End of the year

The end of the year is a time for many to reflect on the past year. Even though I like to consider myself as a rebel sometimes, I shall not make an exeption to the rule here, but instead reminisce about the past year…

Plans that didn’t happen

I wanted to make this year a Gretchen Rubin style happiness project. And I had a whole plan laid out for monthly goals. Nagging tasks, relationship, children, work, friends…

I had a good start to my journey, but pretty soon I learned something intresting about myself.

I can’t follow to do -lists! It was a surprise as I always took myself as someone who lives off ticking those boxes. But no.

It was all good, until I started failing on my goals and not ticking those boxes. It made me feel totally defeated and totally un-motivated to do anything.

I’ve never really been one for happy mediums.

It means that I sort of gave up on the whole plan as it seemed I couldn’t follow it anyway – instead of adjusting it somehow.

Perhaps this personality trait is one that I should work on next year!

Was it good for nothing then

Whether I followed any plan or not, the year has been such a rollercoaster ride, that I must’ve learned something!!

At least I’m not beating myself up for letting those plans go. That’s a lesson learned right there…

Which brings me to the twelve guidelines I had set up for my project.

I feel that even though I haven’t been following any kind of plan on my path to happiness, I actually have been following my guidelines.

  • So I didn’t follow my plan to make this a year of my happiness project. So what? No one is going to blame me for that, unless I do it my self; let it go!
  • I have been taking a lot of chances this year, things I wouldn’t have had the courage to do in the past. I think I have realized that here is now and tomorrow the chance might be gone.
  • This guideline I haven’t been excellent in following though. But I always knew it was going to be a hard one for me, because I am quite an impulsive and emotional person. So I still don’t have patience, at least not much.
  • If I have learned to let go, I think I have a little more mercy than before. This is especially in relation to myself. I’m actually quite forgiving towards other people – but I have very demanding standards for myself. So – more work on this coming up next year!
  • Just jumping has a great deal to do with the concept of being in the moment (“here is now”), a great many similarities with following your feelings and getting excited. This trio, I think, is the powerful driver behind many of my actions during the past year. As I have been getting in touch with my emotions more and more, I’ve had better opportunities in following that famous intuition. Sometimes I’ve almost left something undone, because I’ve been so damn scared. And sometimes I’m jumping all over the place in the excitement of finally being a bit more in touch with my inner self. And actually getting excited about things again. Like gitty kinda excited. It’s an amazing feeling.
  • One of the things I have learned most about is paying attention to the little things. So I’m happy to report that I now can see the trees instead of always just seeing the forest. And boy does that help bring a lot of happiness to my days! I take so much more pleasure nowadays from having a well made cup of coffee, a beautiful song, looking at the sunset or beautiful colors of the fall.
  • The hardest part about being kind is being kind towards myself. I find easily good things to say about almost anyone or anything else, but I still tend to talk down to myself. One goal for being kind, was to be kinder towards nature and animals too. I have switched my diet closer to being vegan, but I’m not exactly there yet. That’s a bit of a conundrum actually. Being kind to myself requires a bit of self-centeredness too. And I really hate cooking! Learning new things in the kitchen just does not make me happy. That’s why I’m still compromising on my diet. Because I just get super-frustrated when the food doesn’t get done easily enough.
  • Must love myself is one other hard guideline to follow. But I have started learning how to praise myself in job interviews at least. I still have a tendency to think people don’t like me very much, even if I would love them to bits. I don’t know why that is. Why should anyone spend time with me, if they hated me? If I have a bad day and, let’s say our kids are annoying the shit out of me, I blame myself for having those thoughts. As in “why am I not more grateful for having such a life. Why am I not happy as it is?” So you see, it is not easy, loving myself.
  • My favorite out of all the guidelines is this: Be an Optimist Prime. I do believe, that as I’ve gotten better with my other guidelines, I am closer to becoming this Optimist Prime. I’m pretty sure it doesn’t look like that on a lot of days, as it has not been the easiest of years. But more often that not, I seem to find the silverlining in things. I still have my fears and anxieties, but mostly I don’t let them stop me.

What the year has brought me, even without following the plan, has been pretty amazing actually.

I have made two friends, which I don’t believe would have happened without me growing as a person. Amazing times spent with old friends. Trust. Laughter and tears. Good music. Intresting conversations. Amazing tattoos. Opportunities at work. Courage to tell how I feel. Courage to voice my opinions. A sense of humor, that was lost for a long time. Mostly I just feel that I am back – the slightly crazy, and slightly awkward type, who is never lost for words.

Organizing the Apartment to Achieve Structure in My Head

At least that’s where I started from. I mean organizing our stuff. Donating, selling, throwing out. In the end we even sold two massive bookcases.

There you can see one of the bookcases that went. Child in picture was not for sale.

It started with me stumbling upon our then neighbor’s web page. She happens to be a professional organizer. She was just about to start hosting a minimalism game (more on the origin of the game can be found here), I think it was in October 2015. 

You look at that date way over a year ago and think: Why is she not done by now? Well…. We moved twice during last year and having two small kids really does complicate things somewhat! We bought an apartment that was just about to go through four months of plumbing reno. So we moved all our furniture and most of our belongings into storage and took shelter at my parents home (how lucky we didn’t have to pay extra rent!). 

A Toyota Verso is surprisingly large

I think I made somewhat of a rookie mistake and propably saved many such things that should’ve been sold / donated / trashed before the move. I mean we got rid of heaps and heaps of stuff! But obviously my konmari days just were not behind me. 

And that is how January resolution Number 5 became: Organize your living space. 

