Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Mid-Week Update on Living Intentionally

I decided that rather than waiting until next week, that I would go ahead and do a little mid-week update on how I'm coming with my goals for living intentionally.  I'm excited to share because it is actually going so well, much better than I expected, and I think a lot of it is because I have cut back on the amount of time I spend studying for school.  I know, that may not sound like a good idea, but let me explain.

As spring break was coming to a close last Friday, I began to notice that I was feeling a little down, like a depression was sneaking in, and since I didn't want to go there I did what I always do when I get "that feeling", I sat down and journaled and prayed through it. What I discovered what that it was school that was depressing me, having had a week at leisure and able to spend my days with Kate and engaging in activities that I loved, I wasn't ready to return to the long days of stress and frustration of school work, particularly math.  Prior to spring break, I was spending ten to sometimes twelve hours a day studying and doing homework. Some of that is to be expected, since three of my classes are online and the other is a T-TH class with at least 2 hours of homework each night. But since that class is algebra, that equates to at least double and sometimes triple that amount of time for me. My other subjects come easily enough, but math overwhelms me and because I don't do that well on the tests, I have to score high on my daily work.  In thinking through this, I realized that when I focus on math for more than 2-3 hours at a time my brain actually stops calculating, or at least, it slows down considerably. It's the quantity myth, you know, the one that tries to convince you that the more hours you study the better your grade will be.  For all of my effort I scored a lousy 78 on my exam, which thankfully was passing but not the grade I was aiming for. Sadly, I probably could have studied half that amount of time and still made the same grade, and realizing that I knew things needed to change. 

So I decided that this week I was going to handle my school work a little differently and see how things went, I figured if the plan didn't work I would realize early enough that I could make a few changes to ensure everything was completed in time.  So I sat down and mapped out all of my assignments and their due dates and roughly calculated how much time I felt I needed to spend on each one in order to make a grade that was reasonably acceptable to me and obviously passing. Notice I said "reasonably acceptable", because that is another fact I have come to terms with, C's get degree's, and while I hope that my grades will be higher, especially when it comes to math I'm fine with a C. Once I had that all mapped out I set to work, completing two assignments that I knew I could do in thirty minutes or less, both of which were not due for another week, but checking them off my list and knowing they were already submitted freed me up to concentrate on the harder and more time consuming assignments.  I am taking Texas History this semester, and while the class is interesting, I've discovered that I score higher on the exams if I just read quickly through the chapters and then the day before the exam I study the chapter notes the professor provides.  Waiting to review until the day before the exam means names, dates and events are all pretty fresh in my mind since the reading assignments are often spread out over a two to three week period.  I sometimes have a hard time remembering what I ate for breakfast yesterday, much less who is considered to be the "Father of Texas Education".  English composition is my favorite subject and I score well and with relative ease.  I can crank out an A+ essay in often half the time I can figure out an algebra problem, which is sincerely frustrating.  What this means essentially is that most of my time that is devoted to school is actually devoted to math, and that is a good thing, but aside from making sure I was allowing more time for it, I also wanted to make sure I wasn't spending too much time on it.  So I set a new daily goal, to close my books and be finished with school for the day by 4:00 p.m.  If I have a day when I have to be out of the house for an appointment that might stretch to 6:00, but no later, or I might get up earlier and spend a few extra hours in the morning on my assignments, which is what I did today.  I realize it's only Wednesday so I've only had this plan in place for three days now, but I'm already noticing a considerable difference in my spirit and I'm thinking, hoping that I'm on to something here and that it continues to work well.

