30 Day Writing Challenge: Day 27

W.O.T.Y Update

My ‘word of the year’ is PROGRESS. I haven’t updated in a while about it… but it is going VERY well! Having my ’40 Things Before 40′ list has made it especially easy to move forward and make PROGRESS in a LOT of different areas. This weekend I’ve spent in my basement purging and sorting…with the goal being the organization of the entire basement. (That’s on my ’40 T.B. 40′.) I’m reading more, cooking new recipes, making adjustments with my sleep and eating that will hopefully lead toward PROGRESS in my health. I’ve also scheduled two trips that should take care of FIVE things on my ’40T.B.40′ list!! And of course… I LOVE being able to plan travel again!

It feels SO good to be moving forward and working toward a goal!


Last time, I wrote about how I chose my ‘Word of the Year’... and even gave one example of how I was making PROGRESS with my reading goals. I was surprised afterward, how writing about it gave me even more motivation to move forward in another area…

… purging and organizing the basement…

… again.

When you grow up as an Air Force BRAT, you can get used to the cycle of packing/unpacking every 2/3/4 years. ( I mean, maybe some people don’t, but I did.) It is a forced event that is built into that life. It definitely made it easier to go through my belongings… since I was able to see all-the-things, while I put them away in my new room. But, for me, there was a side effect to living that kind of nomadic existence. It began when I was a child and I continue to struggle with it as an adult…

I hate to get rid of things.

And, more specifically, I hate to get rid of things tied to memories. (I’ve joked with a few people that I’m a ‘Hoarder of Memories’ and it’s kinda true.)

I’ve talked with my best friend (also an Air Force BRAT) about this phenomenon before… how military members, dependents, or anyone who moves regularly can (though, not always) associate more attachment/feeling with their “things” because the “things” are what helped every new place feel like “home”. They were the constant when everything else changed.

Let me interject here and say… I’ve been “Marie Kondo-ing” my house since 2016, a couple of years after her first 2 books were translated into English (before the Netflix special came out). (Read about that here.) An over-simplified summary is that you surround yourself with things that bring you joy… and get rid of the rest. (This process has often been confused with the minimalism movement, but that is a topic for another day.) The trouble is… LOTS of things bring me joy. Too many things. Sometimes, it feels almost impossible to begin, because emotionally, I know it is going to be painful to let go. I’m not saying I can’t get rid of things… I have successfully de-cluttered/purged many, many, many times…. I just don’t look forward to navigating all of the emotions tied to the things. That is the draining part.

We have now lived in our current house for 13 years… (which, I STILL can’t believe is a sentence I actually get to write.) We have had our seasons of a clean and well organized basement… and other seasons that are the complete opposite of that. (The latter being the season we are currently in.) More Christmases and birthdays pass, the kids outgrow their clothes/books/toys… and the clutter sneaks up on you.

SO, yes, the things bring joy…but a clean and organized house ALSO brings me joy… and that ‘clean-house-joy’ outweighs the ‘stuff-joy’ EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. (I can be resolute when I want to be.)

It still doesn’t make it any easier to start. The whole basement… (which has a playroom, storage room, my husband’s home office, my craft room, a tiny movie ‘theater’ room, the laundry room, our gym (another small room with our treadmill, elliptical, and stationary bike), and overflow pantry) is a mess. It is an overwhelming project. I feel as prepared to go through it all, as I would be ready to hike Mt. Everest.

This week, despite so many things (like weather changes, kids being affected by the weather changes, other things that are TMI for this blog…) that drained more of my energy than normal… I took a deep breath, tightened my PROGRESS bracelet (more about that later), set a timer for 10 minutes, turned on some 80’s music, and with my husband’s encouragement and support, the whole family went downstairs to begin going through the playroom. We made it 20 minutes! The next night, we set the timer for 30 minutes… and made it an hour! After 2 more days of multiple 20 minute timers… the play room was done!! My best friend even celebrated with us by sending funny memes as a reward for completion (which I knew about beforehand, and were incredibly encouraging… P.S. get yourself a friend who will be your cheerleader, no matter what your goals are!!) That success motivated me to go through all of the kid books, which then motivated me to begin clearing out the storage room! It is like a snowball of motivation that keeps growing!

Two of my projects from this week aren’t completely finished (yet, but they will be soon!) and they definitely weren’t executed perfectly. Yet, the momentum I gained from the success of this week is encouraging me forward… Little by little… PROGRESS.

WOTY: Progress

I’ve procrastinated writing about my WOTY (word of the year). Honestly… because it just feels like this huge (and hopefully) life-altering THING… and how does one start writing about something like that??

