This is a question I have been asking myself all afternoon. In reality, it is something that has been on my mind for several weeks, but was brought to conscious, deliberate consideration this afternoon while I was listening to some old episodes of the Dave Ramsey Show.
In the segment that caught my attention, Dave was talking about the question that he gets most from reporters, “What is the dumbest thing people do with their money?”. He said, it isn’t budgeting, credit cards, etc. The biggest problem is that people just don’t pay attention to their money, their finances, and their debt. They don’t track it.
Then he made the statement that struck something in me….the thing that I needed to hear….the thing that I can apply not only to my finances, but to any area of my life. He said, “You are successful with the things you pay attention to.”
It really got me thinking. I have a lot of areas in my life that I really want to make some changes to. I have other areas of my life where I totally kick butt. I’m good at my job. I’ve consider myself successful at work. I have a good work ethic. I work my butt off. I’m really invested in building my team up and making sure that they have the things that they need in order to succeed at their jobs and to progress and be promoted—being a good mentor—a skill that I really want to develop. When things have gotten crazy at work or I’ve had struggles, I’ve been able to prioritize it above other things. I work extra hours. I miss events with my friends and family. It comes first.
As I think about the other areas of my life where I’ve been able to overcome a struggle or develop expertise at something, I’ve been able to prioritize those things. I once worked really hard to get myself out of debt. It was my priority. I quit using credit. I was aware of and tracked every penny that I spent. I didn’t just think about it at the first of the month when the paycheck came in, or at the end of the month when I was worried about not having enough to cover my expenses. I tracked my activity with money daily. When things came up with friends or family that had an expense associated with it, I prioritized my desire and plan to be debt free over most of those activities.
In the past when I have done well with weight loss, fitness and health, I was able to prioritize exercise above many other things. I weighed and tracked everything I ate. I sought out leisure time activities that furthered my goals and desires to achieve a certain goal. I paid attention to those things that I was doing that would positively or negatively impact my ability to achieve that goal and I prioritized my time, money, and efforts towards my intended outcomes.
Now I’m thinking about other related things, like, why did I decide to prioritize one thing over another? What paradigms or stories have I created about my life, my abilities, and my mission that have led me to prioritize one thing over another? Can I really find a way to prioritize everything that I want in life? How do I learn to set the appropriate boundaries so that I can have a happy life and do good with what and who I am? In most cases in my past, I’ve been able to prioritize long enough to meet an initial goal, but then have not held steady or continued to progress. I meet the goal and then I drop the priorities. What steps do I need to make in order to maintain my results or continue moving forward? I know that everything can’t be a priority. How do I choose? What things am I paying attention to that I shouldn’t? Am I being successful at things I don’t want to be because I pay attention to the wrong things?
There is a lot to consider, but I’m feeling hopeful about getting some traction on the things I want in life.
With a title like that you may assume that this post will address weight loss and weight gain. That is only one tiny part of what I anticipate sharing here.
Every time I move I learn a little bit about myself. The overarching lesson of the current move is that I seem to shrink or expand to fit my circumstances. I’ve lived in all sorts of situations, from sharing a bedroom in an apartment with four other women to the situation that I just left—2500 square feet, 5-bedroom, 3 full bath, 2 car garage kind of thing—all to myself.
When I moved into that large house I came from a modest 3-bedroom 1 bathroom home that was less than 1100 square feet. In that home I had to be judicious about how large my furniture was, how many dishes I had and how much storage was available. When I first moved into the large home, I did it with the intent of having a roommate. It didn’t work out. Gratefully, my friend that lived there for a few months with me is still my friend. It was a difficult time for both of us and I’m so grateful that we made it through with our friendship intact.
Here I sat with way more home than I needed and a bunch of empty rooms. What do I do? I hit the classifieds and fill up all of those rooms. I also decide, even though I’ve never done it before, that I’m going to refinish furniture, so I have way more side tables than a home twice this size should have. My closet slowly but surely gets more occupants and before you know it, I am a single gal in a 5-bedroom home that appears to be inhabited by at least 5 people.
