Five Minute Friday

Returning to Five Minute Fridays

This 20th day of November, I am rejoining Five Minute Fridays after missing the past couple of weeks.  And I haven’t just missed doing them, but I’ve missed being part of the community!  So, I’m glad to be back this week for another five minute write.  This week’s prompt is “Dwell” and I love the resources that Kate has provided for Advent season.  I just realized that our church’s Advent kick off event is this Sunday and I’m so looking forward to it.  It also gives me a chance to use this weekend as a “new” start.  Yet another “new” start…I need them often it seems.

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DWELL –

When I hear the word dwell, I can only think of homes.  We dwell in our homes.  And right now, my home is not really dwell-worthy.  I’ve been struggling.  I thought it had only been since our daughter was born six years ago, but earlier today I found a journal from 2001 (14 years ago for those counting) and it all could have been written this year for the most part.  I struggle with making my house a home and keeping up with the up-keep.  Always.  And it makes me tired.  I want to dwell in a place that I can sink into.  A place I can relax and enjoy and breathe a sigh of relief when I walk into it.  But, maybe it isn’t my home so much as me.  My home is often a reflection of where I am feeling.  If I am feeling in chaos and lost and wandering than my home is a mess, my schedule is a mess, my finances are a mess, etc.  If I can get myself grounded and find some order in my life, it spills over to everywhere else.

So, I think I need to stop seeking a “plan” or a “routine” and start seeking a grounding.  A firm place to rest.  A place to set my eyes and look forward, not necessarily by date and time, but by who I’m supposed to be.  By God’s plan, which doesn’t fit in a planner, but instead fits in my heart and my mind.  I need to know that my life well spent.  I need to feel that I am dwelling in the right place.  And that, then, will be reflected in my dwelling place.

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Well, there you go.  I do like that last couple of lines.

Dwelling

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A Quick Update – Back to School!

Well, today was Back to School day for my DD:

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I haven’t been posting here much lately for a couple of reasons.  First, we went away for the last four days with family and the internet was spotty at best.  Second, one of the exercises in Say Goodbye to Survival Mode: 9 Simple Strategies to Stress Less, Sleep More, and Restore Your Passion for Life was to list out my priorities.  When I did so, this blog was not on the list.  I didn’t think about it until afterwards when I went back to review them to set goals and realized the blog was not even on the list, so no goals were needed.

I am a little disappointed as I like the THOUGHT of blogging on a regular basis and forming a community and maybe even making some money from writing one day, but this made it clear that this is just something that is not important RIGHT NOW.  I do like that Crystal Paine (the author) talks about seasons of life and how some things just don’t fit with what you’re doing at THAT TIME.  It doesn’t mean I will never be a “blogger” in some serious way or that I can’t blog when I have the time here, it just means that right now it isn’t really something that is a priority for me.  It is kind of nice to see some things fall away that would stress me out (yes, even though I don’t have a ton of followers or a big demand, I would stress out about missing blogging days).  Blogging when I have so many other things to do is one of them.  Maybe when I get my routines down and time starts to become more available, I will be able to devote more time to it.  But for now, I’m going to aim to do Five Minute Fridays (because I love that exercise and that community) and Six Word Saturday  (because who can’t write six words?) and maybe one other day a week if I have time.

I haven’t found a lot of other things I can just let go of so easily, but I am working at making my classes manageable as far as grading and prep is concerned (trying to do a lot of front-end prep work right now).  I am also NOT volunteering to do things I might have done before because I realize that I need to figure out my schedule and time management and priorities first before I can start adding things in (even those things that are on my priority list).  If you’re curious about my priorities, here they are:

Family/Parenting:  Spending quality time together as a family everyday.  Includes: eating meals – breakfast and dinner together.  Game night once a week.  Family walks three times a week.

Work: Prepare and perform to provide my students the best possible experience both in and out of class.  Includes:  Be prepared!  Start each week with a clear plan for each class and time set aside for grading.  Being present in class.  Focusing on students – their learning and experiences in each class.  Use office hours for work projects.  Focus on advising, grading and Forensics projects.  Finally, stay on top of email!  Zero inbox every three days is the goal!  Respond, Refuse or Refer!

