Day in the Life – 1st Birthday Week

Hi friends!

It’s been a minute since I’ve popped in with a Day in the Life post (despite all my intentions and promises to do them more frequently — they’re surprisingly time-consuming and also time is like, this insane, ridiculously fast, totally cruel thing right now and somehow it’s already been 6 months since my last one of these?!??!?

A-hem, anyway…

6:30 AM: I hear Penny start to stir via the baby monitor, but she’s just happily chattering and playing in her crib when I check the video feed, so I promptly throw a pillow over my head and try to go back to sleep. “Try” is the operative word, since I’ve been having a very difficult time falling and staying asleep lately, so while I don’t end up going back to sleep, I do lay there cursing and contemplating my existence for a while, lol.

7:10 AM: Penny, on the other hand, does fall back asleep because I leave her in there too long, HA! I finally drag my butt out of bed, brush my teeth, wash my face (I use LATHER’s Ultra Mild Face Wash in the AM), throw on some moisturizer, and get dressed.

I got a new sports bra and leggings set from Torrid’s Harry Potter line, and I. AM. OBSESSED. They have the Marauder’s Map print all over them, but are dark, and they’re really flattering. Score!

I also take my daily vitamins and pack up a bag with my laptop, planner, and water bottle, and then settle down to do a quick morning meditation on the Calm app.

7:30 AM: I finally go downstairs to get Penny, and she wakes back up when I enter the room. She’s so happy to see me! I give her a bottle, change her diaper, and get her dressed. I also let the dogs out and give them breakfast.

8:00 AM: Off to daycare! Penny goes to daycare twice a week, and I try to get her there by 8:30 because that’s when they serve breakfast. Attendance is a lot lighter during the summer (though I’m sure that will change starting very soon, since it’s back to school week in VA!) so there are only four other babies in there right now — three of whom are named Charlotte, I kid you not.

8:30 AM: I stop at Starbucks to grab a bite & some caffeine and get a little bit of work done. Usually I head straight to the gym after dropping her off (or I bring her with me if it’s a non-daycare day), but I have a few work things that I’d like to get out of the way first thing. Plus, you know, coffee. And food.

 

I grab a Turkey Bacon Breakfast Sandwich and an Iced Vanilla Bean Coconut Latte, as well as a protein box to snack on later. I tackle my inbox, respond to messages on Yelp, schedule some calls, work some behind-the-scenes magic, submit my weekly newsletter, and check the reviews from the event I hosted last week.

I also pick up a gift card for one of Penny’s daycare teachers, since it’s her birthday tomorrow! We normally don’t attend on Wednesdays, but I asked if we could switch days so that I can keep her with me on her actual birthday this week.

10:30 AM: Gym time! I was supposed to have a session with a personal trainer yesterday, but he had to cancel at the last-minute. I’ve been trying to connect with him to reschedule, but we haven’t been successful in finding a new time, so I stop by the personal training desk to see if I can get scheduled. They slate me in for next week with a new trainer, so I’m still on my own for a little while!

 

I do a little under 20 minutes on the lateral elliptical (which I only discovered yesterday but is, like, weirdly fun?!) to warm up, then it’s over to the weights area. I do the following set 3 times:

– 20 seconds high-resistance rope pulls
– 8 front-side-back lunges
– 10 ventral & lateral raises (with calf raises)
– 12 side dips
– 12 tricep dips
– 8 donkey kicks on each side
– a 2-minute knee-plank

 

It doesn’t actually seem like that much when it’s written down, but I am basically just a puddle by the time I’m halfway through my second set. WHEW.

 

11:30 AM: I head home, snacking on some of the protein box I got at Starbucks earlier on the way. As soon as I get home, I let the dogs out, and then jump in the shower to rinse off.

 

I also take the opportunity to refresh my hair color by adding some dye to my conditioner. It’s a tricky balance, because I want my color to look fresh for the party on Saturday, but the fresher it is, the more it bleeds when it gets wet. And since the chances of me not being at least a little bit sweaty during the party are basically zil (I’m a really sweaty person, lol), I need to make sure I have a few buffer days / showers beforehand.

