My Small Steps: March 20-26, 2017

As I write this, I am sniffling, sneezing, and blowing my nose constantly. E has infected me with the germ that kept her out of school all week last week. Ugh, I don’t have time for this! On the upside, working from home means I can be as whiney and loud as I want (I do not sneeze or blow my nose like a lady…), and I can get feel-better cuddles from the dogs any time I want.

Last week, despite unknowingly incubating The Germ, was pretty awesome:

FINDING JOY IN SMALL THINGS

weekly-joys

Morning on the lake, cherry blossoms, & squirrel scouting dogs

more goat babies and desperate goat mama

I was back at the goat farm on Thursday evening for another volunteer shift. There were many, many more babies, but only three that needed to be bottle fed this time. I am happy to say my confidence as a nurturer of all things great and small was restored, as they all drank eagerly until their little tummies were full. Did you know that goat kids have baby breath like puppies? And it’s nearly as intoxicating!

There were two more new(ish) babies in the field…

two-new-goat-babies

I want them!

…and one poor mama who waddled after us all the way back from the milking parlor. I can’t wait to go back this week and see how many she had packed in there!

I have to admit, as much as I love going to the farm and am so grateful for the opportunity, there is no small part of me that cringes with impatience knowing that the dream of owning my own farm is still so far away. But I also know that making space in my life to keep the dream alive even in this small way is ultimately benefiting me by keeping the fires of motivation stoked and burning strong.

a bit of the farm comes home

On Sunday I took E to visit a friend’s farm.

pigs-and-chickens

And on that farm, there were some pigs…

E fell in love with a farm dog…

i-love-lucy

…and I fell in love with something small and fluffy. This little girl came home with me!

lapis-the-jersey-wooley

Meet Lapis, a 4 month old Jersey Wooley

STILL WAY TOO MUCH EATING OUT

There really isn’t too much to say here. I did not end up getting to the grocery store until the weekend. Honestly, grocery shopping is at the bottom of my list of things I ever want to do. I’d even rather do dishes and laundry! I actually sent J & E to do it yesterday, and they did a remarkably good job, so I think I will just work on delegating that weekly task to them!

ounce by ounce

I didn’t make any big changes in my diet last week (see above), but I did make an effort to get my body moving a little more.

I walked around the lake twice, went to the barn twice and rode and did barn chores, and carried a LOT of milk buckets at the goat farm.

I find that when I work on adding exercise into my routine, a healthier diet sort of falls into place. Also, in the spirit of small steps, I have decided this week (especially seeing as how I am sick) to simply concentrate on adding protein to my breakfast.

Being that I am a very visual person, I also added two trackers to my planner:

planner-tracker-pages

The habit tracker on the left is a printable available from Money Saving Mom. (I added the handwritten months and then downsized it for my A5 planner.)

I created the miles tracker on the right. It actually has 1000 circles waiting to be filled in this year, so feel free to chuckle about my 1% progress thus far!

Just from adding some activity to my week, I was rewarded with the loss of 16 ounces. All things considered, this is a big win and I’ll take it!

dollars and sense: the bigger picture

Last week I created my budget for April and also tried a new exercise to get more of a “big picture” view. I annualized my current and “one-year goal” budgets to see exactly what I need to be making to cover not only my anticipated expenses, but the things I want to have in my life like travel and my future farm.

I can definitely see areas where my spending is not in alignment with my priorities. I also have a better idea of what changes I need to start making to reach my goals, both in extra income and reduced expenses.

Some of you are going to roll your eyes at me when I tell you that this numbers geek finds budgeting fun, and some of you are nodding your head and thinking, “I know, right?!” Honestly, getting serious about creating my budget and tracking my expenses has been the absolute best thing I have done for myself this year!

overall…

…it’s been another good week. I’m continuing to exercise my “small steps” muscle and build on small successes. I am filling my life with things that make me happy and trying not to eat too much chocolate dealing with the things that don’t.

How is your week going? 

