When life throws you curveballs

A reader recently sent me a question asking what my suggestions were for her and for other readers who get thrown from their usual routines by life’s curveballs.

I think this is a great question because she’s right – we all have things that throw us off track:

  • busy time periods at work (month-end/ year-end/ closing out a project/ going live with other projects, etc.)
  • busy periods in our kids’ lives (concert week, recitals or plays)
  • any illness (usually means kids or parents not sleeping)
  • going on holiday (lovely to be away but re-entry can be tough)
  • any out-of-the-ordinary happening that messes with your routine

I’ll share with you my top 3 ways to get back on track:

  1. Lower my expectations

That seems counter-intuitive but it makes complete sense for any of us control freaks.

I know after returning from a holiday that it’s going to take about a week for things to return to our normal. There’s no sense in getting stressed every day because there are piles of undone laundry, no food in the fridge and kids who can’t wake up for school because they’re too tired.

This one step is the biggest creator of peace of mind in the home.

  1. Get back to my basics as quickly as possible

For me, that’s making a menu plan and making sure we have enough fruit and vegetables in the house. I can almost always cobble meals together from the freezer or pantry; it’s when there aren’t enough apples or carrots that I start to twitch. Food is important to me and the family, so this is one of my priorities.

In essence, start putting your routines in order. When we get back from a holiday, I start unpacking immediately because I can’t stand things laying around on the floors and I’ve trained the kids to do the same. They’ve unpacked their own suitcases for the last 3 years.

  1. How can I restore order in the quickest, painless way?

I could take one day, generally the Sunday afterwards, and do laundry non-stop, and while that would be quick, it is not painless for me! I choose to do a daily load until we’re caught up instead as we generally only do the laundry about 3 – 4 times a week. It ends up being just a day or two longer, but knowing that there’s a plan in place helps a lot to keep me at peace!

If doing laundry isn’t painful for you, you might as well get it done quickly.

I read a blog once where the mom used to go to a laundromat, use 6 machines and just get all the laundry done if they had a curveball or two thrown at them. She said she’d take a book, relax for two hours and leave with everything up to date. That actually sounds splendid.

To summarise, I’d give myself two weeks to get back to my routines. Decide what is most important to you, and start doing that thing immediately (as you saw above, unpacking and food for me!).

Then build on those initial steps until your routine – and peace of mind – is restored once again.

What are your basics?

Do you have a strategy for life’s curveballs?

My dream file, and why you should make a vision board

I’ve had this flipfile for seemingly forever. It’s my pre-pinterest Pinterest 🙂

Basically, in the days when I used to buy magazines, I’d rip out pictures of things that I like or would like to have in a home and I’d file them in a flipfile.

I recently came across my dream flipfile when I was sorting out my study.

As I paged through I realised that a lot of the pages I’d torn out are now reflected in my house. Not that I have an airy loft but the feeling of that airy loft is reflected in such and such corner or the bright pop of colour is reflected in that room. So awesome!

Look at this selfie I took one night with the timer on my phone and tell me if it reminds you of something.

I didn’t even realise it at the time but I’m reading like the woman in the picture above. I only found my file a few weeks after this picture was taken!

I’ve always wanted a reading corner with a chair, table and a big window. And I’ve got it!

When we came to look at this house, we walked up the stairs and when I saw that corner, I had a vision of me reading, or Dion reading bedtime stories to the kids. The previous owner had this corner arranged very differently and I remember saying that I had plans for that corner the minute I saw it.

The point of all this reminiscing is just to remind me and you to keep pulling out those pictures and to make your vision board or dream file.

If you’re feeling stuck on goals this year, maybe you need to get your hands cutting and pasting. The physical nature of putting together your board may be just the thing to get you unstuck.

Have a go and let me know if it helps.

How to make a vision board – part one and part two and part three

Have you ever made a vision board?

PS Fun fact – I even made a vision board for babies!

PPS I’d love to have you join me on My Year of Happy

My year of happy

While I was thinking about my year ahead, I decided to re-read some of my favourite books this year.

