Jul 122016
 

the word endure embossed on a gray background

I didn’t manage to choose a theme word for 2016 but the word “endure” keeps coming to me of late. 2016 is an odd year! I don’t feel that I am making much progress toward accomplishing anything and that for every step forward I take, I am set back by some small emergency or another. Fortunately, I manage to recover from my emergencies and get back to where I started but for me 2016 so far has been a lot of running in place. It is no small coincidence that I am also living with a 15-month old who manages to wreak this type of havoc everywhere he goes.

I feel very fortunate that my emergencies are just small, frequent and irritating. I have heard from many people for whom 2016 has dealt some heavy blows to them personally. And in the news we also see a lot of this type of backsliding pattern:

*economic data that seems to suggest that it gets harder and harder just to maintain whatever standard of living we want to achieve

*presidential candidates from both parties who manage to slog through exhausting state-by-state primaries only to find significant parts of their own parties who don’t want to support them

*Muslim and gay Americans who found their worlds torn apart and safety threatened by the shooting in Orlando

*Black Lives Matter protesters who, just as they are gaining traction for their cause, are blindsided by a vigilante shooting police officers

When all of this chaos is going on, it is easy to get down and feel frustrated. But so far, the lesson of 2016 also seems to be that if you can just be patient, and thoughtfully evaluate and react to what has happened, life will reset to a manageable level.

It has been very inspiring to me of late to see the reactions to the police shootings in Dallas. So many people of differing backgrounds reaching out to confirm that no one in America wants a full on race war that threatens everyone’s safety.

So if 2016 is tough for you, hang in there! Endure.

P.S. Due to a recent inundation of spam comments (one of my 2016 irritations), I needed to improve the CAPTCHA to blog article comments requiring you to do a math problem to make a comment. If you cannot comment, please feel free to drop me a line by email.

 Posted by on July 12, 2016 General Tagged with: , , ,
Feb 042015
 
My theme word for 2015.  Font: Le Architect by Manfred Klein.

My theme word for 2015. Font: Le Architect by Manfred Klein.

My focus word for 2015 is something that I have been thinking about over the past year as I have conducted various diet and exercise experiments on myself and seen my body change in various ways. During all of these experiments and particularly recently when I was looking in the mirror at my ever-expanding pregnant body, I came to realize that there is no “ideal” body weight or size but rather an ideal set of proportions.

Proportion is about finding the right balance of factors to achieve an ideal result. Proportion is important in so many areas, including appearance, health, time management, social activities, spiritual and psychological growth, financial goals, parenting and yes, even organization!

What I especially appreciate about the word proportion is that it is very different from the word “perfection.” Perfection implies that there are a limited number of ways to do something and often only one “right” way. Perfection also seeks to make every single part perfect. Proportion acknowledges that there is beauty even in imperfection and that perfection isn’t necessary. It is the overall balance and end result that is the most important.

So, as I venture into 2015, I am hoping to learn the following about proportion:

  • Learn to identify the ideal proportions in many areas of my life
  • Correct areas that are out of proportion
  • Appreciate how individual preferences on proportion vary and learn to identify the proportions used by others and their results

I hope you will also take a moment to write down a focus word or goals for 2015. I don’t view the focus word as a sort of report card by which I judge myself but rather a request to the world to teach me something that I need to know. The simple act of putting a request on paper seems to give the request priority. It helps keep me alert to life in general and by the end of the year I am always surprised at how much I have learned, often with very little effort on my part.

For examples of other approaches to focus words see:

  • Marcia Francois’ Word of the Year – who also gives us the great quote, “Aren’t you glad there’s no rule that says we have to have our goals done and dusted on 1 Jan?”
  • Kacy Paide’s 3 words for 2015
  • And as one final example, over the weekend, I had the privilege to attend the funeral for a 95-year old neighbor. During a very touching eulogy, the niece of this amazing woman told us about her aunt’s unique goal-setting method. The devoutly religious woman used paper checkbook registers to track her prayer requests. In the “Payee” line, she would write down the name of the person she was praying for and what she hoped God would achieve for that person. Sometimes it was people she knew and sometimes it was complete strangers from the street. She used the registers to remind herself of how she wanted to spend her time in prayer. She could also look over the registers from time to time to see how many of her prayers were answered.

You can see that there are many ways to go about your goal-setting for 2015. Even if you don’t take any concrete action right now, mull it over in your mind and you might be surprised at what comes to you a week or a month from now.

May 2015 bring good proportions to us all!

 Posted by on February 4, 2015 General Tagged with: , , ,
Jan 262015
 
My theme word last year.

My theme word last year.

Inspired by Marcia Francois, the Organising Queen, I have been selecting a theme word each year for the past several years. I find the theme word concept is a great way to stay focused. If you just list all the goals you have for the year, you end up with an overwhelming list of different ideas. If you take another look at that list and try to focus in on just one word or theme that runs through all of those goals, it really does help to clarify what you are trying to accomplish.

