Life By Kristen

Go, and embrace your liberty. And see what wonderful things come of it. – Little Women

Archive for the tag “goals”

A Year in Review: 2014

2014 was a year of dealing with grief, of learning to live life without Dad and learning to live with a little boy in my life; a year of work changes and opportunities, and overall, a year that flew by, seemed frantic, but also took me to a new place in realizing what matters in life.

Here is how I did on my 2014 goals:

1. Pay off credit card, student loan dent, etc.: No dent in the student loan, though made significant progress in credit cards.

2. Build my relationship/sense of family with my man and his son: It goes without saying that beyond dealing with the death of my Dad, this was my number one priority for 2014. It is what I am most proud of for the year; I never thought I’d be in a ‘step mom’ role, but it has brought me more joy than I could ever imagine.

3. Cultivate my green thumb:We had a somewhat successful garden outside, a very successful sunroom potted tomato plant, and I planted flowers throughout the various warm seasons. I am happy to report that I have kept my sole houseplant alive- a peace lily that was sent to the family when my Dad died.

4. Plans with friends more frequently: I’d say about a 60% success rate. Various life things got in the way and I didn’t have friends over for dinners/game nights like I wanted, but still managed to make plans with friends both near and far. It’s clear as life and adulthood happens, this is one of the things I have to work hard to maintain.

5. Challenge myself in the kitchen with recipes, new foods, etc.: I made a lot of new things this year, including more than a few loser dishes, but overall, I think I did alright. I did not bake bread or make risotto this year, but I think the overall kitchen confidence/cooking thing really is more of an ongoing life goal.

6. More yoga, painting, writing, and reading: Yes, yes, yes, yes. I read 51 books. I started an awesome yoga practice that has changed my outlook on being healthy. I amped up my freelance writing which also helped me get my creativity going for my own personal writing. While I haven’t painted anywhere as much as I thought I would, it has become an awesome activity for Little Man and I to do together and something we both enjoy.

7. More day trips and exploring local spots: Q&I were really good about this in the late winter and spring as cabin fever snuck in, but the summer brought yard work and house cleanouts that limited our weekend exploring. We bought a small  blowup pool for the backyard to enjoy with Little Man– after that, he didn’t really want to go anywhere else! We are starting to compile a fun list for places to visit together and as a family.

8. Hiking: We did a fair amount in the spring and fall, even taking Little Man with us a few times. It was nice to discover some close spots that we could visit after running errands on weekends to get some time outside.

9. House ( office, garage, basement): The office project sort of went away by March when that room was made into Little Man’s space with a bed and lots of toys. The desk still remains in there, but I haven’t sat at it in months, which hasn’t been too much of an issue as I’ve been doing a lot of my writing on the laptop at the dining room table. It’s not ideal, but for situation at the moment in a small house, it works. The basement is a bit of a mess still with various bits of furniture being stored there that came out of my grandmother’s house. There were some really great pieces I wanted to save, but until we get a bigger place or reorganize upstairs, they’ll stay there. Things are far better contained now, with a nice workout area setup for Q and me. The garage– nothing happened there at all.

10. Take a vacation-  My Mom and I went to Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. It was awesome.

2014- Year of Peace

My word for 2014: Peace.

Peace with the death of Dad. Peace with my life as it is now, not how I think it should be at this point in life. Peace with the disorganization of house, the inability to have a clean car, and the fact that I’ll never read all the books, movies, etc. Peace with knowing that I’m living the best life I can at this moment, making the choices that seem like a good decision for me, my man, my family, work, and friends.

21 days in and I’m doing alright I think. With my day off yesterday, I didn’t obsess about the to do list or freak out about not getting around to cleaning the kitchen floor again. I just enjoyed the day off with my man and let things happen as they did. It was a good feeling at the end of the day knowing I did what I wanted and didn’t feel compelled or attached to some list or idea of things that “had to get done.”

I’ve a lot of other goals for 2014, the biggest part of it is just adjusting to this new normal and way of life AD ( After Dad). I had a bit of a freak out about that on Friday night when I realized how much things have changed ( and how quickly things can change), but keeping “peace” in mind, I’m really trying to stop worrying about everyone and everything that’s out of my control, and focus on what’s in front of me.

That being said here are my goals for the year ahead:

( in random order)

1. Pay off credit card and make a dent in student loan payback, all the while increase my savings and start making bigger contribution to retirement.

2. Build my relationship/sense of family with my man and his son

3. Cultivate my green thumb, hoping that the lessons and guidance my Dad gave me will help me do it on my own this year!

4. Plans with friends more frequently

5. Challenge myself in the kitchen with recipes, new foods, etc.

6. More yoga, painting, writing, and reading especially reading the books on my physical bookshelf before the books on the hypothetical read list!

7. More day trips and exploring local spots

8. Hiking in the spring/summer/fall

9. Do something about garage ( leaky roof, mildewed old paneling interior, etc.)

10. Take a vacation. It’s only 21 days into the year, but I need one already.



Reflecting on 2013

With all that’s going on right now, I’m just trying to adjust to the ‘new normal’ of my life. Even though 2013 ended tragically, it was actually a good year up to that point. I found love, went on a trip of a lifetime, had successes at work, and made improvements at home and in life that have brought me happiness.

