Tag: Goals

Editing

“Be a good editor. The Universe needs more good editors, God knows.” 
― Kurt Vonnegut Jr., Letters

I don’t always do a good job of remembering resolutions, but I have to say, picking a “theme” for this year has been a remarkable success. My mindset around a lot of life elements has taken a turn for the healthier and I’m in a more balanced place than I’ve been in years. I really believe that this has come from some purposeful editing of my life. I’ve gotten much better at saying no, worked hard to remove or improve things that contributed to my stress and anxiety problems, and become a lot more intentional about my money and consumption choices. It’s been a very successful project, and I’m already thinking towards how I want to frame 2018.

“Less but better” doesn’t have a uniform definition for me. For instance, we are currently living in our largest and most expensive home to date, but on the other hand, after 10 years of marriage and most of those spent in cheap digs, the decision to rent a nice apartment was a considered one. We are also furnishing it ourselves, meaning we are spending money, but we are taking that process slowly and very judiciously. Our home is still far less furnished than I would like…but we have chosen every piece in it together because we loved it, and not because it was the cheapest option on Craigslist. I love the idea of editing a home, carefully selecting what I put in it and not rushing to fill empty space just because I have it.

Stress levels: all time low. This time last year my nails were chewed to the quick.

Meanwhile, on the work front, I’m actually working more but in a better way. Going back to freelance and contracting has been a great decision. I have not only opened a lot of doors and opportunities, but I have finally discovered a balance between work and identity: what I do vs. who I am. This has not always been the case with me, as I tend to throw myself into things like causes, projects, and roles wholeheartedly, allowing the lines between them and myself to blur. Surprisingly, given the nature of freelance and contract work and how it can divide your attention, I’ve found that because I’ve been able to choose my work, I’ve therefore been able to choose (i.e. edit) how I direct my energy. This has also helped me train my brain to better separate work from my personal life and I’m more aggressive about holidays and an overall work/life balance. In other words, I may be working more, but my stress levels are lower than they’ve been in years.

Let’s talk stuff, generally. I had a whole month long blog project dedicated to my closet and bathroom shelf this year, and I continue to be really happy with where it’s at. I’ve actually shopped and bought less this year than I have probably since my early 20s. Granted what I have bought has tended to be more expensive, but I’ve been fascinated to physically feel the urgency and desire to buy things fade as the year has gone on. There’s plenty of reporting out there to suggest that brain chemistry can be affected by purchasing, and I wonder if I’ve been able to ween myself off an internal drug I didn’t realize I was on. I’ve been slowly editing my closet down and I now think I own less clothing than I did when we first moved to London on an item-for-item basis. What I do own, I wear more and I love more. The same goes with beauty; I’ve been focused on using what I already own instead of craving new makeup and skincare items. I’m actually in the midst of a shopping freeze (my second this year) in an effort to actually use up cosmetics and potions before I allow myself even to replace beloved items. I’ve done a few edits of my shelf throughout the year and donated or gifted a few items that I didn’t use enough to justify keeping. Maybe it’s a welcome byproduct of getting older and more self-confident, but I’ve never been more pleased with the woman in the mirror.

When it comes to food and overall health, I haven’t done as well as I would have wished. We are eating out less (yay, us!) but ordering in more (kind of defeats the purpose, C….). We have periods of focus on health, but other periods of intense laziness. One thing I’ve realized is how much I require a routine in order to stay committed to food, exercise, and wellbeing goals. I am not a natural health bunny, I do no default to healthiness–I default to deep friend potatoes and Netflix and am self-aware enough to acknowledge this. It turns out that once I’m in a routine, I am pretty good at maintaining it but if something knocks me off course (two straight weeks of houseguests for instance, or a particularly uneven month at work), I fall well and truly off the wagon and it takes herculean effort to climb back aboard. I haven’t figured out quite how to overcome this yet, but I suspect the solution will lie in editing out things that I use as excuses or distractions.

