Five Minute Friday

Five Minute Friday – Reflect

Five Minute Friday


Today’s Five Minute Friday is “Reflect” –

Right now, as the semester ends, I always take some time to reflect back on how it went.  In the past few years, I have been so stressed out that it is always painful to reflect back and realize all the things that slipped through the cracks.  The things I wanted to do, planned to do, tried to do and failed.  But, this semester is a bit better.  It wasn’t perfect, for sure.  But, overall, I feel like the classes were better.  The students were more engaged.  The assignments were a TON better.  I have things that I definitely want to change moving forward, but there is a lot I want to remain the same.  So, that is a nice feeling.

Reflecting back on each semester is important.  Although each semester is vastly different because the students are different, there is a lot to be learned by looking back and taking stock.  It isn’t always easy.  Some semesters I would prefer to just forget.  Forget the mistakes.  Forget the students.  Forget it all.  But, I feel good that it isn’t true of this semester.  I am still overwhelmed.  I am still behind.  But, not nearly to the extent I have been in the past and I feel like I have a grip on where things started to falter and I can start looking at how to fix that.

One thing that I’m attempting to do more in my class planning is really focus on the learning objectives for the class.  I think sometimes I get distracted by concepts in the textbooks or things that the students get focused on and I lose sight of what is truly important.  So one of my reflections this semester is going back and categorizing every reading, every assignment, every concept by learning objective.  I still need to get rid of some things in order to have enough time to allow the students to work on problems related to the material and have discussions and I think the best way of doing that is to narrow things down through the filter of the learning objectives.  We’ll see how it goes…now and next semester!


Simplicity Sunday

Simplicity Sunday #2 – Purge, purge, purge

declutter-summer-2013-2Inspired by this project over at Our Little Apartment (that is her trunk as she carts off a bunch of stuff from her house), I am going to spend eight weeks starting a week from today (I’m leaving for five days today, so starting now would not make much sense, although sometimes I feel like I have enough stuff in the car with me that I could probably do this while on the road) doing the same thing she did – get rid of 10 things a day, every day, for eight weeks.  Seems simple, doable and really finite.  Instead of just starting with a general idea of needing to get rid of “some stuff,” I will be forced to decide on ten things each day to get out of the house.  I can trash it or give it away, but it must be out of the house within 24 hours (sometimes I think that I will freecycle things or sell them or something else, but it never happens and here I sit with a bunch of stuff still in my house, still in my possession.

Simplicity to me is all about things being easy.  That is one reason why I love my idea of “go-to gift” for kids and “go-to salad” for potluck.  My life needs to have more “go-to” in it and less “wtf do I do now?” in it.  And one thing I am in desperate need of is places for all of our stuff to “go-to”.  Our stuff tends to have no specific home, so the go-to place becomes where ever it is easiest to dump it.  On the floor, in the middle of the garage, in our car, in a closet…and never the same place twice.  We are also pilers.  There are piles everywhere.  Piles of paper.  Piles of clothes.  Piles of toys.  The piles are never ending.

Well, this morning, our dryer quit working.  It has been making a horrible noise for weeks now, but it was still heating up and drying.  But, now it doesn’t produce any heat or dry clothes.  Obviously, this does not positively impact my financial fitness regime I’m trying to institute.  But, then I saw one being offered on Freecycle that works – the timer doesn’t work, but I could live with that.  So, I’ve contacted him and if it is still available when we get home, he will have it for us.  BUT we have no way of getting the old one out or the new one in to our garage because of the piles out there.  Sigh…it may be the impetus to finally take care of these piles for good.  This is not the sole inspiration for taking this purging challenge, but it is a good example of why I need to do it and do it now!

I realize how much stuff I have that I absolutely don’t need.  I lived in a one bedroom suite at the Ronald McDonald House for six months, without any real issues.  I mean, sure, there were things we would have liked to have had at times, but overall, the simplicity of it was nice.  Especially during such a stressful time.  And right now, I’m feeling almost as stressed, so I think the simplicity is needed.

I will report back on my progress, but again, this won’t be starting until 8/19 because I’m out of town this week.

Simplicity Sunday

Simplicity Sunday #1 – The Great Purge

Representative of my life...
Representative of my life…

So, yeah.  That was my entry way closet a few weeks back.  And I think of it as representative of what my life feels like right now.  Way. Too. Full.  Of stuff.  And some of the stuff is good stuff – like I’m using that big pink, plaid purse right now and I love it for summer.  That soft blue blanket laying on top of the pile is awesome on a chilly night.  There are coats and sweaters hanging in there that are awesome to wear as well.  But, there are also a bunch of DVDs (up on top there) that we never, ever, ever watch.  We don’t even have a DVD player hooked up to our TV anymore.  Since I took that picture I have cleaned out some things and it does look better.  I’m not going to show an “after” picture because that isn’t the point of this post.  The point of this post is that most of my life looks much more like that picture than the “after” picture (and in fact, the closet has even started to look a bit cluttered again already).

I am not a neat freak by any means, but a house in total chaos drives me a tad bit crazy.  And I would say that my house has been in a state of at least partial chaos for the past six years, but especially in the last four and a half years (since becoming a parent).  And that partial chaos is always on the tipping point of becoming total chaos – and it often does.  There are many causes for this chaos that I can identify – lack of routines to get things done around the house, a four year old who likes to do a lot of different things in a day and owns way too many things to choose from, somewhat unpredictable scheduling or traveling for work (which isn’t unpredictable, but still kind of throws me off), my hatred or avoidance of certain cleaning duties, but most of all, it is that we have way too much stuff!  And we are pilers.  All of us are pilers.  We pile things here, we pile things there and when we need to use a space where there is a pile, we move the pile somewhere else.  And often, those piles go missing or things in the piles go missing.  And that means purchasing more stuff to replace the stuff from the piles.  It is an evil, evil circle of pain.

In addition to all this physical clutter, I also know that I’m living with a serious level of emotional and mental clutter as well.  I believe that I may have some slight PTSD issues going on from my daughter’s illness, heart transplant and second open heart surgery.  I also think that I have a bit of an issue with focus, in that I totally lack it.  I easily lose interest in things.  My job is one that requires many, many different things to be done all at the same time and it is tough to keep track of all of them.  So, I am constantly struggling with finding things that have slipped through the cracks and dealing with them at the last minute or after the last minute as the case may be.  So, I am often feeling torn in different directions and unable to keep track of all the things to do and deadlines, etc.

So, one of my things that I will be focused on in this search for MORE is more space, more peace and more predictability/productivity.  That will mean a big purge of stuff, a big purge of guilt and sorry and shame and more, and figuring out what is going to work for me organizationally speaking for work.

Watch this space on future Sundays for some specific ways I accomplish these goals!  I’ve already started the “stuff” purge – slowly but surely, bags are leaving the house.