January Feelings – How Are You Doing?

Well January 2019 is rapidly coming to an end…let’s have a little check in shall we? How are those New Years Resolutions going for you? Have you kept them all? Broken any? Changed them completely?

January is a hard month (although some could argue that February/March can be harder). You are on a “high” of sorts for the first week or two. New Years has just happened we are full of “fresh start” this and “new beginnings” that, but then about halfway through Week 2 of January real life starts to hit. We start to struggle with the resolutions we have set, we struggle with the concept that while this is seems to be a New Year, not everything is miraculously perfect, we struggle with the bitter cold and gray that is the harsh months of winter.

Then about 3 weeks in is Blue Monday, one of the most depressing days of the year.

It’s tough, but it is something that we can work through. We can hold on to those good things, hold on to our dreams, passions, and somehow pull the strength to pull through. We can get back on track with our resolutions (if you’ve fallen off, which lets be honest, we’ve all fallen off a time or two). We can make it through.

It may seem silly, but January can be hard.

For me, this January has been an interesting one. I’ve definitely struggled a little bit, which was not something I was entirely expecting. We’ve spent the bulk of January on vacation visiting family. We dealt with a heartbreaking loss followed by two weeks of very little sunshine and now bitterly cold temperatures (as well as dealing with a vicious cold virus running around everyone in the house-including all the kids). We’ve been pretty much housebound for most of the time we’ve been here between the weather, temps, and sickness.

It’s been a unique kind of tough.

I know I shouldn’t be complaining about all of this. We are very blessed to be able to have this time to relax, be with family, and have a bit of a break. I have thoroughly enjoyed every bit of time that I’ve gotten to see extended family (even with the extenuating circumstances), and enjoyed watching our boys play with all of their cousins. It’s been a fun time, but I’ve also missed the chances to get outside, feel the sun beat through the windows all day long (even though it would get really hot), and be able to run outside whenever we wanted to.

This is a very common theme throughout this month and from what I am seeing, with the winter kicking it into high gear across the globe, seems to be harder than previous winters.

So what can we do to combat these feelings?

I always start with some sort of physical movement. There are plenty of indoor physical activities that you can do, whether it be yoga, a quick light cardio, weights, or just getting up and walking around the house. Some sort of physical activity will do a wonder of good for your body and your mind.

The next thing that I like to focus on even more intently is what we are putting into our bodies. It is so easy to feed your emotions, to grab the quick snack, the unhealthy option, but so often that will make the problems worse. I always find my mind clearer and my mood brighter when I reach for some fruit instead of a candy bar. Hell, even choosing popcorn over chips might make a difference.

And finally, make sure that you are taking time to do one thing you enjoy. It doesn’t have to be long, doesn’t have to be something productive, but just one thing that you enjoy. Take 15 minutes everyday just for whatever that is. For me, it is writing. I find myself feeling better if I just take a chance to sit down and write everything out. I also really enjoy reading (although this is a given) and I make sure that I spend a decent amount of time every evening getting some reading done.

Do you have any tips for dealing with these feelings? Leave them below!

The Day The Books Got Packed

The morning had dawned gray and dreary…quite appropriate weather for what was about to happen on this day. In their home. Today was the day the books would get packed. It was almost as if the sky and Mother Nature were telling her it would be OK (as she loved the rain, it was her comfort weather).

A house is not a home without books, or so she thought. She had been raised surrounded by books. Piled high on the book cases, rows three books deep in some places. Books shoved in nooks and crannies in her room, piled high on her desk, her bedside table. Reading had always been her escape, when life just became too much.

Reading was her life, beyond just a hobby, she desired nothing more than to live her life with a cup of tea in one hand and a book at her side (of course her husband and children fit into that picture as well). She wanted to make a life/career centered around books and she was working towards that.

She formed quite her own collection of books, although smaller than she had wanted at this stage of her life, it was still a very nice start to a home library. Three bookcases piled high, packed to the brim held her treasures. And then, in random corners of the rest of their home there would be books piled here and there, always in a neat and orderly fashion, but piled none the less.

