How to Give Yourself Grace for Your Anxiety {Simple Self-Care Part 4}

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Summer is supposed to be a time of rest and relaxation. So why is it that it so often stresses us out instead?

We're anxious about getting all of our work done before we leave for our vacation.

We're stressed about packing everything in our suitcases-- how does anyone manage to fit it all?

We're worried we're going to forget something important and mess it all up.

We're even anxious about our anxiety, concerned about our worrying, and stressed without knowing exactly why.

Sound familiar?

What in the world do we do about it?

I'm going to offer some simple solutions for reducing our stress and anxiety levels, as well as giving ourselves grace for them as we go along. What do you say?

[Anxiety is no joking matter. Neither is grief or depression. I'm not saying these things aren't real problems that deserve thoughtful approaches, and I don't want to underestimate the power of a good psychologist or pharmaceutical help for even a second. I'm merely opening the conversation up for things that can be added onto outside help for those with mental illnesses and things that can help the rest of us who just experience some anxiety from time to time.]

 

IDENTIFY THE ROOT PROBLEM

What's really causing our anxiety? Chances are, if we're obsessing about packing just the right t-shirt, it's not about the shirt.

Most of the time, things like finding the right shirt are just the straw that broke the camel's back, not the bigger problem. There's generally an underlying issue or a problem swept under the rug that needs to be unearthed and addressed.

To discern what the bigger problem might be, there are some introspective questions you can ask.

  • What am I really upset about?
  • Why am I upset?
  • Am I upset about something someone else said to me?
  • Am I worried about what other people will think?
  • Am I fearing the worst case scenario?
  • Am I afraid to fail?
  • Am I getting upset with the wrong person?
  • Is this a time management issue?
  • Is there a bigger conflict with my family, friends, or coworkers?
  • Is this feeling triggered by a sensitivity?

Once you're aware of the underlying issue, you can begin to face it! 

*If you can't identify the root problem, consider talking to a friend, family member, mentor, or counselor for some help. They'll be able to help you see things differently, and that will be the beginning of working your way through it! There's no shame in getting help!

 

STEP BACK

One of the best ways to reduce our anxiety and stress surrounding a situation is to gain some perspective. We often lose ourselves in our circumstances and challenges simply because we're just too close to the problem to see the solution.

Taking a step back to gain perspective allows you to see the problem within its context and observe its objective size and weight. When you're standing too close to the problem or all wrapped up in the middle of it, it feels all-consuming. It's not until you look at it from another vantage point that you're able to realize it's not as overwhelming as you once thought.

To gain better perspective, here are some questions you can ask yourself:

  • How big of a deal is this problem?
  • What will happen if this goes unresolved?
  • What will happen if I fail?
  • How long would it take for me to recover from this?
  • What are some good things in my life right now?
  • What do I know to be true about myself and my circumstances?

Assessing the actual size of your problem (which generally means realizing it's smaller than you originally thought) allows you to release some of the built-up stress surrounding it. It's like shrinking the problem back down from a mountain to a molehill. It immediately makes the issue feel more manageable.

 

JUST BREATHE

No matter what the problem is, I've always found that taking a minute to just breathe helps me refocus. It helps me also avoid knee-jerk reactions, and when I'm stressed or not quite myself, that's paramount.

Whether you have to take a little walk and actually remove yourself from the situation or just sit with it and pay attention to your breathing, focusing on the simple act of breathing gives you a break from trying to solve the issue right away. It allows you to pause so you don't react too quickly and rashly, instead giving you a moment to refocus and return with clearer vision.

 

REMEMBER WHAT'S TRUE

When our perspective has shrunk and all we can see is the issue that's causing us stress, anxiety, or worry, we find ourselves believing lies about who we are, where our worth comes from, what we're capable of, who God is, what God is capable of, and the reality of our situation.

I'm a BIG believer in affirmations. I have several that I speak over my life every day to remind myself of what's true because it is all too easy to get sucked into believing lies.

Some affirmations you might try include:

  • I am doing my very best.
  • I can learn from my mistakes.
  • Every experience offers an opportunity to grow and learn.
  • I'm not alone in this.
  • There are people I can talk to and trust.
  • This too shall pass.
  • There's a light at the end of the tunnel.
  • Just keep swimming.
  • Don't stop believing.
  • God has brought me this far and will continue providing for me.
  • I can do this.
  • I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.

 

WORK THROUGH IT

Now that we've taken the time to identify the root issue, gain some perspective, and remember what's true, we can work through the situation that's causing our anxiety and stress. Often it's fear of failure, fear of messing up, or fear of disappointing others.

But what's the worst that would happen if we did mess up or disappoint others? We would learn from our mistakes. We would have to start again with the knowledge we gained. We would maybe have a little mess to clean up. We would perhaps have to apologize. We might have to run to the store for something we forgot to pack or go without that thing we left at home. We might have to come up with a Plan B. 

But did you notice that none of those things are earth-shaking? That none of them are really that big of a deal in the grand scheme of things? We might have to endure an embarrassing or uncomfortable moment, but we will make it through and live to tell the tale. And, what's more, we'll learn from our mistakes and grow as people, which is all we can really ask of ourselves.

So let's embrace the journey we're on, a journey filled with mishaps and mistakes because we're all human, but a journey that's unbelievably beautiful because of all its humanity and authenticity, all its variety and growth and strength resulting from persevering through challenges. Doesn't that sound better than hiding in the corner and letting our fear and anxiety win? Let's give ourselves grace and space for the journey, and I think we just might come to enjoy it.

 

Later, lovely!Jessie (1).png

P.S. If you want to chat more about giving yourself grace, I'd love to talk to you! And if you're looking for a place where you can be encouraged and empowered to create a life, home, and/or business you LOVE by designing them with joy, simplicity, and intention, I have just the place for you! It's called The Joy + Full Living Community, and I know you're going to love it!

How to Make Time for Yourself {Simple Self-Care Part 3}

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We take care of our people, our to-do lists, our errands, and, occasionally, items on our bucket list. But how often do we take care of ourselves? I'm talking about real, good-quality, slowing-down, deep-work self-care. 

If you're anything like I was a couple years ago, the answer to that might not be one you want to admit out loud. But that's okay, friend! You're not alone!

Many women, especially those caring for other people, working full-time, volunteering, supporting families, and/or running businesses, don't feel like they have time to invest in stereotypical self-care. Several of them might even offer up a litany of excuses for why they can't afford to do so.

But might I encourage you to be open to creating more time to take care of yourself? There's only one you, and the world needs you! Your people need you. Your work needs you. And you can offer them the best version of you only by taking care of yourself. I promise it can be manageable, too!

 

START SMALL

You might have dreams of taking a whole Saturday for an all-day pampering session, but you might not actually have room for that in your life right now. There's nothing wrong with that! It doesn't disqualify you from making time for yourself.

Much like making time for Sabbath, making time for self-care starts right where you're at! Do you have five minutes? Ten minutes? Half an hour? An afternoon? Start where you're at, take what you've got, and go from there!

Anything people have accomplished has started with small steps taken forward from square one. We were all beginners at some point, we've just gone at different times and different paces. It's okay if you're not where you want to be or not where your best friend or sister is. You're on a journey that's uniquely yours, and a step forward-- no matter how small-- is still a step in the right direction!

 

DO MORE OF WHAT MAKES YOU HAPPY

What do you love? Engaging in things that make you happy is one way to take care of yourself on a soul level. This world is chock-full of things that are hard and disappointing, but it's full of beautiful and good things, too, and we get the opportunity to choose which set of things we're going to focus on and fill our days with. I don't know about you, but I want to choose to fill my days, my life, and my heart with good and beautiful things. 

What's beautiful and good in your life, and how can you incorporate more of it into your days? When we infuse more of what brings us joy into our everyday lives, we radiate that joy. We turn our focus to what's good in the world, and it changes us from the inside out. We start seeing the glass as half-full. We spread joy and positivity. We're less stressed. We're friendlier. We're more fun to be around. And we enjoy ourselves and our lives more, which alone would be worth it!

So what do YOU love?

  • a good cup of coffee
  • puppy snuggles
  • rainbows
  • sunsets
  • flowers
  • scented candles
  • essential oils
  • journaling
  • music
  • movies
  • talking to your friends
  • going for walks
  • being near water
  • being in nature
  • running
  • biking
  • reading
  • cooking
  • dancing
  • learning new things

I could go on and on, but I'm sure you get the point. Some things on that list are actual things, and some are activities-- that's part of the point. There's a wide variety of things you could incorporate into your life to bring you joy, based on what YOU love. And did you notice that the things I listed were all simple pleasures, things that could easily be added to our lives? That was 100% intentional. This is meant to be applicable, not just material to read, but tips that can help you in your actual everyday life.

 

SAY "NO"

One of the most freeing words in the English language is "no." I'm not talking about saying it like a petulant two-year-old testing the power she has over her parents. I'm talking about choosing to intentionally say "no" to certain opportunities so we can say "yes" to the best things.

I've talked about it before, but I'm going to say it again (and I'll probably talk about it until I die): we can't do it all. We have to say "no" to some things in order to make room for others. And we get the opportunity to decide which things we're going to say "yes" and "no" to.

What matters most to you? What gives you life? On the opposite side of the spectrum, what drains you? What do you dread doing? And why are you investing your time and energy in the things that you are?

I've started asking myself why I'm doing what I'm doing all the time, and it's had some interesting effects:

  • I've let go of some things I was doing just because I thought I was "supposed to"
  • I've committed more to some things I love because I reaffirmed the reasons why I was doing them
  • I've begun adopting healthier habits because I'm making more intentional choices about what I need 
  • I'm living more by design and less by default
  • I'm finding myself investing more time and energy in things that matter, and less in things that will pass or fade
  • I'm showing up more consistently because I'm reminding myself of what really matters and what my goals are

 

STRIVE FOR HEALTHY BALANCE

No matter how much we want to take care of ourselves, we still have to work, and we still need community. Those aren't bad things (in fact, they're great things!), but they compete with our "me time." 

I'm an introvert, and I've had to figure out what balancing the various aspects of my life looks like for me in this season. So far, it looks like working by myself at home during the day, where I can get my work done in peace and quiet, all the while having time to myself and taking care of myself as necessary, along with planning social get-togethers for evenings and weekends. When I worked in a corporate environment, I found myself skipping more social events and planning more "me time" in the evenings just to save my sanity.

I was surrounded by wonderful people all day at work, and while I liked them a great deal, being with people for so many hours left me feeling too depleted to spend more time in social situations after work. If I planned too many social events in a week, I'd feel like I was running ragged, distracted, and not able to give anyone all of my attention or energy that I felt they deserved. Not to mention there was always a part of me that wanted to go home and rest because I was just so worn out.

Now that I work by myself, I have more time to "recharge" and then pour into relationships in social situations on evenings and weekends. I knew that I couldn't work at home all day by myself and then spend all my weeknights and weekends doing the same. I would go stir-crazy (in fact, I almost did when we had that unexpected April blizzard and I was stuck at home by myself for three days). I still have to make time to invest in myself, and I do, but it's a balance I had to strike, and it's something that looks different for everyone!

 

SCHEDULE IT

It might sound too Type-A (which I readily admit I am, along with an enneagram type 1, which probably explains a lot), but scheduling time for myself was probably THE number one way I made more time for self-care.

When I was working in an office during the day, I would schedule a date night with myself on Friday nights-- to catch up on my favorite show's latest episode, paint my nails, give myself a facial, and go to bed whenever I got tired. It was my gift to myself for making it through another week, and it allowed me to recharge the way I do best. I would then be energized enough to make plans with friends and family for the remainder of the weekend. 

Now my life looks a little different and I'm more flexible with the plans I make because I can afford to be, but I still actually write down when I'm going to invest in some "me time." I put it in my planner so I can make sure I do it. If I don't write it down, I'm apt to put it off, and I know I need to not ignore my own need to take care of myself. So on the calendar it goes!

 

What do you think? Does making time for yourself seem simpler now? I sincerely hope it does! Just remember you can start small, and it all just comes down to incorporating more of what makes you happy!

Later, lovely!Jessie (1).png

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

P.S. If you're looking to chat more about self-care or find a way to incorporate more of it into your life, I'd absolutely LOVE to talk to you about it!

How to Prioritize Family Time (When Life & Business Keep You Busy) {Simple Self-Care Part 2}

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Life keeps us busy. Running businesses keeps us even busier.

Between writing new content for our blogs, posting on social media, being present for our real-life people, writing emails, scheduling dentist appointments, responding to various emails and comments, processing our analytics, attending birthday parties, managing our accounting, and trying to sleep enough to be a functioning human being, it's no wonder we're worn out!

Our plates are full, but they're full of good and necessary things, so what are we supposed to do? It's summer time, and the lake is calling to us with its enticing song, our families are begging us to close our computers and join them for a game, and yet the notifications keep popping up, our to-do lists keep growing, and there is always more to be doing to keep the wheels turning in our businesses.

What's a girl to do?

 

WRITE DOWN yOUR PRIORITIES

What matters most to you? If you want to spend more time with your family, that's going to require some sacrifices in other areas.

There will always be more work to be done, so you have to decide how much time you're willing to invest in your work when you could be spending time with your family. How much work are you willing to do on vacation, if any? How many days will you take off completely? What's the tradeoff? 

At the end of the day, your business won't fly out the window if you don't answer that last email or if you fail to post to Instagram for a couple days. I'm not saying you won't suffer any potential loss of steam, growth, or revenue, but things won't blow up just because you took a little break.

You and I could work twenty-four/seven and still have work to do, so we have to draw the line somewhere. We only have so much time to spend in this season with our families and loved ones, and I know we all want to make the most of it while still successfully running our businesses.

Choosing to invest more time in our relationships with our friends and families is an intentional choice that we can follow up with intentional actions to make it happen.

 

PREP AHEAD

I'm not going to jump right into how to balance work with family time on our vacations. There are several things you can do to prepare ahead for some concentrated family time that requires taking a break from work.

You can do your best to work ahead. If you know you're going to be taking some time off, you can do your level best to get as much done as possible before you go. You can clear out your email inbox, responding to everyone before you head out. You can tie up the loose ends with your projects. You can plan, outline, and draft your next project ahead of the duedate so you'll be all set to jump right back in when you get back. 

Further, you can schedule things out. So many things can be prepared ahead of time and scheduled to post, go live, or go out at a later date and time. I've been doing that for a couple weeks as I prepared to go on a couple short trips-- I wrote blog posts early, wrote social media content early, and scheduled out the rest of my content for the month so I could be better prepared to take some time off (and pick right back up when I returned).

You can simply reschedule things to accommodate your different schedule. I had to move a few client calls to fit them around my trips recently, and people were very understanding. Choosing to move things and explaining why you're rescheduling (so you can focus on spending time with your family) demonstrates your values and your commitment to the important things in life. Most people will understand and be willing to reschedule with you.

You can delegate tasks when possible. If you have a team that can help you out, you could have them respond to emails in your absence, post content for you, or completely take over the reins and run the whole shebang while you're gone. 

If you're currently a one-woman show (like me), you could consider automating some things. There are apps and programs that can help you schedule out your content so you can create it all at once and have it post later. You can set up funnels with evergreen content so you're not constantly creating new material or having to manually move people through your sequence.

You can turn on out-of-office email responses (some other apps allow this function, too, so check that out!) to let people know you've received their message and will reply when you're back. Having things like this set up is what keeps me from worrying about missing things while I'm away-- I have social media content scheduled out and an auto-responder on my business page, along with an email funnel, so people still hear from me while I'm gone, and I can engage with them more personally when I get back.

 

BE FLEXIBLE

The time you spend preparing for a trip will likely not look like your normal days. Whether you're trying to work ahead or just prepare a week's worth of content to be disseminated while you're out, you're going to be busy. You might have to move some things around and make last-minute changes.

You might have to work a little longer for a few days to compensate for your days off. And that's okay! I think it's 100% worth it to hustle a little harder for a few days (investing intentionally, of course, working efficiently and purposefully) so you and I can reap the benefits of our hard work by taking some well-deserved time off. It just requires a little flexibility on our part!

I'm changing up my schedule for the next couple weeks in order to get a couple weeks' worth of work done in about half the time without losing my sanity. Much of that requires moving some things around, letting go of some things (ahem, sweeping my floors, cooking fancy meals, and taking extra walks) so I can focus on the things that are most important right now-- preparing for my trips by buckling down and getting my work done.

