Have you been wondering what ever happened to my monthly goal-setting series? I almost completely fell off the wagon for 2023 but I’m hoping to get back into the habit of sharing them as the year wraps up! If this is your first visit here, thanks for joining me! Back in 2019, I decided to start setting three goals for myself each month. My objective was to be more intentional in my day-to-day life. In 2021 I found that I needed a more gentle, grace-giving approach. Offering myself accountability, joy, and connection – but with much less pressure, I decided to shift this to a series of monthly intentions. Here are my Gentle November intentions for 2023.
“It was a beautiful bright autumn day, with air like cider and a sky so blue you could drown in it.”
― Diana Gabaldon
Almost 6 months have passed since I sat down to share my monthly intentions. It’s been a busy few months, to say the least. The adventures of our summer bled right into school starting this year. I’m still reeling about having two kids in grade school now. It seems like autumn snuck in right under our noses and now Christmas is right around the corner! Life lately feels extra busy. And it certainly doesn’t seem to be getting any LESS so as the days continue. But I get tired of falling back on this excuse time and time again.
The truth is that I have not prioritized my creativity.
Us moms take on A LOT. My plate is always full. My bet is that yours is too. Cross a few things off of the to-do-list and before I can even catch a breath, there’s a whole slew of new things staking their claim. Busy becomes a constant understatement. And time remains a slippery slope. Yesterday I was standing on the corner after school drop off chatting with a friend about signing our kids up for winter sports. I asked her if she’d filled out the registration for basketball or soccer yet and she replied “no, it’s not due until November so I haven’t… oh my gosh… it IS November!!” We had a good laugh together because this is a pretty standard exchange! Along with – can you believe Thanksgiving is NEXT week?!?! Didn’t we just start school last month?
My creativity always feels like the easiest ball to drop when I’m juggling so many different things from day to day. And as a chronic over-committer, I tend to stay busy enough most of the time that I hardly notice I’ve dropped my creativity ball, until I do. And those moments of realization hit hard in their own kind of way.
For me to really find flow in my creativity, a certain level of physical, mental, and emotional bandwidth is required. That, plus some degree of quiet, focused, quality time is also necessary for me to be able to cultivate and tend to it. The resources I need to hold space and show up in creative ways in my own life feel scarce. But I also need to do some personal reckoning with that kind of scarcity mindset. And a good place to start, ironically, always seems to be with some form of intention setting.
So here we are. These next two months are some of my favorite time of the year. I know that life will continue to be hectic and busy in the midst of all the magic and mistletoe. I’d like to remember to slow down and embrace the quiet moments. I vow to rest and relish the important things, the things that really matter most. These next few months and holidays are the heart-bursting, joy-filled, memory-making, kind of season-savoring I want to wrap my ams around and hold onto throughout the whole year through. Scarcity be gone – there is so much creativity to be had in the days to come.
Waaaay back in June I chose three intentions for myself. Since I haven’t updated since then, I figured I’d review those here and now!
My first June intention was to finish getting our deck ready for summer hangouts. And that we did. The deck has been a fantastic addition to our home. We’ve always been a family that loves to hang out in the backyard. Adding a deck and “decking” it out totally enhanced our entire summer vibe. Now it’s November and because we live in a temperate climate, we are still getting to use it on the regular! The furniture we chose has proven to be the perfect compliment. Allowing for comfortable hang outs with friends, a space to work or chill in the fresh air/sunshine, and plenty of outdoor entertaining and family dining. It’s everything we hoped it would be!
My second intention was to make a summer bucket list. I didn’t do a lot of posting to social media this summer because I was too busy living it up with our family! We went crab and jellyfish hunting, ate our weight in popsicles almost daily, played all kinds of games on repeat (UNO, chess, and Sleeping Queens), and had some epic family beach adventures. We partied with friends at the pool, visited two different aquariums, hit the road in our Chill Pill again a few times, got a new puppy (!!!), and made a point to celebrate anything and everything we could! I’d say we fully leaned into Summer 2023 and it was absolutely delightful!
Intention #3 was to Plan Another Fun Summer Bday Party for my June Baby
If you don’t already know this about me, I LOVE pretty much any reason to throw a party or celebrate the people we love. Birthday parties for my kiddos are always my favorite to plan! I get so excited thinking of all of the little details to make their day feel special and seeing the joy on their faces as they bask in their celebration. This year Niko wanted a SNAKE themed party. Not my favorite animal (eek!) but going all-in to embrace the things my kids are interested in is part of my love language in motherhood. So snakes he got!
**WARNING – Maybe don’t look at these next photos if you don’t like snakes!**
My November Intentions 2023
1. Get a head start on holiday planning and to-dos this year
Wellllll, since it’s already mid-November, I really need to get moving on planning alllll of the fun things I love to do every year! We will be celebrating Thanksgiving at home this year because Paul will be working over the holiday. But honestly, how is it Thanksgiving next week already?! I need to get my grocery list and meal plans organized to cook that day! My mouth is watering just thinking about the turkey and dressing, mashed potatoes and gravy, roasted veggies, fresh cranberry sauce, Sister Shubert’s rolls (yes, these are the best!), and pies for dessert! Yum!
