Monday, February 20, 2017

Giving Yourself Permission to Try...and Fail if You Must

Recently I've been trying to step out of my comfort zone creatively. And boy is it uncomfortable. I've been trying new sewing projects, on which I have no freaking clue what I'm doing. And as I mentioned last week, I'm doing some behind the scenes work and will soon be launching a new blog.

Both of these things seemed like a good idea in my head. They even seemed like great ideas when I'm daydreaming about my hobbies from the lunch room at work. But then late at night, after the kid is in bed and all the procrastinating has been done, I'm faced with the harsh reality of actually putting pen to paper and needle to thread. ;) And. it's. scary.

Let's look at the facts though. Is it really as scary as I make it out to be?

What's the worst thing that could happen if I eff'd up my sewing project? I waste about $10 in materials and have to start over. Annoying, yes. But not life altering.

What's the worst thing that could happen if I eff up my new blog and it's a total lead ballon? No one reads it and those who do read it hate it and think it's stupid. So then I scrap it like I did the old one and start over. Disheartening. But not the literal end of the world.

And in both instances, even if my projects bomb, I surely will have learned something in the process!

AND neither of those realities is all that horrible when you really think about it. It's just my perfectionist self worrying about not being perfect and then being nothing while I wait around worried about not being perfect. Make sense? If you're experiencing any of the same feelings, here are the steps I'm taking to overcome my fears of failure and to get my butt in gear!

1. Give myself time to plan, but with a deadline. For both my blog and sewing projects, I have given myself the freedom to have a little planning time but I have also set deadlines for myself. I will launch my new blog by May 1. I will start a new sewing project within 1 week of buying the materials.

2. Plan for the worst. Like I said above, I think of the worst case scenarios, realize they're not too bad, and press on. When we're talking creative endeavors, the worst case scenarios are generally not life and death. It's usually fear of people not perceiving our work well or thinking our ideas are stupid. Those are things I can live with and work past.

3. Just freaking do it. I know. This is the hardest part. But at some point if you just power through the uncomfortable parts, it will get better! Case in point, when I started writing again, every post was agony. I was quite sure I was writing the worst blog posts on the planet but I just knew that I needed to keep going to because it would get better and I need the practice. And you know what, I already feel better about what I'm writing!

Is there anything you're wanting to do or try but are holding yourself back because you're afraid of what might happen if you go out on that limb? Try thinking about my steps above and see if you're still scared to do it!

Sunday, February 19, 2017

DIY Sugar Glider Sack

Happy Sunday! It's time for a little DIY fun. ;)

If you follow me on Instagram, you may know that I made some little hanging bags recently for some adorable little animals called Sugar Gliders that were at my friend's animal rescue. How did an exotic pet end up at what is a primarily dog and cat rescue you may ask?...Well, someone dumped 29 of them in a cage on the side of the road a few years ago and left a note for the people who run the shelter in hopes that they would take care of them. When I learned about them, they only had five left but they needed few extra fun things in their cages to play with/snuggle in. So, when my friend heard about something else I was sewing, she asked if I would take on the project. And I did, because who doesn't want to help some super cute little animals? Oh, and I kind of had no idea until consulting the Google what these little things looked like. If you don't either, click here to find out! They're so cute!

I was looking for an easy project to ease my back into sewing (again) and this turned out to be just the ticket. I did the first batch of two with some scrap fabric that I had bought about 2 years ago and never really had a plan for. Or maybe I did but I forgot between then and now.

My friend told me that they were currently using Crown Royal bags for these little animals so I just modeled mine after one and went to town. I ended up making 10 all together for about $15 in materials. The reason my friend even asked me to make them in the first place is they tried buying some online and they were selling for $15+ a piece! So this was definitely much more cost effective for the shelter.

As fate would have it, two of the little guys who had been there for years actually got adopted while I was finishing their bags. However, the shelter has other little animals (like rats, who are surprisingly adorable) who would be super happy to play and snuggle in the bags so they'll still go to good use!

