Whatever Sparks Joy

In January, I stumbled upon an audiobook of Marie Kondo’s “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” while searching for de-cluttering videos.  Once I started listening, I couldn’t stop.  I knew this experience needed to make it on my adventure list.  So here it is – Number 139 – Simplify My Life using the Konmari Method.  After I finished the book, I started my own tidying journey.

The Konmari Method divides tidying into several categories.  Rather than organizing one room at a time, you organize by type of item.  This does require a little more effort up front to sort everything, but it is an effective way to get the job done.  How many times have you started an organizing project only to never finish it, or to have the space become cluttered again within a few weeks or months?  If you complete Konmari from start to finish, this won’t happen.  It’s been about 3 months since I finished the last category, and my home is still organized and tidy.  It really works.

Category 1: Clothing

The first category is meant to be the easiest, to help give you a jump-start and more of an idea of what “sparks joy”, which is Kondo’s criteria for whether something stays or goes.  The process of tidying up according to the Konmari Method is simple.  You pick up each item and if it sparks joy, you keep it.  If it doesn’t, you thank the item and discard it.

I was shocked by how much clothing I had.  Yikes.  When you put every item into one giant pile, it really puts things into perspective.  I was able to check this category off in one day.

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Look how much I got rid of!  Three bags and one shoe organizer filled with shoes (cat not included).

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And here’s my closet and dresser drawers now…

Category 2: Books

I had A LOT of books.  I refer to the downstairs living area as the “library”.  Since moving into this house, I felt that I needed to fill the shelves with books.  To be honest, though, some of these books I knew I would never actually read.  I wanted to want to read them, but during Konmari I realized that there were some I just wasn’t ever going to pick up.

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I thought it would be hard to get rid my books – I have been collecting them for years!  But it actually felt very freeing to let go.  I was able to thank each item and pass it on to Goodwill where hopefully it will spark joy for someone else.

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Bye bye books

After finishing this category, I was left with the books that truly spark joy – my favorites that can be enjoyed again and again.  I also kept the books that I know I want to read, and then after I do I will either keep them if they still spark joy, or donate them.  The Konmari Method does not mean that you get rid of everything you own or things that you truly love.

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Went from three book shelves full of books to one

Category 3: Papers

I dreaded this category.  Papers, how boring!  But, it had to be done so I could move on to the next category.  I doggedly collected every paper I could find…bills, receipts, bank statements, warranties, manuals, etc.

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Almost all the papers.

I thought the collecting and sorting process would take longer than it actually did.  The Konmari method for paper is pretty simple – you get to throw away/shred almost everything.  You only keep what is truly essential.

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Shred and trash pile.

Whenever I need a document now, I know exactly where to find it.  There has not been anything that I have gotten rid of that I needed later on or wished I still had.

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I love the 3 folder system Marie Kondo has for organizing papers going forward.  One folder for “Needs Attention”, like bills or invitations.  One folder for “Save for Now”, for things you need in the near future and that you can then discard.  And one folder for “File”, for papers that you want to put away in your long-term file folders.

Category 4: Komono (Miscellaneous)

This one took the longest, because it is sub-divided into lots of smaller categories (DVDs, electronics, kitchen, office, cleaning, decor, personal care, etc).  It was during this category that I was able to really start seeing some differences in our home.  I tried to complete one category (or at least start it) each day when I got home from work.  Here are a few of the bigger komono categories I tackled.

Personal Care

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A good portion of it went to the trash.  Lots of expired items or just things I never use.

Kitchen

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From this…

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…to this.

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Trash and recycling now fit neatly under the sink, out of sight, which frees up more space in our kitchen.

Category 5: Sentimental Items

The last category was the hardest, of course.  If you know me at all, you know I am an extremely sentimental person.  I hang onto things.  Some may say I am a packrat.  Notes from a friend in high school?  You bet I still had some.  A picture my first grade boyfriend drew for me?  Yep, had that too.  My planners from every year of college?  Check.  An 8×10 group picture of me with the mean girls who bullied me at camp when I was a kid?  Still had that, too.  I had SO MUCH STUFF, and some of it didn’t even hold a positive memory for me.

