April Recap

April should have come with a warning label. At best, you could say it was an unfortunate month. At worst, I’d call it a downright disaster!

We shot out of the gate, armed with good intentions, and for a few days we were on a roll. We went to a festival, ate tacos from our favorite food truck, had a picnic, went letterboxing, and walked/hiked 31.6 miles – all within the first five days of the month. Then things went downhill fast. My niece was admitted to the hospital with a severe kidney infection. The doctor said that if she had gone just a few days longer she might have done irreparable harm. Most of that week we had the baby. She’s a wonderfully sweet 22-month-old ball of energy and we love her to pieces but she will wear you out. Needless to say, it took several down days afterwards for us to recover. Then the little one got sick too. She was in the ER twice in a 12-hour period before being diagnosed with Strep.

In the midst of all this, we celebrated Angie’s birthday. I use the term “celebrated” very loosely here. The eggplant lasagna that I made for dinner turned out to be largely inedible. I’m not sure what went wrong but I’m thinking the eggplant itself must have been bad (though it looked and felt fine to me). Our plans to go for a nice long walk were thwarted and we found ourselves at the mall instead. Note: when you try on every hiking sandal in 3 stores and still can’t find what you’re looking for, chances are very good that you don’t need hiking sandals.  And by being at the mall, we missed my mom dropping by to deliver a slice of strawberry cake from Chef’s Market, the most delicious bakery in all of Middle Tennessee. (We later went to her house to retrieve said cake.)

Despite our setbacks we managed to eek out a few small victories though.

  • We removed 112 items from our home and shed. This brings our decluttering total up to 329 item for the year.
  • We both read 3 books. You can check out my page or Angie’s page on Goodreads for more details.
  • We had 11 no-spend days again. I’m beginning to wonder if counting no-spend days is even an accurate measure of success though. When I know that we’re going to spend money, I simply try to combine all spending into that one day so the next is a no-spend day. But $50 spent in one day is still the same as $25 spent on two consecutive days. And when you’re actually working within your budget, isn’t miscellaneous spending already accounted for anyway – no matter how many days that spending is spread over?? What are your thoughts on no-spend days?
  • We made $155.30 in side-hustles, almost all of it from selling clutter on OfferUp.
  • Angie scored another month of free bagels from Panera, of which we only missed 3 days of picking up our newest obsession – Sprouted Grain Bagel Flats.
  • Our meat consumption was up just a bit but we still managed 9 entirely meatless days (64 meatless meals). This was due in large to part to rescuing 9 pounds of unopened, in-date, deli-sliced turkey and ham just as they were being tossed out (for reasons unknown).
  • We hiked 24.4 miles and walked 56.6.
  • We went on our first official camping trip of the year, during which time we completed our letterboxing goal. We found 24 boxes in Murfreesboro, Manchester, and McMinnville (TN) bringing our total to 56 for the year.

Today is the 2nd day of a brand new month and we plan on making a few changes to the way we’re tracking our progress toward our happiness goals. We also plan to make a few changes to the way we approach this whole pursuit of happiness. After reading Erin Loechner’s book Chasing Slow, I’ve come to realize that chasing anything, be it happiness, a career path, sustainable living, better relationships, or early retirement, is counterproductive. To chase is to run after and to run full tilt toward anything, no matter how noble, almost always guarantees you miss the scenery along the way. I, for one, feel like it’s time to just slow down.

How was your April? What one thing would you change to make May a better month?

Spending Time in Tennessee

My mom has spent the better part of her life caring for others, as a nurse, a mother, and a grandmother. She is an amazingly strong woman; but even the strongest of women need a little help sometimes. In March, Mom suffered severe bronchitis and the coughing caused her to fracture several vertebrae and crack ribs. Angie and I drove up to Tennessee to help her get to doctor’s appointments and to take care of some Spring yard work.

Caesar Ready To GoOur trip to Tennessee was largely unplanned. One Sunday morning we packed a few bags, a couple of sandwiches, and our cat and headed off. This was the first time that I can recall ever leaving home without a set return date…or at least a date in mind. It was also the first time in our travels that we didn’t have any kind of agenda.

We spent 3 1/2 weeks in Tennessee. In some ways our days were the same as they were at home. I still had work commitments. Angie still prepared meals and kept up with daily chores. The difference though was that those obligations didn’t feel nearly as burdensome as they did when they were the only things we had to do in a day. And though I know they weren’t, the days there seemed longer than normal days and more able to accommodate the things we wanted and needed to do. In fact, there were days when I worked 8 full hours then joined Angie in pulling weeds or mulching the flower beds, made dinner together and watched a movie with my mom, while still finding time to read before bed. Was I crazy or are Southern hours actually longer than other hours?

On the way home, I thought a lot about this time phenomenon. I know there are only 24 hours in a day, each comprised of 60 precious minutes. That’s not debatable. It’s the quality of those hours that seems to be the differentiating factor. In our everyday lives, we sometimes hit a wall or fall into a rut. We may want to do other things but by the time we’ve finished with the things we need to do, we’re out of the notion or lack the energy to carry on. I was in that place before going to Tennessee.

Helping my mom helped me not to think about my own routine. The unexpected change in scenery and shift of priorities was the kick in the pants that I needed to make me to realize that ruts are self-made and therefore, just as easily self-remedied. A happily balanced day is one that includes an even mix of things that you must do and things that you want to do.

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