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Sometimes,  words get in the way.....

and a picture is worth a thousand words they say, so...

here's a few things I'm grateful for in pictures!

 

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Happy faces on a happy day!
The memories I have of this sweet creature who we had to lay to rest just two weeks ago.... her brown eyebrows brought so much joy...and she gave so much love.
The memories I have of this sweet creature who we had to lay to rest just two weeks ago.... her brown eyebrows brought so much joy...and she gave so much love.
All of the beautiful aspects of God's glorious creation!
All of the beautiful aspects of God's glorious creation!

 

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Up close encounters with His creation!

 

The man that captured my heart and holds my hand.
The man that captured my heart and holds my hand.

 

Some people write with words.  But some express through drawing and photography.  If one of the later suits you, why not create a gratitude journal with one of those media instead of writing?  Either way, it's the expression of gratitude each day that changes us.  May you find fulfillment in your journey in becoming a person of gratitude!

What are you grateful for this week?

 

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It’s not happiness that brings us GRATITUDE.
It’s gratitude that brings us HAPPINESS.
  ~Author Unknown

It's been over two weeks since I even sat down to my computer to write a post!  So today I am grateful to the time I have allotted to do just that and the young lady that is entertaining my youngest while I do so!

So how are you doing with your gratitude journal?  When I last posted, I shared with you that I was not doing so well with keeping up with my personal goal of 5 a day.  I did lay the journal back out and started to improve again...and then, well..... it's been several days now since I wrote in it.

So I thought I'd review a few pointers on how to make this a habit!!!  I checked out a few web posts about forming new habits.  One such place was this:  http://jamesclear.com/habit-guide

The above posts suggests starting small.  Okay....

So my goal is 5 a day.  But maybe to get myself back on track, I should accept just 2 a day? It would certainly get me writing more than my current last week of zero.

The post also said to increase in small increments.  Okay. Well, maybe I can start with 1 or 2; then after a few days, or when the mood strikes me, I can then try for 3, then 4, then 5!

The suggestion I find most helpful is the suggestion of breaking it down.  I often try to get my 5 out in the morning along with my morning devotion/prayer time.  I think that's my downfall.  It's all I can do to focus on reading my bible or current book I'm reading about my faith, let alone think of 5 things (all at once )I'm grateful for while still sleepy and irritable because, well, it's MORNING.    I'm probably picking the wrong time of day to do this and probably should not attempt to thinking of 5 things all at once unless it's an unusual instance in which they come to me easily at that moment.

The next suggestion given is when you get off track, get back on track QUICKLY!   The author states, "top performers make mistakes, commit errors, and get off track just like everyone else. The difference is that they get back on track as quickly as possible."        Okay....I'm stopping now to write one thing in my gratitude journal....be back in a second.....

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There.... okay...so I've written one in for today.  And I can pat myself on the back and know I'm doing okay.  I'm up to #245.  That's 245 things to read when I'm down in the dumps about things that are good in my life.

AWESOME!

And the last pointer this blogger shared was to...

BE PATIENT

Stick to a Pace You Can Sustain

 

Ugh.  Yes.  Be patient.  That's a hard one for me.  I can easily be not very patient with others...but especially MYSELF!

So if you find you haven't started your gratitude journal, these are some good tips to form your new habit.  And if you have faltered, like me, in keeping it up-  these are some good tips to lift ourselves up and get back on track, sticking to a pace we can sustain and, in doing so, transform our minds and spirits!

WE CAN DO THIS!  WHO IS WITH ME?

 

 

Further Reading on Building Habits:

http://jamesclear.com/small-habits

https://open.buffer.com/building-habits/        ( I REALLY LIKE THIS ONE!!!)

http://www.developgoodhabits.com/how-to-form-a-habit-in-8-easy-steps/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I found this sweet smelling candle at a natural foods store in Ocean City, MD last week! I couldn't resist!

It's been 7 weeks now since I first officially started

the gratitude challenge.

 

7 weeks since I challenged myself to become a woman of gratitude and asked you to join me.

How have your 7 weeks been?

I will admit, I've begun to falter.

