Birthday musings

Today was my 36th birthday. I don’t mind, really. When I talked to my mom this afternoon, she mentioned that I’m almost 40 years old. I’m not sure how I feel about 40 but I’m ok with 36!

I feel as if birthdays are a sort of reset, a chance for a new start with new resolutions and goal planning. I love New Years for that very reason. I know that every day can be a chance to make good decisions and work toward goals but there’s something special about defined dates to do so. First of the year. First of every month. My birthday.

I really don’t know what specific goals to choose for my birthday. My days are still so variable, struggling with depression at times, anxiety other times, and a seeming inability to allow myself to feel happy. I cannot predict my ability to be productive or embrace self care or even feel a smidge above just daily survival. Each day is different and it can change so quickly. I am slowly learning to quickly jump on any motivation, any drive toward feeling productive or doing something positive.

So in general… I would like to work on these goals.

Health – making healthy choices as much as possible. I have gained a lot of weight the past three years from stress eating, wrenching my knee last summer, and low motivation. I need to make good choices as much as possible as I go through my day. More water. More mindful food portions. Healthier meal selections. More exercise. I could make 15 goals from this one general idea but I really just want to be more mindful and do my best moment by moment. Right now, that’s all I can ask of myself.

Spiritually – I am really floundering here. I attend church every week. I pray over every meal. But I still feel distant from God. I tried joining a Bible reading group last month and only made it through Genesis. I struggle to read the Bible. I would like to read some memoirs of people’s spiritual journeys and see if I can learn from them.

Home – Here I actually have a very specific goal! I want to jump start my FlyLady routines again. I have a long standing habit of my morning and evening routines (hurray for wins!). I need to add in the weekly and monthly cleaning schedule so that I feel my house is presentable. A clean, uncluttered home really lowers my stress levels.

Emotional health – I have a specific goal here as well. My therapist has me working through a PTSD workbook. Right now I’m supposed to be writing a narrative of my life story. Assignment – Write your narrative. My response – Where do I start? These extremely general instructions left me floundering and I have made zero progress in the past month. A dear friend sent me a book for my birthday that guides you through writing your narrative! Now I have a specific place to start.

I’m also toying with the idea of getting involved in a (very) part-time volunteer position or starting my own business so that I can set my own hours. My therapist wonders if I have so much down time that I get stuck in cycles of negative thinking and thus contributing to my depression and anxiety. It’s quite possible that if I get involved in something for a few hours a week, I’ll find some purpose outside of my life and thus feel better.

All of these things together feel like massive changes and are rather overwhelming. But I remind myself that I don’t have to tackle all of them at the same time. Small changes here and there, embracing those moments when I feel like I can come up to breathe… those moments may make a big difference and help with my healing.

Happy birthday to me! I hope that when I revisit this post on my 37th birthday, I’ll find that life has improved, that I’ve been able to make some positive changes that will enable me to better find my place in the world and maybe even make a difference for someone else.

August Goals

I’ve been thinking a lot about the goals I want to achieve in August. I’m almost afraid to write any. My girls go back to school on August 31st so the month of August is almost entirely summer vacation. We are slowly developing some better boundaries so that I’m able to get a few things done even though they are home all day. We do spend a lot of time together but mama still has work to do even if they aren’t in school!

I think my number one priority is exercise. My husband and I have been walking together every single day. The girls won’t come. They are invited but would rather stay home so we are finally getting daily alone time. It’s been a massive blessing this summer and is way more than I even dreamed of. Prior to this, the girls wouldn’t leave us alone in the same room. But if they have to choose between leaving us unsupervised and exercise, they’ll pick leaving us unsupervised. It’s wonderful!

After we get paid, I want to register for my first WA 5k. I should have registered several months ago when I first picked out the race but I was afraid to commit. What if things got explosive again in our home? What if something happened that sapped all of my emotional energy and left me without motivation to run? What if I can’t train to run the entire distance before September arrives? Well, I decided to register anyway. FlyLady keeps reminding me that perfectionism is detrimental in all aspects of life.. I don’t have to run the entire 5k. I don’t have to break my previous 5k record. I just have to show up and try. Just try.

So I think that continuing exercise, both for my health and to embrace the alone time with my husband, is my only real August goal. Other than that, I will keep working toward decluttering my closet, getting organized, and finding additional meals that my entire family will eat. But other than the exercise with its tangible goal of training for the 5k, I’m just going to do whatever I can. I am just going to show up and try.

Christmas Eve

It’s Christmas Eve. It’s been an interesting day. We made it to church this morning, for which I am very grateful! The day has been a bit tense but no major issues, another thing I am very grateful for. I know to take one day at a time, even one hour at a time, because the mood in our home can change so quickly. But right now, things are peaceful.

