13 Themes in 2013

Lists are fantastic things. They are the one, tiny, shining beacon of sanity in my otherwise crazy and sawdust filled life. The only problem with looong lists (or lists that span long periods of time) is that I get really excited about checking things off the list, start them all at once, and then don’t make any progress until about 5 minutes before whatever the deadline is when I go into frantic “getting things done” mode. So,when some of my fantastically creative and crafty new friends suggested making lists of all the things we want to do in 2013, I did just what you’d expect me to do– dove in headfirst. And then I stopped, came up for air, and was like… this list will be the death of me and my house if I don’t try something a little different.

So, instead of one long list of things I’d like to do this year (that consists of 90% house projects), I’ve picked 13 themes–one theme to span the year, and one for each month–to help get me excited, focused, and on track to have a kickass 2013.

Here’s the big one, I talked a little bit about last week. My overall theme for 2013: Be Connected

Here’s what you might ask yourself when you read that: What the shit does that mean? I know because that’s exactly what I asked myself when I wrote it down. Listen, big grand ideas are fantastic things– I once had a big, grand idea to build a house with my own two hands– but what I learned from that experience is that the actual execution of a big idea takes specific, actionable steps. The nice thing about a house it’s a tangible thing, “connection”, unfortunately, is not something I can hit with a hammer.

So, in an effort to make connection a real, tangible thing (that I promise I won’t try to hit with a hammer) I’ve created a list.

This year I am going to be more connected by:

  1. Not frantically jumping from project to project. A few weeks ago I reinstituted the 5 project rule, and this is a huge help in my life when it comes to keeping projects under control and organized, so my goal is to stick with it now that things have calmed down a little around the house.
  2. Work in my sketchbook/journal twice a week. Most of the writing and creating I do these days is for the house or the blog– I just don’t have time for much else– but there was a time where I use to create things just for me. Not to hang on the walls, or to show on the website, or to get pinned to Pinterest, but to–in a sense– dialogue with myself by doing what I love. I’ve had a little trouble getting back into the grove of this, so I came up with 104 “thought starters” to help me turn the blank pages in my sketchbook into something, uh, not blank. I’ll share them later this week for any other journal junkies.
  3. Stop the madness every night. “The Madness” usually occurs sometime between 10 PM and 2 AM, when I look up from whatever project I’m working on, or post that I’m writing, and realize I haven’t showered and there are 6 days of dishes all over my desk, and I have to be up and leaving for work in like 4 hours, but I just can’t seem to stop whatever I’m doing.  (And I’m like, okay, I swear I’ll be done… just ten more minutes. Right.) So I’m making a rule to literally cutting myself off from house projects, writing, and compulsively pinning stuff at 9:30 PM every weeknight, so that I’ve got time to actually take care of myself. You know, do things normal people do… like shower. Floss. Maybe wash a dish.
  4. Making time for others. In the last year my life has filled up with people who are all kinds of awesome– hilarious, inspiring, smart, amazing, creative. It’s a little surreal because deep down I’m a person who would hole up in my workshop and be perfectly fine with not seeing another person for at least three weeks. Maybe a month. But if there’s one thing I know, it’s that you don’t take awesome for granted, so when I have the chance to be around the fabulous people in my life, or hide out in the shop… I promise I won’t always choose to hide out in the shop.

So that’s the big theme for the year, but in addition I’ve come up with monthly themes that I hope will inspire me, give direction to the things I’m working on around the house, let me unleash a little creativity, and help me see things differently. So. Here they are, Monthly themes for 2013:

January: Get my Shit Together
One of my friends asked exactly what this means, and I was like, listen… I’ve already run myself dry of fuel oil–which means no heat in the house for a day or more– three times this year. The most recent of which was Sunday. I am currently without debit card because I thought I lost it and then two hours after I cancelled it found it under some roof jacks that have been occupying the copilot seat of my car… since the summer. Also, you saw this mess, right? Right. I’m an effing disaster on feet and it needs to stop, so here are my Get My Shit Together goals for the month:

  1. Creating a budget and bill paying system
  2. Creating a house calendar for maintenance like filling the fuel oil tank and checking the salt in the water softener
  3. Finding a spot for important things– particularly in my office (I want a safe hidden behind a picture, obviously, but may have to settle for like, a drawer.)
  4. Putting together lists and budgets for upcoming projects

February: Love a Little, Save a Lot
February is Cupid’s month, after all, and if that little shit takes aim at me with one of his arrows, all I’m saying is that dude better know how to dodge a hammer. That being said, I’m committing to letting a little more of that warm and fuzzy feeling into my life this month, which means:

  1. Writing love notes to friends and strangers.
  2. Spending one-on-one time with as many people as I can.
  3. Reading an epic love story
  4. Writing or creating something from the heart

In February I’m also going to start planning and saving for my next big house project (either the Kitchen or the Master Suite) which means being a little more frugal with my spending, craigslisting unused house items, picking up more freelance work, and finding some other creative ways to put more pennies in the piggy bank.

