Hello! Welcome to another goals post for my monthly goal-setting series. If this is your first visit here, thanks for joining me! About a year ago I decided to start setting three specific goals for myself each month. My objective was to be more intentional (my 2019 word of the year) in my day-to-day life. It turned out to be such a great experience! I’m back with my October goals and hoping to keep this momentum going! This series is designed to share those goals with you as well as to provide me with more monthly accountability.
“After the keen still days of September, the October sun filled the world with mellow warmth. The maple tree in front of the doorstep burned like a gigantic red torch. The oaks along the roadway glowed yellow and bronze. The fields stretched like a carpet of jewels, emerald and topaz and garnet. Everywhere she walked the color shouted and sang around her. In October any wonderful unexpected thing might be possible.”
― Elizabeth George Speare
Ah autumn has arrived at last in its full glory. The air has turned crisp and the leaves are dropping to the ground all around us in a brilliant show of colors. I can barely resist gathering a handful each time we venture out. These bright days offer me a rejuvenating hopefulness. My mood has lifted some and I feel the momentum gaining in a positive direction. September was a challenging month. I had several good cries sprinkled throughout and I leaned in hard for support from my husband, sisters, and therapist. I spent a lot of the time feeling extremely overwhelmed and anxious.
At one point last month I also had a pretty stressful health scare. One evening after a particularly stressful day, I discovered a small lump in my breast during my self-exam. I’m usually fairly consistent with self-exams and have never felt anything like that in the past. I quickly scheduled a mammogram/diagnostic ultrasound and was incredibly relieved when the results came back okay. We have had a few friends recently diagnosed with breast cancer. It is such a devastating reality for so many people. It has been extremely heavy on my heart and mind lately.
So often, health-related self-care tends to end up on the bottom of my to-do list behind everything else I prioritize. I’m 6 months behind getting in to see my dentist (don’t worry, I’m headed in on Monday!). I haven’t been to the OB/GYN for my annual appointment yet this year. And still need to book my annual physical with my PCP (due in November). I’ll give Covid-19 it’s due credit for being a a major reason I have avoided/put off these things. However, it’s not a good excuse!
The reality is, that our own health must be a priority to us. This is true for physical, mental, and emotional health.
So many health-related issues have better outcomes when acted quickly upon to seek medical treatment when things are first noticed. I can tell you that at least one of my friends diagnosed with breast cancer within the past year is a brave testament to having a better outcome from acting quickly. Her story is what inspired me to go in right away to get things checked out. Another friend who has been through hell and back with her diagnosis, will tell you not to put-off your regular appointments because a better chance of catching something early comes from being accountable to yourself to keep up with those regular check-ups.
I don’t mean to stir fear or anxiety in you as you read this.
But I do want to strongly encourage you to take care of your health! If you are suffering or struggling mentally or emotionally, start working now to find a therapist that you can schedule an appointment with (I did!). Ladies, do your monthly self-breast exams, get those mammograms done even though they are unpleasant (if you’ve reached that age!), and keep up with your regular annual health-screening appointments. If you’re due or overdue for a check-up, why not get that on the calendar ASAP?
There is no “better” time to prioritize your health. Especially now when we are all carrying around incredible amounts of additional stress. Not to mention that most of us are probably not taking the best care of ourselves. I’m a huge believer that all of these components of our health go hand-in-hand to keep us well and thriving.
Looks like I have actually pep-talked myself into calling this week to schedule the rest of my own appointments!
*adds to to-do list for tomorrow morning*
We’ve spent these first two weeks of October adventuring in the Smokey Mountains. The first week we were pretty much entirely off grid for our inaugural family tent-camping experience. And the second week we went back to see our closest friends for a few days. There was a lot of catching up with them and we got to hike some amazing trails with the kids. Being outdoors has always had a sort of magic over me. It was the perfect reset after a long and stressful month. We are keeping our sights set forward and checking things off our autumn bucket list along the way.