Health:  Get and maintain the best possible health to protect me now and in the future.  Includes:  Do regular check ups for medical and dental.  Eat right – healthy food and 4-5 meals a day.  Exercise – weight resistant/bearing exercise 5X/week and cardio 3X/week.

Finances:  Get all accounts in order/paid up or off and then maintain a budget and spending plan.  Includes:  Get taxes done for 2014.  Conserve money for only things we REALLY want/need. Question everything!  Meal plan to reduce food waste.  Do online points programs to make extra money each month.

Relationships: Establish and maintain relationships with God and good people.  Includes:  Attend church at least 2x/month or more (whenever not traveling for work).  Do morning devotional every day.  Do Bidwell Pres prayer list everyday.  Go out with friends at least 1X/month.  Send 5-10 cards each month to friends, family and coworkers.  Do friends trip 1X/year at least.  Date with my hubby 2X/month.

Life Management: Manage my household responsibly to have a clean, peaceful and enjoyable space, physically, mentally and spiritually.  Includes:  Do MOMS App for daily household duties.  Set up and keep routines that WORK!  Purchase only what you love and declutter all else.  Continue working on simplicity and minimalism in my home and life.

So, that’s not much, huh?

I did include blogging when I did my weekly time block planning (I allowed for seven hours – one per day), but that time block is not going to work unless I get my act together and do the things above.  So, there is blogging in my future – maybe pretty immediate future, but for now, it is not going to be done unless the other stuff is done above.

I will say that reading this book (I am now on page 83) is making reminding me how much I live my life in fire fighting mode.  I simply wait around for the three alarm fires to get so bad I can’t ignore them anymore and then I fight to put them out.  Exhausted after all the effort it takes to get the blaze out, I collapse in a mess and wait for the next three alarm fire.  I need to do some prevention now and make my life calmer, more satisfying and less exhausting.  It won’t be easy.  I’ve been living this way for a while now.  But, I’m looking forward to living a fire-free life!

So, that’s where I am.  You will see me on a somewhat irregular basis for a little bit (hopefully not long).  And when I am here, I hope to be focused on this space and better at writing, sharing and saying things that matter.

Tuesday Truth

Tuesday Truth

Today I’m starting a new weekly writing theme – Tuesdays I will focus on writing about some “truth” in which I have come to feel confident.  It is important to realize that I don’t often feel confident in truths.  I am a skeptic at heart – a questioner of most conclusions.  So, these will certainly not be Truths (truths with a capital “t”), but only small “t” truths that I have come to believe for myself.

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Being an older mom is tough.  First of all, the energy of a 5 year old and the energy of a 45 year old are not at all compatible.  Now, I understand that the energy of a 5 year old is not really matched by any adult’s energy levels, so 25 year old moms are also exhausted.  I think the difference is in the recovery.  A 25 year old bounces back.  Having a 5 year old is kind of like drinking too much – you have days where you control your intake, drink plenty of water, eat enough food to soak up the alcohol and all feels great.  Sure, you’re a little tired the next day, but you feel fine overall.  Then, there are those nights where you are ill-prepared, didn’t eat dinner, can’t find a glass of anything but liquor to parch your thirst and you overdo it.  The next day is hell.  But, at 25, it is really only part of the next day.  Maybe, for a REALLY bad night, it takes the whole day, but you’re feeling fine by the next night.  When you’re 45, it could be a week before you feel right again.  There just isn’t that resiliency you once had.  And, that, my childless friends, is what it is like having a preschooler.  And the bad thing is, you can’t just quit your 5 year old cold turkey and stay home alone for weeks on end to make yourself feel better.  Nope.  They are there.  Every. Single. Morning.  Greeting you with that crazy hair and requesting breakfast.  Sigh…

