May to….Summer?

Here we are at the end of May, and while I have enjoyed doing these month-to-month goals, I want to do something different this summer.  Instead of doing the goals for an entire month, I’m going to do it for an entire season (or technically, for three months).  But first, how did I do on the May Goals?

may goalsSpiritually, I am going to do the 31 Days of Praise devotional book. – Accomplished.  I really enjoyed this book.  I didn’t know what to expect, but the writing is directly from excerpts from the Bible, and it helped me focus and center each day.  There were different levels of study, and I chose to read these pages morning and night.  It was a wonderful bookend to each day in May.

Health, I am going “long walk” the dogs at least twice a week. –  Halfway Accomplished  I specifically made it twice a week because of the crazy, unpredictable May weather, but it was even crazier than I anticipated.  The first week, I got caught in the rain on my second walk, and I was halfway through.  And on other walks, it got so hot we had to stop and rest multiple times (usually for our youngest walker which was totally embarrassing for him, I’m sure).  So it averaged out to about one and a half walks a week, but it was still more than I was doing so I count that as a win.

Home, I want to organize my nightstand. – Completed  I wrote about this here.

Online/writing, I’m going to maintain Saturday summaries. – Completed  Those posts can be found here, here, here, and here.  It didn’t prompt me to write more like I thought it would, but I am going to try to remedy that this summer.

Bonus goal, I want to complete four books. – Almost Accomplished  I had too many other things going on this month than I anticipated.  I did finish the Nightingale by Kristin Hannah which was so beautiful and amazing.  And I finished Nothing to Prove by Jennie Allen, which I was reading for a girl’s group that I’m a part of.  And, finally, I finished Accidental Saints by Nadia Bolz-Weber, a beautiful memoir about her life with her church family in Colorado.

SummerGoals

Summer is hard to gauge on busyness.  Some weeks will be crazy, while others will be slow, and the months are quite unpredictable.  But I also want to do a few goals longer than just the 30 days and see how it goes.  The goals will be from June 1st to August 31st. Some might finish before then, but I want to finish them within the three-month goal. This may flop big time, or I might rock it, but either way, I see it as an opportunity for growth.

So, spirituallyI am going to host an online Bible study.  I sent out feelers on my Facebook page this past month to see if people would be interested in an online Bible study this summer, and I got some people ready to go!  We will be studying the Women of the Bible – primarily Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel and Leah, Hannah, and Ruth.  If you are interested in doing this with us, we will be starting soon, so let me know!

For healthI am going to work up to walking three miles at least four times a week. I really enjoyed taking the dogs out, but there are just some days that I want to pop in a podcast and go for a walk.  Since I’ve been using a combination of Samsung Health and FitBit, I’ve been really working towards at least 30 minutes of activity a day and at least 5000 steps.  But I want to go beyond that, so walking 3 miles (plus regular activity the rest of the day) can get me to 10000 steps, and four times a week is not bad.  Plus it’s gorgeous here and I need to be outside more.

For homeI want to accomplish three projects.  I have these little projects – fixing some pillows, making a hanger board, and cleaning up a lighthouse lantern – that I’ve been putting off for a while.  So, I want to focus on those this summer, maybe get more done than that, if possible.  I also have this inherited stamp collection that I want to organize, but I’m thinking that it will be a much bigger project than I was first anticipating.  I might start on it this summer, and if I can finish it, great, but I won’t include it in the goals just yet.

For online/writingI’m going to write every day.  I did this on a blog several years ago for an entire year, and I was burnt out by the end, but I hope that just three months will not be so overwhelming.  I’m inspired to do this because I really enjoyed writing a ramble I did in May called Why I don’t like the Like Button: And other ramblings.  I want to do more of that, maybe shorter posts, but just let myself get into the habit of writing on a more consistent basis.

And finally, the bonus goal, I want to complete nine books.  I am piggy-backing on May’s goal, but I really want to read more and focus on reading more this summer.  And since I read three books in May, I see it as a doable goal for the summer.

Did you make new year goals?  How are they going?  If you accidentally forgot about them, or they don’t really work for you, or whatever reason, don’t be afraid to recalibrate and create new ones for this month!

