Wife to my high school sweetheart, boy mama to sweet baby boy Macrae, and two fur babies Shiloh and Milo, a full time high school history teacher, and overall enthusiast for life. Avid podcast listener, iced coffee drinker, and organized chaos manager. My passion is to encourage and inspire. To cultivate an intentional life, a life full of joy and an abundance of grace.
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I am SO excited for today’s episode because it is this very moment where I feel like I have come full circle and my heart feels complete. Rewind FOUR years ago. I was on Spring Break, J and I had traveled for a quick weekend getaway to Boston, where we then took the train up to Portland, Maine – both of which are our two most favorite cities in the entire United States, actually our dream is to retire outside of Portland, and eventually I will publish our travel guides for both of those cities to the blog – but in the meantime if you are traveling to either Boston or Portland, Maine anytime soon, please reach out over on Instagram @thebestdaypodcast so I can give you a list of our absolute favorite places to include on your trip.
Anyways rewind FOUR years ago to that weekend trip to Portland at the start of my Spring Break – that is where Gracefulandfree (my lifestyle blog) began and my very first blog post ever was published. I spent an entire day working on it and guys I was so so proud. It was creative, it was intentional, it was purposeful. I staged spring like things around my house and used my phone to create my very first type of images for my blog. I felt like I was excelling. And of course I am laughing now because when I go back and look at the post it was SO beginner level in terms of the expectations I have for myself and the quality of content I try and produce.
My first blog post was “Your Spring Intentional To-Do List” and I was beyond proud of myself for how I crafted it, wrote it, and the purpose and intention behind it. The entire message behind the post was to encourage and inspire my readers and community to slow things down and appreciate the sweeter things in life during the spring season. Goodness, I love the ability to look back and see growth over the course of the year and that is one thing I love about publishing so many things on all the socials – it is a digital record to be able to see that growth. Which makes me SO excited to see the growth of this Podcast four years from now, and I am sure I will look back to this moment and consider it some level of cringe-worthy.
Anyways – I feel like we have come full circle because I began my very blog with a post on an intentional spring to-do list, and my intention was to create a new intentional to-do list for every single season, every single year. And since April 2018, I have created only two of them. So this is where the excitement comes in – I am so excited to present to you the first official themed series on The Best Day Podcast and that is the beginning of every single month – a brand new podcast episode will be released devoted to providing YOU with an intentional TO DO list for that month. Sharing with you a specific set list of things curated for THIS month alone to help you find that level of happiness, overall wellness in your life. So today I am sharing with you the only to-do list you need for the month of April.
Before I dive in deep to what is on this very intentional to-do list for April, I feel like I need to take a moment in honor and appreciation for all the to-do lists I have created in my life, for every single one of them. The to-do lists that were created and ignored, the to-do lists that were exaggerated and obsessive in detail and all the to-do lists in between. I am that type of human who finds herself obsessed with a to-do list. I also am that type of human that will add things to her to-do list after she has already completed them, just to feel that level of satisfaction and sense of accomplishment. Yes, it is true, even though I am afraid to admit it publicly. And while I am working through my own self as of late, trying to fine tune my own personal workflows and systems and trying to shift away from the constraints of a to-do list, I still find that level of peace and comfort in knowing that there is a list full of all the things that I need to do on it.
I am a big believer in having variety in your to-do lists. While yes, our to-do lists need to include the things that we have absolutely got to do, and as a teacher the first step to getting any sort of grading done is first – establish the to-do list clarifying ALL the assignments that need to be graded and then of course step number two is going to Target and purchasing a new back of my most favorite Papermate Inkjoy pens to be able to grade to the very best of my ability – I also believe in FUN to-do lists. The to-do lists that include books to read, binge shows to watch, new restaurants to try, date night ideas for when we find ourselves with a babysitter.
