Tuesday Night Ramblings

The weather here in Missouri has improved—there are no storms in the forecast this week.  It looks like I will make it to work/school every day.  That is a welcome change, and my classes are going very well.  What’s not going well everything else.  I can’t remember when I last cleaned the house.  My exercise routine isn’t really routine—it is sporadic at best.  Those things are discouraging, so I am going to try not to think about them and focus on what’s going well instead.  Life doesn’t always fall into line the way we plan it.  A day sometimes brings surprises, inconveniences, and delays.  I am trying to be adaptable to what comes, and accept what is with gratitude instead of beating myself up and getting angry when my plan for the day gets pushed to the side. 

Today’s Gratitude List:

  1.   I received word today that I have been awarded certification to teach English grades 5-12.  This is going to open up some new job possibilities for me.
  2.  I was asked to design a course for a professional development institute which will mean extra income. 
  3. The fact that my classes going well is not a blessing to be overlooked.  My students are engaged and I leave our meetings feeling happy and inspired.
  4.  There are the day-to-day joys of living the small town life.  Today, when I got home, my husband was at the opposite end of the drive setting up coral panels.  Scout the dog was with him.  We decided to play “catch” with Scout the dog.  Scout loves the snow and loves to run fast, so he kicks up a lot of wintery dust when he gets going.  I called him and he barreled toward me at a dead run.  Then, my hubby called him.  Then, we didn’t have to call him.  He just ran back and forth between us, while we laughed at his antics.  To sum up—a day that I laugh is a good day, even if my house is messy and I haven’t worked out.

Grateful for What Is

     I think one of the many benefits of practicing gratitude is the fact that it shuts down a lot of other negative thought processes.

     On my quest of positive change and mind renewal, I have been faithfully repeating my mantra for the year–TRUSTING GOD,  and also meditating on this week’s power thought, I will not live in fear.  And…nothing seems to be happening.  Nothing seems to be changing.  If anything, I see myself becoming less motivated, and wondering How did that happen?

      I am clinging to my intentions here.  I am trusting that God is renewing my mind, and that I am on the right path, even if I don’t think I am seeing results.  I have been thinking a certain way, according to a certain pattern for an awfully long time–I must give the new thoughts time to take hold.  I will not live in fear that my motivation is gone forever.  I will not live in fear of being in a rut.  After all, that is just my perception of things today.  Perception changes.

     I have been helped tremendously by focusing on the many beautiful and rich moments I have enjoyed this day, and feeling gratitude for all that is, instead of fretting about what has not yet manifested.  AFter all, I can worry, or I can enjoy my life right now.  I am choosing to enjoy this precious life I have been given right now.

      Here’s a random list of what I am grateful for right at this moment:

  • I just want to scream from the rooftops how happy I am to have friends.
  • How happy I am to be able to read, how grateful I am for stories, and songs, and musical instruments
  • How I love tomato sauces
  • Scented lotions
  • And the different times of day—doesn’t each part of the day have its own beauty and special feel?  I love early morning, starting to work, midmorning-almost lunch, the noon hour, early afternoon, mid-afternoon, late afternoon, dusk and early evening, mid to lat evening, late evening.  
  • I know this will sound very old-ladyish, but I don’t care:  one of the most amazing luxuries I experience every day, is the pleasure I feel at going to bed.  I am tired when I go to bed, and when I lie down on that soft mattress and feel the flannel sheets and down comforter on my bare feet and legs, I relax and the tension leaves.  There are few things more pleasant than a comfortable bed when you’re tired, and the wonderful anticipation of a full night of sleep and rest and sweet dreams and the knowledge that a brand new day is coming soon.

6 Ways to Stop Fearing and Fighting Your List

     Dealing with this week’s Power Thought, “I will not live in fear,” has revealed to me one of my fears.  Most days, I work through the day in fear of not getting everything done.  As you can imagine, this makes it very difficult to enjoy the day because I end up feeling like I am in a race against the clock to get all of my work finished.  I am working on overcoming this thinking, and taking on an attitude of faith.  My method of overcoming is a combination of acknowledging the truth and some practical changes in the way I set up my days.

