Goals: A Blueprint for Change

After reading a post at Lein’s Frugal Life in which she listed out her goals, I decided it would be good to actually put some goals in writing. Seeing what I am working towards on paper will probably help me to be more accountable. So here it goes.

Instead of lofty goals, I have written smaller goals I feel like I can achieve and get some momentum going for the more lofty ones. I don’t want to be overwhelmed  and quit so I’m only starting with a few.

1) Reeling in my temper.

In a previous postI wrote about my adult temper tantrums! I often feel that my anger is justified and often, without thinking, spew and rant and then later, feel really guilty for being a jerk. There is a story floating around the internet about a boy with a bad temper and his father’s solution. The father has the boy hammer a nail in the fence every time he loses his temper and then pull one out when he is able to hold his temper. Eventually he is able to control his temper and pull out all of the nails. However, he is made aware of the holes remaining in the fence.

Words in anger do leave emotional scars. I have read that eventually those wounds can  be healed and the scars can fade, but I’d really like to stop inflicting them. So, for the month of September I will open my tool box and start hammering….or not! I’m hoping that the thought of having to hammer a nail in my fence and leave a hole will make me take a breath and calm my emotions before spewing. I should also get back to my book Triggers: Exchanging Parents’ Reactions for Gentle Biblical Responses.

2) Complete my 52 Weeks of Thanks project:

I started this project in 2015 and made almost no progress……talk about procrastination!! I been blessed to have so many wonderful people in my life who have been loving or kind, who have inspired me or encouraged me, who have welcomed me and accepted me, and who have been there during good times and bad. I really want to express my gratitude to them and do so in writing. I started this project a long time ago and sent only one letter and have only just recently completed my 2nd letter. So starting in September, my goal is to send 1 written expression of gratitude a week for my remaining 50 weeks. I bet I can even use an app on my phone to help remind me.

3) Nutritional related goals

I love good food, but don’t especially like to cook. Living out in the sticks, doesn’t provide a lot of options when eating out or grocery shopping, so I wanted to learn to make healthy choices and cook simple meals that would benefit my family, my health, and my waistline. One goal was to meet with a nutritionist to get started. I have had my first of 4 consultations at Advice for Eating. My homework is to write down everything I eat for 3 days. I tell you, it’s a pretty sad list. Especially since I am making the transition from stay at home mom to working mom as the school year gets started. Let just say, the cupboard was almost bare. Fish sticks anyone??? I have also noticed that I need to drink more water. Some days the only liquid I consume is coffee, soda and the water I guzzle before bed because my body is screaming for it. I am very aware that if I don’t bring a lunch to work, I will pick up Taco Bell or Burger King – cheap and fast and not healthy at all. So for the month of September, I will increase my water intake and bring a lunch to work. More nutrition goals to come after my second consultation.

4) Write at least 2 blog posts a month.

I have about a dozen unfinished blog posts hanging out on my computer and making time to complete them is all I need. Sometimes I need time to do more research or just time to type it all out. I have time, I do. Unfortunately, its often wasted doing unproductive activities. (I’m working on that post for next time.) I would also like to start adding one of my own photos to each post, especially since photography was my outlet for so long. Beginning in September, I will carve out a chunk of time several times a week to finish these posts and maybe a chunk of time to set out with my camera.

5) Take even a short road trip once a month.

Oh, how I love a good road trip! I love the open road with “off the beaten path” stops along the way. Texas is vast and diverse in history and culture and climate so unlike my eating options in my small town, my big state is a cornucopia of opportunities for adventures on the road. My son’s current requests are The Bluebell Ice Cream Factory in Brenham and  The Dr. Pepper Museum in Waco. I’m ready to hit the road! As I write this I can almost hear crinkles of a roadmap – does anyone remember those days?

Please share your favorite road trip destinations!

6) Read the Bible again.

I love, love, love to read. I joined a family member and began a New Year’s resolution to read at least one book a month. I started out pacing myself pretty well and I have read 13 books since January. (Three of those are chapter books my son and I have read together. It’s been such fun re-reading books from my childhood.) Then things got crazy and I am now in the middle of 3 books and my Amazon wish list keeps growing. I am at a point of being overwhelmed trying to read them all. So what I would like to do is get back to just reading one book and make it “The Good Book.” Someone once told me they thought the Bible was boring. Having already read it once, I can tell you its got more drama than a whole season of The Real Housewives! This living book has provided me with guidance and understanding to so many of my big questions. YouVersion has a great app that will guide my reading journey. I also love the “P.O.W.E.R. tool” you can download over at Biblical Minimalism. I will be using this to track several of my goals.

