Saturday, December 30, 2006

progress is progress...

even if it's invisible.

I just spent 2o minutes in the basement, cleaning and reorganizing and you can't tell. I brought up two boxes to be recycled. I also consolidated two boxes into one. I threw away misc. kids' stuff.

I am trying really hard not to get frustrated about my lack of progress in this project. I know this is an ongoing process, not one that will be done tomorrow.

I do like walking into L's room. That is visible progress. And it was free. Which is even better.

I can't buy my way to a new house and way of life. I have to build it. Brick by brick, nail by nail, it will get done.

2007 goals

1. treadmill--2.21 miles in 35 min
2. swimming with T
3. cooked dinner
4. read for 2 hours this morning

Friday, December 29, 2006

It's fun to play at the YMCA

2007 Goal--5k in 40 minutes, run/walk Crim 10mile
Today I walked on the treadmill for 35min. Distance: 1.75 miles
Goal Part A: 2.25 miles in 35 minutes.
How to meet goal: Use childcare at Y, walk during bball/gymnastics, wake up early
How to keep track of progress: Use notebook to record time and mileage.
I also swam with Taurus. It was fun watching her put her face under many, many times. The boys were upstairs playing bball. I got to exercise first while T was with L and NBA, then she and I went swimming. NBA was supposed to get time to work out, but L did not feel like swimming.
I am so glad we decided to join. It is truly something we can do as a family. It is also something I can do on my own when NBA is traveling. This year I have no excuse for not exercising. I have child care!!

7 things

What a great day for decluttering! The clothes I posted on Freecycle were picked up. I delivered a filing cabinet to the reuse center. I packed another bag of clothes that will be picked up tomorrow.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

2007 Goals

1. State Goal
How will it be accomplished?
Why is it important?
How will I measure my success?
SMART Goal Setting

I encourage you to pick up a pen and a piece of paper and jot down the goals you want to reach. Look at each goal and evaluate it. Make any changes necessary to ensure it meets the criteria for a SMART goals:
S = SpecificM = MeasurableA = AttainableR = RealisticT = Timely
Goals should be straightforward and emphasize what you want to happen. Specifics help us to focus our efforts and clearly define what we are going to do.
Specific is the What, Why, and How of the SMART model.
WHAT are you going to do? Use action words such as direct, organize, coordinate, lead, develop, plan, build etc.
WHY is this important to do at this time? What do you want to ultimately accomplish?
HOW are you going to do it? (By...)
Ensure the goals you set is very specific, clear and easy. Instead of setting a goal to lose weight or be healthier, set a specific goal to lose 2cm off your waistline or to walk 5 miles at an aerobically challenging pace.
If you can't measure it, you can't manage it. In the broadest sense, the whole goal statement is a measure for the project; if the goal is accomplished, the is a success. However, there are usually several short-term or small measurements that can be built into the goal.
Choose a goal with measurable progress, so you can see the change occur. How will you see when you reach your goal? Be specific! "I want to read 3 chapter books of 100 pages on my own before my birthday" shows the specific target to be measure. "I want to be a good reader" is not as measurable.
Establish concrete criteria for measuring progress toward the attainment of each goal you set. When you measure your progress, you stay on track, reach your target dates, and experience the exhilaration of achievement that spurs you on to continued effort required to reach your goals.
When you identify goals that are most important to you, you begin to figure out ways you can make them come true. You develop that attitudes, abilities, skills, and financial capacity to reach them. Your begin seeing previously overlooked opportunities to bring yourself closer to the achievement of your goals.
Goals you set which are too far out of your reach, you probably won't commit to doing. Although you may start with the best of intentions, the knowledge that it's too much for you means your subconscious will keep reminding you of this fact and will stop you from even giving it your best.
A goal needs to stretch you slightly so you feel you can do it and it will need a real commitment from you. For instance, if you aim to lose 20lbs in one week, we all know that isn't achievable. But setting a goal to loose 1lb and when you've achieved that, aiming to lose a further 1lb, will keep it achievable for you.
The feeling of success which this brings helps you to remain motivated.
This is not a synonym for "easy." Realistic, in this case, means "do-able." It means that the learning curve is not a vertical slope; that the skills needed to do the work are available; that the project fits with the overall strategy and goals of the organization. A realistic project may push the skills and knowledge of the people working on it but it shouldn't break them.
Devise a plan or a way of getting there which makes the goal realistic. The goal needs to be realistic for you and where you are at the moment. A goal of never again eating sweets, cakes, crisps and chocolate may not be realistic for someone who really enjoys these foods.
For instance, it may be more realistic to set a goal of eating a piece of fruit each day instead of one sweet item. You can then choose to work towards reducing the amount of sweet products gradually as and when this feels realistic for you.
Be sure to set goals that you can attain with some effort! Too difficult and you set the stage for failure, but too low sends the message that you aren't very capable. Set the bar high enough for a satisfying achievement!
Set a timeframe for the goal: for next week, in three months, by fifth grade. Putting an end point on your goal gives you a clear target to work towards.
If you don't set a time, the commitment is too vague. It tends not to happen because you feel you can start at any time. Without a time limit, there's no urgency to start taking action now.
Time must be measurable, attainable and realistic.
Everyone will benefit from goals and objectives if they are SMART. SMART, is the instrument to apply in setting your goals and objectives.