One of those is Better than Before by Gretchen Rubin, especially because she’s releasing a new book just on The Four Tendencies (I can’t wait!) later this year.

I started listening on Monday, my first day back to work this year, and it’s been (dare I say?) even better listening the second time around.

Maybe it’s because I’m a super big fan of the podcast which started after I first listened to the book?

Anyway, in the book, she mentions The Happiness Project and how she focussed on 12 different projects over that year.

And that’s when I had my bright idea.

 

I’m going to do my own version of a Happiness Project. My Year of Happy!

Basically, I’m going to focus on 10 different areas in my life, 1 for the months February – November. January is for thinking it all through and December is for relaxing and wrapping up the year 🙂

My areas are health, finances, holidays, friends, kids, husband, house projects – decor,  house projects – decluttering, faith/ God and fun – reading, photos, crafts. I probably have 2 – 3 things I want to do for each area and that’s plenty.

Also, when I get x and y done, they’re done! Which is so satisfying to me, especially because for many years I’ve had ongoing goals on my list so 3 of this per month, or 2 of that per month, or doing project x every month. I think I’ll have a mix of recurring goals and once-off.

Does a happiness project sound like fun to you?

If yes, great stuff. We can post pics of our little projects on Instagram 🙂 and if you’re an Upholder like me, you’ll have no trouble at all planning out your year and making your year happy as you do your projects. If you’re a Rebel, you’ll do a project only if you want, and on your terms.

But for the Obligers and the Questioners, those that need a bit more accountability, let me know if you want some coaching for your Year of Happy.

How it will work

You decide on your own 10 projects – one for each month Feb to Nov – or fewer if you want to repeat some categories. It’s your life; you choose. You know what your life is like so you can choose easy things in your busier months so that this is not something stressful.

Your projects will be different to the next person’s. There is no one size fits all.

Logistics

We will use Skype audio or IMO (if the video doesn’t have too much lag) and chat once a month for 30 minutes.

You’ll give me feedback and set your intentions for the month ahead. I’ll coach you on any obstacles or where you feel stuck.

At the mid-point of each month, I will have some “open office time” for a 5-minute call. This is specifically so if you want to chat/ brainstorm.

In between you work on your stuff by yourself.

Then we wrap the 2017 year of happy on 30 November, rejoicing in a year well-intentioned and well-spent.

The best thing about all of this is you remain in the comfort of your own home, in your pyjamas, make-up free, while getting the support and encouragement to go make yourself happy.

How much

Only $50 per month or R700 at today’s exchange rate. If this is something that you really want but that amount doesn’t work for you, then let me know what you can pay and we’ll make a plan. It’s my year of give and you get to benefit 🙂

There’s no commitment to stay for the full year – stop whenever you want.

Are you interested? Email me and we’ll take it from there.

A few of my ideas for super easy Christmas decor

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You guys know I like things really simple.

So I’ve basically got one or two tricks up my sleeve that I pull out every Christmas and that seems to work for me! Because I do the same things over and over, I actually store them in ziplocs that say “vases in lounge and diningroom” or “decorations for fruit bowl”. It’s easy for me and easy to delegate to the kids who always want to help.

I will say that I was a bit dismayed when I thought of decorating this house because there aren’t many walls (it’s a house built for the view!) to hang things. But I found places for most of my things (basically, every spare nail that I found got a stocking or a Christmas word, and I also put up some hooks) and they don’t even look too disjointed.

I don’t have a place for Christmas cards at all. The cards have been diminishing year on year (last year we got 5 in time for Christmas and 3 in the week following) so I’ll Prestik them to our diningroom hutch, if any arrive.

Where do you display your Christmas cards?

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Those are all my Christmas CDs.

I saw a really good idea in Gretchen Rubin’s comments months and months ago, the episode where they discussed how she tosses the cards once all the family members have had a look at it. Someone said they keep them on the coffee table in a basket so people can look at them over the Christmas season. Mine have been out and so far no-one’s looked at them… I’ll let you know if that changes 😉

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Vases

After the big Konmari of 2015 (as I now call it), I ended up with very few vases. But the ones I love, use and that spark joy are all big clear glass ones.