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Organizing My Nightstand

One of my goals this month was to organize my nightstand.  I’ve done this before in the past, but I really liked what I did with it this time and I’m excited to show you!

So, here’s a typical look at the top of my nightstand pretty much every day.  Oh, and you will have to forgive the quality of these photos.  It’s super dark in our room due to the blackout curtains.

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I usually have some amount of books, journals, notepads and/or planners piled on the top, along with lotions or a cup of tea.  And my headphones, since I usually listen to music at night before going to bed.

And when I clean off the nightstand, the first or top drawer looks like this:

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There is no rhyme or reason to the drawer until I went to Ross one day and had an epiphany.  Instead of trying to find a multitude of random, or matching, organizer sets for the drawers, why don’t I use a silverware organizer?  The one I found fit perfectly!

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So, from top to bottom, I have my lotions – one for everyday use, one for a little more pampering on the weekends.  Then my candle lighter for my candle on top of the nightstand.  Then, I have two handheld warmers, chapstick, and nail care.  And colored pencils below that.  Then there was a compartment for my fit bit and headphones.  And a final compartment for pens (I found a lot in that drawer) and highlighters.

Now, there were some things in that drawer that went other places – cards that went into the office, other small things that I threw away.  For the other two drawers, there really wasn’t that much in them in the first place.  Drawer two had a bunch of things I used when I was pregnant – carpal tunnel braces, wraps, things like that.

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Instead, I now use that drawer to hold all of my journals, planners, notepads, and books that I’m currently reading or using.  I don’t get to all of them every night, but I do like to have them on hand to use as I wind down from my day.

For the final drawer, I did very little because there was very little in it, to begin with.  20170527_135928.jpg

The frames are for a continual wall art project that I add to each year, and the snuggle hottie is used during that time of the month.  It’s fragranced with Lavender and Chamomile which help me sleep as well.

So, that is the entire project completed!  It’s so nice to have everything accessible again.  And it helps my bedtime routine to go a lot smoother as well!

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March to April

April has gone by.  We are at the beginning of another month.  These goals are beginning to be hit or miss for me, as you soon will see.  I think it’s because our life is starting to pick up.  The beginning of the year is Michael’s busy season at work, so we don’t do as much.  As we continue into the summer, we will steadily get busier and busier.  So, I’m already going to recognize grace in accomplishing my goals.

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So, spirituallyI am going to explore the ancestry of Jesus. – Accomplished.  I split this into four parts over the course of April.  You can find them here – Part 1, Part 2, Part 3Part 4

For healthI am going back to wearing a FitBit. – Mostly accomplished.  I didn’t wear it every day.  I couldn’t figure out a good place to keep it as a reminder.  But, by the end of the month, I’ve been wearing it more often than not.  Plus, I managed to get 10,000 steps in a couple weeks ago!  I probably averaged somewhere between 3000 to 6000 daily, depending on my activity that day.  Even on a sick in bed kind of day, I still could get out 1000 steps easily, which I was surprised by.

For homeI want to reorganize my book collection. – Accomplished.  Thanks to the help of an awesome friend, I put the books in three piles – nonfiction, adult fiction/classics, and young adult fiction.  I even have a very small children’s section, which I inherited from my parents.  These were books I had when I was a kid.  I mentioned in my goal post at the beginning of this month that I had an organizational system, well, I have a picture of it below.

Before

After

Many people don’t know that I worked as a page at a library for one summer during college.  I was fascinated by the Dewey decimal system, even though it’s not perfect.  I like being able to find a category by number and browse that section.  I still do it, in fact.  So, I thought I would do the same with my books.  So all my nonfiction books are organized that way.  And I can find all of them using my excel sheet.  I’m trying to decide if I want to move it into an Access program for easier searchability, but the system is working out fine as it is.  Pictures of that process below!

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For online/writingI’m going to continue with my Lent fast. – Accomplished.  Since Lent ended midway through the month, I’ve been slowly getting back into social media.  Like other people I know who did this fast, I culled some of the people I followed, especially on Twitter.  I realized who I missed and who I didn’t.

And finally, the bonus goal, I want to learn five phrases in a language.   So, I chose German, and I learned the five most important phrases.

Hello.  How are you? – Hallo. Wie geht’s dir?

Where is the bathroom? – Wo ist die Toilette?

