Five Years Debt-Free

📷: @casamochi

Debt seems to be a constant in so many people's lives. We talked with Lauren, who celebrated her five-year anniversary of being completely debt free.  


 We love seeing our boards used as a way to document important events! We were so excited to see this photo – tell us a little about your debt-free journey.

My debt-free journey started 8 years ago when my husband came home one day and told me he wanted to become totally debt free. As you can imagine, there were many things going on in my head when he said that, but mainly, “Did he just say what I thought he said?" He had read Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover after talking with a friend about their debt-free journey, and he felt inspired and compelled to do something. Our debt included a credit card bill ($1,871.31), the balance on two brand new cars (31,211.10), and the balance of our condo mortgage ($233,346.60).
After some deliberating, I decided to give budgeting a try. One of my biggest misconceptions about going on a budget was how limiting it would be. I learned that the opposite is true: It’s incredibly freeing to be on the same page with my spouse, and to know that I have the permission to spend on things that we both decided on during our budget meeting. We got our budget up and running, and every month we would sit down together and give each dollar a job for the following month (spending, giving, savings). He’s the president, and I’m the vice president of our monthly budget meeting.
We then worked on increasing our income, and decreasing our expenditures. I got a second job as an emergency room nurse and started working like our future depended on it: 16 hour shifts, 60-80 hour work weeks, and evening shifts. If work asked me to stay late, or come in early, the answer was almost always yes. My husband also had the same opportunity to work extra. We decreased our expenses, and lived off of 30% of our income. We started selling stuff. We started saying no to lots of purchases. We embarked on our debt-free journey together.
It was incredibly hard. I wanted to stop many times along the way because I never worked so hard for anything in my life (except maybe nursing school, that was pretty hard, too). Thankfully, the moments when I wanted to give up, my husband would be there to lift me up, cheer me on, and remind me why we were doing this.
33 months later, we did it. We were totally debt free. We paid off $266,329.01 of debt.  
A year later, we purchased our fixer-upper dream home, and paid over half of the mortgage for the down payment. Three years after that, we completely renovated our home without ever going into debt. While we do now have a mortgage, it is reasonable, and we are otherwise debt-free.
Never, in my wildest dreams, did I think that we could achieve such a huge goal. I share our story because we were inspired by somebody else’s story, and never would have done all of this had we not heard that story. If you are thinking of becoming debt-free, or going on a budget, I would encourage you to do it, and start now.  

 


What kind of steps would you recommend to those of us who are still trying to become debt free?

  1. Be passionate about changing your financial trajectory. This is probably the single most important thing about becoming debt free. Without the willingness to work hard to change what’s currently not working, nothing will change. In nursing school, one of the biggest lessons we learned is that people will not change if you will them to, or if you try to coerce them; they will only change if THEY want to change. The same principle applies to becoming debt free. 
  2. Figure out your monthly income and expenses. You can start by writing down all of your different categories of expenditures: utilities, housing, groceries, cars, etc. Then you can start keeping track of how much you are spending in these categories every month. What’s most important is that the monthly expenses are less than your monthly income; if not, something has to immediately change. 
  3. Establish your emergency fund. This is important because the rainy day will come; it’s just a matter of whether or not you are prepared for it. Starting with $1,000 is a great start, and then you can work your way up to saving 3-6 months of your monthly income, as Ramsey suggests. 
  4. Make an actionable plan, start a budget, get a budget accountability partner. Your financial roadmap to becoming debt free is in your budget. Set goals, sell stuff, pick up an extra job, and decrease your monthly expenses. Make sure that your budget buddy holds you accountable to what you agreed on. Also, if it’s in your budget, I would highly encourage being generous with the budget that you have because it’s good for the soul -- whether it’s baking someone cookies, paying for someone’s gas behind you, or giving to a non-profit organization or church that you love. 
  5. Celebrate the small victories, and pay off your debt! Whether you are keeping track of how much interest you are saving along the way, or turning another page on your amortization schedule, or paying down another $500 of debt, celebrate the small stuff because that will give you fuel to keep going.  

