Block It

timeblocking

Distractions.  Do they plague you as much as they do me?  The phone buzzing with calls and texts.  Social media beckoning me.  The requests of children.  Tick-Tock, the clock ticks.  Minutes pass into hours and if I am not careful the day has passed and no progress made in areas of priority.

One of my favorite time management practices is to time block.  There are many things in my day I can simply do as time permits and some I can even do while multi-tasking.  However, if I am going to make progress towards my priority areas and goals, I have to set aside time to focus, to work with intentionality.

time-blocking

My weekly calendar often looks similar to this.  As mentioned, I don’t time block everything, but I do time block the priorities. Anything related to my businesses goes on my calendar in green (my favorite color and representative of money).  I put personal objectives in red, often highlighted in pink.  Time blocking helps me focus.  I am a visual person.  When I see the time literally “blocked” on my calendar I respect it.  I protect it.  This allows me to then keep these designated hours and to work without interruption.  I often turn my phone on silent, tell the girls what I am doing and how much time I need (when they were younger I often sat a timer) and then with gathered supplies set to work.  I rarely have huge blocks of time, but even 30-45 minutes of uninterrupted time affords me the opportunity to get a lot done.  If I am seeking to make progress on a major life goal, this uninterrupted time is a necessity.

I also us time blocking when I begin to feel life is out of control.  Sometimes life changes, we enter a new season.  Our kids enter school, we begin a new job, additional family duties develop, we develop new hobbies etc…  Sometimes it is simply that I have lost site of my goals, I have stepped back from personal discipline.  Whatever the reason, when life feels out of control, my stress level rises, my productivity declines, I use time blocking to track a week.  Using time blocking to track your time gives you a glimpse into your reality.  Where is your time really going?  What is using up your time?  I am a firm believer that KNOWING, creates change.  When I am really aware of, KNOW where my time is going, then and only then can I begin to manage my time.  Not KNOWING, means my time is managing me, and that is when life becomes chaotic, stressful.

I challenge you this week to time block.  Either block off the tasks you know you have, or simply take this week to learn something about yourself-where your time goes.  Time blocking is a tool.  Time blocking requires discipline.  Time blocking can be ever evolving.  However, if you want, like I want, to be an effective woman, time blocking is the key.

Use this form to track your time. PlannerPadCopycat

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Getting Up While It is Dark-The Most Important Spiritual Discipline

I am by nature an early morning person.  It comes naturally.  I am thankful for that.  Whether or not it comes naturally, I do believe getting up early to meet with God in quiet is a biblical principle we should desire to practice.

Proverbs 31:15  says, “She gets up while it is still dark;…”  On many levels this is just a practical habit to develop.  Getting up early offers us quiet, uninterrupted time to plan our day, prepare meals, set out reminders, etc…  It’s a jump start if you wish. We see evidence of this in the description of the Proverbs 31 woman’s life.  Verses 16-18 describe some of the tasks she sets out to handle during this early morning time.  However, I think the principle goes deeper than this.  Throughout scripture God gives us examples of His people seeking Him early in the morning.  His Son, Jesus Christ, frequently stole away in the early morning hours to pray.  I am convinced getting up earlier than others in our home to spend time with God is a spiritual discipline that can transform our lives.

Each new day brings with it a fresh slate.  Repented sins of yesterday have been cast away.  Each new day brings new graces, now opportunities.  When we arise early in the morning to meet God before we open the calendar, begin our interactions, we meet Him unblemished.  We meet Him in the best possible condition we can be in.  Cleansed by His grace, refreshed, renewed, revived.  We meet Him with clear minds, before the busyness of life sets in.  It is in those moments I am most open to hearing Him, to understanding His word, to seeing the priorities He has set before me.  In those early morning moments, it is truly just me and Him.  New day.  Fresh words.  Blank journal page.

