The Year of Less

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Monday, January 01, 2018

Happy first day of 2018, folks! Thank you so much for your readership and all of your support over the past year, and especially the outpouring of love and encouragement following my last post on the struggle that was 2017. I'm happy to report that we're on the up-and-up, photo of us smiling in Hawaii as proof. 

Today marks the beginning of a year-long project that I am calling "The Year of Less" because it is focused on subtracting things and activities that are not adding value to my life in order to achieve a few objectives that are important to both me and Wes. It's a long post, intense with lots of bullet points, most of it written in my iPhone notes over the past several weeks. Some of you have reached out to me via email or Instagram that you're taking steps this year to reduce your own consumption. I encourage you to share your thoughts and approaches in the comments on this post for the other readers of this blog who might see a need to cut back in their own lives, but the approach I am describing here might not be an appropriate fit for what they may want to accomplish. That said, here's the post:

What The Year of Less is all about

If you read my last post on happiness and living life to the fullest, you may remember that there was a nod to the idea of living beneath your means. An idea that honestly used to tick me off, growing up with frugal parents who made me babysit and do odd jobs to earn money and ride around in ultra-uncool cars.* Basically, my parents were extremely wealthy and we wanted for nothing: my dad was a corporate litigator for the largest power utility in the country, my mom stayed home to raise us, we lived in a 6-bedroom, 4-bathroom McMansion that they custom-built in a community so elite that the village property taxes paid by individual families regularly hit the 20 to 30 thousand dollar mark and the high school student parking lot was filled with Range Rovers.

In the midst of this abundance of wealth, my mom and dad's strategic approach to parenting was to convince us that we were dirt poor, a giant Irish Catholic stereotype plopped into a bubble where we didn't belong. They provided the basics and routinely reminded us of this fact: roof over our heads, three square meals a day, the necessary clothing, shoes and accessories for our lifestyles and various extracurricular interests, etc. My dad was notorious for telling us that he owned everything, including the shirts on our backs, and that our home was not a democracy but a dictatorship. Our room and board was contingent on successful completion of daily and weekly chores that were cruel and unusual punishment: making our beds and cleaning our rooms, clearing the table and doing dishes after dinner, sweeping the floors for the former, and Saturday morning yard work** for the latter.

Three things happened to me as a result of this parenting style:
  1. I learned what it took to make money, and how much the non-necessary things I wanted cost in both money and the effort to make that money.
  2. I developed expensive taste and love to spend money on beautiful things.
  3. I married a CPA who routinely goes to lunch at Costco to eat a $1.50 lunch of hot dog and soda.

My point is, this concept of living frugally despite having plenty of money is sort of embedded in my psyche. It was probably one of the subconscious reasons I was attracted to and then married Wes, because he embodied this value my parents prioritized yet I detested growing up and my subconscious mind figured he would keep point #2 above in check.

Although it took some time to land on a balanced approach to spending versus saving versus investing our money, Wes and I made it a priority to strike that balance early in our marriage. (For more on our approach to money management and building wealth, read this post.) In 2017, we were faced with a few major challenges but money was never part of our decision-making process because of the fact that we had been consciously living beneath our means and had a generous cushion of savings.

In reflecting on the past year, I've come to recognize a few things as true and important that need to be a bigger priority in my life:
  1. Wes and I have enough, of everything. More than enough, in fact, in our home and in our closets and in our lives.
  2. We have done a bad job of appreciating and valuing and using the more than enough that we have, and spending time and money on things and activities that aren't adding value.
  3. Because of point #1 and point #2 above, we are effectively bloating ourselves, complicating our lives, and adding unnecessary stuff and stress and weight and spending money that would be so much better used to grow our investments and savings.

This is a problem, people. Maybe you can relate, or possibly Wes and I are alone on this. If you've been reading this blog for a while, you'll remember that I did a "no new things" challenge where I cut out shopping for wardrobe-related things for an entire year. It was the best thing I ever did to hone my personal style: it totally revamped my approach to how I thought about spending related to my wardrobe, allowed me to fully inventory my closet and make best use of what I already owned, and enabled me to make some amazing, thoughtful, formerly cost-prohibitive investments in a select few pieces to fill gaps or add a fresh element that I'll use for years. It worked, and fundamentally changed how I thought about and made purchases.