It’s so difficult to get out of debt. What was the hardest aspect of consistently sticking to your goal?

By far the hardest thing about consistently sticking to our goal was comparison. It’s true what Theodore Roosevelt said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” While we were working 80-hour work weeks, hardly dining out, and hardly going on vacations, it was hard to not look around at those around you who were enjoying the things we weren’t. When I was feeling down, my husband would remind me to keep my eye on the prize. It’s so hard when you are in it, but like Dave Ramsey says, “Live like no one else, so that later you can live like no one else.” This process makes you discern that the most important things in life aren’t things. They are your time, your values, your financial freedom, and the people you love.  


What resources or tools would you recommend for someone working toward debt freedom?

I would start by reading Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover. This is the book that changed our lives forever. It’s a quick read, and very easy to understand for a free spirit like myself (my husband is the nerd). Dave also has a wonderful radio show on various financial topics. My husband and I had the pleasure of doing our debt free scream 5 years ago when we paid off our former home.
I would also suggest using YNAB (You Need a Budget) to manage your budget, accounts, and financial goals. YNAB is an app that you can sync to various devices, and it updates in real time. For example, if my husband and I conquer and divide the grocery shopping, we can each see how much we spent, and our balance in our “grocery” category. Jesse, the founder of YNAB, also has great videos and podcasts that are incredibly insightful as well.  
Lastly, I have a blog at www.casamochi.com  where I talk about our debt-free journey, living within one’s means, and other tips on how to live well on a budget.
 


Now that it’s been five years since becoming debt free, what other goals are you working toward as a family?

We had a few major home repairs come up that made us dip into our emergency fund, including replacing a major supporting beam in our garage. Some of our next goals are to finish our current home repairs, replenish our emergency fund, and make an actionable plan to pay off the balance of our current mortgage.  We are also working towards traveling more together as a family, teaching our children how to manage money, and cultivating joy in everyday moments.  


And lastly, we always like to ask, what is currently on your letter board?

What is currently on my letter board is “Instead of giving yourself grief, and giving up, give yourself grace, and move forward.”

If you or someone you know has a story you would like to have featured, send us an email at hey@letterfolk.com
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Extraordinary Ezra!

 

📷: @elisabethparker

Extraordinary Ezra is one of the bravest kids we have seen pop up in our community. We reached out to his mom to tell us a bit about her family and what Ezra is up to. 


We have loved seeing your family show up on our feed. Tell us a bit about your family!

