Day 3019 – Slow And Small Steps Are Key To Actually Completing Your Goals

There are a number of things I’ve been wanting to do for a long time – running a 5k, making money passively online, living full time in an RV, traveling more than I’m in one spot, having several businesses. There are not enough hours in the day to do it all, and I’m learning ways to get around that and actually meet those goals. The biggest thing I’ve learned, and certainly one of the most life changing in the last few months, is taking small steps every day. Instead of taking days and hours and hours of work to get “caught up” on Pinterest, I’m slowly building things up, reviewing what content I can share, and planning ahead. Instead of trying ambitious workout plans, I’m doing small things every day. I have never been this consistent with working out. The hardest thing for me is drastically decreasing how much I run. I love to run, but my body isn’t where my head is. Not even close. I ran just over half a mile last week, and I was SO sore (like could barely walk) for almost a week. Two days ago, I ran a quarter mile, that’s it. But I wasn’t that sore, and I can run again today. Bret has told me for a long time, that there’s no such thing as too slow, why does it take me so long to actually listen to him?

So take heart, there’s no such thing as too slow.

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Day 3012 – When Does A Habit Become A Habit?

This morning, Bret and I were discussing habits. He’s started a few checklists because he was inspired by my checklists. As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve flossed pretty much every day (minus about 3-5 days) for a year. Bret has flossed almost every day since June. We have a “Floss Journey” checklist next to our sink to keep track. He’s started a “habits checklist” that he keeps above his computer. On there, he included flossing. I said, “well, why include that? Isn’t it already a habit? Don’t we track it elsewhere?”

It got us thinking, when can you call something a habit? When is it ok to stop tracking it?

For me, I HAVE to track everything I want to grow in. I can’t stop. Even though I do devotions in the morning, and it’s almost always the first thing I do, I still keep it on my to do list. Even though I am in the habit of blogging every day, I still keep it on my to do list. Ha ha, it helps to have to number of days too!

I think that the things on my morning checklist are finally habits. I am so thankful for that! Writing and working out have been completed since 9/4, but it wasn’t until 9/17 that I added in reading through two books, and working on building my pinterest account. I do feel like those are now habits. So, that’s almost a month.

This weekend, I created two new checklists – an afternoon slump checklist (including things like laugh for 5 minutes, have a dance party, and go for a walk) and an evening winding down checklist (prepping for the next day, doing the dishes, etc). I’m looking forward to seeing how they will increase my productivity and energy throughout the day.

When do you think a habit becomes a habit? When do you think it’s ok to stop tracking something because you’ll do it no matter what? Do you have a video that makes you laugh out loud every time? (I’m building a playlist on YouTube!) Let me know in the comments below!

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Day 2911 – Recap Of My First Personal Retreat

Whew! What a great retreat! I’ve always wanted to lock myself away to write and think for a few days, I’m glad I was finally able to do so. Just going made this a successful retreat.

It was a beautiful drive down.

Of course we had to get Krispy Kreme!

We did go over our $227.38 budget. We spent $280.15. But a few things about that. $21.47 of that was spent via giftcards we were given, and money already on my Dunkin account. We spent about $10-15 more on a tip because of a really great server. We have leftover food and gas, so in my mind, it wasn’t THAT much more. If you look at the cash spent, we spent $258.68. And I wouldn’t take a single purchase back.

This was the first time we stayed at a cabin in a state park. I will definitely be doing that again! It was nice not having to set up a tent, and pack up a tent. Our set up and clean up were very easy. We did have a critter trying to eat the cabin early in the morning but that just goes with the territory. There were a few points when Bret was on a walk or in the restroom, when I thought I might get eaten by squirrels. They were SO brazen in how close they got.

That’s a squirrel under the back corner of my chair!

