Thursday, July 9, 2015

You Can Kondo Your Life, Even With Little Ones at Home.

As with most things, I was a little behind the rest of the world when I finally picked up The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. I suppose that comes with the territory when you're a mom to little ones. Days bleed together, and fly by quickly. That book you've been meaning to read that just came out? It was actually published almost a year ago.

So, I finally made the time to fly through this book recently. It is a quick and easy read. While I don't doubt the benefits of her method for tidying, and I have been implenting several of her strategies since reading the book--I am a little on the fence about applying the KonMari method 100% in my life. Here's where I hit a brick wall:

I am having trouble following the rules exactly as a mom of little ones. Because, honestly, I am not in completely control of everything that fills my home and where they land at any given time. And, here is the thing--I think this is only going to become more true as my children age. If I am having a hard time keeping track of the clutter that comes with toddlers, how much harder will it be when they have a say on what comes into our home?

Still, I believe there is much to be learned from Marie Kondo. Here are my 5 takeaways for those of us with babies and toddlers at home.

1. Focus on tidying your space. 

Marie makes it very clear early on--if you are finding yourself bothered by your partners clutter, perhaps you should redirect that attention to your own space.

I am finding this true with my children as well. So, I may not be able to keep the play areas as tidy as I would like in our home, but the kitchen and bedroom are my domains. I am following the KonMari rules to the T in these rooms, and it has really made a difference in our home.

2. Fold clothes the KonMari way. 

Even if I struggle to hang on to any other aspect of this book, my life has been forever changed by the KonMari method of folding. My closet is uncluttered, my drawers are neat, and my clothes are easily accessible and wrinkle free.

3. When tidying, start with clothes. 

In the first chapters of her book, Marie insists that following her order for tidying is essential. After diving into tidying our home, I can't help but agree. As it turns out, clothes really were the easiest part of tidying and I needed some success in order to build momentum to face the rest of our home.

4. For perfection, take your time. 

As hard as it was for me to grasp the idea of tidying to perfection, especially with kids at home, I am coming around to the idea. The key to tidying perfectly the first time is taking your time, handling every item in your home, and asking yourself the questions Marie provides in her book.

However, there is a balance you want to achieve here. As Marie says, "Tidy a little a day, and you'll be tidying forever." When I say take your time, I don't mean going through a drawer or a cabinet once a week. You should still aim to finishing tidying within six months.

5. If you are feeling burnt out, take a break.

There is so much stuff that comes with running a family home. I have experienced little periods of tidying burn out. The best solution for me has been taking a break when I am starting to have trouble making decisions about what stays and what goes.

6. Everything needs a place. 

As exhausting as it has been working to find a place for ever single thing we own, I feel this is the real life changing aspect of this book. When my keys, diaper bag, and shoes are placed in their home right as we return to ours, I am saving myself the time associated with picking them up or hunting them down later.

Have you read The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up? What are your thoughts on the KonMari Method?


Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Working Mom Wednesday: What is Ghostwriting, Exactly?

Since I started talking more about my work as a freelance writer, I have gotten a lot of questions about one particular subject--ghostwriting. Maybe it's the odd name or maybe it's because it doesn't get talked about all that much in the blogging world where writers prefer to write for a byline.

Ghostwriting, in a nutshell, is writing for an individual or organization as if they are the author. The ghostwriter gets no credit for the work and typically has to sign a non-disclosure agreement before working with a client.

Doesn't that kind of suck? A lot of people seem confused as to why anyone would want to write without getting credit for their work.

Here's the thing about ghostwriting--there is a lot of content that needs written, especially for individuals with less-than-awesome writing skills. Business or personalities need their websites and blogs to be filled with quality content. I am not selling my opinion or even my own ideas, they provide me with an idea or topic which I use to write up quality, well-researched content.

In my experience, there are three big benefits to this type of writing work:

There is a lot to go around. Ghostwriting work is available in abundance and it is the perfect way to fill in the gaps in my blogging income. In my opinion, this makes ghostwriting a great option for writers who are trying to write that first big novel and just need a way to pay the bills.

It doesn't require a lot of creative thinking. While I love the creative writing I do for blogs and magazines, I can become burnt out from time to time when I am responsible for coming up with the ideas for large amounts of content. I have found that my ghostwriting jobs, which are assigned with a topic and even sometimes an outline and research, help me to avoid creative burn out.

