5 things I learned in April

Yes, this post is late, but it’s always still worthwhile to reflect back on the month.

  • My new practice of taking some time on a Friday afternoon to write a ta-da list for the week ending and a goals for the next week is seriously changing my life. I feel accomplished and like I can completely shut off my mind from work until Monday morning knowing that I start focussed on Monday morning again.
  • It is not a coincidence that my most productive week in months was one where I worked from home 3 days. Clearly the office is good for my social life but not so good to be productive.

Oh right, this is the laptop that was stolen. My notebook and diary were also in my laptop bag πŸ™

  • I learned that I’ve been out of the loop with grocery shopping so long that I no longer know what things actually cost but we have some good habits. A whole post coming up on the grocery spend insights next week πŸ™‚
  • God is ever faithful. There was an intruder in the house this month and while 5 small items were stolen (the biggest being my work laptop), we were all protected and kept entirely safe. It’s still work to retrain your brain to live fearlessly though. The week after this happened I didn’t post anything – too busy dealing with life!

I consciously took this photo of beautiful trees against the sky outside the police station to remind myself that God is still a good God.

  • On this note, it is a huge pain dealing with insurance companies, so much so that my goal this month is to sort this stuff out as quickly as possible so I can live free again.

and a bonus…

I also learned that our holiday was planned (months ago) for exactly the right time. We needed to get away as a family and enjoy being together in an absolutely gorgeous part of the country.

How was your April? What did you learn?

March recap and in-progress projects

Wow, this month was something else.

I haven’t been as overwhelmed with work in a long, long time as I have been this month.

Picture this – working on a Friday and telling yourself, I’m now up to date with last Monday’s work (almost two weeks behind). Basically that kind of thing times ten. As you know, I’m an ESTJ, enneagram 1, and an upholder, so you now know this being behind business doesn’t sit well with me at all.

I’m not out of the woodwork yet – who knows when that will happen? – but I set myself 5 mini work goals and I achieved those, so I’m feeling satisfied with some progress at least.

I’m planning to do exactly the same every month so that even though things are crazy, I can still feel somewhat accomplished. I’m also sleeping well and exercising to take care of my body, and of course, doing all my tricks.

exhausted and depleted!

On the whole, if I look at my entire life, not just work, it was still a good month, but it didn’t feel that way, largely because we spend so much time at work.

There were many life-giving things though – books read (more on this next week), house projects, connections with friends and family, and lots of fun. And at the risk of being superficial, I got my hair done and coloured this month, so that is awesome, if expensive!

Have you downloaded the monthly review sheet from my site yet? It has 6 questions and an “on a scale of 1 – 10, this month was a ____” to help you review your month.

You can write one word answers or a whole paragraph – it’s completely up to you.

You don’t even have to use the printable if you want; simply copy the questions into your bullet journal.

I honestly find it to be one of the most helpful tools I’ve ever created, and I want you to enjoy using it too. I’m focusing on a different question each month in these blog posts although I do the full review privately.

One of the questions on the printable is Do I have any in-progress projects?

This month my in-progress projects are:

  1. tons of work things (there is literally not one client who is completely up to date with everything). To that end, my mantra is “I let go of the need to be completely up to date, and to process all client requests according to my self-imposed, currently hugely unrealistic deadlines”)
  2. insurance claim for a leak in my house due to heavy storms a week ago
  3. getting us all into a new nanny schedule (we’ve reduced her hours)
  4. sell table, etc.
  5. weeding in garden!

I am thrilled that all the upstairs painting is done. The rooms spark joy every time I walk into them. This feeling is what I need to focus on when I think of the mess of painting!

What are your in-progress projects? House? Life? Personal?

What went well in February?

Hello friends

I want to tell you something kind-of interesting.

lots of reading

 

I have 6 questions on my monthly review sheet and my intention is to use a different question as an example every month to show you how I use them.

Last month I answered the question “what energised me this month?” and this month I scheduled in just the blog draft title “what went well this month”?

Do you know? I haven’t had the best month. In fact, it’s been one of the more terrible ones in a long, long time.

Probably why I haven’t really felt like writing this post about what went well, because not much did.

Still, let’s see. There’s a reason I need to focus on what went well, so let’s do it πŸ™‚

magnificent walk

What went well this month?