Approaching this kind of work/life balance with grace and flexibility allows us to make changes as necessary. Maybe you'll try working in the morning and spending time with your family in the afternoon, only to find out it would work better the other way around. Or perhaps you'll find that delegating isn't the best option for you, but working ahead and scheduling things out for yourself does work. It can take some trial and error, but that's part of why there are several approaches-- because different things work for different people and situations!

 

TIME BLOCK

Whether you're preparing for some concentrated family time that will have you stepping away from work or you're just trying to figure out how to get normal work done with kids running around or neighbors knocking in the background, the simplest answer I can give you is to block your time.

If you know of times during the day when you can get in some uninterrupted work time, capitalize on it! I like working when the house is empty and nobody else is vying for my time. And while I'm working my tail off to get work done before traveling, I know that if I end up taking any of it with me, it's going to work best for me to complete my work before others get up in the morning or while they're busy doing their own individual things, not when everyone else is gathering for meals or outings and I'd be left sitting inside by myself, missing out on the fun and community.

If you're trying to balance work and rest or fun, consider when you do your absolute best work. I'm a morning person, so I know that if I need to get some hard work done, my best chance for doing it is before lunch. For that reason, I don't schedule other things before lunch. I plan my errands and coaching calls for the afternoon. Doing so allows me to take advantage of when I do my best work.

Time blocking also helps me stay focused because it requires that I've declared a purpose for each section of my day. Knowing what I'm supposed to be focusing on is actually liberating because it frees me from having to question whether there's something else (or better) I should be doing with my time. It eliminates distractions and helps me be as productive as possible because I block out time for the most important things and get them done faster when I've dedicated time to them.

Blocking your time is also a great way to approach partial solutions-- for instance, if you're working from home and trying to juggle family time and work time (or even work time and tending to household tasks). If you set aside certain hours for work, explaining to your family that those hours are for work, and that there's another portion of your day entirely devoted to family time, it's easier to engage fully in both. You'll have greater peace knowing you're not ignoring one or the other entirely, but doing your best to balance both, and people on both sides are more understanding because you're investing intentionally in both and setting boundaries to save your sanity in the process and keep one from bleeding into the other.

 

SAY "NO"

We all have limited time in our day and endless options for how we can spend it. But none of us can do it all. We have to choose what we're going to invest in, and I'm a big advocate for making those choices intentionally, with our priorities and purpose in mind.

What matters most to you? What is your purpose (in life and in your business)? What choices support those things?

Saying "yes" to one opportunity means saying "no" to something else, and the opposite is also true. To make more time to spend with our families while still running our businesses with integrity, we'll have to start saying "no" to some good things so we can say "yes" to the best things.

Here are some guidelines I use:

Say "yes" to what makes you come alive.

Say "yes" to what you love.

Say "yes" to what's best for your family in this season.

Say "yes" to what suits your skill set and season of life.

Say "yes" to what lasts.

Say "no" to what someone else is better suited for.

Say "no" to what you don't have passion for.

Say "no" to what just amounts to keeping up with the Joneses.

Say "no" to what drains you more than energizes you.

Say "no" to what has little return on investment.

These guidelines might not have all hit home for you, but I'm willing to bet some of them have! And even if they didn't, I'm sure they got you thinking about what kind of guidelines would help you make decisions that honor your priorities and your purpose. And when you lead with those two things, you can't lose!

I sincerely hope these words here have helped you find a way to run your business while still prioritizing time with your family. I know "work/life balance" is a trendy topic that's raised some debate about what it means to have a life and work, especially for those of us running our own businesses.

It's something that looks different for all of us and that changes with the seasons. It's a give and take mentality that asks how we can navigate the tension of doing two opposing things, but it really just takes finding the middle ground and working to keep the first things first. It means preparing ahead, rescheduling, delegating or automating, saying "no," and above all, being flexible.

 

 

 

Which one of those tips was most helpful for you? How are you managing to be present for your people while running your business (or just juggling a full work schedule if you're not a business owner-- I see you, too!)? I'd love to hear from you! You can simply comment below, shoot me an email at jessie@notesfromjessie.com, or schedule a call with me to chat some more!

Later, lovely!Jessie (1).png

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

P.S. If you're looking for some help creating space for rest or navigating your own time management, you don't have to figure it out alone! I'd love to help you!

 

 

Why Rest & Sleep Matter {Simple Self-Care Part 1}

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"Rest" and "self-care" have become buzzwords all over the internet and in our offline conversations. We talk about incorporating them into our lives, but we're still not very good at following through.

We take pictures of ourselves reading a novel, lighting a candle, prepping a bubble bath and tea situation, or laying in bed at noon on a Saturday, hashtag it #lazysaturday #selfcaresaturday, and call it good. But we're not giving our souls the kind of rest they crave.

 

WHAT REST DOES FOR US

Rest and sleep have such an amazing effect on us when we get enough of them! And the great thing is that we can start seeing results quickly if we change our habits now to incorporate more rest and sleep-- we don't have to wait weeks or months to see a difference.

Rest makes us more creative. Have you ever tried to create something when you're sleep-deprived? I know that when I'm low on sleep, I'm only able to run on autopilot. I can't generate fresh ideas, brainstorm, paint, design, write, or even dream. My creativity tank is on empty when I haven't gotten enough sleep.

But when I'm well-rested, I can approach my creative work with renewed energy and a greater ability to come up with new ideas and perspectives. It's only when I've allowed myself to rest and sleep enough that I'm able to fire on all cylinders.

Rest allows us to be more productive. I'm pretty much useless after ten pm. I can be present physically, but my brain is very punctual in turning off. If I stay up too late or have too many nights where I get less than eight hours of sleep (yes, I'm one of those people), I can hardly think straight, let alone think or work quickly or efficiently. Tasks take five times longer. It's a struggle to put the right words together to say what I want, which is a problem when my work is word-focused.

I'm recognizing that in order to be the most effective in my work, I need sleep and rest. My body needs to rest and my mind needs to take a break in order for me to come back and be able to give my work the attention it deserves.

Rest rejuvenates us and heals us physically. Have you ever tried to get back to your normal level of activity too quickly after an injury? I have. I thought I could just push myself a little harder and a little faster, maybe even skipping a little icing or extra stretching here and there, and it wouldn't do any real harm. I just wanted to get back to normal faster. I was impatient. Do you know what happened? You probably do.

I delayed my healing. Instead of skipping from square one to square three, I went back to zero. I had to start the healing process all over again. My attempts to bypass rest only hurt me more in the long run. It's still hard for me to remember that my body needs rest sometimes when I want to be going, going, going all the time, but I'm learning to embrace it because I only get this one body, and I need to take good care of it. 

Rest and sleep give our brains a break. I need brain breaks. I stare at screens, answer emails, reply to comments, ask questions of my own, post messages and photos and articles and links, write content here, record videos, watch and listen to others' content, and that's just Tuesdays. If I don't get up and take breaks, my eyes start to hurt, I get distracted by the simplest things, I get frustrated about the smallest inconveniences, and I'm apt to fret over small details or spend too much time overthinking a problem that isn't even mine to solve.

One of the best solutions I've found for myself is to take a break to go for a walk. Obviously, this requires the weather to cooperate, which it doesn't always do. But I've found that setting aside time to get up from my chair, walk away from my computer, and leave my work behind for a little bit is incredibly freeing and refreshing. Getting my muscles moving also gets the wheels inside my head turning in new ways, granting me new creative bursts and fresh ideas.

Rest and sleep relieve stress. I sometimes find myself getting all bent out of shape because I can't figure out how to fix wonky formatting on a blog post or get my latest Facebook Live replay to upload fast enough to my YouTube channel. It's in those moments that my eyes are opened to just how impatient and high-strung I can be. So I'm choosing more often to take breaks when I reach that point (ideally before I reach that point). Then, after I've gotten the chance to calm down and gain some perspective about what really matters, I can revisit the problem and usually resolve it pretty quickly, and with a better attitude.

Rest and sleep help us perform at our best and show up as our best selves. Nobody wants to hang out with a sourpuss or grumpy gus, right? And no one wants to get paired up with the kid who never contributes anything to the group. I don't even think any of us want to be those people. But we are. Or at least, I am when I haven't gotten enough sleep. I'm more hesitant to step outside of my comfort zone, less likely to go above and beyond to help others, less willing to put in extra time or effort, less encouraging and motivating, and just less fun to be around.

On the other hand, when I've gotten more sleep at night and make time for rest breaks throughout my week, I'm much more flexible and willing to help others. I'm more likely to stop what I'm doing to answer someone's question, more likely to change up my schedule to go visit friends, more likely to stay for the second round of the game instead of making excuses to leave early because I'm tired. I'm more like the person I want to be when I've gotten enough rest. And that alone is a good enough reason for me to pursue it more.

 

PRACTICAL WAYS TO GET MORE REST

Now that we understand how vital rest and sleep are to our mental, physical, and relational health, how do we prioritize rest in our real lives? It's one thing to talk about how important it is to make time for rest, sleep, and self-care, but it's another thing entirely to set aside time for it between our dentist appointments, grocery runs, work meetings, and coffee dates.

If we're not careful, making time for rest can become just another thing to check of our to-do list. What's a girl to do?

Rest, sleep, and even self-care in general, look different for everyone, and they manifest themselves a little differently in various seasons of life. I talked recently about how we set ourselves up for success by approaching self-care through a lens of lifelong learning on a Facebook Live, and that applies to figuring out how to best rest and incorporate sleep, too!

  • go to sleep half an hour earlier
  • get up half an hour later
  • take a 30-minute power nap
  • go for a leisurely walk
  • light a candle
  • get a mani-pedi
  • put your favorite essential oils in your diffuser
  • take something off your to-do list without completing it
  • take a snack break
  • read a book
  • try to get up at the same time every day (and go to bed at the same time)
  • find great sheets, blankets, and pillows to make your bed cozy and comfy
  • get comfy watching your favorite movie or tv show
  • meditate or pray
  • turn off your screens an hour before bed
  • take a midday screen break
  • put your phone on "do not disturb" mode
  • practice 10 slow breaths
  • call a friend
  • turn on your favorite song
  • go for a drive
  • don't set an alarm
  • have a pajama day

No matter what rest looks like for you in this season, I encourage you to make it a priority. You'll be more creative, more productive, more attentive, more patient, and more like the best version of yourself!

I'd love to hear about your experience pursuing rest and sleep! You can comment below, shoot me an email at jessie@notesfromjessie.com, or schedule a time to chat with me!

Later, lovely!Jessie (1).png

 

 

 

Your Ideal Client Roadmap

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So you're hustling to create amazing products and services, but you're seeing no return on your investment. 

You're posting on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest and only hearing crickets in response.

You're putting in all the effort for no results, and you're feeling burned out for all the energy it's taken to still be at square one.

What are you doing wrong?

Perhaps you haven't taken the time or effort to dig deep and identify your ideal client in great detail. You have a general idea (or you even think you have a solid grasp on) who you're targeting, but your messaging isn't specific enough, nobody's responding, and you're beginning to wonder what you're missing.

I've been there! I thought I knew who I was gearing my messaging toward, but it was too broad. I thought I had the copy pinned down, but it wasn't speaking specifically to my niche audience. I had to get more specific and spend time working to identify who I was really best positioned and gifted to help so I could make the biggest impact and reach the right people.

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IDENTIFYING YOUR IDEAL CLIENT

1. DEMOGRAPHICS

It's important that you understand the basic demographic information of the people you're targeting with your services, products, and messaging. Different people respond to content differently, and to best target the right people, you have to understand some fundamental things about them.

  • What age range does your ideal client fall within?
  • What level of education does your ideal client have?
  • Where does your ideal client live (state/country/time zone/type of home)?
  • What is your ideal client's socioeconomic status?
  • What is your ideal client's relationship status and family situation (single/dating/engaged/married/married with kids/single parent/empty nester)?
  • Is your ideal client part of a specific political or religious or academic group?

 

2. ATTRIBUTES 

What character qualities are you looking for in your ideal client, if any? These might seem less important than demographic information, and they're often less obvious, but that doesn't make them insignificant. Consider for a moment trying to work with someone who isn't particularly ambitious, hard-working, or committed. It's going to be far more challenging to work with them than it would be to work with someone who shows great determination, intrinsic motivation, and a good work ethic.

These qualities will also determine the kind of content and the format of the content you create for them. If your ideal clients need a step-by-step plan with a detailed workbook, a loose self-guided audio program isn't going to be as appealing or as good of a use of your time.

  • What attributes are vital to a healthy working relationship with you?
  • Is your ideal client a leader or a follower?
  • Is your ideal client methodical or more impulsive?
  • Is your ideal client detail-oriented or more interested in the big picture?

 

3. LIKES & DISLIKES

What does your client like about their current stage of life, health, relationships, business, or whatever area you're trying to assist them in? What frustrates them about that area of their life? Do they hate the accounting portion of running their own business even though they love networking? Do they hate meal planning but love cooking?

Knowing what your clients love helps you focus your content on giving them the skills and tools they need to do those things more efficiently and support them by helping them with the more tedious parts so they can invest more time, money, and energy doing more of what they love and less of what they hate.

This is also applicable to considering what types of content resonate with your ideal client. Are they more interested in audio? Video? Detailed guides or big-picture videos?

  • What part of your ideal client's life, health, relationships, or business do they already love?
  • What part do they hate?
  • What tasks do they continually procrastinate?
  • What tasks overwhelm them?
  • What format are they most drawn to?
  • How long is their attention span?
  • Do they like step-by-step guides or more lackadaisical approaches?

 

4. INTERESTS & SKILLS

What is your ideal client interested in? What do they want to learn or grow in? This is an opportunity for you to use your expertise and knowledge to assist them in areas where they have room to grow.

What is your ideal client already good at, and how can you capitalize on that to help them strengthen their life, health, relationships, home, or business? Everyone's good at something (usually several things), so how can you support them in doing what they're already good at-- only better, faster, easier, or more efficiently?

  • What interests your ideal client?
  • What causes is your ideal client passionate about?
  • Who does your ideal client already follow?
  • What are you good at that your ideal client would want to learn about?
  • What is your ideal client already good at? 
  • How does your ideal client spend their time?
  • How could your ideal client's strengths be leveraged or optimized?

 

5. PRESENCE

Where does your ideal client spend their time? Where can you find people to observe, engage with, interview, and use for your market research? It's important to identify where they "hang out," so to speak, so that you can not only conduct your research into what their pain points and needs are, but also so you can circle back with your solutions!

  • What social media platforms does your ideal client use the most?
  • What types of content is your ideal client engaging with the most?
  • What groups is your ideal client a part of?

 

6. THOUGHTS & FEELINGS

On an average day, what does your ideal client think, feel, say, and do? Take a moment to get inside the head of your ideal client and flesh those qualities out so you can get to know your ideal client inside and out.

  • What do they talk about?
  • What do they have to say on the topic you're trying to help them regarding?
  • What do they think about?
  • What do they think about the topic you're focusing on?
  • How do they feel about the topic you're focusing on?
  • How do they feel about where their life, health, relationships, or business is right now?
  • What are they doing that's hindering their progress?
  • What activities are they engaging in regularly?

 

7. PAIN POINTS

What's your client's biggest struggle? Where do they find themselves being challenged and frustrated time and again?

  • What makes your ideal client angry?
  • What makes your ideal client sad?
  • What frustrates your ideal client?
  • What does your ideal client struggle with?
  • What aspects of their life, home, health, relationships, or business does your ideal client not understand or not excel in?

 

8. NEEDS

Based on their pain points, what does your ideal client need? This will give you an opportunity to create a product, service, or free gift to support them and provide for their specific needs instead of guessing about what they could use. It's a surefire way to connect with them, provide real value, build your relationship with them, and turn readers and followers into paying clients!

  • What service could your ideal client use to help with their pain points?
  • What product could your ideal client use to help with their pain points?
  • What is the best solution to your ideal client's problem?
  • How does your knowledge and expertise answer your ideal client's problem?
  • What can you offer to solve your ideal client's problem?

 

CONDUCTING MARKET RESEARCH

To find answers to the above questions, there are a few different approaches you can take. It's often best to mix them up to ensure you get enough answers to be confident in the prevalence of your ideal client's problems and the opinions attached to them (instead of just a few specific people's opinions) and to go deeper with a few to get more information than some will be willing to offer up (so you can get even more specific!).