Managing the amount of time I spend studying has allowed more time for me to relax and spend time with my mother and daughter or engaged in the things that bring me joy.  One of my goals for this week was to read Notes From A  Blue Bike: The Art of Living Intentionally by Tsh Oxenreider.   I think on Sunday I hoped to have read the first 5 chapters, but I loved the book SO much and because I arranged my days to allow for more time to read for pleasure, I am already finished!  If living intentionally is something that is important to you I HIGHLY recommend this book, in fact I'll be writing a review on it very soon.  I've actually now moved on to a book that focuses on another subject that is near and dear to my heart, self care.  The books is titled Nourished: A Search for Health, Happiness and a Full Nights Sleep and is written by a mother and daughter, Becky Johnson and Rachel Randolph.  I'm about a third of the way into it already and really enjoying it.   Managing my time better has also allowed me to spend time with my mom.  Monday was free cone day at Dairy Queen, and knowing how much my mom loves their soft serve cones, we took a little time out from our day to go for a little drive and indulge!  I've also been trying to listen to a few podcasts at night, which I really enjoy, but the past few nights I've fallen asleep, but sleep is a good thing, too!


Before I close I also wanted to one of my pictures from "Lent by Candlelight" which is one of my lenten intentions. Although I don't do it every night, I try at least a few times a week to turn off all of the lights once it gets dark and light my room with nothing but candles and a small string of soft lights that are hanging above my bed.  I'm still reading during this time, primarily on my Kindle, but I am off of the computer, not watching TV, the room is quiet and cool and beautiful, very relaxing!  And with that, even though it's 10:00 p.m. here I think I'll light them for an hour or two and do a bit of reading now!

Until then, take joy!

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Living Intentionally - My Goals For The Week of March 19-25


"How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives."
- Annie Dillard

After writing this post on Living Intentionally, I realized that I was actually slacking in a few areas, and I needed to regroup and set some goals.  Once I had a plan in place for ensuring I was being intentional with my choices, it occurred to me that it might be useful to hold myself accountable by posting my goals and following up with my progress each week. I used the questions I mentioned in the post as my framework for establishing my goals,  making sure I am spending time with the Lord and in His word, spending quality time with the people I love, that I am doing small things each week to work toward my goals, and making sure that I am setting aside time each week to engage in activities that bring me joy.  And with that, here are my goals for the coming week.

1. Begin Each Day in the Word and In Prayer. 
My original intent during Lent was to participate in this bible study but somehow I never managed to get started.  I'll confess, I've become a little lax with my quiet time in recent weeks, which is the foundation for everything else in my life.  Is it any wonder that I've been feeling a little down lately?  So my goal for this week, it to see if I can catch up, I KNOW, it's two weeks of reading, but the devotionals are usually fairly short so I think I can do it!

2. Spend Quality Time With the People I Love
This one is a no-brainer because I spend a LOT of time each week with my daughter, so that will be easy.  But so much of my relationship with my mother is about taking her to her doctor's appointments and to run errands, and while I enjoy our time together we don't spend a lot of intentional time together engaged in fun activities.  So this week I am going to look for something that we can do together, maybe even before or after one of her appointments that is fun, or maybe even something we can do here at home.

3. Spend My Time Productively and Working Toward My Goals
I'm going to make a HUGE confession here, I spend WAY too much time engaged in social media, Facebook in particular, and it is a HUGE time waster.  There are so many things that I would rather be doing, like reading a good book or watching a movie or cross-stitching something pretty, but I never seem to be able to find the time.  But the truth of the matter is I have the time, I just waste it getting lost on Facebook and Instagram.  I had a Twitter account but I deleted it just last week, and while I don't feel the need to delete my other accounts, I definitely need to seriously consider the amount of time I spend on them. Aside from the other things I want to do it also often intercedes what needs to be done, and that is really just shameful. 

4. Spend Time Doing the Things I Love
If I can take care of #3 then this one should be easy, but in order to be intentional I'm going to list some specific goals:

- Begin reading my new edition of Bella Grace.  This magazine is one of the little splurges I allow myself whenever the latest edition hits the newsstands.  I used to spend a LOT of money on magazines, but now I limit myself to two a month, Country Living (British Edition) and The Simple Things, which are both published monthly, while Bella Grace is only published about four times a year. I usually set aside a little money here and there so that by the time the next edition comes out I am able to purchase it.  They bring me so much joy, but if I don't set aside the time to actually read them then it's really a waste, and on my budget,  I can't afford to waste anything!

