Archive | April 2014

Little Things

This week I’m thankful for the little everyday things.  For example, I’m thankful for . . .

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1.  . . . the sunshine – OK, I could easily start to sound like a broken record with this one, but I really do love it when it is warm and sunny outside.

2.  . . . Ibuprofen – What I’m really grateful for is that I don’t need it very often.  But when I do (like this week for a very sore and very stiff neck), I’m really glad that it is there.

3.  . . . running water – It’s so great that we can just turn the faucet and out comes clean water.  It’s easy to take for granted, but our lives are so much easier because of it!

4.  . . .  cameras – I love my camera, although I don’t claim to be a photographer.  I just love that I can preserve memories to look at in the future.  I also love other people with their cameras – and all of the awesome pictures that they share on the internet (like the one I added to today’s blog post – click here for the source).

5.  . . . sunglasses – My eyes are so sensitive to bright light!  While I love the sunshine, sunglasses make being outside in it a lot more comfortable.  And, I get “squinting” or “sun” headaches much less often, making it so I don’t need the Ibuprofen as much (lol)!

What little things are you thankful for today?

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Simplifying my Goals Using “The Rule of 3”

I just purchased a new time management book titled “Getting Results the Agile Way” by J.D. Meier.  Like many people who have written reviews for the book, I find “the rule of 3” to be helpful.  Although I admit that at first I didn’t.  I’ve tried making “top 3” and “top 5” lists before and have always been frustrated by them.  Usually I have way more than 3 or 5 things to do, and they all feel equally important, so it’s difficult to say upfront which 3 or 5 are the most important.

But this author’s recommendation is to think about the top 3 results you want by the end of the day, and he points out that there may could be many (or few) tasks to do that lead to those results.  He also says there are many other things a person would probably do in addition to working on the 3, but the point is to add focus and clarity to the day.  So this way of thinking changes the idea it a bit in my mind, and I’ve been trying it out.

The “rule of 3” applies to each day, week, month, and even year – so when I read this, I thought of my five goals for the year.  When I set them, I actually thought it was too many, but since I didn’t know what to eliminate, I kept all five.  But I continue to feel like it is a lot to think about, so I decided to eliminate two.  It was a difficult decision, but I went with my gut and eliminated “declutter my home and get organized,” and “be of good cheer more.”  Not that I can’t work on these things; I can.  But I think I will be better off focusing for now on the other three.  So now my goals look like this {notice that I also simplified the definitions by naming 3 main points to focus on for each!}:

1.  Take better care of my health.

  • Sleep right
  • Exercise regularly
  • Proper diet (including drinking enough water)

2.  Manage my time better

  • Procrastinate less
  • Be a little more organized in my approach to my work
  • Feel less overall stress about my work

3.  Listen to my family better.

  • Look at people when they are talking to me (as much as possible).
  • Try to understand and be respectful of their point of view (even if I don’t agree).
  • Answer them promptly when they ask a question.

I’m glad that I took the time to describe everything that I want to do in detail a few weeks ago.  It provided clarity that I wouldn’t have any other way.  But after writing that post I became somewhat overwhelmed by it all, and that is why I am equally glad to be able to simplify them!

I love Meier’s analogy of the buffet.  He says, “It’s all too easy to bite off more than you can chew.  Instead, first nail the three items you want to accomplish, and then bite off more.  Think of it as a buffet of results and you can keep going back – just don’t overflow your plate on each trip” (pg 32).

What strategies do you use in your work to keep from “biting off more than you can chew?”

Blessings That Come From Focusing on the Savior

These past few weeks all of my blog posts have been “Thankful Thursday” posts!  This happened once before when I first started blogging, and it caused me some stress.  I felt like my blog was off-balance, and over-saturated with one topic.  Part of me is feeling this way again, but another part of me feels OK about it too.  I mean, if I’m going to over-saturate my blog with any topic, being grateful is probably the best one.

I don’t require myself to write every Thursday, but recently doing so has lifted me up.  It has helped me to focus on the good things in my life.  And I hope that it has helped others focus on the good as well.  Although my specific day-to-day blessings might be different than those who read what I write, I always hope that it will spark a memory of something similar (or even totally different) in your life to be thankful for too!

At times, what I have to be grateful for is something that we all share in common – and that is the case today.  Of all of the things that I am thankful for in my life, more than anything else, I am thankful for the Savior of the world.  Although we may all have varying knowledge and understanding, He is the Savior of us all.  He knows and loves each one of us, and our need for Him and His ability to help each of us is equal to each other.

