Five Things I Learned in January

One of the things I look forward to at the end of every month is reading Anne Bogel’s “what I learned this month” posts, an idea that she got from Emily P. Freeman, whose blog I also enjoy reading. I’ve wanted to start doing the same for a while, and it seems like a good time to start.

Here’s what I learned in January — the big, the small, the serious, and the silly:

  1. I can easily make my own chocolate-flavored coffee creamer from a couple of simple pantry ingredients. We try to avoid leaving our house as much as possible during the winter (we live about ten miles out of town, down a very hilly highway — not ideal for slippery winter travel!) We’ve found that if we stock up as much as possible on meat and dairy and produce, we can go about three weeks without having to shop again, thanks in part to the miracle of grocery delivery from Amazon, Target, and Walmart. Anyway, I ran out of the chocolate Coffee-Mate I like to add to my coffee from time to time (hey, you have your vices, and I have mine, okay?) and I found that I can easily make my own. One part cocoa powder, two parts sugar, and it’s actually more chocolaty and less sweet than the store-bought version. Win!
  2. Twitch isn’t just for game streamers. I know this might be old news to some of you, but it’s opened up a whole new world for me! Aside from the usual video game streamers, there’s a whole category of crafty streamers making everything from intricately carved clocks to amigurumi stuffies. I found several that I love and I have them on while I’m cooking or dealing with email or whatever. As a bonus, they’ve gotten me back into crafting again!
  3. I spent too much time planning and not enough time doing. I got obsessively into using a paper planner last year, and decorating it with stickers and washi and color coding and making all of these lovely lists and goals and… not getting shit done. Turns out, spending a bunch of time writing or talking about your goals flips a little psychological switch that gives you a sense of accomplishment as if you’ve ALREADY done the thing. False satisfaction. Stupid brain. Anyway, I’ve super pared back my planning and the time I spent making lists and schedules, and my productivity so far has shot through the roof. As with any habit/lifestyle thing, your mileage may vary, but for me, cutting back on the planning really helped a lot.
  4. I’m super picky about books. I looked back at last year’s GoodReads challenge, and I didn’t even come close to meeting my goal of reading 75 books. But comparing it to my journal, in which I listed every book I started reading… I ended up tossing aside about two-thirds of the books I started reading. I’ve finally gotten over my old English major need to finish EVERY book because I just might learn something, damn it, and it shows. If something isn’t grabbing me, I don’t stick with it. As a result, I read fewer books last year, but also a lot less crap, which was awesome. I’m planning to keep that up this year.
  5. Warcraft challenges provide a whole new way to enjoy the game. I’ve been playing WoW for a long time (going on ten years now, I think) and you get to a point, especially if you’re like me and not super into raiding or dungeons, that you feel like you’ve done everything. Enter WoW Challenges, specifically the Iron Man challenge. Simply put: crappy gear, no potions, and if you die, you lose. It, along with our family’s Friday night PvP, has given me a whole new love for the game.
January saw the birth of Team DeathGnome. My husband, teenage daughters, brother-in-law, and I all made death knight gnomes to quest with. We’re super serious players, guys.

So that’s it: five things I’ve learned this past month, from the deep to the slightly silly.

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