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Posts Tagged ‘resolutions’

New year, new resolve

Like most people, I tend to make some resolutions each January 1. Some years, I do nothing more than make a casual mental list, and forget most of them as soon as the thought leaves my head.  Other years, I’m more formal in my approach, writing them down and trying really hard to to keep them. But either way, it’s unrealistic to expect to create new habits, drop bad ones and become more spiritual, better organized and physically healthier all at once.

This year, I’m approaching my resolutions a little differently.  Instead of writing out a list of things I want to stop doing, start doing, or do better, I’m going to tackle a particular aspect or area of my life each month, and focus on it for 30 days.  They (whoever “they” are) say it takes about a month to establish a new habit.  So over the course of 12 months, I can–at least theoretically–create 12 new habits by this time next year.

To kick things off, I’m starting with my spiritual life, and committing this month to daily Bible reading and more time each week in study and meditation.  I’m using an ESV Bible laid out to accommodate a year-long study.  I started it two years ago, and stalled out about half-way through.  I’ll pick up where I left off, and when I get to the end, I may simply start over.  Other monthly resolutions will delve into organizing, fitness, cooking and entertaining.

Be sure to eat some black-eyed peas for luck today (here’s my favorite recipe); and I wish for blessings on each of us who resolve to make the most of 2011.

Happy new year!

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Retrospective on resolutions

For better or worse, blogging can hold you accountable. (Yeah, you can walk away at any time, but if you stick with it, you are stuck with your own words.)

Last year, I made a list of new year’s resolutions here, and here’s how I did on them:

  1. Showing more hospitality.  I wasn’t quite as consistent month-to-month as I wanted to be, but all in all, I’m pretty happy with my  efforts on this one – we had several dinners with friends and family, and I opened my home to two big group activities, so I’d call this resolution one that I successfully kept.
  2. Running the race.  Despite a few setbacks, I have stuck with running for another year, and I’m looking forward to logging more miles this year.  Still nowhere near ready for a half-marathon, though.
  3. Becoming more purposeful.  Argh.  This is hard to do, and really hard to objectively measure.  Some days were better than others, and I think I can say I put more effort into attempting to be truly purposeful and careful with my time.  I still have lots of room for improvement, though.
  4. Becoming more prayerful.  Wish I could say I nailed this one, but God knows this is one I struggle with.  I think I struggle most with trying to do things on my own instead of giving them  to Him to handle, which means I hold off approaching Him until I feel I’ve got everything under control (which doesn’t always happen.)  I don’t know why I think He expects me to have (or even get) my act together – He knows me better than anybody else!
  5. Reading the Bible through.  I am most disappointed in myself on this one, because I just plain didn’t make this a high priority.  I definitely need a do-over on this one. 

If I assigned grades of A through F on these, my GPA would be passing, but I wouldn’t be on the Dean’s List.  I am happy that I kept a couple of them well, and looking back has given me a clearer idea of what my 2011 resolutions and priorities will be.

Happy new year!

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Misfortune: uninvited but never unescorted

You know that old superstition:  bad things come in threes, misfortunes never occur singly.   Or the inverse: third time is the charm.

This week I’m gearing up for a yummy brunch with my Highland Heights secret sisters.  I’ve been eagerly looking forward to this for a long time – it’s a new event for this year and will kick off the 4th annual cookbook, which is – of course – brunch recipes.  We’re also doing something special for our members heading off to college.  (Shhhh, it’s a secret.)  The morning promises to be a lot of fun.

And the summer months have seen me backslide on my New Year’s resolution to show more hospitality, so this will help make up for lost ground.  (If you have 15 or 20 people over at once, that’s the equivalent of least 4 or 5 small dinner parties, right?)

As I work on getting everything just perfect for my guests, I’ve already had two mini-catastrophes occur:

1) The light switch in the hall bathroom shorted out a few nights ago.  As in smoke drifting from the switch.  Eeek!  Fortunately we caught it before it caught anything else on fire.   (Sidebar to dad:  Yes, I checked the wiring and insulation in the attic before going to bed.)  Back when this house was built, they still used real metal boxes for switches and plugs.  Made of real steel, probably forged right here in the  good old US of A.  We’ll pull new wiring and replace the switch, but the box is intact and I don’t think I’ll have to do any touch-up painting or drywall patching.

 2) I’ve managed to severely injure my right foot this week.  I’m gimping around, unable to put full weight on it.  Some day I will learn to listen to my body – the foot was tender after Monday’s run, but I was determined to get in a good run on Tuesday, too.  And now I’ll pay the price for my stubbornness by hobbling for a few more days and gobbling naproxen caplets like they’re candy.  And the weeds are NOT going to get pulled like I had planned.

