This fall

I intend to be the kind of person who does what she says she’ll do. It mostly doesn’t work out that way, but the intention is there. I make to-do lists so at the very least there’s evidence that I’m alive and trying. Here’s what I’m trying at this fall:

  • Obligatory: go apple & pumpkin picking / carve said pumpkins / visit the cider mill
  • Continue spending time outside as much as possible before it gets frigid
  • Take a trip up north to see the trees change colors and get some quiet time away from home
  • Bake a pie
  • Host a spooky movie night
  • Purge the house of unwanted things so I’m not surrounded by ugly junk while I’m stuck inside all winter
  • Cook a big ass meal for my friends

What are you trying at this season?

September things

Hey, here’s what I got up to in September:

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I attended DIY Fair and bought some killer candles. Every year my neighborhood hosts a weekend-long event where local artists and crafters set up shop under big white tents that take over two entire parking lots plus main street. I go just about every year and struggle not to spend an entire month’s income on art, candles, jewelry, and food. This year, I maintained my self control and only purchased a giant roasted veggie sandwich covered in hash browns and three candles from this shop I love called Pagan Potions. I bought the Unfuck Yourself candle from them last year and loved it, so I got another one this year plus Money Money Money and Manifestation Muthafucka. They’re all so beautiful and smell amazing. I’ve been burning the Unfuck Yourself one every day the past couple weeks, and I’ve felt so much more motivated and at peace than usual.

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I cozied up at home and watched a whole bunch of tv. I started and finished the last season of Jessica Jones which I loved. I’m really bummed the series is over. I’m not generally that into super hero stuff, but the characters and story lines in Jessica Jones made it a great show that would’ve held up without any of the super stuff. My boyfriend and I started and finished the first season of Altered Carbon which was decent. The story was interesting, but it was a little hard to follow at some points. I wasn’t super invested in any of the characters, but the world building was pretty cool. My favorite thing I watched was definitely The Dark Crystal: The Age of Resistance. I started off by re-watching the original Dark Crystal movie, which was a huge staple in my childhood, before racing through the new show in the course of one weekend. I was a little nervous about how it would maintain continuity with the original movie, but I was pleasantly surprised that they treated the original with respect and brought in some interesting new pieces that actually fit well with the existing narrative.

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I cooked so many stir fries with the spicy sriracha peanut sauce from this list. I’m obsessed with this sauce—it’s mega easy to make, I always keep the ingredients stocked in my pantry, and it’s so good I honestly lick the spoon to get every last drop. I like to pair this sauce with brown rice or buckwheat noodles (these are my go-to) + whatever veggies I have on hand + tempeh or whatever Quorn fake meat product I currently have in my freezer. If I could only eat one thing for the rest of my life, this would be it.

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I had my regularly scheduled cleaning at the dentist. Keeping up with doctor appointments is a super important part of self care! I don’t particularly like the dentist, but it does feel really good to check it off my list and come home knowing that my mouth is healthy. It keeps those anxious what-if-I-have-a-million-cavities-and-need-ten-root-canals thoughts at bay. At every visit I schedule my next one for six months out since that makes it a WHOLE lot more likely that I’ll remember to go. My dentist even sends me text reminders a few days before my appointment which is super helpful. Consider this your call to GET YOU A DENTIST YOU ACTUALLY LIKE and MAKE THAT APPOINTMENT today.

What did you get up to in September? 

How I do goals

Everyone does goals differently. We approach them annually on January 1st or around back to school time. We fix them as permanent staples in our year or revisit and revise every few months. We have a long list of 20 aspirational to-dos or simply one big dream. I always like seeing the different ways people work on getting what they want out of life, so here’s how I do it.

I package my goals according to four major themes: work, life, learning and health (and yes, you better believe I color code them in all my list making).

Work goals encompass anything related to what I do to make money. Things like client projects, admin/billing, or working on aspirational projects I hope will someday contribute to my income.

My current work goals include:

  • Maintaining all my regularly scheduled work duties.
  • Holding myself to scheduled work blocks instead of just working when I feel like it (hello to the challenges of being your own boss and working from home!!!)
  • Exploring a few new avenues for making money and being more creative.

Life goals are things I do to maintain day to day functionality, including chores, errands, and home projects.

My current life goals include:

  • Cleaning unwanted stuff out of the house and donating or recycling it (this one is ALWAYS on my list—how do I have this much stuff??)
  • Sticking to a chore schedule so I’m not constantly frazzled by a messy house.
  • Giving a little DIY update to a few pieces of furniture I’m not totally in love with.

Learning goals include anything I’m interested in learning. That might be brushing up on skills I need for work or investigating something I might want to pursue.

My current learning goals include:

  • Doing one Creative Live course per month to keep my ideas fresh and my mind interested. Anyone else use this site? It has so much useful info for free—I love it!  
  • Reading a few chapters a week from this book to brush up some skills I need for work. 
  • Learning about managing my money and investing. This is one I’ve been putting off for a long time because it’s intimidating as hell

Health goals are my favorite because this is where I prioritize my mental and physical health. Anything that keeps me happy and healthy goes into this category, like planning trips, trying a new recipe, scheduling exercise, or making doctor appointments.

My current health goals include: 

  • Trying a new recipe once a month to keep things interesting in the kitchen. My favorite spots to find new recipes are Joy the Baker, The Kitchn, and Love & Lemons.
  • Doing fun outside fall activities like visiting the cider mill, apple picking, and going on hikes.
  • Keeping up with a weekly exercise routine that my boyfriend and I have recently embarked on together. 

How do you do goals? What are you working on right now?

How to get things done

I did a lot yesterday to prepare myself for today. I kept the house clean and made lists. I did laundry and gave my skin a face mask. I went to bed at a reasonable time and set an alarm to wake up similarly.

The lists are the most important and enjoyable preparation I do. In a yellow, college ruled spiral notebook, something leftover from when I had classes to take notes in, I wrote down every goal or to-do thing that has been living in my mental space. Everything that snagged at my anxiety as I looked around my house and my mental landscape.

I came up with 32 things. And then I organized them by category—life, work, health, learning. And then I organized them by time and energy they’d take. And then I organized them by deadline. I picked a chunk of 12 of those things that felt important and realistic to do this month, with a mixture from each category and level of time commitment, and I split them evenly and organized them neatly into three boxes—one for each week left this month. I took the tasks from the first box and split those tasks evenly across each day this week, placing them carefully on days when I could foresee my future self actually, probably, hopefully wanting to do them.

Now is the hard part. I need to follow those instructions. This is where I always fail. I think of other ways to spend my time, things that don’t check any boxes or move me forward or bring me any actual joy. I need to be more robotic and go through the list step by step. I don’t need to get distracted by the weather or my feelings or a miscellaneous thought.

It’s too early to claim any real victories, but I’ve already checked two things—the easy morning time things that I can do before I’ve brushed my teeth and had my second cup of coffee—off my first list: 1) worked on knitting a scarf that has been sitting incomplete around my house for the past three years and 2) wrote something (this).