12:00 PM: I settle in to do some more work, and also start drafting up this blog post (it’s much easier if I jot things down as I go through my day, rather than try to remember everything later.)

When I check my phone, I see that daycare has sent me some photos! They use an app to keep me apprised of all her diapers, food, and naps (rare and fleeting though they are), and can also send me photos! Depending on how busy they are, sometimes I get one photo, sometimes I get a whole bunch.

Luckily, today looks like the latter — I get a little photo recap of the fun outdoor adventure they went on this morning! I guess it tired her out, because according to the app she’s also currently napping — miracle! (Although, it ends up only being a 30 minute nap… so not really so miraculous. But I’ll take it because sometimes she doesn’t nap at daycare AT ALL.)

2:00 PM: Lunchtime! I really should have eaten something before now, but I got totally caught up in work. I’m starrrrving! I’m trying to clear out our fridge to make space for the birthday party food I’m going to have to pick up before Saturday, so it’s a big ol’ hodgepodge lunch of leftovers: braised pork, spaghetti squash carbonara, steamed broccoli, noodles with spaghetti sauce, and a keto cheesecake cup that my MIL made.

I also unload clean dishes from the dishwasher while everything’s heating up. Bonus: my Fitbit lets me know that I’ve hit my step goal! Whoop!

2:30 PM: I sit back down at my desk and eat while doing more work / semi-watching The Office for the 1923487th time. I also take a quick break from eating for a phone call with a restaurant I’m working with for an upcoming event.

3:00 PM: The dog groomer arrives (we use a mobile groomer that comes to our house), and thank Heaven, because these shaggy pups really need a shave! Old man Harry is up first!

  

4:00 PM: While the groomer is still busy with Harry, I quickly run out to pick Penny up from daycare. (I let the groomer know.) In an attempt to try and keep her from falling asleep on the 5 minute drive home, I chat with her super animatedly and look suuuuper crazy (windows are also down, ha!). She’s soooooo exhausted!

I put her down in her crib as soon as we get back, and she passes out immediately.

4:20 PM: And right on cue, Harry is done, looking dapper as all get-out, and it’s Daxter’s turn!

While Penny (and Harry, heh) are napping, I wrap up the rest of my work to-do list for today, then decide to tackle a few of my birthday party projects! First up, her party guestbook. I made a big photo mosaic out of all of Penny’s Outfit of the Day photos and got it printed as a poster that I’m hoping folks will sign! I also got a second poster printed with her monthly photos in case we need extra room. I use double-sided tape to mount them both on some foam board to keep them sturdy and flat. I also finish a task I started yesterday: punching out the donuts from some free printables that I found online for table scatter.

 

I also try (for the fourteenth thousandth time) to organize my thoughts enough to write my “Dear Penny” birthday blog post, but I get too emotional (again) and don’t make a ton of progress. I’m not emotionally stable enough for this! Only two more days…

5:30 PM: Sean’s home! It’s so nice to have some in-person adult conversation finally — since I didn’t have any meetings today, it’s actually been a bit of an isolating day. One downside of working from home, I guess! (And a very small downside in the grand scheme — I love working from home.) We hang out for a bit and we go through the whole “How was your day, honey?” married-people thing, hehe.

6:05 PM: Penny is STILL asleep! I finally have to go wake her up, and she makes it VERY clear that she was not done sleeping, lol.

 

We spend some time cuddling and she cheers up pretty quickly though. 🙂

 

6:15 PM: Dinnertime! For Penny, at any rate, and it’s BRINNER! Lately, I’ve been seeing everyone and their mom feasting on Kodiak Cakes — a high-protein pancake mix — so I picked some up when I was at Target yesterday. Penny goes BANANAS for the pancakes, and also for the actual bananas we give her alongside them. She can now say the word “Nana!”

