You may have noticed that I’ve been taking a bit of a break from the blog lately - albeit unintentionally. I’ve been a bit scatter-brained with prepping for preschool, prepping for Kindergarten, and the weight of impending adulthood - you know, picking insurance plans and having a “big girl” job and hoping I remember everything that was meant to prepare me for this stage of my life.
It’s a lot, in my mind, although I’m aware that it’s just the beginning.
I’m re-reading “Present Over Perfect” by Shauna Niequist as I try to mentally prepare myself to be reasonable about the amount of things I accomplish in the coming few months. I tend to overdo it. But too much downtime scares me into feeling like I’m being wasteful with my life, you feel? Balance. Life is balance.
Today I’m enjoying Friday off after my first week at the preschool. I have some errands to run, some projects to start, but first I’m chilling with a cappuccino and a podcast. First I’m just breathing and enjoying.
What are you doing on this lovely Friday?
Just dropping in to share an awesome truth from a book I'm currently re-reading called Strengthen Yourself in the Lord by Bill Johnson. As the quote above states, my potential requires my participation.
I re-read that sentence a good seven times before I caught the weight of that statement. "Potential" seems to be a buzz-word nowadays. We all want to self-actualize, to reach a point in our lives in which we feel like we are living up to what we were made to be. It can be easy to feel like life is just happening to us and that the only thing we can do is hope for the right circumstances to make our dreams come true.
This simple statement shows otherwise. We will never reach our potentials by waiting for the right time. We will never reach our potentials by hoping for life to happen to us in just the right juxtaposition. Our potentials require our participation, they require our effort and our input.
This is both a comfort and a challenge to me. It's comforting that there's something I can actually do to make the most of my life. I'm not just floating in the wind. At the same time, it can be challenging to realize that if I'm not seeing my potential, there's definitely a part I play in that. There are choices I can make everyday to grow closer to becoming the person I was meant to be.
Sure, circumstances do happen that are completely out of our control, but I can choose to make the most of them. I can choose to respond to life's craziness with grace and gusto and joy. I can participate in my potential.
What's currently inspiring you? I'd love to hear!
P.S. If you're looking to set some goals for yourself, check out my recent post on How to Set Goals that You Can't Help but Keep!
June is breezes, brunch, and bicycle baskets full of deliciously crusty bread. It’s picnics and long evening walks and mason jars full of wildflowers. June is trip planning and watermelon slices and sandy afternoons at the lake. June is the first “hello” from summer. I’m so excited for June!
Here's my Pinterest mood board for the month. Doesn't it just make you want to have a picnic?
If you aren't familiar with my ongoing project of creating mood boards, it's basically a simple way to capture the mood/goals/aesthetic of the upcoming month. There are many reasons you could create a mood board, and you can read more about some of those reasons as well as a DIY physical version of a mood board here!
June has so much potential - I can feel it. I'm very excited to be preparing for my first year of teaching (kindergarten!) in the fall, and I'll also be teaching at a preschool over the summer. Apart from teacher prep, though, I have some minor little side-dreams, if you will, that I hope to pursue as hobbies this summer - any guesses based on my mood board?
I want to bake bread and take up cross-stitching! I've been wanting to try my hand at cross-stitching for a while now, and I've always been intrigued by the idea of baking my own bread. The smell of yeast rising takes me back to summer mornings in my grandma's kitchen.
I gave it a try the other night, and I'm pretty excited with how it turned out! I found some other delicious-looking recipes on Pinterest that I plan to try out this month as well. Riding around on a bike with a basket full of bread and cheese is seriously goals for me.
Do you have any goals, visions, or a mood for this month? Have you captured them with a mood board, either physically or on Pinterest? I would love to see your mood boards!
+ A Free Goal Planning Guide
Summer is time for rest. It’s time to relax by the water, sprawl out on a picnic blanket, and spend time with loved ones. It’s time to chill!
But as much as summer is great for getting a little rest and rejuvenation, it’s also a great time to get some things done.
How often have you said to yourself, “I’ll get to it this summer when I have more time”? Right? I know I’ve said it too many times to count. Summer can feel like this magical season of endless free time, until it’s August and that free time has somehow come and gone. While we all know the plight of disappearing summer days, we tend to push a lot of things off during the year in hopes we will actually get it accomplished over the summer.
