You may remember at the end of 2018 when I shared about my morning routine on the blog.
Although I knew how important a morning routine was, it wasn't until I read The Power of Habit last year that I learned how beautifully automatic mornings could become.
Another example might be reaching for your house keys to unlock the door as you walk to the house when you get home.
ââThese sequences of events are automatic.
You don't even think about them.
There's practically no thought necessary to get the mail from the mailbox or unlock your house.
Did you know that humans are wired to make a specific amount of decisions each day?
We each have a certain decision-making capacity and we often use a lot of our decisions on meaningless activities.
(Sidenote: This is often why people make poor food choices late at night. They've hit their decision quota for the day, so they're unable to effectively decide "no ice cream" is the correct option.)
By creating healthy habits in our morning routines (and in other areas of our lives), we create automatic sequences and cut out decisions.
Make your morning routine a habit.
Here is my morning routine:
Now...in all honesty, over the last few months, my third and fourth steps have gone away.
I injured my hip while training for a half-marathon back in the fall and I wasn't able to workout for several months.
Now I'm healthy again and will need to re-train myself to include that working out habit in the mornings. For now, it's a daily decision.
The beauty of the habit cue is that we have the power to change our habits.
Last summer, I started experimented with habit loops.
When my feet hit the floor every morning, I would turn around and make the bed.
Within two minutes of my alarm going off, I have already accomplished something and now every time I walk by the bedroom through the day, I will remember that accomplishment.
As part of my bedtime routine, I've laid out my workout clothes and my clothes for the day.
Once the bed is made, I put on my workout clothes and head outside to run, to the basement to the treadmill, or to the living room to workout with a video.
It is automatic and once those clothes & tennis shoes are on, it sure is easier to get that movement taken care of first thing in the morning instead of having to decide to fit it in later in the evening.
After my workout, I start the coffee pot as I walk to the shower.
When I'm out of the shower and ready for the day, I make coffee and do my Bible study.
Cue (feet hit the floor)
Enjoying my mornings at the farmhouse,
Last year, I set a goal of reading 30 books in 2019.
I probably met this goal, but I can't say that with 100% certainty because I didn't track my books after about January 15th.
This year, I'm using Goodreads to track my books and I've already finished book number 1.
My first book of 2020 (which I will admit, I started in the last few days of 2019) was Outer Order, Inner Calm.
About the book from Gretchen Rubin's website:
One of my biggest take-aways from the book was this quote..."Nothing is more exhausting than the task that's never started."
I am the queen of systems and procedures and lists.
Sometimes my "task list" includes upwards of 100 items.
After reading this book, I went through my list and moved most of the items to a specific scheduled block on my calendar.
This simple act was a relief because by giving each task its own specified time, I "started" the process of marking the item off of my checklist.
The piece of advice to schedule time to work on tasks is just a very small example of the wealth of knowledge Rubin shares in this book and I would highly recommend it.
It's the first day of 2020.
When the clock struck midnight in the wee hours of this morning, we moved into a new day, a new month, a new year, and a new decade.
If you read my post about brainstorming for the new year, you have probably already printed and filled in the 2020 dream sheet I created. If not, grab one of your own here.
Now that you have identified some of your dreams and goals for 2020, let's move into being a little more specific in our goal-setting.
I created another printable to help us get specific about the things we want to accomplish in 2020.
Because January 1st is on a Wednesday this year, I am giving myself the next four days to plan and get organized to dive into another 12-week challenge.
Today, let's identify our goals for the year and get organized in our plan for accomplishing those goals.
Remember...less is more!
Don't create some elaborate plan to do 1,500 different tasks in 2020 or you'll burn out by January 11th.
Instead, create some manageable and measurable goals that you can stick to!
Thanks so much for keeping up with life at the farmhouse in 2019.
I'm looking forward to growing together over the next 365 days.
Happy 2020 from the farmhouse, friends.
Print your goal sheet to write out your goals or type them out to print!
Editable 2020 Goal Sheet
Thirteen years ago today, our oldest daughter was born.
We now have a teenager in the house.
It feels like December 30th, 2006 was yesterday.
I was in my first teaching job. I ended up on bed rest for blood pressure issues. On December 29th, I had taken my blood pressure and it was high. I tried all the home remedies to get it to come down, but it wouldn't work. The doctor suggested I come in and soon after that, we were headed to the hospital to be induced. By 1:00 the next morning, she was here.
She used to wear athletic shorts and a tank top when at all possible. She's growing up now though and chooses a dress or skirt often. She still prefers to be working out or playing basketball, hunting or throwing a softball around.
Harlee is the best big sister. She and the other girls have their "sibling moments", but she wants peace and happiness for them both more than anything else.
She is a great cousin and a good friend. She is mature beyond her years in many ways.
Harlee loves Jesus and loves others.
I'm having a hard time believing that our little freckled-face firstborn is 13, but we're trying to enjoy every second we have her in the house.
There are hard days and there are wonderful days.