Often times her husband would comment on the sheer amount of books that were coming into the little library of theirs, or when the piles in other places would grow to large ( though by and large he let her be as he saw how happy she was reading her books). Their kids would often thumb through her books, not really ready to truly read yet, but loving the act of thumbing the pages just the same. The kids library was quite substantial as well and they loved being able to pick up a book on a rainy afternoon as well (which is a story for another day).

She may not have read every book in her collection, but the ones she had read had left marks on her soul. Some left deeper marks than others, but each book had a memory of some sort. Her collection was her joy and bringing the collection into each home that they lived in was something special for her.

In fact, the first thing she would do whenever they moved and found a new house (they moved relatively frequently due to job) would be to bring in whatever books that she had squirreled away in their take with them luggage and set them up somewhere in the house. Usually this would lead to enough books for anyone to read in a month.

Their last move had been state to state, and only consist of a month of travel (vacation for her and her husband), but just a straight forward move. This move was different. An overseas move meant that her collection would be packed up and shipped on a boat, they wouldn’t be in a house for at least a couple months, which meant about 4 months without her library.

She didn’t panic (well maybe she did a little), but rather tried to take a practical approach. Pictures of every shelf, then a meticulous sort through to get through of whatever didn’t need to be kept, and then it was time for the hardest step before the movers came…picking the physical books that she would take with her.

This was probably the hardest packing decision there is. As a reader you never truly know what you will be in the mood to read next, where a certain book will leave you when you finish, and ultimately what you want to read will change with each book you read. It’s a tough call to make when you are going to be “in transition” for 4+ months. She wanted to have a bit of variety, but also some chunkier, longer books to keep her going.

**I want to clarify something- I have a kindle. I fully plan on taking advantage of that. BUT there is a difference between reading on a kindle and reading a physical book. I highly prefer physical books and so I definitely wanted to have some physical books on me, not just for reading purposes, but for comfort and home purposes.**

And so, all of her plans and preparations being done, the dreaded day had come. As the movers placed each book into the boxes she found herself feeling a mournful silence. It seemed quite silly in the moment. After all, they were just books, but then again they weren’t just books. They were stories that had touched her soul, some in incredible life changing ways.

And honestly, each book going into the box was a signal to her. This was happening. They were moving. Soon they would be in a new country. In a new environment. Navigating new adventures, new challenges. Learning a new language, a new culture. It was as if everything she had been feeling for the past few months had hit her in this moment of watching her collection get packed and loaded away.

Watching the moving truck pull away from the house (clutching one of her treasured books that would be traveling with her), she felt a sense of calm come over her. All the stress, the nerves, the planning had come to fruition and now they could just enjoy the vacation and travel to their new home. And of course, she had a small collection of books to accompany her and her family along the way.

 

*** Authors Note- I hoped you enjoyed this latest installment in my utterly ridiculous short stories of my life! I’ve been kind of enjoying poking fun at my seemingly innocent, but none the less stressful moments. I do want to say- I wasn’t going to start with “the morning dawned”, but it only felt right considering the last two started that way. Of course, as with the other two, this is meant to be a lighthearted look into an experience that I had and even though we got a little deep at the end, please know the humorous side of it.

Looking Forward Into 2019

2019 is going to be a BIG year for us. We are moving out of the country, into a new environment, new culture, new job, new schedule to work with. As exciting as this time is ( I am seriously bubbling over with excitement if that makes sense), I also know that we will have quite the adjustment to make with all of the changes.

I’ve spoken before about I don’t really make true resolutions. I feel like resolutions are just made to be broken and that rather than approaching a new year with a list of resolutions that will probably not be kept (no matter how hard we try), I would rather set what is commonly called intentions. For me, these are things that I would like to make sure I am either doing or open to doing in the New Year.

