21 Happy Things from 2021

I really enjoyed sharing 20 Happy Things from 2020 last year so here I am with 21 Happy Things from 2021.

2020 and 2021 both brought with them lots of uncertainty and challenges and I want to be able to remember the good stuff that happened amongst that.

So let’s get started…

21 Happy Things from 2021

1 Strictly Come Dancing

I am so late to the party on this one…it’s been going since 2004 apparently. But I left the UK in 2005 for 11 years and I don’t think Strictly was screened in New Zealand. I jumped on the Bake Off wagon when we returned in 2016 but it’s taken a bit longer for Strictly. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed watching it this year and might even dip into some of the archives before the next series.

2 The Isle of Skye

We visited Scotland in the Summer and enjoyed a wonderful few days on Skye. It was incredible. The whole stay was wonderful and we managed to cram a lot in. It’s hard to pick favourites but I have fond memories of a mammoth day where we visited Dunvegan Castle and took a boat trip to see the seals, walked out to Claigan Coral Beach and paddled in the very cold sea and then took a late afternoon hike to the Fairy Pools. I’d love to go back and see even more and visit other Scottish Islands too. I shared a selection of photos here.

A mosaic of 4 images from the Isle of Skye including Portree, Dunvegan Castle, a loch reflecting the blue sky and 3 sets of feet on the Coral beach.
3 Opening my Etsy Shop

I opened the doors to the Find the Good Everyday Etsy shop at the end of the May. It’s been a wonderful ride and I’m looking forward to coming up with even more guided journals and items to help you find the good in daily life next year. A BIG thank you to everyone that has supported me along the way.

4 Sewing

I took a Learn to Sew course back in Autumn 2019 and since then I’ve enjoyed creating things from fabric and thread! In 2021 I tried sewing lots of new things including clothes for my son. I enjoy the challenge combined with the process. Sewing is very mindful for me because I have to pay attention. And I look forward to continuing to develop my skills and make ALL the things!

Mosaic featuring 4 sewing photos including a rainbow chevron tote bag and purse, a pyjama top for my son, some bags made from sloth and toucan fabric and some zipper pouches made with bird fabric.
5 Turning 40 – Visiting Kent and a Swim in the Sea

20 years ago I am sure that I thought everyone over the age of 35 was old. But now my age starts with a 4 I have discovered I care less about what others think and more about the things that bring me joy. (To be fair – I think I have been working on this throughout my 30’s). I enjoyed turning 40 and we timed it with a few days away in Kent which was an adventure. I even got into the very cold sea for a dip!

6 Hosting Workshops and Lives

It’s interesting to me that these things have made the list as on the run up to them I feel anxious and nervous. Hosting some Self Care Journaling Workshops and some Instagram Lives this year felt like a push out of my comfort zone and they are something I want to explore further and continue with in 2022.

7 Jigsaw Puzzles

It can be hard to find the good amongst the pandemic but I am grateful that it granted me both the inspiration to try some jigsaw puzzles and the time to do so. I’m not sure why they didn’t make the final cut in 2020 but they are definitely one for 2021. I enjoy looking for puzzle images that bring me joy – and that spurs me on to get them made. I find puzzles a great way to step away from screens and it’s fun when the whole family gets involved.

8 A Family Mini Break in Norfolk

We didn’t go anywhere in 2020 after the first lockdown and I felt sad about that. Exploring places and going on adventures is something I love doing with my loved ones. So this year we decided to stay fairly local and short but ensure we got some time away from where we live. Our first trip was at the end of May – to Norfolk. We took Reggie (our greyhound) on his first holiday. It was only 2 nights away from home but felt like a balm after so long without a trip away.

9 My Birthday Lists – 39 and 40

I’m starting to wonder if Birthday Lists are my life’s mission! (Although journaling and documenting life is up there on the list too!) I thoroughly enjoy coming up with my lists of things to do between one birthday and the next. As with any long-term projects – I tend to lose my way somewhere in the middle but I enjoy striving to complete as many fun things as I can. I’m proud of everything I completed whilst 39 and I’m having fun with my 40 for 40 list so far.

10 My Son finishing primary school

This one is bittersweet for sure. It felt like a big milestone for him but I hadn’t realised it would feel like one for me as well. There were some happy moments mixed with sad ones as he farewelled his primary school and made the move to secondary. As someone who loves reflecting (and can sometimes wallow in nostalgia) I am glad I made the decision to enjoy and embrace all the feelings.

11 My Spring Wreath

I like to honour and acknowledge the Solstices and Equinoxes in some way and when I was scrolling through my photo reel from 2021 for inspiration for this list I found myself pausing over the photos of my Spring Wreath. I purchased it from a local business. It’s a willow wreath and completely natural. I was able to plant the primroses and mini daffs into pots when I was finished with the wreath. And I’ve also kept the willow base to use in the future.

12 My Pink Raincoat

I treated myself to some new clothing items (and some help from Sarah at Styled by Susie) as my 40th birthday approached. My favourite new item by far is my pink raincoat! After years of using a raincoat we got free with dog food (we sadly said goodbye to that dog in 2016 but the coat endured!) I am so happy to put something on that makes me smile when I walk the dog every day.

21 Happy Things from 2021 - 4 photos featuring me in my pink raincoat, my new handbag, my Spring wreath and Reggie the greyhound
13 My bargain ‘designer’ handbag

We are local to quite a few charity (goodwill) shops and I often peek into the windows as I pass. I’ve found some lovely items in them over the last few years. A few months ago I peered in and saw the bag of my dreams (I’d never seen the bag before but I knew that’s what it was as soon as I saw it!). It’s a navy handbag with a detachable long strap. I think it cost me £20 and was as new (the strap and hardware were still wrapped in packaging). I love it!

14 Journaling

This list would be incomplete without a nod to my own form of therapy. I’ve consistently written morning pages and a daily gratitude journal this year and it has such a positive effect on my mindset and mental health. I’ve also taken part in some journaling challenges and programmes. And I thoroughly enjoy coming up with journaling prompts for my newsletter subscribers (sign up for my newsletter here!) and IG community regularly. As well as created my guided journals for Etsy. Even this 21 Happy Things from 2021 list counts as journaling!