Apple picking and apple cider donuts – check, camping and s’mores – check, get family photos taken – check, go hiking and collect fall treasures – check.
So much goodness to be had and yet still no end to this pandemic in sight. I’m still on the roller coaster, but this stretch doesn’t feel as bad as last month. There are definitely still have days that I find myself feeling extremely overwhelmed and anxious. I stay grounded in my love of my kids and my family. My heart is full of gratitude for the life we live. And (not but) some days are just hard. There is room for all of these things to be true.
The most important thing is that we keep taking care of ourselves and each other the best ways we can.
Now for a quick review of my September goals:
>>Plan a few “Artist Dates” for myself this month
This goal was a total flop. Not because it was a bad idea, but rather because the timing just wasn’t right. This last month turned out to be more of a “survival” mode month for me than a “woo and romance my creative side” kind of month. I definitely think this is such an important part of nurturing my creativity. And I plan to implement Artist Dates with myself anytime I can manage it. But this past month I needed grace with this goal. Going forward, some of the things I’d like to do on Artist Dates are: work a puzzle, visit the local art museum (donning a mask of course), do an embroidery project, pull out my new paints and create for fun!
>>Block some screen-free time
This was such a refreshing goal! I didn’t finish the book “How to Break Up with Your Phone” by Catherine Price but only a few chapters in generated a lot of conversation between Paul and me about our phone habits. The most obvious thing we both agreed on is that we want to be more present with each other and our boys. My primary objective is to have a healthier balance of my online and offline lives. And to rely less on my phone as a way to mentally disconnect from my in-person reality when I get overwhelmed.
Paul and I both took a solid week offline. Scheduling things for social media in advance was not as difficult as I’d anticipated. It actually relieved some of the stress I occasionally feel trying to come up with captions that fit the photos I want to share or vice versa! Overall, I’d highly recommend this goal for anyone seeking to feel more present in their daily lives and grounded in their phone usage. We will be implementing more screen-free time into our day to day lives going forward for sure.
>> Make our bedroom into a sanctuary
This project is still in progress but I made some huge strides last month. We moved our new plant babies up to the window (repurposing a diaper changing station as a plant stand!). They seem to love it there. USPS finally delivered the new duvet cover that I ordered back in June to replace the one we have that’s got a gaping hole in it. There are still several piles beside my bed that I need to deal with. I haven’t ordered new photos to hang on the walls yet. Though we did just get our family photos taken so I plan to get some of them framed next month. Overall, we are excited about the makeover and looking forward to pulling the final touches all together.
My October Goals 2020
1. Try some new recipes!
I few months back I was talking to my sister who really enjoys cooking. I’d been asking about how she stays inspired to cook from week to week. I have been feeling particularly burnt out and unmotivated about cooking. Lately I’ve not done much more than make simple spaghetti and order take out. Perhaps this is related to the fact that I feel like I make 323,850 meals a day (snack included). And I’ve just lost my creative-cooking juju. My sister told me that one way she stays excited about the process is to choose a new recipe from a cookbook each week to prepare.
Normally I really enjoy cooking. I might even venture to call it a hobby of mine.
We own an entire bookshelf worth of incredible cookbooks full of splendid recipe ideas. I used to love when Cooking Light Magazine would arrive. I’d sit back and peruse all of the mouth-watering pages to choose what I might want to try to cook. But quarantining has really pulled the rug out from under my enthusiasm. We are fairly healthy eaters in our household on a regular basis, unless you count Family Fridays where we eat pizza each week. And thank goodness my guys all love my spaghetti.
A few weeks ago, my other sister decided to start doing the Whole 30 diet. She had just ordered a new cookbook – The Defined Dish by Alex Snodgrass. The recipes sounded amazing. I have been feeling so guilty and burnt out about cooking. I wondered if getting a new cookbook might inspire me, so I went ahead and bought it too.