- Watch a favorite movie. I'm not sure what I'll watch, but I'm going to set aside a couple of hours on Monday night to watch one.  I start back to school on Monday, blah! Spring break REALLY spoiled me and I'm I'm SO ready for summer now!  But I must be diligent and finish this final half of the semester well!  Watching a movie on Monday night will be my reward for being studious!  Right now I'm thinking I might watch Miss Potter, one of my favorites, or maybe begin the second season of Poldark.

- Read a book.  If you're like me I have a self-made library right here at home.  I've purchased a number of books for pennies on Amazon that are in perfectly good condition.  I justified purchasing them because of the price, but it's still money wasted if I never read them.  This week I am going to read at least 5 chapters of Notes From A Blue Bike: The Art of Living Intentionally by Tsh Oxenreider.

And I think I'll stop here.  I was going to add "make time to cross-stitch" but with this being my first time setting specific goals I think I need to start small and see how it goes!  If you were encouraged by my post on Living Intentionally then I hope you will enjoy this new series and follow along and encourage me in my efforts! For now, being that it is Saturday night and with a lovely Sabbath awaiting me, I think I'll begin now in my intentional efforts and perhaps watch a movie or read a book, something completely delightful!

Until then my friends, take joy!

"Live every day with intention"


Save

The Delightful Dozen - 10

1. How Living in Italy Changed My Idea of Minimilism

2. What Every Daughter Desires to Hear From Her Mom

3. Why I Stopped Keeping Up with the Joneses

4. 8 Beauty Lessons We Learned From Jackie Kennedy

5. 6 Practical Tips To Free Yourself From Your Phone

6. How Free Play Creates Emotionally Stable Children In An Unstable World

7. 8 Ways You Can Help Save The Bees

8. 11 Things Worth Doing the Old Fashioned Way, No Matter How Many Fancy Gadgets You Own

9. How to Quiet Your Mind For A Simpler Life Even When You're Busy

10. Simple Everyday Tips for Slow Living and a Longer Life

11. The Truth Behind Spending Too Much Time On Facebook

12. My favorite song from the Beauty and Beast Soundtrack, How Does a Moment Last Forever?

Monday, March 13, 2017

Living Intentionally


intentional (adj.)
an action performed with awareness; done deliberately, consciously and on purpose.

The concept of living intentionally is something that has become very important to me in recent years, as I suppose it is for many of us as we grow older. Not that being intentional with our choices is something that is acquired with age, but life does have a way of pushing us along in our twenties and thirties that often overshadows the things that are truly important. Being intentional touches every part of my life, from the activities I engage in, to who I spend my time with, right down to what I eat and wear. And while I wish I had realized the need to be more considerate with my choices earlier in life, I'm happy to have discovered my error and to be able to begin to make the changes that are right for me.

For most of my life I was a bit of a “fly by the seat of my pants” kind of girl, awakening each day to embrace whatever life held for me.  As a stay at home wife and mother, I was blessed for many years to not be burdened with much more than than doing laundry and cooking meals. When Kate started school and we decided to homeschool, that did require planning and took up a large amount of my time. But while I devoted myself to being disciplined with her education, I continued to let the rest of my life unfold at will. 

Over the years I played with various ideas and formats for planners from time to time, the latest pictured, right. But in the end I really saw no need for one, or even for planning for that matter. I kept a printed calendar on the refrigerator for keeping up with appointments and outings, but most of my days held no specific agenda.  In fact, the very idea of a planner and strict routines did not appeal to me.  The  thought of doing the same thing at the same time day in and day out bored me. I found it constrictive and refining. I was too much of a free spirit for that, I wanted to be open to spontaneous outings and unexpected adventures, even if they seldom occurred. I made it my goal to be ready at any moment for life to whisk me away, and planning for life felt like tying myself down.  I am not really sure when I developed my aversion to planning, but I do recall suggesting an outing to a former boyfriend once, who immediately checked his planner and "penciled me in".  Perhaps if he had not done so right in front of me it would have been less affective, but it left me feeling like just another "to do" on his list that day, and I vowed that I would never cause anyone to feel the same. And yet in spite of my complaints I did find that without a plan, things were often overlooked. While I was good with planning for school and appointments, very often I found myself looking up at the clock at 4:00 p.m. and realizing I had no idea what I was making for dinner. Or walking into the laundry room to discover that the load I had put into the washer earlier in the day had never been moved to the dryer.  I would come across something fun to do on the internet or in a magazine and then forget to put it on the calendar or lose the article because I had no dedicated system for organizing such things. As open as I longed to be for adventure, it frequently passed us by for lack of planning.

