Thursday, February 28, 2013

Goals Update

Here we are at the end of February, and I thought this would be a good time for an update on those goals that I set last month.  As a reminder, they were:

Simplicity.  Finding peace in the everyday routine and the doings of life.

Health.  Fine tuning fitness, food and my mental well-being.

Creativity.  Exploring new creative outlets while reconnecting with my favorites.

Relationships.  Being present and encouraging others.

Simplicity has probably been the most challenging for me.  I’ve mentioned a few times lately that if I could make a task challenging, I did.  This was not intentional.  My one noticeable improvement in this area has been picking up the family room before bed.  When I wrote that particular focus area, it sparked a lot of discussion around my sisters.  Some of them pick up their house in case firemen come in the middle of the night.  I didn’t realize they were so concerned about that.

Health has been up and down.  I am making much more of an effort to get my 4 ½ cups of produce every day.  Salads during the week at lunch seem to be working pretty well.  It’s on the weekends that I go back to my usual not eating a vegetable until dinner habit.  As far as running goes, I am up to 6.5 miles on my long runs.  My goal is to get back to 8 miles.  I’m sure that my sister who is a runner is reading this and shaking her head.  She wants me to run a half marathon.

Creativity has been a lot of fun.  I have finished a couple of crafting projects and have more planned.  For part of Lucy’s birthday present, we are doing a mom-daughter sewing class together.  I can’t wait to learn how to sew!  So maybe her present is more about me….although she did ask for a Michaels gift card for her birthday.  I haven’t made enough time for writing, but I discussed that yesterday.  I do want to add that I slept great last night.  Writing always helps me to get rid of those extra thoughts.

Relationships have felt a bit neglected.  I don’t know if this is reality or me being hard on myself.  Part of that is this frantic feeling lately.  Sometimes I just want to retreat.  Hopefully with gaining some quiet time, I will feel reenergized in connecting with others.

The other lingering question is have I felt more awake?  Yes and no, I suppose.  In those moments of feeling frantic and rushed, the answer is no.  When I am able to slow down, I do feel more present in my life.

If you have set goals for the new year, I hope they are going well.  I hope you aren’t giving up with some setbacks.  I certainly didn’t expect instant success.  This is a journey.  And those goals aren’t set in stone.  They can be adapted to what works for me and what is realistic for my life. 

I look forward to updating you again in a couple of months!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Quiet Time

I haven’t been sleeping well lately.  And this isn’t meant to be said as a complaint, more as a statement of fact.

I get so tired around 8:30-9 pm that I run into bed.  I have mentioned before that I turned into my dad and go to bed super early, haven’t I? 

The problem is that I wake up around 2-3 am, and my brain turns on.  After about 1-2 hours of overthinking every situation I encountered the previous day, I fall asleep again for another hour before the alarm goes off.

For a while, I thought it was Girl Scout cookies.  Not eating them, but dealing with selling them.  I read a post today that changed my perspective a bit.  I realized that my sleep difficulty is part of a larger issue of feeling frantic.  And selling the cookies was part of feeling frantic.

To me, feeling frantic means feeling consumed by life.  This is about the to-dos and other obligations.  This is about trying to make time for my family and myself.

This is about not having enough quiet.

I need lots of down time, remember?  I am like a small child.

When I’m on my run to bed every night, I give the blog a fleeting thought.  I should write a post.  But I’m too tired.  I think not creating that down time with writing is wreaking a little havoc.  Writing gives my brain a little time to unwind and shut down.  Quiet those 2 am thoughts.

I haven’t been making enough time for quiet.

And I feel frantic.  I forget things, I procrastinate, I rush.

Those quiet moments throughout the day, those moments that we aren’t filling with to-dos, obligations or technology, those keep us centered.  Those moments help me to refocus so I don’t feel frantic.  I am then able to really focus on my priorities.

Today was a short day for me at work.  Since I have been home, I have had to quiet several to-dos.  I need time to simply be.  So I sit at the computer, wrapped up in a blanket and put my words down.  I hope that those thoughts finally leave my head and allow for some quiet.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Rearview Living

A couple of months ago I was rear ended.  Everything was ok-people and cars.  It was the second time I had been rear ended in a year.  The first time was due to icy weather.  This last time was due to naughty dogs in a car.

After the first accident, I was pretty shaken up.  It was difficult for me to drive in bad weather.  I was constantly checking my rearview mirror, bracing for what I thought would be the impact of another car hitting me.  Eventually, the paranoia faded.  It also helped when winter turned to spring.

I didn’t have that same paranoia after this last accident…or so I thought until a couple of weeks after the accident.  There I was again, checking the rearview mirror, bracing myself for another impact.  I even started moving the car up a few inches, as if those few inches would create enough margin between me and a car that could not stop in time.

It was really becoming a problem because I would dread being at stop lights.  I was constantly checking out the rearview mirror.

I wondered what that was about.


Even though it was a false sense of control.

I thought that if I checked my mirror, I could tell when a car was going to hit me and adjust accordingly.  Perhaps avoid an accident, or at least minimize the damage.

I was stuck on this idea that I actually have control over that.  I’m not talking about defensive driving.  I’m talking about the idea that I can actually prevent bad things from happening.

Fear takes over again.

I’ve written before that faith is the cure for fear.  My personal cure anyway. 

I needed to let go of the idea that I could prevent an accident.  I needed to let go to that false notion that I could control someone else’s vehicle by moving up a few inches.  I needed to stop driving in my rearview mirror.  I needed to let go of this false notion of control.

