Real talk: it is February 16th. We are more than halfway through with the month and I… have not read a single book. I have also not gone to a single new workout class. I have been far more conscious of my spending and been more mindful, but I feel like a big, fat failure. Earlier in the month, I set four monthly goals for myself to achieve by February 28th. I realized today that I will (probably) not be meeting two of them this month. As a certified type A human, this has been making me feel quite bad.
It’s been on my mind all morning, and I think I’ve finally found a way to come to peace with this. Yes – I won’t be meeting my goals this month, but why? Well, we moved, and that took a ton of time and energy out of me. Like a lot of time and energy. I also started a new part time job, which has taken some time to figure out. It’s not like I didn’t meet the goals because I sat around on my bum all month. I was busy – packing, moving, unpacking, organizing – and so on and so forth.
So today, I’m here to tell you that sometimes it’s okay to not achieve what you originally set out to achieve. Sometimes, life gets in the way. Scratch that. Sometimes, life happens. It doesn’t get in the way – there is no way! So today, I’m freeing myself from the guilt of not achieving goals that I set out for myself. At the end of the day, I am doing what I need to do to be the best version of myself I can be.
I thought about it similarly to how I see workouts. Sometimes, you just can’t go all out. Sometimes you don’t have it in you because you’ve spent your energy elsewhere in life. In those instances, yoga or a walk can be more therapeutic for you than anything else.
It’s about balance, but it’s about long term balance. You can’t live a perfectly balanced life daily, where you give a little of yourself to everything that matters. It’s about how balanced your month, or year is.
This weekend is a three day weekend, and I’m going to use my time how I see fit. Sure, I could binge read books to achieve my monthly goal, and go to a new workout class today and tomorrow, but I have other things I want to do (like find where I packed my undies).
I applaud anyone who can make and keep annual goals. The only one I made this year was to read 100 books. The only reason I did that was because I couldn’t read 100 in a month, and a 6-8 book monthly goal doesn’t sound nearly as impressive. What I do think is attainable, at least for me, are monthly goals. 4 weeks to stick something? You got it dude! 52 weeks? L.O.L. Byeeeeee.
So it’s officially February 1st. We have left the month of resolutions and entered the month of love. Unless you do monthly resolutions, then it’s the month of love AND resolutions. I have some things I want to accomplish in the next 28 days, and I’m feeling pretty hopeful! Plus writing it down keeps me accountable, due to the fact that I have 12 followers on this blog (am I internet famous yet?!)!
1.Real Estate License
My husband has been working in real estate for the last few years. He works his booty off and is good at what he does. Watching him maneuver this field and build a company out of it has had me feeling inspired. He’s his own boss. I, on the other hand, am a teacher. While it’s fun (sometimes), I feel a bit stuck in my career. The only place up for a teacher is to admin, and that’s not in my cards. So I’ve been working on getting my real estate broker license for the last few months (okay more like the last six months – accountability right?) to give me some excitement on the side. This week, I finished my online course so the only thing between me and my license is three exams. February is the month that I finish!
2. Workout (Differently)
I majored in exercise science and health promotion in college. While you’d think that meant I was gung-ho about exercise then and now, that’s not necessarily the case. Exercise and I have had a tumultuous relationship. We get together, fall into lust, then inevitably take a break. For the last few months though, we’ve been homies. I visited the gym enough that the front desk appeared to recognize me. I’ll take that as a win! However, I am also the type of person who doesn’t like to make a fool out of themselves (alone) so I stick to the same gym routine most of the time to avoid embarrassing myself. February 2019 is going to change that!
Last month, while visiting my LDBF in Denver, I went to a yoga class for the first time in about 5 years and it was great (the experience of going, the yoga class itself was pretty meh). I’ve decided that I am going to step outside of my comfort zone and try out new exercise classes this month. Who knows? Maybe I’m a pilates queen in the making!
Spending money is SO easy. TOO easy. There should be some type of Rubik’s Cube credit card to make it more challenging (although, I have never successfully solved a Rubik’s Cube). I try to be mindful about spending but it’s too easy to spend $5 on a latte here and $20 on some clothes there. So in February, I want to be more aware of my spending. Do I really need that shirt with the funny saying on it that I’ll wear once for the giggles then forget about? Probably not. While I am not setting a budget, or anything like that this month, I am going to be conscious of how and when and why I spend money. LDBF is also doing a spending freeze February, so I’ll have an accountability buddy too!
