Friday, March 7, 2014

On Connections (February's Goal Word)

My goal word for February was Connections - check out what I did!Instead of setting resolutions this year, I'm working on a few important goal lists and living each month through my own version of The Happiness Project. My goal isn't to increase my happiness, though (that's just sort of a byproduct!) - it's my way of improving areas of my life that I feel need attention as each month approaches. In January, I set out to actively love my husband a little more. And in February, my word was "Connections" - I wanted to work on a lot of different relationships in my life. I felt sort of shut off from the world through my last pregnancy and the fog of having a newborn, so I wanted to start re-activating those relationships early in the year. I made a list of some ideas to guide me.

1. Do more liking & commenting on social media & blogs.
2. Send a card to some friends.
3. Make plans with friends and/or BM at least once a week.
4. Find 1-2 blog relationships.
5. Send thank yous for Luke's party.
6. Carry out the friend match on BM
7. Look into meet up groups
8. Write Matt his love letter
9. Buy him a surprise gift (pens!) and/or beer
10. Complete some unfinished ideas from Jan's list
11. Buy some nice cards for spontaneous thank yous and hellos

This was a good list for me, I think, and I accomplished quite a lot of it! Here are some of the specific things I did:

1. I signed up for a commenting tribe on SITS where the idea is, you comment on 75 blogs spaced out through the week, and get 75 comments in return. This was good for my blog, of course, but I liked the idea of being forced to send out some good comments (I can be pretty lazy about my outgoing networking efforts), and also finding other blogs to connect with. The people that take the time to write and craft and turn it all into art are the ones I desperately want to know - so this was a great way to do it. I DID find some great blogs, and I did receive some really nice, thought out comments. That was one of the things I vowed to do in my commenting, too - say something relevant to a post, not just a "hey I'm here for the SITS thing".

2. Sent emails to friends, just to chat. I don't know if it's FB or Instagram or texting that has killed email along with snail mail, but it felt really nice to just type directly to one of my friends at a time with a more complete thought.

3. I organized a "friend match" on BuffaloMommies. I had moms fill out a short survey about themselves, matched them all up, and sent them a message with their match's info. I can't say that I feel totally confident in my matches, because narrowing everything down to just one match each was really tough. There were so many Moms with SO much in common, so I did my best. I also hosted a chat (there's a chat room on our site) to try and get some of the matches talking. That didn't go over so well - a lot of the matches didn't show up, BUT...we did get some good conversation going about books and global cuisine, and we even got some new groups started up! I'm particularly excited about our new Mommy & Baby YA Book Club - it was thrilling to see so many other Moms my age so into YA ;)

4. More social media liking. Remember how I just said I'm bad at outgoing networking? I'm good at responding, good at putting a lot of stuff out there - bad at initiating communication on other people's stuff. I realized that I was Insta-lurking on like 100 different accounts. Why was I never liking their pictures?! Is there some reason to hide it? Nope. So I started liking things more often. Only authentically, though - I only hit like on the things I really liked, because...well, that's the point isn't it? I also jumped into the conversation on some of my FB groups, and sent some ebooks around to people who were looking for them. I started out the month strong, realized I was cutting back again, and started pushing myself to do it more. I'm not sure if it would be considered a success compared to others, but it was definitely a good effort!

5. For Valentine's Day, I got Matt a gift that I knew would be a huge mood booster for him. This seems silly, but it drives him CRAZY that we have so many pens that barely work. We have a whole drawer of pens, and he just always happens to grab the ones that won't write. I originally wanted to get him a giant box of pens to be funny, but I knew those wouldn't really last and wouldn't solve the problem, so I splurged on a few sets of decent pens and one of the sets was particularly nice. Despite how inexpensive and silly of a gift it was, it took some simple frustration out of his daily life.