Well, fret not. Getting things done over the summer CAN happen. The key is knowing how to set realistic goals for yourself that you can keep track of. The key is making your goals do the work for you by using SMART goals!
I’m not sure when I first heard about SMART goals, but it was probably in a college course. As an elementary teacher, I'll be constantly setting and tracking goals for my students, and this method of goal planning works across pretty much any field.
So whether you’re setting goals for yourself for the summer or the new year or you’re setting goals for others while you’re in a leadership role, SMART goals are the way to go.
Here’s what a SMART goal is.
Often times our goals can start out pretty vague. They may sound fairly big picture, like “lose weight” or “save money,” but goals that broad are incredibly hard to track and maintain. You could save $1 and meet the vague goal of “saving money,” but I suspect that’s not exactly what you were hoping for.
For example, here’s a list of my summer goals I jotted down before I went back and made them SMART.
While some of them may be narrowed down a little more than the previous examples, they’re still pretty broad. Here’s where SMART comes in. Take a look at one of my updated goals.
I changed a LOT about my initial goal. Let’s talk about the S and M first.
These two points go hand-in-hand. Your goals need to have a clear standard. Rather than “save money,” consider how much money you actually want or need to save and specify the purpose. “Save $50 for art supplies” is moving in the right direction. There is something tangible and motivating about numbers, so be exact! You can measure how well your goal is going when you are able to quantify it in some way.
Saving money is a pretty easy goal to quantify, but what about something like “study more” or “improve my blog”? It may be difficult to quantify what improvement or “more” looks like. You may not be able to put an exact measurement, but you can set a specific schedule for studying each week and for working on your blog.
Narrow in to make your goals more focused. Rather than simply saying you want to improve your blog, take a look at what specific details of your blog you are unhappy with. Is it your traffic? Your email list? Consider what area specifically you want to fix and it will be easier to find a quantifiable standard for it (and therefore follow through).
You can see here that I want to grow my traffic this summer by delivering substantial content with great SEO. Not only do I want to “grow my traffic,” but I specifically want to grow my traffic to 1,000 viewers a month by the end of the summer. That’s measurable!
It can be tempting to let your imagination get the best of you when you make a goal specific by adding quantity. It would be wonderful to have 20,000 viewers a month, but I know that growing my traffic to 20,000 viewers by the end of the summer just isn’t likely. When I considered what specific number I wanted to add to my goal, I had to be honest with my current stance and what would plausibly be attainable.
Don’t get carried away hoping you’ll accomplish more than you will have time, resources, or energy for. Likewise, don’t sell yourself short. Like many things in life, you have to find a happy medium. If you eventually hope to write a novel, don’t settle for only getting one chapter written over a whole summer if you know you can take on more. Sure, it’s progress, but goals are meant to be things we strive for. On the other hand, don’t think you’ll write the entire novel over the summer if you have other responsibilities or goals to devote your time to.
Your goals should matter to you! Why set a goal you have no desire to accomplish? Even in the classroom it’s important to let our students know WHY they are being asked to do certain tasks - and “because it’s on the test” is rarely (read: never) a great answer. Goals should be relevant to our lives in some way or we won’t be motivated to follow through.
Note: Some goals may not feel relevant now but they are relevant for the future, and that’s okay, too! A great way to stay motivated and envision your goals (both present and future) is by making a mood board. Check out a DIY version here!
Obviously, goals need to have a time frame or we will never get around to them. I think that’s why so many of us push things off until the summer to begin with! Even if you have decided you’re going to do something over the summer, set a literal date to accomplish it by and schedule checkpoints along the way, as applicable. This way you KNOW you only have so many days to do it and you can stretch out the work as needed. Pace yourself!
One of my goals this summer is to study for the ESL certification exam. I’m going to look up exam dates so that I can pick a day, mark it on the calendar, and see exactly how much time I have to study. Then I’m going to mark the calendar with specific study nights, non-negotiable times that I will devote to preparing for the exam.
As Antoine de Saint-Exupery said, a goal without a plan is just a wish. Get out your calendar and make it concrete.