March: Do it all Different
Embrace the motto “this is not how I do things”. When I moved to a new town (twice) last year, all of the sudden there was no more normal. My routines, driving routes, shopping places, the people I saw… everything was shaken up, and a lot of good came out of it. I’m sure as hell not moving a third time (or ever again, hopefully) but March is for shaking things up again by doing these things:

  1. Go to a restaurant I’ve never been to before (and probably wouldn’t pick out on my own)
  2. Take the back roads into work once a week
  3. Start a project that I normally wouldn’t do. (For example, sew something.)
  4. Wear an outfit that is totally “not me”
  5. Say yes when I want to say no (or vice versa)

April: Start a Big House Project
I’ll be spending the first few months of the year finishing up a lot of the work I’ve already started on the house, and taking care of spring maintenance. April is for losing myself in a big project again… either the kitchen or the master suite. This will probably mean taking some time off of the day job so I can put some serious man-hours in on the project.

May: Get my Farm On
Likely any big project I start in April will continue through the spring, but if I’m not doing something completely unexpected this month (more on that later), May will be for getting a head start on my farmers tan. This means:

  1.   Planting the vegetable garden
  2.   Putting up the donkey fence
  3.   Building a chicken coop
  4.   Gathering my “flock” (or “herd” as the case may be)

June: Spend More Time Outdoors
Not just working on the house (but there is a patio and pergola that need to be started) but making time for all kinds of outdoorsy things, like these:

  1.  Go kayaking
  2.   Sleep outdoors
  3.   Cook all meals for one day over an open flame
  4.   Have a picnic
  5.   Get a fantastic farmers tan

July: Go Abroad
It will have been 16 years this month since my last visit to Italy, and that’s much too long to go without a taste of fresh made gnocchi and pesto, so July is all about travel.

  1. Go to Italy with the fam. Do not let work stop me.
  2. Eat gelato every day.
  3. Take pictures in the same spots I took pictures 16 years ago.
  4. Elope with an Italian (Just kidding. Maybe.)

August: Throw a Big Party
Celebrating the end of summer and a lot of progress on the house can only be done one way out here in the country: In the barn, with a lot of beer. It could turn into a full weekend of camping and bonfires and general farm-related awesomeness, which means working on these things:

  1.   Build an exceptionally long picnic table
  2.   Make a proper bonfire pit
  3.   Finish off the patio projects
  4.   Come up with a great party theme
  5.   Concoct a “signature drink” for Liberty House


September: Learn Something New
Fall is “back to school” time, and even though there are no classrooms for me these days, I think our brains are still hardwired to learn new things come fall. This month I’ll learn something new: Maybe how to weld, or how to change the sparkplugs in my car? How to diffuse a bomb with a stick of gum and a paperclip?

October: Suck It Up
My goal heading into the holidays is to spend time taking care of things I’d rather not do. You know, like dishes. Or scanning all of my receipts in and filing my paperwork. Or changing all of the plugs and outlets out (because I bet I still won’t have that done).

November: Write It Down
November is National Novel Writing Month. I am not going to write a novel, (I am crazy, but not that crazy.) However, I’ve been meaning to put together photo books with excerpts from the blog about building my last house and the first couple of years in the new one. So in November, I’ll be spending a lot of time in the office doing these things:

  1.   Create (or hire someone to create) InDesign templates
  2.   Lay out and organize pictures and excerpts for the Memorial House adventure
  3.   Organize information from Liberty House posts.

December: Give Something Back
‘Tis the season for giving, and some things are more difficult to give than others. In my goal for December is to give, not just in ways that are easy, but in ways that are meaningful. It might mean giving time (always in high demand), it may mean giving honesty, or giving truth (because sometimes it’s easier not to.) It may mean giving compliments, or keeping cash on hand to give to those in need. And it definitely means finding and giving really fantastic gifts for my friends and family.

If I can look back on 2013 having touched on each of these themes, it’s a safe bet that this will be the most epic year yet.

