“Of all the elements of a happy life, home is the most important.” – Gretchen Rubin
Always a sucker for a good quote, this is perhaps the best insight I received from reading Gretchen Rubin’s book Happier at Home. I’ve realized an important element to loving your home is recognizing how much happiness already exists there and then adding elements of comfort, love, and appreciation to the space. Given that Spring has finally decided to grace us with its presence (lets hope it’s here to stay!), I wanted to devote this month to nurturing my surroundings.
As you know, each month I set out actionable goals relative to my three intentions for the New Year. Below are the specific goals I’ve outlined for April and how they relate to each over-arching desire.
Find joy and fulfillment in creativity.
- Read a new book. Every month I choose a new book to read. This month it’s No Place Like Home: A Memoir of 39 Apartments by Brooke Berman. I chose this particular book because I feel a kind of kinship with the author. The book chronicles her journey to feeling settled without actually being settled (one of my biggest fears in life) and her realization that home is about the space you create, not just your address. Considering my bedroom revitalization project, I found this particular reading quest fitting for my month of home.
- Purge, reorganize, finish projects. It seems Spring is finally here to stay and with it my urge to purge, reorganize, and nest is at an all time high. I have a few unfinished projects around the house I’d like to tackle. In particular, I’d like to tackle the storage areas in the house (closets, the basement, cabinets, and the like). I have yet to touch these areas because they just seem so daunting. But I love to throw things away so I should enjoy the process if I can get my butt in gear. On top of those few areas in the house, I also plan on finishing up the bedroom transformation project and the few craft/decor projects still on my plate. I love my little bungalow home and all that goes with making it feel “homey”.
Give more love.
- Give back to the community. As most of you know, I am a volunteer coach for Girls on the Run – a program I am extremely passionate about. I’ll be sub coaching a few practices this month at various elementary schools teaching lessons in healthy eating habits and building self-confidence. I’ve gotten to sub coach a few times and it’s certainly rewarding to see the energy and excitement in the young girls but I also want to reach out to other parts of my community. I have a few ideas up my sleeve for the month (Earth Day will be here soon and so will the festival) and I am so looking forward to the opportunities. Giving love often makes me feel more loved in return.
- A squeeze in the morning, a squeeze at night. Self-admittedly I need to practice more patience with Miley. Particularly when my schedule is hectic, I don’t take enough time to give her a pat or kiss on the head. I’m quickly out the door and she usually sits there staring at me with those “Why are you leaving me? I’m going to chew something up!” eyes. Even worse, I hardly give my cat the attention I used to since getting Miley two years ago. So, I resolved to give more love to my animals this month. Not just in practicing patience (oh, you want to smell the flowers for the 15th time in a row on our walk!? Okay…) but in making sure I give them a few undivided moments of attention. For this reason, I resolved to squeeze, kiss, and smother both the Milers and Nanners in the morning and before bed.
Live a balanced life.
- Use the dining room table. The only time I ever use my dining room table is when I’m hosting a potluck dinner or family gathering of some sort. I love communal gatherings because it promotes conversation and together-ness, but since I live alone you can usually find me eating my meals on the kitchen floor or in the living room. While I may not have a roommate to share in the festivities with, I am making it a goal this month to have only home-cooked meals (no eating out, at least on my dime) and eating those meals at the table. I’ve gotten out of this particular habit and I want to re-instill that practice in my everyday regimen.
- Use a quiet day. This is the one goal I did not complete last month not because I didn’t have time, but because I forgot (oops!). Similar to my technology-free day, I’m looking forward to the solitude and quality reading/journaling time I’ll get.
April seems rather basic after looking at my goals for the month but I’m feeling simplistic at this juncture. Considering I’m still carrying on previous monthly goals like the one sentence journal, meatless Mondays, potluck dinners, and flossing I think I’m all set!