I haven't kept up with my own challenge of at least 5 things a day in my new gratitude challenge.  I've let to-do lists, days away, and chaotic schedules keep me from my moments of sitting and taking notice- keeping track of the beauty- and it's had an effect.

Photo by geralt of Pixabay
Photo by geralt of Pixabay

 

I write this with honesty as I want to encourage the rest of you to start afresh if you haven't started yet, and to keep going if you started but, like me, began to falter.

It's okay.

This process does not have to be perfect.

Don't get discouraged.

It's important to maintain the focus- even if you drift for a bit.   Stay the course of finding joy in your life and noticing and living in the blessings that surround you daily.

  AND TAKE NOTE OF IT. 

Keep a gratitude journal.

It's possible, I know, to find gratitude without a journal.  But if you are like so many others already on the path of being more of a complainer, more of a negative thinker, more of a person that struggles with finding joy all around you (and I've been through that stage of life more often than I care to admit)-  a gratitude journal really can help change you.  It can be the start of something grand and miraculous in your life.  So I challenge you, whether you have started and are doing better than me, whether you started but are discouraged at a short list, whether you haven't started yet at all, grab that journal or sheet of paper and write a list RIGHT NOW (I just did too) of at least 5-10 things that you are grateful for RIGHT NOW.  And keep adding.

Not many of you have commented much right here on the blog yet.  It's okay- don't be shy.  I've had private comments elsewhere, so I know that there are quite a few of you that are appreciating the challenge.  But I urge you to share your lists with us.  Help keep us all going.  Help us to look around and see these types of similar things in our lives too- and don't worry if they are the mundane.... don't worry if it seems small to you; if it's  something that brings you joy, a smile to your face, a sense of peace or hope in your soul, a moment of happiness- it's worth writing down and sharing!

gratitude-1251137_1920So I've got my journal open on my counter again (yeah- I kept letting it get moved around- so I'm trying to make it more visual to keep me on track) and I'm going back to my goal of at least 5 a day... if that's too much for you, I'd suggest 3- .  Please join me.  Encourage me.  Encourage OTHERS!  Become a woman (or man!) of gratitude!

FIND JOY!!!

Gratitude Sharing:

  1.  My daughter requesting time with me.
  2. Coffee filled chocolate hearts!
  3. My son sharing his dreams and goals with us.
  4. Having a family that expresses love openly and OFTEN!
  5. The beginnings of a new garden - dirt, small plants, HOPE for abundance.

What are YOU grateful for this week?

 

 

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Gratitude turns what we have into enough. ~Author Unknown

Consider This:

"I tend to get lost in the details of a large-family life when I'm right in the midst of it.  It takes a certain fortitude, after all, to look at a pile of dishes and see it as the makings of a cathedral. The daily mundane is holy ground because the ordinary tasks of a monotonous Monday are where we meet our Maker," says Sarah Mackenzie, author of Teaching From Rest: A Homeschooler's Guide to Unshakeable Peace.  Isn't this true of us all?

2016-05-14 18.05.52Homeschoolers or not, don't we all get lost in the daily mundane and forget that this is truly where we meet our Maker?  We get lost in the daily tasks that we'd just as soon forget (dishes, laundry, cleaning up messes, handling sibling arguments, etc.) and we forget that even in those tasks we are doing something bigger.  Sarah tells us in her book that many of the medieval cathedral builders never saw their work completed as the cathedrals would take over a hundred years (more than a lifetime) to complete.  Yet, the builders devoted their lives to this work- giving glory to God.

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We look at the cathedral today and it is not at all mundane.  But think of that builder who lugged stone after stone after stone, never seeing the beautiful work that we see in front of us today.  They gave it their all.  Mundane stone after stone. Mundane day after mundane day.

We too are giving our work to God.  Everything we do is work that God sees - even if it's not a medieval cathedral to worship Him in.  Isn't our home a mini-cathedral? Isn't that where we encounter Him each and every day?  Should we not be grateful for each and every encounter, even in the mundane?  For even in washing those dishes, we are serving Him.  Even in making that bed, we are serving Him.  Even in picking up those dirty socks, we are serving Him.

Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.   ~ Matthew 25:40

For even in the mundane tasks we do that serve our family members, we serve Him. Shouldn't then, we be giving it our all?  Doing our best?  And giving thanks at the same time?  Thanks for the ability to do the work. Thanks for God allowing us this time on earth to do it?  Thanks for giving us others to serve so that in doing so, we are able to serve Him? Thanks for knowing that it really does make a difference, no matter how menial or small it seems to us at the time.

What are some tasks you find to be mundane, but upon further reflection, can find some reason to give thanks?  Reason for gratitude?

Consider also: 

" For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, “Do it again” to the sun; and every evening, “Do it again” to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we."  G. K Chesteron (Orthodoxy)

Gratitude Sharing:

  1. My 3 living children - lovely gifts of God.

  2. Mashed potatoes - comfort food.

  3. A child observing, "It's a lovely day!", despite the grey clouds overhead.  Children see beauty when some of us can not.

  4. Four white tails leaping away through the yard and into the woods - thankful to the brief glimpse of their presence and reminder of the creatures surrounding our home.

  5. THIS.....

    Wow. Just Wow. Oh, and yumminess!
    Wow. Just Wow. Oh, and yumminess!

 

What is on Your Gratitude List This Week?

Have you started your gratitude journal? If you have missed previous posts about the challenge, start here!
Have you started your gratitude journal? If you have missed previous posts about the challenge, start here!

 

4

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If a fellow isn't thankful for what he's got, he isn't likely to be thankful for what he's going to get.     ~Frank A. Clark

Consider This:

While we may not have control over our environment, we do have control over our perception of our environment. Have  you ever noticed that some people living in poverty can smile and laugh and seem to find joy anywhere and over the most simple things?  While others who have so much - high incomes, large homes, three vehicles- seem to grumble and whine over the most mundane things? It would seem to me that the person living in poverty could certainly find something to grumble about: hungry belly, cold drafts, unpaid bills.  And while there are some that do, others are able to look around and  see beauty.  They still smile.  They  praise God.   What is the difference?  That's right- gratitude.   It's all about their perception.  It's about the difference between those that are truly grateful in their hearts and choose to see joy, rather than those of us who focus on the negative and choose to see strife.

It's about looking at the simple things, and seeing the blessing.

What do you see here?  Just a couple pieces of fruit? Hmmm... maybe...but look closely...

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I see reds, yellows, oranges, greens and browns.  I see fruit, food, sustenance.

I see creations of God.

I see nutrients- vitamins- enzymes- a way to nourish the  body God has given me.

I see a snack for a laughing child, a hungry man or an animal.

 

What do you see here?  A couple of weeds?

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I see yellow- the color of the sun.

I see water nourishing a plant God created.

I see a bouquet of love offered to a mother from a son.

It's all in our perception.  It's how we look at things.  I am truly grateful for the apple, banana and clementine.  Grateful for the creation of such sweet foods.  Grateful I can use them as nourishment for myself and my family. Grateful to God for his goodness.  I am grateful for the dandelion...rooted firmly in the ground reminding me that I too am rooted as a child made in His image and strong to stand my ground.  Grateful that it symbolizes my marriage- for we are rooted together, Ted and I,and can whether the storms. Grateful for the bouquet brought to me from a child, full of love, naïve to those who would call such beauty a weed.

It's all in our perception.  We can pass these things by unnoticed, or even scoff at the 'weed', the seeds, the simplicity.  Or we can look deep and perceive beauty. What do you perceive?

Gratitude Sharing:

  1. Sunrise

  2. God ALWAYS hears my prayers

  3. Colors - beautiful reminders of His covenant

  4. Periwinkle - such small but abundant beauty in early spring

  5. Spring breeze through the window

 

What is on Your Gratitude List This Week?

Have you started your gratitude journal? If you have missed previous posts about the challenge, start here!
Have you started your gratitude journal? If you have missed previous posts about the challenge, start here!

gratitude-1251137_1920

The struggle ends when the gratitude begins.  ~ Neale Walsch

 

Consider This:

Keeping a gratitude journal (Joy Journal, Happiness Book, Whatever YOU wish to call it) can stop the struggle and the pattern of negative thinking that can create even more stress in our lives. Gratitude can stop the negative thinking and greatly lessen the impact of stress. In forming our gratitude lists, we are essentially cultivating and retraining our thoughts to be positive.  We are stopping ourselves to see the amazing things happening around us instead of dwelling on the everyday stresses, the chaos, the grief.  And there really are AMAZING things happening despite all of those things.  And if we focus, truly focus, on looking for these things- we will begin to notice more and more and our grateful hearts will swell with goodness - with GOD.  And while stress and grief will still occur, we will not struggle as before as it will not drag us down into nothingness- for we will keep on focus on what is good.  And we will look to God. And we will conquer all.

