Thursday, February 6, 2014

Concrete Goals

I spent most of January pondering how I am going to make 2014 better than 2013. I wrote a post about resolutions in January, but it wasn't very concrete and largely, I took all of January to gain some clarity on what I want to accomplish this year. I also spent time thinking about what I'm into right now.


This is really my area of expertise. It's a crazy gift. I wouldn't characterize myself as having awesome spacial skills when it comes to maps, but when it comes to organizing the home, I'm amazing. Yep. That doesn't sound humble at all and it isn't. If they gave out gold medals for organizing closets and spaces, I'd win every time. Call me. I'll help you with any organizing project.

For some reason, when it comes to organizing, my spacial skills really kick in. My mind can mentally assess, re-arrange, purge, and visualize the final product in a few short minutes.

We began the year in crazy purge mode. I've found that whenever I feel overwhelmed in any capacity, the first thing I want to do is lighten my load of stuff. We have seven people in our house and as much as things are donated and tossed constantly, it never seems to make much difference (at least in my mind). I started reading Clutter Free With Kids on my Kindle recently. Honestly, I've read all the books on living simply and reducing clutter. I know most of the tricks, but sometimes you need to read the advice again because you just get motivated. Once your'e motivated, you'll realize that you'll be happier setting limits with stuff.
Here's the deal: Your kids, despite what they think, are just plain happier with less stuff. A while back, I read the book Simplicity Parenting and that book changed the way I saw how the accumulation of stuff related to parenting.

This week, I spent some time in the bedroom that currently has four children. I put on Mickey Mouse for the Littles (Tess, Liam, and James). I then proceeded to be ruthless in their bedroom. I threw away broken toys. I put things that never really held their interest in a donation box. I made sure not to throw away treasures, but with less stuff around, it's easier for my children to find their treasures.

The thing is that purging is an on-going process. I'm always re-evaluating whether we need to keep something. This process helps me not get too attached to anything.

Staying organized in my small loud home is definitely a concrete goal for 2014. That's really the kicker, isn't it? Keeping things organized once you've done the work. It will be an on-going adventure and hopefully, I will teach my children not to hold onto things too tightly.


I need to pay attention to everything I do to live well and intentionally. I realized that a nebulous goal can only take you so far.

I added a Habit tracker app to my phone. I don't know why I never considered this before. Modern Mrs Darcy says you get what you measure. That means paying attention. Happiness guru, Gretchen Rubin has had me thinking seriously about how our habits add or detract from our overall happiness.

My doctors have told me avoid gluten for years. So far, I've been obstinate and rebellious. Aside from my general thyroid issues, I have no real difficulties with gluten. So, the whole gluten thing has just made me angry for so many years.

 So, I added the MyChain app to my phone to give up gluten for a month to see if it really makes a difference. Every day that I avoid gluten, I add a link to my chain. The whole goal is to avoid breaking the chain. So, in some ways, it's like a game. I realized that I could not rely on my own will to avoid gluten, but a simple app on my phone has me finally obeying my doctors. Clearly, I needed something outside of myself to comply. I'll have to investigate that further, but that's a subject for another day. I think this app will be useful for other habits I'd like to change as well.

The Return of TV to my home

This isn't really a goal to watch more TV, but I have to say since we've been without TV for about six years, I'm happy to have the return of network TV to my house in 2014. It's just time to re-enter TV land for a while.

When we moved into our home at the end of 2005, we had an antenna that served us well. We got the major networks with a few extras like TLC where I indulged in countless episodes of What Not to Wear. Then, a snow storm knocked that antenna off the house and I deemed it way too dangerous to consider putting it back. We decided that we'd live without TV for a while. We definitely weren't going to pay for Dish or cable.  I'm not anti-TV, but I'm definitely in the category of less screens, more books. We added Netflix streaming and well, we weren't deprived, but when it came to the Oscars, Golden Globes, Olympics, etc., I was constantly asking my best friend to tape things for me and honestly, I hate missing some of these collective cultural events.

I bought a new TV for my husband for his December birthday/Christmas. We added Aereo which lets us have access to the major networks again. I can't tell you how much I am looking forward to the Oscars and the Olympics this year.

I'm also watching a show of which I don't usually have interest. I'm watching American Idol. Even if we had TV in the last few years, I'm not sure that I'd have watched, but I'm watching now and it's because of this guy:

I love Harry Connick, Jr. I must have at least twelve of his albums. In fact, one of the first CDs I ever bought was the soundtrack from When Harry Met Sally. He's smart, funny, and well, honest to these aspiring singers. I'm excited about Wednesdays nights and it's a show in which we can include our oldest son. He wasn't very interested in it at first, but I think even he's caught my Harry Connick, Jr. enthusiasm.


I want to dress better. I don't think I dress badly, but I definitely dress boring. I've had a uniform of sorts for years. It's jeans, long sleeve (usually deep teal) shirt, and black vest. I've been wearing my Dansko clogs for at least 8 years. I'm not giving up my Danskos, but I do need some sprucing up.

I don't really like clothes shopping and out of desperation, if I need something, I end up at Kohl's or the Eddie Bauer Outlet, and sometimes even Salvation Army. I tend to choose the same styles over and over just in different colors.

I pay incredible attention to color and I choose colors carefully. I even had my colors done a couple of years ago. Yes, I'm a Baroque Winter. My color palette is replete with deep jewel tones. Sapphires, Rubies, Emeralds. The colors are inspiring, but my clothing choices, sadly, are not.

So, this year, I'm going to try StitchFix. This is an online styling service. You mean I don't have to go out and shop? Somebody else will do it for me? Fabulous. Sign me up. I'll keep you posted.


Weekends have been largely a time when everyone sleeps in and catches up on sleep and then we get up to catch up on work around the house. This year, I want to have more leisure time with the family. We already work hard around here and work isn't everything. We need family time and more of it. Our time with Luke is dwindling quickly. He's a freshman and his high school years are going to slip by rapidly. I want everyone to have good memories while we're still all together.

Books I can't wait to read

At the heart of setting definable goals is living intentionally. I'm always thinking about how my time is limited. I have to set boundaries and priorities. I stink at this. I think I can do everything. I want to do everything, but just like I want to set limits with our physical stuff, I need to set limits elsewhere and paradoxically, it might mean a fuller life after all?

Survival mode is where I found myself when I brought my twins boys home from the hospital in October of 2010 and sadly where I stayed since. They're three now and I now need to phase survival mode out of our family identity.

There's a theme here, right? It's time to get back to living well for my whole family.

Then there is this:

I'd like to have a sort-of movie club this year with some of my movie/book loving friends. That means more reading, more books, and more movies too.

It's going to be a full year and I'm ready.

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