6:20 PM: Daxter is finally done. Whew! This shaggy pup took a really long time. But hey, it’s like we got a brand new dog! I feed the dogs — my mom made them some special mix-ins (with chicken and carrots and stuff) that they go craaaazy for, so unlike their breakfast kibble which sat untouched for most of the morning, they gobble their dinner up.

  

6:30 PM: It’s playtime! I know she’s been playing all day at daycare, but finally I can get in on some of the action! She is so much fun these days — really into playing with toys, really interactive, and really smart! She figures out how to put a smaller cup into a larger cup, proving that she is basically a genius. (I get entirely too excited when I realize she’s learned this new skill — hence her expression in the third photo above ahahahaha.)

  

7:20 PM: Alas, all good things must come to an end, and eventually it’s time for bed! Since she napped so late, we push bedtime a bit later (it’s usually at 7), and honestly I would be fine with keeping her up even later, but she’s already showing signs of being tired! Girl’s got a strong internal bedtime clock, what can I say?

 

I change her into her jammies, give her a bottle, and we read a book.

Then Sean brings her down to her room, turns on her sound machine, zips up her sleep sack, and puts her to bed! She quietly plays with her stuffies for about half an hour (she loves stroking her stuffed unicorn’s mane, it’s the cutest thing ever), and then is down for the count.

7:45 PM: After she goes down, Sean and I get to eat some dinner ourselves at last! I just heat up the rest of the pasta & broccoli leftovers — it’s not a very exciting day, eats-wise, but at least it’s productive. Now we actually have some space in the fridge! Sean makes some udon noodle soup.

We tend to operate pretty autonomously at home, so I have dinner while working on this blog post (and watching more Netflix, naturally), and he plays some computer games.

10:20 PM: Whew, I’m beat! Man, I used to be able to stay up so late… but with my Penny alarm clock, those days are definitely behind me. I start the dishwasher, let the dogs out one last time, schedule this post to run in the morning, and go through my nighttime routine: skincare (lately I’m using BeautyCounter’s Countermatch cleansing milk and am really loving it! I’ve also been experimenting with various essential oils), brush my teeth, pop on my pjs, and hit the sack.

10:40 PM: Well, I try to hit the sack. As I mentioned above, sleep has been a bit elusive for me lately, so I put on a guided sleep meditation session through the Calm app with the hopes that it’ll help quell the tossing & turning. And that’s a wrap on today! Goodnight!

A Routine Life

So, those of you who have been longtime readers or followers of mine have gleaned at least a little bit about my job. I work for Yelp as a Community Manager right here on the ground in Northern VA.

While it generally speaking falls under the umbrella of “marketing”, this role is pretty unique, even amongst jobs at Yelp. It’s a full-time job (sometimes more than full-time, if I’m being honest), but I work remotely (even with the recent opening of Yelp’s DC office since I only go in once a week…ish, hehe) which means I have the incredible luxury of making my work situation pretty much whatever I want it to be.

Am I going into the office? Do I want to squat in a coffee shop all day? Put my desk at home to actual use? Or work from my couch with Parks & Rec playing through in the background for the 40th time? (YES, NETFLIX, I AM STILL WATCHING.) This freedom also extends to my schedule — I am not beholden to the same 9-5 situation to which many others have to adhere. And every day looks very different.

I might pop open my laptop first thing in the morning, head out for an in-person meeting, meet a friend for lunch, have back-to-back conference calls, and then have to go prep for an evening event. Maybe it is a day when I need to go into the actual office. Or I might sleep in, go out for coffee, run some errands, and then settle back in at my computer and work until late into the evening.

Anyway, I say all this not to brag about my job (which is admittedly awesome and I know I am very lucky to have it), nor did I intend for this post to be a deep-dive into what my daily life looks like (though this does remind me that I’ve been promising to write up another Day in the Life post for a long while now, lol.) I just thought that explaining what I do in a little more detail would help illustrate the point that I am trying to get at, which is this:

Because my life has so much flexibility, it also lacks any semblance of routine.

For over five years, I have rarely had to set an alarm clock. I don’t have a specific bedtime. I don’t eat meals at the same time each day. I don’t have a laundry day, or a meal prep day, or a date night. Save for a few rare regularly scheduled calls, my calendar never looks the same from one week to the next.

