It’s the last day of January and I’m finally feeling ready to jump into 2019. My free trial month is over, so I guess it’s time to commit.
Yesterday, I finished the last bit of work on my Command Central Wall Planner and picked her up at the printers.
Isn’t she lovely?
I started this idea of making a full year at a glance wall planner a few years ago based on something I saw Jennifer Lee of Right Brain Business Plan did. She had this whole wall full of sticky notes where she could lay out everything and see the big picture of what was going on in her business and life.
As a woman with 3000 notebooks and sticky notes all over the place, I loved this concept. (Thanks Jen!)
I’ve been making myself some sort of big giant wall planner ever since and lemme tell ya~ the ability to see the whole year at once is brilliant when it comes to dreaming and scheming.
Being able to spread out for a big overview shows me when I have gaps or am overcrowding, and just all around helps me figure out how to keep this ship afloat.
My SweetHeart started calling it Command Central, and since it was pretty much a perfect name, I kept it.
Yes, I have a digital calendar too, and it’s wonderful for reminding me of appointments and meetings I might otherwise forget. But, I have to stare at screens a lot for my paid work and I like the hands-on feel and look of “real” things whenever possible.
Since I don’t want to add my to-do list to a screen, I have a paper planner that is great for daily and weekly stuff, and to some degree for months as well.
But Command Central is where I can figure out the whole big shebang~ and I love it.
Seeing it all in one shot helps me tell if I’m actually doing what's important to me versus just being busy.
Am I seeing my friends in real life? Having regular adventures with my Love and my Kids? Learning and Exploring?
Am I doing too much and going to lose my shizzle sticks?
Every year, my wall planner artwork has a different theme, depending on my mood, and since I’m making it all up as I go along, every year has been a learning experience.
So far, I haven’t managed to plan ahead enough to actually have my full year planner done by January 1st, but I’m more of an ease into the new year kinda gal anyway. Maybe someday I’ll manage, but today, I’m just happy to have it up now.
Isn’t she pretty? Did I ask that already? She takes up a lotta wall space, but I'm liking how she fits on the closet doors of my new studio.
Truth be told, I wasn’t crazy about some of the paintings, but I just let that go because time isn’t going to stop while I improve my skills, and in this case, done is better than perfect.
My goal was to just try to paint 12 different watercolor flowers, and I did. I scanned them in, added a grid, text, and numbers (which Good Lord, I hope I got them all right…) and sent them off to be printed.
She was up in her polished and new state for a very short few hours before I started filling her in.
It makes me happy to see my year unfolding and feel good about my chances of prioritizing what's really important to me.
To spread the joy, I was thinking about offering this years’ planner in PDF form as a free download, and if there’s interest, I’m happy to do it.
It’s easy to get printed (or print yourself) in color on cardstock (each month is standard 8 ½ x 11”) and you can get your own command central going too.
If you’ve got wall space and are inclined, let me know in the comments below if you’d like one for yourself. I’d be glad to put it together to share.
I’d also love to hear how you’re planning for an awesome 2019? Paper? Digital? Or just keeping it all in the noggin?
Hope it’s great, however you go about it.
As for me, I’m off to plot….let me know if you want a pdf!
Until Next Time~
If all goes right in your parenting journey, there will come a day when your offspring will spread their wings and fly out into the great big world.
That time came for my happy household last year, and in the most cliche of ways, it all happened much sooner than I expected.
The good news is that our kids all headed out in ways that are moving them towards new and exciting things, even if I didn’t see those things coming quite so soon.
That’s the thing about raising children to believe in chasing their dreams~ they grow up and do just that~ and perhaps sooner than you think.
Which is exactly what our kids are off doing, leaving my SweetHeart and me with what the world refers to as “an empty nest.”
The term seems to conjure up two distinct images. Either he parental units are wailing and weeping, no longer having a life purpose, or they’re whooping it up and grateful to finally have those pesky kids gone.
For me, it’s not really either. Although there might have been wee moments of both.
For the most part, we’re still getting used to the idea that kids don’t live here, and actually, there’ve been assortments of our kids and their friends visiting multiple times in those few months.
So, even though the house has had lots of kids here, technically, none of them actually live here now.
And with that, everyone seems to be asking me just what I’m going to do with my empty nest.
We’ve just started to ponder this new phase, and it’s such a ginormous and crazy change that it's strange to even wrap my head around.
But, when I’m posed with the question of what I’ll do, the first thing that comes to mind is….
