Planning Tools, Murder Mysteries, and My Teen Idol

Raise your hand if you’ve had a gajillion different planners and goal setting tools and books and courses and worksheets, and you still never feel like you’re totally ready for the New Year? Yeah, I get it. I’m obsessed with preparing for the year ahead, spending hours reflecting on what I loved about the previous one, what I accomplished, what didn’t work so well. Creating a vision for the upcoming 12 months, writing down every possible thing I can think of that I want to do. I’ve managed to find and hone a few tools that seem to work for me, which I guess is really part of the process: keeping what works and eliminating what doesn’t. Really, life should be that simple. 

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Here are a few of the tools I’m obsessed with using this year:

YNAB

In my goal setting, the real big one is to get our finances in order. I knew that the traditional way of trying to manage those dollars just wasn’t going to work if we needed to make a dramatic shift in the way we spend AND in the way we think about our money. Enter: You Need A Budget (or, YNAB). At first I was totally overwhelmed, but once we watched their helpful videos and got play-by-play on how to use the tool as well as how to reset your thought process, I found it not only really helpful, but actually fun to use (the instructors are great, and the lessons aren’t terribly droll like you might expect). If you are at all like me and have just always thought you are bad at managing money, then here is my advice: Step 1 is to let go of that old limiting belief and decide money is more than a numbers game, and all you have to do is decide you are capable of changing your mindset; Step 2 is try YNAB’s free trial, WATCH the videos and learn to use it. Bonus: they offer a free year for students, and as a veteran, we got an extended free trial time. 

Tana French novels

As a writer, Stephen King offers the advice to “read widely,” so I’ve set a small goal for myself of reading at least one non-fiction and one fiction book per month. Some of these may be books in support of my higher goals, like How to Be a Badass at Money or Parenting Teens With Love and Logic, or memoirs like The Princess Diarist. For Christmas I received the new Tana French novel The Witch Elm, this month’s fiction choice. If you haven’t read any of French’s books, I highly recommend them all. She’s developed what’s known as the Dublin Murder Squad, a series of crime stories set in Ireland that interconnect the characters from one book to the next. They are incredibly riveting and well-written, and already I find myself unable to put down the hefty hardcover.

The Cranberries

One year ago, I was devastated to hear the news that The Cranberries lead singer Delores O’Riordan, a mere 10 years my senior, died in London. As a teenager, she was THE idol singer for me at the time, with her Doc Martens, bleach blonde pixie cut, and incredibly unique voice. For some reason, this loss affected me in a way that had me reflecting on my own life, so much time that had passed, and yet I felt like we were still just kids. So this past week I’ve had my Cranberries favorites in heavy rotation, as well as this cover by Bad Wolves, that Delores was set to record with the band the very day she died. The video and musical remix is a haunting tribute and beautiful rendition.

"I know exactly what every song on [The Cranberries] album was about... a young woman's painful failures as an adolescent and her subsequent rebirth as a young adult." —The Rolling Stones, January 15, 2018.

ObsessionsJulie Kanta