HOUSE TOUR: Small town, small house, lots of plants!

Even though we’ve lived at this house for 5 years, it’s not too late for a house tour – right? We’ll be making some changes in the next year, so I thought it’d be fun to take you around our space, which we’re very proud of.

P.S., we didn’t clean or tidy before this video, so what you see is real life! 🙂

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A Little Bit Blue.

It’s Friday afternoon and I’m wrapping up some work-related tasks for the week. The sun finally came out, though the air is cold for being the middle of summer.

After enjoying an Ethiopian buffet for lunch, I was waiting to pay. The owner had to go hunt down the debit machine, so while I waited, my eyes gravitated toward the television.

I’m not a news person. You might call me ignorant, and you might be right. But I’m a sensitive person and news has the tendency to quickly turn me cynical.

On the television, the news was detailing the most recent exploits of ICE. Pulling people from cars, separating parents from children. I almost broke down in tears right there. So easy to say from my point of privilege, as a Canadian woman. But how is it that these things are happening now, in this day and age? How has the fear of immigrants gone this far?

My problems are trivial, but they’re mine. I’m not at risk of deportation or separation from my family, which should be the end of that thought. But still, my own little concerns, little though they may be, feel heavy and weighty in my life.

We’ve been looking at houses in the city, closer to childcare, further from Michael’s work. Currently I drive 1.5 hours (one way) in order to have access to quality childcare. I’ve been doing this a couple times a week for over half a year, and the longer it goes on, the more rage I feel, rage against a broken system. Canada is better than the United States, but childcare is expensive and not readily available to all. It’s why so many moms decide to stay home while their children are young, permanently affecting their ability to advance their career in a meaningful way.

I want to be a mom AND have a meaningful career. It shouldn’t be so hard to have both.

Moving to the city means a daily commute of 1.5 hours for my husband, so it isn’t a fair trade-off. At the same time, it isn’t fair that I have to drive so far just to work, especially with a child who doesn’t always like the long drive. Few things are more stressful than inconsolable screaming during endless highway stretches.

If I could learn to be happy with what is. If I could embrace being a stay-at-home mom, and put work on the backburner. Even for a year. We could ride out Michael’s work contract and consider moving afterward. When I write it out, when I think about it, it seems like the obvious answer. Just deal with it, right?

Yet when I turn that over in my heart, I just feel blue. Heavy. Like the story of my next year will be defined by a resigned sigh.

Staying at home and being a good parent is challenging, but I don’t mind it. I spent the first year of Jane’s life scaling way back on work and focusing on being a stay-at-home mom. I made good friends centered around playdates. I cooked food and kept the house in order. It was fine. But now I’m in a phase where I want to focus on work. Especially because the possibility exists of becoming a parent to an infant again, which will reset the cycle.

The problem is the lack of choice. If I had the choice, I would work 3-4 days a week right now. It’s just too much driving, too much time away from home. A regular 8-hour day turns into a 12-hour day.

Still, there are real issues in the world and I’m stuck on this one. I’m complaining about a commute, but at least I have a family to commute to.

Many women would kill to be in my position. We can afford for me to stay at home with my daughter. Between my (small) income and my husband’s (slightly less small) income, we’ve been able to make it work in our little town. Many women work long hours with low pay and don’t have the option to stay home, even if they wanted to. Other women, like myself, feel somewhat forced into the situation, and a little resentful about it as a result.

Jane loves her current daycare. She’s excited to go there, and happily waves goodbye when I drop her off. Playing with the kids is a nice reprieve for her. The thought of pulling her out as the winter months approach, a real possibility, is a heartbreaking.

Where I live, winter driving can be unpredictable. Blowing snow, blizzards, fog, and ice are all reasonably common. In the peak of winter, we only have 8 daylight hours, and highway driving in the dark in these conditions only exacerbates them. Last winter I braved the highways once a week for daycare because I was desperate, but I don’t know that I’d do it again. It’s one thing if it’s just me in the car; it’s another entirely when my daughter’s in there with me.