I’ve already been collecting ideas for special activities we will do this year. Noah was just asking me about our annual Christmas book advent and our Christmas activities countdown – two of my favorites! We also participate in a family kindness challenge every December. And of course there are a million other moving parts us mama elves tend to coordinate! Decorating, meal planning, gift procurement and wrapping, holiday parties, Christmas cards, stockings, and more!! If there is one season I pull out my “extra” sparkle, it’s definitely this one (with Halloween being a CLOSE second). That means I need to get started on getting these fun things organized.
Why is this one of my November intentions?
A lot of times I get really over-eager when I get excited about things and then I make my to-do lists overwhelming and unrealistic. Getting a head start helps me keep the pressure off of myself while also helping me stay grounded. I find that the more organized I can be on the planning end of things, the more fun I have while implementing all my elf-isms. And the less stressed I end up being over things that are supposed to be enjoyable and bring me joy!
>> Action plan: I just listened to Kendra Adachi’s newest podcast episode – How to Make the Rest of 2023 Easier and I’ve gotta tell you, discovering this woman has been such a gift. Every year around this time I make a huge brain dump list of things I need to do. Which is exactly where she tells us to start if we want to “Lazy Genius” the rest of 2023. So I plan to take my big list and break those things into specific, simpler tasks. Then I use my planner to block times to complete things from the list and schedule them in strategically. My goal is to be proactive instead of reactive! And to make time to enjoy this season I love so much!!
2. Send out a newsletter by Thanksgiving!
I haven’t sent out a newsletter in FOREVER and it’s killing me! That is one of my favorite ways to connect with friends from this cozy little corner of the internet. Would you believe I even decided on a new name for my newsletters (I’ll share it when I get my act together and send this next one out!)?? For whatever ridiculous reason, the lapse of time makes me awkward and indecisive so I resist writing them for even longer! Though if your inbox is anything like mine, maybe you didn’t even realize you’d been missing me! The truth is, I’ve been missing this connection between us.
Why is this one of my November intentions?
This time of year leaves me feeling motivated to find better rhythms with my creativity and more authentic ways to engage with you in this incredible community of ours. I am SO incredibly grateful for you and all the light and love you share with me in this space. I am so thankful for the solidarity and support we find together here. And especially for the opportunity for us to share our stories with one another. And I really WANT to connect with you this way!
Action plan: I’ve got some plans for a super fun giveaway over on Instagram that I’m going to start at the beginning of December. The details will go out to my newsletter list first (one of the perks of being ON that list!) and there will be a bonus giveaway specifically for newsletter subscribers. So that will be a great accountability factor for me. Another great way for me to make sure this happens is simply to START working on it now! So I’m going make sure it goes on my to-do list (see intention #1 for this month!).
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3. Get the “evening cranks” under control so we can enjoy our nightly bedtime routines together
The past month or so I’ve noticed that by the time the kids’ bedtime rolls around, I’m not feeling particularly patient or connected. There are a lot of factors at play I suspect. We are all wiped out from our days. Their little brains and bodies are tired and not entirely up to being cooperative after a certain hour of the evening. My bandwidth is fried. The routines get dragged out, I start to get stressed about getting to bed on time, they hate being rushed, and we all end up in a bad mood with each other. This is what I’ve deemed the “evening cranks.” Everybody ends up going to bed cranky and I hate it.
In my ideal scenario (rose-colored glasses people), our evening routine promotes calm, connection, and a chance to lovingly bond at the end of each day. Worst case scenario – it ends with yelling (all parties participating). I seem to forget how important the energy that I bring to this time of the day is. One way or the other, it goes a LOOONG way in setting the tone for all of us as we interact together. When things get off-track, I find myself reaching for my phone as a buffer or a way to tune out. I get short-tempered. Impatient. And I really don’t like that version of myself. Time for an intentional change up (I mean, look at how sweet they are!?!).
Why is this one of my November intentions?
Bedtime is a part of the day when we all need to be gentle with one another. From an adult standpoint, it’s a time for me to step UP into my calm and stay regulated to help them stay regulated after they have reached the breaking point of the day. One of the hardest parts of parenting for me, is learning how to process my big emotions and regulate myself in the midst of high intensity situations while not only TEACHING our children these tools but also modeling them! Whew. I actually consider myself to be a very patient person, but once I reach the point of way-past-triggered, it’s really hard for me to reign myself back in. This is probably one of the most challenging parts of parenting (and reparenting myself!) that I’m working on from a personal level. But what I’m starting to notice is that I don’t always set myself or the boys up for success as we head into our evenings together.
Action plan: I made a list the other night in my notes section of my phone of things I want to implement. Number 1 – stay off of my phone between 5:30pm-7pm (unless I’m looking up a recipe or playing music). I just want to leave it in a different room! There is literally nothing I need to be on it for during this time that can’t wait until the kids are asleep. This will be a game-changer for me in terms of connection. I will be less distracted, will be able to be more intentional with how I interact or redirect them, and hopefully they will feel my desire to have quality face time with them during this time of the day.
Number 2 – I want to prioritize reading together before bed. This is my very favorite part of the day with them but too often it’s what gets cut short when we are behind on our routine. I love nothing more than kids snuggled up next to me while I read out loud to them from a good book. Number 3 – Use calm down time (which is the time when one kid is in the bath tub and the other is playing or reading) to connect one on one. If Paul is home, we can double team. When we are all in sync and on track with our evening routines, this tends to be the time of the day when each kid really reaches out to talk to me and share about their day or their feelings or worries. And this is the part I miss the most when our nights get derailed. Hoping that taking an intentional reset will go a long way in helping us find a better groove together each night. Wish us luck!