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Five Minute Friday – Better

I am joining the Five Minute Friday community on this first community post of 2019! It probably isn’t an accident that this week’s prompt is “better”.

I am a perfectionist. No one would know that from watching my behavior. I am constantly making a mess, leaving messes and having to fix mistakes I’ve made. But, most of those are problematic because of my perfectionism. I often won’t do something because I know I won’t be able to do it perfectly. That means that nothing gets done and the problem or the situation gets worse. So, I have to learn to embrace “better”. It is the perfect response to perfectionism.

I preach this to my daughter and to my students, but I often forget it myself. I have seen what can be done through incremental improvements. In fact, most things won’t improve at all without incremental improvements. Small steps lead to big trips. So, by being a little better each day, we can become the person we’ve only dreamed of being. By focusing on doing better with our actions – whether they be choosing healthy foods or exercising regularly or writing regularly – we will improve. The difficult part comes in the wait. Patience is often difficult to hold on to while we are only getting slightly better day-to-day. We (well, at least I) want to see the impacts right now! We don’t just want to get better each day, we want to get great immediately.

This year, I’ve chosen “less” as my one word. And one of the ways I will use that word is to focus less on big changes and instead move to just be slightly better day-to-day. Better at taking care of myself, my home, my family and doing my work. I’m not going to be perfect. I’m not going to be the best. I’m just going to have to settle for better and realize that God didn’t make me to be perfect. He made me to live life in His grace and forgiveness, but strive to be better – to try to live as Jesus lived. Not because I can live as Jesus lived, but because trying to live that way – making decisions based on those principles – will make me a better person. Ever-so-slightly better.

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Independent Five Minute Friday

Five Minute Friday is on a break this week, so I’m doing one independently. I’m going to use my Word for 2019 as my prompt – Less.

In 2019, instead of looking for more in my life, I’m looking for less. As I look around my home, my calendar, my life in general, I realize my More at Forty goals has got me way too much at fifty. I have too many things. I have too many obligations. I have too much food in my fridge and freezer and pantry. I have too many books. I have too many pets. So, although I won’t be changing the name of this blog to “lessatfifty.com” it is tempting. So, what does this mean?

Well, first it means doing some major decluttering of my home and my calendar. I have been decluttering for a while now, but I must admit that I do it with a bit of reserve. I get rid of some things, but hold on to others even though I don’t use them or want them because of some obligation I have to others or some idea I have of myself. I am often the same way with my schedule. I will get rid of one thing, only to add two others because of some form of FOMO. So, now I need to get serious about both my things and my schedule.

Our society is so focused on getting more, having more, showing more. I’m ready to seek less, have less and show less in 2019.

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2019 One Word – Less

Kind of ironic that my blog is named “More” at Forty and I’m choosing my one word for 2019 to be “Less,” but I think it makes sense for me. Maybe I should rename my blog, “More at Forty and Less at Fifty”. I have come to the realization that I need to do something to give myself more space for rest and recovery and fun and relaxation and enjoyment. But, to do that, I need to have a lot LESS scheduled into my life and a lot LESS stuff to move around, take care of, clean, and deal with. I have been reading about minimalism and I realize that my mind craves space to think and reflect.


I have spent so long feeling like I needed to be something more or do something more that I am constantly exhausted. Today I realized that I am often striving to be someone I don’t even know or like, but that others think I SHOULD be. I am constantly seeking approval from others and it is exhausting. So, the first thing I will be looking for less of is approval from others. I am going to focus on my own approval. What do I approve of for myself? What do I want for myself? And that, my friends, will be my focus. I am tired of wanting to please others all. the. time. It is exhausting. And usually disappointing.

I am also going to be looking to have and do less. As I look around my home, I notice that we have so much. And a lot of that never goes to its intended use. I have so many books that I have never read and still I go to the library. Why have all the books? I also have piles of papers from students (the semester just ended and there is lots of grading to be done). Why have all the grading? Most of them will not learn anything from my grading. They have either learned from the process or will simply not learn. So, why have it all? I am stuck with it now, but moving forward, I realize neither me nor my students need all this grading. Why have so many clothes? Why have so much camping gear for our once a year (maybe twice a year) trips? Why have so many glasses for three people? So many bowls? So many plates. The volume of it all is overwhelming when I think about it. We don’t appreciate it or use it and love it. We simply have it. And having is no longer enough for me.

I am sure that this commitment to less will be hard to do at times. After all, I am a person who is constantly suffering from FOMO and I spontaneously buy things often. I often feel “need” when really it is simply “want”. And that want isn’t even something that exists beyond that first burst of good feeling after purchasing or getting something.