Let’s be honest for a minute and realize that who we are, what we think, what we want to do, isn’t going to magically change just because it is 2019. Rather we have to make distinctive goals and efforts to make changes that we want to see. If you want to lose weight in 2019, rather than setting a resolution, set yourself up with a couple of reasonable goals for throughout the year.

I usually set one big “phrase” of the year. Something that I hope to keep strong throughout the year and how I would like to approach the New Year. Then I’ll set a couple other little intentions for how I want my mindset to be, or if there is something I specifically would like to address in the new year.

This year my big phrase is: “Be Open”.

It may sound a little strange when it is just one incomplete sentence, but I just want to be open to whatever this year is going to bring us. I’ve mentioned (maybe a time or two before…or too many times before haha) what a big change this year is going to be. I just want to keep an open mind to everything and kind of just run with it. To just set out without anything really in mind and let the cookies fall where they fall.

This seeps into all of my other smaller intentions which honestly can be summed up into this: “You can’t plan everything”. I am an over planner, over thinker, and while I can “go with the flow” it is not my strong suit. This year I want to get better at just letting go of some of the planning that I do. I think that our move is the perfect chance for me to experience some of that letting go. I’ve also cut out some of the things that required such planning and routines, so that will also make it easier to make this change for the year.

Beyond just setting intentions, I also like to do the whole one word year. I like to pick one word at the start of a year for the year. What I want my focus to center on and what I would like to bring more into our lives. It doesn’t “govern” anything, but rather is a guide for what I want to focus on.

This year my word is: “Explore”.

I really just want to get better at getting out and exploring our area. The cultures, the experiences, the nature of where we are going to be. I feel like sometimes when we go to a new place we can fall into a trap of still sticking to what we know, where we are comfortable at. This year I really want to make sure that I am pushing all of us out to truly explore. To reach out of our comfort zones and experience new things.

I do have a couple of “smaller” goals that I want to accomplish throughout the year, and while I am not going to share them right here, if all goes the way I foresee I’ll be sharing all the details very soon!

Tell me, do you do resolutions, intentions, one word, something different, nothing at all? What do you do to prepare for the New Year?

I can feel it in my bones- this year is going to be incredible!!

2018 Wrap Up

I cannot believe that another year has passed! 2018 was a year of growth for me. Growing in myself, in my roles, watching my children grow, watching my marriage grow. I do the whole one word year concept and looking back as much as I didn’t choose the word “Grow” for my word in 2018, I really should have. I’m in a bit of a reflective mood as this year comes to a close (pretty normal).

We went through highs and lows and really learned a lot.

We celebrated: birthdays (Colton turned 2, Andrew turned the big 1, I turned 27, the Mr turned 32), a wedding anniversary (4 years!), a dating anniversary (does anyone actually do those? We hit 7 years together), and just the little every day moments that have started to become more and more important as life flies by.

We loved: I fell deeper and deeper in love with my husband, our children have shown us a love like no other, and I also fell in love with new experiences, new books, new teas, a couple (ok more than a couple) new mugs.

We learned: better communication skills (more so me getting better and asking for help when it is needed), how to balance life (we both took on a lot over the past year and had to work through how to balance everything), more about who we are as people and who we are as a family, how to adapt to an ever changing hard to plan everything life change (our big move!). Both kids have taken huge leaps with learning, constantly learning new skills and keeping us on our toes at every turn over the past year.

We traveled: Colonial Williamsburg, Kentucky, Canada, the zoo (multiple times), and all around DC. Our trips this year have been some of the best memories that we’ve ever made. Seeing family, new places, and crossing places off of different bucket lists has been a dream come true for us. Getting away and being together (whether it is just to visit family or go somewhere completely new) has always been a big part of our years and is a big part of our future plans.

Some of my favorite moments in the past year have been the one’s where we just were. No plans, no fancy home cooked meal, just us with some takeout in our sweats on the couch watching a movie. Watching my boys grow and learn and build their own little relationship with each other. I could go on and on about my favorite moments, my favorite things, my favorite books, etc, but there was A LOT! I have a hard time narrowing down my favorites to just a few things- I’ll spare us all that agony haha.