I believe the Proverbs 31 woman was just like me and you.  She had a full to do list.  She had a large family.  In order to be her best, she chose the discipline of getting up while it was still dark.  That one act gave her the wisdom to determine her priorities for the day.  It gave her the emotional strength to serve in gladness.  She was able to move into her day with a willing heart to work.

I know it is not easy.  And for some of you it may seem impossible.  You prefer the dark hours of the night when the family has fallen asleep.  Here’s the thing-at the end of the day, even when those seem like your best hours, you are spent.  You have the sins of the day weighing on your shoulders.  Regret has had time to set in.  Those minutes/hours may be great moments to study, repent, ponder.  But they are not the morning.  There is something absolutely amazing about meeting God in the early morning hours.  There is something beautiful about watching the day literally unfold as the sun rises. There is something invigorating abut knowing I am sitting before the throne cleansed, giving Him my very best, my first fruits.  It is a wonderful act of worship to lay myself before Him as an offering early in the morning, to meet with Him anticipating a new day.

Early-Morning-Prayer

I challenge you to practice His presence in the morning.  You may not have to get up while it is still dark.  Just get up 15 minutes before everyone else.  Just get up 15 minutes earlier and commit to use that time to sit in His presence.  He will give you the strength to do it.  He will call you to Him.  You’ll begin to look forward to those moments.

It’s NOT About Consistency, It’s About Constancy

consistency

 [kuh n-sis-tuh n-see]
Spell Syllables
noun, plural consistencies.

1.a degree of density, firmness, viscosity, etc.: The liquid has the consistency of cream.

2.steadfast adherence to the same principles, course, form, etc.: There is consistency in his pattern of behavior.

3.agreement, harmony, or compatibility, especially correspondence or uniformity among the parts of a complex thing: consistency of colors throughout the house.

4.the condition of cohering or holding together and retaining form;solidity or firmness.
I recently returned from Leadership Development training for my Mary & Martha business (www.mymaryandmartha.com/shana).  As we toured Dayspring and attended conference sessions, we were reminded repeatedly of the importance of “the daily”.  Success does not come from some grand act.  Success comes from daily activity.  As one of the founders of Dayspring defined it, “Success is the next step of obedience.”  
We often talk a lot about being consistent.  Most of the time we are talking about adhering to principles.  However, I think the success comes from constancy.

constancy[kon-stuh n-see]

Spell Syllables
noun
1.the quality of being unchanging or unwavering, as in purpose, love, or loyalty; firmness of mind; faithfulness.
2.uniformity or regularity, as in qualities or conditions; invariableness.
Our success comes from regularity.  The regularity creates the consistency.  We will never be consistent though until we are constant.  Regularly doing something and being unwavering in our purpose, our mind.  I know it seems trite, but so often until I stop to really think about and define my actions, I can get on auto pilot and find myself moving more slowly toward my goals.
I get up early to read scripture and spend time in prayer/communion.  This is a constant act.  The daily act of getting up early and reading helps me to be a more consistent woman of faith-my actions matching my values/beliefs.  I drink a gallon of water daily (well 75% of the time).  The constancy of this behavior helps me stay consistently full and healthier.
We have been iced in.  (Now mind you, here in AR that means we have 2 inches of ice and freezing temps, so the world shuts down.  We couldn’t handle the 6 feet Boston got!)  Anyway, the days at home have given me opportunity to think about what other behaviors I want to make more constant, so I can have a more consistent faith walk, more consistent good health, more consistent sales in my business and more consistent growth in my business team.
Is there something you need to start doing constantly, so you create consistency?  Have you gotten off track with some of your New Year’s goals?  What is the next step of obedience?  Remember, success comes from daily actions, daily actions repeated over time.

