Happy New Year 2019

One day or day one

Happy New Year!

It’s that time of year when we all focus our attention on improving ourselves. Gym parking lots are full. Spinach sales are up. Self-help books are flying off the shelves and alarms go off earlier than usual. (I have no idea if any of those statements are actual fact aside from the gym one, but I feel pretty confident that they are.) Each year we set goals and resolutions that last maybe a week or two and then fall by the wayside until the following January when we dust them off and swear that we’ll be true to them this time. And I am no exception.  I’ve always been a goal maker and I believe that is what has helped me to accomplish so much of what I have throughout my life. But I’ve definitely failed at more goals than I’ve reached. And it seems as if each year I’m making some of the same resolutions over again. (Though I did have some awesome accomplishments last year too—50 hikes on the record, over 250 books read, another stamp in my passport, and several household projects done!)

I’ve even read a ton of books on how to make and keep goals, the science behind our habits and how to make lasting changes (only a few of those teachings have stuck, apparently!) But I continue to make them and I continue to make steps, even baby ones, towards the end goal. And I’ve found that the smaller steps and changes tend to last.  Many have started choosing intentions or words of the year to focus on and I love this idea. Using an overriding thought to influence your actions in all areas of life can be a powerful way to enact change.

This year I tried to simplify a bit. I still have my list of things I’d like to accomplish, from daily habits to bucket-list type events, but I boiled them all down to 2 basic overriding themes. One, I want to get up with my alarm and stick to my daily schedule. And two, within that schedule I’ve allotted specific writing times to work on finally finishing a book. (Yeah, anyone who knows me will know I’ve set both those goals before…but this just might be the year!) My mantra/thought/intention to follow along with those is: “Never miss twice.” Obviously, the goal is to hit 100% every day but this way when life gets out of control and things fall apart it will hopefully be a little easier to get myself back on track and start again. Even if I routinely miss every other day, I’ll still make some great progress.

What goals or resolutions have you set for 2019? Or do you set them at all? What’s your method of inspiring yourself and staying motivated? How have you found the most success? What success did you see in 2018? Tell me all about them in the comments and good luck in your endeavors. You’ve got this!

How Are You Spending Your Time?

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.   

Earlier this month the leader of my church challenged the members of our women’s organization to participate in a 10 day fast from social media. The goal being that we would take the time we would have spent on those mostly mindless tasks and devote that time instead to serving others, reading scripture, and bettering ourselves and our communities. I took the challenge to heart and was amazed at the results.

I was also amazed at how often I pick up my phone to ‘check in’. I found myself looking at my phone the first few days and not knowing what to do with it. It just goes to show just how much time I spend/waste doing relatively unimportant things! Lessons learned: I do not miss Facebook. More often than not it’s full of negativity and meaningless trifles. I did, however, miss Instagram. For now, at least, it’s filled with more positivity and uplifting images. But they all have a tendency to suck you into a time warp and so I’ve instituted a daily personal media fast from 9pm-9am going forward. And I’ve mostly stuck to it! 🙂

While pondering all of these thoughts I was reminded of this book that I read not too long ago. It talks a lot about the idea of opportunity cost in relation to our time management.  (Not being a business major I wasn’t super familiar with the concept, but basically when you make a choice to do one thing you automatically make choices to NOT do other things–ie, if you have $5 and spend it on candy bars you choose to NOT spend that $5 on rent–roughly.) And then it introduced the idea of a “stop-doing” list.  As one who lives by my many “to-do” lists I was intrigued. In order to accomplish any goal or make progress toward something (particularly something new) in your life you have to choose to stop doing something else in order to make room/time for it. To start a new exercise program you have to stop sleeping and get up 30 minutes earlier. To learn to paint you sign up for a class which means you have to cut back on the time you watch TV.  You get the idea. It’s all about priorities and what you are willing to sacrifice in order to do/be something better. (This is a fabulous talk on the same subject.)

I continually fall prey to this. There are so many things I want to do with my life that I dip my foot into as many pools as I can but I never actually go for a swim in any of them. My book is a prime example.  I tell myself I really want to write and I even go so far as to take a class every now and then, jot down a paragraph or two when the ideas strike and drag a notebook around with me wherever I go.  But I haven’t taken the firm step yet of cutting something out of my life to make room for it. I’m still not truly making it a priority. And that’s just one example. I’m a great dabbler and often pride myself in being well-rounded and interested in many things. And for the most part I’m really okay with that. But I sometimes forget that it comes at the cost of never truly excelling at anything. And one day I won’t have any more somedays to hope for. Am I going to look back and wish I’d done something different?

