Hello! Welcome to the last post of 2019 for my monthly goal-setting series. If this December goals post is your first visit here, welcome! Back in July I decided to set three specific goals for myself each month through the end of this year. My objective was to be more intentional (my chosen word of the year for 2019) in my day-to-day life. This series is designed to share those goals with you as well as to provide me with more monthly accountability.
Wow. It’s December 2019.
It seems so wild that we are already coming to the end of another epic year. I am in shock thinking about how it is only a month until a whole new decade begins. 2020 sounds so strangely futuristic to me. As a little girl, I imagined “the future” would be just like the cartoon – The Jetsons (definitely dating myself here!). With aerospace cars, talking dogs, and robotic housekeepers. I’m pretty sure I couldn’t even dream any further than the year 2000 at the time!
And yet – here we are.
This month I plan to really focus on INTENTION so I can soak in as much as possible. To embrace the end of the year with grace and gratitude. I’ve truly enjoyed this monthly goals series over the past half of this year. And I feel motivated to continue on into the new year with blogging my goals each month. I’m not sure how long I will want to keep it going and I actually feel ok with not knowing. But as of now, I plan to keep it up and I hope you will continue to enjoy these posts going forward.
Some of you may have been wondering where I’ve been this whole last month. It definitely wasn’t my finest blogging month. Everything I have learned about blogging has been very clear that the most important thing is to post consistently. Failing to do so will derail your momentum and cost you followers. It seems like the easiest way to doom a blog.
But I refuse to be deterred.
Maybe that is the enduring optimist in me. I believe that there is potential for something great that is being cultivated here. And me taking a month off to recalibrate is not the end of all good things. In fact, I choose to believe it could be quite the opposite.
November was a month of recalibration for me.
Much of it was a whirlwind of traveling, battling more sickness, celebrating birthdays and holidays with loved ones. We also welcomed our newest family member – a new kitten we named Echo! But through all of that, I really tried to stay grounded and focused. It was incredibly helpful for me. While blogging did NOT make my list of most productive things accomplished, I knocked a ton of other projects off the list that I’ve been procrastinating for so long.
Back in August I made the goal of initiating a weekly “power hour.” The goal was to tackle some of the chaos of disorganization plaguing our home. Paul and I have been really feeling a pull to minimize and declutter this past year. But it has been an overwhelming task to take on. This summer I was determined to power hour through several specific areas. And then I pretty much dropped the ball on all of those plans. So this past month I knocked out the worst of it all. Starting with our guest room (mostly motivated by the impending arrival of my MIL!). Then made my way through the boys’ room and their play space downstairs. I also took on my wardrobe and I even got my husband to join me in tackling our garage.
It’s incredible what inspiration it can be to have an in-law visit on the horizon.
I also signed up for an intensive writing course last month. This has allowed/forced me to carve out some specific space to spend time actually journaling and playing around with some poetry and other creative outlets. My hope is that this will help me fuel the spark for writing that I always carry within me. I’m trying to learn to make room for my passion to create alongside motherhood rather than in spite of it. My motivation and love of both things runs deep. Finding balance is intricate and challenging.
And last but not the least by far… The most rewarding thing I did this past month was to just lean in to the chaos and celebrate it. The holiday season can be so hectic and overwhelming and stressful. I have plenty of my own battles with anxiety during this time of year. Investing energy into truly evaluating what is most important to me, and to us as a family, has been so refreshing.
I’ve been brainstorming ideas for a few different series to share here. Hoping that these will help me create a bit more accountability like this one has. And I have also been thinking of some new creative ways to show up in this space. To connect with you. I promise not to become a stranger around here.
On that note, I’ll begin with a review of my November goals.
A review of my November goals:
Find ways to better utilize the brief windows of time that occur in my day to day
“A writer’s life is lived in seasons” – Nicole Gulotta, Wild Words
This goal was inspired by a book I’ve been reading called Wild Words: Rituals, Routines, and Rhythms for Braving the Writer’s Path by Nicole Gulotta. This wonderful little book offers practical advice for creating “rituals, routines, and rhythms” for writers (which is what I really need these days!). In one of the earliest chapters, you are encouraged to explore your current season of life. Then try to imagine that it is possible to make space for writing despite how impossible it may seem.
Upon suggestion, I looked for patterns in my day to day. Then I considered where I might be able to write out a few sentences in “the margins” of time. I struggle with feeling a need to have a huge chunk of uninterrupted time to get in the zone to write. But those chunks of time are few and far to come by. I need to utilize the smaller windows more productively.
This becomes something that is relevant to my everyday life as well.
Often the to-dos on my list seem to require more uninterrupted time than I can find in my days. One area that I consistently struggle with this is finding time to call my long-distance friends. Sometimes we find that weeks, occasionally even months, pass by in between calls. With any kind of prolonged gap, I always feel this overwhelming dread of scarcity creeping in. There never seems to be enough time to devote my undivided attention to catching up. So I wait for a better time – I don’t call. And this leads to more procrastination as I struggle to find a more opportune moment. It creates a perpetual cycle.
This month I paid more attention to the ways that I let myself get caught up in the scarcity cycle. I wouldn’t say I necessarily found the best ways to utilize those brief windows. But I can FIND them more clearly and this is something I will continue to work on it.
Go Shopping (for myself!)
I realized after setting this goal for myself what an incredibly sad state my wardrobe is in these days. Recently I have really tried to get rid of what didn’t fit me well anymore or what I didn’t love. But that didn’t leave me with much to work with. Not to mention that my free time for shopping isn’t quite as “free” as it used to be. Anyone that has tried to shop for themselves with two small toddlers in tow knows my struggle. It’s virtually impossible.
So, I’m proud to say – I worked very hard on this goal this past month. More than once I made time to sneak out, sans kiddos, for some deliberate shopping. And my new wardrobe haul definitely feels like progress.