This has been a much better year than 2016 for me, and I’m feeling pretty positive about 2018 at the moment. It’s a good place to be.

Use It Up Challenge Check In

“I believe it’s perfectly normal to love both lipstick and literature, to be a woman who paints her nails while shouting at Question Time.” 
― Sali Hughes, Pretty Honest

I had given myself permission to purchase from the Victoria Beckham x Estee Lauder collection, but after lack luster reviews, I spent my fun money on a couple vintage clothing items instead and kept my wallet closed tight against all things beauty. In fact, I kicked off my next no-buy self-challenge a couple of months early! Since discovering that Makeup Rehab subreddit I mentioned last month, I’ve been enjoying a lot of self-challenges to use up what I own more than looking to buy new stuff. I’ve nowhere near given up buying beauty products long term (I mean, do you know me at all?) but I’m focusing a lot more on skincare than makeup, and my pores are thanking me.

So, how did I do with my self challenge? Not only did I make some serious headway on my actual goals, but I also destashed quite a few bits and bobs to my little sister. I went away to university when she was very young, so I feel like I missed out on a lot of the fun parts of being an older sister like sharing beauty stuff. And so, sending presents, clothes, and makeup that she will love more than me is something I enjoy doing and she gets to benefit from my experience (ie, age) and pick up some goodies that she probably wouldn’t buy for herself due to price point. Spoiled.

I feel pretty! Oh so pretty!

Hit pan on at least one color in my Viseart neutral eyeshadow palette (BAM)

Use up my Bite Beauty lipstick in Pepper

Finish my Nars Velvet Lip Pencil in Red Square

Use up my Replica by Maison Margiela perfume in Jazz Club (got down to the dregs of the rollerball and finally chucked it)

Use just one blush – Tonga by Cargo – with aim of putting a proper dent in it (I hit pan on it!)

Use up one of my (many) sunscreens (going on holiday helped!)

Finish my Aesop Parsley Seed Mask

Finish my Glossier Moisturizing Moon Mask

Finish my Kiehl’s mud mask

Use up one of my hand lotion samples already! (Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream Hand Treatment)

Finish one of my (many) pots of lip salve

Finish my current bottle of Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Concentrate

Hit pan on my Glossier Stretch Concealer

Empties Update

“My dad used to say makeup was a shallow girl’s sport, but it’s not. It’s armor.” 
― Courtney Summers, All the Rage

Back in April, as part of my Style Month project, I shared several months worth of empties–the products I’ve used to the last drop. I remain pleasantly fascinated with empties videos or posts from other writers and of course, I’ve been on a bit of a kick when it comes to thinking and writing about consumption myself. So obviously as soon as I had hit publish on my last post, I began stockpiling items as I used them up for an update. Six months later, it’s time for an update!

I’ve bought very few new products in the last half year and so have been able to use up quite a few things to learn more about what I like, what I hate, what I swear by, and what I think is just not worth the money.

Not too bad, C., you may say. Seems manageable until you–

Oh god, what kind of monster am I?!

Skincare first! There were quite a few repeats in here as this is my second bottle of Sunday Riley Good Genes, at least my bottle third Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Concentrate, my second Clinique All About Eyes Rich eye cream, and third Kate Somerville ExfoliKate scrub. All of these are beloved favorites, but I’ve made a commitment to use up much more of my own beauty stash before I allow myself to repurchase any of these items (particularly as they aren’t exactly cheap). You may be surprised to hear that I dislike a Glossier product, but their Super Pure formula is my least favorite of their three serums and I wouldn’t repurchase it. The Pestle & Mortar Superstar retinol oil was excellent, but I’m road testing a much cheaper version from The Ordinary which thus far I really like! Speaking of, I also finished off a bottle of hyaluronic acid serum from the The Ordinary displaced another Pestle & Mortar similar product as well. Quality doesn’t need to break the bank, kids!

