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,
We made it.
It sounds crazy to say that. I just keep thinking, "Wasn't 1996 like a few years ago?"
Anyway, for so many of us, waking up on January 1st brings a renewed sense of motivation and excitement for what can happen in this fresh new year.
Over 2018, I read several books to work towards becoming the best version of myself that I can be.
Almost every single one of them spoke in the beginning about the importance of having a vision for your life.
"Vision is the art of seeing what is invisible to others." ~ Jonathan Swift
Your vision has to be yours alone.
Picture the life you want and decide TODAY to take steps to get there.
I'm hosting a "Twelve-Week Challenge" group here on the blog and over on Facebook.
So that's my one non-negotiable daily habit.
However, I have some other habits that will definitely help our days run more smoothly, so I have listed nine other daily habits that I would like to track each day.
I love using a habit-tracker for things like this, so I created one on Google Docs to track my progress.
You can view MY January habit-tracker HERE and follow along, if you'd like.
If you would like a printable BLANK copy of my habit-tracker, click the image below.
Using the insight I gleaned from these authors, I have set up a 12-week challenge to set goals for the first twelve weeks of 2019, to keep myself accountable, and to check my progress throughout the next three months.
After setting up my goals and weekly challenges, I thought to myself that maybe you all would want to join me!
Excited for the new year here at the farmhouse,
One of the comments I hear often from friends and family is, "I don't know how you do it all."
Well, let me be frank...there are days that I DON'T do it all.
I am a known procrastinator, who has been fortunate (or unfortunate) to be able to put things off until the last minute and still successfully pull them off...for YEARS.
One of my biggest struggles in life has been to keep our house clean and organized and we are STILL working to put systems into place to help keep things together.
A few of the successes I had over 2018 were:
While I've made lots of changes over the last year to help with the simplification of things here at the farmhouse, I'm still a work in progress.
None of the growth I've made in 2018 would have been possible without some tools that I have discovered and used over the last nine months.
The Getting Things Done method has five main steps and the first one is to "capture" all of the thoughts in your brain by writing them down or typing them somewhere.
Allen calls this capturing and I call it a brain dump.
As part of my evening routine (and sometimes through the day if I'm having a hard time focusing on one task), I set a timer for about five minutes and start typing out every single thought that comes into my head.
These could be tasks that I've been putting off, worries that I'm struggling with, gifts I need to buy, people I need to call, projects that I'm dreaming about, blog posts that I want to write, and a thousand other things.
I'm basically taking all of the thoughts in my brain and capturing them so I can "clear my head", as the old saying goes.
When I first started this method of productivity, I would use a piece of paper to complete my brain dump.
And then...I discovered Trello.
Trello is a list-making platform that has a web-based component, as well as an app.
It's an online tool for managing projects and to do lists and it is AMAZING.
Simply stated, my Trello is filled with boards that are made up of various areas of my life (shown below).
I have everything...a long-term Bucket List, Christmas details for this year, a board for each girl, Farmhouse654, Finances, Meal Planning, Newkirk Photography, School, and Self-Care.
On each of these boards, there are categorized lists and cards on each list.
You can add notes, links, images, due dates, checklists, and lots of other details to cards...AND you can easily drag cards from one list to another!
My Brain Dump is on my "Getting Things Done" board. I set a timer and add things as they pop into my head.
Today (so far), I'm planning to finish our Menu for this week, get the Christmas decor put up, and go through a daunting stack of envelopes on my desk (that I've been putting off!).
I need to update my KonMari list for our purging project that we're planning between now and spring break, so I will move that task to "Current Projects", as it's an ongoing project and not something that will be completed today.
In my "Daily" column, I have those items that I need to do each day -- cleaning out my school bag each night, so I don't forget something important, reviewing my calendar each morning, and going through my list of current projects to see if there is anything I could move to my "TODAY" list.
My "Waiting On..." list are tasks that I cannot complete without some other piece of the project being complete. An example would be planning our Alaskan cruise for next summer. The cruise and flights are booked and we got our passport paperwork all sent off for verification last weekend. Now we're in the process of waiting for them to be sent back to us before we need to move forward with the rest of the detailed planning. So that task is sitting in the "Waiting On..." list until we get passport confirmation in the mail.
Someday Maybe includes items like "Explore Doctorate program", "Finish Book", and "Design Home Addition" -- dreams or thoughts for somewhat far into the future.
My last two lists on this board are "Desk Items" and "Waiting Room Items".
These are lists of tasks that don't have to be done right away, but could be completed while I'm sitting at my desk waiting on hold on the phone or sitting in a waiting room, working from my phone. It's nice to be productive when you're tied up on a phone call or waiting on a child to get finished at the orthodontist.
Google Calendar (with Reminders)
Google Calendar is where it ALL comes together.
From my calendar on my desktop at home or school, as well as my iPhone calendar, I can see all of the personal and school events we have going on, my Special Education meetings, event invitations, and my personal favorite part of the calendar...reminders.
I can easily add tasks by clicking anywhere on the calendar and setting a reminder.
The option is there to add a time stamp and have the reminder pop up at a specific time or check the box next to "All day" and have the reminder be part of the ongoing "to do" list like the one you can see above.
