January Bucket List Life Dare: Habits for the Dream Life

For 2016 I plan to read two books each month.

Habits for the Dream LifeThat’s not all I plan to do. And it’s not even really a bucket list goal. But setting that intention for the year, I believe, is going to be pivotal to the realization and enjoyment of most of the bucket list goals I hope to accomplish over the next twelve months.

Why is that? I have two main reasons for making reading a priority for this year:

  1. It means developing a regular habit and habits are one of the surest ways to reach your goals. I’ve learned over the past few years that small steps taken on a regular basis build up to big goals achieved. I’m always on the lookout for what day-to-day habits I need to incorporate that will bring me closer to the life I want to be living (habits for the dream life). I noticed last year that I was missing the joy I’ve always gotten from reading. I love to read books, but had let other activities displace that (like mindlessly surfing online). I want the joy back on a daily basis.
  2. Reading stimulates learning and growing, which also happen to be part of living out bucket list longings. And while we can’t all be achieving bucket list goals every day, we can be moving toward them through learning and growth (often, by reading). I have so much I still want to learn and experience. My bucket list reflects that. But with what I hope to accomplish in 2016, I can see where spending time reading in advance of going out on adventures can make them more meaningful. For example, I’m taking my husband to Italy this year for our anniversary. Understanding the history and the significance of the art and architecture we’ll encounter will bring more life to what we’re seeing. I also feel like I’m not as engaged with social justice and being compassionate toward the poor and oppressed – something I hope to remedy in part through reading.

This month’s bucket list life dare isn’t about creating a reading plan for 2016 (although if you do, please chime in. I’d love to hear what’s on your list). It’s about building a habit that brings you closer to living your dream life.

So think about it. What is one simple action you could take every day that will do that for you? If you don’t have any ideas, why not use the step-back approach (it’s one I turn to on occasion for finding a starting place toward a big goal)? Here’s how it works: choose a big goal – something you would like to achieve or a way of living you want to reach. Then ask yourself, what would you be doing just before you reach that end state? And what would you have to do right before that? Keep stepping back to the previous action until you get to where you are today. Then make that first step the one you will choose for this month’s goal.

The January Bucket List Life Dare: Choose a habit that will lead toward a life goal. Practice it today. Then repeat each day for the rest of the month.

Photo by Kate Williams on Unsplash via CC License.

Ever Felt Overwhelmed By Life? Me Too!

Me too!Yesterday I expected to have time to run out for groceries after I arrived home from work (I work several days each week in a church office). Except that there was the dentist appointment an hour later that I had forgotten about. Dinner ended up being “”baked potatoes & toppings bar” since I was relying on that grocery run for my original dinner plan. And then there were kids needing to be driven to the library and school issues to be worked out. Ultimately I had to leave my family to clean up after dinner to dash to my home office to meet a magazine article deadline. It was a stressful evening, to say the least.

Can you relate? Modern motherhood is a feat of multi-tasking unrivaled by any other calling. Talking with my friends, I find I’m not alone in feeling harried, hurried and pulled in dozens of directions. And as my stressful evening shows, it requires serious organizational skills.

Part of my problem last night (other than my own tendency to overcommit myself) was that I hadn’t updated my weekly planner. I have a Google calendar, which I love. My whole family shares it and we can see our schedules anytime anywhere. But that doesn’t always mean that we/I look at it all the time. I also have the Paprika app on my phone and iPad for menu planning and recipes. I can’t say enough about how it has revolutionized cooking and meal planning for me. But I don’t look at it every day until it’s time to cook.

What I do look at every morning and throughout the day, is my weekly planner. Because it’s a two-page 8.5” x 11” spread, I can write down my daily appointments and schedule, I copy my menu plan for each day from Paprika, and I track all of my to do lists, deadlines and responsibilities. When my family asks me to buy something, be somewhere or do something for them, I always ask “did you write it down for me?” Because if it’s not in writing (which I can copy or post in my planner), it probably won’t happen.