Wednesday, December 27, 2006

new habit taking shape

Wow! This focus and timeliness stuff is pretty cool. I have had a really good day today, doing things I have been putting off and getting other ideas thought/planned out.

I realize that part of the reason I procrastinate around the house is that everything feels insurmountable. When I look at all the laundry that needs to be done, all the linens that need changing, the clothes that need to be mended/thrown away/donated, the dishes that need to be washed and put away, I get frustrated and don't do anything. Well beginning today, my new motto is: something is better than nothing. It doesn't matter if I only do one load of laundry, I still did something. It doesn't matter if I don't read all the articles tonight, as long as I read some everyday, I will be ok. I can't let myself get frustrated that after a long day of work, I am still not done with the two main projects I worked on. The projects may not be complete, but they are much closer to completion than they were this morning. That, my friends, is progress.

Successfully changing my behaviors and learning new habits to replace my old friend procrastination is going to be a long, but exciting road. I was so happy today putting away laundry in Leo's room because he and I spent 15 minutes reorganizing and making things more functional. We moved out the impractical piece of furniture and repurposed old storage bins for his uniforms and sports equipment. This was an especially big achievement because I did it without spending money. My excuse had always been that I would buy hooks when we got some extra money. Well, not only are we trying not to spend money, but hooks are not the only acceptable form of storage for his room.

Something else I learned today is that, at least in the beginning, my new lifestyle is going to be less time-efficient than I would like. I need to get things done as I am able/willing, which means that bundling errands and activities is going to have to wait. Maybe that will be 2008's goal. ;)
From :

Due to the holidays, I thought you deserve a few days to just relax.
This will be a shortened tips issue.
1. Give away one thing for each present you received.
I did this. In fact, the ratio was probably 2:1.
2. Pass along a book you have enjoyed recently, to a friend.
3. Work on catching up with emails and projects so you can start the new year with a clear slate.
Made small progress on this. Will continue to work throughout the week. Especially since my intensive class starts Jan. 3 and I will be doing nothing else.
4. Spend 10 minutes outside today.
5. Celebrate a new year!


Christmas this year was both wonderful and frustrating.

Let's start with the good:
  • brunch at our house with part of our family
  • long visit with said family
  • the kids were excited about the three presents they recieved from Santa (yes, only three, which was actually one too many)
  • my mom kept her promise to scale down
  • the gifts they got were meaningful and appropriate
  • great visit with other part of our family
  • cards from many people
  • acknowledging and truly accepting that my kids do not need/want toys. they want experiences and time to be with us and each other. I know it sounds cliche, but it's true.

Now the bad:

  • too much stuff
  • people who don't take my wishes seriously because they are so caught up in making themselves happy. Somehow, my beliefs mean nothing because they are not the same as theirs. People who acknowledge that they are acting against my wishes, and expect me to not be upset or frustrated.
  • too many conversations about stuff

Actually, I was able to make lemonade out of this whole thing. I went through the kids' closets and cleared out most of their current wardrobe to make room for the new stuff that they did not need. But, I am freecycling/giving all the duplicates away, so someone will benefit.

7 things

I haven't forgotten about my 7 things goal; it's just been on the back burner with school, the holidays, and our wonderful trip to St. Thomas.

Today I did something about that, however. I freecycled a huge bag of Taurus's clothes. I took a bag to the SA, where I waited in a long line. I also recycled a bunch of clothes. I sent an email to a friend about Leo's clothes. If she doesn't want them, they will be freecycled.

Included in the SA bag were Christmas decorations I didn't use this year.

One of my new 7 things goals is to freecycle more than donate to SA. It will take more work on my part, but it will bring me closer in line with my goals of getting items to people who can use them, without making them spend money!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

2007 personal goal

I have been thinking a lot about goals for next year. As a couple/family, NBA and I have already decided that debt reduction is our goal. [see previous posts] Although this will encompass all aspects of our lives and require much from me as an individual, I still need to set a personal goal.

I have been looking at my life recently and beginning to articulate the areas bugging me and in need of improvement. Here are the main ones: the stress I feel, the state of my house, the pressure of school, my lack of involvement in Leo’s school, disorganized state of preschool materials, my inability to break free from fast food, my lack of progress in Pilates. There is one common thread linking them together and preventing me from making progress in any of them. It is procrastination. I have written briefly about my struggles before, but I really only scratched the surface. This is a MAJOR problem in my life, and one that will take a long time to overcome.

Procrastination has been with me for as long as I can remember. It is my M.O. Until recently, I have always thought of it as a part of who I am, not as I habit I have that can be unlearned. Well, beginning today and continuing throughout 2007, I will be unlearning my procrastination habits and learning healthier, more productive ways of living.