  1. I acknowledge that my times are in God’s hands.  He does not expect me to do the impossible in a day, and he wants me to enjoy my life.
  2. In the morning, I pray for wisdom about my day.  I pray for God to help me to understand what the right priorities are.
  3. I pray that I will not be so rigid in my scheduling that I can’t enjoy an unexpected visit or conversation, or help someone out with a favor or joining a friend in a spontaneous errand or lunch.
  4. Practically speaking, I am disciplining myself to keep shorter to do lists.  This is a process.  I usually make a list the night before of everything I want to accomplish the next day.  Then, I mark out the things that aren’t true priorities.  Sometimes, the next morning, I mark things out.  I have a tendency to overload the list—so it takes a lot of paring down to get a manageable list. 
  5. Finally, I am making an effort to plan something joyful into each day.  This is hard—I know it shouldn’t be, but I struggle to come up with ideas.  And of course, just as with the “work” type tasks, sometimes I plan something fun, and the circumstances to make it happen just aren’t right.  Today, I gave myself an at-home pedicure, and I planned to being watching Glee.  I received the first season for Christmas.  Sadly, the picture kept messing up, and it actually cut out in the middle of an episode…with that in mind…
  6. Have a back-up plan, and be flexible.

Naming the Days

Today, I am sassy, spunky, spirited and snowbound. I have been snowbound since yesterday, and may be snowbound tomorrow as well. This morning, as I realized that I was “in” for the day, I felt the weariness of another nondescript day coming on. “No!” I thought, which was very sassy, spunky, and spirited of me. “Today is going to be Different.” Yes, instead of calling today its traditional, long-established name, Tuesday, I named it “Different.” Naming the days is a tool I was introduced to many years ago, but I haven’t done it very often. It requires presence of mind to focus on the name of the day, and pay attention to the ways it manifests itself and proves the name true. One day many years ago, a day I called “Surprises” was very memorable. But, you may be wondering, was today really Different? Yes, it actually was. I didn’t rush. I took my time, and wrote a really long prayer dealing with every issue that had been on my heart and weighing me down. Then, I read and worked on projects for my classes for several hours. I can’t remember when I got so much done and it felt so effortless. It was Different. I even planned a new class for next fall. I am ahead in my work. That’s definitely Different. I paused to bake some cookies in the midst of my work—white chocolate macadamia nut cookies made from cookie dough I purchased in support of a student fundraiser. It took about fifteen minutes from start to finish. My husband had warm cookies when he got home. Different. Then, I decided to give my eyes a break and listen to a book, even though I usually only listen to audiobooks when I am driving. Different. I noticed how hard it was for me to sit still and enter the world of the book. I wanted to get online, straighten the house, etc. After a few minutes, I was able to settle into listening and enjoy the book. After this experiment with naming today Different, I wonder why I don’t name the days more often. There are endless possibilities—joy, mercy, beauty, music, fun, laughter, kindness, etc. Each name helps us to notice the unique blessings of any given day.

Everyday Things

     Today has been fairly uneventful.  We are starting to get some more winter weather in Missouri, but the roads weren’t too bad this morning.  I went to campus to finish my first day of spring semester preparations.  That did not take long.  I also put the finishing touches on a proposal to teach a special topics course the first part of the summer.  It’s the class that was born out of my wondering, musing, and curiosity about dystopias in young adult literature.  Here’s the proposed reading list: A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle, I am the Cheese by Robert Cormier, The Giver by Lois Lowry, The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer, Uglies by Scott Westerfield, and The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.  I am very excited that I followed the trail of my interest to this end.  I hope the class “makes” and I will get a chance to discuss all of these books with students.

     I left campus fairly early.  It was already snowing steadily, and conditions are expected to worsen throughout the day.  I stopped to run an errand at the bank, and made it home by noon.  For the first part of the afternoon, I read the Bible, and wrote out my prayers for the day.  I worked on this week’s Power Thought (God Loves Me Unconditionally!) and meditated on the scripture that goes with it.  As you can probably see from the pictures of the signs that I posted earlier, I am getting quite a collection.  I am betting that these signs throughout the house are having a positive effect on my husband as well.  I also have signs at my office at the college, and wonder if the guy that cleans my office has noticed them.  I hope so.

     Scout the dog is loving the snow.  We went outside to get the mail, and although this is shameful to admit, we have two pumpkins left over from fall that we never did anything with.  For some reason, Scout has decided that they are his new toys.  He has been playing with pumpkin pieces and running around in the snow tossing them up in the air.  Hilarious!  He thinks these pumpkins are wonderful!

     There isn’t much on the agenda for the rest of the afternoon.  I hope to straighten up the house and do a little cleaning before it’s time to fix dinner.  It is a good afternoon to be home and indoors.  I am thankful that I could come home early today.  Tomorrow is an iffy first day of school.  If we get the 6”-7” of snow that is predicted, I doubt my own attendance as well as that of many other faculty, staff, and students.  Either way, my heart is prepared and I am ready for the new semester.