I had planned to tackle a few things: finish setting up our walk-in closet, get the “office” wallpapered and organized and with some luck, also stick some wallpaper on our bedroom wall.

I got to a good start with our walk-in closet. This one needed a trip to IKEA though (I know, I know –  but even Konmari doesn’t ban buying boxes and stuff, if you have finished cleaning out. And in case of clothes, we’re doing ok). But even here it’s still somewhat of a work in progress. 

It’s supposed to be the white boxes only. You can imagine it, right?
As I’ve told, January was a time of sickness in our household so that was pretty much where I ended up with my resolution. January is almost over so no massive changes will take place. 

But!! I’m only slightly sad (for missing my opportunity of a renovating weekend – I love to be home alone for that purpose!) that January wasn’t the month to tie the loose ends, because of my new found understanding of time:

Not everything has to be accomplished today. You will have your moment!

I always have next month to try and tackle this:

Office / junk yard

I have some approaches to suggest if you want to clean out your apartment:

Read Konmari for inspiration even if you can’t really follow her method to the point. She won’t know. Her way of giving thanks to each item given away has made me think, how much material and effort goes to making a simple t-shirt for example. When you are finished with tidying up, I encourage you to think hard if you really need to buy something new.

– Clean in alphabetical order (method I learned from my neighbour). So tackle for example books, magazines, sheets, pens, tools etc. This approach is usually doable even if you can only spare moments of time here and there.

– If you have decided (like me) that you really don’t want to hold on to a piece of furniture anymore, start making space. Two ways to do that: get rid of the stuff that is in that said piece of furniture, or start making space elsewhere (by getting rid of stuff! Not organizing ;))

– find additional tips on pinterest

– Try Gretchen Rubin’s one-minute-rule (amazing, really! Thanks again Gretchen!)

– Believe when the organizing guru’s say that you’re not doing yourself any favors by holding on to something, “because it cost me so much”

– Limit your options: 

If a food item does not fit in here something has to go

Phew! That was a long one. 

Any great organizational tips you would like me try? Just let me know in the comments!

January Resolutions and How to Approach Them

I am an overachiever. Big time.

So the usual resolution making in my case looks something like this (picture in your head, if you will):

Resolution: “I want to exercise more.”

Approach: “Must exercise five times a week.” (And of course if I don’t, I’ll consider it a failure and start eating ice cream.)

Reality: Went from zero exercises in a week to five. Lasted for a week. Body couldn’t handle the sudden strain and didn’t have enough time to recover. Also have a full-time job, a husband and two small kids, so should be home every once in a while too.

Conclusion: I suck. If I can’t even exercise correctly (ehm, what?) why bother at all.

Pretty soon I have “failed” but only because my goal was insane to begin with.

That was – or is supposed to be- the old approach. But if I was ever going to succeed in making 12 months worth of realistic resolutions, I needed to come up with a better plan.

To ensure that I wasn’t going to get tired of my happiness project during the first week of January, I put down as my first two guidelines (these are what Gretchen Rubin calls her twelve commandments):

“have patience “and “have mercy”.

I’m telling you folks, it has not been easy. I am such a weird mix of perfectionist and short temper, I’m always getting in trouble with my plans.

There is one thing to being an overachiever though. As Rubin points out in her book, I like “my gold stars” too.

This has meant that tracking my resolutions has been helping me keep them (well, the ones possible when your fever is sky high)!

I was inspired by Gretchen Rubin’s task lists (she has made printable copies, in case you’re intrested) and Ryder Carrol’s bullet journal and made a habit tracker to my journal for the first month.

Look for #bujo #habittracker hashtags in social media and you will get the idea.

So with my clever new approach and my pretty turquoise Leuchtturm 1917 journal (https://www.leuchtturm1917.us/notebooks/ or Akateeminen in Finland) I decided to tackle these things first:

– Theme: Boost Energy. I had absolutely no reason to disagree with Gretchen Rubin on this. To have any hope of achieving my goals for this year, I would need energy.

Gretchen has good starting tips in her book and blog, and one revelation came from her idea of nagging tasks. I didn’t put that on my list, instead I knew what really made me feel miserable and because of that, was very energy consuming.

On the list it went.

Number 1 habit to track: play with kids.

This may sound weird to some, but with a list of errands and a full-time job it is really not self-evident that this happens every day. And it makes me feel really bad.

Number 2: SLEEP. Kind of self-explanatory? Well of course not everyone is troubled by this, but when I’m stressed, sleep is the first thing that goes. So, sleep.

Number 3: Eat better. I also tend to eat stupid stuff when I’m stressed. And the stupid stuff makes me feel even worse. Out with all the diets! (No, doesn’t mean you are allowed to eat only pizza and candy!)

Number 4: Exercise. I’m totally aware that I become mind- numbingly boring when I sit still for too long. It doesn’t necessarily mean that regular exercise has been part of my life lately. I want to make it so again.

Number 5: Organize your living space. I can’t even… Every unfinished job in our apartment drives me insane and drains my energy. I try to cope and “have patience” but too many loose ends are just too many. Fixing it.

Number 6: Last but not least. Write. Anything, anywhere, I don’t even care. As long as I’m finally writing again!

I realize people usually ask about resolutions during the first days of the new year. But by the end of January it’s typical to forget about them. I challenge you to think: Did I make resolutions? Were they truly worthy and achievable goals? If they were, have I followed them?  If not, should I make new ones?

Life has a way of throwing curve balls at you when you think you have finally cracked something. I haven’t been very successful with many of my resolutions due to being sick since 10th of January.

But I’m not kicking myself because of it and totally plan to continue on my path when I get my health back. Perhaps I’m already learning…

Our daughter drew Rapunzel