And for the better part of five years, it’s been pretty great. There have been tons of benefits that I have heartily taken advantage of — taking care of errands and appointments during the day, sleeping in, regularly getting to see my friends, and, of course, getting to be around my daughter so much more than the typical full-time working mom.

But it’s a double-edged sword, right? Because with all of those perks also comes the burden of not being able to predict how a given day might go, not being able to slide into the familiarity or comfort of “your old routine.” Which, granted, hasn’t really been an issue until lately.

But lately, I’ve been feeling pretty down, and thanks to the prodding of some of friends, I finally took the initiative to find a therapist to talk to — something I honestly should have been doing for a long time now. I have only just started therapy, but already in our short time together she has helped me realize how frazzled and frantic and overwhelmed I am. And while I’m sure it’s really, really common, especially for new moms, it’s still not something I like to admit. I mean, who loves admitting that they no longer know how to handle just like, life? Especially given all of the advantages that I have — a perfect baby, a husband, close family, a decent salary, all that aforementioned flexibility… I know I have a really good situation overall. Which is why it was kind of hard for me to admit that I’ve been feeling depressed & overwhelmed in the first place — because it’s like, with all the privileges I am afforded, I should have no reason not to be happy.

(Sidenote: My therapist did tell me to stop “shoulding on myself” (heh.) Like, to stop saying things like “I feel like I shouldn’t even feel this way because I have it so good!”or “I should just be happy because there are other people who have it so much worse,” since my struggles are my struggles and my feelings are still valid. This is actually a rather difficult concept for me to digest, and one I think I’m going to need to let percolate a little more before I really try and dig into it, but I digress.)

I know I’m not the first woman to feel like she is being pulled in a thousand different directions and finding it hard to cope. I think we’re all trying to find some way to balance all of the various roles we have to play: mother, wife, homemaker, daughter, sister, friend, coworker, manager, employee — and that doesn’t even touch the roles we form around our hobbies and interests: writer, blogger, photographer, advocate, bookworm, crafter, gamer… and ten zillion more.

I’ve been able to identify that the loosey-goosey, whatever, whenever approach I’ve had towards work (and towards my life in general) is currently adding to my feelings of overwhelm…ed…ness? And that I’m actually craving some structure, predictability, and routine.

Penny has actually already helped in this arena, quite a lot. I mean, sure, in the beginning, she made things even more frantic and crazy and unpredictable. But both Sean and I recognize that we are supremely lucky to have such a good baby. She sleeps well, she eats well, and she has a strong internal clock that has given me at least a modicum of a routine when it comes to her.

But I have a lot further to go. I need to create boundaries — my work & home & social lives all kind of blend and bleed together, and even though I have what’s considered a “lifestyle job,” I need to realize that it’s okay for those things to be a little more separate. I need to figure out how to focus on one thing at a time, be mindful of my current task, and then allow myself to move onto the next one. When it’s time to work, I want to be able to focus on work. When I’m catching up with a friend, I want to be able to focus on my friend. When it’s time to be with Penny, I really want to be able to focus on feeding/snuggling/playing with Penny.

Basically, I just want to do less of what I currently do, which is hard to even articulate properly but is a little more like… this:

*opens laptop* Okay, time to answer these emails about the event I have happening tomorrow, and then I’ll do the ones having to do with next week’s event, oh, next week I’m also going back to Atlanta, I need to call Southwest and add Penny as a lap infant to my ticket *opens tab to Southwest.com* Hmm, do I have time to get a pedicure before I go, oh crap, by the time I come back my car registration will have expired, I need to get my emissions test done *opens tab to Google gas station’s inspection hours* okay, scrap the pedicure, I don’t need to spend the money on that anyway, it’s been a while since I’ve checked Mint, better see where we’re at with this month’s budget *opens tab to Mint.com* oh man, there’s the tab to my Nordstrom cart, the Anniversary Sale is ending soon and this is SUCH good deal on Baby Bling Bows, maybe I should check out — no! I told myself no more baby bows *closes out of tab* *finally sends one email*

Ahem. So, you know, that’s not great.