As I’ve been culling my things in preparation to make this move it occurred to me that I tend to expand into whatever size home I have available. Likewise I will shrink to fit my new living conditions. Prior to moving I sold my piano, gave away two couches and a day bed and took about 4 loads of items that I don’t use on a regular basis to the local thrift store. Even with all of those things leaving my possession, I still find myself looking around my new apartment and wondering how I ever thought I would fit all of these things in here and why on earth I need them. Many of these things are just that—things—that I don’t use often, that don’t add to my life like they should for the amount of space and anxiety that they occupy. I will be making a few more trips to the thrift store as I unpack and reassess what it is that I really need, want and love.
Similarly, I find that I often shrink or expand to fit the clothes that I have in my closet. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve bought an article of clothing and thought it was too big or didn’t fit quite right, only to try it on in 6 months to find that it fits perfectly. My weight and waistline shrink or expand along with the mindset and the level of discipline (room) I give them.
I think this applies to so many things in my life. The love in my life shrinks or expands in conjunctions with how open minded and how open hearted I am. This shrinks or expands the number of friends and relationships that I have in my life. My bank account shrinks or expands similarly—based on how much attention I pay to what I do with what I have and the level of gratitude I have, and along with my levels of generosity.
What is the lesson in all of this? I believe it is that I need to be very intentional in setting up the different areas of my life so that I can shrink or expand in a way that will allow me to be my best self. Too much of my past life has been left to chance–with me either shrinking or expanding in ways that leave me tired, frustrated, confused and living a life that is far removed from what I know could be my best life.
Deep thoughts these days people! Deep thoughts!
Here’s to shrinking or expanding in the ways that bring out the best in us, allow us to be grateful and generous and fill us with all of the love and confidence we need to be well, happy and living our best lives!
I’m sitting on the floor in the master suite of my almost empty home. A few possessions have lingered here in this space….an errant sock, a box of towels, a menagerie of hangers. The contents of both the silverware drawer and the junk drawer are neatly packed and awaiting their shuttle to my new apartment from the kitchen counter top. Most of my dirty laundry is still hanging out in the hamper of the master closet and all of my cleaning supplies are sitting on the shelf above where the washer and dryer used to reside–some will move to my new home with me, some will be used to make this lovely home even more lovely for it’s new occupants. And, my wifi router for service that has yet to be transferred to my new home is powering my computer and phone for one last time.
In a spirit of full disclosure, I have to say that I’m on the brink of tears. I have both loved and hated this home. As with the last home, I’m leaving behind features lovingly installed by people I love. In the last home it was the laminate floor that my brothers and dad spent a 3-day weekend installing.
In this home it is the rounded quartz edges of my counter tops and the granite hearth and surround for my fireplace.
I will miss my sweet neighbors, my church congregation, and the amenities of this place. Most of all, I can’t help but think that this is the last place I will ever live that Mom visited…and that makes me sad.
I’m taking action that I hope will take my life in the direction that I want it to go–that will make me a more likely candidate for the role that I want to play in life and the person I want to be. It hasn’t been easy and there is a part of me that feels like a huge failure. I know that a lot of the people in my life don’t really understand why I’m selling my house and moving to a rental for the near future. They think I’m taking a huge step backward. On some levels, I would have to agree with them. But its not permanent. It is a temporary solution that will allow me to get some momentum on goals that have been evading me for far too long.
Stay tuned and see how thing unfold.
By William Ernest Henley
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul.
Do any of you use a mantra? Is there a word or phrase that you can repeat to yourself to give you the courage to overcome an obstacle or get you pumped up to face a challenge? I made some notes to write about this after my friend, April’s, funeral. Now, nearly 2 years later, I’m still reminded of that sweet woman and how she lived her life. When I think about April, I think about her amazing ability to pull a group of people together. Whether it was to do a project, play some games, or deal with a business issue, April had a unique talent of being able to reach out to people and bring them together in a beautiful way. She was outgoing, funny, and talented in so many ways. Whenever I had a perplexing issue at work and just needed to talk it through with someone, it was April’s advice that I sought. As I was listening to those who knew and loved her best honor her at her funeral, each mentioned that despite her many challenges, April’s mantra was to “Live life to the fullest.” And that is just what she did. You will notice in the description I have given that I never once mentioned that April was in a wheelchair or that she was challenged with several health issues. She never let that be what her life was about. She went about her days loving people, doing good, putting herself out there, trying new things, doing awesome things, loving people with her whole heart and living life to the fullest. Her “handicaps” were absolute non-issues. They impacted her, but they were not her.
