or not we want to participate.  Since we have to schedule our crafting session with the vendor, there is a guaranteed time we will all get to hang out together.  So far, we’ve painted pottery, painted on canvas (while drinking wine.  This is a new trend that caught me by surprise), and our next adventure involves jewelry making.  Our outings are frugal and entertaining, and every time I look at what we make, I am reminded of my friends.  Plus, we get to hang out just the four of us and really chat, because typically these sorts of outings don’t require you to sit and be quiet like a movie would.  Total win-win in my book.  We still get together with the kids and the spouses, but these “dates” are just for us.  I want to try and do these once very few months if possible.  We’ve even talked about setting up our own version of the painting party at one of our houses.

My painting masterpiece…

Taking the time to set goals for me that go beyond fitness, professional success, and wife/motherhood is a promise I want to make to myself for the near and far future.  After all, I want my daughter to be able to make time for herself someday too.

What do you do to take care of you?

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