This past year has tested us, adjusting to two very active children in the second half of the year, trying to balance being a parent, with working and following my passions was a tricky path to navigate. Constantly feeling like I wasn’t doing enough, or getting enough done, and trying to figure out how to focus on everything at once was one of the biggest hurdles I faced this year.

I also want to say a huge, heartfelt thank you to all of you. To reading all of my posts, to joining in on my journey. I can’t tell you how much it means to me when you read, comment, and follow along. I never dreamed that even one person (outside my mom, dad, and nearest and dearest) would read what I have to say and now there are quite a few of you! I really appreciate all of you. If I could I would send hugs out to everyone.

We have a lot of changes coming as we look forward to 2019. It is going to be a big year for myself and my family and I can’t wait to continue sharing with you.

Tell me, how was your 2018? Any highs? Lows?

A Little Back End/Brand A Cuppa Cosy Reflection

***This post applies to what I’ve learned over the past year or so with my personal blog. It is not advice for anyone who is trying to run a business or have a full on brand. Just something I’ve come to learn/realize about myself, my blog, my “brand”.

I’ve been working on some behind the scene things in the blogging and social media world. Hemming and hawing over look, messaging, brand, a lot of back end stuff…

There is so much thought that goes into a lot of blog or Social Media postings for anyone. Even for the most random of personal blogs, there is still some planning and thought for posts. If you follow any influencer, or social media “assistant”, or really anyone who helps with these things, the big push is to know what your brand IS. Even as a personal blog it is important to know and differentiate what YOU bring to the table. Knowing that will turn a casual person who just stumbles onto a post into a lifelong follower or even a friend. So, it can be important.

A lot of times we are told to have one “thing”, something that stands out or makes us different from the other million blogs out there. A lot of times you’ll see it on Social Media, accounts use the same style filters for their pictures, or the same style of editing, similar captions…one cohesive look that is “them”.

This is not a BAD thing. It really works well, allows the casual viewer to know who the post is from, what it is saying, it gives an idea of who you are and what your brand is. What you are doing. It’s good to have a logo, a tagline, and a rough color/mood scheme. Beyond that though, I’m not entirely sure.

Here’s the thing…I don’t have a brand or an aesthetic. It’s just…me. What you see is what you get. Sometimes serious, sometimes goofy, always with a mug and a smile. And maybe that’s my aesthetic, I don’t know. All I know is the pressure that is put on bloggers and the like to cultivate your brand, have a certain aesthetic or look to your posts and feed is ridiculous. Sometimes that just isn’t who we are and that’s ok!

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t at least have an idea of what you are wanting to do. What do you want to share, how you want to share, etc, but I don’t think it is essential/a requirement to have a full on aesthetic. It may work for some, it may be beneficial for some, hell for a full business I would agree that it is essential.

But for me?

It’s constricting. It ties me down too much. Because like I said, I’m just me. I don’t follow just one path, and don’t stick to just one thing. I like to explore. I like to change things up fairly regularly. Talk about different things at different times. I like to live in the moment. The ONLY thing that I’ve come to realize stays the same as time passes is that everything I approach, I approach with a smile or a positive outlook, I bounce between being totally goofy/silly and serious, I love my tea and books, and I live honestly.

So, what am I trying to say here? I’m not totally sure, but I’ve just been doing some thinking about how I want to build this blog/brand. How I want to continue to move forward and grow the little community that we are cultivating. My little corner here is starting to grow, to shift and change and I want it to continue to do that in a way that works.

So, while you may not see a certain aesthetic, or a certain look to everything, just know you’ll always be getting me.

Round The Kettle Episode 6: Almost Christmas and A Special Visit!

IMG_7036.jpgI don’t want to cause any panic for anyone (see my earlier post this week about Holiday Stress if you feel panicy), but we are just about one week away from Christmas…

Have you finished your Christmas Shopping? Wrapped your gifts? Mailed any that needed mailed?

