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January flew by!  How ’bout those resolutions? I think the first few days are the easiest, but then the next few weeks are the hardest.  For better or worse, here’s where I am:

1. Cultivate a daily prayer life.

New journal has many names and sermon notes. Even so, getting into a daily routine is an area for improvement.

2. Read the Bible through in 2012.

On track – I’m even doubling up on my readings (more later.)

If you’re an attention-challenged Bible reader like me, try the One Year Bible (you can even get it online for free.)  Each day you get a little Old, a little New, a few Psalms and Proverbs.   I spent most of January dazed and confused in Chronicles, but the familiarity of Acts and Romans kept me going.

3. Exercise at least 4 days a week and drop the last 15 pounds I want to lose. 

  • Week one,  I managed five workouts:  elliptical, weights and yoga.
  • Weeks two and three were a bust: a pinched nerve in my back kept me incapacitated.
  • Week four  success!  Elliptical, Pilates, yoga and a 5K walk/run.

My initial weight was (gulp)  almost 125 pounds.  I should weigh 105-118 pounds and I’m determined to get back to somewhere around 110 and maintain it. Currently I’m hovering at 120-121.

4. Get my desk organized and keep it that way. 

During the first week, I cleared my desk off;  today my  2012 desk calendar is still visible! My desk is the catch-all for mail and miscellany.  Any suggestions on dealing with the daily deluge?  Please share – my desk and I could use all the help we can get 🙂

5. Cultivate the fruit of the spirit in my life.

How do you measure the love, peace, joy, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control in your life?  Something tells me this fruit is a really slow grower.

What would you like to change this year? The perfect time to start is (always!) now – share your resolutions so we can encourage each other!

Happy Monday,

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To borrow from Lewis Carroll’s “The Walrus and the Carpenter,” the time has come.

(Do you remember the poem, recited by Tweedledee and Tweedledum?  This is the one stanza that always sticks in my mind…)

“The time has come,” the Walrus said,
“To talk of many things: 
Of shoes–and ships–and sealing-wax– 
Of cabbages–and kings– 
And why the sea is boiling hot– 
And whether pigs have wings.” 

Because we measure time the way we do, we are preparing to greet a new year at midnight.  And with the new year comes a fresh, new start, at least to our way of thinking.

For some reason, each year we choose this particular point in time and grant it the power to change us.   There’s nothing magical about this spot on the calendar – a resolution can be made at any time, and should be made sooner than later when we see something in ourselves that could stand to be improved upon.

But most of us will resolve – either today or tomorrow – to stop some bad habits and/or develop new, better habits.

Gotta love Calvin and Hobbes…

Calvin’s view of himself aside, most of us long to improve some area of our life – usually to become healthier and happier in some meaningful, tangible way. But the statistics are discouraging:  the vast majority of resolutions made each year are doomed to fail – my past resolutions are certainly part of the disappointing majority.

Even the word “resolution” has some interesting and paradoxical meanings:  on one hand, it is the quality of being resolute or firm,  on the other it is the act of dissolving or separating something into its basic parts.  At its root is the Latin word resolvere, meaning to dissolve. So which will it be:  will my resolutions remain firm and determined, or will they dissolve like salt in a glass of water? 

Last year, I had the bright and novel idea (don’t snicker) of making monthly resolutions instead of annual ones.  I didn’t put it into practice – the months slipped by, and my good intentions sailed on the wind just like my past annual resolutions.

Suddenly, here I am again, at the threshold of another new year, fresh and bright with all its potential and promise.

My personal commitments for 2012 are much like those of past years – they represent areas of my life where I want to grow and mature.  “They” (those wise, anonymous people) say you shouldn’t make more than  one large or three small resolutions.  I say I have five fingers on one hand – surely I can remember – and work on – that many goals, so here are my 2012 resolutions:

1. Make time each day to cultivate a deeper prayer life (a new prayer journal is due)
2. Read the Bible through this year – no ifs, ands or buts.
3. Exercise at least 4 days a week and drop the last 15 pounds I want to lose.
4. Get my desk re-organized – and maintain it throughout the year.
5. Cultivate the fruit of the spirit in my life:  more love, peace, joy, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

That last one is less concrete and measurable, but my plan is to share each month a recap of my struggles and successes in these areas here with you, and I hope you’ll encourage me with your comments and input. What are you committed to changing this year?

I hope that each of us will take a few moments to ponder our progress over the past year and make a solemn promise to ourselves – even if it is basic, simple and small – to become better in some way in 2012.  Let’s be resolute and committed, so we can achieve our goals, however lofty or small.  And if/when we find ourselves standing at the brink of 2013, we can look back on this year and see where we made some positive strides. 

