Breaking Bad Habits

We’ve all been there. We’ve all had those bad habits; the one’s that creep in when you are at a low point, or stressed, or too busy to really pay attention. Maybe it’s food, maybe it’s stress, maybe it’s your thoughts, whatever it is, they are the habits that can be hardest to break (and keep broken).

I’ve definitely succumbed to some bad habits lately. My food has not been the best between vacationing and the busy day to day that our month has been. My thinking has definitely hit some low points that have been hard to dig out of. My sleeping and exercising, hell my phone use, it’s kind of all started to add up to a whole lot of…bad habits and mess. I’ve been feeling like I need to…get my s*it back together and the best place to start that is…by breaking all those bad habits I’ve let back into my life.

I know I can’t be alone in this whole “life is hard, bad habits abound, I want to pull myself back together” phase, so I figured I would share a few blog posts on how I get myself out of a vicious funk and back on to my track. I’m going to do a post dedicated on breaking bad habits, getting organized (to include my routines which are new with a new house J), incorporating some self-care for busy schedules, and a look see into my rest of the year plans/goals. A little re center in time for Autumn to strike, right? I figured with school starting up for many of us (students and parents alike), now’s as good a time as any to…get our s*it back together.

So, how do we do this? We start with breaking the bad habits. Depending on what these habits are will dictate what your steps are. Let’s start by talking about our bad habits…

For me, the biggest bad habit that has really come back is my eating. I’ll admit I’ve been frequenting the junk food (chips and popcorn especially) and over the past two months I’ve probably had more soda than I’ve had collectively in the past year. It’s been a mess. I’m not going to go on and on about food, but basically it plays such a vital role in both our physical and mental wellbeing. When we are not nourishing our body properly, we can’t be expected to be at our best.

The second biggest bad habit that I’ve let really back in is my thoughts. We’ve had a…month. It hasn’t been BAD, nothing has really gone truly wrong, it was just harder than we expected coming back from vacation and jumping straight back into life. I don’t really want to talk about it, or complain about it (because it could have been much worse), but I’ll simply say that it was a little tougher than expected. And to be honest, at some points I reveled in that negativity a little too much. I constantly waged a battle with how I was feeling, and what I was actually thinking and wanting to feel. Perspective can be a b*tch basically. I hate to admit how many days I let those negative thoughts win and became a do nothing for the day. I’ll talk more about all of this (and our month) later.

So, we’ve figured out what our bad habits are (hopefully you’ve acknowledged yours in the comments). This is the most important. Once we pinpoint what the bad habits are, we can pinpoint where they come from and how to break them.

The next step is to figure out what kind of habit breaker are you, cold turkey or slowly back away. These are both fairly straightforward, cold turkey being stopping completely and slowly backing away meaning slowly cutting back on whatever those habits are.

For me, and like many others, I bounce back and forth. If it’s a food habit, I have to cut cold turkey, but most other things I ease out of slowly. In fact, most of the times if I have a bad food habit and cut it out, everything else seems to right itself in time (see how much of a role food plays?).

So, starting yesterday, Sunday August 25, 2019 the only junk food that is in my house is pre popped popcorn and any home baked goods that I choose to make. For me, if I don’t see it, I don’t want it. If it’s in my house, chances are it’ll get eaten. Now, you may be thinking that that is a random date to start making changes on, and it is in a way. Because you don’t want to wait for the start of a new month, or the start of a new year, or any other start. JUST START.

That’s the third step. Once you know what to do, do it! Don’t wait for any timeline, because when that timeline comes around chance are, you won’t do it. If you are in the mindset now of breaking those bad habits (and chances are if you’re thinking about this or reading this, then you are), then now is the time to start. Starting is easy!

If it’s a food thing, get rid of whatever. If it’s a thought thing, start tracking what you are grateful for every day. If it’s a stress thing, implement stress relieving techniques (my favorite is yoga or any form of exercise). Start journaling, write down the process, your thoughts, your feelings.

