Friday, January 3, 2014

2014 is Journey, Practice, Thrive

One of the reasons that I've started blogging again - and intend to keep at it through the year - is that I've realized I need the structure and discipline of writing in order to get my life back on track.  I need the accountability of putting goals out into the universe in order to achieve them.

I didn't choose a theme for 2013 or any of the months in the year, didn't set any goals, didn't announce any big plans...and predictably, I ended up with nothing at the end of the year.

So this year, I am back on the blogging wagon and I am going to use blogging as a way to reach my goals.

With that in mind, I hereby announce three words for 2014:

Journey.  Practice.  Thrive.

Journey is to remind me that it takes time to get wherever you are going.  I am someone who not only doesn't enjoy the journey, I think there shouldn't have to be a journey in the first place.  I want to have a clean and orderly house without picking up a mop or broom or sponge; I want to have a fit and strong body without doing a single sit-up or putting down a single spoonful of ice cream; I want to have a full bank account without waking up and going to work for even one day.  In 2014, I am going to focus on the journey toward my goals and remind myself that journeys are necessary and can even be enjoyable.

Practice is a similar word for me this year...if I am going to reach my goals, I'm going to have to put some good habits in place to get there.  Practice, practice, practice makes perfect.  But I also need to remember that part of practicing is failing and trying again.  I've gotten too used to giving up easily lately, or not even trying because I don't want to fail, and this year I intend to keep practicing no matter what.

Finally, 2014 is the year I am going to thrive.  For too long I've been simply trying to survive, and now it's time to finally focus on thriving. 

Journey.  Practice.  Thrive.

What are your word(s) for 2014?

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Let's Say Goodbye to 2013

Most nights at bedtime, Elfe and I have a little ritual we call "let's say goodbye to {insert day of the week here}."  It's sort of our version of not ever going to bed angry, and it goes like this...

I start by asking if we have any questions about the day.  Usually there aren't any questions, but sometimes Elfe will ask me something about my day at work or I'll ask her about something from her day at school.  I figure it's good for her to get in the habit of telling me about her day now, before she hits the secretive teen years.

Then I ask if there's anything sad from the day.  The idea is to get rid of the sad stuff so it doesn't linger around and get carried over into the next day.

Then I ask if there's anything happy from the day.  Sometimes there are no questions and sometimes there's nothing sad to get rid of, but I always insist that we each come up with at least one happy thing from the day.  I want us to go to sleep with happy thoughts on our minds, and I firmly believe that even on the saddest day there is at least one bright spot to be thankful for.

Then I say "Goodbye {insert day of the week here}, get ready for {insert next day of the week here}."  And we go to sleep. 

Now, let's say goodbye to 2013...

Any questions?  Ask them in the comments section and I will try to answer.

Sad things...boy, I could go on and on and on here...let's just say 2013 was pretty depressing in general.  My financial situation is at a low point - two credit cards maxed out, my credit rating in the toilet (which I discovered when I tried to refinance my mortgage at the end of the year), no savings at all, overdue bills and bounced checks and late fees galore, and my Barefoot Books business did not bring in as much extra income this year as I was counting on.  Things are pretty sad on the domestic front as house is cluttered, disorganized, in desperate need of a thorough cleaning, and several things need to be repaired but I have no idea when I will have the money to take care of them.  I'm pretty sure I should be sad about my physical health as well, but since I haven't been to a doctor in at least three years I can't tell you exactly how sad the situation might be.  I do know that my stress level is through the roof and I've done entirely too much yelling this year, which also makes me sad.

But, there are also some happy things...I got a new job in April and even though the salary is much lower than I was making before (in the job I hated), this job has fantastic benefits and my supervisor gives me as much freedom and flexibility as I need - I can arrange my hours to bring Elfe to her dance class once a week, leave early on the days when school lets out early, take vacation time when school is out, work from home if I need to wait for a delivery or a repair person, and just in general fit my life into my job and vice versa.  I'm extremely happy at this job and feel lucky to have found it.  And while my financial situation is stressful right now, it looks like I AM going to be able to refinance my mortgage despite my abysmal credit score and my monthly payments will be almost $200 lower as soon as the paperwork goes through (keep your fingers crossed that this happens soon!).