Anyway, my “homework” from my initial therapy session is a two-parter: 1) to start thinking of ways that I can create structure and routine for my daily life, and 2) to try (tryyyyyy) to be more mindful, focused, and in-the-moment as I go through the day. I definitely have my work cut out for me with the latter part, but I feel like I’ve already been laying the groundwork for the former. Especially as my recent health initiative has me embracing a kind of morning to-do list, made up of things I should have been doing ALL ALONG FOR MY ENTIRE LIFE like eating breakfast & taking vitamins.

 
Plus, like I mentioned, Penny has me following at least some kind of loose structure at the beginning of each day — it’s just get a smidgen more complicated because while we have a steady childcare schedule, it’s not consistent from day to day. So the mornings when she goes to daycare are different than the mornings when she’s with my parents or mother-in-law.

My idea to help overcome this is to officially integrate fitness into my routine (I almost said “back into my routine” but who are we kidding? I’ve never had a true fitness routine hahaha.) For like, the first time in my entire life, I’m actually feeling a kind of… dare I say… desire to exercise. (Ew.) I don’t know if it’s coming from my weight loss, or because my therapist suggested or out of my postulations that I want to get healthy for Penny (I’m particularly concerned about my longterm heart health right now — but mayhaps I’ll delve into that at another time), but whatever the exact reason, I figure I need to capitalize on this rare, completely-out-of-character motivation.

So I went online and signed up for a free pass to a nearby gym this morning, and am doing the same at another one on Friday. Both facilities have kid’s clubs and are close by, so my hope is that I’ll be able to create a morning routine where I go to the gym at around the same time every morning — on the days when Penny is in daycare, I’ll drop her off first, and on the days when she isn’t, I’ll bring her with me. The rest of my day might still end up looking like a trash panda straight-up ripped into the garbage bag of my life, but at least I’ll be starting each off day with consistency and on the right foot.

This sounds great in theory, of course, but my visit to the first gym today (Gold’s) unfortunately didn’t leave me with a great impression. Partly because their kid’s club was insane — there was 1 adult and like 25 kids in there — and partly because of my own insecurities and discomfort over a) working out at all, and b) working out in public. But while that gym would have been my first choice based on location (it’s suuuuuper close to Penny’s daycare), I have high hopes for the second one. And I’m also looking into non-gym alternatives like boutique fitness places that offer childcare and Fit4Mom Stroller Strides. As long as I can hodgepodge them together into some kind of cohesive, regular routine.

Anyway, so that’s the latest in Gretchen’s Journey to Self-Improvement & Sanity™. I’m still feeling pretty positive and optimistic about being able to make lasting changes, but I’m trying to remain relatively guarded about it as well. Knowing my tendency to jump headfirst into things, only to abandon them later, I want to make sure I’m making manageable changes, and for the right reasons this time. That way, I hopefully really will be able to say I’m making positive changes to last me a lifetime.

Go forth!

This is 30

Last night, I bid adieu to my twenties.

Yup, I’ve officially entered the next decade of my life, and I gotta say, thirty is looking to be both flirty AND thriving, y’all. My twenties were great, and a lot a lot a LOT happened, but I think this next year will truly be my best one yet. Which, okay, fine, I’m pretty sure that I do say that every year. But how could it not be when I get to spend my days with these two?

I mean, okay, sure, there are things about getting older that aren’t exactly the best. For example, yesterday I went to a trampoline park with my friend Rachel, and today I am sore. Also, all that jumping made me realize my, er, pelvic floor has not yet recovered from birthing a child as much as I thought it had, HA.)

Another example, I had half a glass of red wine the other night and it baaaasically got me wasted, lol. And I imagine that somewhere under my bleached-and-dyed locks lingers a grey hair or two — let’s be real though, I don’t really ever intend on finding out! Gahaha.