My Small Steps: March 13-19, 2017

Since part of the reason I started this blog was for accountability in my own journey, I am going to start posting weekly progress reports. They will probably be pretty boring, so read at your own risk, but hopefully I will be able to look back and see that the small, consistent steps I took over time made a huge impact.

FARMGIRL LIZ FINDS A FARM

goat-farm-collage

The big highlight of the past week was my first volunteer shift at a goat dairy farm here in NC. This amazing opportunity came across my Facebook page about a month ago, and I knew I had to do it. Basically, I get to go feed and cuddle baby goats once a week. I get to clean up after them too, but to me, that’s part of the charm (really, I swear). Not only because it’s a good workout and way more fun than going to the gym, but because I get to learn first hand what it is like to raise goats, which are on my list of potentials for my own future farm.

I got up at around 5:45 on Saturday morning so I would have time to feed and walk the dogs, grab a bite to eat, and not be late for my 7:00am shift. It takes a LOT for me to get out of bed that early, but even the light rain did not dampen my excitement. It is about a 45 minute drive up to the farm from where I live, and I did end up being a few minutes late (this would not surprise anyone who knows me).

Over the next 3 hours, I got to help bottle feed a group of about a dozen babies (I was kind of surprised and discouraged that I had a hard time with this, but I blame the bottle), muck out the pens the babies are kept in, and then go out to the field and visit with a brand new set of triplets born just about an hour earlier and a set of twins born the night before.

I spent the most of the rest of the day in a happily exhausted heap on the couch, reading, napping, and catching up on tv shows.

FINALLY, A WALK AROUND THE LAKE

walk-around-the-lake

I was so excited to move to my apartment on the lake last month, but since then I have barely had made enough time to enjoy it. Between my still painful broken toe (four weeks later) and the hissy fit Mother Nature has been throwing for most of this month, the “daily walks” I had envisioned myself taking have happened exactly zero times. Until Saturday. After the rainy morning, the weather turned absolutely beautiful just long enough for me to convince E to take a walk with me.

I really want to get into the habit of walking in the morning, after dropping E off at school and before sitting down to work. Usually I am just too tired after work and it’s too easy to skip it. Lately, mornings have been rough for me – probably because of the gluten coma I have been putting myself in on a daily basis.  Also, because my expectations for myself are (as usual) just too high. The weather for the upcoming week looks more promising, so I will renew my determination to get out and walk.

WAY, WAY, WAY TOO MUCH EATING OUT

J was out of town for spring break last week, so it was just E and I at the house. Every day I planned to go grocery shopping, and every day I put it off. We ended up eating out nearly every day, which was super bad for my budget and super bad for my health.

Better choices next week for sure – in fact, I am making a meal plan and grocery list today so I can hit the store on the way home from work, BEFORE my butt hits the couch!

DOWN-SIZe me

downsize-me

I set a HUGE goal of losing 100 pounds this year, and I have lost exactly four so far. Actually, I lost six and then gained two back. It is time to get with the program – which program, I am actually not sure of just yet, but at the very least, I need to get my head out of the sand and start weighing in weekly. (I am not quite ready to share my weight just yet!)

For about two weeks at the beginning of the month, I was doing pretty well on a “reset” diet. I gave up gluten, dairy, sugar, processed foods, and no alcohol. The processed foods were the first to creep back in, in the form of Luna Bars for breakfast and snacks. Then some frozen lunches, because I wasn’t taking time to pack anything. And then C came home to celebrate her 19th birthday, and all bets were off.

I don’t know if the devil wears Prada, but I know he comes bearing gluten.

I really don’t know if I should try it again, or just go for a more “everything in moderation” approach. I guess I better decide soon, since I’m going grocery shopping today!

