2016 Focus

Really? It’s 2016 already? As a kid, I always envisioned having gone through the apocalypse by now. Everyone socially equal and wearing the same brown canvas sacks.

That was just me?

Anyhoo, it seems that I have a different perspective on resolutions every new year that rolls around. (Seriously. Like here and here and here…although that last one still rings true today.) This year, I have some loose goals. By “goals” I mean stuff I’m looking forward to…and working on. Being at home with a newborn and frequently at odds with a rambunctious toddler will do that to a person. We could even call it my “focus” for the year. List time!

happy new year!

WRITING

Straighten out the blog – There’s actually a bit of a list I’ve gotta work on with this one, but just know that things will continue to transition here as I’m able to chip away at it. 😉 Vague, but I know what needs to be done. Now, if only I could find the time to do it!

Search out more freelance – I was super lucky in 2015 to start picking up more paid gigs with my BFFs at Green Child, weekly blogging for Thirsties, and some other fun side work. In 2016, I’m hoping to seek out more opportunities. So, hit me up if you want to work together!

Keep writing – As you see from my relative infrequency, I took an impromptu blogging hiatus with the birth of Harper. I was still writing, but my other paid responsibilities + craziness that accompanies a new baby/high-maintenance toddler/the holidays meant that something had to give – and that was MAO. I’m hoping not only to get back at it more regularly, but offer tips in addition to the usual personal stories to offer more of a life guide for you guys.   


Social media – After straightening things out around the joint, I’d like to orient my social media use to more of a professional venue. The time suckage that is Facebook (a topic I’ve grappled with before) isn’t something I can simply give up. There are times that my online gigs deem it necessary to dapple with all forms of social media, so it’s just not plausible. However, for blogging purposes, I’d like to choose a couple of my favorite venues to engage more in the simple living/green/parenting worlds. Won’t you join me? 🙂

 

FAMILY

Trips ‘n Things – Honestly, this is what I’m looking forward to most in 2016. We went on our first “Family of Four” outing last weekend to Cooperstown. We had no goal in going aside from getting out of the house. There were a couple of bumps in the road, but Harper did awesome bundled in her Moby wrap and I returned home completely rejuvenated. I actually felt like my old self for the first time in awhile.

So, this year, I’m hoping to fit in some more activities. A jaunt on the local walking trail. Seeing some distant friends and fitting in a trip to a local-to-them museum or discovery center. Trying out a new zoo. (Hadley’s been asking to go to an aquarium, too.) Packing up the car for a drive. Finding a family-friendly hike in the Adirondacks (and maybe hitting up a cabin for a day or two). Oh, and visiting a historical site would make my year.

Yeah, I don’t expect to do all of these things by a long shot. But, if we can try to get to a few of them, I’d be a happy mama.

Cloth – We’re finally going to start cloth diapering more diligently with Harpy girl. I’ve used them periodically, but after a lengthy boil water advisory and the holidays threw us off, we’re finally ready to take the plunge. We may stick with disposables during the nighttime for the time being, but one step at a time, right?

Happiness – This is pretty much the word of the year. Any goals I set are with this in mind, ultimately. It also is my reminder to try to pump more happiness into life for those around me. With the challenges that come with all these new transitions, there’s no point in piling more stress and obligations on our shoulders even further. So, if I don’t excel or, hell, succeed at some of the things on this list…no worry. I’ll be happy for what does get achieved. Bam. Happy is as happy does.

 

LIFE

New home – Now that we’ve got another +1 in the house, it’s crystal clear that we need to get on our house hunt…pronto. We’ve been “on it” before, but Dorky Daddy and I are both dedicated to the hunt now. We’re hoping to bridge all of our needs (and some of our wants) with reality. But, if we could get a place that we can *eventually* make our own in *one of* the towns we know to be kid-friendly in *a realistic price range*, we’d be happy. Heck, we’d be over the moon.   

Simplicity – As with life in general, we’re looking to continue our goal of living a simpler existence. House hunting and *hopefully* moving will help with the “do we really NEED this?” purging. Now, about all those Christmas toys…

 

That’s what we’ve got going for 2016. How about you folks? Any resolutions? What do you think of ours? Feel free to chime in! 

How May I Help You?

I’m a bit of a people-pleaser. Well, I’m sure I don’t please everybody all of the time, but it’s an innate concern of mine. It’s only natural, really. Wondering if you’re doing enough to help others. Wondering if what you do is worth it. Wondering if anyone’s listening and hearing and caring. It’s probably rooted in some anxiety and esteem issues, but that’s not what I’m getting into today.

What I am getting into is YOU. I’ve asked for feedback before, and even surveyed you. But, the focus was generally the blog. Yes, I want to improve the blog, and this post is somewhat related to that, but mostly, I want to know what I can do for YOU with this here tiny nook of the internet.

