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Five Minute Friday – Measure

Joining up at Five Minute Friday again this week. March has been a rough month for me and I can honestly say I’m glad to see it come to an end, but I’m also recognizing that April may not be much better. Today’s prompt for FMF is Measure. So, here goes:

How do we measure our lives. It is such an overwhelming task. We live for years and years and years if we are lucky and during that time, so much comes to pass. Good things, bad things, difficult things, impossible things, easy things, fun things, joyful things. But, how do we truly measure our lives? I started this blog ten years ago and my focus was getting “more” out of life. Having something “more” to show for my forty years. But, ten years later, I’m not even sure what that would look like. I’m not sure I would know if there was “more” to show. Because I don’t know what should be showing up, what I should be measuring.

We use a lot of measurements in our society. What do you own? What have you accomplished? How much money do you have in the bank? How many friends do you have? What awards have you won? But, do those really measure anything meaningful. I mean, some things measure meaningful things. Accomplishing things that help others or make the world a better place are good. Money is good if you use it the right way. Friends are valuable. But, how do you truly measure any of those things? Accomplishing one really meaningful thing may be better than accomplishing numerous less meaningful things. A small amount of money used well may be more meaningful than a ton of money used poorly or left in the bank. Friends can be deep and truly inspirational, but they can also be surface-level and actually decrease our self-awareness or self-acceptance.

I guess I will probably never have an answer to this question. But, I do know that God has set forward a meaningful life that can be measured in a meaningful way. We just don’t always have the tools to do that and we need to trust as we move through life. We need to look for opportunities to do meaningful things.

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My Broken Spring Break

Today has been great. It is my first official day of Spring Break and my husband and I dropped my DD off at Art Camp this morning at 9 a.m. and went to a leisurely breakfast at one of our favorite places in town. We then came home and did some catch up work we both had and then I went to pick up my DD at Noon from Art Camp. She wanted to eat downtown and get a book at our local used bookstore, so we did. It is a beautiful day after many weeks of rain and clouds and cold, so we ate outside and enjoyed the sunshine. We then came home and her friend came over and they have been playing independently and I’ve got a few projects done around the house and for work.

But, I am feeling a little sad because tomorrow morning I am driving away from town with a bunch of college students and going to New York for the remainder of my Spring “break”. My daughter will spend the week with my husband and his parents are coming up at the end of the week to go to a family friend’s funeral on Friday. I would love to be here spending every day in a leisurely way and seeing my in-laws and being there for my husband at the funeral of his good family friend. But, instead I am traveling and spending approximately 10 hour days at Hofstra University while many students compete in Speech and Debate. And I love Speech and Debate and the opportunities for travel it provides to me and my students, but when it cuts into my family time in such a big way, I start to feel the pull of home. Such is life. No one’s job is perfect and no one’s life is perfectly balanced. But, it still feels a little disappointing.

I am trying to approach it as a bit of a working retreat to get my life on track. I am not judging, so I have the days relatively open to getting things done (around providing my students meals, rides and advice, of course). But, it is always harder to get things done at tournaments than it would be at home. And every week I don’t spend with my DD feels like one I may live to regret. I don’t like to think about things that way, but I almost have to. I am trying to view it as my husband’s gain because he doesn’t get to spend time with her nearly as much I do, so this is good for them. I won’t be here to interfere with them spending time together.

My other goal while I am gone is to figure out what I can possibly do differently moving forward to make my life what I want it to be. It isn’t easy for me to figure out what I can do to make things change because I often feel kind of trapped in what I’ve become. But, I have to view myself as more of a caterpillar rather than a fully formed butterfly. Or maybe I’m a chryssalis since I’ve already lived my earlier life and hopefully I can figure out how to break out of where I’ve been and do a little more with what I’ve been given.

Life is a series of challenges. I am finally feeling ready to take some of them on before they come barreling down the road at me. I am ready to approach them first and preemptively deal with them!

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Five Minute Friday – Search

Oh my, how I have searched. I feel like my last decade has been spent searching. At first, I was searching for answers. What was cardiomyopathy? Did babies really have heart transplants and lead semi-normal lives afterward? What was it like to live in a Ronald McDonald House? Were we really going to be able to do all this medical stuff when we went home? Where was home going to be? Could we go back to doing all the things we had done before? Could we work? Could we send our daughter to school? It was an endless barrage of questions, some answered, some not.