Another bottle of Glossier Milky Jelly cleanser down. I already had a bottle of this on stand by that I purchased over the summer, but I’m ridiculously lucky and got two free additional bottles from attending the Glossier pop up earlier this summer, and then scored another back up as the G-team apparently mailed out some gift boxes as follow up to that press event later in the summer. Because they are freaking brilliant at marketing. Long story short, I haven’t had to repurchase this in a while, but I fully intend to when my stash runs down again. It’s a really good product, perfect as a morning cleanser or a second cleanse in the evening (if I’ve been wearing a full face of makeup and SPF all day). My evening cleanser for months has been the Oskia Renaissance Cleansing gel–a gel/balm formula that turns to oil on your skin. It dissolves most makeup and doesn’t strip your skin in the slightest. The Kiehl’s cleanser has been included in this stash for the sake of honesty. Technically it was Jeff’s product but I made liberal use of it in the shower and contributed to its demise–so into the bag it went! I’ve used up two masks, the Aesop Parsley Seed mask and Moisturizing Moon mask. I may repurchase them someday, but I want to try some similar products from other brands first…once my current mask stash is depleted. I definitely would not repurchase the Tidal cream by Sunday Riley–odd smell, nothing special as a moisturizer, and sparkly flecks in it to boot.

Hair continues to be my personal Waterloo, but here are some of the mane-taming products I used up recently, along with a couple of shower bits. I’m not precious about my bathing and use Jeff’s razors and bodywash without shame. In fact, I’m positive I missed at least two bottles of bodywash that rightly should have been included in this confessional but recycled them first. Oops. My eczema continues to wreak havoc on my scalp, hence the two different medicated shampoos (also probably not an honest reckoning), but I did manage to make it through two bottles of conditioner. A powder style dry shampoo and leave-in conditioner round off the pack. The powder smells wonderful but I would not repurchase as I’ve found a much better spray formula. All the other items, however, are pretty much my standard shower rotation and their replacements are in situ.

While we’re being honest, that comment about stealing Jeff’s face wash? Same for deodorant. I just don’t see the point of the pinker, lady-friendly stuff when he has a perfectly good can of product sitting on our dresser that I can swipe. The Certain Dri roll on, however, is definitely mine. Also in the spirit of full disclosure, this stuff is fantastic and when I use it regularly/properly, it’s a miracle product. I tend to pick up a bottle whenever we go back to the States. I also used up a No 7 make up brush cleanser from Boots (great product!) and a bath oil from Sanctuary Spa. I take a bath almost every night, especially in cold weather and prefer oils to bubbles…even if it means I have to scrub the tub more regularly. It’s a small price to pay for zen.

Finally, some make up! Er, kinda? It takes me quite a while to get through make up products, though you may remember my recent discovery of the MakeUp Rehab reddit community which has inspired a number of “use it up” personal challenges for me. If I do another post like this six months from now, I’m hoping to have a few empty makeup tins and pans to add to the pile. This time at least, I made it through yet another tube of Maybeline Full ‘N Soft mascara–my go to for years. Glossier Boy Brow did good service in the beauty wars and its replacement is already in rotation. I loved this hand cream from Elizabeth Arden and will definitely be buying a full sized tube once my seemingly infinite amounts of other travel sized lotions have served their time. Finally, I used up a bottle of Hermes Jardin sur la Nil perfume which I loved but am happy to part with as friends after a four year run.

Your turn, kittens, if you feel up to oversharing in the comments. Do you keep track of items that you use up–if so, what and why? Is my fascination with personal consumption at all interesting or just weird? Let me know your thoughts, I’m braced for impact!

Summer Bucket List Check In

“Autumn seemed to arrive suddenly that year. The morning of the first September was crisp and golden as an apple.” 
― J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

I’ve mentioned that the weather has taken a turn for the autumnal of late, this past Sunday it reached a new high (or low, depending on your point of view). Ergo, we’re off to Greece, which as you may recall was the first item on my Summer Bucket List. Which means, given the weather, that it’s probably time for a check in on my frivolous summer goals!

