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10 Changes for the Last 155 Days of 2019

As of today, there are 155 days left in 2019. We are well past the half way mark, with 210 days gone for 2019. I feel like 10 changes is realistic for 155 days. Some will be easy. Some will be more difficult. All of them will be not only good for me, but good for the world (or at least the community). So, here goes my 10 Changes:

  1. Shop local. This will be good for numerous reasons. First, I have been really bad about the easy, breezy Amazon Prime purchases this past 210 days. I buy too much or spontaneously. Plus, Amazon is a wonderful innovative company, but it doesn’t always treat it’s workers great and it doesn’t give much to our local community. So, I’m going to try to raise our local tax base, support local business owners and really think about my purchases before I make them. This will include my holiday shopping. So, it will have an impact.
  2. Decrease my single-use plastic waste. I have been feeling more and more committed to this (note it has been a feeling, not necessarily an action) over the past few months. My family uses a TON of single-use plastics. I know I won’t be able to end it, but if I could just significantly decrease it, I would be happy. I’ve been looking at bulk shopping (we have a few places here where you can bulk shop for things like shampoo and conditioner and soaps) and will be doing that as soon as I use up some of things in my house already. Which are numerous. This brings me to…
  3. Use it up! Seriously. I have food items, cleaning supplies, body wash, lotions, soaps, books, scrapbooking stuff…the list could go on and on. And I don’t use hardly any and then I will actually purchase new stuff! Why??? I can’t explain it. But, I do. Compulsively. I have shampoo in my shower, but I bought a tester bottle at CVS two weeks ago and then bought a bottle of shampoo at Trader Joe’s this week. Why? Who knows? Again, those impulse buys get me every time. So, I’m going to do a thorough inventory of my house and commit to not buying anything new until I use up what we have.
  4. Read it or Rid it! I have so many books. That is an understatement. I have books in my room, the hallway, the garage, the living room, and more. I have not been reading much in the last decade and I go to the library pretty often. The books have just been sitting there on my shelves. I took two pretty big loads to the thrift store today and I’m going to make a commitment to only keep what I truly feel is worth keeping and get rid of the rest. I can get whatever I want to read at the library at some point, so I don’t need to have all these books in my home.
  5. Meal plan. I NEED to meal plan. We are so bad at not using food in our refrigerator and freezer. We eat out way too much, pay way too much for food we don’t eat, and we often have no idea how to make a meal out of what we have in our house. So, meal planning is a must. It ties in to #3 – Use it up. I buy stuff and then end up throwing it away because we don’t have a plan to use it. So, I’ve joined Kitchen Winners at Jessica Fisher and I’m going to try to really meal plan effectively.
  6. Digital Detox. I am on my laptop way too much and I tend to overuse my phone as well. So, I’m going to really try to digitally detox this Fall. I’m going to set firm hours for being online. I haven’t figured out exactly how it is going to work (one dark day a week would be nice, but seems a little beyond possible with my job and travel, etc.), but I’m going to put some limits on myself and commit to following those limits strictly. I didn’t take my laptop on vacation last week and it was pretty spectacular. I used my phone a little too much, but it kept dying, so it wasn’t too bad on most days. But, I’ve been bad on my laptop since returning home. And much like my purchasing decisions, a lot of it is not really necessary or helpful.
  7. Engage in my community. I used to be really active in the community when my DD was a baby. We went to a ton of local events and participated in a lot of fun things. But, since she started school, our participation the community has really fallen off. We don’t go to our Farmer’s Markets on regular basis anymore. We don’t do the downtown events when they happen. We skip museum events. I want to re-engage in these events for a couple of reasons. First, I feel like being involved in our community is important. Second, I feel like going to things like the Farmer’s Markets and museum events gives us access to people we wouldn’t necessarily meet or talk to in our day-to-day lives and those conversations can be important. In addition, it is often very fun! Once it is habit, I crave doing those events. But, when you fall out of habit, it seems like a lot of effort to expend.
  8. Do less. Better. This is my teaching philosophy for Fall 2019, so why not make it a life philosophy? I want to do the things I decide are important enough to do better. I’ve been floating through life not really doing well at anything. I now want to narrow my efforts to a few things and do those really well. What will those things be? Parenting, Home Management (including that meal planning, but also decluttering and keeping house better), Teaching and Coaching, and Leading Girl Scouts. That is not a small amount of things. In fact, it is a lot. Which is why I need to get off the laptop and phone and focus on doing them.
  9. Be hospitable. We are getting our backyard redone. It should be completed by the time school begins and we will have grass, an area for a patio table and plants, etc. I want to host people in our home and have dinner and play games and generally be hospitable. Our house is not great. In fact, it is mostly pretty ugly and worn. But, our backyard will be lovely, so we can use that until the rain comes. And maybe even then if we are strategic.
  10. Plan and implement. Last, but not least, I want to use my planner and actually implement the plans I make there. I am notorious at using my planner to write plans down and then ignoring those plans. I was better at using the planner and calendar in the Fall and I forgot way less things, but I would still not follow through with my daily plan and priorities. This next 155 days, I want to plan my days (at least a bit) and then implement those plans instead of just forgetting them. It sometimes feels good to abandon the plan, until the next day comes and I have even more things to do and still the things I didn’t implement.