Fwew! That’s a lot of information to take in, but you only need to take it one step at a time. Here’s exactly how you can make some SMART goals you will be motivated to accomplish.
Step 1: Jot down a big picture list of goals. I started with a vague idea of what I wanted to get done this summer. Simply take out a sheet of paper or a journal and get it all out (or use this free template!) What broad ideas do you hope to get done?
Step 2: Narrow the focus. Go through each broad idea and flesh it out to more specific details - this is the first step to make it SMART. I like to use the traditional web brainstorming strategy to allow my ideas to branch out into more focused thoughts. What are some specifics about this goal? What is my quantity for measurement? How long do I think it will take me to get this done? Weed out the ideas that are simply too broad and focus on the goals that you can make SMART.
Step 3: Make it SMART. Connect all your bubbles of thought into coherent pieces following the SMART acronym. Write out the details for each category that you just brainstormed about. Here’s an example.
Step 4: Narrow again! Look at all your SMART goals and decide which goals are relevant, attainable, and important enough to add to your to-do list now. Some goals can wait! Some goals would be better accomplished with a larger time-frame or during a different time of the year. Separate your goals into four categories: 1) Now, 2) Soon, 3) Later 4) Someday/Never.
Step 5: Conquer those "now" goals with actionable steps! I like to break my goals down even further into smaller tasks that I can check-off as I go - this makes my goals even easier to measure!
This printable guide I created to use along the way makes planning SMART goals a breeze. You can download it free here! I hope you'll find it hard NOT to keep your goals now.
What are your current goals? Any goal setting tips?
It's Sunday again and the weeks seem to be going faster and faster as the school year comes to an end. Daniel only has one final left and I have basically the month of May.
April was an interesting one. There were lots of highs and lows to deal with. We celebrated a few birthdays and my brother's wedding, we both landed jobs (more info to come!), and we got to participate in some fun things with our church community. On the other hand, we've been dealing with some other things, like my own bout of bad news, the challenges of life changes, and the tiredness of the semester.
But April was good for me. It was stretching, which can be painful but is ultimately worth it. You may have read my post earlier last month about how it's okay to not be okay, and that kind of sums up the month for me. I'm growing in many areas of my life and it's okay if that looks messy. It's okay if I cry, it's okay if I need a minute to just do nothing, it's okay if I let go of some things to focus on others. Basically, it's okay if I slow down.
Since you've been hearing from me here less frequently lately, I wanted to share a bit about what some of those areas have been and what I've been doing with my time. That feels a bit scary for some reason? But I just want to share what my life has looked like the past month or so.
The past few months have felt like a lot of preparing for me. Lately I've felt like I'm in a constant mode of rearranging and refining our apartment, even though we're nearing 5 months of living here. Part of that has to do with the minimalism challenge I attempted in April that I'm still kind of working through. And maybe 5 months really isn't as long as I think?
I've also been preparing a lot for my upcoming job, which is teaching kindergarten in the fall (yay!). I'm beyond excited for this stage of my life to finally be here! I'm stock-piling activities as well as making some of my own, so that has been a small bit of my time in the evenings recently. I really can't wait to put my classroom together.
Beyond what I can go ahead and tangibly prepare, I've been doing a lot of dreaming of what's ahead. Of course, I probably have lots of notions about teaching that won't work exactly as imagined, but it's still fun to think creatively about what I hope my classroom will be like.
As well as dreaming of teaching, I've also been dreaming of the future in general - where we'll go when we leave Waco, what our first actual home will look like, what our children will be like.
Babies. My pondering has been filled with lots and lots of babies. Just to be honest.
I've also been dreaming up summer plans and travel destinations, although nothing solid just yet.
Along with kindergarten activities, I've been creating different little things here and there, from some simple Peter Rabbit drawings for my niece's birthday party to paintings for my Etsy shop. You may have also seen my potato stamping project, which was a lot of fun. I can't say I've made anything too earth shattering as of late, but doodling in my journal and painting flowers onto sticker paper has been somewhat therapeutic for me. Creating can be more about the process than the outcome, no?
Part of slowing down for me has meant being okay with not having a giant project to chew on. The result has been some tiny and refreshing bursts of creativity.