Here’s what I mean…

What do you hope to see when you stop by Meg, Acting Out?

Why do you read? What do you get out of reading?What are your favorite types of blog posts (on any blog)?

How-to? Recipes? Life betterment/tips? Entertainment? Inspiration (if so, in what way)?What are your life concerns? Goals?

Do you prefer a different format from time to time, like video or podcast?

Overall, what would you like to see more/less that will benefit you and your needs?

*****************************

We’re obviously still going to share random personal posts, but I want to know that the time that I put into this joint isn’t falling upon disinterested ears. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy writing and would do it for an audience of one, but once in awhile I need some focus and to touch base to see what’s what. Does that make sense?So, if you have any responses to the above questions (or any further suggestions or ideas), please don’t hesitate to drop me a line in the comments. Or, if you’d like to chat further and more anonymously, feel free to reach out to me at megactsout@gmail.com. I’d love to hear your thoughts!

30 Before 30

30 before 30I saw this “30 Before 30” idea on Making It Lovely and thought “I should so do that!” Actually, I first thought that I had already turned 30…don’t even ask me why I thought that. Call it pregnancy brain, or the fact that the pregnancy has got me feeling, emotionally, rrrreeeeeaaaally way older than I actually know I am (and feel).

My thirtieth birthday’s on May 1st. This means that, from today, I’ve got about 2 1/2 months to do some of this stuff. Plus, I’m preggers, and quickly feeling that “gut pain” thing that happens upon over-excursion. You child-bearing ladies know what I’m talking about. It’s like when Jasper uses his hind legs to push all of his weight (which is sizable) into your belly in a spring-loaded take-off. I’d know; he did that yesterday. It’s the epitome of “OOF!”

While I’m not into the whole “let’s have a huge party” thing (one exception: the surprise shindig Dave threw for me a couple of years back with the help of my mom and sister – who expects a huge 28th birthday surprise party??), I am into the “let me reflect upon this milestone” aspect of things. So, a 30 before 30 list seems manageable. Especially if I take it easy on my pregnant self. Let’s see what I can come up with here…

1. Try a yoga class.
2. Start adding to savings.
3. Organize the office.
4. Go for a walk. (You’d be surprised at how hard this is!)
5. Go antiquing.

6. Get some more Etsy goodies posted.
7. Organize the ol’ blog.
8. Get rid of 25% more of my wardrobe.
9. Organize/clean out my laptop (pictures & iTunes — need room for the baby’s music, after all).
10. Do some major curb appeal work (spray paint the shutters, kill the ivy , paint the side door, paint the “porch”, hang the numbers, plant some pretties)
11. Switch the living room from red accents to…
12. At least organize the craziness that is The Basement Monster.
13. Find someone to take the bed in order to change “guest room” into “nursery.”
14. Get a hairstyle.
15. Make some paper cranes (or other awesome origami art).
16. Do some painting…not in the home improvement way.
17. REDO. THE. BATHROOM. (And I MEAN it!)
18. Learn how to use a plain ol’ digital camera in the best way possible.
19. Try to post more original pictures on the blog.
20. Gain weight, but not too much. (Seriously, I haven’t gained a pound yet, even though my stomach’s gotten a bit bigger. How is that possible?!)
21. Make some DIY soap — be it hand soap or laundry soap.
22. Go through all my dust-collecting books and donate/sell what I’ll never read/didn’t like.
23. Go some place new with the hubs.
24. Plan a smaller, but manageable garden. (Planting will have to occur well after May 1st. Unless we continue to have a #cancelwinter.)
25. Pick some baby names that we both can live with. (It’d be nice if we both LOVED them, but live with is the current goal.)
26. Set up Amazon Affiliate.
27. Take a road trip.
28. Find enough room to actually be able to have every piece of my wardrobe put away simultaneously. Then follow through.
29. Reupholster the wine chair and slipcover/paint the ottoman.

30. Pick up the house once a week. (Yes, once. It doesn’t look horrible the rest of the week if I do it this way. I know myself; once a day isn’t gonna happen.)

I think I can live with these. I’m fully expecting not to have the energy/time to accomplish ALL of the above-mentioned items, but lots of them – yup. Besides, it’s not like 30 is the end of anything (except one’s 20s, I suppose), so what I don’t finish, I’ll put into my next “To Do” list. Some pressure (like in the form of posting 30 things that you’d like to work on publicly)

Word of the Year

I was inspired (as always!) by the positivity of Layla at The Lettered Cottage, with her recent post about choosing a “Word of the Year”. As you know, I don’t really “do” resolutions. But to look forward on the new year ahead as a way to recharge and rethink things a bit – now that, I do. 🙂

As some of you may have noticed on one of my very rare Facebook posts recently (sometimes it’s the only way to connect to the most people, whatchya gonna do?), we’ve got some exciting news in our humble little house. So, when looking forward to the year ahead, how could my “word of the year” NOT be…

Yep. I’d say that accurately describes what’s to come in 2012. There are a few reasons that “life” just works for us this year, but the most important is the fact that we’re bringing new life into the world this year. More specifically, early July (if all goes according to plan…and how often does THAT happen?).