I made a lot of goals at the beginning of 2013, with some success and some failures, but overall, it was a good year. Here’s a recap:


– Switch over all retirement stuff to one firm- This was so ridiculously easy, it was almost shameful that I didn’t do it sooner.

– Knock out 5% of debt- HAHA. Funny. I clearly have math problems because 5% of my debt is A LOT OF MONEY. I was successful in barely using credit for anything other than my trip to Holland and a few gas and grocery purchases.

-One Month No Buy Challenge- Did 2! One in May following my Holland trip, another in September.

– Continue to grow my emergency fund- Didn’t grow as much as I’d wanted, but was able to put aside a bit from each paycheck.


-Do more walking and start weight training at home with kettlebell- I’d say I was about 75% successful with this. My man and I love going for walks so from April through October or so, we walked almost every day, on the beach, through my neighborhood, and at local parks. Now that the cold months have set in, we’ve now set up a mini gym area in the basement and are using it together about once a week, but both of us want to improve our health for 2014 so this will continue on this year ( and frankly, is a lifestyle change not a goal).

-Eat breakfast everyday- Somewhat successful. I am in the habit now of making sure I have a piece of fruit or something before I leave the house and try to eat some yogurt when I get to the office, but this is something I’m trying to be better about. For a few months, my guy was making delicious omelettes when he had time in the morning, but schedules are constantly changing so this hasn’t happened as much in the past few months. Again lifestyle change, not just a goal.


– Set up a working office/reading/painting room- Done in the sense that all these things exist in the same space and I set it up, but it’s still become the room in the house where a lot of things land, so it’s not a super effective space at the moment. I still have yet to hang things on the wall in there too.

– Get new blinds for the entire house & new privacy sheers for front door & sunroom- 25% achieved since I only did the front door.

– Paint front door inside&out, scrape/paint interior of sunroom- 75% achieved. Front and side door, bulkhead outside were done and 3 interior windows in sunroom were completed.

-Clean up and prettify backyard including new back fence- DONE! With my 2012 tax return, I had a nice back fence installed and then had some landscapers come and take away a lot of the gross nastiness in my backyard, took out a few bushes, and planted a bigger garden. This spring I’m planning on doing some major trimming and weeding, hopefully grow some more grass, and plant more flowers.

– Larger summer/fall vegetable garden- See above! Had the most success with tomatoes, least success with green peppers.

– Research remodeling attic- Done and the decision is to not do it. For the amount of work and pricing, it would be comparable to just moving to a slightly bigger place.


– Be more social: Yes! I went out more with friends, started dating again and found the love of my life in the spring.

– Have friends& family over for dinner at least once a month: I was good about this a few times, but didn’t have friends over enough.

-Read 50 books: Completed.

-Get with it with the blog- I posted more and took a few breaks, but posted every day in October which was fun.

-Disciplined with freelance writing: No progress here.

– Scan and organize career portfolio of media articles, exhibit reviews, work achievements, etc.- They all sit in one pile in the unorganized office awaiting their scanning fate.

-Get out of house more to do the things I love: Success though by the summer time, I just wanted to be in my ( or my parent’s) backyard.


Overall, it was a good, successful year! Stay tuned for 2014 goals!

2013 Halfway Report

2013 has rocked for a bunch of big and small reasons and even though it’s flying by, I’m loving every day.

Back in January, I set a lot of goals and some of them weren’t quite rooted in actual thinking, i.e., whether or not I could even accomplish them. I’ve sort of forgotten a bit about some of the things on the list and adjusted others as my life has changed a bit, but overall, goals list or not, I’m feeling pretty great about where I am for the year and where the next 6 months will take me. That being said: a progress report is below.


– Switch over all retirement stuff to one firm: DONE– and seriously, it took like 15 minutes.

– Knock out 5% of debt: No progress here. This is funny for a zillion reasons, but mostly my horrible math skills are showing here because 5% of student loan debt is actually a lot of money ha. 

-One Month No Buy Challenge:  Still not completed, mostly because in February when I hoped to do this, I was trying to buy various things for my Holland trip while I saw them on sale, so I’m hoping the no buy challenge will happen this month since 3 days in and the only purchase I’ve made is food.

– Continue to grow my emergency fund: In process. Some weeks it’s $50, others nothing, but I’m trying.


-Do more walking and start weight training at home with kettlebell: In process. Based on my last post, I’ve been struggling with getting my act in gear in the last few weeks, but if I compare this year’s physical activity with last, I’m ahead of myself already.

-Eat breakfast everyday: Somewhat successful. This week I’ve had a hard boiled egg and banana every day. Last week I pretended coffee and a banana was breakfast. I’m getting better at thinking ahead for breakfast options that don’t involve a muffin or baked good at least.


– Set up a working office/reading/painting room: In process. All three elements of the room are in and I’ve used the space for the three purposes I wanted, but the spacing and set up isn’t working quite well yet so this might get completed in the fall when I’m back to spending more time in the house.