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Sentimental stuff before tidying.  The trunk on the right was also full of more sentimental stuff.

An important lesson from Konmari is that you don’t need the physical item to have the memory.  There were so many things that I was able to finally let go of, and it felt good. Yes, I trashed the old planners because do I really need to know what I did or what projects I had due on October 20th, 2012?  No, obviously not.  And you bet I ripped up that group photo from camp…it was about time.  There were other things, like some letters or cards, that I chose to take a picture of before I discarded them.  Digital photos are a great way to reduce physical clutter while still hanging onto the item in some way.

I may have kept more sentimental items than Marie Kondo would have, but as they still “spark joy” for me, I am happy with my decision.  I kept my dolls from when I was a kid, and now they are packed away with a few other beloved toys in a wooden chest downstairs.  Someday I hope they will have a second life when my kids play with them.

I found that I was unable to part with nearly anything given to me by my Grandpa JB, even just old birthday cards in his handwriting, but I am okay with that right now.  The loss is still too fresh and I’m not ready to let go of those things.

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Childhood toys and some sentimental items of my grandpa’s

In addition to having some special items in this chest, I also have a shelf upstairs in my office for my photo/memory albums.

Post Konmari

Since finishing Konmari, I have added some things to my home that belonged to my grandpa.  My family has been cleaning out his house over the past few months, and there were several items that sparked joy for me.  But that is one great thing about Konmari.  It is not a limiting or punishing form of de-cluttering.  You don’t have to get rid of a certain number of things, or never get anything new.  You keep what brings you joy, and pass on what doesn’t.  It’s that simple.

It took about 2 months to completely finish the Konmari process, and it truly was life-changing, for several reasons.

  1. I feel at peace in my home.  The items that I have in my house have meaning and they “spark joy” for me, as Marie Kondo says.  Special treasures now have places of honor where I can enjoy them every day, instead of being hidden away in boxes or closets.

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    Quilts from my Grandma C are now displayed in an old trunk from my Grandpa JB.  The beautiful dresser also belonged to my Grandpa JB.

  2. I know where to find everything.  The Konmari Method states that all things in a category should be stored together.  All your shoes are in one place, all your electronics in one place, all your clothes in one place, etc.  Before Konmari, it sometimes took me forever to locate a missing item.  It could literally be anywhere in my house.  But now, I know exactly where to look, because everything has a place.

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    Need a bag?  Check in the travel closet!

  3. It is easier to clean.  With less clutter, of course it makes it easier to clean.  However, life does happen and the house still gets messy sometimes.  What is great about completing the Konmari process, though, is that it doesn’t take long at all to tidy up.  Once again, there is less stuff to move around, and since everything has a specific place to go, it is easy to just put that item where it belongs.  I don’t have to move things from one pile to another, or think about where I am going to store something.

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    Looks neat and tidy….that’s because it is!

  4. I appreciate what I have more.  By only keeping the things that I love, I now have a deeper appreciation for what is in my house.  Less stuff means that I can see what I have more clearly, which means that I use things I love more frequently.  And that makes me happy.

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    China cabinet from my Grandpa JB, filled with treasures that spark joy.

Have you ever heard of Konmari or thought about trying it?  What items do you need to get rid of?  What items in your home truly spark joy for you?

-A

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Under the Town

Number 132 on my list is “Take a boat tour of Bonne Terre Mine in Bonne Terre, Missouri.”  I think I first found out about it when I came across a photo on Pinterest.  When I saw that the mine was in Missouri, I knew I needed to go.  We made the trip in October with my parents.

One of the major highlights of the Bonne Terre Mine is the billion gallon lake, which is 17 miles long.  It was amazing how big the mine is (and we only saw part of it on the tour!)

