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five things I learned in January

As I get older, I am trying to reflect more and more on my life, and especially, my soul. What things do I love? What gives me life? What makes me sad or tired or like I want to check out? By paying attention to my life, I’m hoping it helps me make good choices as I move forward. Some things we just have to do and others we get to choose – I want to do both with grace and joy and intention.

One little practice I would like to do this year is take a few minutes at the end of each month to look back over the last 30ish days and think about what I’ve learned. My friend Emily does something similar and I always love reading her insights. I’m following her lead and sharing my things with you …

WHAT I LEARNED IN JANUARY

 

I’m stronger than I thought

You’re probably getting sick of me talking about it, but I have fallen in love with Barre class. I worked out semi-regularly at home using online videos last summer (here’s a post about that) but started loosing steam. It’s hard to stay committed when it’s just you. My girlfriend and I finally found a local studio that offers group classes and since October, we’ve been going every Tuesday and Thursday morning.

This is literally the first time I’ve worked out consistently in my adulthood.

We do light handheld weights for the arm portion of the class. I started with 2lbs (and my arms nearly fell off). My goal was to switch to 3lb weights at the new year.

I’m happy to report that I did it! And while the weights are heavy for me and my arms feel like jello after class, I feel stronger. And it feels great.

 

Making the decision to close the shop was a sad but good choice

Last week, we made the official announcement that my house + home shop is closing. It was not a hard choice financially, since it was the least profitable arm of my business, but anytime you close the door on something, it feels like a loss. Will I regret it? Should I keep it open just in case? What if I decide later I want an online shop? Ryan and I went round and round with these questions and ultimately decided that it was best to shut it down. An e-commerce shop requires regular promotion, tons of inventory, constant upkeep and I just don’t have the margin to do all of this well. And so, we’re closing it down.

We have a little bit of inventory left that we’re selling at 50% off. You can shop until next week when everything will be officially off the market. SHOP HERE.

 

Friends are more valuable than followers

Please don’t take this wrong because I truly do appreciate you reading the blog, subscribing to my email list, following along on instagram. We have built our business on these relationships and I care deeply about fostering positive connection.

However, I can so easily get caught up in numbers and it messes with my heart.

Last weekend I went to the most adorable beach town (I’ve talked about it on the blog here) with women from our church and had the greatest time. I’m so grateful to have made wonderful, deep friendships since moving and was delighted to make a few new friends over the weekend.

When I came home, I discovered a new analytics bar for Instagram business accounts. I clicked on it and it told me that I was -17 followers over the past 7 days.

I spent the weekend barely touching my phone, only posting once to instagram. I chose to be present at the beach, with friends, worshipping, listening to speakers, helping clear tables and staying up way too late laughing (and crying). It was such a great weekend.

Upon seeing a drop in instagram followers, I could easily feel bad about myself, my business, the future, my decision to put my phone down for the weekend. This thing can feel so competitive and graspy if I let it.

Instead, I decided to relax and recognize that while I may have lost instagram followers, I gained a few real life friends and that felt like a good trade-off.

Podcast interviews are fun

In 2017, I was interviewed exactly zero times. In January, I was invited to share on two different podcasts. It was so much fun! I like talking to people. I like interesting questions. I like listening back and thinking about how I would change or add to my response if I were to do it again :)

You can listen to a conversation about how blogging has changed and how I have adapted on this episode of In The Storyhouse. If you are a blogger, this podcast is so wonderful. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed catching up on past episodes and love the honest conversations happening over there.

I chatted with Jessica from Extraordinary Moms podcast about being a mom, parenting a teenager, the balance of motherhood and work. Warning: I cried at the end. This one goes live on Tuesday February 6th.

 

Yes to a real rain coat

I have lived in Seattle for all but 4 years of my life (when I was in Southern California for college). Never once have I owned a rain coat. Well, maybe I had one when I was little but I can’t remember.

In the fall, I found this coat on sale and bought it. I promise you, everywhere I wear it, I get compliments.

It seems most Seattle-ites/Pacific North-westerners do not own a rubber rain coat. But I’m here to say that if you live where it rains, you should get one. The one I bought is warm-ish, has a hood, a cute back detail and comes in four colors (black, navy, wine and olive). I bought mine at Nordstrom (here’s that link) but I also found them on Amazon and some color/size combos are way less expensive (shop here). It fits true to size (I have a size small and can fit a sweater under it comfortably).

We don’t get much snow except for in the mountains, so this coat has been my go-to so far this winter. I also love my new boots and faux fur pom beanie (similar).


Did you learn anything good this month? I’d love to hear in the comments!