This video made the rounds on social media a few years ago. I was just as impressed re-watching it now as I was when I first saw it. It’s a rather startling visual…and I do love visuals! How much time do we all really have left?  And what are we doing with it?

I also found it really interesting to read the comments section on the youtube page. They tend to fall into two basic categories; some people found the video/facts depressing while others found them motivating. I think it’s safe to say that those who were depressed by it all probably spend less time doing what they love than they’d like.  Looking back at years spent scrolling through facebook versus actually picking up that guitar and learning how to play has got to be discouraging. Those who were motivated either realize that they need to seize the day and finally do what they keep talking about or have already found a way to do it and really enjoy and savor the time that they have.

The key, for me, is balance. Set some limits for yourself along with some goals. There’s nothing wrong with vegging on the couch catching up on Netflix to unwind after work. But if that’s all you ever do then you’ll never get anything else done. Limiting your veg time to say one show each night will give you time to focus on something else. Make it something that really excites you but also start with small, manageable steps. When you find yourself succeeding at those you’ll be motivated to take the next steps and pretty soon we’ll all be clamoring to see you perform or buy your book.

Another key is appreciation. Accepting and savoring what is instead of wishing for something else can be invaluable (especially when those things are outside of your control.) Spend time with those you love doing the things you love and you’ll be able to look back at your life with very few regrets. This is a great time to practice this as we move into the holiday season. Instead of jamming your schedule so full of things to do and places to go, take advantage of the moments you have to slow down and enjoy. Cuddle up and watch movies together, buy some fancy hot chocolate and really taste and savor it, marvel at the first snowfall or bring out your inner child by starting a snowball fight.  ‘Tis the season for hygge! (Check out this past post about hygge and Hobbits for some more ideas!)

My challenge to you (and myself) over the next couple of weeks is to find 3 things you can put on your “stop-doing” list, be they big or small. And then use that re-claimed time to try something new, start a new project, or re-focus on a goal you’ve set that keeps getting put on the back burner. You only have so many hours in a day and nothing you do will change that, therefore you can only change what you do with them. What are you doing with yours? I want to hear all about it in the comments below. 🙂

P.S. Want a great kid’s book connection to go with the video? Check out How Many Jelly Beans? by Andrea Menotti.

Out and About ~ 52 Hikes Update

If you’ve been following me for awhile, you might remember my goal from the beginning of the year to go on a hike a week (or go snowshoeing if the weather doesn’t permit a hike) bringing the total to 52 hikes for the year. I ended up getting sick and falling a little behind my goal but I have been slowly making strides to catch up and wanted to share a few of my favorites up to this point.

We had a few weeks of unseasonably warm weather this winter so when we would normally have been snowshoeing we had plenty of sunshine and dry ground and we tried to take advantage of it when we could. In February the hubs and I drove to the south end of the valley to explore the canyons there. Starting at the Orson Smith Park trail head we took the nearly 2 1/2 mile loop to the Bear Canyon Suspension Bridge. It’s a relatively easy climb (you could definitely tackle it with kids) and the bridge is a fun little surprise along the way. (We’ve since been back and the gulch below was brimming with greenery, the hillsides covered with flowers thanks to the spring runoff.)

Bear Canyon Suspension Bridge

We also tried the Dimple Dell Trail which winds its way right through the heart of Sandy/Draper cities. It’s got various trail outlets along the way in neighborhoods, behind schools and adjacent to shopping districts. We saw a sign and decided to pull over and give it a try rather than continue driving another 10-15 minutes to get to the canyons. Again, it was an unseasonably warm February day so the scenery left a little to be desired (lots and lots of drab brown) but it was a quiet trail that you’d never guess was in a neighborhood.

Dimple Dell Trail

I’m no where near caught up to where I need to be to hit my goal but I’ve already done more hiking in the last 4 months than I did in the previous 8 so I’ll consider that a success. (We won’t talk about the bulk of my other New Year’s Resolutions…yet! 🙂 How are you doing with the goals you’ve set? Do you have any tricks that help you build habits? (The public accountability definitely helps me.) I’d love to hear about your progress. Or any hiking suggestions you may have!

Picture Book Review ~ Astronaut Annie

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. 

With the weather warming up its the perfect time to head outside and look up at the stars. And if you’ve got a budding astronomer/astronaut in your midst then this book is for you!

Career Day is coming up but Annie is keeping her dream a secret until the big day. Everyone in Annie’s family has a guess as to what she’d like to be. They’re each sure she wants to be what they were (reporters, cooks, explorers etc.) and give her something to help out with her costume. She counters each response with gratitude but keeps everything under her hat until the big day. Once up on stage she reveals her choice, honoring her family members and the traits she inherited and learned from each of them. This spunky girl uses the things she’s been given to dream big.