Have you made anything fun lately? Please share!

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

On Making Decisions

I read something interesting recently about decision making. If you've been around for a while you've probably read one of my several rants and/or brain dumps as they relate to this blog itself. The focus, the purpose, whether or not it should have a purpose. I've gone 'round and 'round and 'round on the topic, to only still, 2 years later, be undecided on the blog's "purpose" and whether or not it should even have one. But as I was saying at the beginning, I read something recently about decision making when it comes to blogging ideas and concepts and it was something that made me stop and think. This writer was reinforcing the idea not to rush yourself with a creative decision. Yes, a decision needs to be made eventually, but it might be in your creative best interest to let your thoughts align on the matter before jumping into something.

This is something I did not really do before creating my now defunct My Everyday Life blog. I wanted something new and fresh and a project that had a more "professional" feel than my little personal blog here. But I didn't spend any considerable time planning or working out any details before jumping into it and I just expected it to come of age on it's own. And to probably no one's surprise but my own, it did not. It grew stale and I realized that I was trying to make it something I thought people thought it should be, not an expression of my own thoughts and creativity.

You may wonder why I'm writing about this topic yet again. Well the desire to create a better creative space for myself has never been truly satisfied. I came back to my original blog because I needed some sort of creative outlet and here it was just waiting for me. However, other than just getting some words on a page, it doesn't do much for me. My previous community of military spouses and part-time writers and general kind-of-like-me people have moved on to other things, sometimes coming back every once in a while to update but even that is a rare occurrence. Mostly I feel like my writing is pretty isolated, other than to my dad, who still reads consistently because the posts show up in his inbox. ;)

So again, why am I even talking about this? Because I still want to create a new space. I still want to make something that's more than my random ramblings about things that don't matter. I've been doing some thinking lately and it seems I want to cover about 23094 topics, which would leave me with far too many irons in the fire. And then, I keep seeing these tutorials and templates out there of how to organize your thoughts and plans, and I really want to use them but then that little friend called "self-doubt" rears her ugly head and says "well what do you even need that for?"

Then I had an idea.

Because I don't want to stop writing all together while I hammer out ideas and a plan for this new project, I'll just keep writing and chronicling that journey here. It will be a little bit of a Inception situation to write on a blog about planning for a new blog but hey, that's where I am, so that's what I'll write about.

And to come full circle, what this has to do with decision making is that I'm actually allowing myself time this time around. I will give myself deadlines, but I'm going to really take my time and thoughtfully plan out my project, rather than jumping in headfirst without teasing the water.

Wish me luck!

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Small Savings Tricks that Can Make a Big Impact

Let's talk savings today! I have quite a few savings goals on the horizon so I've been thinking long and hard about what I can do to maximize the amount money I put away each month.

A lot of people get overwhelmed when it comes to meeting savings goals or just beginning to save money altogether. Especially when most sources will say that you must have 3-6 months of living expenses saved at all times or you are basically committing yourself to living in a cardboard box down by the river if you ever lose your job.

And if you already have something like that in place, you may have other things you want to save for like a vacation or big purchase. Personally, I'm saving for a new computer, spending money for my BFF reunion in Alabama, and RAGBRAI.

While it is important to save up money to float you in the case of an emergency or for other goals, it doesn't have to be scary to start that process! In fact, it can be kind of fun to challenge yourself to meet the goals. Here are a few quick tips to go ahead and jump on that savings train.

1. Automate a Small Savings Contribution

Many times people feel that if they're not putting gobs of money towards a savings account each month that it's not even worth it. This is not true! Obviously the more you contribute the faster you'll reach your goal but if you need to, start small! Is there an amount that you wouldn't really miss from your weekly or monthly budget? Maybe you think you wouldn't really notice $5 per week, set up an automatic transfer and away you go! At the end of the month you'll have $20 more than you did before.

