July Recap

I completely skipped recapping the month of June and in July, I set aside my bullet journal and tried not to track every little detail of our life on paper. What I learned from this experiment was that while I might not always enjoy jotting down what we ate for dinner, I miss seeing the results at the end of the month. I miss looking back at what we’ve done to see how far we’ve progressed toward where we want to be. Alas, I guess I am a goal-oriented person after all (*big sigh*).

Once upon a time, shortly after leaving my career in corporate training, I rebelled against goal-setting. I even wrote a post about the importance of not having goals. But that was then and for as much as I like the thought of embracing each day as it comes, I think it’s equally as important to have some sense of direction in one’s life. Goals do that for us – even the small ones. 

So I’m back to bullet journaling and thankfully, Angie did not take a break from her goal tracking efforts so I have some idea of how our July went.

Angie made this nifty thermometer for our fridge.
  • We removed 55 items from our home, bringing our decluttering total up to 696 items for the year.
  • We earned $62 in side-hustles, which will go toward our trip to Canada this fall. We tried a new app for side hustling this month called GigSpot. The jobs are mostly mystery shops but we found one fairly easy audit among the bunch. It’s an ongoing gig through September so we will probably do a few more over the next few weeks.
  • We enjoyed 10 completely meatless days (or 61 meatless meals).
  • We hiked 28.4 miles and walked only 13.5 miles. I’m not sure if it’s the heat or the fact that my back was out for a few days after our long hike that kept us indoors but we plan to do more walking in August.
  • Our dumpster finds have slowed down (mostly because the hot weather makes most perishable dumpster items…well, perish…before we can get to them) but we did find: 2 giant baking potatoes, a Vidalia onion, 1 can of blackeye peas, a 12 ounce bag of hazlenut coffee, an 18 ounce jar of crunchy peanut butter, a 30 ounce jar of cashews, an 8.5 ounce bag of dried tropical fruits, and 6 mini Coca-Colas. All items were unopened and in-date.

After having such a wonderful visit with our friend and former neighbor, Suzanne, this month, we decided it might be a good idea to meet some of our current neighbors. You never know when and where you’ll find those lifelong friends but one thing’s for sure, they aren’t hiding behind the couch inside your own apartment. You have to get out to meet them. So we went to our apartment’s “Summer Pool Party”. The food was awesome! I can’t rave enough about that. The games were fun too. But meeting new people…yeah, that did not happen. We spoke to lots of our neighbors but sadly, none wanted to carry on a conversation…or share a picnic table. It was pretty sad really. Folks here just don’t seem to want to mingle outside their family or clique.

Undeterred by the pool party, we’ve decided our best bet for making new friends probably lies in finding folks who share our interests. To that end, we’ve decided to kill two birds with one stone – knock out our volunteerism goal for the year and meet new like-minded folks at the same time – by joining a farm gleaning with the Society of St. Andrews. Angie is diligently monitoring Facebook for one near us and we hope to participate in August. We’re also looking at other volunteer/recreational opportunities as well, including an overnight paddle trip and a river clean-up event.

No bites = big smiles!

Speaking of being outdoors, I want to give a shout-out to my niece for her suggestion to use Baby Magic Creamy Baby Oil as mosquito repellent. Trust me, we were very skeptical. We have tried 4 different kinds of bug spray this year – 1 homemade, 2 naturals, and 1 with DEET – and we still get eaten alive by mosquitoes when we go outside. Yesterday we used only the Baby Magic and hiked 2 miles in the woods by the lake. I kid you not, neither of us has a bite today. I read that the oil in it creates a barrier that mosquitoes can’t land on or bite through very easily but I’m not sure how true this is. All I know is that it worked for us on this occasion and it smells really good too.

How was your July? Did you discover any new things? Make any new friends? Read or watch anything interesting? We’d love to hear about it.

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Learning to Say No

A few months ago, while road-tripping in Pennsylvania, we discovered a radio station called JACK FM. They played a mix of music from the 80s and 90s, which is always a great choice for a road-trip; but what stood out most about JACK FM was their tagline – Playing what we want. No Requests. As I was thinking about our Happiness Project this past weekend, it struck me – we need to be more like JACK FM.

I spent the majority of the recent 3-day weekend filling requests from other people. Some I didn’t mind – like the last minute invitation to brunch with my mom. Others stressed me out – like having to drive back home on Friday evening to email a document to a co-worker when I was already half way to mom’s with a hot dish of homemade macaroni and cheese. And still others, made me downright upset – like the text message asking me for $20. Followed by another text with just a single question mark when I didn’t answer right away.

I am not a taxi. I am not FedEx. I am not a bank, a daycare, a convenience store, a pharmacy, a doctor, a veterinarian, or Google, for that matter. Yet, at times, I play all those roles. It’s kind of exhausting. And there’s no one to blame but myself. My insufferable inability to say one of the shortest words in any language – no – is what puts me in this situation in the first place.

No is a word I really need to learn to say this year…but to do that I need to think about why I, and perhaps some of you too, say yes to things we don’t want to do in the first place. Often we say yes for one of the following reasons:

  1. Fear of disappointing others
  2. To avoid conflict
  3. Fear of missing out
  4. False belief that other people’s needs or wants are more important than our own

About the only one on the list that doesn’t apply to me is #3. I constantly feel that saying no will disappoint someone, make them mad, or make me seem selfish. But is it really selfish to want to take care of yourself first before you take care of others?

I had a discussion with my mom recently about how we sometimes think our own goals and desires are insignificant because they don’t “scream” as loudly as those of other people. My mom has a goal of decluttering the attic while the weather is still cool. She thinks her goal is too simple to talk about, that no one will care, so instead she spends our time together talking about the wants and needs of other people. Or worse, she spends the time she could be decluttering talking to those other people about their wants and needs. Sadly, I often do the same thing. I give my most valuable asset – time – and sometimes even my money to prevent others from being disappointed and unhappy. How ironic is it that all I’m really doing is making myself disappointed and unhappy??

So how do we learn to say no when we’ve spent so many years saying yes? Here are some helpful tips (that I’m going to try) for saying no without feeling guilty:

  • Value yourself in the same way you value others. Remember your time, your thoughts, your goals, and your dreams are just as important as theirs.
  • Realize that guilt is an inappropriate response to the situation. If you hurt someone, you should feel guilty. Saying no causes the other person to have to rethink their request and perhaps be more resourceful but it doesn’t hurt them.
  • Be direct and don’t try to justify or explain the no. You don’t need a reason to choose not to do something.
  • Don’t avoid making a decision when you really want to say no. Saying that you’ll think about something only prolongs the stress that you are already feeling.
  • Be polite when turning down an invitation you may want to accept on another occasion (ie. dinner with friends, drinks, etc.). Simply say, “No thank you” or “Thanks but not this time.”
  • Know when you are being pressured or manipulated and remove yourself from the situation. You don’t owe that person your time and it’s not rude to say “No thank you” and close the door or hang up the phone on someone trying to sell you something you don’t want.

Learning to say no is a priority in our Happiness Project because sometimes you have to say no to other people in order to say yes to yourself. 

Do you have problems saying no? What are some of the ways you say yes to yourself?


Weekly Progress to Goals Report (week ending 1/14)

    • No Spend Days = 5
      YTD = 10/200
    • Meatless Days = 4.5
      YTD = 7.5/144
    • Miles Walked/Hiked = 12.4/0
      YTD = 28.4/1,000 and 0/100
    • Decluttered Items = 1
      YTD = 111/2017
    • Side Hustle Income = $12.71
      YTD = $38.01/$1,825