4. Be Mindful
I’ve touched on my desire to be more mindful in a few posts in the past, but I want mindfulness to be my word for February. I think too often in the future and past, and not enough in the present. I find myself considering choices I’ve already made, and thinking about what is coming up on my calendar rather than taking the time to enjoy the moment or to really focus in on the task at hand. In February, my intention is to catch myself when I find my mind drifting to another time, and reel it back in. While our world seems scary, with the instant notification of news and events we get, there is still so much beauty, love and humor in it. I want to appreciate it, and in order to do so, I need to be mindful. I’ve been thinking of how to ensure I maintain mindfulness, and I think I’ll be leaving myself reminders. I might set a reminder in my calendar, or leave a post-it note on my bathroom mirror. Habits take time to form and this one, I feel may take a bit more time than usual.
My goals don’t have numerals attached to them. I don’t intend to “be mindful in all given situations when given a note pad and no cueing, in 8 out of 10 instances” or to spend only 10% of my income (Can you tell I write IEPSs?). These are just things for me to be aware of in the coming month, and I hope that writing them down is enough accountability for myself. Check back in in 28 days to see how successful I am!
According to the weather app, it feels like -32 degrees outside right now. All that makes me want to do is curl up with a cuppa coffee and a good book and get down to it. There’s nothing like a book that can take you out of your current reality (which happens to be a tundra for us) and swiftly move you into another life. This year, I am rediscovering my love for reading. As a kid, I remember staying up all night devouring books. Junie B. Jones was my advocate, Harry Potter was my first love and Jo March was my childhood idol.
As I got older, I began to read less. In college, I felt guilt whenever I picked up a book that wasn’t assigned reading. After college, I found myself lacking time to read, or so I told myself. As a teacher, I rarely see a child with their head in a book. When I offer free time in the classroom, books are never what they reach for. It makes me sad, and reminiscent for my own childhood. This year, I have decided to read 100 books. I’ve watched a decent amount of Netflix, and there’s a 37.86% chance that I regret the time that I spend on a show. I’ve never regretted a book, even if it wasn’t a book that lined up with my beliefs or values. I’ve always gotten something from a book, whether it was a new idea, or an affirmation to my current beliefs. Sometimes, it was just a laugh, but a much needed one. So here is month one of my reading challenge, punningly titled my booket list (get it? bucket list? booket? book?). This month I read 8 books, and each one gave me something. Keep reading for my very informed and professional review of them all 😉
#1: A Really Good Day by Ayelet Waldman
I started the month off with a book that I typically would not have picked up. If I’m reading 100 books this year, I might as well learn about some unfamiliar ideas. This book was everything a quality book should be, in my opinion. It was funny, factual and informative in an amusing way. The author, Ayelet Waldman, described her experience with experimenting with microdosing LSD. She does so in an attempt to improve her moods and make her relationships with her family stronger. The book is written in diary form, describing each day in her 30 day experiment. Her writing is research backed, which left me with fun facts to use at future dinner parties. Did you know that 67% of women who are admitted to psychiatric facilities are admitted the week before their cycle begins? Try that one out next time you find yourself in a lull in conversation. This book was great, and I loved her style of writing. 5 out of 5.
#2: Green Enough by Leah Segedie
After a strong start with the previous book, I was excited to dive into this one. I had heard the author on a podcast I listen to discussing it, and immediately ordered it. Ask anyone who knows me and they will tell you I’m as crunchy as granola. I tend to grab for essential oils before Nyquil. Grassfed beef is my jam, as is organic coffee (the mold people, look into the mold!) This book seemed to be the bible for granola living. I read this book quickly, in part because the author wrote it in an amusing manner (I can’t resist a book that openly curses) but also because a lot of information was repetitive for me. This book has some great tips though, and I left with some new information. Did you know that when companies took out BPA, many replaced it with a chemical that may be even more harmful? You bet your bottom dollar I won’t use plastic tupperware again. I would suggest this book to anyone who is beginning to live a toxic free life. It’s a great starting point, and has excellent recommendations. Also, check out the author’s website! She has lists of toxic free replacements for day-to-day things.