So then Michael is supposed to drive in these conditions, and every day? Is that a fair trade-off?

We’ve been making serious plans to list our house in the fall and to start looking for a new place in the city. This should thrill me, but I’m left feeling guilty and a little bit blue. My husband is such a generous and kind person. Moving makes his life so much harder, but he wants to make my life easier.

Why can’t I do the same for him? Put it off for a year, or even half a year? Try to shove that resigned sigh back down and make the most of it?

So we’re floating in the ether of indecision, with no decision on either side being an easy one. I’m waiting for that alternative – that brilliant idea that is so perfect and I can’t believe why I didn’t think of it before.

Like maybe we just go travel. Do the opposite of settle down. Embrace the ether. But then I think about it, and it seems prohibitively difficult. Too difficult to be worth it.

What about getting a little condo in the city, so I can have a place to live during the work week, and then go home for the weekends? A temporary solution for the next school year? But that’s expensive and I don’t want to be away from my husband so much, and to have him be away from his daughter so much.

We’ve been having a wonderful summer so far. The pacing has been good and we’ve had lots of time together as a family. In some moments I’m blindingly happy. In some moments, it’s clouds over that sunny sky. It’s a little bit blue. Thanks for reading.

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Why the “Six months to live” lens isn’t always the right one

I like using the “six months to live” lens to get a grip on my priorities.

You know what I’m talking about, right?

This – “If I had six months left to live, what would I do with my life? Who would I spend time with?

I’ve always considered this lens to be the best litmus test of if what I’m doing is the best use of my time. With this lens I’ve easily determined that the most important aspects of my life are family, friends and meaningful work. Throw in some good food, fresh air and books and I’m golden.

But recently, I started thinking about it some more. And I had this realization: Why would I want to live my whole life like it’s the last chapter of my book?

Friends and family are important, but does it really make sense to factor them as the highest priority in all situations? Maybe, maybe not.

For example, if my husband, child and I wanted to do some extended traveling, say for a year, doing so doesn’t pass the friends and family litmus test. We’d be away for so long. That’s not what I’d want if my life was ending.

But my life isn’t ending (that I know of). And it’s virtually impossible to predict when it will. So does that mean I should never go on big adventures? Never do anything that takes me away from the anchor of home?

Of course not – that would be ridiculous. Going on big adventures is important for a whole whack of other reasons. It would be hard to be away from my family for so long, but there would be all kinds of benefits to extended travel. Not to mention my closest family – my husband and child – would be right there alongside me.

And that’s only one example. What about moving, or considering where we want to live for the next 5-10 years (or more)? Using the “6 months to live” lens, it makes the most sense to stay local to where most of our friends and family are. Even if there are many sacrifices to doing so.

Forgive this slight digression, but it’s been heavy in my thoughts: Our dream location wouldn’t be too expensive, would be near high-quality daycare, give us the opportunity for plenty of outdoor time, be a unique and beautiful house (my husband’s criteria), have a sizeable vegetarian community with access to great produce and restaurants, have plenty of sunlight, wouldn’t get too cold, and be walkable. I’d probably also want to live somewhere English-speaking. Milder temperatures would also mean not having to drive in extreme conditions like blowing snow, blizzards, and storms so frequently – a major upside for me. Not having hour-long commutes is a major bonus too.

Almost none of these criteria apply to where we currently live. Yet, it’s near friends and family. What to do?

There are other situations in which the “six months” lens falls apart. Say you’re working a job that doesn’t light your soul up. It wouldn’t make sense to quit you job and travel on a whim, or quit your job and write that album you always dreamed of writing – these things require thought and planning.

The “six month” lens is a great one in some ways. Have those meaningful conversations with loved ones, tell them how much they mean to you. Work on that album – make time for it if it’s important. Keep your priorities in mind when you and your child are getting sick of each other at 4:30pm.

