welcome ... enjoy yourself

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

four simple goals review (2014)

This year, I split my 2014 new years resolutions/goals into small monthly goals.  Four each month, each designed to be completed in a 28/30/31 day period.  I fell off the wagon at the end of the year, but I really enjoyed these little goals this year.  Today I'm sharing a post about how I did and what I learned from my goals this year.  You'll notice I started the goal challenge in February but made some retroactive goals for January.  After my monthly recap I have a summary of the goals I accomplished through this challenge + lessons learned.  


If I would have made a list for January it would have included: sign up for a roller derby bootcamp (check!), make homemade ice cream (check!), plan a trip (check!), and finish all my 101 goals (complete un-check!). 

Limit my Facebook visits to once a day: kind of.  Limited but not to once a day.  Plan my garden: check.  Take an overnight trip with Paul: check (went to Madison for Valentine's Day).   Decorate for the season: check. I added some cute winter/Valentine's Day decorations to our apartment.  

Edit and print five photos: check.  Monthlong Apartment Therapy Cure: Nowhere close to finishing this.  But I did make a list of things I want to work on in our apartment, so it was worth putting on my goal list just for getting that list made.  Purchase and start seeds: Done and done. Read a book: Nope.  Instead I painted (and played derby and cooked and walked the dogs and planned my garden).  I find I go in waves of either reading a lot or creating a lot.  I can't seem to do both at the same time. 

Finish the paintings: painted but didn't finish anything.  Make time for quiet: yes.  Organize the art room: not really.  Daily stretching: not really. (I almost didn't post a review of this month because I was embarrassed that I didn't officially check anything off, but I decided that posting this would help me to stay accountable to myself.)  

Ride my bike: Yes. I realized I was getting to the end of the month and hadn't ridden anywhere yet so I road my bike to the end of the driveway and back to my garage.  Create a food budget: We took some great steps towards getting our food spending and usage in check.  Make a photo album: I picked a lot of the photos I wanted for my wedding album, but I just didn't have the energy to make a whole album.  Miles challenge: Yes, I finished all 30 skating miles and my 30 walking/running miles!  

Travel healthy: I was out of town for 9/30 days this month, and I found having this goal in the back of my mind was helpful for keeping myself healthy.  Plan garden recipes: I bought an A to Z vegetable recipe book through my CSA which has been helping me come up with creative ways to cook all the veggies coming from the CSA, the garden, and the farmers market. Upload photos: Big fail!  After setting this goal, I promptly changed my mind and began working on something else.  Be present: This is one of those areas I'll always be working to improve at.  There were a few times this month when I purposely hid my phone away, ignored chores, and postponed other responsibilities so I could just sit and be.   

I gave my best at roller derby, and I passed my 101 level WFTDA skills test!  This was a huge accomplishment for me because I really had to push myself to skate faster and with greater skill than I had done before.  Launch blog update: check!  I'm really, really happy with how it looks, and I feel like it reflects my style much better than my last blog design. Send photos to friends: fail.  Take time for myself: check.   I was also really proud of how I took time for myself in the midst of a very busy and very stressful month.  There's a line in one of my favorite Youtube meditation videos that says "the world will not come to an end because you are taking time for yourself."  This thought has stayed with me and has shifted the way I think about productivity.  


It's harder to say what I would have done this month since it was already five months ago, and I forgot to do a goal list with the craziness of transitioning from one full time job to two part time jobs.  But I have a feeling the list would have included something about starting my new job and wearing a pair of sassy high heels that I never feel quite confident enough to wear.  The start to my new job went smoothly and I rocked the heels!  

Buy new glasses: nope.  5k training: I hit an unexpected road block with this goal.  I started having a lot of pain in my left knee whenever I bent my leg (pretty much all the time).  I went to see a physical therapist and was given some simple exercises that corrected my alignment and very quickly minimized the pain.  Raise money for AFSP: check!  Close Wolski's: I had a day all scheduled to close Wolski's.  I had picked a Sunday evening, thinking that it would let me close Wolski's and get to sleep at a reasonable time.  And then I called them to confirm their Sunday hours.  And they said they close at 2 am.  2 am!!  Who can stay up that late???  Not this girl.  Closing Wolski's may eventually happen, but it's going to be on some night where I'm already feeling a little crazy - and I definitely do not have to work in the morning.   