Why is this one of my October goals? I love cooking. Quarantine has stolen a lot of the joy of cooking away from me and I want to reclaim it. Now I’ve got a new cookbook and tons of healthy, delicious-looking recipes to play around with so I’m excited!
Action plan: Pick a handful of more simple recipes to start out with. Sprinkle them throughout a couple of weeks – ideally when Paul is home so he can help corral the kids while I cook. And of course, then he can lavish me in positive feedback when he tastes how good it all is! Ask my sister Kati which ones she likes best and consider trying those too. Make a meal plan!
2. Participate in my friend Lyndsay’s 30-Day Challenge with Lattes2Lunges
A little over a month ago my friend Lyndsay stated talking about how she wanted to create a challenge for women who might want a little more motivation to move their bodies. She shared some of her own personal health journey with me. A little over a year ago, she committed to moving her body every day for 100 days and has ultimately made a hugely positive impact on her life. Lyndsay is such an upbeat, encouraging person who has a huge heart and an unmatched enthusiasm for life. She wanted to create a challenge that would be fun, health positive, and achievable while also helping build a powerful community of women all supporting one another to accomplish their goals.
She wanted to do it, and so she did!
On October 1st she launched her #30ForMe Challenge with a motivated group of women all striving toward a healthier lifestyle, myself included. All it requires is moving your body for 20-30 minutes in some way, every single day for 30 days. I have been feeling very dissatisfied with my overall health and fitness lately. Some of that dissatisfaction can be credited to covid for sure. In late February of 2020, I had high hopes of finally getting myself back into better physical shape. With tennis scheduled four times a week and a weekly evening of soccer, I felt motivated in ways I hadn’t since before my babies were born. Then all of our regular activities were cancelled. The YMCA was closed. And suddenly I discovered a whole new appreciation for comfort-food!
Living a healthy lifestyle means many different things to different people, but for me, it simply means generally feeling good in my body. I’ve always considered myself athletic and I really enjoy being active. When I consistently move my body to feel fit and healthy, I am more inclined to eat foods that support that lifestyle. And the biggest benefit is how much my positive physical health influences my mental health.
Why is this one of my October goals? I originally signed up for this because I wanted to support my friend in her exciting new endeavor. But ultimately this is something I want to commit to for myself. I have been lacking motivation for over the past 6 months of quarantine.
Action plan: Play as much tennis I can (we have a small group that gets together a few times a week and practices being as safe as possible while we play). Do yoga with Adriene when I can’t get out to the courts. Get creative with ways to move my body for 20-30 minutes every single day, even if that means having a kitchen dance party with the boys, doing jumping jacks, or simply taking an after-dinner stroll around the neighborhood.
3. Finish two books by the end of this month
I’ve got more books by my nightstand than I have room for! And I’m in the middle of about 7 of them currently. This is how I enjoy reading. I know some people want to pull their hair out to think of reading more than one book at a time. But I like have diversity to choose from so I can pick the theme that suits my mood best when I have a window to indulge. However, I think I need to set some limits for myself. Mainly so I don’t keep starting new ones until I wrap up the ones I really want to finish.
Since I’m pretty late in publishing this goals post, I want to keep this last goal fairly reasonable. I definitely don’t need any extra overwhelm on my plate these days! I’ve got my virtual book club meeting coming up at the end of this month. I know I’ll want to finish up that book before then. So I guess I figure… what’s one more to wrap up from that?
Why is this one of my October goals? If I can finish 2 then I’ll be able to start some new ones! Ha! Just kidding (kind of). Mostly I want to do this so that I can enjoy the satisfaction of finishing some of my in-the-middle-of-reading pile. AND of course hopefully enjoy the books themselves!
Action plan: Move the ridiculous stack of books away from my bed (it’s very distracting). Pick the two I want to finish and get started reading. Relish in the joy of reading!
I’ll be back next month to update you on how well I kept up with these October goals. And to share my upcoming goals for November!
What are your October goals?
I’d love to know what you’re striving for this month.
Drop a comment below!