November 2017 Wrap Up

November 2017 was almost entirely devoted to family and friends. While it was lovely, at heart I'm a creature of habit so I'm struggling to get back into a routine. It doesn't help that Christmas is just around the corner so things aren't exactly going to be settling down around here. Maybe towards the end of January?

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November 2017 wrap-up post for HowToGYST.com

On The Site –- November 2017

{As usual, pinks are links, and click the pics to be taken to the post.}

I worked my ass off in October to try get some posts and videos scheduled ahead of time and, while I did a decent job, I completely overestimated how much I'd be able to wrap up when my parents were here at the beginning of November. Ditto while I was home in Ireland for the last week of the month. As such, lots of jobs went unfinished and the schedule went out the window. Nonetheless, for the two weeks in the middle of the month, I managed to crank out two posts I'm pretty proud of.

The first was in keeping with the spirit of the #NOvember campaign I ran, which was all about saying 'no' to something negative in your life so you could focus more of your attention on the things that matter most to you. Positivity is one of the biggest things I preach around here but, because I'm such an insular person, it's easy for me to forget about others and just focus on my own life. To break that habit, I shared some ways to spread a little cheer by performing a random act of kindness for another.

November 2017 – Me & Jack Skellington | Random act of kindness

To highlight the impact of a kind word or deed, I shared a story from my own life a few years ago where a stranger's casual remark left a lasting impression on me and helped pull me out of a very dark place. Even apart from the profound impact it had on me, it inspired me to pay it forward, and now I never hesitate to offer assistance to another mother who may be struggling.

Kindness is especially required at this time of year because the festivities can be a stressful and lonely time for a lot of people. So I encourage you to reach out to a loved one, neighbour, acquaintance, or even a stranger and do what you can to put a smile on their face.

The world can sometimes be a dark place, but never underestimate the power you have to light the way in someone else's life.

The second post, then, was a list of sources you can call on when you feel you need a bit of a kick up the arse. We all go through peaks and troughs with our motivation levels, but sometimes we need a little pick-me-up to get back in the saddle.

Because I'm all about giving practical, applicable advice (it's why I put the "how to" in the blog title), I started compiling a list of simple ways to find more motivation. So, when you're feeling a little low, pick something from the list and see if it can't pull you through.

On YouTube –- November 2017

Unlike with blog posts, I rarely fall behind on videos. The reason is that I always expect to be able to write up a post, even when I'm hosting guests or spending time with family and friends. What I know I won't be able to do, though, is record a video, so I focus on getting those done first.

For a long time, I'd been working on a list of the most common obstacles in the KonMari Method and how to overcome them. Having done the Method twice myself and coming up against various pitfalls, I knew I could share my experience to help others. I'd also been noticing the same types of questions coming up over and over again when others were discussing it. I started writing them all down, categorising them into similar topics, and then sat down and shared my solutions. If you're struggling with some aspect of it, or just starting out and want a heads up of what to expect, I hope the video helps.

During that time, I watched a video by fellow YouTuber, and someone I admire a lot, Lavendaire. She did the 'perfectly imperfect' tag, sharing some things she didn't like about herself. I loved the idea, and quickly (a little too quickly, in fact) came up with what I thought were 3 of my biggest flaws. I forced myself to spend a little time thinking about the silver lining in my perceived failings and, while I can't say I'm at peace with my flaws, the exercise helped me see that they've taught me a lot and have shaped who I am.

In October, I shared a blog post on Swedish Death Cleaning. It was so popular that I decided to record a video on it (and, I won't lie, I'd come up with the idea of including Jack Skellington in it and couldn't pass it up). Despite the fact I only uploaded it a few weeks ago, it's already the fourteenth most viewed video on my channel (and fifth of the ones I've uploaded in 2017)! With Jack involved, I can't remember having so much fun recording a video!

The following Thursday fell on Thanksgiving and, though I don't celebrate it, I thought it might be a nice hat-tip to the holiday to share some things I'm thankful for. But, while I initially expected it to include the obvious 'friends and family' things, it quickly descended into the most ridiculous items I could think of. Because hey, it's the little things in life that make it special.

In fact, there are so many small things that I'm grateful for that I might make this one an annual tradition!

Last on the list for the month was some advice on beating the festive frenzy and avoiding having a mental breakdown over your Brussel sprouts. While I love Christmas, I have to admit that, since embracing the minimalist lifestyle, I can sometimes find it a little overwhelming. This year, I'm determined to set aside the stress and find a system for actually enjoying the silly season once again.

If you haven't done so already and you want to keep up with my videos, hit that subscribe button below. =)

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Social Media Stats -- November 2017

  • twitter
    Twitter: over 1,050 followers.

HowToGYST HQ (AKA Home) –- November 2017

You might remember from the last wrap-up post that my parents and aunt arrived at the end of October. They were here until November 10th and it was so lovely to see them. I'll spare you all the details but lots of shopping and chatting was done. They went home with full suitcases and I stayed here with a full heart.

But I wasn't far behind because, for the last week in November, Scout and I flew home to Ireland. It was my first time flying alone with her and, given that it was two flights (one of which was transatlantic) I think we fared quite well overall, even in spite of the fact that our first flight was delayed by 2 hours. The only mishap we had was when she threw up towards the end of the second flight. (I'm not 100% sure what caused it, but I have my suspicions about an airport sandwich.)

