Happy new year, my friends! I’m still in shock that 2018 is actually over. I mean, it was a great year, but it went so quickly. I didn’t write here as much as I wished, but that was mostly because life/the calendar was so full, it was difficult to find time to sit down and put together a blog post. It’s hard to complain about life being so full, but I do want to attempt to do more writing for fun in 2019, and that’s really what this blog is all about.
But before we get going on the new year, I wanted to revisit some of the goals I shared here last year that would be my focus for 2018. I’m a pro at overshooting when it comes to goals, so last year I decided to focus on three things as opposed to the giant list I usually make for myself. I wrote posts about all of these at the beginning of last year, which you can read here.
Cut Down on Social Media and iPhone Use
As we entered 2018, I was feeling very overwhelmed by social media and the feelings of anxiety that came along with being attached to the entire world through my phone. So in January, I went on a bit of a social media break, and it was the perfect way to start the year. I slowly started posting to my Instagram, Facebook and Twitter again in the spring, as it was difficult to cut the cord completely with my job and my advocacy work. But in May I ended up having an unfortunate experience that convinced me to take another extended break. I ended up completely staying off social media from mid-May through July, and it was WONDERFUL. I am still struggling a bit with what this means for me long term. I know that social media has benefits too, and it’s a necessity in my work, but balance is hard to achieve. This is something I’m going to keep working on in 2019, with a few planned social media breaks on the calendar. You can read more about my social media break and the resources I used in this post.
Focusing on Friendship
My post about how I wanted to put more of a focus on my friendships in 2018 was my most read and commented post of the year! It turns out I definitely wasn’t alone in my feelings about friendship as a mom and woman in my 30’s. This year I did a couple of things that were out of my comfort zone in regards to friendship. I went to lunch and coffee with women in my circle who reached out after reading my post. I sent a note to a group of friends from all different walks of life, asking if they’d like to join in on a group chat in the Voxer App, an app where you can send voice messages to each other as if you’re having a live conversation. Six women said yes and we have been “voxing” for almost a year! It has been such an incredible journey, as many of these women didn’t know each other prior to joining the group, and we’ve developed such a lovely, encouraging space where we share about everything from raising kids, marriage, career and more. The best part for me has been watching my friends BECOME friends with each other. I would call this group one of my biggest wins of 2019.
Consuming vs Creating
After years of spending too much on fast fashion and ill-fitting clothes, in 2019 I decided to take on the challenge of not buying any new clothing. This goal was harder than I anticipated! It’s surprisingly difficult to go to Target and NOT buy a random garment that I don’t need. But I actually did okay on this one. I did end up “cheating” a few times, buying new running sneakers when my old ones wore out, and a new sweater this fall when I bought Lucy some new school clothes, but for the most part, I stuck to my goal. One of the biggest revelations in the process was how LITTLE I really do need. My wardrobe is fairly complete, and save a few specialty items, I have no reason to get anything new. I feel like this goal really changed my buying habits, and even though the year is over, I am finding myself resistant to fast fashion, instead looking to add pieces that I can wear forever or that are handmade.
What goals did you set for yourself last year? How did you do? I certainly wasn’t perfect, but I’m proud of the progress I made in 2018, and I’m looking forward to adding some new intentions to the calendar for 2019!
Yesterday you turned eight and today is the last day of school before we start holiday break. I’m starting the break with a bit of a “fun headache” from the epic tale that was your birthday. I know having a birthday so close to Christmas can be a bummer (just ask your dad), so I do my best each year to make it extra joyful. This year was supposed to be more chill, since we only do parties every other year, but a late night stroke of genius changed all that when I sat up in bed and thought “We should take the kids to Winterfest at World’s of Fun for Tate’s birthday!” You were thrilled with this idea, so last night we closed down the amusement park with two of your best friends and our family. You were the only ones on the rides by the end of the night, as it was under 30 degrees and most of the park visitors had lost feeling in their toes (including myself and your dad), but it was worth it to see how completely happy you were to have this special celebration.
You are simultaneously goofy and very serious, which is sometimes challenging as a parent. You’re incredibly sensitive and intense, and your moods are EXTRA. You are often the happiest kid in the room, but just as often you can become withdrawn or upset, and teaching you how to feel your feelings, work through them, and come to a resolution has been one of my main goals as your mother. I don’t want you to stuff any of those emotions, but you also can’t wallow, and that’s a hard lesson for me at 36-year-old, let alone you at EIGHT.
This year we dealt with some real fear for the first time as I watched you experience episodes of anxiety. Your fear of thunderstorms and tornadoes spiraled to a point where we were having a hard time managing them. I am so grateful we were able to find a wonderful child therapist who has taught you (and me!) so much about fear and anxiety. I am incredibly thankful we are able to deal with some of these issues now, instead of waiting until you are an adult and so much of your thinking is solidified. I’m so proud of how you’ve handled these obstacles this year and how hard you’ve worked to overcome them. I know this is not a straight path, but what we’ve learned this year will help both of us for the rest of our lives.