I look at photos of simple, minimalist homes online and I immediately feel comforted. I feel calm. I want that in my everyday life, not just when I’m looking at things online. I also want to give my daughter a better idea of what it means to be comfortable and calm. I can already see in her this need for “more” constantly and I want to stop it before it gets to be something that is so difficult to change.

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Five Minute Friday – With

Joining the linkup over at Five Minute Friday this week. It is the last one of 2018. I am hoping to participate a little more regularly in 2019.

“With”. It is a small word that has big meaning. This has been a rough couple of months in our little corner of the world. I live in Chico CA, next to Paradise and near Concow, where the Camp Fire ravaged a majority of those cities. We are now six weeks out from the fire starting, about two weeks out from its end and the impacts are being felt all over. Our smallish city (90,000 in a rather spread out area) has taken on a new population of fire victims that number in the 10s of 1000s. We have FEMA centers and insurance tents and a Red Cross Shelter at our fairgrounds that has a bunch of RVs and trailers that people are now calling “home”. When the fire first happened, people in Chico were welcoming and giving and patient. But, as time has worn on, that spirit has been dampened a bit. As our roads have gotten more crowded and lines have gotten longer and patience has worn thin and the holiday stress has taken over, people may be “for” the Camp Fire victims (they don’t wish them harm by any means), but they aren’t as much “with” the Camp Fire victims. They don’t want to suffer along WITH them. This idea of being “for” people or causes is strong in our society, but it becomes a little more unique to find people who are willing to be WITH those people or causes. We feel comfortable sending along our donations. We feel good about volunteering here and there to help out. But, when it comes to actually sitting or standing WITH the people who need help, it becomes harder. We are busy. We have our own stuff going on. We want our own space.

So, now the true test of our community begins. As we move forward and need to decide where to put FEMA trailers (we’ve already rejected them being put in an area near me because the “community” doesn’t want more traffic and there are limited “services” like stores and such – this, I think, is true of anywhere in our city now), will we be WITH those who need homes or we will view them as separate from us, where it is US vs. THEM and who should be valued more (or equally)? I think we will be asking these questions for many, many months to come. I hope that we will remember that we are all one community and we are here WITH them, dealing with this disaster of an unprecedented level. But, we may just decide we are FOR them instead and will look for ways to help that do not impact us in a way that means sacrifice and discomfort.


Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash
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Countdown to Christmas 2018

One week is all there is left before Christmas 2018.  We don’t have a tree.  Our Elf on the Shelf has only moved a few times.  I’m not feeling terribly festive or joyful.  I’m not sure why.  It just hasn’t seemed like much of a holiday season this year.  We live in the community next to Paradise, CA where the Camp Fire ravaged an entire city.  I can’t say that it has personally impacted me much physically, but mentally, I’m just not feeling like celebrating much this year.  Every time I am out and about, I hear stories.  My Facebook feed is filled with friends digging through ashes at their former homes, looking for a few remnants to take to their new “homes” (many are still in hotels or trailers or sleeping on couches).  And although there are many stories of resilience and selfless giving and joyful reunions with animals, there is still an entire community that no longer exists in our midst.  

I feel the excesses of our lives so much more acutely this year.  I see the piles of things that barely get touched other than to move them from one location to another.  I feel guilty for having so much while others have nothing.  I feel even guiltier for not caring for what we have in a way that allows us to give to others.  But, most of all, I am overwhelmed.  I am overwhelmed with things to do, things to clean, things to organize, papers to grade, clothes to wash, more papers to grade, classes to prep.  And yet, none of it seems to be important anymore.  I mean, sure I want to go see lights and give my daughter a joyful Christmas, but then I think, what brings joy?  Presents?  Decorating?  Lights?  I feel like I’m jaded and I’ve jaded her.  I feel like I’m at the beginning of a Hallmark Christmas Movie, but there is no progression to the spirit of Christmas coming and rescuing us.  And the worst thing is that I don’t even know why I feel this way.  

So, the question is how do I focus on making this last week before Christmas be one of joy and celebration instead of just plodding along, getting things done (sort of) and feeling blah?  I think a Christmas Countdown Bucket List is in order!  So, here is my seven days to Christmas Countdown list:

