Tag Archives: goals

Being Resourceful

Eighteen months after I got divorced, ex stopped paying court-ordered spousal support. He felt he was above the law and able to make that decision. I tried legal means to get him to pay the remainder of the money, but he just ignored my attorney and his attorney when they tried to contact him. I didn’t have the money to pursue him any further. He said it was his job to “make (me) stand on (my) own two feet”. We weren’t even married anymore! How could he think he still had power over my life?!

I guess I could be grateful for that time in my life because it taught me how to be resourceful. I had a lot of debt and not a lot of money. I had to get creative with meals, bill paying, Christmas and birthday gifts, etc.

1. Keep a change jar: My change jar was often my lifesaver, even it was just $5 in my gas tank. Change adds up quickly.

2. Grocery shop for items that will last a while: Frozen fruits and veggies instead of fresh, rice and pasta, tea bags to make your own iced tea, etc. I remember making a rice dish with whatever was in my refrigerator. I had that for lunch and dinner for one week. Yes, it got boring, but it filled my tummy. Eat oatmeal and eggs – not just for breakfast but for other meals as well. Both will fill you up.

3. Make gifts with what you have on hand: My siblings and I exchange Christmas ornaments every year. One year, My Christmas ornament was a laminated maple leaf from the tree beside my house. The leaves were a deep shade of crimson.

4. Be creative – use your talents: Another year for a Christmas ornament, I knitted Christmas trees and attached small buttons as ornaments. If you sew, use your material scraps to make “hodge-podge” ornaments. If you like to take pictures, frame your favorites and give them as gifts.

5. Turn down the heat, turn up the air conditioning: Turn the heat down a few degrees in winter (68) and turn the air up a few degrees in the summer (75). Invest in a fan and open your windows. Conserve water by running your dishwasher only when it’s full. Shower and do laundry at night when the energy demand is less.

6. Use public transportation (if possible): I would often park my car and take the bus from my apartment to work. Granted, I had to walk a mile and a half, but I didn’t have to worry about gas or wear and tear on my car.

7. Exercise self-control: There were so many times I had to tell myself ‘no’ – and I hated it! No to ice cream bars, no to new clothes and shoes, no to eating out. Once you learn how to have self-control, saying ‘no’ to yourself is not so bad.

I learned a great deal during those lean years – about me, about my ability to be resourceful and about others who love me. I knew I’d never go homeless or without food, but it was up to me to do whatever I could to take care of myself and be responsible for my financial obligations. I know now that I am a better person for enduring those lean years, even though they were so hard at the time.

If you are in the midst of some lean years, be encouraged, dear one. You will make it through this. Keep your chin up! Stay tuned. . . .

 

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The Number of Our Days

I found out this morning that a former boss passed away back in November. She died of a stroke. She was only 45 years old. I am still in shock. She was a great boss.

We never know when we wake up in the morning if this will be our last day on earth. We never know what’s going to happen. God numbers our days. He alone knows how many we have. How do we live our lives in such a manner that we will be prepared for ‘the day’ when it comes?

1. Banish anger and bitterness: For most of my marriage, I was a very angry person. I woke up angry, stayed angry throughout the day and went to bed angry. After my divorce, I became incredibly bitter. Were my emotions affecting ex, the person they were directed to? Heavens, no! Those negative emotions were killing me! Holding onto anger and bitterness is senseless. Let it go.

2. Practice random acts of kindness: Next time you’re at the grocery store and there is an elderly person ahead of or behind you, pay for their groceries. Donate some dog or cat food to your nearest animal shelter. Rake the leaves in your neighbor’s yard. Go out of your way to be kind to a stranger.

3. Be generous with your time, money and resources: Do you have enough to live on – to cover your needs (not necessarily your wants)? Do you find that you have several hours of free time on the weekend? Donate to a cause, volunteer, take your unwanted stuff to a local thrift store. Whatever you have you can’t take with you. You may as well use it up while you’re still living!

4. Cultivate compassion: Don’t be so quick to lose your temper or to speak out of turn. Resolve to listen to others, to hear their heart, their passion and their dreams. Be an encouragement to others. Be quick to serve others.

5. Smile more: I think if more people smiled, it would lighten the mood that so often seems to bring us down. Have you ever watched the other drivers on your way to work? Those who are not on their phone are usually scowling. Smile in rush hour traffic. Smile as you walk down the hallway at work. Smile when you answer the phone! Smile – it increases your face value and makes people wonder what you’re up to.

6. Say “I love you”: Every day before Cycle Dude goes to work, I tell him I love him. Every time I talk to one of my children, my mom or my siblings, I tell them I love them. Do not hesitate to tell those you love that you love them. Don’t worry if it sounds ‘sappy’. You may not get another chance.

Life is waaay to short to spend it ill-tempered, harboring a grudge, hoarding your stuff or looking like an old sourpuss! Make your family and friends glad to know you! Leave them with good memories. Live one day at a time because it may be the last one you have. Stay tuned . . .

Keeping Your New Year’s Resolutions

The New Year is always  a time to make resolutions – what do you want to do different this year? Many people set lofty resolutions thinking, “This is the year I will ___________”. However, a couple of weeks down the road, the resolutions get tossed aside and the rest of the new year becomes one great big guilt party because we couldn’t keep those resolutions. We feel like a failure, disappointed in ourselves and feeling like we let others down. Maybe it’s time to learn how to set resolutions you can keep. When setting your New Year’s resolutions, think about the following:

1. Is it realistic? You want to lose weight. That’s always a great resolution. However, wanting to lose 50 pounds in one month is not so great. It’s unrealistic and it’s unhealthy. Start off with something you can do, like loose 2 pounds in a month. You may say, “But if I don’t push myself, it won’t happen.” Start off small. As you develop the habit of eating right, saving money, etc., then you can start to push yourself. My boss always says, “We gotta eat this elephant one bite at a time.”