Photo By Codesign / Pixabay
Photo By Codesign / Pixabay

Occasionally, I'll share a few tips with you to help you keep motivated in keeping your journal and making sure it stays a positive experience for you to help focus on thanksgiving rather than the complaining so many of us in today's society takes part in.

Today's Tip:  Be CONSISITENT.  Change takes intention and formation of habit.  Write in your journal EVERY DAY.  Some journal keepers suggest doing it at the same time every day.  I always start adding to mine at the beginning of the day at the same time I do my bible reading (another new habit I hope to keep up with) as that is when I am already focused on positive thinking and seeking God in all things.  That's what works for me, and I keep it handy on the kitchen counter through the day to add as I go.  But you do what works for  YOU.  Maybe it's the beginning of the day. Maybe at a coffee break. Perhaps at the end of the day when the kids are in bed (something to add to the list...).  Find a time, and make it happen!  Use the gratitude challenge to end the struggle. Remember, change takes intention!

Gratitude Sharing:

  1.  Pascha - Pascha is the feast of the resurrection of the Lord as celebrated by Orthodox Christians...  the ultimate celebration for the greatest reason.  My favorite verse from the service "Come receive the light from the light, that will never be overtaken by night, and glorify Christ who is risen from the dead" will be in my head for weeks to come!  Christ is Risen!

  2. My six-year-old spotting a rose-breasted grosbeak on our deck!  I'm not sure what part I'm most grateful for... seeing this beautiful bird for the first time ever, or the fact is was my six-year-old that spotted it- KNEW what it was- and not from me teaching him....just from all the time he spends looking at the bird book....and yes, he obviously read that name and remembered it ALL ON HIS OWN... wow.

  3. erasers -  because we don't need to be perfect; we just need to keep trying and give glory to God for second chances!

  4. Sharing gratitude with others.

  5. The sound of my husband's hum... happiness, contentment, love.

What's On Your Gratitude List This Week?  

 

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Develop an attitude of gratitude, and give thanks for everything that happens to you, knowing that every step forward is a step toward achieving something bigger and better than your current situation.

                           ~ Brian Tracy

 

Consider This:

Matthew Kelly, author of The Seven Levels of Intimacy, tells us in addition to the need of a disciplined way of eating to fuel the body and bring it to maximum performance, we also need a diet of mind, heart, and soul.  I believe gratitude is a part of this diet.  We must have gratitude for not only the big things in life - new job, new home, new baby - but we must have it for the little everyday things as well - the smile of the person in your office, the dishwasher working one more day, the giggle of that sweet baby.  Seeing all of this with a heart of thanks will change your perspective.  It takes discipline to stick to any diet, including the diet of giving up negativity and sticking to a heart of gratitude.  Make it a daily habit.  It will change your life.

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Gratitude Sharing:

  1.  Foods on the earth - God's creation!

  2.  Morning coffee time - reflective, encouraging, intimate, time with God.

  3. Glue - to show that pieces CAN be mended!

  4. Weeding away the old to make way for beauty and newness underneath.

  5.  The Lamentations of Good Friday....piercing the soul, weeping that leads to the glorious resurrection!

What's On Your Gratitude List This Week?  

4

I have challenged myself to become a woman of gratitude.

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I want to train myself to see the beauty all around me.   To see GOD all around me.

I want to take notice of the things I so often miss – from the warmth of the sunshine on my skin as the sun rises in the east to the mess in the living room as a sign of an imaginative child experiencing creativity and joy to even the blessed changes that occur in people going through struggles and grief.

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Joy is there.

Abundance is there.

God is there.

And a grateful heart can see this- find love and strength in this.

I WANT THIS.

I want it to be a part of me- of who I am.

I want to find it easy like breathing.