As Sod's Law would have it, it was the one time I hadn't packed a change of clothes for her so she ended up wrapped in a blanket while I struggled with our carry-on bags. I can't even imagine what a comedic pair we made but, suffice it to say, we got a few strange looks. I'm sure more than one person wondered where the sweaty, disheveled woman was going with the little urchin child. Nonetheless, we made it to my parents' house safe and sound and slept the day away.

November 2017 – Scout wrapped in blanket | Dublin Airport

It was a very busy week for us, visiting friends and extended family, but it was all worth it. Both my dad and brother celebrated birthdays during that week (which was the reason I traveled home so soon after my family had been here). My brother turned 21 and my dad... Well, he's a little older. 😉

The flights home on the 30th thankfully proved to be a lot less eventful, with no delays or episodes of vomiting. Our first stop was Dulles, Washington, an airport I've never been to before. Suffice it to say I was a little giddy at being in the same place one of my favourite movies, Die Hard 2, was set (though things have been upgraded significantly since then, it seems).

November 2017 – Scout on NASA space shuttle in Dulles airport, Washington

Still, I was happy to get back to my own home and to sleep in my own bed again. I plan on decompressing for a day or two before facing into the madness that is December and January around here. 

What I Read In November 2017

(Contains Amazon affiliate links which means that if you buy through my link, I'll earn a small commission on the sale... and use it to buy more books. Hurray! For more info, read my disclosure.)

The four flights I was on this month, plus all the hanging around in airports, really helped with the reading goal. I was hoping to manage 5 and ended up finishing 7, so I'm delighted. It puts my total at 47 books for the year so far.

  • "Ready Player One" by Ernest ClineHuge YouTuber Casey Neistat had mentioned it in one of his videos a while back so I borrowed it from the local library. It's about to be made into a Steven Spielberg movie, and contains copious references to the 80s, the decade I was born. I have to say, I enjoyed it overall. It did get increasingly ridiculous as it went on and, at 400 pages, it's certainly not what I would call a light read. Nonetheless, it held my attention and kept me turning pages and, really, what more could you want from a book?
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    "Bird by Bird" by Anne LamottIf you have any interest in writing, whether it be professional or purely for pleasure, this is worth a read. As well as containing a wealth of practical advice, it's beautifully written and sprinkled with wit.
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    "The Secret" by Rhonda ByrneI first read this many, many moons ago and, in truth, disliked it and disagreed with the proposition that you can simply think things into existence. I picked it up again because so many people rave about it so I thought, given all the time that's passed, it was worth a second shot. It really wasn't. While I agree that there is huge merit in thinking positive thoughts and having a generally optimistic outlook, I don't believe that that alone is going to produce results for you. In fairness, she does say that action needs to follow, but I still can't get on board with the notion that the universe will contrive to bring things to me if I want them badly enough, or that, if I think negative or doubtful thoughts, I've only myself to blame when bad things happen.
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    "The Magic" by Rhonda Byrne. I picked this up at the same time as "The Secret" and I'm honestly not sure why I bothered reading it after I finished the first. But read it I did. This is a slightly more practical guide to bringing happiness into your life, focusing on gratitude. I'll be a little lenient on this one because I do believe that practising gratitude is a worthy endeavour with great benefits. I still don't think that good things will magically happen to you just because you take time to be thankful, but it's true that stopping to smell the roses will help foster a little more happiness for all the things you have in life.
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    "The Complete Book of Clean" by Toni HammersleyIt was Toni's blog, A Bowl Full of Lemons, that really got me into planning and organising in a big way many moons ago. This is her second book (I've since picked up the first but haven't had a chance to read it yet) and it covers everything from daily routines to seasonal cleaning, mostly going room by room. Cleaning books are hard ones to review because, really, they're more reference guides. Nonetheless, it contains a huge amount of helpful, practical advice, a lot of pretty pictures, and (the thing I probably like most about it), it focuses on natural cleaners, with plenty of DIY recipes included. The book also includes lots of checklists and, while I'd certainly consider them to be on the aspirational side, they're probably a helpful starting point when it comes to creating your own cleaning routine.
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    "Ikigai" by Hector Garcia & Francesc Miralles. I don't know what it is about the Japanese but they sure do seem to have their shit together. This book examines why people in certain parts of the world (most notably on the Japanese island of Okinawa) live well beyond the average life expectancy. While the theories aren't exactly ground-breaking (we all know diet and exercise play a huge part in our longevity), it's an interesting look into the lives of people who live comfortably into triple digits, and a reminder that, sometimes, the simplest things can make the biggest difference, not just to the quality of our years but also the quantity.
  • "A Walk In The Woods" by Bill Bryson. This is one my mother recommended and, what with her being a librarian, I rarely question her judgement in these matters. Despite starting to lose focus a little while he was discussing historical facts (though, in fairness, the transatlantic flight may have been more to blame), overall I found it an entertaining read. It follows the author's adventures as he hikes the Appalachian Trail. If I'm honest, I found Cheryl Strayed's hike along the Pacific Crest Trail in "Wild" to be better written, but the value in Bryson's book is in its comedic retelling.

As you can see, November was a little out of the ordinary for me and, while it's sometimes lovely to step out of the daily routine and shake things up a bit, I find it's even nicer to sink back into familiarity afterwards. 

And now it's December which is my favourite time of the year!

What did you do on the last day of November 2017?

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