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The mine is kind of a big deal.  It has been featured in National Geographic and USA Today, among other publications.  It is best known for being a fantastic diving spot.  However, we skipped going underwater and went on the walking/boat tour instead.

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I thought it was fascinating that there are 3 levels of the mine that are completely submerged in water, including a “ghost town” where the miners lived.  If you are into diving (or want to be), this would be such a cool place to explore!  It made me (almost) want to conquer my claustrophobic fears and jump in.

The tour itself was interesting and informative, and the mine was eerily beautiful.  I would definitely recommend that you stop by if you’re in the area.  It felt a bit surreal after the tour as we drove through Bonne Terre, knowing there was a whole other world under the town.

-A

P.S.  My photos don’t really do the mine justice.  Check out this article by St. Louis Magazine for another look.

Sugar and Spice

Number 121 on my adventure list – get a cartilage ear piercing – has been something I have wanted to do for awhile.  My only piercings thus far have been the basic ear lobe piercings that I had done in high school.  I think my inspiration for another ear piercing initially came from Anna Kendrick in the movie Pitch Perfect.

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Anna Kendrick – she is beautiful.

My best friend and I have been talking for the past year about her getting a new tattoo and me getting my cartilage pierced.  We finally made it happen a few weeks ago.

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Feeling nervous pre-piercing

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BF taking the pain like a champ.

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Post best friend permanent accessory bonding time

Now, about the pain.  The piercing itself didn’t hurt as bad as I thought it would.  It was the days after when I had to clean it that the pain was the worst.  I also didn’t think about how I would only be able to sleep on one side at night.  That part wasn’t fun.  However, it’s now the end of week 3, and overall it feels pretty good and is healing nicely.

I think my new piercing adds the little bit of spice I was looking for.IMG_4658 (1)

I’ll leave you with this.

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-A

 

My First Piñata

For some reason, I have wanted to break a piñata for as long as I can remember.  In fact, breaking a piñata is #96 on my bucket list.  I’m not sure where this fascination came from – did I see it in a movie?  Read about it in a book?  I can’t remember.  All I know is that every time I see piñatas in the party aisle at the store, I want one.

I have considered buying a piñata on multiple occasions, but I have held off.  There needed to be a purpose to the piñata – not just that I wanted to hit it.  I actually considered throwing a Cinco de Mayo party for the sole purpose of having a purpose for a piñata.

And then the piñata happened spontaneously, just as it should.  For my company’s anniversary, our boss brought in margaritas, cake, and A PIÑATA!!!

Finally, I thought.  This is my chance.  I’ve been waiting years for this moment.

When they asked for a volunteer to hit it first, my hand shot up.  I hoped that my pounding heart and ear to ear grin did not appear to be too over eager.  I’m not the type to get over excited at work events, nor the type to volunteer first for anything.  My face felt flushed, my eyes were shining.  Was it my high hopes or the fact that I had just eaten two large pieces of cake and downed a margarita?

My eagerness must have been evident, as I was chosen to go first.  It.  Was.  Happening.  My big moment!  Check it out for yourself in the video below.  Look at those swings!  I’m giving it all that I’ve got.  Years of anticipation have led up to THIS MOMENT.

And after my moment had ended, I was left with a strange realization.  I had always thought that breaking the piñata would be the highlight.  But to my surprise, I found that it didn’t matter that I didn’t break it.  I realized that the reason this made it onto my bucket list was because of everything else – it was the anticipation, the spinning, the unknown, it was the danger of almost hitting the fire alarm lever on the wall, the laughs and cheers from my friends, it was the feeling of that last swing as it connected to the piñata.

And isn’t that just like life?  Sometimes the best part isn’t what you think it will be – it’s all the little things along the way.

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-A

168 Hours Unplugged

Time to cross off my first goal on my 28 before 28 list!

#16. Take a week break from TV/Netflix and social media.