2. Is it in character for you? Examine your motives for your resolutions. Are they for personal gain, to help others, etc.? Wanting to take a risk is fine (like learning to skydive), but if your resolutions are merely to satisfy others who think you should be doing x, y, and z, take a step back a refocus. Your resolutions should be for your benefit, not because others tell you that you need to do something.

3. Do you have the resources to do it? You may want to save $100 a month, but if you are a single mom with one income, that may not be so realistic. Start off small. Save $10 a paycheck, walk 1 miles a day, volunteer four hours on Saturday, etc. NOTE: Starting off small will develop a habit. It is better to start off small, to take small bites, than it is to go in way over your head and choke because you bit off too much.

4. Is it tweakable? My life motto is, “Blessed are they who are flexible, for they shall break and not bend”. You have to be willing to be flexible in your resolutions. You may have a large bill and may not be able to save as much money as you would like. In a situation like that, even saving just $5 is a step in the right direction.

5. Am I accountable? Keeping resolutions is easier if done in community. You have someone to whom you are accountable, who will ask you the hard questions and help keep you going in the right direction.

Finally, give yourself the grace to fail, because you will fail. However, failure doesn’t mean you’re a bad person or the resolution was unachievable. Failure means you are moving. Those who don’t fail don’t move. They don’t take the risk to grow and learn. Failure means you have to step back and reassess – why did I fail? Did I try to do too much? Did I experience a setback that was unexpected? Failure means you stop, analyze and move forward again.

This post is one in a series on “Keeping Your New Year’s Resolutions”. Following posts will be about keeping your resolutions regarding weight loss, finances and relationships. Stay tuned. . .

Winter is Coming

Several people I work with are not looking forward to winter because of the cold it brings with it. The weathermen are already forecasting a wintry mix for early next week. We have had such a warm, dry summer and fall, that we are spoiled! I am not a fan of cold weather, but I can tolerate winter. I have good memories of winters when my children were younger and they’d play in the snow. When I was a child, I enjoyed playing in the snow with my brothers and sisters.

Winter is also a time when nature sleeps. Other than the evergreen trees and plants, nothing seems alive. The trees are nothing but a conglomeration of gray sticks. The sky can be gray and dreary. Many animals are hibernating or have migrated to warmer climates. The Polar Vortex blasts down from Northern Canada. Winter can be a depressing time.

It’s a good time to get indoor things done – cleaning, sorting, crafting, snoozing, etc. While my Christmas decorations are out and I have room in my closets, I am going to sort things out. I will probably need to follow some guidelines, like, “10 Hard Questions to Ask When Clearing Out Your Clutter”, by Lauren Piro. But that’s another post for another time.

I’ve posted before about the seasons in life and how it felt like winter right after my divorce. Everything was dead – my marriage, the last 24 years, my emotions. I felt like it was the “always winter and never Christmas” that happened in Narnia. I never thought I’d see spring again.

If you feel like your life is in the throes of winter, take heart. Winter doesn’t last forever. It is also a time to stop and take a look at what’s going on around you. In the dead of winter, the world looks lifeless. But beneath the soil, little seeds are storing up nutrients in order to burst out into beautiful flowers come spring. Underneath those dead trees, a mamma bear has built her den. In the spring, she will emerge with new life – two little cubs. Under the leaf litter, box turtles are hibernating. In the hollow of a dead tree, a mamma squirrel is making a nest. See? There is life all around you!

Take this time of winter in your life to set goals, to sort through your stuff, to make a plan for spring. You will emerge from this winter – full of life! Stay tuned . . . .

Setting Goals for the New Year

Back in 2007, I returned to school as a non-traditional student to get my Bachelor’s degree. It took me four years – going to school full time, working full time, being a full time mom, then working part time and going to school full time while in the midst of a divorce. I finally graduated from MyUniversity with a Bachelor’s degree in History. It felt so good to accomplish that goal! For Christmas this year, Cycle Dude got me a frame for my diploma. It hangs proudly on my living room wall!

It was difficult to achieve that goal with life going on all around me, yet I accomplished what I set out to do. Goals are like a rudder on a ship – they help to point you in the right direction. We’re not that far into 2016 – it’s time to set some goals.

It is my experience that life is better achieved in bite-sized pieces. Set small goals, achieve them, then set your sights on something larger. Being divorced means you are on your own. What are some things you need to work on? Finances? Goal: Today I am going to record my financial transactions and not guess at my bank balance. Weight loss? Goal: Today I am going to drink two glasses of water, or skip that cookie at break. Relationships? Goal: Today I am going to say something encouraging to a friend, coworker or family member.

If we set goals that are too lofty, we get discouraged when we don’t achieve them. That in turn leads to defeat and a “Why even bother?” attitude. Set small goals at first and work toward achieving them. That way, you know you can do it. If you want to tackle something larger, ask someone for help (a friend, counselor, pastor, financial planner, etc.). We were not made to fly solo in this world. God gave us community for a reason.

My goals for 2016? I want to lose 10 pounds by June and I want to get my CAP (Certified Administrative Professional) certification.There may be smaller goals along the way as the year progresses, but those are the two goals I want to concentrate on. What about you? Start out small and work your way up. Don’t be discouraged if you experience a setback – that’s to be expected. But don’t let setbacks defeat you. Stop and take stock of where you are, then move forward again toward achieving that goal. You can do it!! Stay tuned . . . .