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 ๐Ÿ™

  • 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 ๐Ÿ™‚
  • 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?

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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 ๐Ÿ™‚ 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.

What I learned in July

This has been a full month of birthdays, holidays, and catching up at work.

It’s been fun to start and play with a new bullet journal

I’m using dot grid this time and it’s fun! Like blank, but more structured. My 3rd bullet journal last year was blank so this is the third type I’m trying out.

Speaking of bullet journals, are you signed up to my list? My newsletter’s going out later today and there’s a fun bullet journal survey in there.

If you’re on instagram and you use a bullet journal, please take a pic and tag me @organisingqueen so I can come see yours.

You can go to the beach and relax even without beach weather

Like last year, we mostly had cold, wintry weather at the beach. Last year, we spent 10 days there and had 2 proper beach days, while this year, we spent 7 days and had 1.5 beach days.

We watched Wimbledon, read books, played games, went for walks (11 in the 7 days!) and had fun connecting as a family. Of course we also had no internet ๐Ÿ™‚

We need to rethink the party situation

My twins are very different – I have an extrovert and an introvert. They wanted different types of parties this year and it was so interesting watching this all unfold, knowing that one of the parties would not have suited me at all, but was “perfect” for her.

That said, I felt “on” the whole weekend and was knackered at the end. I told myself it’s just once a year, which it is, but I’m wondering how to still have the separate parties but make it easier on the family (mostly me!) all round. I’m considering having them on two different weekends, but we’ll see. I took only 1 picture of the first party so maybe having a friend or parent around to help? Dion wasn’t allowed as it was a girls only party!!!

Any suggestions would be very welcome!

And one last fun thing, dipping bowls make great change bowls or ring holders ๐Ÿ™‚

What did you learn 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, andย  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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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.

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

What I learned in April

This is such a fun part of the month – taking stock of any learning that happened, big or small.

Make Friday Food fancy

On Fridays I either do eggs for supper or I set out a buffet of all leftovers and everyone helps themselves as they wish. It’s a chance for everyone to hopefully get a little taste of their favourites if there’s any left.

Here’s the thing – I set the table nicely and light some candles and suddenly a really lazy supper is elevated and fun for all of us.

Try it and see ๐Ÿ™‚

Bible reading accountability

I’ve mentioned my podcast club before. We listened to one episode on prioritising spirituality and there and then we decided to start reading the Bible together again. Fantastic. It’s been great for me.

Here’s the thing – I actually lay my Bible open on my desk (not the computer desk) with my highlighter so it’s ready for me every night. Setting up my environment for success has been great.

The Commitments

For St. Patrick’s Day last month, I bought The Best of The Commitments. This was an album I had on cassette tape back in the old days. I enjoyed it thoroughly that weekend (best R80 ever spent!) but every now and again, I play a song or two and it puts me in an instant good mood. Even the kids love it ๐Ÿ™‚

Here’s the thing – buy a song you enjoy (I also bought Southern Cross by Crosby Stills and Nash) and I guarantee it will be the best R8 – R10 you spend. You’ll enjoy it over and over whenever you need a pick-me-up.

Change your crockery

What’s that they say about a change being as good as a holiday?

True. I had on my weekend to-do list to organise my sideboard as I suspected it need a bit of a sort. I was right.

But while I was tidying it, I decided to change my mugs. I have overflow mugs in the sideboard because yes, I do have a thing for mugs. And it’s made me so happy to use new mugs that I didn’t have to pay for ๐Ÿ™‚

While I was at it, I changed our plates too. Because, why not?!

Here’s the thing – change something in your house. Move a piece of furniture to a different room, change your cushion covers, or change your crockery.

I still love autumn

Okay, this surprises exactly no-one because I tell everyone how much I love the cooler weather but wow, the colours amaze me every year.

The light’s softer, the trees are amazing and I can’t stop myself from taking photos.

Here’s the thing – appreciating the season you’re in makes you happier ๐Ÿ™‚

What have you learned this month?

What I learned in March

 

Happy Thursday!

It’s almost the end of March and look, we’re already one month into autumn.

Before I tell you about what I learned this month, here are some fun links you may have missed:

If you’re doing a 52 photo project, you should be on week 12 or 13, depending on which day you started. Here are some tips.

For the stationery lovers out there

For those who hate filing (I’m with you!)

Do you believe in life balance?

