How I Paint

painting by Jillian

I was listening to music in my room, when I realized that I had the perfect idea for the piece missing on my wall. I struggle with forgiveness, and really, mostly with forgetting. The quote “bitterness keeps you from flying” is from the Tim McGraw song “Humble and Kind.” I want to focus on happiness, love, and the present. I don’t want to waste any more time on the bad or bad memories. 

My bedroom wall has been empty for quite a while, and I wanted to paint something this year. I thought the clouds and sun would be pretty, and planned for a quote over the painting. I used an app (PhotoGrid) to decide how I wanted the letters before painting them on there. 

PhotoGrid apppainting mock up
My letters didn’t turn out quite like the app, but it works! Have you ever painted your own art for your place? It’s kind of a lot of pressure… I don’t love how it turned out, but I still like it. 

Jillian

Simplify Sunday- Annual Goals Update 

  birthday drinks 
I cannot believe it’s been seven weeks since I started my new annual goals. I have no idea how that happened. Counting the weeks has made me feel pretty guilty about how little I’ve done. Still, I have done a couple of things that are important to me. 

As pictured here, I went out for dinner and drinks in a joint birthday celebration with my beautiful friend, M. Our birthdays are five days apart, and we usually buy each other gifts. We do often go out for happy hour as well, but not always. I know that she is big into experiences instead of stuff, so I thought she would be the perfect person to start working on that goal with. 

It helped that it was my birthday, too. It’s a lot easier to say to someone, “Hey, let’s go out and try something fun together to celebrate our birthdays instead of buying tangible gifts” than it is to say “You know how I usually take you out for happy hour and give you a present for your birthday? Well, I know you probably don’t even remember what I gave you last year (and hey, neither do I), so let’s just skip that part and spend a little more money on the experience”. The second way you just sound like a cheapass. I haven’t quite figured out to spin that yet. 

M and I had so much fun hanging out. That’s what sucks about growing up- the more responsibilities you have, the more rare that time with your friends is. We used to hang out a few times a week, and now we’re lucky if it’s a few times a month. I loved going the experience instead of stuff route, and I definitely want to keep that going. 

I automated my emergency fund deposits for each month. I’ve had two go in so far, which is awesome. I have really not saved anything over the last year in my emergency fund, because everything I’ve put in has come out at some point. Last year was super expensive! I also checked my credit, and didn’t see any red flags. My score is the highest it’s ever been, which was exciting!

Maybe I find strange things exciting, but I think those are my biggest accomplishments so far on my list. Simplifying gift giving and saving, but in totally different ways. Anyone else trying anything new this year that they’ve managed to stick to?

Jillian 

My 36 Project

Jillian loves the Packers  I thought about it for a while, and even though I didn’t complete 100% of my 35 Things to do Before 35; I still really enjoyed the process and am going to do it again. Here are my goals to accomplish before I turn 36!

Activities

1. Go to afternoon tea

2. Canoeing at Cook Park

3. Tree to Tree obstacle course

4. Go horseback riding

5. Take a vacation- even if it’s just using the days off to stay home

6. Spa day with Chelle

7. Hike Dog Mountain

8. Go to West Coast Game Park Safari

9. Visit Seattle

10. Volunteer at a homeless shelter

11. Frame my two unframed pictures

12. Do a painting

13. Go to a play

14. Go on a picnic

 

Finances

15. Automate emergency fund deposits- and keep them that way!

16. Invest in stock (any amount, even one share. Maybe Acorn?)

17. Decide if I want to save to buy a house/townhouse/condo

18. Do Suze University

19. Check credit

 

On-going goals

20. Visit grandparents once a month (0/12)

21. Send a card or care package every week (0/52)

22. See a friend once a week (0/52)

23. Practice yoga once a week (0/52)

24. Exercise at least twice a week (0/52)

25. Buy myself flowers once a month (0/12)

26. Do purge of belongings once a month (0/12)

27. Use all four free car details (0/4)

28. Post on blog once a week (0/52)

 

Personal

29. Lose 40 pounds

30. Do a cleanse

31. Use my Happy Herbivore meal plans for at least a month

32. Run a 10k

33. Focus on giving fewer things and more experiences

 

Puppies

34. Take Lambeau to two puppy classes

35. Take Riley to a third training class

36. Adopt Lambeau!

 

My 35 Project- Update

img_2781-1Last year on my birthday, I started a project- 35 things to do before I turned 35. It was a mixed bag. I did have to make some alterations to the list after a big life change, but for the most part it remained the same throughout the year.

Things that went well:

The only category that I accomplished every single item was house/minimalism. I guess I should have seen that coming. I love to see clean, simple spaces. I also obsessively organize and discard things when I am stressed or anxious. Sometimes I see this as a bad thing, as I know it’s one of my biggest coping mechanisms. However, the fact is that I love the results. Until I started blogging, I didn’t really realize that minimalism was such a trend. This is probably the first time in my entire life that I have been trendy.

I loved having it be a priority to see people that I love and send mail. Sure, I wasn’t 100% successful on these, but it felt good to flat out tell myself that I “had” to do these things. Investing in relationships is the best thing that I can do for myself. My loved ones make life worth living. Sometimes it feels indulgent to be spending time being happy instead of doing chores. Could this philosophy be more dumb? Now that I have realized I feel that way, I can remind myself what I really want my life to be about. I also got to take a trip to Vermont to see a friend and meet her new baby, and spent time with my puppy taking her to classes.