I want to be like April.
I want a life well-lived with people remembering all of the things about me that are awesome, with whatever challenges I may face being a supporting character and not the leading lady in my life’s work.
I’ve been thinking about what my mantra would be. What words could I repeat daily that would give me motivation and courage. That would be a reminder to me of the legacy I want to leave. That would help me focus more on what I’m grateful for and what a wonderful life I have than on the challenge of the moment.
My immediate thought was of the last two lines of the poem I have quoted above. I’m not sure that is the one I will pick. I love the poem and those last two lines, but my life is, for the most part joyous and not nearly as dark or onerous as compared to the tone of the overall poem
Do you have a mantra? What words or images light you up? Please share.
my very good friend, Jodi, recently celebrated her 50th birthday. We wanted to do something out of the ordinary to mark the occasion. However, timing with our jobs, finances and families didn’t leave us with a lot of room for anything extravagant. Four of us opted to make a weekend of it and have a staycation in our nearest bigger city.
As we were getting closer to the weekend, Brandy suggested that we each find 50 items we no longer use or need and donate them in honor of Jodi’s big 5. 0. We all wholeheartedly agreed.
On the Friday before our fun staycation (and it was really, really fun), Karen made the rounds and picked up our loot for delivery to the local Deseret Industries.
Here is a picture of my part of the pirate booty:
It consisted of 36 books, 6 bags of clothes, a sleeping bag, a lamp, a picnic basket back pack, a decorative lantern, a humidifier, and 4 lap blankets. Here are some pics of the loaded down car:
We even decided that we will make monthly donations of things that aren’t serving us well when we meet for our monthly girls’ night out. It felt good to free ourselves of things we don’t need or use and to make them available for those who do need them. And, it made me want to be more organized. Here is a station I set up in my bedroom closet to help me be more mindful every day.
The top basket is “donate,” the middle is “mend,” and the bottom is “dry cleaning.”
I feel so put together now!
I remember my Mom’s 29th birthday. I thought she was soooooo oooooold (said in the most exasperated 8-year old voice you can imagine)!
Well friends, I’m waaaaaaay older than 29–but I feel much younger than my actual years. So what does one do when she looks into the future and sees the ripe old age of 50 staring her in the face? She makes a list. Yes. You heard me. A List! If you know me, you will know that I make lots of lists. It helps me organize my thoughts and even though I don’t always follow those lists point by point, they help me build the bridge between chaos and control and I LOVE THEM!
What list does a 15-months-shy-of-50-year-old make to help her deal with what feels like a pretty heavy benchmark birthday on the horizon?
In keeping with the title of this blog, I was thinking about all of the things that I haven’t done that I want to do in my life. I’ve decided now is a good time to put a timeline on getting some of those things done. 50 things is a lot of things to do in 15 months, so this list is not an all-encompassing bucket-list sort of thing. It is simply a way to push me out of my comfort zone and put a deadline on moving ahead with some of the fun things I want to do, try, and experience in the 2nd half of my life.