I’m sorry.  I don’t speak German. – Es tut mir Leid. Ich spreche kein Deutsch.

Pardon me. – Entschuldigen Sie.

Please.  Thank You.  You’re welcome. – Bitte. Danke. Bitte sehr (interesting that please and welcome are basically the same, huh?)

may goals

May is one of the tougher months for me.  It probably won’t surprise people as to why.  Mother’s Day is a big part of May, and it’s a hard holiday for me.  I used to think that I should just celebrate this holiday the way I always have, honoring the mothers in my life including my mommy friends, because one day I will want to celebrate this holiday with my own children.  However, it’s taken me until now to realize that this is realistically where I am.  And I’m okay with that.  So, a lot of this month’s goals will be reflected a little more towards introspection.

So, spirituallyI am going to do the 31 Days of Praise devotional book.  One of the neat things about going through all of your book collection.  I found this book, and I’m not sure if I have done it before or not, but I thought spending some directed time in prayer and praise to God will be good for me this month.  Plus, May has 31 days.  Perfect.

For healthI am going “long walk” the dogs at least twice a week.  The dogs get taken for walks almost daily, but I haven’t been taking them on the walks that I’ve intended to do these past few months.  One of the things I love about getting a younger dog is that it requires me to stay active for him.  Wearing the FitBit has also motivated me to do this, plus I’ve been listening to YouTube podcasts that I download offline on my phone through YouTube Red.  I really have no excuse not to, except maybe unpredictable weather, which is why I’m starting this at two times a week.

For homeI want to organize my nightstand.  It’s not out of control, but it could definitely use a little straightening up and an inventory of what I really need besides my bed at night.

For online/writingI’m going to maintain Saturday summaries.  I got a lot of compliments on the Saturday summaries I would do to wrap up my week of blogs.  Granted, I haven’t been blogging as consistently as I was at the beginning of the year, and it may be hard for me to keep up the usual three a week I used to do.  But I think doing Saturday summaries may inadvertently motivate me to write more.

And finally, the bonus goal, I want to complete four books.  I figure this is doable since I now know what books I have (and read the ones that have been gathering dust on my shelf).  Also, I realize this is close to a book a week, but I am almost done with one book that I’m reading now, so maybe that will make it easier?

Did you make new year goals?  How are they going?  If you accidentally forgot about them, or they don’t really work for you, or whatever reason, don’t be afraid to recalibrate and create new ones for this month!

March to April

It is the first day of a new month!  And what an insane, crazy, chaotic month it has been! But now, it is time to review the goals of March and refresh them for the month of April!

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I figured March was going to be busy, but I had no idea just how busy it would be!  I feel like I’m running on autopilot through most of my days lately, due to the lack of sleep. And I feel like I need to reboot on my health as well, including water intake and just remembering to eat meals.  This is not my normal, so I chalk it up to lack of sleep being the culprit.  Anyway, on to my reflections!

So, spiritually, I focused on my morning devotional. – Completed  Using the First Five app in the morning was a lifesaver.  Sometimes was wasn’t always the morning when I would read it, but it was something I could do quickly and was refreshing for me, renewing my love for the Bible details.  If you haven’t checked out this Proverbs 31 ministries app, I highly recommend it.

For health, I wanted to do yoga every day. – Fail With crying puppies every morning, lack of sleep, these were not good combinations.  Plus, for some reason, I just didn’t feel disciplined doing this like I have been the last couple of months.  I did do yoga every week, just not every day.  I may try this again later in the year.  

For home, I wanted to create an easy cleaning schedule. – Completed.  I wrote an entire blog post here.

For online/writing, I’m going to keep up with my planner scrapbook. -Completed, sort of.  I did scrapbook every week this month, but I didn’t post of Instagram because I decided to fast from social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter) for Lent.  But the weeks are in a picture below.

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And finally, the bonus goal, I want to learn how to make soy candles. – Completed.  I wrote a blog post about this one here, too.

I realized something from March.  For me, it’s hard to maintain a certain schedule when new things are introduced.  Although I do thrive under structure, I like to explore new experiences and situations and make room for new interests.  Finding the balance between flexibility and discipline still remains a conundrum to me, however I’m learning instead to give myself space and grace.  So, for this month, I’m going to go easy on myself and create some new disciplines that are also a little more flexible.