Start the painting: Nope, was too busy.  Prepare the talks: I gave about eight talks in five cities about these paintings I completed in college.  And I succeeded in putting most of the talks together this month.  Find joy in Autumn: I did this through the Instagram challenge I put together (and then never got around to posting the winners.  Oops).  Journal often: nope. 


This is the month I fell off the wagon.  Well technically I fell off the wagon sometime in October because I never did a check in post on my October goals.  But this was the month that I wasn't able to set goals.  If I had, they probably would have included making it to all my intended travel destinations (Chicago, Syracuse, Kansas City, and DC), to be gentle with myself, and to give my best at my presentations.  I'm proud to say I did all three of these.  


Another month I wasn't on top of things to make a goal list.  Since I'm still in the month of December, I don't feel as silly setting a few simple goals for myself.  They would be/are send Christmas cards (in progress), start exercising again, get a haircut, and get a pedicure.  Three out of the four are complete!  

SUMMARY: the goals I completed this year!!

January: sign up for roller derby boot camp, make home made ice cream, plan a trip
February: limit Facebook visits, plan my garden, decorate for the season, take an overnight trip with paul
March: edit and print five photos, purchase and start seeds
April: make time for quiet, (more) daily stretching
May: ride my bike, create a food budget, complete miles challenge (30 in 30 days)
June: travel healthy, be present
July: give my best at roller derby (passed skills test!), launch blog update, take time for myself
August: start new job, wear the fun shoes  
September: raise money for AFSP
October: prepare the (painting) talks, find joy in autumn 
November: survive travel, give my best at the talks
December: send chrismas cards, start exercising, haircut, pedicure

This year, I created a four simple goals list for 8/12 months and retroactively created lists for the last 4/12 months.  Most goals were something I thought of just before the beginning of the month, not things that I had intended to do since January 2014.  

A little over half way through the year, I realized that most months I only achieved one to two goals, good months I achieved three, fantastic months (February and probably December) I got all four.  So why do I did keep doing this challenge if I wasn't 100% successful at achieving my goals each month? 

For one, I love setting goals.  It works well for me as a fun way to be productive.  Two, I think reaching 25-75% of my goals is better than reaching 0% of goals I don't set for myself.  Happily, every month of this year I did something that I wouldn't have if I didn't try making myself accountable by posting about in on the blog.  It's pretty neat to see all those simple goals I did this year because of this challenge.  

And what about all those goals that I didn't check off my list?  Sometimes the uncompleted goals were things that I still really wanted to do and were added to next month's (unpublished) list.  Sometimes I realized the uncompleted goals were things that I just didn't actually want to do.  Things (like closing Wolski's) that sounded fun while writing my list but in reality I didn't actually feel like doing.

Through this challenge I became more gentle with myself with achieving goals.  In the past I would be really hard on myself if I didn't achieve everything on my list.  I felt unaccomplished, unfinished.  But this challenge helped me start to learn that progress is better than perfection, something I hope to continue next year.    

In 2015 I'll be doing two more traditional goals: exercising and painting daily.  I'm using this fantastic goal tracker from Elise Blaha to keep myself motivated.  I love that the tracker helps you see the overall progress you're making towards your goals -- even if you may fall off track here and there.  My plan is to still post monthly updates of my progress since that seemed to help me this year.  I'll also be posting pictures on Instagram from my (hopefully) daily walks.  You can follow along with the hashtag #walkitout2015.  

What are your goals for 2015?  How will you achieve them?  

Monday, December 29, 2014

10 favorite posts of 2014

I'll be sharing a few 2014 round up posts this week, and I am super excited about it.  I love the transition from one year to the next.  All the "best of" lists and all the goal setting.  Today, I'm sharing my top ten favorite posts of 2014.  These weren't necessarily the posts that got the most views or were the most popular.  These were the posts that I look back at and think - yeah, nailed it with that one.
1. Starting the new year on the Oregon Coast.  The post itself was reflective of living away from both our families, but it was the pictures I loved.  I still need to print these off. 