Paying off my student loans was an incredible feeling. I literally cannot remember the time when I didn’t have this debt hanging over my head. It’s been so long. I feel like the world is at my fingertips. I’ve been putting so much money toward debt for so long, and this feels great! My goal for the next year is to save this money and build a “grown-up” emergency fund. The one I’ve had while paying off debt has never been very much. It has been able to cover my true emergencies, which I am very proud of, but I would like it to be enough to give me peace of mind.

I went to yoga less than half as much as I had intended. However, I’m still counting this as a win because I did find a yoga studio that I love. I also got a great deal on a membership ($29 a month, unlimited- normally $99). If I go once a week, my membership is still cheaper than paying per visit; and now I have no excuse not to go more. I can’t do yoga at home. I love the idea, but I will end up with two dogs on my head and then giving up and taking a nap.

Things that I learned:

I learned that I actually visit my grandparents more than I realized. There is a lot of guilt in my family about visiting grandparents, but meeting my goal of once a month was not hard at all. Most months it was more often. Tracking this made me feel like I’m not such a bad person, after all.

My blog energy definitely ebbs and flows more than I thought. My initial posting schedule (at least once a day) was just insane and definitely did not pan out. I didn’t want to post just to post, of course. Next year my goal will be once a week. If I do more, that’s great, but I don’t want to pressure myself.

I went to therapy for several months. Therapy is something that is brutally hard for me, because I am not good at opening up on a deep level. I do see the irony of this, given my blog and all. This helped me make some very tough decisions, and I am grateful that I pushed myself to be introspective. It hurts, but sometimes life does. Ya know?

Things that didn’t go so well:

Weight loss was a total fail, no way around it. I actually weigh more than when I started. I wish I could change my thinking to remember that this truly is a health and quality of life issue.

My exercise goals completely tanked. I managed to work out four times a week… well. It’s just embarrassing. You can check for yourself if you want. I lowered my goal to twice a week for next year. I feel like that’s so low it’s not worth doing, but I know that is a defeatist attitude and one that I don’t want to have. If I feel I can’t reach the entire goal, I tend to do nothing. I want to learn that doing something in a less extreme manner is still okay and worth doing.

I am going to be doing a list of 36 things to do before I turn 36. This list will be more oriented toward things that I enjoyed this year, and experiences that I want to have. Is anyone else doing a list?

Jillian

Questions to Ask When Looking For a Therapist 

I’m not sure if anyone has really noticed, but I’ve been pretty absent for a while now. I’ve been going through a rough patch, and honestly haven’t had the motivation to put myself out there much. However, I am strong and I have a lot of great support.

I have been working with a therapist, which I think I mentioned before. I was so nervous and intimidated about how to go about finding the right one. I started by checking out who was covered by my insurance, because that just made sense. I knew I wanted to see a woman, so that helped narrow it further. Then I looked at who was conveniently located, and who had availability after work. The last thing I needed was to take time off work once a week!

I also asked my awesome friend, who is a therapist herself, for some advice on how to choose. She gave me these GREAT questions to ask both the therapists I talked to and myself. My favorite part is that she also gave possible “right” answers to the questions. I wanted to share, just in case anyone else is considering therapy, and she gave me her permission.

For me, the first step of looking and calling was the very hardest. I’m not great at talking and honestly still dread going most weeks, but I always feel better after my sessions.

??????? For the therapist 

What theories/frameworks do you use? Why those theories and not others? (You’re looking for why they think it’s effective, not what they personally like.)

While researching about this, I found that there are so many new techniques and ideas. How do you stay abreast of all this knowledge (looking for “attending training, conferences, reading”)

What role do you think medication plays in mental health? (You’re looking for an answer like “it depends”. Some psychiatrists think “non-compliance” to medication regimens is tantamount to revolt)

I know everyone is different, but what is the time-range for this therapy to show effectiveness?

Have you treated anyone with issues similar to mine? What was the outcome? What ingredients were the cause of that success/failure? How will we measure progress?

What’s expected from me? (For instance, are there homework assignments?)

When do you start thinking about termination (ending the relationship), and what will that look like? (e.g. will it be a shared decision, is there a set number of visits and then review, etc)

??????? For you 

Did you feel heard by the therapist?

Did you feel like the therapist respected you?

Was the therapist condescending?

Did the therapist seem like a real person, or were they playing a role?

Was the therapist passive or active in the session? What do you like better?

Does it seem like the therapist will be open to hearing about all your feelings, including frustrated feelings relating to them?

Did the therapist have a positive outlook on life?

Did you feel better or worse after the session?

Did you feel comfortable with the therapist?

Does this seem like a safe place to express your thoughts, concerns, and feelings?

I didn’t ask all of these questions, but even thinking about them helped me realize more about what I was looking for. Good luck in your journey!

Jillian

Simplify Sunday-Yoga Edition

work out areaWhen I look at My 35 Project, I see one area where I need a lot of improvement. I haven’t done yoga even once! Yikes.

Obviously, I had to look at why. Doing something once a week should not be hard. What is standing in my way?

It’s hard for me to work out at home, and it’s hard for me to spend $15 on one yoga class. That’s what it is. It’s also hard for me to spend time doing yoga, when I have a mind block that says it’s more important to do weights or cardio.

My actual belief is that all three are important. Yoga helps me with balance, physically and mentally. It helps me connect my mind to my body.

So, here’s what I did! I made a space where I have a reminder every day to just think about it, if not to try a few poses.

yoga posesI don’t know yoga well enough to make it up as I go along, so I got this cool poster off Amazon!

I just used it, and while the pictures are small (this was the best one I could find), it was really helpful! I’m excited about this new idea, and that I got my first yoga session in.

Silly as the small victory may sound… It’s a big deal for me to pinpoint what’s standing in my way and then actually do something about it. 

Have you had any small victories lately?

💛 Jillian