I have been delighted to see how far this blog has reached all over the world and so curious to see what goals y’all (I’m a Texan!) are working to achieve.  Please share your goals and your progress.

Until next time, Be Well!

Coming soon: Waste Not Want Not: Time, Money, and Trash

Balance

As the one year anniversary of Hurricane Harvey approaches, I think back and can still vividly recall the days of rain that led to our evacuation and eventually a change in perspective.

As I watched the river behind us and the lake across the street slowly turn to one and rise, my heart raced and anxiety overwhelmed my body and mind. I watched as our belongings floated out of our yard and into the lake. As the sun set, I could no longer see what loomed in the darkness, but could hear the sloshing water under our house. I knew an evacuation was inevitable, as we no longer felt safe in our own home. It was a sleepless night. As the sun rose, our mailbox and fences were no longer visible and the water was making its way up the steps. My husband had me throw what I could into a plastic bag while he swam across the street to capture a small sit on top kayak so we could make our way down the street and up the hill to safety.

As I held on to my 5 year old son and my 1 bag of belongings (which I had to downsize several times because it was too heavy), we balanced, literally shifting our weight from side to side to keep from tipping over. My husband pulled us over a mile through knee deep water, to waist deep water and at one point, chest high water with currents. We did not know what condition our home would be in when we returned but it didn’t seem to matter. At that moment, I wasn’t thinking about what I left behind, only that right then, I had EVERYTHING I needed. I knew as long as we had each other we would be ok and a sense of peace came over me.

My senses were overwhelmed upon our return. Monstrous piles of furniture and other belongings littered yards. A layer of silt and mud covered everything and an indescribable smell lingered in the air for weeks as did the nightmares of rising water. The once peaceful sound of rain, ignited anxiety and I couldn’t shake the uneasy feeling that we had been violated by an unwelcome intruder.

After nearly a year of putting our home back together, things are mostly back to normal but the whole experience made me think about how precious my family is to me and also made me question what I really need to be content and happy. I think it comes down to what we did in that kayak to keep from falling into the water….BALANCE.

Things seems to work better when they are balanced…..your budget, your meals, your tires. When elements in my life have been effectively (not necessarily evenly) proportioned everything seems more stable and more joyful. I want to achieve more balance in my life so that I might be able to be more stable and more joyful when the unexpected happens.

This means balancing:

work and play

Laundry and dishes have to get done and meals have to be prepared but I can balance that with watching a movie or playing with my son outside. Happiness researcher Robert Biswas-Diener, is quoted in Time magazine as staying, “Don’t fit joyful activities into your days – fit your days around them.”

noise and quiet.

Being the mom of a 6 year old boy means lots of noise. Sometimes we turn up the music and play guitars and sometimes we read books on the couch.

bringing stuff in and letting stuff go.

When I bring in a new treasure for my home I make sure to let go of the items that no longer bring me joy or no longer serve a purpose.

busyness with rest.

It feels good to cross of items on my “to do” list but if I take a little nap or just a break to let my brain and body rest, I will feel completely recharged.

purpose and presence.

For several months, I have been writing in a gratitude journal and reading a short devotional each morning as I drink my coffee. However, lately what felt good and relaxing, was feeling like a chore. I felt like I needed to get it done before I could do anything else so I recently began waking up earlier just to sit on my porch and watch the sunrise and listen to the birds. There I sit quietly and think about the things I am grateful for and breathe and simply be.

Changing my perspective about what is important and putting into action a plan to achieve balance in my life is making a difference. It’s not always easy but I am finding that I am more joyful and I am certainly more thankful for what I have because you never know when it can all be washed away.

This post was published at NoSidebar you can see it here.

Letting Go……

Many years ago, I began to let go of loads of material possessions that I no longer used. I have kept a steady pace and am now almost down to the basics (I still have some pretty substantial piles of paper that I am avoiding.) I am almost ready to enter a maintenance phase for stuff; however, I have realized I have only scratched the surface on letting go of what keeps me from fully experiencing joy.

