Little Changes

A few weeks ago, I signed up for Ali’s Big Picture class called 31 Things. I wrote about it a bit before. The class is almost over (two more days) and I’ve been able to keep up with it partly cause I did a big chunk of prep work at the very beginning. I’ve loved the fifteen or twenty minutes I spent on the writing each day. It was nice to get to look back, record the now and think a little bit about how and if I might like to change things.

In fact, the latter ended up having the biggest impact on me.

As I wrote each of the prompts, small things bubbled to the surface. Changes that I would like to make in my life. And while most of them are easy, I think they might have a significant impact in my life.

Here are some things that came out of the writing (they’re not in any order of significance):

  1. Nature fills me with peace. Specifically the ocean (or even just water) and tall trees. I need to make an effort to be in nature more frequently.
  2. I still really want to be able to drive on the freeway and learn how to ride a bike. These were planned focuses for 2012 for me but I haven’t spent enough quality time on them. I need to put both into my schedule.
  3. I am grateful that Jake is good at investing and takes care of our savings. This is not a change for me to make but I don’t think I pay attention to it enough. It’s not a small thing.
  4. The 3-5pm slot is challenging for me all year round. I need to find a way to get through that time period and find some activity to engage the kids in so they can be happy but quiet and I can do my work.
  5. Food continues to be a challenge. I need to come up with more options of healthy/unprocessed food that I can have at home and eat throughout the day. This is an area that needs much more planning.
  6. I like watching my kids play. Especially when they don’t realize I am watching. It brings me so much joy. I need to take more pauses in my day just to watch them.
  7. I love having schedules and routines. I need to remember this. When I am tried or overwhelmed, I tend to let the schedules go but the routine is the very thing that helps me stop feeling overwhelmed. I also am very grateful that I don’t have many chores that I really dislike. This is no small thing.
  8. I would like to learn how to paint my nails. Both hands and toes.
  9. I would like to find a unique style of dressing. Something simple, elegant and comfortable. But also something that’s mine.
  10. I need to clean out my closet and remove the clothes and shoes I don’t wear. I have a lot of clothes that are too big and shoes that are too uncomfortable. I always worry I might “need” them one day. I will pack them up and put them away. If the boxes sit untouched for a year, they get donated.
  11. I would love to live by the water. (Ok this is not a small thing and likely won’t happen soon, but it’s something I can keep in mind for planning any/all vacations.)
  12. I need to find a way to step back and reset some important things in my life. Mostly in my mind and soul. But I need work and I shouldn’t ignore it. (also not a small thing.)
  13. I need to find a new “getaway” spot in my neighborhood for going out when I need some alone time. Starbucks means coffee and bad food. I would prefer somewhere else where I am not tempted to eat badly.
  14. I think maybe I am thinking about writing fiction again. I can’t decide if this is something I should listen to.
  15. I want my relationship with my husband and kids to be front and center in my life. I want to make sure I give them the best of myself. I want to be more positive, calmer and more present. This is not a small thing but I think I can make small daily changes to make sure these feelings are more visible to them.
  16. I want to spend more time outdoors. I will take daily walks with my kids and, once a month, take a family vacation that’s outdoors: hiking, camping, etc.
  17. I want to figure out what I love to do. This is not a small thing but here’s my small plan for it: for a week (or maybe even a month) I will write down how I felt after every activity. So I can try to see trends in what I get the most joy out of and what I get the least joy out of.
  18. I want to learn to drink hot water with lemon. Ideally, I’d like this to be my warm drink of choice instead of tea or coffee.
  19. I’d like to add a nice smell to our house. Something subtle. Maybe a little vanilla or fresh flowers. Not sure what I want here but I think I’d like to explore a bit.

There you go.  Not bad for 15-minutes of writing a day, is it?

Amazing how much can come up by just taking a little bit of time to pause, reflect and write. I am deeply grateful I took this class and I plan to spend time over the next few weeks/months working on each of these things.  This is one of the reasons I like taking classes. For me, it’s scheduled reflection, growth, and play time.

Two more things: Thank you for your kind words about my good day and thank you for the feedback on the posts over email. I will leave them as full.

