So How Did I Do?

Tomorrow is my birthday and I set some basic goals (to me they were BIG goals) to work towards to set myself up for more balance in my life as a 40 year old.  I have definitely made progress in the right direction but just like most things in life, it will continue to be a work in progress.  I wanted to take a moment today to reflect on how I have done with all of my goals so that I can continue to grow and work toward making my life into the life that I want for me and my family. So here we go…

Goal 1: Simplify by Decluttering-

The more stuff that you have, the more time that it takes to manage it.  You can either spend most of your time managing stuff OR you can spend time living life and enjoying the people  in your life.  Becoming a mother really made me think about how I was spending my time.  I cherish every moment that I have with my daughter and husband and do not want to waste our precious time dealing with THINGS!  I want her to be a grateful person who invests her time in people and experiences and not one that sits around demanding more and more stuff.  I also do not want to spend her childhood away from her while I have to work longer than is necessary because I have too much stuff to manage.

I have gotten rid of a few boxes of stuff in our house that were donated to Goodwill and removed some of the items that were supposed to be in my classroom by returning them to my classroom.  I spent a day in my classroom pulling out all of the stuff that was in my closet and was able to donate a good bit of it and organized the closet.  I still struggle with this because I HATE wasting things and I spend more time than I probably should trying to find someone who can use it so that I don’t have to just throw it away.  I still have way more stuff than I could possibly manage and know where everything is.  We have so many resources to use that I don’t have enough time to know exactly what resources I have.  This is why I feel like more money is not the answer to the problems that we face in education but that is a whole different blog post!

I will continue to be inspired by the Minimalist Lifestyle and will continue to work through all of the stuff in our home and in my classroom to simplify my life and free up my cognitive space to focus on more important things!

Goal 2: Schedule-

This is probably the area that I have had the most success.  I have gotten very consistent with my routines at home and it has helped me to be more punctual, which makes me feel great!  I still need to nail down routines at school to make myself more efficient.

Goal 3: Health-

I am definitely more mindful with drinking water but I have totally blown it with having a consistent bed time!  I have found myself staying up later and later, allowing myself to get distracted with technology so I need to tighten up on this.

Goal 4: Mental Well-Being-

I have gotten more accustomed to going for walks with the fam around the neighborhood.  I am starting a new work out group when we get back after our break at school so I am looking forward to a little accountability.  I am also looking forward to more daylight to be able to go for walks at the park with my daughter.

As far as hobbies go, I have done more reading for entertainment but I REALLY want to get my art supplies organized so that they are more easily accessible so I can squeeze in some art sessions when the opportunity presents itself.

When I first started looking forward to my birthday I was focused on staying positive about turning 40.  When you watch children battle cancer and other life altering challenges, it is really difficult to sit around whining about being blessed with another day.  But the last few days I have found myself feeling very emotional about it.  The realization of how precious time is is really sinking in and I want to channel that energy into continuing to work to dedicate my time to what is most important to me.  I don’t want to work my life away and miss out on the sweetest moments of having a young child.  I don’t want to buy into the false sense of importance of being busy.  My life isn’t going to be about stuff or stress.  It will be about joy.

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So Long, 2014!!!

I don’t know about you, but I, for one, am glad to see 2014 go bye-bye!  Not to say that it didn’t have it’s high points.  After all, I did get married and got to enjoy many special moments with some of the most important people in my life.  My husband finished school and we are looking forward to him starting his career.  Many of my close friends gave birth to beautiful babies whom I get to rock, get my baby rocking fix, and return to their proud parents.  (I am a sucker for rocking babies!)  Every year has it’s ups and downs, which I try my best to appreciate both.   However, it seems that this has been a very challenging year for everyone!  Or am I imagining this?

It seems that all of our instant-gratification, social-media, “looks over substance” obsession may be getting the better of our society.  The victim mentality seems to be more commonplace than those heart warming stories where you hear of people overcoming extreme obstacles, and actually appreciating those obstacles.  After all, if you never face adversity, how else do you learn how strong you are?  I had once considered myself a very resilient person, but have lately felt like a big wimp, who is often brought to my knees by the seemingly never-ending obstacles.

You can locate a never ending list of articles stating the importance of expressing gratitude, focusing on the positive, etc.  After running for and visiting St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital for the last 5 years, I have often felt very guilty for even thinking that my challenges amounted to a hill of beans.  How quickly we can realign our perspective when we think about children staring cancer in the face on a daily basis, or parents watching their child fight through treatment, or worse, losing their battle.  We berate ourselves thinking how people facing cancer would “be glad to tolerate (insert daily inconvenience here)” so we should just get over it and “be happy.”  Expressing gratitude and appreciating the positives in life is essential but that does not mean the same as allowing ourselves to succumb to negative situations.

After losing two friends to breast cancer, in a little over a year, I feel we must revisit the thought of tolerating any and every circumstance we find ourselves.  I can’t help but feel that we would be cautioned to stop taking life for granted.  Life is too precious to continue in any situation that creates prolonged, unnecessary stress.  Does this mean shying away from every challenge in life?  Nope.  Does this mean just quitting every single time the going gets rough?  Not at all!  I am simply suggesting that while in those challenging circumstances, we step back and analyze the situation.  Notice I never said play the victim and complain endlessly about the situation.  Do your best to learn from the situation (because there is a lesson to be learned in EVERY situation), find a way to contribute to possible solutions, do your part to  maintain your dignity, and if the situation still only contributes more negative than positive, PLAN YOUR ESCAPE!  Some things may be escaped immediately, dead-end relationships, toxic friendships, etc., while other things may require more preparation.  You don’t want to ruin your future by skipping out on a job when you have bills to pay, insurance and retirement to consider, not to mention what that looks like to future employers if you decide to just cut and run.  Plus, it would do little to your self-esteem to bail on something you committed to!

Looking ahead to 2015, I am keeping in mind those things that have challenged me in 2014, and doing an inventory of what needs to be changed or eliminated so that I can make the most of my time here on Earth.  By not taking life for granted, I am honoring those whose time was cut short, and hopefully creating a better me, who is there for all of those important people in my life.