To be real, a lot of this past month has just been existing. Processing the changes that are taking place in my life, thinking through things, and being okay with doing absolutely nothing at times. Some evenings are blanketed with Netflix binges and Pinterest scrolling. Others with walks to the coffee shop. Others still with turning in for the night even earlier than usual.
Some days I get home from work and don't feel like doing much of anything but sit on the couch with Daniel, but I think that's okay sometimes. I've been sort of intrigued with this idea of "slow living" that's been buzzing around on my internet feeds, so we'll see where that exploring takes me. I definitely know that living life slowly and intentionally is not the same as sitting around lethargically. I'm working through getting to a point where that feeling of wanting to sit idly comes less frequently.
And honestly it already is. May is off to a good start. April was odd, but through the groaning growing it's put a little pep in my step for the new month ahead. I feel like the Lord is doing something new in my heart, and I'm eager to know more.
That's just a little update on what life has been like lately, however scattered it may have come across. I've been preparing, dreaming, creating, and being. I've been slowing down a little at a time, taking some extra moments to figure out this whole adult thing. I don't know that it's figure-out-able, but the process is sure interesting.
What's your life been looking like lately? I'd love to hear!
Happy May! This month is Mental Health Awareness Month, which was started in 1949 by the Mental Health America organization. When I read that it was started so long ago, I was a bit surprised! It seems we still have a ways to go in being fully aware of how to care for our mental health.
Of course, there's a lot that can be said about mental health, and providing a simple list of self-care ideas in no way scratches the surface. Mental health awareness is obviously more than sitting down with a hot cup of tea or giving yourself a spa day, but sometimes those small gestures can feel huge.
I wanted to share this list as a starting point that pretty much anyone could try, fully realizing that these simple activities are not prescriptive solutions to mental health problems, but rather small, everyday ways that someone could be intentional about taking care of themselves.
They may not be for everyone, but I hope you'll find something creative that you hadn't thought to try before.
Here are 31 Self-Care Tips, one for each day this month!
From this list I currently employ at least 10 of these on a weekly basis. They may not be ground-shaking, but they are simple and effective for daily mental health maintenance, especially when life is feeling stressful.
Do you use any of these self-care tips regularly? What other ways do you practice mental health awareness?
This past weekend, my brother got married! It was so exciting to see him and his new wife make their vows to each other surrounded by our families, and on the top of a mountain no less!
They got married at sunset at the edge of a peak on the Rio Grande Village Trail in Big Bend National Park - how rad is that? We all hiked up the trail in our sun dresses, Chacos, boots, etc. and gathered around the happy couple as the sun cast gold ribbons over the river. It was absolutely stunning.
It was a long 8 hour drive for us to get there, and we wished we had more time to explore the park. Unfortunately, we drove down the morning of the wedding and had to drive back the next morning to be back for work and school on Monday.
We definitely want to go back again when we have more time to spend there! Daniel and I aren't super experienced hikers, but we enjoyed our trip to the Grand Canyon for our honeymoon and we like trying our hand at it from time to time.
Nevertheless, the trip was well worth it, and we're so excited for all that's ahead for my brother and new sister-in-law!
Two words: spring cleaning. It has me up the wall, y'all. It also has me simultaneously motivated?? I get in valleys where I'm bummed at how messy our place looks but have zero drive to fix it. Then the next day I'm whistling while the birds fly in the window and hang the drapes, you know?
Whether I'm feeling unmotivated or already inspired, I like to browse through Pinterest at beautiful spaces to either get out of the slump or to keep the momentum rolling with some new ideas.
With this minimalism thing I'm attempting, I've been especially intrigued by spaces with natural palettes and (obviously) fewer items filling the space, although not exclusively.
Take a look at this simple compilation of 9 beautiful spaces that will make you feel motivated to get your spring cleaning into gear.
Beautiful! Inspiring! Must clean my home and make space for beautiful things that I enjoy!!
But really, ha! These spaces give me some fresh perspective and make me feel ready to tackle the spring cleaning ahead.
Do you resonate with any of these beautiful spaces?
Just dropping in to make a confession: I'm having a bad day.