Another thing that makes me happy about 2013 is an idea I found on Pinterest over a year ago that really worked!  Starting last January, Elfe and I would write down good things that happened to us on little scraps of paper and put them in an empty mason jar.  We did this all year, and last night before we went to bed we opened up the mason jar and read all the notes.  There were all sorts of happy memories in there, from special play dates with friends; to fun days out together; to events where we had great Barefoot sales; to the day I found out about my new job; to our annual trip to see the Urban Nutcracker at the end of the year.  It was a fantastic way to remember that even during a "bad" year, there are always bright spots to be found.

So now, let's say goodbye to 2013 and get ready for 2014!  I, for one, am looking forward to a great year - how about you?

Monday, December 30, 2013

Bah and Humbug

In a year that has been mostly miserable (more to come on that in a later post), I guess it's fitting that Christmas this year was just about the most miserable I ever remember a holiday being.

How miserable was my Christmas?

So miserable that I'm blogging about it.

The highlight of our trip to NY for the holiday was a stomach bug that swept through my parents' house all week, hitting a different person every day.  It arrived with my niece from the West Coast the weekend before Christmas, then hit my father and my sister, who then passed it on to my mother, who was sick with it all day Christmas Eve (right after she had recovered from the flu which she had caught while in the hospital the week before to remove a melanoma from her leg).

The bug got to me on Christmas Day...I made it through unwrapping the presents in the morning, but before breakfast hit the table I was already puking in the bathroom.  I spent the rest of the day either asleep or puking, until I finally felt the tiniest bit better around 5PM and ventured downstairs to see if I might be able to keep a glass of water down.

The water stayed down, but not long after I finished it my father started yelling - poor Tinker-the-dog had an accident on the rug and apparently my status as the latest plague victim wasn't going to get me out of cleaning up after her.

(I found out from my brother the next day that my father had given Tinker a bowl full of turkey leftovers - skin, fat, bits of gristle - which he does every year, and in all fairness I had not had a chance to warn him that Tinker's senior citizen stomach probably wouldn't be able to handle it this year, but which makes all the yelling he did about "the damn dog crapping on my rug" just a tad harder to swallow.)

My Christmas dinner?  In fact, the only thing I ate that day?  A bowl of cereal before I went back to bed.

We were there for another few days, spent mostly in the house as another few people came down with the stomach bug in their turn.  The worst of the bug seemed to last just one day for most of us, though everyone still felt a little queasy for a while afterwards, which is why no one much felt like doing anything outside of the house for most of the week.

Oh, and did I mention that the downstairs bathroom in my parents' house was out of commission with a toilet that kept clogging for most of the week?  Which meant that aside from the private bathroom in my parents' bedroom, there was one bathroom in the house for everyone to use whether they were sick or well.  At one point we had eleven adults and eight kids in the house, in various stages of can imagine just how miserable that was.

My father and my brother-in-law tried to fix the broken toilet on Friday, and all seemed well until Saturday afternoon when we discovered that the source of the toilet problem was the septic tank, which started backing up into the basement.  My father and my brother spent two hours trying to fix it themselves until my father finally admitted defeat; when Elfe and I left to return to Boston, my father was on the phone calling in a professional to deal with it.

There was plenty of minor misery mixed into the week as well, your run-of-the-mill spending extended periods of time with extended family in tight quarters type of misery, plus a little travel drama thrown in for good measure...and while it was good to come home and sleep in my own bed Saturday night, some of the misery seems to have followed us home and settled in for the dregs of 2013.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Peek-a-boo, I See You!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Samurai at the MFA!