50 Ways to Make 2018 a Better Year!

After Christmas, what I’d really like is a long winter’s nap. The rest of the world, however, keeps trying to tell me year after year after ever-lovin’ year that now is the time to lose weight, organize myself and all my surroundings as though I have Martha Stewart’s minions at my beck and call and (using colorful flow charts, of course) reassess where I’m going in life. By the way, love that Martha. She knows her stuff!

I know where I’m going. I’m going to the kitchen to make some Pomegranate Raspberry Green Tea so that I can scoop up Phoebe June if she’s in the mood and settle onto the sofa under the furry throw and let it be -8 degrees outside if it feels like it.

I shared with my family as we gathered for Christmas that I believe we’re doing this all wrong! With the current system, we merely set ourselves up for frustration and failure – at least in the climate of the Midwest.

Why not, I asked, celebrate the new year in spring? The third week in March, when the equinox turns us all toward sunnier days, we’ll all be full of fizz and ready to get out and walk off the pounds, eat foods that aren’t piping hot and covered with melted cheese, move out the junk and organize what’s left in hopes of creating a nice spot for a vase of fresh hyacinths and maybe – just maybe – give a hoot once again about heading somewhere in life other than closer to the fire.

I fall in line with the Phoebe June Philosophy –

Phoebe Philosopy on January www.midweststoryteller.com

I try, though. Really, I try. Smuffy might dispute that. He’s one of those people who asks who’s been at his desk if he finds the tape and stapler lined up in reverse order. I’m one of those people who digs for the stapler, knowing that it’s under there somewhere. It makes me cry sometimes, and sometimes I get really organized, but it never seems to last for long.

Sometimes, it helps me to experiment with a “design re-mix”. I love jewelry and I always seemed to be leaving little stashes of it on the nightstand, even though I had a roomy jewelry armoire on the other side of the room I could have easily put it in. One day, when rearranging furniture, the armoire ended up much closer to the door. Suddenly, after years and years, I found myself taking off my jewelry and putting it away as soon as I entered the room. The new arrangement just seemed to function with how I think.

I’m always finding “helpful” ideas to spur me toward getting my act together in a Smuffy sort of way, but (hear me sigh) I tend to reject them or, to be honest – lose them. If I had a dollar for everything I lost between December 1st and the 25th, I could go out and buy Christmas all over again!

My darling daughter, over at www.JillianDanielle.com is much more organized than I am. She likes these planners from Rifle Paper Company and this year she is using The Simplified Planner, available at Emily Ley Paper, Inc., and on Amazon here.

I do like using a planner, but mine is homemade. I can’t seem to think like the pre-fab ones want me to. It works better for me to use a small binder that holds 8 ½ X 5 ½” ruled sheets and create my own.

In the front, I insert monthly calendar pages that I print out myself. Behind those, I use tab dividers where I create sections pertaining to my life such as Blog, Novel, Around the House, Health, Shopping, DIY, Gifts, Scrapbooking, Ancestry and Dates to Remember. I like to include an inspirational section where I can jot down quotes or Scriptures that encourage me or that I can share with someone else.

My Planner www.midweststoryteller.com

I take my planner along on appointments and shopping trips. That way, I can ask all the questions that have been popping into my mind since the last appointment (and find the answers when I get home) and I can look for elusive items and have measurements on hand when I find them.

Now, let me be clear about something. My creative space, though it may look better than it did a week ago, remains a place I’d still find myself apologizing for if you walked into it right now. Not a chance of seeing a photo of this post-finishing three novels/holiday preparation/getting a new kitten disaster! I do however, want to share something that I try to work with every year.

I’m often seeing lists that offer to help me “eat my elephant one bite at a time”. Most of the time, they just don’t fit with my life in one way or another. Others must have been written by someone living in a totally different climate. (Who wants to clean closets in April? It’s plantin’ time!) We all have to face the truth, even if we’re self-professed “messies” – we don’t thrive in chaos. A reasonable amount of order calms us, eases our frustrations and – DANG IT! – helps us find the stapler! As much as I love wasting time, there’s only so much of it and the more unorganized we are, the easier it seems to slip away.

Here’s the list I’ve adapted for my lifestyle and the climate we live in. The best thing I’ve found about this list? None of it matters! I have given myself the gift of releasing each and every item to the winds of time and tides of happenstance. There will be, sadly, deaths in the family. There will be, joyfully, vacations and surprises! This last year, with the frantic push to complete the novel series, none of it got done except in little half-hour snatches of time and I’ve told myself that it’s OK! After all, I was busy doing something great, right?

I hope this list helps you make one of your own and I hope you don’t get bogged down by it! Adapt the items to your lifestyle and write one across each week of your 2018 calendar.

Remember to read all the way to the end of the post because the First Friday Freebie is upon us!

50 Ways To A Better Year! www.midweststoryteller.com

I’d love your comments! These aren’t the huge jobs you may tackle during the year such as cleaning out the whole garage or putting new siding on the house or installing a fish pond. These are the smaller, often ignored things that really frustrate us when they’re all piled up and the stapler becomes a minor player amongst the things that have gone missing. I’d love to hear your ideas on things we could add to the list.

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There! Now that you’ve subscribed, you can hurry on to organize your creative space and put away all the Christmas decorations. If you need help, just consult Martha – she’s much better at it than I am and hers always turns out “perfect”! 

Oh, my goodness!  That reminds me – Martha’s calendar always schedules a specific date for her to trim her donkeys’ hooves!  Now, how in the world did I manage to leave that off my list? 

Want more encouragement so you can thrive in 2018?  Check out “Life, Laughter and Lemons” here!