Nothing bad happened, nothing is really wrong, but it is what it is. I'm just in a funk, you know? I don't feel like myself today, but this "gram" encouraged me that that's okay.
It's okay that I'm feeling down and it's okay that I don't always feel super motivated to do the things I'm usually passionate about.
To be honest, blogging has felt like a bit of a chore lately (sad day!!). I want to want to do it, believe me! But I'm trying to recognize burnout before it occurs, or at least gets too serious, so I'm going to scale back a bit.
You may have seen my recent post about the 30 Day Minimalism Challenge I'm trying this month, which is actually going pretty well. I'm only 8 days in, but the challenge has already brought up some vulnerability and "junk" to the surface. That's kind of the point of minimalism, to me, so I'm not going to run from it.
That being said, it's shaping several areas of my life and it just might change the way things look around here. Don't be surprised if I post less frequently and about things that you may not have expected.
Don't worry, you're still going to hear from me, and it won't always be as solemn as this post has been, ha! But I'm definitely weeding out the "froufrou" and the things that aren't as important to me, including my perceptions about what I "should" be blogging.
I only want to focus on what's meaningful - and that's okay.
So thanks for sticking around for the journey!
All my love,
It’s spring - time for overflowing greenery, all-day cleaning frenzies, and dreams of summer sun. I’ve enjoyed filling our living room window with little plants from a local greenhouse, and I’m slowly but surely cleaning out my closet.
Of course, it’s also time for a few of those “adulting” things, like taxes (*sad trombone sound*).
April is prime time to revamp for the rest of the year. Spring fervor gives the perfect momentum to check off some boxes from that growing to-do list.
But sometimes it can be hard to know where to start! So here's a run-down of things to get done in April when you've got that spring-cleaning fire fueling you.
Alright, speaking of spring cleaning, that's likely number one on most everyone's to-do list, but here are some specifics to get you rolling.
1. Declutter. This is probably your first instinct, so here are some lists that might help you start. (1, 2, 3).
2. Reorganize. After you've decluttered your home and whittled down to what really matters to you, take the time to put everything in it's place. I love rearranging now and again to give a space a new feel, especially in a small apartment.
3. Try a challenge. If you're like me, step #1 can be a real task, even with lists of ideas. That's why I decided to try a minimalism challenge. I took a look at some challenges, picked the tasks that were relevant to me, and scheduled one task everyday for the month of April. I think the key for me is scheduling bite-size pieces that I can take on one day at a time.
Here are some links that I've really been enjoying on the topic of minimalism! (1, 2, 3)
Finding your Green Thumb
1. Plant things. Or buy some plants. I think for the most part we naturally crave having plants around, especially in the spring. They're good for our health and our mood, and they're obviously necessary for sustaining life on this planet! Putting some greenery around the apartment was a much-needed spring to-do for me.
2. Eat better. What better time to "fix" your eating habits than in the spring, when fruits and vegetables are blooming and there are cute farmer's markets open around town? It's healthier and cheaper to eat in season, so check out what delicious produce spring brings! And why not combine #1 and #2 and try your hand at growing some food for yourself?
1. Tax return. Yep. It's time to get it done.
2. Budgeting. Every month you can start new, in any number of areas in life. One of those for me this month has been in making a budget for us. At times I haven't been great at following a budget, but at this stage in our lives (newlyweds, a grad student and an instructional aide) we're realizing how important it is to stick to a plan and to try our best to save. April may as well be the month to get on track!
1. Set goals. Like I mentioned above, you can start new every month. It may be a few months into the new year and nearing the end of the school year, but why not start fresh this month with the things you are hoping to accomplish this year? Here's a great pin on how to set and accomplish goals.
2. Refocus. This goes hand in hand with #1 (along with several of the other points above). Use this time to evaluate your dreams and habits and whether they coincide. Are your daily practices pushing you towards the goals you're setting? Bask in your newly decluttered home with some nice leafy plants and a few things accomplished from your to-do list and consider the vision you have for yourself.
So how do you feel? Are you ready to take on April?
Recent graduate + Wife
+ Kindergarten teacher
+ Coffee lover + Artist
I'm a twenty-something trying to figure out this adult thing and using my spare time to run an art shop on Etsy and write a blog about life, art, education, and travel.