Monthly Archives: October 2011

Finding Focus

I am totally going in circles lately. I don’t seem to be able to zero in and find my focus. I have lots of exciting things happening – new opportunities presenting themselves. {No, I’m not looking for a new job and a new job hasn’t found me:) For the record, I’m very happy where I am and I have no intention of leaving.} These things are related to my hobbies. And they are good things!

But I’m struggling to make decisions and plans. I think it’s possible I’m over-thinking things a bit. I just really don’t want to jump until I know where I plan to land. Does that make sense? It’s not at all like me to be indecisive. I make decisions quickly and move on. And I don’t often regret my decisions. So why is this so hard?

Maybe because I love both opportunities. They are both things I thoroughly enjoy doing. I could be very happy doing either one. And I will continue with both. It’s just a matter of figuring out which one to focus my energy on right now. In trying to decide, I’m weighing lots of options and thinking thru plans. Sometimes in the middle of all that thinking, things get muddled. It’s time to take a different approach, use a new strategy.

Let’s see…I could follow the advice I give my kids when they just can’t focus.

  • Go for a run. Not likely, but exercise usually clears the mind a bit. And it would certainly fit with our Family Fitness plan.
  • Mix it up. Take a break and do something completely different. I think this is the strategy I employed since I’m cranking out blog posts like crazy tonight – on both blogs. Should be lots to read this week!
  • Make a list and prioritize what you need to do. This one could be helpful. Getting things on paper always helps me. There is something about  a clean tablet and my blue pen that crystallizes ideas for me.
  • Talk it thru. Find a good sounding board and talk things thru. Often, just saying things out loud helps you make a decision. Something about hearing yourself say the words makes the decision real and clear.

I hope to come up with a plan within a week or two. I will most definitely share. Just not ready to do that yet.

So what do you do when you just can get focus? Any ideas are welcome!



Filed under Goals

Family Fitness Week 1

Our family is on a fitness kick. Not the kind you might think. We aren’t all working out 3 hours a day and preparing to run a marathon. We are trying to make a few changes to be healthier. Most of us have been feeling sluggish, or just not up to par. The reality is our lifestyle is not doing us any favors. If you’ve read my blog much you know we are pulled in 5 different directions at any given moment. This means we are eating on the fly, getting very little sleep and not making time for exercise. A recipe for feeling blah.

So what to do?

My nature is to develop a very detailed, elaborate plan. Spend hours laying it all out – in spreadsheet form of course- and present to the family. And that will last about a day. I knew we needed a simple solution. Something we can manage without a drastic lifestyle change. You know, slow and steady wins the race. I did some searching on the internet of course. I found Its a free site focused on being healthy. There is a diet track if that’s what you are interested in, but the real focus is on making healthy life choices. There are lots of trackers – nutrition, fitness, weight., goals. There are journals, and recipes and community forums. So many tools! It’s a great site.

But its too much for us right now. I need some very small steps. Something the whole family can buy into. And something that won’t be so much work to track. Then I stumbled on “An Eight-Week Family Fitness Plan: To Reduce the Obesity Threat to Your Family”. I wanted a checklist and that’s exactly what this is – Week 1, Week 2, etc. I printed it out and read the introduction at dinner last Sunday. And then we went thru Week 1.

There are six topics each week and you choose what you want to do. Its bite sized! I like that! You literally go thru the list and pick what you want to commit to ….for that week! I can do anything for a week.

We had a really long brunch and worked our way thru all six topics. Here’s what we decided.

  • Family Project – we calculated the BMI of every family member {thanks to the nifty scale I bought a couple months ago} and have recorded it.
  • Healthier Activities – we made a list of activities we would like to do as a family and decided to pick one a week to do. Last Sunday we did yard work together – raking leaves is hard work.
  • Healthier Mealtimes at Home – we had lots of ideas here.
    • The TV is off during meal times. – this is a huge thing for us!
    • We switched to smaller plates – luncheon sized.
    • And each committed to a better decision during lunches
      • Hubby – no fried foods
      • Me – no fast food breakfasts
      • Oldest Son – switch to wheat bread on his sub sandwich (Please! That’s his bad habit – not chips, not burgers, not fries…love that kid!)
      • Middle Son – no chicken tenders or nuggets for school lunch
      • Youngest Son – eat a protein, fruit or veggie and milk for lunch every day (we were appalled to find out what he is actually eating for lunch!! Pringles, goldfish and bottled water! EVERY DAY! Total parent fail.)
  • Healthier Nutrition – we came up with a couple for this one.
    • We committed to having a fruit or vegetable at every meal at home. Hubby has done a great job of making sure we have one every night for supper. {I know, this should have been a no brainer, but it wasn’t – don’t judge:)}
    • We also came up with a few ways to increase our plant proteins (dry beans, peas, nuts and seeds, soy products). We have added almonds as a snack and addition to our yogurt and we are adapting some of our Mexican dishes to incorporate black beans {something I love, but the kids – not so much}.
  • Rest – this is so important and probably the biggest deficit for our family!
    • They suggest cutting caffeine after 3 PM. Um…NO! When it comes to my caffeine, I turn crazy. Don’t mess with my soda! So here’s what we did commit to:
      • Hubby – cut down to 3/day
      • Me – no soda after 9 pm and count how many I consume a day {scarey}
      • Oldest Son – he doesn’t drink pop – whatever
      • Middle Son – 1 soda/week
      • Youngest Son – 1 soda/week
  • Media – in a nutshell, we decided to only turn the TV on to watch a specific show. We talked about what we like to watch and each picked a couple things. The TV doesn’t come on until the show starts. Instead of channel surfing to find something interesting.