  1. I had 8 friend dates. That’s a lot, even for me, because two from January got pushed back. That was truly the highlight of my month.
  2. We had a wonderful book club last week – great discussion, lovely people, challenging and energizing.
  3. I took two wonderful walks (the goal was four) but at least they were picturesque and gorgeous!
  4. I walked more than 5000 steps 79% of the month.
  5. I read 8 books. I will tell you more about this next week because there were some lessons in there for me, and perhaps for you too?

That’s it.

Book club!

Of course I could probably make a list of 10 things that did not go well, and I have acknowledged some of the more important ones in my bullet journal, but I’m very glad to see a clean slate today now that it’s a new month.

Tell me what went well for you this month.

Things I’m loving lately

This is the last month of spring for us in the Southern Hemisphere and I must admit, it’s not been awful.

That’s in part due to some cooler weather we enjoyed this spring, and also in part due to the jacarandas which infinitely improve about 6 weeks of spring for me.

I told Dion recently that this is the first season where I have absolutely no regrets because I got all the photos of jacarandas I could possibly want. I pulled over in many different parts of Johannesburg to take pics, and took about 10 dedicated photo walks and even about 3 photo drives. That’s serious dedication for the cause of jacarandas πŸ™‚

However, today I want to tell you about 5 things I’m loving lately:

Sterling Silver arrow studs

I can’t wear any costume jewellery no matter how hype-allergenic the piece is – my ears swell, itch and I have to throw the item away.

Recently I saw these earrings and bought them. I love them. I’m wearing the bars currently but the little arrows have had such a lot of compliments at work.

The Enneagram

This one needs a full post but I took an enneagram test recently on this site. Turns out I’m a 1. They say you know when you’ve hit it because you cringe when you hear the bad stuff and boy oh boy, I cringed. Anyway, I listened to a couple of podcasts (The road back to you) episodes where they interviewed 1s and yep, nailed.

Do you know your type?

My kids’ double bunks

We recently put the bunk beds next to each other in the kids’ room and not only do they love it, but I love it too. I can now take turns laying in bed with both of them (no way was I climbing to that top bunk).

Because of the room re-configuration, we had to move the bookcase out into another room so we took the opportunity to declutter some books – yay!

Leather ballerina pumps

I am very fond of flats. But I’m also a little but fussy in that I don’t want to see any toe crack, I don’t like too sharp a toe and I need a heel at least 5 mm.

These ones do it all.

Since I bought my pair nearly 4 weeks ago, I’ve been practically living in them πŸ™‚

Loreal magic retouch spray

A friend told me about this magic spray and that it stretched her hair colouring from 3 weeks to 4 weeks. Clearly I’m a lot lazier because I spray this stuff for weeks and weeks πŸ™‚

And now, please tell me what you’re loving lately – foods, clothes, products, pens, stationery, anything!

The quick and dirty monthly review

Monthly reviews are one of my life rhythms that I didn’t think I needed, but I love doing so much.

They force me to slow down and reflect on what’s been, instead of just racing ahead to the next thing.

I’m the type of person that’s always looking forward and while that’s mostly good, at times, I know I need to stop and enjoy what I’ve accomplished first before moving forward.

My monthly review helps me do that.

Over the years I’ve refined my process, and I ask myself 6 questions that you can find on a free printable here.

Suzanne Moore interviewed me on her podcast and we spoke extensively about that monthly review form and my process. Listen in here on itunes or stitcher.

Some months I make my process even longer (when it’s been a particularly busy or eventful or stressful month and I need to unravel it) and sometimes I do the quick and dirty version.

The quick and dirty monthly review process

1.In my bullet journal, I write down 4 questions:

  • what went well this month?
  • what could have gone better?
  • what did I learn?
  • what do I need to let go of?

2. Then I go make a cup of tea or do something totally different (pack lunch bag/ set out clothes, etc.) This gives my brain time to start thinking about the month.

3. I then return to my bullet journal and answer those questions. Because I’ve given myself a chance to have a quick think, the writing it all out is easy when I return.

bonus questions

  • how did I live out my word of the year?
  • do I have any in-progress projects to be carried over?

 


Tell me. Do you do a monthly review? If not, I’d like to challenge you to do one this month and see how you enjoy the process (or not!). Let me know what happens πŸ™‚

What I learned in August

August is a big month for me because it’s my birthday month and I always have friends over for a birthday lunch.

