enjoy life guest post: joy anderson

I am so excited to feature my first guest post on the blog today. Joy is one of my external motivators on Fitbit. She is always initiating Challenges which help keep me moving throughout the day.  She also introduced me and encouraged me to listen to what has become one of my favorite podcasts, Happier with Gretchen Rubin. And finally she is my sister-in-law-in-law. Is that a thing? But we were friends long before my sister and her brother decided to be together.

This is how she enjoys life.

Joy Anderson and Quabbin

Joy Anderson and The Quabbin

Two of my personal commandments (Another Gretchen Rubin fan here. Hello!) directly relate to enjoying life: (1) Treat yourself and (2) do more of what makes you happy. In my sometimes successful pursuit of following these commandments, I’ve combined two of my favorite things: listening to podcasts (treat) while walking outside (doing what makes me happy).

My spot to walk (sometimes hike) is the Quabbin Reservoir. Whether it’s sunny or overcast, the Quabbin is gorgeous. After being cooped up all week at work, in my car, or my apartment, it’s glorious to be outside. The Quabbin, the largest inland body of water in Massachusetts, also has an interesting history. In the 1930s, four towns were disincorporated – homes, businesses, and cemeteries were all relocated – and the area was flooded to become the primary water supply source for Boston as well as 40 other communities in Greater Boston. The Quabbin covers 38.6 square miles, and has several park/recreation areas like the one near my home. While working out in my tiny studio gives me a mood boost, it’s nothing compared to walking/hiking in the fresh air. Last Sunday was warm and sunny and I conquered the Visitor Center Loop Trail. I got lost last time; need to work on that sense of direction!

And why not make a good thing even better? I love listening to podcasts, but I have trouble finding the time to listen to a whole episode without interruption. It’s such a treat to listen to my favorites all the way through while walking the Quabbin. Listening to Happier inspires me to try new things, or I can learn something new on Hidden Brain, and even get in a core workout by laughing along with the hosts of Another Round. I ignore texts and phone calls and just enjoy life outside – away from walls, work, and worries beyond how I can incorporate Happier’s Try This at Home Tip into my week.

 I definitely enjoy life more when I have me time (even if you live alone, you still need “me time”) and the Quabbin is my spot. If it’s not snowing this weekend I might consider exploring another trail or maybe I’ll stick to something familiar. We’ll see 🙂

If you don’t already have a favorite spot of your own, I hope you find one.

You can keep up with Joy on Pinterest and on Tumblr.

enjoy life…

friday’s “secret”: intend to remove things

One thing that I have discovered about myself over the last few years on my journey to “comfortable being”, is that I absolutely dislike, maybe even hate, spending an exorbitant amount of time taking care of inanimate objects. I don’t want to spend hours cleaning my house – thus, my home is only 1400 square feet. I don’t have a lot of knick-knacks on my shelves because I do not want to to dust them. I cut my hair because I disliked spending hours doing it every week. I personally believe that “the more possessions you own, the more your possessions own you.” There so many other things I’d rather be doing that would make me so much happier.

So, 2016 is the year that I commit to my version of a minimal lifestyle: if it is not useful, beautiful, or loved, it’s out of here! Thus, one of my Intentions for 2016 is to “remove anything from my life that is not useful, beautiful, or loved.” And I am focusing on my stuff during these weary dreary winter months and into the traditional time of spring cleaning.

People generally describe me as a “neat” person; I would describe myself as “neat-ish”. Mommy ingrained in me the habit of making my bed every day (Thanks, Mom!) and I generally put most things away by the end of the day. But I know where the bodies are buried: the desk top that covers the mail and receipts that I haven’t dealt with in a week or more; the closet full of boxes that contain papers that need to be sorted, filed, or trashed; the clothes in the closet that I can’t fit into any more, or can I? All of this weighs on my all ready busy mind. As William James has so famously stated: “Nothing [is] so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an incomplete task.”

Kondo's The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying UpLast year, I read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondō, a Japanese organizing consultant and author. I have read a number of organization books and articles in the past and have even done wardrobe and closet consultations in another life – pre-Buddy Man. What appealed to me specifically about Kondō’s book was her claim that using her method, the KonMari method of tidying, none of her clients have ever reverted back to their untidy selves. “Yeah, right” was my immediate reaction. I have organized before, many times in fact, but have always discovered that I have to do it again within a few months. This year, I am committed to doing it her way and seeing what happens. I plan on sharing my journey with you; you guys will keep me accountable!

Marie’s first step, before you throw anything out, is to visualize and describe the life that you want to have and what you want to feel in your home. Well, as I stated before, I don’t want to spend time dealing with my stuff; I want to spend my time being a good mom to the Buddy Man, cooking wonderful meals, reading, writing, and running. I want my home to be a source of nourishment for me and my family; a place to rest and to prepare for our lives outside of the house. I want to feel tranquil in my home, everything having a place and everything in its place and my knowing where that place is would be awesome as well!

Over the next few months, I will share my process, my observations, my successes, and my setbacks. So, let’s begin.

Has anyone read the book? Have you tried her methods or any methods to stay organized? Tell me about it.

enjoy life…

friday’s “secret”: set a few intentions and achieve them

Beach Sunrise. My Intentions

This week, I have been reviewing my intentions and highlights from 2015. I hesitate to call anything a goal because I have failed to achieve my goals year after year after year. So I started referring to them most often as “intentions” in 2015 and have had a greater success with that small change. It feels easier to me; less intimidating.

I am happy to say that I was able to accomplish quite a few of my intentions for 2015, my main one being becoming more comfortable with this whole “mommy” thing. Jessica Quirk of What I Wore expresses my sentiments along this line so well in this post: Post Partum Identity Crises. It was a real thing for me last year but I think I might be beginning to see a way clear.

Here are my Intentions for 2016

  • Run 6 races, including the Bridgestreet Half Marathon in April. In order to do this, I am going to have to be in the best shape possible so those foundation habits of eating, sleeping (or trying to with a baby), staying hydrated, and training are going to have to be on point.
  • Read 36 books, one more book more than I read last year. I believe I can do it, if I do not gorge on television and it’s various iterations: Netflix, Amazon Prime, and the oh-so-convenient network apps. It is so easy to fall down those rabbit holes, isn’t it?
  • Which brings me to my next intention, staying out of rabbit holes that do nothing for me. I really want to be intentional about my entertainment choices and only watch things that I find enjoyable and/or useful. I am really looking forward to the encore presentation of BBC, PBS, and Masterpiece’s Special, Sherlock: The Abominable Bride this weekend. I missed the January 1st premier.
  • Write more, which will include posting to the blog weekly. Oh boy! You guys are going to have to hold me to this one. LOL!
  • Remove anything from my life that is not useful, beautiful, or loved. I start with my wardrobe next week and will work my way around the home through these dull winter months. I probably won’t have anything to wear! Eeeek!
  • Give a “durn”! Being a mom, it is super easy to fall into the “oh, why bother” mindset. Buddy Man is just going to mess it up anyway! But I feel so much better when I care. So, more often than not, I want to be put together rather than thrown together. I also think I want to color my new short cut. We will have to see about that though!
  • And finally, being a stay-at-home mom has kind of taken a toll on me, socially. I am very thankful for my family and friends who have kept me sane with their phone calls, opening up their homes, and visits. I want more of those experiences! I want to feel more connected to people, even through digital mediums, this year! For an introvert, that’s saying something!

What are your intentions or goals this year?