Part of my problem with the idea of planning and lack of organization was perfection.  It's a battle I have fought all of my life.  There was always something about every format I tried that I didn't like, whether it was the layout or the color, all the things I desired just never seemed to come together.  As a result, I spent hours making my own forms and calendars only to grow tired of them shortly after.  I even abandoned a few because I thought my handwriting was sloppy. It's hard being me! :) Perfectionism also created an "all or nothing" mentality that played against me. There were so many neat things to do, but since we couldn't do it all then I often opted for nothing.  It's a crazy scenario, I know, but hopefully I'm not the only one who has ever struggled with this, so maybe some of you understand? 

Since moving back to Texas and adjusting to a major life change my perspective on a lot of things has obviously changed as well, including my views on planning.  For one, though I don't live in regret, I wish I had planned for being left on my own one day, and had gone to college after high school and got a degree that I could now be falling back on.  I don't regret the choices I made regarding marriage and having children and being a stay at home mom at all, I just wish now that I had delayed that a little more and made sure that I could take care of myself.  I've always been a bit reactive rather than proactive, and this is one area where that has been tested.  And yet, I've learned so much about myself because of it, and I am smart enough to realize that in spite of my lack of planning, God still has one! ;)  But of all the lessons I've learned or rather, I'm still learning, one of the most important is to let go of perfection and my "all or nothing" mentality. Just because I'm not able to have some of the things I want right now, like my own place, doesn't mean that living here with my mom is bad, either.  She needs me, and I am happy to help.  It's not always easy and it isn't perfect, but it's good.  Realizing all of this is what set me to thinking about living more intentionally, which essentially means planning.  But it's about so much more than planning for the things you want, it's also about knowing what you don't want, as well. Now that I'm on my own and will be for most likely the rest of my life, one of my current "intentional" choices :); I've had to make new goals and begin to plan for a future that with God's help and the Holy Spirit's direction, will depend upon me.  I've had to ask myself what is important, what do I feel called to do with my life, where do I want to live?  All questions that I wasn't prepared to be facing this late in life, but that need answers none the less.  And when I dare to think big and ask myself what my dreams are, sometimes I get discouraged. Because right now I'd love to just be able to fully support myself, so the thought of ever being able to travel to Europe seems impossible.  But I will never give up on the hope, while holding it loosely at the same time.  Because even if I am never able to make that trip, that doesn't mean that life here in Texas is not a good life.  As Gus once said to his Lori-Darlin', "Life in San Francisco is still just life."

So if you're still reading after all that, I want to highlight a few of the most important things I've learned over the past year.

- Being intentional with your choices on a daily basis creates the life you intended.

- Being intentional takes courage, because it often goes against the status quo.  You have to decide what is right for you and then be committed to sticking to your decision.

- Start with small intentional choices, such as looking at your daily routine and at the things you are spending your time engaged in and ask yourself a few questions:

- Are you spending time alone in God's word and in prayer?  
I'm not preaching here, but God is not about religion, He's about a relationship, and if you think about it from that perspective it makes sense. No other relationship in your life developed without intentionally spending time together.  It's the same thing in your relationship with God. 

- Are you spending quality time with the people who matter the most to you, or, are you more  engaged with your "friends" on social media?
Again, good relationships develop by spending quality time together, face to face.  

- Aside from what is necessary, are the activities you are engaging in productively moving you toward your goals or serving others, or, are you just wasting your time?
In my life that means going back to college, I'm currently in my second semester. But I also spend a lot of time reading inspirational books, listening to motivational podcasts, my latest craze, as well as volunteering in my community

- Are your choices authentic, or are you conforming to society or even to your friends and family?  
This is where courage comes in, because society and even your friends and family may not always agree with or support your decisions.  In the end you have to do what you believe is right for you and follow the direction that you believe the Holy Spirit is moving you in.  Live for an audience of One.