I first realized the importance of focusing on the Savior in my life a few months prior to serving my mission for my church.  This was a very difficult time for me; in fact I would say one of the most difficult times in my life.  I didn’t feel any real direction, and my grades were slipping in college.  I felt like I should serve a mission, but I didn’t really want to.  I decided to take a break from college for a bit in order to “figure it all out” and went home.  But I continued to feel anxious and stressed, and I allowed discouragement to take over.  One day in my frustration I said to my dad that I didn’t know if anything I had learned about my church was really true any more.  His response to me was that “sometimes when we pray we like to do all of the talking, and that we forget to listen too.”

When he said that, I realized that I did need to listen a little better when I prayed.  So, I said a prayer about what I should be doing with my life, determined to listen.  And I remembered some council given by our prophet at that time, Howard W. Hunter.  He had said,

I invite all members of the Church to live with ever more attention to the life and example of the Lord Jesus Christ, especially the love and hope and compassion he displayed.  I pray that we will treat each other with more kindness, more patience, more courtesy and forgiveness. . . .  Let us study the Master’s every teaching and devote ourselves more fully to his example.” 

This made all of the difference in my perspective!  Suddenly the details didn’t matter anymore – I knew that I just needed to focus on the Savior.

As time went on, I began to focus more on serving others, and I felt a lot happier.  Things started falling into place for me.  I started preparing for my mission – there was no longer a “decision to be made,” but it just became the natural thing to do.  After my mission I finished school, and after my graduation met and married my husband.  Now we have 3 happy and healthy children, and I am so grateful for each one!

Life hasn’t been without bumps and trials, and I feel that I have fallen short of remembering to do what Jesus would do so many times.  But what I have learned over the years is that keeping my focus on the Savior brings clarity and direction.  It brings peace of mind and heart.

So, with Easter being on Sunday, today I am thankful for . . .

1.  . . . my Savior! 

2.  . . . President Hunter for reminding me to focus on Him.

3.  . . . my dad, for always being a great listener, and for giving me wise council to “listen as I prayed”  when I needed it.  Thanks, Dad!

When have you felt that a focus on the Savior has brought clarity or peace in your life?

 

 

“It Is Usually Through Another Person That He Meets Our Needs”

President Spencer W. Kimball once said, “God does notice us, and he watches over us. But it is usually through another person that he meets our needs. Therefore, it is vital that we serve each other.”  I feel like I saw this quote in action this week through several different people, and I am thankful for all of them!

Why I’m thankful for my friend

For the past few days I’ve been thinking about what I would write about for “Thankful Thursday” today,  but nothing has seemed quite right.  Also, I’ve had a lot other stuff I’ve been needing to do this week.  So, between those two obstacles I thought that maybe I would just skip it today.

But then, a friend of mine showed up at my door this morning completely out of the blue.  She had come out of her way (I’m in the country, so it was really out of her way!) to bring me my family two freezer meals and some Rice Krispie Treats!!  It was so unexpected!  She explained that this very kind gesture was prompted by a Sunday School lesson which she had taught this past week.   So after she left, I knew that I had to write today and say how thankful I am that I have such a kind-hearted friend!  

Why I’m thankful for my daughter

Yesterday, I was bothered by some things, so in the middle of the day I said a prayer about what was on my mind.  My 4 yr-old daughter came looking for me, and when she saw me praying asked what I was praying about.  I responded, “oh, nothing too much.”  Then she said the most surprising thing – “But Mom, if you are praying, it’s because you want Jesus to help you with something.  So, what is it that you are asking Jesus to do for you?”  I was so surprised, and amazed by this!  Kids really do understand a lot more than we give them credit for sometimes!  I told her that (among other things) I felt like I have a lot of work that I need to do, and was asking for help to be able to do it.  Her response to this was – “I will help you with your work!  I will load the dishwasher for you!”  So sweet, right?

Her good intentions gave way to her 4 yr-old attention span, so she really did more playing than loading, but I was so grateful that she was aware of my feelings and wanted to lift my burden!  I told her last night before bed that she had done just what Jesus would have done – and that she did a good job of “trying to be like Jesus.”  Her whole face lit up, and she said, “I did?  I am?”