 I’d love for YOU to join me.

My purpose in sharing this on the blog is twofold:

1.) I want accountability. I want to put this out there for others to HELP ME – mold me, please? I want the accountability to share what I’m noticing to increase the chances of the change I’m craving to really happen. And what better way to obtain accountability but to check in here under my public eye of family, friends and beloved blog followers than to ask you to join in and keep me on my toes?

2.) I want you to find this joy too! Gratitude can give such a different- and better- perspective of everything around us It brings joy to our broken hearts and souls. I want to give YOU the opportunity to feel that too. What’s more- we are then helping one another! If you participate in the challenge – YOU will reap the benefits. If you share here, OTHERS will reap too! Sometimes, sharing with others what WE are grateful for will remind them of their own joys and blessings in life that are often overlooked.

 

HERE IS MY CHALLENGE TO YOU:

  1. Get some paper. It can be a few sheets of scrap paper, an old unused (or partially used) notebook, a pretty fancy notebook (which can sometimes add to the motivation), or whatever you have or speaks to you.
  2. Keep it in a handy spot with a pencil or pen.
  3. Write on it!!!   Give yourself a goal- I suggest no less than 3- I’m personally going to strive for 5, but I’ll refer to the number 3 in my directions. Write down 3 things each day you are grateful for. 3 things you see or observe around you that are a blessing to you or bring a smile to your face. You can do this all at once, first thing in the morning or last thing in the evening or anytime that suits you, OR take that paper and pencil with you and write things down as they strike you (pull over if you’re driving!).

Sometimes, you’ll be tempted to just keep writing. Do it! Just be sure to still obtain your goal daily, as it’s important in order to become a person with deep gratitude in your heart – to change your perspective- to practice this each and every day. This routine will CHANGE you. Try it, you’ll see!

  1. In addition to writing your list, USE IT. Use it not only as a place to write more examples of the blessings that surround us, but to reflect on in times of need. If you are having a moment of anxiety, use your list to read over and remind yourself of all the blessings you have. Give this list a chance to bring peace to your soul.

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In the book, One Thousand Gifts- a guide to giving thanks and finding joy in all aspects of life- Ann Voskamp was challenged to write a list of 1,000 gifts- blessings she had in her life so as to take better notice of everyday graces. She found she could not stop after reaching 1,000 and found, even before reaching her goal, that she was changed in the process. She kept seeing more and adding more. I challenge you to also exceed that challenge. Don’t put a final number to this challenge. Just keep adding!

Each week, I will post a reflection post on gratitude and share 3-5 things from my own list over the week. For I believe in sharing from our own gratitude lists, not only do we gain accountability, but it will help others in finding a perspective of gratitude. So I ask you to follow suit. Share the everyday graces and moments of gratitude you find to motivate others to see the blessings around themselves. Strengthening our ability to see these blessings can change us as individuals and through that, it IS possible to CHANGE THE WORLD. But we must start by changing ourselves. Start looking for joy daily and become a man or woman of gratitude.  Join me in this change!

 

So to get things started:     5 Things from my gratitude journal

1.)   Eggs-   beautiful delicious eggs.....   not just that they give sustenance created by God, but the love of the man who made them for me this morning!

2.) Bad dreams are not real.

3.) Presanctified Liturgies.... nourishment for soul, body and mind.

4.)  Rays of sunshine upon my face.

5.) Rain....washing away the muck.

WHAT ARE YOU GRATEFUL FOR THIS WEEK?

8

Resolutions.....because that's what we are supposed to do, right?  haha...

Actually, I think resolutions are a good thing.  It's goal planning.  As long as the goals are REASONABLE... then writing them down to look at and remind yourself of what your goals are once in a while really will help you attain them.  And I thought if I write them all here then I just might hold myself even more accountable - cause you might wonder how I'm doing with them...

There's a lot.  Because I do a lot of things and feel I should have goals in all parts of my life...not just one or two.  Plus I think if I have a lot of goals there's more chance of me attaining at least a few of them!!  haha...