Do you see this nonsense?

Buy new glasses. (See comment below!)

Get another piece of furniture for the house. And plants that I won’t easily kill. (I’ve got my eye on some shelves but that will have to be an end of month or October purchase, as we’ve spent that money on Greece. And I regret nothing)

Read a new heap of novels, both trashy and classy.

Finally get that call with my bank scheduled to kick off the proper investment and savings plan we’ve been talking about for months. (Call made but expat status means that we have to go through a few more hoops before I can start this properly. Annoying, but progress made!)

Do another month long blog project. (Nope, fail.)

Lose some weight. I’m typically wary of goals like this, but I’ve decided to just acknowledge that I’m going to work hard on some health and fitness goals explicitly. (I’ve started a new health challenge and X is my accountability partner. I’m only a bit of weight down, but I’m back to much better eating habits and regular exercise!)

Catch up with some long lost pals. (Another “fail,” but what I actually managed to do was make a few new friends instead. Gonna call this one a win.)

Knock out my audiobook goal.

Leave the office at a sensible hour most days.

Go to more movies. (I only made it to Wonder Woman, but I’m actually with falling down on this goal as we spent that fun money elsewhere, such as eating out at Hawker House.)

Throw some kind of party or get together.

Did you have a summer bucket list of any kind? What goals or triumphs have you ticked off over the warm months?

101 in 1001 Check In

“If you want to live a happy life, tie it to a goal, not to people or things.” 
― Albert Einstein

Kittens, it’s time for some self accountability! I’m officially one year into my 101/1001 challenge (2.0). I’ve ticked off 23 goals of my list thus far; I was trying to get 24 so I could say I’ve done at least two a month…but alas. I’m still pretty pleased at my progress! The below goals are the long term work-in-progress ones that have been activated but I can’t tick off just yet.

8. Read every Agatha Christie novel
10. See 10 operas, ballets, or classic plays I haven’t yet (5 of 10)
17. Visit the Acropolis in Athens (trip to Greece in the works!)
30. Put $10 in savings for every goal accomplished
33. Pay off the remainder of our student loans
38. Do another 100 books in a year self challenge (I wasn’t doing this originally, but seeing as I’m well over 60 titles in for this year on my Goodreads tracker, while the hell not?!)
44. Go on a shopping hiatus for 3 months once a year (2 of 4)
49. Decorate a new apartment like a real, live grown up
56. Be able to squat my own body weight
58. Become a pseudo expert in a subject I’m interested by reading one book on the subject a month for six months (3 of 6)
66. Listen to one new-to-me music album each week for a year
80. Get credit card balances down to zero
84. Deep clean once a season for duration of 1001 day timeline (4 of 15)
86. Vote in every election in my US state for duration of 1001 day timeline (1 of 3)

All in all, not bad progress for one year. Our big financial goals are still around and some months we do better than others at budgeting, but I’ve discovered some recent ways of handling that which I’ll share in other posts. My writing goals are woefully behind, but I have a fantastic girl gang cheering me. There have been fits and starts with some health goals, but I want to do another month-long blog project around this as a theme.

Have a brag moment in the comments and tell me if you’ve ticked off any goals recently, and what they were!

Shopping My Beauty Arsenal

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.”
-British wartime slogan

Kittens, I’m in a decluttering mood. I don’t know whether it’s the confused British weather that makes it feel like it’s nearly fall even though it’s barely August, the fact that we are still getting back into the swing of things after a couple of weeks of houseguests, or that work (while still busy) feels a bit less hectic than usual with the summer slowdown…but I’m feeling a strange need to tidy, downsize, and just generally apply some order.

My year of “less but better” remains thematically in place and now, nearly three quarters of a way through it, I’m feeling much better about a lot of my consumption habits in most places. That being said, I’ve recently bought art for our walls and an amazing piece of vintage Aquascutum for my own back, so this clearly isn’t an impulse that’s being felt uniformly. But I recently wrote about streamlining my media, which has been an interesting exercise, and my anxiety and stress are more firmly under control than they’ve been in years, so I feel like my overall balance is in a good place.