So here’s what I learned this month:

I’m really much, much happier in the cold weather

Johannesburg had spring happen 6 weeks earlier than it was supposed to. I was not a happy camper but the last two weeks it’s cooled down again. Yay to not being deprived of a “proper” winter.

I always feel I need to qualify my #marcialoveswinter statements with a few facts. In summer, any temperatures above 28 degrees Celsius means I get heat headaches unless I literally do not venture outside at all and drink 2 L of water. This is never possible (work/ gym/ church) so we have ourselves a little problem.

I’m getting all my organising done while it’s a bit cooler because I remember last year and how nothing got done because of the heat.

It pays to review your beginning of year lists

As part of my birthday review earlier this month, I read through my Shining Life workbook to see what I put down in those books at the start of the year πŸ™‚

I sat with my bullet journal and wrote a new list of things I needed to make progress on. I have 9 things on my list, most of which I’d totally forgot about.

I love Barre180 class

One of those items was to try a Barre180 class and I made it to one last week, which I loved. I enjoyed the class so much so that I’ve extended my gym membership so that I can continue to go to that class.

On birthday parties

I need to possibly rethink this birthday party thing. Or just have two get togethers. So many people couldn’t come to the real lunch that my month was really busy catching up πŸ™‚ I realise this is a good problem to have but possibly not for an upholder, as I now feel internal pressure to still connect with all the friends.

Have you taken the quiz yet to find out your tendency? I’ve really found such value in knowing my tendency that I can’t recommend knowing yours highly enough.

Over to you.

What have you learned this month? Big or small, I’d love to hear them all.

{My year of happy} June update and my July project – refresh

My June project’s theme was to nourish myself in 3 main areas – more sleep, more walking and eating better.

The sleep was excellent – I ended off the month on an average of 7 hrs 45 minutes. It is exactly what I said before – if I don’t track it or intentionally go to sleep more, my sleep is awful.

My goal was 4 walks and I managed 3, so not bad, but could be better. I feel really good about one of those walks though because it completely nourished my soul.

The eating better? Yes and no. I chose better meals on the whole, but I could have done much, much more. It’s just so darn cold to eat salads at home during winter. I don’t mind in an airconditioned office but at home I don’t want to see a vegetable straight from the cold fridge.

Onto July…

This month I’ve set a theme of refresh for my life.

  1. We’re going on a family holiday and I want to use the time to completely relax, read some unputdownable novels and rejuvenate my spirit.
  2. I intend to take at least one walk every day with whoever’s game, no matter the weather πŸ™‚ I’m putting this here for accountability.
  3. I’ve been doubting my value in friendships recently and God’s been whispering to me that I am still enough (word of the year – 2015!) so I want to spend time writing down these truths and meditating on what He says about me. I feel like this is the perfect time to get filled up on His Word, just before my birthday month.
  4. We’re coming up on one year in our house so I also want to take the occasion to refresh areas of my home by doing a bit of decluttering, reorganising, sprucing up, etc.
  5. Our house also needs its upstairs outside windows cleaned. Desperately. What is the point of a house with a view if you can’t see properly through the windows, right?!
  6. Then, I think I will try one last time to get my book back from a PR company who has not returned it for a whole year. After that, I’m going to let it go.
  7. And besides all that, I have some birthday parties to throw to celebrate another circle around the sun for all 4 of us.

How are you going to refresh during July?

What I learned in June

Quick reminder – my newsletter goes out tomorrow. If you’re not yet subscribed, you can get on the list here, andΒ  your free goodies will be delivered to you immediately upon signup.

It feels like just the other day when I was writing the what I learned in May post :0

I don’t have many things this month but they are big ones.

I will survive when my children go away and leave us at home alone

My children have probably only spent about 5 – 6 days away from home in their entire nearly 8-year-old lives. This month they spent 3 days away from us and yes, it was super quiet, the house was immaculate, everything stayed as it was and that was kind-of nice, but just for a few days.

I hardly cooked because Dion and I just went out all the time :0

I discovered voice to text

So you may know this already but I didn’t. When you tap in your text field of an email, text, Instagram or whatsapp message, and a little microphone pops up right next to the box, you can tap the microphone, talk and the phone types what you said. (I should try blogging while driving to work!)