One week.  168 hours.  Unplugged.  What did I do?

f1dcc98665b21f315dcd190ef98c70a4This one has been on my list for 2 years now.  Two.  Freaking.  Years.  I had it on my 26 before 26 list and on my 27 before 27 list.  Somehow, I never crossed it off.  Why?  This is not a hard one.  It doesn’t take weeks of planning or lots of money or require leaving the country.  Yet here it is on my list for a third year in a row.  I decided to start my 28 before 28 list off strong by getting Number 16 off the list during my first week after turning 27.  I decided to unplug from Facebook, Pinterest, Netflix, and TV.  I didn’t include “no movies” on this goal as I don’t really watch that many movies to begin with – my Netflix/TV obsessions are always a series.  I have other social media like Snapchat, Instagram, and Linked In, but I spend hardly any time on them.  This past week, I didn’t login to Instagram or Linked In at all.  I opened a couple snapchats and sent a total of one this whole week.

But first, why is this even on my bucket list?  Why did I think this was important to accomplish?  The sad truth is – the older I’ve gotten, the more I’ve started spending a lot of time doing nothing.  Facebook, Pinterest, and Netflix are my favorite places to do nothing.  I guess I am just not satisfied with that – I don’t want to be the person that would rather stare at a screen instead of actually doing something..reading something…writing something…learning something.  And yet, here I am being exactly that person.  One more episode turns into the whole afternoon.  I find myself checking Facebook when I pull up to a stoplight.  Ridiculous.

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I was never a “screen kid” growing up.  I didn’t play video games.  I barely watched TV.  I was too busy living.  I was outside playing imaginary games, I was reading books, I was exploring the country with my four-legged best friend Lady (aka the best dog ever), I was climbing the tallest trees (sorry mom and dad), I was sliding down the barn roof with my friend Andy (again, sorry mom and dad).  My childhood was full of adventure and I can’t help but feel that the kid I was would be disappointed with the boring old adult I can often be.  Why is it that the older I get, the more time I spend staring at screens?  I can’t figure it out.

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Woman with Bicycle on Country Lane

 

I think the weirdest thing I noticed during this experiment was that sometimes something would happen and I would automatically think of it as a status update.  Sitting by the fire with coffee, a cat, and a book = perfection;  Best part of working at a school is having a Christmas break – loving this time off!;  Enjoying the Plaza lights <insert selfie with spouse here>.  

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I was surprised by how easy this goal turned out to be.  There were definitely several moments when I wanted to check Facebook or turn on Netflix, but then the feeling would pass.  I honestly didn’t miss Pinterest this week.

How could it be so easy to stop doing things for a week that usually fill so much of my time?  Perhaps I am not as addicted as I thought I was.  Maybe it is just habit to check Facebook or scroll through Pinterest or to click next episode on Netflix.

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Day 1: Sunday, December 27

The first day was the hardest to not check Facebook.  In anticipation of this, I moved the Facebook app and Pinterest app on my phone off the front page, and it has become a reflex to just click on it.  A few times, I found myself opening up the folder that Facebook is usually kept it, before remembering, oh wait…  I spent a lot of time reading today.  K made a fire in the woodstove in the library.  He worked on a puzzle while I read.  It was cozy and peaceful.  I also did some blogging, thrift shopping, and stopped by my work to feed a stray kitten I’m trying to tame.  I did some yoga before bed.

Day 2:Monday, December 28

Today was easier.  It was nice to wake up in the morning and not immediately grab my phone to check Facebook.  I drank my coffee and read a book.  I finished my book and started on a second one today.  In the afternoon, I checked off several things that have been sitting on my to-do list for months, which was a nice feeling.  I did some blogging and also some yoga.  I went to bed feeling good.

Day 3: Tuesday, December 29

I did some more reading today (already moved on to book #3 for the week).  I also did some free writing.  K and I decided to go see a movie at the theater today.  We saw The Big Short.  It was not a typical movie I would choose to see, but I actually ended up liking it a lot.  We also stopped by the Plaza to walk around and see the Christmas lights.