A mosaic of 4 photos showing my Autumn and Winter journals, my affirmation cards and my rainbow gratitude journal.
15 Reggie & Dog Walking

I’m so grateful for our dramatic and often grumpy greyhound – Reggie! Our daily walks are always good for me and he encourages me (& gives me a very good excuse) to get out the house and move my feet every single day. Getting outside and as close to nature as I can has been a necessity this year more than ever.

16 Making the kiddo some pyjamas

I’ve already touched on how happy sewing makes me but this one deserves it’s own place on the list. I love making things and I enjoy making things for other people. But being able to make clothes? And then feel joyous every time he wears them and thinking ‘I made that!’… that’s priceless! I hope to make some clothes for myself next year. Please wish me luck!

17 1SE Videos

I use an app called 1SE to edit together a video containing 1 or 2 seconds of footage from every day of the year. I’ve done this for a few years now. It’s gotten much easier now with live photos as each photo I take has some video. I tend to collate the clips together in bursts. I share each month’s video to a personal IG account and save the year-long films and share the link with family. It’s emotive to watch and appeals to my nostalgic side.

18 Planning some work on the house

We’ve got some work coming up on the house (hopefully it will start before the end of 2021) which I’m excited for. It’s going to be a lot of work to move everything around in our small house to get it done but I know it will be worth it to have freshly decorated and carpeted bedrooms to relax and rest in.

19 Revisiting Flylady and Routines

A friend reminded me of the Flylady system recently. It’s a system for keeping your space clean and tidy and being kind to yourself along the way. I followed the system years ago and even have the book so I re-read it and was pleased to try it again. There’s an app now which helps you stay on track with what jobs to do when. It’s very early days but I’m taking the baby steps that Flylady encourages us to do.

20 Getting the Home Office organised

Way back in February we gave our home office a bit of a makeover (no decoration but some new furniture and a fair bit of decluttering and sorting out). I’m so glad we did this as my husband continued to work from home for almost all of this year and it’s now a much better space for him to work in. I also use the space often as that’s where our printer is and I enjoy using the standing desk!

21 Seeing Reggie’s Progress

Reggie is quite a nervous fellow (as retired greyhounds often can be) and he’s particularly wary around other dogs. We brought him home in January 2020. With lockdown happening while he was still settling in he didn’t really get the chance to meet people or dogs other than us. It’s been lovely this year to see him warm up to friends and family when he meets them. He’s still wary of other dogs and hates fireworks with a passion but his progress is fantastic!

21 Happy Things from 2021 Pin image

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Ahhh it feels so good to have written that list and reflected on the good parts of 2021.

I urge you to give it a go if you haven’t already and write your own list of 21 Happy Things from 2021. There’s lots of Happy List inspiration here if you need it.

I hope you’ve found some time for joy and happiness this year and wish you a wonderful 2022! See you soon!

My 40 for 40 Project

I turned 40 recently which means it’s time for a new project!

My 40 for 40 Project pinnable image featuring a cupcake on a cake stand with sprinkle covered chocolate 40 decoration on tip.
So what is my 40 for 40 Project?

It’s a list of 40 things I want to do while I’m 40. This isn’t my first time doing this project… and I’ve shared a few of them on this blog:

I have a year to try and complete all 40 of these things. This year has some repeats of favourite activities (like my annual soundtrack, seasonal celebrations and a random me-day!) and some new ones too. A lot of sewing made the list this year. And lots of fun.

I’ve already made a start and ticked a couple of things off! (Can you guess which ones?).

And here it is – my 40 for 40 List

  1. Reiki training
  2. 40 Soundtrack
  3. Sew myself some clothes
  4. Sew the rainbow quilt
  5. Try stand up paddle-boarding
  6. Volunteer
  7. Something fun with the kiddo
  8. Something fun with the husband
  9. Afternoon tea with my friend Sarah
  10. Try and escape room
  11. Learn to say “um” less when speaking
  12. Keep track of everything I read
  13. Family holiday with Reggie
  14. Family Trip Overseas
  15. 40 x Strength and Resistance Workouts
  16. 40 x Yoga practices
  17. Try another NRAS course or similar
  18. Visit Saffron Walden
  19. Make the sewing with stretch dress
  20. Wild/open water swimming
  21. Watch 12 new to me movies or TV shows
  22. Read 40 books
  23. More mindset training
  24. Visit Scotland
  25. Random me-day trip/adventure
  26. Seasonal celebrations – mark each season
  27. Ride my bike
  28. Host a workshop
  29. Go to London
  30. Visit Kent
  31. Day or Week in the Life
  32. The elusive Spa Day
  33. Take a creative class
  34. Organise all my craft supplies
  35. Finish my sentence-a-day journal
  36. Sewing Club – finish silver level
  37. Sewing Club – Gold level
  38. Write a letter to 50 year old Katie
  39. Try hot stones reflexology
  40. Get a facial
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I’m sure I’ll post an update here at some point and I will also share some of these things as I do them over on Instagram.

Have you ever done anything like this? What would be on your list?

39 Before 40 Final Report

It’s time for my 39 Before 40 Final Report. I set myself the task of achieving 39 things between my 39th and 40th birthdays and today I’m going to let you know how I got on.

You can see the original list here and I also did an update part way too.

My 39 Before 40 Final Report

39 Before 40 Final Report

1 Blog 25 18 times COMPLETE

I didn’t quite manage the 25 I originally intended but I’m happy to call this one complete with 18 posts written and published over the year. And that year included a chunk of national and local lockdowns and home learning for my son… I did what I could!

2 Release 3 FTGE (Find The Good Everyday) paid for products COMPLETE

I am so pleased that I opened my Etsy shop this year and have already reached 40 sales! I’d love it if you popped over for a look. And I overachieved here – releasing more than 3 products.

3 Mindset Training COMPLETE

I have realised this year that mindset is a constant work-in-progress and it’s something I want to prioritise regularly going forward.

4 39 Soundtrack COMPLETE

I love this one and recommend you give it a go! I pick one (sometimes 2) songs each month that I’ve been listening to or that remind me of something we’ve done or even shows/films we’ve been watching. Here’s the 39 Soundtrack on Spotify.

5 Document Christmas Learn Cross-stitch COMPLETE

You can see the little rainbow I stitched here.

6 Sewing with Stretch course COMPLETE

I started the course and got 2 of the 3 items made which is awesome. There is one more item from the course to make – I have the pattern and supplies ready to go and it’s on my 40 for 40 list!