I was recently listening to a podcast of the Minimalists where callers discussed what they had recently let go. I was expecting comments about letting go of clothing, collectibles, gadgets and maybe even sentimental items, but I was surprised as they spoke of non-material things like a toxic relationship, an unfulfilling job, and the need for affirmation.

I had not thought about decluttering my life of non-material things that bring me down, things that fracture relationships, things that keep me from living a very full and intentional life.

Ann Voskamp writes in her book, 1000 Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are, states, “Humbly let go. Let go of trying to do, let go of trying to control….let go of my own way, let go of my own fears.” This made me think… what can I start to let go of in my life that will strengthen me, cultivate relationships, add value to my life, and increase the joy in my life.

Everyone has different obstacles and carries a different load but here are 4 things I want to focus on letting go….

  • Worry –  Like many people, I tend to worry about things I can’t change or control. This seems very counter productive because I could spend the time used up worrying to do things I can change and control. The serenity prayer, used in many 12 step programs sums this up! “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.” When I have a firm grip on worry, I can’t open my hands to receive something amazing.
  • Selfish anger – This is when I find myself getting angry at my family when I have to do extra work, am inconvenienced or I don’t get my way (yes, I’m 47 and still find myself having some temper tantrums that would put a toddler to shame). The book, Triggers: Exchanging Parents’ Angry Reactions for Gentle Biblical Responses has been especially helpful in helping me identify triggers (e.g., exhaustion, guilt, noise, backtalk, over-stimulation, etc.) and begin to overcome them. I love that the authors included a short prayer for each trigger.
  • Comparisons – Dr. Seuss said, “Today you are you! That is truer than true! There is no one alive that is you-er than you!”  The Bible tells us that God had a purpose for each of us even before we were born. We all have a specific look, personality traits, and skills for a specific purpose. Rachel Hollis, in Girl, Wash Your Face, says,”We are doing pretty good – and pretty good is way better than trying to fake perfection any day of the week.” I don’t have to exhaust myself swimming upstream to try and fake a life planned for someone else because one is already planned for just me! You know, when I look around with gratitude at what I do have, it’s all pretty awesome.
  • Procrastination – Sometimes my procrastination is a product of another obstacle such as worry or comparisons. Many times I don’t move forward because I worry it will be too hard, it won’t be good enough or I might fail. I’m quoting Rachel Hollis again, “Every year you close a new chapter in your story. Please, please, please don’t write the same one seventy-five time and call it a life.” I can tell you that while I still struggle with procrastination, when I have been brave and worked toward a goal I have been pleasantly surprised with the outcome (my first publication!) or I have learned something valuable.

So I have my work cut out for me…..I need to release my grip on things I can’t change like the past and what other people think because I have a great life to live – mine! I need to move forward and focus on the things I can change….the future, how I react when things don’t go my way, and what I DO!!

I’d love to hear your thoughts and suggestions if you have found ways to let go of obstacles that hold you back.

Next up:  Setting goals!!

Where to begin….

compass small

So how am I going to accomplish this healthy heart and joyful soul? Which road should I travel first?

I’m going to start with creating a joyful soul because I have only recently admitted to my addiction of sodas and Hot Tamales and the healthy heart journey is going to be a lot harder!

On my path to a more joyful soul…..I started thinking about happiness vs. joy. I did a little research and there is some debate as to whether they are the same thing or not. Merriam-Webster considers them to be the same. It defines happiness as, “a a state of well-being and contentment joy” and defines joy as, “a state of happiness or felicity bliss.” Others describe happiness as superficial and temporary, a feeling that results from our reaction to another person or thing and joy as something bigger and longer lasting, something you create in yourself despite outside influences. I think it would be good to find happiness and joy but I’m going with Merriam-Webster and will use them to mean the same thing for ease and simplicity.

Speaking of simplicity, Sandra L. Brown M.A., in her article Joy vs. Happiness, refers to “voluntary simplicity.” A lifestyle adopted by her mother which eventually led from a life riddled with loss and pain to a place of joy. Voluntary simplicity sounds a lot like minimalism, and I know after years of attempting to simplify my life, minimalism is for me.