Hi Letterfolk friends! We are a family of four (+ labradoodle) living our best lives in the beautiful Pacific Northwest: Josh, Elisabeth, Judah, Ezra (and Luna). Josh and I met while attending Oregon State University. Josh was an all-star goalie on the lacrosse team and I was the president of the women's choir...we were a match made in sports and music heaven ;) We were married shortly after graduation in my parents' backyard with tall evergreens as our backdrop. Josh is an engineer and works for an amazing company called NuScale Power. I am a yoga teacher at Willamette Valley Power Yoga and spend my free time helping my friends with graphic and interior design projects and advocating and volunteering for the RASopathies Network. Judah, our oldest son, is a creative and kind 2nd grader who loves Star Wars, legos, and Pokemon cards. Ezra, our youngest, is a feisty and funny kindergartner who also loves legos, Harry Potter, and has a deep affinity for Batman. We are total homebodies who love home improvement projects and hosting parties. And we also love to travel! We take at least one trip to Bend, Oregon a year to attend an outdoor concert and paddleboard or kayak, and our favorite vacation spot is Ko'Olina, Oahu, where we could spend hours snorkeling and hanging out on the beach together.
Ezra is the cutest, bravest kid in the world. Tell us a little bit about Extraordinary Ezra.
Our family's story takes a unique turn with our Extraordinary Ezra. After a textbook pregnancy, Ezra was born with frightening and unexpected medical issues. We immediately began whisking him away to doctors’ offices and hospitals within days of his birth to begin what seemed like a never-ending process of testing and procedures. It wasn’t until Ezra’s second bone marrow biopsy at four months old that we finally had our diagnosis: Juvenile Myelomonocytic Leukemia (or JMML – survival rate 50%). In a typical child, the only hope for a cure for JMML is a bone marrow transplant. We immediately began the search for a donor (starting out by testing our then 3-year-old Judah, to see if he was a match) and Ezra underwent surgery to implant a feeding tube. Doctors thought that Ezra was failing to thrive, and he began an oral chemo regimen to stabilize his blood counts and shrink his dangerously enlarged spleen. At six months old, Ezra’s last round of genetic testing revealed that in addition to JMML, he also has a rare disease called Noonan syndrome. For some reason (that is still being researched), children with BOTH Noonan syndrome and JMML *can* go into spontaneous remission WITHOUT bone marrow transplant! Ezra was considered in remission around the time of his first birthday, but Noonan syndrome still affects him with abnormal blood counts from time to time (he bruises and bleeds easily). Noonan syndrome also affects him in other various ways from head to toe, most notably with very small stature (he is almost six and wears 3T clothing), vision issues, food intolerances, and a predisposition to get sick.
We’re sure Judah is a great older brother. How does he help out with Ezra?
In many ways, Judah had to grow up very quickly after Ezra was born. One of the most heart-wrenching parts of Ezra being so sick as a baby was having to be away from Judah while we went to appointments or stayed in the hospital for Ezra's surgeries. Then and now, Judah has been such a resilient and loving big brother. One of the greatest joys this year has been watching Judah walk Ezra into school each morning. Ezra's backpack is too heavy for him to carry comfortably (but necessary for transporting his lunch box, school papers, and library books) and Judah carries both his and Ezra's backpacks into school. Ezra's classroom is almost directly across the hall from Judah's, and nothing is more comforting than knowing they are so close together. Judah is starting to speak up and advocate when others comment on Ezra's size or ask about Noonan syndrome. He also made the decision last year to shave his head in solidarity with childhood cancer patients and raised over a thousand dollars for research! We could not be more proud of him.
What advice would you have for friends/loved ones of families battling Noonan syndrome or other rare diseases?
The early days of a Noonan syndrome or rare disease diagnosis can be traumatic and overwhelming. Our greatest piece of advice is to keep the faith and never give up hope. We would also advise to celebrate every single obstacle they overcome, big or small! Ezra has battled and overcome more health obstacles than most people will face their entire lives, and we celebrate all his tenacity and resilience in doing so! We would also tell these families to find their people. Chronic illness and rare disease life can be very difficult, and the support of loving family and community is crucial! Lean on the people you love, and someday, you might just get to pay that same support forward. It is the most fulfilling, beautiful thing to support other families in their similar times of need. Finally, social media support groups are an amazing resource. As rare as our journey might be, online support groups on Facebook and connections we have made through Instagram with families with our same diagnosis have been essential to navigating this journey.
We are so impressed with your honesty about everything in your life and love that you’re an advocate for helping others understand rare diseases. What’s the best way to get better informed and learn about ways to contribute?
Thank you for saying that! From my experience and what I have gleaned from adults living with Noonan syndrome and other illnesses, honesty and telling our story openly is such a powerful thing! My belief is that the more we say the words, "Noonan syndrome," out loud, the more it serves to demystify them. I believe that awareness leads to inclusion and education...and ultimately to the support of research, treatment, and cures! The best way to learn more about Noonan syndrome and support research for its larger group of related conditions called the RASopathies is to visit the organization I volunteer with, RASopathiesNet.org. Our mission is to connect, collaborate, and cure by bringing patients, families, researchers, and clinicians together. My favorite organization for uniting the rare disease community and bringing joy to advocacy is Global Genes. I had the honor of teaching the sunrise yoga to participants at their RARE Patient Advocacy Summit in California last fall, and it is an event I look forward to and learn so much from every year!
And finally, what’s on your letter board right now?
"Care about Rare!" February is Noonan syndrome Awareness month and February 28th is World Rare Disease Day! We love spending this month celebrating all Ezra has overcome and inspiring others to care about rare :)

