This is Part Two of a two-parter – if you would like to read Part One, go here.
So, the cards have been sorted and I’ve come up with a clever title for my 2014 Challenge:
Focus on Seven in Fourteen
- Friendship – develop close personal relationships
- Health – Physical and psychological wellbeing
- Inner Harmony – being at peace with oneself
- Knowledge – understanding gained through study and experience
- Economic security – having enough money
- Family happiness – being able to spend quality time and develop relationships with family of origin or family by marriage/relationship
One thing that I notice about a number of these areas is that I have neglected them in the recent past. I have not developed close personal relationships since leaving my job in Fullerton over a decade ago. I’m not sure why or what happened, but I just have not really found “my people” since then. And it has been very hard. I have really wanted to have friends, but I seem to have a lot of superficial relationships and I have problems going any deeper than that with others. Part of it is that I am constantly trying to hide parts of my life from others because I don’t feel at peace with myself (see the third item on the list), part of it is that I have a lack of time to develop these relationships and part of it is that I just don’t always click with people. But, I have a mom’s group I’ve started to attend lately and I feel like I am comfortable with them and they are a spiritual group, so that helps with the last item of the list as well.
Wellbeing-wise, I have been focused on my daughter mostly, but a lot of times that is just an easy excuse. I would like to start exercising more. I need to change that phrasing. I will start exercising more as part of my “Focus on Seven”. I think this will help both my physical and psychological wellbeing. I have been pretty sedentary for a long time and when I was growing up, I was SUPER active! I swam competitively (can’t do that anymore because of a shoulder injury), I dove competitively (can’t do that anymore because it is scary and takes a lot of flexibility I no longer have), I did acrobats and competitive gymnastics (can’t do that anymore because of the flexibility issue) and I played water polo (can’t do that anymore because it would be insane). So, I’ve just stopped doing anything. I like yoga a lot and it seems to be good for my back, but also good for my stress. So, I would like to start doing a regular yoga class – or an at home video (but the class seems more likely to get me going). And I would just like to walk regularly. Walking is easy, cheap (see the fifth item on the list for why cheap is important) and you can do it anywhere (traveling or not, visiting family, etc.). I am thinking that I should aim to do EITHER yoga or walk seven times a week. At least one thing once a day.
The Inner Harmony is a little more complicated and a little more of a mystery. How exactly does one achieve “peace with oneself”? I know I have not achieved it. I feel in constant struggle to even figure out who exactly I am, let alone achieve peace with that person. So, I guess step one in the process towards achieving Inner Harmony is figuring out who exactly I am. I will have to start figuring out how to do that effectively, although I guess this “Focus on Seven” is one step towards it. At least I know what my priorities are. I also think my inner harmony really thrives when I am organized, in a routine and feeling in control of things. I’ve written before about my feelings of lack of control since my daughter’s illness and it is apparent all around me as well as in my levels of stress. As an action item, I have bought the Motivated Moms app for my phone:
I am a phone junkie and I set reminders for all my appointments in Google Calendar already. But this app gives me a list of things to do each day to keep my house in order, my self in working order (exercise, mentioned above), my financial house in order and even my spiritual house in order (she has verses from the Bible to read on each day’s schedule – you CAN turn that option off if you are n0t feeling like that will help you though). So, really, it is like a little electronic “Focus on Seven” with some household chores mixed in. I am really looking forward to using it. I had used her printed out ebook a couple of years ago for a while and I really liked it, but I’m just not one to be checking a binder all the time. My phone and some reminders does the trick though! Check it out and let me know what you think!
Knowledge is the one area where I feel I am succeeding. The only thing I want to change about that area is that I want to read more books. I read A LOT on the internet. And what I read is not often fluff, but is good stuff. So, I feel like I am reading things of value, but I’ve also lost my attention span for reading. I often don’t read books until I’m getting ready to go to sleep at the end of the day and I fall asleep quickly and then can’t remember what I’ve read when I try to revisit the book later. So, I’ve decided that I will try to read for 30 minutes to an hour in the morning. I will read mostly for pleasure. I “belong” to a number of book clubs – I put the quotation marks there because I rarely finish reading the book. Often, I don’t even start to read the book. But, this is a way for me to achieve some progress towards my first item while also maintaining and maybe even gaining in the knowledge area. I would love to be an active member of active book clubs and have fun and make friends while doing it! I’m sure I will continue my internet devotion as well.