I could have gone all one-track-mind and said that “baby” should be the 2012 word of the year, but for over half of the year, there won’t be a baby in sight. (On the brain, sure. In sight? Nope.) Plus, I’m sure that, although the little one will be our “big news” (and the biggest CHANGE) this year, there will be other interesting occurrences that will definitely be a part of our “life”. In a way, I’m sure the word “change” would have been an appropriate choice, as well.

Every cliche quotation or saying that uses the word “life” seems to be relevant. I’ve heard so very many times that “life begins when you have a child”. As the joy of parenthood hits both of us, “life is beautiful” rings true. So, sure, all that’s to be expected…and is making 2012 out to be the most important year of our lives so far.

But, there are a few other aspects of “life” that we’re hoping to focus on this year, in addition to “the addition” – a lot of it is to make life happier FOR the little one.

One life change that we’re already working on, big-time, is simplification. Life around this place has been pretty cluttered, especially when it comes to our clothes situation. That whole “you only wear 20% of your wardrobe” (or 10%, depending on what you read) seriously rings true. While we’re not donating or selling 80% or 90% of our clothes (and accessories), I’m aiming for closer to 50% for my own belongings. We’ve currently got a pile growing in our upstairs hallway, which is daunting, but I’m hoping will feel therapeutic and uplifting to be rid of.

Our closet situation includes one in our office, one in our bedroom, and one in our guest room (soon to be nursery). Dave was using both the bedroom and office closets and I used the guest room closet, mostly because he wears lots more suits to work and has lots of other items to store that wouldn’t fare well in the basement. He also has two small dressers in our room; I have a large one in the guest room, which we’re finally paring down and moving into our room. It’ll be a big game of “musical dressers”, but I’m inspired that Dave already worked on emptying one of the dressers. We’re gettin’ there!

Oh, and we even did a big haul-and-donate from, of all places, our built-in area. I’m sure I’ll be posting about the “after” of this space, but I’ve just got to share how ecstatic I was to be able to find a way to dispose of the unopened health and beauty products that I don’t use (the non-environmentally friendly ones that I had stocked up on awhile back). Dave dropped off a box of items to Evelyn’s House, which provides housing, education and care for mothers and babies who have become homeless. Seriously, I cried reading about the place – although it’s pretty easy to get me sobbing over truly meaningful subjects lately. Hormones!

Along with simplifying how much stuff we have, we’re adding organization solutions and will try to utilize the space we have better. I’m excited to set up an organizer in our basement (which Dave is in the midst of cleaning/Dryloking/painting!) that will give us at least another closet of organization. And while we hear that babies accumulate lots of stuff (let’s rephrase that: when babies COME, stuff SEEMS to accumulate), our requests for baby items will be well-thought and with need and space in mind. We’re already appreciative of whatever we’ll receive, but hope that folks can keep these things in mind, as well. 🙂

I’m hoping that 2012 will bring with it some inspiration and clarification as to some of the big questions in our lives, helping us to truly live life to the fullest and not take things for granted. We also hope to maintain balance in our lives in order to give our child (and future children) the best experiences that we can.

I know this post seems a bit vague in some areas, but when the future brings some unknowns, it can be a bit anxiety-invoking. Ultimately, the biggest philosophy I need to remember is that this is where life begins…everyday…and it’s up to us to do with it what we deem possible and necessary. While thinking about “life” everyday could be daunting, I find it a reminder not to sweat the small problems and to truly enjoy the (small and large) good. Thanks for coming along for the ride!

The Lettered Cottage

They’re Not Resolutions

This year, we’re not making resolutions in the ol’ cat folk homestead. We’re not usually into the tradition of saying “I resolve to…*fill in the blank*”. I think it’s the inevitable wop-wop sound of defeat when we get too busy to, say, watch what we’re eating or be the kindest human we can possibly be or find time for our dreams. It’s as if you’ve failed, and can’t go back and try again until the NEXT new year. Silly. Humans make mistakes – hence why we need resolutions in the first place, I suppose. And if you’re one of the millions of people who do make them, seriously, good for you! It’s neat to be part of the tradition. Heck, we even did a *version* of making resolutions last year…kind of.

Instead, we use this time of year to essentially recharge and refocus, as do many. We quietly reflect upon the wonderful positivity of the past and vow to appreciate such luck in the future. We consider the negatives that have befallen us and analyze whether they were issues that we can either a) avoid altogether or b) handle with more grace in the future. It can be wonderful…but can also be a very melancholy time. Why the heck is that, anyway?