Striving Stress to Relinquishing Rest-Lessons from Mary and Martha

I love organization.  I love having the sense that my life is in order and therefore I am able to serve.  I love having the sense of peace and calm that comes from being in an uncluttered environment.  I love that God is a God of order and even in the creation story we see His deliberate order.  I love order.  I have always loved order.  I have to admit though, that often, and especially in my early days, order was a means of control.  I worked so hard to have order, keep order, because I was striving to please, to be good enough, to succeed.  Those aren’t in and of themselves bad reasons, but they aren’t the best of reasons.  I often hid hurt, sorrow, frustration, disappointment behind my order.  I often let keeping order keep me busy so I didn’t have to participate or deal with some things.  Isn’t it funny how things in our life that can be really good things can become walls, keeping others out and keeping us from living abundantly and freely?!  Striving to do something in an attempt to get something really does nothing more than exhaust us.

There are days when I look back over the course of my adult life and get discouraged, saddened by the course of events, most out of my control.  My parents divorced, an array of hardships resulting from that for all of us.  Financial strains of family members and my husband and I trying to fix those or provide, often beyond our means.  Getting married to have two different family members live with us in the first year and half of marriage.  Paul’s mother being diagnosed with brain cancer and passing on within our fourth year of marriage.  Six years of infertility.  A difficult and complicated pregnancy resulting in the loss of a set of identical twins and the live birth of beautiful fraternal twin girls.  My husband facing the suicide of two good friends.  Mixed in with that the normal ups and downs.  Losing grandparents.  Beginning new businesses.  Having those not so great days in marriage and in parenting.

Sadly through most of it I spent a lot of time striving.  Striving to get through it the way I thought all good Christian girls were supposed to.  Striving to keep myself from falling apart.  Striving to keep others out of our business so as to avoid the inadvertent harsh remarks.  Striving.  This same striving often led to my rushing decisions and trying to work “ahead” of God.  This same striving often caused me to lose focus on what was most important and even caused me to lose my compassion for others.  Striving stress became a way of life.

It is a long story, over the course of about 6 years, but God has shown me that relinquishing rest comes only from Him and comes ONLY when I quit striving.  I can’t rush God’s work.  I can’t fix things for others, and often I can’t even fix them for myself.  My life is intertwined with others and at times their choices, their decisions, their God given direction changes the course of my direction, my life, my plans.  I don’t understand.  At times it seems unfair.  But this I have learned-no amount of striving, attempts at putting everything in order, creating order out of chaos will change anything.  It may serve as a band-aid for a moment or a time, but it will always lead to exhaustion.

I don’t know if it is this way for you or not, but when God has a message for me and I am slow in taking it in, or need the affirmation of hearing it over and over, He does just that.  I find myself daily running into the message, the story, the characters-whatever it may be.  Mary and Martha have been that for me the past 7-8 months.  A common story and one women often read, but seldom really understand.  The scripture isn’t about comparing these two sisters.  It isn’t about making one more right than the other, but gosh do we women love to go there.  This story is about striving stress and relinquishing rest.  This story is about two sisters, who when living life together, embracing one another’s strengths and weaknesses, were able to serve our Lord in their home, trust Him for their brother’s healing/resurrection and accept Him as Lord before most even understood who He was.  Martha was not chastised for her preparations and her organizational skills.  She was gently reminded that there was a time to stop.  There is a time to set aside the “doing” and rest in the moment.  I have no doubt Mary had been helping Martha.  Now, I don’t doubt Mary was the baby sister and didn’t give her housekeeping and organizational work the same effort big sister Martha did, but I still believe she helped her sister.  However, once Jesus arrived, Mary decided that what had been prepared was good enough and it was time to take enjoy her company, to learn from the Master.  Martha couldn’t let go.  She couldn’t quit striving.  I think her motives were pure-she wanted Jesus to have the very best.  She wanted it all to be just perfect.  But that is where the truth lies.  We are not perfect.  We can not strive enough to become perfect.  He knows.  He sees.  He created us.  He wants us in our less than perfect state.  He wants to spend time with us teaching us, encouraging us, growing us, changing us, bringing our image closer to His image. Mary got it.  She knew when to let go and let God.