7 Take Reggie on “holiday” COMPLETE

Reggie is our greyhound. We took him away to Norfolk for 2 nights in an Air BNB and we all enjoyed it!

8 Go to Skye COMPLETE

I’m so happy we got to do this in the Summer. I loved Skye and would love to revisit as there is so much to see and do. I shared a few snaps on Instagram here.

9 Ride a Horse Do a 20k step day COMPLETE

I didn’t get to ride a horse but I did do a 20k step day when we were in Skye (visiting Dunvegan Castle, the Coral beach and the Fairy Pools) and I felt that definitely deserved a place on this list!

10 Visit Norfolk COMPLETE

We did this in May and took Reggie.

11 Plan an epic 40th COMPLETE

We had dinner out (with cocktails!) at the newly opened Cosy Club, I treated myself to some new clothes and we went away to Kent for a few days – it was really lovely.

12 Spa Day Personal Shop (With a Stylist) COMPLETE

The Spa Day got cancelled again! (We originally bought the Spa Day package in November 2019. Hoping it will happen while I’m 40.) Instead I got an online shop with a stylist to help me pick some new items for my wardrobe. It was lots of fun.

13 Day in the Life COMPLETE

I took part in this in March. I blogged about it here and also created a photo book too.

14 Take a creative course/class COMPLETE

I did this virtually. I finished the Bronze level of my online sewing club and moved along to the Silver level. The items I made were:

  • Lay flat drawstring bag
  • Some cushions – envelope back and zipper closure
  • Drawstring project bag with internal zip and handles
  • Mug Bag
Sewing Projects from 39 Before 40
15 Instagram growth – reach 1k and grow my community COMPLETE

Instagram is my favourite social media platform and I enjoy creating content and spending time chatting there. I’d love it if you popped by for a visit!

16 Europe city break First 100 Days Journalling Project COMPLETE

This was a pandemic related switch.

17 Grow the FTGE newsletter and mailing list COMPLETE

I really enjoy sending my monthly newsletters. I create a freebie to send out each month. It’s usually journalling prompts or a worksheet to help you find more good in your everyday. It makes me happy each time someone signs up! If you don’t already get the newsletter you can sign up here.

18 Visit Bury St Edmunds/Suffolk COMPLETE

We visited Bury St Edmunds and stopped there for lunch and a walk on our way to Norfolk in May.

19 Reach my Find Your Happy Sales Target COMPLETE

So pleased with this one. You can learn more about Find Your Happy here and purchase a copy here. Every purchase makes me so very happy! I really appreciate each and every one.

20 Be Published and Paid NOT DONE

I was so convinced that I would do this but it just didn’t happen. I found more enjoyment working on items for my Etsy shop than I did pitching for work. So I embraced my word for the year – curiosity – and I followed my nose. This may be something I come back to in the future but it wasn’t the right time this year.

21 Submit the kiddo’s high school application COMPLETE

This was done back in October and we were very pleased to find out he got his first choice school in March.

22 Family Movie Night with a Theme COMPLETE

We watched Harry Potter, made Butterbeer and had HP related snacks! (M&S sell chocolate frogs and other wizard treats!)

23 A Me Day for Whatever I like (follow my nose!) COMPLETE

I originally intended to take myself off for an adventure but instead I read a whole book (that I’d been eagerly awaiting) in a day!

24 Do some work on the house NOT DONE

I had a list of things we wanted to do but it didn’t happen. We started looking into a new kitchen and other things we wanted done but were never quite motivated to crack on with the projects. Hopefully soon!

25 Solstice and Equinox adventures COMPLETE
  • Winter – made a wreath
  • Spring – purchased a beautiful Willow wreath
  • Summer – went on a lovely walk with the family
  • Autumn – got my hair done and worked on Autumn items for my Etsy shop!
Celebrating the seasons for 39 Before 40
26 Find fun ways to use glass jars COMPLETE

I ended up playing with glass jars for my Crafternoon in aid of Mind.

27 Host a Crafternoon to raise money for Mind COMPLETE

I did this in November. I really enjoyed hosting and would definitely consider doing it again.

28 Food bank donations COMPLETE

I set up a monthly financial donation to our local food bank at the end of last year.

29 Share my RA story NOT DONE

I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) in March 2020. I’ve had a blog post drafted about this for a while and I had planned to share it around the time of RA Awareness Week in September but I don’t feel quite ready to share yet.

30 Read Untamed COMPLETE

I read it, loved it and recommend it!

31 Monthly RAKs – big and small COMPLETE

I didn’t always do these monthly but I did at least 12 over the course of the year. I really enjoyed this one. It was fun coming up with different ideas. I did giveaways on Instagram and through my newsletter and chose someone who purchased from my Etsy shop to win a £5 voucher.

32 Try dairy free (for a week? Or month?) Try Second Nature COMPLETE

I changed this one to trying a 12 week programme around nutrition and mindset. It was good – I learnt a lot and have recently started a repeat of the 12 weeks to build on what I learned the first time around.

33 Bring back a meat-free-day each week Try More Meat Free Recipes COMPLETE

I didn’t keep track of this so I don’t know if I managed a meat free day every week. But we did try more Meat Free Recipes and make sure we add some to the meal plan every week.

34 Review this list monthly and make plans COMPLETE

I didn’t use any ‘formal’ way to review but I regularly checked the list to see how I was getting on. And this 39 Before 40 Final Report counts right?!

35 Aim for 30+ rejections pitches and learn from them NOT DONE

As I said for Number 20 – this didn’t happen. I did send some pitches and followed them up. But in the end I found more enjoyment and satisfaction from working on items for my Etsy shop so I focused my time on that instead.

36 NLP Training Taster COMPLETE

NLP stands for Neuro-Linguistic Programming. I did this in January. It was interesting and something I would consider exploring further in the future.

37 Be a guest blogger/tutor/speaker COMPLETE

I was a guest on the Creative Productive podcast and also did an Instagram Live with the host Sarah (@stationerymagpie). I was a guest tutor for the Bring Back Paper membership. And I did an IG Live with Alexis all about Instagram and how I use it.

38 Make Hot Chocolate bombs with the kiddo COMPLETE

This was fun and we’ve made more since. Maybe we should make some for Christmas presents this year?

39 Get kiddo ready for high school (uniform/kit, equipment etc) COMPLETE

We did this and we are continually working on getting him set up for success.