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So, spirituallyI am going to explore the ancestry of Jesus.  I’ve really been enjoying the dive into Scripture that I’ve done the last two months, and since Easter is this month, I thought I would focus on the geneology of Jesus found in Matthew, learning any neat tidbits that I will share with you on Sundays.

For healthI am going back to wearing a FitBit.  I have a FitBit that I wear on occasion, but I want to get into the habit of wearing it every day.  I don’t want to set a step goal or anything like that at this point, but I want to just get into the habit of putting it on every day.

For homeI want to reorganize my book collection.  I had an organizational system that I started a few years ago, but I want to renew that and also maybe do a small purge of the books I have.

For online/writingI’m going to continue with my Lent fast.  I mentioned above that I’ve been fasting from social media, and I want to focus on that through the Easter holdiay (which is in the middle of this month).  I don’t want to try for anything else while I am fasting during this time.

And finally, the bonus goal, I want to learn five phrases in a language.  I love learning languages.  I can understand Spanish okay, read it pretty well.  And I can speak a few phrases in French and Italian, but I want to choose and learn phrases in other languages as well.

Did you make new year goals?  How are they going?  If you accidentally forgot about them, or they don’t really work for you, or whatever reason, don’t be afraid to recalibrate and create new ones for this month!

February to March

It is the first day of a new month!  And what an insane, crazy, chaotic month it has been!  But now, it is time to review the goals of February and refresh them for the month of March!

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So, spiritually, I am going to be focusing my personal Bible study on some of the women of infertility in the Bible.

Accomplished!  I had an amazing time doing this and may have another series bubbling up for March.  You can read about these here: Sarah, Rachel and Leah, Hannah, and Elizabeth.

For health, I’m going to focus on drinking 8 cups of water a day, plus only drinking water if we go out.

Accomplished, mostly.  I used the Hydro Coach app, which suggested over 8 cups a day (but not by much), and most of the time, I kept up with it.  I did register at least 64 oz. each day, though.  As far as just drinking water when I go out, I didn’t really follow this all the time.  But I did most of the time at least have a water to start with.

For home, I have a two-year-old project that has been waiting to be finished that I would like to accomplish this month.

Accomplished!  I didn’t do a blog post about this because I just barely squeaked by at the end of the month to finish it, but here’s the Shadowbox.  It’s a memory from my brother’s wedding (from almost two years ago).  They gave out flowers to each woman in each of the families.  I dried mine and have wanted to display it with some pictures of them that I took at the wedding in a shadowbox.  Simple project, a bugger to actually remember to get done.

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For online/writing, I‘m going to do an Instagram challenge.

Accomplished!  Although I was one day late with one of the pictures (which I took the day before and forgot to post), I posted every single day.  You can see them and the rest of my pics on Instagram at katyslifestory.

And for my bonus goal, I’m going to write my husband a note every day this month.

Accomplished, mostly.  I think I missed one day while he was out of town, but when he was packing, he packed all the letters I had written him up to that point!  It’s been fun to do for a month, but I much rather just talk with him every day.  Not that we stopped talking, I just felt like I was reiterating our conversations from the day in a letter form (with additional bits of lovely, mushy gratitude stuff).

march-goals

March is already building up to be a busy month with a lot of challenges.  Lent starts on the first of the month.  Plus, I realize that I’m not completely changing up my goals, but more adding to them each month.  For example, I want to keep doing these Bible story shares on Sundays because I’m really digging them, but I want to find something new to be my goal this month spiritually.  In fact, I still do weight lifting three times a week like my goal in January.  So, the new things I’m going to try to add this month are as follows.

So, spirituallyI am going to be focusing on my morning devotional.  I absolutely love the first five app from Proverbs 31 ministries, but I’ve fallen out of habit these last few months with reading it every day.  So I want to get back into the habit of doing that

For healthI want to do yoga every day.  I thought about doing a challenge, but I like my down dog app so much that I’m going to use it instead.  I’ve been doing yoga every other day, but I want to incorporate more of it into my life.

