Relationships: Are You Tending To The Right Ones?

Take a quick mental inventory of the relationships in your life. Go ahead, I will wait. You might even begin to automatically rank them from people you care most about down to people you care least about. If you did not, go ahead and do this too. This doesn’t have to be perfect, a rough estimate will do.

Okay, now think about the time you spend on these relationships in your life. Where does the majority of your time and energy fall? Obviously, those at the top of your ranking are given the most amount of time and effort because you value them the most.

How often do we actually give the people we love and cherish the most the commitment from us that they deserve? They should be getting the best of us, not just what’s left at the end of the day. You may have noticed that you do not live close to a lot of the people you value highly, so how much time do you spend fostering that connection and staying in touch? I would guess that it is not as much time as you wish you were.

We are constantly trying to please others and “look good”, whether that’s in our friend circle or at work. We jump through hoops to impress people we probably do not even like that much. We want to be liked by others, but at what cost? Sometimes, we bend over backwards just to please the people that do not even rank highly on our lists. We give and give and hope that it “pays off for us in the end.” But does it? How often do we fight as hard and do as much for the people we claim to love the most? This discrepancy only causes the relationships we value the most to suffer. Over worked, over stressed, and just over it when we come home to our loved ones at the end of the day.

Some of you have probably made this realization a long time ago and have already changed your life for the better. Others are probably having a light bulb moment here or at the very least a glow of an idea is beginning to form.

I am not saying that you should suddenly start being mean to these people in your life that take up most of your time but you value the least. However, I am saying that you should take a good, hard look at your relationships and honestly figure out if your energy, effort, and time are going to the right people.

This is not a change that will happen overnight. It will be slow and sometimes painful. This is a decision that you need to make and then do the work to make it happen. It may not even be possible to stop using your time with people low on your ranking but you can change how much effort and energy you are putting into that relationship.

My Husband: A Relationship I Deeply Value

Things that may help you transition:

Keep a relationship-time journal and figure out who you are spending all of your time on. Note if this time allotment is what you want or not with these people.

Make a list of the things you wish you were doing in your relationships. Things like date nights, phone conversations, emails, and letters. Whatever it is you want to be doing in the relationships you care about the most.

Start the change of transitioning your time more towards the things you wish you were doing in your relationships and less towards the relationships you do not want to foster so deeply.

Time to re-prioritize your relationships my friends, but for the better. If you have already started doing this in your life, what things helped you make this change the most? What were some of the hardest parts of the transition?

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Frugal Gatherings: Maintaining Financial Goals & Strong Relationships

Hello Friends! Today’s post is part advice and part me looking for advice. I want to spend my money more intentionally and for us that means saving up for bigger purchases. A few things on our list include a computer, a car, and a tractor for our 57 acres! It can be super easy to go into debt to get all of the things you want but in our case that is not the goal. In order to accomplish financial goals it has meant reevaluating our spending. I know I am guilty of spending a decent chunk of change on meals out. Most of the time these are with other people because I love spending time with my friends and that usually means ending up at a coffee shop or a restaurant. Not that there is anything wrong with that, especially when it also means supporting small local businesses, but I know I am going to need to cut back in order to meet some of our bigger financial goals.

If I did not tell you that this tea was from a local shop, you would not know! Spending time with friends can still be fabulous without spending money!

Here are some ideas I have come up with on a little to zero dollar budget include:

Go on a Walk or Hike. Catch up while getting out and about! The great outdoors are wonderful for your body, mind, and soul. If you have a doggie, then this ends up as a double bonus because pup can get in their exercise too!

Library Adventure. Encourage one another to find a new book to explore! You can even give each other suggestions or just explore a section that interests both of you and hopefully come across some great reads! The best part about this is whatever books you find, you get to borrow for free!

Volunteer Together. There are all kinds of volunteer opportunities in my area and I hope there are in yours too. Even if it is something simple like playing with the animals at your local shelter. Depending on where you decide to volunteer it may not be as much quality time as you were hoping for but I promise it’s worth it!

Hang out at Home. This can look like so many things and is the most obvious! A meal, munchies, coffee or tea, or even craft time. There are plenty of things that we can do at home that inherently make them cheaper than paying for them.

Board Game Night. Okay I know this could fall under hanging out at home but I specifically wanted to point this out. It has become more and more common for us to use a form of disconnection to bond with others, I am looking at you TV.

My current conundrum is coming up with free ideas that occur beyond the walls of mine or my friend’s home. I am also struggling with ideas that are conducive to all the seasons, aka not just being stuck inside in the winter! This exercise has really highlighted for me the lack of places available to go that do not have a need or a temptation to purchase something.

Let’s brainstorm! What are some awesome ways that you have spent frugal time with friends?

