Amanda Cade

Worth It! (Things to try, read, watch, hear, and discuss)

“It always seems impossible until it’s done.” -Nelson Mandela

“The ultimate inspiration is the deadline.” -Nolan BushnellAs I mentioned last week, things at work have gone sideways and the pressure is on. After our first week of extra long days, multiple meetings, and minimal argument, I’m happy to report that my “crisis team” is making progress and on track to meet a critical deadline in mid December. It’s going to take a lot of work, but we’re committed, we’re focused, and we’re drinking a lot of coffee. Even though nerves are frayed and obstacles keep popping up, we’re staying on track and supporting each other. The biggest challenge is that this project has essentially been added to the work we were already doing, and we’re all people who put in 50 or 60 hours a week (or more) as a general rule.

“Energy and persistence conquer all things.” -Benjamin FranklinMy team isn’t alone in feeling overworked and over-scheduled. I see it across my organization, in my friends, in my family, and in a lot of the blog posts I read. We’re living in a world that constantly pushes us to do more, achieve more, work more, and be more. I’m not saying that’s always a bad thing; I’m a workaholic who prefers to be busy and productive, and I think it’s important to work towards your own picture of success. However, while the world is always happy to tell us to push forward, it doesn’t always pair that with the right messages about how and when, or how to do so with a healthy balance to avoid burnout. As this blog nears the one year mark, I’ve been looking back over my posts and noted that these are issues I’ve returned to on multiple occasions.

If you’ve missed any of those posts, or could use a few reminders, please check them out:

You Got This

How is your schedule and workload looking these days?

 

So some things blew up at work this week, and as a result there are several people, myself included, who are going to be doing a whole lot of extra work in a very short time period. This is not a case of me stepping up to fix someone else’s mistake (as I cautioned against doing in last week’s post), but a perfect storm of unforeseen circumstances that created one heck of a mess. Those of us who have to clean it up are going to be all but living at work for a while, so in the coming weeks it’s going to be very important that we all stay motivated, positive, and non homicidal. So when I started to think about this week’s post, it seemed like a good time to review the best ways to motivate yourself and others when there’s a lot that needs to be done (see also things to remember when there’s too much to do).

1) Remember why you’re doing it. 

raceThis one seems like it’s painfully obvious, but it’s easy to lose sight of when you’re in the middle of things. When you get completely focused on what is directly in front of you and not the end goal you’re working towards, it can really bring you down. It’s like running a race while staring at your feet; you don’t know how far the finish line is, just that you’re getting tired and sweaty. Take time to remind yourself of where you’re going. Even if the goal seems far away, you know that you want to get there, and can recognize that gradual progress is still progress. There’s something inherently motivating about keeping your eyes on the light at the end of the tunnel, and as long as you keep that in mind you’ll be able to find that little bit of extra energy you might need when you start to lose motivation.

2) Create lots of small victories.

To Do ListThis goes along with the well-known technique of breaking big projects into manageable chunks, and other methods to increase productivity. When we reach the end of a task, it creates an immediate mental and emotional boost. So not only does breaking things down help avoid feeling overwhelmed, but it also increases the opportunities for a vital feeling of accomplishment. This also allows for task rotation, so you can work longer without feeling burned out or having too much mental fatigue. I find it really difficult to spend two solid hours organizing information and crunching data on spreadsheets. However, I can easily do a total of two hours’ worth of spreadsheet work in a four hour period, if it’s interspersed with other things. Instead of celebrating finishing a spreadsheet, I can celebrate finishing a section of a spreadsheet four times. You don’t want to have to wait until the end of the day to feel like you’ve made progress. 

3) Find the fun. 

smilies-bank-sit-rest-160739There’s always a danger of getting distracted and unproductive, but when the pressure is on you need to take some time to relieve tension. When you’re working with others, look for opportunities to share a laugh, and remember what those moments were so you can incorporate them into your overall group culture. In an early strategy session for our mammoth project, we assigned pairs to handle specific tasks. One colleague joked that we were creating “work spouses,” and we have since really run with that. We’ve already had many comments about needing work spouse counseling, avoiding work spouse divorce, the newlyweds vs the old marrieds, and so on and so forth. This shared in-joke has helped us to bond more quickly and created a lot of positive feelings without taking away from our productivity. My “work husband” and I, who have been “together” for quite some time, are determined to survive this challenge. We’re also debating team names and slogans (many of which we would never actually use and certainly won’t be telling our boss). In this case, the ever-growing sense of camaraderie is probably going to be one of the most important factors in us pulling together and pulling through. If you’re trying to motivate yourself on a solo project, you should still look for opportunities to add a little fun. Turn on your music, give yourself a slogan, document your stress in little cartoons…whatever it is that gives you a chance to smile at the situation.  