“Whatever the heck I want!!!!!!
Because I’m a grown up and no longer responsible for other people!
I can eat cake for breakfast now and I’m not even being a bad example to anyone and come to think of it, I don’t even have to wear pants at home anymore if I don’t want to!”
The response, along with the following “Bwahahahaha!” type maniacal laughter usually only happens in my head..(thank goodness for that)
In real life, I don’t actually know what to say.
It’s a strange time, and while I miss connecting with my kids on the daily, I’m also really excited for them AND me.
Since daily momming has been my job for over 20 years, there’s a bit to process and figure out, but I realized there are few distinct things I found that are really helping me in the transition.
If you have kids flying the coop soon too, maybe these will be helpful for you as well.
I feel like I can breathe this huge sigh of relief because I raised competent people that I actually enjoy!
For 2 decades, I’ve been responsible for the daily food, shelter and upbringing of other humans!!
And now I'm not....
AND they’re not just OK, they’re pretty awesome!
“Momming” is pretty much embedded in my DNA at this point, and I'll admit that it’s really weird to not have it as a part of my daily rhythm. I find myself talking to the dogs and asking how their day went more often than I should admit.
Thankfully, I haven’t resorted to giving unsolicited advice and healthy snacks to random teenagers on the street, even though I know it would be helpful. (But, be warned, I may on occasion do this to kids I actually do know)
I’m just grateful that my kids are happy and kind people with strong connections to other good people.
They’re mostly able to figure out and deal with the stuff of life (and they know they can call or text if they need help.)
Of course, I still worry sometimes, but for the most part, when they’re big and need to be making their own decisions, if you don’t have to see every single choice they’re making, it’s a heck of a lot more relaxing.
Does that mean they’re doing everything exactly the way I think they should?
They’re living their lives and they’re making choices for themselves. They’re doing their research and they’re figuring it out as they go.
And I can take a deep breath and let it go. And celebrate and give thanks, because I did it!
And now, without those 3 extra full-sized humans in the house, I have sooooooo much extra time and space to relax into~ which brings me to the next step.
The mass exodus of teens leaves a lot of openings. There’s both physical space and chunks of time that I’ve never actually had all to myself before in this way.
I do miss their laughter and comradery, but I'm also really enjoying figuring out what to do with what I have in front of me.
The best part is that I get to do it creatively and consciously.
I know some people leave shrines in their kids’ rooms for years after they move out~ but, uh...not me.
No offense kids, but that’s valuable real estate.. and I’m paying for it, so I want to use it!
At some point towards the end of the year, I realized that with all of the transitions in our home, there had been both furniture as well as people moving in our house for half of 2018!
It didn’t just feel like a year of disarray~ It actually was.
Now that the teens are off, I’ve been clearing and cleaning, restructuring and decluttering to try to make this space work the best it can for where we are now in life.
I’ve worked at home for 20 years and had my workspace in some open to everyone space the whole time. Now that the kids are gone, I’ve taken over the biggest of their rooms for my studio and office.
I’m ridiculously giddy about my new space, with its VERY OWN DOOR! And it shuts! The concept of a room of one’s own has been one that has intrigued and eluded me since I first read Virginia Wolff’s words about it decades ago.
And now, here I have it! I have to lean back and sigh every time I think of how wonderful that concept is.
We still have a guest room and a couple of futons for the kiddos to sleep on when they visit, but I’m expanding all over and claiming the good space for me to use daily.
And that brings me to the next step.
I am seriously enjoying so many little things~ like the ability to leave out good chocolate and margaritas right out in the open…..and I don’t even have to consider if they’ll be there when I return.
It’s a wonderful life, indeed.
One blessing I’m needing to learn to navigate is that there’s food galore in this house!
Seriously~ So. Much. Food.
I found myself eating all the time in the first months of the transition.
I don’t want to talk about whether or not I need bigger pants as a result, but I will say. I do need to figure out buying and cooking for just 2 people.
There are some real perks with the abundant food scene though, like being able to enjoy my own leftovers from a nice dinner out, and the ability to sometimes get the super delightful kind of treats which I would have felt were way too expensive to feed so many people (especially when some of those people wouldn’t even appreciate the delicacies they were inhaling any more than they would some cheap sugar fix.)
But now I can buy good ice cream! And I actually get to eat it myself!
And as I mentioned~ I can leave my treats out~ like right out in the open!
And if I leave and come back, they’ll still be there for me to enjoy!
