Mid-Year Goal Check

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Dear Kristin,

Can you believe that we’re halfway through 2023? The way time is flying, I expect to wake up next week to find that I’m 74. The question is, will I wake up with a perfectly organized attic? That’s my goal for 2023, or at least the main one: to open the attic door on December 31st and find myself facing a pared down space, everything in its place, nothing that isn’t necessary.

I’ve got six months. Am I going to make it?

I might! While I haven’t taken a load of stuff to the Scrap Exchange every weekend, I’ve taken a box or two more weekends than not. Now, I must admit that not all of my donations are from the attic. I’m clearing out all kinds of closets and other storage spaces around the house. Sometimes it’s weeks before I take a box into the attic and fill it up. Still, it all feels like progress, and it’s been a great lesson in how little things add up.

One of the great things about the attic is that it’s static. Nothing new is going in there, which makes the Big Declutter a satisfying project. Take your eye off the kitchen for more than a few hours and the dishes start piling up. Neglect the living room carpet for a day or two and suddenly it’s a jungle of crumbs and leaves and little scraps of fabric. But the attic, bless its heart, resists entropy. For that I am grateful.

Now, the other goal I set in January was more exercise, and for two weeks I was on it like an Easter bonnet. I walked Travis, dropped him off and picked up my cross country poles and was back on the road. When 4PM rolled around, I was hanging with my girl Paula B. So what happened?

Attic Scene by James Gurney

My knees started to hurt. And just like that, I fell off the exercise wagon. Oh, I still took my morning walk, but that was it. I did have a moment of yoga energy, but that faded pretty quickly. 

The good news is, when the weather warmed up, I started walking more, and now most days if it’s not raining, I get in two daily walks for a total of roughly three miles. I haven’t returned to Paula B., and I know I should. I need to be lifting weights!

You and I have been talking recently about revisiting our old friend, Gretchen Rubin, who has a lot to say about developing habits. While I haven’t re-read her books yet, I was thinking the other day about how she says that the best way to start a new habit is to piggyback it to an established habit. It occurs to me that if I’m going to get in weight training or yoga, the best time is right after I take Travis out. So that’s my new goal: to do ten minutes of Yoga with Adrienne as soon as I get back from walking the dog. Why ten minutes? Because yoga bores me, but I can do anything for ten minutes. Maybe once I establish that habit, I can add Paula B. back into the mix.

The thing I’m very happy to report is that I’ve been writing lots of letters this year, and I currently have four regular correspondents! It has been a true joy to send and receive mail–and not just any mail, but real missives. I recommend that everyone try it!

How are your goals going for the year? What’s working for you and what needs re-visioning? 


Dear Frances.

What a great idea to go back and see how we’re doing on our yearly goals. It’s so easy to lose track of these types of commitments without some accountability. Like you, I can’t believe July is upon us! But that still leaves six months to accomplish our goals. I had to go back and have a look at what I committed to back in January! This year my goals are not as clear in my mind as last year.

I’m glad that your attic project is coming along–I think I’ll be as excited as you when you finally tick the box on that one! And as a morning exerciser, I love that you are tacking some yoga onto the end of your walk. Good ol’ Gretchin with her habit hacks!

I decided to focus on three big goals this year. I’m happy to say I’ve made some progress on each of them, but I’m glad to have this check-in to get re-focused.

Health: Lose weight and find a strength routine

My biggest accomplishment in this area is that I have found a strength training routine that works for me and I’m actually sticking to it! This is so huge for me! After years and years of struggling with any form of exercise other than walking—I’m doing actual workouts 3-5 days a week.

So what changed, you might ask? I finally took my friend Pam’s suggestion to check out her early morning exercise class. She’s been after me for years! Honestly, the suggestion seemed absurd at first. The class meets at 6am and does the workout outside! Who does that? I waited until it was actually light at 6am to try the class and was immediately hooked. The secret (for me) is that I just have to show up. Someone else (an actual professional trainer) decides on the exercises and peer pressure keeps me from quitting after the warm-up (which I still want to do every time). Bonus is that my membership includes weekly live, online mobility and yoga classes. I’ve been consistent for over two months now (even working out when I traveled!) I’m really starting to feel the difference in my body. I just feel stronger. And I don’t hate it–I feel like I’m becoming an “exercise” person. I can’t tell you how relieved I feel to finally have ticked that box!

Weight-wise I haven’t made much progress, but I feel like now that the exercise is sorted, this will fall in line soon in a “one good habit leads to another” way (another Gretchin Rubin observation).