I love these sisters.  I love that God is using their story to alter the course of my story.  I love that even now, thousands of years later, I can learn from Mary and Martha.  I know I would have been drawn to them.  I know I would have love being in their home.  I am working on my striving.  I’m still in love with order, with organization, but I’m working really hard on doing it for the right reasons.  I want to manage my time, so that God can order my days.  I want to be faithful with that He has placed on my plate today, so I am ready for the task He gives me tomorrow.  I want to relinquish control and use my gifts and talents to draw others to Him.  My home plays a BIG part in that plan.  Letting go plays a BIG part in that plan.  From striving stress to relinquishing rest.

More on My Perfect Planner

As I have mentioned, I found the perfect planner.  The perfect planner for me.  You see, that is the secret.  There is no perfect planner.  There are only planners of various kinds.  We find one, or a combination of several (as I have done) and create the perfect planner for ourselves.  For some it is an electronic version.  Although, as someone who consults as an organizer and time management coach, I will tell you I have found most women still work best with a paper system, using the electronic calendar only as a month at a glance family calendar or to provide reminder alerts.  Why?  We are more right brained.  We were created to be creative.  As such, I think most of us like the visual aspect of paper planning, as evidenced by all the amazing photos on Pinterest of colorful, sticker full planner pages.  Way beyond my capacity, but some of you creative women out there can go all out!  Second, we are more tactile.  Our days are full of “touching”.  We place hands upon our homes through cooking, cleaning, decorating…  We place hands upon our family loving, encouraging, supporting.  We place hands upon a lot.  Getting to place our hands upon something tactile we can use to track our days is refreshing, rewarding and provides a great sense of accomplishment.  If you are anything like me, getting to strike a line through any of my “to do” tasks gives me sheer joy!  So today I share with you a few more sections and tips from my Personal Perfect Planner.

On Monday I took you through the first few sections.  I stopped at my Project Pages.  Let me reiterate again, how important these are.  Not only do they help me keep track of what I need to do on each project, giving me a big picture view, but they keep me accountable.  When I see too many Project Pages piling up I know I have failed to say yes to the best, and have let myself fall prey to trying to please others by never saying no.  Ugh.  I know you have been there.  Especially if you are a woman of faith.  It is hard, hard to say no and not feel guilty.  Hard to know what the best is versus the good.  Here are some tips, things I do, to help in saying yes to the best.

  1. Never give an answer at the moment you are asked.  ALWAYS ask if you can have a day to a week to think about it.
  2. Pray daily, asking God to give you direction.
  3. Review your Life Purpose Statement.  Does the task/commitment align itself to your Life Purpose Statement.
  4. Review your Project list.  How many things are you committed to right now?  Are any of them drawing to a close?
  5. Assess whether or not being involved in this task or commitment will use your spiritual gifts and human talents.  God does not call us to do things He has not gifted us to do.  Don’t take the joy away from someone else.
  6. Respond back succinctly.  We owe no one but God an explanation.  If your yes is yes, then just say so.  If your no is no, then just say so.

The next section in my planner is Special Dates.  I keep a list of birthdays, anniversaries etc… here.  I am that old fashioned girl that still likes to send a hand written note as much as possible.  Each Friday I review the next week and then over on my daily pages write down when I need to send a card off.  I love Mardells and keep a stock of Dayspring cards, which you can always purchase in bulk on sale.  I wish I could tell you I never miss a special date, but I am not perfect and sadly I sometimes let this priority fall off my mind.  This section of my planner is from Life is Crafted.

IMG_3924

 

Now we finally come to the meat of my planner.  The sections I rely upon daily to keep me centered and keep me effective.  The next section is my Month at a Glance.  While I love the Life Is Crafted system, her monthly pages do not have lines.  Being a little on the OCD side, I need lines.  I can’t stand looking at a page with crooked writing.  I know.  At this point I should stop and call my therapist.  All joking aside, not having lines just doesn’t work for me.  So, for this section I use the folio size Day-Timer Month at a Glance pages.  In addition to the fact that they are lined, there are several other things I LOVE about their layout.