Summary

So that’s my 39 Before 40 Final Report. In summary:

  • I’ve completed 35 items on the list – really chuffed with that.
  • Of those 35, 7 were changed from the original list for various reasons and I am okay with that.
  • 4 were not completed but I’m at peace with that.

I’ll be back soon to share my 40 for 40 list which I’ve already made some progress with!

39 Before 40 Progress Report

Hello. It’s time for a 39 Before 40 Progress Report. This is a fairly long one so you might want to grab a cuppa. Read on to see how I am getting on with the 39 things I want to achieve by the time I turn 40 (in October 2021).

My 39 Before 40 Project Progress Report text overlaying a background image of a woman holding a sparkler

39 Before 40 Progress Report

1 – Blog 25 times IN PROGRESS

I’m up to 11 posts (including this one). 14 to go with just under 6 months remaining. That’s doable! I’m aiming for 2-3 posts each month.

2 – Release 3 FTGE (Find The Good Everyday) paid for products IN PROGRESS

I have something coming very soon. A Summer Guided Journal and Summer Self Care Kit. I also hope to release an Autumn themed project in September.

3 – Mindset Training IN PROGRESS
  • I did Sophie Cliff’s Master Your Mindset course in November 2020
  • I also did Sophie’s First 100 Days journaling project
  • And I am currently working my way through Jamie Varon’s Live with Intention course

I think mindset is a constant work-in-progress and I am grateful that these trainings have helped me to continue working on it.

4 – 39 Soundtrack IN PROGRESS

This is such a fun one. It’s shaping up to be a list of songs that hold specific memories this year rather than a collection of my favourites. Previous annual soundtracks have been a mix of both. You can see what I’ve picked so far here.

5 – Document Christmas Learn Cross-stitch COMPLETE

I didn’t get myself organised enough to Document Christmas so I changed it to Learn Cross-stitch which I did in February. You can see the little rainbow I stitched here.

6 – Sewing with Stretch course

No progress on this yet. I’ve not been doing very much sewing at all lately. I am still hopeful to make a start though – perhaps over Summer.

7 – Take Reggie on “holiday” IN PROGRESS

Reggie is our greyhound. We have something booked. Just a short overnight break quite close to home to have a practice run and get him used to travelling and staying somewhere else with us.

8 – Go to Skye IN PROGRESS

We’ve got something booked for later in the year. Fingers crossed it goes ahead!

9 – Ride a Horse

I have no immediate plans to do this. It may get swapped for something else. Or I might just get something booked and do it as things start opening up again.

10 – Visit Norfolk IN PROGRESS

This one is tied in with number 7 (taking Reggie on holiday!)

11 – Plan an epic 40th

I’ll wait a bit longer before I make any plans for my 40th in October – who knows what the rules will be by then?!

12 – Spa Day

This is booked for the summer and I am really hoping it will go ahead as it’s been a long time coming. My friend and I originally had a spa day booked for March 2020 and it’s been postponed a few times already.

13 – Day in the Life COMPLETE

I took part in this in March. I blogged about it here and also created a photo book.

14 – Take a creative course/class

Hoping to do this as the world opens back up. I’d love to do something in person rather than online.

15 – Instagram growth – reach 1k and grow my community IN PROGRESS

I’m getting there with the 1k… please come and follow me if you don’t already. And I’ve been trying to share posts and stories that help people feel part of the Find the Good Everyday community. I love having chats with people in my comments and DMs there.

16 – Europe city break First 100 Days Journalling Project COMPLETE

I switched this up as I don’t think a Europe trip will happen this year. I changed it to a project I’d already started at the time and have since completed.

17 – Grow the FTGE newsletter and mailing list IN PROGRESS

I really enjoy sending my monthly newsletters. I create a freebie to send out each month. It’s usually journalling prompts or a worksheet to help you find more good in your everyday. It makes me happy each time someone signs up! If you don’t already get the newsletter you can sign up here.

18 – Visit Bury St Edmunds/Suffolk

We may do this as part of our take Reggie on holiday, on the way to Norfolk. Or it may be a seperate day out. But I plan to do it over the next few months.

19 – Reach my Find Your Happy Sales Target COMPLETE

I am so chuffed to have met my mid-range target for sales. I do still have some copies left though with no immediate plans to reprint the paper copies. You can learn more about Find Your Happy here and purchase a copy here. Every purchase makes me so very happy! I really appreciate each and every one.

20 – Be Published and Paid

I’m working on this by pitching to publications.

21 – Submit the kiddo’s high school application COMPLETE

This was done back in October and we were very pleased to find out he got his first choice school in March.

22 – Family Movie Night with a Theme COMPLETE

We watched Harry Potter, made Butterbeer (here’s our recipe!) and had HP related snacks! (M&S sell chocolate frogs and other wizard treats!)

23 – A Me Day for Whatever I like (follow my nose!)

I haven’t done this yet due to the lockdowns and schools being closed but I hope to schedule this in before the Summer holidays and take myself off on an adventure!

24 – Do some work on the house

I really want to get some work done on our kitchen but we need a surveyor/engineer to have a look because it involves knocking down a wall… the first step is to make some phone calls and find someone to come and have a look.

25 – Solstice and Equinox adventures IN PROGRESS

I made a wreath for Winter Solstice and purchased a beautiful Spring Wreath for the Equinox. And I enjoyed spending time outside on both of those occasions too. Summer Solstice and Autumn Equinox to go!

26 – Find fun ways to use glass jars COMPLETE

I ended up playing with glass jars for my Crafternoon.

27 – Host a Crafternoon to raise money for Mind COMPLETE

I did this back in November. I really enjoyed hosting and would definitely consider doing it again.

28 – Food bank donations COMPLETE

I set up a monthly financial donation to our local food bank at the end of last year.

29 – Share my RA story

I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) in March 2020. I’ve got a blog post drafted about this but it doesn’t feel quite ready to share yet. I might share it around the time of RA Awareness Week which is coming up in September.

30 – Read Untamed COMPLETE

I read it, loved it and recommend it!

31 – Monthly RAKs – big and small IN PROGRESS

I wasn’t as consistent with this to begin with and got a little behind. I’ve got one month to “catch up on” and will continue them monthly. Most recently I gave away a Gratitude Journal on Instagram and a Happiness Toolkit to a newsletter subscriber. I’ve done some RAKs offline as well.