But my real concern is, when will the other proverbial shoe drop?  Does the printer running out of toner count as a bona fide third catastrophe?  (New cartridge won’t arrive until next week.)  These things come in threes, or so *they* say.  (Then again, *they* say a lot of stuff that isn’t based on fact.)  But just to be safe, keep your fingers crossed for me, and maybe toss a little salt over your shoulder if you get a chance, okay?

August 30 Postscript: My third mishap was indeed technology related, but in other (better) news, my foot is nearly 100% again , the electrical connections in our house are good to go, the brunch went swimmingly and the toner cartridges arrived courtesy of good ol’ UPS today.

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While watering…

I had a deep thought today: ‘If some of my roses were puny because they were waterlogged, how come they’re not growing like gangbusters when they’re dry as a bone?’  Sigh…

I also ruminated on why perennials should be planted in the spring or fall, but not summer.  At least I did get my cheap plants planted, but now they are pitiful, needy little things…always looking parched and whimpering for a drink of water.  Unlike their established counterparts who might flag a little in the heat of midday, but perk right up once evening comes.

So, my second gardening resolution for 2011:  just like mulching, I should only buy and plant perennials in months beginning with Ma and Ap.  Or Se and Oc.  But never in months beginning in Ju or Au.  (Except for the box of daylilies that arrived today from Gemini Garden.  Hmmm.  Guess those might go in after tomorrow’s rain, when I can dig and lift the clumps that I want to remove and pass along.)

Our water bill was atrocious this month (but honestly not as bad as I feared it might be.  Then again, it was June and we were still getting rain – there’s no telling what July and August might bring.) The weather forecast says there’s a 60% to 80% chance of thunderstorms tomorrow, so I’ll water today just to be sure.  (If I don’t, it won’t. Murphy’s Law and all that.)

The pond plants got treated to some fertilizer today – a little overdue, but better late than never, right?  I was a little smarter this year…I only bought a small container of fertilizer tablets.  In the past, I’ve bought bigger bottles because they’re cheaper, ounce for ounce. But I finally got it through my frugal head that their shelf life is limited, and buying a two-year’s supply is not a money saver if I have to buy replacements the next year anyway.  I have just enough tablets to treat the waterlily to a second round of fertilizer late next month, and that should be all these plants need to get them through until fall.  So far, two of the new goldfish have decided to do the eternal backstroke, but the shubunkins and remaining goldfish seem content and happy to hang out in their new home, and are starting to associate my appearance with food.

Speaking of which, tonight’s dinner is definitely going to avoid using the stove as much as possible…grill, here we come!  The only good thing about traipsing outside periodically to move the sprinkler is that a 78 degree house feels really cool when you’ve been out in upper 90 degree temperatures  (Yes, it’s a heat alert day.)  Hope everyone stays cool as a cucumber.  Hey look – are those storm clouds on the horizon?

P.S. The watering ritual worked – it’s thundering and sprinkling.
P.P.S. Yes, I’m playing with my blog’s background and header.  Let me know what you think!

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A holiday (?) weekend

Light on holiday, heavy on work, the weekend consisted mainly of mulching, weeding, more mulching, planting, watering, even MORE mulching and lots (and lots) of perspiration, a few sweat bee stings, and a bit of sunburn.

The weekend inspired my first gardening resolution for 2011:  I resolve to put down mulch only in months beginning with Ma and Ap.  As in March, April and May.  There should be no mulching done in months beginning with “Ju” (you know, like June or July.)  Or months that rhyme with AUGUST.

Hoo boy was it ever hot out there.  Six scoops (roughly 3-4 cubic yards) of shredded mulch, plus a half-dozen bags (maybe more…I lost count) of soil conditioner (aka pine bark fines) were applied to the perennial border and vegetable garden paths.  It will probably not look this good again the rest of the season, so I’ll relish it now.  This is the shot from the southern approach to the garden, showing off a new perennial salvia blooming its head off, and my ‘Herbstonne’ rudbeckia getting tall and ready to bloom.

The second shot is from the opposite end, where the ‘Jacob Cline’ monarda is in full swing, full of fat bumblebees stumbling from one bloom to another. The spiky echinops in front is a fun steely blue flower…well, it’s fun until you have to weed around it, and then its thistle-esque leaves make me wish I had considered another plant. But it’s fairly deer-proof, so it does have that going for it.  Knock on wood: thus far my nutty neighbor has only sprayed his Roundup vitriol about one foot inside the fence (it is his fence, and is about a foot inside his property line, so he apparently feels entitled to zap anything I plant in that 12 inches.  After finding my beautiful perennials turned extra-crispy, I have learned to simply leave the DMZ area void of planting.)