IMG_3925

The front page of the Two Page Per Month has a “To Be Done” section.  This is where I write those things that need to be done annually or quarterly.  Things like, “run cleaning cycle in washing machine”, power wash patio”, “seal granite/marble”…  You get the idea.  This is NOT where I put all my “to do” items.  I keep those on the Master To Do list and transfer those to my weekly pages.  (more about that next week)

IMG_3926

The Two Page Per Month layout is great, including at the bottom the previous month’s calendar and the next month’s calendar.  To the right there is a column “To Be Done” and “Notes & Memos”.  If there is something on my Master To Do list that must be done during a particular month, I DO transfer it to this “To Be Done” section.  I use the “Notes & Memos” section to write down names/phone numbers of people I need to contact that month, but mostly use it as a reminder section for any Mary & Martha business alerts or reminders (for example if a new product is coming in stock or an out of stock item is going to be restocked on a particular day).  The daily blocks in the month layout are used for appointments.  As you can see, I do some color coding here.  Things due or critical appointments are in red.  My girls are blue and pink.  I am green.  No “to do” items are here, only appointments.  Each Friday I set aside time to sync this paper planner with my iphone calendar.  I try to keep it all synced as each day ends, but let’s get real.  I am over 40 and sometimes forget. Second, some days by the time I have a spare moment I can do little more than fall into bed.  Fortunately, I haven’t missed anything critical and this once a week “sync” on Friday seems to keep me up to date.

As my girls have gotten older I have taught them to put their own items on the iphone calendar (which is in our Cloud and shared).  This year, they are now 15, I am slowly implementing the policy that if it is not on the calendar it doesn’t happen.  Obviously having to give a little grace and use it failed moment to provide a little instruction, reinforcement.  However, if it is purely social I will tell you I have used those opportunities to be pretty hard core.

The meat of my planner are in the pages that follow this Two Page Per Month Layout.  Looking forward to sharing that in the next post.  In the mean time here are some sites you might want to check out if you are interested in creating your own perfect planner.

http://www.momagenda.com/

http://lifeiscrafted.com/

https://plannerpads.com/

http://intheleafytreetops.com/2015-mom-on-the-go-planner/

https://www.erincondren.com/

http://franklinplanner.fcorgp.com/store/

I QUIT-So I can…

As a professional organizer, I find the greatest mistake people make in managing their time/lives, is NOT knowing when to QUIT.  We don’t like to QUIT-quitting is for losers.  I disagree.  Quitting is the sign of someone who knows their abilities and their limits.  You see, we CAN’T do it all.  Every day I see people attempting to do just that-do it all.  They post on Facebook, they blog, they seek guidance …  We all find ourselves in that place at times.  It is hard to QUIT.  It takes a lot of courage to QUIT.  It takes determination to QUIT.

When your house looks like this (see below), you realize it is time to QUIT.

2014-04-22 08.58.012014-04-22 08.58.39

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We are moving.  We are moving by choice (getting to build a new home).  The problem is, life doesn’t stop because we chose to move.  Work doesn’t slow down, mothering tasks don’t wait, family needs don’t cease to exist.  No, life marches on.  I could attempt to be “SuperMom”, but I’ve been down that road and have yet to have any real success.  I could attempt to squeeze moving tasks into an already full day, OR I can face reality and QUIT something.  All too often we attempt to restructure our days or rearrange our priorities.  There will be no success in doing either of those.  When we are faced with a major project/life event, the only solution to staying organized (and sane) is to quit something already on our plate.  What did I quit?  I quit blogging.  I don’t blog for a living.  I’d love to one day garner referrals or some income from blogging, but for now I blog as a hobby, a means of accountability and to engage with others through social media.  As I reviewed my goals, the projects on my plate, it became apparent I needed to QUIT blogging.  I can’t add hours to my day or days to my week.  I can only work within the parameters of a 24 hour 7 day week.  God designed it that way.  Time is finite.  The move will happen (actually we have to make 2 moves as a result of a quick sale of our current home-but who’s to complain in this market!?!)  It will take a few months, and there will be need for some “settling/nesting” time.  That’s OK.  I will blog when snippets of time become available.  But mostly, my time will be focused on this new life event/project.  I’ll quit blogging so I can make the new event/project a priority.  I’ll quit blogging so I can focus on the tasks at hand and enjoy this opportunity.  I’ll quit blogging because I simply don’t have time to blog and move.  I will QUIT so I can move.