Yes, I have quite a bit. And no, I regret none of it.

But one area of consumption in particular has been on my mind of late: I’m definitely wanting to use more of my makeup and skin care products–indeed not just use them, but use some of them up. I’ve put myself on strict “no buying” rules for new makeup (allowing myself the potential exception of buying from the new Estee Lauder and Victoria Beckham collaboration when it launches and a restock of some Glossier products that a pal may be shipping me from the States), and I’m restricting new skincare purchases until I use up what’s in my cabinet. I love beauty and I enjoy consuming it, so this isn’t going to be a hardship. Plus, at some point, when I’ve been better at using what I have, I can look forward to the pleasure of discovering new things when I have a hole in my arsenal to fill. Everyone wins!

And, because it’s me, of course I’ve given myself a few challenges and goals to achieve this!  I’ll check in on Halloween, which is my self-imposed deadline, to see if I’ve been able to get through. And for silliness’ sake, I’ve given myself a holiday appropriate list of 13 things to use up!

Beauty To Dos

Hit pan on at least one color in my Viseart neutral eyeshadow palette. I’m using this palette almost exclusively in order to meet this goal.

Use up my Bite Beauty lipstick in Pepper – my favorite and perfect nude, a shade I will be repurchasing. Eventually.

Finish my Nars Velvet Lip Pencil in Red Square – another favorite that I will probably also repurchase…but only after I also complete other lip products that are similar, though inferior!

Use up my Replica by Maison Margiela perfume in Jazz Club

Use just one blush – Tonga by Cargo – with aim of putting a proper dent in it

Use up one of my (many) sunscreens

Finish my Aesop Parsley Seed Mask

Finish my Glossier Moisturizing Moon Mask

Finish my Kiehl’s mud mask (so many masks…)

Use up one of my hand lotion samples already!

Finish one of my pots of lip salve (Rosebud Salve forever, but no one needs five tins of them)

Finish my current bottle of Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Concentrate

Hit pan on my Glossier Stretch Concealer

Anyone want to join in and commit to using up something–food in your cupboards, a reading list, products, boxes of tea bags that miraculously keep accumulating? Talk to me about something that you want to use up, and whether or not you would repurchase it or replace it when it’s gone? 

The End of Style Month

“You gotta have style. It helps you get down the stairs. It helps you get up in the morning. It’s a way of life. Without it, you’re nobody. I’m not talking about lots of clothes.”
– Diana Vreeland

Style Month is at an end and I’ve enjoyed writing about it from the perspective of consumption and choice. The comments have been fantastic and I’ve had a lot of fun. ButI didn’t accomplish everything I wanted with this particular project, largely due to the very happy fact that I got a new and unexpected work contract (hurrah!) but it’s given me a lot of ideas of how I want to do future month long projects or topic assignments. It frustrates me to have a “vision” for a project and not feel like I’ve seen it through, but looking back through my stats and comments, I’m pleasantly surprised to see how much engagement I’ve had with this series. Which means of course, I want to do another one at some point! Do let me know what you’d be interested in reading about and discussing; I’ve got a few ideas following your feedback from my Money Month project as well.

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I ticked off a couple of minor 101/1001 goals and made progress on some long term ones, but the next month will be a bit more relaxed. Apart from my responsibilities with my new contract, we are planning a trip to Paris in June with friends that is where we are going to put our only big spending in May. I’m going to be continuing to build on my Money and Style Month themes by using what I’ve got, and doing a new personal savings/spending goal to knock out a whole credit card by the end of next month.

I have no idea how we are a quarter of the way through the year already, but in spite of some background stresses, and occasional bouts of imposter syndrome and anxiety, I’m really happy with the progress I’m making on so many of my goals!