Monthly Archives: January 2014

A Small Change Makes A Big Difference

If you are following me on Instagram and Facebook (and I really hope you are because I post there more than I do here) then you probably know that my husband Dude and I are in the midst of a redecoration/remodeling of our condo.  This is way long overdue for us.  We have been living in our little tiny place for a little over 9 years and before that we were living in a (too big for us) house for three years.  We have had most of our current furniture for at least 9 years and some pieces were even older.
Time for a switch up!
So, after a few years of planning, budgeting, and saving we pulled the trigger a few months ago and things are happening!
A little background on our place – it’s small.  Not NYC small, but compared to how most of our family and friends live, Dude and I live in a shoebox. That’s just the way we like it, though.  We don’t have much and we don’t want much.  Our living room is the largest room in the place and that’s the room that is getting the overhaul.  But since it’s easily 75% of our home, it’s a big deal.
A major part of the whole project is that now we have all new furniture.  There is nothing negative about this, but because there are two brand spankin’ new couches in our place our habits had to change.
Before the new couches, Dude and I would eat our dinner in the living room in front of the TV watching Jeopardy! or something we had stored up on the DVR.  I know that some might think this is unorthodox and not cool, but eating in front of the TV was a way for us to relax after working all day and then going to the gym.  We talked and decompressed from the day while having our meal together on the couch.  It worked for us.
Now, until I can help it, not a single crumb of food will be near the couches.  Call me hard-nosed, but I plan to keep these beauties as fresh and new for as long as I can.  As a result, we now eat in the kitchen.
We have an eat-in kitchen believe it or not.  One of the things I love about our place is that the kitchen is relatively huge compared to the size of the rest of the place.  Not enormous, but enough that there is ample counter space plus room for a two-top table.  And a bunch of years ago I got a little cafe table that is big enough for two to put in the perfect spot.  It’s from CB2 and is similar to this, but without the wood.  Ours has a tempered glass top and is taller.
Anyway we’ve started this new year out by eating our “together meals”, breakfast and dinner, at the kitchen table.  The interesting thing is, it’s not just the venue that’s changed in just a short amount of time; the whole dynamic of the meal has changed.  We are more engaged with each other, we are talking more, we’re using the time to review the day.

kitchen table(Ignore that white spot on the left.  Another home improvement project in the works!)

Some of you might be thinking, “Yeah, duh.  That’s what happens when you don’t eat in front of the television.” and you’d be right.  We never knew what we were missing until we changed our habit and pattern.
And that’s the message I want to get across to all of you: We changed the tone of our day by making one small change.  It wasn’t even as though we were dissatisfied with our old habit.  Nothing was really wrong with what we were doing before. We just changed out of necessity (new furniture) and discovered a whole new – better! – dynamic!
This has me thinking about other well-worn patterns and habits that we all have that aren’t necessarily bad but could benefit from a shake up.
What small changes can you make that will add up to a big difference?

The Hard Way

Happy new year, friends.  I don’t know about you, but I have a good feeling about 2014.  2013 will be hard to top, but for whatever reason I feel more energized and determined this year than I have in years past.  I’m going with the feeling…
So, what’s been happening with me as of late?  Well, as of my last content (not giveaway) post I have been just taking a page from Frank Sinatra’s book (or Sid Vicious, if that suits your fancy more than Old Blue Eyes) and doing it my way.  The holidays have come and gone and this year my family had a much more subdued celebration than usual.  Truth be told, I appreciated it even more.  I love my extended family, but the quiet, slow-paced days from Christmas Eve until yesterday were great.
Unlike in year’s past, I’m going to to do a Goals Project and I’m not going to make a list of resolutions.  Instead, I’m going to stick with my previously mentioned theme of doing things at my pace and in my way.  And this, of course, got me to thinking.  Let me tell you a little story….
A few days after Christmas I was cruising Facebook and there was a status update from a casual friend of mine.  She’s a great person, mom of three little ones, full-time job, and I’m sure very very busy from day to day.  She made some apologies before Christmas about not sending cards out.  Now, my opinion on holiday cards is this: If you send them, great. If you don’t send them, great.  Either way, own it.  Personally I do send cards.
So anyway, this status update was asking for recommendations for Christmas card services that will print the cards, envelopes, apply postage, and mail them for you.  I didn’t even know such a thing existed.  I’m not surprised that it does, but I hadn’t ever heard of such a service.
In response to this post there were a bunch of recommendations and advice about putting all of her addresses into Excel, doing a mail merge, printing out labels, etc.  A few were bragging about how they did 250 cards in 20 minutes or something like that.
This bothered me.
Like I said above, it doesn’t matter to me if you send cards or not, but isn’t the reason we send cards at the holiday season because we want to stay in touch with those we care most about?  I didn’t think it was about just doing it to do it or to see what astronomical number of cards we can send to anyone we’ve ever met. I wrote a comment that encouraged my friend to just own the fact that with a full-time job and three little children who are all active in sports and activities she doesn’t have time for cards.  No shame in that!  Or if she really wants to send some cards to those closest to her, take the time to write out a few to those very special people.
Quality over quantity.
Sure it’s a bit more labor intensive to hand write holiday cards, envelopes, and manually apply stamps, but isn’t it so much more personal and meaningful than a pre-printed card and envelope that someone was proud to stuff in less than a few seconds or a machine mailed for them?
Well, I don’t know if she took my advice or listened to my opinions, but the whole incident gave me an idea for a theme for 2014.
I’m going to do things the hard way.
Think of how much more delicious and special and soulful everything is if it’s done with care and with effort.  Think of how much better a thoughtfully prepared meal is than manufactured junk from a fast food place.  Think of how much more meaningful a personalized letter or card is.  You wouldn’t quickly pan-fry a pork shoulder, would you?!  Low and slow, baby.
So if I can come up with a theme for the year, it’s that.  2014 is going to be about taking the time and effort to do things well.
I can’t wait to see what we all discover together in the coming months!  As usual, don’t forget to sign up for my mailing list, follow me on Instagram, Twitter, and on Pinterest.  I’m developing a difficult relationship with Facebook, but I’m still over there posting so don’t forget to mark First Comes Health with “Show in News Feed”!  That crazy Mark Zuckerburg doesn’t want you see my posts!  Boo.
Happy 2014!