4) Acknowledge effort and accomplishments

starsWhen we were children we got gold stars and student of the week and smiley face stickers and all kinds of small affirmations that meant a whole lot more to us than they logically should. Then at some point in our lives people decided that we were “too old” for those minor extrinsic motivators to be necessary or effective. I say bull-pucky to that. We don’t outgrow the desire to feel recognized or the ability to get a boost from something small and insignificant. I have actually given gold star stickers to grown-ups, and you wouldn’t believe how proud they were to be accumulating them. When you’re working by yourself, taking the time to recognize and congratulate yourself is important. When you’re working with others, it’s critical. Nothing gets a group of tired, frazzled people back on track faster than praising and appreciating what they’ve done. Except maybe for pizza. 

5) Reward, reward, reward. 

presentsAs important as praise and acknowledgement is, it’s best to back that up with a little bit of actual tangible stuff. I wasn’t kidding about pizza. My coworkers are absolute freaks about pizza. It’s amazing how much more productive we are with the promise of pizza. Regular readers already know that I will move heaven and earth for a donut, and believe me, my boss knows that too. Food is, of course, just one example of ways we can reward each other or ourselves. For something more lasting than food, I have ordered humorous coffee mugs for everyone involved (carefully chosen to match their individual personalities) and will be ready to pull them out when we really need a boost. Our supervisor is exploring some more significant rewards like the possibility of some time off when this project is finished, a small bonus, or an evening out on the company dime. Tying a reward to a specific accomplishment is especially effective.

You Can Do It

How do you motivate yourself and others?

I believe that it’s very important to be generous, helpful, and available. I spend a lot of my time trying to make other people’s lives easier. It makes me happy to do that. However, there are limits. That’s been a tough lesson to learn because setting those boundaries has meant dealing with a lot of guilt and the crippling fear that I am being selfish. Luckily, I’ve mostly moved past that. If you occasionally struggle with that worry, or wonder if you expect too much from others, here are a few things that are seriously, perfectly, 100% okay. 

1. Saying no to things you won’t enjoy.

campingSometimes something is really important to someone else and that means, yes, you should grin and bear it. As I’ve mentioned at least once or twice, I go shopping with my sister Audrey several times a year, because it’s important to her, even though I would rather do just about anything else. However, that doesn’t mean that there’s anything wrong with saying no when an idea makes you uncomfortable. Several times, every year, someone invites me to go camping or on a float trip or a combination of those two. Usually, it’s the same people who year after year keep insisting that if I just gave it a try I would have lots of fun. They are very, very wrong. I would not have fun. And honestly, neither would they. I am terrified of bugs. I don’t even sleep well in hotels. I don’t like mud. I don’t want to get into water if I can’t see the bottom, or with no lifeguard. I’m a picky eater. I have food allergies. I’m also allergic to bee, wasp, hornet, and ant stings. I’m clumsy. Spiderwebs send me into a shrieking fit. There is no sunscreen created that will keep me from burning. Snakes exist. I have tried camping. Twice. I had a terrible time, and I know that I put a damper on everyone else’s fun. Even if I could pretend not to be miserable (and in the case of camping, I don’t think I could) I don’t want to. My point is that it’s really okay to say that something is just not for you. 

2. Asking people to respect your time.

clocksThis includes being on time, staying within an allotted time frame, and using time productively. For example, I have limited patience with socializing during meetings. I’m not saying I’m opposed to fun – I love having fun – but when there are clear guidelines and things that need to happen, it is disrespectful to spend extended time on small talk that can easily cause the meeting to run longer than it needs to. At my job, this happens frequently, and a lot of times a few of us end up staying after the meeting has broken up to finish the work we didn’t accomplish. Respecting time is also important in our personal lives. I understand that things come up, and I don’t lose it when someone gets caught in traffic, but being late routinely sends a message of disrespect and implies that you don’t think the other person’s time is valuable. There is absolutely nothing wrong with asking someone in your personal or professional life to be cognizant and courteous when it comes to your time. 