Fresh takes on relationships and connection

Here’s what I learned this month:

Having mental and emotional stress weighs you down physiologically

I had a meeting this month and seeing this person this time vs last time was amazing. He’d made a decision in his business to ease some considerable mental stress and you could visibly see how lighter he felt ๐Ÿ™‚

It was quite eye-opening and a good reminder that we may not say things but our bodies are shouting them loud and clear.

A podcast is all about the sound… and voice

I actually told a friend about a new (at the time) podcast, listened to a few episodes myself and decided I didn’t enjoy it.

I decided to try again after about 4 – 5 months so I downloaded 4 episodes based on their description but no, I could not even finish listening to one 30-minute episode.

“I can’t stand all the laughing” – something I never thought I’d say but it’s true.

I can read the blog, but the podcast drives me nuts… in a bad way ๐Ÿ™‚

My imagination is worse than reality

I had my dental procedure scheduled for the first week of March.

I don’t like the dentist at the best of times so I was really very anxious.

And…. it was a million times better than I expected.

The only real pain was on the days I did lots of talking, like weekends with the kids ๐Ÿ™‚

It’s so much fun shopping for others

I’m participating again in my friend’s library project so I briefed the kids, and off we went to the bookshop to choose 4 books to help build a library.

My gosh, it was so fun choosing books – much negotiation happened but finally we chose 4 Enid Blyton books in a series as we felt that would stand the test of time ๐Ÿ™‚

If you believe in the value of reading and would like to participate in some way, please click over, read and order a book or more for the project. If you’re not local, Readers Warehouse, Takealot and many other online retailers offer shipping directly to the Cape Town address.

And that’s all for now.

What did you learn this month?

What I learned in February

I love doing these monthly round-up posts.

The only snag is I feel like I’m talking to myself and just to one other person ๐Ÿ™‚ So this month, can I ask you to just write a little comment and tell me ONE thing that stood out about your month – good, bad, ugly, whatever. It’s so good to share.

This month has been interesting in that it’s the first month of My Year of Happy.

My focus was on relationships and increasing connection, and here’s how that went:

  1. after getting lazy about Valentine’s presents and such, I actually bought one for D, arranged notes and chocolates for the kids, and for their teachers (when does the teacher thing stop?)
  2. D and I also set a small goal for the rest of the year – to do one thing each month for us. This month it was to properly talk every day, even if just for 5 minutes. And it’s been great not talking only about logistics ๐Ÿ™‚
  3. I’ve had dates with both kids, and D and I went to see West Side Story.
  4. I’ve made time for friends. This one is interesting because I always do, but I think I’ve found the perfect comfort number for socials per week (2!), whether in-person or phone dates.
  5. I sent out three birthday cards (it’s a big birthday month), a get well soon card and temporary tattoos to my niece and nephew.
  6. I think the biggest change for me was this – because I was conscious about my month’s intention to connect more fully, the minute someone popped into my mind, I phoned/ whatsapped/ smsd/ made the lunch date/ tea instead of saying “I’ll do it later”. And I’m so glad I did because life is short!

Other things I learned:

  1. I love the cooler weather and really am happier and more productive when the weather’s not as hot. If you follow me on Instagram, you know that I love grey skies (#marcialoveswinter and #marcialovesautumn).
  2. Book club is a good thing. I started a book club and we had our first meeting on the first Saturday of Feb to discuss Big, Little Lies by Liane Moriarty.
  3. I discovered that we can access free ebooks and audio books through our libraries’ Overdrive app. Here’s aย  post I wrote about Overdrive for South Africans.
  4. Podcast club – like book club, but for podcasts. I started a God Centered Mom Podcast Club with a friend. At the moment it’s just the two of us but it’s so easy. We agree which episode to listen to and chat every second Thursday evening for an hour on the telephone. If you live near a like-minded friend, you could meet at each others’ houses for tea but alas, she’s in Cape Town.
  5. My head is much clearer when important things are either done or scheduled. I had some financial things to finalise, all my medical stuff to do and I scheduled a dental procedure for next week (which I’m not thinking about at all :))

Did you have a focus for this month?

What is ONE thing you loved/ hated/ learned this month?

What I learned in January

I’m so excited by the beginning of the year and this, my first, What I learned post of 2017.

I get slightly antsy if I have absolutely nothing scheduled to look forward to

I’ve always known I need to schedule a holiday or book leave as soon as I’m back from work. So during my second week back, I wrote out all the public and school holidays on my calendars, and then I put in leave for the next two work days next to public holidays. That got me started.