 - Are you setting aside a few minutes or even a few hours each week for self care, actively engaging in activities that you enjoy? 
I know that in caring for my aging mother, her needs could easily surpass my own on a daily basis, and they have at times.  Some weeks are better than others and when we have a week when she has several doctor's appointments and other needs, I have to remind myself that this is "just this week".  But I've also learned to set boundaries at times because my mother likes to get out a lot and I'm more of a homebody.  It's ok to say no, or to let others know when you are taking some time off.  But unless it's an emergency you need to stick to that as well, otherwise they won't respect your down time.  With that, I take time every day to visit favorite blogs, cross stitch, crochet, or watch an old movie, and I LOVE British television! You should schedule time for fun into your week, even every day if you can. Even what I refer to as "mindless activity" is OK if you keep things balanced.  Getting lost for a couple of hours watching Netflix can be a good way to unwind.  But unless you're sick, getting lost for a couple of days is probably not the best idea.

And finally, don't let perfect stand in the way of good.  I've started listening to a few pod-casts recently and I heard this while listening to Episode 1 of Happier With Gretchen Rubin, and it really hit home for me.  I may never make that trip to Europe, but since I don't know that for sure, what's to stop me from dreaming, or even planning my trip? Maybe I'll even visit a travel agency and get some brochures?  And in the mean time there are lots of day trips I can take and places I haven't seen right here in the USA that I can plan for as well.  And just because I don't have my own place right now doesn't mean that I can't plan for it by looking at ideas on Pinterest or in magazines. I could even begin purchasing a few things here and there so when the time comes I'll already have a lot of the things I need.  It helps me so much to think that I can do things today that will help me to eventually reach my goals and dreams.  While I'm dreaming about my own place I'm making things that I can use right here where I am and then take with me when I move.  And while I may not be sipping coffee in a quaint little sidewalk cafe in Rome, I can name five coffee shops right here in my own home town that I've been dying to try!  It's all about perspective!

So I hope that you will be encouraged as I share my journey with you.  It's so easy at times to be discouraged and begin to think we will never reach our goals or see our dreams fulfilled. But it serves us well to remember that our future is based upon the choices we make today, which is why being intentional with those choices is so important!

Until then, take joy, my friends!
Save
Save

Monday, March 6, 2017

The Beauty of the Home

I've been collecting poems and quotes and phrases about the home and home keeping for a number of years now.  Even though I am currently living with and caring for my mother, I still try my best to make this house our home, which isn't too hard since this is the same house I lived in as a child.

Someday it is my hope to publish a small book on seasonal living and home keeping, and that is another reason why I collect these.  I posted a number of them at another blog that I kept for several years, Life in the Little Nest, and I have them archived in my files for safe keeping.  I was perusing them last night when I realized that I should be sharing them here, and so I sorted through and found a few of my favorites which I'll be posting over the next several weeks and months.  With that, I want to begin with this one, which is a personal favorite.

The beauty of a house is harmony. 
The security of a house is loyalty. 
The joy of a house is love. 
The plenty of a house is in children. 
The rule of a house is service. 
The comfort of a house is in contented spirits. 
The maker of a house is God Himself, 
the same who built the stars and made the world. 

 ~ Author Unknown

Isn't it just lovely? So touching and sweet!  It would make up beautifully in cross stitch, maybe I'll see what I can come up with and perhaps begin over Spring Break, which is next week, I can hardly wait, I need the rest!  Until then I have a major math test this week and an essay that is due, so I'm not sure how much I'll be able to post.  I'm looking forward to summer when I can, hopefully, devote more time to this little space.  I did discover a wealth of other lovely poems, recipes and resources tucked away in my archives, so I may rely on them heavily for awhile until summer!  And speaking of, the temperatures are supposed to reach 86 here today!  We practically skipped winter this year, and I'm not sure Spring will fare any better!

Until then, my friends, take joy!