Why I’m thankful for the Sister Missionaries

On Tuesday I was trying to make a detailed menu plan for my family which would be for all meals of the day and include all of the food groups.  I was attempting to think of several meals that I could just rotate through, so that I don’t have to keep “re-inventing the wheel” every day.  When I started the project in the morning, I thought it might take a couple of hours – but it was taking much longer than this, and I was getting frustrated.  At the same time, I didn’t want to quit, because I really wanted a finished product that day.  So I just kept working at it.

Around lunch-time, the Sister Missionaries called.  They said that they were going to meet with one of my neighbors at 1:00, and would I like to come?  They told me later that they knew it was last minute, and so almost didn’t call, but then decided to just try anyway.  And to be honest, I’m really glad now that they did. . .  but in the moment I felt a little bit of apprehension about putting off this project.  As I said, I just wanted it to be done, so that I could move on to other things.

But I said “yes” to them, and after I hung up tried to guess in my own mind which neighbor we were going to see.  When they showed up I was delighted to find out that we were going to see my children’s bus driver who lives at the end of the road!  I really like their bus driver; she’s wonderful!  But I’ve never been to visit her.

When we got to her front porch, I was very surprised to see the view of my neighborhood from her house!  It was so beautiful and amazing!  She lives up on a hill – just a little hill – but enough of one to see for a long ways.  I just loved it, and was really happy.  I thought to myself that if I lived in her house, I would want to sit on the front porch all the time just to look at everything!

But she wasn’t at home, so I didn’t get to visit with her . . . maybe next time?  But still, the outing turned out to be really good for me.  It got my daughter and me out of the house; we walked, so I got some exercise; and I was able to visit with the Sister Missionaries, which I enjoyed (and they seemed happy too).  Also, when I went back to work on my “menu project,” I realized that it was “good enough” and I that didn’t need to do much else to it.  I added a couple more things, and printed it out.

And so, I’m thankful for the Sister Missionaries for being brave enough to ask me to come with them at the last minute, and for the service they are giving by teaching others about our church.

When have you seen the Lord meet your needs through another person?

“I am a Child of God”

This past Saturday I attended the General Women’s Meeting at my local church building with my 10 yr-old daughter.  I was really excited when I heard the announcement that now all women and girls 8 yrs-old and up would be attending these meetings together.

In anticipation, I expected a few things – first, I expected that I would love the meeting, and second, I expected that those who planned it would present it in a way that would be appealing to the younger girls attending.  And I was absolutely correct!

But I did not expect that the choir would have the primary-age children singing by themselves for part of the time, and I did not expect that they would ask all of the Primary age children (even those not in the choir) to sing “Teach me to Walk in the Light.”  I really loved this part, and found myself being a little teary-eyed (actually I was teary-eyed for most of the meeting, but it started here).

It was a very uplifting meeting, and I was so grateful to be able to attend with my daughter.  And so, as inspired by this, today I’m thankful for . . .

1.  . . . my daughter being able to attend the meeting with me.

It was fun for us to be able to do something with just the two of us.  It seems that we usually have either her brother or sister (or both), along whenever we go somewhere.  So, we enjoyed the one on one time.

Also, she really liked the meeting!  She said she loved the music and that she “actually understood what they were saying.”  I said, “Did you like the videos?,” to which she responded enthusiastically, “Oh yes, I forgot about those!”

2.  . . . my youth leaders for teaching me to take notes during General Conference.

When I turned 12, the youth leaders were actively encouraging all the youth to attend all sessions of General Conference and to take notes.  Most of them responded very well, and so even though these leaders were released shortly after I became part of the group, I followed the example of the older girls and did the same.  I have always been so grateful for this!

I love taking notes during these meetings (when I don’t have little ones on my lap trying to take my pen and paper away from me – lol).  I mean, I do realize that they will be printed later for me to read, but I get so much out of my own notes!  I not only write down what stands out to me from the talks, but my own impressions and thoughts as well.

3.  . . .the reminder that I am a precious daughter of Heavenly Father.

Those who attended the meeting will remember that they often spoke of us all being daughters of our Heavenly Father.  Though we may have different interests and talents, and even be different ages, we all share this in common.  I loved the video of different women as they sang “I am a child of God,” and it reminded me of one I had seen awhile ago at lds.org.

So, of course I had to include it today.  I seriously love this video and have watched it so many times.  My favorite part is at the end where they sing “I am a child of God,” and then the words appear on the screen “And so are YOU!”

Happy Thankful Thursday!  Don’t forget to count you blessings today!

My 2014 Goals – Defined in Greater Detail

When I posted my 2014 goals in January I did not define them in any great detail.  This was partly because I was afraid that doing so would lead to failure of the goal (by setting the expectations higher than I would reach), and partly because I didn’t exactly know what the details were.  I had a vague idea, and certainly could have stated something, but I felt it was best to state them as simply as possible.