My husband and two daughters are upstairs watching Star Trek. I’m downstairs on my computer, putzing around with reading lists and dreaming about the possibilities for next year. I find it encouraging that I can dream just a little bit. Realistically, I know that I’ll accomplish very little of my dream list as life is just too traumatic right now. But I’m an ambitious and motivated person. Over the next week I’ll put together my new year’s resolutions and my year’s reading lists and hope for the best.

Fitness Goals

Me in Taiwan

Our family now

I cannot believe how much of a difference seven pounds makes. When we left for Taiwan, I weighed about 120 and felt relatively fit and slender. Today I weigh 127 pounds and feel decidedly fat. My jeans barely fit, my tummy is flabby, and I get winded easily. I’ve lost the definition in my face and I’m starting to grow a second chin. Frankly, I feel disgusting. Last night I was looking at pictures from when I was my heaviest weight (187 pounds) and I do not want to look and feel like that again.

Why did I let myself get out of shape? That’s easy enough to answer – stress. Our lives have been turned upside down these past eleven months. The easiest way to make yourself feel better is comfort food. So I’ve been indulging. A lot. And our lives are so hectic that I’ve not carved out time for exercise.

It’s time for a change. Life is still crazy. My daughter’s mood and behavior are still very unpredictable. But I have to be healthy in order to help her. I have to feel good about myself to help her feel more confident in herself. So here are my goals.

Drink water. Specifically, I’m aiming to finish two water bottles per day. Right now I’m barely drinking half of my water bottle. That means I am chronically dehydrated. Ideally, I should be drinking three, but two is a reasonable goal for right now.

Exercise. I want to run a race again. Jeff and I haven’t run a race in five years. I want to register for a 5k in September. My daughter has agreed to run with me if I walk and run, rather than run the entire thing. I agreed to that compromise, but I’m going to register for a second race that I can run in its entirety. I have a love hate relationship with running, but I adore the races. Getting out there with a crowd of runners is exhilirating. I want to experience that again.

Food. I have no hope that our menu will change. My daughter is a picky eater and I don’t have much time for menu planning. Plus, since she still has regular rages and meltdowns, I cannot prepare complicated meals. I need simplicity. So I’m not going to change our menu. However, I will change how much I eat. I do NOT need to finish everything on my plate. And if I’m going back for seconds, it needs to be watermelon or an apple or cucumber or something healthy and much more calorie friendly.

I think these are reasonable goals, even in the thick of our crazy life.

New Year’s resolutions

I’ve always been a big fan of New Years because I love writing resolutions. I love the feeling of starting a new year with new goals and aspirations. Over the past year, however, I’ve discovered that I need something more than New Year resolutions. While they are inspirational, if I don’t make a detailed plan of how I am going to accomplish each resolution, I fail. I forget. I get derailed.

This year I’m going to do something different. I’m not making any New Year’s resolutions. Instead, I’m going to focus on just two things.

Bring my daughter home.

Finish all of the half completed projects around the house before we travel to Taiwan.

That’s it.

I get excited about projects, work on them for awhile, and then neglect them. As a result, I have at least a half dozen projects in various states of completion. A homemaker’s schedule. Several knitting projects. Two quilts. A recipe book.

There are probably a few other things as well. Over the next week, I’m going to walk around my house and poke into all of the bags and notebooks to find out what has been started but not completed. When our daughter comes home, I probably won’t have time for personal projects. We will be spending all of our time and energy helping her learn what it’s like to live in a family, teaching her English, and determining her education level. I’m sure we’ll be busy.

Maybe, in a way, I do have a New Year’s resolution – to go to Taiwan without any loose ends plaguing me. As I have no idea when we’re traveling, I don’t know how much time I have to complete everything. It will be at least six months but hopefully less than a year. I’d better get busy!

Slowly getting fit

A year and a half ago, I reached my goal weight. Then I took a long trip due to a family emergency and ate whatever I wanted as a coping mechanism. Not the smartest idea! Then hubby and I moved and ate very cheaply (read: not very healthy) for awhile as we saved to buy pots and pans and recovered from our moving expenses. A couple months ago, we finally bought a scale so I was able to see what the damage was. Surprisingly, I was only 10 pounds over my goal weight. Not too bad!

A month ago, we started tracking calories and eating the correct portions. What a difference that makes! I’m now only four pounds over my goal weight but the weight isn’t budging. Time to kick the exercise up a notch.

I started running again. The first run was torture. I bought new shoes that will help transition into a minimalist shoe. My feet weren’t used to that and I could tell (very painfully) that I’m a heel striker. Bad! We’ve been running for three weeks now. Last night I ran a 5k. Woohoo! It feels good to be back into it.

We’re hoping to run a 5k race sometime next month. I honestly didn’t think that I would be ready in time but last night I proved that I’m stronger than I think. I’ll keep training and hopefully run a decent time in the race. It’s been almost two years since our last race and I miss the challenge. Races are so much fun! The crowd atmosphere makes me run faster than I run normally. It’s a blast seeing all of the runners out there, even ones who are just getting back into shape like me.