Right now your loves include: sports (soccer, basketball, swim team, baseball and recently you’ve started talking about hockey too), cats, your friends, video games, making mama laugh by making derpy faces, and reading. That last one is HUGE for us, since we started this year way behind on your reading abilities. But in the last three or four months, it all finally clicked for you and now you’re reading for pleasure whenever you can find a minute, just like your sister. Your favorite books are Dogman, Catstronauts and the Ranger the Dog series.
Tate, you are bold and brave, often overcoming fears just to prove others wrong. You strive to be the best at everything you do, and want others to do the same. You are kind and sensitive, wearing shirts with sloths and kittens on them because they are “just so cute,” inviting a girl in your class to sit at the special table on your birthday because she was having a bad day, and loving to snuggle whenever the opportunity allows. I am so grateful for you and how you’re growing, learning and changing every day.
A few weeks ago you came into my bed to snuggle and chat, and for the first time in ages, you fell asleep in my arms. I couldn’t believe how big you felt, and I realized it won’t be very long until you will no longer EVER fall asleep curled up in my hug. I felt a bit of sadness for future me, who will miss those moments so much, but then I looked at your face with your long eyelashes fluttering on your cheeks as you dreamed, and decided instead of being sad, I wanted to fully be present in that moment. That way, even when you’re a giant, smelly teenager, I’ll still have that memory to pull me back to these wonderful moments of parenting my sweet eight-year-old.
I love you, Tater.
There is something pretty amazing about finding a creative outlet and losing yourself in it. I’ve been fortunate enough to have had lightening strike twice before in this capacity. First, when I started this blog in 2004. What began as a way for me to let off steam, share with friends and family, and improve my writing voice quickly became one of the best parts of my life. I found myself writing into all hours of the night, only stopping when I could no longer keep my eyes open. I wasn’t writing for the likes or clicks, but because I simply enjoyed it.
Later, I found a similar peace in photography. I would sit at my computer as my family slept, learning new editing techniques and taking online classes. Photography felt like a puzzle that I was learning how to put together. I couldn’t afford to go back to school full time, but I could use every tool the internet put at my fingertips to be the best I could be. At the time, I wasn’t charging for my skills or take photos of others, but instead just doing it for the pleasure of creating. It was a wonderful time in my life.
It’s been a few years since I took these creative endeavors and made them into my career, and while I wouldn’t change a second of it, I do often miss that feeling of joy and freedom that comes from just making something because you feel called to do so, with no thought of outcomes.
I have been noodling around the thought of creating a podcast for a few years, but I never found an idea that really lit me up. I didn’t want to remake any of the amazing podcasts already out there, I wanted to do something new. However, I’ve been lucky enough to have been interviewed for a few awesome podcasts, so I had baseline knowledge of what I needed to make one of my own. And out of nowhere, this past summer (while in the shower because all good ideas come while I’m in the shower) I had finally had an idea for a podcast that I couldn’t shake. You see, that’s how I know a creative inspiration is one that MUST be carried out…when I just can’t get it out of my head. Usually the plans come and go, but this one just kept cropping up in my mind. So I decided to sit down and do some research…how does one create a podcast?
Turns out, my old friend “The Internet” still holds a lot of keys to the mysteries of creativity, and I found a wealth of information to get me started. Now, usually this leads to me becoming overwhelmed and giving up. But not this time!
I slowly started working on this little idea until it became a reality. And today, I’m sharing it with you!
Never Not Grateful is a podcast about how gratitude can change your life for the better. One of the most significant tools I’ve used in the last five and a half years into my recovery has been cultivating a daily gratitude practice, and I realized this is something that’s not as popular outside of the recovery world. I wanted to share how gratitude has changed my life, and how anyone can use a gratitude practice to make themselves happier and healthier. Of course gratitude makes us feel better emotionally…that’s obvious! But did you know that by consistently practicing gratitude, you can improve your mental and physical health as well? It’s true! Studies have shown that people who practice gratitude sleep better, have more energy, are more alert, live longer and are more optimistic. So why not give it a shot?
Never Not Grateful is a podcast that will dive deeper into how to create a gratitude practice, how to cultivate it daily, and how to surround yourself with people who encourage thankfulness. We will be talking about specific, simple things you can do TODAY to change your life for the better. I will also be interviewing inspiring people about how they have used gratitude to get through life’s challenges. I have plans to do episodes on motherhood, politics, grief and much more.
This is the first time in a few years that I’ve felt the creative pull from beyond…like I couldn’t rest until this idea was made and put forth into the world. However, I am feeling a little apprehensive. So far the only people that have listened to Never Not Grateful have been those in a trusted circle. It has been received with such joy and support, I have been overwhelmed, and part of me wants to keep it close so it can’t be ruined by critiques and unkindness. But then I remember the whole point of making this thing was to encourage more people to share and cultivate gratitude, and that won’t happen if I keep it all to myself. I hope you enjoy this little project and that it helps you find a little more gratitude in your day.
You can follow Never Not Grateful on Instagram, and listen via most podcast apps, including:
*If you don’t see your podcast app listed here, try searching for Never Not Grateful within the app itself and it should come up. Click the video below to hear a short preview of our first episode. If you enjoy Never Not Grateful, please rate and review in your podcast app, as that’s the best way for new podcasts to get seen by more people!