This is the greatest. And it's going to become my Monday morning pick me up. (Seriously, I might start posting this EVERY Monday.)
So let's go give Monday all we've got!
This is the greatest. And it's going to become my Monday morning pick me up. (Seriously, I might start posting this EVERY Monday.)
So let's go give Monday all we've got!
And to help us all get through Monday, a giveaway! I'm excited to partner up with these ladies! You'll love them too!
This raffle would not have been possible without these darling ladies and also, of course, you know, our friend–Kate Spade.
Monday Motivation + Great Things
It's been awhile since I've done a Monday Motivation and no promises that I'll keep it up, but yesterday it hit me just how much of a beast this week would be. It's shaping up to be a really great week, but a beast all the same.
So this motivation is as much for you as for me. Who I'm kidding, this is really to help me jump start this week and convince myself that I can do everything that needs to be done.
To start, this lovely image is brought to you by Kelli and Ashley. You can find more of their collaborations over here.
The last few months have been building blocks for some things that are coming together now. And when I feel incredibly overwhelmed, stressed, frustrated by slow progress, I remind myself that all of these things are steps toward something much, much bigger.
I may sound all zen about it now as I'm sipping my morning coffee and watching Grover scope out everything happening outside our front door, but I guarantee that it's harder than it seems to keep steady and calm on the inside, at my core. That's usually where my deepest fears and quiet doubt like to hang out and sometimes creep into my way of thinking until I get back to quashing them again.
So here's what's on deck this week:
+ Writing probably at least two stories a day at work. I like being productive and having my byline in the paper daily, but that pace is difficult to maintain. But when I'm in that spot when stories just keep flowing, I run with it. It balances out the slow days.
+ Meeting tonight to finalize details for The Wall That Heals, a replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial coming to town this week. I used to work for the organization that runs TWTH so local veterans asked me for advice. I've also got to write about it for the paper. It's really a special thing, but from the inside of it all, it's incredibly time consuming.
+ Whipping up fundraising and marketing kits for the rink, plus a new website. I'm telling myself that the front end work will pay huge dividends both in requiring less of my time later and hopefully great returns for the rink.
+ Rink board meeting Wednesday. I really work best with a deadline, so there's that.
+ One of my best D.C. friends is coming to visit. I AM SO EXCITED. And yes, I just used all caps. I'm thinking about taking her to the fair/rodeo if everything times out.
+ To prepare for the visit, we've got a ton of cleaning and organizing to do. Plus, moving chickens in the backyard and other various tasks that never end around this place. And possibly having to pick up the Sunday shift while other reporters are on vacation.
+ Helping a blogger friend with a new website and social media plan. I'm really excited about it, just not sure how much I'll accomplish on that front this week.
Pretty much, every day for the next week is booked solid. Here's to hoping I keep up with bringing lunch to work, working out and maintaining some semblance of healthy living despite the fact that Erika and I will probably overdose on wine and queso. Old habits die hard with old friends.
A tall order for this week, but lucky for me, most of it HAS to get done, meaning I will somehow find it in myself to GET IT DONE. Likely with multiple cups of coffee per day.
Who's with me on conquering this week and doing big things? How do you break down big projects, busy weeks into manageable tasks so that you stand a better chance of doing it all?
The Life We Imagined
There are plenty of moments that lead you to think about how your life has changed.
But few cause the sudden Oh.My.Goodness. moment quite like cleaning out a crate full of baby chickens.
Scooping the shredded paper by hand, there was a moment when it hit me that this is a far cry from the life I left in D.C. just 15 months ago. A life I thought I wanted.
There was a brief time as a kid growing up in Texas that I thought I wanted to grow up, marry a cowboy and live on a ranch.
After that 7-year-old fantasy fizzled out, I never gave much thought to the rural life again.
At least not until college.
I found myself reading an article in The Economist during my senior year that included the fact that 10 of the 20 poorest counties in the U.S. were in Montana. For some reason, that said to me that Montana would be full of journalistic opportunity and minimal competition for those reporting jobs.
I applied and was offered an interview at a paper in a small town where the top story was Bear Chases Man Up Tree. I also called the paper near the military base just to say, Can I meet you and maybe one day you'll hire me? (Fun fact, that's the same paper where I work now.)
But then things happened and I took a job in Alabama, where I didn't know a soul.
That's where I got into running and military reporting and the Southern lifestyle and where I met M.