2. Perfecting my vanilla cupcake recipe.  Ironically after this I didn't make cupcakes for the rest of the year.  Go figure. 

3. My winter Instagram photo album.  I liked this one because it was representative of how I tried (and succeeded) to thrive last winter.  It was a brutal one with lots of polar vortexes, but I didn't let it stop me from doing cool stuff.  Also loved how the album turned out. 

4. My winter road trip to St. Louis.  I like this post because of the pictures.  I took all these by holding my camera up and just snapping out the window.  Winter landscapes can be so beautiful. 

5. Making macarons.  I was really proud of how these turned out - especially since it was my first attempt at making them.  I'd love to make them again soon. 

6. Reflecting on when dreams come true.  Thinking about the hopes I had for me and Paul in our new apartment and being patient for some of our dreams to come to fruition. 

7. A simple photo collage I put together as part of my 101 goals in 1001 days challenge.  I liked how it captures what our lives look like right now (or about a year or two ago).  It hangs in our art room now. 

 8. This post about my first porch garden.  I loved all my garden posts really because they documented something that was so special to me, but this one had some good pictures of everything at its height. 

9. Making earl grey lavender ice cream.  Gosh this was so good.  I'd make it for myself every week and have it for breakfast in lieu of my daily cup of tea if it was socially acceptable.  

 10. All my travel posts but especially my posts from Iceland, Seattle, Portland, St. Louis, and Baltimore.  We got to go to some great places this year, and happily my camera helped us document them all.  

Thanks for reading!  And thank you so much for following along all year.  It means so much you continue to read and follow my musings!

Friday, December 26, 2014

boxing day

Hope everyone is having a great Boxing Day/day after Christmas.  This is always one of my favorite days of the year - probably tied with Christmas Eve.  This was the day growing up that all the parties were done, Mom and Dad were both off work, and we all got to relax and play all day.  This year I had to work (boo!!), but luckily I like my job and the day wasn't too rigorous.  Paul promised to have a good dinner waiting for me when I got home, and he delivered.  We're relaxing now.  With this beautiful room of our dining room.  Lights make everything better.  

Thursday, December 25, 2014

merry christmas!

Merry Christmas from us and our pups!  Hope you have a wonderful time celebrating and relaxing.  We'll be enjoying a delicious brunch and a low key day in Milwaukee.  Ho(wl), ho(wl), ho(wl) from Santa Diego (and Pedro)!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

merry christmas eve!

I'm recycling another oldie but goodie photo today (can you tell our camera has been acting funky lately?).  Our friend Ben took this picture of us in front of the Pioneer Square Christmas tree in Portland a few years ago.  Judging by my hair color - and only having one ring on my finger - I think it was just a few weeks before we got married.    

I'm at work today, the first day I've worked Christmas Eve maybe ever.  There might have been one Christmas Eve I had to work at the driving range in high school but that would have been over ten years ago.  It feels a little strange not having the day off, but there's also perks to working on Christmas Eve.  Like drinking hot cocoa out of a festive mug, a high ratio of cookies to coworkers, and very few phone calls to make.  Paul and I listened to Christmas music this morning and have plans to shop for makings for our Christmas dinner after work.  

Christmas Eve has always felt like one of the most magical days of the year.  I remember driving home from my uncle's house every Christmas Eve as a kid, so excited that Santa would be coming as soon as we got home and I fell asleep.  We'd pass so many Christmas lights and churches with lots of candles, and our family would be singing along to Christmas songs on the radio.  Christmas Eve was all about anticipation and excitement and promise. Christmas day was always fun too, but as the day went on there was a bit of sadness that such a long anticipated day was about to be over.   This has changed a little as I've gotten older because I appreciate different things about Christmas, but I'll always associate magic with Christmas Eve.  

Today the magic will be doing some shopping and spending time with Paul (and the pups)- without any worries about doing anything except enjoying each other's company tomorrow.  

Merry Christmas Eve!!  

