Practice Makes Progress

Happy New Year!

I make resolutions. I think I do this because I like projects. I want things to get better and I want me to get better, at least, at what’s important to me. It’s not about viewing myself as flawed, but about focusing on the things that matter, so that my time and my life are spent with more clarity and purpose. I come up short – all the time. But I like having some direction and focus. Starting a fresh year by reexamining those goals and trying to achieve them to some degree feels good. So. Resolutions.

One. Health.
I want to implement the two-day rule, courtesy of Matt D’Avella. The short version is that you never take more than two days in a row off of something that you want to do consistently. In this case, I mean working out, but to encourage success, I am defining that broadly to mean I want to do a mix of cardio (focusing on running), stretching (yoga or stretch/strength), and weights. I loved how strong I was when I lifted during 21 Day Fix and 80 Day Obssession. I miss running. I hate most cardio, though. And at 41 (.5), I need to stretch to keep my flexibility as I get older (the muscle tone piece is increasingly important for bone strength, too). Today is January 3; so far I have run ten “driveway dashes” (200-foot dashes with my kiddo done consecutively) for cardio/day 1, and last night I did a great yoga program. Tonight, I will do weights, but that option includes simple body weight exercises like planks, pushups, crunches, squats, lunges, and the like, whether or not dumbbells or other external weights are involved. It doesn’t matter how much I do, though I’d love to get to 150 minutes of exercise each week; even ten minutes (or ten driveway dashes) counts. It just has to be focused, intentional, and something more than my everyday activity. While not explicitly stated, I also want to increase my daily water intake. The goal is 64 ounces, but yesterday I managed 80. My skin, especially in my 40s, is so dry in the winter, even with moisturizer. So. From within.

Two. Shop.
At various points, and depending on my debt reduction goals at the time, my shopping budget has been around $150-200 per month. It’s more likely that I’ve spent $200-300, though, which is why debt reduction becomes an issue. Especially since I left my office job to stay home last summer, it’s so important to me to keep my debt under control. I have a small amount of carryover debt from Christmas ($600), which I’m juggling between cards to avoid interest. I hate this. So I’m funding a sinking fund for gifts, setting my clothing budget at $200 per month, and reducing in other areas to avoid this next year (one spot was my hair which I seem to alternate between doing never and six times each year; I’ve set it at a fixed four appointments per year, which allows me to plan for the expense appropriately).

For the actual shopping part, I have multiple goals. The first one is to limit clothing shopping (as much as possible) to even months only (Feb/Apr/June/Aug/Oct/Dec). This should work well, and give me time to plan. This also means that in the months I can shop, I effectively have $400 to play with, instead of $200. So if my desire/need warrants, I can try some of these special and ethical brands that are normally outside my budget. For day-to-day pieces, I am also continuing Stitch Fix (every other month, with Style Pass), and I will continue to look to Everlane for many of my basics, though I’m interested in checking out Grana, Kotn, Pact, and a few other places, too.

These practices will help me work toward my other goals of 1/clearing out clutter (I’m thinking about trying ThreadUp’s closet cleanout), 2/only adding #20in2020 new items to my closet, and 3/”aging my money” (my goal is first to have $600 banked before my usually monthly spending, which could take the entire year, and then to save and invest anything in excess of that). Note that these are my personal budget goals, which are outside of our household’s money budget and goals, which include aggressive savings for life and retirement, debt minimization, and funding all expenses appropriately).

Finally, I’d like to do more thrifting. For the special pieces like Elizabeth Suzann, etc., I think this will come naturally. Buying secondhand allows me to save a little over the high retail price (however appropriate it may be, it’s still a lot of money!), and is the most sustainable option. I already do a bit of shopping through Poshmark. If I am not purchasing through Stitch Fix, I would like to try to buy secondhand first.

That said, I’ve been drooling over a particular ES piece for ages (the Harper Tunic), and so I may start by digging for that secondhand. (An additional bonus to buying ES secondhand is that the pieces arrive much more quickly – they are made-to-order and take about 4-6 weeks when purchased new). My dream Harper is in a great neutral (New England ocean/beach colors), long-sleeved, near-year-round weight (cozy over a long-sleeve tee and breathes over a tank or bra), and the right size – probably OSM. Stay tuned to see if this is the year I finally get it.

Three. Organize.
This is an always goal, but the focus this time is to get the basement cleaned out and organized before May 15, 2020. Why May 15, 2020? That’s when the children break for summer from their preschool. I have also signed them up for Spanish and lunch on Wednesdays this semester to give me a long stretch without kids in the house. Some of these days will be used for meetings or lunches or other things, but at least twice a month, I’d like to dedicate them to working in the basement. Specifically, I plan to empty each bin, catalog the contents, purge what we don’t need, reorganize things and update labels, and deep clean the basement storage (lots of spiderwebs and water stains because it’s an OLD basement).

If I have time, the second priority is to work on photo albums. The last vacation/family album I made was for our Paris trip in 2012. I need to do one for Florida/Keys, Grand Lake/CO, Hawaii, Michigan, Lolo’s birth (I did manage to make one for Henry and Anna’s a couple of years ago), Gulf Shores, and South Carolina. We took a break in 2017 (Lo was a newborn) and we don’t know what we’re doing yet for 2020 vacation, but need to get on it! Maybe the Caribbean?

When those are finished, I want a book for each family photo session (we print and frame our favorites, but buy all digital rights, so why not have a way to look at them all easily?), and then I have a project I’d like to do ASAP for my mom and her sisters that is dependent upon the basement deep clean…

Finally, once those goals are met (hahaha, maybe by 2021??), I want to start minimizing what we have in our main living spaces. With 4.5s and a 2.5, baby toys are still often appealing, but we’ve starting purging baby items, the youngest is doing GREAT with potty training, and there is a light at the end of the baby-gear tunnel. I even said to Joe that I can see us purging the rest of the plasticware in another few years…

Four. Write.
Step one, blog more. I have implemented MANY goals for how often and what I write here. I wanted to blog daily, then weekly, then sometimes I was lucky to have a post a year. I do use and MISS this spot, so I’m bumping up the priority. My goal will be to post on Fridays and we’ll see how that goes. I RARELY schedule posts — more likely I hit publish the second I am finished, and since this space is part journal (very stream of conscious, not much editing), that’s fine. To help myself succeed, I will try to schedule things not written on Fridays for a future date. Unless there’s a particular topic I’m honing in on (resolutions, for example), I will try to have a section for the things that still matter to me: Improving our Household, Books (I am aiming to finish twelve books in twelve months), Wardrobe, Musings, and Family/Parenting.

I’m also starting a physical journal, where I’ll do more personal writing (goals, feelings, fears). I hope to write in it every day, and expect those entries to often be short.

Word of the Year.
So many things I follow and read suggest setting an intention for the year, so I’m trying it this year. My chosen word is rest. Yes, more sleep. Yes, more downtime. But the focus I’m highlighting is peace of mind or spirit. I want to sit with my goals for my career, and the type of parent I am and want to strive to be for my children. I want to start weekly meetings for our family on Sunday nights. I want to be present in my faith and each season of my life and appreciate them for what they are. I want to practice releasing my anxieties to let go and let God, and focus my energy on things I can control (and in particular, my reactions to things that stress me out). I am placing this idea of “rest” upon Psalm 116:7:

Return to your rest, o my soul, for the Lord has been good to you.

Happy New Year.

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