The objectives for the Year of Less

For 2018, Wes and I have decided to partner on a project to subtract the activities and things that are not serving us. It will be an expansion of the "no new things" challenge mentioned above, covering much more than just wardrobe purchases in order to accomplish the following objectives:

#1 Appreciate, value and take better care of what we already own

There are only so many opportunities in a 365-day period to actually use an item that you own, be it a zucchini noodle slicer or a pair of leather leggings. From a home perspective, we have a list of at least 50 little projects that need to be completed but will be left untouched and the supplies collecting dust if our focus were to remain on acquiring new or different d├ęcor or gadgets. From a wardrobe perspective, having too much stuff paradoxically cramps your style because it distracts you from using the items that you love, that are your favorites and deserve more repeat wears throughout the year but fall to the wayside when you introduce alternatives that you don't need or really love as much.

Absolutely all of our basic needs are covered, and then some, for the next year. Forcing ourselves to use what we already own will keep our focus on the abundance we enjoy in our home, and our life in general. Constraints inspire creativity, after all. Personal style, an amazing home and a fulfilling lifestyle all require thought, planning, and originality. They also require love, in the sense of caring for and appreciating the elements you're using to build your style, design your home or create a more purposeful life.

Yet we don't consciously take the time to consider all of the elements we have in our closets or our homes, and ask ourselves if they are truly adding value and serving our lives in the way we thought that they would when we bought them in the first place. In The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy (one of the best books I read in 2017), I learned about the "5X" principle: if you want to truly understand the cost of something you are purchasing, take the price and multiply it by 5 - it will give you the approximate value of that money had you chosen to invest it.

Before you start asking things like "After how many years?" or "What type of investment are we talking about?" or "What if the market were to crash?" or "Isn't this an oversimplification?" let me just say that I appreciate the 5X principle as a framework and a way of better evaluating what we purchase by contrasting it with an approximation of the potential value of that money if applied differently. We will be using that principle to evaluate everything we currently own, and everything we buy after this year of less.

#2 Develop the mental strength and habits to drive better outcomes in our lives

If you read The Baby Post, you'll remember the easy-yet-in-utter-disarray life that I described. So this is a big one for us. Despite the fact that I was consciously cutting back from a wardrobe perspective, I still bought more than I needed this year while already having too much in my closet. From a home perspective, we're still overwhelmed with so much STUFF and it is actually causing stress. And even amidst this overwhelm of stuff and stress, we're making thoughtless impulse purchases, shipping Amazon Prime boxes to ourselves and keeping the 7-Eleven down the street in business.

If you study up on the psychology of purchasing decisions, the general perspective is that we buy things we don't need for one of two reasons:
  • We feel pleasure when we spend money: it "scratches an itch," so to speak, by altering our mental states from a place of discomfort - same goes for eating, drinking alcohol, etc.
  • We believe the thing we are buying will solve a problem that we are currently struggling with: it's a a quick fix, so to speak. For example, gained weight and don't feel good about yourself? Why not solve it with a new pair of pants in a different size that make you feel better? Or, insecure and feeling unloved? Why not purchase a designer bag that will cause others to envy or admire you?

It's so crazy, right?! But absolutely true. For me, and for Wes, impulse purchasing has been a mental crutch to supposedly solve for a whole bunch of problems. We'll have a few drinks to escape the uncomfortable mental state we're in after a stressful day at work, or run out to buy some unnecessary snacks from 7-Eleven because we're watching a movie, a bit bored and it's a thing to do. Then we think that we could stand to lose a couple of pounds, so  we order some fitness products on Amazon Prime that we will definitely use instead of stick in a closet to collect dust / remind us that we have still not broken our drinking and / or snacking habit.

My point is, the thoughtless spending is a mental problem. It requires self-awareness and mental strength to recognize what's driving your desire to consume something, and then rise above it. Keeping our focus on the abundance we enjoy in our lives and using what we already own will put our minds in a better place of appreciation and contentment.

