28 March 2017
One of my four focal areas for 2017 is to “live fit.” I’m hoping to accomplish this in a number of ways, but one I was really excited about was to take a ballet class. I’m in the last week of my first eight-week session, and I thought it would be fun to report in! Whenever I’ve talked about taking ballet with friends or strangers, they’ve had a lot of questions, so let’s pretend we’re having a typical convo here :)
Photo by Simply Seleta – one of the people who inspired me to return to ballet!
Why did you want to take a ballet class? I grew up a devoted bun head from about age 3 to age 18, taking classes 5 days a week at a traditional and rigorous school. I have a deep love for the rhythms and art of ballet, and mainly thought taking a class would be fun — and hopefully provide some exercise along the way.
Is it weird to take ballet again after such a long break? It feels like snuggling into a very familiar, comfy sweater :) The technique hasn’t changed, and I still know all the French terms. The music still makes me hum along, and I’m still not very good at développés. I am definitely not as flexible as I once was.
There was this very beautiful moment the first time I left the studio after class, stepping out into the cool night air, sweatpants over my sweaty tights and leotard. I had this rush of familiarity, like I’ve done this exact same thing thousands of times, but instead of scanning the parking lot for my mom’s minivan I hopped into my own car and drove home to my husband and daughter. How neat that something can stay a constant through such different seasons of my life! I’m grateful I’m able to enjoy it for what it is in this season and not wish for something that was.
How did you find the class? Like I said, I grew up with a technique-focused classical dance education, and that was what I was looking for (unlike a ballet hybrid like Pure Barre, which I’ve also taken and enjoyed!). If you’re looking for the same, keep an eye out for a studio that talks about a classical education and requires a dress code (usually certain color leotards for certain levels) and steer away from anything with a competition team. From there, I took a free trial class, and then signed up for an eight-week session!
What is the class like? Because it is a “fundamentals” class, it is very barre heavy – about an hour of the class is spent at the barre, unlike a typical class, which would probably be closer to 45 minutes. The teacher demonstrates each combination before we begin, and gives individual correction throughout. We sometimes start with sit-ups, push-ups, and planks. After barre work, we do center work, including adagio, turns, and small jumps, and then usually end with a few across-the-floor combinations (big jumps, turns, etc.). It’s an hour and a half long.
Who else is in the class? It’s been a bit different every week, but there are usually about 8-10 of us. If I had to guess, I would say that 3-4 of the other girls are in middle school, 3-4 are in high school, and 1-2 are adults. The skill level varies from a few girls who probably started dancing 1-2 years ago to the high school girls who are in the school’s company and are taking this class for extra conditioning. It’s a good mix!
Someone asked me if it’s weird or awkward to be in a class with middle and high schoolers, and in my opinion, no! I embrace it! I think it’s fun to be around them and get to talk about spirit week and things like that, haha! I was very proud when one of them complimented me on my sneakers – glad to know I can still hang with the youth :)
What do you wear? Ahh, the most popular question! I wear a leotard and pink or black tights, black shorts, and split sole ballet slippers. I wear my hair in a bun. Thankfully, I saved all of my gear from high school! The dress code is fairly relaxed, though, and some people wear workout leggings and athletic tops.
What did you love to do growing up, and do you still do it? Or any other questions I can answer? :)
16 March 2017
Astute readers will remember that not only did the end of February mark my thirtieth birthday, but the end of my 60 Before 30 project! This was one in a long line of goal sets with a longer time horizon, as I generally prefer them to yearly goals. Though I’ve done a few 101 in 1001s before, this was my first time trying a 60 before 30.
In short, I LOVED it! I think I’ve improved over time at this long-term goal setting thing, because in the past, I’ve been a little over my lists by the time I entered the third or so year of them – but not this time. Though I didn’t complete all 60, I still feel as passionately about each of these as goals as I did three years ago. Partially, that’s because I allowed myself the freedom to replace any goals along the way that were no longer relevant or important to me. I only ended up changing about three, but the freedom to do so was liberating.
To quote myself (ha), “I hope writing these things down and working toward them will help me become the person I want to be — strong in mind, body, and spirit; capable and adventurous; encouraging and kind; grateful and generous — when I reach a new decade.”
