Friday, January 27, 2012

Early Successes

I'm a celebrate the small successes kinda gal. I get so much joy out of crossing things off my to-do list. In fact, I try on purpose to put small tasks on my to do lists so that I can feel that sense of accomplishment when I cross something off.

This week I muddled through with regular classes, a ton of deliverables for school, a volunteer commitment meeting, and a 3-day intensive breastfeeding support course. I'm feeling extra good because, besides being an amazing experience, the breastfeeding course puts me one step closer to crossing off one of my resolutions for this year - volunteering with young mothers. I have an interview with a support organization on Monday.

In other news, baby N is crawling all over the place and pulling himself to standing. He's definitely on the move now!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Book: The Happiness Project

Photo Source (also a great book review!)

So to start my new year off I picked up a copy of the Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin (yay for reading for pleasure!) I had seen it in Chapters while doing my Christmas shopping and stopped to take a glance. I was tempted to buy the book for myself but in remembering my goals - making smart consumer choices and sticking to the budget - I opted to try the library. This was a serious achievement for me since when I want something, I usually don't want to wait for it. I have found that waiting to see whether I still want something after a week or a month is a good test for me. Thankfully, I didn't have to wait long since apparently others seem to be enjoying this book as much as I have and aren't keeping it for the allowed 3 weeks.

A little over halfway through, I am thoroughly enjoying this read and learning a lot about happiness. Gretchen comes at happiness from the point of someone who although isn't unhappy or facing a life crisis, feels that she is taking many things for granted in everyday life, so she focuses for a year on trying to live a happier life. Monthly topics she tackles are: Vitality, Marriage, Work, Parenthood, Leisure, Friendship, Money, Eternity, Passion, Mindfulness, Attitude, and finally Happiness (a culmination of her learnings from all topics).

At one point in the book Gretchen starts a one line journal and a gratitude log. She ultimately gives up the gratitude journal as it starts to become more of a chore for her than a source of happiness. In my goals for 2012 I decided I wanted to be more thankful for the little things in life and therefore decided I would write them down. I also decided that I would keep track of the things I do daily for myself. I have started jotting things down daily in my Moleskine pocket notebook - however, it has been more of a 50 word max highlights of my day journal entry than specifically gratuitous points or things I have done solely for myself. Although when I look back, I can often see one or two things I have done each day for myself (reading for pleasure; actually taking the time to wipe down my kitchen cupboards and baseboards)  and things that made me truly happy (N's giggles; teaching B how to skate) and for all those - and yes they happen to be little for the most part, I am grateful.

I'd love to hear others thoughts on this book!

Sunday, January 1, 2012


2011 was pretty eventful:

  • We decluttered and got ourselves in a better place financially.
  • I wrapped up my first significant contract job in my field and it felt good.
  • DH got a job promotion in the Spring and by the end of the year secured himself another for 2012.
  • We had our second beautiful baby boy in May.
  • Sold our first house that we had completely gutted and renovated over the last 3 years.
  • Moved into a newer house where we haven't had to do many renovations (thank goodness).
  • I went back to my Masters program, got an awesome field placement for the Fall, and and even better Graduate Assistantship with an environmental organization that does really good work.

In both my professional and academic lives, I have realized that it isn't enough just to have have a plan (or goals). In order to bring that plan to fruition, you need to most importantly set out the actions you will take to achieve your goals.

Alas, for 2012:
  • I want to continue to eliminate clutter from our lives and improve our financial security. I will do this through regular purging/donation, being a mindful consumer, and sticking to our household budget which includes budgeting money for emergencies and savings.
  • Continue to find meaningful ways to give back to my community. For awhile I have wanted to volunteer doing young mother support. This year I am hoping to make that happen. I have looked into taking a lactation consultant course which will hopefully make me more marketable since I'll have a tangible skill to offer. 
  • Immerse myself in my thesis research and give it my all. I want to make my research meaningful to myself and for society. I will not feel pressured into framing my research in such a way as to disregard my own interests in favour of others. Perhaps I will focus on publishing something this year.
  • Cherish the little things - Quite often I read this or hear this said. Frankly, it is difficult to do in a society that places the most value on grandiosity (case and point with child birthday parties). I will start taking note of daily "bests" in a journal. This will also help me to be more "present".
  • Act on the fact that "life is short". It is so easy to get stuck in routine. I want to try new things often and more importantly, focus on doing things that make me happy. In the same journal, I will also write down one thing I did that was new or out of the ordinary and one thing I did for myself for each day.