I can also attribute a large percentage of the bucket list goals I have reached to my weekly planner. I tell people often that it’s a proven fact that writing down your goals increases the odds you’ll reach them. Not only that, but breaking them into smaller steps, which I do regularly, is HUGE when it comes to tackling big (often important) life goals and dreams.

I love my weekly planner and benefit from it so much, I thought other moms could use it too. I launched the 2015 edition last fall. Now this year I’m making a newer, even better edition available.

2016DandilionCoversmallHere’s how the Bucket List Moms Weekly Organizer can help you not only stay on top of busy family life, but also get more done (seriously!) and reach one life goal after another:

  • Get the big picture of what’s coming for you and your family, while you’re sitting down having your morning coffee and can think straight (two-page monthly calendar spread).
  • Remember to set monthly goals for doing the things that matter most and that you enjoy: “date night,” family time and personal goals for yourself.
  • Cut down the overwhelm by focusing on just the upcoming week – and not just your schedule, but also your meal plan, the tasks you need to do as a volunteer or professional, those odd household chores or errands that you’d otherwise forget about. Each with their own slot by day, to further reduce the stress that comes from seeing them all as one mass of stuff to do (trust me, it helps).
  • Find inspiration to care for yourself and the things that set your insides buzzing, through weekly inspirational quotes, bucket list prompts, and space for jotting down your thoughts, dreams and ideas. Keeping them somewhere that you can see them will make you more likely to turn them into reality.
  • Get a sneak peek at upcoming Bucket List Life Dares from now through 2016. Each month you’ll find the dare noted at the start of the month so you can be part of taking the challenge and reaching even more of your bucket list goals.

For the next three weeks I am offering the Bucket List Moms 16-Month Weekly Organizer for a special launch savings of $10 (that’s 37% off the list price of $26.99 for the 15-month planner paperback planner). Plus subscribers to my newsletter will be receiving an exclusive discount code for another 25% off (so sign up now).

Not sure the format will work for you? Download the seven-week sample copy and start using it now. See the difference it makes for you and your family.

Bucket List Time Travel

Could something you loved as a kid (and then forgot about) be the source of a bucket list dream? Don’t neglect reviewing your childhood for ideas when you make your bucket list. You never know what might be possible!

When I was a young girl, I loved the Little House on the Prairie series. I read all of the books and watched the TV series (starring Melissa Gilbert & Melissa Sue Anderson and, of course, Michael Landon). My friends and I would even pretend we were Laura and Mary and imagined doing farm chores and attending a one-room schoolhouse. How I wished I could dress like girls and ladies from that era with their dresses, bustles, and petticoats.

Naper Settlement Schoolhouse

Katherine in the one-room schoolhouse

Like me, my girls have had their favorite historical characters whose stories they have enjoyed following and imitating, only theirs have been from multiple time periods in American history. The American Girl books especially ignited a love for history in my eldest daughter, Bethany. She enjoyed playing pretend about periods past as much as I did.

So you can imagine her delight when we visited our local living history museum, Naper Settlement, and she saw boys and girls dressed in 19th century clothing depicting the experience of attending a one-room schoolhouse. Bethany decided then and there, as a kindergartener, that when she reached the required grade (4th), she too would volunteer there.

Naper Settlement Juniors

Bethany as a fourth grade junior volunteer

By the time that day arrived four years later, her sisters had made the same vow. And noticing a father-daughter duo that volunteered together as costumed interpreters, I made my own promise: I would join as well when, Bethany became a high schooler and moved into giving building tours. It became a bucket list goal of mine. In the intervening years I sewed four costumes for my girls, visited them often while they volunteered, and even took my own turn helping at a Halloween event on the museum’s grounds.

But this year, finally, my turn came. As Bethany moved inside the log cabin as an interpreter, I joined the ranks of Naper Settlement volunteers as an interpreter in the print shop. I attended training and learned the basics of an 1890’s newspaper and printing business. I dove in to tag-team tour leading and even ran the shop on my own one day. But I also spent the past few months sewing all seven period appropriate garments that make up my costume. Last Sunday I made my debut in full attire.