Those years were full of learning and growing. And I got there because I let go of the life I'd planned.
M and I went our separate ways for a time and I headed back to Virginia, where I didn't have a job when I decided to make the move. Somehow we found our way back to each other and here I am, gardening on acres and raising chickens in Montana.
As a kid, I wanted to be a prima ballerina. Then a lawyer. Then a marine biologist. President for a hot second, then a teacher. It was eighth grade when I fell in love with journalism. In high school, I had a list of internships and jobs I wanted to go for. They included the Washington Post and New York Times, as well as possibly doing public relations for the Philadelphia Flyers or the New York Rangers.
Clearly things have changed, but I wouldn't have it any other way. Honestly, I think the life I imagine and plan changes so often that I've stopped planning the big picture. Instead, I pick out the things I want to accomplish and think about the kind of person I want to be and life sort of fills in around that.
All of that had me thinking of how to find the life waiting for you.
Figure out what you're passionate about. Follow those things. I got lucky and figured out my love for journalism by the time I was in high school and focused most of my energies on that. Along the way, I found lots of other things, but at my core, I've always loved bringing people together and creating positive things. That passion has inspired much of my work and built my network of friends.
Trust your gut. There have been plenty of scary life changes for me when I could have chickened out, but I've conditioned myself to trust that gut feeling of Go For It and also conditioned myself to follow through.
When opportunity knocks, answer the door. In trusting your gut, you'll be able to sort through all of the opportunities to come your way and focus on the ones that are right for you, but when that moment comes, seize it.
Look back and smile about the good times, but keep moving forward. There's any number of shoulda, coulda, wouldas and moments we might have done a little differently if given a do-over, but that's all past now. Learn from it, accept it, trust that it got you where you're going.
Bears are something to fear, packing a U-Haul and giving it a go, isn't. The unknown puts me on edge sometimes, but all that mental conditioning for trusting my gut and knowing things will work out helps me march forward boldly.
Action is often the cure for overwhelm and feeling paralyzed by how big your goals are. Want to accomplish something great? Start now. Baby steps will get you everywhere.
1. Feeling my motivation and super productive mode kicking in.
2. Finally deciding on and ordering a necklace from Dogeared Jewelry. And getting a $180 coat for $30.
3. Still loving my haircut a week later. And how much quicker morning routines are after you chop six inches or so.
4. Interviewing a general who said "thank you for being accurate and fair."
5. Dreaming big on my rink event, asking the radio station to get involved. They said yes.
What would be included in your five things? How do you get to the life meant for you?
February is halfway gone and I'm still not caught up on everything from January. Clearly, I'm no expert on being superwoman and doing all.the.things. Without fail, as I catch up and get things done, I discover at least 10 more things I want to see, do, read, think, go.
A few weeks ago, I was feeling particularly overwhelmed and exhausted. The lovely Alicia was in a similar spot and had some wise words for banishing overwhelm. Erika is one smart cookie and suggested thinking smaller to make big changes.
As the new year was approaching, I was excited for all the big things we had planned. Then January happened and everything was a struggle. For the last few weeks, I've been thinking a lot about how to get a handle on everything and beat this ridiculous feeling that I'm adrift with no anchor or real direction.
What I've come up with is what I call The Truths I Know in Theory but Still Struggle to Execute.
+ Find Your Passions. There are loads of things that I have at least some interest in. My challenge is to focus the majority of my energies on the things I care most about. Take some time too think about the things you're most passionate about and direct as much time and energy accordingly.
+ Prioritize. There will always be infinite demands on your time and it's up to you to make the most of that time. A friend once said to me, when I was feeling overwhelmed, "Is it a today problem?" When I said no, she said, "Then it's a tomorrow problem. Handle the today problems first." I have used that system ever since to limit worrying about the things that don't really need to be done right away.
+ Say No. I have a habit of always saying "Sure, I can help with that." When in reality, I don't have time. I'm slowly getting better at knowing when I am maxed out or when I have some time to pick up other quick, small tasks. I'm also getting more selective about social activities. Sometimes sleep, errands, house projects or just quiet time at home are more important being the social butterfly all the time. The key is to not let little tasks, or things you don't really want to do, crowd out your passions.
+ Quiet Time. The mind needs quiet time to settle and actually think. Life is busy and frantic and overloaded with technology. Make time to sit quietly, go for a walk/run, road trip or write in your favorite spot.