 

1-ON-1 CLIENTS

You can sign some individual coaching clients to help people work through their specific needs. In doing so, you'll gain insight into what people within your target audience struggle with the most and how you specifically can help them.

You can repurpose the content you use in your coaching (tools, worksheets, exercises, even tips and tricks) for a product, service, or program you offer later on, and you'll have the opportunity to gather testimonials from your one-on-one clients to demonstrate your ability to help in your niche!

 

INFORMAL INTERVIEWS

Oftentimes, our ideal clients are similar to us, or at least who we were a few steps back from where we are now. That means we likely know people in our personal lives who fit within our target audience. Even though you probably won't want to sell to your friends and family, you can take the opportunity to interview them, listen to their stories and experiences, offer some value, and learn more about your target audience in the process.

If you're crafting a business around helping first-time moms cope with the transition to life with a new baby, it would be helpful to sit down with your friend who just had her first kid a couple months ago to get her perspective. 

You could ask what your friend's biggest struggles are, what type of content she resonates with most, where she goes to find answers to her questions, what she would expect from certain products or services, and how much she might be willing to pay for such products or services. Of course, this is also when you could offer some of the information or experience you are preparing to turn into products or services for your ideal client, in return for your friend helping you with your research and to see how it resonates with someone who is part of your target audience.

 

POLLS & SURVEYS

On a less personal and time-consuming note, you can post polls and link to surveys. One of the best ways to do this is within targeted Facebook groups. If you ask just one simple question through a poll, you're more likely to get more responses than if you post several or link to an outside survey. However, a survey could get you more demographic information, along with more personalized and in-depth answers.

Bonus tip: engage with the people who reply to your polls and surveys! If someone votes on a poll and comments with more information, reply to them! Offer some tips or advice if applicable, ask a follow-up question, or offer to get on the phone to talk to them further! It could get you more information, build a valuable relationship, demonstrate your authority, and even turn into a paying client relationship if you get on the phone and offer your services!

 

KEYWORD SEARCH

If you know what you're searching for, you can do a keyword search in targeted Facebook groups to find group members' posts that are relevant to the subject you're researching. This is a great way to see what language people within your target audience are using (which you can adopt and use in your website copy, advertising, and social media messaging to better resonate with your target audience).

Just remember to search for your keywords and any related variations or synonyms so you don't miss anything! And remember to use words that have both positive and negative connotations with your subject because people might have posted with struggles or triumphs.

For instance, when I was looking for information to use for my decluttering bootcamp, I searched words like declutter, decluttering, minimalism, simplicity, simplify, clean, organize, and clutter. 

 

ASKING QUESTIONS

You can always ask direct questions, too! If you're part of a relevant Facebook group, you can ask group members what they struggle with most on your topic or how you can best help them with your topic. You could ask for stories or examples (often specific requests gain more engagement because people are better equipped to answer specific requests in comparison to general ones). 

Examples include:

  • What are your decluttering goals for this week?
  • What are you struggling with most in writing your website copy?
  • What was the hardest part of creating your social media strategy?
  • What made you want to start your journey of simplifying your life?

 

WHAT YOU'RE LOOKING FOR

THEMES

Are there patterns you can observe based on the research you've done? Are there questions that keep coming up, common struggles, or shared issues? Chances are, the biggest problems one person in your target audience is facing are the same as the problems others in your target audience are facing. When you get specific enough about your ideal client, you'll be able to identify themes between the individuals because they will have common pain points and interests.

 

LANGUAGE

What language are they using? Are there phrases, words, statements, or questions that keep coming up over and over again? Is there language you can adopt for your own messaging to demonstrate how well you understand your target audience and identify with them?

 

BIG PROBLEMS

Your ideal client will likely have more than one problem in his or her life, home, relationships, health, or business. That means there's a substantial amount of room for growth!

But for maximum impact, start with their biggest pain point. What struggle do they talk about the most? Where are they focusing? What issue is causing the biggest impact on their daily life?

 

INFLUENCERS

Who does your target audience already listen to? You can target them with ads, but you can also take a more organic approach and just observe and take notes on what they're doing that your target audience is responding to so well.

  • Where is your audience most engaged with these influencers?
  • What types of posts seem to resonate most with your audience?
  • Do these influencers have a specific tone that your audience responds to?
  • What draws your audience toward the influencers they listen to?
  • What common threads exist between the influencers your audience is drawn to? 
  • How are you similar to and how are you different from these influencers?

 

Now you know what the common struggles are, what the language is, and where to find your ideal clients. All you have to do is use your knowledge and expertise to craft products or services that directly address your ideal client's pain points and use language they understand (positioning yourself in the places they frequent) to capture their attention, demonstrate your knowledge and understanding of their situation, and get them to work with you!

 

That's it! That's how you identify your ideal client, get super specific about who they are, where they hang out, what they're struggling with, how you can best resonate with them, and how to craft a product or service to address their biggest struggles (which will compel them to work with you!). What tip was the most helpful to you? I'd love to hear from you-- in the comments or via email at jessie@notesfromjessie.com!

And if you want to talk more about finding your ideal clients, creating a visibility or engagement strategy, setting up your website, crafting your messages, articulating your vision and mission, or doing the mindset work that makes all of that possible, let's chat!

 

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Business Beginner's Blueprint

Take your business from vague idea (or no idea at all) to getting paying clients! Unsure where to start, what your next step is, or how to build a business of your own? This guide will walk you through it one step at a time so you’re never left guessing!

A peek inside:

  1. Identify your passion (2 pages)

  2. Identify your ideal client (8 pages)

  3. Market research (2 pages)

  4. Setting up your offer (1 page)

  5. Creating your website (2 pages)

  6. Nailing your branding (1 page)

  7. Social media strategy (1 page)

  8. Build your know, like, and trust factor (2 pages)

  9. Your funnel (3 pages)

  10. Closing the sale (1 page)

Are you ready to start your business?

Are you ready to help others?

Are you ready to make an impact on the world?

Let’s get started!

Add To Cart
Later, lovely!Jessie (1).png

 

 

June 2018 Favorites

I thought it would be fun if I took a moment each month to let you know what things are currently striking my fancy, so here goes the June installment! 

[This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase something through my link, I will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thanks for supporting Notes from Jessie!] 

CURRENT FAVORITES:

BOOKS:

I finished The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas, and it was really good! It's a long book, but I loved the themes of friendship and integrity. I also read The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler, but I wasn't a big fan. It was far more about the relationships and histories of the main characters and not enough about Austen and her books for my taste. I picked up Me Before You by JoJo Moyes finally (it's been on my bookshelf for longer than I want to admit, along with several other titles I'm hoping to make it through this year so they can stop mocking me with their unread-ness). 

I started reading Jess Connolly's Dance, Stand, Run, too, which is really good! I'm going through it pretty slowly because I want to digest and mull it over (and because severe headaches don't pair well with trying to read, so I got slowed down by that).

 

QUOTE:

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before Him, He endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." -Hebrews 12:1-2

 

MOVIES/TV SHOWS: 

I started watching Parks and Recreation after watching a few bits and pieces with friends over a year ago and feeling like I'd given it a try and not found it to my taste. I was wrong. It's charming and humorous without taking much of my attention, so it makes for a nice little breather when I need a break in my day to unwind. 

I also discovered a DVD set of the first season of Little House on the Prairie at my parents' house, and I've been watching that, too. I loved the books and the show as a kid, and it's been so sweet to watch it again! 

 

SONG: 

Dierks Bentley's new single "Woman Amen" has been playing a lot lately, and I'm not mad about it. I love the sentiment of the song and the catchy tune!

 

FOOD: 

I found a delicious recipe for paleo/vegan chocolate, and I think I'm in love! I've loved dark chocolate for years, but when I made the choice to try to avoid dairy at the beginning of the year, I included chocolate, and it made me kind of sad (okay, disproportionately sad for it being just chocolate). But this recipe has no dairy, is simple and uses ingredients I always have on hand, and I promise it tastes just like dark chocolate!

Once I made my new-found love, I tried my hand at making a paleo dessert (these double chocolate turtle bars) for a get-together I had coming up (always risky, making new food for new friends). It was less complicated than it looked at first, came together easily, and tasted so good it might be a new go-to for me! Bonus: my friends really liked it, too!

 

MEMORIES FROM JUNE:

I can't believe we're already at the end of June! Summer will be over before I know it. But that doesn't mean I haven't done my darnedest to make the most of June!

I went to a friend's bridal shower, helped another friend deliver and set up cupcakes for a wedding, took a day trip to Stillwater, went to a lovely wedding reception, and spent some more time with friends and family. It was a great month!

 

LOOKING FORWARD TO IN July:

My family is traveling to Nebraska for a family reunion, and I'm looking forward to getting to see my extended family that I haven't seen in a few years. I also get to see my "second family" for the Fourth of July, which I'm excited about!

 

What were some of your favorite things this month? I'd love to hear from you in the comments!

Later, lovely!Jessie (1).png

Be a Champion of the Small Things

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We're slowing down for summer around here, but that doesn't mean everything comes to a screeching halt. It just means that instead of rushing around and trying to accomplish ten thousand things, we're moving at a slower, more intentional pace so we can savor the season and all that it has to offer because we don't want to miss it!

As we're slowing down, we're noticing things. We're seeing with renewed sight and refreshed perspective. We're gaining clarity of purpose and vision as we choose how we want to show up and what we want to invest in.

One thing that I want to personally invest in is being what I call a champion of the small things. That means noticing, savoring, and celebrating small graces, gifts, and gains. Doesn't that just sound like a fabulously intentional, simple, and joyful way to live?

So what does it actually look like to be a champion of the small things? It's one thing to say it, but it's another thing to do it.

 

1. IT BEGINS WITH NOTICING.

We can't notice what we don't slow down enough or pay enough attention to see. When we're rushing through life at breakneck speed, we miss out on the things around us.

When we're rushing, we're apt to miss out on things like beautiful sunsets, gorgeous flowers, budding garden plants, the smiles on the faces around us, a kind word, a door held open, and even intricate spider webs (I don't like spiders, but I have to admit they're so creative!).

I don't want to miss those things, and I don't think you do, either. When I'm having a stressful or not-so-great day, those simple things are what bring me back to life again. It's not the mountaintop high of a vacation or business win, but it's the simple joy of spending time with the people I love or listening to my current favorite song that brings me back. And the extra beauty in that is the fact that those everyday joys are far more accessible-- they're right at my fingertips. All I have to do is slow down enough to notice them.

 

2. IT REQUIRES THAT WE SAVOR THINGS.

Our lives won't be changed much if we notice the world around us and the season we're in without taking the opportunity to savor them.

This world, and our lives in particular, are filled to overflowing with blessings, and we all too often rush right past them. We would be much richer if we paused long enough to not only see them, but to soak them in and cherish them.

Have you noticed how many people post up-close photos of everyday, ordinary things? Do you know why that's so compelling? It's because they have a way of capturing things we see every day in a new way, a way that catches our attention because it demands that we slow down enough to realize those things have been around us the whole time, just waiting for us to pay attention and enjoy them.

I want to be the kind of person who relishes in a slow morning, a good cup of tea, a well-written book, or a good song without rushing onto the next thing right away. I can spare a few minutes just to be, to relax, to cherish the moment and everything it brings before moving forward. And I know my day will be better for it because I took a moment to breathe and savor the world around me.

Life is constantly changing, and if I don't embrace everything this season has to offer with arms open wide, it will be gone before I know it. I don't want to miss it, so I'm choosing to slow down and savor it while it's here.

 

3. IT MEANS CELEBRATING ALONG THE WAY.

Life happens in the little moments, that's true. It's the regular, daily things that become habits and make up our lives. We can choose whether to get lost in the mundane activities or celebrate the small, everyday choices, wins, and gifts all around us. (I'm choosing and advocating for the latter!)

I'm celebrating the small steps toward growing my business.

I'm celebrating the small steps toward growing stronger as I work out.

I'm celebrating the relationships I'm gaining as I put myself out there and work on networking and building community.

I'm celebrating each benchmark of new followers, subscribers, and friends as I work toward broadening my reach so I can encourage more women.

I'm celebrating each healthy choice as I pause long enough to pay more attention to what my body needs instead of just acting on impulse.

I'm celebrating the days when I actually sit down to start work on time.

I'm celebrating each book I finish as I work toward my annual goal.

Choosing to focus on celebrating keeps me focusing on the positive and reminds me that each step forward is an important one, and each accomplishment is worth noting. It also reminds me that I am the kind of person who _______ (e.g. makes healthy choices, works toward getting stronger, and grows her network), because I'm consistently doing those things and celebrating each of them, reinforcing my decisions going forward. It makes it easier to be faithful to my goals and keep taking steps forward when I've celebrated the steps I've taken so far.

 

4. IT'S GRATITUDE FOR SMALL GRACES.

It's easy to be grateful for the big things and the good times in our lives. But what about the times of life that fit squarely between those good times?

Life's too hard and messy to not go through it with gratitude and joy. If we focus on what's challenging or not going our way, we're just simply going to be discouraged.

If, on the other hand, we focus on the good things that exist smack-dab in the middle of the hard things, we'll gain perspective and be able to hold onto joy no matter what we're facing.

It's so easy to be negative, but I have started challenging myself to see things in a positive light because I find that it makes my life more enjoyable, and it makes me more enjoyable to be around. Nobody likes being around someone who's negative all the time, especially if they're constantly griping and spreading their negativity. Instead, I've begun looking for the bright side or a little bit of grace in the grit-- the blessing of a flexible schedule in the midst of a nasty virus that would've kept me out of office work, canceled family plans making way for last-minute plans with friends or time to catch up on much-needed sleep.

Sometimes it's hard to find the little joys and moments of grace in the midst of hard times, but I believe there is always something to be thankful for. I just might have to occasionally look a little harder for it.

 

5. IT'S APPRECIATION FOR SMALL GIFTS.

I'm not a gifts person, per se, but I do appreciate them and love the heart behind them. I recently got a beautiful bouquet of flowers after having battled a nasty virus, and it was such a sweet, thoughtful gift! 

Gifts don't negate the tougher parts of life, but they can make life sweeter. And they don't have to be big, flashy, or expensive, either. 

People give gifts in different ways and have their own preferences for the types of gifts they'd like to receive. I think it's a great deal of fun to figure out how my people best receive love and lean into that. My tendency is to use words to communicate how I feel, but I know some people prefer having things done for them (dishes washed, a favor done, a helping hand) or just spending time with people.

I love it when people use their words to affirm and support me, and I've had a few amazing conversations with different friends over the last few weeks that have ended with me walking away with a big smile on my face. My people just have a way of naming things that I'm unable to see in myself, and when they encourage and commend me, I'm filled with joy and motivation to keep going. It truly brightens my day and makes me feel like I can conquer the world.

I also appreciate it when friends come over to make dinner and help with the dishes or clearing the table. Or if they brainstorm business ideas with me. Or if they engage with my social media content. When my people do things for me, it matters. In becoming a champion of the small things, I'm taking notice of and practicing gratitude for each and every action that supports and encourages me, no matter how small, because they all add up and make a big difference!

 

6. IT'S THANKFULNESS FOR SMALL GAINS.

Too often we don't let ourselves get excited until we reach our finish line. But what does that say about each step we take along the way? It says that those steps aren't important; only the last one really counts.

I don't want to believe that or live like that. Sometimes the road toward a goal can be long and hard, and the only way I know to make it easier and to motivate myself to keep going is to be grateful for each step I take in the right direction, no matter how small.

It goes back to number 3, celebrating along the way. I wouldn't still be here, doing this, if I didn't celebrate small wins along the way. Even though I'm not yet where I want to be (who is?), I can be grateful and proud of how far I've already come. And taking the time to appreciate that gives me the momentum I need to keep going forward, especially when it's hard.

Being a champion of small things also means being a champion of small steps. It doesn't matter how many more steps there are ahead, each one we take is a big deal because it still took effort and some amount of risk. It's still forward movement, and that's what counts.

So let's choose to celebrate each step, along with each gift and grace, as we go, slowing down enough to notice, savor, and celebrate the small things that make up our lives.

 

That's it! Now may we all go forward for the rest of this summer and beyond to be champions of the small things in our lives!

I'd love to chat with you about what it looks like for YOU to be a champion of small things in your life (and other goals you have for your life!). Let's chat!