Naper Settlement Volunteers

Evelyn & I

Two of my daughters were on the grounds that day also, Evelyn (11 years), right outside my shop on the village green, and Katherine (14), up the hill outside the log cabin. As we strolled down the walkway before our shift began, the three of us were stopped by a visitor. “Are you Amish?” she asked, looking over our outfits. I quickly explained our role as interpreters and she nodded before asking directions to the meeting house where she was attending a special event.

So yeah, you won’t see me wearing my costume outside of my volunteer time. Which makes it all that more precious for a historical clothing geek like me. I still love pretending I live in a different time period as much as I did as a young girl. I enjoy talking to others about what the experience would have been like. And I especially relish the swish of petticoats under a long, full skirt. Thankfully I’ve found an outlet for my passions. This is one of those bucket list experiences that keeps on going.

If you visit Naper Settlement over the next six months, poke your head into the print shop. You just might find me there, living my bucket list dream!

Confessions of a Reluctant Scrapbooker

A vacation cottage within walking distance of the beach. No kids to care for. No meals to cook. No laundry to fold. Six other women to hang out with. And a house full of scrapbooking supplies.

StartFinishIt was my second trip away with this group for a scrapbooking weekend. Forget the beach or the nearby outlet mall. Forget sleeping in late and going out for meals at restaurants. We planned to crop and scrap as many hours as we could.

There was just one small problem: I don’t relish scrapbooking.

I have punches and papers. I own binders and bags of embellishments and stickers. I may not have collected every scrapbooking tool known to woman, but I’m not missing much. Yet most of the year my scrapbooks sit inside my craft cabinet.

It wasn’t always that way. For a few years I loved creating ingenious spreads of my children’s escapades. I labored for hours at my dining room table making masterpieces of each event. It was a haven for me from the unrelenting chores of motherhood.

The laundry that never ceased. The meals that had to be prepared day in and day out. The grocery lists and dust bunnies that kept returning. After years of schooling with final exams and semester grades, and then the business world with orders shipped and projects filed, being a stay-at-home-mom whose work had no visible result was at times soul-crushing. Yes, I enjoyed my children and the opportunity to be with them as they grew. But I missed the opportunity to accomplish something tangible, something that lasted more than a few hours.

Scrapbooking proved to be the perfect outlet. My children provided me with plenty of raw materials and my creativity bloomed. I looked forward to the evenings working on their albums while they slept. But soon my photo boxes bulged. I was four years behind on scrapbooks and then seven and then more. I hesitated to take pictures because I believed they would only add to my burden. The scrapbooks, like my laundry and errands, would never be finished.

But I still went on that scrapbooking weekend recently. I took two albums and a few dozen photographs. I told myself that the point was not to try to “catch up” on chronicling my family’s life. The point was to enjoy the process and possibly finish one project. And I am proud to say that I did both. That weekend was both refreshing and satisfying. And it has me eager to continue working on scrapbook projects in small, definable doses – ones that have a beginning and an end. I look forward to evenings at my table creating masterpieces again.

What is significant about this is that every one of us, particularly if you are a mom whose primary responsibilities involve running a household, needs a place in our lives where we can derive satisfaction from having accomplished something. And we need to be careful not to let that satisfying activity turn into just another chore. It needs to be one over which we have control to do or not do.

If you don’t have a place or activity where you can obtain that sense of accomplishment and satisfaction (and you’re even more reluctant about scrapbooking than I am), I would encourage you to seek one out. If you don’t know where to start, my book Bucket List Living For Moms can guide you through the process of discovering potential sources of personal satisfaction unique to you.

After that weekend away I can tell you it is so worthwhile to give yourself the opportunity to derive satisfaction from your accomplishments. I arrived home rested and happy. My husband and kids were happy for me. And we are all enjoying the albums I created.

Don’t you (and your family) deserve the same?