If you or someone you know has a story you would like to have featured, send us an email at hey@letterfolk.com
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Mabel and Her Friends

For this week's "Folks of Letterfolk" we had the chance to talk to one of our favorite dogs on Instagram, Mabel. Her Instagram account has generated a huge following and it is easy to see why. Mabel has several siblings that make frequent appearances on the account, and it's true there is no such thing as too many dogs. 


To start off, tell us about yourself, Mabel.

My name is Mabel and I am a *small* Medium Australian Labradoodle who lives on the beautiful Central Coast of California with my Mama and my foster sibs! I am a year a half and have the cutest curly chocolate coat which makes Mama call me her Chocolate Luv Muffin (I know, I know, it's embarrassing, but I love that gal so whatcha gonna do?). I am a loving and sometimes derpy doodle. Mama says I have two sides because I love me some sleep (who doesn't?!) and can sleep in until 11 o'clock if Mama lets me, but then as soon as we get outside, I am ready and rearing to go and my tail doesn't stop waggling!  

How did you become part of the family? 

Mama got me when I was 12 weeks old (a little older than people normally get a new pupper). Apparently she had just bought a house so she could get a dog (duh!) and was visiting my first home to find out a bit more about the breeders and see if there were going to be any litters coming up that had the kind of pup she wanted. She was expecting to have to wait a few months before there would be more pups but...lo and behold, she met me! I had to wait a whole 3 weeks after meeting Mama to finally be able to go home with her, but the wait was totally worth it!  

What are your favorite activities? 

My absolute favorite thing to do is to go to the beach and chase the birds through the water!!! I feel like I'm flying with them because I'm a true speed demon! Mama said that she used to hate going to the beach because that darn sand just gets everywhere! Now it's her favorite place to be. Wanna know why? She says that seeing how happy I get at the beach is contagious and can turn her worst days around because she loves seeing me wild and free. I love that! Also, Mama does this really cool magic trick where she makes the sand fly through the air with her feet and I get to jump up and do back flips trying to catch it! It's super fun! You all should go try it out! 

How did Mabel's mom become involved in being a foster parent to so many of these precious dogs?

I was just 4 little months old (still going through my flat head stage...also embarrassing) when Mama brought home my first foster sibling! Mama said that she happened to be in the right place at the right time to see the post on Facebook (whatever that is) in the group for people who own Brasken Labradoodles saying that they were looking for someone to foster one of their pups for them! If she hadn't been wasting away her time on the Internet and had been playing ball with me like I was asking, I would never have gotten to have all my fun sibs! Funny how that works. Mama says that the best part about what fostering has brought into our lives is not only the amazing puppers we've gotten to raise, but also that she now is friends with the breeders and their family and is even going to start working for them soon!!! How cool is that?!

So far, Mama and I have gotten to foster 8 adorably sweet little pup-pups in the last year plus a few months! Each of them have been so sweet and I love getting to teach them all my tricks and watch their little personalities grow! Here's a little bit about each of my siblings!

Molly: Sib #1 (28 days with us) 

Mollly, my first sister, came on a pretty epic day! My bestie, Amigo aka Migs, and I were having a sleepover! Mama and her friend took Migs and I to this amazing place called the beach (for my first ever time!) I was instantly in love (although that whole giant body of moving water thing took me a little while to get used to). After spending a few hours romping around with all our doodle cousins, Migs and I settled in for post beach bath induced afternoon nap. When we woke up, guess who was with Mama?!! My first sister!!! I was soo stoked and Migs and I did our best job welcoming Molly to her new temporary home (yes, lots of butt sniffing was involved). Best. Sleepover. Ever! And the cool thing about Molly, is that she ended up getting to live with her Doggie Mama which made having to say goodbye a little easier because I was so happy for that reunion.