But, there is more to it than that.  OIder moms are like the tweens of the adult set.  We don’t really have anything in common with the 20-something mom set (other than we have a children), but we do not want to be grouped in with the grandmas because it is slightly insulting.  I say slightly because some of the grandmas I know are actually chronologically younger than I am.  But, that isn’t what I see when someone asks if my daughter is my granddaughter or asks if I qualify for the senior discount (seriously retail workers, I will ASK for the damned senior discount if I qualify, you don’t need to remind me that I look old enough to qualify).  I see MY mom.  I feel like I look 65 and I should be headed for retirement and a bingo game.  And I realize that I often look old and haggard because I just don’t take the time to care for myself – no makeup, hair pulled back in a really poor attempt at a pony tail that highlights the gray streaks in it, and too much time in the sun giving me age spots visible to all.  But, sometimes I’m just too hungover (see the first paragraph) to put myself together and be presentable.  Anyways, its hard to find a cohort group that I can relate to on a regular basis.

I am hoping that once Bean starts school I might find some more moms to hang with whom I have things in common.  If not my age, then other things.  Being tired (maybe moms of multiple children), not looking great, interested in TV watching more than going out on the town, and not looking to be impressed by someone’s house and/or organizational/cleaning skills.  But, until then, I’m stuck here in old mom land.  And sometimes that is a slightly lonely place.  I have my 5 year old to keep me company though and she doesn’t seem to care if I do my makeup, clean the house perfectly or get my hair colored.  She unconditionally loves me and for now, that is good enough for me.

That, friends, is my Tuesday Truth.  What about you – are you a young mom, middle-aged mom, an old mom or no mom at all?  Do you have struggles fitting in or finding your people?  I’d love to hear how others deal with this.

Feet - Juniper Lake

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Financial Fridays – From “Red Dread” to “Cred Bread”?

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The time has come to overcome procrastination and “rather not deal with it right now” and “don’t have the finances to deal with it right now” and just get ‘er done!  I am over being anxious and embarrassed and just plain tired when it comes to our finances.  So, I’m going to take the bull by the horns, buckle down and make this the summer of money woes be gone.

I don’t know exactly how this is going to work – or if it will work – but it has to get better rather than worse if I focus my attention on it for three months and really get my act together financially.  So, the three things I see as necessary to do at this beginning point is:

1.  Get a full and complete list of money owed, including (1) taxes, (2) meds and (3) past due items.  Prioritize and start paying them off one-by-one as money becomes available.

2. Get on a strict budget for the summer months.  Nothing extra without the money coming from somewhere other than our budget.  Beans, rice and basics is all we get this summer.  Every extra bit of extra money goes toward paying off debt, bills, etc.

3. Make extra money in any way possible and as much as possible, putting it all towards debt, bills, etc.

If I can do these three things and seriously be stubborn about it, I think I can end the summer in a much better place than I will start the summer (which is a pretty crappy place).

So, what’s the impetus?  Well, we had our debit card hacked this past week by someone who then spent about $1000 on it in one day.  And although the bank stopped it there and the money was back in our account as of this morning, it still made me realize just how totally unprepared we are for an emergency.  In addition, our renter for our condo that we own gave notice last month.  Luckily, they were able to rent it immediately and for slightly more every month, but if we had to go a month or two without that income, we would be in bad, bad shape.  And if anything goes wrong with the place majorly (e.g. AC or something) we have no money saved up for the repairs.  That is not a good place to be.  We don’t have a reserve, an emergency fund, a backup plan.  It just is not good.

So, the summer will be “get it together time” and the Fall will be “build it up (emergency fund) time” and then hopefully next Spring can be “save and plan time”.  I will be a much more secure and happier person if I can get all this financial stuff taken care of once and for all and feel like a responsible and stable person.

I will need some encouragement, I fear.  I will need some support.  I will need some straight talk – Dave Ramsey style – I assume.  I need to stop the “stupid tax” and start being as smart with my money as I am smart!  I need to move from this state of “red” in our finances that I dread to a place where I am a credible manager of our income – or bread.  Hence the title. Anyone with me?  Maybe we can ride this road to responsibility together?

Six Word Saturday

Six Word Saturday – Bloggy Edition

“Missing blogging – much to say.  Write.”