As I read yesterday -- the best part of parenting is watching your children grow up...and the hardest part of parenting is watching your children grow up.
I thank God for my Harlee-girl and pray that His Will is done through her.
Reminiscing at the farmhouse this morning,
Yesterday, I had a day of shopping with my mom and two of my sisters-in-law.
On the way home, we stopped for coffee.
Last night, we had a family Christmas and didn't get home until past 11:00 p.m.
I got the girls to sleep and fell asleep myself around midnight...and was awakened by a five-year-old needing a drink about 3:00.
The caffeine from the coffee must have kicked in about that time because it's now 6:00 a.m. and I haven't been back to sleep.
Finally about 5:00, I decided to go ahead and get up and get the day started.
I've been dreaming about 2020 ever since.
Each year, about this time, I start to put together some goals and dreams for the new year.
I used to be someone who came up with these elaborate plans for January 1st and crashed & burned by about January 5th.
Over the last few years, however, I've really begun to focus on implementing some simple daily habits that will help me to make my long-term vision a reality.
Build a home my girls will look back on with fond memories.
Build relationships with others that will lead to mutual growth. Build each other up.
Continue to build a healthy marriage.
I didn't set too many specific goals in these areas yet. I just took the time to write out some of my hopes & dreams for 2020.
Some of the items on my list include projects, like creating a "quiet time" area in my office and making an action plan every month to mark off some of my "procrastination tasks".
Some are daily habits -- working out every day, drinking enough water, planning healthy meals for my family, and reading my Bible & journaling my prayers.
Some are just goals -- sending more personal cards via snail mail and being intentional in everything I purchase for our home.
Are you ready to dream for 2020? This is the first step in building the life you want over the next twelve months.
Feel free to download your own worksheet below and take some time to brainstorm today!
Up early, dreaming about the future here at the farmhouse,
In 2017, I started this blog when we bought the farmhouse.
I so enjoyed sharing with my readers the transformation of certain rooms, as we moved in, painted, and even added a bathroom upstairs.
I loved to share parenting stories, marriage joys & struggles, and decorating ideas.
There were some weeks during the last year and a half that I was blogging every single day.
Every. Single. Day.
And yet, when I opened the blog today...my last post was in June. JUNE.
That's SIX months ago.
However, a few days ago, I wrote a blog post to share as a guest writer on our minister's blog.
And it sparked something in me.
I realized how much I had missed sharing in this way.
Blogging feeds my soul.
So in 2020, I'm committing to a weekly blog post.
Not only to pour into my readers' lives...but for myself.
Happy Last-Week-of-the-Decade, friends.
Love from the Farmhouse,
Four whole months.
That's how long it's been since I posted over here on the blog.
It's like spring break got over and all the sudden, we were flying 80-mph in a 55-mph speed limit zone to the end of the school year.
Today is my first official day of summer break.
Sure, I'll be back at work once a week or so to tie up some loose ends and to do some preparation for next school year, but officially, I can stay home if I want to.
I'm reading a book called The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin.
It's all about doing little things each day to contribute to happiness.
Inspired by Rubin's book, I've decided to embark on my own "Mini Happiness Project".
I'll chronicle my plan and progress here to share, starting today.
So let's just jump right in.
Rubin's happiness project was a 12-month endeavor.
I'd like to start TODAY and have my first little leg of my happiness project go through September 30th.
I'll do some of the prep-work right now in June to allow me to be prepared to do a 3-month focus with my Farmhouse654 friends from July through September.
My Daily Focuses for the Rest of June will be:
When we moved to the farmhouse, almost two years ago, our Harlee-girl was ten years old.
She was (still is) VERY into basketball.
We had recently redecorated her room at the old house in a basketball theme...including a huge LeBron James cutout on the wall.
We had the best intentions, but...
Mr. Farmhouse hasn't gotten around to building that bedroom wall yet.
LeBron has been traded to the Lakers.
And now, our Harlee-girl is a 12-year-old who does still love the game of basketball, but asked for a "grown up room" for her birthday.
So goodbye to (most) of the basketball decor...and hello to her own pre-teen space.
Harlee's room sits on the west side of the upstairs and although it seemed like the smallest area when we first moved in, it really makes for a pretty large bedroom...just kind of long and rectangular-shaped.
Here are some "before pictures" of her bedroom. We painted the paneling and added a "closet" area. The original basketball decor can be seen here, as well.
Over the last year-and-a-half, Harlee expressed the desire to get rid of the loft bed and start to move away from her basketball-themed bedroom.
So...that's what we did.
Of course, her basketball curtains are still there and she still had to have her MU Women's Basketball poster and favorite Duke memorabilia!
So without further ado...Harlee's new room!
I love how even with the "grown up" parts of Harlee's new room, I can still see that little toddler who said, "Go Duke!" over and over for her Uncle G...and I love that her baby blanket still lays folded at the end of her bed.
Feeling sentimental here at the farmhouse tonight,
Especially in the winter.
And this winter has been a rough one.
From sub-zero temperatures to snow & ice, keeping animals fed and alive has NOT been easy.