The final step to breaking a bad habit is to stick with it. Let’s be honest, the first week is easy. You are riding on that “I’ve got this” high and you feel great. The second week is relatively easy, you’ve still got that feeling going. It’s the third week. The third week those habits start to try and creep back in. DON’T LET THEM. If you make it through the third week without those bad habits, it only takes through the end of the fourth week before they are broken. Stick with it! Don’t get to week three and cave in to whatever it is. Stay strong and remember that you are strong enough to get through anything. Breaking those bad habits won’t break you and you’ll feel better on the other side.

So, what bad habit are you ready to break?

At A Crossroads

You know, it’s funny. I’ve been waiting a while to be able to say that I am a Stay at home Wife/Mom and a full-time blogger/writer. To only list myself as a “Wife, Mom, and Writer/Blogger”. To not have to worry about getting my hours in for my job, getting the endless work that came with that done, and having to fit my passion around those requirements. It’s something that I dreamed of for so long, that really everyone dreams of. The ability to just follow your passion. Who doesn’t want that?

Back in December I talked about how I had resigned from my job. It wasn’t something that would be possible with our move and something that had already been on the table prior. I am not going to get into all of the details of all of that because it’s not really relevant to this post. Let’s just say I am now able to follow my passion and as a family we can live the life that we have been dreaming of.

Here’s the thing, I don’t really know what that truly looks like.

I mean, I know what my life looks like as a Wife. I know what my life looks like as a Mom. I know what I want to accomplish as a Blogger. It’s a strange combination though and it’s something that while it rolls right off my tongue in a happy sort of way, still feels quite foreign to me. The idea that my role has changed ever so slightly. That my days are completely different- no longer searching for random pockets of time to plan a blog post, sneaking in moments here and there while my kids are eating at the table to answer emails or comments.

I took a couple weeks off at the beginning of February, to take a little vacation, to settle in to our new space (not home, not yet at least), to ease what I thought would be a hard transition. It was supposed to be a 3-4 week time period, but I found myself getting restless very early on. We are in a hotel apartment, so we have the cleaners (although I still do dishes, clean our kitchen and do the daily sweeping and tidying), we eat about 3 meals out (sometimes 4), and while I’ve loved catching up on my reading, I’ve missed the act of creating. Of doing.  I needed to write. I needed to get back into a swing of things of some sort.

And now? Well now I’m trying to navigate this new crossroads. Our schedule really only has to navigate around some type of afternoon nap for the kids rather than before when I was having to make sure that we stuck to a strict schedule so I could carefully work everything into a day. We have a freedom to get out, to explore, to DO MORE during the week day. I can truly set my own schedule and as I have access to 99% of what I would actually need to do anything on my phone, we can just pick up and go on an adventure at any time. And as strange as it is to me to say this, it feels weird. Freeing? Yes, but somehow foreign. The idea that our time is wholly ours and we can do with it what we will. I look forward to creating a new schedule that works with everything that we want to do AND lets me follow and nurture my passions along the way.

I’ll conclude this rambly mish mash of a post by saying how blessed we are and how blessed I am. I don’t know what the future will hold for us later on down the road, but I know that I am going to soak up everything I can right now and make the most of this blessing.

My #1 Piece of Advice

Whenever I have a conversation with someone who is just starting something, whether it be motherhood, a new job, marriage, whatever, inevitably the conversation goes somewhere towards advice. I get this a lot when I talk with other expectant moms or engaged couples. Big life changes can be daunting and sometimes it helps to talk to someone else who has been through it (and sometimes it doesn’t, I get it either way).

While I try not to offer unsolicited advice (I remember how much I hate that myself), if I get asked for any tips this is ALWAYS my go to answer:

“Be open to the idea that NOTHING is going to go the way you have it planned out”

Yep, Type A, planner/organized/list maker me just said that. This one piece of advice is the one piece that I feel like everyone tap dances around, but never just comes out and says it. It can be applied to any situation and is both blunt/honest and yet kind. It’s the best piece of advice I ever heard and it is the single most true thing anyone has ever said about life.