After we came home, I began a search for normal. We had a place to live now, but what was our normal going to be like? I was back at work, but how could I predict if our baby would be healthy or not? How could I get it all done? How could we commute four hours for doctor’s appointments once every three months? How would I find other moms to hang out with when we had been away for months and months and none of my friends or co-workers had babies? Could I leave her with a babysitter? They would have to give her medicines through syringes and deal with a Broviak catheter in her chest. She didn’t sleep in a crib well, so they wouldn’t be able to just “put her down” to sleep. We wouldn’t be able to “put her down” to sleep either. Should we co-sleep? Should we have her continue to sleep in her pack n play like she did at the Ronald McDonald House? She could sleep on the couch next to us in her boppy pillow. Would we ever sleep again?

Once we got through that stage and found our new normal, my search began for myself again. And that search is on-going. I am happy to be a mom. I like my job as a college instructor. I am enjoying being a Girl Scout leader. BUT. Always, the but. Do I want to do 5Ks? Do I want to do crafts? Do I want to compete in something? Am I doing all I am meant to do? Am I ever going to be a mom who can keep the house clean? I think I need to make more money, but maybe I just need to spend less. Should we be living in a house instead of a townhouse? Should I really own six animals? Will I ever get all the laundry done? Am I a writer? Should I be a speaker? Can I reach more people through consulting and maybe make some more money along the way? Am I doing too much? Am I not doing enough? How will I know?

I am in the midst of the search for myself and my goals and what is meant to be. This week, I am trying a new planner I heard about on a podcast. The Rise Up planner by Moira Kucaba. When I heard about it, it spoke to me. I am one who struggles with staying positive, keeping track, focusing on the right things and having a vision for myself. This planner seemed like it might be helpful. I feel like I have zero vision for myself other than to get through it.

Well, I forgot to start my timer. LOL. This may speak to where I am right now in the scheme of things. So, I will let you know how this planner goes!

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Five Minute Friday – Influence

Joining up with Five Minute Friday on a Monday this week. It was a long weekend, so we went to my in-laws on Friday and I focused on getting my Winter Session grades done (which I did, other than late work, which I will be entering today and will be done with that before starting Spring semester tomorrow). But, I didn’t want to miss a Five Minute Friday so early in the year, so I figured, better late than never! This week’s prompt is “influence”.

Influence has taken on a whole new meaning in this age of electronic communication. I wrote a bit about this before in my post, “Do We Need A Following?” I have been reading blogs for a long time and I have noticed how many more people are describing themselves as “influencers”. There are lifestyle influencers, fitness influencers, parenting influencers, and the list goes on and on. But, what does this really mean? In a lot of cases, it simply means “salespeople”. But, I guess we feel better about being influenced than we do being sold things.

I think of “influence” as so much more than selling something though. Influence is the ability to change someone’s behavior or choices and like any other form of power, it comes with a lot of responsibility. That responsibility is often forgotten in the exchange though. We think of the person being influenced and we put a lot of responsibility on them. “Resist”. “Be aware and think before acting.” But, what about the influencers themselves? Do they have any responsibility to be ethical? I mean, I know we have laws that make people post when they are using affiliate links (so we know they are financially gaining from the clicks) and we have some expectations for the bloggers we read to be honest in their opinions online. We have always been sold things in our daily lives, after all.

But, the internet takes it to a whole new level. I worked in retail during high school and my first few years of college. I remember the uncomfortable feeling of having to ask someone if they were interested in pairing that sweater with some socks or getting a discount for applying for a credit card. That discomfort was from hearing my mom’s voice in my head every time, saying that if she was interested in those things she would have ASKED for them. My mom was not a retail fan. But, it made me consider whether I was actually asking them about the socks and credit cards to help THEM or to help ME (or our company, although we often got points for upselling items) and the answer was often ME (or our company). Every once in a while someone actually needed a pair of socks and didn’t realize we had them on sale, but that was really rare. That discomfort stemmed from not only my upbringing, but also the fact that I was looking someone in the face when I was asking. I could often tell when someone was pushing it to get the sweater alone. But, still, we were supposed to ask them about the socks. And maybe if they got a credit card they could go into debt to get them! The internet takes away the face-to-face. The posts are written with millions in mind and no one in mind. There is no indication of whether someone reading can afford the items listed or are struggling to just get through a day of meals. But, they chose to click, so aren’t they responsible? I’m just not so sure.

Some influencers are really responsible and honest and ethical. But, there are many out there who may not have considered what it means to be an influencer, but instead are focused on being a seller. Whether young or unaware or naive or purposefully uncaring, they just don’t think/care about the impact they can/will have on a large number of people. I am going to try to support those influencers (life Five Minute Friday) who have their readers at heart when they write their posts. They may sell things, but they do so in a way that recognizes their readers as humans and try to add value to their readers’ lives, not just value to their own wallets. It isn’t always easy to tell the difference, but if you read for long, it will usually become apparent.

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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.