I’ve known this for about a week but it’s wonderful. The kids think so too. We’re all sending useless text messages all over the place because it’s SO easy now πŸ™‚

Did you know this trick?

(I don’t know how it works on any other phone, only my iphone 6)

Podcasts can also be listened to like radio

Due to my immense love of podcasts, I keep finding episodes I want to listen to. I have a few regulars I subscribe to but quite a number of them where I check every couple of weeks or so to see the topics, and then only download the episodes that interest me.

Now here’s the thing – I’ve been telling myself they’re like the radio. I don’t have to hear every single sentence and have everything noted down. That’s given me some freedom because if a child comes into the kitchen and talks to me, I don’t stop the podcast – I just switch my attention to the child.

But…. it’s still a really great accompaniment when I clean, organise, or edit photos.

Speaking of podcasts, in case you missed it, I’m on Monday’s episode of the So Suzy Podcast.

What have you learned this month?

Share anything – big, small, silly, serious – I want to hear them all.

6 questions to ask as you do your half-year goals review

As many of you know, I do a monthly goals review every month before I set goals for the new month ahead.

I find that it helps me take stock of what went well and why, and what I need to work on.

We’re now half way through the year and my question to you is this – are you on track with your goals?

For now, go through these questions with me about the 6 months that have just passed, and answer them honestly.

1. When I think about the last 6 months, what do I feel? Am I excited, disappointed or apathetic about my progress?

You want to get an overall sense of the feeling of the half year. Was it too busy? Did you get big things done? Was it a period you just want to put behind you so you can move on?

2. Which areas of my life are working well, which are neutral and which are not doing so well?

This is to drill down into the areas making up each category so you can fix the not-so-good areas if there’s something you can do about them.

3. Why? Or why not?

For this one, write a little bit about the reasons you feel the way you do about each area.

4. What do I need to let go of or are there places I need to lower my expectations of myself?

These could be actual goals or projects, or unrealistic expectations.

5. What can I do differently to make sure the next 6 months move me closer to my goals?

These are the things you know are true for you.

Some of my ideas are:

  • First work on my own goals and then scroll social media.
  • Schedule important project work.
  • Don’t compare yourself to others.

And the last question…

6. How am I living out my word of the year?

If you chose a word for the year, are you living it out intentionally? Do you think about how to incorporate it in your daily life? Is it just not working for you? If yes, here’s your permission to change your word.

Over to you.

My challenge to you is to answer these 6 questions honestly to take stock so you can have a successful second half of the year.

What I learned in May

I love these monthly round-ups of what I learned.

Last month, I learned that:

I read fewer books when I have too many non-fiction in my batch

I’ve always known that I read faster when I read fiction only but in May, I read a total of 10 books (previous two months equalled 12 books each), 4 of them non-fiction!

Does your reading speed change depending on what you’re reading?

My headaches are hormonal

I tracked the days when I had headaches especially since the weather is cooler, and noticed that they happened on the same two days of my cycle.

Still not sure what to do as my gynae was all “yes, that’s normal” the last time I mentioned it, but at least I’ve isolated it.

Konmari first, then organise clothes

This year I swopped over my summer and winter clothes, and it was SUPER fast. Like in 30 minutes. Here’s a photo of my wardrobe if you’d like to see, and here’s a photo of my long-sleeved tops.

I have a strong suspicion that it’s because I’d Konmari’d before.

You have to act immediately if you want to catch seasonal photos

Autumn in Johannesburg is a tricky beast. One weekend the leaves are still green, the next they start turning, you have a few short weeks of that glorious golden glow and then they fall off.

This year I had a full weekend when the leaves were glorious, and then the next weekend it rained non-stop the entire weekend, and then half the leaves were gone. I still made the most of it and ended up going on 3 photohunts for beautiful autumn leaves.

I have to track my sleep forever πŸ™‚

I reached my 3-year Fitbit anniversary on 26 May. More than anything else the Fitbit can do, I most appreciate the sleep tracker.

I’d been easily hitting my sleep goal of 7.5 hours, but I’ve really had to work at maintaining that this month. No idea why but I suspect it has something to do with my natural night owl tendencies.

More on this because I need to focus on sleep in my year of happy project for June as the theme is nourish.

What did you learn in May?

PS Thank you for completely indulging my love for all these photos πŸ™‚

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