So, I'm celebrating that I don't have to inhale or hide my Really Good Goodies by enjoying lots of them.
And they’re all right out in the open baby!
Again, bigger pants may be in my future, and I'm actually curious as to whether or not I'll feel less inclined to drink margaritas now that I'm only responsible for myself, but have no idea how that will pan out....
Anyhoo, raising humans has been an amazing journey and a heck of a lotta fun~ along with a whole lotta very worthwhile work.
So, now, I feel like my job is to ENJOY.
Are things I wish I’d done differently?
Things I wish I'd done better, more of, or sooner?
Things I wish I’d never done at all?
Of course! Like a bazillion!
But I know I did my best with the tools and resources I had. I also tried to say sorry and learn from times when I blew it, just like I'd want them to do.
And now, they're on the own paths. Some things they talk about, some things they ask about, and some things they just want to figure out on their own.
Of course, I can freak out about that at times, but mostly, it makes more sense to trust the people I've raised, to let them live their lives, and use some of that energy on my own life.
So, I’m not feeling sad about this empty nest. I'm more curious and open to what’s next.
That brings me to #4 on my list:
It’s a big and beautiful world and I’ve always been a fan of exploring as much as I can. For years, the majority of that exploring was done with my kids~ through our homeschooling and life learning adventures.
While I know we’ll still do family adventures, the reality for a few years has been that when everyone is on a different schedule, it’s not easy to coordinate such things. So, my explorations as an individual have been growing slowly for some time.
I’ve always had my own interests and passions that I follow on the side, and now I feel really open up to the possibilities of what else I can learn, do, see and explore.
So far, this empty nest life has been pretty full. Travel, creating, work, play. Good Stuff.
And I know that there’s lots more where that came from.
I’ve said before that of all the jobs I’ve ever done (and there have been quite a few) raising humans has by far been the most meaningful. I’ve gained skills and learned lessons that will serve me always. I’ve done a lotta things and gone a lotta places with them in the process, and most importantly, I’ve had a heck of a lotta fun.
I’m proud and I’m relieved, and now, I’m ready to explore for myself what else I can find in that great big world out there.
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Until next time~ Enjoy the day!
I’m always a fan of dreaming and scheming, but the clean slate of a brand new year seems to offer an even more magical time for plotting what’s next.
As much as I like to plan my possibilities, I’m not much for New Years Resolutions though.
I do enjoy a healthy self-imposed challenge, but full on winter just doesn’t seem like a very good time to start something that requires a lot of effort.
I mean, come on….it’s the coldest and darkest season of the whole year.
After all the celebrations and excess of the holidays, my body and mind would rather be curled up in a cozy cocoon and recovering after all the weeks of gluttony.
All these ads are telling me it’s time to be a skinnier, healthier, more productive, all improved New Me, but honestly, I just don’t have the desire or fortitude to go barreling full force towards some lofty fitness or lifestyle goals right now.
It just doesn’t seem natural for me to go high speed in winter. So, I'm not.
If you’re not feeling like taking on extreme sports style resolutions either, but you still want to get in on the New Year energy, consider joining me in a little season of relaxed dream incubating.
You don’t need to go as far as to shut yourself in a cave for months to hibernate, but it is nice to go with the flow of nature and get under some blankets with a cup of tea, light a candle and go inward to think about what you really want and need (not necessarily what’s being sold to you).
Before the planning starts, I always like to do some reflection~ you know, looking back before looking ahead.
I had all intentions of doing this on December 31st with my SweetHeart so we’d start the New Year ready.
But, as life would have it, I got sidetracked all day and used up all of my available brain space on other tasks. Then, by the time we were ready to get around to it, I didn’t have the energy or mental capacity to do it anymore.
So, when I woke up on New Years Day without having done any reflecting or planning or anything towards moving ahead, I started to get really bummed at myself for “being behind” already when the new year just started (New Year, Same Old Me, indeed)
But then it occurred to me that the whole calendar thing is just a man made invention and it really didn’t matter to me exactly what day these things happened on~ as long as they actually happened.
So, when a few days later I found myself feeling rather ill and needing to be in bed, which as I indicated, happens to be a perfect place for contemplating. And, when I found myself bored in between shivers and pains and bouts of nausea, that’s exactly what I did.
I started looking back and contemplating.
2018 was honestly a really hard year for a lot of people around me. We had some of the worst wildfires in the history of California and my area of the state quite frankly got its arse kicked.