This book packs a two-for-one punch with some non-fiction facts along with Annie’s inspiring story. The rhyming text is perfect for a read-aloud and will inspire listeners to dream their own dreams. There’s some fantastic back matter including mini-bios and photos of some of the best-known women from the space program, some information on the moon’s orbit and phases, and additional resources.

Astronaut Annie book review

Astronaut Annie

Written by: Suzanne Slade

Illustrated by: Nicole Tadgell

Publisher: Tilbury House, 2018

Number of Pages: 36

Age Range: 4-8

Rating: 4/5

 

 

Keto Craziness

Since getting married I’ve gained about 20 pounds. I made it through college without succumbing to the freshman 15 and I’ve been blessed with a pretty quick metabolism most of my life, but I hit 40 and everything went downhill. (It probably didn’t help that in the year and a half leading up to and after the big day I’ve moved 5 times, lost two grandparents, gained a teenager, changed jobs 8 times and dealt with long periods of unemployment, all of which helped trigger bouts with depression and anxiety among other things.)
I’ve chalked it up to all of those things and have whined about the pants that no longer fit (as my ever-patient husband assures me that of course I’m not fat.) But when the fat pants I bought to tide me over became too tight and some of my shirts started to become uncomfortable thanks to my batwing arms I knew I was going to have to do something. The last straw came when I could no longer get my wedding ring on (or back off!)
I have a love/hate relationship with the concept of dieting. I’ve watched my mom struggle with her weight due to health problems since I was a teenager. I know extremes can get the weight off but are rarely sustainable. I’m a true believer in balance. But when things are out of balance we might need to take some relatively drastic steps to get back in balance. And especially having the quick results to keep you going can be important. With that in mind I decided to try a ketogenic diet because I know that I’m definitely out of whack leaning to the side of too many carbs. And I figured a diet that let me eat cheese and bacon could be sustainable for a few months to get the bulk of the weight off since I likely wouldn’t feel too deprived or hungry.
It’s super popular right now and there’s a ton of information out there about what foods are ok and not (with a bit of discrepancies of course.) Because of the popularity I’m still waiting on books from the library and have gotten everything from online searches thus far. They say you don’t have to track calories, just the net carbs but I’ve been using my calorie tracker just to stay in the habit and I’m not super vigilant about counting the actual carbs each day but I use the carb counters and specified recipes in my meal planning and have stuck pretty close to the recommended <20 net carbs/day.
I’d like to say I’ve been perfect at following it. But that’s just not true.The first week I cheated a bit (I just couldn’t pass up the homemade brownies and cookies at book club but I only had one bite of each instead of loading my plate so I still consider that a success) but still ended up 5 pounds lighter. This week I overdid it one day on fruit which hadn’t been on the menu at all but I needed mentally to keep from bingeing on the chocolate I was craving. So far the loss isn’t as spectacular (only 2 pounds) but still happening.  Next week I’m upping the game and adding some exercise to the mix so we’ll see how that changes things and then after that’s not so tough I’m planning to work in some intermittent fasting.
The hubs and I are planning a trip to Chicago early in May so the goal is to have all the weight off by then so I can buy a new swimsuit, not have to buy all new clothes (but fit back into all the clothes I’ve stashed away), and be able to indulge in a little deep dish pizza without feeling super guilty!
But I’m curious if any of you have done this…any recipe suggestions? I’m not a super fan of meat. I tend to like it as an accent to the meal rather than the showpiece (though I do occasionally enjoy BBQ or a steak like once a month!) I do love the cheesy, creamy things but I know those aren’t really the best choices. And eggs are tough for me to swallow sometimes, literally. We’ve done a few varieties of smothered and stuffed chicken, a beef and broccoli with cauliflower rice, taco salad, Thai chicken lettuce wraps, and a lasagna using zucchini instead of noodles. I would love to hear what you’ve done and any favorites you’ve found along the way! Any suggestions are greatly appreciated! 🙂

52 Hikes

Rose Canyon
Rose Canyon

Hikes 1 and 2 are down for the year. Since I’m still bouncing back from a million things my lungs and legs are not working at full capacity yet these first two were closer to home and a little on the shorter side. But they’ve already started to do the trick of making me feel better mentally and physically!

For the first hike our weather was a little sketchy and the teenager was complaining so we didn’t get up too high, but it was a good start. There was a little bit of snow, a little creek, and a biting wind. For hike two we had gorgeous weather but a shorter time frame so we explored a little and got our heart rates up. There was a lot of mud but a fun suspension bridge.