Later, lovely!Jessie (1).png

 

 

Simple Hospitality in 5 Steps {Sanity Savers Part 3}

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Pinterest has made us all think we have to have elaborate set-ups and picture-perfect meals in order to invite some friends over for dinner. It's great for inspiring our creativity, but it can cause us to drown in comparison and feeling like we're not enough just because we don't have the mental energy to make everything follow a theme or plate your dishes like you're competing on Iron Chef.

I'm giving us all permission right here and now to set our expectations lower, to focus on the things that are truly important for our get-togethers and let the rest go.

I'm all about focusing on what's most important, and while that differs for everyone, I know there are some key parts to consider when planning a party, barbecue, dinner party, girls' night, or other gathering.

 

1. THE PEOPLE

The most important thing about any get-together is the people. Our guests come to spend time with us and each other, not to be impressed by an immaculately clean house or fancy table setting.

When choosing who to invite, there are a few things I like to keep in mind.

Including people who can initiate and carry conversations. Unless holding a conversation isn't crucial to the gathering (think movie night), it's important to have people there who are good conversationalists. They take some of the burden of making everything go smoothly and making the get-together fun off our shoulders.

I also try to make sure that everyone I invite knows at least two other people besides me. It  makes it easier to know that guests will be more comfortable, more engaged, and more relaxed in an environment with people they already know. And it means I don't have to feel the need to "babysit" anyone who's the odd one out.

 

2. THE FOOD

I love making new recipes, but it can be really stressful and time-consuming to try new recipes for a get-together. When I want to simplify things and reduce my stress before a party or big dinner, I try to stick to known dishes or slight variations on them. Because I've made them before, I know that I can make them again, and I have a better idea of what will go over well with my guests.

The food doesn't have to be complicated. I might throw together a simple salad and make some pasta to go with it. Or pull together the ingredients for tacos (always a winner). Earlier this week, I hosted a sort of Thanksgiving-esque dinner with my family, and I eliminated many of the side dishes I could have made in the name of simplicity. I cooked the turkey, roasted some potatoes, and put together a green bean dish. It was delicious and pretty easy!

I also try to prep the food as much as I can ahead of time (step 5). 

 

3. THE ENTERTAINMENT

I like to have some entertainment options thought out when I'm having people over. The reason for the get-together usually dictates my choices pretty easily.

If I'm having people over for a movie night, I'll pull out a few ideas so my guests don't spend twenty minutes discussing what everyone wants to watch. It saves time and mental energy to reduce the options to a select few (while still giving everyone the opportunity to contribute their opinion and find something they'll like).

When I'm having people over for a game night, I might also pull out a few suggestions, or at least have them in the back of my mind. Sometimes my guests are shy or reluctant to give their opinion, so sometimes I have to be willing to make the call or suggest a couple games to get the ball rolling.

And if I'm having people over for dinner, or a birthday party, or a game night, or just about any other kind of get-together, I'll turn on some music. It's much more relaxing to have some music playing in the background than to have complete silence whenever people aren't actively conversing with one another, and it makes the breaks in conversation less obvious. If we're getting pumped up for a louder, more active party, I'll start a playlist with more upbeat songs. If it's going to be a quieter night of chatting with a few friends, I'm more likely to play a more "chill" playlist.

 

4. THE CLEANING

My guests probably aren't going to be spending time in every room of my house. Even if I give a tour of my home, I don't have to deep-clean every space. I can just focus on the ones that will make the biggest impact.

The bathroom needs to be cleaned, of course. It gets a lot of use during the week, and it's going to get used by my guests. I typically clean the mirror, wipe down the sink and the toilet, clean inside the toilet bowl, and clean the floors. Nobody cares about the bath or shower, so as long as there are shower doors or a curtain, I'm golden there!

The kitchen. Assuming that my guests and I be spending at least some time in my kitchen when I'm prepping food, welcoming the guests, serving food, or refilling dishes, my kitchen is going to be involved, so it should be at least presentable. Because I'm making food for my get-together, it doesn't have to be spotless. I promise everyone will understands when I have dishes in the sink or extra food on the counter. But that doesn't mean that I can't make my job a little easier by having the dishwasher or dish drying rack emptied before the party to streamline the post-party dishwashing process!

My living room, dining room, patio, or other entertaining space. I ask myself: Where are my guests and I going to be spending most of our time? Where do I plan to sit? That space ought to be tidied and at least not embarrassingly dirty. I dust anything that's obviously dusty (but don't worry about what's out of sight, like ceiling fan blades or the top of six-foot tall bookcases). I sweep or vacuum. I move clutter out of the room. That's it. It doesn't have to take five hours or stress me out. I just tidy up and clean a little and call it good.

 

5. THE PREP

My favorite way to prep for parties is to spread the work out, and I do that in a couple different ways.

I get as much work done early as possible. I prep food earlier in the day or the day before when possible. I clean a day or two in advance. If I'm being fancy and decorating for the party, I do it the night before or earlier in the day. Doing so allows me to have time for rest in between completing party prep tasks. It saves me from running around like a chicken with my head cut off as I try to get everything done in the couple hours before people are due to show up. And it keeps me calm and relaxed as I prep because I know I have ample time to do everything.

I also accept (and sometimes request) help from others! People often offer to bring something, and it can be hard sometimes to accept because I want to do it all myself, but it's so much easier when I let other people help out! Not only does it take some of the weight off my shoulders, but it also gives my guests something to contribute, which many of them will appreciate because they don't like coming empty-handed. If I have everything you need, I let guests help me prep the food, set the table, or wash the dishes. That way, I get an extra set of hands and can spend more time together. It's a win-win!

 

That's it. You can go fancy and keep everything on a theme if you want. You can make elaborate dishes or try new recipes if that's what your little heart desires. But something tells me you might just appreciate some permission to pare down your hosting this summer in the name of slowing things down, savoring the season, and saving your sanity! I know I do!

I'd love to know what you thought of these tips! Drop a comment below or reach out to chat more about simplifying every area of your life, home, and/or business!

Later, lovely!Jessie (1).png

 

 

5 Keys to Embracing Slower Living

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Tired of living life at a frenetic pace? Exhausted from the length of your to-do list? Overwhelmed with how jam-packed your calendar is?

I feel your pain.

I know what it's like to feel the need to say "yes" to everything, to feel like you have to always be doing more in order to keep up, let alone get ahead or "be someone."

Our society moves at a sprint, and somewhere along the line we've bought into the lie that we have to push ourselves to keep up.

But what if we didn't? 

What if we started living our lives at a slower, more sustainable pace? What if we could show the world that there's a better, more peaceful, more joyful, more productive way to live?

There are a few keys to embracing this sort of slower living.

 

1. KNOW YOUR PRIORITIES

What matters the very most to you? Most people can come up with an answer to that question pretty quickly, saying things like their family, their friends, their work, or their faith.

But when it really comes down to it, many of us don't live like our priorities are what we say they are.

We hustle and rush to put in more hours at work to make more money to buy fancy things to impress people because it's what we think we're supposed to do. We think we have to compete to be the best and have the best.

But that's not the truth. 

I've been there, too, saying my friends and family matter to me, but then putting those relationships on the back burner because after a long day of work, running errands, and making dinner, all I wanted was some "me time."

Having a more flexible schedule with my work-from-home life has been such a game-changer for me. Now I'm more in control of my schedule, and I can make more time for my people. Of course, that began before I started working from home, and it's definitely doable without being your own boss. 

I reached a point where the things I valued weren't being prioritized correctly in my life. I was living my life on autopilot, making time for what was absolutely necessary (or what seemed like it was) and sacrificing the things that are truly more important (rest, relationships) in the name of productivity and adult responsibilities. 

But now I'm able to see that we can take control of our time. We can prioritize the things that we value most. We can work a little less. We can start saying "no" to some (often good) things so we can say "yes" to the best things. We can create more space for relationships. 

All it takes is declaring what your priorities are and taking steps to put them first-- with your calendar, your energy, and your finances.

 

2. START SAYING "NO"

If your schedule is anything like mine, there are seasons that are so jam-packed full of activities that you wonder how you're going to get any sleep or fit in a shower.

We move so quickly through our lives, running from work to our doctor appointment to the grocery store, hurrying home to make dinner before we head out to our small group gathering. I kid you not; I used to have days like that. But they were absolutely exhausting. And when it only happens once in a while, it's not a big deal. We adapt. We make it work. It's fine.

But when we live our lives in hyperdrive, we wear ourselves out. We weren't designed to move so fast. And when we're rushing through life, we miss some of the best things it has to offer.

The only way to slow down so we can savor each season and all it has to offer is to start saying "no" to things. I know that's much easier said than done. I know. But I also know how rewarding and relaxing it can be.

When we give ourselves permission to not do all the things, we all of a sudden find the freedom to choose what we're going to invest in. We give ourselves the opportunity then to invest in community, to embrace rest, to walk a little slower, to build some empty space into our schedules in case we want to go out for coffee with a friend or sleep a little later or read a few chapters of a good book. 

And do you know what happens when we let ourselves live a little slower? We relax. We know we don't have to rush from one thing to the next, so we can rest more. We get to prioritize the things we value most. We're more present with our people. 

I have been working on observing Sabbath for a while, telling myself Sundays are for rest and worship, not for work. But even so, I was moving at a pretty quick clip, even on Sundays. We occasionally have all-church lunches after our gatherings, and I would volunteer to help, but wouldn't typically stay too long because I always had at least five things to do before Monday came along.

We had one of these lunches recently, and I didn't leave until 3:30, which is possibly a new record for me. I met with my pastor a few days later, and he expressed genuine surprise at having seen me stay so late. You see, he's known me for years and seen my propensity for rushing and hustling and staying busy. He knows it's hard for me to put people above productivity. He actually commended me for carving out so much space for community. I told him I've been working on creating space for rest and relationships, and that I had decided to be flexible and focus on spending time with people that day (and others, too, but especially that day). It didn't go unnoticed. That wasn't my goal, of course, but it was reassuring to know that my intentional decision to be present was noted and important. All because I decided what I was going to say "yes" and "no" to.

 

 

3. STOP COMPARING

We can't do it all, but we often think we can and feel pressure to try. We see so many others who appear to be able to do everything-- work full-time in an impressive and fulfilling career, go on date nights and vacations, dress fashionably without effort, cook drool-worthy meals that look indulgent but are secretly healthy, keep an impeccably clean and beautifully decorated home, go for ten-mile runs every day, and fill their journaling Bible with perfect handlettering and illustrations.

Who needs that kind of pressure? None of us are perfect, even if some people appear to be from their social media feeds. I promise you they're also getting frustrated about how often they have to clean their bathrooms and what to have for dinner tonight when they realize there's no food in the house.

Let's just stop the rat race, okay? Let's press pause on the comparison loop that just leaves us feeling like we're less than. 

Choosing to stop comparing is amazingly, breathtakingly, freeing. It gives us permission to be ourselves in a way that little else does. And it frees up so much mental energy that was being used comparing, criticizing, and worrying-- energy that can now fuel our creativity, relationships, and productivity.

 

4. TAKE A TECHNOLOGY BREAK

I can't even begin to tell you how much I needed a break from technology a couple weeks ago. It had pretty much taken over my life, between working on the computer all the live-long day, listening to music, watching TV shows, scrolling through social media, watching workout videos, checking email, and receiving text messages, I was being inundated with messages and spending more time staring at screens than I'd ever want to admit.

It was time for a break.

I decided to take a couple days off over the weekend, and it was so rejuvenating. I didn't even miss anything important. And I got to be much more present with my people, which was really what I was going for. 

I disengaged from technology (social media in particular) so I could engage with the real world and real people around me. 

We spend so much time looking at what others are doing-- watching the news, scrolling through Instagram, checking out people's updates on Facebook. What if we stepped away for a bit and focused on what we're doing instead? What if we turned off the screens and looked at the people and the world around us for a minute?

 

5. FOCUS ON RELATIONSHIPS

People matter more than things. Relationships matter more than productivity.

I know these things to be true, but I also know how hard it is to live like they're true. It's all too easy to bury ourselves in our work and busyness, neglecting time with our people because we think they'll always be more opportunities to spend time with them.

But the truth is there might not be. We only have today, and I suspect that if we all thought about it, we'd rather have spent more of it engaging in relationships than putting in another two hours at the office at the end of the day.

People and relationships are the only things that last, the only things we can hope to take with us. Everything else will fade or be lost entirely. So let's choose to invest in the most important blessings we've been given-- our people. When we do, we'll realize that project we were going to finish and that elaborate dinner we were going to make don't really need our attention right now. They can wait. Our friends and family can't. They need us more than our to-do list does. 

Living more slowly means we get to engage more with the world and the people around us. It means being flexible with our schedules and our plans. It means choosing relationships over our to-do lists. And I can't think of a better way to live!

 

Do you feel empowered to live a slower life now? I hope you do! My dream for you is that you can create a life, home, and/or business you LOVE by designing it with joy, simplicity, and intention, and embracing slower living is a step in that direction! If you want to chat more about living and working with greater joy, simplicity, and intention, I'd love to set up a call with you!

Later, lovely!Jessie (1).png

 

 

Simple Meal Planning in 5 Steps {Sanity Savers Part 2}

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Why is it that we have to make so much food?! It's like the next meal comes 2.5 seconds after we cleaned up from the last one, and sometimes we're just too exhausted to even think about what to make to feed ourselves and our people.

In the summer, it's even harder. The house is too hot to run the oven for hours on end. We have plans to go to the neighbors' barbecue or our sister's grill out or that church picnic. There are so many things to do that we can hardly fix a sandwich for lunch around them.

How do we take care of ourselves and our families, make enough food in such limited time, and contribute to the food-centered get-togethers we have every weekend without going crazy?

We simplify. We pare down. We slow down. 

 

1. PICK SOME EASY RECIPES

You don't have to get fancy or complicated. In fact, summer is the perfect time to stick to easy recipes because they allow the amazing, fresh summer foods to shine through. 

There are so many ways to let summer produce shine through and get away without adding tons of other ingredients or having to use fancy, time-consuming methods to spice things up. Chop some fresh veggies and mix together a quick vinaigrette for an amazing salad. Cut up a bunch of seasonal fruit for a tasty fruit salad. Grill some veggie skewers when you're already firing up the grill for your chicken or burgers. 

Some simple summer recipes I have my eyes on are:

BREAKFAST:

Blueberry Muffin Overnight Oats from Fit Foodie Finds

Breakfast Oatmeal Cupcakes To Go by Chocolate Covered Katie

One Bowl Carrot Apple Muffins by Minimalist Baker

Flourless Chocolate Blender Muffins by Chocolate Covered Katie

Gluten-Free Vegan Breakfast Cookies by Minimalist Baker

 

LUNCH/DINNER:

5 Minute Veggie Sandwich with Hummus and Feta by Back to the Book Nutrition

Slow-Cooker Apple Cider Pulled Chicken Sandwiches for #WeekdaySupper from Cupcakes and Kale Chips

Simple Cucumber Salad with Lime Vinaigrette from Live Simply

Mixed Baby Greens with Strawberries, Gorgonzola and Poppy Seed Dressing from Skinnytaste

Heirloom Tomato & Avocado Salad by Love and Lemons

Crockpot Garlic Herb Whole Chicken by The Frugal Girls

Grilled Mango Chicken with Strawberry Mango Salsa by Lexi's Clean Kitchen

Easy Roasted Lemon-Garlic Shrimp from Skinnytaste

 

SNACKS/DESSERTS:

Creamy Pineapple Cucumber Smoothie by Minimalist Baker

Tropical Acai Bowl by Cookie and Kate

Blackberry Lemon Ice Cream by Vegukate

Oatmeal Raisin Breakfast Cookies by Chocolate Covered Katie

The Best Paleo Chocolate Chunk Cookies from Ambitious Kitchen

Clean Blueberry Almond Crumble by Amy's Healthy Baking

 

2. STICK WITH WHAT YOU KNOW

One great way to simplify your meal planning and cooking this summer is to stick with what you know. It eliminates the stress associated with trying to figure out the nuances of a new recipe-- rereading the instructions for the umpteenth time, forgetting to buy an essential ingredient, tweaking the process to suit your taste, realizing your oven cooks slower than theirs.

It's just easier to stick with tried-and-true recipes or slight variations of known dishes. You'll feel more confident. You'll be able to put things together faster. You'll stress less.