So you are thinking – Haley, do I really need another to-do list? Isn’t the conversation here all about encouraging a life lived well, a life that minimizes the stress… well of course. I completely get it, you (and I) already have several different to-do lists with ALL the things on it and the last thing you would want is something else to add to your list. But believe me THIS IS the type of TO-DO List you absolutely want to utilize for the month of April. This is the kind of to-do list that is all about making sure you are living with intention every single day. The type of to-do list that encourages you to slow down, to stop and breathe deep. To spend time with the people who matter the most. To spend less time worrying about the stresses and more time filling your soul with the joyful things. What if I told you to only put the things on your actual to-do list that bring you happiness and peace to your soul. What if you started living every single day as a less stressed, more whole, version of yourself. That is exactly what the April Intentional To-Do list is. And trust me – you are going to want to follow it.
I feel like I should say real quick that if you are listening to this episode and it’s not April – then you need to stop what you’re doing and find a new episode to listen to immediately – just kidding, no please don’t do that, come back – this episode is still for you. Just because it may not be April, you can absolutely benefit from this list of things to do this month. While I am curating this list specific to April, it of course, can be referenced at any point during the year as we work to become better, more joyful, complete versions of ourselves.
Today’s episode is going to be more straight to the point as I just want to share with you what needs to be on your to-do list for this month and then let you free to start checking off the items. And as you are completing your April Intentional To-Do List I want to see it and hear about it – so share over on Instagram and tag @thebestdaypodcast on your stories so I can share it to our community and come on over to the Facebook group and join our fabulous community over there. I also have some fun freebies for you over on the blog. Check the link via the show notes and head to the blog where you can download some fun graphics of the April To-Do list to either print out, and have on your desk and check things off as you accomplish them OR you can download any of the screensavers that I created for the month of April.
Alright, the 10 things you need to add to your to-do list for the month of April. Let’s get right to it!
The first thing that needs to be on your to-do list for the month of April is to spend time outside. Yes, the days are longer, the sun shines brighter, the temperatures are warmer, and our day needs to be filled with time spent outside. And while the corporate working schedule may make things a little more difficult to find a moment to escape and feel the mediated relief of the warmth of the sun and the cool breeze, studies do show the tremendous benefit of incorporating a few more minutes of time spent outside during the day.
In fact, a 2019 study done in the journal Scientific Nature, reports that the magic number is 120 minutes. The study concluded that for those individuals who spend 120 minutes a week outside, they live more fulfilling lives, with higher levels of health and happiness. 120 minutes, that is only 4, 30 minute outdoor sessions, or you can go for 6, 20 minute outdoor sessions within one week. Maybe you can take your lunch and sit outside, or go for a quick walk around your building to stretch your legs. Or play with the kids in the yard during your after school routine, go on a family walk before dinner. It doesn’t have to be for a crazy extended amount of time, but it definitely needs to be an intentional amount of time where you can truly rest and be present in the outdoors.
Number 2 on the only to-do list you need for the month of April is to garden. Yes, garden. Now you don’t need to have a green thumb or be competing for the next cover issue for Home & Garden magazine, but there is something that is truly therapeutic in gardening. For me, gardening is always deeply spiritual as the physical removal of the roots and the planting of new life always teaches me some lesson of some kind. And while every new spring season I am passionately committed and devoted to finding a way to ensure my new plants live longer than the plants the year before, there is something so soul satisfying about spending a beautiful Saturday morning walking through the local nursery looking at all the beautiful plants. Plus, the satisfaction of watching something take root and grow, and then blossom that is partially your doing – is pretty remarkable.
When is the last time you learned something new / tried something new just for the sake of doing it? We are creatures of habit and tend to stick to our routines based on what feels comfortable and normal to us. Oh but there is so much to be learned and gained from trying something new. I think it is so important to always be changing, to always be evolving as humans and learning something new is integral to that process. Has there been something you have always wanted to try or learn? What better time than now to start a new hobby? Who knows maybe your new hobby will lead to the formation and foundation of your next biggest dream?
I encourage you to try something NEW this month. Maybe it is something you have always thought about doing but didn’t have the time for, or the patience for, or maybe you thought it was too silly? Let right now be the time, let this month be the time to finally do it. Forget about what the world might think, forget about all the silly tendencies that may be holding you back – and just do it! I guarantee you that you will learn something new along the way and have fun.