32 – Try dairy free (for a week? Or month?)

Haven’t tried this yet. I think it will be a week to begin with and I’ll see how I go from there.

33 – Bring back a meat-free-day each week

I’ve got meat-free dinners on the menu plan each week but I don’t always make sure I’m meat-free for lunch as well so I need to revise the menu plan to reflect that. One of our favourites is this Smoky Chilli recipe by Jamie Oliver.

34 – Review this list monthly and make plans IN PROGRESS

I’ve not been “formally” doing this but I do have a paper version pinned up and I check/update it every few weeks or so. Plus I’m writing this 39 Before 40 Progress Report!

35 – Aim for 30+ rejections pitches and learn from them IN PROGRESS

This was in relation to pitching to publications. I realised recently that the wording was putting me off so I’ve changed it to sending pitches rather than waiting for the rejections. Part of pitching is undoubtedly receiving rejections which is why I chose the wording originally – to accept that it was going to happen. But I prefer the pro-active wording of tracking the number of pitches I send rather than the responses (or non-responses) I get back.

36 – NLP Training Taster COMPLETE

NLP stands for Neuro-Linguistic Programming. I did this in January. It was interesting and something I would consider exploring further in the future.

37 – Be a guest blogger/tutor/speaker COMPLETE (but would love to do more!)

I was a guest on the Creative Productive podcast – the episode went live in November and you can listen here. I also did an Instagram Live with the host Sarah (@stationerymagpie). And I was a guest tutor for Jocelyn at The Reading Residence Bring Back Paper membership in January – chatting all things journalling.

38 – Make Hot Chocolate bombs with the kiddo COMPLETE

This was fun and we’ve made more since. Here’s a photo of some we made.

39 – Get kiddo ready for high school (uniform/kit, equipment etc)

I’m not sure I am ever going to be emotionally ready for this one but we will be working on this over the summer months ready for September.

39 Before 40 Progress Report Pin image featuring a cake with sparkler 40 candles

Summary

So that’s my 39 Before 40 Progress Report. In summary:

  • I’ve completed 13 items on the list – a third complete at the halfway point.
  • I’ve made a start or have things planned for another 13 things.
  • Which leaves 13 things still to start and get ticked off.

If you’ve read this far – bonus points to you! I know it’s been long but I share my birthday projects and progress for accountability and I appreciate you, as the reader, helping to hold me accountable!

I’ll be back with another update, once I’m 40, later in the year!

A Day in my Life March 2021

Come and take a peek into a day in my life March 2021. Last Tuesday I joined in with Ali Edwards’ A Day in the Life project and recorded life right now.

This isn’t the first time I’ve taken part in this project. You can see a day in the life from March 2020 here and one from February 2019 here.

Why do I do this?

I love documenting life. I love taking photos and making notes about how life looks on a day-to-day basis. Because one day I will look around me and life won’t look anything like it does now.

I am so grateful for the journals, scrapbooks, blog posts, photo books I have that give me an insight into what my everyday was like at those times of my life. I love the nostalgia and the memories that come up.

And in taking the time to document with photos and notes I find myself being more mindful as I go about my day. It helps me realise what stays the same, what changes, where improvements can be made and where I’ve been taking things for granted.

If you’ve never done anything like this I would recommend giving it a go.

A Day in my Life March 2021

A day in the life March 2021

Theme for the Day – Getting back to routine

Weather – Sunny. Low of 4 / High of 11

Wake up Time – 7am – much earlier than usual as the kiddo is back at school this week for the first time in 2021 (we’ve been home learning since January)

DITL March 2021 - Food

Breakfast – Burnt Scotch Pancakes with flora and jam and an apple. Is it time for a new toaster?

Lunch – Toasties in the new toastie/waffle/panini press with crisps and crudities. My toastie filling was cheese and pineapple which generated some interest on Instagram when I shared it!

Dinner – Pitta pizzas with tomato paste, oregano, a lot of garlic, ham, pineapple, cheese. Easy and simple dinner.

DITL March 2021 - Pen and Paper
What I did
  • Grab my phone earlier than usual to start snapping photos and do a day in the life (DITL) intro on Instagram stories.
  • Write my morning pages.
  • Cuddles with my boys then get ready for the day ahead.
  • Let the dog out, feed everyone breakfast and load up in the car to school.
  • Say goodbye to the kiddo and take the dog for a walk – feels good to be walking a familiar route from last Autumn and noticing the signs of Spring popping up everywhere (so many daffodils).
  • Head home and spend time faffing…it always takes me a while to switch from one routine to another. I need to remind myself of my cues to sit down and start work. Grateful that I spent the last few weeks working on my intentions for the year and working out what actions I wanted to take to get there. But still need to remind myself to sit down and DO the work.
  • Do some reading and journaling for 2 courses I am currently working on, sort out some payments, send some emails and do some posts/updates in groups I am in
  • Grab the reusable bags and head out for the tescos click and collect. We’ve been doing our weekly shop online and collecting it since Summer last year. Occasionally pop into a shop for a top-up of fruit, vegetables, bread and milk but try to avoid shops where possible.
  • Home to unpack the shopping and try out our new toastie maker for lunch.
  • Chat with the husband while we eat.
  • Join an accountability session with fellow freelancers. Set out to get my FTGE inbox tamed. Get my unread messages from 126 down to 15. Super pleased with that. Plus archive and sort lots of read mail and even unsubscribe from a few things that are no longer relevant.
  • Check back in with the accountability session to report on progress and cheer everyone else on.
  • Carry on sorting out my emails and actioning some things that have been on the back burner during home learning.
  • Update IG stories with what I’ve been up to.
  • Leave for the school pick up, stop at the park on the way home for some exercise in the sunshine for the kiddo.
  • Home to supply snacks and pop on Animal Crossing to do some daily jobs for 15 mins before the kiddo plays online with friends.
  • More faffing – the return to school means a lot of adjustments for me as well as the kiddo – hope to use this time between school pick up and dinner for jobs around the house and finishing anything on my to do list for the day.
  • Husband takes dog for his evening walk pre-dinner as he has a run planned for after dinner
  • I make dinner and tidy the kitchen while watching some YouTube.
  • We sit down for dinner – we usually watch TV while we eat and the current favourite is Richard Osman’s House of Games.
  • Hubby leaves for his running session, doggo is unsettled with all the routine changes and has a cry.
  • I start reading my book, the kiddo plays some Animal Crossing.
  • Time for vitamins (so grateful we linked taking vitamins with the kiddo going to bed – he pulls the tub out and reminds me to take mine!) and then up to bed.
  • Show the kiddo all my DITL photos and read a chapter of our current family read (Simply the Quest by Maz Evans – it’s part of a series which features lots of mythological gods and creatures – it’s funny and great to read together).
  • Kiddo gets tucked in and reads his own book (an Artemis Fowl – he’s working his way through a series of 8). It makes me so happy that he loves reading.
  • Decide to put my pyjamas on early.
  • Hubby has an 830pm work call.
  • I update IG stories and scroll for a while then get back into my book.
  • At 10pm I sign off from my DITL on IG stories, I write in my gratitude and sentence a day journals and get ready for bed.
  • Can’t get to sleep so end up reading until past midnight.
DITL March 2021 - Doggo
I am grateful for –