But it’s not a great lens in all ways. I only pray that my life story is bursting with interesting chapters, and that my last one is far, far away. There will always be periods where I’m pulled to my family above and beyond any other consideration. But it’s okay to be pulled away from family sometimes as well.

I’m reminded of when I lived in Austin and Toronto between 2013-2015. Those were fond years – difficult, but dear to me. At the end of it, I was ready to be close to my family and enjoy all the familiar comforts of my home province. But I’m so grateful that I lived away. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Now, being home for five years, I’m starting to feel the tug of strings again. The tug of adventure.

I was bothered by it at first, swatting it away like an errant fly, I’ve since come around. It’s all good, it’s all okay, it’s exactly right.

Watch this space.

-Allysia

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Summer Days

You won’t believe me when I say it, but Jane has grown a lot of hair since her first birthday in February.

Jane at 1 year
At almost 1.5 years old

My mother loves to tell me that I didn’t get my first haircut until age 3. So I guess her bald genes come from me. 🙂

Now that my husband is off work for the summer, we’ve been spending most of our time in the backyard, at the kiddie pool, and cooking great food.

(I also spend quite a bit of time at the piano, but that’s nothing new).

Jane’s got her own little chair for the backyard (though climbing up on our patio furniture is fun too). Our backyard is small but we were determined to make it usable this summer. Being childless and cooped up in the summer is no fun, but once you have children it’s basically impossible to stay inside (unless you want to deal with constant crankiness).

My lettuce box is growing nicely (with swiss chard currently exploding out of its boundaries). I have some crops growing in my parent’s yard as well, but those plants are much more sad. We had an early June frost that did some serious damage, coupled with random hot temperatures and drying winds.

Jane had her first sandbox experience at the town fair. She spent a solid 30 minutes in there. Michael and I had a real conversation. I guess we’re going to need to get this child out to the beach soon!

This Bach fugue will be the death of me, but what better time to tackle a project such as this than summer? I’m lucky enough to have a flexible schedule for the next couple of months. It’ll probably take a good 30+ hours to get this one to about 80% competency. Bring it, Bach.

Spent some time with petting zoo animals as well. Jane was interested in the animals, but a little nervous (especially of the big and friendly llama). Michael’s tattoo is probably a couple of sessions away from completion!

And what summer is complete without waffles?

xo,

-Allysia

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Your Future is Here

With the approach and arrival of each new season, I start to get antsy. I complete goals I’ve been working on, and I start itching for a change. New ideas, new plans, new things to do.

It always starts with daydreaming. I would drive my daughter to daycare, hour-long commutes in the bright early morning of the Northern Hemisphere’s summer. I lost interest in my audiobooks and podcasts, normally so dear to me. Instead I opted for music. Sometimes I’d just let Spotify pick the tunes, and sometimes I’d listen to the same song 100 times in a row. But I chose music so I could think, and feel. Be inside my own mind instead of someone else’s.

With the daydreaming came reflection and forward-thinking. What would my 10-years-from-now self look like? What would she be doing? Where am I currently unsatisfied, and what can I do about it?

Hours and hours of these thoughts. What do I want my life to feel like? How do I be a better wife, a better mother, a better person?

These last few weeks have been so busy. I hosted an Online piano convention, and with the launch of that there were many little tasks, such that my mind couldn’t relax. I’d be at the dinner table with my family and be thinking about work. It would be 10pm and I’d feel guilty for reading my book instead of answering emails. I knew it was a small drop in the ocean of my life, that things wouldn’t be like this forever.

The convention is over now (and it WAS fun). Yesterday, the last day it ran, I took Jane to the paddling pool. I watched her pour water from the toy watering can, over and over. I watched her climb in and out of the pool, over and over. I watched her fill a bucket ever-so-slowly with small drops of water from little toys. And then I chased her around the pool when she ripped off her hat and refused to put it back on.