+ Break Things Down. Along with prioritizing, break big projects into smaller tasks. I like to make list upon list of projects that have titles like "start nonprofit" or "chicken plans" or "garden" and then list out the smaller details that go into that big project. It helps accomplish the necessary tasks without the overwhelm of the big end goal.
+ Organize. Straighten your desk, streamline the to-do list Post-It notes, enter contact info into your contacts and toss the random scraps of paper all over your desk and file away what you don't need now. Clear the clutter. Sometimes I go on cleaning streaks when I feel like I'm drowning in to-dos just because an uncluttered space helps unclutter my mind.
+ Take Action. Now that you've got your passions, your priorities, your breakdown list and your clean and organized desk, get to conquering those mountains and big dreams. You've got the plan, go make it all happen!
I also have my happy place. Something on my desk that makes me smile. A photo, a book, a note, a stuffed animal, some token from a friend. But usually, it's this photo snapped by littlest sister one Christmas.
Because with a face like that to come home to, you can't help but be happy, here's Five Things I love about the last week.
1. Rink Event. The board approved my idea and I am now an unstoppable force of making it happen. So much to do, so little time, but it's going to be amazing.
2. Stopped at the library and already finished Dan Brown's latest, Inferno. Had to get it in large print and the huge type may have given me headaches, but feels good to breeze through a book, especially one I'd been wanting to read.
3. Got out for a run. Finally. The winter weather let up long enough to crank out three miles and my iPod was charged and ready to go this time.
4. Sit spins. A few months ago, they were impossible for me to do. Now, a ton of squats later, plus ice time and sheer force of will, they're coming back, with less chance of face planting than the camel spin.
5. Good news. After a hard January, it's soul-lifting to have so much good news coming. There's a baby on the way and an engagement in the family (not me, everyone calm down). So much is going right, it feels like the tide is changing and I'll take it.
How do you handle the overwhelm and move the mountains you want to move? What are you happy about from the last week?
There are things I'm not good at doing. Like drawing and math. And I absolutely cannot whistle.
But honestly, those aren't things I'm interested in doing so it works out.
For the things I do want, I sometimes struggle with a self imposed notion of "can't."
Once that notion is my head, it's hard to shake. Enter what I call my sheer force of will or mind over matter mode. My mom could tell you that there are plenty of things I have pulled off simply because I decided to.
During morning ice last week, I managed to clear my mind of can't.
For a few weeks, I kept chickening out of my favorite jump and feeling this wildly intense and somewhat irrational fear of the jump. I'd done it plenty of times and I know I can do it, but all of a sudden, fear was winning out agin. I've also wiped out plenty of times. Enough to know it hurts, but probably won't kill me.
The trick is to say to yourself "I am going to do this" instead of "don't fall." All your mind hears is "fall" and just about every time, you'll fall or botch the landing or not jump at all.
Jumping around on ice isn't the day to day challenge for everyone, but the takeaway is the same. The self satisfaction of landing the jump was huge, but the bigger satisfaction came from taking back control of my thoughts.
Some of that comes from pushing your body just a little bit harder and feeling pretty proud of what your little legs can do on ice. It's a similar feeling that comes after running a half marathon, or a race longer than three miles. But in skating, I don't have to run so far, for so long.
And the trick works for other challenges too. A difficult work project, tackling a massive to-do list, driving on icy/snow roads in -20 temps.
Of course there are times that safety is a real factor and I don't recommend clearing your mind of can't when it's truly reckless and dangerous. For example, "I can't pet a bear." No. You really can't. Or at least shouldn't.
Since it's somehow already Monday again, here's the latest edition of Five Things.
1. Finally got my Great Falls library card. Kind of stoked about it.
2. Scheduled chicken pick-up. Having a hard and fast deadline always helps me get things done and I'm excited to have the fluffy chicks around the homestead.
3. Emailing the reporter who took over your old job and her responding to say she knows exactly you who are because you have such a great reputation around town, still, four years after you left the state. That's an incredibly good feeling.
4. A general came to town who was at the base where I was said reporter. He was there six or seven years ago and wasn't a general then, but he remembered me. Kind of cool.
5. Pitching the rink event idea to people outside skating circles and they get excited about it and volunteer to help. More to do this week, but I'm feeling good about it!
What are you excited about this week? Are there any situations where you can clear your mind of can't?