Here are a few things I got for myself:
- A holiday dress that makes me feel pretty
- A pair of rose-colored casual sneakers
- A pair of charcoal gray suede wedges
- Comfortable but cute lounge pants
- Two fairly dressy yet versatile sweaters
- A classic black top that will go with anything
I still need a few staple pieces to round out the rest of what I have but it is a great start. And I really enjoyed this goal this past month. And I’m thrilled to have something to wear to Paul’s work dinner next weekend!
Read for at least 30 minutes daily
It was surprising for me to realize how little I actually sit down to read. Especially considering how much I genuinely enjoy reading. This goal was awesome. I found so many opportunities to read that I might not have even looked for without setting this goal. I can’t say I was 100% successful, but I got pretty dang close. And of course, it’s only fair to disclose that I totally count listening to audiobooks as “reading” time. I finished reading Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi (which was my virtual book club read). And I listened to Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult as an audiobook. I also started reading Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg.
Listening to audiobooks while folding laundry, doing dishes, driving anywhere (especially long car trips while kids nap) has been life-changing. I even listen in the shower sometimes! There were even a few lunch dates with myself and a book that were divine. Some days I couldn’t seem to find any free moments in my day to pull out a book. Or I couldn’t get through a string of sentences without being interrupted too many times. Those days I made a point to read a little in bed at night. When I was younger I used to read every single night this way. And I remember how much I loved that. Going forward I am going to try to include reading as part of my nightly ritual.
My December Goals
1. Participate in an Acts of Kindness Advent with my family
Last year I handmade an acts of kindness advent and got really excited about it. But then we left town in the middle of the month and it lost momentum for everyone after that. This year I really want to get everyone on board and commit to this together. Since I designed it myself, all the daily acts are specific to simple, relevant things we can accomplish. Here are a few examples. We live a few blocks away from a fire station so one act is to bring donuts to the firefighters. Another is to draw colorful pictures and uplifting messages on the sidewalk for people passing by. And one day we will make birdseed ornaments as a family project to hang out for the birds to enjoy. Each day will challenge us to do something as a family to promote kindness towards others.
Why this is a December goal? It is so important to me that my children learn to be kind. I feel like participating in this type of experience is an opportunity to facilitate some early lessons in kindness. We must lead our children by our examples. Kindness is important YEAR ROUND. This season is a perfect chance to divert our focus off of ourselves and turn it outward onto others.
Action plan: Make sure our acts of kindness include things that my boys can understand and participate in. Keep it simple. Emphasize the loving nature of kindness. Lead by example.
2. Learn to play a Christmas song on the guitar and/or ukulele
A few nights ago Paul and I were sitting around a bonfire at our neighbor’s house. Enjoying a beautiful evening and great company around a fire is one of my favorite things. I posted a small clip of the scene up on IG stories that night. Not long afterwards, I received got a short video response from my long-distance insta-friend Nicole. She and her family were also hanging out around a fire almost 10,000 miles across the globe. Small world, eh? Her family is very musically inclined and incredibly talented – they often sing/play music together. In her video, the joyful sounds of her family singing and strumming happily really warmed my heart.
As a child, my father often played songs on his guitar and could be found singing to me. I have many happy memories of riding in the car, belting out verses of Bungalow Bill at the top of our lungs together. He definitely passed down his love of the Beatles to me. Music was a kind of love language for us and I still associate singing with warmth and happiness.
One of my dreams is to someday own a baby grand piano and play music whenever I want.
When I was a girl, my mama and I owned one that she bought for me to play. She still tells tales of how I could hardly walk by it without teasing out a few notes in passing. I loved that piano so much and was devastated when we had to sell it. I’ve never been great at sight-reading music but I have a keen ear for it. Most people would be surprised to learn that some of my most prized material possessions are my guitars and my ukulele. Music a hobby I never seem to make time for but that I truly enjoy.
Why this is a December goal? Hearing Nicole’s family playing music and singing together stirred a desire to reconnect with this joy. I want to share it with my children. Every night I sing to them before bed and they love it so much. I imagine a day we all sit around a fire and play/sing songs together as a family. And since I love Xmas music so much – what better time than now to start.
Action plan: Dust off my instruments. Keep them accessible. Look up a few simple Christmas songs that the kids already know the words to. Practice them. Then pull out some egg shakers and a tambourine for accompaniment – and sing to our heart’s content.
3. Work to improve my posture
My posture is horrible. There are so many negative contributors to why it has gotten as bad as it has. Carrying around 50lbs of disproportionate toddler weight every day is probably the biggest culprit. After my pregnancies, my core strength has become non-existent and let’s not even talk about what happens when I cough or sneeze really hard. My back muscles are very weak and I am unable to maintain straight posture for long before it becomes very uncomfortable. All of these things are connected.
I’m embarrassed by it and I want to improve it but that’s easier said than done. This past month I asked my primary care doctor for her recommendations on how to improve and she referred me to physical therapy. I also purchased a digital posture trainer to help me work in improving. I’ve been feeling really discouraged about it so I thought this would be a good goal for December.
Why this is a December goal? Lately every time I pass a mirror or see candid photos of myself (where I wasn’t conscious of the camera) I notice that I have slumped shoulders. Overall this is causing compounded problems with other parts of my body that bother me like my neck and my knees. I feel more confident with my body when I stand up straight.
Action plan: Schedule PT and attend as often as they recommend. Commit to doing the exercises they assign me. Use the posture trainer to track and help me raise my awareness. Get back into pilates!
I’ll be back next month to update you on how well I kept up with these December goals. And to share my upcoming goals for the New Year 2020!
Until then, happy holidays!!
What are your December Goals? I’d love to hear – leave a comment below!