So that was the plan. Totally do-able.

The discussion around this was interesting. We learned what everyone’s buttons were – the thing they didn’t want anyone messing with. {I may have more than the rest of the family:)} It resulted in some heated conversations, but it was good. And it will be a week tomorrow.

How has it gone? Really well! There have been a few missteps, but for the most part we have all stuck to our commitments. I think that’s because we chose what we were willing to do and because we did it in bite sized pieces. No one has lost weight and we aren’t running any half marathons, but that wasn’t the goal {and it’s been a whole week!}. But we are making small changes that will add up to better fitness in the long run.

I peeked ahead to some of the future weeks. It made me shudder. I’m just going to have to take this one week at a time.


Filed under Family, Health, Lifestyle

A Test of Potential for Success

We are deep in the throes of college applications at our house. Things are getting intense; there’s so much to consider. And so many applications to look at, both for the schools and scholarships. We are narrowing things down while keeping his options open. How’s that for non-committal? I think he might be ready to say for sure where he’s going. I’m not. And I have no idea why not.

In this process we’ve learned a lot about college admission exams. Namely the ACT. Oldest son is taking the ACT for the 4th time as I write. We all hope this is the last time. Of course he is trying to reach that magic score that means a significant renewable scholarship. No pressure, Son. It’s just thousands of dollars riding on this test. See, he has met all the other requirements; class rank, GPA, rigorous course of study. Just the ACT score remains. They say it is a good judge of how successful a student will be in college.

I disagree.

On a couple levels.

I think its a reflection of natural ability or aptitude, years of rigorous courses, test-taking skills and a parents ability to pay for special tutoring. The reality is, if you have the money for the tutor, you can most likely raise your score. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing – I do believe in capitalism after all. But to say it is an indicator of whether you will be successful in college? I don’t know. More a reflection of the perseverance to keep taking the test until you get the score you want/need. More a reflection of the expectations put on you by your family – you have to get a better score. More a reflection of your parents’ ability to pay for additional help. I suppose all those could be considered contributors to a successful college career. I just think of the kids who weren’t told to take the test many times, who didn’t know where to get practice tests. Who’s parents don’t have the money to enroll them in an ACT prep class. Are they destined to fail?

I believe there are much more significant factors in whether a student will be successful in college. Things like, can they balance a checkbook? Have they had to live within a budget, keeping track of expenses and income, saying no to fun activities when they aren’t in the budget? Have they lived in close quarters with others? When you move into a 12 x 14 ft room with a total stranger, those quirky little things become really big things. The potential for conflict is great and if they’ve never had to negotiate, compromise or give-and-take they are at a huge disadvantage. Have they had to budget their own time, manage their own meals and keep their own schedule? The dining hall won’t make them a sandwich when you get home from a late study session. And a professor isn’t really concerned with the fact that you had to work last night. College requires students to be self-sufficient. Where’s the assessment for that? Who is asking the student if they know what they are getting themselves into and if they have the determination to go the distance to get their degree? I think that’s what will determine their success.

But, it doesn’t really matter what I think now does it? I’m pretty sure the colleges aren’t going to revamp their system because I don’t like it.

And from the look on Oldest Son’s face when he got home from today’s attempt, there are more ACTs in his future.

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Filed under School, Senior Year

Too Much of So Many Good Things

There have been so many good things going on I can’t tke it anymore! This fall has been wonderful. And brutal. It started in June. My weekends filled up quickly. Like so fast I didn’t even realize it was happening. And I mean filled up! In the 19 weekends since June 4, I have been home 7. Only 7 weekends at home in 4 1/2 months! That is why I am feeling crazy. And during those 7 weekends, I had Parent’s Day at Scout Camp, senior pictures for Oldest Son, confirmation for Middle Son and Eagle Scout Court of Honor for Oldest Son. That’s all. That leaves 3 whole weekends free. Free to do everything that was put off for weeks. Free to plan for the next weeks I will be gone. It’s definitely been crazy and pushed me into survival mode. It’s also made me realize a few things.

  1. You can get too much of a good thing. Almost all the things I’ve been gone for have been really fun things. There have been a few work weekends in there, but mostly fun. And it’s still completely exhausting.
  2. Some things can wait. I’ve put lots of things off over the last 4 1/2 months and that’s been fine. The dust will pile up whether I try to remove it weekly or not.
  3. Some things can’t. My poor flower beds are really suffering. I think I only weeded them twice all summer. It’s been a test of what is hardy. And with the dry spell we have been experiencing, well it’s just plain sad.
  4. It’s ok to say no to some things. I’ve been asked to work on a number of projects that I really would have enjoyed, but I’ve had to say no. And I’m finally ok with that. Other opportunities will come and the timing will be better then. Saying no doesn’t mean I don’t value something, it just means I value balance more.

But the biggest lesson I’ve learned {or maybe that I’m still learning} is to be present in the moment. With so many things going on, I have a tendency to get caught up in my calendar. Always looking forward. And it’s overwhelming. It’s good to know what’s on the horizon. But it’s also good to slow down, look around and really be present in the moment.

Now if I can just remember that last lesson…

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Filed under Advice, Lifestyle, Randomness