To be honest, we have lost a few calves this winter...
We have spent money trying to keep other calves alive...
We even had our bottle calf "Patty" spend four days and three nights in the farmhouse basement (with the two older girls).
And yet...all over the Midwest, farmers have been out in this junk all day.
Mr. Farmhouse will work until 4:30 and then get in the truck and go feed cows and make sure they're all safe and sound before coming home at dark.
Ice will be need to be chopped.
Hay bales will need to be unwound.
New babies might need to be taken inside and warmed up.
Some farm days are enjoyable.
Some farm days are miserable.
All farm days are hard work.
Saying a prayer from the farmhouse for those out working in this weather and thinking about our farmers,
And let's be honest...it can be so dark and gloomy outside!
Days and days of inside recess. Need I say more?
In the education world, the "third quarter slump" is alive and well.
But this year...I'm not in the classroom.
I'm sitting in an office doing a job that I love working with a team of leaders and staff members that just warm my heart.
I have lamps and a little peaceful fountain and I can use the restroom whenever I want.
We have had a few unexpected days off and I feel like I'm basically in control of my house right now.
And I'm still feeling the "third quarter slump".
I think sometimes this time of year is just hard.
This time of year is often lacking sunshine.
Illness is making its way around.
It's cold...and sometimes snowy or icy, making it hard to get from point A to point B.
It's dark when we leave the house and often dark when we get home.
And let's be real here...some of us feel like we have already failed at some of those goals we set on January 1st (less than a month ago).
The winter blues are very real, but there are a few things I've found that help me to heave myself out of that third quarter slump when the days feel long and not as enjoyable as we would like them to.
For example, participating in the Farmhouse654 12-week challenge has given me some direction over the next twelve weeks.
My days are filled up with purposeful tasks that help me to meet goals that I set for myself at the beginning of the year.
Another example would be the fact that Matthew and I have booked a cruise for mid-July for our 15-year-anniversary. This helps me to be hyper-focused on a few financial and health goals I would like to accomplish before then.
There are some projects around the outside of the house that we would like to get finished before next school year. This winter, we are working on identifying these projects and breaking them down into manageable steps we can start NOW.
In fact, Mr. Farmhouse and his crew (our dads, brothers, cousins, Harlee) got the outside fence posts put in a few weekends ago when we had a spring-like day! And he's out there again today...at 19º. Brrrr!
2. Keep Moving
This weather makes me want to hibernate.
I want to run to the car in the morning, drive to work, do my job, leave work, and come straight home to curl up in my bed.
I don't want to do anything extra...including housework, cooking supper, or especially exercise.
However, I have found that when I set a schedule to get some movement into my days, I truly and honestly feel better.
Even if it's only three times a week, if I can get onto that treadmill and force myself to DO something...it really makes a huge difference in how my week goes.
3. Turn on the Lights
It's no secret that sunshine is good for the soul.
Seasonable Affective Disorder (SAD) is the scientific name for the winter blues.
While experts have lots of suggestions to help beat the winter blues, they all seem to agree on one thing...the importance of LIGHT!
Turns the lights on and turn them on early.
Start the day with artificial lights on to trick your body into thinking that rest time is over and it's time to get going.
Open blinds or curtains to let as much natural light as you can throughout the day and SOAK THAT STUFF IN!
4. Stay Connected
When we are feeling down, we sometimes have a tendency to slowly separate ourselves from others.
We spend more time at home.
More time cooped up inside.
More time disconnected from others.
There's a fine line between taking some at-home rest & relaxation with your own little family and putting up walls to start and build a barrier with the outside world.
And it's all a slippery slope.
The more time we spend disconnected from others, the easier it is to not let people in.
The more days we go straight home and avoid human interaction, the easier it becomes to think of that as the "norm".
Stay connected with others. And not just online.
Meet up with a friend for coffee.
Make a phone call (gasp!) to a friend.
Go out and run errands...talk to people!
5. Do Something
Finally...do something. Do ANYthing.
Sometimes the winter blues can become extreme and paralyzing.
And sometimes it is hard to make yourself do anything above and beyond your necessary daily responsibilities.
On days like this, I think it's important to just START.
Do ONE thing.
And then do another thing.
Take it moment by moment, task by task.
Do something and then sit down and rest.
Do another thing and then sit down and rest.
We sometimes need to work through our days (or evenings) like this...just babystepping our way through some of those tasks we tend to put off during the winter.
Sometimes those first few tasks can get our motivation rolling enough to make some serious progress...even on a hard day.
Here's the deal.
The winter blues are real.
They can come at different times and at varying degrees for all of us.
For my dear friends struggling with clinical depression, I know that these five suggestions won't cure that.
There are medications and therapists and lots of options for support available and I hope and pray that you are taking advantage of these things.
However, maybe...just maybe...focusing on some of these suggestions will help to lighten the blow of the dark & cold days that comes with this season.
Day by day,
Goal by goal,
Step by step.
We can do this.
Looking forward to spring here at the farmhouse,