1) My pre-order of The Devil Wears Black by LJ Shen arrived and I’ve started reading it

2) Another good day at school for the kiddo

3) Life feels good today

I am proud of –

(I’ve been writing 3 things I am proud of each day in my gratitude journal since November last year – it’s part of the mindset work I’ve been doing and I recommend giving it a go to celebrate all the wins – big and small!)

1) Documenting a day in my life March 2021 via IG stories

2) Getting my FTGE inbox sorted out

3) Doing the work – lots of mindset stuff this week

No. of steps – 6,629

Today’s Self Nurturing Activity – Reading!

Currently Reading – The Devil Wears Black by LJ Shen

Bedtime – Read in bed from about 8.50pm ish. At 10pm I signed off on IG stories, wrote in my journals and plugged my phone in the office. Tried to get to sleep and couldn’t. Ended up reading until around 12.40am.

And that was a Day in my Life March 2021!

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So what do I do with all this stuff I document? I shared snippets from the day via IG stories live on the day. I’m creating this blog post (which is great for comparing previous days as I tend to use a similar format each time). And I’ve also created and ordered a photo book with photos from the day and simple captions to put on our photo album shelf.

And that’s it until next time. I may take part in Week in the Life which usually happens around May time. I will see if I feel motivated nearer the time.

You can, of course, pick any day or week to document and get stuck in but I find it helpful to play along on the days that Ali Edwards suggests as there is a community of people that join in and I find that encouraging.

Let me know if you have a go at documenting a day in your life and how you get on.

Around Here Right Now (February 2021)

I’m feeling old school right now after rummaging in my old blog archives and I want to share this post which I’m calling Around Here Right Now.

I used to love both reading and writing posts like this one. A look at life right now. And it feels like a good time to take that snapshot.

Here in England we will soon be easing out of our 3rd national lockdown. My son returns to school in March and if things go well we will start to be allowed back out into the wild again! It’s been a tough time for so many. But, for me, also a time of discovery and reflection. When you take away “normal life” you can start to see what you miss about “normal” and what you don’t. So without further ado…

Sunset and the rainbow fence
Sunset and the rainbow fence – taken last night

Around Here Right Now…

Excited to have my COVID vaccination booked in for next week (I have Rheumatoid Arthritis which puts me in group 6 here in the UK).
And for all the signs of Spring on our daily walks.

Grateful that I bought a big, warm, snuggly coat in Autumn when I could go to the shops. It’s earned its keep this winter for the daily dog walks.
The weather is feeling much more mild this week and it’s wonderful to go out without being bundled up for the first time in months.
My walking shoes were also a great purchase when the shops were open. I want to increase my walking beyond the local blocks and paths as lockdown eases and I’ve been busy wearing them in. They are so comfy.

Listening to my 39 Playlist on Spotify. I’m picking a song each month between my birthdays to create a soundtrack for age 39. I’ve done it in previous years too. It’s fun both picking the songs and also listening to the playlists (especially after the year is up).

Reading LOTS. Mostly fiction. A mix of kindle (on my phone) and old school paper books. Lots of romance (always). Books provide wonderful escapism when you can’t leave your house.

Watching New Girl on Netflix. I used to love it but haven’t seen all of them. They are the perfect length at around 20-25 minutes to squeeze in at the end of the day for a few laughs before bed.

Changing up our home office this month. Ordered a new desk (which is a sit to stand desk) and rehomed our old desk (which we bought in Palmerston North, New Zealand what feels like a lifetime ago and it came over on the boat in 2016). We had a big old sort out of boxes, books and paperwork. It’s looking good. And it makes me so happy to see all my books organised on the shelves!

Feeling mostly hopeful about the return to school on 8th March. I’m hoping it will free up some time and mental capacity to do more with my writing and the blog.

Trying to be kind to myself. Give myself grace. And not beat myself up about things I want to do but I am not getting to. It’s been such an unsettled time.

Looking forward to longer days, seeing friends, HUGS, exploring further afield, ploughman’s lunches, a meal out and time to get things done!

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How about you? What does it look like around here right now for you? Feel free to use these prompts to get you thinking/scribbling.

And if you like posts like this one check out this post from 2019 where I did something similar sharing my answers from 2010 and 2019.

Around Here Right Now Pin

My 39 Before 40 Project

I’m in the last year of my 30’s! And I am working on my 39 Before 40 Project. 

Today I want to share the list with you. 