I guess that is why I chose “PROGRESS” as my word in the first place. Even though *CALM* worked wonders for accomplishing amazing and unexpected things last year… there are lots of items on my personal “to do” list that never seem to get smaller… or finished… or sometimes, even started! I tend to be a perfectionist… and for me, that means I also tend to procrastinate… especially when it is something that doesn’t impact anyone other than myself. So, I wanted a word that would drive me in a forward motion… a word that, no matter how small or insignificant the progress felt, could still be defined as a ‘win‘.

For example: I LOVE reading. LOVE it. I have a bookshelf FULL of new books that have gone unread – for YEARS at this point. My favorite way to read a book is to start it in the morning and read until it is finished. That usually means staying up through the night and into the next day. Sometimes, I might take a short nap…. but the moment I wake up I read until the end. You can imagine… after having kids (with sleep being a precious commodity AND not having entire days to myself)… I don’t really get to read that way anymore. I kept hoping I would… but it never worked out. Reading small chunks of books… a chapter here or there… without it being frequent enough to not forget what had happened in the previous chapter…. also didn’t work well for me.

Every year, I’d stare at a bookshelf full of books I WANTED to read… and didn’t want to get rid of… but it felt so overwhelming to even begin… that I just didn’t.

I was stuck.

I’ve gathered a lot of helpful tips over the past couple of years… from friends, advice from family, classes I took on brain development through our former preschool, and even a book or two I WAS able to read. These are the things I’ve been focusing on recently:

1. I need to break up larger goals (like a bookshelf full of books) into “bite size” or manageable chunks.

2. I have an “all or nothing” tendency. If something isn’t perfect I tend to scrap it altogether. Instead, I need to work on saying: “_____ didn’t happen the way I hoped; what is possible now?” (And actually be ok with adjusting my plan/goal.)

3. Small changes… added up over time… can equal LARGE outcomes. (This is paraphrased from the book ‘Atomic Habits’ that I started in December 2020 and am about halfway through at this point… and LOOOOOOVE so far!)

All of that said… and sticking with the book example… In the fall, I made a goal to read 1 new book a month. Starting in August 2020 and finishing in July 2021. I figured a book a month would be easy to manage. I read 1 book in August and 1 book in September… and then didn’t finish another until December.

What I realized?? I did a lot better with reading consistently if I carve out at least 30 minutes a day. And when that time wasn’t part of an already established routine… it didn’t happen. So, sometimes… reading with my afternoon snack/tea time is when that happens. Since the beginning of January, (our kids are back in school full-time) I have utilized the after school pickup/car line (while parked and waiting)… which guarantees 30-45 minutes of uninterrupted reading! (If I don’t get distracted by my phone… ) It’s not a lot, but I’m usually able to complete 1-2 chapters… and that has added up over time.

I have finished reading 3 books this month! With 2 more I plan to finish by the 31st. It has been so WONDERFUL to be reading for fun again!

I don’t feel overwhelmed or stressed by the books waiting for me. If I miss a day here or there (because, #LifeHappens)… it isn’t too big of a deal, because I know I’ll have the time to read again tomorrow.


Word of the Year

I’ve been choosing a ‘word of the year’ for about 4 years now. I was inspired by a friend who has been doing this… for longer than I can even remember, at this point. But every year, she faithfully chooses a new word and then writes (weekly?) updates on how she is progressing through the year with that word.

It sounds like such a fun process! Last year, I even told her I wanted to start blogging about my word… and then, for no real reason… I didn’t.

To give a bit more context, 4 years ago (2018) I chose “Purge”. As in, ‘get rid of’ my excess clutter/stuff/things, unhealthy habits (ie. going to bed too late, procrastinating, etc.), and poor mindsets (perfection, all-or-nothing). I got through the year… and hadn’t ‘purged’ much of anything. So I kept the same word for 2019. Made a little more headway on the decluttering that year (woohoo!), and felt comfortable moving forward with a new word in 2020.

My chosen word for last year was “Calm”. When I picked that word… I had no idea I would be using it during a global pandemic of Covid-19. But so many wonderful things came from having that word in the back of my mind! Whenever something started to create internal upheaval or anxiety… I actively sought out ‘calm’. If it was my nerves being fried from the constant months of Covid news and quarantine, I read scripture, took Epsom baths, drank herbal teas, and/or listened to favorite songs. When my neck and back starting aching in ways that started affecting my day-to-day living, I went to a chiropractor for the first time in my life. When a decade-old broken promise came to the front of my mind, I sought out ways to honor it respectfully… and it led to a string (and then a web) of favorite moments I will cherish forever. And despite the political climate and vitriol on both sides of the political spectrum… we played games, swam in our blow-up kiddie pool, colored patios and driveways with chalk, had dance parties, cooked fun recipes, camped in the living room for family movie nights, sipped tea at tea parties, and made some pretty special memories.

Overall, it felt pretty successful. So it feels like time to move on to a new word for 2021.

My word for 2021 is: PROGRESS.

I hope to share more of WHY I chose this particular word and HOW I am using it to shape the upcoming year, in future blog posts…