Also health-related, my sleep schedule has been awful the past few weeks. I am back in my “night-owl” mode, which is making it really hard to get up and get going in the morning. Then they cycle keeps repeating, because I am catching naps during the day and then staying up late again to either get things done or just vegging in front of the tv (usually with an unhealthy snack or three) because I’m not tired come

DOLLARS AND CENTS: BUDGET REVIEW

I have been doing great with the budgeting and tracking expenses. I usually sit down every Friday and enter my transactions into QuickBooks, run a P&L, and update my budget sheet. I created a spreadsheet in Excel based on this free printable from Frugal Fanatic, but prefer to print it out at the beginning of each month and update it by hand. I think there’s a lot to be said for the physical act of writing. I also love to cross things off with a fat sharpie, so I use sticky notes to allocate paychecks and other income to different expenses.

I have now set nearly everything up to save, transfer, and pay automatically. I currently have a rather convoluted system of bank accounts which could probably be simplified, but for now it is working for me and it feels amazing to know that my rent and expenses are covered each month without me really having to think about it.

Overview of March so far:

  • I have already spent about 4x my eating out budget for the month
  • I had an unexpected charge related to my bookkeeping business – thankfully this is a 5-payday month, so it was covered
  • I took a leap of faith and signed up for FinCon Expo 2017 in October – that was an expense I hadn’t budgeted for but an opportunity I didn’t want to pass up and glad I could fit in
  • I am over budget on utilities because I am paying for the apartment and the house – hopefully not for too much longer! I also had to play catch up with the phone bill this month
  • Budget for gas needs to be adjusted to account for my weekly trips to the goat farm – totally worth it 🙂
  • Ethel, my soul car, adventure-mobile and partner to trailer Lucille, has a failing engine. I have no idea yet how I am going to handle this.

ON THE NIGHTSTAND

on-the-nightstand

As usual, my ADD brain can’t settle for just one book at a time. What with the move and everything, I am way behind on my goal of 100 books in 2017. Less Netflix, more reading! Here’s what’s currently on my nightstand:

Outlander, Diana Gabaldon
Save Your Retirement, Frank Armstrong &
Paul Brown
The Automatic Millionaire, David Bach
An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United
States, Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz
Pound Foolish, Helaine Olen
Saving Capitalism, Robert Reich
White Trash, Nancy Isenberg

Overall, I would say it’s been a good week. Nearly three months into the year and I do feel like I’m getting my sh*t together, knocking out some goals and working hard on the others. I just need to work on scaling back my expectations and taking small steps…you’d think small steps would be easier, right?

How is your week going?

 

 

Mindblowing Money Mindset Shift

From the time I first created ledgers for each of my debts and expenses at the age of 21 and eagerly marked my progress line by line as I paid them off, I have been obsessed with personal finance. I have read endless “how to” books, but have never able to make real, lasting progress with my own finances.

It was only recently that I finally realized what my money mindset has been and how it has affected my entire life.

Our money mindset is basically a filter through which which we see the world. It drives our actions and behavior even when those actions seem confusing or ridiculous to us if we aren’t aware of the filter.

One of my goals for the year is to create monthly budgets and track my spending. I have done both in the past, but never put the two pieces together, which of course is necessary to actually evaluate the results and make positive changes. Can you say denial?

About halfway through January I was updating my budget sheet with my spending to date. It came as a bit of a shock to me to see in black and white that I actually have enough money to pay my bills and expenses with money left over at the end of the month, when I make good spending decisions.

A few days later I was having a conversation with a friend. We were complaining about money (as is often the case) and I casually made the comment,

“I’m so tired of being broke.”

Holy mindblowing light bulb moment, Batman. I am NOT broke! I have been in the past – desperately, terrifyingly broke and unable to cover my most basic expenses, but this hasn’t been the case for a long time. But I have been carrying that poverty mindset for so long that I keep creating situations where I come up short each month, and then wear that fear and frustration like a comfortable old sweatshirt.

I had a lot of mixed emotions in that moment: finally I know what’s been holding me back, but why, oh why, did it take me so long to figure it out? The tears flowed as I ran through all the “if only’s” in my mind.

I have to remind myself, better late than never, and it’s never too late!