For homeI want to create an easy cleaning schedule.  I’ve tried a lot of cleaning schedules in my life, but I want to find one that is low maintenance.  While I love a clean house, and honestly, right now, I have lots of time to clean it, I don’t want to spend my days scrubbing, sweeping, and vacuuming.  It’s just not my jam.

For online/writingI’m going to keep up with my planner scrapbook.  I have an Erin Condren planner that I love, and I use it to look ahead and look back.  But in February, I hardly got it out for some reason.  I want to renew my love for the plan.  The way I will hold myself accountable is by posting on my Instagram each week the previous week’s layout.

And finally, the bonus goal, I want to learn how to make soy candles.  Michael bought me a kit for Valentine’s Day and I can’t wait to try it out.  I’ve always wanted a “signature scent” for each month, so I’m hoping that learning about these candles can help me towards that ultimate goal.

Did you make new year goals?  How are they going?  If you accidentally forgot about them, or they don’t really work for you, or whatever reason, don’t be afraid to recalibrate and create new ones for this month!

Women of Infertility: Sarah

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For my February goal, I’m studying the women of infertility in the Bible.  This week, I’ve been reading the story of Sarah, and I wanted to share with you some things I’ve learned.

Sarai was in her 60s when she and Abram traveled to Canaan.  When famine brought them to Egypt, and they stretched the truth about their relationship to Pharaoh (because they were technically half-siblings), they received a lot of livestock and servants from the Pharaoh during their stay there.  Because Sarai was that beautiful.  This is more than likely where Hagar enters the picture because it’s noted that she was an Egyptian maidservant to Sarai.

When they returned to Canaan, after separating from Lot, Abram settles in Hebron, living near a friend, Mamre the Amorite.  God made a covenant with Abram there, telling him not only that he would have countless descendants, but he even foretells when Abram’s descendants would go to Egypt, become slaves, and leave Egypt to inherit the land that God was promising to Abram.

I don’t know how much Abram told Sarai about the covenant between him and God.  But up to this point, Sarai isn’t mentioned in the promise.  This is when Sarai offers Hagar to Abraham.  This was a common, culturally acceptable practice for the wife to use a maidservant to have children.  Perhaps Sarah knew about the covenant and thought this was how it was meant to be.

But whatever the reason, as soon as Hagar knew she was pregnant, it got chaotic.  Being the mother of the heir meant something, even if she was still Sarah’s slave, Hagar’s grab for power was evident.  Sarah doesn’t respond well.  First, she tries to get Abraham to resolve it, but he throws the ball back in her court.  Sarah has to deal with this on her own, and I can only imagine how hard it must have been to see someone get pregnant so easily by her husband.  And by a woman who would try to levy power because of this pregnancy.  So, Sarah begins to mistreat Hagar in response.  Hagar runs away, a pregnant slave which was dangerous, but comes back and has Ishmael.

Following this, in the covenant of circumcision, Sarai’s name is changed to Sarah, and it’s foretold that she will have a son.  This is the first time Sarah is specifically mentioned in the covenant between God and Abraham.  At this point, though, Ishmael is 13 years old.  A decade has gone by since Hagar became pregnant.  When the Lord reveals this promise to Sarah, she laughs.  I’m not really surprised that she would laugh.  She had come to terms with her barrenness a long time ago, and Abraham already had a son with Hagar.  But one year later, Sarah would have a son.

God did something extraordinary in the life of Sarah so there would be no doubt that it was He who was in control.  There was no doubt that the promise given to Abraham was directly from God.  In Galatians 4, Sarah and Hagar represent the Law and the Promise.  If we try to do things by our own power, we are slaves to that power, and it will never be enough.  It can even bring us into chaos and strained relationships.  But if we are faithful to God’s promise, he can do extraordinary things in our lives, things that can’t be explained away.  Like Sarah, I want to work towards faithfulness, humility, and submission to the will of God, even if it’s hard for me to understand, even if it makes me laugh.

January to February

It is the first day of a new month!  And what an insane, crazy, chaotic first month it has been!  But now, it is time to review the goals of January and refresh them for the month of February!

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So, spiritually, I want to start a “Conversations with God” journal which is a little bit of a looser version of a combination prayer and gratitude journal.  I want to write in this journal every day this month.  

Accomplished!  I didn’t write at the same time every day, but every day there is something written.  Having this journal and these conversations with God were truly helpful during some of the rougher times of the month.