Poppy: Sib #2 (44 days with us)

Poppy's story is pretty cool! Mama's friend (Amigo's Mama) was in and out of the hospital a lot around the time that we got Poppy. Mama was watching Migs (yay for more sleepovers!) so whenever Mama was off of work she would take Migs, Poppy, and Me to the hospital to visit Amigo's Mama (Amigo is a service dog for his mama, I was an ESA dog at the time and am currently training to be Mama's Service Dog, and we got approval to have Poppy in the hospital)! Mama's friend loved getting to get puppy snuggles from all of us and said that we made her feel so much better. She even called me a pro snuggler because I would jump right up onto her hospital bed and snuggle in! The nurses loved having us there so much that one of the nurse actually became Poppy's new Mama!!!

Prince: Sib #3 (21 days with us)

Mama said that the plan with Prince was that he was going to stay with us for a loooong time (about 6 months) but he actually ended up being the sib that I had for the shortest amount of time. The cool thing with that was that even though he didn't get to live with us for very long, he's been staying with Mama's friend for the last 4 months and I get to play with him every time I got to work with Mama! Funny thing is that Prince has actually had 3 names in his life and they all kinda go together so we joke that his name is Prince Harry Junior! 

Rue: Sib #4 (112 days with us) 

Rue-Rue was the first pup Mama got to name! She was my training buddy (Rue's favorite trick was "bow" and boy was there nothing cuter than her sticking her little puppy bootie up into the air!) and the first sib who got to not only go to the beach with me, but also got to join me for our first ever camping trip! We spent our days rolling in the dirt (good thing we are chocolate doods!), bouncing through meadows of tall grass like bunnies, splashing in the river, and fishing (which was Rue's favorite part)! Mama even got Rue to kiss a fish!!

Melody: Sib #5 (49 days with us)

Melody was the first sister of mine who got to join Mama and me at work (because Mama made the amazing choice of adding a second job working at a dog trainers which meant that we got to come and play with all her doggie friends!). Mama got to practice all her new skills on Melly and me and we got to meet and play with around 40 days a few times a week! It was the best! Melody also got to go live with her Doggie Mama and is training to be a therapy dog just like her Doggie Mama!

Oakley: Sib #6 (189 + days with us) 

Oakley is just the coolest! Not only is she one of my foster sibs, but she's my actual real life baby sister too! We have the same exact Doggie parents which doesn't happen too often for doggos. I am soo glad that Oakers is the pup that we've gotten to have for furrever! I mean, she does have a home to go to, but we get to keep her until April which will make it almost 7 months that I've gotten to live with my baby sister. It's been so hard for Mama to not keep Oakley, but apparently she made a deal with herself when she started fostering that she wouldn't keep any pups just yet so that she could keep fostering. I get it, but Oakley is my last full sister ever...I'm gonna keep pushing for it! 

Symphony: Sib #7 (72 days with us)

Mama like to call Symphony Symmy Moo Moo (or Sym/Symmy for short). Symphony was the first pup that Mama knew her Doggie Mama, Bella, well and Mama claims Symmy is a perfect mini me to her Doggie Mama (other than that Bella is Chocolate and Sym is Cream). When Symmy came to live with us, Mama still had Melody AND Oakley which meant that I had 3 foster sisters at once! It was a constant doodle party at our house! And the best part was that it was Halloween time and there were enough of us to dress up as Goldilocks and the Three Bears!!! It was pretty epic! 

Harper: Sib #8 (49 days and counting)

Harper has earned the title of Princess WiggleButt. Her absolute favorite thing to do is grab a toy like it is her prize and walk around with her booty waggling like she is stoked out of her mind to have found that the best toy in the world! She likes to bring the toy around to each of us to let us know just how proud she is! We also got to take care of Harper's sister, Juniper, for one week! Twins are hard!   