This seems to apply to my life in general.  I get so caught up in the fear, the bracing for impact, that instead of moving forward, I look backward, trying to predict the next step.  I pretend to soothe myself with the idea of control.  There is no control.

I can have faith.

Life can change in an instant.  There is no warning in a rearview mirror.  It simply happens.  No predictions.  No control.

So what can I do?  I can stop looking in that rearview mirror.  Life (both the good and bad bits) will happen regardless of if I can see it coming.  

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Sparks of Holiness


A while back I was forwarded a newspaper article from my parents.  I’m assuming it was from my dad because it only said “read this.”  Dad is to the point.  Mom may have written “how are you” first. 

The story was about a Holocaust survivor reflecting on his life.  I was stunned.  I am always amazed that in the midst of unspeakable tragedy, people survive.  And not only do they survive, but they can reflect on their experience and still see good in this world.

In the article, Isaac Neuman (the survivor), recalled stories of helpers.  He calls them sparks of holiness.

This was my favorite bit from the article.  He discussed a question asked about the overall atrocity of the Holocaust.  

People ask: "Where was God?"

Isaac believes God was in the sparks of holiness that radiated through the darkness, in the people who maintained their humanity in the brutality and misery and stench.

There is good and there is evil in the world; that cannot be changed. He believes it is our job — not His — to seek the good and stop the evil.

People ask: "Where was God?"

Isaac asks: "Where was man?"

In the work that I do, I sometimes wonder, why does this happen?  I always fall back on, what can I do to help?

What am I doing to be that light in a dark world?  We are all called to that.  Our humanity calls us to that.  We can’t minimize the impact that a kind word or gesture has on someone else.

I see the sparks of holiness around me, and I am inspired to be a better person.  I am also grateful for being able to see the good in a hurting world.

These sparks of holiness are all around us.  It can be easy to get caught up in everything that is wrong with the world. 

Today I am looking at what is right and true.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Small Tasks

The chaos that came with my lost (not really lost) keys from last Monday continued well into the week.  I paid the incorrect amount to the after school program, I calculated my time sheet incorrectly, etc.  The smallest tasks were challenging.

In a surprising turn of events, I ran 10k with a 9 minute pace.  My fastest ever!  Of course, the Garmin was probably malfunctioning.

Thankfully, this week is a lighter load.  My head is still cloudy, and I am still not sleeping well, but I know that will pass.

After a conversation I had with my mom last week, I do want to clear up a few things.

The first is that I do not have to-do lists around my house.  I think my mom is under the impression that I have multiple lists.  She said that I probably got that from her.  And then I started to wonder if everyone else thought the same.  I do make references to the “to-dos” a lot.  This doesn’t refer to a list though.  These are simply those activities that need to get done.  I don’t need to make a list to know that I need to do the dishes, put away the laundry or clean the bathroom.  Those tasks are constant.  Why bother with a list?

I do make grocery lists though.  I can’t operate without one.  I end up with a ton of produce and bread but no real food.  Well, maybe some lunch meat and cheese.  I do like to eat sandwiches.

The other issue to clear up is that I did not forget to pick up the Girl Scout cookies.  That was a dream/nightmare.  So if you were judging me because you thought that I forgot them, you can stop right now.  If you were judging me for eating a ton of cookies in one sitting, I suppose you can continue.

Thank goodness for the long weekend coming up. I know, I realize that it is only Monday, and I am looking forward to the weekend. My 8:30 bedtime last night conflicted with Downton Abbey, so I will have to catch up over the weekend.  I am also looking forward to clearing out some of the clutter that has been accumulating since the beginning of cookie sales.  Hopefully the ladies and I can get some crafting done.  I think all three of us have a few unfinished/not yet started projects.

And I just realized that the previous paragraph looks like a to-do list.  Hmm…I can picture my mom smiling as she is reading this post…

Tuesday, February 5, 2013


Lately when I sit down for a quiet, uninterrupted moment, it is a brief moment, only lasting for a second or two.  Life starts happening.  Saturday night was a restless night around our house, and on Sunday morning, I finally gave in to not being able to sleep. I got out of bed and turned on the coffee.

I sat down with my cup, looking forward to at least 30 minutes, when Katy came down the stairs.  Before I knew it, Billy was down shortly, and the tv was on for the day.

Sunday was starting off as a day of finishing a to-do list that had been around since Friday.  Not exactly a day of rest.  By the early afternoon, I was driving the girls home from the library, contemplating a stop at Michaels for some supplies and felt the weight.

My mind needed quiet.  My eyes were tired.  I headed home.

After some lunch, I began to work in the kitchen.  I had some music on, low enough that I could barely hear it.  I was doing some prep work for the week and started working on dinner.  I could feel some of the weight lifting.  My brain was engaged in cooking, and my mind was quiet.  I wasn’t thinking about the week ahead.  I wasn’t thinking about the week behind.  I was simply there.

When Billy came home from running some errands and plopped down in front of the tv with the remote, I asked him if he could watch it in the basement for a while.  I still needed quiet.

By 8 pm, the final load of laundry was almost done in the dryer.  I was feeling relaxed and ready for the week.

Monday morning, I took some quiet time with my coffee to just be.

And then I spent 10 minutes before leaving the house in a frenzy trying to find my keys.  Keys that I had put in my bag 5 minutes before the frenzy started.  I almost ended the day the same way, trying to find my work id, which was in my coat pocket.

The lesson here is that the crazy simply doesn’t go away.  Twenty-four hours of peace can’t erase weeks of stress.

I need the load to lighten, and the end is in sight.  Until then, I will try to put a lid on the stress and keep my keys in my sight.