In case you’re wondering, indeed that is an outhouse in the picture. Well, okay – not a working outhouse, but a potting shed meant to look like an outhouse.  Snicker.  For years I fantasized about making said neighbor a little nutsy by placing a real-deal outhouse in my garden.  The fantasy evolved to the point where each year I get an outhouse calendar for Christmas, which is proudly displayed on our refrigerator.  It’s amazing how many outhouses are still photo-worthy year after year.  A couple years ago, my husband (I love that man) called me from our local  Tractor Supply Company to inform me they were selling potting shed kits that were a full-scale replica of an outhouse.  Tin roof, half-moon on the door, everything except the one, two or three holes.  We wasted no time – we bought it that day, assembled it and plunked it front and center where the neighbor and his guests could admire our new potting shed.

I know it’s not my best character trait but to be perfectly honest, I adore my potting shed for its form and function…and its exquistely redneck design. And knowing it makes this neighbor just a tiny bit nutsy – errr, nutsier – is icing on the cake.

So here’s the garden in its fully manicured splendor. Peppers, tomatoes, melons, okra, cukes and zukes are all nestled in their beds.  I am capturing this for posterity because it will probably not look this good again the rest of the season.   (July is hot, but August is hotter.) The grape arbor in the background is loaded down with muscadines…still green but soon will turn purple and be ready to pick and process into grape jam.  Nothing beats muscadine grapes for pucker power…they’re nature’s own “Shock Tarts.”  And wonder of wonders..next to the potting shed, I discovered my fig tree is still alive and kicking..hidden under a 5-gallon bucket I apparently upended to protect it last winter.  Poor thing…I fertilized and watered it and hope it continues to grow.

Lest it appears we merely toiled the weekend away, we did enjoy the holiday.  We watched the ‘boro’s fireworks last night; today we and the boys went to Memaw’s to swim and eat some good home cooking..   (Youngest is away at Bible camp this week.)  It was fun watching my “boys” and our nephews romp and roughhouse as only boys (of any age) can.

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Just for today…

I will honor God by spending time in prayer and meditation today, and encouraging our youth at the Bible Bowl season finale tonight.

I will honor my employer by taking care of those things entrusted to me to oversee, and take care of the paperwork stacking up on my desk.

I will honor my body by eating healthy and working out. (A few weeks of slipshod eating habits have taken their toll. The scale and my clothes do not lie. But it was back on the wagon and treadmill as of today.)

I will honor my family with a cleaner home to enjoy this evening.

I cannot ruminate enough to undue the things of the past, and I cannot worry about tomorrow, or put things off, because it may be too late.

I will not attain perfection today. But I can use today perfectly, to the degree that I make full and complete use of it. I can live in the present, and do my best to be a good steward of the time, talents, and money I have been blessed with. Just for today.

So I will try to live out Matthew 6:34: “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”

Just for today.

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Auld Lang Syne and all that.

Random thought for the day: will we say “two thousand and ten” or “twenty-ten?” It should be interesting to see how we mere mortals refer to this year as we usher in the second decade of the 21st century.

For the first time in a long time, I managed to start the new year off right – the Christmas decs are all “snug in their beds” until next December. Most years, I’m lucky to have them down by the 2nd week of January, but I decided to get on the ball this time around. I also accomplished another first – I ran 3.5 miles, and bumped up the pace, too. Now that I’ve got the 5K goal under my belt, I’m ready to tackle longer runs, and maybe a half-marathon isn’t such a stretch after all.

We ushered in the new year with a quiet evening at home. After braving the grocery store, I served up New Orleans-style oyster stew to start things off and provide comfort to my discouraged UT fan/husband as he watched the Vols lose to Virginia Tech at the Chik-Fil-A bowl. (At least he didn’t drive down to Hotlanta and buy a ticket to watch the game!) A couple big steaks fed three of us (middle child opted to spend the night with us), along with some spicy shrimp, baked ‘taters and crusty bread.

I’ve never been good at making or keeping resolutions, but that doesn’t stop me from making a run at it every now and again. So this year, I resolve these five things (it’s easy to remember if I can count ’em on one hand):

  1. Show more hospitality. I love spending time with our friends and I love getting acquainted with new friends. Entertaining guests is a great motivator to clean the house and an excuse to create a decadent dessert. All upside, no downside.
  2. Run the race. My energy level and outlook on life have certainly improved by introducing running to my life last spring. It seems like a good thing to continue.
  3. Become more purposeful. As a good friend once advised, everyone has 24 hours in each day and we all manage to find time for the things we really want to do. So my goal is to consider what it is I really want to do each day, and tackle it like there’s no tomorrow – because there may not be.
  4. Become more prayerful. That’s what my knees are for. Well, that and gardening and cleaning behind toilets.
  5. Finish reading the Bible through. I started it in 2009 and made great strides; there’s no sense in starting over just because it’s a new year. I just need to finish what I started and then begin again.

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