Basically, I just fill them up with Christmas decorations. Not a crazy mix of colours, but a maximum of two main colours.

Fill up vases, arrange on a table, sideboard, coffee table, or end table and they honestly look gorgeous.

The same principle works for using extra glass fruit bowls – use a wreath and Christmas balls, or pine cones!

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Tinsel & strings of beads

Pep stores (yes, South African readers) has these strings of beads. They’re about R12 – R14 each. I bought some last year and a lot more this year.

Yes, I drape a few strands around my tree but I also channel my inner Nester and “artfully” arrange them on flat surfaces. They look super cool. This year the kids have taken to writing their names with the strands 🙂

I also drape tinsel on everything that stands still long enough, even my huge canvases.

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Choose one or two main colours

My colours are red and silver. Mostly. I bought a red chindi rug which I’m using on the table after seeing this exact idea in a show house (I’m not looking; I went to give some papers to our estate agent).

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I had some blue decorations that I didn’t use last year but this year I moved them to the kitchen and they work well there.

I also have a lovely purple wreath that I use as a centrepiece on the diningroom table. That’s my exception which I should probably move but it does make me so happy.

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Hope you enjoyed seeing a few areas of my home! Full confession – I added a few more low-maintenance items (more tinsel and beads) since these photos were taken but I’m not going to re-take pics 🙂

What are your Christmas decorating tricks?

How I made my kitchen a happy space on a very small budget

Remember I mentioned that I wasn’t very inspired by my kitchen?

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I LOVE the size, and that there’s plenty of counter space and storage even with no cabinets on the top in most of the kitchen. I even counted and I’m sure we could have 6 people comfortably working on different things in the same kitchen.

The point is that the bones are good; it just needed some updating.

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Now updating usually comes in the form of a renovation which I am not a lover of for two reasons: 1) extreme mess and lack of control…… and 2) renovations cost a lot of money. Apparently a good rule of thumb is 1/10th of the house’s price which is super crazy. But that’s my opinion.

So then I happened upon a green kitchen on Instagram and I was like OHHHHHH, I LOVE THAT.

I love green very much.

Dion had some reservations that it would be too green (is there such a thing?!) but trusted me.

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I was busy picking out the exact green when I saw a navy blue kitchen and I thought OOOOH now that’s lovely.

I showed him and he was much more into the navy.

I just wanted COLOUR and non-boringness so I was game to try the blue.

You see, I love The Nester’s advice. She said once, “if you hate something anyway, there’s no harm in taking a risk”. So true.

We ended up painting the walls and ceilings white and the cupboards are now NCS S 6030-R90B Seaside Breeze.

Best of all, we all LOVE our new kitchen. And the very best news is it cost just a fraction of a true renovation.

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Other small things we did…

  1. replaced the mixer
  2. put up shelves

And the minute we’ve saved enough money, we’ll redo the flooring. In fact, if you have flooring people you’d recommend, please tell me in the comments. I only have two quotes which are both far too expensive.

Some more photos of my navy kitchen:

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Have you ever painted your kitchen cupboards?

What colour would you do yours?

PS The blue kitchen pics were taken in midday sun so the light was very bright. The kitchen looks a bit darker at night.

A space to create

When we moved into this new house, I had pages of drawings in my bullet journal on where we would place all furniture.

I planned a craft space downstairs and just a desk in the study.

But soon I realised that I didn’t even have a place to wrap a gift since the laptop is permanently on the desk.

I moved my favourite green table upstairs and voila! I was in business.

I was so inspired to get creative again.

I think I wrapped/ assembled about 5 gifts in less than 30 minutes simply because I once again had a space to create.

This is not just about creating.

It could be space for reading, space to try out new recipes, space to do your budget and financial planning, space to set up a command centre, space to plan your week…

Where in your life do you need to create space for what you need?

July review and August goals

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July was interesting 🙂

It felt a lot worse than it actually was.

But actually, when I stopped and did a proper review writing it all down, I realised that I actually got a lot done.

