GTDI2021: The Big Five Goals

Last week, I wrote a post about setting new goals for 2021.

The thing is – during January and February of 2021, I didn’t feel like getting things done. I was in survival mode. We were cooped up inside, I was sick of the winter cold, and I was ready for spring.

Now – it is freaking SPRING, and with it has come the motivation I’ve been missing. The kind of motivation you need to set goals and get things done.

When I started thinking about goals, and getting overwhelmed, I realized that I needed to put my Big Rocks in first, a la Dr. Stephen R. Covey. (Ironically, Dr. Covey is actually the source of this blog’s original theme of balancing heart, soul, mind, and body! Smart dude.) So I wrote a big list of goals. Then I crossed out goals that were less of a priority. Then I reviewed the list, and did it again and again – until I came up with these five goals for myself for 2021.

  1. Finish a draft of a novel.
  2. Run five miles without walking – regularly.
  3. Stop using headphones at bedtime.
  4. Zero input and zero multi-tasking. (Progress not perfection!)
  5. Start regular routines for yoga + strength training.

My rule for this list was that it needed to be short (easy enough to be able to remember all five) and manageable (these are ALL doable, though several – looking at you, 2 and 3! – are daunting). I know I can accomplish these five things – but I also know I will NOT accomplish them unless I make them each a priority.

Cheers to Getting (BIG) Things Done In 2021!

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My New Favorite Holiday: Reflections On Easter 2021

I had so much fun celebrating Easter this year!

This was a major surprise to me, because historically, Easter is the holiday I overthink the most. I’m never quite sure what to do or how to celebrate. When I was a kid, this was a religious holiday for my family. Now that Tamara and I don’t practice Christianity, I’ve questioned whether we should celebrate Easter at all.

When I became a mom, I reached out to a non-religious friend, who advised me to treat Easter as Secular Chocolate Bunny Day. I took that advice and I’ve followed it ever since. And yet, I still have found so many things to overthink – when and where and how to do an egg hunt, what role an Easter basket should play, what role an Easter bunny should play, food to eat, etc.

This year, our relatively low-key Easter ended up involving three different celebrations:

  1. In North Carolina, with Tamara’s side of the family, we dyed Easter eggs and had an egg hunt for Edgar and Jonas and their two cousins, who are 4 and 3 years old.
  2. In Maryland, the day before Easter Sunday, my sister drove down from Philly with her husband and their two kids, ages 11 and 14.
  3. On Easter, in addition to our “just us” family activities, my brother and his family (kids aged 12, 10, 7, and 6) came over for bagels and an egg hunt.

Here’s what I LOVED about our Easter celebrations this year:

  • Limited planning required. Some of this is due to COVID, because so few plans have been on anyone’s calendar. But it was relatively painless to arrange all three of these events just a week or a few weeks in advance.
  • The dyeing of the Easter eggs! This is not a task I remember enjoying as a child, but I loved it this year. Mainly because we used brown eggs and it made the resulting product such a deep and beautiful color.
  • The HIDING of the Easter eggs! This was so ridiculously fun. There is something about this task – just wondering around a yard, looking for little spots where I can tuck away an egg for someone to find – that is so satisfying and fun for me. For the egg hunt with my brother’s family, it was extra fun. What we did was label the eggs by the kids’ age – so all the eggs with a 12 written on it in Sharpie were for my 12-year-old nephew, all the eggs with a 4 on them were for 4-year-old Edgar, etc. That meant that we could scale the difficulty and make some of the eggs for the older kids extremely difficult to locate or obtain. (For example, several eggs with a 10 or a 12 on them required climbing a tree or scaling the roof of our shed.) It was so fun to hide them all, so fun to watch the kids hunt, and so fun to provide hints and clues for the last few eggs, often in the form of a rhyme or a riddle. LOVED it.
  • Our indoor hunt for dyed Easter eggs on Easter morning. For our outdoor egg hunts with my sister’s family and my brother’s family, we used plastic eggs with treats inside. So on Easter Sunday morning, I was a little worried that Edgar and Jonas wouldn’t be excited to look for the dyed Easter eggs. But they were! Edgar woke up first and immediately started to spot some of them around, and he got so smiley and excited to look for more. Jonas jumped right in when he woke up, and it was all delightful.
  • The Easter basket scavenger hunt. This is one of the other big things I overthink about Easter – what is the deal with the baskets? Are they just out and on display when the kids wake up in the morning, like on Christmas Day? Do the kids have to look for them – are they hidden somewhere? I’m pretty sure my parents alternated between these two options. I don’t love the idea of the baskets just being out and on display – partly because I like having the kids hunt for the baskets, and partly because, without a hunt, the baskets just aren’t that exciting. Like, they have candy and a few fun things inside, but not THAT fun! So Tamara and I decided to do a scavenger hunt for the boys to find their baskets. The boys woke up and found all the dyed eggs, and then we ate breakfast. Then, while I entertained the boys, the “Easter Bunny” hid five clues around our home for a scavenger hunt that would end with the boys finding their baskets. When that was done, we revealed the first clue. The boys had to go to their trampoline, to the bathtub, to Jonas’s new “big boy bed” (AKA his crib mattress on the floor!), to Edgar’s whale lamp, to our new canoe (a gift for Tamara’s 40th!), and finally to the sandbox, where they found their baskets. Edgar LOOOOOVED it! He kept asking me about all the things the Easter Bunny had done while he was hiding clues: “You mean, he jumped on our trampoline, and then he went a took a bath? And then he took our canoe in the truck and went canoeing at the Reservoir?! And then he played in OUR SANDBOX?” So freaking cute.
  • The boys’ Easter baskets. I love the candy associated with Easter – especially Cadbury mini eggs! But it can get overwhelming to me. I knew we were going to do two different egg hunts involving plastic eggs with treats inside, and I knew the boys were going to receive treats from elsewhere, like candy from grandparents or neighbors. I wanted to avoid giving them an Easter basket packed with candy, knowing it would result in overindulgence for the boys, AND for me and Tamara – we both have a big sweet tooth and have a hard time not gorging on chocolate when it’s in the house! Tamara was on the same page, so for the boys’ baskets, the Easter Bunny filled each boy’s basket with a bicycle bell; cool tape to make a road on the floor for their toy cars; a book; and a chocolate bunny. It was perfect. The kids devoured all the candy from their plastic eggs in the afternoon, they took taking delicious bites of their bunnies each day for the next week, and neither kids nor adults went into a sugar coma.
  • Tamara’s annual bunny cake! I am not into fancy food, really ever, but especially not for Easter. But I DO love our annual tradition of Tamara baking a carrot cake bunny cake. This year, in the spirit of low sugar and moderation, we bought small cake pans and she made a mini bunny cake for our visit with my sister’s family. It was the perfect amount – everyone got a piece of cake, with just a smidge leftover for us to eat later.

What a lovely holiday. I’m so glad I am over my Easter angst and now get to celebrate Secular Chocolate Bunny Day every year in all its glory!

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Getting Things Done In 2021

This April, I’ve been thinking a LOT about goals. Obsessing about it a little, perhaps.

The thing is – it has felt impossible to set concrete goals for a long time. So, now that I am feeling more able to do so, my brain has shifted into overdrive. What do I focus on? What’s most important?

One thing that often trips me up is the distinction between a concrete goal – like, “I want to run five miles, regularly, without walking” – and an intention that I want to stick with daily – such as, “I want to be more present from moment to moment, especially while playing with my kids.”

The other thing that often trips me up is – beyond just writing the goals down here on the blog – how do I keep them in mind and make sure they actually get done?

The OTHER thing that trips me up is prioritizing goals. I have a few goals that are minor – like, reeeeally not a big deal if they don’t get done. For example, I am trying to get better at solving the New York Times crossword puzzle – on a three day streak as of today, say whaaaat! – but this is not a goal that needs to be at the top of my list. It’s also not totally in my control, because sometimes I just don’t know what the five-letter word is for a language written in the Devanagari script. (At this moment, my guess is “Hindi,” but I’m still working on that particular puzzle. You’re welcome for this possibly-incorrect hint, fellow puzzlers!)