Here's to a new week, a new month and getting up early.
I'm starting the week off with a dose of wisdom that Kate shared from Inspired by Charm.
I'll admit to hitting the snooze button this morning, but still managing to toss off the covers and tackling Monday.
There are certainly times when I enjoy sitting and thinking about all my dreams, but going after them always feels so much more satisfying.
But before jumping headfirst into February and a new week, a quick look at Five Things.
1. Garden planning...check. We've got a planting calendar, spreadsheet of seed + planting information and we're on it. I'll be putting a few herbs in small indoor pots tonight too.
2. Catching up, if only barely, on blogging, skating projects, SPJ work. Never underestimate the value of small, but consistent progress.
3. Hanging up a giant pile of clothes and cleaning up the bedroom.
4. A relaxing, quiet weekend at home with M. We skipped Super Bowl parties and other outings in favor of us time. It also involved watching Pacific Rim and me shouting "What?! It has wings? It can fly? It's a bat? Oh, that's just rude!" and M saying "You sound like a little kid."
5. Finishing an issue of Afar just in time for the next one to arrive and reading an entire issue of Time. Now to dive into a new book.
Monday Motivation // Enjoy Yourself
Good morning and Happy Monday lovely readers!
After a productive weekend and lots of love from family and friends, I'm feeling a bit more ready to take on this week.
As sad as the last week was, it came with many valuable reminders. Cherish the time with loved ones and the memories created. Make time for friends and family. Always say "I love you." Make time for life, it goes so much faster than we think.
We spent the weekend laying the ground work for some projects. We measured parts of the backyard since he's planning to build a raised wooden walkway from the back porch to the shop so we won't have to trudge through snow and muddy messes like we did on Saturday.
We made our first chicken related purchases too, though we have more to do on that front.
I spent most of Sunday morning with a cup of coffee and our Rocky Mountain veggie gardening book. We've got a long list now of seeds to pick up to get some of the veggies started indoors, like the onions, tomatoes and peppers. We're going to make a planting calendar so that this year we do better with planting things at the right time and hopefully have healthy plants and more veggies to eat.
We spent Sunday afternoon for drinks and snacks at a friends house. There was plenty of work we could have been doing at the house, but after last week, it was pretty nice to enjoy a snowy day with friends and laughter.
And with that, I present Five Things. This is how I start the week, thinking of five things from the last week that made me smile, or what I'm looking forward to in the coming week.
1. Grover thought it would be cool to run off and run across the 70 mph road in front of the house. Thankfully, no cars were out around that time while we found him and got him back in the house. Crazy dog.
2. Came across an old study abroad friend through Twitter. Small world, eh?
3. Made it out for another run while M grocery shopped. Then carried five 40-pound bags of wood pellets downstairs to the basement. My arms still hurt.
4. Getting the garden plan going. I'm stoked to get things started indoors this week and hopefully pick up some fruit plants soon.
5. My new coffee grinder. The grinder at the grocery store was broken again and my favorite Montana Coffee Traders blend only comes in whole beans so it was a predicament. M, being the problem solver that he is, went home and researched grinders and had one ordered by days end. Now I have even fresher coffee every morning.
What are you looking forward to this week? How do you keep enjoying life as time feels like it's speeding up?
For my adult life, my parents only call when there's bad news, or they need directions in D.C. I talk to them a few times a week, but they let me call them since Mom says she doesn't know my schedule or worries that she'll be interrupting.
When my Dad left a message yesterday asking me to call back, I had a sinking feeling that something was wrong. But for some reason, I hadn't expected what my Dad told me a few hours later.
My sweet uncle lost a long battle with cancer Saturday night.
I hadn't talked to him in too long and the last time I saw him was my sister's wedding almost two years ago. As a kid, I always thought he was so cool and loved spending time with him whenever we visited my grandparents in New York.
So today, I'm still heartbroken as it all sinks in, but my last memory of my uncle was dancing the night away with my uncle and his girlfriend. Laughing and smiling and forgetting that he was sick and celebrating love with the family that means everything to me.
This year so far is full of so much promise and yet has already been packed with harsh realities and heartache. I'll allow myself to be sad for a bit but then focus on all the good memories and take solace that my uncle won't feel anymore pain.
Part of my wants to skip five things today, but knowing how short and precious life is, the other part of me feels foolish to let a moment pass not appreciating the good things.