The rules and guidelines for The Year of Less

In order to accomplish the objectives of taking better care of what we already own and developing better habits, we will be implementing the following rules for all purchases we collectively make in 2018:
  • Eliminate all retail shopping entirely, including Amazon Prime, with the only exception being for groceries, health or skincare-related necessities (i.e., supplements, medication, SkinCeuticals, etc.)
  • Eliminate all wardrobe-related purchases, including eBay, vintage and thrifted pieces allowed in the original challenge, and live with existing wardrobe for the next 365 days
  • Eliminate all non-social eating out (e.g., Starbucks runs, buying lunch at work, our new habit of eating at restaurants 3-5 nights per week due to disorganization and lack of planning)
  • Eliminate all home-related purchases, except for improvement projects that add resale value (i.e., refinishing floors, updating fixtures or appliances, etc.)
  • Donate or sell every item in home not used by 12/31/2018.

Sticking to these rules will force us to create better habits, including:
  • Planning out our meals and buying groceries in advance to prevent emergency dining out scenarios (if you already do this, would love any tips / advice)
  • Inventorying everything we own, and organizing our home to support using the things we find worth keeping to test how value-added each item truly is in our space
  • Updating our nightly and morning routines to include eating breakfast at home, packing lunches and preparing dinner
  • Planning out my outfits on a rolling 30-day basis to rotate and use all of the elements I own, and prevent the illogical desire to buy something new.

Although I am sure this sounds slightly crazy or extreme to many of you, I am honestly feeling a little relieved to get started. It's going to be uncomfortable, and difficult. But we needed something drastic to break our patterns that have created many of our unnecessary struggles. It will also help to dramatically grow our cushion of savings, beef up our investment strategy and give our future selves a gift of better habits, more wealth, an improved mindset, and an appreciation of the blessings in our life that have manifested as stuff we currently have in our possession.

If you've made it to the end of this post, thank you so much for reading and I hope you found some value in it. Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments, or feel free to shoot me an email. I'll be sharing a lot of bonus posts about our full journey and lessons learned throughout the course of the year. If you're interested in access to all of these posts, feel free to join the newsletter. If not, you can check back here for some of it!

*To be specific, these two cars were either a maroon Ford Taurus sedan (the preferred option) that deteriorated in a compounding manner as each of my five siblings gained a driver's license and proceeded to get in minor scuffles with inanimate objects in parking lots and spill every single beverage that entered the car's gray polyester interior, or a giant Ford Clubwagon van that we referred to as "The Church Bus" for its cavernous capacity and ability to hold all eight of my family members. These cars instilled in me a deep love of walking and public transportation, and later led me to purchase a BMW X5 to compensate which I deeply regret every time I fill the tank with premium gas or have to pay to get it serviced.

**Even when there was no raking leaves or lawn mowing that needed to be done, my dad would make up jobs for the sole purpose of waking us up early and keeping us busy. He got particularly bad about this after I challenged him multiple times, accusing him of having 6 children so we could do all this work for him. He laughed for a solid five minutes. Later, after observing that no other family on our block had a gaggle of children raking leaves or mowing the lawn, I suggested that he outsource to one of our neighbor's landscaping companies, mentioning that I knew he could certainly afford it. Eventually I gave up and just did the work without protest, and took a job working at a bakery in town the moment I could be legally employed. I'd get to work at 5:30a on Saturday mornings as a 15-year-old in order to avoid yard work and eat as many cookies as I wanted.
24 comments on "The Year of Less"
  1. wow! this is intense, best of luck to you guys - I can totally imagine feeling relieved having a plan and such a regimented one. sorry if I missed it before but you must have read this book right? if not, seems very much up your alley! as soon as I get a chance it's on my list to check out this month. HNY and stay warm up in the great north!

    1. Hey Liz, thanks so much for reading and for this comment - and I did read The Magic Art of Tidying Up! Loved it - and used some of her principles to pare down my wardrobe in the past and will use them again for house de-cluttering. This time around I am focused more on limiting things that come in vs. getting rid of things, but will be using her guidance for assessing both! Happy new year!

  2. This is so great and I can't wait to see how it goes for you guys! The concept of spending to compensate for an inward something-going-on is really familiar. Asking myself "why" is something I've started doing recently and I've learned a lot about myself. Also, what you described about your family growing up is so similar to where we live now (Silicon Valley) and we are trying to do this with our own kids who are teenagers. Nope, no Range Rover for your 16th birthday! It's so ridiculous. I can only hope my kids get the same appreciation for these lessons that you have. Best of luck and I'll be following along! ~ Wendy (wandering_w)

    1. Hey Wendy, thanks so much for reading and for your thoughts - glad to hear it's not just me who spends irrationally! And nice to hear that you are taking steps to keep your kids down-to-Earth in a place where it's challenging to do that. Although I didn't understand my parents' approach at the time, I feel really fortunate to have learned those lessons early in life. They've helped me in my career, relationships, etc. and I am sure your kids will one day thank you!