When you click the "Add day" option, whatever reminders don't get checked off that day will automatically move to the next day! Fancy-Schmancy!
I hope my Brain Dump, Trello, & Google Calendar explanation makes sense! My system is definitely still evolving, but I feel more in control than I have in a long time!
So...what questions do you have for me? What did I leave out? Would a video be helpful?
Have you moved into online planning or do you enjoy paper/pencil more?
What are you doing this week to set yourself up for a successful 2019?
Dreaming of an organized new year at the farmhouse,
2019 is coming.
In fact, we have ONE WEEK left of this year.
The day after Christmas is always when I really start planning and thinking specifically about the year to come.
We take down our Christmas decorations and get the house "back to normal".
I go through my calendar for the entire next year and fill in various events, reminders, and appointments.
I sit down with a piece of paper and I start to dream about what's to come in the new year...things I want to accomplish, dreams I have, and specific goals.
This week, I thought I would go through each piece of my planning process for anyone that wants to follow along.
Some of the things I'll cover are:
One of my big goals for 2019 is to stay in touch with my readers more!
So with that in mind, I've started working on an email list!
I'm currently in the middle of a chat conversation with my email provider to figure out how to turn off my subscription form for those of you who have already subscribed...for now, just click the "X" when it pops up, if you're already a subscriber!
Thanks in advance for subscribing and following along with us during the new year!
Prepping for 2019 at the farmhouse,
Near the middle of December, I begin to think about my goals for the new year.
In the past, I have written down my annual goals on paper or typed into a document.
To be quite honest, it just wasn't too effective.
I wrote the goals out, sometimes shared the goals with a few close friends, and then I taped the paper in the back of my planner...never to be looked at again.
The intentions were good, but there was no inspiration in a checklist of "things to accomplish in the year ____".
No long-term motivation.
No real accountability.
So although my resolutions were good ones that would have helped me to become more organized, more healthy, and more financially fit...there was often not as much follow-through as I would have liked.
In December of 2017, I was introduced to the concept of the "vision board".
I was intrigued and started seeking out inspiration online.
These are three of the images I saved at the time because they just "spoke to me".
THIS. This was inspiring to me!
I started to think about where I would keep a vision board and realized that I might want to have a separate one for the different areas of my life because I had very specific goals for each part...home, faith, school, photography...the list goes on and on.
However, making fourteen different vision boards sure didn't seem practical.
We have worked hard to pay down our car debt and the truck is now paid off, with the Yukon coming soon.
Mr. Farmhouse is still working towards being a full-time farmer, but we are on the right track.
I have pages like this in my vision book about many subjects...
When December 2017 came around, I looked back through my vision book and took stock of all the things we had accomplished that year.
I added a few new goals for 2018, but I decided not to start a new book...just continued right on with a refreshing perspective.
And I'll do the same thing this week as I dream, plan, and prepare for 2019.
Doing some goal-setting at the farmhouse to celebrate Christmas break,
There are 56 days left in 2018.
A few friends and I have been following along with Rachel Hollis's "Last 90 Days", where she has challenged people to make the last 90 days of the year count.
Well, I was successful in following her "Five to Thrive" for about 15 out of 31 days in October.
And now...that 90 days has dwindled down to 56 days.
So this weekend, I've taken some time to regroup and do some planning for the next two months.
The girls and I did some deep-cleaning in our bedrooms and the rest of the house.
I planned out our meals for the next few weeks.
We set some goals for ourselves and made a commitment to make these last few months of the year meaningful.
If you're feeling like things have gotten out-of-control and you just want to gain some peace and calm in the near future, feel free to join me in building some habits in the next 56 days that will help us to enjoy the holiday season.
More info to come in the morning.
It's such a great word.
So fresh. So promising. So full of hope.
Happy New Year, friends.
Here we are. January 1st.
I used to set goals for the new year in several different categories.
I made these big elaborate lists and sometimes I stuck to one or two of my "resolutions".
A few years ago, however, I began trying to really focus in on one word or phrase each new year.
One year it was "balance", another year it was "no".
This year, I've had three words and/or phrases running through my mind over the last few weeks, so I think I'll use them all as my focus for 2018.
Our minister has been preaching for the last several weeks on the transformation that should come from knowing Jesus.
I want to focus this year on being transformed because of Who Jesus is.
I want people to be able to see Him in every aspect of my life.
I want to be transformed.
I read an article this week about the addictive nature of a cell phone for young kids.
I was convicted about the addictive nature of technology for myself.
I know that technology can be a good thing, but I think sometimes satan uses good things to distract us from our purpose.
The purpose of being a good wife.
...of raising Kingdom kids.
...of building deep relationships with people.
...of creating a home environment that is beautiful for our families.
...of taking care of ourselves so we can pour into others.
This year I will set limitations on social media usage and spend more time focusing on face-to-face interaction with those I love.
Do fewer things, better.
I am notorious for working hard to balance too many spinning plates.
I can usually multi-task without much problem.
I say "yes" often to lighten the load for others.
I get a lot accomplished and a lot of times, those accomplishments are just "good enough".
This year, I want to simplify.
To do fewer things and to do them better.
What are your goals for 2018?
Do you set resolutions?
If you could choose one word to take with you this year...what would it be?
Make it a great year, friends!
New Year's Love from the Farmhouse,
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