This one strikes a special cord in my heart. I am quite the sentimental, nostalgic person. I treasure memories so incredibly much and so much of life I can look back on and remember certain time periods by the people who I was close to during that time period. I was very fortunate to go to incredible schools throughout my childhood, all in an incredible community, and have continued to find some satisfaction and joy within the school community I currently teach in. And throughout my entire childhood there have been so many friends that meant so much to me based on that season of life we shared together. And while life is busy, and based on the number of unread messages on my phone, I can admit that I am not the best and reaching out and reconnecting with the people who have mattered the most, I think this month is a beautiful month to reconnect w/ someone. Because when you really think about it – how easy it truly is to take a moment and connect with someone from the past. It is so easy to do so these days
Thanks to social media and how interconnected the world is. And this doesn’t have to be a crazy gesture, it can just be a sweet, simple, “Hey, I have been thinking of you, I hope you are doing well!” But the next time you find yourself driving around or wondering around your day and your thoughts shift back to a friend from some time period earlier in your life, take that as a sign to reconnect with them. Not only is that going to bless their heart, but I can assure you it is going to bless yours as well.
This next one is SUCH a good idea. And while I am most definitely going to follow everything on this to-do list myself, it is this MOST specific task that I am the MOST eager to complete, so let’s do this one together, friends. Pick one morning a week and get up 30 minutes earlier. Yes, 30 minutes earlier. I know it sounds so incredibly simple, yet the most challenging at the same time. Why is it that waking up 30 minutes earlier seems like a bear? Well, it usually seems quite capable, until you find yourself going to bed at night and laying awake scrolling on your phone for far too long. In fact, it may be a great idea on Sunday when you are planning the week ahead to go ahead and think through your week and pick the day of the week where you are going to wake up 30 minutes earlier.
Schedule it in and make a point before the week even begins to clarify your intentions. And the night before the morning you decide to wake up earlier, go ahead and help yourself by putting out your outfit, getting your favorite coffee mug ready on the counter, setting the things up that you know you will need, to make things easier in the process. And then when your alarm goes off that schedule morning, jump out of bed knowing that you made the appointment with yourself and spend that extra 30 minutes enjoying your cup of coffee alone, journaling, reading, maybe working on a devotional you have had sitting on the corner of your desk, or maybe you are going to get in your exercise BEFORE work instead of after, or maybe you just want an extra 30 minutes to take the time and get ready peacefully instead of a rush. I guarantee you, friend – that the morning you set aside as the day to wake up 30 minutes earlier – I promise you – that day is going to be your BEST DAY of the entire week. And hey, maybe you will start to incorporate this even more and start to realize the true power your morning can hold for you and your entire day!
And guys, I want to hear about this and you and your process as you complete things off of your April Intentional To-Do List. Share on your stories, tag @thebestdaypodcast over on Instagram so I can share it on my stories as well. Or come on over and let’s hang out together in the Best Day Podcast facebook group. Let’s connect and be present with one another as we work to live our best life, with intention and purpose, every single day!
Does anyone else have a collection of beautifully styled and curated cookbooks on display sitting on your kitchen counters, but has yet to actually use them for cooking? I have collected a beautiful assortment of cookbooks within the last several years, mostly as Christmas gifts, and I LOVE having them sit on my kitchen counter. In fact, I even LOVE to look through them as I attempt to creatively plan on the weekends. But when is the last time you have actually opened up your cookbooks and found a recipe and made it? Maybe that is your thing and you do it all the time and if so that is amazing, I seriously LOVE that. But for ME – this is something I want to do MORE of.
Over the Christmas break, I had gifted myself with Tieghan Gerard’s cookbook Half Baked Harvest’s Super Simple and fell in LOVE with her and ALL of her recipes. Throughout my entire winter break, I spent almost every single night cooking a new recipe and LOVING it. Not only were the meals absolutely delicious, but they also were FUN and it brought LIFE and EXCITEMENT to our evenings. It made the average dinner seem more like an intimate date night, and for anyone else familiar with the transition to life with a baby, then that is definitely something worth incorporating. In all seriousness, this is such a great way to make the most of every day and find a little more joy in the little things. And it doesn’t have to be from an actual cookbook, spend time on Pinterest, look up recipes online, but definitely use this as an opportunity to try something NEW and find a whole LOT of JOY along the way. I did round up my favorite cookbooks, including Tieghan’s of Half Baked Harvest and they are linked on the show notes for you to check out!