24 Responses to five things I learned in January

  1. Jesse M Danson February 13, 2018 at 11:11 am #

    Loved this. :) And I don’t have a rain coat either (I’m an hour or two north of you). :)

  2. Theresa February 5, 2018 at 12:07 pm #

    Love roundups like these!

    This month I learned that I’m braver than I give myself credit for. That girls nights breathe life into me, but so does being alone. And I learned how to do Freezer cooking & sear meat – why was that so intimidating before?!

  3. valerie February 4, 2018 at 5:45 pm #

    Emily, Your shop prints would be great on Esty as instant downloads. Just a suggestion. Thanks for the inspiration.

  4. holly February 4, 2018 at 4:55 pm #

    I started a bible study recently. I knew for a long time I needed something like this but could never find something g that I thought could work and I think I found the one !? :) I realized I need more alone time the I thought. I need personal development books. still learning what I need but loving the journey.
    side note… the pic of you and your friends is super cute. looking at, the girl to your left – her boots. do you know brand?
    thank you!

    • emily February 5, 2018 at 1:08 pm #

      I’m pretty sure they are sorrel. I love them, too!

  5. Lindsey February 3, 2018 at 7:37 am #

    Your authenticity is what makes you one of the only bloggers I have consistently followed for years.

    I am learning to be content with who I am. Getting older, for me, means feeling more and more confident with some wisdom I wish I could pass to my teenage self!

    • emily February 5, 2018 at 1:06 pm #

      Thank you! So happy to have you :)

      I totally agree with you! Getting older does feel good.

  6. Donita February 2, 2018 at 10:28 pm #

    So glad you are friends with Emily…sometimes I start reading assuming one of you is the other Emily and then I have to do the mental switch and start reading again!
    In my mind, you are one of my virtual friends who have moved into the first-name category….you know, like Beth and Ann. (Moore and Voskamp!)

    When you look back at your month, how do you jog your memory about what you learned? I realize, for myself, that I have to have some sort of documentation otherwise I’m tempted to reflect with, “Nothing new here. Same thing different week.” But when I look back at old journals or blog posts or Bible study notebooks I am often surprised at what I observed or learned.

    P.S. I do have real life friends in Sunny Southern Arizona!

  7. Jennifer February 2, 2018 at 10:27 pm #

    1 I can do great work and still set boundaries with my clients (ie I can’t meet tomorrow, I’m hanging out with my kids).
    2. I can fix a flat tire.
    3. I like adult coloring books. So zen!
    4. Kombucha tastes good.
    5. Vulnerability and transparency, especially as I grow older, has deepened my friendships. I’ve made some new friends and strengthened old friendships this month by taking risks.

    • emily February 5, 2018 at 1:07 pm #

      These are great!

      I learned how to jump start a battery in January! Yay for learning how to fix a flat tire (that sounds intimidating). Yes, to kombucha. Yes, yes, yes to vulnerability. Thanks for sharing!

  8. Stacey February 2, 2018 at 5:00 pm #

    Love this list. sometimes I unfollow bloggers/digital influencers not because I don’t like them but because I realize sometimes watching what they post takes away from time with my real life friends. Your loss in followers could have just been people realizing the same thing about their own feed that you realized with your weekend away. Just a thought.

    • emily February 2, 2018 at 10:11 pm #

      For sure. That is a great point. And truly, I want people to be making the best decision for themselves and if unfollowing people on instagram is that, then I’m all for it.

  9. Jenn February 2, 2018 at 3:17 pm #

    1. Self-care is not selfish.
    2. God is good, even when my circumstances are not.
    3. Deciding to move into a smaller house so I can stay home with my children longer was the right decision.
    4. I had to go dairy-free and didn’t die :)
    5. My favorite place to read is in the bathtub.

    • emily February 2, 2018 at 10:12 pm #

      Love these! Sounds like you are making good choices for yourself :)

  10. Talia February 2, 2018 at 2:30 pm #

    1)I am stronger than I thought. Found out my husband had an affair and I am still standing.

    2) I don’t love to exercise, but I sure love the feeling afterward so I concentrate on that feeling and continue to exercise. every. single. morning. Great way to jump start my day.

    3) A good therapist is a god-send.

    4) No one can rob me of my joy. No one!