So here goes:

  1.   Stick to the Paleo Diet at least 93% of the time for at least 3 more months... I really want to give it a good shot - without causing too much stress of doing it 100% but really giving it our best and for a few more months to really watch longer term effects.
  2.  Exercise, on average, 3 times a week.  (I know if I put more here, I'll fail.... and if I feel I fail it makes it that much harder for me to start again.  3 is reasonable.)
  3. Add Evening Prayers to my Prayer Routine... we do pretty well with Morning Prayers- at least on school days and prayers at supper time. I need to do more than that.
  4. Read at least 3 books that are of Orthodox content over the course of the year - I should probably start out by finishing the ones on my Goodreads Currently Reading List!!  So maybe I should put 4 on that resolution list...finish the three and add one more...
  5. Read at LEAST 12 Newberry Medal books... this shouldn't be that hard if I set my mind to it...after all they do all fall under the genre of children's literature...it's not like I'm reading novels the size off War and Peace!!!
  6. Read the following:   2014 Children's Writer's and Illustrator's Market (cover to cover--- well, not every single publisher/agent listing but in the past I never got around to reading the articles and this time that's what I started with!),  A Family of Readers: A book Lover's Guide to Children's and Young Adult Literature,  and Honey For a Child's Heart by Gladys Hunt. The last two are supposed to be really good sources about the world of children's literature.  I've already started both.  Gladys Hunt has another book out on Teen literature and one on women's literature.  Both look equally appealing...I'll probably give in a grab the teen book soon as I have a teen....and will be planning another book list for next year's homeschooling sometime this spring.
  7. Watch my Charlotte Mason Videos(by the end of MARCH).  I bought them last year at the CHAP convention (convention held by the Christian Homeschool Association of Pennsylvania).  Simply Charlotte Mason had a booth there and I bought the All Day Charlotte Mason Seminar and The Books & Things Seminar.  I've watched most of the first one.  It's packed full of information presented by Sonya Shafer. My husband also bought me another book on Charlotte Mason - I want to read that one too but I'll give myself longer on that one... by the end of the year!
  8. Research for a Preschool Curriculum/materials and make a decision by the end of APRIL....at least have it narrowed down in time for the CHAP convention in May. He's already doing preschool type stuff..... knows how to count to 20 without help, higher with help and recognizes all the digits 1-10.... knows the alphabet (lower case and upper case) and most sounds, recognizes at least 22 words by sight, knows colors, basic shapes, etc.... so preschool may not be what I want.... by something Charlotte Mason style with lots of books.... and fun activities.
  9. Break 3 bad habits.... sorry that's too personal...not sharing those...just that I have them and think it's important to pick a few to work on diligently.  I'll know what they are...and who knows...maybe my family will figure them out by the end of the year too 🙂
  10.  Maintain my Gratitude Journal...  I restarted one about a year and  a half ago or so after reading Ann Voskamp's One Thousand Gifts... I've been better at writing in it but I'm only to #465....  I hope to get to 1000 by the end of the year if not way before that!
  11. Maintain this blog!  I've been going strong for over a couple of months now...keep following me and give me comments-- it will encourage me!! 😉
  12. Keep writing!!!  I hope to pursue some publishers soon with a couple of the manuscripts I have finished...they still need some revision first.  And I'd like to try to pop out a few more... at least picture books.  That's the goal.  I do have two middle grade manuscripts I've written that could be revised and I started a YA several years ago...I'm not sure if I want to return to that yet or not.  I think I'll stick with the PBs... that seems to be where my passion is right now.
  13. Set more time aside for ME -   whether it be for reading, writing, or working on crafts I've ignored for years-- but time to do what I want to do and not just things for other people.  I know that goes hand in hand with a lot of the above goals but I feel a separate goal to do that will help assure I work on it.
  14. Spend more quality time with my children and my husband.  I want to actually schedule the time to make sure it happens.  Too often our date nights get pushed to the side because we simply forget to schedule it and too often I decide to watch a TV show because I'm tired rather than playing a game with my older son.  And too often I don't sit down to just play with my toddler because I worry too much about other things that need done.
  15. Work on coming up with EASY and QUICK paleo meals that will help me make sure I have time to do all of the above!  My new cookbooks I got for Christmas should help me accomplish that soon!

Okay.... that's 15....  that should keep me busy!!!

So what are YOUR New Year's Resolutions?  I'd love to read them!

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