Economic Security. This one makes me want to run and hide under the covers. Seriously scary stuff for me. This has actually been, by far, the MOST stressful part of my existence for the last three years probably. Part of it is that I am in denial about our financial situation and I keep things to myself so as not to have to deal with a lot of questions from my husband. Part of it is that we are both spenders. Not big spenders, but almost worse, we penny and dime ourselves into big, fat, deep money holes. So, I’ve taken step one, which was to go through the pile of stuff that I’ve had collecting in my notebook for months. And folks, it is scary stuff. So, I have decided to try to use Dave Ramsey‘s method for financial management. I have to start cutting my expenses and spending like crazy in the new year. I already try to bring in extra money through stipend programs at school, my second teaching job, etc., but I think I’m going to try to make better use of my time online as well. I will do a few affiliate things on this blog for things I believe in and trust and I may do some advertising posts here and there as well. I don’t like to do that, but if it is for things that I use and trust, then it doesn’t seem as bad to me. I promise not to inundate you with selling though – not my style at all. In addition, I may look into some online job that I can do to make some extra money. If any of you have ideas or things you have done that have worked, please share with me and my readers in the comments area. I am horrible at selling things on Craigs List, etc., so I don’t want to do that. But, I am good at typing, editing, etc. so maybe I can find some extra jobs doing that sort of thing here and there. I will need to make something happen beyond our normal income to make this work, but I really, really want to do it. It won’t be easy though. This is probably, by far, the most difficult of the seven.
Family happiness. I would say this is second hardest. It isn’t that we are “un”happy so much as we are disconnected. The way our lives have worked has created this distance between us. Whether that distance comes in actual geographic distance or in the way the three of us sit in the same room staring at computer screens rather than each other doesn’t really matter in the end. But, I must admit that I find it tiring to plan things and do them. That is truly a sad thing to type. So, I’m doing a few things to get the ball rolling in this department. One of my Christmas gifts to my husband is a DIY Dining Passport for our local town. We have a ton of great restaurants, bars and coffee shops locally, so when I saw this idea, I thought it was perfect. It can also be a way of controlling our eating out, but I’m not sure if it will work that way. My thought is to make a weekly date night where we go out to lunch or dinner at one of the restaurants. So, tonight I will be making the Passport book with some papers I have and giving it to him tomorrow. Hopefully it isn’t a flop. Second way I’m planning on doing this is a chore chart with my daughter with rewards being “experiences” – so weekly rewards are local free or cheap activities – going to the park for an hour, visiting the nature center, the indoor mall play place, etc. Monthly rewards will come with some cost – $10 or less per person – so a movie night or the Friday swim night or Friday Gymnastics free gym time, etc. Then Quarterly there will be larger rewards (if she does her chores regularly) – something like visit to Six Flags (we buy season passes, so it isn’t terribly expensive, but we do have to plan in advance for this) or the zoo that is an hour and a half away, etc. The expense isn’t necessarily the difficult part, but the time to do it. Which is what we really need to focus on. With those two things in place, I think we should be in good shape to start connecting more. I would also like to institute game night at our house where we invite another family or a friend or something over and have pizza, appetizers and play games once a month. We could even do this as adults once a quarter as well.
Spirituality has weaved itself through a few of the above items and it is something that I think I can enjoy in many different ways. But, I do think the community of church is important to me. I have found a church I very much enjoy, but I have not made much time for it in my life lately. So, that is one area on which I would like to work. I want to attend church every Sunday that I am in town (and prioritize it so I make an effort to be here when I can) and I would like to join a group outside of Sunday services to enjoy regularly to make connections and meet people. I think I will be more likely to attend regularly if I have people to talk to and sit with and enjoy before and after services. Right now, Mackenzie and I go, but I don’t really converse with anyone at all. And I find it a little intimidating to just go to people and start talking to them. So, the group thing will be a help. That will also hopefully help with item number one as well.
As I type all this out (sorry for the length), I realize how so many things in my Seven our interrelated and interconnected and how one thing really can do more than just that one thing for me. I am excited to embark on this journey in 2014.
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