i got in a car accident on thursday night and nothing happened to me.
i was on my way to meet a friend for a long-overdue tea, and while i was starting to move again after being at a standstill on the highway, my car was rammed from behind by two other cars, the final piece in a three-car sandwich. but nothing happened to me.
the car behind me, the one in the middle, no longer had a back bumper and the front bumper was completely cracked and shattered, while my back fender merely suffered two scratches. but nothing happened to me.
the first car, the one that came barreling down the highway into a line of cars standing still, the one that was being driven by a girl two years younger than myself, that car was totaled, the front completely crumpling in on itself and rendering it unable to be driven. but nothing happened to me.
the girl driving that first car, based on how fast she was going and how sudden the impact was, was surely on her phone leading up to the impact, and was lucky to be alive and walking around, because we’ve all seen what happens in the commercials imploring us to put our phones down. but nothing happened to me.
how did nothing happen to me? that’s all i could think as i drove my car away, unscathed. and it made me realize, we don’t always know why things happen or don’t happen to us, at least not right away. sometimes the “why” isn’t always ours to know at the time of the happening. sometimes it’s not ours to know for a very, very long time.
i’ve been thinking a lot about THE PLAN lately. that greater plan that we feel like we should have control over, but we actually don’t have any control over. you know the one. i’ve said it before and i’ll say it again – i don’t do well with not knowing the plan. patience is a virtue i am still fighting to possess, and the phrase “give me grace” is always in my prayers. because i want to just KNOW the plan and then make it happen for myself! is that too much to ask?
i am constantly fighting to trust that His plan is better than mine. that His plans are so big that i can’t possibly begin to imagine what He has in store for me. because why would i ever be chosen to do great things when there are so many others that could do it better? i have a hard time imagining what i could bring to the table that someone else couldn’t.
and then i remember this wisdom:
it doesn’t matter that i don’t yet understand the “why”. my understanding isn’t important at this time. placing my trust in Him and the plan He has for me is the important thing. deep down i know that if i trust the life and the gifts i have been given, i will do great things. it’s true that nothing happened to me in that accident; but there is so much still waiting for me ahead.
do you remember when i rebranded this blog? do you remember how little i posted prior to the rebranding, and how much more regularly i post now (i mean, with the exception of december…holidays, am i right.)?
that’s because when i rebranded, i also implemented a little thing called an editorial calendar. and it completely changed how i planned and published my posts. the silly thing is that it’s so easy, i’m not sure why i didn’t start using one earlier. i always had “versions” of an editorial calendar, but i never used an actual calendar method, and that’s what made the big difference for me.
in this post i’ll explain the benefits of an editorial calendar, how to make an editorial calendar for yourself, and how to use it to make your blogging easier. i’ll be showing you my calendar to give you a visual, but you can feel free to use your own method and make it work for you. if you’re a blogger looking for a new way to get organized, or you’re new to blogging and getting everything set up, read on!
benefits of using an editorial calendar
without an editorial calendar, you might have a method where you use lists or reminders to plan your blog posts. and there is nothing inherently wrong with that, but it’s not as efficient as it could be. one of the benefits of an editorial calendar is that it lets you easily see when you need to have posts written, as well as the status of those posts (whether they’re written, scheduled, or published). another benefit is that if you ever have a large chunk of time to blog, you can use the time you would have spent thinking of post ideas to write your posts, because you’ve already planned out your posts on your editorial calendar.
an editorial calendar also lets you be flexible when you need to be. if you didn’t write a post in time, or weren’t able to take the necessary photos over the weekend, you can look at your planned posts and decide where that post can be moved to later in the calendar, and if there is anything ready that can easily be put in its place. this has been a lifesaver for me…sometimes my life does not follow the schedule that i want it to, so the ability to be flexible with my blog posts has allowed me to post more regularly than i ever have in the past.
one of the most important benefits of an editorial calendar is that it gives you accountability with your posting as well. you can easily see what posts you’ve told yourself you wanted to write, which makes it harder to say that you don’t have ideas, or that you lost track of time. accountability can be a huge factor in your success in posting.
allows you to plan and easily see posts as far out as you need to.
allows you to easily see the status of your blog posts.
saves you time when writing your posts, because your future ideas are already planned out.