And in all this, I had one thought in my mind:

If I was given a death diagnosis – 6 months to live – this is exactly what I’d want to be doing. How lucky am I, to spend an hour of a hot summer afternoon watching my daughter play? What’s better?

And yet – and yet – until I actually started thinking about it, my mind was running thoughts like, Oh, I wonder if Logan took care of that task. Oh, I wonder if Michael remembered to rotate the laundry. Does Jane really want me to fill the watering can again, for the 100th time? Why is she just sitting on the edge of the pool – doesn’t she want to swim? Is she going to start freaking out if she remembers she’s wearing a hat and then tries to take her off? Am I going to have to haul her back to the car, kicking and screaming, if she takes off the hat and refuses to wear it?

(Sidenote: After chasing my hatless baby, and then scooping her up and committing to leaving the pool as punishment, she was chipper as a bird, waving and saying “bye” to everyone and anyone there.)

These thoughts run like rivers and are inevitable, I know. But when I caught myself, when I put on the 6-months-to-live lens, it took the 100 scattered pieces of my mind and drew them all back into one coherent whole. And the whole said, “what is more important than this, right now?

Not work, as much as I love giving and contribution and meaningful endeavors. With six months to live, I would certainly find a project or two to throw myself into, to leave my mark.

But I was so lucky to be there with my daughter, and I’m so lucky so often, and yet I grumble and forget and blink and my day is gone and without gratitude.

For the last few weeks in my daydreams, I’ve been flashing 10 years ahead. In that vision I have plenty of time for my friends and my husband and my family, and I also have the freedom to do meaningful work. But more than just a vision, my 10-year idea comes with a feeling. A feeling of flow, a feeling of wholeness. The 100 bits of my mind, unified.

And that feeling, it isn’t 10 years away. How depressing if it was! I can have that feeling – fulfillment? – right now, if only I look for it.

It’s not hard to find.

So often we think of the future as something to reach for, goals to check off. And that’s a fun thing to do, and to think about. But what we really want from our future is a feeling. Freedom, happiness, confidence, fulfillment. We might say we want money in our future, say, but what we really want is what the money will give us – freedom, happiness, confidence, fulfillment.

I don’t have the freedom to hop a plane tomorrow, it’s true. But I have the freedom to go on a random road trip if adventure is what I seek.

I don’t have the things that I imagine would bring me more happiness, such as a house in a city. But our house in a town is better than any house that I know. It’s got great ratty hardwood floors and color and spunk and personality and lots and lots of plants (thanks for that, Michael).

I don’t have some things I imagine would bring me more confidence, such as really nice clothes. I have okay clothes, some new, but lots of items that are many years old. I also don’t have the 125lb body I had pre-pregnancy. But I’m fit and hearty and healthy at 140lbs. And maybe not having all the nice things is its own little gift. If I only had a few main outfits, could I not be happy or confident? If I can’t be happy or confident without a variety of trendy outfits, what does that say about my life and my priorities?

And if the things I imagine will bring me fulfillment aren’t already present in my life, then that’s a significant problem. Fulfillment comes from meaningful work and healthy relationships. I’m lucky enough to have those right now if only I notice them and invest in them.

My 10-year future is here, right now. Less grand, but the feelings are all there for the taking, all the goodness of life before me like a buffet, if only I notice and take a bite.

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The Messy Days

“You could be good today, but instead you choose tomorrow.” -Marcus Aurelius

I like to read during breakfast and lunch. If I’m being totally honest, it isn’t usually books I’m reading (unless I’m in the middle of something engrossing), but rather articles – something I’ve found in my blog feed, something someone’s recommended, or something I’ve stumbled across on my own.

Today I was reading about perfect days. How your life is just a series of ordinary days. Vacations, they’re fun, but they’re not the real, everyday experience.

So if your day-to-day life isn’t up-to-snuff, then that’s a big problem. That’s your life.