Day 4: Wednesday, December 30

Today we ran some errands.  I did some more reading (a biography about my favorite author, L.M. Montgomery) and did some more free writing.  We watched a New Zealand movie that has been sitting unwatched on our shelf for a few years (Whale Rider).  It was so good, actually.  I don’t know why we never watched it before.

Day 5: Thursday, December 31

I finished my third book for the week.  I did some travel planning and daydreaming about going to Prince Edward Island to see the L.M. Montgomery historic sites.  Discussed with K when we can make this trip happen (possibly this year!).  I feel such a connection to this author.  There are so many lines that she writes where I have that feeling of being understood…that yes, this, exactly feeling.  It would seriously be a dream come true to stand where she has stood, to see with my own eyes the places that she wrote about.  Her writing inspires and thrills me unlike any other author I’ve ever read.  Alright, ending my tangent now…  K and I went out to dinner and then brought in the New Year with friends at their house.

Day 6: Friday, January 1

I started and finished book #4 today.  I started book #5.  I did some yoga.  We FaceTimed with K’s family.

Day 7: Saturday, January 2

Day 7 – I made it.  Today, I was inspired to start writing a story.  I wrote for several hours…ended up with 11 typed pages.  I finished book #5 today.  Went for a walk at the park with K.  Went back and did some editing of my story.

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So how can I take what I’ve learned this week and apply it going forward?  My goal is not to quit Facebook, Pinterest, and Netflix.  I think all three can be great in moderation.  I love staying in touch with family and friends on Facebook.  I find a lot of cool ideas on Pinterest.  Netflix can be a great way to relax and unwind (who doesn’t love watching a great show and discussing it later with friends?)  No, I don’t want to say goodbye to these three…I just want to say hello a little less frequently.

Out of Sight

One way I’ve decided to do this is to delete the Pinterest app on my phone.  I don’t need to be able to pin from anywhere.  I’ve also decided to keep the Facebook app off the front page of my phone.  I decided not to delete it as I still want to be able to upload a photo to Facebook from my phone, but hopefully having it out of sight will help me use it less.

Unplug Weekly

Another way I plan to keep my momentum going is to unplug at least one day every week.  168 hours was easy so I know I can stick with 24 hours of no social media/Netflix each week.  I think that Sundays will be my unplugged day going forward.

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What about you?  Do you feel like you waste too much time on social media or watching TV?  Do you ever feel like you get sucked into your screen and you end up missing out on the present moment?  Do you ever unplug from your screens?

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-A

 

28 before 28

Here’s my list for this year…

28 before 28

TRAVEL

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1. Take a trip to Las Vegas.

2. Go to the Laura Ingalls Wilder Historic Home and Museum in Mansfield, MO.

3. Dig for diamonds at Crater of Diamonds State Park in Arkansas.

4. Visit 5 state parks that I haven’t been to before.

5. Tour wineries in Hermann, Missouri.

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6. Read ten of Agatha Christie’s mystery novels.

7. Read five biographies. 

8. Complete the 52 books in 52 weeks challenge.

9. Read every book by my favorite author, L. M. Montgomery.

PRACTICAL

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10. Become financially literate.

11. Learn how to sew.

12. Stick with the Dave Ramsey budget system for at least a year.

13. Buy a house.

WELLNESS

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14. Grow my own vegetables.

15. Become an early riser.

16. Take a week break from TV/Netflix and all social media.

17. Start an exercise routine and stick with it for at least 90 days.

WRITE

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18. Blog at least once a month for 1 year.

PLAY

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19. Break a piñata.

20. Go parasailing.

21. Go snorkeling

22. Go swimming next to a waterfall

23. Go sailing.

24. Attend a music festival.

25. Get a cartilage ear piercing.

DISCOVER

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26. Learn the ASL alphabet and some basic phrases.