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Going Overboard: Too Much of a Good Thing

Picture it, you find yourself with a shiny new blank, it doesn’t matter what it is but it is brand spanking new. Even if it is used, you are elated because it’s what you have been looking for and to you its new. After a few days you may find yourself lusting for that wave of joy you had when you first got your new shiny thing. Maybe it was a water bottle, or a mug, or shoes, or clothes, kitchenware, home décor, whatever it was you want to feel that excitement and joy again. So you find yourself searching for more, clearly if one brought you that much joy then having another will be even better.

How Much is Enough?

Does this viscous cycle sound familiar? Maybe it is not even buying a repeat item, maybe it’s just that rush of having something new. How often do we find ourselves finding a lot of joy when we get something and then ending up with multiples because we are trying to recreate and grow that original joy in an exponential fashion? You end up with so many of the same thing that you do not even take good care of them. Or you have so many that you don’t even remember how many you have, where they are, where you left them, etc. What we often find however is that once we obtain the second of whatever that first thing was we don’t end up having as much joy as we had with the first. The amount of joy that we get from the 3rd and 4th and so on is even more diminished. Where will I store all of these? How will I take care of all of them? Why do we constantly find ourselves keeping up with the proverbial “Jones’s”? Are you currently saying to yourself “but it comes in a new color and I do not have THAT color, style, whatever” and starting to think that sounds ridiculous? We often have so many of the same thing that if one were to go missing we would not even notice.

Who are we kidding here? Clearly you can’t use more than one of that shiny new thing at one time so why do you need six of them? In some cases it makes sense, for example having a few coffee mugs so that when you have guests over for tea everyone has a mug so you aren’t wasting disposable cups. But how realistic is it to have say, twenty coffee mugs? Maybe you have giant parties and use this many all the time but I would surmise that for the general public, this is not the case. If for arguments sake you do end up having six guests but only four coffee mugs for your tea party should you go out and buy two more? Do you have anything else that may be able to serve that function but wouldn’t be typically considered for that application? A mason jar perhaps? Or just a different glass and maybe a coozie of some kind to insulate the beverage? What about hosting the party in such a fashion that everyone brings their favorite mug to your tea party? Let’s think outside the box!

Give Yourself a Breather

How often do we pause before a purchase? When I ask this question, I do not mean a short pause, I mean physically leaving the store and making this decision after allowing for space between you and the item. I often find myself much less enamored with a product after I have left the store. Seldom do I find myself in true, dire need of the thing. Given enough time I can usually come up with an alternative to the purchase or not need anything at all.

If you are over the hustle and bustle of overwhelming stuff, you are not alone. When shopping or even if someone is offering up hand-me-downs, you can ask yourself a few questions first before saying yes:

Do I already own this item?
Do I need another one if I already own one?
Does something else I already own serve this same purpose?
If the item is free, would I be willing to pay full price for it?
Where will I store this item or keep it in my house?
Am I willing to get rid of something else to make room for this item?
Why did I go to the store in the first place?
Is the short term joy I will feel from this purchase worth it?
Do I have larger financial goals I am trying to meet?
Will I regret this purchase?

You are in control, I give you permission to say NO and walk away.

This adventure has inherently made me more creative. I may not own a teapot but I still have several ways to make tea! Ultimately, you need to decide what brings you joy in your life and then only surrounding yourself with those things. After a while I feel that you, like me, will find that most of those things are not in fact “things” at all.

A few of my favorite “things”

Where do you find yourself in the stuff cycle? How have you begun to break free, say no to stuff, and live with less?

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The Holidays: Small Stuff, Big Heart

Does the thought of the upcoming holidays give you pause? The thought of all of the activities, presents, and food stress you out? You are not alone! The financial burden alone is overwhelming. I am here to tell you that if you are open to it, you can tweak your holidays and make them even more special.

This is a case where I think the saying “less is more” comes in really handy. If you are half-heartedly trying to accomplish everything, it is not going to be very enjoyable. If you pick and choose the things that mean the most to you and your family, but do them with your whole-heart, it will be much more enjoyable and rewarding.

To our dogs, the stuffed animals they get around the holidays are the best fun ever!

How to have the holidays your way:

Make a list of all of the things you LOVE about the holidays. Have your family do this too. Maybe what you love is baking cookies, or making your signature gravy. It just wouldn’t be the holidays without watching your favorite holiday movie or reading your favorite holiday stories. Do you love giving presents or opening presents?  This is going to sound simple but I love just having family together for the holidays with no agenda. Sit, relax, talk, and eat. All the best things in the world right there.

Make a list of all of the things you HATE about the holidays. Again, have your family do this too. Is wrapping tons of presents the bane of your existence? You hate baking yet every year seem to find yourself in the middle of a cookie exchange? The thought of buying someone one more thing drives you bananas but if you could get them an experience you already know they would love, would mean the world to both of you. I personally hate giving gifts in the traditional sense. I prefer to give experiences, something I made myself, something I bought from a local artist, or nothing at all. Taking this unnecessary pressure off of the holidays has taken away a ton of my holiday stress.

