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What I Learned this Fall 2020

Every three months, I pause and reflect on the past season and share with all of you.


This season was a time of listening to more music, solo parenting for a month, a job transition, creativity, decluttering and organizing, and a two week quarantine.

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It snowed in October. Of course it did.

Trello

I switched to Trello for work, which is basically an app/website to make to-do lists. I have been using it for two months now, and I have been loving it. I can organize lists by various needed categories to help me prioritize. I can make a list of things to do today, a list for a specific event, a list of things to do by the end of the week. The limit does not exist. And I can also use it on my phone, so it’s mobile, which is essential for me. This has been much easier than the Google Sheets I was using, but don’t worry, I’m still making a ton of spreadsheets for different things.

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Solo Parenting

In September, Peter had an excited work trip for a month in a bubble in California. This was the longest I have ever solo parented, and it went surprisingly well. I was working and the kids were going to childcare/preschool, so that break in the day helped me a lot. Our evenings consisted of dinner, playing, snuggles, watching a movie, baths, books, and prayers. It was simple and consistent.

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This is a photo that Peter took while in California while the fires were really bad.

Job Transition

My job title changed this fall! It was a wild first year of coordinating youth and young adult ministry. But right now, I am fully devoting my time as the Young Adult Ministry Coordinator. Young adult is a newer work field, and I’m very excited to pave the way. I’m still assisting in youth ministry, but in a different capacity.

We have someone else coordinating Confirmation this year. The Pro Ecclesia Sancta Sisters have taken charge of middle school on Wednesday nights. Once COVID calms down, we will be doing more, but for the time, this is what we’re doing. I’m really enjoying the finer focus and ability to use my creativity in this way. I do miss interacting with the youth, but luckily I get to a little bit on Wednesdays.

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Check out the new logo! We had what felt like 40 drafts from start to finish.

Music

I have been all-in on Spotify lately. I mostly listen when I am working, but sometimes I do while driving or doing chores. Spotify makes customized playlists based on what I listen to and it has really been helping me with my energy, mood, and creativity.

I have a humongous playlist called “Try This” where I add music that Spotify suggests. I also add playlists that any of my friends have made and it’s great having it all in one place. If I don’t like it, I just remove it from the playlist. If I love it, I add it to my playlist of the month. This is where I add the incredible songs that hit me square in the eyes.

Here is November, October, and September‘s playlists!

I also have an Advent playlist that I started for this year and will be adding to until Christmas! Here is last year’s Advent playlist. Here will be December‘s non-Advent playlist.

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Environment

With my job transition, it also meant moving to a different desk. It has seriously been such a good spot so far. There is an old classroom that we use as the Faith Formation Room. There are two cubicles and a couple tables for staff to work at, along with books, supplies, and storage for our programming. This room is right by the school office and the teacher’s lounge. It’s very central to the building, which is a good spot for me, the social butterfly. I have one of the cubicles, and I have no regrets taking a morning to set it up, decorate it, and make it homey.

I’m not distracted by the things around me like I was at my other spot, because I literally am looking at my cubicle wall and the environment that I set up around me. I have pictures of my family, saints, prayer cards, quotes, and art. The one thing that is imperfect about this spot is I can’t just shut the door for a Zoom meeting because it is a shared space. I’ve been making do by finding a different spot like the youth room, or even working from home that day.

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Taken at the Basilica of Mary in Minneapolis.

Environment Part 2

In both my work space and in our home, we have been slowly decluttering, discarding, and reorganizing our spaces. I have learned that our environment really plays a role in how we feel and how well we perform. It things are too cluttered, our brains are also too cluttered. If walls are barren, so is my brain. I have been trying to have a blend to help with inspiration, creativity, and focus at work. At home, I am trying to create a place to relax, be inspired, and call home.

One huge project I took on when Peter was out of town was sorting through literally 5 years of mail. When I was pregnant and sick with our kids, it was pure survival mode, and one thing that was put on the backburner was sorting mail. So I took the time to first sort things by year and get rid of things that were obviously not needed anymore. It was a trip down memory lane, but also a trip down difficult lane. It was really hard remembering the nausea, headaches, and pain that I felt when looking at medical papers and other papers from different seasons of our life together.

When Peter came home, he really took it from there and continued to sort and discard and organize. A huge burden was lifted from us and I can’t explain how happy we have been since getting on top of mail.

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I took this picture in the middle of all the organizing. It was a huge project. I’m so glad it’s done.

Quarantine

We had ourselves a little adventure this November. We were all experiencing symptoms of some kind around the same time, and were home for over two weeks together in quarantine. We all tested negative for COVID, I even tested twice. The kids had positive strep tests, which we believe was picked up at preschool. I had a virus of some kind, but not the coronavirus, and Pete had winter/dust allergies starting with the change in seasons.

This meant working from home for the both of us, and depending on others to bring us anything that we needed like stuff from work or groceries. It meant having a routine so that we didn’t go crazy. What I did each day was do breakfast for everyone, tidy the house for an hour, then set up a project/craft/activity of some kind. This would usually give me an hour or two (mostly uninterrupted) to get work done. Then Pete would do lunch and naptime, and I’d keep on working while they napped. Then the evening was dedicated to rest, dinner, and play.

We wore our pjs all day. I didn’t make elaborate meals. There was definitely more screen time than I would prefer, but we survived! It was actually nice being together for a couple weeks. It kind of felt like Christmas break. I’m grateful that we did not have COVID. This whole experience has made me more cautious when I’m out and about. I have already been pretty cautious, but there is now less cutting corners.

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Christopher had a true quarantine birthday! He turned 3!

An hour of tidying up

One thing that I have been doing to keep me sane is tidying about an hour a day. Sometimes it’s right away in the morning if I’m home that day. If I do go in to work, then it’s in the evening. I have been singing the praises of the app Tody for years now. It simply tells me what’s next, so I hardly have to make any decisions and can just go and do. I’ll listen to a podcast in one ear. It’s some time for me to move. It gives me purpose and something that I can call a job well done.

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Differences in motivations and personalities

During this election/COVID season, I have noticed that I have been a sponge for everyone’s emotions around me. I took a step back, both in-person and online, in order to have more intentional conversations about politics and current events, instead of having everything overwhelm me.

Over the years, I have learned that we all tick differently, and that’s okay. The things that are important to one person, are not important at all to another. As someone who works in ministry with a lot of people, I have to keep in mind all the various needs, personalities, motivations, and priorities. This has helped immensely in conversations, decisions, work, friendships, relationships, and even my marriage!

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We went to a wedding in October!


So this fall, I learned the importance of my environment around me to set us all up for success, how to step back when best, and how to make decisions decisions more efficiently. Hello winter.

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What I learned this fall


I’m looking forward to chatting with you next time! Until then, let’s take small simple steps towards being more intentional.

-Ryian Louise

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