27. Watch 1 documentary a month for an entire year.

28. Try at least 10 new foods/cuisines within one year.

-A

My 27th Year

Recap of my 27 before 27 list

My 27th birthday was a couple days ago.  I attempted 16 things on my 27 before 27 list and actually completed 8 of them.

1. Read ten of Agatha Christie’s mystery novels.   Did I collect several Agatha Christie books?  Yes.  Did I read any this year?  No.

2. Read every book by my favorite author, L. M. Montgomery.  I’ve read 14 so far and there are 6 left.  Sadly, I did not read any additional books by her this year.

3. Read five biographies.  Again, I bought several biographies, but didn’t read any.

4. Brush up on American and World History.  Check!  (read more here) 

5. Complete the 52 books in 52 weeks challenge. I’ve attempted this goal twice now.  The first time (in 2013), I read 31 books.  This year, I’m ashamed to say I only made it to 13.  Eek.  I started at least 5 additional books, but I just never finished them.

6. Become financially literate.  I’m making progress on this one, but I’m not there yet.

7. Learn how to sew.  I had one sewing lesson with my mom.  I was able to mend several pieces of clothing.  I even started on a special sewing project (which I’m hoping to finish next year).  However, I would not say that I met this goal yet.  Perhaps after I finish the sewing project I will feel confident enough in my sewing skills to consider this goal met.

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What is it?  I can’t say yet…it’s a gift.  🙂

8. Learn how to drive a manual car.  K gave me one lesson about 3 years ago.  We did not have a second lesson this year.  I am feeling hesitant about accomplishing this goal.

9. Learn some geography.  Check!  (read more here)

10. Become financially self-sufficient.  Check!  (read more here)

11. Grow my own vegetables.  We grew herbs this year (parsley, cilantro, and basil) but no veggies.  Next year!

12. Learn how to make sushi.  I have helped K make sushi a couple more times, but I won’t consider this goal met until I can do it myself from start to finish.

13. Become an early riser.  With my new job, I now have to be at work at 7:45 am.  This has resulted in me getting up early by default.  However, I will not consider this goal met until I am consistently getting up at least 30 minutes before I have to so that I have time to drink coffee/read a book before leaving for work.

14. Be completely debt free.  This was the year I finally paid off my student loan.  All that is left now is K’s student loan.

15. Take a week break from TV/Netflix and all social media.  I took some weekend breaks, but I did not do a whole week.

16. Stick with the Dave Ramsey budget system for at least a year.  I have been off and on with this goal throughout the year.  I do maintain a budget, but we have not stuck with doing cash only.

17. Pay for a stranger’s groceries.  I have not done this one yet.

18. Start an exercise routine and stick with it for at least 90 days.  I stuck with an exercise routine for about a month…  I also did yoga for a couple months in a row.  However, nothing has stuck.

19. Eat fresh vegetables or fruits once a day for 30 days.  Check! (read more here)

20. Blog at least once a month for 1 year.  I missed blogging several months this year.

21. Marry the love of my life.  I’m a Mrs. now! (read more here)

22. Host a dinner party.  Check!  (read more here)

23. Break a piñata.  Not yet.  I need a piñata breaking occasion.  Cinco de Mayo party, maybe?

24. Go parasailing.  We had this booked in October when we went to Florida, but unfortunately it got canceled due to weather conditions.

25. Take a trip with my best friend.  Check! (read more here)

26. Go spelunking.  Check!  (read more here)

27. Attend a masquerade party.  Not yet.

When I saw that I only completed 8 things on my list this year, I was disappointed.  However, then I realized that I have done more than I initially thought.  In addition to the 8 goals on my 27 before 27 list, I also completed 3 other adventures that were on my overall bucket list.

#19. Watch the sunrise at the beach (completed in April 2015, read more here)

#66. Release a floating lantern (completed July 2015, read more here)

#104. Visit 15 new places/towns/cities within driving distance of where I live in one year. (completed December 2015, read more here)

I made some progress on #47, too – watch the 100 greatest American movies of all time, as ranked by the AFI (read about my progress here).  I watched 5 more movies on this list this year (Pulp Fiction, Fargo, The Silence of the Lambs, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, and Annie Hall.)