As I was weeding in my garden this morning, I let these thoughts bounce around my head. What is my perfect day? A million answers emerged – I can’t settle on a template. I’m not even sure if I should.

And, am I happy in my day-to-day? If not, what am I doing wrong?

Happiness isn’t usually an external thing – not for us spoiled first-world people who don’t experience real problems. I don’t go hungry, I have a roof over my head and I’m not a victim of violence. There’s plenty of love in my life, and plenty to be grateful for. Sometimes the search for happiness seems ridiculous.

Because, really, if all my basic needs are being met – food, shelter, companionship – why shouldn’t I be happy?

And if I’m not happy, then the fault isn’t with my environment, it’s with me.

So I keep picking out weeds. There are two very specific types – one is grassy-looking, and the other is purplish and wet when you pull it from the ground. I’m picking weeds and trying to own my happiness.

(And I’m also thinking thoughts about how I kind of hate gardening, but kind of love it too. Connecting with the earth is just an essential component of being human. Then, following that, some fist-shaking “kids these days” thoughts about screen addiction.)

One major block to my happiness, I realize, is in framing. It’s in the language I use to myself. I’m going through my day thinking, “I don’t like this, I’m overwhelmed, if only this, if only that.”

What if I erased the word “overwhelm” from my internal dictionary? If I stop thinking about being overwhelmed, will I stop feeling overwhelmed?

And instead of thinking “I don’t like this” (when Jane screams in response to not getting her way, or harassing me while I’m trying to finish lunch clean-up), what if I just accepted the situation for what it is, instead of rejecting it?

And instead of thinking “If only…”, what if I started dealing in reality instead of trying to peddle a fantasy?

That’s why all these “perfect day” posts just sound like bullshit.

If you’re fathoming a perfect day, then yes, it can be motivating. It can help you get your priorities straight. Knowing the components of your perfect day can help you see what really matters to you. That’s all good, that’s not bullshit.

But as soon as you start fantasizing about your perfect day, you start resenting the little flaws in your everyday. My “perfect day” involves waking up early to practice piano. But what if I’m running on no sleep because Jane was sick in the night? What if my husband has to go to work early, and I’m unable to get fully immersed in practice because of the reality of being a mother to a small toddler?

Now my day isn’t perfect. When I look at it like that, the entire day becomes marred by this. It’s a cloud against my sunshine.

But it’s all make-believe. The cloud doesn’t exist, it’s just something I said. It’s just words.

Or maybe my perfect day involves cooking and eating something delicious. My family loves okonomiyaki. But what if Jane decides that this meal she’d rather stuff her okonomiyaki in her water glass, or eat nothing but sauce with a spoon?

I put all of this expectation into having this wonderful experience – sharing and enjoying a meal – and when it doesn’t go according to plan and the fantasy collapses, what then?

Is it better to just lose the fantasy?

Or maybe even better than losing the fantasy of a perfect day is embracing non-attachment. Don’t attach to any outcomes, que cera cera. But that’s hard. It’s really hard.

It’s language, it’s reframing, I’m sure of it. Instead of, “This child is ruining my perfect idea of dinner”, what about laughing it off? Making sideways jokes with my husband about the situation?

It’s ceding control. Life is messy and the way isn’t always paved. There are bugs in that beautiful beach image. There are slugs in the garden. If you have children, there is lots of poop.

Instead of thinking, “This is my perfect day and I’m going to iron-fist it into reality”, maybe I should simply have an outline of what my perfect day would include.

  • Music.
  • My husband.
  • My daughter.
  • A friend or family member.
  • Moving my body.
  • Breathing fresh air.
  • Waking up early.
  • Writing.
  • Reading.
  • A project.
  • Good food.

All of these, with an asterisk. All of these, not a prescription. All of these, in some capacity.

Instead of “practice piano at 6:30am”, it becomes “music”. Maybe most days I practice at 6:30am. Maybe some days I practice when my daughter goes to bed. Maybe some days I don’t practice at all, but I sing songs with her. Or we turn on Spotify and dance around.

