Finding My Way Back On Track

If you were to only look at my site stats for November, you would see that I am having one of the best months ever…but I haven’t posted anything since the beginning of October. Most of my traffic is coming from recipe pins on Pinterest which makes sense since this is the type of weather where you just want to curl up with a bowl of soup or stew. In other words, it is Instant Pot weather and I have a lot of recipes for that. So why haven’t I posted anything? Well, it comes down to motivation and I have had a decided lack of it lately.

There were a couple of things that led to my lack of motivation. Work has been extremely busy because new hires finally started after being short staffed all summer, but that also meant they had to be trained. We also finally heard back from Social Security about my husband’s application for SSDI. He was denied, so we are appealing the decision. Honestly, that decision had me floored since everything I had read about the SSA Blue Book rulings led me to believe he would have been approved on the first shot. Then the killing blow happened at the end of the month when I got back the numbers on how many participants I had for my doctoral study. Out of a pool of over 400 people invited to participate, I only had 8 people participate in my survey. This was two years of work, taking at conferences to inform people about what I was researching, etc…and nothing. Colleagues, co-workers, even friends didn’t take 20 minutes out of their time to help me out. I hit a rut hard and am only now digging myself out.

Now, I teach about Happiness and Productivity. I know all about fueling your fire and flipping the script to be more positive. I also know that when you get in that rut it can be hard to dig yourself back out of it. So what can you do (and what did I do)?

Self-care is a big one. I stopped putting it off and I went to get my hair cut. It might not sound like much, but I was not happy with the way my hair looked, so that was only contributing to the problem. I got three inches cut off and bangs. With my hair looking better, I also felt better. I also prioritized me and my family. We spent the Thanksgiving holiday at home instead of traveling to visit anyone. We took our time making the meal; it was also a simple meal. We watched a lot of movies during the break. Having a stress free holiday was wonderful. I did all my holiday shopping online during the sales; so I can also say that I slept in instead of braving shopping madness. Of course, I also read books. I will have another update posted with the books I read this month. I also did some simple baking of muffins, Instant Pot experiments, and setting up some of our holiday decorations…all of which qualify as small “c” activities (everyday creativity), which can help reduce stress.

The other thing is to make a list of everything you have to do and sort that list into priority order. It is okay if not everything gets done right away, but bonus points if you do give yourself a deadline to accomplish the task. Writing the tasks down gives the task value and importance. When we give it a date or time that it needs to be finished, we are more likely to stick to completing that task. We hold ourselves more accountable. So I am back to making my lists. I use Amazon Alexa to keep a list of things I need to buy. I have multiple lists for things like groceries or things I need to buy or gifts I am tracking in the mail. I have a paper planner for my personal tasks and I use my task list in Outlook to keep track of my work-related tasks. It is important to have a system in place and to be consistent. Yes, I like post-its for reminders too, but too many can create clutter and that can just stress us out further. So I try to keep my post-its strictly for the quick notes that need additional information (like the phone number for a doctor’s appointment that I need to schedule) or the reminders about the Big Hairy Goals like focusing on graduating next year and taking a big family trip to celebrate. In other words, the reminders to celebrate and look forward to something. I also have a whiteboard setup to list my three daily gratitudes. I also decorate that whiteboard with little drawings. Currently, I have a Christmas candle with holly, but I did have a turkey on there last week. Once again, using creativity to help alleviate stress and feeling overwhelmed.

I plan to be fully back on track with everything in December. It is a new month and a new start. Let’s get this holiday season rolling!


What I Read

Woah has it been a busy couple of weeks! I finally heard back from IRB that changes were needed on my dissertation proposal before the university would allow me to start my research. However, there was a deadline attached or I would have to start all over again with the application process which means another two months of waiting. Add to that, my teaching for my STEM in Libraries course was wrapping up which meant a mad dash to get all my grading done by the semester deadline. We took a week off for a mini vacation at my mother in laws…or what I affectionately call “Where Internet Goes to Die”. So nothing was getting done there like I had planned and it was hard for me to unwind knowing what I had waiting for me back home. But that is all behind me now! Everything has been caught up which means I can focus on writing again.

One of my previous posts was about self care and being a librarian I realized I neglected to add something to the list: Reading! In the past three weeks, I have been reading some books due out for publication soon. So I thought I would give a breakdown of what I read and my thoughts. Enjoy!

I admit that I started out slow with this book, but it was interesting. I love retellings and this one was a retelling of the Rumpelstiltskin tale. It was an interesting mix of fairytale and cultural history. Very much reminiscent of The Bear and the Nightingale. However, I found myself wanting more of a buildup between the romance of the characters.

This is the second book in the series about Digby and Zoe. Digby is difficult to describe. I imagine that he would be what Sherlock Holmes would have been like if a teenager and in modern society. He has quirks. Zoe wants nothing more than a normal life, but things get interesting when Digby is around. It picks up months after the first book left off. Digby is still looking for answers on his sister’s disappearance. Questions are answered, but even more are asked. Thankfully, the third book is already out.