Happy new year,
 
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After my success at hanging a blind (it’s the little things that mean a lot, isn’t it?) I decided I would shoot for tying up at least a couple if not several loose ends every week – ideally one a day, but some of these “ends” are going to take longer than a day and some weeks have other stuff crowding the schedule. (I’m pretty sure there are enough undone and almost-done things around here to keep me busy every day all summer long.)

During the past week, I managed to finish the following tasks:

Saturday
.  I scraped the ceiling in the old house’s laundry room. It was only ten years overdue. Okay, we’ll cut me some slack and call it four years overdue since that’s when I scraped the bonus room and it was the next-to-last room to be scraped, and promised I’d move onto the laundry room next.

It took me under two hours, start to finish. Honestly, in the last four years, I couldn’t spare two hours to scrape the blasted ceiling and a couple more hours to paint it??? I have made myself a promise that I will focus on the success and I won’t beat myself up over these loose ends, but that was definitely a hall-of-shame project. It’s done, and the new owners – whoever they might be – can enjoy the house popcorn-free.

Bonus:  Also on Saturday I rearranged an alcove in the new garage so I can use my wire shelves from the old house and store my canning supplies and other stuff that’s coming out of the attic.  As I swept and tidied, guess what I found behind the water heater? The missing wand to the wood blind we just hung. So now to replace the replacement with the original, and take the other wand back to the old house.  Confused yet? Me, too.

Monday.  I can’t take full credit for this one, but I did help. A little.  My brave menfolk – all three of them – took turns climbing into the fiery furnace (aka attic) and handing down boxes and tubs.  No one could stay up there long – it was simply too hot.  Sidenote:  Two attics are NOT double the fun.  The Christmas and other seasonal stuff is now tucked away in the new walk-in attic (God bless the genius architect who first designed a house with an attic you can WALK into instead of climb into.)  The canning jars are now on their new shelves in the garage, along with the ice cream freezer and even our turkey fryer/low country boiling pot.  (Forgot we even had it!)

Unfortunately, the rest of the stuff is now one ginormous loose end.  The old house’s garage looks like a scene from “The Hoarders” with six piles o’ stuff:  one for each member of our family, plus one designated for a garage sale.  The next step in the process is for the individual piles to begin shrinking as everyone culls through their stuff and moves things to the garage sale pile, or to the trash.  But when theory meets reality, they are often complete strangers, unknown to each other.  Sigh. I’m sure the piles will eventually go away.

Tuesday.  I patched all the nail holes and did a final clean sweep of the old house before the painters arrived.  I can finally say the house is really and truly ready to be painted.

The rest of the week was spent on getting several work-related tasks and volunteer loose ends pushed to the finish line, in between playing swim taxi to and from practice.  I’m hoping next week I’ll have a little more time to tie up a few more loose ends, because I do believe I am on a roll.

Happy end-tying!

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Frugal February

I’ve seen a few indications that other people celebrate frugality and simplicity in February.  But even if it’s not a recognized observance, I’m going to make it my area of focus and resolve for the month.  I don’t think we’ll make the leap into extreme frugality (not even for a month), but there are some things that I can do to help us live a little simpler and cheaper, while still living well:

Making my own bread and rolls.  I love the convenience of scooping up bakery artisan breads and sandwich rolls, but wowsers, they are pricey.  I can make really good rolls and bread myself, and I have the tools and ingredients to do it. It’s just a matter of planning ahead to allow enough time for bread making.

Using up the stuff in the pantry and freezer.  I realized when I blogged about my overstuffed pantry that I have gotten more than a little sloppy in my shopping habits, mainly because I have extra room.  I doubt we’ll find ourselves with bare shelves on February 28,  but I’m going to challenge myself to build our weekly menus around the items on hand before buying any other staples.

Taking stock of cleaning supplies.  Like the pantry situation, my cleaning supply cabinet is overstocked, and I obviously have more stuff than I should. So this month will be used to figure out what’s in there, use them for the purposes I bought them for, and be more judicious before rushing out to buy more.