gives you flexibility in your posting when you need it.
provides accountability or your posting.
how to make an editorial calendar
now for (what i think is) the fun part! making your editorial calendar. if you’re a straight-forward person who doesn’t like a lot of fluff, your calendar will probably look a lot like mine. if you are more on the artistic side, your editorial calendar might look prettier. if you’re into bullet journaling, you can include a spot in your journal for your calendar. or you might want to keep an electronic calendar! there are so many ways to make this tool work for you and your blog.
the main thing you need to make an editorial calendar is….a calendar! whether it’s on paper or electronic, you need a calendar template that allows you to easily record and track your post ideas. once you have your calendar, the next step is identifying when you will need to have posts. my posting schedule is mondays, wednesdays, and saturdays, so when i print off my calendar, the first thing i do is highlight all of those days. that way i can easily see when i need to post and what days need ideas.
my next step is to fill in any regularly occurring posts that i know i’ll have. most of my recurring posts happen on saturdays right now (monthly goals, coffee dates, #lifelivedthoughtfully, etc.) so i write those in right away. this lets me see if i have any gaps for saturday posts and i can start brainstorming what to write for those. once the recurring posts are recorded, i start to fill in the mondays and wednesdays. because i can clearly see which posts i’m planning to write, it’s easy to spread out my recipe posts and my parenting posts so i don’t accidentally have two recipe posts next to each other. i can also leave a few days open to give myself some flexibility like i mentioned above.
the last step in making my editorial calendar for my blog is to make three boxes next to each post – one marked “w” for “written”, one marked “s” for “scheduled”, and one marked “p” for “published”. this is my favorite part of my calendar because it lets me keep track of where each of my posts is at in the posting process. i get so excited when i can see how many posts i have written and scheduled, because i know i’m creating good, regular content for my blog, in a way that doesn’t stress me out. your method for this may be different. maybe you only care about scheduled posts or published posts. maybe you want to add a checkbox for “photos taken”. make this step work for whatever your needs might be.
get a calendar!
identify what days you need to write posts.
record any recurring posts.
brainstorm additional posts for remaining days, leaving some open spots for flexibility if you need it.
create checkboxes for your tracking and accountability needs.
how to use an editorial calendar for blogging
now it’s time to go and write! once you’ve spent the time making your editorial calendar, you can spend your time writing instead of brainstorming. which is why you blog in the first place, am i right? once my calendar is done, i try to grab a long chunk of time, either at home or at a coffee shop, to write or at least set up some future blog posts. i don’t like to write full posts too far ahead of time, because i feel like it makes my writing feel stiff, but if i can at least get outlines written, it helps me write a lot faster once i’m ready.
if i know i have recipe posts i want to do, i use my calendar to help me plan when i’m going to make and photograph the recipes so i can ensure i have them done when i need them. this way, i can even plan my recipe posts into our weekly meals so i kill two birds with one stone! and if i find that i don’t have time to write one before it’s due, or i like the idea of posting one early, i can just record any adjustments on the calendar. for example, this month i didn’t post on january 2nd, because i was sick with a terrible cold. i moved the post i was going to have for that day, along with the one a week after and just shifted them both a week later. and while i planned on having this post go up two days ago, i decided i wanted to swap it with my last post, so i recorded that change on the calendar.
and that’s how it’s done!
schedule time to write your posts.
spend less time brainstorming.
write your blog posts like crazy!
if you blog, do you use an editorial calendar? what’s worked well for you? if you’re new to blogging, or thinking about starting, let me know if this was helpful!
i don’t know if you’ve heard me complain talk about it yet, but i live in minnesota, aka the frozen tundra. meaning, it gets bone-chillingly cold and very snowy for about half the year. as I write this, it’s -2 degrees outside. without the windchill (and if you don’t know what windchill is, count your blessings). all of this is fine if it’s just you, because you have the best excuse ever to hibernate on your couch under a blanket, with coffee and netflix. but if you have a toddler…well, the long winter means something entirely different.
having a toddler in the winter means trying to entertain that toddler without the benefit of days spent at the park or going on long walks outside. this makes for very long days spent mostly indoors with a tiny tyrant. so what’s a mom to do?
