6 Days….

Values Based Living

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In 6 short days, my husband Kirk will be finished working at the hospital. For good (I hope.)

And in 6 days, the way we approach our work, our time, and our family will also change.

And if it wasn’t for all of the legwork we began nearly 3 years ago, when I had my life-changing realization and we ran our marriage through the ringer, well we simply wouldn’t be in this position today to change our work and our family’s story.

My husband has always had music buried in his bones. Our lives together have been colored by the soundtrack of his songs and the timber of his guitar strings.

I wasn’t always supportive of this. I wanted him to grow-up. And so he did.

As I tucked away my dreams for writing a book, he also set aside his music aspirations. We worked, we consumed our work, but it didn’t fulfill. We began our family and realized that we lost our ability to communicate about dreams and living creatively to our girls because cowardice and fear had led us on a different path.

Last New Year’s Eve, as we looked forward to 2016, we set big goals for my writing and his music. And we surpassed those goals beyond all of our expectations. And as early as December 2015, we dreamed of a day when Kirk could work part-time to have more free time to develop his music.

It wasn’t just about the music though, but about having our precious time together as a family. For Kirk to have an active hand in raising his children, instead of just tucking them into bed at night with a story.

Of course, time is always against us, isn’t it? We’re in our early 30s and society tells us that we’re too old to really accomplish much. But we’ve come this far, haven’t we?

So next week starts a new chapter in which we will both chisel away at our goals for 2017, work on our passions, create a stronger family and home life, and jump off the mind-numbing treadmill of the 9-5 (or more like 9-7 plus Saturdays, as was the case with his hospital work.)

Nothing about this new direction has been easy, and we expect it to continue to challenge us. But this life wouldn’t be worth living if we weren’t willing to tackle the mountain, come what may.

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2016 Annual Review and 2017 Intentions: Good-Bye Hustle, Hello Quiet

Small House Living, Values Based Living

Warning: super-long post!

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As I look forward to the start of 2017, I am also very aware of the mistakes and triumphs of this past year. And as I took some time these past few weeks to truly reflect, I saw certain patterns emerge and also identified a slightly different course for this new year. Here are my thoughts on 2016 along with how I’ll be changing directions in 2017:

Home |  In late spring we bought a house and moved into it toward the end of the summer. Buying this house was a huge step toward our family’s values, namely living small and frugally. Instead of buying what the bank told us we could afford, we bought well below our means.

And these walls are definitely feeling like home even if it’s not as organized as I would like. So my goal for the first few months of 2017 is to declutter, organize, and prepare our home to welcome our newest addition later this spring.

I’m also cutting myself some slack on how my home looks even if it’s not picture perfect or design mag worthy. Even minimalists feel the pressure to have–if fewer things–still all the right things. I’m over all of that and content with my grandma chic style because it makes this home ours.

Travel | We traveled a significant amount in 2016. Despite making a major purchase (house) and completing a full-gut renovation of the bathroom, we still traveled a total of a month over the course of the year. And while I am grateful for the experiences we had, our schedule was overflowing this year. I actually missed having lazy days on the beach, but we were too busy with traveling to other places and working on our house to enjoy where we live.

We sold our Casita for a myriad of reasons, many of which may make their way into a post someday. Owning the Casita created this sense of pressure to use it; it’s a costly possession, and we didn’t want it gathering dust in the backyard. But I will say for now that I feel a sense of relief that we’ll be staying local this year. We may take a trip in 2017 to celebrate our 10 year wedding anniversary, but it will be simple and affordable.

Finances | We spent SO MUCH money in 2016. A mind-boggling amount went toward the down payment on the house, renovation costs, and buying new household items to replace the ones we got rid of.

We also prioritized travel and a good portion of our extraneous funds went toward trips in the Casita. While I am grateful we had the money to spend on our house and travels, we saved almost nothing and made little progress on old debts.

So 2017 is going to be a shake-up year: selling the Casita will free up some major funds. We already cut our grocery bill by about 40% over the last few months and will continue to eat frugally in 2017. And although Kirk is quitting the hospital and a salaried position to work freelance, there is a possibility of making more. Or making less. Either way, our reduced spending will make the transition easier. We’ll kick off January by joining the Frugalwoods’ Uber Frugal Month Challenge (so, you know, don’t ask me to go shopping or anything.)

We already paid off the birth center and midwifery services bill (thank you Samaritan Ministries!*), and we will also be paying our 4Runner off a year early in February. I knew it was dumb when we took a car loan out on it (our first car loan, ever!) and I don’t plan to make that mistake twice. Once it’s paid off we’ll divert that monthly payment to a savings account and save up for the next vehicle.

Work | Oh, work. What a wild, overwhelming, exciting, and time-consuming year of work it was! 2016 was definitely my year of hustle as I worked to grow Cohesive Home. Not a day went by that I didn’t work on it in some capacity, whether that was writing emails, writing and recording podcasts, creating content for Instagram and the blog, meetings with Melissa, and writing a column for Metro Family Magazine.

Part of the issue is that I also teach 4 sections of university-level humanities online each semester (and 1-2 during the summer.) It was difficult to find time for all of my “jobs” without completely ignoring my kids, my husband, and my home.

And while I am grateful for the experience, I also realized I am not cut out for hustle. Yes, there are so many amazing, entrepreneurial women out there who are able to balance growing a business with growing a family. I am not one of those people. And I am done.

So in 2017, I will be drastically cutting back on my role in Cohesive Home. I’ve made some changes to my online courses to simplify my work tasks, and I will direct my energy toward my home, my family, and my own well-being. I also finished writing my first children’s chapter book, and my goal is to secure a publishing contract by the end of 2017.

Family | Finding myself unexpectedly pregnant has been such a divine blessing. It allowed me to shift my self-centered focus on work back toward my family and growing this little baby. And I’ve already started cutting extra responsibilities from my life, so that I can be engaged and connected when little one joins us.

I want to be fully present with my girls and the new baby, to have time to sit in stillness and enjoy each day for what it is instead of fretting about what I’m not accomplishing. Instead of non-stop hustle, I am creating space for peace and stillness. I’m longing for that respite and realize that I am the only person capable of making that change actually happen.

My oldest daughter will be in “first grade” next year; I want to deepen our home-school study together and create space for more learning opportunities while connecting more fully with her. And my younger daughter is nearing three years old, and I desire more one-on-one time with her through imaginative play, reading books, and cuddling.

And finally, my husband: he gamely supported me during the “Year of Cohesive Home” and now I want to support him in his dreams. So I will be taking a step back to create space for him to make big things happen.

My family is everything to me and my absolute priority. Time to actually live out what I value instead of just talking about it. And if you read all of this, THANK YOU!

What are your 2017 intentions and goals? Would love to hear in the comments!

* We’re members of Samaritan Ministries, a Christian health cost sharing organization. We absolutely LOVE it. I could wax poetic about my love of this organization all day, so email me if you have questions about it. And if you join, let them know I sent you!