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Mid-year, New start

It is hard to believe that we are already almost halfway through this much anticipated year after suffering the countless losses and isolation in 2020. As the rules are relaxing and it is looking like I will be going back into the office full time soon, I began reflecting on the extra time I spent at home over the last 15 months. I was wondering if I had squandered it all away. Well, if I looked at the to-do list we've amassed over the years, the house projects to complete, the walls to be painted, the rooms to declutter, the files to sort through, then yes, it would seem like we did not spend our quarantine time wisely. However, when I turned 50 last July (a milestone that was largely uncelebrated due to the pandemic) a switch had flipped in my brain and I really started to see things differently. Instead of dwelling on what I didn't do, I realized that since you cannot change the past, you can try to find glimmers of good or lessons learned that will help you move forward. So, here is my list of ways that I am regrouping and moving forward with less anxiety and more hope for great things to come.

Reflect on the small victories

As I mentioned, over the years we have amassed a long list of projects to complete around the house, but for one reason or another we just didn't think to do them during this down time. This definitely disappointed me, but as I thought more about the ways we did utilize our time, I saw that we did so many other things that seemed to make more sense in the moment.

At the start of the stay at home order, I was very busy making masks and other PPE that people needed. I was sewing until 1 am and then getting up five hours later to start my work day (thankfully from home). Once the requests slowed down, I took some much needed time to relax and enjoy doing nothing. I spent a lot of this time getting caught up on shows I had never watched before, such as Schitt$ Creek, Parks and Recreation, The Office, and of course Tiger King. I cannot say my life is any better for that last one, but it is what it is.

In addition to the much needed down-time, there were definitely a lot of things that we did do, but weren't on our original list.

Tip: add things to your to-do list even after they are complete. For some reason it makes a huge difference to see what you accomplished even if they weren't official "tasks" to begin with.

For us, some of these things included building and stocking a pantry in our basement, which my husband has been talking about for years, but I was always so hesitant about (stay tuned for a full post about this. It is actually one of the things that I am most proud of from this past year). Another project that came up primarily because of the pandemic was gardening. I had always thought about it, but we didn't have the space for a proper garden. With the extra time at home my husband decided to dismantle our son's wooden play structure (which had long sat idle since he is almost a teenager) and he created a raised garden in it's footprint. I still have a lot to learn, but I am excited to see what veggies sprout up and what lessons I can learn along the way.

With our stimulus checks, we finally got the new bedroom furniture we've been in desperate need of, but kept putting off. Goodbye to the mismatched pieces that we each brought into the marriage fifteen years ago! This also led me to some great new organizational hacks (many that were learned on Tik Tok) to help keep the space looking neat.

Another major accomplishment that wasn't planned was my new website which I created from scratch in January. I hadn't been thinking about making a change, but as I was growing more frustrated with the limitations of my previous webhost, I stumbled across Wix and without much thought I made the change. Sometimes spontaneity pays off, as I am very happy with the new site so far. If you have any comments or tips about the new site, please drop a comment here!

Work on Financial Freedom

Finances are definitely a stressor for most people. Personally, over the years I have accumulated a significant amount of debt and it always turns into a vicious cycle. After paying down the credit cards each month I am left with little to work with for everyday needs, so I would inevitably have to put more on the credit cards. It seemed unending, and around the holidays last year I knew I had to make some changes. Around this time my company was offering free financial consultations through Fidelity, the company that handles our 401(k). I had always wanted to talk things through with a financial planner, but was honestly too cheap to do it. Having a free resource at hand was a huge help and we came up with a great plan that helped me pay off all of my credit debt and start planning better for the future. The anxiety I used to feel is gone and I find myself being much more careful so I don't go down that same path again. Another part of my strategy is to really look at areas where I thought I was "saving" such as signing up for subscription services. I found that sometimes getting a product auto-delivered each month wasn't worth it, especially when I would build up an accumulation faster than I would use them. I ended up canceling a lot of these items and now I just watch for sales when they are needed.

Set Big Goals

They don't have to be huge, audacious goals, but they should be something that gets you excited. I don't often set a lot of goals for myself and just let life happen as it may, but after spending a year without any significant ambitions, I felt it was time to have something to look forward to (other than seeing family and friends again).

First, I decided it was time to replace my 11 year old vehicle. I am eyeing some type of Jeep, but of course I need something with a lot of room so I can transport my displays and inventory to the craft fairs I hope to start doing again. If anyone has first hand experience with Jeeps, I'd love to hear it. Of course this purchase is definitely going to put my financial planning to the test, so I need to make sure I can afford this without causing me to start using those credit cards again.

Next, I am focusing on my career development by registering for the Professional Administrative Certification of Excellence (PACE). This is a certification for administrative professionals to demonstrate their depth of knowledge, expertise, and commitment. I have been an administrative assistant for over 25 years, and I really love what I do, but I also want to be as valuable as possible. It is always good to keep learning and growing. I already have my CAP-OM (Certified Administrative Professional certification with an Organizational Management specialty), so this would be a nice addition to those credentials.

Finally, I am working on a marketing plan for Joatmon Creations to help bring in more business. I've linked my website with Facebook, which gives me another sales channel, and eventually I will link it to Instagram as well. I'm also working on some gift basket ideas which will allow me to definitely be a one-stop shop for gift giving needs. I am very excited to put these together in time for the holidays.

Practice Self Care

Regardless of all these steps I am taking above, it won't matter if I am not taking care of ME. If I find myself getting stressed out, I take a break. Open a good book, paint my nails, take a walk, write in a journal, or even color my hair. Anything to make me feel in control and happy. Setting aside a little "me time" definitely helps me be a better person.

Hopefully some of these strategies will help others as we begin the journey through the second half of 2021. Ironically, as I opened my planner to June, these pages really spoke to me.

New Day, New Adventures, New Memories, New Moments, New Lessons.

What a wonderful way to start the month! I cannot wait to see what this planning page looks like by the time I am done with it!

Please share some of your favorite strategies as well!

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