3. Asking for your chance to speak.

restaurant-people-lamps-vintageI’ve touched on the other side of this topic before, in my things to learn about other people post, but it’s important to remember that other people are also responsible for listening to you. Example: A lot of the people in my life have spouses, children, and grandchildren. Because their family is a huge part of their life they tend to talk about it quite a bit, and I love hearing their family stories. However, sometimes I notice that when I bring up important elements of my life (work, friends, books, films, etc) there is a definite lack of interest, and frequently an interruption and quick subject change. I’ve spoken with several friends about feeling marginalized in conversations, and have had some honest discussions about the importance of being interested in a topic because you’re interested in a person. Most of us also know at least one person who just loves to talk, and often monopolizes the conversation without realizing it. It can be awkward to address this, but you shouldn’t feel bad for asking someone to share the air. I’ve also been on the other side, as I have been kindly told that I sometimes cut off discussion way too early when I’m running a meeting at work. My point is that you have the right to contribute equally to a conversation, and there’s nothing wrong with asking for that right to be respected. 

4. Not volunteering.

You Got It BossI recently stepped up to fill a gap at work when I discovered that, frankly, someone had dropped the ball and a problem had to be fixed pretty much immediately. The following week the same ball had been dropped by the same people, and because I had helped before, people started emailing me and asking if I could fix it again. The week after that, I was getting phone calls and complaints about the way I was doing someone else’s job. My first impulse was to try and do someone else’s job better, and I kept thinking “If I don’t step up again, my co-workers are going to have a very difficult time by being put in a situation where they are unprepared through no fault of their own”. However, after three weeks I was losing my mind. That’s when I remembered that I don’t have to feel guilty for choosing not to give my time and energy to sometime that isn’t my responsibility. This can be really hard, and sometimes when people are asking you to volunteer, there’s a lot of internal and external pressure. But you are under no obligation to do something detrimental or unpleasant for you. Being the “Go-To Girl/Guy” or “so good at _____” can feel great, but can also become very stressful very quickly (see my dangerous compliments post for more on these situations).

5. Spending money on yourself.

groceryA few months after her son was born, my best friend Katie confessed that she had started having her groceries delivered. She was honestly embarrassed that she and her husband were spending the extra money for this convenience. I immediately told her, without a hint of shame, that I had been using grocery deliver for over a year. I don’t enjoy shopping, and I don’t want to take the time to shop. I also don’t enjoy deep cleaning my house, which is why I pay someone to do that for me. I probably spend at least a hundred and fifty dollars a month buying new books. If you can afford something that makes your life easier or makes you happier, and it doesn’t hurt anyone, there’s no reason to feel bad about it. I get why people might call it selfish to spend an exorbitant amount of money in a fiscally irresponsible way, but I am honestly perplexed when people feel guilty about small indulgences. As far as I’m concerned, God bless Instacart, UberEats, Amazon, and my cleaning service. 

treat yourself

Do you struggle with setting boundaries? What are some other things we need to realize aren’t selfish?

It’s almost Halloween! I love this time of year, and spend weeks getting into the spirit (mostly by watching a lot of scary movies, but also with decorations and other spooky activities). There are lots of fun ways to celebrate Halloween, and here are a few of my personal favorites (both old and new):

Activity Pick: Haunted House

tickets.jpgA few weeks ago, I posted a preview of my upcoming activities, and last night I checked one off by going to a haunted house. I was pretty nervous about this, because I haven’t had great experiences in the past, but it was a lot more fun than I expected. Even though there are lots of haunted houses in the St. Louis area, we chose to take a 90 minute drive to a place in Illinois called Raven’s Curse, because we’d heard great things about it. Also, they have a Halloween themed escape room, and we couldn’t pass that up.

We were a little bummed that we weren’t able to go through the haunted maze, which was closed because of heavy rain (it’s an outdoor attraction), but we did the escape room and went through the indoor haunted house, which is, of course, the main event. While I didn’t love the jump scares, the overall experience was well worth it. I was especially impressed with the quality of the makeup and the electronics, which included lots of automated monsters and some really awesome video effects, which were set up on screens that were designed to look like windows into other parts of the building.

I didn’t get any pictures, because they aren’t allowed inside, and the rain kept the actors from roaming around outside like they normally would. If you want an idea, though, here’s the promo video for the attraction:

Much to my surprise, I had a great time and will probably head back next year for the haunted maze.