The shift also brought joy and hope with the realization that I can now move forward confidently and competently toward achieving my biggest dreams, because I won’t be shooting myself in the foot every month.

You better believe I am 100% on top of my budget and spending now! I analyze every dollar I spend to make sure it is getting me closer to my goals and look for ways to make better choices:

Can I get up 5 minutes earlier to make lunch so I don’t have to run out and buy something?

Can I throw something in the crockpot before I leave for work so I am not tempted to grab a pizza on the way home when I am hungry and tired?

Do I really need that super cute (fill in the blank) when I am trying to save money and reduce clutter?

I feel like this revelation and mindset shift has not only put me on track to have a great year, but will also have a huge impact on the rest of my life. As is often the case, something that is so simple in theory can be difficult in practice, but the rewards are worth the time and effort.

Here are some great resources I found to help you figure out how your money mindset may be holding you back and how to change it:

How Your Money Mindset Affects You and How to Change It (The Every Girl)

6 Ways to Instill a Positive Money MIndset (Mint)

5 Money MIndset Hacks to Explode Your Income (Forbes)

Have you ever stopped to think about your money mindset? What revelations have you had?

 

 

 

“New Year, New You” – My Goals for 2017

I stopped setting New Year’s “Resolutions” a long time ago. Like most everyone else, I was gung-ho for about a month, then burned myself out and returned to my old ways. Last year I really didn’t consciously set any goals because I was going through one of the toughest times of my life, and come the end of the year, it showed.

This year, I have already created a list of things I want to accomplish before I turn 50, so those are the big things I’m working toward. Achieving all the things on that ambitious list is going to require a lot of planning, commitment and follow through from me.

The follow through is where I fall through.

My big plan is to take tiny steps every day. I know from experience that tiny wins lead to bigger and bigger wins. There was so much back-sliding in 2016 that I just need to accept where I am today and take the first tiny steps.

My biggest obstacle right now is my weight and my health, so that is my primary focus and top priority. (Chalene Johnson calls this your key priority). Never before have I been truly scared about what could happen to me if I don’t get these things under control. Furthermore, many of my goals – in fact, the entire lifestyle I desire – require me to be fit and healthy. I also know from experience that when I am feeling good physically, I feel much better mentally.

My Goals for 2017

Health & Fitness

1. Lose 100 pounds – This is extremely ambitious, I know, especially since it has been difficult for me in the past to lose any weight at all. What I want above all is to be off medication, no longer at risk for diabetes and other weight-related risks and illnesses, to feel strong and comfortable in my body, and to look good in clothes. Weight and measurements are just one metric I will track.

2. Walk/hike/run 1000 miles – We are moving to an apartment soon that is right on a lake with a 2.5 mile path around it, so I intend to do a lot of laps around that lake! We are also blessed with tons of beautiful trails in our area, and I am excited to get back to hiking longer distances on them as I get fitter.

Physical Environment

3. Declutter mercilessly! This is not the normal annual “get organized” resolution. I want my living space to feel clean and simple and not take all day Saturday to clean and tidy. When we were looking for apartments, I wanted to leave all my stuff behind and move into every model I saw! I am tired of feeling stressed and anxious because I am literally drowning in “stuff.”

4. Create a home. I don’t know why it was so hard for me to do this in our house, but I want to create a real home in our apartment and fill it with friends and family.

Family & Friends

5. Make new friends. I have really isolated myself throughout the past year, which I tend to do when I am stressed out  and depressed. It takes a lot to get me to leave the house for social reasons when I’m feeling that way (and also, when I have nothing to wear because I’ve outgrown all the “fat” clothes I bought last year!). This year, I want to connect with people who have the same interests as me and make a real effort to make new friends.

6. Have friends over once a month (at least) – Since I will be creating a decluttered and comfortable, welcoming home, this should be easy!

Personal Growth

7. Read 100 books – I am an avid reader, but also a little ADD about it. I generally have a few things I am reading at any given time, but often don’t finish many of them. This year, I want to to make reading a daily habit, and also make implementation of what I’ve learned a habit as well. I’ll be keeping a reading list here.