The pay is consistent. I have three main ghostwriting clients. I know that two of these clients want the same amount of work from me each month and the third has work for me daily. I can expect to be paid consistently and consistent paychecks are invaluable in the freelancing world.

Don't get me wrong, there are downsides to ghostwriting. The biggest downside, especially when you are just getting started--the pay is not great when compared to blogging or print work. There are a lot of clients who will expect for you to be okay with working for less than $0.05 cents a word. There are also gigs out there which pay well, but it can take a lot of time and effort to track these down.

All in all, ghostwriting has been worth my time and has played in instrumental role in ensuring I have consistent work while I write from home full time.

Next week, I will share some of the ways I have found ghostwriting work.


Tuesday, July 7, 2015

3 Lessons I Learned During My 25th Year

Birthdays always seem to sneak up on me. I love to celebrate and make a big deal of my girls' birthdays, but I tend to forget about mine until a few days before. So, almost a month out from my 26th birthday, I am still mulling over how I feel about this last year and being a year older.

This year, Chris took me to eat brunch at Westside Local, a small farm-to-table restaurant in the West Bottoms of Kansas City. We also spent some time reading at Barnes & Noble and saw a movie. Typically, with two young kids at home, our date nights are short and sweet so it was a nice change to have an entire afternoon out together.

Twenty-five will go down as a year marked by extremes. Hazel joined our family just before my 25th birthday, I transitioned into a writing career this year, and made big progress in a few areas of my personal life. On the flip side, my family experienced one of our hardest seasons over the holidays when my older brother was diagnosed with a grade IV glioblastoma multiforme. I find myself wondering-- Is this a typical rhythm for life, an ebb and flow of joy and sadness? Even if this is true, I am hoping to find this next year to be less eventful than the last.

Looking back, it was a year filled with many memorable lessons. Here's a glimpse at some of the things I learned in my 25th year:

1. Adult friendships don't just happen (and I have some work to do). 

When I became a parent, the nature of several of my friendships changed. While I absolutely value and enjoy my relationships with my single and childless friends, this year I aspired to make new mom friends and deepen some of the relationships I had made over the last few years.

Finding activities and play dates is easy enough, but transitioning from acquaintances to friends takes a lot of consistency and a lot of time. I have made some strides in this area, but I definitely have some work to do. I am still learning to set aside my various to-dos in exchange for making time for friends. I was inspired greatly by Tsh Oxenreider in Notes From a Blue Bike when she emphasized that relationships are always more important than productivity.

2. The value of hard work.

There is much to admired about having a natural talent or knack for something. Even so, this year of switching into a career doing something I am not necessarily gifted at has taught me how irreplaceable hard work is. Sometimes having what it takes means having the grit to stick it out.

3. Being self-aware can be life changing. 

Until this past year, I have never given much thought to my personality or being aware of why I do things certain ways. Early in the year, I discovered the idea of being a Highly Sensitive Person and it was as if a light bulb turned on for me. Since becoming more aware of my sensitivities to certain stimuli, I am learning to adjust my environment in order to maximize my productivity, get more sleep, and just generally be in a better mood as I love out my day to day.

Additionally, I took the Myers Briggs Personality Inventory for the first time since high school and discovered I am an INFP. Knowing the ins and outs of my personality type has given me an arsenal of tools for more effectively relating to my husbands, friends, and children.

So, there's a little snapshot of my last year. What big life lessons have you been learning lately?


Monday, July 6, 2015

What I'm Into (June 2015 Edition)

I am running a little behind on this post AND I didn't post at all last month. So, today will be extra full of things I'm into since it covers roughly two and a half months of awesome stuff. May, June, and July are always busy months for our family. We have five birthdays in our family in June alone (including mine), Hazel was born right at the end of May, and Clementine's birthday is next week. All of these birthdays generally make for a really fun and very busy start to summer.

Read and Reading

Jesus Feminist: An Invitation to Revisit the Bible's View of Woman: I started this book once before, but didn't make past chapter two for no other reason than I was reading several things at the time. I picked up this book again this month and the timing was perfect as I feel I am entering a time of exploring and asking questions about the church culture I was raised in. The author, Sarah Bessey, is one of my favorite bloggers to read so I anticipated loving this book. She takes a non-confrontational approach to exploring what it means to be a Christian and a feminist. Her writing is friendly and engaging, but the content was a bit repetitive. I wish this book had been a little heavier on analyzing scripture and fresh content. 