My purpose in doing this is to “make new habits that bring me closer to the life I want to live.” I want to be able to enjoy watching my kids play and ride bikes in the park without worrying that I won’t have time to study for my exam, even though I had 15 hours at work to do it throughout the week. I want to be able to sleep normally. I want to have time to enjoy learning new crafts. I really want to make curtains for my house.

One of my biggest challenges is going to be taking back power from deadlines and giving it to myself. I mean, making my self-imposed deadlines as powerful, important, and non-negotiable as those created by others. I am great with making outlines and plans for projects and ignoring them because they are not imposed from without.

This plan ties into my ultimate goal of living more simply in ways that I will discuss in a future post.

Thursday, December 07, 2006


My name is Miss Muffet and I am a procrastinator.

There, I said it. Is that the first step?

Seriously, though, procrastination is becoming more and more of a problem for me, my friends, and family. I feel like I am letting people down because I push everything to the 11th hour, and then am unable to help people out. It's not like I don't have the time. The problem is, I think, I have too much time.

In fact, I am procrastinating right now, even though I only have until 10:30 to get a significant chunk of work done without having to stay up all night when the kids are asleep.

The problem with my procrastinatory style is that it has residual effects that grow and grow. For example, I stayed up late working on my report for Tuesday's class and was so burnt out, that I was unable to work on Wednesday. Now it is Thursday, my new project is due in 23 hours, my full day of childcare fell through, and I have to assist at Taurus' school.

I have no one to blame but myself.

This is my primary personal goal for 2007: getting this bad habit under control. It will allow me to do all the other things I want to do next year--crafting, cooking, exercising, organizing, decluttering.

Monday, December 04, 2006

holiday decorating

Today, because I have a huge school project due tomorrow, I spent all morning putting up holiday decorations. We still don't have a tree, but everything else is in place. The decorations look very cute, if I do say so myself!

I had to buy new lights because I broke our old ones. I did not buy LEDs because 1) I did not like the store's selection and 2) I returned an item for $10 and didn't want to spend more than that on lights.

I am very frustrated with the local teacher's store. I bought $115 worth of art supplies for the kids' Christmas gifts. However, with our new financial situation I decided to return them and use that money to pay for excursions on our trip. Apparently, this store does not keep extra money in the register because they were not able to give me my refund. I have to call each day to find out if they have enough. HOW FRUSTRATING!!! If I am returning Christmas gifts, I obviously need the money; I shouldn't have to wait 3 days to get it! I purchased these items 2 weeks ago, so the check has already cleared. That's not the issue. Arggh! I am so not shopping there anymore.

7 things

5 of today's 7 things were toys that my kids never played with. A b-day gift and 2 stuffed animal/book sets. The other two were stacks of holiday gift bags I've been keeping for years. I had a box full of bags and boxes taking up space in my basement. What a waste! I know some people are able to hold on to items for reusing, but I am just not one of them. Maybe once I get my organizational issues under control I will be able to work towards that, but not now.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

7 things

toys, toys, toys...

I am not one of those parents whose kids couldn't live without toys. For better or worse, my kids would rather have me or their dad, or in Leo's case his imaginary 'brothers', to play with. We still have unopened presents from Leo's August birthday.

I am still unable to rid my house of them. Mostly I keep them around so that when the kids have friends over there are things to do.

However, today I was able to clear out some toys. A noisy Dora toy, some trucks we don't use, and parts for toys we no longer have.

7 things

toys, toys, toys...
I am not one of those parents whose kids couldn't live without toys. For better or worse, my kids would rather have me or their dad, or in Leo's case his imaginary 'brothers', to play with. We still have unopened presents from Leo's August birthday.

I am still unable to rid my house of them. Mostly I keep them around so that when the kids have friends over there are things to do.

However, today I was able to clear out some toys.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

7 things

Tonight's 7 things are brought to you by the letter J. JUNK, my friends, junk.
There were actually more than 7 things, but the number doesn't count, just the concept.
I got rid of a bunch of McD's toys, some cookie cutters, and one noisy Dora toy.
I also recycled some art projects and sorted the remaining cookie cutters by theme.

Not to sound too discouraging, but I am not seeing a difference yet. I know it hasn't been that long, and I haven't really done much big stuff, but still. I would have liked to see a more noticeable change.

I think the real difference will be seen when I move on to the organizing. I could be doing them simultaneously, but I want to focus on one goal at a time.

Anyway, every little bit helps...

Friday, December 01, 2006

keeping focus

Well, I did it. It is Dec. 1, and I am officially done with Christmas shopping for the kids. I stuck to my plan and got them 1 joint gift from Santa and 3 individual gifts--one from Santa and two from us. There will be no avalanche of gifts under the tree, but that's ok because they have grandparents, and that's what they provide.

We need to finish up the napkins for the g-parents, and I need to type up the menu/invitation for the Christmas Brunch and get a *$ card for g-father, then I am DONE!!

Now I can focus on shopping for the brunch and soup exchange.

Go me!

ps. All this advance preparation means that my school projects are languishing until the last minute. C'est la vie!