8. Develop one new habit each month – Instead of trying to change everything at once, which is proven to not work at all, I want to work on developing one new habit each month. My first habit of the year is getting up when my alarm goes off without hitting snooze!

Finances

9. Increase income by 25% – Last year I pretty much completely stopped seeking new clients for my bookkeeping business, and in fact let a few go when “the shit hit the fan.” This year, I would like to build it up again, as well as start working on more passive sources of income.

10. Budget and track expenses monthly – One thing I have realized recently is that my mindset has been keeping my finances in turmoil, and that I actually have more money than I believe I do. This year, I am going to get serious about telling my money where to go and being on top of things so I can make wise decisions and achieve my goals.

Career & Purpose

11. Become location independent – Because I have some ambitious travel plans for this year and beyond, I need to start transitioning from on-site to remote clients in my bookkeeping business. This is going to require stepping out of my comfort zone in a big way, but it will be worth it when I am able to travel and make a living at the same time!

12. Earn a profit from my blog – I would eventually like to monetize my blog. Initially, I had this great three year plan, and then I got all caught up with shiny objects and FOMO, and it really messed with my head. For now, I want to concentrate on finding my voice and my audience, and writing consistently, but by the end of the year I would like to be in the black!

Joy & PassIon

13. Complete project 365 – I have wanted to do this for so many years, and I just never fully committed. I guess as my kids have gotten older and I am no longer the mom chasing them with a camera, I have stopped taking as many pictures and honestly, don’t even know what to photograph any more. This year I want to (1) get re-acquainted with my DSLR, and (2) finish a damn project for once!

Edited 2/3/17: I have decided that Project 365 is more something I feel I “should” do, having attempted it and never completed it in the past, than something I really want to do, so I’m taking the pressure off myself and letting it go!

14. Fix up Lucille and travel – Hitting the road in a camper for an extended period of time is a dream I’ve had for a long, long time. It’s been scaled down a bit with the purchase of our 16′ vintage trailer, but that has also put it within the realm of possibility. I have several short trips planned over the summer, and then the big goal is to hit the road for several months in September! First I just need to make Lucille livable…

Charity

15. Donate 10% of all income to charity – I started small last year, with just 1% per month, but this year I want to increase my giving each month until I reach my goal of 10%. If I can get my finances and budget on track, this is totally doable!

Whew! This is gonna be a big year! Lots of commitment and work ahead, but I’m ready and excited!

What are your goals for 2017?

 

 

 

Happy New Year

OMG, I am so glad that 2016 is over. I have so many friends who feel the same way! I’m pretty quite sure it was the worst year of my life, and I have had some years I was glad to get behind me, let me tell you!

I was really excited about my plan to ring in the new year by creating a new vision board and working through my 2017 Create Your Shining Year workbook (which is a literally a piece of artwork hand illustrated by Leonie Dawson), but I ended up sick in bed instead.

Fitting way to end 2016. But I shall not dwell!

I have big plans for 2017! Despite last year being very tough emotionally, I did gain a lot of insight into what I want in life – as well as what I don’t want, and this year I am going to start making it happen.

I am trying not to fall into the trap of giant thinking, because I know that slow and steady wins the race. That’s why I’m taking my time putting my goals and plans together.

Another trap I fall into frequently is analysis paralysis. I am a learner – I love to soak up knowledge. But then I get stuck in overwhelm and fail to take action. Either that or I try and take massive action, and end up ping ponging back and forth between frenetic and unproductive activity and laying in bed feeling like a failure.

Not this year. 2017 is my year. I’m going to get my shit together.

This year I am the turtle. Slow and steady. The finish line is mine!

What kind of year did you have in 2016? What are some of your goals for 2017?

50×50 Success Story #2

Ever since I got my JEEP, I’ve been casually checking out used RVs. Meaning, when I’m bored I jump on Craigslist and see what’s out there (even though pretty much everything road-worthy is out of my price range) and dream about traveling.