Gap Creek: Gap Creek earned 5 stars from me on Goodreads. For me, the heroine, Julie, felt like a kindred spirit. She is a woman who relies on her ability to work hard, to get things done, in order to maintain order and a semblance of peace during her turbulent life as child, and then a young wife. Morgan writes in a way that inspires reaction to even the most mundane tasks. At different times throughout the book I felt compelled to scrub my floors, to garden, to nurse my babe--because of the way he went about describing these tasks. His style is harsh and shocking at times in a way that fit perfectly with the story. 

The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up: I jumped on the bandwagon on this one. This is a very quick read, and fairly repetitive at times, but the material has been very helpful in helping me to gain more control over the clutter in our home. I still have quite a bit of "tidying" left, but I am already seeing the life changing consequences of the tidying I have done so far.

TV and Movies

Clementine and I saw Inside Out this month. It was her first time seeing a movie in theaters, and she was a little overwhelmed. There was quite a bit of bribing with treats for the first fifteen or twenty minutes, but after that she was pretty enthralled. Even though I think the concept of the movie was a little over her head, she thought it was funny and Joy and Sadness now make their way into our daily conversation.

After some searching using What the Hell Should I Watch on Netflix?, I started Top of the Lake. There is only one season and I don't believe they are making anymore, which is too bad because I am enjoying it so far. Plus, I love Elizabeth Moss. 


A buddy and I saw The Lone Bellow in May, which was basically a dream come true. They are so fun live, really engaging their audience and just having a great time.

I just added Invisibilia to my podcast rotation. I am a little obsessed with this podcast all about the invisible forces influencing our lives everyday.

What have you been reading, watching, or listening to lately?


Linking up with Leigh Kramer to share what I've been into lately. 

Monday, June 8, 2015

3 lessons for seasons of transition

In early April, I began making some pretty serious strides toward quitting my part time job in inpatient behavior health and becoming a full time freelance writer. It has been a whirlwind few months, let me tell you. There have been many early mornings and late nights spent writing while my children sleep.

As exhausting as it has been start a full-time job on the side while still hanging on to my part-time gig, it has also been thrilling. I was entirely taken of guard by how quickly things took off. Between the few blogging jobs I have, freelancing for a magazine, and ghostwriting part-time, I have met my minimum goal for monthly income. After a few more months of saving, I hope to transition to working from home full time.

I have been absolutely swamped with work, which has meant letting a few things go for the time. There has been some guilt over living in survival mode, falling out of my routine, doing the bare minimum of housework and personal care. This transitional season has been such a learning experience for me.

Living in survival mode is OK. As hard as it is to remember in the thick of it, this is a short season of busy, Full days and missed sleep are not the standard for our future. Living in survival mode is OK, when there is a goal in sight. So for now I am dwelling in the possibilities of what our life could be and working my tail off to make it a reality.

Say no often. If there ever was a time to say no as often as possible, a big life transition is it. This has been essential to remember not only during a career change, but how helpful this lesson is for news babies and new homes. During this season, I am thoughtfully saying no, and I am saying it frequently. This allows me to save my "yeses" for the right people--my husband and children.

Hang tightly to routine.  Even during this time of a lot of hard work, and not very must rest, routine is paramount to my survival. In order to stay on top of work, I learned quickly I had to schedule works hours--even if they were schedule at the crack of dawn or late into the night. Sticking to the daytime routine I put in place for the girls has cut down on unnecessary chaos in our days.

Got any tips for me during this big transition? Have you gone through any big life changes recently? What lessons did you learn?

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Monday, May 18, 2015

3 Ways I'm Rethinking My Routine


Isn't it funny how we can get stuck in one way of doing things? For me, it seems that I remember the way my mom did things or I picked up on a habit from another mom and started to assume there was only one way to complete a task.

Since last posting about routine, I've been thinking a lot about rethinking my routine. It started with an episode of the Sorta Awesome Podcast. The subject was the three D's that need to be done when you are in survival mode. The idea is, if you are living in survival mode, focus on accomplishing dinner, dirty laundry (one load), and dirty dishes everyday.

Okay, so I need to admit, I was a little annoyed when this topic was brought up.