  3. So proud of you for taking this on! Once again, this was exceptionally written and inspiring. I'm not sure if I ever told you this, but when you did your no new things challenge, you inspired me to do a 6 month no new things challenge, which I successfully completed (not quite as disciplined as you to do a full year!). For the meal planning, I have a few suggestions. First, look for recipes for the week with overlapping produce ingredients or a theme, as this will help eliminate waste. I often do a "garbage" salad or pasta late in the week with remaining items. Another option is to do a meal kit service every couple of weeks. You get convenience for a week (at a pretty decent price) and access to quick recipes to replicate in future weeks (as well as grocery store relief for a few meals!) Lastly, slow cooker meals are always a good go to as they produce a lot of leftovers for lunches throughout the week. Hope this helps!

    1. Who is this Elise Meyer?!!! New last name I see! Haha! Thanks for reading and for your compliments. Awesome to hear you did the no new things for 6 months - I think you've always been a more thoughtful and purposeful shopper than me, so that was probably more than enough time for you. Love your meal planning tips - especially overlapping produce. We did that this week (with cauliflower rice, scallions and snap peas / peppers) and have already gotten a few meals out of it (my attempt at healthy homemade Thai with chicken and shrimp as proteins). Also love the meal service idea - probably still cheaper than going out and didn't think about the recipe idea component. Genius!!! Hope you are staying warm in Shrewsbury and having a happy new year. It is single-digits in Chicago and we are seriously considering moving to Miami forever.

  4. Here’s what I’m committing myself to this year. Definitely inspired by you/great minds running in similar directions. Lots of similar feelings about being overwhelmed by stuff and yes, I’m so, so guilty of mindless shopping!! My parent’s idea of chores was much more draconian(think mop the floor on your hands and knees) than yours but v similar in that we had lots of money but they were very strict w me on that front. I also pointed out that my parents could surely afford a landscaper vs everyone slaving away all weekend with no more success than you!

    Over here, we are super regimented on food, except my work lunches which I am separately working on as part of my fitness/well being goals(as if these aren’t enough!) But we also don’t mind sticking to a pretty boring plan and the kids do keep us from eating out. ����


    Annie’s 2018 goals:

    No clothing or beauty shopping.

    Wear and appreciate the beautiful items in my closet. Donate clothes that aren’t worn within the year or aren’t flattering/don’t fit. Be ruthless.

    Exceptions: things such as toothpaste, razors, etc or say, if I drop and break my foundation bottle or something runs out or goes bad that needs replacing(mascara). Self tanner which I’m currently out of. Running shoes, only if actually needed vs desired.

    Use up the many, many products I have from my two-year Birchbox subscription. Gah!

    Feel gratitude of how much I have. Appreciate and use what I have and feel happy that I have so much I can take a year off and not be impacted. :-) Remember times in my life where money was tight and apply those lessons. Remember others who have to follow these rules because they don’t have the money not to. This entire year is about plentifulness, not scarcity.

    Have grace with myself. If I slip up or if JCrew drops the most unbelievable Fall line in 10 years, figure out a plan to re-join the consumer society but still staying true to these goals.


    Reduce. Clear out clutter. Clear out unused items. Especially in the kitchen, the bedroom, and office. i.e., my domains vs focusing on Lawson or the kids’ stuff which is an easy trap for me.

    Confine children’s messes to defined spaces.
    Clear out B’s room where possible.
    Fewer cheap, plastic toy purchases.

    Be grateful for our house. Be grateful for the increasing equity we are lucky enough to have. Put the energy into the house that it needs this year: floors, painting, bathroom and kitchen fixtures, wood refinishing. Bedroom furniture.


    Are you planning on doing regular check-ins? I will also be featuring my wardrobe in as many of my outfit selfies I can capture. ������

    Thanks for the great inspiration! Good luck!!!

    1. Annie! Hey! Thank you so much for this comment and for reading the post. Honestly I think there needs to be a secret society for children of rich frugal parents. We’re messed up in such a unique way hahahahaha!

      Your plan sounds great, and I really appreciate the point about keeping in mind those who are forced to go without the things we take for granted. It’s so easy to forget that, and I am grateful to you for reminding me of it.