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

poinsettias and an unexpected christmas story

This year Paul and I will be staying home for Christmas.  Work schedules and expensive plane tickets were going to make travel difficult, so we decided to have our own quiet Christmas.  It'll be a little strange not having any family parties to attend, but one benefit I've noticed is that it's brought a nice simplicity to the holiday season.  And with this simplicity, I've had more time to pay attention.  I'm going to share an unexpected Christmas story that usually would have gotten lost in the craziness of finishing last minute plans, packing, and travel preparations.  

One of my part time jobs involves planning service retreats and helping groups connect to local non-profits, mostly agencies that help with hunger and homelessness.  When I first started the job this summer, I visited all the agencies on my list to connect with the directors and teach them about our retreats.  Meeting inspiring hard working people that have dedicated their lives to helping the poor is one of the coolest parts of my job.  One woman who ran a food pantry stood out to me in particular.  She had such an infectious energy and greeted all of the pantry guests by name.  Her coworkers obviously respected her, and she ran a very large pantry and meal program with grace and great leadership (a very difficult feat).  

At the end of my visit she shared that she had recently been diagnosed with breast cancer.  She had either just completed a round of treatment or was just about to start treatment.  I told her I'd keep in her my thoughts and truly meant it.  

I didn't have any groups to send to her pantry for a while, so I didn't have a chance to see her for several months.  When my agency gave me a pile of poinsettias to deliver to our partner agencies, I thought it would be nice to drop one off for the woman who ran the food pantry.  When I entered the pantry, I didn't see her anywhere and asked a worker where she was.  The answer: she's no longer with us.  As in, she had passed away.  Her breast cancer must have been more aggressive than she had thought, and just a few months after I had seen her looking healthy and alive, she had died.  The news took me so off guard I almost started crying in the middle of the pantry!  

Strangely enough, I had arrived with the poinsettia just an hour after her memorial service had ended.  And in the middle of the pantry gathering space, a large group had stayed after the service to pack Christmas food baskets that would be passed out to the pantry guests the next week.  Seeing everyone working - with the same energy I had seen the food pantry director working - was almost enough to put me over the edge.  Her legacy was living on and her spirit was still present even if her physical presence wasn't. 

I think of the message of Christmas - that goodness and hope and love are part of humanity - and I'm thankful I saw a glimpse of this.  And I'm even more grateful that I had enough time and space to reflect on this and not let it pass me by.  I think about how so many encounters and relationships make up my life - I only met this woman once yet I felt so sad at her passing.  It reminds me that each person I meet, each relationship is a gift.  And I'm truly grateful for that.  

Monday, December 22, 2014

12 posts of christmas

This is a round up of my 12 favorite posts of Christmas since I started the blog.  They're fairly random, but it made me happy to look through these Christmas memories. Paul and I are going to be staying in Milwaukee for Christmas, so we've had our first chance to make this holiday all our own.  Looking back through old Christmas photos is great for some Christmas ideas :)

1. One of mine and Paul's dates of Christmas from last year.  When we were supposed to catch a train from Richmond to DC to fly home from a visit with friends, but instead ice kept the train from moving and we had to spend lots of moolah to change our flights to the next day.  A good cup of tea and time with Paul helped me have a better perspective on the situation.  

2. The best Christmas book ever.

3. Our first Christmas card. We went all out thanks to a good Shutterfly coupon.

4. Cookies from the first cookie exchange party I hosted.

5. Our first Christmas tree.  Check out my red hair!!

6. A holiday lyric painting.  The first of many I've done.

7. Ice skating with my cousins last year.  When I remembered how painful ice skating can be.

8. Pedro's Merry Christmas outfit.  He obviously loved it.

9. One of the best Christmas presents I've received in recent memory.  A family recipe book from my sister.  Every single one of my mom's dessert recipes all copied in one book.  

10. Our December trip to Richmond last year.  Included a tour of Richmond's tacky lights.   

11. Our St. Nick's ornament tradition.  Every year for over 25 years I've received a Mary's Angel ornament for St. Nick's Day.  Now Paul has been lucky enough to get into the tradition too.  

12. Christmas in Seattle and Portland two years ago.  I remember how wonderful the weather was and fun it was to see Christmas in different cities.  