if you’re looking for some ideas to make the days go by more quickly in the winter, look no further. here are some of my favorite tips for getting through winter with a toddler. use this as a starting point, and add your own creative ideas.
get outside. i know, i know, as an adult we’re not used to the idea of playing in the snow anymore. but even 15 minutes outside with your toddler can help make the day go by a little more smoothly. and when you factor in the getting ready time and the getting undressed time, you can easily knock an hour out of your day, with the added bonus of a great energy burn and some fresh air (which could mean a longer nap time!).
create an indoor obstacle course. we live in a very small house, so we don’t have the benefit of a playroom, but you can do this anywhere in your house that has enough space to run around a bit. set up some pillows, chairs or even block towers to act as obstacles to jump over, run around or sit on. my daughter will run an actual mile around the kitchen table yelling, “run away! run away!” which provides countless minutes of entertainment.
check out your local library. i had no idea that public libraries had been upping their games so much until recently! they just redid the one near us, and their children’s area is amazing. not only are there books, but there are little puzzles and puppets and activities for the kids to do too. if you can find a library in your area with a children’s section, it’s a great way to kill a morning (and bring home some new books!).
bake some cookies. i know, i know, all you neat freaks are cringing at this one. but stay with me. all kids really want to do is scoop things and touch things and watch you make things, so making cookies can be a fun activity if you are feeling a little stir crazy. if the idea of flour all over the kitchen makes you crazy, just put some news paper down and call it a day.
visit the mall. i’m not a big shopper, but every so often it’s nice to go somewhere that the little one can run around and you can get some errands done without having to get in and out of the car ALL DAY LONG. this is one i use more sporadically, because i like to make a half day event out of it and spend all morning at the mall, including having a lunch date with my daughter. it makes for a nice, special outing to break the monotony.
take a trip to a bookstore. similar to a library, bookstores (especially children’s bookstores) often have play areas or storytimes, and toddlers are welcome to roam and explore. if you have a reader or don’t live near a good library, this is a great option.
get out the paper and crayons. i HIGHLY suggest investing in a large roll of paper (or two), along with a few boxes of washable crayons. my daughter loves coloring, and we have an art session at least two to three times a day. what we’ve been doing lately is taping a long piece of paper to our kitchen table, and setting her up in her high chair so she can color and we can get stuff done without worrying about her falling off of or coloring on anything.
let them get in on the chores. there’s this phenomena that i recently discovered. toddlers love helping. dusting, vacuuming, wiping up, folding clothes, give them a chore to do themselves, and most will get really into it. take advantage of this. if you need to have a cleaning day at home, just involve your toddler! give them a dust rag or a swiffer duster and if they’re anything like mine, they will follow you around, “helping”, while you get actual work done.
find an indoor gym. i have yet to visit one of these, because i’m only home two days a week, but if you have the time and the curiousity, try looking up an indoor gym in your area. my local area’s “moms blog” has a whole list of them, so that’s a good place to start if you’re looking in your area. i think they would be a great way to get energy out, especially if the weather has been too crappy to get outside at all for a while.
go to a local children’s museum or science museum. we went to the minnesota children’s museum last week and i am hooked! for one, i feel like i learned a lot, which was unexpected and lovely. also, it wasn’t too big or overwhelming, so it felt like a manageable outing. these places usually have an annual membership deal if you end up liking them, which makes them incredibly affordable as a regular thing.
have a dance party. when all else fails, turn on some jams and have a dance party! you’ll get some exercise and your toddler will burn some energy. you may even be able to diffuse a tantrum with this tactic! bonus: it’ll keep you warm, so there really is no downside.
here’s to doing a better job in december! i actually did a pretty good job this month! i 1000% failed with Amelia’s baby book, so you know, i’m nothing if i’m not consistent. welcome to everything with love, where you know i’ll always fail a tiny bit!
for the next month, there’s quite the variety in goals. some organization, some fitness, some that are good for the soul. i have a couple secret goals that i’m not quite ready to share here yet. they’re not really even goals, more like glimmers of an idea. i need to turn them around in my head a bit more before i decide if i’m going to pursue them. if and when i do, i’ll be sure to share them here.
first things first: december goals update
finish the updates for the first year of amelia’s baby book. are any of you surprised that this isn’t done? good. that means you know me at my core and we can stay friends.