We can try and plan things out, set goals, and map out the direction our life will take. I would hazard a guess that our lives end up going that path 75% of the time. Life throws curveballs all the time: that dream promotion went to someone else, relationships come to an end, pregnancy is not the dream that we thought it would be, the list goes on and on.

When we get those curveballs, we fall into two categories:

Category 1: We freak out and try to resist wherever it is that we are being pulled in order to stay on track with our perfect life plan. We desperately cling to our plans/lists/goals and crumble at the curveball that has just been thrown. A good amount of us end up staying in this category, unsure of how to pull ourselves out and get back to where we want to be.

Category 2: We roll with the punches and try to adjust our plans and goals around whatever the curve ball may be. These are the people who are taking the advice given above and putting it into action. They are the ones who seem to always have their stuff together and always seem to getting places.

I’m not saying that we can’t dwell or process the curveball when it is thrown our way. Absolutely in some cases we will need to process and deal. The difference is that if we make our goals and plans knowing that they may shift and change as life moves forward, then we can continue on after we’ve processed the curveball. When we make our life plans, if they are made with this knowledge, then we can bounce around the curveballs (and maybe hit a few of our own) with ease. Knowing that we will get to where we are meant to be.

So, whether you are engaged, an expectant mother, a soon to be graduate, or looking at a major life change, just keep in mind that things may not go according to your plan. Welcome those curveballs and keep moving forward with your life.

Planning and Writing in 2019

I’ve said it time and time before, I’m a paper and pen kinda girl. I really enjoy having a paper planner as well as a journal to write in. I feel much more “together” when I can physically write out exactly what I need to do, how I’m feeling, and future plans.

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This year I am, once again, using a Day Designer planner. These can get a bit pricey for a planner, but so far they are the only planner that I’ve found that has everything that I like. I’ve got a monthly overview, as well as daily sheets that are half page time, half page to do list. It was absolutely perfect last year and I have a feeling it will be this year as well. I like to see where my time is being spent and to kind of “plot” my days out in bits of time, so having both is a major help.

The only difference from last year to this year in terms of planning is the size. I am going down from the bigger flagship to the slightly smaller version of the flagship. I do not think I am going to need as much room this year, as I’m only blogging, homemaking and “wife-ing”/parenting (and traveling!) this year. I am not balancing a job along with everything else.

As far as journaling goes, I am doing something fun! I’ve decided to switch things up from last year. My big thing last year was to cut down on notebooks. I didn’t want to have everything spread across a million different notebooks and journals, but rather one central location for everything. It didn’t work out well for me. It’s hard to track everything in one notebook when you are doing such a variety of things and I found myself doing it less and less as the year went on. I found that if I had made notes about a blog post I wanted to write it was really annoying to have to wade past random things to find the one note I made who knows when.

So, this year I am going to go back to how it was. I am going to have my planner, and then a couple different notebooks. I’ve got one for reading and my book notes (which then comes into play for my book blog), I’ve got one for blogging (different topics, rough outlines, overall thoughts and goals), and then an actual journal. I want to try and lump everything that doesn’t fall into the book or blogging sphere into my actual journal, whether that be ideas for stories or personal entries. I don’t want to go back a few years ago when I literally had about 10 different notebooks I was using- that was a little too much. It sounds complicated, and it may be a little over complicated, I’ll find out as the year goes on. I’ve got a couple journals lined up for the first few months of the year and then I’ll purchase as needed. I plan on doing a lot more writing this year than I have in the past.

So that is my set up for 2019! Are you a pen and paper person or do you plan/write digitally?

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?

Making Your Marriage Your Priority

 

You hear it all the time “Take care of your marriage. Make time for your spouse. Your kids will grow up, they will move away and it will just be you and your spouse again”. I think it is probably the most common piece of advice expecting parents get. And in a way it is completely true. I mean, your kids will grow up and they will find their own lives. You will still be important to them, but as they grow they become more independent.