It has now been 3 months since I first set these my goals for this year – one quarter of the way through – and I am thrilled at the progress I’m making!  It’s not that I have so much to show for it (or even to tell), but I feel much more clarity about what I’m trying to accomplish and much more confident that I can achieve what I had initially hoped.

So, I decided to take the next step, and define in greater detail what I would like to accomplish with each goal.  In saying this, I don’t intend that I will reach perfection – or even do everything that is written below.  But this is my vision of what I would want to accomplish if there were absolutely no obstacles to hinder me.  In reality, I will feel successful (and happy!) if I achieve somewhere between where I was on Jan 1 and what I have listed below.  {See this post for more about my feelings of success vs. failure with goals}.

1.  Take better care of my health.

  • Sleep
    • Go to bed early enough to get 8 hours of sleep.
    • Get up early even when I don’t have to (D&C 88:124).
  • Exercise
    • Ideally every day except Sunday, but more realistically 3 or 4 times per week.
  • Proper diet
    • Eat a more balanced diet.
    • Focus on lots of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
    • Drink 6 – 8 cups of water each day.
  • Emotional Health
    • This one is harder to pinpoint, but I guess for me it would be to strive to be calm and have faith when I might normally feel anxious, and strive to be cheerful and optimistic (see #4) instead of letting myself get down about things.
  • Other
    • Take medicine and vitamins as have been instructed by my doctor.
    • Schedule appropriate medical checkups.

2.  Manage my time better

  • Procrastinate less.
  • Be a little more organized in my approach to my work.
  • I also like this idea (from Following His Path blog) of striving to be more intentional in what I choose to do each day (this is a great article – definitely worth clicking the link and reading!).

3.  Declutter my home and get organized!!  Here is a list of what’s on my mind:

  • What I’ve done so far
    • I put rack dividers in my daughter’s closet to divide different types of clothes and make it easier to see what she has vs. what she needs of each item.
    • I cleaned up the space by my telephone, taking out plastic drawers and replacing them with nicer looking paper-board drawers.
    • I decluttered the top of refrigerator.
    • I decluttered a few items from my attic and donated them to the Relief Society for a “Swap Shop” they held).
    • I changed the toys in my girls room – threw some away, put others in the attic, and brought different ones down from attic.
    • I changed some things in the kitchen cabinet which I use to store notebooks and note cards.  I’m still working on this to make it a little nicer, but it’s a lot better already.  (I’d really like to make it look a little more like this.)
    • I created a home for Library Books – this has been much needed!
  • What I still would like to do
    • Put away all loose papers lying about.
    • Declutter the top of the entertainment center in my Living Room (which tends to be a dumping ground for stuff we want to put out of the 4 yr-old’s reach!).
    • Create a central home for items we need during “Family Home Evening” in the Living Room.
    • Add “rack dividers” to the other closets.
    • My bedroom (which tends to be a dumping ground for every homeless item!).
    • My bathrooms (both!) – I love these stacking drawers underneath the sink as shown at everydayorganizing.com blog.
    • Under my kitchen sink.
    • The shelf in my laundry closet.
    • Clothing (do a better job of keeping up on removing out-grown or worn-out clothing and replacing with the right size or new items).
    • Photos (a big project!).
    • Food storage (I just recently came across this blog which has lots of good, practical information about building food storage).
    • And, of course there’s always the garage, shed, and attic – but I’m cringing even at the thought!
    • Also, create better habits (myself and my kids) of putting things away right away, so there is less mess in the first place.

4.  “Be of good cheer” more!

  • Smile more – even when I answer the telephone (I had a boss once that used to tell me to smile when I answered the telephone.  It actually did make a difference in the way I sounded!).
  • Strive to be optimistic in difficult circumstances.
  • Strive to “see the good in everything” (click here for “Explore Newness” blog Thursday Thought – I actually printed out her picture to tape to my kitchen cabinet to remind me!).
  • Count my blessings often (a major reason I write “Thankful Thursday” posts!).

5.  Listen to my family better.

  • Look at people when they are talking to me (as much as possible).
  • Try to understand and be respectful of their point of view (even if I don’t agree).
  • Answer them promptly when they ask a question.
  • Say things that let them know I’m listening.

So, this is my vision for my goals.   If you have goals, or things you’re working on, what would complete success look like to you?