      Also love the idea of regular check ins - maybe a monthly progress report might work?

  5. Best wishes on your 2018 endeavors! They’re ambitious, but will be well worth any amount of success. The two thoughts swirling around my head as I begin the new year are mindfulness and purposeful.
    I don’t typically meal plan, but I think about what we will be having for dinner by 10 o’clock the night before and 10 o’clock the day of. This allows for taking meat out of the freezer, doing some prep work and, if necessary, picking up a missing ingredient! Also, I make my big salad within a day of grocery shopping and I love my crockpot! (I was once told that I shouldn’t admit this, as maybe it’s not a sign of a conscientious cook?!)

    1. Cheryl, thank you so much for this note and for the tips on meal planning - the 10/10 thing is so spot on. I think I will do 7/7. So glad to hear you love your crock pot because it’s the only reliable tool I’ve found for guaranteed dinner. But I only have a couple of recipes that I like - need more experimenting there. And honestly whoever thinks cooks are conscientious are probably bakers. Cooking is a creative art! Messy and experimental and equal opportunity for all pot types.

  6. Such a perfect project for a year! I think I'll join you in the spirit of no new things for the fist six months, with the exception of a new pair of running shoes (and a second hand Mulberry messenger if one comes along, and a perfect white silk shirt and the loafers I've been looking for so long aaaand I really need to practice this NO thing!). I'm also going to continue decluttering a bit by bit. There's a lot to go through from basement to home office to bathroom, a bit overwhelming to even think about so let's not, but take it slow.

    I love it how you and Wes have decided to do this together - makings of a good marriage I believe! My husband and I are trying to fit a home improvement weekend into our schedules on Q1/2018, let's see how that goes and what might the next quarter bring! :D

    We don't really cook at home either so no great thoughts about how to have easy dinners at home - but one. Vinaigrette! I learned last year that making a great salad dressing is ridiculously easy, just make sure you have good olive oil and vinegar always at hand. Then add spice according to what goes with your salad: salt, pepper, chili, mustard, honey... Very affordable in the sense you only need to mix as much as you need and can vary endlessly.

    One thing I'm doing now to improve my life a little - checking and evaluating what I'm reading. Do I want to follow blogs that make me feel like I need a new gray pullover added to my quite vast gray pullover collection or should I spend my time reading something that does not endorse consumerism. Your blog is definitely on the reading list!

    1. Mari Eliisa, thanks so much for reading and for your comment! So happy to hear you're doing no new things for 6 months, and I like that you're giving yourself a short list of investments to keep an eye out for just in case. It still counts, because it is purposeful and thoughtful and filling a gap in your wardrobe. Might steal your idea on a home improvement weekend - it's challenging to inspire myself to do the little projects, but if we made it fun and got drinks and snacks and great music and a devoted 48-hour period of time I bet we could make a ton of progress... also your vinaigrette idea is genius. Have never thought to add spices or mustard to oil and vinegar but will be trying that.

      Last but not least, I so hear you on checking what you're reading and allowing to enter your mind. It's something I'm trying as well, and makes a huge difference in what you think / care about. And social media is SO hard, being that it is designed to get us want to buy things. So honored to have made the reading list and will do my best to hold that spot!

  7. Awesome! good luck! Re food shopping - we get a veggie box each Monday, and if I'm disciplined I'll roast whatever veg is left on the Sunday (you can pretty much roast any veg in my book). Then we'll either have it for dinner or as a salad for Monday lunches with feta cheese and dressing. You can even blitz it into hummus or a soup for variety. And then start from scratch with Monday's box.

    1. Hey Kerrie, thanks so much for your comment. And I love the idea of getting a veggie box at the beginning of the week (and so with you on roasting everything). Have not been making best use of the produce I buy and never considered turning it into soup or a hummus. Love that! Thanks for the ideas. Hope you're having a good week!

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  9. What a great challenge! We also have a hard time with the 'we have no food and now have to eat out'(and my husband is a caterer-the shoemaker has no shoes!). Something that has helped me is having back-up meals in the freezer, like items from Trader Joe's where I just need to pick up a bagged salad on the way home to make it a complete meal. Is it processed and not the most healthy thing in the world? Sure. But we found that eating out was worse and obviously more expensive. Sidenote-I ALSO had a maroon Ford Taurus!