Got a perfect pasta salad to bring to picnics? Nobody will notice or mind if you bring it to all of them. Do you have a signature dessert? I'm sure everyone will actually love it if they get to taste it more than once this season. It's like an encore presentation!

I'm a big fan of repetition, whether it's exactly the same every time or just a little bit different. I personally like trying new recipes, but when I'm pressed for time or trying to simplify like I am in this season, I stick to what I know and slight variations on the theme. I might swap one herb for another or one seasonal veggie for another to mix things up, but the general recipe is the same. 

Whether you're bringing food to a get-together, cooking for yourself, or making food for your family, you can rotate through a list of tried-and-true recipes. You can select your favorites (or crowd-pleasers or family-approved dishes) and create a few different weekly menus (more about that in step 3) to rotate through every so often. It's up to you if you want to have four menus or six or eight, but then you'd have a solid collection of not only recipes but weekly plans that include meals you already know how to make and know everyone will love! It takes the guessing out of it and relieves so much stress!

 

3. MAKE A PLAN FOR THE WEEK

Failing to plan is planning to fail, right? I grew up without much meal planning experience. We would try to come up with ideas for dinners for the week, but we still wove our way through every aisle of the grocery store asking each other, "What do you want this week? What sounds good?" I kid you not, it took us two hours to grocery shop. And we still felt like there was no food in the house when it came time to make dinner because we didn't shop with meals planned in mind.

Now that I'm cooking for myself and shopping for myself, I've changed the routine to one that works better for me. I meal plan every week, deciding what I want to make so I can eliminate that guesswork and stress. I get excited about cooking and trying new recipes, so I look forward to prepping those chia seed parfaits on Sundays and chicken fajita bowls on Tuesday.

And it feels like a big weight off my shoulders when I know I have all my meals accounted for because I know I won't have to worry about what to make for dinner (and whether I need to thaw chicken or soak chickpeas or cashews for hours before I can even start cooking). It saves me so much time and mental energy, which are then freed up for other things, like walks outside and time with friends and family!

Like I mentioned in step 2, you can create a few weekly meal plans you like and know, and then rotate through them to fill the month with recipe plans. Then you have more than a week planned, and you know the recipes are winners! It streamlines the process even further.

Want to start your own meal plan? I have a free printable you can use! It even has a page for your grocery list!

 

4. MAKE A GROCERY LIST

The easiest way to get frustrated and go overbudget with your grocery shopping is to not make a list in the first place.

Going shopping without a list is like trying to put IKEA furniture together without the instructions. Or like trying to buy an outfit for an unknown guest. You might get close, but you're not going to get it completely right, and it's going to take far longer and cause far more stress than is necessary.

If you do a quick inventory of what you have at home, you'll be able to put together a list of items you need in order to make the recipes you've earmarked for the week without the guesswork that happens when you're standing in the bread aisle and can't remember if you have hamburger buns at home or not, only to pick up another package and then find out you already have three bags of them at home.

Putting a list together ensures that you get all the things you need, and in the correct varieties and quantities. It also helps curb impulse buys because you have a list you can stick to and stay focused on. For that reason, it also helps save you time! You can zip around the store to get the things on your list without having to go down every single aisle and decide what you want for the week; you already know!

 

5. CONDENSE YOUR SHOPPING

I know people who go to the store whenever they need just two things. They'll just swing in on their way home from work and grab what they need. Inevitably, they end up picking up five more things (wouldn't we all?), and sometimes they still manage to forget the things they went to the store to get! Okay, so I've been this person. But I've adapted my shopping habits because it wasn't working for me. It took too much of my time, mental energy, and money because I was shopping so haphazardly.

Now I batch my errands. I look at my grocery list (see step 4), and based on what I need, I make the call about what store(s) I'm going to go to. I don't know what's available in your area or where you prefer to go, but Aldi is my #1 choice. They don't have everything because they're a rather small store, so sometimes I have to go to another store to get what I can't find at Aldi. And if I know that the vast majority of the items on my list for the week aren't going to be found at Aldi, I might elect to skip it and go directly to my second-choice store to save the time. But if I do go to more than one store, I plan it out so that I can go in one run, on just one day. 

Batching my errands like this means I don't have to spend time running around to store after store every day of the week. It means I'm not tempted to buy impulse items day after day. It means I have more time on Thursday because I did all my shopping on Wednesday, and I can rest knowing I won't have to go again until next Wednesday.

 

Those are my best tips for simplifying your meal planning to save your sanity this summer (or in any season, really). Let me know which one resonated with you the most!

And if you're looking for more help simplifying your life, home, and/or business, let's chat! I'd love to hear from you!

 

Later, lovely!Jessie (1).png

Coloring Therapy for a Slower Summer

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In the craziness of life, I often find myself not feeling like doing adult things. I have no choice when it comes to the really important things like work and paying my bills. But I occasionally put off things like dishes or vacuuming or balancing my budget in favor of doing something more childlike-- coloring, reading, or playing a game.

I love how much adult coloring books have been gaining popularity! I've seen them at a few different stores, and it makes me feel like I no longer have to hide the fact that I'm secretly a fan of coloring even though I'm no longer six years old.

 

catharsis OF COLORING

If you haven't personally tried coloring since you were a kid, you're missing out on its cathartic properties! I promise it's relaxing, unless you're super particular about having the end result be fridge-worthy. If you color with the intention of just having a good time, it will be!

Sitting down with a coloring sheet and some colored pencils gives me an escape from everyday stresses and messes. It forces me to step away from my computer, my to-do list, and the inner dialogue that's tripping me up with an unending litany of tasks, minor frustrations, and rushing to and fro.

Taking a coloring break forces me to slow down and focus on the task at hand instead of stewing over the past or worrying about the future. All I need in that moment is to look at what's right in front of me. It recharges me and reenergizes me!

I have a friend who doodles during lectures and sermons because it gives her hands something to do while she's listening. If she doesn't have a pen and paper, her mind wanders, but if she can distract herself with a beautiful mandala drawing in her notebook, she can pay attention better. 

I've found the same to be true with my own wandering mind. If I have something for my hands or body to do, I can listen better and think more clearly. When I need to recharge my creative juices, I'll go for a walk. When I want to listen to some music or a podcast or just chat with a friend without having my eyes (and brain) wander all over the place, I'll go for a walk, or now pick up a coloring book!

 

COLORING COMMUNITY

Not only can coloring be a stress-relieving activity, but I've discovered how it can also be a social activity. I've gone to a few girls' get-togethers over the years to spend time both with people I know and other friends of theirs that I have never met.

Having coloring pages and colored pencils out gave us a place to start, something to do with our hands, and something to focus on besides the pressure to make small talk. Even around my good friends, it was nice to have something to do while enjoying comfortable silence when conversations trailed off.

Some people might be hesitant at first (maybe you are, too!), but as soon as one person picks up a sheet and the perfect shade of blue, everyone else feels like they've been given permission to start, too. And it's like a breath of fresh air because everyone already wanted to; they just needed someone else to go first. So let's be the ones who go first! And maybe also the ones who are okay with coloring outside the lines a little!

 

CULTIVATING SLOWNESS

Coloring is a slow activity, unless you're a frantic three-year-old. It's meditative, contemplative, and relaxing. 

Having a relatively mindless activity can be a welcome break in a world and life that moves along at warp-speed. I know that when I'm stressed and feeling overwhelmed, what I want most is to not have to do anything. I want to go for a walk, watch television, or color. I don't want to have to think. But I generally don't feel so great about how I've spent my time if I just binge-watch my latest obsession on Netflix, so coloring is a better choice!

I love the complex adult coloring pages that have detailed mandalas and patterns that take a while to complete. The kid inside of me gets restless with them, feeling rushed because I want to finish. But then I realize I don't have to finish it all in one sitting, and that's liberating. It's nice to have a little (very easy and comparatively tidy) project going in the background that I can return to whenever I have time or need to unwind.

As we slow down for summer to fully savor the best the season has to offer, may we choose to pull out a coloring sheet and some colored pencils instead of turning Netflix on out of habit. May we invite some friends over for a coloring and appetizer party, complete with some twinkly lights and a playlist of relaxing music. I think that sounds lovely, don't you?

 

NEXT STEPS

Looking for a coloring book for yourself or a friend? Check these out!

A Giving Heart: A Coloring Book Celebrating Motherhood

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Adult Coloring Book : Stress Relieving Designs Animals, Mandalas, Flowers, Paisley Patterns And So Much More

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And if you're like me and don't know what you'd do with the finished sheets (which you could frame as art, give as gifts, or turn into cards, by the way), you can check out coloring apps! I have Colorfy on my Kindle, and I love it so much!

Later, lovely!Jessie (1).png

 

More:

Health Benefits of Adult Coloring Books by Katie at Wellness Mama

Coloring your way to a healthy mind by Sara Dignan for USA Today College

Photo by Foto Garage AG on Unsplash

 

 

[This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase something through my link, I will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thanks for supporting Notes from Jessie!]

 

Simplifying Your Schedule in 5 Steps {Sanity Savers, Part 1}

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Welcome to summer, the season of construction, graduation parties, vacations, and too many barbecues to possibly fit into just three months!

Okay, so I might be joking just a little, but isn't that pretty close to reality? Just think for a second about all the things you have going on between now and September.

  • graduation open houses
  • weddings
  • bridal and baby showers
  • bachelorette parties for said weddings
  • road trips
  • picnics and barbecues
  • bonfires
  • family reunions
  • family vacations
  • summer sports
  • work deadlines
  • work functions
  • birthdays
  • new projects
  • summer hobbies (gardening, boating, etc.)
  • normal demands like paying bills, grocery shopping, making dinner, and the like

Are you feeling overwhelmed yet? I am, and I don't even have all of those things on my personal list! Just the act of brainstorming so many things and writing them down was enough to make me need a nap.

As much as I LOVE summer, it can be stressful when we try to cram too many things into such a short time of the year. If our expectations for our summers are too high, we're going to drive ourselves (and our people) crazy by scheduling everything out the wazoo and planning more things than we can possibly do.

So what's a girl to do instead? How do we make the most of our summers (or any season, really) without going insane?

 

1. REEVALUATE YOUR EXPECTATIONS

As you enter into this season, what are you expecting from it?

Are you expecting to get all your projects done, to reach new heights with your work, to grow your business, or to accomplish a laundry list of work-related tasks?

Do you expect to engage in all the activities you want to do, like gardening, reading, going for walks, swimming, water skiing, boating, tubing, grilling, biking, and running?

Are you expecting to have all your weekends serve as restful bookends for your crazy weeks? To have lazy Saturdays and slow Sundays at home?

Do you expect to get away often for cabin weekends, road trips, or family vacations?

Are you expecting to have people over and participate in all the social engagements this season brings-- barbecues, bonfires, grill outs, birthday parties, graduation parties, bridal and baby showers, and everything along those lines?

Do you really think you can do all of that without going crazy? Do you think you can do it all and still manage to take care of yourself, your family, and the things that just never seem to be done and will never go away, like cooking dinner and doing the laundry?

There's a way to have a meaningful summer you can enjoy without losing your sanity in the process.

 

2. DECIDE WHAT YOUR PRIORITIES ARE

As with any goal setting, you're going to have to consider what your priorities are. Hopefully I'm not the first to tell you this, but you can't do everything. You're going to have to choose what you want to prioritize and what you're willing to put on the back burner for now or let go of completely.

Do you want to prioritize traditions or family trips? Then you need to minimize your work commitments or see if you can reschedule them to allow time for your trips. And it means you're going to have to miss some of those graduation open houses and bonfires with friends, too.

Do you want to reserve space on your calendar for a new project you're working on? Then you're likely going to have to say "no" to keeping your garden alive or spend time working on the project instead of learning to water ski.

What are your priorities in this season? What means the most to you? What are you not willing to compromise on? Identify those things and write them down.

For me, this means choosing community and relationships over more time spent on marketing and strategizing. That looks like scheduling my work time around my social calendar so I can make room for that day at the lake or that bonfire. It also means not mindlessly scrolling through social media, but using it intentionally to grow community or taking a little break until I can approach it through that lens.

 

3. PUT YOUR PRIORITIES ON YOUR CALENDAR FIRST

Before you get too far with the color-coded chart you need to write down every single thing you have planned for the summer, put your priorities on your calendar first. By writing them down, you make sure you have time carved out for them.

If we're not careful, things will keep popping up and taking away time from what's really important. It's the difference between urgent and important, or even seemingly urgent and important. If we have already declared what's really valuable and worthwhile, what we truly want to be investing our time, energy, and money into, then it's much easier to focus on the important and put the distractions in their place.

Once you have your priorities in place, you can fill in the extra things around them like garnish on a dinner plate-- they add color, variety, and fun without being entirely necessary.

I like to plan in 90-day increments, so I'm creating my plans for the whole summer at once. I began by putting my non-negotiables on my calendar: Sundays and Thursdays with my people, Mondays with my family, and some of my favorite aspects of my work (twice weekly blog posts, twice weekly Facebook Lives). These are things I don't want to miss, so I made sure to put them on my calendar. 

After I had the really important things on my calendar, I added in more of the fun extra stuff: the weddings, the birthdays, the day trips and coffee dates. I love these things, but they have to support my bigger-picture priorities by fitting in where I can make room. They aren't the main dish; they're the wonderful extras.

 

4. TAKE ONE THING OFF YOUR LIST

I know you just carefully planned your priorities and activities, and now I'm asking you to take one away. You might think that sounds crazy or that there's nothing you could take away. But I want you to think about it for a moment.

Is there something you're doing just because you think you should? Quit it. Is there something on your calendar just because you've always done it? You can stop. Is there something you're planning to do because you were invited, but you don't really want to? Don't.

Give yourself a break by taking just one thing off your calendar.

I was trying to figure out if I could make it to the dance portion of a wedding reception in a couple weeks while still juggling various plans for Father's Day (which is the same weekend). Our plans haven't been set in stone, but as it's important for me to spend time with my family, especially on holidays that honor family, I'm prioritizing that time and declining the invite to the dance at the wedding because trying to do both was stressing me out a little.

And do you know what happened? People understood. Nobody got upset. The world moved on. And the best part? I could finally relax about the whole thing!

 

5. STAND YOUR GROUND

Okay, so this may not seem like it will simplify your schedule, but I promise it will help you stick to your guns!

How likely are you to follow your more simplified schedule if your mom, sister, neighbor, coworker, or best friend starts poking holes in your plan?

It's challenging to pursue living intentionally and carefully guarding your calendar when the people around you don't understand. 

Our people have enormous sway over us and how we spend our time. Their opinions matter to us and even shape our own.

So how do we handle it when they don't understand why we aren't going to be attending our second cousin's neighbor's graduation open house?

  1. We find polite ways to decline ("I'm sorry, but I won't be able to make it," "I have to decline, unfortunately," "I won't be able to make it this time.") Sometimes declining is all that's required; we can rest knowing we don't always have to give a lengthy reason why.
  2. We kindly explain (when necessary) that we are focusing on creating space for time with our close family and friends, or improving our health, or building our business, or whatever our key priorities are, and say we hope they understand it's not personal, that it's just a matter of not being able to make both work at the same time.
  3. We seek out community with those who do understand. There's no true replacement for in-person community with your tribe, but you can absolutely supplement it with like-minded people who can support you and even give you tips for how to navigate tough situations! If you're looking for a good group to start with, might I suggest mine, The Joy + Full Living Community? We encourage one another and discuss topics of joy, simplicity, intention, time management, and peace.

This is your summer, your life, not anyone else's. I encourage you to not let anyone else dictate how you spend your time by demanding what you do and don't engage in. You have the freedom to create the kind of life you want, and the easiest way I've found is to simplify my schedule so the most important things get the most of my time, and in return I get the most joy out of how I'm spending my time!

 

If you want to talk more about simplifying your clutter, finances, time, home, or business, I would absolutely LOVE that! It's my passion to help women create lives, homes, and businesses they love by designing them with joy, simplicity, and intention, and I'd be so, so happy to talk to you! Let's schedule a chat, shall we?

Later, lovely!Jessie (1).png

 

 

 

12 Things You Can Simplify Today for a Slower Summer

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Summer is for slowing down and savoring the sunshine, sunsets, and sunglasses life, right?

