January is already winding down, and I am just now stopping to catch my breath and reflect on the whirlwind that the past few weeks have been. Leading up to the new year, I spent a lot of time prepping for a fresh start and making a detailed plan for how I would hit the ground running to achieve some big goals this coming year. I, like many others, have chosen some key words for 2019. Grateful. Present. Intentional.
One of those goals was to continue my daily routine of writing in my gratitude journal. I can’t speak highly enough of this practice. It truly has made a huge difference on my mindset and my emotional well-being in what can sometimes be a chaotic existence. The act of practicing gratitude on a daily basis has rewired my brain to look for things to be thankful for, particularly ordinary things that otherwise might go unnoticed or unrecognized. It’s so fun to have a huge mental list of good things running in my mind constantly. Every day the act of listing things I’m grateful for gets easier and easier. It has also been interesting to look back over the past few months of my journal entries to review which things are consistently making the list. Big things like family, my husband’s career, our healthy daughters. Small things like a stocked fridge, vacuum lines in the carpet, or drinking warm coffee by the fireplace. Almost every single thing is related to my home in some way. Not once have I listed some random thing I bought on Amazon or anything I came across while scrolling social media. Well, except for strawberry Halloween costumes my girls wore. Those were pure gold from Amazon and Facebook Marketplace and they definitely made the list.
Another aspect of my daily journaling includes goal-setting. I’m SUPER task-oriented, so writing out a list of dreams that I’m chasing every single day is more motivating than any external incentives. My dreams are quite big, so I haven’t gotten the opportunity to cross any of them off since I started my journal on October 1st. Ask me next week though and there will be a BIG ONE crossed off (
publish my cookbook), hence the whirlwind as of late.
I guess what I’ve learned the most from this practice has been that I’m truly a homebody. I adore the little parts of everyday life. Making breakfast for my toddler, middle-of-the-night cuddles with my 7 month old, late night chats with my husband, all of it is such a blessing.
By spending time focusing on being grateful, I’ve also found myself being much more conscious of being in the present. It’s so easy to get lost in housework, looking at my phone, or just getting distracted by things that are less important than what is happening right in front of me. Life is hard and messy sometimes, but it’s worth living and I intend to live it well. My intentions for this year are to make conscious choices about how I spend the time and money that I’m given instead of floating through the year reacting to what’s going on around me. Living in a reactionary state is costly, both emotionally and financially.
I’m a huge podcast junkie, and one of my favorites is Dave Ramsey’s show. Without going into every little detail, the basic principle that everything he teaches builds upon is creating a written budget. (If you haven’t guessed already, becoming debt-free is on my goals list in my journal.) Being the boss of your own money, and taking control of your income. The whole point is to give every single dollar that you earn an assignment. I’ve come to love budgeting when I think of it in that way. The same with time. I want to assign my time to the things that are important to myself and the people that I love, instead of somehow blinking and finding that my calendar is jam-packed with obligations that do not align with my passions or priorities.
One way that I’ve been conscious to remind myself daily of what I should be prioritizing is that I have alarms set on my phone. (I think I got this idea from a podcast interview with Brendan Burchard…I don’t remember for sure.) Every day at 9:04am my phone pops up an alert that simply says, “Grateful. Present. Intentional.” I chose that random time because it’s often a fairly busy time of day with the morning’s tasks of getting my daughters’ days started with minimal amounts of frazzle.
I have another alarm set for 3:30pm that alerts me to get ready for Michael to come home. I try to always call or text him to let him know that we are excited for him to come home and spend time with us. I think I naturally do okay at that, but being extra intentional is important to me so that I don’t get out of the habit.
My final alarm for the night is at 10:18pm. The alert simply says, “Thank Michael”. I chose that exact time because when we were dating in high school, he always called me at 10:18pm because my birthday is 10-18. Expressing gratitude in my journal is important, but it’s not effective if I don’t express it out loud to the people who I’m thankful for. Thanking him for doing bedtime routines with the girls, or for helping me around the house, or for working so hard at his job, the things I should thank him for are too numerous to express, but it’s my goal and intention to try.
If you’re still reading this, thank you so much for spending time with me today. I hope you’ll come back again soon for some new recipes, and some fun sneak peeks at my upcoming cookbook, My Little Michigan Kitchen. There will probably be a giveaway or two also, so stay tuned.