26 Responses

  1. To everything there is a season. How smart you are to have mapped a direction for your life rather than wandering aimlessly around. You have really inspired me. Good luck and best wishes.

  2. OMG I want to come back out to Michigan and work on January’s goal with you! I am so deranged I find that fun (what the hell is wrong with me?)

    1. January’s goal spoke to me too…on.a.really.deep.level. So, there is nothing wrong with you because there is nothing wrong with me! Ha! I organize paper and push deadlines for a living, so I am hardwired to what makes most people shudder. Maybe, Kit will just let us do it for her.

  3. These are great! Love the post and you have inspired me. I’m taking a vacation in April to see friends in the UK.

  4. So excited for all of this. Obviously now you must share the outfit pic! The Diy diva does an outfit. I love it!

  5. ever the inspiration – especially since you put it “out there”, you are such a bad-ass!! in a good way!! in the best way;)

  6. God love you! There are so many of my habits on this list that I may just adopt your goals. I have managed to stop dragging crap out at 10 PM to start a project, so that helps. But I am blaming rest of it on adult-onset ADHD (otherwise known as being a single momma of two teenagers with a panache for burning the candle at both ends) for my too-numerous-to-mention projects which are in various stages of completion. You and I may have been separated at birth; if you can match my coffee addition, I will know we were!

    1. Ohhhh the caffeine addiction (mine was Diet Coke, not coffee) I gave it up a decade ago and haven’t had a drop since, but, let me tell you, NOT FUN.

      I’d love it if you want to jump in on any of this years themes and share!

  7. Awesome list. I want to take it and start checking off items immedately. Lots of great thought went into this, I realize I have been slacking off on my list-making. I’m gonna get back to it. THanks for the inspiration. Jo @ Let’s Face the Music

  8. Ugh. Thanks for making the rest of us feel like slugs. 🙂 I’m just jealous ’cause you’re brilliant. And re: September – I’m pretty certain you can MAKE a bomb with a stick of gum and a paperclip. But it has to be Beeman’s gum and a red plastic coated paperclip. There may be a few more ingredients involved as well.

  9. This is the flat-out most awesome set of goals I have seen. And I can totally relate to several of them!

    I may not have quite as organized plan as you, but you have inspired me to set some monthly goals!

  10. It will be an awesome blog year if you touch all of these as well. Tons of stuff to write about and share. I wish I was this ambitious! Good luck! Can’t wait to read all about your adventures!

  11. Inspiring list! Makes the year of doom (aka 2012+1 for us superstitious types) sound downright inviting.

    Any ideas for the epic love story? My suggestions: Anna Karenina by Tolstoy (the Pevear/Volokhonsky translation), or A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth. Both epic, both otherworldly, and both absolutely unforgettable.

    1. I loved Anna Karenina! I finished 3/4 of it in one sitting…minus the occasional bathroom breaks! I just added A Suitable Boy to my Goodreads “want to read” list; I’m intruiged. I’m not much of a list maker, but something about a list of books to read makes my heart go pitter-patter.

  12. Love it! What a good idea to have specific goals 🙂

    There are LOTS of apps out there designed to help you keep on top of task for the house etc. I also use iReconcile to keep on top of my finances and budget.

    Love the blog! Looking forward to seeing more of what you get up to in 2013! 🙂

  13. What a great list! You are inspiring me to make one of my own. I also need to get my shit together – just like Lori I have teenage daughters & my time is not my own! Now to get started on my list……

  14. Aaaand I love your blog THAT much more now. I studied abroad in Italy for a summer back in 2007 and absolutely fell in love with it. I can’t wait to go back! I even miss the gypsies and pervy street vendors.

  15. Every post of yours makes me more and more jealous. I’ve been wanting to go to Italy for years. Some day I’ll make it there. You’ve got a great plan for the year and I’m looking forward to reading all about it!

  16. If you elope with that Italian in July, I say you ditch the journal prompts (even though I love them) and write your own epic love story. I’ll be hanging on every word.

    My themes for 2013 (same for each month):
    1)Try to stay ahead of the laundry before people complain.
    2)Food in general (shopped for, cooked, thrown out when bad) before people complain.
    3)Try to keep things clean enough before people complain.
    4)Try to complete home improvement projects while simultaneously monitoring the first three.
    5)Try to count my blessings instead of envying you.

    #5 is the hardest, lol

    1. Ha! I think I have an easy way to help you with these themes… I hear a nice roll of duct tape does wonders for quelling complaints 😉 Plus, since it involves duct tape, it could almost be considered a home improvement project!

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