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

missing my papa

Two years ago Friday we said goodbye to my Grandpa. He had been on hospice for several months before he died (if I remember correctly) which gave us time to prepare to say goodbye to him and spend some last quality time together.  When I've lost other people, the ache of grief usually fades, and I'm able to look through old pictures and think of good memories without them being too painful.  It still hasn't happened with my Grandpa yet.  

I don't know if it's because I haven't sat with my grief enough, or not relived enough memories, or simply if not enough time has passed.  Losing my Grandpa left a huge whole in my heart, and I haven't figured out yet what to do with it. 

I miss my Papa's hands.  I miss his stories.  I miss his inappropriate jokes.  I miss his larger than life-ness.  I miss having someone who loved me so unconditionally.  I miss the birthday cards.  I miss the smell of his house and apartment.  I miss his phone calls.  I miss his laugh.  I miss his hugs and forehead kisses.  I miss fishing with him.  I miss his love of all things sports related.  I miss his weather reports.  I miss his phone messages.  I miss sharing updates with him.  I miss how proud he was of me.  

Missing him gets especially hard when I'm celebrating a new milestone or just when I have something fun I'd like to share with him.  It's hard around the holidays when I would usually look forward to seeing him.  I hate that I don't get to send him a Christmas card.   

At the heart of all of this missing is a feeling of gratitude.  I'm thankful I have so much to miss.  I'm thankful my Papa was so present in my life and that we knew each other so well.  It's a blessing to have someone who's absence you miss so much.  Because it shows how big of a part of your life they were.  I don't think I'll ever stop missing him, but hopefully the pain keeps making way for gratitude and happiness at all the memories I have of him.  

Monday, December 15, 2014

friends holiday market

Last weekend I went to the Milwaukee Friends International Gift Shop.  I had been checking out all the New York City holiday market pictures and trying to figure out how I could visit them for Christmas, when I saw the flyer for this local event.  Instead of flying to New York City and walking around holiday markets in the cold, I opted for walking around this lovely, local, indoor market instead.  

The market included a small pop-up soup café, so before I shopped I indulged in some delicious gypsy and pumpkin peanut butter soup.  (The key was to mix the two soups together -- yummmm.)

I ran into some friends while here and had fun catching up before I checked out the stands.  We've lived in Milwaukee for a little over four years now, and we've reached the point where we can run into people we know all over the city.  It's a nice feeling to not be completely anonymous here. 

I picked out a couple of ornaments from this stand to give as gifts.  They were so pretty, unique, and affordable! 

I chose a couple of chocolate packs from this stand for mine and Paul's stockings.  Now I just need to get us some stockings. 

And lastly, I bought the last $5 Wisconsin ornament to hang on our tree.  We don't have much Wisconsin stuff, and I thought ornaments are a safe Wisconsin themed decoration to start with. 

Thanks for checking out my pictures!  I'm excited to share a few more posts this week.  I'm finally getting back into blogging after taking unplanned but necessary hiatus.  

Monday, December 8, 2014

santa diego

Santa Diego is getting tired waiting for kids to tell him what they want for Christmas.  He's ready to give out lots of kisses and bones!  

We bought Diego that Santa outfit last week at Target, and it's made me so amazingly happy that he's willing to wear it.  He's the cutest beagle Santa of them all.  Even if he does have a hard time waiting until Christmas Eve to eat all our Christmas cookies.  

Friday, December 5, 2014

st. nick's ornament tradition

Every year for St. Nick's Day, we receive a special ornament.  The tradition started with my Grandma who had a love for Hallmark ornaments.  St. Nick and Grandma teamed up so that each member of the family received the next ornament in their series.  Some of us lucked out and had series that lasted for years whereas other people got a nice variety of series when one of theirs stopped being produced.  I've had the Mary's Angels series for 27 years now (one of the more recent ones is in the picture above).  My parents still have most of them at their house, though I think I may have brought a few of them back to Milwaukee with me.  Though I'm hoping as I write this that I haven't brought any home since I didn't find them when I unpacked our box of Christmas decorations.  Errr....

I'm really excited to continue this tradition for my own family.  Tomorrow morning Paul and I will have new little ornaments waiting for us in our shoes by the front door.  Love Christmas traditions and St. Nick's Day.