This is the point of doing a monthly goals review – to stop and notice the things you did do, instead of only the things you didn’t.

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Just a few highlights:

  1. we had a wonderful family holiday in Ballito – lots of good food, walks, times of connection and reading
  2. we moved house (!) – I think if we did nothing else this is AWESOME 🙂
  3. I met up with 5 different friends, all one-on-one
  4. I read 8 books, none of them audible books. I bought 3 books on Tuesday morning because this month is a normal working month, not one where I take 2.5 weeks holiday.
  5. I got my hair done. My appointment was moved out due to the holiday and move, and you know how you can’t WAIT to get your hair sorted again? Yes, that was me 🙂
  6. My tax was done!

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A few goals for August:

  1. Sell old house (please pray – the pray without ceasing praying – for God to send people who will love that house and who can afford it)
  2. Organise handyman to put up shelves and get all our photo frames up
  3. Write the paying off the house post – this may be more than 1 post, depending on how much I have to say.
  4. Participate in #AugustBreak2016 on Instagram. I think this is my third year and I love it. I enjoy the prompts, the community and it’s a good time of year for me as I’m feeling reflective (it’s my birthday on Saturday!) and the weather is still cool enough to wander around getting nice photos.
  5. Organise July photos and select photos from Ballito holiday for printing.
  6. Write for 20 minutes a day.

Over to you.

What are you going to read, what are you going to listen to and what will you do to keep yourself sane this month?

And a very happy birthday to Terisha who started out as a reader and has now become a friend!

This moving house business

I’m going to be honest here – for the first 5 days of moving house, I was not okay at all.

I suppose I thought that because I’m organised, things would move along swiftly and in an efficient manner. When they didn’t, it kind of threw me for a loop.

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Let’s go back a little bit to late 2005 when we moved into the previous house…

  • I was much more of a hoarder then
  • The prior house had TONS of storage space
  • and still we moved out and were unpacked in two days

This time I’d Konmari’d, I’m now the Organising Queen (HA!) and 11 days after the move, there are still 6 of D’s boxes unpacked. Granted, the fact that they’re not mine doesn’t bother me in the slightest.

We moved on a Friday.

On Saturday morning I was up at 6 am (unheard of!); on Sunday morning I was up at 3 am. No, I wasn’t keen to get up and started with the day; it was my busy brain thinking of everything I had to do.

After the 3am wake-up, I realised I just have to work like a slave because I’m quite fond of my sleep and can’t afford to have it interrupted on a daily basis. Happy to say I’ve slept well since.

I know there are others reading who are like me – your environment has to be in order for you to be able to breathe….

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So what made me feel better?

  1. Getting the kitchen sorted first because the kids keep asking for food…
  2. Knowing that most of my things were in place – clothes, toiletries, technology (cables, chargers, etc.) – and sadly, once the internet was working on Sunday, I felt connected again and happy!
  3. I went to the hairdresser and chatted to her, and guess what she told me? I’m being too hard on myself. She reminded me that she and two teenage kids moved into a new house last year. It took her a full week to unpack all the boxes, and a month to get everything in place like she wanted. So to expect things to be in order within 5 days was a tad unrealistic.
  4. And then Jess Lively. She did a podcast recently and she said something like this (I may be mis-quoting a bit) – you haven’t lost the ability to create a beautiful home. Wow. Because everything has felt out of place, with photo frames all over, definitely not intentional and deliberate.

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To that last point, everything in our old home had a place and felt right. While things are unpacked, we are not at that place yet. So I needed that reminder that I created a beautiful home once or twice before, and I will do so again… in time.

Who knows why I’m telling you all these things but I feel like someone needed to hear these words tonight.

Stop being so hard on yourself. You haven’t lost the gifts, skills and abilities you had, and you will exercise them again when the time is right.

Tell me your moving house stories. Did you need to read this today? Let me know so I know I’m not talking to the walls 😉

PS all pics of the old house. I have taken a few pics of “select” areas in this new house but they’re still on my camera 🙂

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