If you haven’t been able to gather from my absence in the virtual world, life has been a bit hectic in the Wallace household. I feel like this entire month passed by with the snap of a finger and yet surprisingly for having felt completely exhausted almost the entire month, I still managed to accomplish the majority of my goals. Here are some of the highlights of my month of well-being:
- I loved reading Drop Dead Healthy by AJ Jacobs. Not only did the book make me laugh out loud on more than one occasion, but it reminded me that being healthy isn’t just how you look on the outside, but how your body functions on the inside. It also served to remind me that health is holistic. While exercising and eating right (when I’m not in cookie monster mode) is a big part of my life, I also need to give equal attention to my mental and emotional health. If anything, I got a few ideas from the book on what to include in my own health regimens and I’m excited to start incorporating them into future monthly goals.
- The inspirational bedroom transformation is not complete but is certainly coming along. Not only did the room get a complete paint re-do, but I’ve been working on some decor projects as well. I bought a bright, cheery, and super fun rug that adds a healthy dose of spunk to the room. I also started a craft project that turns wooden block letters into yarn art (sounds weird, but looks way cool). I will admit I have yet to finish this particular project particularly because my loathe of crafting gets in the way of me actually finishing it, but considering some of my goals for April I figure I can carry this process over into next month. I’m also teaming up with a painter friend of mine who does phenomenal, original work for a reasonable price. The room needs a little bit of art in it and she’s my go-to girl so this particular item will be another thing I carry into next month as well. I keep having to remind myself that evolving is about relishing in the process and not always marking things off my to-do list. But while I like this rule of thumb for my year of self-improvement, I sometimes think I use it as justification for procrastination (more on that later).
- Between all the hustle and bustle, I still managed to carve out a lot of friend time this month. In particular, I hosted a couple of girls nights, a St. Patrick’s Day themed game night dinner party. and a few Skype dinner dates with my friends who aren’t close by. I have to say the friend love (and booze) was definitely overflowing this month for which I am extremely grateful.
- Also super exciting in the name of friend love – since I started writing more hand-written notes to my friends and family, I’ve been getting letters in return. This month alone, I’ve received four letters and I LOVE getting mail.
- Meatless Mondays have been my new favorite health regimen and something I’m going to continue to do. It usually means I end up going meatless for most of the week (no wonder there are health benefits) but I love that it makes me get outside my comfort zone and experiment in the kitchen a bit. Plus, it adds content for the blog and I can’t complain about that, especially considering my lack of other substantial content lately.
So there you have it – another month bites the dust! I almost feel like I could continue well-being part deux into April, but now that Spring is finally in the air I’m getting into nesting mode, which means I need to take advantage of the organizing and purging mood I’m in. Stay tuned for April goals!
Feeling overly ambitious, I decided to tackle the big bedroom transformation project Friday night. While there is still a lot I want to do with the room, I’m feeling accomplished that the paint job is finished and that I even had a chance to put my creative skills to the test in my efforts to transform one corner of the room. While I’m not going to show the room as it is now (I don’t want to ruin the surprise once it all comes together) I will share bits and pieces as things unfold.
So, first step: painting. Let me just say I loathe, loathe painting but when the mood strikes I can get things done. I ended up using the same color of paint that I used when transforming the guest bedroom – a Bonsai gray. It’s probably my favorite color of all time for its mere transformational power. My room has always felt overly cramped not just because of my big furniture but also because of the room color – a dark mustard yellow. I actually really liked the mustard yellow but since my primary goal with this project is to make my personal space feel more open, I wanted to go for something airy and bright. From the first coat of paint, I instantly felt the room opening up.
A small project I took on in addition to painting the room this weekend was a quick make-over of a mirror I’ve had for years. The silver and black went really well with the dark mustard yellow but it felt plain and boring against the light gray walls. Going for bright, cheerful accent colors to the gray backdrop I opted for a sunny yellow (which happens to go perfect with my other accent color, royal purple). This particular venture only took about 10 minutes, 1 hour of drying, and $3.22 in spray paint. A quick and cheap DIY project which turned out fantastic!
After a really hard couple of months, I wanted to take on a project that would serve to revitalize my sense of self. I want every inch of my bedroom to be something that inspires me, comforts me, or just brings a smile to my face in one way or another. Every time I walk by the room and see this bright sunny mirror hanging there, I smile. It brings joy to my personal space and I love that.