    5) Life is really good. (especially when I am holding my 1 year old granddaughter)

  11. TinaD February 2, 2018 at 2:02 pm #

    1. I’m not dying. A health scare a couple of years ago made me very tentative about exercise. I joined a gym last fall and fell ill immediately and stayed ill through Christmas with every germ going around—I thought I’d paid for a Petrie dish and would never be able to exercise properly. But in January I added both yoga and calisthenics to my treadmill habit, and I’m still standing.
    2. I don’t need to compete with anybody, not even me. I believe wholeheartedly in numbers, deadlines, goals, and this exercise thing has filled my world with metrics to push (weight, calories, reps, daily performance.) It makes me nuts—so I’ve quit tracking them. I got move when I feel good, and when I don’t, I stay home.
    3. I really like my kids. As people, not just as my progeny.

    Sad about the store closing—your striped dish towel sets were a mood improver.

  12. Thea February 2, 2018 at 1:42 pm #

    I started swimming early (like ugh 630am) and frankly, I didn’t think I could keep it up because I’m a night owl and I’m kinda lazy. But it’s actually helped me to be more self disciplined. I find if I skip the phone til I’m dressed and ready to go out for the day, I can stick to my schedule and increase my accomplishments. Btw I’m sorry that your shop is closing but I know it’s a lot of work. I picked up some items I’d been wanting but, trying to be practical, hadn’t ordered. So thanks for having neat stuff.

  13. Monica February 2, 2018 at 1:38 pm #

    1. Grief is hard but you need to face it and go through it (can’t avoid it or get around it).
    2. Family is everything
    3. Eating more whole foods is medicine for the body
    4. Went back to my barre classes, good for my body and soul.
    5. Work hard, play hard

  14. Brooke Castaneda February 2, 2018 at 1:33 pm #

    Way to be brave and put your heart out there. I have always enjoyed your ways to make simple things extraordinary, like handwriting! I have learned from you with your writing workshop and love almost everything you create! You have a lot of talent and I pray God continues to guide your heart to where He has planned for you!

    I have also learned this month to be intentional with my time and choices. Just because it’s what I’m suppose to do, doesn’t mean it is the right thing. Listening to that inner voice for guidance is hard, but I’m working on it. Learning that by saying yes to something means I’m saying no to something else has really opened my eyes to if I’m keeping my priorities in line.

    Hope February is a great month for you!

  15. Debbie February 2, 2018 at 12:21 pm #

    1. I love yoga
    2. I need yoga
    3. I like vacation
    4. I’m not ready to retire
    5. Sunshine lifts my spirits

    • emily February 2, 2018 at 1:01 pm #

      Love all of these!

  16. Becky B February 2, 2018 at 11:44 am #

    I learned a lot the last few weeks.

    I went on a Disney Cruise with my extended family and learned to be more patient with my children and my family. I also realized that I need more down time with my phone when I am not on vacation, 8 days of no social media was much needed.

    I also learned that I don’t need to have a Pinterest worthy birthday party to make my kids happy. My daughter turns 7 tomorrow and she could care less that I didn’t decorate the house with a certain theme and make treat bags for all her friends. She just wants to have fun and eat cupcakes!

    Thank you for the reminder to think about what I have learned this past month, I am going to make this a habit and hope laugh more and enjoy time with friends in February.

  17. TNelly February 2, 2018 at 10:16 am #

    FRIENDS ARE MORE VALUABLE THAN FOLLOWERS. Let me add, TRUE FRIENDS ARE MORE VALUABLE THAN FOLLOWERS! Yesterday, I ate lunch alone and wrote a long heart to heart to a cousin with whom I hadn’t sat and chatted with in a long time and let me tell you, being open and vulnerable (where you are safe) is ah-mazing!!!
    Here is a pin I found on pinterest that kinda says it all (for me anyway)- “Sometimes you need to talk about something, not to get sympathy or help, but just to kill its power by allowing the truth of things to hit the air.”
    https://www.pinterest.com/pin/AU1r8Ugt5jU9zcGOhKdTTnaocLlRTUDZpz_Gm9SnhRC-ze6IqKytSic/
    Have a great weekend!

  18. Kelly B. February 2, 2018 at 6:43 am #

    “…I can so easily get caught up in numbers and it messes with my heart.” This rang so true with me – I launched my own business in January and already the Instagram follower watch and comparison game have my head spinning a bit. I mentioned to a friend of mine that I don’t think I’ve ever spent this much time on my phone and just saying that aloud was a good reminder that I’m the one who controls how much or how little I let that piece dictate my outlook on everything else. Thank you for writing about this!

    I’m also loving Barre3 online workouts wherever I can find them, largely thanks to your recommendation post a few months ago! I learned in January that it feels so much better to push through a tough workout than to make excuses and feel like you’re never moving past square one.

    Here’s to a new month of finding strength and new connections and good podcasts. :)

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