Connecting pen to paper.

Letter Writing

In thinking about how I wanted to round out February’s theme of connecting more, I wanted to stretch myself a bit.

I have been doing all of the things I talked about; scheduling more coffee and playdates (weather permitting), Facetiming like crazy with family, connecting more through social media (particularly email and Instagram), connecting with myself through daily meditation, and trying to be more present in my day-to-day life.

And while that’s been great, it doesn’t feel super out of the ordinary. I was already doing most of those things anyway.

This week, I want to do something that I don’t normally do. Or, at the very least, that I stopped doing a few decades ago…

Writing handwritten letters just because. 

I send out Thank You notes and birthday cards… occasionally.

I write grocery lists and menu plans all the time.

I even talked about the power of the personal note over on the Propelle blog. (Yeah… I’m not always great at taking my own advice.)

But none of that is the same as writing a letter to someone and putting it in the mail.

I’m a huge paper fanatic. I love pretty stationary and cards. And I am obsessed with pens and markers. You would think that I’d be a shoe-in for sending out a hand-written note.

I seriously used to be. I can remember being in high school and pouring over letters I’d write to my best friend in Cincinnati.

The last one I sent was a 14-pager (front and back). I filled it with quotes and doodles, thoughts about life and boys, and other teenage angst. My brother did his damnedest to try and steal it so he could get a window into my world and have blackmail material for life. (He tried to wrestle me for it. He didn’t get it.)

And then I went off to college and left the handwritten note behind.

Email took over. Cell phones became all the rage. And instant communication was way more exciting that anything done by hand.

Don’t get me wrong, I seriously love those forms of communication. I just think that there is something absolutely special about a handwritten note. The thought someone puts into selecting the right card. The time they take out of their day to write. And the way it stands out amongst the piles of bills and junk mail…

I want to take back a little slice of this art form.

This week, I’m going to write and send one hand-written note a day.

That’s 7 letters in 7 days. The hardest part is going to be figuring out who those 7 people are!

Will you join me?

The disconnect.

"The more ways we have to connect, the more many of us seem desperate to unplug." Pico Iyer

Since declaring February the month to connect more, fun things have been happening.

I’ve definitely been spending more time connecting in-person. The Babe and I hit up a local coffee shop and a drop-in play center for some fun during the week. We also went as a family to bring a delicious meal to friends that just had a baby and attended a local food tasting event.

All incredibly fun.

I’ve also been making a concerted effort to FaceTime and talk with family more. (They have definitely been on board with that goal.)

One thing that has become increasingly obvious through all of this connecting, is that I spend a lot of time connecting with my phone as well.

I know, I know. I have to connect with my phone when it comes to talking to long-distance family members more. And I truly love being able to do that—for me and The Babe.

But what I don’t love is how dependent I have become on it.

I feel a tingle of anxiety when I realize my phone isn’t next to me. I check it 15 times an hour (maybe more) just to see if I have an email or to read messages on Facebook and Twitter. I refresh Instagram constantly, waiting to see the next amazing image.

And yet, the most amazing image is right in front of me: The Babe playing, laughing, and exploring the world. And I’m missing out because I’m staring at a tiny screen in my hand.

And then I saw it…

On the eleventy billionth time I checked Twitter for the day, I came across a challenge of sorts called Bored and Brilliant—a week of challenges designed to help one detach from their phone and spend more time thinking creatively.

Huh.

Detach from the phone. Something that made me feel instantly twitchy and anxious. Something that I ultimately knew would help me do what I had set out to do this month: connect more, and connect more deeply to the world around me.

Even though I didn’t sign up for the official challenge, I have decided that I am going to keep my phone out of sight as much as possible.

I have already turned off pretty much every banner notification, as they were making me seriously anxious and on edge every day. That was a huge weight lifted. But I still find myself checking every few minutes just in case something important pops up. Even though it doesn’t.

That’s the big task for this week: stop picking up the phone so goddamn much and connect with the amazing things happening all around me.

Want to join me?

Do you find yourself obsessively checking your phone all day long? Do you want to give yourself a day (or even an hour) to unplug and put it away?

Let’s both commit to disconnecting so that we can be more present to the people, places, and things around us.

Leave a comment below or hit me up on Twitter and tell me what you’re up to. And then come back tomorrow and tell me how it went!

We are the ink…

"We are the ink that gives the white page meaning."

I love this time of year. We have the opportunity to sit back and reflect on the previous year while simultaneously looking forward to the clean slate that’s ahead of us.

This quote—as seen on the walls of the Carnegie Museum of Art—seems to occupy both of those spaces for me: We are the ink that gives the white page meaning.

We are the ink.

We are in charge of what ink gets put on the page.

We are in charge of what meaning we assign to that ink. We could make it bold and powerful, colorful, or filled with beautiful visuals and swirls. We could make it wise, comical, or thoughtful. Or we could make it dark and broody, filled with hurt, sorrow, guilt, anger and grief.

It’s our ink. We get to do with it what we want.

Stepping into a new year, I find that I’m excited about what the page holds.

Yes, I am excited about the fresh white page of the new year. But I’m also excited about creating new meaning for the ink that covers the pages before it.

I have the power to define it in any way I want. I can choose to imbibe the pages with a more kind, loving, and balanced meaning. And I can continue to embellish it with new ink.

What does the new year hold for you?

What meaning will you assign to the proverbial ink on your pages?

 

The (menu) plan, Stan.

Weekly Menu Plan

I used to be an amazing planner.

Pre-baby, I would pick 4-5 meals to make for the week and then write a corresponding grocery list so that I’d have everything I needed to make each meal.

And then I had a baby, and any free brain space (or hands) were relegated to keeping said baby alive.

Even though I stopped planning out our meals, I still dutifully went to the grocery store every week and spent a good amount of money on food. I’m not even sure what I bought most weeks, just that there were *things* in the house to eat.

When it came time for dinner, The Hubster would ask (as sweetly as possible) what’s for dinner. And each night, I felt exasperated and exhausted, and came up with a big fat blank around what to make.

So, we ended up having the same three things every week: pasta, burgers, and a frozen meal of some sort from Trader Joe’s. Not exactly the stuff dreams are made of.

I know that menu planning is necessary. I know that it helps in every way; from to keep me sane to saving money, to having the right things in the house.

And yet, I fought it. Tooth and nail.

The very last thing I wanted to do when the baby went down for bed was pull out my cookbooks, research on Pinterest, and put together a grocery list.

A few weeks ago, after finally admitting that I had no clue what to make for dinner yet again, I hunkered down and made a plan.

It’s amazing how a little plan like that can make a HUGE impact.

Dinner has been a breeze.

We’ve been enjoying new things. Hooray for variety!

And it’s been so much less stressful.

That 10-15 minutes that it took to pull together the menu for the week was SO WORTH every second. In fact, I’m pretty sure it saved me hours of stress, trying to think about what to make each night.

And because I have never been any good at stopping while I’m ahead, I decided to create a new menu planner template (or two) to help keep me organized and sane. Now, the biggest question of the week has become… which template will I be using to plan out our menu?!

(So far, it’s been Plan B.)

Menu Planning Templates (Free Download)

Plan A:

Weekly Menu Planner Template(Click the image to download a PDF)

 Plan B:

Weekly Menu Planner Template(Click the image to download a PDF)

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