For health, I want to incorporate strength training three times a week into my workout schedule.  I’m going to use an app called Sworkit to help me accomplish this goal.

Almost Accomplished… I was doing great until last week when I got some kind of virus and had to avoid strenuous activity for the entire second half of the week.  I did learn however that I’m not really a fan of the Sworkit app but instead prefer to lift weights using a variety of 10-minute videos from the YouTube channel Popsugar Fitness.  I definitely feel stronger by the end of this month, and I want to continue incorporating it into my schedule in some way.

For home, I’m going to clean out our ‘catch-all’ coat closet downstairs, inventory and organize what’s in there, and purge what we don’t need.

Accomplished!  I talked more about it here.  It is so nice to open that closet door and not find a mound of junk to wade through.  Plus, everything is accessible!

For online/writing, I’m going to try to blog every day this month.  Instead of doing three videos and three blog posts a week, I’m going to focus more on writing posts this month and incorporate video here and there.

Accomplished!  I got into somewhat of a rhythm, but as the month was coming to an end, like usual, my life started getting busier.  I don’t think I will have time to commit to this in February, but I do plan on posting regularly at least 3-4 times a week.  Also, I really liked the Saturday Summaries as a way to look back on the week and everything I wrote.  Definitely want to keep that going for now!

And for my bonus goal, I want to volunteer with the SPCA twice a week.  I know that I will have to step back from this organization if and when I get pregnant, so I want to dedicate time to the SPCA this month especially.

Almost accomplished…. That pesky virus not only put me out of commission for strength training, but also for handling dogs as well.  So I missed technically only one opportunity for this.

february-goals

So, this month is going to be a little bit different, as I use what I learned from this past month and shift gears just a bit.  February holds some anniversaries for Michael and me, as well as Valentine’s Day.  Also, there have just been a lot of opportunities to get involved with a lot of projects, plus I joined a Bible Study last month that I’ve been enjoying and will probably be partaking in another one soon, so time is going to play a bigger factor in making goals.  Nevertheless, here we go!

So, spirituallyI am going to be focusing my personal Bible study on some of the women of infertility in the Bible.  I hope to be sharing with you what I learn each Sunday on this blog.  Last month, I wrote this blog about faith after I did a two-week personal study on the subject and loved it.  So I want to try to do that more this month.  I haven’t been really getting in depth with my personal study, usually, I just do a devotional or prayer journal, so I’m excited to see where this study will take me.

For health, I want to drink more water.  So I’m going to focus on drinking 8 cups of water a day, plus only drinking water if we go out.  This is inspired by my trip to the ER last week. I was really dehydrated so they gave me two bags of iv fluid.  The next day, I felt like superwoman.  I felt 10 years younger.  And my friend told me, “well, that’s what it’s like when you are hydrated!”  I know I’m late to this boat, but I’m totally on board!  I’ve been focusing on drinking more water throughout the day ever since, and I’ve been feeling and even looking better.  So why not make it a resolution and keep it going!

For home, I want to do something a little more creative than organizational.  I mean, I have plenty of coat closet type projects waiting to be tackled, but I want to break them up with some smaller projects.  So I have a two-year-old project that has been waiting to be finished that I would like to accomplish this month.  All I will say about it right now is that it has to do with a shadowbox.

For online/writing, since I’m going to be writing on Sundays for my spiritual goal, I wanted to do something in this category that was more visual.  So, I‘m going to do an Instagram challenge.  I don’t think I’ve ever done one before, but I found this one online so I’m going to do it!  If you don’t follow me on Instagram, you should!  I’m at Katyslifestory and I will follow back.  Also, I would love if you would do this challenge with me.  The more, the merrier!

And finally, the bonus goal.  Since it’s February and Valentine’s and all that, I thought it would be appropriate to do something with loving my husband.  So, I’ve decided this month to speak to his love language: Words of Affirmation.  I know that he really appreciates when I take the time to write him little post-its but I wanted to challenge myself a bit so, I’m going to write my husband a note every day this month.

Did you make new year goals?  How are they going?  If you accidentally forgot about them, or they don’t really work for you, or whatever reason, don’t be afraid to recalibrate and create new ones for this month!