Compare all the lists. What you and your family love vs hate may surprise you. Something you may hate may be your family’s number one thing! You all may agree on several “hates” and are able to cut those out entirely. Figure out what each person’s favorites are and try to do more of that and less of the rest. It is also your decision how far out you take this philosophy. Maybe it is only for immediate family or maybe it extends out further and further. Part of having a wonderful holiday season is starting the conversation about what people even love about them in the first place!

Start new holiday traditions and maybe get rid of some of the old. Since we are already re-evaluating the holidays, are there any new traditions you would like to add in? Or even some that need thrown out? Maybe the food you always have for the holidays half of the group does not even like, why not try a new menu option? A great tradition my family loves is playing lots of board games!

My Favorite Holiday Tradition: The Mouse Countdown Calendar

In my experiences with shaking the holidays up a bit, it has not always been easy. What we fail to remember is that things are always changing and the holidays are nothing like how they were when I was a child, yet so many things are the same. Everyone is always evolving and that alone is a challenge, especially with the nostalgia associated with the holiday season.

You know what hasn’t changed my friends? The time we spend together as a family. This alone means way more than all of the expensive stuff, even the expensive food! As long as we have something to munch on and each other it has always been fine. If you are breaking your sanity and your bank to keep up with the proverbial “Jones’s” just STOP. The holidays do not have to be a five star gourmet experience to be a success. Was everyone together, were we having fun? PERFECT! Also, please do not let the arbitrarily set calendar dates define your holidays. We live far away from my husband’s family so sometimes our holidays aren’t even close to their designated dates, but they mean just as much.

Whatever you do friends, do it with a big heart and lots of love! What have you changed in your holiday traditions to make them happier and healthier?

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Burnout: A Chance for Growth

I love to push myself and I love a good challenge. I often find myself wanting to do a lot of new things all at once. It may come as a surprise though that I am not actually a very competitive person. My drive comes from wanting to learn and know more. It also comes from my desire to help others. Honestly, both of those are the main reasons I wanted to start this blog. I am not a very tech savvy person to begin with but I wanted to learn. I also believe that my experiences and stories may resonate with others and help them along their journeys as well. Another motivation factor was reading articles spouting statistics about how most new blogs “fail” within the first year. Challenge accepted.

I have had this type of approach for as long as I can remember. Most of the time it is totally fine, I just love to learn! However, sometimes this drive pushes me too far, too fast. I am talking about burnout. This also goes hand in hand with my giver personality. When I am paired with a taker I give and give and give until I go past the point of no return.

Sparks Fly: Burnout, its real and overwhelming my friends.

In some cases in my life, burnout has been the only thing that has stopped me. There is nothing like the brick wall that burnout builds for you to run into to bring you to a screeching halt! Every time it has happened, I was given the precious opportunity to take a good look at my life and decide if what I was doing was right for me.

Ways to Grow after a Burnout:

As a side note these are all also ways to prevent burnout in the first place but sometimes it is hard to evaluate when you are already running at full speed. No judgement here.

Set Boundaries Use the knowledge you gain from your burnout to set boundaries in your life. Look back and think about what limits could have prevented this from happening and then put them into action in your life. Some examples include not working past 6pm on a weekday or not working on weekends. Have clear cut rules for saying “yes” or “no” when a new opportunity comes your way.

Maintain Space When I am fed up and done I throw EVERYTHING aside. Now is the perfect time to really make sure that you only let back in the things that YOU truly care about. Often the things on our plates that do not need to be there were placed there by someone else or our fear of someone else. Schedule time for yourself first and do not give that space away.

Create Self Care Habits The space that opens up after a burnout is great for putting into place new, beneficial habits. Great options include exercise, journaling, or reading. This can even be meal prep for the week so you do not find yourself wasting money eating out or eating unhealthy. This may be out of the norm for you and it is okay to feel like this is selfish, at first, but trust me you need to take care of you first.

Watch Out! Red Flags When you start to notice that you are giving in “just this once” on a firm boundary that you have set or your calendar is filling up but you aren’t feeling fulfilled or your daily/weekly self-care habits have slowly faded out of the picture, STOP. These are huge red flags that you are once again on the fast track to burnout. Give yourself permission to reconsider everything that you have taken on and if it needs to be there. If it doesn’t, LET IT GO!

If you have experienced burnout in your life, know that you are not alone. Do not take this time to be hard on yourself, I promise you are NOT a failure. Instead, take this time to grow and discover. This is the universe’s way of getting you to stop and put you back on track. We are all here and fabulously unique for a reason!

How have you personally grown after a burnout? Please share your experiences and tips with us below!