I would have thought a person might meet one family who’s had their house burn down in the course of a lifetime, but within a few days, at least 9 families we know personally lost their homes due to fire. There were also thousands we don’t know left homeless.
Then more fires came, bringing even more devastation and loss.
While my family and home were safe, and I’m grateful for that, it was a lot of tragedy to take in.
Aside from Mother Nature’s fury, there were also some very unpleasant political situations and a rather terrifying health crisis in a close family member.
But the big thing I noticed, was that as awful and sucky as all that was, still, 2018 was overall a pretty great year for me.
There were lots of trips and adventures, growth in personal and professional endeavors and milestones for the offspring.
By far, the strangest thing that has happened to me, not just in the last year, but since I began the parenting journey 21 years ago happened this year in that ALL of the kids we had living at home spread their wings and flew out into the world.
Within a few months, we went from 3 kids living here to none.
And with that, in the blink of an eye, I said goodbye to momming on the daily.
What world even is this?
My in and out everyday role for the last 21 years suddenly shifted to a super part-time, telecommuting consultant gig on an as needed basis.
The full-sized humans that I raised and love to offer helpful advice to aren’t here to try to pretend they don’t hear it.
It’s the kind of thing that requires waaaay more than I can say sum up this moment, but obviously, it’s a game changer.
For now, I’ll just say that it’s quiet, and there’s so much food and did I mention that it’s really, really weird?
But it’s also wonderful and really feels expansive. And I’m really freaking proud.
To be honest, we’ve actually had various assortments of our offspring and their friends visiting and staying for a good deal of the time since everyone flew the coop, so it hasn’t exactly been empty full time, but it has given me and my SweetHeart a lot more space and time to think.
The day after my sick in bed day, my SweetHeart was home. It was raining and cold and I was on the mend, but still recovering. It was also a new moon and we decided that all of those things were good reasons for an all-day lounge fest.
We stayed in PJs, gathered the biggest pile of fuzzy blankets (which are still everywhere from kids being home for the holidays) on the couch and made a cozy fire with the help of Netflix. We made tea and lit candles and dreamed and schemed all day.
We shared our reflections of 2018~ wins and losses, what worked, what didn’t and lessons learned.
Over the course of the day, between reading and writing and random things online, we talked about what we want more of and less of in life, what we want to take forward into the New Year and what we want to leave behind.
We both scribbled lists in various notebooks and discussed possibilities. We bounced around ideas and options for where we each might want to go in life.
Such big-picture scheming is the kind of thing I’ve always done by myself or sometimes with my kids, but usually based on a specific thing like a trip or adventure or an area of education, rather than all-out life.
Doing this type of widespread overview of curating the future with my partner felt really grounding and supportive.
Despite the fact that I’m a strong-willed woman with equally strong opinions and voice, who sometimes gets excited and has trouble remembering to take turns when speaking, it was actually a relaxing and positive day for us both.
Maybe the fact that I was recovering from a near vomiting illness, not really drinking coffee and moving a good deal more slowly than usual helped?
Either way, we both shared our thoughts and hopes and encouraged each other as friends and partners. No, we don’t have our whole year or even this whole month all lined out, but we have shared goals together and individuals goals that we shared.
Most of all, we ended the day feeling positive and pointed in the same direction.
And that’s what a partnership is all about.
If you’ve got someone that you’re going through life or even just a certain project with, it just makes good sense to spend some time reflecting, dreaming and scheming together.
As for us, we’re in a whole new season where parenting isn’t on the forefront of our every day, and that’s an exciting time to plan.
In respect of the rhythm of winter and sanity, I’m not plowing full speed ahead but will be taking baby steps and doing research. Some ideas need to germinate and get evaluated while new questions arise and we find answers.
It may not have the pizzazz of a big shiny resolution, but I think that using the season to plan and map out will increase the likelihood that we’ll actually find the paths to where we want to be.
Warmly saying my goodbyes to 2018 and enthusiastically welcoming in 2019 with my cozy yoga pants and an assortment of journals and colored pens ~ that feels exactly like where I need to be right now.
How about you? How do you like to dream and scheme for the New Year?
Please share in the comments below, and if you enjoyed this post, please share it with a friend!
Happy New Year!
Writer, Artist, Empowered Living Advocate, Wanna-be Organic Gardening Foodie, Travel Loving Life Explorer, FunSchooling Facilitator / Former Goat-Herding HeadMistress for our Mostly Happy Homeschool, Semi-Crazy Chicken Lady and Mamacita Extraordinaire to a couple of Cage Free Kids.