How do you and your friends pose so well for photos? You must know you have a huge Instagram following! 

The first key is that Mama works on teaching the little puppers how to sit still long enough to snap a picture (and longer as they learn to control their excitement) from the very first day! The best way she found to do this is by teaching them to "sit" and "wait" before they are allowed to get their meals! They next key is that I will ALWAYS look when I hear the jingle of my favoritest toy, my laser! The pups usually always look if Mama squeaks a toy or has a treat (but when they're little that can sometimes excite them out of their stays!). 

What are some of your quirks and personality traits?  

My funniest quirk that always makes Mama (and anyone else around) laugh is that I am OBSESSED with shadows and shining lights. I love them so much and just can't understand why I can never catch them! Inside I love it when Mama busts out the laser toy or uses the sun off of her phone to make this magical light dance all over the house. Outside, my favorite shadows are from bugs (especially butterflies) and I also really love to chase the shadow of a ball which works out perfectly because my friends get to chase the ball and I go after it's shadow! Mama says my tail wags the whole time I'm outside on a sunny day because I'm as happy as can be shadow hunting! 

How can some of our fellow dog lovers reading this get involved with foster care?  

Our foster care situation is kind of different than a normal pet fostering situation because we foster through Mama's friends who are Labradoodle breeders and normal fostering is through an animal shelter. Mama loves going to the shelter near us and often brings her human clients there to love up on all the pooches and kittens. Although our fostering isn't the traditional fostering that people think of with shelters, Mama chose to use the term fostering with my sibs because that's what we're doing, temporarily taking care of these puppers that aren't ours. We still have to go through the hard part of adjusting to new sibs coming in and the really hard part of saying goodbye but still being happy knowing that they found their furever home. If people want to get into fostering, they can look into how they can help out at their local shelters. If people are interested in taking care of doodles like Mama and I do, often breeders look for Guardian homes (the kind of homes all my siblings go into) and they can ask their local breeders if they have any Guardian opportunities. 


If you or someone you know have a story you would like to be featured, send us an email at hey@letterfolk.com

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Sharp Dressed Man

Sharp dressed man

📷: @sharp.dressedman


So tell us a little bit about Sharp Dressed Man.

Sharp Dressed Man is a 501(c)-3 non-profit originating in Baltimore, MD (we’ve opened a location in Los Angeles, CA as well). We collect lightly-worn men’s dress clothes and give them to guys getting back up on their feet. The men we help with our program are currently enrolled in a job-readiment program elsewhere and referred to us by over 30 partnering organizations.

What you’re doing is awesome. How did this organization come to be?

This organization was founded for a few reasons. In short, a client of ours at Christopher Schafer Clothier handed Chris bags of his suits after replacing them and wanted us to find a way to donate them. By partnering with another Baltimore organization, we were able to find clients to give the suits to. Since that day, we have partnered with more organizations and suited thousands of men looking to turn their lives around.

You’re obviously passionate about suits and looking sharp. Why is that important to you?

Long story short, there are times in one’s life when things get turned around, and you can end up taking the wrong path. Nearly everyone who volunteers with us has had some sort of experience with this, whether first-hand or a family member or friend. We bring out the confidence that's buried within to have men realize their own potential. Our goal at Sharp Dressed Man is to give men the confidence (that comes with getting suited up) to change their lives for the better.

What types of success stories have you heard from the men you’ve helped?

One of our greatest success stories comes from someone who is volunteering with us now. He was in prison for 40 years and upon getting out, came to see us through a partnership with Goodwill. He finished a job-readiment program, got a suit from us and has been employed at Johns Hopkins ever since. Now he volunteers with us every other week to give the same experience to others!

It looks like you get a ton of volunteers! What type of opportunities are there for folks to get involved?