So, there you have it, my 10 Changes to Make in the Last 155 Days of 2019. Let’s do this!

Uncategorized

Be More…active – 5 things I am going to DO in 2017

I’ve decided to embrace this blog’s title more actively.  I will be doing a series of blog posts in 2017 that focus on the idea of being more of something.  The first focus is going to be getting more active.  I’ve realized just how totally sedentary I am as a human being.  And my daughter is now also becoming sedentary.  And I want her transplanted heart to last as long as it can, which means keeping it and her healthy.  We are a tech family, so getting off the couch and out from behind the screen is a bit of a struggle.  I often have work as an excuse.  And in all fairness, I do have a load of grading to do, but I don’t have to be online to do all of it.  I also have this blog, but I don’t spend that much time on it each day that I need to sit on the couch, staring at a screen for hours and hours.

So, how am I going to get more active?  I’m thinking broadly here.  So, it isn’t just “getting more exercise”.  That is so generic and not very helpful from past experience.  So, I’m focused more on getting off the couch and DOing things.  I’ve picked five things I want to do each and every day:

  1. Walk the dogs.  They are bored and overweight and need some good exercise.  I often use the weather as an excuse, but really, unless it is raining torrentially, there really is no reason not to get them out and walk them around the block.  They love walks and are so happy when they get one, even if it is short.  But, I would like to take them on longer walks as well.  But, just walking them every single day, even short ones, would be a step up.
  2. Cook meals in my kitchen.  We eat out way, way, way too much.  And often it is simply because I’m too lazy to get up and cook something in the kitchen and clean up afterward (see number three).  If I did cook meals in my own kitchen each day, we would be healthier, save money and also eat tastier food.  Most of the time, when I do cook, everyone likes what I make.  But, I find it a struggle and I think I’ve identified for so long as a “non-cook” that it has become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
  3. Do basic clean up in the house each day.  I’ve been pretty good about this lately.  But, when school hits and I’m gone for hours at a time and I have grading to do and other prep, I often will just forget about the basic daily cleaning.  I love this relatively simple list of daily chores to get done.  I need to ensure that the basics get done daily so I feel better about the house and don’t get bogged down in clutter and mess.  I function much better all around when my house is at least tidy.
  4. Actively play with my daughter.  This is a biggy.  I don’t do nearly enough with her on a daily basis and she spends way too much time behind a screen.  I’ve noticed that she is not as willing to sit and work on a craft or a puzzle or a coloring project for as long as she used to be.  She is still pretty good about reading for a time each day, but I want her to be creative and well-rounded.  I want her to color and craft and build legos and play outside and do…well, MORE!  So, each day, I will take at least a few minutes – 10-15 if that is all I can fit – and I will play with her.  A game.  Outside.  Buidling things.  Coloring.  Each and every day.
  5. Get active in my community.  Each and every time I see a homeless person in our city, I think that I should do more.  When I see commercials about kids and families who are dealing with food insecurity, I think I should do more.  When I see groups in our community doing good (beyond good – in some cases amazing) things, I think I should do more.  Yet, here I sit.  I could go to the homeless shelter and volunteer for mealtimes.  I could figure out how to volunteer at my food bank.  I could give blood.  There are so many simple things I could get involved in, but I sit on my couch and make excuses instead.  I don’t need to do something each and every day, but I should be able to.  Even if it is just having some homeless gift bags in my car to hand out with simple items or some gift cards for McDonalds or something so they can get a meal.  There are easy things to do.