Best of all, I had some amazing spontaneous adventures that never made it on a bucket list.

Reflecting back on my year, I feel that there are a couple of main hurdles that held me back from meeting more goals.  One hurdle was that I was not happy at my job.  When I got home from work, my mood was not the greatest and I didn’t feel like doing anything other than sitting down in front of the TV.  Many days, I just did not feel motivated at all to work on my goals.  However, at the end of August I made a big change and switched to a new job.  I am much, much happier in my new work environment.

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The other main hurdle for me is time wasters like Netflix, Pinterest, and Facebook.  Don’t get me wrong, I think all three of these are great in moderation.  But I don’t use them in moderation.  I keep finding new shows to binge watch, I can pin things for hours, heck, when I’m driving and stop at a stoplight, my first instinct is to grab my phone and check Facebook.  My problem is that a few minutes turns into a few hours.  I want to make it a priority this year to scale back and use time wasters in moderation.  I know I will feel much more fulfilled if I get up and do something instead of letting all my time waste away.

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I would say that overall my 26th year was pretty adventure-filled after all.  Now, it’s time to finish my 28 before 28 list.  Here’s to my 27th year being full of adventure.

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-A

 

Adventure is Near

Number 104 on my adventure list is to travel to 15 new places/towns/cities/events within driving distance of where I live within one year.  I was really excited about this goal because taking grand trips isn’t always possible.  I was surprised to find that there are so many cool places that are close to where we live.