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Intentional Living: My Introduction to the World of Minimalism

I would say my conscious journey towards intentional living began in 2014. That year, three adults from PA living independently moved into one large rental house in TN. We had duplicates, triplicates, and sometimes even more! There was a lot of sorting, organizing, and deliberating over STUFF. My husband spent a considerable amount of time outside or in the garage. Can you blame him? This primarily left the job of dealing with all of this stuff to my sister and myself. We donated a TON and it felt great, but we still managed to completely outfit our 3500 sq.ft. rental house none the less.

During this life transition my sister stumbled across a new and unusual concept called minimalism. Coming from a long line of “just in case” hoarders this concept was dazzling and terrifying all at the same time. My sister dove in headfirst, while I started testing the water with my tippy toes. Buh-bye even more stuff…

Then my husband and I found our dream home. A 1600 sq.ft. abode, really a majestic castle when compared to tiny homes, nestled on 57 acres. A single story dream, unfortunately lacking in the moat and alligator department, with a finished basement, both having its own kitchen and bathroom. Perfect for our trio. SOLD!

Did I mention the pond?

All The Things Must Go!

Thank goodness for all the avenues that are currently available for selling and donating stuff. However, I assure you this was no easy task. I swear there was a 2 hour deliberation-slash-crying session over picture frames, PICTURE FRAMES! Should I keep all of them or just some of them? What if I NEED them later? Do I not value my friends and family if their faces are not framed all over my house? What if I keep the wrong ones and my tastes change? How can I possibly decide which pictures to not frame? The questions could go on forever. They were repeatedly asked again and again, whether it was picture frames or clothes or kitchenware.

There was so much fear and attachment to non-material things. These feelings still exist, but not nearly to the level that they were before.

And then we moved … let’s just try that downsizing thing again shall we? I would say that there is still way too much “stuff” in my life but I am finally getting closer and closer to freedom. Our lives are filled more with friends, family, and dogs, and less with all of the tasks that go along with owning tons of physical stuff.

Our dogs love that we have created lots of space for them, literally & figuratively!

This intentional living expedition has opened up so much space in our lives to do more of what matter most to us. The path has not always easy but it has definitely been worth it.

What could having more space in your life mean for you? What are some ways you have been able to make space in your life?

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My Personal Uphill Battle: Self-Care

I am by nature a “giver.” When someone asks me to do something I always say yes. Sometimes I end up regretting saying yes, not because it’s something I do not want to do, but because I have said yes to so many other things. If I could do all of the things I would. This instinctual reaction to respond with “yes” is not helped by my extremely extroverted nature that unfortunately does not let me stop and think before blurting out YES! I also am a believer in the fact that if I tell someone I am going to do something then I will do it. All the while this means that everything I wanted to do for myself ends up on the back burner … sound familiar anyone? It’s easy to get swept up in wanting to help others and it is very hard to tell our loved ones and causes we firmly care about “no.” What I am talking about today may not be easy to do but I assure you it is necessary for your physical and mental well-being.

I am on a wonderful journey that is my life. Part of that path has been discovering things like essentialism and minimalism. By working toward getting rid of the excess it has allowed me to have more time to wonder and learn. I intentionally want to be less busy. I want to get things “off of my plate” but that usually means I just stack new and sometimes more things back on. I want to create more space and more time. This change started a few years ago in various ways yet continues to develop. It has been difficult at times but is nothing that could even compare to the rewards it has brought and continues to bring.

As a society we pride ourselves on being busy, as if it is a competition. We showcase our laundry lists of tasks in an effort to “out busy” one another. As if in the end we are awarded with some large medal for all of our hard work. Yet I do not think I will look back on my life and think thank goodness I did not take care of myself and my body. I am grateful I ran myself into the ground, bending over backwards for everyone else, said myself never.

I do not know about how you feel but I want this nonsense to stop. I want us to brag about how many books we read or snuggles we shared or walks we enjoyed instead of listing our daily duties as a badge of honor. There are tasks we have to complete for day to day life, I agree, but that doesn’t mean you have to do everything in your life presented to you and do it to perfectionist standards to succeed.

Samson practicing self-care: snoozin’ on the back of the couch with his favorite ball.

I am here to tell you that it is okay to say NO. Sit down and think about what you really care about. I am currently working on setting limits in my life. The smallest limits count! Even something as simple as: I will not teach yoga on the weekends my husband is off because that is our time together. This sounds so easy but I assure you it is very hard to keep. Set aside time for you, your hobbies, your family, YOUR VALUES. This time is sacred. It will be hard at first but I promise will get easier with time.

Saying “no” is a form of self-care and self-love, especially if your natural setting is to always say “yes.” Where do you need to set firm limits in your life? Do you feel overwhelmed and overworked at the expense of yourself? Please share your experiences in the comments below! Let us change and grow together!

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