Last year, I chose the theme word “traction” for my personal goals. To me, this word meant:

  • getting unstuck from unhealthy or unproductive behaviors
  • continuing to try new ideas until you find an effective solution for your problem
  • eliminating complacency and remaining aware of opportunities for improvement even in areas where you are performing well
  • forging into unknown, messy and complex situations
  • moving noticeably forward, whether by an inch or a mile

So, how did I do on my “traction” goals? I didn’t achieve everything I wanted to, particularly when it came to my physical environment organization goals and my blogging goals, but in many areas, I can celebrate success!

  • I completed 44 days of clean eating last spring, dropping 14 pounds. I learned to cook in an entirely new way, began to change my taste buds and have managed to continue my diet throughout the year in a modified way (more on this to come).
  • We completed another cross-country trip to visit family spending 18 days on the road with 3 children! We all had a ball and it is still on my to do list to give you a trip log of our adventures.
  • We achieved one of our milestone personal financial goals this year and have made significant progress in working toward our next goals (which will take decades to achieve).
  • Our homeschool curriculum this year is the most challenging we have attempted with more subjects and another child to preschool. So far, it is going very well.
  • We celebrated the holidays from October through December in grand style, from homemade Halloween costumes to a homecooked Thanksgiving and many activities for Christmas.
  • I did most of the above while pregnant and had to fit in numerous doctor appointments into an already crowded schedule!

It is a healthy and positive habit to take a moment to celebrate your successes. Even if you didn’t achieve exactly what you set out to do last year, did you make progress in other ways? Did you gain a key insight? Did you make key preliminary steps toward achieving your goals? Did life take an unexpected turn for you and you ended up having to completely revise your goals and go in a different direction?

Take time to congratulate yourself. Life is hard and we all deserve to feel that we are making “traction” in our own unique ways.

In my next post, my theme word for 2015.

 Posted by on January 26, 2015 General Tagged with: , , ,
Jan 042014
 
You could say that my theme word for 2014 was inspired by our recent travels.  No matter the weather challenge, we were headed forward!

You could say that my theme word for 2014 was inspired by our recent travels. No matter the weather challenge, we were headed forward!

2013-12-31-memphis-rainyconditions

A little rain could not hold us back.

2013-12-29-texas-tumbleweed

Even tumbleweeds were not going to stop us!

Professional organizer Marcia Francois is the genius behind the annual theme word concept. Each year, she advises everyone to choose one word to focus on throughout the year–one word that is the broad theme behind any resolutions or goals you are hoping to achieve.

Last year, my theme word was “routine.” Routine is a complex concept that encompasses stability, predictability, dedication, motivation, and, as diadia so aptly commented, history. Routine is largely about using your accumulated knowledge to maintain your current goals.

Until just recently, I was stumped as to what my theme word for 2014 would be. I was concerned that nothing was coming to mind.

Then, one day I was listening to Dave Ramsey’s radio/online program and he was talking about people who get stuck doing the same thing over and over with the same results and never seem to move forward. He said that people need to make changes in order to achieve “traction.” I knew immediately that this was my next theme word.

2014-01-04-traction

So, for 2014, I am focusing on “traction.” The first thing I have to determine is what this word means to me. Broadly, “traction” to me means the following:

  • getting unstuck from unhealthy or unproductive behaviors
  • continuing to try new ideas until you find an effective solution for your problem
  • eliminating complacency and remaining aware of opportunities for improvement even in areas where you are performing well
  • forging into unknown, messy and complex situations
  • moving noticeably forward, whether by an inch or a mile

I am now off to update the photo frame for my desk so I have a visual reminder.

What is your theme word for 2014? Ruth shared in the comments previously that she has chosen “patience,” a challenge for us all!

*Font credit: “Dirty Ego” by Misprinted Type.

 Posted by on January 4, 2014 General Tagged with: , , ,
Jan 032014
 
Something that is not routine in Virginia . . . snow!  A scene from last night's storm.

Something that is not routine in Virginia . . . snow! A scene from last night’s storm.

Another blog housekeeping item on my list is to look back on my theme word for 2013: routine. I noted at the time that this word is not very exciting. When I first thought of the word routine, I generally thought about staying in place or even stagnating. I came to learn that there is far more to routine than that.

I really tried to keep the idea “routine” top of mind and gained some incredible insights over the course of a year. In one area, diet and exercise, I excelled at implementing new routines and made a huge positive difference in my life. In other areas, I could have done better.

Even if I didn’t always succeed in implementing an actual routine in a particular area, by focusing in on what routine meant to me, I gained philosophical insights that helped me. The inspiration came from a variety of places: from my initial reflections, from my diet and exercise regimen, from travel and from reading good books.

Below are the 6 biggest insights I had about routine.

2014-01-03-routine-baseline

2014-01-03-routine-priorities

2013-01-03-routine-self-knowledge

2014-01-03-routine-begetsroutine

2014-01-03-routine-hardtobreak

2014-01-03-routine-wahlinsight

Did you choose a theme word for 2013? If yes, what were your biggest insights? Please share in the comments.

 Posted by on January 3, 2014 General Tagged with: , , , , ,