Well, last week, I stumbled across the perfect camper: it is absolutely adorable, affordable, and maybe best of all…the perfect Pinterest project!

We are going to work on it over the next few months, take her on some test runs over the summer, and hopefully hit the road long term in the fall.

Meet Lucille, our vintage “canned ham” 1961 Mallard:

lucille

She’s not much inside…yet…but I can’t wait to get started making her into our home away from home. Project updates to come!

Monthly Goals: December 2016

December Goals

(This post may contain affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links and make a purchase, I may receive a commission on the amount of your purchase. I only ever link to products that I have tried, loved, and would recommend to my mother!)

december GOALS

With the holidays coming up and the year racing to a close, I’m going to try and keep it simple this month (really!). I am also excited about taking a weekend to myself (hopefully at the beach) to do some heavy planning for 2017. I can’t believe 2016 is almost over!!

healthfitness_long

  • Wear FitBit and record step count every day
  • Drink 3L of water every day
  • Get to bed by 11:30 on weeknights

physicalenvironment_long

  • Get rid of 100 things
  • Shine my sink every night 
  • Meal plan & shop weekly

familyfriends_long

  • Spend Christmas with family – be totally present and grateful

personalgrowth_long

finances_long

  • Track every penny spent in real time (not once a week)
  • Stay within budget
  • Earn an extra $100 this month

careerpurpose_long

  • Work on blog 1 hour each day

joypassion_long

  • Work on 50×50 journal
  • Take the Big Red Dog hiking at least twice 

contributiongiving_long

  • Donate 2% of all income in December

Now you: What are some of your goals for the month of December? Share them in the comments!

A Productive Day

Coming back from a long weekend holiday is always hard, especially when you spent most of that weekend flattening the couch pillows while binge watching Gilmore Girls. I probably should have dragged myself outside for some sun and exercise, but it was disgustingly warm and humid here in NC. Sorry – at the end of November, I really want some winterish weather. Humidity and I do not get along.

sloth-359217_1920

Me = Sloth

Monday was back to work. I work onsite a few days a week for one of my clients, which I thought for a long time when I started my business was exactly what I didn’t want. But, it turns out I am not very productive when I work at home – if I am working, I feel like I should be cleaning, and vice versa. Plus, the couch. And Netflix.

So, knowing I do better working elsewhere, I have tried to set a schedule for myself that gets me out of the house every day.

I have not been getting out of the house every day.

I am not a morning person, and on days I don’t have to be somewhere by a certain time, it is too easy to just run my daughter to school in yoga pants and a t-shirt. I always intend to come home and get dressed and go somewhere, but the couch. And Netflix.

Yesterday (Tuesday) I had my once a month coaching group, where I usually whine talk about how much I have not accomplished over the previous month. We meet at 9:30 at a church that has an awesome workspace. I ended up staying for nearly six hours after the meeting was over.

It was awesome! I always feel great when I get a lot accomplished – who doesn’t?!

I know to some people, this may seem ridiculously pathetic, but for me it is a huge win, and I am going to work hard at keeping that momentum going.

Impuls!

Small steps, small steps, small steps.

 

November Goals: Review

NOVembeR GOALS – HOW DID I DO?

(This post may contain affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links and make a purchase, I may receive a commission on the amount of your purchase. I only ever link to products that I have tried, loved, and would recommend to my mother!)