Movie Pick: The Cabin the the Woods

Screenshot 2019-10-26 at 2.25.49 PMThe Cabin in the Woods offers a satirical look at horror tropes while still taking itself completely seriously and providing genuine tension for the characters and the audience. The main plot is deliberately cliche-riddled in the best possible way, and the underlying subplot (which I won’t discuss because of my no spoiler policy) adds a whole new dimension. Despite skirting the edges of parody, it’s definitely a horror movie, and one of the most creative, original, and engaging examples of the genre I’ve ever seen. This is a movie I’ve watched again and again, and enjoyed every single time.

Candy Pick: The Reese’s Peanut Butter Halloween Collection

Halloween CandyReese’s Peanut Butter Cups are hands down my favorite candy, and they have so many cute Halloween options! Any candy is likely to make trick or treaters happy, of course, but I love going the extra mile and giving out treats with the holiday theme. Monster Mania miniatures are available at Target, and the wrappers are just adorable. Other options include bats, ghosts (for white chocolate lovers), pumpkins, and eyeballs, which I’m pretty sure are new this year. The latter have been filling my special candy dish (click here for my post on making the dish) for the last couple of weeks, and they’ve been quite a hit.

Halloween

I definitely stayed up past my bedtime last night, so over to you. What are your Halloween favorites?

As I explained in last week’s post, things have been tough lately. As a result, I’ve been doing even more reading than usual, because as Kate Morton wrote in The Forgotten Garden, “She’d understood the power of stories. Their magical ability to refill the wounded part of people.” Luckily, there were a lot of new and anticipated books published in the last month or so, and I spent much of the past few weeks catching up on my TBR list. If you’re considering your next read, here are my thoughts on five new books in several different genres:

Literary Fiction: The Clockmaker’s Daughter by Kate Morton (published October 9)

Screenshot 2019-10-20 at 7.21.07 AMI have long been a fan of Kate Morton’s multiple perspective multi-generational mysteries. Her novels are wonderful examples of how a narrative can move back and forth through different time periods as a story unfolds through the eyes of a variety of well-developed characters. The Clockmaker’s Daughter, in my opinion, is the best one yet. I absolutely love that one of the primary narrators is a ghost, observing and commenting on events while adding her own revelations. Her continued presence in the house that anchors the story, and the mysteries surrounding her life and death, are absolutely fascinating. I have rarely been so invested in a set of characters. The interwoven storylines were all compelling and I raced through the book in less than a day. Highly, highly recommended. 

 

Non Fiction: Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell (published September 10)

Screenshot 2019-10-20 at 7.26.31 AMI’ve made no secret of the fact that I am a huge Malcolm Gladwell fan. In Talking to Strangers, he examines how people interact with one another, our ability to tell truth from lies, and the various factors that influence our communication. As usual, Gladwell combines science, research, and a variety of historical events to craft a compelling, in-depth narrative. I always enjoy his engaging writing, blending information and commentary while drawing new conclusions and connections. The audiobook is exceptionally well produced, featuring the voices of interview subjects, recordings of actual incidents, and reenactments. This was certainly the most thought provoking book I’ve read in recent months. 

 

Fantasy: Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo (published October 8)

Screenshot 2019-10-20 at 7.32.43 AMI have read and enjoyed all of Leigh Bardugo’s young adult books, especially because each one was better than the last. So the adult fiction debut of an author I believe is constantly improving was a very exciting prospect. The book more than lived up to my expectations. The premise, that there are secret magical societies operating at an Ivy League university, is fascinating and extremely well-developed. The underlying mythology of the book is built slowly and organically and the protagonist was impossible not to root for as she struggles to find her place in several unfamiliar and difficult situations. From the very first line, “By the time Alex managed to get the blood out of her good wool coat, it was too warm to wear it,” the reader is in for a multilayered mystery and fascinating reveals. Ninth House is a wonderful book, and I cannot wait for the sequel. 