And yes, my late twenties in particular were really good to me. I went on tons of trips, spent lots of time with friends, and even more time with my rad family. I met, fell in love with, and married Sean. I landed my dream job at Yelp. And then, to cap off what were already several strong years full of life milestones, we had Penny, who has been more of a blessing than I ever could have possibly imagined.

 
But it’s precisely because my 20s ended on such a high note that I’m all the more excited about what 30 holds! I’m actually starting to almost feel like a fully-formed adult these days — I can do my own taxes and install carseats and everything! I’ve gotten back into the groove work-wise after being out on maternity leave, and finally feel like I’m starting to get the hang of this whole working mom, work-life balance deal.

The dogs are doing great, too. They remain healthy and high-energy, even with Harry starting to show his age (he turns 14 this month!) and Daxter having to compete with Penny for attention now, haha.

My marriage is in a really good, positive place (although it probably won’t remain that way once he learns I posted the above picture on the internet hahahahaha). It hasn’t been a smooth road as we’ve had to learn and adapt to the changes (and challenges) that having a baby adds to a relationship, but we came through the other side stronger, having grown together.

And, naturally, Penny continues to change and grow and delight us every day.

So here’s to the next decade of love, laughter, light, and just this ol’ thing called life. I honestly can’t wait to see how my thirties go.

Cleaning House (Literally & Figuratively)

Happy February. AHHH IT’S FEBRUARY. How is it February?! Okay, so, yeah, the fact that the first month of the year has absolutely FLOWN by is kind of throwing me for a loop. But! I’m actually feeling really good going into this new month — my spirits are high, I’m feeling optimistic, uplifted, and enthusiastic about tackling the next 28 (well, 27 now) days with purpose and passion.

Why am I in such high spirits, you ask? Well, a multitude of reasons, really! The obvious answer is that Penny is just such a joy right now! I mean, not that she isn’t always, duh, but just in particular right now. She’s so engaged and animated, she “talks” all the time, and is so responsive to your interactions with her… 5 months is just such a fun age!

 
We’ve also made some forward strides in our childcare search: we’ve actually found a daycare that I’m really excited about! I was previously leaning more towards a nanny/nannyshare, and I have met with a couple of people that I really liked, but ultimately we decided that enrolling Penny in daycare part-time is a better fit for my work needs, and for our budget.

 
A spot for Penny won’t be available until this summer (not that this was surprising to us — daycares in Northern VA are very competitive. I inquired into one that doesn’t have an opening until January 2019!), so we are still looking at bringing in a part-time nanny to help bridge the gap until then, particularly because my parents will be doing a ton of traveling this spring. I made sure to be upfront about these plans to our top two nanny candidates, and they both said they’d be willing to take the position on a temporary basis. So hopefully we’ll be moving forward with that soon too. Stay tuned!

 
Another big reason I’m feeling so upbeat is because I’ve been doing a lot of physical and mental decluttering lately. In a revelation that likely surprises no one, I own a lot of crap. I mean, you point me in the direction of basically anything with sequins, faux-fur, polka dots, Harry Potter, schnauzers, foxes, or unicorns, and I will want to purchase it. So, as you can imagine, our house was already on the cluttered side before Penny came into the picture… along with the myriad of baby-related paraphernalia that tends to come with procreating, lol. We just have so much stuff, you know?

Enter the KonMari Method. I plan on going into this in more detail later in a separate post (when I’m closer to being done, lol), but the essence of this project is very simple: your belongings and surroundings should spark joy in you. So I’m trying to get rid of all (or at least, most of) the unnecessary things we’ve (okay, okay, I’ve) accrued over the years, and breathe joy, calm, and purpose back into our home.

Hahaha, I feel so pretentious typing that last part of the previous sentence, but the thing is… it really is working! Things are very much still a work-in-progress (I swear, I’m being ruthless in getting rid of stuff, but we still have so much crap!), but I really do feel happy walking through our kitchen and actually seeing clear counterspace. And filling bag after bag with things to toss or items to donate/sell feels very cleansing. (I do wish I’d taken more “before” photos tho.)