50 Things By 50 (in no particular order)
- Release 150 pounds
- Complete at least 4 months on a WFPB SOS free diet
- Pay off all of my consumer debt
- Save 6 months emergency fund = to 6 months living expenses
- Try, document and share one new recipe per month
- Complete the Rouxbe Plant-based cooking course
- Sing Karaoke at a public venue
- Write a hand-written letter to 30 family members
- Write a hand-written letter to 20 friends
- DNA info from Ancestry
- Finish 4 BeachBody programs and submit my results
- Visit the ocean at least once (but more if possible)
- Go camping
- Spend a day at Bear Lake
- Hike the Wind Caves
- Research 30 ancestors and help them get their temple ordinances
- Visit Antelope Island
Donate 50 things I no longer need
- Become an expert shot with a hand gun
- Learn how to shoot a bow
- Take a photography class
- Create and display a piece of original art in my home
- Take a painting class
- Take the cabinet making class at Bridgerland
- Refinish a piece of furniture
- Learn how to play 5 hymns on the piano fluently
- Use my passport to go somewhere
- Blog 30 days in a row
- Finish the Courage Works program
- Finish the blogging course I signed up for
- Read 15 books
- Read the LDS Standard Works
- Read the Book of Mormon following Elder Bednar’s advice to note the enabling power of The Atonement
- Complete Elder Nelson’s challenge to read every scriptural passage about Christ
- Buy a really good chef’s knife
- Become an Argos expert (work related)
- Become an Excel expert (work related)
- Do 50 anonymous random acts of kindness
- Get my photo taken again — near my 50th birthday
- Visit the Grand Canyon
- Make it through a month using only pantry items for meals
- Create an original recipe
- Become a morning person
- Visit the Spiral Jetty
- Go on a date
- Speak at a BeachBody Super Saturday event
- Experiment with makeup and get better at it
- Find a cause I believe in and volunteer
- Create a house cleaning routine/checklist that make that chore more enjoyable
- Set up my estate plan/documents
So there you have it. I reserve the right to change some of these up if something even more noteworthy emerges–especially if it is something that really speaks to who I want to be. As you can see, #18 has a line through it as I have already complete this one. I’ll do a post on that in the near future.
This list makes me happy. I am now looking forward to feeling very accomplished by the time I reach the formerly-dreaded age 50.
What do you think? Good list? What would you add if it were your list? Does it seem to hard? Too easy?
You may or may not be aware that I started the Ultimate Reset from Beachbody in February. It is a program I have done once before and I loved it. I started it in October but wasn’t really ready for it and fell off the wagon almost immediately. So I prepped. I had groceries delivered. I prepped as much as I could (I thought) ahead of time and I started doing it on Sunday, Febaruary 12. I did really well for Sunday and Monday, but Tuesday evening found me at work late, unprepared. So I ate an “alternative” dinner that wasn’t that close to on plan. The same thing happened Wednesday and Thursday. At this point I was very frustrated. I went to visit my parents on the weekend and did ok, but still didn’t stick to plan like I wanted to.
I was starting to be pretty hard on myself about it and use it as further evidence that I just can’t overcome my issues with food. So I decided to take a step back, reframe my takeaway from this situation and devise an alternative plan of attack. I have been doing #33percentbetter for a few weeks, and since I mainly had “messed up” on dinner, I decided to look at it as though I had done #66percentbetter. I had improved to doing really well on two meals and so I decided to run with it.
After just one week of doing #66percentbetter, I had lost 4.4 pounds. That, my friends, is not failure. My failure is in not following through with what I had committed to. So I’ve decided to try again and to honor my commitment to stick to it. I will start again on March 2nd. This will allow me the time I need to get my meals planned out. This time I will be following the “Reset in a Crunch” program which will allow me to pick one or two meals from breakfast, lunch, and dinner and repeat them throughout the week. Doing this will make the need to spend a lot of time cooking much less cumbersome. The hard part will be choosing which meals to do, as I love most of them. I will come prepared each day with all three meals so that if I need to stay late, I will be able to stick to my guns. I am starting mid-week so that I can use Wednesday to prep for the next week. I will also be doing the 3-week Yoga Retreat from Beachbody On Demand (BOD) and will continue to meet with my trainer to work on my ankle and knee stability once per week. When I feel like it, I will also do some light walking. My goal is to do a video to post here and on facebook at least once per week to document how I have done.
I can do this! I need to do this, to give myself evidence that this, and things like this, are not too hard for me. I know that mentally. It has been a long time since I’ve had a success in this area of my life and I will change that here and now.