make santa cookies. this was such a fun time! we had four of us girls (five including amelia), and my brother even came to sample the cookies take care of amelia. we cranked out 80 decorated cookies in 4 hours, and i think the dough this year may have been my best ever, if i do say so myself. the people who ate the cookies seemed to think so too, so i’ll take that!
finish Christmas shopping. you guys, i was done christmas shopping (presents wrapped, stockings stuffed, we’re talking D-O-N-E) by the week before christmas. i have never been more proud of myself. check and check.
go to brunch with my family. we have a HUGE family brunch every year just after christmas with my dad’s family and my dad’s cousins and their families. think 75 people who are about as loud and just as talkative as me in the same room at a lovely restaurant for brunch. if they served bloodies and mimosas we would be there all day! so yes, i went to brunch with my family…my WHOLE family.
bonus: if i get motivated, run a 5K on the treadmill. okay, so i’m going to count this as complete even though i didn’t actually run a 5K. instead i did start working out 2-3 times a week. i didn’t set one foot in a gym, but me and jillian michaels are rekindling our relationship. it’s gone well so far!
finish the updates for the first year of amelia’s baby book. i just can’t remove it. i’ll keep it on here all year if i have to. i’m stubborn like that.
continue to workout regularly. as i said above, i’ve been trying really hard to start fitting in a workout (jillian michaels, basic calisthenics, a trip to the gym) a few days a week, and want to continue the pattern. if i can start getting my butt out of bed on time, i can even fit one in at home before work and could up my number to 4-5 days a week. that would be cool. if anyone has recommendations for workout videos they really like, let me know, i’d love to find some new ones!
pay it forward. i don’t know what exactly i want to do to pay it forward yet. it might be giving to a new charity, it might be buying coffee for someone, it might be taking dinner to someone who needs it. i want to be thinking of ways to take care of people like people have taken care of me in my life so far, no matter how small something may seem.
do some research into bullet journaling. i keep coming back to this idea of bullet journaling. i don’t know if it’s because of all this talk of living with intention, but i feel like bullet journaling would kill two birds with one stone. it would be a way to keep my life organized, but also be a place to record my thoughts and my memories. starting to do some mega research into it.
bake some bread. i got a bread maker from my mother-in-law for christmas, and i also recently borrowed a book about artisan bread from my boss, so i need to get my butt in the kitchen and bake some bread! i think i’m going to try one breadmaker loaf and one artisan loaf and see what happens.
i’m hoping that with my desire to live intentionally this year, my goals for each month will get done, and they’ll continue to be thoughtful and hopefully fun!
i’ve been thinking about having a word of the year for a few years now. i have loved the simplicity of the idea, and i think it’s taken until now for me to really embrace the simple things for what they are. they aren’t boring, they can be downright beautiful, and they make my life so much more enjoyable. resolutions can feel so stressful sometimes, it’s like juggling all these balls at once, and if you mess up the littlest thing, it all will come crashing down. i’ve been an anti-resolution person for a long time, but always feel like i’m missing something at the start of each year.
there is something about setting one idea for yourself at the start of a new year that feels so right to me. choosing one word for your year allows so much flexibility and grace into your intention as well. you can give yourself room to breathe when you need it, or lean in and be ambitious if that’s what you’re feeling called to.
after a lot of thinking and coffee and a couple hours of alone time, my one word for 2016 is:
(noun): purpose or attitude toward the effect of one’s actions or conduct
intention allows me to focus on doing everything in my life to the best of my ability. it makes me focus on patience, motherhood, marriage, friends, work, and anything else that needs a little extra care at any given point. intention reminds me to do things purposefully, not to just go through the motions of my life with no thought as to what is behind all of it. i’m hoping that by focusing on my intention this year, i’ll be able to see what things are truly important to me, and what things can be let go.
as my life gets more full every year, i want to make sure it’s full of the things that mean something to me, not the things that have snuck in under the radar because i wasn’t paying enough attention. i want to live a life that has meaning in every area, even if that meaning is something small. focusing on my intention will let me uncover so much of that goodness, but in a way that works with my not always reliable timing.
if you have resolutions or words of the year, i’d love to hear them below, especially if we haven’t already talked about them!