12 comments to Little Changes

  • Ginny

    That’s a great list, Karen! I’m working on my eating habits, too. Lately, to get more greens in my diet, I’m making a smoothie out of one apple, two handfuls of fresh spinach, 2T Almond or Peanut butter and half to a cup of water. I don’t taste the spinach at all, but it is a pretty green color. Best of all it is satisfying because of the added fat. I’ve heard you can make smoothies up to 24 hours in advance, but I haven’t tried that. The only prep I have to do is to wash and pair the apple. Anyway, that’s one small idea, but it may appeal to you, too.

  • Wow, love this. We have a lot in common. Nice to read your list as I resonate with so many of them.

    Also, I just adore your art. 🙂

  • I am impressed. I’d like to take that class I think. As far as eating goes I like to turn to Clean Eating Magazine for some great recipes and ideas(also are online) and is a great source for me even though I am not strictly vegan or vegetarian.

    Best of luck!!

  • Kristin

    Whst a wonderful list. I too have learned more about myself taking Ali’s class. For healthy eating, may I suggest your try for recipes. This has become a favorite spot because she offers such a variety. Plus people offer great suggestions in the comments.

  • I love the 31 Things class as well. I haven’t written every prompt yet, but I will. As for your #8 I just purchased this at Sephora yesterday: as I love to get shellac manicures but can never find the time to book an appointment (I’m a work at home mama too). I was really nervous to paint my right hand, but it turned out fabulously! It looks super professional and no streaks. The initial base coat was sort of streaky and had me worried, but the end result is incredible. You can do your toes with it too. I just had to share 🙂

  • Mel


    So glad you were inspired from Ali’s class. I took it too and the same happened for me but I have yet to sort out my thoughts. Your list is great. I like a list. In fact your ‘bucket list’ post inspired me to make my own list.

    Oh and you know Ali intends to do 31 more things too – great news. And thanks for sharing.

  • Kate Burroughs

    What a great list. And a lot of them can be somewhat easily accomplished. Do you have a park nearby that you can walk to, when you need to be alone? You could tick off two things on your list that way, every time you get outdoors!
    Aloha, Kate

  • dawn

    Hi Karen, what a great list and how awesome that you learned so much about yourself. We have a lot in common, like the not painting our nails, my family bugs me constantly because I’ve never done them. My daughters beg me all the time to let them, not sure if I can do it yet. The outdoors is my fave place and TREES, lots of them!! Finding my style, it’s been fun trying new things but nothing feels 100% me yet.

    I wanted to take this class but finances aren’t good right now, hope to take it again later if offered though. For some tips, maybe going to a nearby park to be alone and do some reading or enjoying the walk and scenery and for food mabye get your kids involved in planning lunch/snack ideas. That’s what we do during the summer, have things already cut up and ready on Sundays so during the week the kids can just help themselves. Maybe even a kids snack book from the library. This could also be their activity during that 3-5 witching time, to look and write down food ideas and maybe have them do school papers at that time. Hope this helps a little. Please let us know how you do on all these thoughts of yours, good luck with them!!

  • zewa

    Hi Karen,
    Great, great list and thank you as always for sharing your life to us on your blog. You may not know or believe it, but by reading about your daily life, posting your family pictures and especially the classes you take, you have helped me in so many ways, that I would like to point you to this link: … If I may, I believe, it offers a nice “solution” to your point 15 on your list and also in general to your attempt to reduce yelling and worrying. I hope you find use in it.
    I want to specifically thank you for sharing about Brave Girls on here – Their classes have been eye-opening and soul-healing for me. Also I have this secret (now in the open) wish that you start a work blog – sharing your wisdom, would probably be my life saver. Thank you


    • karenika

      zewa, thanks so much for that link. i absolutely loved it and found it profound. I specially like the part where she breaks it down to days of week and hours in the day, etc. It speaks to my mathematical mind. i am going to sit with this for a while, I think it wil help me with a few of my items. thank you so so much.

      as for work, i am keeping that private because of confidentiality and legal reasons. if you have general thoughts/concerns you want me to talk about working, I am always happy to do that.

  • Daney

    my latest nails find is actually CHEAP and low tech. Sally Hansen makes an “Insta Dry” or maybe it’s even “Instant Dry” line of nail polishes that really do dry instantly. Absolutely possible to paint even my 6 yr old little one’s toes without mess! The brush holds a lot of polish and is shaped so that it makes painting easier. It is not incredibly long wearing, but when you can slap on another coat on day 3 and it’s dry in less than 1 minute, who cares? worth a $4 try, I would say.

  • If I could choose one smell it would be apple.

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>




This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.