YAY! I’m excited!
Several weeks ago I took out my camera. As I looked through the images on the memory card, I realized that there were pictures on there taken over the past two years. I found myself shifting quickly from one frame to the next looking for pictures of Mom. With each new snapshot I study her face, looking for signs. Signs that she was there. That she realized who we were. That she understood what was going on. At what point did the demon we know as dementia take her?
I feel trapped in this lonely space where I find myself missing her so much, wishing for just one more conversation where I could unload my worries and get that great consoling understanding and advice. At the same time I find myself feeling guilty for missing her and grateful because she is still here. I can still hear her sweet voice. I can hug her. I can still interact with her silly, funny personality even when she doesn’t know who I am. One benefit in all this sadness is that I often hear from her how awesome her daughter, Teresa, is and how much I will like her when I meet her. It’s a whole new insight into how my Mom feels about me that I might not have quite understood in normal circumstances.
It’s hard for me when I’m a stranger to her, but I much prefer it to the moments–the brief flashes–when she realized exactly what is going on. I see the fear in her eyes. I hear the grief in her voice as she grapples to understand what is happening to her. It wrecks me.
I can always tell when she is somewhere in the middle. The nervous laughter trying to mask her confusion. Prattling on about everything, and nothing. Unable to sit still. Pacing. I love her. I miss her. I’m so sad for her. I’m in awe of her bravery & strength. I’m proud to be her daughter.
The last few months have been interesting ones for me–particularly in light of my health goals. I’ve been slipping and sliding all over the place. I firmly believe that time is not wasted if we learn something from it, especially if we consistently apply those things that we learn in a way that benefits our future.
As I’ve looked back over the past few months and as I look around at what sometimes feels like chaos in my surroundings that I’m not managing well, this question rises to the surface, “Teresa, if this (picture whatever it is) is what you want your life to be, then why isn’t it?” You are a smart person. You are resourceful. These are not hard things. Why don’t you JUST DO IT.”
I’ve tossed that question around in my mind a lot of time and even more these past few months. Why is it so hard to just be what we want to be. I know that one of my obstacles is that there are so many big improvements that I want to make that it just seems overwhelming. Changing the way I eat, for instance, doesn’t seem like it should be that big of deal. You just quit eating things you don’t see as beneficial and start eating things you think are more beneficial. I decide what I eat. I don’t ever “accidentally” eat anything. No one force feeds me. I have a pretty good outline of what food or food-like items fall on the side of “do eat” or “don’t eat.” Why is it such a struggle?
And this is only one example. I could use a lot of other areas of my life for this example (personal finances, physical fitness, personal and professional development, interpersonal relationships, spirituality, continuing education, etc.). I know what I want….why don’t I JUST DO IT?
I’m a go-getter. I think anything is possible. I believe in my ability to accomplish things. Sometimes this sets me up to fail. I try to take on too many things all at once.
And this is how #33percentbetter evolved. I was thinking about how hard it is to change everything at once, when it occurred to me that changing just one meal per day is a 33% improvement in my diet. Thirty-three percent is nothing to scoff at. If I made a change at my job that netted me a 33% gain in productivity or a 33% increase, I’d be all sorts of happy. So, I’ve been making an effort to change at least one meal per day. And I have to say, folks. It’s working. I’ve been doing this for a few weeks now and I’ve noticed a few things. On the days that I make my 33% better choice as the first meal of the day, I am way more likely to end the day having actually done 66% better. WOW! That is a lot. I’ve also noted that while I still may be eating things that I wouldn’t consider to be “better,” the choices I make during the other 66% are less bad choices than I was making before.
It is still a struggle at times, but I’m seeing progress. It’s nothing miraculous. I haven’t lost a ton of weight. I do, however, feel better. I feel better physically. I feel better about myself for making a change. THIS IS DOABLE PEOPLE!!
So, if you would like to join me in my quest to eat at least 33% better today than I did yesterday I would be thrilled. Take a picture of your meal that is the 33% and share it on social media with the hashtag #33percentbetter. I’d love to support you as you try to make a change for the better.