Friday, August 21, 2009

Free up some time – quality v. quantity

My schedule was so full of things I “must” to do, that I had no time to do the things I WANTED to do. How insane is that?

So I pulled out my calendars for the current year and the two previous years and looked at all the activities & meetings I had been a part of. And I started listening to friends talk about all the things they had to do and how stressed they were over it.

That’s when I realized that so many people (myself included) had great ‘quantity’ of activities instead of great ‘quality’ of activities.

Of course I realize there are many things we must do. We must work to make a living & maintain the home (homemakers work too!). We must spend time serving the Lord. We must interact with our children. And we must have personal leisure time.

The problems arise when our calendar gets out of balance.

You become a Christian – you serve the Lord. You attend church. You go to a Bible study.

You are blessed with children – you spend time with them. You teach them about life and responsibility. You have fun with them.

You have a home – you maintain it. You clean it. You decorate it.

You join a club – you attend meetings. You work events. You participate.

I was spending huge blocks of time dealing with my clutter of things. I was involved in groups that I had long ago lost interest in or never actually wanted to be involved with in the first place! Pretty bad, huh?

Because of what I saw in my life and my friends’ lives, I developed a personal time philosophy I call “The Rule of Three”. Jugglers can keep 3 balls in the air with relative ease. Good multi-taskers can handle 3 projects with little difficulty. So I divided my life into thirds.

First – always first – is God. Second is my home & family. Third is my leisure.

But then that needed breaking down to keep it under control.

In living my faith, my 3 areas are:
1. Study His Word.
2. Attend church and serve on Sundays.
3. Serve Him by doing mission work & mission support.

For my home and family, my activities are:
1. Spend quality time interacting with my family.
2. Make and maintain an attractive & clutter-free home (house and yard).
3. Nurture my interest in cooking and meal presentation.

And finally my leisure time. I divide this into 2 groups – Hobbies and Interests. Hobbies are hands-on, activity related. Interests are more studying and learning. This is where I really had to make some decisions and let some activities go.
My three hobbies: 1. Photography. 2. Bonsai. 3. Jewelry making
My three interests: 1. My sponsor children. 2. Landscaping. 3. Extension Homemakers group.

I can not tell you how much narrowing my focus has helped take stress off. I go to church every Sunday and Bible study every Wednesday. I have 3 regular monthly meetings. That leaves plenty of time to do things we want to do... mission activities, classes, day trips, time with family & friends.

The system is not perfected yet. I still am fighting down that clutter monster and disorganization monster but that battle is almost won. In itself that free up a lot of extra time for everything else (these long stretches of alone time while Himself is in AK has been very helpful to my “clutter busting”).

I challenge you to consider your calendar. What is it that you long to do? What is it that is keeping you from doing that? Make a plan to direct you on how to focus on what is important to you & your family. You’ll find once you have a plan, it is very easy to weed out those distracting activities that aren’t enhancing your life.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

More freedom - removing toxic people from your life

Yesterday I wrote about the clutter of possessions. But that is not the only thing that can own you. Most likely even more than things, the people you have in your life can drive you nuts.

Long ago I realized that there are people who are just ‘toxic’. They poison your life with demands, negativity, put downs, guilt, back stabbing, criticisms, never ending personal drama and they might even steal from you (borrowing things or money that is never returned is stealing).

The sad thing is these people come disguised as friends. As co-workers. As fellow church members. Like the saying goes, “With friends like these… who needs enemies?”

My question is: Why keep them in your life?

Just as when we were a child we learned it’s not smart to touch that hot stove, we also must learn it’s not smart to have toxic “friends”. Why should a person allow someone to bring havoc into their life and soul? It’s touching that stove over and over and over. It’s insanity.

A toxic person will hurt you as long as you allow them into your life. YOU are the one allowing the pain and frustration to continue.

There was a time in my life I had so many toxic people around me I should have been living in a hazmat suit! It was depressing… draining (emotionally and financially)… and irritating! So I started cutting them away. For sure there were guilt attempts by them to continue the relationship – big time! After all, THEY were the ones benefiting from the relationship. But I knew in my soul there was no reason to be guilty.

A friend is supposed to be a blessing.

I learned to say “no”. “No” to doing someone else’s responsibilities. “No” to allowing criticisms, put downs and back handed compliments to seep into my soul. “No” to always being the giver in a relationship and rarely, if ever, the receiver. “No” to listening to complaints and negative comments that drain the joy out of life. "No" to the person who cancels plans at the last minute because she "wasn't feeling it". "No" to the chronic late arrivers who think their time is more valuable than anyone elses.

No – nein – nyet – la – hapana – non – nao! NO!!!

I can guarantee if you set a boundary and do not let a toxic person manipulate you… they will leave your life. When you stop giving them what they want, they are gone to find a new “friend” that they can control.

I’ve seen mushrooming of toxic friends with the advent of “social networking”. Facebook is amazing for that. People who actively dislike me (and the feeling is mutual) are suddenly requesting to be my “friend”. Why??? Hit that ‘ignore’ button! And by the way, it’s alright to “un-friend” someone. If you do and they try to ‘friend’ you again, ignore them. If they have the nerve to ask why you deleted them and you don’t want to be blunt (“I don’t like you”), then just say you are cutting back on your friend list… so sorry… but you can email privately any time you’d like. (Don’t worry… they won’t be emailing you soon enough).

Some people use Facebook to peek into others lives... just like that nosey neighbor who watches everything you do from their curtained window. Or worse...peeking into your window from outside! Not giving them free rein in your personal life is NOT being rude. It is NOT 'keeping the peace'. It's NONE OF THEIR BUSINESS!

Remember… your friendship is a gift too. Choose wisely who you give it to.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Welcome Little Bird

I've just become an aunt!

At sometime shortly after 8 am, my new niece arrived. I'll post a photo after I figure out how to get it off my cell phone!

As Little Bird's aunt, it is my job to make sure she has plenty of cute shoes and loud toys. As she gets older, I hope to show her where Orion's Belt is in the sky... how to ride a horse... take her to explore the zoo... watch old musicals together... and show her as many wonders of this world as I can.

I'm looking forward to the job.