Rachel Jones defines minimalism as “intentionally getting rid of the excess in your life, so you can devote time and energy to the things that are truly important to you.” Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, known as The Minimalists, have a lengthier and more comical definition here

I can tell you for me, having less has brought me much more joy than having excess and always being on the hunt for more. However, like many worthwhile things, it takes lots of effort to achieve and lots of self-control to maintain. Because of this, I’ve been working for years to rid my life of the excess of possessions. By the way, did you know the average American home has 300,000 things

While I don’t know if I had that many things, I know at one time I had enough stuff, even after giving a small mountain away, to fill a storage space I could have parked a car in. Even worse, I paid thousands of dollars to keep that stuff comfortable in a climate controlled unit. After eliminating thousands, maybe tens of thousands of items, from my home and office, the only thing I wish I had back was the the time and money I spent on the stuff. I even wrote about it, 8, yes, 8 years ago and I’m still working on it. Sometimes when you let your guard down, stuff tends to sneak back into your home.

I say enough with the stuff!!!

James Altucher writes about the joy minimalism brought him here. (His version of minimalism is too extreme for me!) And then there is Lydia Slater who tried minimalism and concluded, “Minimalism, I realised, wasn’t morally superior to the alternative, it was just another aesthetic choice. Nevertheless, I had learnt one really valuable lesson: I was under no obligation to hang on to things I didn’t like, just because I had spent money on them.”

It is what you make it.

I got started minimizing after reading The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing; however, the catalyst that really got me moving was Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things.  This film really lit a fire under me.

This journey has led me, not only to continue my quest to declutter, but to become more intentional about my purchases. I have started to challenge myself periodically with “no spend months” (essentials like food and gas are allowed!) inspired by Cait Flanders and her book, The Year of Less. I’m currently on my third attempt and it’s getting easier each time. What has been helpful is living in a very small house in the country…..not a lot of places for shopping and not a lot of space for storing or displaying. 

I have also developed a capsule wardrobe. Thank you, Courtney Carver! It’s basically having a few items that can easily be mixed and matched to create a variety of outfits. I guess as a girl I’m a little different……I don’t like to shop (except for books and cowboy boots) but seriously, shopping gives me anxiety…..heart racing type of anxiety. The decision fatigue nearly does me in whether its groceries or clothing, so having very few choices works well for me. This is not for the person who looks forward to going to her full and colorful closet and putting together an outfit with coordinating accessories. If this is you, please don’t stop! I want to enjoy the visual art of your ensemble, but I’m just a jeans and T-shirt kinda gal who owns 4 pairs of earrings and a modest collection of cowboy boots!

Minimalism has also help me open space and time for things that I truly enjoy. Simple things….writing, reading, and having awesome experiences with actual people. Like mountain biking with my son, eating delectable food with my sister, an impromptu hike in the woods with my family, talking with my friend for hours at her kitchen counter, hanging out at the youth rodeo chatting with neighbors, and dancing in the kitchen with my husband. For me these are awesome things!

This is my journey to do more of those things. I want to do more of what I really enjoy instead of just dreaming about it. I’ve been dreaming for a long time and now I’m ready to make some significant changes in what I do and how I think. Too many times I have found myself idle, letting the days pass by. I want to do more things that make me happy but I also want to create a joyful soul that can endure and rise out of the inevitable pain and disappointments that come with this human life.

So for now, I will continue to declutter (I’m in the middle of the 30 day mimimalism game), have at least one awesome experience a week and contact a nutritionist……

Until next time…..

Be well,

Lori

P.S. If you are interested in learning more about minimalism Joshua Becker’s website is a good place to start.

 

A New Journey Begins…….

A New Journey Begins…….

It’s been far too long since I last spent time blogging….. but I’ve been navigating my 40s, the parenting world, small town living, and farm life for the last 7 years. Additionally, with the explosion of the blogging world and all the changes in technology, I have been a little intimidated about jumping back in. I have worked toward hitting the publish button little by little but thanks to the talented Kylie McClendon for creating my beautiful logo and Rachel Hollis’ book, “Girl, Wash Your Face,” I’m doing it. Guess I needed a beautiful sign and a kick in the pants to get going. So here I go….jumping back in ready or not.

This blog is the next chapter in my journey. Permission to Dream Heart and Soul, my first blog, was the beginning. My head and heart were full of dreams and fortunately, it was a time when I had very few responsibilities. I was free to dream and explore and set out on adventures…..and it was all great fun. While life, now, is not quite as free, with the right tools and a good attitude, I’m hoping I can continue to make it great fun.

So here begins the journey….a journey to find simple tools to build a healthy heart and joyful soul, a quest to minimize my stuff and maximize my life, become more grounded, more responsible, and still find joy in day to day life.

Be well,

Lori