Instead of “cook a nice meal and enjoy nice family time”, it’s just “good food”. Good food can be homemade gnocchi with sage butter sauce, and it can be pre-made veggie burgers. It can be a nice conversation with a peaceful toddler, or it can be 5-second pockets of conversation between bouts of toddler outrage.

Maybe I only breathe fresh air for five minutes while doing errands because it’s forty below. Or maybe I spend the entire spring day outdoors. Maybe I have a long and sprawling yoga session, or maybe it’s just weeding in the garden. Maybe it’s actually talking with my mom or cousin or spending time with a close friend, but maybe it’s just sending them a quick message or making someone a birthday card. Maybe it’s my daughter and I enjoying some specific, pre-arranged activity, or maybe we’re simply in the backyard with no plan and no agenda. Maybe my husband and I have a deep conversation when Jane goes to bed. Or maybe we just parallel play in silence, my feet propped up on his lap. Maybe reading isn’t always Tolstoy, and writing isn’t always striving for something. Maybe my project is getting a picture framed one day, painting with Jane the next, and decluttering one-fifth of a closet the next.

This picture is impressionist. Bright, impassioned, raw, expressive, and non-specific. Messy. It opens me up. It evokes a big yes.

Maybe the messy days can become the best days.

-Allysia

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15 Month Baby (Or is it toddler?) Update!

Hey friends!

I’m finally back with a video update featuring the life and times of my daughter. I talk about things like nursing and cloth diapering, and what developmental milestones she’s going through – as well as giving you a peek into life with a small and active child.

Enjoy!

-Allysia

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The Friday Review

I live and die by the Friday review.

(The Friday part is arbitrary; pick a day of the week and go).

It’s something I began doing in earnest at the start of the year as a way to keep on track with my larger-scale projects. It’s easy to get mired in the details on a day-by-day basis, and I tend to lose sight of the big picture.

The Friday review is a correction for that. Every Friday, I look over my quarterly and monthly goals, and look at my to-do list for the week to assess how I’m doing. Then I draft up a list of tasks for the following week.

It’s really that simple, though I’ll get into it in more depth if it’s something you’re interested in trying for yourself – something I highly recommend.

What is involved in the Friday review?

Financial planning

The very first thing I do with my Friday review is go over finances. I pay off my credit card (we have no debt and I pay off our card promptly), take notes in my family’s personal budget, and note any income and expenses with my business.

Since I work with someone in my business (PianoTV.net), I make sure to send him any income he’s earned each Friday. We have small streams of income filtering in throughout the month (as well as expenses), so I need to divvy it up weekly in order to stay on top of it.

Weekly to-do list

Once the budget portion is done, I look over the to-do list I made for the week. I assess what I’ve accomplished and if there are any loose threads that need tying.

I cross off what’s finished, and I mark which ones must be carried over into the following week.

Any habit-based items on the list, such as “walk every day for 45 minutes”, I figure out how close to that figure I came and make a note of it.

Friday review: Write-up

From here, I do a full write-up. I like actually writing about my week because it’s a way to re-experience everything that’s happened, and everything I’ve accomplished. The act of writing about it has a way of slowing down time and make me more attentive to details as I go through my week. It has the effect of making each week less of a whirlwind.

I can’t really explain it, but it’s magic.

My write-ups are done journal-style, and are usually about 1000 words. It takes about 30 minutes to do. My goal isn’t to write something amazing, but to look over the various areas of my life (work, family, friends, etc.) to see if my week was balanced.

(I’ll share a write-up at the end of this post so you can see what I mean).

A new to-do list for the week

From there, I re-calibrate for the next week. I draft up a new to-do list for the coming week.

This is done by carrying over any items from the previous week that I didn’t finish, and also by looking at my monthly to-do list to see what I can tackle in the coming week.

I make sure to arrange things by category (business, relationships, etc.). I also like to be quite specific when marking things down here, because I believe in the power of specific and actionable tasks.