I already wrote a post related to Joyful, but it is something I recently read. So it makes it to this list. It was an interesting read. Typically, the books I read on happiness are either from journalists or psychologists, but this one was a different perspective, a designer. It was interesting to read about how color affects our mood. I kept thinking about hygge while reading it. I will also leave you with an earworm… hygge is pronounced hoo-gah…when I started talking to my husband about how I wanted to replace our bedding and curtains, he said I was on my hygge kick again, so I smiled and repeated hygge three times…hygge is about a feeling you get…Do you have it yet? Can you hear the song? Here is a hint, “Ooga” and hygge sound alike…Blue Swede is also a Swedish rock band. Have you made the connection? It was probably easy for us because we tend to play the Guardians of the Galaxy Soundtrack almost as much as we play Queen, Billy Joel, and Journey. I will leave this video here for you in case you need some more prompting: Hooked on a Feeling- Blue Swede

Happy Fall and Happy Reading!

Goals for October

Ugh! Where did the month go? I feel like I blinked and October happened. So before I start on what my goals are for October, let’s recap what happened (or in most cases, didn’t happen)with my September goals.

September Goals

1. Pass the IRB Committee Review

Yes, it was down to the wire, but I was officially approved on Sept 27th to begin my doctoral study. My survey went out to my participants on Oct 1st. So this goal can be checked off as done!

2. Contact all the doctors

This one was a no go. We did have an appointment with my husband’s primary doctor and she agreed that he needs to get up to Johns Hopkins where the specialists will actually talk to each other. But the only movement I have made on this goal is that I have the forms to fill out to release his records.

3. Post at least one blog post a week

I have had some of the best traffic on posts in September and I did post multiple times in a week, but I did not keep the pace of posting each week. I think I hit more like 3 out of the 4 weeks, so it wasn’t too bad. We could count this as a half met goal.

4. Upload a short story to Kindle Direct Publishing

HA HA HA! What was I thinking that I could meet this one? Sadly, nothing happened with this goal. My work in progress is still sitting there waiting for edits.

So what do I hope to accomplish for October? Well, October is one of my favorite months because I consider it the start of the holiday season. Yes, I count Halloween as part of the holidays because it is a fun and exciting event. You have food (candy), events (trick-or-treating), and decorations. My porch is already decorated. I miss the Halloweens from my childhood. As an adult, I don’t see as many trick-or-treaters as we had growing up. But I digress…Here are my goals for October:

1. Contact all the doctors

Yes, this one is back on there. It is an important one, so I have to make some headway on it.

2. Find a pumpkin before the end of the month

Sounds easy, right? There are pumpkins everywhere, but it is also a little too warm out yet to put a real pumpkin on the porch. However, my husband and I have learned that if we wait too long, there will be none to be found anywhere. Two years ago, about three days before Halloween, we went on the lookout, but could not find one. It was sad.

3. Do something self-care related

So stressed right now. Part of the reason my September goals didn’t quite happen is that I had a lot of migraines last month. So I spent a lot of time trying to sleep them off. A lot of stuff fell through the cracks adding to the fact that just feeling overwhelmed right now. Therefore, a goal for this month is to do something for me. Maybe give myself a pedicure, maybe read a book on the deck now that the weather is cooler (and hopefully no mosquitoes!). My lovely teenager made me chocolate chip cookies after school yesterday (pre-made dough, but still). So maybe I will find a recipe and make something with him.

I am going to leave the list at three items. We will see what happened this month. Though I am excited to say that I have reached some of my financial goals. I have a $1000 emergency fund in the savings account finally. So now to work on paying off those credit cards. Baby steps, right?

Break Out the Pumpkins!

I just finished reading the book Joyful: the surprising power of ordinary things to create extraordinary happiness which talks about how things bring us joy. In the beginning of the book, it talked a little about how we become cheerful during the holidays because of the decorations and feeling in the air. This reminded me of the term hygge (pronounced hoo-gah) which is a Scandinavian term that roughly means that feeling of comfort and coziness that we get.

In recent years, the term has taken off as a jumpstart to a decorating trend, but it is much more than that. Hygge isn’t just things, it is a feeling. To have that perfect hygge feeling, yes you do need some things like pillows, blankets, candles; but you also need things like good food, conversation, and ambiance. Typically, we experience the hygge around the holidays because all those things are present.

After reading, Joyful I really wanted it to be the holidays so I could decorate. I love that period between Halloween and New Year’s. So I have already decked out my front porch already in some of my Fall and Halloween decorations (unfortunately, a mouse got to my box first). It might not quite be sweater weather yet, but I am ready! Did this bring me joy? Actually, yes it did. No one else might have their decorations up, but I don’t care. Pulling into the driveway today, I found myself smiling to see my scarecrow and spiders there on the porch. I fully plan to stop at Dollar Tree for some more decorations to replenish what the mouse got to.

Do you decorate for the Fall or the Winter holidays? What are some of your favorite signs of this three month span of holidays?

PS…If you are interested in finding out more about how things like color and designs can improve our mood, i encourage you to pick up a copy of the book Joyful: the surprising power of ordinary things to create extraordinary happiness!

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