  • Get a tree!  Even a small tree that we can put some decorations on and enjoy the lights twinkling will be better than what we have now.  So, that is the first order of business.  We have a permit to go cut one down, but it sounds daunting and difficult, so getting small one as a temporary solution should help.
  • Christmas Concert! My daughter is performing in the Winter Choir Concert at her school tomorrow.  So, we’ll make an evening of it.  
  • Christmas Caroling!  We will be caroling at a couple of nursing homes with my Girl Scout troop on Wednesday afternoon/evening.  
  • Mall shopping! I think one of the things I struggle with/miss is shopping during the season.  I know that sounds ridiculous, but I used to love going to the mall and seeing all the festive decorations and kids lined up to see Santa Claus.  I shop mostly online now and it is just not the same feeling to get a box on your front porch as it is to carry bags around the mall.  So, I think I’ll plan to visit the mall with my DD on Friday.  We’ll make a trip out of it – lunch and some treats are in order!
  • Christmas movie marathon! I had given up my Sling TV subscription just before Thanksgiving because it was all Christmas movies and I missed Murder She Wrote.  But, I think for this last week before Christmas, I will renew the subscription and put on the cheesy Hallmark Christmas Movies!  Glory to the predictable storylines and sentimental endings!  
  • Make Christmas cookies! I am not a baker, but I do love making some simple cookies and giving them to people.  So, I will plan to do that this week as well.  I think I will make some on Wednesday while my DD is at school and save one recipe to make with her before or after caroling that day.
  • Go see Christmas lights and get hot chocolate! Our local paper just put out its annual Christmas lights map this weekend, so we will take that and go see some lights and get some hot chocolate and listen to Christmas music!

There you have it!  Seven things to do during the last seven days before Christmas to try to get into the Christmas spirit.  Here’s hoping it works!  

What are you doing to get countdown to Christmas?  Is anything missing off of my list?

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Let’s get real for a moment

I was just going through my tens of thousands of emails (don’t mind my inability to throw things out, including email) and I realized that I subscribe to email lists thinking that I’m a different person than I am and then those emails come to taunt me with guilt and shame.  For example, I just had to delete an email from Whole New Mom, which I am sure is made up of lovely people, but whose list of recipes focused on Paleo and gluten-free and real food was just making me feel like my Wingstop dinner was a crime against humanity.  So, I unsubscribed.  Another email was telling me all the ways I should be marketing my blog to grow my followers.  And although I would love to grow my followers, I know that I don’t have the time right now to produce a giveaway that will be a bonus for my affiliate selling (which I don’t really do at this moment) and I didn’t have time to attend the webinar being offered.  I felt like a failed blogger.  So, I unsubscribed.  

I just want to be real with all those who are reading this.  I am overwhelmed and underproductive.  I would love to give you free gifts and sell you things that you would find useful, but right now, I can barely get a post written here and there that has a photo to go along with it.  I have a goal to eat at home more, but for that to be realistic, there has to be a lot of cans and boxes and jars involved.  I’m sorry that I can’t feed my child whole foods from the plant, but if I try to restrict myself to that, I will fail and end up in a McDonald’s drive thru before the week is over.  So, I’m being real.  I think we should all be real with each other.  If you have the time and energy to make only whole food meals and do giveaways with your affiliate sales, more power to you.  Literally, you have more power than I do on the internet.  But, if you are just out there, getting by day to day, looking for small wins, or just to avoid the huge losses, I’m right there with you.  

This week, I would like to focus on giving everyone out there, including myself, a bit of grace.  Let’s model God and forgive ourselves for our shortcomings.  Let’s stop looking at how we can be “better” at things and start celebrating how we’re already doing well.  Did your child have a meal today that involved a fruit or a vegetable?  Win!  Did you post something on your blog or call a friend or family member to say hi?  Win!  Did you do a load of laundry and actually get it put away before the day was over?  Win!  Did you feed your animals?  Win!  We are all doing things to help our households, ourselves and our neighbors here and there.  So, let’s celebrate those small victories!  

Five Minute Friday

Five Minute Friday – Still

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What an appropriate prompt as I post on this blog for the first time in a long time.  I am “still” here!  I am “still” struggling to find time and ideas and motivation to write on this public space, even though at times I have loved it and found comfort in it.  I am “still” being hard on myself for never sticking with things in my life that I set a goal or make a commitment to do.  I am “still” struggling to keep my life on track and my home organized.  But, I am also “still” being a mom to a little girl with a heart transplant, working a full-time job and another part-time job, leading a Girl Scout troop (who are not Brownies and Juniors) and keeping a home (just barely).   I am “still” looking at a dining room table piled high with things to deal with and put away instead of being a lovely place to eat our meals together.  I am “still” looking at a work bag full of papers to grade.  I am “still” looking at a calendar that is packed with too many things, none of which I don’t want to do, but all of which make me feel tired to think about.  I am “still” eating out too often and trying to find the magic words to create a life of peaceful routines and energy to do it all.  I am “still” missing my mom, who passed away two years ago (Kate’s post today really brought that back).  I am “still” feeling like I could do so much more and so much better in life, but I “still” don’t know exactly how to do that.

So many things change, but so many things “still” remain.