I’m finally starting to accept my body shape and recognize that I’m never going to be that skinny model. God gave me curves. I’m learning to embrace that! Hopefully the running and hiking will increase my fitness levels, even if I never do fit into those size four jeans.

This week’s plans

Last week was a flop in my ability to cross things off my list. I made progress on almost everything but was able to complete very little! The only item I completely finished was writing reviews for all of the library books that needed to be returned.

This week’s to-do list:

  • Complete a week of my Coursera class
  • Finish the pinwheel blocks for my monkey quilt

I look forward to making progress on the monkey quilt. I scrapped over half of the blocks I’ve made thus far because I didn’t like the way the quilt was turning out. The color scheme was all wrong. I took it back to the drawing board, picked out some alternate fabrics, and look forward to getting back into it!

Weekly Goals

I cannot believe how fast one week passes into the next. It’s unbelievable! Valentine’s Day is this week and we just celebrated Christmas!

Last month I posted a list of goals and deadlines. So far it’s really helped. I’ve stopped procrastinating on several projects and have either made good progress or completed several. I’ve been wondering if having smaller weekly goals might also be useful.

This week:

  • Write Goodreads reviews for the library books that need to be returned
  • Finish reading one of the books sent to be reviewed
  • Complete a week’s worth of lectures and quizzes for my Coursera Argument class
  • Sew the pinwheel blocks for the Monkey Quilt 
  • Email my language exchange partner
  • Finish compiling my daily/weekly chores list

That’s probably a bit ambitious but I need to make significant progress on my argument class as it needs to be completed by March 11. Also, I have a stack of library books that have to be returned this week and I want to review them before returning them.

I am off to go make lunch and clean the kitchen!

Concrete Goals for 2013

Kat has been discussing goals recently and how important it is to create specific goals rather than general New Years resolutions. My second 2013 resolution is to become more intentional, to spend my time more productively. I thought it would prove useful to write up specific goals and completion dates for several of the most important areas of my life.

Abstract Goal – To improve my quilting skills.

Concrete Goals

  • Participate in the 350 Blocks Project. I have no intention of completing 350 blocks as that is way more than I have completed in the past three years total! But I am going to use the project as an opportunity to push myself to finish more (ongoing).
  • Complete four quilts this year. I am currently working on two, a personal lap-sized quilt (March 31) and a baby quilt (Feb 28) for my husband’s college friends’ baby. I also want to start and finish a quilt for my new nephew (April 30).

Abstract Goal – To become fluent.

Concrete Goals

  • 30 minutes of study time each and every day (ongoing).
  • Find a language exchange pen pal and write an email once per week (Jan 31).
  • Take the JLPT N3 exam in December 2013. The exam tests reading and listening comprehension and is only offered once a year outside of Japan. We have a testing center here in Seattle. (Registration opens in the fall.)

Abstract Goal – To lose weight.

Concrete Goals

  • Incorporate more fresh food in my diet by including at least one fruit or vegetable at every meal (start by Jan 31).
  • Start eating raw breakfasts at least three times each week (start by Jan 31).
  • Run at least three times per week and train to race a 10k by the end of the year (ongoing).

Abstract Goal – To become a better homemaker.

Concrete Goals

  • Finish organizing my recipe book so that I actually utilize it (March 31).
  • Try at least two new healthy recipes per week (ongoing).
  • Create and follow my daily chores list (Feb 15).

Of course, this does not cover all areas of my life. While I appreciate the challenge of tackling each of these goals, I am a bit overwhelmed by the number of changes it will require. This is why I will have to prioritize and revisit these goals often to make changes based on what is or is not working. I know that January is almost over but there is no better time than now to refocus!

2013 – An emphasis on Jesus

2012 was a great year, the highlight of which was finally realizing our dream to move to the Pacific Northwest. I’m not tired of the rain yet!

I am hoping and praying that 2013 will be an even better year. Normally I make a ton of New Year’s Resolutions but this year I am only making two. The first and biggest focus of my year is to spend more time learning about God and my relationship with Him.

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him.”

Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.”

Jesus said to him, “Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works. Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me; otherwise believe because of the works themselves” (John 14:6-11).

This year I plan to concentrate my morning devotions and my Bible study time on the life of Christ. I used to think Jesus was just in the four Gospels but He is actually evident throughout the entire Bible. It was Jesus who spoke to Moses in the burning bush and it was Jesus who appeared in vision to John the Revelator. He is witnessed everywhere between the two accounts.

I already have a number of books that I am excited to start reading.

My Bible and two quarterlies –
“How to Study Your Bible” and “The Spiritual Life”

Miracles: The Credibility of the New Testament Accounts
Jesus: Pure and Simple
Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus
4 additional Sabbath school quarterlies

A. D. Chronicles (a reread)

If I can get through all of these, I will raid the library collection or order additional books on Amazon. I would really like to read The Gospel of John: a Commentary. I can’t wait to get started!