Friday, June 28, 2013

{Update} My 13 in 2013

Wow, this year is f.l.y.i.n.g.

I cannot believe that we're part way through the summer and barreling straight into July. I thought it would be perfect timing to check in on my personal goals for this year. I've got some work to do :)
My 13 in 2013

1. Read 2 books each month - in progress - I'm well on my way... the most inspiring book so far this year has been Animal, Vegetable, Miracle... thank you to my dear friend for allowing me her copy for many, many weeks while I poured over it :)

2. Create and follow a financial plan - in progress - I'm so happy to report that we are saving dollars, tracking spending, and watching our debts dwindle!

3. Continue de-cluttering of our home  - in progress - this takes time but going strong

4. Run, bike, hike or hit the gym four days a week - in progress - I no longer "hit the gym" but I'm happy to say I'm more active this year than last.

5. Share 10 tips, recipes, or ideas that consider my lifestyle choice of cutting out processed & non local foods on the blog - in progress - this choice requires lots of thought and preparation; I'm still working on always being one step ahead with ideas of food and menu planning.

6. Take the time to travel to a "someday" place or take a "someday" trip - booked - will write more about this soon

7. Write more - success - I'm writing daily as part of my routine and not always just on this blog.

8. Garden - in progress - I've got little green tomatoes and lots of beautiful plants who keep growing and growing!

9. Create a desirable working space in our study - in progress - we're working hard on our space, new flooring was just put down and now we are onto setting up an organized space

10. Put our "backyard heaven" plan into action - in progress - our raised beds are in and contain our growing garden, but other parts of our plan will be our next sunny weekend job.

11. Share about my choices and plans concerning "simple living" - in progress- I have been doing a fair amount of writing about my choices and opinions on "simple living" recently.

12. Complete a photography challenge - completed - check out my photos here.

13. Be mindful of support given to friends and family - in progress - This is a goal that will stretch for the entire year... As friends and family always have reasons to celebrate or reasons to give support.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Simple Living: Shaping Happiness

How do I know if I am simple living?

To be truthful, I'm not really sure the exact definition of "simple living" because I believe that everyone has their own interpretation of every type of lifestyle. 

I believe that freeing yourself from too many materials and no longer consuming more than you need is part of simple living. This can easily happen if you are deliberate in your lifestyle choices. Actually think about what happens in your day to day and make real choices based on what is best for you, your health, your happiness. What is best for the Earth and all those beings living on the Earth. It can sometimes be overwhelming when you consider all the creatures and beings on the planet, but intentional choices can be supportive of more than just yourself. 

My husband and I realized we were beginning to fall into the trap of the standard American lifestyle... buying more than we needed, using more than our share, taking steps because that was what we were "supposed to do". We've always been a bit different, but we started to realize that every choice we were making were leading to loads of other outcomes and lots of them were things we weren't interested in including in our lives. 

We needed to slow down. So slow down we did. 

Here are some actual steps that helped us figure out what was important to us and where our energy, time, and money was going:

1. Assess your current life position - We're talking lifestyle, job, love life, debts, education, connections with others (people, animals). Maybe take one aspect at a time and just create an opinion and a vision of what does and should make up your current life roles and energy.

2. Decide if that is what you want or are comfortable with - Comfortable in a good way not "It's comfortable so I'll just keep doing it". If something inside tells you this isn't what you want then you are not comfortable. You may not know what you want... but you will probably know what you don't want. Stop doing what you don't want as often as you can in a responsible manner.

3. Try something new - If you don't want something to be the way it has been, change it. Talk to a friend or family member and make a plan. It probably won't be the last time you change something, but trying something new takes courage and it will help you learn something else.

4. Keep evaluating - Keep checking in with yourself. Or check on a different aspect of your life that you hadn't considered before. One part of your life at a time can become better every day.

    Wednesday, June 12, 2013

    Saying no...{it can be a Positive Thing}

    Sometimes one needs to say 'no' in order to simplify their day.