Critters seemed to be the theme of the retreat. While walking one day, we noticed a deer. Because of our angle and the sun, we thought….is that a white deer or just the sun? Upon further investigating, and terrible quiet walking on my part, we got close enough to find, yes, it was a white deer! After a little research, it turns out it’s a Piebald deer, and they are really rare. How cool to see something so rare!

We’re listening to a great book called Keep Moving by Dick Van Dyke, which was a great intro and outro to the retreat. He talks about aging and it is just a fantastic ride. I highly recommend it….and make sure you get the audio book read by the author.

I’m really glad that we got breakfast on the way home, because I have to say, it was one of THE best I’ve ever had.

It seems that this retreat was also about doing things I’ve always wanted to do. Every time I drive home from the beach, I’m tempted to stop at one of the stands or shops with produce and Smith Island Cakes. I always see them, think, ooooo, I want to stop!, but I never do. There is a twinge of regret each time. Yesterday, I saw the big sign for Smith Island Cakes (at this point, I thought we had passed all the shops), safely slammed on the breaks, and turned in. It took a few minutes to decide between a cookies and creme or a peanut butter slice, but I settled on peanut butter. Oh my goodness. So worth the stop!

I learned a lot about myself this week, and I got confirmation on things that I suppressed about myself. I’m embracing me as me. I cried, I laughed, I grew. I read four books. I highly recommend taking a retreat like this. Have a few goals before you go….but don’t make them so large you can’t hit them. For me, the biggest success was just going. It was something I always wanted to do. While I had 3 pages of notes, questions, and goals, I accepted that what would happen would happen. My biggest takeaway was that I can have a retreat mindset every day. I experienced so much growth and thinking just preparing for the time away. I’ve found a few hacks that work for me to recreate this “time away” feeling, so I can keep growing, even though I’m at home. Just last night, I cranked up my classic music and read from a book I’ve been trying to read for months. I learned that I make WAY too many excuses for things. I can’t wait to see how the things I recognized in myself and my work change over the next few weeks.

Have you ever taken a personal retreat? Let me know in the comments below!

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Day 2909 – How You Can Plan A Personal Retreat For Roughly $200

I’m writing this two days before it will actually post….because I’m ON my retreat right now! Woo hoo!

I’ve briefly mentioned a retreat over the past few days, but I didn’t go into too much depth. My life is great, I love my work, my writing, my marriage. But for the last 3 years, I haven’t had a “Jen project.” I’ve heard of people taking personal retreats, locking themselves away in a hotel to write, and I’ve always wanted to do that. We had a little bit of money left over to celebrate, and I received some money for my birthday. All told, I figured I had a budget of $227.38. I went back and forth on if I should include Bret or not. Ultimately, we decided it would make the most sense if he came along.

Oh friends, I spent SO much time looking for a place. I scoured Groupon and Living Social. I searched my hotel chains. What gave me a breakthrough was looking for places near a Dunkin Donuts. Yes, you read that right. It’s funny, sure, but one piece of advice I gleaned while researching creating a personal retreat was – how do you want your retreat to feel? I spent time thinking about this, and thinking about things that were important. I wanted to have access to Dunkin, because it makes me happy. I wanted to have access to showers and bathrooms. I didn’t want to travel too far, because I wanted most of the time spent at the location of the retreat.

When I was about to book my hotel, I happened to see reviews of the hotel….um, hello, look at the reviews first guys. Oy. Bed bugs, a smoke smelling room…..in a non-smoking room. All kinds of “not quite what I’m looking for” in my retreat. So, back to the drawing board.

Then I thought about a cabin again. I had looked at a ton of airbnb’s across MD, VA, WV, PA….but nothing really stuck. Ok, well, the State Parks have cabins…I did a statewide search for cabins with electricity. And that my friends, is when the magic happened. I found the perfect cabin in Martinak State Park! With some more searching, I realized that NO one was staying in the whole loop we booked our cabin, the whole time. There are folks checking out the morning we arrived (yesterday), and there are folks arriving tomorrow (after we leave). AND there is a Dunkin 1.4 miles away.