    1. Hey Amanda, thank you so much for reading and for your comment! LOL to the shoemaker has no shoes - you'd think a caterer would be all over the meal planning! Love the idea of having emergency Trader Joe's meals in the freezer and will be stocking up this weekend. It's so true that there's a happy medium, and I'll take a prepared frozen meal over one at a restaurant that likely has just as much (or more) salt, oil, etc. but triple the price.

      NO WAY on the maroon Ford Taurus! A great car from getting from point A to point B and keeping us humble, right?! LOL!

  10. First of all, congrats on this initiative Colleen! It is a great thing to do and really inspirational.
    When I saw your post on Instagram, I commented that I'd be doing something similar. From February to June, I will try my best to stop myself from buying clothes, shoes, accessories,... The reason why I want to do this? To save money, to stop buying so much from fast fashion and to become more creative regarding my style.
    I did something similar 2 years ago and after 3 months of that experience, I felt really proud of myself and so surprised with what I achieved. I miss that and that and I really want to go back.
    To motivate myself, I have a jar where I will put the money I'd spend on unnecessary things. I will also have a motivational "wall"/priority list to keep reminding myself of what I really want to use my money (and time!) for.
    Reading your post, inspired me so much I will try to extend this to other things in my life and, who knows, for a longer time! Thanks you dear and let's do this! :*

    PS: I think you said something about meals to avoid dinners out. What I do, mainly because of a busy schedule and fitness plan, is meal preparation. I normally take my Sunday or Monday to cook some dishes for the week so I avoid ordering or going out for food last minute.

    1. Raquel I LOVE ALL OF THIS and am going to copy you on the jar and wall / priority list. You are so right that cutting back makes you so much more creative with your style and I am so excited for BOTH of us to absolutely have the best year using what we already have. It’s a great test of your taste and past purchasing decisions in my opinion, one that everyone should do. I am looking forward to hearing your updates for the next six months. Also, like the idea of pre-cooking dishes on Sunday to avoid the rush during the week. Will be trying that tactic out!

  11. Colleen, Our dads sound just alike! I'm not going to buy any clothes for the first 3 months of the year. Over the holidays I was cleaning out my closet and felt such anger about all the clothes hanging in there that I hadn't worn yet and I don't like them now. What a waste of money and time. I have vowed to "shop my closet". I hope to continue to challenge myself after the end of 3 months, and stick to no new clothes.

    The other area where I can make a vast improvement is meal planning. So that is now a goal.

    I just read Soulful Simplicity and it was a real inspiration to get me started on this challenge.

    1. Maybelle, thank you so much for reading and commenting! Great to know there's another dad like mine out there in the world... LOL! Good for you for sticking to shopping your closet for the next three months - keep me posted on how it goes. Planning outfits in advance always boosts my creativity and will try to do some posts on that for you. I'm obviously with you on the meal planning! And will check out Soulful Simplicity - just found it on Amazon and also saw a book titled "The Year of Less" which I might need to read given the coincidence!

  12. I am working on being better about eating too!! I have been meeting with a nutritionist at school and have really liked it! Send me your email and I can share with you what we work on. There are meal plans and grocery lists etc.

    Good luck! I have been working on decluttering this winter break and it's a challenge... hopefully you working on this can lead to some tips for me :) :P

    1. Hey Greer! Happy new year!! Thanks so much for reading the post and for commenting. Would LOVE the meal planning tips from your nutritionist - my email is colleenbordeaux

      And will do my best on decluttering tips for you!

  13. Dear Colleen,

    Thank you so much for this (and all your other )article. You are so brave and so inspiring. This is no small project and needs a lot of determination and strong will. I keep wanting to buy less and always seem to do the opposite. I sometimes wonder if I am indeed a shopaholic, or if I am trying to simply buy happiness. I don't believe the answers are yes but I still would like to shop less, because I do not need so much stuff in my life. I have pretty much everything and more!

    I really appreciate you share your deepest thoughts and even your privacy with us, this means a lot to us readers. Please do not give up on your blog, I really enjoy reading them, sometimes I look for encouragement in them, and not to mention inspiration!
    I have been a little busy lately and have to make some big decisions(soon)for myself. I would like to hear your thoughts, if you have time.

    Good luck my dear! I have no doubts you will do great, I can't wait to read about your experience and thoughts :)