The Institute by Stephen King (published September 10)

Screenshot 2019-10-20 at 7.39.52 AMI had a little trouble categorizing this one. Stephen King is, of course, best known for horror, but while there are some elements of horror in this book, I wouldn’t quite put it in that genre. Thriller might fit. Or maybe fantasy, because psychic abilities are central to the plot. Amazon lists it as “Psychic Suspense”, “Horror Suspense”, and “Psychic Thriller”, and I suppose that covers it. Anyway, The Institute is one of King’s best in recent years, certainty superior to the two that preceded it. It is a solid, interesting, well paced, and well plotted novel. Early press compared it to Firestarter (for the evil agency aspect) and It (for the examination of childhood). The first comparison I think is accurate, and done very well. The second, however, is an overstatement. I very much liked The Institute, although I wish there had been a little more of it. Going into it expecting the sort of powerful depiction of childhood and childhood friendships that made It such a compelling read, I was disappointing not to find it. However, that’s not entirely a criticism of the book itself. The book is great. I just wish there’d been more. 

Legal…Thriller?: The Guardians by John Grisham (published October 15)

Screenshot 2019-10-20 at 7.45.40 AMThis is a tough one. Grisham based the protagonist of this book on a real person and created a great character. He based the central case on a real case and created a really interesting core plot. I enjoyed reading about a group of people determined to see justice done for the wrongly convicted. There was a lot I really liked about this book! About halfway through, though, I noticed that while I wasn’t bored, the book was easier to put down than I expected. What I finally realized was that it was mostly lacking in serious tension. The narrative unfolded with the majority of the conflict independent of the actions of the protagonist. Evidence was found or it wasn’t. Witnesses changed their story or they didn’t, or they did later. Some people got in the way, until they didn’t. The writing was good, the narrative was interesting (except for a tangent near the end I found thoroughly bizarre, but I could deal with it), but even though the stakes were high, I never felt like there was enough agency or influence from the narrator. So, I liked the book, and was interested, but not exactly gripped by it. It felt more like well-written nonfiction than fiction, and I’m still sort of trying to come to my final opinion. What I can say is that it was worth the time and money, but it wasn’t what I’ve come to expect from fiction.

Book Stack

Any of these on your TBR? What have you been reading lately?

Hello, everyone. As you know, I’m big on staying positive and living your best life, which is what many of my blog posts and a lot of my Instagram account is all about. However, I don’t want anyone to think that I believe a positive mindset makes all your problems go away, or that I’m suggesting that there’s something wrong with having times where you’re just not ok.

It’s taken me a little while to reach a point where I felt like blogging about this, but I’m there now. For a few weeks, I have not been entirely ok. Work has been extremely stressful, I’ve had some serious disappointments both personally and professionally, and both a relative and someone I used to work with passed away. I’ve had a long series of emotional gut punches, and it’s been very difficult.

So I’ve been reflecting on everything that’s been going on, and wanted to share a few important things to remember when you hit a dark stretch.

1. It’s all right to take time for yourself.

looking-at-water.jpegOver the past few weeks, I’ve been terrible about keeping up with all the great blogs I follow. I temporarily offloaded a few things at work. I backed out of social commitments. I took several personal days. And I briefly struggled with guilty feelings related to all of those things. However, I reminded myself that I had to prioritize, and that one of those priorities had to be my emotional health. I needed to rest. I needed to spend time with my family. I needed to provide support for people who were hurting more than I was, and then set aside time to focus on my own grief. There’s nothing selfish about taking care of yourself.

2. Use your strength wisely.

When we’re emotionally exhausted, we aren’t able to operate at the same level as when things are going well, so it’s important to prioritize. There have been lots of times over the past few weeks when I needed to put on my game face and put my troubles in a mental box on a shelf. It’s important to conserve energy for those situations, and then to allow yourself recovery time afterwards. Even when things are tough, it’s a bad idea to withdraw entirely, but you never want to just try for business as usual right away.

3. It’s all right to wait on talking or processing.

As I mentioned earlier, I didn’t want to blog about this right away. When I wrote my last few posts, it was actually a relief to get into a different head space and focus on things I felt good about. I’ve responded to some expressions of sympathy and concern with a simple, “Thank you”, while others have lead to a frank discussion of how I’m feeling. It depended on the circumstances and the person. I’ve even hit full stop on my own emotions when someone in worse shape needed my help. It’s up to you to decide when and how to discuss and work through your feelings.

4. However, you should never feel guilty about leaning on someone.

handsI sometimes find it difficult to open up and admit that I’m struggling, but I’ve been working on that a lot, because it’s so much better when I do. The people who care about us aren’t asking if we’re all right or if we want to talk as an empty social nicety, but because they genuinely want to be there for us. Don’t ever hesitate to ask a friend or loved one for their time, attention, or help. You aren’t “bothering” them-you’re giving them a chance to be there for you.