So… did it work? I’d say yes! I will never be these things fully in this life, but I do think I am more these things than I was three years ago, and I think this project helped. Plus, I had a lot of fun along the way!
Let’s take a look at how I did! We’ll start with the goals I did not complete (womp womp):
— Host a themed party
— Go on a missions trip
— Make a watercolor, oil, or acrylic painting
— Learn to French braid
— Become a morning person with a consistent morning routine
— Make a square newel post for our stairs
— Convince Nancy to give me a hair tutorial
— Grow a cutting garden with dahlias, roses, and peonies
— Go antiquing at Brimfield, Round Top, Scott’s, Alameda, Brooklyn Flea, or another famous market
— Run a Chick-fil-a 5k
— Create a drop zone near our garage door
— Follow a year-long Bible reading plan with John
— Make a quilt
Just 20%! Not too bad! Alrighty, now for the four goals that were in progress when I crossed the finish line:
— Post a guide to the Triangle on EFM (Easily my most long-suffering goal :))
— Make our porch a comfy place to gather (We made progress, but are still locked in a head-to-head debate over whether a porch swing would “damage the integrity” of our porch ceiling. You can guess which side I’m on.)
— Renovate our backyard so it’s more private and a great place to gather (This is happening!!! More soon.)
— Develop a consistent and fulfilling prayer life (Ongoing, but research has been done and rhythms have been established.)
I won’t list all 43 goals I checked off (you can see them all here!), but I did want to give you a few of the highlights!
The goals I’m most proud of completing: Nos. 12, 13, and 14, paying off our two car loans and fully funding a savings account for our next car purchase
The goal that took the most planning to complete: No. 45, going to Europe (see my posts here: Paris, Provence, Cassis, and the Cote d’Azur)
The goal that’s made the biggest difference in my health: No. 11, making an appointment with an allergist
The goals that stretched me to be more generous than I would have been otherwise: No. 3, supporting a friend in something he or she is doing and no. 27, extravagantly and unexpectedly giving to someone else
The first goal I completed: No. 21, hanging a giant wedding canvas in our living room
The goal that took the longest to complete: No. 43, making a will
The final goal I completed: No. 59. buying a new Bible for the long haul (I eventually decided on the ESV Study Bible)
The most expensive goal I completed: No. 35, paying off at least 35% of our outstanding mortgage
The goal on which I most overachieved: No. 56, making at least one friend in our neighborhood
The goal I’d most like to experience again: No. 29, exploring the California coast (posts here, here, here, here, here, and here)
The goal I least thought I’d do but I DID: No. 4, expanding my very minimal eye makeup techniques (thanks to my personal consult with Sam)
The goals I most loved writing about on EFM: Nos. 18, 19, and 20, sharing about our second, third, and fourth wedding anniversaries
The most-anticipated and sweetest goal: No. 41, expanding our family (the one and only June)
Other favorites: nos. 8, 22, 24, 34, 46, 49, 51, and 54! Really, all of them :)
Anyone else wondering what’s next? Me, too! I already have a pent-up collection of ideas for another list, and just need to figure out the format that makes the most sense. I’m not in a huge hurry, but also already feel the void of not having an ongoing project! Any ideas you want to throw my way? So far, the best I’ve got is something that fills the time until we pay off our mortgage!
2 March 2017
Hi friends!! Apologies for the radio silence – I’ve been locked out of my blog for some unknown reason since last week, which foiled a lot of my end-of-the-month plans! But I’m back, I’m 30, and I’m ready to set some goals for March! :)
What I read in February:
— How to Celebrate Everything (SO GOOD!!! Those of you who follow me on Instagram may have seen my Stories singing this book’s praises, but it’s so good I might end up writing a blog post about it, too. If you love traditions and crave a rich family life, BUY IT!)
— The Nightingale (two thumbs up)
— Too Busy Not to Pray (in progress and loving it so far)
— Books I’m reading throughout the year: The Power of a Praying Wife and The Lifegiving Home
Revisiting my goals for February:
Peruse the aisles of a bookstore for a new Bible (bought the ESV Study Bible)
Fill out the first month in my prayer journal
Host a favorite things party for neighborhood friends
Start my weekly ballet class!