Then why do we so often end up hustling from ball games to picnics to work meetings to doctor appointments to road trips to endless Target runs, wearing ourselves thin and not pausing to enjoy any of it?

A big part of the reason why we fill our summer schedules to overflowing is because we fear missing out on good things (we experience FOMO, as the cool kids call it).

Because we're so afraid of missing out on things, we pack our days, weeks, months, and years with everything we can possibly fit in, and then some. 

But can I tell you a little secret? Actually, it's two.

  1. You can't actually do it all.
  2. You're not missing out when you're doing what's most important to you.

None of us are able to do everything. It might look like your neighbor, coworker, or cousin can do it all based on their social media feeds, but I assure you that if you took a peek inside their home on a regular Tuesday afternoon, you'd find a different story: dirty dishes piled up in the sink, laundry everywhere, toys scattered across the floor, a mystery substance on the kitchen table, and muddy footprints by the back door. Nobody can juggle everything our culture seems to suggest we can, and when we try to do it all, we just run ourselves ragged and let the chaos drain the joy out of our lives.

I don't know about you, but that's not how I want to live my life (actually, I strongly suspect you feel the same way, or you wouldn't be here, reading this right now). I would far rather have a life full of my favorite things and people and some messiness than to have one that looks picture perfect on the outside but feels ever so ragged and out of order on the inside.

Summer is the best time of year to slow down, hands down. The days are longer. The kids aren't in school (I don't have any, but you know, friends' kids and cousins' kids and the kids down the street...). It's vacation time and pool time and time for lake days. It's the season of trips and travels. It's the time for more days spent with loved ones. And we can't do that if we're running ourselves into the ground trying to tackle mile-long to-do lists.

So let's choose to slow down in this season so we can spend more of our time and energy the way we want to-- lavishing in these longer, sunnier days with our people.

Because I don't want to just offer empty encouragement to live slower, I'm also going to give you some practical, real-life tips to make it happen this summer!

Make sure you grab the printable version of the list here!

 

1. SIMPLIFY YOUR SUMMER GOALS

Write down all your goals for your summer. What do you want to do? What do you want to accomplish? How do you want to spend your time?

Now look at your list. How does it make you feel? Chances are you came up with a pretty long list. Most people do. Once we start thinking about all the possibilities and everything we'd ideally like to accomplish, we go crazy, thinking we can fit in more than is actually possible. 

Highlight the things that are absolute musts. What traditions, trips, tasks, and activities are non-negotiable for you?

Now I want you to cross out the things that you wouldn't really be disappointed about if they didn't get included. Maybe that includes an extra trip to the cabin or a road trip or going to the museum or starting a new work project or taking on more clients. Remember you can't do it all, so what are you willing to let go of or put off for another season?

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If you're anything like me, most of the things on your list will fall in the middle somewhere. Do you know what that indicates? They're optional. They're not non-negotiable, but they're not just fluff, either. Doing this exercise myself, I was amazed to see how many things I wasn't willing to claim as non-negotiables. Yes, I'd love to do them this summer, and I might be mildly disappointed if I don't get around to them, but they aren't essential.

The key to simplifying your summer goals is to focus on the essentials, just the things you highlighted. Those are the big-ticket items, the ones that have to take priority. The rest is just icing on the cake. This summer, I'm giving you permission (and maybe a gentle push) to just focus on the essentials. If you make time for those, the rest really won't matter!

So what are your biggest (highlighted) goals for the summer?

 

2. SIMPLIFY YOUR SUMMER PRIORITIES

Now that you have your goals figured out for the summer, you need to prioritize them. I did a Facebook Live video recently about priorities, and I'm not going to stop anytime soon. They're so important! And many of us are doing them wrong.

I hate to break it to you, but you can't have twelve priorities. You probably can't even have seven. I'd suggest keeping your list to five or fewer because it's much more manageable and you're much more likely to follow through that way without spreading yourself too thin. 

Based on your goals, what do your priorities need to be? 

Normally, I would suggest identifying your priorities first, but hang with me here if you're thinking this doesn't make sense. In this instance, I started with goals because many of us think first in terms of what we want to accomplish this summer, not necessarily what we want to focus on and prioritize. So I ordered these items based on our natural thinking patterns.

Our priorities do inform our goals, but we can reverse-engineer them based on the goals we've declared. So using my own example, because attending my dad's softball games on Monday nights is important, that indicates that family is important to me. Because I want to grow vegetables in my garden and go for daily walks, I know that I'm valuing and prioritizing my health. Because I highlighted community, I know I need to prioritize time with my people and investing in relationships. And because I decided Sabbath is a non-negotiable, I need to prioritize rest and worship, too.

You see how that works? What priorities do you need to have in place in order to accomplish your biggest goals for the summer (the ones you highlighted in step 1)?

 

3. SIMPLIFY YOUR SUMMER SCHEDULE

Summer schedules can be the very definition of crazy if we're not careful with them! Before we know it, they get filled with graduation open houses, barbecues, bonfires, work deadlines, new projects, health goals, road trips, cabin weekends, weddings, bridal and baby showers, and all kinds of appointments. Those are all good and necessary things, but they can be overwhelming when they're packed in too tightly. 

This summer I'm advocating for a simpler schedule.

We don't have to do all the things. In fact, let's not do all the things. That just sounds tiring! Let's do just the best, the most important things.

The first step is to put in the things you're prioritizing, actually in their appropriate time blocks on your calendar. If you declare portions of your time to be used for certain things, you're much more likely to keep those "appointments" and invest in what matters most to you. If you just say you'll "do that when you have more time" or "do that sometime," you probably won't actually do it. 

Put the non-negotiables into your schedule first to make sure you create space for them. Then you can start filling in the middle-of-the-road things (the ones that weren't crossed out or highlighted) as they fit. It's a matter of choosing to invest in the best things, which means sometimes saying no to other good things. It can be hard, but it's oh, so rewarding when you have ample time to spend doing your favorite things with your favorite people because you chose to be intentional with how you spend your time.

You can write it on a paper planner, a dry-erase calendar, or put it in your phone (I actually do all three because I'm a planning nerd like that)-- whatever works best for you. Color-code it by category or person, or don't. Make it fancy, or don't. Just write down how you plan to use your time, simplified down to the most important things.

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4. SIMPLIFY YOUR SUMMER MEALS

I love trying new recipes all the time and cooking with obscure ingredients because I truly enjoy cooking, and there are always new things to try! But I'm falling in love with a simpler approach-- using a few really good ingredients to make something simpler, fresher, and lighter.

Summer's the time for lighter, fresher foods, right? I don't mean just salads, but certain dishes are more summery than others, and this is the opportunity to take advantage of all the amazing foods summer has to offer, along with simpler ways of preparing them. Doing so gives us the opportunity to spend less time surrounding a hot stove and more time relaxing by the lake or playing games with our people, and I'm all for that!

Meal planning is a great way to simplify your approach to cooking. It's so stressful to not know what you're going to have for dinner until 4:00pm when you get home from work and take inventory of an almost-empty fridge and pantry. The better way? Planning your meals in advance. Not only will it save you from last-minute decisions and unhealthy choices they breed, but you'll be able to craft your grocery list from your meal plan so you have everything you need on hand already! And you can pick a few and rotate through them to simplify the process even more!

Ideas for simpler meals include (but certainly aren't limited to):

 

5. SIMPLIFY YOUR SUMMER HOSPITALITY

I love hosting get-togethers and parties, but it can be really stressful to prepare for having people over. Unless you choose to simplify the process, that is.

We often feel pressured to create Pinterest-worthy parties and have spotless homes. But when was the last time you really cared if your friends dusted before you came over or had their food revolve around a unified theme for the evening? There's about a 95% chance you said "never" to that question. And if you don't care about others doing that for you, others won't care if you do that for them.

When people come over to your house, whether it's just for coffee or a playdate or a dinner party or a birthday, what they really want is time spent with you and the other guests. They don't need fancy food, beautiful decor, or an elaborately-planned set of games and activities. Those things have their place, but that place is not simple summer hospitality.

So my advice for this summer is this: focus on the people and creating a welcoming place. Make some good, simple food (see step 4), turn on a playlist, and hang out with your people. It's that simple!

 

6. SIMPLIFY YOUR SUMMER CLEANING

Okay, but what about cleaning before you host things? Or just cleaning in general? I wish I could say you could just forget about it, but your house would get pretty gross by September. 

You do need to clean your house some, but you don't have to deep clean on a regular basis. Dust. Sweep. Vacuum. Make sure your kitchen and bathroom are presentable (not perfect, just passable; we can lower our standards here a little in the name of authenticity and simplicity, friends). Maybe do a quick tidy-up for five minutes before the doorbell's due to ring, just to pick up tripping hazards and hide the dirty laundry. Or maybe don't. You make that call.

I wrote all about spring cleaning, and I even did a post on how to keep your home clean, which is what I'm talking about here. It's maintenance. It's just keeping things from getting out of control. If it's clean enough for you and the other people who live there, it's clean enough.

 

7. SIMPLIFY YOUR SUMMER SOCIALIZING

You do not have to go to every party, get-together, coffee date, graduation open house, and bonfire you're invited to. You now officially have my permission to say "no."

I know what it's like to feel bad for wanting to say "no" to some social situations so you can do other things like rest, sleep, spend time with your family, or just have a little space for yourself.

There's no shame in saying "no," especially when you're doing it intentionally. If you find yourself feeling worn out, start saying "no." If you start feeling obligated to attend absolutely everything, start saying "no" to create some margin. If you're dreading going to a particular happy hour or graduation party, just say "sorry, I won't be able to make it." 

Make spending time with your core people your main priority in social situations. Give priority to the events and groups that mean the most to you, the ones you most want to invest in. And if you have the schedule space and emotional space, work in some of the other things around the edges. But don't feel like you have to go to your second cousin's neighbor's graduation party just because they invited you on Facebook.

And when you're going to get-togethers and parties or hosting them yourself, keep it simple. Good food, good people, good music. That's all you need! It doesn't have to be elaborate or fancy. We're not trying to impress; we're trying to connect and enjoy life.

 

8. SIMPLIFY YOUR SUMMER TRIPS

I love trips with my people, whether we're talking about road trips, cabin trips, or trips that require getting on a plane. I love spending time with my people in concentrated amounts, and trips certainly do that!

But planning trips can be complicated and headache-inducing. We think we have to fill our time together will all the activities and plan for every contingency. 

What if we just streamlined and simplified things a bit? What if we came up with a handful of activities but didn't actually fill our entire schedule? Some of my favorite trips have been that way. We've brainstormed activity ideas so we can know what to pack if necessary, but we wait until we're settled in our vacation place to decide what we want to do that day.

Then we're not pressured to follow a schedule we set at home (before the fatigue of travel set in and the weather inevitably changed), and we have the freedom to go with how we're feeling that day, relaxing on the beach instead of touring some historical site or sleeping in instead of getting up early.

My parents build in a buffer day at the end of family trips, which I think is pure genius. They know how much travel takes out of them, so they plan a rest day for after we get back. And do you know what happens?

They're less stressed and rushed getting back because they know they built in that margin already. They have plenty of time. I want to learn from them in that practice. And I encourage you to do the same-- whether it looks like a buffer day to rest after your trip or just a looser itinerary that allows for more rest stops and play when you're traveling, it would be far less stressful and far more enjoyable!

 

9. SIMPLIFY YOUR SUMMER SOCIAL MEDIA

Social media can do great things in terms of keeping us connected with our loved ones, reconnecting us with people from our childhoods, and forging new connections with people who were previously strangers to us.

But it can also feed our FOMO feeling, and that's not good for our simplified summer goal or our sanity. We want to enjoy our summers, not spend them comparing our trips and lake days with others (or worse, our afternoons at the computer finishing a project with someone's day at Myrtle Beach).

I'm choosing to simplify my social media this summer. But what does that mean in practical terms? I have a few guidelines for myself. Feel free to adopt and adapt them for yourself!

  • no mindless scrolling through feeds when spending time with people in real life
  • turn it off when comparison sets in
  • step away for a weekend each month
  • schedule posts ahead of time to save time spent on social media (and increase time spent investing in real relationships)
  • share what's on my heart, whether it's deep and well-written or just a little note, without feeling pressured to make it perfect
  • decide what my "social media hours" are and observe them

 

10. SIMPLIFY YOUR SUMMER FITNESS

Summer is a great time to be outside! Unfortunately, many of us work indoors (like me!), so time spent outside is limited, which makes it all that more special!

I'm an advocate for doing whatever kind of fitness you like the most. I'm aware that different people like doing different things. That being said, summer gives us an open door to some activities we can't necessarily enjoy all year long (hello, Minnesota weather). So I encourage you to branch out this summer and take advantage of the things summer has to offer.

  • go for a walk, by yourself or with a friend
  • go for a bike ride (you can check to see if there are bike rentals in your area if you don't have one)
  • go for a run outside instead of logging miles on the treadmill
  • go for a swim in a lake or a pool 
  • if you have a dog, visit a dog park and run around with him or her
  • try a new activity, like wakeboarding, water skiing, or knee boarding

Fitness doesn't have to be complicated. All it takes is getting your body moving. And it doesn't have to be the same thing all the time, so this is the perfect time to mix it up a little and try something new when the opportunity arises!

 

11. SIMPLIFY YOUR SUMMER SHOPPING

Does anyone else feel like they always manage to forget something when they go to the store, so they inevitably have to go back the next day to get it (and, of course, five other things that weren't even on the list)?

Not to mention all the fancy, shiny summer things that we want to get-- new swimsuits, sunglasses, shorts, sandals, drink dispensers, dishes, serving platters, table cloths, gift bags, and lawn decor, just to name a few. 

I'm here to give us all an out: we don't need all that stuff. I realize sometimes we do need to replace old things or get some supplies for a get-together, but generally speaking, we can make do with what we have already!

It might take getting a little creative or being willing to borrow from a friend or a family member, but we don't need to buy more and more stuff, especially if it's just the same as something we already have, but a little newer or with a summery print added onto it. We have the freedom to decide we don't have to go shopping for all that extra stuff we don't need.

And for the things we do need, like food, we can simplify our shopping process still. We can use lists and plan our trips in a more efficient way. If we work to reduce the number of stops we make, we'll save time and energy. If we stick to a list, we'll save time and money. If we get into a habit of creating a list while we're at home, we won't forget about things we're running out of, and we'll be able to base the list off our simplified meal plan (see step 4), so we won't waste the food we buy. Bonus points if we can stick to one store for everything!

That's not my life, but I do batch my errands, strategically going to the farthest store and hitting the others on the way back in a methodical way that saves me time (because I'm not running out on separate trips) and getting everything I need!

 

12. SIMPLIFY YOUR CLUTTER

If you know me at all, you probably expected this one to make the list. But physical clutter breeds mental clutter, and the last thing we need is more mental clutter getting in the way of us savoring our summers!

When we take the time to clear out the excess, we'll be surrounded with things that bring us joy. We'll be able to enjoy other benefits, too!

  • less time spent cleaning
  • less time spent looking for lost things
  • less effort spent cleaning and re-organizing all the time
  • less time spent maintaining our stuff
  • more time and energy to invest in experiences and relationships
  • a more relaxing space to enjoy

If you're looking for more tips and a step-by-step guide to decluttering, I wrote more about it in the series that starts with this post, and I ran a Decluttering Bootcamp you can check out, too!

 

That's it! I don't know how you feel after reading those, but I feel like my summer has already gotten simpler! I hope you find those tips helpful, and if you did, I'd love to hear from you (or see you share it on your favorite social media platform) and how you're going to live slower this summer!

Make sure you grab the printable version of the list here!

And if you'd like some help to live slower and more intentionally, I'd LOVE to chat with you about that! It's my passion and joy to help women create lives and businesses they love by designing them with joy, simplicity, and intention, so let's chat about living more slowly!

Later, lovely!Jessie (1).png

 

 

Learning Lately: Spring 2018

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I like to share a bit of what I've been learning lately with you all, as a form of reflection and intention on my part so I remember to focus on learning new things through my experiences, but also as a reminder to you all that things we go through can prove to be wonderful teachers!

I'll admit, though, it's not my idea. I got it from Emily P. Freeman and Anne Bogel, who both write regularly about what they're learning-- check them out!

 

TRUST THE PROCESS

In this season, I've been learning to lean into trust instead of fear. I can't control everything, especially the outcome of anything. All I can do is move forward in faith and obedience, doing what I've been called to do in this place and in this season. 