So far, we have spent $107.23 on lodging. We’re estimating $20-30 for gas, $20-30 for firewood, and the rest for food. I’ll do a follow up post with how things went and how much we actually spent.

To plan out the retreat, I spent several hours rereading some of my journals. I took notes on things that spoke me. I realize there are a few things I need to meditate on – specifically how my life has changed over the last few years, I want to spend time just thinking about things. I thought about questions I want to ask myself. And I want to work on my memoir about my alcoholism.

What I’ve learned so far about myself while rereading my journals, is that I really need to journal more! I loved looking at life through my 19 year old eyes, and other various ages. It is so so so important to journal!

After I finished reviewing my journals, I typed up my notes, and organized everything into categories. I’m still fleshing out the “schedule” at the writing of this post. But the best “how to” advice I can give you – craft something that YOU enjoy, not what you think you should do. What will speak to your soul the most? Where are you most at peace so you can really focus on what needs attention?

Have you ever taken a personal retreat? What did you learn? What mistakes did you make? Let me know in the comments below!

(This photo is from our local State Park, stay tuned for photos from this new place!)

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Day 2835 – repost – “Can You Go Into Bars?” “Can You Hang Out With People Drinking?” And Other Common Questions About My Sobriety

I’ve shared my story about struggling with alcoholism before. It’s common knowledge that I don’t drink. I want to say at the start that everyone has a different experience with sobriety, alcoholism, etc. This is just MY experience and what it’s like for me. Don’t take this post as a “oh my friend doesn’t drink, so this will apply to them!”

I, thankfully, experience almost zero temptation and struggle with drinking. The only reason for this is God’s work in my life. This is not a will power thing. It’s all God.

Ok, let’s jump right in!

“Can you go into bars?”
Yes! I love hanging out with my friends and bars are a great place to do it. Happy hour specials can be fantastic! It’s a cheaper bill for me either way! 🙂 I will say, there are some times, especially when I went to Padonia Station/Ale House a few weeks ago, that I think about memories (ha ha, or non-memories) of my drinking experiences. I joked with one of my friends there, oh yea, I remember throwing up in that bathroom and that one. Fun fact, I was driving home from Padonia Station the night I was arrested for a DUI. So, I will say, there are SOME times that I think about these things. But it doesn’t make me sad or make me want to not go to a bar. It makes me SO thankful that God did not leave me where I was. Thankful that God had mercy on me during those times and kept me safe.

“Can you hang out with people drinking?”
Yep! If anything, I may be a bad influence to those who are drinking….I get drinks when they need them…this is especially true if I’m driving. Again, not everyone has the same experience with drinking. Some people can actually control themselves and not make a mess of things. I am not one of those people! So, I’ll just drive the ones that can! 🙂

“Are you tempted to drink?”
I would say, there might be a little temptation here and there. Bret has a box of wine in the fridge right now and I’ve had the passing thought – “I’m an adult, I can decide to drink a glass, I’d be fine.” But since I’m sober when I’m thinking this, I realized, um, no, I’d not be fine. My biggest weakness was after that first glass, I’d HAVE to have as much as possible. So, any time I feel a slight temptation, God very graciously reminds me of what I gave up.

“Will you ever drink again?”
No. I have no intention of drinking again. There is absolutely no reason for me to do so. I can celebrate with friends with a can of coke just as much as a shot or glass of wine. I can go to Ireland and tour the Guinness factory and not have a drink (one day soon, I’ll share about my first brewery tour – which was actually the brewer of the last beer I drank). It was making this decision that finally sealed my sobriety. Every time I would “quit” before, I would find an excuse to drink down the road. So, no, no more alcohol for me.

Are there any questions I didn’t answer, let me know in the comments and I’ll do another post!

And for lack of a photo that really fits, here’s a “shine” that I do drink. 🙂 (oh my, I crack myself up)

image

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