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.

Goal #1: DECLUTTER

I have SO MUCH STUFF!!!!!!!  I have TOO MUCH STUFF!! Both in my personal and professional life, I have way more stuff than any one person needs or can possibly manage without spending their entire existence on managing all of the stuff.  I have long suffered the American epidemic of feeling the need to procure more and more stuff and rarely have taken the time to purge the unnecessary items in my collection.  I have never taken the time to properly pre-plan a move from one residence to the next.  I have been too busy putting out one fire without having time to prevent another, so now I find myself with WAY TOO MUCH STUFF!  I do not want to be a slave to clutter in my life.  I know this will be my toughest goal to achieve and THAT is why I have it as my first goal.

It is a challenge to me to just get rid of stuff because I, like most people, worry about getting rid of the wrong stuff.  It never fails, you decide you can finally get rid of something and within days find a reason that you should have kept it!  Plus, super cheap girl over here hates the idea of spending money on something that I ALREADY spent money on.  Maybe I wouldn’t feel the need to be so darn cheap if I wouldn’t have wasted so much time and energy on buying stuff that I just didn’t need.  This is a work in progress that will definitely have to extend beyond the 37 days that I have left before my 40th birthday, but I can definitely accomplish a lot in that amount of time.

Steps for Success:

I will be working through my wardrobe, unused home items, and teaching supplies and donating them (or selling anything that actually might have value) and working toward having a designated place for everything that I own.

I will have an organization system for mail and other paperwork so that I don’t create piles of papers.

I will have a designated area for my business supplies so that I will be able to complete business tasks efficiently.

To keep myself accountable and make my progress visible (I am a visual person!) I will take photos of the items that I am able to donate/dispose of.  The idea of this thrills me but I will not lie, there are times where I have a little moment of panic thinking about letting some things go.  I just remind myself that I am more attached to the people in my life and this will free up my time to spend with them and help me feel more successful in my everyday life.

 

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.

Taking the Fear Out of Change

 

Do you like change?  Does it scare you?  For many people, including myself, change can seem frightening.  I have learned that it’s all in how you deal with change that can either make it the greatest blessing or the most miserable thing ever.  We can’t reach our ultimate potential if we avoid change at all cost.  In education, we talk about creating disequilibrium, giving students new or different information and students work to regain their equilibrium by storing the new information or reshaping their pre-existing understanding to accommodate the information.  If we know that disequilibrium, or being out of our comfort zone, is necessary for growth to occur, then why does it seem so darn scary to us?

Is the fear of failure the true culprit?  We are all scared of failing at one thing or another and for different reasons. Maybe it goes back to society’s pressure to be “perfect.”  But, if we don’t buy into the notion of perfection, then are we opening the door to be more accepting of ourselves  and okay with making mistakes or failing at something for the sake of self growth?  After all, the Wright Brothers didn’t exactly get it right the first time, now did they?

Perhaps, it is the fear of success that scares us the most.  If we are successful and do indeed change, we can’t go back to our comfort zone.  We are uncomfortable with the idea of a new comfort zone.  Let’s use getting in shape as an example of this. Let’s pretend we have a friend who is about 100 pounds overweight and is currently inactive.  They wake up one day and decide that enough is enough and they want to live a healthier life.   They live on fast food, several sodas daily (whether regular or diet), and extremely large portions of food at every meal.   More often than not, we take the all or nothing approach or try to find the “quick fix”, either of which is almost assuredly a set-up for failure.  (I say we because I have been guilty of all of these things.) We resort to deprivation diets cutting out carbs, gluten, fat, or subsisting on cabbage soups, all of which are not only unhealthy, but unsustainable.  It has been scientifically proven, a gazillion times over, what is necessary to lose weight, but we think we are the exception to the rule or we just don’t want to wait that long to see results.  In order to lose weight you must expend more calories than you take in.  No one said you had to take in so few calories that you are actually causing metabolic damage, but we go there instead of proceeding cautiously into our weight loss mission.

No one needs to exist on 1200 calories a day and attempt to RUN 3 miles right out of the gate.  You don’t have to empty your cupboards and fridge of every single “junk” food item and fill them with organic kale and tempeh and eat plain tilapia out of Tupperware containers at every meal.  Quite honestly, if I had to eat tilapia out of Tupperware I would probably be the crabbiest person you have ever met! Instead pick ONE thing to change with your eating habits and find ONE way to become more active.  I didn’t say sign up for a marathon next month, I simply said become more active. Go for a WALK 3 times a week, even if it is for only 15 minutes, and work your way up from there.  Don’t start by setting a goal to lose 100 pounds because that is too overwhelming and people tend to beat themselves up if they don’t meet a goal quickly.  Make your first goal losing 5 pounds in the first month.  At the end of the month, reevaluate your progress and set a new goal for the following month.  The more gradual the changes are, the less painful they will be and the likelihood of success increases.  We don’t need to fear success.  We all are worthy of living a better life and showing ourselves respect.

My challenge, for anyone wishing to make a change in their life, is to make your (small, manageable) goals visual to yourself and share your intentions with others.  This increases the likelihood of success by serving as a source of accountability and support.  Feel free to share your goals here and we can work to support each other.  Okay, I’ll start…my goal is to drink more water, 64 ounces, a day and to lift weights 3 times a week for the next month.  I will track this on my kitchen calendar and will reevaluate my goals at the end of August.  Now it’s your turn!