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So, there you have it.  My five things to be more active in 2017.  I believe that humans are controlled by the Laws of Motion.  And my body is at rest when not actually doing my job.  I need an outside force to nudge me along and I’m hoping this blog will do it.  I will be trying to check in on my various “be more” lists in the new year, so look for that!  I think having a simple list – Walk dogs, Cook meals, Clean up, Play and Community will make it easier for me to check things off each day.  In fact, I’m going to go and write the list in my planner so I don’t forget!

Simplicity Sunday

Simplicity Sunday #14 – Five Reasons to Visit Your Local Library

This week is focused on a simple resource you probably have in your community, but may not be utilizing.  Your public library.

Summer 2014 Library Reading Log
My DD’s Summer Reading Log at start of Summer 2014.  We got another yesterday for this summer!

My DD and I then went to our county library yesterday.  We used to go the library once or twice a week before she started school, but we’ve not been going as much in the past year and a half or so.  I’ve missed it.  I love the library.  I have talked about it in a previous Sunday post (over a year and a half ago) and nothing has really changed.  I realize that some people have not been library goers for their entire lives (my mom started me quite young), so I thought I would share my top five reasons (there are so many) to visit your local library and check it out:

First, it is FREE!  No strings attached (other than meeting return deadlines).  No free today, but your credit card will be charged in four weeks and for the remainder of your natural life.  Every library offers slightly different services, but our library has movies, audio CDs, ebooks, book clubs, activities for kids, etc.  It is worth checking out what your library has to offer.

Second, it is quiet.  Well, relatively.  If you need a place to escape to where you don’t have to purchase a $5 coffee and listen to the person at the next table talk about their upcoming visit from in-laws on their cell phone, this is a good spot.  You can’t eat and drink in the library at ours, but they have a great grassy area just to the side of the library that makes for good picnicking and some libraries have rooms where you can eat and drink.

Third, it is constantly changing.  Much like the local bookstore, but without the price tags, our library is constantly changing up the books on it’s front tables.  It has art work that changes every few months.  It offers new selections constantly and often has new activities to try out (we have a knitting group, a book club, a chess club for teens, family movies on Sunday afternoons – with popcorn).  I am always curious to see what they have and what they have going on.

Fourth, and this is parent-specific, your kids can look at books, play with toys and use a computer without you having to worry about buying it later! BONUS:  Other adults are there too! I have tried to teach my daughter that we don’t need to buy something every time we go to a store.  And we often don’t.  But, it is always a battle.  At the library, when she finds a book she really likes, I can feel good about saying, “let’s get it”.  I can also feel good about bringing it back when she has read it and will never look at it again!  Our library has blocks, felt boards, puppet theater with puppets, etc.  It is air conditioned, so in the hot months, it is a great alternative to the park.  They have coloring sheets and crayons and pencils.  And usually, you can find a friendly adult to chat with while your kids play.  It feels safe.  It feels comfortable (I’m not constantly fretting about what she can and can touch).  It is enjoyable without costing a penny.  I can sit and read a book myself, or look at magazines, or even work on something and she is in a safe, cool space.