  • Lyons Mansion in Fort Scott, KS (March 2015).  We stayed in this beautiful bed and breakfast on our wedding night.  Our room was amazing and we enjoyed a very nice breakfast the following morning.  I would definitely recommend staying here if you’re ever in the area.  11169889_10204502686389464_9122851108080492586_n
  • Wallace State Park in Cameron, Missouri (May 2015).  We had a picnic lunch and went hiking here one afternoon.  We saw several deer on our walk.  It is a peaceful park.11254461_10205148929745144_2662140801566373161_n
  • Drum Circle Monday at Loose Park in Kansas City, MO (Summer 2015).  We spent several Monday nights this summer here with friends.  There were drums (of course), hippies (of course), and plenty of people watching opportunities.  Having a drink at the park with friends was a great way to make Mondays not so Mondayish.11745510_10204863212887352_804741153251768178_n11742818_10204863211727323_6551875589229498319_n
  • Corinthian Hall Museum in Kansas City, Missouri (June 2015).  This is a really interesting historic home in KC that you can tour.  I find it really interesting to explore old homes.  High, painted ceilings…fancy furnishings…it’s hard to imagine actually living in a place like that.11755079_10205148932105203_1835623140903898045_n
  • Cliff Drive in Kansas City, Missouri (June 2015).  Every weekend, Cliff Drive is closed to cars and open only to pedestrians and bikers.  This was a very scenic road and we had a fun time exploring here.  It was pretty quiet during our afternoon here.  It was almost a bit creepy as it had an abandoned feel with no cars and very few other people. 11173322_10205148933865247_479027777847153680_n
  • Sioux Falls Old Courthouse Museum in Sioux Falls, South Dakota (July 2015).  We stopped here on our way back home after our roadtrip to North Dakota to visit friends.  This was a cool little museum and it was worth the stop.  IMG_1794IMG_1789
  • Lantern Fest in Wichita, KS (July 2015).  In one word – magical.  Read more about our adventure at the Lantern Fest here. 11705188_10205069744285557_2331137236662233132_n
  • Louisburg Cider Mill in Louisburg, Kansas (October 2015).  We went here with some friends for the corn maze, cider, and delicious cider donuts.  This was the perfect fall activity.  This was also K’s very first corn maze.    12038312_10205664542595143_8106030887305856768_n
  • IKEA (October 2015).  We finally broke down and went to IKEA.  This place is HUGE.  It was all a bit overwhelming.  Somehow we managed to leave without buying anything.  12063779_10205664888043779_4535771982979732346_n
  • Glore Psychiatric Museum in St. Joseph, MO (November 2015).  What a creepy but interesting place.  It was neat to learn the history of psychiatric hospitals.  I think we especially enjoyed this museum as our backgrounds are in psychology.    IMG_2668
  • Oregon Trail Landmark in Saint Joseph, MO (November 2015).  Pretty cool to imagine what it would have been like for the pioneers when they first came across the Missouri River.  We had a nice time exploring the area and seeing the sunset on the river.  12308655_10205869138629916_4330478030340237096_n
  • Shoal Creek Living History Museum in Kansas City, MO (November 2015).  This was a cool place to visit with lots of history.  It is also (apparently) the spot to take family photos, because everyone was doing it.  I would like to go back during one of their events as all the buildings are apparently open then.  During our visit, we had to peer through windows to see inside.  12191049_10205734476903457_8679000225760285273_n
  • Harrah’s Casino in Kansas City, MO (November 2015).  We randomly decided to go to a casino one night.  This was K’s first casino in the States and my first one in Kansas City.  We left with more money than we went in with, so I’d call that a successful night. casino.jpg
  • Vaile Mansion in Independence, MO (December 2015).  This place has a really interesting history.  It was built as a private residence.  Only a year or two passed before Mrs. Vaile died.  Our guide said it was an accidental overdose of laudanum, which Mrs. Vaile took for pain (she had stomach cancer).  However, there are speculations that she may have committed suicide as her husband was currently on trial for fraud.  After Mr. Vaile died, the mansion became a nursing home for many years.  Based on a google search I did, it seems that many people feel the mansion is haunted.  What I read online says that the mansion served as an asylum for many years; however, our tour guide never mentioned this so I’m not sure if that is accurate.  It was very bright and cheerful inside when we visited, all warmly decorated for Christmas.  The outside was a bit creepy, though.
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  • National Frontier Trails Museum in Independence, MO (December 2015).  This was such a cool museum about the Oregon and Santa Fe Trails.  There were some fun interactive exhibits, too.  We got to pack a covered wagon with supplies.  We also got to spin a wheel to see if we would strike it rich in the gold rush.  I feel like I learned a lot at this museum.  Would definitely recommend it. pioneermuseum

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    Got our wagon packed!

  • Chicago Alton Depot Museum in Independence, MO (December 2015).  This was an unexpected stop for us.  The staff at the National Frontier Trails Museum recommended we stop by the train depot, which is right next to the Trails Museum.  We got a private tour of the depot from a very nice man named Marvin.  It was worth the stop, we got to learn some interesting things and have a nice chat with Marvin.  I am fascinated with trains anyway, so I had a fun time here.
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Well, I made it to 16 new places within one year.  Even though I can officially check this goal off my list, I plan to keep searching for interesting places to explore that are within driving distance.  If you have any suggestions, I would love to hear them!

-A

Are we there yet?

For the past two summers, K and I have taken a roadtrip from Missouri to North Dakota (traveling through Kansas, Iowa, and South Dakota) to visit friends.  It’s a long drive, but there is no one else I would rather be stuck in a car with than K.  🙂  It’s totally worth the drive to see our friends.

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July 2014.  Someone passed out early…

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July 2014 – K with B & J’s daughter.  She is the sweetest little girl.

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On the way home the first year, we stopped at Sioux Falls, SD which was such a beautiful spot!

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July 2015

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July 2015

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What’s your favorite thing about taking a roadtrip?

-A

Tea Time

My best friend and my sister-in-law threw me a lovely tea party for my bridal shower in February 2015.  This was the perfect theme for me and they put it together fabulously.

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Yes, that is a teapot cake.  Ah-mazing.

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Just having some tea with my BF.

Have you ever gone to a tea party?

-A