I was trying to get the three D's done every day and I was failing. Dinner and dishes, I have under control. Where I really get stuck is getting a load of laundry done every day.

But then Megan shared that she had started putting her load of laundry in the wash after the kids went to bed. In the morning she tosses it in the dryer first thing, and then folds it right after breakfast. Ridiculous and trivial as it might seem, my mind was blown. The big road block I was hitting each day had a lot to do with making three trips down to the laundry room in the basement while the girls were awake. We're definitely in a phase of life (newly mobile baby + daring toddler) when leaving them alone, even for a few minutes, is not a great idea. The funny thing is, it never even crossed my mind to start the laundry in the evening. This small change is totally working for me.

One small change has inspired me to start searching out old, tired routines that aren't working for me anymore and brainstorm new ways to make it work,

Here are three ways I'm rethinking my routine:

  1. Laundry (see above)
  2. Exercise. We were making the trip to the YMCA several times a week,and as much as I was loving it, it was adding a lot of stress to our day and sucking up a lot of our morning. This past week I picked up a cheap work out video from Target and started working out while the girls are awake. I was skeptical at first, I was certain there was no way I could workout for 30 minutes with two kids   underfoot, but it is going surprisingly well. Clementine does about 10 minutes of the video with me and then wanders off to read. Hazel dances to the music for a while and only starts to get whiny towards the end--which is easily fixed with snacks.
  3. Lunch. This week, I started experimenting with eating the same thing everyday for lunch. Eating half a chicken breast, steamed veggies, and half a sweet potato means I can cook all of my lunches for the week at one time and simply warm them up while I throw together the girls' lunch.
Hopefully sharing these ideas with you will help you to take a closer look at the brick walls you are running into when it comes to your daily routine. I'm still looking to simplify our days even more, and I would love to hear how your are tweaking your routine to make it work for your family. 


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Tuesday, May 5, 2015

How I'm Building a Capsule Wardrobe On a Tight Budget

I know, cheap clothes go against one of the founding principles of building a capsule wardrobe: quality over quantity. The very idea of a capsule wardrobe revolves around the idea that you want to have fewer items in your closet, and the items you chose should be high quality, with the potential to withstand multiple seasons.

I love that, and I'm sure that I'll follow all the rules of the capsule wardrobe one day, but there are few reasons that isn't going to work for me (and plenty of others!) right now. The first, and perhaps the most obvious: even if I pare down my wardrobe to the suggested thirtyish items, I still can't squeeze thirty $60-$150 dollar items into my budget. Secondly, like many moms, my body is in perpetual transition. I had two back to back pregnancies, and I am still nursing so I need clothes that will work for a very short season. I can't justify buying a $100 pair of size 8 jeans when I'm expecting (hoping) my weight to normalize after Hazel weans.

Still, I'm not ready to throw the capsule wardrobe out the window just because a few of the rules don't mesh with my life. The idea as a whole works so well for so many types of women. We've seen that many successful people chose to wear the same thing everyday to cut back on the number of unimportant choices they make. Mothers, working and stay at home alike, make hundreds of decisions a day, some more pressing than others. Why not cut back on those decision wherever we can?

And so, sometime in mid-march I embarked on a journey to put together a capsule wardrobe that works for the broke girls, the women in transition, or the ones who just can't talk themselves into a $75 top no matter their income.What started as some obsessive late night pinning, has evolved over the last few months into a pretty decent summer wardrobe, if I do say so myself.

Here are a few things I learned:

Limit your color choices. I am getting the most wear out of a small amount of clothes because they literally all coordinate in some way. For me, this means sticking with neutral colors. This spring my closet is almost entirely made up of blacks, grays, denim, and white.

Trends trickle down. I didn't want my capsule wardrobe to keep me from adding some trendy items into the rotation this spring and summer. With enough searching, I have been able to find a knock off version of everything on my list. Some of my favorite finds: leopard print sneakers and this boxy denim vest.

Splurge on a few things that will last. I spent a little more a few items on my list because I knew they would last for multiple seasons and I knew that me loosing another fifteen pounds wouldn't really change the fit. For me, that meant I splurged on a pair of shoes and I have a purse on my wish list that costs a little more than I would normally spend.

Do you have any experience with building a capsule wardrobe? How do you keep it affordable?

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