Fifth and most important, it helps to keep much-needed public spaces available in our communities.  When the big bookstores came to town, a lot of libraries struggled to prove their need in the communities.  Funding was cut.  Hours were cut.  And if people don’t use these services, demonstrating that the community supports and NEEDS these services, the cuts will continue.  We are lucky to have a supportive community, so our library is actually expanding hours back in the Fall (they had made significant cuts a while back).  Public spaces that offer resources for everyone are important to me.  Although I can afford to go to Barnes and Noble or shop online at Amazon to buy my daughter books (we actually buy quite a few at thrift stores, because reuse, recycle, etc.), I want every child, no matter what their financial circumstances to be able to access books and literacy programs and a space that is inviting and encouraging of reading.  I also want adults who do not have computers in their homes to have access to those resources. My parents used the public library computers for a dozen years, never choosing to have a computer in their home.  Many seniors and homeless individuals use the computers at the library to get access to needed resources.

Public spaces can be scary.  After all, they are so, well, public.  Homeless people do use the library much more often than Barnes and Noble (although, sometimes they are in the cafe there).  And to some people, that is a bad thing.  But, to me, this is reality.  And facing the individuals in our communities who are not thriving hopefully will help us remain a community rather than being divided by social class.  We have prided ourselves on NOT being a society based on class division, but we have created these consumerist walls of division between those of us who can participate in that consumerist lifestyle and those who can’t/don’t.  I think that doing more to create community through our public spaces is important.  And if homeless people abuse the public space, they should be removed (and hopefully provided with the help they need, although that is another area of funding that has gone to the wayside in recent decades – our mental health services have collapsed, but I will leave that for another post), but just because they may not be dressed as nice as we are or smell as good as we do or have their hair styled does not mean they don’t deserve to be recognized and served as the humans they are.  I like that the public library provides a space for all of use to coexist.

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

Thankfulness Challenge

365 Days of Thankfulness – Day 10

Well, I’ve made it through to my middle of the week, day off (tomorrow is a day off for Veteran’s Day).  I am still far, far behind in grading.  I am hoping to press through tonight and get some things done, but now I’m reconsidering.  Maybe I’ll go to bed and get up early (the dog will wake me up early no matter what it seems – the time change has not sunk in for her).  I just am not feeling terribly productive this evening and a morning work session seems much more likely to result in some valuable accomplishments.  But, before I go to bed, I need to do my Thankful post for the day!

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Today I am thankful for my DD being in a wonderful, caring elementary school.  I had a hard time deciding on an elementary school.  Our neighborhood school was a failing school, so we had to Form Ten out of that school into another.  I missed most of the charter school application periods due to my being unprepared (or due, perhaps, to God knowing better what we needed).  I went to my DD’s current school to be put on the waitlist for Form Tens (it is not a charter, but it is not our neighborhood school) and the woman said, “Well, you lucked out.  We just had our last wait list person say no, so you’re in.”  I was shocked, but I really felt like it was just meant to be.  I didn’t try for any other schools.  And it has been great and only seems to be getting better.

For example, her First Grade teacher found out about her extreme fear of going to the office when she is sick.  So, when she got sick at school, she let her sit with their volunteer aid (Grandma Dixie – another great aspect of the school…last year, she had Grandma Nalette as an aid) in the rocking chair in the back until I could get there.  So sweet and understanding.  This week, one of the Kinder teachers who does service projects with her class each year messaged me to ask if it would be okay if her class makes Bean a quilt (each student is decorating their own block for it and the teacher is helping to sew them all together) to take to doctor’s appointments and to have if she has to be in the hospital anymore.  How sweet is that?  In addition, she has the opportunity to do school plays, she has a great Daisy Girl Scout troop and I love that the school looks like my old elementary school!

So, I am thankful for my DD’s elementary school.  It is hard nowadays to find the right school (I have witnessed many disappointments among my friends and acquaintances).  But, I feel like we have truly found our place and I am so very thankful!