Please enjoy this photo of my hydrangeas, which have nothing to do with this post 🙂

Home: Redo two kids’ bedrooms to reflect our new season of life

As is typical for home renovation projects, this took a while to get off the ground. However, I’ve made significant progress. I completely cleaned out the boys’ room which involved a lot of painful decluttering, FaceTime calls to kids to help weigh in on what to keep and what to toss, and putting furniture on our local Buy Nothing Facebook page. It also took a while to find the right furniture, but we finally did and it will be delivered next month. Exciting! The painting for both rooms is scheduled for July (I still need to pick colors!).

There is still a lot to do to finish off the first room—like buying bedding and décor, but I’m excited to have a queen bed in that space! Then onto finding furniture for Chloe’s old room. Step by step it’s coming together. I’ve got six more months, right?

Home: Preparedness–be able to live (relatively) comfortably for two weeks with no power and grocery store access

This was the goal that I worked the hardest on at the beginning of the year. We did a lot of garage reorganization to create the space we needed for an extended pantry. I’m feeling pretty good about that space. I think that in an emergency situation, we could feed ourselves for two weeks or more from our pantry (mission accomplished there). I kept it very simple and just started buying extras of the things we use all the time. When I first tried this, I bought a bunch of foods that would be great in an emergency, but we just never wanted actually eat them in everyday life (things like canned soup and chili). Now I’ve got a list of dinners I can make with just pantry ingredients if it comes to that. I really enjoy having this stockpile. It means the grocery shopping is a lot easier and I enjoy knowing that we’ve got extras of just about everything in the garage.

Next, I need to turn my attention to some other areas of preparedness now, like getting our generator fixed and having better emergency supplies in the car. I sort of forgot about this goal—so I’m glad to be reminded of it!

How about you, readers? How are your 2023 goals coming along?


  • Susan Z from Ohio

    Keep plugging away on the the attic, Frances! It sounds as if your entire house is benefitting fro this goal.

    Is there anything more beautiful than a hydrangea?

    And Kristin, you are a wonder. Such progress on everything you set out to do. Good for you.

    Love this blog. Please keep it on your goal list for month and months to come.

  • Tracie

    Good morning, Frances and Kristin! Thank you for sharing your progress and commitment to reaching your goals. It’s inspiring to hear how you’re making changes and sticking with tasks that are important to you.

    My goal for this year is to have more fun. I am a stop-and-smell-the-roses kind of person, and my husband is 100% achiever. So my real challenge for this year is to help *him* prioritize fun. Honestly, I’m not having success. However, I can list off a lot of completed projects and I’m thankful to celebrate that success. Yet, I’m sticking to my plan for fun. Personally, I have been spending time quilting with my favorite fabrics from my stash. This makes me so happy to use the fabric instead of hoarding it. I’m also setting aside my stack of nonfiction reading and only reading fun novels this summer. Success! So far I’ve read books written by two new-to-me authors!

    Today my fun is taking a different turn: I get to help my librarian sister come up with a plan to update the library’s website. Just like my husband, I also enjoy working and seeing progress. Once I’m done at the library, I’ll present some fun weekend options to my husband and hopefully take a break from working on the farm.

    • Kristin

      I love that fun is your goal! As it should be for all of us. And how lucky your husband is to have someone to help him take a break and enjoy.

  • Deborah


    I very much enjoy reading your conversations. I chuckled out loud re the comment about waking up and being 74-especially as I will turn that age at the end of the year.

    I would be very interested in additional details about the 2 week food reserve and the dinners that you can make from the canned/frozen goods.

    Take care,

  • Robin Leftwich

    You are both so good! You remember your goals! I forgot mine!
    I haven’t been consistent with my workouts, but most of the time I do it.
    I had some setbacks with both of my aging dogs developing health problems, one with cancer and one an age related issue, but we are working through it and they are doing well and happy.
    I am meeting quilting and cross stitch goals, not starting as much, and actually finishing some things!
    And, thanks to the QuiltFiction Book Club, I’m reading more “good” books, real books not Kindle, and have connected with real people! And I went to a real quilt shop near us, in Simi Valley, and plan to take a class there. Thank you, Row by Row experience
    Overall, 2023 is not so bad!
    Here’s to the second half!

  • Laurie

    Goals for 2023? Did I make any? I wonder what they were or if I wrote them down.
    But it’s not too late, right?
    As always I need to exercise more, but I also think I need to give myself some grace and not feel lazy about spending time sewing when that’s what I really love to do. My husband rides his bike (1500 miles so far this year) and I find myself comparing his hobby to mine and deciding his is a “better” hobby because it’s exercise. But, I’m shopping more at farmers markets and have started a biweekly membership at a local produce coop so I’ll be cooking with locally grown / raised food thanks to your last post about summer eating. Watermelon feta salad tonight!!

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