6. I made time for family and friends. This is something I'm always striving to do more of, but one life thing or another gets in the way. During our winter break week, I finally made a lot of this happen - and it wasn't even planned in advance. In a three day span, we had so many fun plans. It started with lunch and a playdate with my SAHM-wife (it's a new term, I made it up, and if you're a SAHM I suggest you get a wife of your own ;) ) and her kids, where we chatted and sipped tea while our offspring made a mess and acted like their silly selves. The next day, we met my Grandma for breakfast where the kids jumped for joy at the site of her walking into the restaurant and wolfed down three chocolate chip pancakes a piece. Then we followed her home and visited with my Grandpa, Mom, and my sister and her family. My kids had a genuinely good time, particularly with my Grandpa, and that makes my heart so happy! Next, I was supposed to go to the Justin Timberlake concert on Saturday with "the gang" (which is a foursome that consists of me, my sister, and our two oldest friends - we grew up on the same street together), but because of nursing Jake I was planning on backing out - and then it ended up being postponed until July (I'm actually thrilled about that!). I still wanted to hang out with my friends, that was the hardest part about not going to the concert, so I organized a dinner date for us so we'd still have plans together, and then extended that by making thrifting plans, too. It was a tiring sequence of days, but it was oh-so fulfilling, and I felt like I got in some quality time with a lot of people that mean so much to me!

7. I sent a few cards to friends. Everyone deserves a little happy mail! I haven't heard from any of them yet, but I'm guessing they got them by now...it makes me smile to think of them receiving them without expecting them!

8. I set up a few opportunities through my blog. I worked out a feature post swap with a fellow handmade shop owner that I met through last year's mug swap (watch her blog - A Blue Swallow - for my post tomorrow!). I also spoke with a few others on some upcoming fun blog stuff, but you'll have to stay tuned for more on those ;)

9. I wrote Matt a love letter for our anniversary, and it's so funny - I had this on my to do list since last month, and without him knowing that, he wrote me a letter for Valentine's Day that did for me what I hoped to do for him. I took pictures of it with my phone so I can carry it around with me and read it anytime I want.

10. I helped Luke make Valentine's cards for his classmates and Grandparents, and thank you cards for his friends that came to his birthday party. I also started adding a little treat to orders from my shop - just a little something to make customers smile!

11. I picked up a bunch of note cards and thank you cards to make sending more happy mail easier to do. I've been looking on Esty for some sets of Happy Birthday and some other "thinking of you" type cards to add to the collection.

The collection of 12. I gave Matt a spontaneous gift. I packed a gift bag with a bottle of beer he hadn't tried yet (he's into craft brews), a bag of Buffalo jerky he wanted to try (yep, as in Buffalo meat! it was from Trader Joes), and a man-colored notebook that has a pocket inside so he can store his beer recipes and take notes when he's brewing because he's always losing his recipes and notes! It wasn't anything spectacular, obviously, but he wasn't expecting it at all and he seemed genuinely touched that I gifted him for no reason.

13. I sent a few of my shop products out to friends, just because! My shop isn't really a source of money for me, but it is a source of fun, inspiration, opportunity and education, and for that reason I want to be more active in using it to share more love this year. It is, after all, named after that very idea! If you're one of the people I sent a little gift to, I hope you love it ;)

14. I planned an anniversary dinner for Matt and I to share. And, okay, the kids, too...because they live here, too, and they're little....and that's just the life we live. I have been making at least a portion of dinner for a while now (Matt totally covered it right after Jake was born, yep - he is the best husband ever!), but I haven't cooked a fully involved meal from start to finish, nor have I done anything exciting because I've been on Weight Watchers. So I looked up a bunch of WW friendly recipes that sounded good enough to not taste "diet" and made a really exciting menu for us. I chose an appetizer of bruschetta, dinner was spinach and feta stuffed chicken breast with garlic sauteed green beans and salad, and dessert was lazy Tiramisu. Tiramisu is probably our favorite dessert, and I've always said that I wish I could make it authentically, but being the perfectionist I am and wanting the pros to just sell me servings of it instead, I've never even tried it. So I dug up this "lazy" way of doing it, and yum - it was a good (and low-fat) alternative to the real deal! I even made plans to set the table, light candles, and pull out actual crystal wine glasses - ya know, things other adults do for romantic dinners -  haha! It ended up being a very special night!

I completed most of my list, and it all seemed easy and enjoyable! One thing on the list that stands out as uncompleted is looking into Meet Up groups. I DID go on the site and look around, but the only one that really interested me was a mom's group with dues to pay, and since I'm already active in BuffaloMommies, I wasn't sure it was right for me right now. I really liked this month's word, and I feel like it made a big impact on myself. This is definitely a goal I want to revisit again. I actually still have some ideas and goals bubbling around in my head on this, and I like that! I like how these monthly goal words leave a lasting effect on me, and for this past month - hopefully on others as well!

In March, I'm concentrating on Health in some pretty big ways, and I'm not gonna lie - this one is scary for me! I'll share my goals and progress with you all soon!

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