This isn’t the first time I’ve had a project or list of activities to complete between one birthday and the next…

So let’s see what I have planned before my 40th! Depending on the state of the world some of these activities may need to be amended. But here’s the starting list…

My 39 Before 40 Project

My 39 Before 40 Project

  1. Blog 25 times
  2. Release 3 FTGE (Find The Good Everyday) paid for products
  3. Mindset Training
  4. 39 Soundtrack 
  5. Document Christmas
  6. Sewing with Stretch course
  7. Take Reggie on “holiday”
  8. Go to Skye
  9. Ride a Horse
  10. Visit Norfolk
  11. Plan an epic 40th
  12. Spa Day
  13. Day in the Life
  14. Take a creative course/class
  15. Instagram growth – reach 1k and grow my community
  16. Europe city break
  17. Grow the FTGE newsletter and mailing list
  18. Visit Bury St Edmunds/Suffolk
  19. Reach my Find Your Happy Sales Target (please consider buying a copy!)
  20. Be Published and Paid
  21. Submit the kiddo’s high school application
  22. Family Movie Night with a Theme
  23. A Me Day for Whatever I like (follow my nose!)
  24. Do some work on the house
  25. Solstice and Equinox adventures
  26. Find fun ways to use glass jars
  27. Host a Crafternoon to raise money for Mind
  28. Food bank donations
  29. Share my RA story
  30. Read Untamed
  31. Monthly RAKs – big and small
  32. Try dairy free (for a week? Or month?)
  33. Bring back a meat-free-day each week
  34. Review this list monthly and make plans
  35. Aim for 30+ rejections and learn from them
  36. NLP Training Taster
  37. Be a guest blogger/tutor/speaker
  38. Make Hot Chocolate bombs with the kiddo
  39. Get kiddo ready for high school (uniform/kit, equipment etc)

What This Project Means to Me

As I’ve talked about before – the purpose of this list/project isn’t to give me more stuff to do. It’s to plan some fun activities as well as ones that can improve my life. And to document it all along the way. Having a project like this can make life feel more meaningful and whimsical. And I will amend and update the list as necessary as the year goes on.

It’s 6 weeks since my birthday and I’m pleased to report some of these activities have already been completed or are in progress.

I’ll be sure to provide updates as the year goes on! If you don’t already – follow me on Instagram where I can be found most often online.

39 Before 40 pin

38 Things Final Report

I am now 39 (and have been for over a month – where has the time gone?) so it’s time for a 38 Things Final Report!

38 Things is a list I created of 38 activities I wanted to do while I was 38. Some things on the list were affected by the pandemic and lockdown so were changed. 

You can see the list in its original format here.

I shared a progress report and a plan partway through the year.

So first up let’s look at what I completed…

38 Things Final Report

38 Things Final Report

Completed Items
  1. Visit Hobbiton 
  2. Take my son to the place where he was born
  3. Visit Wellington Zoo
  4. Meet some Kiwi dogs (that belong to Kiwi friends!) 
  5. Look for beach treasures on Wellington’s South Coast
  6. Soundtrack of 38 – I love putting these together and listening to them. I choose a song from each month of my birthday year.
  7. Summarize the decade 
  8. Celebrate hubby’s 40th
  9. Celebrate the kiddo turning 10
  10. Make plans for my 39th (pretty low key but I had a lovely cozy day!)
  11. Figure out Pinterest (as a blogger) – I’m not always consistent but I have an idea of what I’m doing now!
  12. Host Kiwi Xmas 
  13. Visit Harry Potter Studio Tour with friends and see the Gringotts extension – I went twice!
  14. Take part in and record A Day in the Life
  15. Finish reading the Harry Potter books with my son
  16. Spa Day – my spa day is still postponed but I did treat myself to a haircut, reflexology and pedicure over summer instead (like an extended spa day!)
  17. Take a creative class – I did a Valentine’s Mandala Dot Painting class in February
  18. Get a dishwasher (so pleased we got this done finally!)
  19. Spend time outside celebrating each Solstice & Equinox – love this reminder to follow the seasons
  20. Visit Silverstone
  21. Finish rainbow-ing the back fence and gate
  22. Submit NZ Story to a publisher/agent – I did send an enquiry – it was unsuccessful but that’s okay – I tried!
  23. Make reusable kitchen towels
  24. Do some kind of learning/course on writing – I took part in the Freelance Summit in June and took several courses and attended webinars about freelance writing
  25. Take a make-up lesson 
  26. Document our New Zealand trip – I wrote a blog post. Would have loved to make a photo book as well but didn’t get to it. 
Amended Items
  1. Go to the Isle of Skye – this didn’t happen due to the pandemic so I changed it to Get a Logo for Find the Good Everyday
  2. Collage I changed this one to Home-Learning with the kiddo during lockdown. 
  3. Visit the V&A Museum – I changed to Take Part & Record a Week in the Life.
  4. Make candles/soap – I changed this to Learn to Sew with Stretch Fabric and took a knicker sewing class in July plus I’ve purchased a course to continue learning.
  5. Ride a horse – I changed it to Rehome a Dog 
  6. Visit Norfolk – didn’t make it as far as Norfolk so I changed it to Mersea Island instead!
  7. Finish NZ Story – I changed this to Work on NZ Story as part of Camp Nanowrimo
  8. Blog 50 times – I changed this to 35!
Incomplete Items

These are the activities that didn’t get done… 

  • Get Published and Paid (carrying over to the next list)
  • Visit the remaining Tiptree Tearooms
  • Move to a mostly whole foods diet
  • Reach 1k IG Followers (carrying over to the next list)
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This 38 Things Final Report has been a while coming and it feels like such a long time ago. Overall – I am pleased with how it went – especially with the extenuating circumstances that are 2020!

Coming up – I’ll share my 39 Things Before I’m 40 list. I’ve already ticked some things off!

10 Insights from 10 years of Parenting

This month my son turned 10. I’ll save you from all the “where did the time go?” cliches and just say the last 10 years went by faster than my previous 28 years combined! I really enjoyed writing and sharing my Insights from 10 years of Marriage last year so today I thought I’d also share 10 Insights from 10 Years of Parenting.

First – a little back story…

Becoming a Parent

We welcomed our son into the world 10 years ago. We were living in a town called Palmerston North in New Zealand. It was a beautiful Winter’s day (my midwife wrote that in my maternity notes and it’s stuck with me).

My pregnancy had been fairly smooth. We had a scare very early on. And towards the end the health care professionals became worried he was measuring small. I ended up being monitored for the last couple of weeks and was booked in for an induction the day after my due date.

We turned up at the hospital for an induction but it turned out I was in the early stages of labour. They broke my waters at 9am. I held my baby in my arms at 12.40pm. The hospital staff joked that if we had another I should probably book in the night before given how quickly my first had arrived!

Becoming a mother was hard. I struggled for a long time. Being responsible for a tiny human was my biggest challenge in life so far. I gradually learnt to relax and lean in and accept that I was doing the best I could at any given time. And I’ve learnt a lot along the way…

10 Insights from 10 years as a Parent pin image

10 Insights from 10 Years of Parenting

1.

Parenting is something you have to learn on the job. No amount of preparation can get you fully ready until you are a parent!

2.