– Get new blinds for the entire house & new privacy sheers for front door & sunroom:  No progress. And honestly this is more of to-do list item, but clearly it’s not even close to being a priority in my head.  

– Paint front door inside&out, scrape/paint interior of sunroom: See above. 

-Clean up and prettify backyard including new back fence: DONE. I did my part for the economy and used my tax return to put up a new back fence; with the help of some landscapers, my dad, and my guy, I’ve done a lot of cleanup in the backyard and with some more hedge trimming, it really is a space I love to be in.

– Larger summer/fall vegetable garden:  In process. I wouldn’t call it “large,” but it’s a few feet wide by a few feet long. I’m currently growing zucchini ( ate the first one last night!), a few kinds of tomatoes, cucumbers, green beans, basil, and broccoli ( which is not going well and probably coming out this weekend).

– Research remodeling attic: DONE, as in making Pinterest boards and daydreaming about this, but I’ve sort of tabled even thinking about it since thinking about moving has entered my brain again.


– Be more social:  Success. I spent a good portion of the earlier part of the year doing online dating and seeing friends whenever I could; now that I’m seeing someone, we continue to be social together and I’m seeing friends as I want too!

– Have friends& family over for dinner at least once a month:  Little to no progress. I had 2 friends over in January and my family over for Father’s Day, but I’ve really failed in making dinner for friends and family. Goal is to turn this one around ASAP!

-Read 50 books:  In progress. I’m behind a bit but I’ve read 20 out of 50.

-Get with it with the blog: Not doing so hot. I am not going to go with self hosting for the time being because I currently don’t devote myself to this space enough or know what direction I want the blog to go in.

-Disciplined with freelance writing: No progress.

– Scan and organize career portfolio of media articles, exhibit reviews, work achievements, etc.:  No progress. I actually totally forgot about this goal.

-Get out of house more to do the things I love: In progress. I have to remind myself to do this, honestly.


Intentions & A Declaration

The Declaration of You will be published by North Light Craft Books this summer, with readers getting all the permission they’ve craved to step passionately into their lives, discover how they and their gifts are unique and uncover what they are meant to do! This post is part of The Declaration of You’s BlogLovin’ Tour, which I’m thrilled to participate in alongside over 100 other creative bloggers. Learn more over here!


The whole idea of setting intentions and going after them isn’t a new concept to me- in fact, I’ve been doing for most of my life– dreaming, planning, scheming, etc.–  it has always been a big part of me– thinking about what was next, what I wanted ( or didn’t want), and how to go about it.

I’ve made goals to accomplish at the start of each calendar year, lists of intentions for new seasons, and tried to be mindful of each of these things as each new month started.

But now I find myself at a bit of a crossroads. I haven’t accomplished a whole lot on my goals for the year, but that’s also because I’ve been readjusting and course correcting as life happens. I’ve recently found myself over thinking, over analyzing, and maybe doing a bit too much self-discovery ( or maybe not enough of the right kind?).  At some point it feels like I should stop thinking and writing about how I feel and just go out and do some action, without wondering how I would feel or what impact is has on my grand goals of life. The problem is that my new, trying to be laid back, flexible, and open attitude doesn’t quite fit with my A-type, organized, push to success personality at times. I’m in a constant struggle to figure out what I want next in my career and life and actually living in the moment to enjoy what I have today.

In the past five years, I have had A  LIFE. House, engagement, wedding, marriage, divorce, budget woes, dating and finding love again, etc. In the year and a half of separation and divorce, the intention was one thing only: survive. Now I’m on the other side with about a zillion possibilities of love, life, home, career and my intention of enjoying every day becomes hard to see when at every turn it feels like I need to be thinking about what’s next.

I feel that something new and different is on the horizon for me & am feeling the best I have felt since probably graduate school over six years ago. But I don’t know what that is. So my new declaration of intention is clear:  stop worrying and keep wondering;  let the opportunities and possibilities present themselves, and  be open to whatever comes my way. 


Happy 2013!

As I did last year, I spent the night indulging in delicious food and wine, watching old movies, and reading. I was in bed well before midnight, though I did wear my flannel PJs with champagne corks on them 🙂

In general, I don’t entirely believe in New Year’s Resolutions, but like so many other bloggers, have set a lot of goals for myself this year. I’ll go into them later this week, but my theme for the year is “be about it.” It’s something that I have been trying to do for the past few months of 2012–“don’t talk about it, be about it,” meaning instead of just talking and saying I want to do or am going to do something, to JUST DO IT.

2013 is going to be my year- I’ll be in 30 in March, which I am so pumped for. My 20s were filled with a lot of turmoil and speedbumps in life, but I have learned so much about who I am and feel so much more confident in the life I am building. 2012 was a big year filled with many challenges for me, and while I’m not saying good riddance to the year gone by because of lessons learned, I definitely am looking ahead with a big smile and excitement for things to come.

Wishing you a happy, healthy 2013 bursting with everything you’re dreaming of!

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