I hate to say that we got lucky this year, with our move coming so closely following Christmas, but it has certainly made this year a bit different for us. We didn’t put out any of the normal decorations we would have (because they will simply have to get packed back up ASAP for the movers to get up), we aren’t doing a normal amount of presents (because again, just for the movers to take with them), and I’ve been grateful for that.

This season of Christmas has become so centered around the decorating, the baking, the presents under the tree, but with 2 out of those 3 things essentially being removed, we are being able to focus on what is important to us. The time we get together on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day together. This is #1 in our books and I am grateful that this year we are being reminded and getting the chance to have that.

Not too mention that next year we will be in Germany for Christmas- and they DO NOT hold back when it comes to Christmas.

We’ve been a little frazzled when it comes to move related things. We’ve been loading up the things that are not going with us (being stored), trying to coordinate last minute appointments that have to be handled before we leave, deciding little things (like clothes, suitcases, toys that are going with us, not the movers). All of this on top of our standard jobs,  parenting, and out of town family visits. It’s all been a bit…much. Not too mention trying to keep a running tab of everything that has to be done.

I’ve been trying to take advantage of the bits of time that are not devoted to packing, working, or other standard home things, and getting us out of the house. My car will be getting shipped within a few days, so I’ve been making it a point of us going places. There will be a few weeks (while we are still here) that we will be down to one car and I want to make sure that any non important things get done now. That includes…visiting Santa!

That’s right, we went to go see the big man himself this past week. It was Andrew’s first visit and Colton’s second (we missed a year). The visit was a fun one and we got to scope out some big toys at the same time as we visited Santa at Cabela’s! The boys reactions were a bit surprising, my outgoing talk to anyone Colton did not want to sit on Santa’s lap (although he did run up and talk to him) and my shy, cling to mom Andrew gave a smile and might have actually sat on his lap! You can see the picture below and , despite Andrew’s face, they had a lot of fun seeing both Santa and all of the treats at Cabela’s.

SCAN0047.jpg

So, how are you? How are you feeling about it being so close to Christmas? Are you ready or are you just letting the time go and soak up the family time?

If You Could Do Anything…

IMG_7190.jpgI’m curious…if you could do anything, anything at all, what would you do? What is it that your soul yearns for? What is that you want to do, above all else.

Say the stars aligned right now, money, time, family, nothing was getting in the way of you chasing your dream…

What does that look like for you? Is there a way to make some version of that happen?

For me, my dream is two fold.

First, I would love to have a little book shop in a little town that offered walls and shelves lined with books, a little café with some tea and baked good offerings. Somewhere where anyone could find a small comfort, friendship, a safe space to just sit for a spell.

But I also want to do MORE with life (not that owning my own place wouldn’t be more). I want to inspire. I want to create a space for people to just not feel alone. To feel like there is someone else out there who gets it. I love to write. I love to write blog posts, to write short stories, and I’ve loved the beginning process of writing my book.

For years, I dreamed. I constantly thought about what I wanted to do, made plans, made goals for a future that I could have. For ways that I could live a life that I loved and was passionate about beyond being a wife and a mom (which were always dreams).

I’ve managed to live out my dreams in a way. To find a way to bring my passion, what sets my soul in place, to fruition. Now, I don’t own a bookstore, but I do share and talk about books over on The Cosy Book Shoppe. It was also an online store for a little while. Through that I’ve created a book community with the blog, the Youtube vlogs, and our book club. AND I’ve got this blog. This blog that allows me to share little bits of myself with others. To hopefully help others with my stories, my insights, my day to day.

So, to come full circle with my original question, is there a way for you to live out your dream, now? What is holding you back? Is it time? Is it family? Is it funding? Is it fear? Is it not knowing what exactly it is that you dream of? Is it dreaming of so much that you don’t even know where to start? What is it that is stopping you?

Tell me, what do you dream of doing and what is stopping you from doing it?