I have to believe that I'm headed in the right direction, even when the end result isn't always clear. I was led to where I am right now, and as long as I keep asking for directions and following where God leads me, that's all I can do.

Whether in my business or in my personal life, I'm trying to trust the process. I'm focusing on a smaller portion, keeping my eyes on the present instead of letting them wander so often to the distant future and wondering what it looks like and how I'll ever get there. 

I'm cherishing this season and everything within it, knowing full well that some things might not be right decisions or relationships or ventures forever, but they are right now, and that's enough for me today. I'm trusting that God has me here and involved in these things for a reason, no matter how they end.

 

BE FLEXIBLE

Anyone who has known me for long knows how much I like to control things, or at least how very much I used to. I'm not cured by any means, but I have been getting better!

I had coffee with my pastor this week, and he said he's been noticing that change in me. When he asked when I was available for coffee, I told him I was free all week, and that response took him by surprise and made him question whether he was even talking to the same person! I  never used to have so much time for people or be willing to work my life around community, but I'm working to be more flexible.

I'm growing to be more willing to change plans, to go with the flow, to hold plans loosely, to not need to know all the details in order to move forward. It's not easy, and it's a regular choice, but it's been growing me and challenging me to be more of the person I want to be.

 

JUST KEEP MOVING

When I feel stressed or stuck, I sometimes want to curl up in a ball and make myself feel comforted and safe. Or I might want to escape with a good book. But I'm learning more and more that I just have to keep moving forward, even if it's by a single baby step.

Practically, this means taking just one step toward my goals even if that's all I can see. That can be incredibly frustrating sometimes. I want to see more, but I know that's not how it typically works. So I take things just one step at a time, in faith.

On another note, it means physically moving. I've been going for more walks, and in more ways than one, they've been my saving grace. My walks are my time to think, process, reflect, learn, and grow. I like to listen to podcasts or audiobooks while I walk, and I've learned so much from them, had my perspective stretched, been convicted, and been encouraged by them.

Taking walks also gives me a much-needed break in the middle of my day-- both from sitting in a chair at a computer and from the stress of my to-do list and confines of my home. Stepping outside and taking a break from the computer makes my creativity resurface, and I can then return to my work with greater inspiration and refreshed energy.

 

BE THE ONE TO REACH OUT

I'm pretty introverted, and that usually manifests itself as initial shyness. I've never really been one to like parties or social situations in which I know I'll have to mingle or initiate conversations. I hate being the center of attention. I don't like conflict or confrontation, and that even includes positive or neutral things, like asking my grandma if I could change the outfit on her American Girl doll when I was little. I seriously was too afraid to ask most of the time, even though every time I did ask, she said yes cheerfully.

But I'm learning there is so much power in being willing to be the one to reach out to connect, being willing to risk. It's actually not even as risky as I used to think; the worst they can say is "no, thanks," and that's not really so bad in the grand scheme of things.

But when I reach out, I'm communicating that I care about investing in conversation and relationship with someone. I'm opening the door, and I'm making it easier for the other person to engage by lowering the barrier to entry. By being the first, I'm giving the other person a gift: an easy way in, an invitation that they merely have to accept. It removes some of their fear and hesitation, and knowing that I can do that is a good feeling!

If I don't reach out, I miss out on connections. I might miss out on some amazing friendships, business relationships or opportunities, or experiences. All because I was too afraid to be turned down. I don't want to live like that!

 

What have you been learning in this season? I'd love to hear from you in the comments or via email at jessie@notesfromjessie.com!

Later, lovely!Jessie (1).png

May 2018 Favorites

I thought it would be fun if I took a moment each month to let you know what things are currently striking my fancy, so here goes the May installment! 

[This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase something through my link, I will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thanks for supporting Notes from Jessie!] 

CURRENT FAVORITES:

BOOKS:

This month, I listened to Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury and We Are Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler on audiobook while I went for my daily walks, and they both made for fantastic walking companions! I was intrigued by both for different reasons, but they both made me think about how we're currently living life and pursuing innovation and harmony, respectively, and what it might be costing us.

I also listened to The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman, which wasn't as black and white as I thought it would be. The central conflict only got more complicated as the story went on, and I found myself understanding both sides even when I wanted to camp out on just one.

I'm slowly working my way through The Three Musketeers by Alexander Dumas, too, but it's taking a little bit longer than I had planned, so I'll tack that on to next month's list once I've finished it.

 

QUOTE:

"Being joyful blesses not only you but other people." --Sarah Young, Jesus Always. I'm a big believer in joy and gratitude, in case you didn't know that already, and it's amazing how it has an effect not only on us, but on those around us! Joy is infectious!

 

MOVIES/TV SHOWS: 

I've been watching the second season of Riverdale, which is the perfect mix of drama and mystery for me. I also like how it was inspired by the Archie comics, which I have a vague memory of reading when I was younger.

I also watched the first two seasons of 8 Simple Rules when I realized ABC's website doesn't have only current shows, but also old ones! It was an awesome blast from the past!

 

SONG: 

I'm loving the new song by Luke Bryan called "Sunrise, Sunburn, Sunset." After enjoying a weekend of travel and time spent at the lake and by the pool in record-setting heat, it just seems so fitting!

Fall is typically my favorite season, but I'm starting to really love summer (despite the heat)! And summer songs that make me want to roll the windows down and open the sunroof are just the icing on the cake!

 

FOOD: 

I tried a recipe for smooth guacamole that was sent to me by Jess at Jen Reviews, and guys, it was so good! I had to triple the batch 'cause I wanted more. :) 

 

MEMORIES FROM MAY:

I went to the Kenny Chesney and Thomas Rhett concert, and it was so much fun! It was my first country concert, and I had a great time! The music was great, the company was wonderful, and people watching proved so entertaining!

I also had a fabulous Memorial Day weekend. I got to travel to North Carolina for my friends' wedding, and it was so much fun! I got to help with some of the floral arrangements and preparing the ice cream sundae bar, and I got to spend a lot of time reconnecting with old friends. Once I got home, I got to spend some well-deserved rest and relaxation time on a lake and then by a pool, which was entirely necessary in the 98-degree heat wave in Minnesota!

 

LOOKING FORWARD TO IN JUNE:

June isn't yet too busy, and I'm looking forward to that! I'm excited for a slower summer (which in all likelihood will change as I get farther into it and make more plans), full of sunshine, picnics, time spent by the water, and most especially, time spent with my favorite people!

 

What were some of your favorite things this month? I'd love to hear from you in the comments!

Later, lovely!Jessie (1).png

The Pride of Perfectionism

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Perfectionism is a side effect of pride.

This was recently pointed out by a friend of mine in a conversation about feeling like we have to be good enough.

 

LEARNING TO LEAN INTO IMPERFECTION

When things are going well, we think we've got it all down, under control. We get overly confident thinking we can handle everything ourselves. Then when things fall apart, we feel crazy and out of control. We go into panic mode, wondering what's going to happen when we're no longer keeping all the plates spinning, how bad the mess is going to be, and how we can cover it up so nobody else notices.

But by exposing our imperfections, we actually engage with others on a deeper level and demonstrate something far greater than our ideal, picture-perfect lives ever could.

I think I have this idea in life that I need to be pulled together, and shiny, and perfectly “On” in order to make a difference in the world. I know I don’t have to be perfect, but I feel like I need to be buttoned up, well-spoken, to have my thoughts perfectly articulated in a way that’s funny, insightful, and always thought through.

And for the past several weeks, God’s been speaking something entirely different to me about how we make a difference. 

He’s been saying that just by showing up, and just by being us, and just by letting people see our hearts as we love Him, and our husbands, and our friends, and our family, and our work to the best of our ability — that’s all we need to do.

He’s been teaching me that we can make a bigger difference than we can even imagine just by showing up and letting people see us as we are — imperfect and doing the best we can...

You, as you are today, are enough to make a positive difference in the world. It’s not because you have your words perfectly chosen, or your outfit carefully selected. It’s not because you’re “On”, or at your best, or because you and your husband are at your most synchronized and charming. It’s because you’re you. You’re you, God is in you, and when we let people see us as we really are, God’s able to show them what He’s capable of in a heart and a life that’s surrendered to Him. -Stephanie May Wilson

When we expose our real, imperfect selves, we give others permission to do the same. When we open up the doors of our homes despite their messiness, share meals that aren't photo-worthy in loud, chaotic homes with grumpy family members, engage in conversations when we're not feeling particularly social or amiable, we allow our relationships to become far more authentic than they would be if we only lived in the polished, well-prepared-for moments.

 

CONQUERING PERFECTIONISM

I'm a recovering perfectionist. I used to think I had to do everything perfectly and keep all my ducks in a row twenty-four-seven. But life doesn't work that way; it's not that orderly and nice. Life is messy, and if we try to make all the color fit inside our lines, we're going to be disappointed by the final product.

If instead we hold our plans, goals, and dreams with open hands, we'll be more adaptable and content. It's good to have plans. It's good to dream. We need some sort of structure for our days and goals for our future, or we would never accomplish things or challenge ourselves to grow. But if we try to force everything to go our way, we're going to have a hard time when life inevitably throws us curve balls.

"We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps." --Proverbs 16:9

I've learned to be more flexible only through trial and error. I fought for so long to try to make things fit into my plan and my timing, but that's just not how it works. I've discovered that all I can do is try my best to use what I've been given, and trust that it will all work out in the end, even if I can't see that yet.

In the daily details, that means putting my heart and soul into my work but knowing that my work doesn't determine my worth. It means focusing on the things that are truly important-- like my people, my passions, and my purpose-- and letting go of the things that aren't-- comparison, having a perfectly clean house, mastering Twitter, having the coolest new toys, or getting a new car.

It also means doing my part of the work and not worrying about the results. It means writing, coaching, and posting about the things that have captured my heart and trusting that they are having their effect, even if I can't see it in the metrics. It means learning to laugh at my mistakes and learn from them instead of beating myself up about them (something I have to choose to work on over and over again). 

Our lives won't be perfect, but they can be good. They can be fun. They can be full. They can bring us (and others) joy. But we can either spend our time trying to make them perfect or we can make them real, abundant, and messy. We can't have both.

 

WHAT VULNERABILITY LOOKS LIKE

Vulnerability helps us break through our perfectionism. If we share our hearts, we're declaring that we're not perfect and we're not trying to be. In our heads, we know that nobody is perfect (thank you, Miley Cyrus), but it takes sharing our imperfections in a vulnerable, authentic way for us to cement that knowledge and build a bridge with others.

Vulnerability is scary, I'm not going to sugarcoat that. But I promise that it is worth it ten times over!

When we choose to share our hearts despite the fear, we gain a little bit of ground back in the name of goodness and love. When we step out in authenticity and declare that we are perfectly imperfect and wholly loved, we take power back from the fear and lies that whisper we're not good enough unless we're tall, thin, blonde bombshells who are brilliant, athletic, talented businesswomen, wives, daughters, mothers, creators, cooks, chauffeurs, and hosts who are into Crossfit, keto, paleo, essential oils, yoga, international travel, and can manage to look flawless on their Instagram feed while documenting it all.

Vulnerability looks like telling your friend that you're actually not okay today, whether that's because you're stressed about all the deadlines and projects piling up at work while your coworker's on vacation or because you ate too much chips and guac this weekend and can't fit into your jeans or because you feel like you don't have anyone to call when you've just had a rough day.

Vulnerability looks like being willing to share how you're really doing, what your life and home really look like, and what's really going on without any filters or disclaimers. It means jumping on that Facebook Live video without perfect lighting or a quiet home, saying "um" and "like" too many times because it's live and you're nervous, but doing it anyway. And do you know what happens when you do that? People love it! They're all about that authenticity and genuine connection. They want to see the real you! Our culture is full of airbrushed photos and carefully curated feeds and stories; people are craving what's real.

So whether your version of vulnerability looks like opening up your messy home to a friend who needs a listening ear or showing your real, messy life on social media to really show who you are, I invite you to take that step! Show people the real you. Build real, genuine relationships without the barrier of forced perfectionism.

 

WHAT IT REALLY COMES DOWN TO

It comes down to starting the conversation. It begins with us going first. It starts with us showing up as our authentic selves. Our relationships will be deeper. Our work will be better. Our stress will lower. And other people will be freed to do the same.

Certainly, this requires a great deal of vulnerability and courage, but if the alternative is never feeling comfortable in our own skin because we're expecting an unattainable amount of perfection from ourselves (and consequently, from others), which is really a picture of how you want to live? Wouldn't you rather be freed from the burden of your unreasonable expectations? I know I want to live like that.

Today I'm challenging myself and I'm challenging you to aspire to greater authenticity and vulnerability in the name of breaking through perfectionism. I'm cheering you on as you invite people into the mess and share the real you with your real people and on social media. Together we can create a culture and community of real, genuine life and inspire others to do the same!

And if you're looking for a community where that's the deal you get, I invite you to join The Joy + Full Living Community, friend! We'd love to have you!

 

Later, lovely!Jessie (1).png

10 Steps to Keep Your Whole Home Clean {Simpler Steps to Spring Cleaning, Part 4}

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Most of us have a love-hate relationship with spring cleaning, right? We love the end product: the peaceful, beautiful, spic and span home. But we hate the process: the time spent scrubbing, mopping, dusting, and sweating to get every nook and cranny cleaned.

What if we could make it easier on ourselves? What if there was something we could do to ensure that next year's spring cleaning isn't such a burdensome task we avoid until the last possible minute?

I have good news for you, friend! There is something we can do to ease the burden of spring cleaning-- we can work to keep our homes clean with some regular habits! How, you ask? Well, of course I'm going to tell you!

Don't forget to grab your printable version of the list here!

 

1. Clean regularly.

If you just clean when company's coming over or when spring rolls around every year, there's going to be a lot of cleaning to do at those times. And haphazard cleaning is less effective because it's so burdensome and overwhelming. When you feel pressured to clean the whole house in one fell swoop, you're going to get burned out before you can thoroughly clean everything.

However, if you divide up the tasks and stay on top of them each month or week, you'll find them more manageable, and it won't seem so hard to keep your house clean year round!

2. Decide on the frequency of each cleaning task.

Some things need to be done more often than others. Your ceiling fan blades don't need to be dusted as often as your bathroom sink needs to be wiped out. The frequency with which you complete any cleaning task will be dependent upon how you use the different spaces in your house, your family size, and what your cleaning standards are. But for some general tips, there are some helpful guidelines:

  • quarterly: clean ceiling fan blades, baseboards, vent covers, windows, appliances
  • monthly: scrub the tub/shower, mop the floors
  • weekly: dust the furniture, sweep/vacuum the floors, clean the bathrooms & kitchen, launder sheets and towels
  • daily: make the beds, wash the dishes, wipe off the counters

3. Assign regular tasks to a specific day.

It's hard to remember all the things on our to-do lists, especially if we don't write them down. Home maintenance and cleaning schedules are no different.

One trick that I've found (and heard from others) is to assign certain regular tasks to specific days. So you could make Monday laundry day, Tuesday bathroom day, Wednesday kitchen day, and so forth. That way you're consistent in your cleaning and don't have to struggle to remember what's next. 

4. Combine tasks.

As I've said, we all have a lot going on and a lot to try to remember. If we continually add to our to-do lists we're just going to get burned out.

Instead of adding more separate tasks, try combining tasks. When you're done with dinner, wash the dishes, wipe down the counters, and wipe out the sink. You already have the sponge or wash cloth in your hand, and you're already in the general vicinity of the counters and table. It won't take long (less time than if you had to return later to do it), so just do it then!

5. Streamline your cleaning products.

Aside from having a relatively small space, the number one thing that has cut my cleaning time down is using fewer products because it means less switching between them.

I have Norwex antibacterial microfiber cloths that I use for cleaning everything but the toilet bowl (for that and for mopping, I use Mrs. Meyer's all purpose concentrate). I just get the rag wet and run around the house wiping down all the surfaces and decor. It's so much faster than having to use a spray and a cloth that I'll have to change out once it gets dirty. This way I can use just one big cleaning cloth and one polishing cloth for glass surfaces to clean my whole home. It's so much easier and so much faster!

6. Choose what method works best for you-- room or type.

I love that everything is adaptable so you can do what works best for you. Cleaning is no different. What works for one person might not work too well for you and vice versa. There's freedom here to do what makes the most sense to you.