Update everything on Nozbe

Finally, I take my big to-do list and input it onto an app called Nozbe. It’s a paid app (monthly subscription), but it’s extremely valuable and I can’t imagine not having it.

It’s basically a beautiful, intuitive and highly functional to-do list. You can keep track of projects and larger tasks with Nozbe, you can share tasks with other users (something I do with my business partner), you can attach images, files and links to to-do list items, and so much more.

I also like to go through my calendar and mark down anything from my calendar into Nozbe. That way, when I look at my daily to-do in the morning, I have a full list of what needs to be done (including appointments).

My planning system

I’ve tried various systems over the years for keeping organized, but what I find works best is a nice, big, unlined notebook (I’m obsessed with my Pentalic, and have had several). I use this notebook for anything – lists I make, ideas I have, goals, and so on. My life is in this notebook, including all to-do lists.

Aside from my notebook, I have Nozbe on my computer and phone. This is how I keep track of my day-to-day schedule.

Then there’s my calendar – it’s just a Google calendar attached to my email. The only things that go on my calendar are time-bound things like appointments and meetings.

Finally, I use Evernote. This is where I clip anything I want for reference – it’s like my digital Pentalic. My yearly goals, quarterly planning and 100 Dreams list all live here, in addition to any other random things I decide to save (anything from a hair product I want to try, to a password for an obscure site, to a blog on brands of cat food).

I tend to clean up my Evernote once a month or so, sorting through everything, giving notes a new home or deleting things that have become irrelevant.

Conclusion

All in all, my Friday review takes about 2 hours to do. That might seem like a lot of time, but it pays abundantly in focused productivity during the week. It’s easily the best thing I do to stay on top of my many plans and projects.

Depending on where you’re at in life, a detailed Friday review might be overkill. But I think most people could benefit from it. Give it a try for a month and see how it feels! The worst that could happen is you’re more organized and aware of how you’re spending your time… 🙂

-Allysia

A Friday Review Write-Up Example

April 5

Another great week!

So what made this week great?

1. The pacing was good
It can be exciting when things move really fast, when you’re bouncing from one task or appointment or meeting to the next. But I always feel dissatisfied at the end of days like this, laying in bed, the first time I’ve breathed all day. Why is the end of the day the first time I’ve breathed?

I like when life moves at a decent clip – fast enough to be fun – but you can still see the scenery out the window. And this is a delicate balance of having plans and tasks, but not too many.

I got the math right this week. Two days of work, quality time with my mother and a couple friends, and lots of time at home tending to chores, and outside tending to the springy weather. I breathed all week long. Jane and I had a lot of fun. Even when the furnace broke down again! (It’s getting replaced Monday.) Even when the giant convoy of carbon tax protesters, complete with their “I love gas” stickers on their trucks and semis, caused a stone to fly at and burrow into my windshield when I was on the highway (a $65 fix, no biggie)! Even when Jane shirked her afternoon nap today (which is why I’m writing this at 10pm).

Things will always go wrong forever. Such is life. Might as well have fun.

A meeting with ___
I had a meeting with an innovative company called ___. The two guys who run the business are very enjoyable, down-to-earth people and I had a great time chatting with them. So great, in fact, that I pitched them on participating in my online conference. I haven’t formally asked anyone yet – that’s something I’m starting next week. But I thought – hey, if they say yes, I’ll have a couple names that I can name-drop when asking other people to participate.

And they were an easy yes! They dig the idea and they’re happy to participate. My first big win. Thanks Universe! You’ve got my back on this online convention.

More on the online convention
I’ve been doing a lot of prep work for next week, where I’m going to start messaging people about being speakers at my convention. Basically I’ve just searched my personal network for potential connections. It’s easier to email people who are “warm” – like a friend-of-a-friend situation – than to send cold emails, so I wanted to see how many warm emails I’d be able to get going.