One of the greatest things about living in Utah is the access to the mountains. And I definitely don’t use them as often as I should. I’m excited to explore a little more this year and find some new favorite corners of this great state. Tell me, where do you call home? Where are your favorite outdoor spaces? Where do you like to explore?

Bear Canyon Suspension Bridge
Bear Canyon Suspension Bridge

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year

I’ve been a goal/resolution junkie since I was little. I loved the idea of making a list of things to do and finding ways to do better (one day I’ll figure out how to actually stick to all of them, but that’s another post entirely!) My birthday also rolls around this time of year so that’s an added incentive to look back and look forward and see how far I’ve come and where I’d like to go. Naturally I’ve gotten sucked into the self-help aisle of the bookstore more than once or twice and have found some amazing gems that have helped get me where I am today. But with each new year and the chance to start fresh and re-focus on what I’d like to have happen in the coming months I find that picking up a book or two on the topics I’m most drawn to at the moment can give me the direction, motivation, and tools I need to be more successful.

Kind of along the same lines is the idea of participating in challenges or competitions of some variety. There are a lot of great reading challenges out there* and over the years I’ve participated in a number of them, sometimes with a public commitment and follow-up and sometimes on my own. You can read a book from the year you were born, or set in the state or country where you live. You can read books from genres you’re not familiar with or the previous year’s award winners. Or simply set goals for the number of books you’d like to read or the amount of time each day you’ll commit to reading. The possibilities are endless and sometimes it’s just what I’ve needed to get me out of my comfort zone (ie rut) and introduce me to new favorites.

This year my goals are a little more vague. Rather than focusing on numbers or genres I’m going to work hard to commit to sharing the books I read with all of you. I’ve got great plans for this little blog o’ mine and I’m hoping to find more and more of you that I can share with as I come across favorites and standouts and I’m hoping you’ll share with me as well.

What are your reading goals for this year? Any favorite challenges or groups that you return to year after year? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below!

*Here are just a few of my favorites if you’re looking for something new to try!

Reese Witherspoon’s Book Club

Oprah’s Book Club

The Modern Mrs. Darcy’s Reading Challenge

The Daily Positive’s Winter Book Challenge

Goodreads encourages you to set a goal for the number of books you want to read throughout the year and tracks it as you go.

There are also a bunch on Pinterest that you don’t have to look too hard to find.

New Year, New Adventures

 

Snow Shadows

I love New Year’s. I love the idea of a fresh start, a time to re-evaluate and re-focus on where you want your life to head. I’ve always been a goal maker and list maker for as long as I can remember and the fact that my birthday rolls around near the beginning of New Year’s has always given me a greater sense of starting fresh and feeling rejuvenated than just making traditional resolutions.

I’ve got a bunch of things I’d like to work on this year including finishing a book I’ve been working on for ages (and ages!), getting my finances in order (marriage does funny things to your money :/ ), and getting back to a healthy place physically. The last few years have been rough on me physically and emotionally. I’ve moved 5 times, been unemployed more often than not, gotten married, turned 40, dealt with a bout of serious depression, lost several close loved ones and gone through a host of smaller but still trying issues. And all of that has wreaked havoc on my health. I’ve never had to worry about my weight before and it’s not taken me much to bounce back after an illness or something but that just isn’t the case anymore and it’s kind of killing me. I’ve been looking at several eating plans to get me back on track and have set several goals to push me physically. And what better way to hold myself accountable than to publish them here for all to read!

As far as the eating goes, I’m watching portions/counting calories (I’m not obsessing over it, mostly trying to become more aware instead of continuing to eat like a teenage boy), cutting carbs (no sugar, 1 serving/day of grains or starchy veggies–breads, rice, pasta, corn, potatoes), upping all the other veggies and protein. I hate the idea of ‘dieting’, I’d rather focus on eating healthy and balanced but right now I’ve got about 20 pounds to lose before I can work on maintaining. And since I’ve never really had to work on losing before I’m not sure how well that will go. So, any tips, tricks, recipes, suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

The exercise goals are a little easier to track. I’m working on a 30 day yoga challenge (Yoga with Adrienne is my favorite!), I want to run four 5Ks this year (one each quarter), and I plan on hiking once a week. Another one of the issues I’ve dealt with is the depression and I’ve realized that not being in nature or the mountains has added to that depression. So this one is a two-fer, it should help me get back into shape but also help stave off the depression. What’s your favorite way to get motivated to move more?

You’ll probably hear more about this year’s goals as it goes on. I’d love to hear about yours!  Share them in the comments. Happy New Year!