I suggest one of two approaches: cleaning by room or cleaning by type.

You could tackle your house one room at a time, cleaning the bathroom on one day and the kitchen on another. On the surface, this seems like the most logical approach because you can see the progress more clearly. But it also requires cleaning a variety of surfaces, which could mean more cleaners and more time.

You could also choose to clean your house by type. What I mean by that is by surface type. You could do the dusting one day, the vacuuming another, and the sweeping on another. You would only have to get out one cleaning supply at a time that way. However, your progress might not be as easily identifiable because none of the rooms would be entirely clean; they might be dusted but not swept, for instance. 

It's up to you, but make sure there's some sort of method to the madness so you get it all done in the end!

7. Have less stuff to clean in the first place.

Declutter before you clean. If you have less stuff sitting around to collect dust, coffee rings, and pencil shavings, you'll save yourself time spent cleaning.

Your space will automatically feel cleaner, too, if it's not filled to the brim with knickknacks and stuff in every single inch of space.

It's much easier to clean your bookshelves, for example, if they're not cluttered with tchotchke items that you have to pick up, clean, and clean under and around. If there are just books on the shelves, you can swipe across the vacant portion of the shelf and maybe wipe down the books if they've gathered dust. Nothing slows down the cleaning process like having to pause to clean all the stuff we've accumulated.

8. Consider the clean-ability of things when shopping.

When you're in the market for new things-- whether it's new furniture, textiles, or decor-- consider what it's going to take to keep it clean.

It might sound silly to think about how you're going to have to clean something before you even buy it, but it's an important step. If you realize at the store that something is going to be more work than it's worth, you can still walk away!

I personally have gotten rid of several things that were just too much work to maintain. I look for things that are smooth, simple, and durable. I try to avoid things that are too fragile to handle regular cleaning, have too many nooks or ridges for dust to gather in, or would have to be washed at the first sight of dirt. I just don't want to handle things that are so high-maintenance. Having things that are easier to clean means you don't have to spend as much time cleaning, which is a big plus!

9. Delegate and outsource.

One of the easiest ways to lift some of the cleaning burden is to divide the work. If you live with other people, delegate some of the cleaning tasks. You can keep them the same each week or month, or you can change them up and rotate through them.

When I lived with several other girls in college, I made a cleaning schedule that covered all the rooms in the house, and we all rotated through them. Each week, we'd have a different task than the week before, and all the tasks got done because we divided and conquered. The house was too big for any one person to clean it all, and some of the tasks were less desirable than others, so we took turns with who was assigned to what task.

Maybe that would work for you! Or maybe you would rather clean the kitchen every week and have your spouse clean the bathroom. Or perhaps there are certain cleaning chores that your kids or roommates are more skilled at than others-- or more willing to complete than others. There's always a way to make it work! And spreading the work out by involving other people makes it go so much faster!

10. Decide what your cleaning priorities are and honor them.

No matter how hard we try, we can't do it all. Choosing to focus on one thing automatically means choosing not to focus on something else. And that's okay!

In an ideal world, we would all have enough time to clean our entire homes on a regular basis. But let's face it, that's not always the case. Sometimes we have only twenty minutes before the in-laws or neighbors are going to be ringing the doorbell. What's a girl to do?

Focus on what's most important to you. Start with the areas you're most likely to spend time in when company is over or what you see most often yourself. Generally, this means the living room, kitchen, and bathroom. These areas get the most use, and therefore, get the dirtiest. If you start there, you'll see the most progress, and you'll be the least embarrassed when company is over. If your room is messy or  not vacuumed, it's not going to matter, because your company probably isn't going to even see it. 

Wipe down the counters and table. Sweep or vacuum the floor. Straighten up the pillows and fold the blankets. Put the shoes away and make sure your shower curtain is pulled shut. Don't worry about cleaning the ceiling fan blades or the vent covers. It's important to clean those, but not when you have only twenty minutes for a mini cleaning frenzy. When you're pressed for time, focus on the things that will make the biggest impact.

 

Which one of these was the most helpful for you? I'd love to hear from you in the comments!

Don't forget to grab the printable version of the list here!

And if you're looking for more help and encouragement to tackle your decluttering, organizing, or cleaning, let's chat about it!

Later, lovely!Jessie (1).png

 

 

[This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase something through my link, I will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thanks for supporting Notes from Jessie!]

How to Beat Soul Overwhelm: Encouragement and Guidance for When Life is Too Much

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You're buried underneath a mountain of obligations, requirements, and commitments: half an hour for a conference call here, an hour for that unnecessary work meeting that could've been handled over email, a couple hours stuck at your grandparents' house as they tell you a story for the seventh time even though you're running late for the yoga class you somehow managed to squeeze into your schedule that's bursting at the seams.

It's all just too much sometimes.

What do we do when we're just plumb tired and overwhelmed with the stress of overstuffed calendars and over-filled to-do lists?

 

TAKE A BREAK

First, we take a break and just breathe. That's it. Just breathe.

Whether it means we have to literally walk away from the situation before us or just mentally disconnect for a moment, taking a break can be the easiest way to become refreshed and gain new energy.

The wonderful thing about taking a break is that it doesn't have to be complicated. You can take a break right where you are. You don't have to go anywhere specific, say anything in particular, or do anything special. You just need to give yourself some breathing room so you can return to the task before you with more peace and renewed focus.

I like to take breaks from my work every afternoon to go for a walk. It helps me disconnect, de-stress, and allows me to think more freely and creatively because there's not so much pressure to sit down and create.

 

CONDUCT A TIME INVENTORY

How are we spending our time? Perhaps we're truly just overworked and overcommitted, and that's what's causing the soul overwhelm. 

In our culture of go, go, go, it's completely normal to have schedules filled to the brim with work, errands, meetings, family obligations, and just trying to keep ourselves and our homes from falling apart.

If you're not aware of how you're currently spending your time, you might think you don't have time for a coffee date with a friend, a date night with your boyfriend, or an afternoon spent reading your new book. But if those things are important to you, you can find a way to make time for them. We all make time for what matters most to us. It's just a matter of saying "yes" and "no" to the right things.

The best way I've found to discover how I'm truly spending my time is to conduct a time inventory with a tool like my time tracker. It allows you to write down how you spend your time for a full day so you can see where your time is really going, and then it follows up with questions for you to consider as you seek to spend more of your time investing in what really matters to you.

 

REFRESH YOUR PRIORITIES

What are we really prioritizing? If we say our priorities are family, health, and friends, but we continue to work 60+ hours every week, we're not acting in a way that supports those priorities.

The way we spend our time ought to reflect our priorities, but that's not always the case. Sometimes we get it backwards and let our schedules dictate our priorities, allowing ourselves to fall prey to the tyranny of the urgent. 

If we fill our calendars first with time dedicated to what matters most to us-- slow Saturdays with our loved ones, screen-free Sundays, Wednesday night coffee dates with our friends, runs to the farmer's market, time to read each evening, time to work out each weekday morning-- then we'll guard that time more effectively and find that we do have enough time for the things that are most important. And as a result, the less important things will be seen as just that-- less important. They'll be relegated to their proper position, gaining space only when there's enough margin in our lives for us to take on that extra project, make that extra trip to the store, or take on that extra hobby that everyone else is doing. 

I once saw an illustration that went like this: Imagine someone is filling a glass vase with rocks and sand. There are large rocks, small rocks, and the sand with which to fill the vase. Imagine the person filling the vase puts in the sand, representing the little details of life, the plethora of options and opportunities that are fun and alluring and exciting and new, first. He then adds the small rocks which represent the somewhat important things like work deadlines, volunteering in that after school tutoring program, and attending his mom's friend's kid's graduation party he got invited to. Finally, he tries to add the large rocks that are meant to symbolize the most important things like his immediate family, close friends, health, and work he's passionate about. By adding the sand, then the small rocks, and then the large rocks, there isn't enough room in the vase for all the pieces. They just don't all fit.

But when he tries again and reverses the order, something entirely different happens. He puts in the most important things first, creating a foundation inside the vase. He then builds upon that foundation with the somewhat important things, fitting them around the larger rocks at the bottom. And then he adds the sand last, allowing it fill in the cracks and gaps between the other rocks, fitting in where it can, creating something whole and beautiful. And it all fits because he put the most important things in first.

Our lives are the same way. If we focus on our top priorities first, we're setting ourselves up for success, and we're allowing the less important things to be added only where there's room. Once our lives are full, they're full. And if we try to squeeze in some of the large rocks after we've already filled our vase with sand, we're going to be frustrated and we just might break the vase in the process.

 

ESTABLISH SABBATH

Our bodies and minds need to take regular breaks for rest in the midst of our hectic lives. If they don't, they get worn out and overwhelmed. Taking periodic breaks is great, but taking regular breaks helps us to run more efficiently on a consistent basis and can help prevent the overwhelm in a proactive way.

Setting aside specific time to rest and worship, instead of rushing around and doing all the things, will refresh us and allow our souls more space to breathe. It helps us remain centered (or get re-centered) and remember what really matters in the grand scheme of things.

Whether you observe the Sabbath on Sundays or choose to work into a different day of the week that fits better with your schedule, setting aside a day to disconnect from the chaotic pace of the world around you will give you the space and time you need to refresh.

Some things I've found helpful in creating my own practice of Sabbath are the following:

  • act intentionally, doing what gives you life
  • spend time with your people
  • do more of what makes you happy
  • take a break from work, house work, and errands 
  • take a break from mindless social media consumption
  • get outside and enjoy nature
  • pay attention to what you really need-- a nap, a walk, a talk with a friend, time to journal, a cup of tea, a relaxing movie night-- and honor it

 

What ways have you found to beat soul overwhelm? I'd love to hear from you in the comments or via email at jessie@notesfromjessie.com!

Later, lovely!Jessie (1).png

10 Steps to Clean Your Entire Home {Simpler Steps to Spring Cleaning, Part 3}

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Spring cleaning is officially upon us! Do you feel like you're behind? Do you wonder if you're doing it wrong? It can't possibly be this hard, can it?!

I feel you, friend! Our homes are so often the center of our lives, especially in the cold winter months when we hunker down to avoid the bitter chill outside (I live in Minnesota, also affectionately called Minnesnowta, so I know this all too well).

And once things begin to thaw, the windows open, everyone starts coming out of their houses like bears after their winter hibernation, and our eyes are opened to the havoc that we wreaked on our homes over the last season. Spring is a time of new beginnings, and an opportunity to give our homes new life as we clean out the old and the grime to refresh things and give them new life.

Don't forget to grab your printable version of the list here!

 

1. Declutter and organize your stuff before you try to clean around it. 

You're making your job harder if you're trying to clean around clutter or disorganized chaos. If you first get rid of what you don't want, then organize what's left, your home will be much easier to get (and keep!) clean. It's the order of operations at its finest!

If you haven't decluttered yet, if you're not sure where to begin, or if you're just looking for some additional pointers, you can check out the first post in this series here. And if you've already decluttered and looking for organizing tips and tricks, you can find those here.

2. Gather your supplies.

The key to success with any endeavor is preparation. Before you begin cleaning, make sure you have the supplies you need on hand.

Now, you could go crazy and have different cleaners for every surface in your home, but I'm all about simplicity, and I don't think it needs to be that complicated.

I recommend antibacterial microfiber cloths (like these), an all-purpose cleaner for your toilet and particularly nasty spots (like this; most of the time antibacterial microfiber cloths do the trick!), and a good polishing cloth for glass (like this). You might also want a dusting mitt or wand, and you're going to want a broom, mop, and vacuum, too. But that's really it! If you're in a pinch or like the DIY natural approach, you can always use vinegar, baking soda, lemon, and essential oils, too!

3. set a timer.

One of the biggest reasons people don't accomplish their goals is because they think they don't have enough time. As you strive to clean your home, set a timer. Whether you can commit an hour or two or just twenty minutes, set a timer so you know your time is dedicated to the single purpose of cleaning.

Not only will doing so keep you focused, but it will also let you know when you can take a break. Breaks are just as important as focused work.

4. Pull things out.

I know you might have just decluttered and organized your home if you're following this series. And if you honestly did clean out the spaces when you emptied them to declutter, then you can skip this step when you get to it. But assuming that you haven't (like most of us with most of our spaces) taken all the things out of all the spaces in your home, this is the time to do it!

Can we really expect our homes to get thoroughly cleaned if we don't take the time to clear off our shelves before we dust them? Despite our hopes, the answer is unfortunately no. So take the extra few minutes and clear off the shelves instead of dusting around the books and plants.

5. Start high and work your way down.

Can you just imagine with me for a moment what would happen if you slaved away sweeping and mopping your kitchen floor, only to realize you hadn't dusted the tops of your cabinets or your countertops? If you go back to do the dusting and wiping, you're inevitably going to cause dust, crumbs, and who knows what else onto your freshly-cleaned floors. Which means you'd have to clean the floors all over again. Let's try to avoid that scenario, shall we?

Start with dusting the highest things-- top cabinets, ceiling fans, sconces, wall decor, high shelves. Then work your way down to counters and furniture. And then do the floors. You will thank yourself later when you don't have to double up on the floor cleaning.

6. Clean a room or a zone at a time.

Part of the reason spring cleaning feels so overwhelming is because there's this unspoken pressure to have to deep clean your whole house in a single weekend. In case you've fallen prey to this belief, let me crush it for you. You don't have to tackle your whole house at once. You can take it one step at a time.

Additionally, consider how cleaning everything at once might limit your use of your house. For instance, if you sweep and mop all the floors in your house at the same time, you won't be able to use any of your bathrooms until the floors are dry. I speak from experience. It's usually better to stagger it just a little so you're not mopping yourself into a corner.

Cleaning just one area at a time gives you a single task to focus on. It's more manageable because you can see the whole space at once. Your progress is more easily noted because the space is contained. If you were to measure your progress against your whole house, it would take longer to feel accomplished, and you might be tempted to stop. But if you focus on one space at a time, you can gain enough momentum to keep going!

7. Make it fun.

Okay, so this may not be quite as practical as some of the other tips. But it's still worth mentioning! If you can make cleaning-- or any relatively unpleasant task-- fun, you're more likely to stick to it and see it all the way through. You have to clean your house, so why not make the process more enjoyable?

Turn on some fun music. Listen to an audiobook. Do whatever you like to do so that your cleaning experience can be more fun for you!

8. Enlist help.

There's no rule saying you have to clean your whole home by yourself. Everything's better when done together, right?

Whether you live with a whole bunch of other people or by yourself, you can gather people to help you! If you have other people who live with you, delegate some tasks. Have your spouse or roommate take care of one room while you tackle another. Or have them sweep while you go behind them with the mop. If you have kids, send them before you to tidy up the rooms and ready them for sweeping or vacuuming.

If you have company while you clean, you'll have a better time, and the time will just fly by!

9. clean during the day & with natural light.

I understand schedules get crazy, and you might have to cram cleaning into a packed calendar. But whenever possible, clean during the day when you can have natural light coming in. 

We too often underestimate the power of sunlight, but it will help illuminate areas that are dirtier than we realized. The top of that bookshelf might look okay in the evening, but in the bright afternoon sunlight, the dust looks like a fuzzy blanket. And any streaks left on mirrors will be more visible when the sun's shining into the house.

Plus, sunlight makes us happy, which will make cleaning a more enjoyable task than trying to scrub and dust and polish in a dark, dungeon-like house after sunset.

10. Tackle the grimiest and hardest tasks last.

If you do the easier tasks up front, you'll have more momentum to tackle the bigger tasks. And if you manage to keep up with a regular cleaning cycle, you'll save yourself the time required to do a full spring clean, lowering the barrier to getting started next year! If you regularly sweep and mop, for instance, when you're spring cleaning, you can instead focus on less frequent spots.

This is your opportunity (see what I did there? Framing it as an opportunity helps with the positivity! Bonus tip!) to clean your baseboards with soapy water, scrub your window sills, and clean your oven. This is your chance to clean your patio furniture before you put it out for the summer. Now is the time to do the dirty work so your house can sparkle in its cleanliness!

 

Which one of these was the most helpful for you? I'd love to hear from you in the comments!

Don't forget to grab the printable version of the list here!

And if you're looking for more help and encouragement to tackle your decluttering, organizing, or cleaning, let's chat about it!

Later, lovely!Jessie (1).png

 

 

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