  • Wear FitBit and record step count every day. I did this every day except for a few days when it was dead and I left it at work charging.
  • Drink 3L of water every day. Didn’t do this very consistently because I was caffeinating myself way too much.
  • Get to bed by 11:30 on weeknights. I did a pretty good job of this, although I didn’t actually track it. Definitely still working on developing an Evening Routine.
  • Get rid of 100 things. I made a huge GCF run, and my C took several boxes of her things when she came to visit.
  • Add ONE thing that I absolutely love that makes me insanely happy. I didn’t buy anything this month because we are concentrating on downsizing, so I am still calling this a win.
  • Frame & hang chore chart. Nope. This is typical of my inability to finish things.
  • Shine my sink every night. Nope. Nope. Nope. Big fail. However, I did get rid of all the extra cups, bowls, and plates in the cupboards and institute a 1-per-person, clean-it-yourself rule. 
  • Meal plan & shop online at WalMart. I did this! We did not actually make every meal on the plan and there was a lot more eating out that I would have liked, but I am developing the habit. I even taught E, my 13 year old, to make a few things!
  • Invite friends over for a fire pit. Nope. Turns out our firepit is rusted out on the bottom.
  • Spend Thanksgiving with family – be totally present and grateful. We had an awesomely relaxed and wonderful Thanksgiving. My cup runneth over.
  • Implement Crystal Paine’s Make Over Your Evenings course. Still working on it. As an ADD mom of an ADHD daughter, routines in our house are very difficult to establish. I will keep working on it, because they are also very necessary.
  • Read a personal development book. Nope, but I have some new books on my Kindle I am very excited about!
  • Track every penny spent in real time (not once a week). I tried out several apps to help me with this. I started with one called Spending, but I wanted to also integrate an envelope style budget. Mvelopes wouldn’t link to my main bank account, so I am using Goodbudget, which I am liking so far. Through the website, I can import transactions from my bank, but I prefer to enter them manually at the end of each day so I really get a feel for how many there are and how much I am spending.
  • Earn an extra $100 this month. I have a pile of things that need to be photographed and listed for sale, but I have not gotten around to it yet.
  • Continue to read and implement Building a Framework. Finding out my dad had lung cancer and some other things kind of derailed my blogging efforts this month.
  • Brainstorm and plan editorial calendar for the rest of 2016. See above.
  • Post at least three times each week. Nope.
  • Start promoting blog. Nope again.
  • Plan & schedule vision board workshop. Nope
  • Visit Nash at least once a week. Nope
  • Take the JEEP four wheeling at the beach. Nope
  • Work on 50×50 journal. Nope
  • Take the Big Red Dog hiking at least twice. We only went once, when C was in town, and it was great! Need to get off my ass and do this weekly.
  • Donate 1% of all income in November. Yes! Normally I would keep this a private thing, but this time I am going to share my cause. If I could physically be in North Dakota to stand with them, I would, but this is the best I can do right now. #IStandWithStandingRock

With Christmas bearing down and lots of fun year-end accountant-y things going on in December, my list will be a whole lot shorter. In fact, I think they are going to be a whole lot shorter going forward overall, because it’s depressing to review at the end of the month and have so many fails! It’s all part of the process, right?


How to Bounce Back When the Punches Keep Coming

How to Bounce Back When the Punches Just Keep Coming

Sometimes life is hard. Like, really hard. Lately I’ve been feeling like one of those old punching balloon toys I had as a child…I’m up, I’m down, I’m up, I’m down. My life has become a Chumba Wumba song, except I’m starting to have a really hard time getting up again.

In all honesty, 2016 has been a really shitty year. Actually, it started just about exactly a year ago, when someone very close to me attempted suicide followed by rehab through the holidays. The first part of 2016 was spent dealing with another attempt, more hospitalizations and a rehab center 10 hours away.

My 18-year old daughter left the nest, long before I was ready for her to go. She now lives 5 hours away, and FaceTime just doesn’t cut it. This mama needs real life hugs.

My oldest daughter and I were both in car accidents which totaled our cars and caused my insurance to more than double, when it was already insanely expensive due to two inexperienced drivers on the policy.

My dad was diagnosed with lung cancer. Not only did I have to deal with the shock of his illness, but the fear that arose in me as a former smoker myself.

As you can imagine, this deeply affected my life on all levels: physically, emotionally, mentally, financially.

My cortisol levels are off the charts and I am tired all. the. time.

My depression and anxiety have gotten worse, despite being on medication to control it.

