Thursday Thumbs Up

Thumbs Up Thursday #22 – Focusing on the Positive


Or, as some might say, ignorance is bliss.  And sometimes I feel like I have way too much information to maintain optimism.  But, this is Thumbs Up Thursday so I’m going to focus on the positive and give some thumbs up today.  Despite the Great White Shark nipping at my heels…


Hallmark Movies and Mysteries Channel  Seriously, if I created a channel, this would probably be it.  I mean, I might choose some slightly different movies and I would probably have some Golden Girls on there, but overall this channel is like my entertainment Mecca.  It has Murder She Wrote, Diagnosis Murder, Hart to Hart and movies that are right up my alley as well.  I feel like it is my entertainment comfort food.  And I’ve been in need of serious comfort food lately.

hallmark movies and mysteries

Google Calendar  I have decided that I have a slight problem with planners/calendars/lists, etc.  I am constantly trying new things.  The amount of money I have spent on planners thinking that they were going to change my life could probably buy us a new car.  But, let’s not think about that.  I have settled on Google Calendar as my go-to online planning source.  I still have a calendar hanging in my kitchen so others know what is happening and I still carry around a planner, but I rarely look at it.  Google Calendar sends me reminders, automatically adds Meet-up events into my calendar, adds Facebook birthdays and events into my calendar.  It is frigging fantastic.  I still miss things, but it is much less likely if I put it in my Google Calendar and actually have the reminders set to happen.  My frustration right now is that I can’t get it to work right on my phone, but I’ll work on that.


Management Monday – Focus on Seven Edition

Focus on Seven Button Design
My new button for my Focus on Seven Project!

There it is – my button for the Focus on Seven in 2014 project.  I’m very excited about the project and the button!  🙂

I am excited about it being New Year‘s Eve tomorrow.  We aren’t doing anything special at all.  My hubby is leaving for nine or ten days early on the first, so we can’t really be out late and I don’t have a sitter, so we will be at home with the four year old.  I’m not really big on going out for New Year’s anyways, although I always love all the cute ideas on Pinterest for parties.  When I was younger I always got to invite a couple of friends for a sleep over and we would watch the TV countdowns and go outside and beat pans and make noise at Midnight.  It will be a few years before my daughter is ready for that, but I have fond memories of those times.  I think my friends’ parents were always excited to have their kids go somewhere else so they could go to parties, but my parents just liked staying at home and didn’t mind three screaming, laughing little girls around.  I guess maybe we’ll be those parents.  Anyways, I’m excited because the next day will be 2014 – a fresh start with my Focus on Seven campaign.

I have already started working on my Focus on Seven.  I found this post about using Google Calendar to make sure you are prioritizing your days and weeks accordingly and I’ve color coded all my Focus on Seven items in my Google Calendar.  I figure I will be able to look at the colors on my calendar and see whether I’m hitting on all Seven in a week or not.  I think it will be really helpful.  I have also gone through my Excel spreadsheet of income and expenses – it isn’t pretty.  We are not even close to breaking even right now.  That is temporary as one of the bills I’m paying off will be done after February and once that is done, we’ll be a bit ahead, but I do need to make the next two months work.  I also have a few other things I need to catch up on in the coming months.  So, I’m trying to find ways of saving and ways of making money.  I have decided to go back to couponing.  I was once doing well with it but fell off the cart and I think it is time I get back on it.  I have also decided to do a little more work on Swagbucks and MyPoints to try to get those gift cards coming.  Every little bit helps.  So, I am already making progress on the project despite it not yet being 2014!

I am also going to do a Pantry Challenge with Good Cheap Eats (she starts one on January 1) to try to really save money on groceries this month.  With my hubby being gone the first ten days of the month, it should be easier (he doesn’t so much like the leftovers or the creative use of pantry items), but it will be tough towards the end with him home, me back teaching, etc.  But, we’ll give it a shot.

So, that is where I am this eve of New Year’s Eve 2013.  How about you?


My 2014 Resolution Challenge – Part Two

New Year's Eve bonfire 2006
New Year’s Eve bonfire 2006

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
  • HealthPhysical 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
  • Spirituality 

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:

Click here to visit Motivated Moms.

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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