We’ve recently expanded our list of opportunities for ways people can get involved:

1) Donate Time: every Tuesday at 5 p.m., we open our doors for volunteers to help sort and size clothing. This makes our Suiting Days on Wednesdays from noon-2 p.m. run a little more smoothly!

2) Donate Clothing: we accept all LIGHTLY worn men’s dress clothes to help keep our closet stocked. We are always accepting donations of any size as long as they are in good condition.

3) Donate Skills: if you have a passion for photography or videography, we are always welcoming friendly faces who can donate a skill like this. We love showcasing the way others see our organization!

4) Donate Money: we have a website where we provide email-response tax receipts for all monetary donations. We have overhead for running two shops, in addition to printing promotional material to pass out everywhere we go. With expanding to both coasts, our goal is to double the size of the men we’ve helped in the past! Any way someone can help is welcomed with open arms!

We love that you use our boards to show the progress of how many men you’ve dressed. Where do you hope to be by year’s end?

We have a year's end goal of 3,000. That’s 1,000 more than the goal last year that we beat by nearly 200 guys!


          If you or someone you know has a story you would like to have featured, send us an email at hey@letterfolk.com

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          Setting Goals with @elisejoy

          📷: @elisejoy

          We have loved watching Elise create so many wonderful things that we wanted to talk about her process, her life, and how she effectively reaches her goals.


          First off, tell us a little bit about your 2018 theme and goals.
          Inspired by my friend Ali Edwards, I love to choose a guiding word for the year and 2018's word was reach. My goal was to stretch and expand and try new things. So with that in mind I came up with some stuff I wanted more off and some stuff I wanted less of -- and on to the board it went. The board was a bit more general than my annual goals tend to be, but I set some actionable items around them. For example, in 2018 I made the goal of buying no new clothing (less things & less consuming) and instead sewed some wardrobe pieces (more creating). I also wrote a book, which feels like the ultimate leap!
          Now that we’re through the year, how did your goals hold up?
          For the most part I stayed on track with my goals. It was easier than expected to avoid shopping for new clothing, and the biggest takeaway was that like any habit, not buying became easier with time. My book was due July 15th and I got it turned in that week which felt great. I wanted to do a few projects to make our house work better for our family and we were able to transition my daughters' room into a brighter space. I also tried to do more to make our backyard garden a happier (and more successful growing) space.
          What was the hardest goal to stay on top of this year?
          I didn't tried "new places" as much as I would have liked. This doesn't just refer to travel but anything - new parks, new restaurants, new experiences. I tend to be a homebody and I like my routine so it can be hard to break out of that. Hopefully something to still reach for. ;)
          I saw that you did #100craftadventures. We’d love to hear more about it and some of your projects.
          Yes! I completed my #the100dayproject challenge, and it fit nicely into my "more creating" goal. I have done this challenge three years in a row, and the goal is to do something creative every day for 100 days and document your progress on Instagram. In 2018, because I was writing my book, I didn't know how much time I would have, and so I set a fairly loose challenge and just tried to do something with my hands for about 15 minutes a day. I sewed, knitted, screen-printed, carved stamped, watercolored, dyed yarn, marbled fabric -- so many fun and new adventures for me. I loved the challenge and am happy with many of the projects that came from it. 
          I’m really drawn to your “less hesitating, more leaping” goal. Can you share any examples where you followed this mantra? 
          I tried to incorporate this thinking whenever I was making decisions both small and big. I loved the idea of "while you're waiting for the right thing, do something" and that's what this was about. Don't sit idle or overthink! Dive deep into a new project, adventure, or decision and see how it goes. Worst case? You fail and start over. But it's so much better than hesitating and feeling stuck. 
          And of course, what is on your letter board right now?

          Right now the letter board that hangs by my desk says, "Show up and be brave in who you are." It's something a guest said on my podcast and I haven't changed it in months! I love the reminder to keep showing up and to own your opinions and ideas.


                  If you or someone you know have a story you would like to be featured, send us an email at hey@letterfolk.com

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