Listen to the advice that many people freely give. But it’s perfectly okay to do the complete opposite. We have to pick what works best for us at the time. As long as you have your own and your child’s best interests at heart don’t feel you have to justify those decisions.

3.

We took a parenting course when our son was 4. Wish we did it sooner. It really helped us work out what kind of parents we want to be and gave us strategies to deal with frictions that arise in families. (If you’re in New Zealand – it was a Parenting Place Toolbox Course for the early years – would 100% recommend).

4.

Build your own traditions. Celebrate them. Get the kiddos excited to be involved. And cherish them. Some of our favourites are:

  • pancakes for breakfast on birthdays and Christmas
  • decorating the house with streamers for special occasions
  • reading all together in the evenings before bed.
5.

Find a way to capture the memories. I’ve always loved documenting life. I was a scrapbooker, I take part in day in the life and week in the life. I collate 1 second of videos from every day (I’m doing this in 2020 and have the full year from 2018 too).

For me – documenting life helps me realise how awesome the season we are in is while we are in it!

6.

We grow in stages – remember the stages come and they go. Even the really tricky stages will come to an end. You will get through it. This too shall pass.

7.

Learn to embrace your child’s personality. Figure out what drives them and work with that. Their personality may be completely opposite to yours!

8.

For me, some parts of parenting have felt like a wild ride and I’ve wanted to stop the ride and get off. What’s been helpful is knowing myself better and knowing what makes me feel rested and refreshed. As an introvert I NEED alone time (something that was so severely lacking in those first years). I’ve learnt to find ways to get that alone time and come back as a better parent!

9.

In terms of making rules and guidelines – we found some advice we were given really handy… it’s easier to start with stricter rules and gradually relax them than it is to enforce strict rules after starting more relaxed.

As a side suggestion here – learn all you can about the online world and how it effects our mental health – this is having a massive effect on kids today. Our school offers an annual e-safety session and I’ve picked up so much useful information through that.

10.

Let them be little! I can’t say this enough. The world of responsibility and cynicism and adulthood will reach them at some point. But let them be little for as long as possible! Let them soak up the magic, the wonder and the whimsy of childhood while they can!

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I hope you’ve enjoyed my insights from 10 years of parenting. f you’re a parent I’d love to know some of the things you’ve learnt along the way.

I wonder what the next 10 years will bring? Teenagers and all kinds of things I am far too naive about I am sure!

10 Insights from 10 Years of Parenting Pin Image

38 Things Plans

Today I want to chat about my 38 things plans – how I intend to finish as many of the activities on my list as I can before my birthday in October. Specifically the activities that need more thought and consideration.

Earlier this week I shared my progress with my 38 Things list – the things I’ve completed and others that I am confident will be done. You can read that here.

You can see the list in its original format here.

38 Things Plans image

38 Things Plans

These activities need to be reviewed and plans put in place if I want to complete them by my 39th birthday…

Finish New Zealand Story (Memoir)

The plan with this is Camp Nanowrimo in July – I need to figure out a goal for July to make good progress. I then intend to edit and polish over August and September…

Submit my New Zealand Story to at least 1 publisher or agent

…and submit a query before my birthday in October.

Move to an 80% whole foods diet (most of the time)

At the moment I’m tracking my food using an app. I don’t want to go down the “diet / must lose this much weight every week” route so I’m recording what I’m eating to be more mindful and to collect data. I then hope to start making some swaps (particularly for snacks) to more whole foods.

Go to the Isle of Skye

I want to feel hopeful that this will happen but it’s not looking likely. I may change it to something more local for this year and aim again next year.

Get published (& paid!)

I’ve been doing lots of training and learning around Freelance Writing lately and I now want to start pitching ideas to publications. If you or someone you know needs some help writing newsletters, blog posts or something else – get in touch!

Celebrate son’s 10th

This one will happen (we wouldn’t just forget his birthday!) but at the moment it’s a little fuzzy how we can and will celebrate. I’m thinking a garden tea party – perhaps one with local friends and another with family. There will definitely be cake and presents!

Make plans for my 39th

Again – fuzzy on the details and I think I will leave this until much closer to the time to think about.

Figure out Pinterest as a blogger

I did some good work around this late last year following an awesome training day with Grow & Glow but I’ve fallen off the wagon a bit. I might need to do a refresher and try to get a routine in place to be consistent with my pinning!

Blog 50+ times

I got behind with this with no posts in January or April. But this post is my 26th since my 38th birthday. I’m hopeful I can get another 25 published before my 39th…

Reach 1k IG followers and aim for 2k!

This is a slow one. I’m currently sitting at just under 650 followers. I’m not sure that this one is still my aim. I think I’d like to look at increasing my engagement instead. I’ll make some notes of what my engagement is right now and try to increase this over the next few months.

Come and give me a follow to help me achieve my 38 Things Plans!

Visit the Essex Tiptree tea-rooms I haven’t been to yet (Billericay, Colchester and Saffron Walden)

Lockdown definitely affected this one! And I think the Colchester tea-room may have shut down because of it. I hope to make it to the other 2 as they reopen. We did order in an afternoon tea from Tiptree when they were shut so that can be in lieu of visiting Colchester!

Make my own candles and/or soap

I’d asked a friend who makes soap to give the kiddo and I a lesson but that hasn’t happened due to lockdown. I may see if I can find a simple kit so we can try it at home over Summer.

Have a spa day

This was scheduled for March but got postponed due to lockdown. It’s currently rescheduled for November which is after my birthday. Instead this will change slightly and be completed once I’ve had my hair cut, brows done and pedicure appointment after lockdown!

Visit Norfolk

I’m still hopeful for this one – it’s only a couple of hours from us so may be possible as lockdown eases. The original intention was to stay overnight but it may end up being a day trip.

Do some kind of course/learning on writing

I’ve been doing bits and bobs with this but don’t want to mark it complete and then stop learning! So I’ll be keeping this on the to-do list and making a note of all the training I complete.

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It’s been great doing this review and coming up with my 38 Things Plans. I think it’s important to review goals and plans regularly to make sure they are still appropriate and achievable.

What I’d like to do this year is have 38 things completed (not necessarily the original items). And then think about what I will carry over to my next list…which may be 40 before 40 rather than 39 at 39.

What would be on your list? How have you dealt with plans and goals that have been affected by lockdown and COVID-19?