You’ll notice in the corner is a stack of books. Wanting to personalize this corner, I chose books that have changed my life or inspired me in some way. Among those is a travel guide to Guatemala (be adventurous); Eat, Pray, Love (be prepared for endless and riotous waves of transformation); and the Heart and the Fist (live a life of intention). There’s a few more in there, but they’re mostly placeholders till I can sift through my other books and add to the pile.
It’s turning out beautiful and I’m anxious to start in on the other projects. By the end of March, I don’t think I’m ever going to want to leave my room!
After a tough February and what I know will be a trying March, I wanted to focus on my overall well-being this month – both emotionally and physically. Achieving overall well-being is an ongoing process (I mean, you are constantly at the whims of life) but I do know what good well-being feels like and I don’t feel like I’m entirely there right now. Knowing that though keeps me motivated to keep at the practice – which also happens to come at the start of a new month.
As you know, each month I set out actionable goals relative to my three intentions for the New Year. Below are the specific goals I’ve outlined for March and how they relate to each over-arching desire.
Find joy and fulfillment in creativity.
- Read a new book. Every month I choose a new book to read. This month it’s Drop Dead Healthy by A.J. Jacobs. I chose this particular book because it’s about the ultimate pursuit of health: a well-lived life. I found that fitting for my month of well-being and it comes highly recommended by Miss Liz.
- Transform my bedroom into an inspirational haven. I carried this particular goal over from February as I still want to put my creative energy into creating a space that reflects the things I love, desire, and want in life. I want my room to be a source of inspiration to me so I’m hoping I can carve out more time to actually work on this project this month. And if I don’t – well, I’ll carry it over to the next month!
Give more love.
- Write hand-written letters. I always enjoying getting mail and I know my friends do too. Considering I now have a pen pal and several other friends scattered across the states, I plan on sitting down and writing some old-fashioned hand-written letters. Not only does it get you back to basic communication, but hand-written notes seem more personal and heartfelt than a quick email to say hi so I’m really looking forward to writing these.
- Host a holiday brunch. I usually aim to host a potluck dinner every month, but I want to switch it up this time and host a holiday brunch. In particular, St. Patrick’s Day is coming up and I’m dying to host a breakfast gathering where everything is GREEN. Not only is it cute, but it seems fun too. And I really love breakfast food.
Live a balanced life.
- Meatless Mondays. I originally planned on doing a weekly health challenge but I really didn’t want to set myself up for failure considering everything I have going on this month. Instead, I opted to choose one aspect of the health challenge and incorporate that into my weekly health routine. Meatless Mondays sounded the most appealing not only because it means I get to try out new recipes in the kitchen but also for the many health benefits it brings. In particular, going meatless once a week can reduce your risk of cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and obesity. Given my fear of cardiovascular disease and cancer, I’m game.
- Use a quiet day. While at some point I would love to try a meditation retreat, I can’t quite carve out the time this month so instead I plan on using a quiet day. Similar to my technology-free day, I’m looking forward to the solitude and quality reading/journaling time I’ll get.
A new month means a new theme and this month it’s about celebrating singlehood. With it, singlehood brings freedom and independence and I plan on embracing both over the next coming weeks. We all know February brings ample opportunity for single ladies (and men) to get down about not having that special someone in their life but I don’t plan on being one of them. Rather, my focus for the month is to have a passionate love affair with myself. I firmly believe you can’t begin loving someone else until you take the time to heal and love yourself first. And that’s exactly what I intend on doing this month.
As you know, each month I set out actionable goals relative to my three intentions for the New Year. Below are the specific goals I’ve outlined for February and how they relate to each over-arching desire.
Find joy and fulfillment in creativity.
- Read a new book. This month I am choosing to read a classic, The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald. I chose this particular book mainly because it’s outside of my preferred genre of reading. I also chose it because when I was reading book reviews I came across one in particular that called the book, “…the quintessential story about the love of being in love,” and I was hooked.