I then identified good breakaway times and we’ve booked our first holiday for the year. Yay!

The same is true for scheduling socials so I scheduled a few for late Jan/ early Feb and that’s been great.

Spicy pork sausages are actually chili

I love pork sausages. There were some limited edition spicy sausages at the shops and I (optimistically) thought they’d be just spicy. Instead, they’re so hot none of us could eat them.

Have a things to buy page in your bullet journal

I started a page in my bullet journal called things to buy. So useful and I’m not sure why I didn’t do this sooner.

Now, when I’m at a specific shop, I check to see if I need anything from that shop.

These are personal things, not groceries, so they’re almost never urgent.

Online shopping is magic

I firmly believe that one of the reasons I’m a happy person is that I truly delight in small things. Like online shopping.

It really feels like magic to me.

The other day while emailing a friend, I remembered that I’d been wanting to buy a scale. I’m one of those people who needs the Strategy of Monitoring to keep my weight stable.

I went onto the site, ordered the first scale that was suitable and the next morning before I’d even left for work, the scale was delivered.

Magic!

More magical was that I didn’t have to go to a mall, find parking, and stand in queues. Yay. And double yay for free shipping!

The kids were totally ready to be in separate classes

Our twins spent their first two years of pre-school forced to be in separate classes. Then they had two great years in the same class at “big school” and now, in Grade 2, they’re separate again.

It’s meant much more organising on our parts (different days for PE, etc.) but it’s been good for the kids. They’re developing their own sets of friends and relationships with their teachers and best of all, no more “Mummy, K said this or C did that” ๐Ÿ™‚

What did you learn this month?

What I learned during November

Oh November!

It’s the month when people all over South Africa feel that fatigue from work and start counting down the days to mid-December when things should officially quiet down.

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This month I learned that:

I really, really, really didn’t enjoy the lead-up to my Spanish dance exams

I passed but I didn’t have much joy in the process. It was trying on my emotions and on my physical body with my right ankle playing up a lot of the time.

Interestingly, people kept asking me, “why are you doing this?” and my usual answer of “because it’s fun and I love dancing” didn’t always feel true ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

I knew right up until the end though that I’d done my very, very best and that’s all anyone could ask.

diaries-and-goals-best-013

I love, love, loved running the 5 Love Languages of children workshop

I had an awesome group of women who identified both their love languages and those of their kids.

I plan to run another one next year – look out if you’re local – otherwise, no need to wait – book your session on Skype for only R400.

The cooler weather does wonders for my temperament and productivity

I think back to last year and the unbearable heat, and it’s clear to me that’s why I was so uninspired.

This year, I’ve had full lists of things done in the house, and it’s only because I have energy due to the rains cooling things down.

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Were all babies born in Oct and Nov?

We had 1 party in March, 1 in July (our kids’ one) and 5 in Oct/ November. That’s crazy.

On the subject of parties, I’ve decided I’m done keeping a gift shelf. I’d much rather get what I need when the time is right.

It’s never too early for Christmas music ๐Ÿ™‚

I cracked quite early in November…. first with only my absolute favourite (O Holy Night), and then with a couple of songs every night, until the 19th when I played TWO complete CDs. Glorious!

Do you like Christmas music?

I had a great reading month

My most notable book read/ listened to was Rob Lowe’s Stories I only tell my friends. It was exactly what a memoir should be for me – warm, funny, heartfelt and not too heavy even in the not-so-pretty bits. Interestingly it was the exact opposite feel to Love Warrior.

diaries-and-goals-best

And now, for my December goals…

My intention for this month is to finish this year well by choosing joy and peace.

A few of my goals:

  • Enjoy the time with my family over Christmas/ New Year
  • Take a half day to close off this year properly and prepare for 2017 by setting goals and intentions
  • Do my filing (seriously, my filing has not been done in well over a year!)
  • Get all the kids’ school stuff done – stationery, school shoes, etc.
  • Eat delicious food and
  • Potter to my heart’s content
  • Enjoy the socials I’ve arranged with friends

Over to you!

What did you learn during November?

What are some of your goals for December?

PS If you haven’t yet read my Christmas post, it’s here if you’d like to have a look. I updated it with a link to a fabulous blog post which is also so worthy of a read.

PPS Pics in this post are from the Shining Year workbook which I completely endorse.

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