#3: An Unquiet Mind by Kay Redfield Jamison
This book was the second book I read this month that discussed mood. The author, Kay Redfield Jamison, is a psychologist whose work centers around bipolar disorder. This book was a memoir of her life, as a person figuring out a way to live with bipolar disorder while helping others around her. It was an eye-opening read, which portrayed bipolar not only as a disorder, but as an asset. It explained that many people don’t want to take medication, because it dulls their brilliant minds. It was a beautifully written book that ran through her life from childhood to the present. It was raw and heart breaking at times, and insightful throughout. It was honest and I loved it for that.
#4: Slow by Brooke McAlary
Intention is a such a buzz word, but it’s also something I am striving for this year. I want to be intentional, with my words, my actions and my times. This book was on my radar last year, but I didn’t want to pay full price (I know, I’m cheap AF). I was in a thrift store in Logan Square and came across it for $1.99. HELL YES. I bought and immediately devoured this book. The author, Brooke McAlary, also wanted to live with intention. Upon opening the book, one would think it was a book on minimalism, but it isn’t. It’s a book on happiness, and how adding things in, and cutting things out, can lead to it. While I did think the book was a bit, er, fluffy, I did find some takeaways. This book made me realize the lack of presence I have in the moment. After reading this book, I would catch myself in that state, and bring myself back down to earth. If you’re looking for inspiration to lead a more intentional life, this is a great book to start with.
#5: When to Rob a Bank by Steven D. Levitt & Stephen J. Dubner
My husband got me into this genre of book when we first started dating. A few weeks into seeing each other, I went on vacation with my family. He handed me a stack of books, which included the original Freakonomics. That book, to this day, is still one of my favorite reads. I would describe the genre as business pop – a fun take on “boring” concepts. This book was a collection of blogs that the authors had publishes on their website. It was a quick read, that left me with a new understanding of why certain things in the world are the way they are. (Sidenote: after reading this book, I have now read all 5 Freakonomic books. Does this make me a freakonomic?!) This book is great if you don’t have much time to read, as each entry is at most, two pages. Give it a shot, you’ll leave with some fun facts!
#6: Four Seasons in Rome by Anthony Doerr
Spring break this year will be spent in Italy, thanks to a great deal I found on Google flights. I enjoy reading books set in places that I will visit – it adds to that wonderful feeling of anticipation to get there. This book was part history, part travel guide and part parenting 101. The author describes his experience winning an award that involved a year in Rome, soon after the birth of his twins. It was beautifully written, but slow at times. I enjoyed how he discussed the narrative of Rome, especially from an American viewpoint where nothing in our country has much history. It was a fun read, but not an incredibly memorable one, in my opinion.
#7: Bad Mother by Ayelet Waldman
After reading her book on microdosing, and telling my husband how hilarious I had found it, he bought me this one. Some people online reviewed it poorly, saying it was too personal, but as a nosy person, I loved it! Ayelet Waldman discusses her experience as a mother of four, but more importantly, discusses what the role of a mother is in today’s society. This book was honest about motherhood, and didn’t attempt to use rose colored glasses, which was refreshing. As a person who has not yet experienced motherhood, it was soothing to know that it isn’t expected to be perfect. As a woman who wants children and a career, it was encouraging to know that it can be possible to be successful with both. It was funny, sarcastic and informative, similar to her other book. Go check it out (checkout her Instagram too, because she is quite funny on there as well)!
#8: Becoming by Michelle Obama (duh)
This book was a holiday present from one of my best friends, and I absolutely loved it. I’m 24 right now, and unsure of what is next for me in my career. It was reassuring that at 24, Michelle Obama felt similarly. This book went through all the phases of her life. She wrote about her upbringing on the South side. She wrote about her time at Harvard and how unfulfilled she was as a lawyer. She discussed how she didn’t (and still doesn’t) like politics. It was honest and that it all that I can ask of a memoir. It also had pictures in the middle, for visual learners.
So there we have it folks! Those were my reads for the month of January! I enjoyed them all, for an assortment of reasons, and don’t regret a single one (digression: I did watch 20 minutes of a show called Yummy Mummy on Netflix, which I completely regret). Let’s see what words come my way in February!