- Transform my bedroom into an inspirational haven. All of my home improvement projects or home purchases usually go to the areas of the house where guests congregate like the living room, dining room, kitchen, and guest room. I hardly ever splurge on the one area that’s used solely by me: my bedroom. Taking a page from Liz’s month of self-love I want to put my creative energy into creating a space that reflects the things I love, desire, and want in life – I want my room to be a source of inspiration to me so I’m definitely looking forward to getting started on this project.
Give more love.
- Write Valentine’s Day cards. Who says Valentine’s Day is reserved for romantic escapades? I fully intend on celebrating and sharing the mad love I have for my close friends and family. I also intend to spoil myself because I love me too. Which leads me to my next point.
- Take a wellness day. Looking at my schedule for February, I already know I’m going to be susceptible to feelings of burn out which usually leads to me waking up on the wrong side of the bed at some point. I’m pretty good at recognizing the need to take some time to recharge when I’m stressed and I know I’ll need it this month. I have a trip planned to visit my good friend TJ at the end of the month so it’ll be a perfect opportunity to relax and recharge my positive attitude. I have no specific plans set other than to see where the wind takes me. And a gift certificate for a massage and pedicure.
- Praise singlehood. In the grand scheme of life, singlehood is short-lived. I am self-admittedly not an expert on relationships and have little experience in the serious relationship department as compared to others but I do remember thinking things like, “I wish I had the bed to myself!” or, “STOP SNORING!” among others. For the single ladies (and single men too) I think it’s easy to get sucked into a negative mindset in February. I mean love is literally being shoved down your throat around every corner and it goes on for 14 straight days. Sometimes, February just serves as a constant reminder that you don’t have what appears like everyone else is basking in the glory of. But you know what? Singlehood is pretty awesome too so in light of my positive attitude, I plan on writing a list of all the reasons I love being single.
- Go on one date a week. I am a busy hermit, there’s no way of getting around it. I was recently telling a colleague of mine a story and he stopped me mid-sentence and said in a I-feel-sorry-for-you tone, “You need to get out and date, Lindsay.” Although I’m pretty sure he was joking, I took it kind of hard (obviously so since I’m still talking about it three months later). So, it’s time to take matters into my own hands since I’m not finding anyone in my current social circles. At the last potluck dinner I hosted I asked my friends to set me up on blind dates with anyone they thought I might be remotely interested in – or even not interested in (I need to fill a quota here people, haha). I’ve got one lined up so far and another in the works. I’m actually kind of looking forward to them. Heck, maybe I’ll even give speed dating a try!
Live a balanced life.
- Reach out, forgive, purge, and let go. I am queen of harboring resentment towards people who intentionally hurt me, especially when they show no remorse or offer an apology. Forgiveness has never been my strong suit but I also realize that harboring those kinds of feelings just prolong stress and negativity in my life. Ultimately those kinds of feelings take a toll on my body and promote unhappiness. We don’t have control over the way people treat us, but we do have control over how we process the hurt and move on. I can’t say that I will actually reach out to those who have hurt me recently and in the past, but I do plan on going through old mementos and purging memories I haven’t been able to let go of. I want a clean slate and my intention in doing this project for the month is that it will reduce some stress and unhappiness I feel at times thereby promoting my overall health, especially in mind and spirit.
- When at home, wear my glasses. Another aspect of my health that I ignore are my eyes. I have horrible vision; without contacts or glasses, I can’t even see what I’m typing on the screen in front of me. My issue is I hate wearing glasses and as a result I take my contacts out maybe two or three times a month and only while I’m showering. My eyes never get a break and I often times suffer from dry, itchy eyes because of my lack of proper eye care. SO, I am going to attempt to wear my glasses more and make the effort when at home that the contacts go in the solution and the glasses go on the face.
Here’s to a happy, fulfilling February and of course to all my fellow single ladies out there. Put your hands up!