Getting more out of what we have:

  1. Using up the gift cards.  I carry around several hundred dollars in gift cards, and typically forget I have them.  I’ve taken an inventory and will start using them when I’m patronizing the stores and restaurants I have cards for.
  2. Using those smart cards and discount coupon books.  No, I’m not advocating more spending, but when we do head out to eat or be merry, I will do my best to look for a discount we can use.
  3. Squeezing all the good out of our YMCA family membership.  It’s a monthly obligation of around $100.  Since I started running almost two years ago, we’ve steadily increased our visits to the point that one of us is there just about every day.  (I work out daily during the week and sometimes on the weekends with Mr. Official and Swimmer Girl, who each sneak in the occasional weeknight visit, too.)  We just need to keep it up, and if/when we aren’t using it any longer, cut it off so it doesn’t return to being a waste of money.
  4. Making my magazines work a little harder.  I am embarrassed to admit to how many periodicals we subscribe to.  But worse than that are the magazines that sit un-read.  Starting this month, I will make it a point to make a recipe, cut and use the coupons, and/or use tips or advice from every one of them that comes in the mail.  And if I find some of them aren’t delivering anything useful, they will not be renewed, no matter how good of a renewal deal they dangle in front of me.

Happy frugality!

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January’s resolution

Well, I started off in January with every intention of jumping back into daily Bible reading. And I kept it up for a couple weeks.  In fact I was feeling pretty confident that it would settle into a newly formed habit by the end of the month.

But then one night I didn’t get my reading done. Or the next night, or the night after that. Before I knew it a week and then two had gone by, without any attempt to catch up or even start over.

So this past weekend, I took a few hours and caught up. (Is that the best way to read the Bible? Arguably no, but there’s that OCD part of me that needs to be “on track” – whatever that means, and by whatever means necessary.) One disclaimer I feel I should add, even though it doesn’t excuse my lack of study, but the Bible is the only book I have picked up and read with any frequency as of late. A stack of hardbacks sit forlornly in my nightstand. Not even the surprise Christmas gift of a second Kindle has ignited my interest in reading anything else. So it’s not that I’m not interested in Bible reading, it’s a general malaise.

Now that I’m caught up, I’ll be using habitforge.com to re-start this resolution and make it part of my daily routine, while also starting on February’s resolution. (Sorry, you’ll have to wait until tomorrow to find out what THAT is 🙂

How are you doing with your new year’s resolutions? If you’re struggling, take heart – you’re definitely not alone! And if you need to start over, now’s as good a time as any.

Happy reading – and resolution-keeping!

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As I mentioned on January 1, I’m approaching my resolutions a little differently this year, and focusing on one area of improvement each month.  (Trying to change too many things all at once has been my downfall in years past.)

So, putting first things first, January is my time to get back in the routine of regular Bible reading, study, prayer and meditation. A couple years ago, I got halfway through the Bible, but when the summer swim team schedule shifted around, I let the daily readings fall by the wayside. So I’m picking up where I left off, and at a minimum, will finish what I started in about six months.  If the habit is ingrained enough by then, I’ll simply start over and keep reading.  (The Bible is definitely not the kind of book you can read once and say you’ve gotten all there is to learn from it 🙂

I’m using a free online tool called habitforge.com to keep me accountable during these early days of re-establishing this habit, and so far it’s working. Getting that email every morning and being able to press “YES!” every day is a good feeling. (It’s a handy little tool for ANY habit you’re trying to adopt – or quit, if it’s something you’re giving up.)

And every so often, I’ll post how I’m doing with the current month’s resolution.  I hope everyone who is trying to become healthier, more spiritual, more organized, etc. is faring well with your resolutions.  And if you’ve already had a slip-up on a resolution, it’s okay – every day is a new day to start over.

Happy weekend – it’s national bubble bath day!!!

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Not sure where the last couple weeks went.  The days flew by, as we kicked off the holidays by keeping Sadie-the-grandpuppy the weekend of our anniversary, then I put Mr. Official in the hospital for a few days, springing him just in time to enjoy a whirlwind visit with the ‘rents.  We celebrated Christmas Eve and Christmas as usual, quietly rang in 2011, then tucked away the Christmas decorations for another year. And here we are, back to our post-holiday daily routine.

I freely admit January is my least-favorite month of the year: it’s cold and bleak outside and the house always seems a little empty and forlorn once the decorations are tucked away. But a clean slate can be a good thing: it gives me a chance to evaluate our surroundings (and consider moving furniture, cleaning and organizing, or painting something…anything); look for new recipes to try, get busy keeping my new year’s resolutions and start building up my running times again.

This week also holds the promise of something new and exciting for our family. But…we’re not quite ready to share any specifics with the world.  (Sorry, I know it’s not nice to tease.)  If the next few weeks go smoothly, you’ll probably hear our shouts of joy, no matter where you are.

In the meantime, I’ll focus on each day, relish it for all it’s worth, and start counting down the days to spring.

Happy Monday

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