If you are struggling to find time for everything please consider the following:

1.  STOP-step back and make a list of all your priorities/projects.

2.  ASSESS-which priorities/projects are non-negotiables-you CAN NOT give them up.  Be honest.  Can any of them be delegated?  Will quitting one of them mean the end of the world?

3.  IDENTIFY-name the priority/project that can be put on hold or discarded permanently.

4.  CREATE-a new priority and map out all of the tasks leading to its completion.

5.  PLUG IN-assign the tasks to specific weeks/days and if possible time slots.

6.  LET GO-be free from guilt over quitting.  Trust the opportunity will still exist when the new priority/project is completed.  Enjoy what you have opportunity for now.

 

 

 

No Goals, No Resolutions. Just a Theme. New Year, New Ideas, New Perspective.

I used to set New Year’s Resolutions and write out pages of goals.  Like many, I wound up stressed, feeling like a failure, repeatedly changing/modifying or updating my lists.  Not fun.  Not productive.  

Two years ago I was sharing with a friend and mentor that I felt God had given me a repeated message, summed up in two words.  I didn’t know what to do with them, they made no sense for that time in my life (at least not earthly sense) and I was finding myself discouraged.  She challenged me to consider the idea that God was speaking a “theme” into my life.  One He wanted me to heed, delve into.  One He wanted me to make the focus of my prayers, studies and thoughts.  Those first two words were “Come Home”.  I had gone back to work full-time after 11 years at home with my twin girls.  It seemed a necessity.  If you recall, we had a little financial crisis in our country-one that impacted my husband appraisal business, our investments and our joint home building business.  We had scaled back, were faced with some difficult decisions about financial support of some extended family, and in many ways jolted into a new reality. We had once been able to give generously to our church, ministries, friends and family.  His telling me to “Come Home” made no sense.  While we had made the financial changes we could, some that should have been made years earlier, we were by no means in a great place financially.  Nor did it look like there was going to be any great turnaround in our country’s economy. Yet, the more I prayed, the louder the words.  The more often something hit at those words.  The more I prayed, the more frustrated and unhappy my family became.  We were all scurrying around and behaving like little grumps!  Thankfully I am married to a man of faith.  After spending time in prayer himself and hearing me out, he knew to bless my decision.  We’ve learned the hard way not to mess with God’s guidance.  So, home I came.  No more working outside the home full-time for someone else.  I got my real estate license and began researching professional organizing.  

The next year, I felt strongly God saying, “Provision not Position or Prosperity”.  This time I heeded quickly.  At first I thought God was challenging me to have a little more faith.  To trust He would provide.   Didn’t sound too hard.  That was part of it, but certainly not the crux of it.  As I prayed over those words, found myself stumbling upon scripture hitting on that theme, I realized God was asking me to let go of what I thought had to be, what I thought I needed.  He was asking me to let go of my need to achieve, to do, and focus on being.  A huge part of the process was also developing a heart of gratitude.  The journey wasn’t easy.  Next to my six year battle with infertility, this past year was probably one of the most difficult spiritually.  I took almost a full year to go through Beth Moore’s “Breaking Free” study (lots of rabbits to chase as the digging in led me to other books, conversations and scripture), coming to grips with things holding me captive, keeping me from a full life in Christ.  It has been a freeing year, but I have felt bruised and battered at times.  I found comfort and words of encouragement as well as instruction and wisdom in blogs and/or books recommended by women of faith I follow on social networks.  Thus, the birth of this blog.  I saw a level of community, a way to develop my love of writing and most importantly a place to hold myself accountable.  