Overall, it’s been a successful month for friendship. Oftentimes, the trap of setting monthly goals is that they become another item on an ever-growing to-do list rather than an opportunity to relish in personal growth and self-awareness. I myself have fallen into this trap many times. Knowing this, though, I went into the new year with the mindset of using my monthly goals as a means to furthering my three intentions for the year: find joy/fulfillment in creativity, live a balanced life, and give more love. By doing this, I’ve found that my focus is not so much on getting a gold star or putting an X in an excel document (yep, I have an intentions tracking log broken down by monthly goals – call me crazy) but on learning more about myself. There are days I didn’t accomplish each of the goals I set, but overall I made a lot of strides. As a result, I’ve found things I rather enjoy and also things I don’t particularly enjoy. I’m learning more about me and focusing less on the affirmation of a filled excel document (the equivalent of an “atta boy!”). I think that’s something to be celebrated and so rather than bore you with the details I decided to just share some of the highlights of my month of friendship:
- One of my goals for the year is to read one new book a month. Perhaps it’s because I had more free time in my month and a half off school (which is why I will stick to the one new book a month rule) I actually ended up reading four additional books. Full disclosure is that two of them were audio books so maybe they don’t technically qualify, but I’m counting them anyways. I also discovered a website called Good Reads which lets you create your own list of books to read and rate the books you’ve read. AND, the website even gives you recommendations for books to read based on your ratings of others. I am enthralled with it, which probably speaks volumes about my nerdy-ness.
- Each month I hope to add one new element to my daily health regimen. This month it was flossing and I am proud to say I went from absolutely never flossing to flossing at least once a day. Well, almost. I missed a few in there, but overall I was quite successful in the venture. I can’t wait to wow my dentist at my next cleaning.
- As a not so crafty person I took on two challenges this month to find the joy and fulfillment in creativity: take one photo a week (I really dislike taking photos, but I love having them) and craft a photo album to put those photos in. I’ve accomplished both although I don’t know what it says about me that the majority of my photo-ops are of food.
- My effort to spend more time with my friends has ultimately made me appreciate the presence and value they add to my life. I’ve always known friendships influence who you are and what you do but I think because I was so focused on the concept this month that I was more attune to the ways in which they actually do influence me. From my new-found appreciation for left overs to new cooking ventures or workout routines to embracing being set up on blind dates. I’ve realized just how much my friends inspire me – I am one lucky gal.
Like Liz, I’m ready for January to be over so I can set out on some new ventures and monthly goals. January was fun, but let’s bring on February!
While reading my book selection for the month, MWF Seeking BFF by Rachel Bertsche, I came across a passage regarding the behaviors necessary to maintain old friendships and forge new ones, which sparked my interest. The passage basically states that good social interaction – a lot of it – is the key to living a good life. Obviously this seems like a no brainer but I’m intrigued by the science of it that Bertsche mentions in her book.
Studies consistently show that people who have good friendships usually have high levels of social interaction and are more likely to be happy and fulfilled in their life than those who tend to be loners (that’s me, self-admittedly). When I looked at my calendar of social activities for the month, even after setting “friendship” at the top of my priority list, I was disheartened to see how disproportionate that time looked compared to other obligations on my plate like work, school, and another part-time job I just took on to help fund travel excursions.
I think part of the issue is a majority of my friends are scattered in various locations and aren’t easily accessible at the drop of a hat. Or, if they are nearby, they have just as many obligations as I do and our schedules don’t mesh. More often than not activities and social gatherings always seem to get pushed to the wayside or, more commonly, we make non-committal statements like,”Yeah, that would be great. Let’s get together sometime and plan that!” And then we never get together because life just gets in the way. Well today, after waking up on the wrong side of the bed, I got tired of being an active contributor to this cycle so I decided to take matters into my own hands, which actually added a nice boost to my happiness this afternoon. As Gretchen Rubin has so eloquently shared, now is now and I can’t keep putting things off and waiting for some other appropriate time to get together with everyone. Later isn’t the time, now is the time.
With that in mind, I promptly contacted my friends-for-life (dubbed lifers, a term I took from Bertsche) and began dedicating entire nights and weekends to social gatherings this month. Slumber parties, potluck dinner/game nights, weekend excursions to Springfield, numerous friend dates set, and finally a travel excursion booked to visit a lifer in Florida at the end of February. Now that it’s all set, my calendar seems more balanced – and colorful, which is aesthetically pleasing to the eye.
Bertsche has a blog dedicated to friendship. It’s interesting and quirky – much like her book. Check it out here.