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? 🙂

Feelgood Friday: It’s my blog and I’ll post what I want to

Naturally, today’s blog title is meant to be sung to the tune of one particularly famous Cyndi Lauper song (in your head if you’re a normal person, out loud as you type it if you’re me.) Heh.

So I could spend this post detailing out the nutritional black hole that was my day yesterday (bagel & cream cheese for breakky, chicken wrap & chips for lunch, food court Japanese bento box for dins if you were wondering) and how Harry Potter really was just as good the fourth time around. Or I could spend this post talking about how I clearly had forgotten what it is like to have a puppy in your home (though I maintain that Daxter was never this much work. My brother disagrees.) All I know is that you owe me big time, sister dearest.

Cousins.
So cute. So. Much. Energy.

Instead, I’m going to do this 5 Things post that Laura tagged me in. Yes, I realize that I literally just did one of these kinda things with my 7 Links post, but hey, it seemed to get a good response from you guys! Plus, it’s Friday and maybe someone out there could use a pick-me-up on this incredibly humid morning (seriously. It’s like walking into a swamp. WTF DC?) And lastly, and you may have already caught onto this because you are so very clever and that’s why I love you, it’s my blog. I get to post what I want to. Heehee.

Five source

So the idea is that I post five things that I love about myself (it’s hard to narrow it down that much, I know. HA!) They can be physical (toned arms!), mental (brilliant at math), emotional (supportive), totally random (makes perfectly symmetrical pankcakes) or anything else. Then I tag five other bloggers to do the same. Then you all reflect and comment on something that you love about yourself! And then we all bask in the glow of self-confidence and mutual acceptance (hence the whole “Feelgood Friday” thing.) And we kick off the weekend the right way. Sounds good? I think it sounds good.

Gretchen’s 5:

Big Sand Bucket
photo by ben powell

1. I love my sense of humor. I know that some of you might not agree (what sense of humor?) but I think I’m funny, dammit! After all, “if you can’t laugh at yourself, life’s going to seem a whole lot longer than you’d like.” (Garden State)

2. I actually kind of love that I’m such an emotional person. I mean, I know that most people wouldn’t really consider this to be a great trait, considering that I cry at the drop of a hat and have the thinnest skin ever (never be mean to me, k guys? Hahaha.) but it’s really something I’m trying to embrace. I’m a sensitive person. As much as I’ve tried in the past, this is something that I am never going to be able to change. And I’m finally realizing that I might not want to. Being this way is how I’ve gotten a lot of my strengths: empathy, honesty, and fiercely caring for my friends & family. But it also forces me to try to overcome some of my weaknesses, like being overly sensitive, defensive, and inappropriately emotional (hello crying at work!) I’m a work in progress, what can I say?

3. Let’s get vain: I love my eyes. They’re the most Asian part of me (perhaps the only Asian part of me — thanks DAD.) and so sue me, I think they’re pretty. Almond-shaped, deep-brown, small and evenly set.

 photo by ben powell

4. Let’s get vainer (is that a word?): I’m not gonna lie, I’ve been kinda digging my legs lately. This is NEVER something I would have been able to say a year ago. I used to avoid shorts like the plague, but I’m definitely coming around to them. Okay, so maybe what I lack in Asianness, I get to make up for in long leggedness (thanks Dad!)

IMG_9217.jpg

5. What else could this end with? I love that I’ve lost 56 pounds! I know I talk a lot about how I still have a ways to go, that I’m not at my goal yet, blahblahblah. While that is still true, I’m not done losing weight and I’m not at my “happy weight” or “healthy weight” or whatever-you-want-to-call-it weight yet, I think that sometimes I fixate so much on losing more than I forget to celebrate how much I’ve already lost, and how far I’ve already come.

So there you have it! So time for me to tag some others:

Jennifer @ A Knack for Nutrition
Erin @ The Part-Time Writer
Casey @ Hippie Health Nut
Bailey @ Bailey’s Belly Battle
Melissa @ The Journey to Marvelous

What do you love about yourself?