This one is kind of similar to the previous item, but still incredibly important and one I think most worthy of making it on the April Intentional To-Do list – the ONLY to-do list you need for the month of April. But this month – you should absolutely make a point, make a date to go to a restaurant that you have been wanting to try. Yes, do it. We all have that list, whether it is an actual list on paper, typed up on the notes app on our phone, or a running list in the back of our brains, the list of the restaurants we would LOVE to try one day.
But friend, ONE DAY is TODAY. We have got to start living the life we want in the future, TODAY. Living that life now! It does no good to wait, we need to start living in the identify of who we want to be, NOW! And so if that means scheduling a date with your significant other, or a family outing, or a solo date with just YOU – find a spot in your calendar, add it to your planner and GO. Go to that restaurant. Have an amazing meal. Don’t be too busy doing all the things in your life to miss out on the moments that matter the most – and I believe so much that those moments can happen during mealtime.
Okay, this may just be the silliest of them all on this April Intentional To-Do list, but I am completely serious here – swing on a swing set. Yes, seriously do it! We just started taking Macrae to the playground at the park we often walk/run at and it has been the most joyful experience for ME to get to play with him and push him (ever so gently) on the baby swing. And it has had me thinking of HOW MUCH I LOVE TO SWING! Seriously, what is it about a swing set, the freedom, the releasing of worry, of care, of standards, of expectation, it is just you, the swing, and the air, and the sky and all the things you have ever dreamed about.
Maybe it is my imagination, or the dreamer in me, but I can sit on a swing, and swing on a swing and instantly feel taken back to the child version of me. The little girl who sat before this big world and wondered about what life would be like, wondered what my future would hold? So this month, find a swing set and swing. You can do this alone, or join your children, but take a moment, step away from your actual to-do list, step away from the stresses of everyday life, the responsibility of your work, the tasks of the home, and step away from it all, even if it is just a few moment and swing. And trust me – you are going to have a great time!!
On to number NINE of the only to-do list you need for the month of April – find a new podcast and binge listen! Hehe, okay I may have added this one to the list because this is the same month that I am launching my podcast – The Best Day Podcast and I of course would LOVE it if you became an avid listener and start binging all the episodes – but MORE than me wanting YOU to listen to my own podcast, I would LOVE it for YOU to listen to something that truly makes your heart happy. Something that can truly add value to your life. Something that can actually encourage you and speak to YOU. Something that can actually make your day better. Whether that is adding purpose to your commute, or giggles or a comedic relief to a stressed out situation, or enlightenment to a subject matter that you desire to learn more about, this month I want you to carve out a little more time FOR YOU and to do things that can bring YOU joy and spark happiness in the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Find a new podcast friend, and listen!
Okay, the final item on your April to-do list. This one is not as clearly defined and you are going to need to take some time to truly reflect and dig deep on this one! But, number 10 – do something your childhood version of yourself would be PROUD of. Do something this month that the younger version of you would be SO stinking proud of. Is there something that you were afraid of when you were younger that you want to face head on and overcome the fear, walking into that faith? Or maybe a deep desire or passion of yours that you have had for quite some time, but have yet to act on? Let now be the time, to truly do something that your childhood version of yourself would be SO proud of.
For me, that is this podcast. The release of the first three episodes on April 4th and a new episode released every single Monday after that. This is most definitely something the childhood version of me would be SO incredibly proud of. And I want the same thing for you. And it doesn’t have to be the biggest thing, it can be small, but it does need to be meaningful. It does need to have impact to YOU. And you can absolutely do it. Whatever it is for you, you can do it. And once you do it, once you accomplish that thing your childhood self would be SO proud of, I want you to CELEBRATE IT! Because you deserve it!
Well, there you have it – 10 things to add to your to-do list this month. A quick recap of the 10 they are:
And another reminder that I have a fun checklist and a few downloadable screensavers for you to check out to support today’s episode and the April to-do list. Until next time friends, have the best day!