So – what do I do to wrap my mind around my goals and actually get some things done in 2021?

This blog has always been a great tool for me to use to organize my thoughts and my life. So, starting today, I’m going to have a series of blog posts devoted to the topic of goals – to Getting Things Done In 2021, or GTDI2021. I wish I could share with you a detailed outline of what’s to come, but this blog is way more fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants than that.

Cheers to the return of hope and motivation in spring 2021 – and cheers to getting things done!

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Edgar’s Faves (Best Books for a 4.5-Year-Old)

Edgar continues to love books and reading. There have been two cool new developments.

First, we’ve started reading some chapter books together! I’ve read him The Fantastic Mr. Fox and several books in the Mercy Watson series. It’s such a nice change, as the grown-up, to read books with a little more plot and suspense.

Second, my mom bought a membership to a website called Readeo. It’s super cool – we basically are on a video call and she can read books to Edgar on the iPad while they can see each other on video! We also are able to scroll the Readeo library and read books on the iPad, just us, at other times. That’s been helpful, because sometimes he’s indecisive about what book we should read at bedtime, and bedtime is one of my crankiest and most impatient times of day! So we curl up with the iPad and have lots of books to choose from.

Here are a few of his current faves:

The Circus Ship by Chris Van Dusen. Edgar is really into boats, so this one was a winner. I’d put it in the category of “fun and cutesy for adults,” too, with a fun plot. It’s also a rhyming book, which is something I really enjoy, especially at bedtime.

The World Of Whales by Darcy Dobell. This one is long – 72 pages. It has a really cool picture-based table of contents, so Edgar can decide which whale or topic he wants to read about and we can flip to that page. Edgar continues to be REALLY into whales.

Little Pea by Amy Krouse Rosenthal. We both LOVE this book. This is actually a book we used to read and love a couple of years ago, and now, via Readeo, it’s made a comeback.

What If Everybody Did That? by Ellen Javernick. This book is actually a book I’ve used previously for work. It’s meant to taught social skills and rules by exaggeration – like, what if everybody fed the animals at the zoo, or threw one piece of trash out the car window? Edgar mostly thinks it’s hilarious to see the potential consequences, which obviously isn’t the book’s intention, but he also never does any of The Things, so maybe the message is working subconsciously?

Off & Away by Cale Atkinson. Such a sweet book. Little girl takes over her dad’s job – delivering messages in bottles to their proper recipient via boat – and has an epic adventure.

Dude! by Aaron Reynolds. Edgar loves this book. The only word in it is dude – said over and over again in different inflections. He gets a kick out of “reading” the book to me.

Happy reading!

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Currently: April 2021

Currently reading:

This month, I finished The House of Silk and Moriarty, both by Anthony Horowitz, both Sherlock Holmes-themed novels. Currently I’m reading A Study in Scarlet Women – also a Sherlock Holmes adaptation! I’m on a Holmes kick at the moment. Prior to these, I read Too Good To Be True by Carola Lovering, which was a great page turner.

Currently listening to:

A lot of podcasts! I’ve been trying to zero in and get caught up on my favorites – Pod Save America, The Girl Next Door, The Mom Hour, and NPR Politics.

Currently watching:

I got on a kick of watching old episodes of How I Met Your Mother, and it’s been delightful. Enough time has passed that they feel new and extraordinarily hilarious. I also have been watching a few episodes of This Is Us – I think I stopped watching that show, last time around, at the beginning of the second season, and after it was recommended by another thousand people, I decided to give it another try.

Currently the boys are:

They like to pack up their backpacks and pretend they’re going to school or on a trip. They also are really into drawing and writing – they each have a “writing book” that they like to bring with them wherever we go. (THAT is a true sign of my influence!)

Currently grateful for:

SPRING! Warm weather, the spring equinox, and spring break!

Currently looking forward to:

I am getting so excited for our summer road trip and for lazy summer days at the new swim club we joined.

Happy April!

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