I have trouble concentrating and staying motivated.

I have gained so much weight and I am borderline diabetic.

My finances are a mess and we are now looking to downsize from a house to an apartment so maybe I can sleep at night without visions of mortgage payments and expensive home repairs dancing in my head.

I see everything, even the things that are most meaningful and important to me, through a haze of exhaustion and wonder how the hell I will ever get anything done.

I thought starting this blog would help motivate me to start working toward goals I have been dreaming about forever by taking even the smallest steps and celebrating the tiniest achievements, but some days, getting out of bed is my biggest win.

The upcoming holidays are not improving the situation, although I am grateful that my kids are older and that I have, over the last several years, impressed on them that the important thing is celebrating with family, not the best decorated house or the gifts stacked under the tree.

I will say that given the last year, I am so very grateful for everything I have. Being grateful helps a lot. In years past I would have been flattened by everything that’s been thrown at me in the last 12 months, and I am proud that I am still standing, and that I have kept my sense of humor throughout it all.

But.

Sometimes it is hard to look at “normal” (i.e. not depressed and anxious) people who are pursuing their dreams and making progress and not feel that I am somehow “damaged” as I crawl back into my shell surrounded by the total chaos that my home has become, trying not to once again shoot myself in the foot and sabotage any progress I have made. And yes, I have even thrown out that horrible and totally pointless question to the universe on occasion…”Why me?!”

I know I am not the only one having an exceptionally bad year (I really think it all started with the loss of David Bowie, but what do I know), so I thought I would share the resources I found for coping with difficult times when you suffer from depression, anxiety, or other mental disorders. And for the “normal” people in my life (and yours), maybe this will help you understand why “getting some fresh air” is not the most helpful advice.

You can find all the following links Pinned here, and I will add more over time as I find them.

11 Things to Do When You Feel Overwhelmed from Christina at Embracing Simple – although not specific to dealing with depression, these are very helpful tips for anyone feeling overwhelmed. She offers a free download, which I will be printing and keeping in the front of my planner as a go-to reminder.

The Clutter-Depression-Anxiety Cycle: How to Stop It from Rachel at Nourishing Minimalism – THIS! THIS! THIS! Clutter and chaos is a constant struggle for me. We recently went to look at a potential apartment community, and when I walked into the model I just wanted to leave all my crap stuff behind and move right in. In all honestly, I am really looking forward to being forced to downsize and start fresh, but obviously that’s not an option for everyone.

Six Ways to Be Productive When You’re Depressed by Katie at The Femme-inist – These are great tips. Getting out of the house definitely helps me be more productive (I’m writing this from Starbucks!) so I do try my best to get up and moving and out of the house first thing. You know what they say, an object in motion… I also love the “work in 20/10s” tip – this works! I got it from FlyLady, and I use a timer (works great for motivating my littlest munchkin, too). Great advice here.

How to Lazy-Proof Your Day by Andie – Before I was diagnosed with depression in my mid-20s, I was criticized by my parents for being lazy. That label sticks in my head to this day, even though I know I am not lazy at all. As Andie so perfectly puts it, “I know that the numbness, the lack of motivation, and the general lack of movement is a biological and cognitive predicament, not a character flaw,” but it can still be hard to overcome the guilt of feeling “lazy.” Looks like I need to step it up on developing my morning routine!

44 Everyday Victories for Someone with Anxiety – The struggle is real.

28 Ways to Bounce Back When Everything Goes Wrong at Mind Body Green – I will also be printing out this list of dos and don’ts to keep close at hand.

Productivity and Depression: A Guide at Ravishly – I love that the first thing I see on this page is “Sometimes it is necessary to have days of doing nothing but staying in bed and taking care of you,” because oh, the guilt. A few tips for managing depression which definitely help.

Well, I got a lot of ideas and motivation from reading these posts, and I’ve added some other things to my Pinterest board as well. I hope they were helpful to you as well.

What do you do when you are feeling overwhelmed or struggling to cope with negative things in your life?