Submit everything for HOA approval for our backyard project
Post one city for my Triangle guide
Hit 10k steps 4 out of 7 days a week (I only hit 10k steps six times (argh!), but I increased my average steps per day by 500, so I’m happy about that!)
Get our wills notorized
Go to the Museum of Life & Science with June
— Offer an impromptu prayer at dinner instead of our standard blessing (something we are trying for Lent)
— Get back into my habit of reading the Bible before bed and prayer journaling (aiming for every day this month)
— Fill out the first month in my prayer journal
— Do a complete organization sweep and purge of our loft
— Complete as much of June’s baby book as I can
— Confirm the location and month of John’s anniversary trip
— Confirm our next camping destination
— Watch the premiere of HGTV’s Home Town (March 21st! I kind of know Erin!)
As a reminder, here are my 2017 guideposts. If you’ve posted your goals somewhere, I’d love to see – or just drop them in the comments!
20 February 2017
How are you all feeling about your 2017 goals, if you made some? (My company actually declared last week “Cultivate What Matters Week” because February 15th is statistically the day that the majority of people give up on their yearly goals!) I am feeling pretty good overall. I’m particularly excited about one practice I’ve implemented to help with my second and third focal areas: loving my loved ones well and cultivating a rich life for my family.
If you’re curious about my planner, you can read more about it here!
It’s my monthly prep days! When I thought about what had stopped me in the past from doing kind and fun things for the people I love, it wasn’t a lack of money or time, it was a lack of preparation. This came up over and over again as I filled out my PowerSheets, and eventually led to my word of the year (preparation!).
Starting in January, I’ve designated one day a month my monthly prep day. They’re usually on the last Sunday of the month, and I’ve already put them on my calendar for the rest of the year. I’ve noticed a huge difference in just the two months I’ve tried them so far, and wanted to share! Here’s what I do:
— After June goes to bed, I sit down with a few supplies: my laptop, my planner, my perpetual birthday calendar, and my phone.
— First, I note any birthdays coming up in the next month. If I’m going to send a card, I write the card, address it, and put a stamp on it. If I’m going to get a gift, I decide what it’s going to be and order it (or make a plan to buy it). I also set individual reminders on my phone to call or send a text to each person on his or her birthday.
— Then, I look through my planner and note any upcoming holidays or events. Where appropriate, I decide how we’re going to celebrate, and then make a plan. For example, in February, we had the Super Bowl, the Walking Dead premiere (ha!), Valentine’s Day, the Oscars, my Favorite Things party, and my birthday. Right then and there, I decided what special game day food we were going to make for the Super Bowl, I made a note to buy a Valentine’s Day card for John, I decided what we were going to do for June’s teachers for Valentine’s Day, I made the invite for the Favorite Things party, and more. Not everything gets done that evening, but I try to at least make a plan for anything I can’t do right then.
— I run down some of our normal monthly happenings and consider whether we want to schedule anything for the month: dinner with friends? A date night? A trip to the Museum of Life & Science? Some other sort of adventure? If necessary, I reach out to friends, make a restaurant reservation, etc.
— If a babysitter is required for any event, I text our babysitter and try to get on her calendar.
— Finally, I try to think if there’s anyone that’s been on my heart — someone who’s been celebrating or hurting, or who I just haven’t connected with in a while. If applicable, I take some sort of action there!
All told, my monthly prep usually takes about two hours. I do NOT do it perfectly, it needs to be said. Even with all this forethought, I forget things, I leave things to the last minute, I say the wrong thing or don’t say anything at all when something should be said. But I’m trying! And instituting these prep days has helped me immensely.
The downside? Decision fatigue can set in big time, and John is not always on board to be peppered with questions about what we should do for this or that (which is fair enough, since I’m working on my timeline, not his!).
One final tip: If you see someone celebrating in a way you love and you want to try it yourself, write it down! I have a simple doc on my computer, split into months, where I write down cute or clever ideas I see. Just got a lot for Valentine’s Day 2018 from all the sweet things you guys posted last week :)
I’d love to hear: do you have any systems for thoughtfulness? Or are you just a naturally, spontaneously fun and celebratory person? :)