I have not been blogging.  I was doing well for a while with keeping up with it, but once I feel off the bloggy boat so-to-speak, I had a hard time climbing back on board.  I have a number of drafts I have started since my last post, but I can’t seem to finish them to my liking.  Part of it is, I think, my own lack of commitment.  I would like to blog, but I am not committed to it.  I have a lot to say, but I am not committed to saying it here.  I would like to write, but I am not committed to doing it on a regular basis.  Blogging always seems to go to the bottom of the to-do list (and sometimes even falls completely off of the list).

I have a lot of excuses.  Some of them good.  Some of them bad.  None of them are really sufficient for excusing me from writing here at all though.  I could have written.  If I had it prioritized, I would find the time and energy and topics.  But, I don’t have it prioritized.  So, I’m going to try to do that going forward.  I’m going to try to keep the writing at the top of my list.  Wait – I want to keep the POSTING at the top of my list.  No more drafts.  I will finish what I start and I will post it for all to see.  It may not be great every time, but it will be done and posted.

I am tired.  I have a long list of to-dos.  I have things to do around the house and things to do for work.  But, there is no reason why I can’t write something here everyday or so.  Something interesting, something compelling and something COMPLETE.

So, there is my six words for this Saturday.  What are yours?

Stray Thoughts Sunday

Stray Thoughts Sundays

Stray Thought Sundays

I’ve decided that Sunday is the perfect day to put together all of my stray thoughts from the week.  I feel like I have a number of stray thoughts each week and since I can’t seem to put together a complete post on any one of them, maybe I can put together a mash-up post of all of them.

This week there were a few things that caught my attention and interest…for vastly different reasons:

First, can someone explain to me how – in this day and age, with satellites, drones delivering pizzas, etc. – we can “lose” a jetliner?  And the news just gets more and more strange – this article reads like a plot from my old favorite, The X-Files!  Hiding in the Sky?

And, as a parent, it seems strange to me that a Mac and Cheese Festival is restricted to 21 and over.  It seems almost unfair to all those 12 and under Mac and Cheese fans out there…

A friend of mine shared the story of a follow-up to the infamous “Kitty Genovese” case in NYC – the one that established the theory about “the bystander effect”.  It seems there is a new book out that calls into question the reporting on that particular incident.  I have not read the book, but this NPR report is fascinating.  It seems like a bad game of telephone may have led to our current 911 system being created.

As a person who is aware of my constant lack of water consumption (but, hey, I drink a TON of iced tea – it is practically water, right?) AND my constant forgetfulness/confusion, I found this report on how much better your brain works after water consumption interesting. Luckily, I didn’t forget reading it, since I probably had not drank water before reading it.

We spend a lot of time looking at advertisements – print, online, TV.  When was the last time you saw one of those advertisements include a differently abled person?  I would guess it wasn’t very recent.  Katie Driscoll is trying to change that.  Dove seems to have captured the interest of the public in including “real women” in advertising, but this story moves beyond even that and captures my heart…

And finally, from shoes to coffee…TOMS, famous for their “buy a pair, give a pair” shoe campaign, has moved into coffee and water.  For every bag of coffee you purchase , TOMS will give a week of clean water to a person in need.

And those, my friends, are my stray thoughts for this Sunday!  Where are your thoughts straying this week?

Simplicity Sunday

Weekend Away…

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I am taking a weekend away from the laptop…well, mostly.  I am posting this to let you know that I am taking this last weekend before work begins again for the Spring semester to (1) celebrate a 2nd Christmas with my in-laws, (2) do some outdoor activities since the drought is making that totally possible in Cali, (3) enjoy the fact that I don’t HAVE to be on the computer much right now (since my life usually revolves around it).  I have opened my laptop for the first time since leaving home yesterday tonight at 10:30 p.m. and I plan to leave it closed until at least that time tomorrow – and may not open it at all – and then Monday we will spend most of the day on the road home.

Once there, I will be back in the swing of things – so expect a To-Do Tuesday post at the latest, but don’t be surprised if you don’t see something before then!

Hope you all are enjoying your weekend – especially the people around you!