I share all of the above with you to say this:  I no longer set lofty goals or resolutions.  Instead, as the year comes to a close (about October) I begin earnestly praying for God to give me a word and a verse-a theme for the year.  I am open to the idea He might not change the word(s) because He might not be done with that area of my life yet.  I pray.  I wait.  I listen.  I watch.  I write (journal).  The words, the theme, become my guiding principle for the year.  As I make decisions about what to do, where to go, changes to make, I look at them through the lens of these words.  If there is a connection then it makes the list, it gets to stay.  If not, I put aside, knowing that if it is meant to be God will provide the way when the timing is right, when I am really ready.  

This year the given word is PEACE.  The scripture:  “You will keep the mind that is dependent on You in perfect peace, for it is trusting in You.”  Isaiah 26:3.  While my mind initially went to ideas of quiet days at home, no children fighting, a less than full schedule, time to curl up and read, that’s not what God had in mind when He gave me the word PEACE.  The verse speaks volumes to where He is leading me.  He desires I have peace of mind.  I struggle with that one.  It was an issue I had to face last year as I studied, learned to accept His provision and trust Him for future provision.  I am a worrier.  Yes, I am well aware that is a sin.  If I could quit cold turkey I would have years ago.  I am not going to say I can’t, because I know I can.  It hasn’t happened yet because quite honestly I haven’t been ready to really let go.  I believe this year He will do a BIG work in me.  So, I enter the new year claiming His word to me.  I claim the scripture.  I will spend the next few weeks listening for His guidance as I pray over what activities to continue, new opportunities, what bible study to engage in etc…  Here are a few things I will focus on this next year as I seek PEACE by keeping my mind on Him and developing FAITH that truly trusts, trusts enough to let go:

1.  Read through the Bible.  I have failed at this many times.  This time though it is not a task or just something I want to do.  He has called me to keep my mind on Him.  I have a morning quiet time each day, but I feel compelled to spend it this year in His word and His word alone.  No devotional, just His word.  I have combined this with my desire to give each of my daughter’s a bible read by me, with notes and comments made by me for them.  This year I am using a bible my daughters bought for my grandmother a year before she passed away.  I will give it to one of my girls next Christmas.  The following year I will use a bible my mother-in-law left me before her death.  I will once again read through the bible, this time thinking of my other daughter.  I will give it to her Christmas 2015.  

2.  Advocare 24 Day Challenge followed by healthier eating and 5 days of exercise per week.  I have come to grips with the fact my body, at age 46, does not behave as it used to.  My mind is WAY TOO engaged in thinking about my body-how tired I am, the hot flashes, the pants that are too tight or don’t look flattering…  I need to kick start my system and work towards a healthier me so I am not thinking about my body so much.  It has been said we spend most of our thinking energy on those things we have not done, robbing ourselves of the energy and thought to carry out the things we want to do.  

There are some other things swirling in my mind, but I haven’t quite yet been able to get them articulated.  On January 31 I will do as I always do.  I will have my 31st Retreat.  I have blocked off the day, keeping it open for planning and reflection.  (see previous post about how I practice this throughout the year on the 31st)  I usually make the January 31st Retreat a big deal.  In fact, I will probably be in a hotel (in my city) alone with my journal, family planner, calendar, bible and a couple of my favorite devotional books.  I’ll have paper, highlighters etc…  This year, not only will I be finalizing plans, but I’ll be celebrating the end of the Advocare 24 day Challenge and hopefully will have a new sense of well-being and be able to get one thing off my mind!  I might even have to indulge in a little sliver of chocolate cake to celebrate!