Dave recently, mere moments after we both agreed NOT to make resolutions, announced a personal something that he’d like to work on in 2012. Being ever the kind, sweet wife, I immediately pounced on him with, “Didn’t you just say ‘no resolutions’?” (I know, I know. He’s so lucky to have me, isn’t he?) He then went on to, in his own eloquent way, define resolutions – I’m paraphrasing here, and please chastise me if I get this wrong, honey – as a certain goal. For example, “This year, I’m going to lose weight.” “In 2012, I’m going to eat more vegetables.” “I’m going to quit smoking, once and for all.” All admirable goals. But, Dave suggested, and I agreed, that this time of year shouldn’t be about goals. It should be more about paths and objectives.

Sure, objectives can be considered the same thing as goals, but we’re redefining it a bit for our purposes – any objections? *ba da crash* I guess I see it as Resolution Lite. (Sorry, I hate the marketing scheme of misspelling words!) If I don’t lose 15 pounds exactly, but instead focus on healthy weight loss, even with the occasional fall off the horse, it’s easier to get back on. Like getting on a miniature pony instead of a Clydesdale. Okay, now I’ve confused you. Ignore that paragraph if you are.

All I’m saying is that I’d much rather focus on getting on the right path to bettering myself versus a certain goal. And, believe me, I know this isn’t for everyone. Some folks truly need an ultimate goal in order to set better boundaries and see it through to the end – but me? I disappoint too easily, and get very down on myself. By remembering that life’s a series of journeys, I can decide to try a path toward a better life and feel a lot better about a smoothly sloping road rather than a bumpy ride that makes you fall on your butt 18 times in a row.

So, how’s about some specifics? My biggest interest for 2012 involves…drumroll, please…FINANCES!

Crickets chirp.

Wow. Seriously, I know it’s boring, but you didn’t have to be so quiet about it. 😛 I know, you probably thought that I was going to say that it involved diet and eating naturally and going to the farmers market and…yeah, we’ve already been working on all those things, and that path has already been tread by the fam. And guess what! We’re STILL traveling on it. That’s just one of the many paths that we’ll continue upon (much like finding other ways to be greener, among others) that will add excitement to the journey. So hold your horses. 😉

I’ve read from many of my blog wanderings that there are tons of folks who have become debt-free. While, again, we don’t need to make a measurable goal out of our resolutions, I ultimately know that it simply wouldn’t be realistic to say, “We’ll be debt-free by the end of 2012.” Between what Dave and I are both paying off, and the incomes that we bring in (our cost of living is low, but so is the local income level), it just isn’t plausible. Heck, we may be able to do the math to determine WHEN we COULD be debt-free…that’d be neat. But, it’s not a goal. I just want to get on top of my darn “what’s coming in, what’s going out” ratios – THEN analyze my “what’s getting saved and for what” junk. And, of course, all of this ties back to our “what do we really, truly need around this joint” numbers. So, when I say finances, it does actually get me more excited than, y’know, crickets chirping. And, hopefully, that’s a good sign!

What else for 2012? A lot of it has to do with what I’m forced to think about every time I look around the house – that being, when this place was built in 1925, folks didn’t have 8+ winter jackets of 5 different pairs of boots (EACH!). Plus, I’m young! I don’t deserve some of the stuff I DO have! It just needs to be toned down (not that I’m not keeping the awesome stuff – I’m truly appreciative, it just needs to find a home within our space). This involves purging clothes. Hopefully sifting through (and getting rid of) anything we simply don’t need. Another garage sale is in the works (our poor, stuffed basement). All that fun stuff. 🙂

Ultimately, if you want to put a label on the year (again, not a resolution, ‘cuz it’s uber-vague…that’s how I like ’em ;-)), I’d call it SIMPLIFY. There are lots of ways to do it. I’ve looked at magazines, seen books, and even noticed a plethora of web sites and blogs that discuss it…then I even saw our friend Cara share this on Facebook! It was like an omen. I want to do a tad more reading up before I decide “Okay, do I throw out 50 things…100…365?” or determine “There’s a better way that doesn’t involve such quantitative results-based actions”. (That’s my one impressive sentence of the year – enjoy it.) But, either way, I hope to write ’bout it, so you’ll get to see all the crap I have. Lucky you. 🙂

So, what about you? Are you making a resolution this year? Are you avoiding them altogether and just living life? Either way, do share – I love it, either way, when folks make up their minds to live in a more positive way. It forces my natural pessimism to take a momentary hike.

***By the way, I just noticed that, while I had completely STARTED a follow-up post actually meant to show the collages (which, yes, I completed in record time and even took pictures of…and, yes, I made more than one) which I never ended up finishing and posting! It’s that whole “insert picture here” thing that sometimes holds me up. My bad, I suck. I’ll be working on that. Sorry!***