Groundhog Day

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I’m currently reading Keep Going: 10 Ways to Stay Creative in Good Times and Bad by Austin Kleon. As you can see from my blog, Kleon’s message is a timely one for me; it’s been a long time since I felt like writing much here. But this slim volume contains sound advice for anyone facing writer’s block, difficult times, or a perceived loss of creativity.

This passage especially speaks to me:

We have so little control over our lives. The only thing we can really control is what we spend our days on. What we work on and how hard we work on it. It might seem like a stretch, but I really think the best thing you can do if you want to make art is to pretend you’re starring in your own remake of Groundhog Day:  Yesterday’s over, tomorrow may never come, there’s just today and what you can do with it.

Here’s to the possibilities of today!

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Resolve

 

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Resolve (v.)

  1. settle or find a solution to (a problem, dispute, or contentious matter)
  2. decide firmly on a course of action

Do you make New Year’s Resolutions? I’ve gone back and forth over the past few years making grandiose plans and then watching them fade within the month. I like the idea of resolutions, the clean slate at the beginning of the year, and the promise of positive change. But like many people I don’t put systems into place to insure that I follow through.

Something New

So this year I’m trying something new. I grabbed a copy of Ryder Carroll’s The Bullet Journal Method: Track the Past, Order the Present, Design the Future and have been practicing his method of journaling and organization. Like a logbook, the Bullet Journal relies on quick impressions of daily events to help you plan and remember. The great thing about the Bullet Journal is that once you have the basic system down, you can customize it to serve your specific needs. Want to track your weight loss goals, finances, or meditation practice? You simply set up a chart or page for each and track away!

If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it. – Peter Drucker

Resolutions

Most of my resolutions for 2019 involve the family finances. Now that my husband has a job (hooray!), we will have a consistent, reliable income; that makes it easier to set up a budget and plan for the future. I’m also ramping up my exercise and fitness goals, thanks to my hubby and the Fitbit Versa he gave me for Christmas!

Finally, I want to be mindful in all my interactions at work. If I bring integrity and kindness to every encounter/transaction, then I’ll provide the best possible experience for everyone involved (including me).

And of course, I’ll continue to share my journey here on Living Life Lighter. I spent the last month brainstorming new ideas for blog posts and article series – I can’t wait to share them with you!

Happy New Year! What are your New Year’s Resolutions?

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Start Now

 

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I’ve decided to take a break from the blog for the next month. It’s time to pause, to spend time with family and on myself in preparation for the holidays and the New Year.

But before I go, I want to leave you with one thought…

If you’re planning to make resolutions in the New Year, then I urge you to start now. There’s no need to wait for some magic number on the calendar to begin making changes in your life.

Just think, if you started today, where could you be in one month?

Today is the perfect day to recommit to yourself. I know, the holidays are here, and you have so much to do. That’s why it’s more important than ever to spend a little time and energy on yourself. You can’t pour from an empty cup. By taking care of yourself first, you’re able to enjoy the season and everything that comes your way.

Start Now

Waiting until later is a slippery slope. Say you plan to lose weight in the New Year; you may overindulge in the next few weeks, knowing that you will have to cut back later. Then you have even more weight to lose. Start now.

The future is uncertain. Maybe you don’t feel very motivated right now. But what if you wake up January 1 and feel even less motivated? Today is the first day of the rest of your life. Start now.

The urgency is real. What if change resulted in you feeling better than ever? Would you drop everything to insure your own health and well-being? You might not even realize what good things are in store for you. Start now.

Changes

In my experience, change comes from starting small, from making tiny decisions that build on one another to net big results. It doesn’t matter where you start; choose one thing you’d like to change/accomplish and begin. Every good choice you make adds to your motivation and momentum. Why wait?

Start now.

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Thanks so much for joining me on this journey over the past year. I’m looking forward to more personal growth in 2019 and sharing my experiences with you.

Wishing you and yours a very Happy Holiday Season!

xoxo,

Jennifer

Not Buying It

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Here we are, in the midst of the holiday shopping season. It’s a frenzied time, bookended by Thanksgiving on one end and Christmas Day on the other. And it’s becoming increasingly hard to reconcile that two holidays based on gratitude, faith, and family can co-exist with such consumerism.

But the urgency to spend is real.

Shop now for the best price of the season. Sale for one day only. While supplies last.

Advertisers want us to believe that we’ll never see prices like these again. We must act now. We must open our wallets to bring even more things into our lives. And we give names to these spectacular sale days – Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, Super Saturday – as if naming the thing gives it more meaning.

Well, I’m not buying it.

While the average shopper is expected to drop $483 this weekend, nearly 52% of those shoppers will regret buying something just because it’s on sale. Let that sink in for a minute. If you’re spending money to save money, then you’re still spending money. Remember, it’s 100% off if you don’t buy it in the first place.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not against the holidays; I do give gifts to family and friends. But I prefer to give (and receive) consumables and experiences over things. I don’t need another widget taking up space in my home and time in my life.

What if we, as consumers, got off the merry-go-round and made our way to a simpler, more heartfelt holiday season? What would that look like for you? It might be spending a Saturday making cookies with your kids. Or maybe gathering friends to go caroling in your community. You might go to a performance of the Nutcracker or A Christmas Carol at the local theater, or sleep in and watch holiday movies in your pajamas all day (hot cocoa optional).

As we begin this holiday season, I challenge you to find ways beyond giving presents to show your love. Instead, give your presence – small, daily acts of kindness, saying “I love you”, going for a walk with your loved one, making the time to just be there.

“‘Maybe Christmas,’ he thought,’ doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas… perhaps… means a little bit more!'” – From How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss.

Gratitude

Gratitude: the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and show kindness

What are you thankful for?

The Gratitude Challenge

Over the past two weeks I participated in a Gratitude Challenge (you can see my responses here). Each day I was tasked with writing down something I’m grateful for – from family and friends to favorite foods and music. That was the easy part. But I also had to tell why I was grateful for those things; that was much harder.

Getting to the why exposed thoughts and feelings that I didn’t always want to make public. My online persona, which is one of mostly privilege and first-world problems, doesn’t always reflect the way I’m feeling. Who wants to read the thoughts of a moody, middle-aged woman?

But I think that we, as writers, do our readers a disservice when we don’t keep it real (at least once in a while). Yes, we want inspirational, affirming posts and articles that truly help. But sometimes we need to know that we are all human, even the people on the other side of the screen. Don’t get me wrong; I’m grateful for all the things I listed, but they seem shallow in comparison to the things that are really going on in my life and the world.

Keeping It Real

What would my keeping it real gratitude list look like? A little more gritty and authentic, that’s for sure. Like you, I have piles of laundry and dishes to be done. My desk needs a 10 minute declutter. My cat threw up on the carpet (again), and I haven’t dusted in a whileI’ve gained 5 (okay 7) pounds that I’d like to lose, and I struggle with the darkness at this time of year. But I give thanks that I have these things to complain about, a sheer abundance of life experiences and yes, blessings, that add color to my days.

In this time of Thanksgiving, I challenge you to look beyond the platitudes and lists of the season to what’s at the heart of your gratitude. Write it in your logbook or journal, for your eyes only. Honor your blessings with small acts of kindness – a genuine smile, calling your friends, saying “I love you”.

Keep it real. Show kindness. Be grateful.