 
And so along with the physical act of organizing our home and simplifying my life, I’m being proactive with regard to getting my mental and emotional clutter cleared out as well. I won’t lie to you guys, I hit a pretty rough spot emotionally a few weeks ago. I was feeling extremely overwhelmed about finding time for work, motherhood, my marriage, my pups, my family, my friends, my health, and myself. The lack of control I was feeling quickly had me spiraling out, making me feel like I was never going to be able to achieve the kind of balance I wanted in my life. It was leading to blowups between my husband and me, tension in my other relationships, and a general sense of unhappiness and discontentment.

Something needed to change. And in a total surprise twist that absolutely nobody saw coming </sarcasm>, turns out that thing was me!

Now, I’ve never really been the kind of person who’s super into, like, the power of positivity and having mantras and putting good vibes into the universe and all that kind of stuff. I mean, if I’m honest, I used to think that sort of thing was just a whole lot of hooey. But. I can’t lie. This ish works.

 
It sounds so cheesy, but I’ve been adopting a mentality of daily gratitude, focusing on personal affirmations, and being proactive about creating — and knocking out — daily to-do lists and it’s done WONDERS for me. I feel like I’ve been able to maintain such a positive attitude these days, even as I take on new work projects like large-scale events and promotions, as well as personal projects like KonMari-ing the house. And a huge part of what has helped me achieve this attitude is my Panda Planner.

The Panda Planner is a planner, gratitude journal, goal-setter, and habit-encourager all in one. It’s got monthly, weekly, and daily sections, the last of which being where it really shines, IMO. There’s space to reflect on what you’re grateful for and excited about each day, what your daily projects are, list out your schedule and tasks, and a space to reflect on how your day went (and how you can improve the next one) at the bottom.

I know it probably sounds silly, but this one little notebook is has been instrumental in helping me reshape my priorities, focus on the positive, and stay on top of my responsibilities — both work- and Penny-related. I’m only a couple of weeks into using it, but it’s given me the tools to maintain such a great outlook that I actually look forward to filling it out each morning, referencing it throughout the day, and having my little period of reflection each night. And I swear, this isn’t a post sponsored by Panda Planner or anything, I just genuinely love it and feel like it’s helping me cultivate so much happiness and contentment in my life.

The hardest parts for me to get on board with initially were the spaces for a daily focus and affirmation, because it just made the whole thing seem a little too hokey for me. But truth be told, filling out those squares each day has actually been one of the most effective things in helping me figure out my new normal without getting overwhelmed.

For example, I’m a people pleaser and have a really hard time saying no to people — both in terms of my job and in my personal life. So my schedule always ends up packed really tightly, and I get stressed out thinking about all the places I need to go or the people I need to see in a day. And so some of the ideas I’ve been trying to remind myself of lately include:

It’s okay to say no.

You don’t have to (and can’t) please everyone.

Everything is temporary.

One step at a time.

Now is not forever.

And, like I said, it really is working! Whether or not these count as actual “affirmations” or if they’re just really good things to remind myself of, I like that the planner reminds me to go back to it every time I open it up. And as for my daily focus, they’ve thus far been things like gratitude, perspective, professionalism, appreciation, productivity, and serenity.

  
Anyway, I know this might sound silly to some of you (it did to me!), but I just feel like I can’t even properly express how light and uplifted I’ve been feeling lately. Even with a long list of to-dos on my task list everyday, I feel so much better equipped to deal with things these days. And I feel like it’ll just keep getting better and better, as I continue to simplify and declutter my life.

Of course, that being said, Penny could have a bad night where I get like three hours of sleep, and then I could get overwhelmed trying to KonMari the monstrosities that are my desk and bookshelves, and some new crisis might surface at work, and everything could totally fall apart. Who knows? One day at a time, right? 🙂

Waiting on our owl…

Hogwarts Class of 2035!

I told you that 2017 would be full of big things! Sean and I couldn’t be more thrilled to be welcoming our little lychee (codename: Foxlet) into the world this September!

 

Mischief managed.