Not very many. But a few. I’ll be spending the next few weeks in heavy correspondence. It’ll be tough next week, since it’s the last week of my course – the two are overlapping – but after that it shouldn’t be too heavy a load.

Blog posting
I’ve been feeling a lot of energy toward posting on my blog, and rode the wave of inspiration on Wednesday. Like I talked about last week, I gotta exercise that muscle!

I have a piano teacher!
Finally, after years of dallying, I’ve scheduled regular lessons with a piano teacher. I haven’t taken lessons for a decade (aside from random one-offs, usually with people I used to work with). And I wanted the experience of a mentor.

So I found a teacher through the conservatory – we’d actually met before (the piano teaching world is small in Regina). And she’s quite accomplished, having just finished a stint studying in Hungary. She’s going to help upgrade my skills so I can pass my grade 10 with a mark of 70% or higher – the mark needed to go on to the next level.

Private mentoring of any kind is expensive, but I also can’t think of anything else that’ll propel your growth faster. I’d love to have mentors forever. Universe, I’d like enough money to have personal mentors for whatever projects I’m working on, okay?

The Jesus Veggie Truck Came to Town!
Shoutout to the ABC truck for rolling through Regina. I spent way too long in a semi-truck stocked with all kinds of exotic vegan meats, cheeses, condiments and so on. It was heaven. It was crowded. There were familiar faces (the vegans of Regina are a close-knit community).

Speaking of dolla bills…
Mike and I haven’t had a date night in a few weeks – plans have been falling through. But the Universe did us a solid this week – there’s a six-course vegan pop-up dinner (complete with wine tasting) tomorrow, and we’re in it to win it. My mom is babysitting. She’s been helping out a lot lately, and I’m lucky for it.

I initially hesitated to buy tickets because it’s expensive, but then I realized that life experiences are far more valuable than money in a bank account (especially when it’s a relatively inconsequential amount – it’s not like it was the difference between us having groceries for the rest of the month or not).

Gardening
So this is random. But every year I declare how much I hate gardening. It’s not because of the gardening itself, it’s because I suck at it. But you suck at everything until you learn about it and get good.

My parents live out of town and have good land. I’m there often enough anyway, so I’m going to grow things on a plot there. I have a little greenhouse in our sun room and am armed and ready with some early-start seedlings (tomatoes, peppers and eggplants particularly enjoy an early start). I’m also starting some lettuce, collards and chard because they can be transplanted at the end of April – they can tolerate some frost and don’t like it too hot.

I like the idea of growing things. There’s an appeal in country life, in sinking your hands into dirt. But I also hate bugs. There was a spider in my lettuce the other day and I started screaming – no control over that reaction at all. Mike thought I was dying. So there’s a disconnect there. Ha!

But then, I like the convenience of buying things. Of having people grow things for me. Skip out on all that labor. But then I wonder – in doing so, am I also skipping out on something fundamentally human? I love to do “higher” work – work that involves more high-level decision-making, more intelligence – but those kinds of things take me out of my body.

I spend so much of every day in my head. The idea is that gardening is a way out. A way into the present moment.

Plus it’s something I’d like Jane to grow up experiencing. It’s a productive way for us to spend time outside.

Other habits
Other habits I have on the go – walking 45 minutes a day (I succeed most days), baby gym 2x/week (it’s basically a BYOBaby HIIT thing), other workout 3x/week. Mostly consistent.

Mostly eating well, but I’ve definitely enjoyed a thick slice of banana bread or blueberry scone when the opportunity arises. And I’m not losing weight as a result. But I’m cool with that for now. I might not be losing weight, but I can eat as much as I want with very little restriction and not gain weight, so that’s a good place to be.

Listening to audiobooks and podcasts on my drives. Still reading voraciously (particularly enjoying James Altucher’s Choose Yourself right now). I’m also reading a meditation book so I’ll try to meditate for a few minutes each day and see how that goes.

 
 
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