Thankfulness Challenge

365 Days of Thankfulness – Day 6

This will have to be a relatively quick post tonight.  I had the Great Debate tonight (which was pretty Great – if you’d like to see what I do, you can watch the Youtube video here – it starts about 10 minutes in and I am the emcee for the evening).  It went very well I think, but I was exhausted, should have eaten dinner before going and the room was really warm which accentuated my exhaustion and gave me a headache.  But, I felt great about the event, so overall I was pleased with the evening.  Unfortunately, I came home to a sick DD.  She got her flu shot today, so it may be that, I’m not sure.  Her heart rate was only 61 in the pediatrician office today (it has been very low, which is why she ended up in the hospital a while back).  Tonight is was 120 and she was running a fever.  I know that sometimes the flu vaccine can cause a little bit of a reaction, so I gove her some Tylenol, she ate some tummy crackers (Saltines) and went to bed.  I’m hoping it is a reaction and she’ll be good in the morning because we’re supposed to do Nut Sales at Lowe’s for Daisies (Girl Scouts) tomorrow and she has been looking forward to that forever!  We shall see…

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Tonight, my thanks is for something a bit strange, but related to the Great Debate tonight.  One of the women in the debate had lost her husband about eight years ago in a random violent crime incident (he was ambushed because he was a police officer by a young man who thought he was making a political statement and said during trial that he would do it again given the chance).  The woman was a great representative of the pro death penalty side of things, which I don’t agree with as a matter of policy.  But she personalized the issue without being overly emotional.  She pointed out the difficulty of knowing the person who commited the crime was guilty and admitting guilt, but still was forced into a system that required him to go on trial.  I definitely found it to be compelling.

So, tonight, my thanks is for all those police officers who go out and put their lives on the line each and every day.  Because even if there isn’t a random attack on them, there are those who would take an officer’s life without a second thought.  There are those who place officer’s in harms way because of their own personal conflicts.  I know that not every police officer is a “good guy”.  That is obvious from the recent news.  But, most ARE good people trying to do a good job and protect people.  And now they not only have to go out and face those committing crimes, but they also have to face increased scrutiny and distrust and resentment and frustration based on the behavior of others.  That has to make an already difficult job much more difficult.  Much more.

So, thanks to those who do their jobs despite the negativity.  Those who treat others with respect, even when they aren’t being treated in the same way.  Those who truly live up to the words “protect and serve”.  There are so many of them who aren’t making the headlines because they are just doing their job – day in and day out.  A job that requires them to be ready to put their lives on the line for strangers at any time.  I am thankful there are those willing to do that job.  May we find a way to show them the respect they deserve and may we find a way to get rid of those who shouldn’t be in that job to allow those who are meant to be there to do their jobs better.

 

 

Thankfulness Challenge

365 Days of Thankfulness – Day 4

Well, today has been an interesting day.  Some good, some bad.  But, since I’m focused on thankfulness, I will focus on the good in this post.

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Tonight, I am thankful for my job.  Sometimes my job is overwhelming and I’m definitely tired a lot of the time. I’m behind in grading and I think that “just” teaching, rather than having to teach AND coach speech and debate would be so much easier and simpler.  Then, I have a night like tonight.

We are getting ready for one of our major on-campus events this week.  This event, called The Great Debate, brings together community members and students in a public debate on a controversial public policy issue.  Tonight, I was able to sit in on a meeting between one of our community members (an 81 year old, former professor at our University) and one of my students.  The community member was amazing.  At 81, he is still serving as an expert witness in many very public profile cases (our topic this semester is the death penalty).  He had so many great stories and so much information and he has had the most amazing experiences and we got to sit and chat with him and listen to him tell us stories about the cases he has served on (Oklahoma City bombing, Boston bombing, Nightstalker case, and the list goes on and on).  He started our University’s CLIC program, a wonderful program for students interested in the legal field that recently celebrated its 45th anniversary.  He is working on a couple of cases right now, at 81!

I want to meet up with him for coffee every week and just listen to him tell me stories!  I realized tonight that I get to meet fascinating people with an array of backgrounds and that I have been able to develop a foundational understanding of the legal system, our political system, our educational system, etc., etc. all because of participating in and coaching debate.  I also listen to things like NPR that lend me a deeper understanding of random things than I might have if I just listened to music in the car, etc.  And I’ve watched my fair share of documentaries and such.  But, most of my knowledge comes from debate.  And I am so thankful that I’ve been able to do this activity for so long and in such a way that has given me so many friends, my husband (!), so much knowledge and such a variety of individuals with whom to interact.

So, today I’m thankful to be a speech and debate coach, despite all of the extra work it is, I feel like I get so much more out of it than I have to give to it.