That’s important, but, also important to note, is that what your children see in your relationship with your spouse, their parent, is what they will view for themselves when that time comes. The interaction between you and your spouse is the first model to them of what a marriage or partnership looks like. And so, for both those reasons, it is important to focus on your relationship with your spouse.

But how do you do that? How do you make time for your spouse when it feels like your children have sucked time out of you (that sounds a lot worse than it really is, I promise)? Whether you work out of the house or are a Stay at Home Parent it is tough. Regardless of what you do, you are trying to meet the never ending needs of your children, being both the constant entertainer, teacher, mediator (if you have multiple children), protector, and guide. Your days are long (although the years are short) and when the day is over it can be so hard to want to stay up a little bit later and be present for someone else.

Taking time for your spouse is just as important as taking time for yourself. They say that you can’t take care of others until you take care of yourself. Well you and your spouse can’t effectively parent and be married if you are not taking care of each other.

It doesn’t take long, a simple 5-10 minutes to just see how they are doing. To check in with them on how their day was. To remind them that they are doing a good job. To tell them that you are proud of them. To give them a little peck, or shoulder rub. These little gestures, little moments of contact goes so far into “keeping the spark alive”.

Don’t wait till your one night (keep reading for that), do it now. You don’t need grand gestures, flowers or chocolates. Most of the time you just need a moment. A moment of just you and your spouse where you only focus on each other. A moment can be all it takes from going to bed feeling like a disaster on all fronts to going to bed feeling on the same page as someone else.

Take a night, once a week. Stay up later, cuddle on the couch, make it a point on that night to put away all the distractions and just focus solely on each other. It doesn’t have to be a go out to dinner and a movie date night, it doesn’t have to even be a get a sitter night (keep reading though for that…), it just needs to be a night where you can be with each other. *You can read about our take on this HERE.

Take a night out, wherever fits into your own budget, get a sitter and go do something outside the house with your spouse. Whether that’s dinner, a concert, a hike, whatever, get out into the world. Remember what it was like to go on a date with your spouse. Take a couple of hours and remember what life was like before you had babies crying at your feet, or a toddler needing help going to the bathroom. Hold hands while you are walking, sit across from each other and have discussions without having to reprimand your children halfway through a sentence. I gauruntee you and your spouse come back to the house 100% refreshed and ready to tackle those moments. We are homebodies so we don’t always do date nights like this, but we are getting better about it.

Finally, look back through your photo albums. Walk down memory lane. Remember that first date? Remember your wedding day? Look back through the photos, you’ll be surprised how many little memories pop through your mind and remind you what that moment was like.

How do you and your spouse place your marriage first?

Friday Morning Cups – 3 Things I Want You To Know About Me

IMG_7908We get asked at the start of a conversation with someone new about what we do. Who we are. I find myself answering with just the standard of, “I’m a wife and a mom.” and this seems to suffice, but I got to thinking that while those are my two most important roles, they do not describe all of me. They represent a part of me, a very big and important part of me, but that is not all I am. I am more than those two labels. So, I want to share three things that don’t fall under those labels. In turn, I’d like you to share something that doesn’t fall under a typical description of you. So…

  1. I love writing. I hesitate to say I am a writer or anything like that and I don’t particularly find that I am great at it (although I am improving), but there is something special to me about sitting down with a pen and paper and just…”word vomiting”. Spilling out everything that is jumbled in my head onto paper. Then sorting through that to come up with blog posts, stories, bits for my book, etc. in the same realm, I am an avid reader. 
  2. I’m actually a fairly private, fly under the radar type of person. Funny, huh? If you follow along you’ll notice that there are certain things I keep very close to my heart and there are several reasons for that. I am open and honest about 80% of my life and the other 20% just stays private. I also don’t really like being the center of attention, I’ll shy away from that as much as possible. 
  3. I love to be in the kitchen. This is one of those funny ones as I am not a chef, or even really a cook, I just really enjoy preparing meals, baking various items, and then cleaning up afterwards. If I’m having a rough day, I’ll step into a kitchen and cook dinner or bake some sort of treat and instantly just feel better. 

So, those are my three! What about you?