Back in October, I had the opportunity to take an interesting class at Society of Grown-Ups about creating spending plans that aligned to our values and priorities. The class gave me some great tools to help with planning for our finances, but it also did something else: challenged me to actually think about my values and priorities. On our road-trip down to New York this past weekend for Thanksgiving I was tired and opted to close my laptop, ignore my inbox and to-do-list, and crack open a new book instead – Emily Ley’s Grace, Not Perfection. Digging into this fresh read brought me back to that Society of Grown-Ups class in the early-fall, discussing a lot of the same topics. Between the start of the holidays, a busy period at my day-job, the busiest time of year for my blog projects, and oh yea, an impending baby on the way in just 6-weeks, this topic felt so timely and important during a hectic period of life. It gave me a little spark of inspiration to take a moment to reflect on just that: gratitude for what matters most to me.img_6134_bIn the book, one quote stuck out to me: “The battle for our hearts are fought on the pages of our calendars” –Bob Goff. There’s a slight chance it’s a surge in pregnancy hormones, or perhaps my hunger-based mood-swings, but this quote sort of woke me up and made me realize how much truth there was in this idea. Sometimes the stress, the busyness, the never-ending inbox and to-do list are actually avoidable. It just takes a little bit of courage to say no, to un-commit to the things that can be pushed off, and to make a bit of space of what actually matters. We have control over how we spend out time (a novel idea!). So I’m giving myself permission to simplify things a bit this holiday season and saying no to unnecessary stress in little ways – like deciding that I don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars and an entire day sending out 150 Christmas cards (yup, that’s right, a paper-obsessed nerd like me is skipping Christmas Cards this year!).

Once you clear that space, it gives you time to think and prioritize. I challenged myself to think this Thanksgiving, what actually matters most? What am I really thankful for? I’m thankful for my incredibly supportive husband who cheerleads me every day in my business and my life and in this crazy pregnancy journey. I’m feeling extra-grateful for the time we spend together now before the baby arrives. I’m finding gratitude in my family and their support – my Mom does little things like listen to me whine on the phone about my first-world problems and jumps in to do little things for me to ease my worries (like running out and buying me new pajamas when I cry to her that I haven’t had time to pack my hospital bag yet!). I’m incredibly grateful for this blog and the creative outlet it gives me to write about anything I choose (I mean, this week alone we’ve covered pasta recipes, holiday gifts, and my deep thoughts about life and gratitude). I’m also so grateful for the community that it has provided me – from close friends that I email for advice about babies and business, to strangers that support my creative ideas with their readership.

In reflecting on my gratitude for all of these things, it’s put a focus on how lucky I am to have them, and how many people aren’t as fortunate to have what I do. Whenever I post here, I feel a bit more accountable for my actions (note to self: dig up that new year’s resolution post!). So I thought I’d make a commitment here, to remember the things that I’m grateful for, and find ways to give back that align to those points of gratitude. Grateful that I get to do what I love and play with an abundance of food? Not everyone is that lucky, so I made a stop at the food pantry with a donation this week. Grateful for a husband and friends and family that step up to help me when my life is crazy? Make an effort to thank them more often (if you’re reading: thanks family!!). Grateful for my blog community for supporting this outlet for my creative endeavors? Acknowledge them more often: I don’t say it enough, but thank you for reading, emailing, following, liking and commenting!

So, I’ve gotten all sappy and deep here (I told you! Pregnancy hormones! The worst!) and must get to my final point before you start rolling your eyes at me. I hope my little moment of self-reflection on prioritizing what matters most sparks a little bit of energy in you too. It’s the hardest thing to do, but I’m making it my mission to find ways to slow down, to simplify things, and to focus a bit more on gratitude and giving back so that I don’t miss out on the important things this season!

Note: This post is sponsored by Society of Grownups, a Brookline-based company offering financial advice to help navigate being a grownup and encourage conversations about money, happiness, adventure, and personal values.