1. Moxie had a strange foot injury over the weekend and the vet had us a bit worried about a possible knee problem. Turns out, she's fine and the vet bill was less than anticipated.
2. The weather was good for my first training run for the upcoming Shamrock Shuffle 8K in Chi-town with Alicia and Eileen.
3. My favorite travel magazine contacted me out of the blue offering a freelance assignment.
4. In working on a skating event idea, I reached out to a former Olympian and he wrote back within the hour to tell me he'd be happy to help.
5. Found two 1890-1910 era Ball mason jars and a few other treasures during a winter sale at The Barn, my favorite antique/second hand shop in town. Krtistie and I came home with some great finds and also treated ourselves to new earrings and I found a great scarf on sale at another downtown shop. It had been a heavy week even before my Dad called so it was nice to have some girl time to let some of that load go.
How do you deal with loss? What made you appreciate your life in the last week?
Motivation Monday // Do It Now
Last week got busy with breaking news and city meetings that went long, very long, and late, other projects, house work and crazy winds. No joke, while we were driving back from Billings with an interior door strapped to the roof (that we later moved into the car), 90+ mph winds were tipping semi trucks, collapsing tanks at the refinery and otherwise causing havoc all over Montana.
So the to-list I created last weekend, didn't get much action and I was feeling stressed out and behind but, today is another day, the start of another week and it's go time.
There's always so much to do. Much of it mundane and not fun, like laundry, cleaning, organizing my mess of a desk. But getting that done makes room for the things I want to do and those things deserve to get done whenever the inspirations strikes, well, hopefully, because eventually, time will run out.
One of those things is Five Things! Each Monday, I list out five things that made me happy in the last week or that I'm looking forward to.
1. Our weekend trip to Billings for an order pick-up at Lowe's. (Yes, we know there's one in Helena.) M ordered insulation and mortar for our mudroom tile. One was in and we thought we'd have to go back for the other, but both were ready to go. And our major score was a solid wood door that is exactly the style I always tell M I love had been returned and had been marked down from $257 to $75. We were going to come back for it Sunday morning but it was gone from the cart we'd seen it on. As we were headed to the checkout line, we found it on another cart...marked down to $5. Yeah, we bought the door.
2. Breaking news all over the place last week, even if the Associated Press did best me on one. Just one.
3. Attending an executive meeting for a local nonprofit aimed at fitness, outdoor activity and healthy eating as a guest promoting the skating club and came away with loads of ideas and definite encouragement and support from the group.
4. While in Billings, we stopped in World Market and M let me buy five bottles of wine. All on sale of course. Back at the hotel, I was doing something and he turned the channel straight to the national figure skating championships and watched it with me.
5. M came bursting out of the bathroom, frantically telling me to come quick (giving me a near panic attack) all to say, "Is this a gray hair?" Yup, M has his first gray hairs. "I'm going to be a silver fox."
What's on your "Do It Now" list? Mine is currently under construction and coming here soon.
Happy first Monday of 2014! For most of us, it's the first back to normal week after the holidays. As much as I've enjoyed the slower days, time off and festivities, I'm ready to get back at it. Time to put all that energy and motivation from the new year into action and get this year started right.
And, be impressed, the second consecutive edition of Five Things.
1. The closet purge. I went a little nuts on my closet this week and have more work to do. The goal, simplify. Only clothes I really like, actually wear and fit properly get to stay. I'm weeding out the old, worn, never worn and so forth in favor of high quality, mix and match staple pieces. More on this later.
2. Connecting with the farm where we're getting our Buckeye chickens in the spring. One simple email has sent in motion a chain of planning and designing to be ready for our chickens!
3. Making progress on the renovation even though each step seems to lead to the discovery that more work is needed. Lucky for me, kicking down drywall is really fun. Punching it, not so much.
4. Coaching a new group of skaters at the rink. I've got the most advanced skaters of our bunch now and it's incredibly rewarding and satisfying to see them actually listening to my instructions and watching my small tips improve their skating. Especially when they try one of my tips and then come back with a huge smile on their face saying "hey! that worked!"
5. Catching up with old 'bama pals. They're military guys I used to report on, but you know you've built good relationships when they spend an hour going through Army regulations with you to help you with a story happening clear across the country.
What's motivating you this chilly Monday? What made you happy over the last week?
I'm Jenn, a globe-trotting, East Coast girl making a home in Montana. Read more here.