5. It does get better.

I’m taking it one day at a time and slowly getting back to feeling like myself again. I’ve been through difficult times before, and I know that I will heal. It can be hard to remember that in the middle of everything, but it’s true.

broken heart rain

Things have been really busy lately, and so I haven’t had a lot of time to try things out. However, I have committed to several experiences in the next few months, and I’m really looking forward to them. So this week, I’m giving you a rundown on what you can expect to see reviewed and recommended (or not) here on the blog in the near future. I’d also like to know if any of you can give me some early feedback and/or suggestions if you’ve tried anything on the list. 

Go to a Haunted House

haunted houseIf you’ve been reading my blog for awhile, you know I like scary stuff. I am fascinated by make up effects, animatronics, and scene setting in general, but especially in horror movies. So a haunted house seems like a perfect fit. So perfect, in fact, that you’re probably wondering “Amanda, wouldn’t this be something you do all the time?” I have been to half a dozen haunted houses in my life, but the last one was almost twenty years ago, so this one will be kind of a new experience. To be honest, I stopped going to Haunted Houses because they did exactly what they were supposed to do: scared the life out of me. There’s a huge difference between seeing all that cool horror stuff on a screen and having it jump out in your face. There came a point where I started making excuses not to go rather than going. 

So why am I trying it again? Because it was also fun. I think I started avoiding the experience largely because of anticipation anxiety. When one of my friends suggested a haunted house recently, I stopped to examine my knee jerk reaction and remembered the fun. I’m thinking that, all these years later, I might have a different experience. If nothing else, it will be cool to see all of the things that go into the haunted house atmosphere, especially after almost two decades of advances in the industry. I guess we’ll see.  Also, the haunted house we picked also has an escape room. I know I’ll like that part

Make a Candle

tealight-candles-tea-lights-waxMy mother did candle making a few months ago and told me it was a lot of fun. Since Mom almost never steers me wrong (case in point: she was the one who suggested glass fusing ), I immediately put this on my list of things to try. The fall and winter seems an especially appropriate time to do this, because that’s the time of year when I burn the most candles. I don’t know that I’m going to end up with anything better than what I can buy in a store, but that’s not what this is really about. I’m looking forward to the experience of creating something that I can take home and enjoy, which is almost always more satisfying that just purchasing something. Plus, given that I know very little about the process, it’s entirely possible that I’m underestimating the options for making something totally unique and different that I couldn’t just go out and buy. 

Take a Gingerbread House and/or Holiday Decorating Class

gingerbread houseI love cooking. I especially love baking. I am absolutely horrendously terrible at decorating. If you’re newer to the blog, you might think I’m exaggerating. I assure you, if anything, I’m underselling it. I want to get better at this. Gingerbread house decorating immediately occurred to me because it uses a lot of different skills and techniques and so would be a good survey class that would also, in theory, give me something super cute to add to my holiday home decor. Or, potentially, a ridiculous looking conversation piece. Worst case scenario, I get a disaster and a fun story (one of my dad’s important lessons). 

I’m including the caveat that I might do a different kind of decorating class instead because there are a lot more general decorating classes in my area than specific gingerbread house classes. What I end up doing is going to depend on scheduling and availability. Taking a class is an easy way to learn, as well as a fun social activity. 

Create Personalized Holiday Gifts

PhotoEditor-1570292557596.jpgThe impetus behind this is pretty simple: putting your time, energy, and effort into a present for someone makes it mean more. Additionally, most of the people in my life are at the point in their lives where they get hard to shop for. I know this, because I’m at that point myself. In my 20s, and even my early 30s, when someone said “what do you want for your birthday or Christmas?” the answers were easy. I need a bookshelf. I need a new set of kitchen knives. I need a DVD rack. The key connecting factor there was “I need”. After awhile, though, you get to the point where you have accumulated the things that you need and even most of the things that you want. I have trouble making my own Christmas list, much less figuring out what to get everyone else. So the idea of something personal that I created is really appealing.

I originally thought of creating…something…from the ground up for half a dozen people. Then I realized that might be a bit much for my first time out of the gate. When I stumbled on these cute little fill in books on Amazon, I decided they would be a great middle ground. Between now and the holidays, I’m carrying one or two of them with me at all times and filling them in a little bit at a time. 

I'm on it

Have you tried anything on my list? Anything you think sounds interesting? Suggestions for future experiences?