    This month I've been trying to say 'no' every day {as inspired by this challenge} in order to not overwhelm myself and increase the mindfulness of my current actions and thoughts.

    This can be anything. Making the choice of not doing something frees myself up to continue something else of value. And then I don't feel guilty for not getting to the agenda that I turned down. I say 'no' and let it go.

    Most of the time it is something simple. Like no to a second load of wash, or posting on the blog, or even getting ahead on some work for my new job. And often if I say no on one day, the next day I'll say yes to that specific task. The task still gets attended to, just not with a speed that is too much for me in one day.

    I've learned so far that I've can increase the enjoyment of the task at hand by not worrying about if I will have time for the next item on my to-do list. Or if I need to wait until tomorrow I can still get specific goals accomplished.

    By saying no, I'm also saying no to questioning if what I am currently doing is the best way to spend my time. Second guessing uses valuable time and allows my mind to wander.  I've noticed that when I limit multi-tasking I am able to focus, enjoy, and be productive in the one activity I had decided was most important. 

    Monday, June 10, 2013

    Living a Simply-Complex Life

    If you have ever poked around this blog before you may notice that I enjoy good food {and drinks}, photography, and nature. I enjoy small parts of the day and try to find ways to increase my sanity in this complicated, fast paced world. In the past year, my family has taken large steps in slowing down the way that we live.

    We were living the typical two full-time working couple life style. You know, the "daily grind". Rush to work, rush back home, throw some dinner on the table and maybe a load of clothes in the wash before bed. We would jam each weekend so tight with grocery shopping, visiting far off friends and family... oh... and maybe cleaning a bathroom or two. We put off projects that would increase the quality of life in our home because we had no other choice. We had to run the race. Or so we thought.

    There was loads of talking, and talking, planning, and talking... then we decided to go for it. We thought 'let's make a change, take some chances'. Take some steps that would all support a happy, healthy way of living. I'm not saying this is the only way, I'm just talking about what we decided to try and our experience. And you know what, things didn't even happen in all the ways we expected...

    After rushing from college to graduate school, to first real jobs, to owning a house (and my favorite part... getting married) we realized that we never quite had time to make a home. So our "one big change" was this past school year I stayed home from work to allow us time to actually settle into our home. We had lots of questions from loved ones, and many expectations (not one month went by without someone asking if we were expecting a baby anytime soon), but also lots of love and support. We thought that this could be our new normal. But all of us know, that we may not ever truly know a "normal" because changes are part of "normal".

    I'm excited to say that we've accepted a new change in our lives. I'm heading back to work this upcoming fall. A job opened up in our town... and so many things that we thought would make this "daily job world" work into the happy lives we live have now become a glimmering possibility. Not only because of the location of the job... there is so much more (but a full time job in walking distance from our house sure is nice).

    I will always cherish this year I had to spend time on us, on our family, on our home. It was the best way I could imagine spending my time and I am sure that I will miss my daily routine at home. But I missed teaching and this new opportunity is what I currently believe to be the best chance for me of having both a successful professional and home life. I'm willing to give it a try. And we will see where this new "normal" takes us.

    Wish me luck, I'm going to need all summer to prepare for a year in a new school... here's to possibility, sanity, health and happiness :)

    Wednesday, June 5, 2013

    {Running Thoughts} Miles in May

    I did it! But just barely. I walked, hiked, or ran 52 miles in May. 

    Honestly, I had to count every step I took... like even walking to town for an errand.
    But that is okay because every step should count. 

    And in June the challenge is 56 miles... I think I can take that many steps. 

    Sunday, June 2, 2013

    A Simply Lovely Sunday Thought {On My Bookshelf}

    There is no Frigate like a Book

    To take us Lands away

    Nor any Coursers like a Page

    Of prancing Poetry –

    This Traverse may the poorest take

    Without oppress of Toll –

    How frugal is the Chariot

    That bears the Human Soul –

    By Emily Dickinson