2. Put Any Extra $$$ Towards Savings at the End of the Month or Your Pay Cycle

The way that I do my budget, I have a set amount to spend each paycheck and any amount that I am under budget the night before I get paid goes right into savings. Literally sometimes this is $2-$3 but it always goes in. And being in the habit makes it easier to do when I'm $50 or more under budget, rather than subconsciously trying to find a way to spend it.

3. Review Your Savings Plan Regularly

When I started my weekly transfer, I had $5 every week going to savings. But as time progressed, I would look at my account week after week and realize I could increase that contribution. Now I have $15 going into my savings account each week. I started that weekly transfer about a year ago because I felt like I was spending at least some of my money on dumb stuff that could easily be eliminated if the money just wasn't there. Now instead of an extra $20/month I have an extra $60/month.

Personally, I use the weekly contribution and the end of pay cycle contribution to bolster my personal savings that helps me pay for things like traveling to see my two best friends, clothing, personal entertainment, etc. For our joint savings (aka Emergency Fund) we have a slightly different approach but also include the end of pay cycle method as well (more on that another time).

What tactics do you use to save money? 

Sunday, February 5, 2017

All of the Thoughts

I had plans to do a weekend (or end of week wrap up) and then plans to talk about some current events and then plans to talk about money and then I realized that my brain is just going a million miles a minute and none of those topics are going to work out. So you, lucky readers, get a brain dump because all these things flying around in my head need to go somewhere and here seems just as good a place as any. Buckle up.

1. I'm having some computer issues and may need to replace my laptop soon. Honestly, I'm not terribly sad about this except that it's going to be a big expense and I'm always hesitant about big expenses. But my current laptop is a pain in the ass and hinders my ability to do things like work on the blog and I'm not saying that the reason for my absences but it certainly doesn't help. I'm using my husband's laptop right now and having a computer that works the way it's supposed to is oh so nice. I've already got some money saved up so I'll just keep on saving until I decide for sure which one I want.

2. I'm going to try and start sewing again. I really enjoy sewing but I'm not terribly good at it when I never practice. So I bought a pattern for a simple dress and some practice material on Saturday night so here goes nothing. I'd also like to make a little cosmetic bag for when I only get halfway through getting ready in the morning and have to bring a few cosmetics to work with me. (It happens more than it should.) But currently, all my bags are too big or too small and none of them are big enough to hold both cosmetics and a brush or two (if I need, say, my blush brush) without using my biggest bag, which is a pain in the ass because it's so big.

3. I'm exhausted, have I mentioned that? The last 3 weeks have been absolutely draining and I really need some time to just rest and reset before Monday. I'm going to try really hard to balance Sunday between chores, errands and just relaxing. I'm not going to be very much good to anyone if I don't hit that reset button today.

4. I'm about halfway through Chamber of Secrets on my Harry Potter re-read and though I can usually only read a page or so at night before passing out with my Kindle on my face, I am loving it. My BFF and I are re-reading together but she's had to slow down because I can't find the energy to read more than 3 pages per day right now.

5. Speaking of reading and sewing and blogging. I'm starting to find time for my hobbies again which is really nice. Thankfully my little guy goes to bed by 7:30 or 8 every night and after that is hobby time. My husband sometimes works in the wood shop while I do other things and sometimes we work on stuff together (usually separate projects in the same general vicinity) but I'm really excited to be using this time to do things other than fall asleep on the couch. ;)

6. Speaking of blogging, I've been thinking again about starting another blog. It's not that I don't like this one, but it doesn't really have a clear voice or purpose. And I've written a few times about how it both is and isn't necessary but I'm wanting a bit more out of my blog. I don't have a super clear idea about what I want it to be yet but it's something I'm thinking about so stay tuned! :)

Well that's about it. I know it was a lot of barely coherent rambling, but hopefully now that's it's all out, I can be coherent again. :)