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Archive for February, 2021

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Today is the last day of February. Yes, you read that right, dear reader! Another month of the new year is quickly coming to an end, leaving me with one more month of the first quarter of this year to complete or continue working on goals chosen from my 21 for 2021 list. On the whole, I am delighted with my progress. Some tasks are one and done while others are monthly and yearly goals that are helping me develop better habits.

Scheduling my time has been an effective strategy for me to meet my goals. Each week, I get better at scheduling the tasks or activities that I want to engage in during my extra time. It boils down to making decisions on the best use of my time. In fact, just last week, I had to come to terms with not having enough time or energy to declutter and organize the rooms assigned for this quarter. I put that goal on the back burner until I can finish with a weekly commitment that will end at the Easter Vigil. Scheduling my time is becoming a good habit for me and helping me to become a better time manager. With that being said, I still encounter hiccups along the way, and when I do, I adjust my schedule. Some hiccups are out of my control, but some of them are self-inflicted. I experienced both this week. Regardless of the occasional hiccup, honoring the time on the schedule is important.

My first hiccup was not receiving my last musical from Netflix on Monday. Apparently, the post office is having some hiccups of their own. Anyway, I had scheduled Monday evening to watch it. When it did not arrive, I used that 133 minutes to read and take care of other personal tasks. The movie is still MIA which means I cannot complete my marathon until Tuesday when the copy I ordered from Amazon arrives. Therefore, instead of scrapbooking this Tuesday evening, I’ll be watching Across the Universe. Thankfully, Kelsi and I will have our chat about musicals this upcoming weekend, so I’ll have plenty of time to get it viewed and reviewed beforehand.

My second hiccup occurred yesterday. I had scheduled working on my blogging course from 6:30-8:30 in the morning. Creating an ABOUT page for my blog was my assignment. (Please click on ABOUT in the previous sentence, check it out, and give me some feedback. It can always be changed and updated at anytime.) Even though I already had this page on my blog, I needed to update it. It was almost 11:00 in the morning by the time I finished. I spent two and a half additional hours on my course than what I had allotted on my schedule. I had other items on my list that needed to be accomplished. They included grocery shopping, dusting, cleaning the master bathroom, laundry, cleaning the other bathroom (leftover chore from Thursday), and scrapbooking from 2:00-4:00 in the afternoon. Thankfully, my hubby got off early on Friday and took care of grocery shopping. I did complete my laundry and cleaning the master bathroom. Dusting did not happen. Scrapbooking did not take place. You guessed it, the other bathroom didn’t get cleaned either. And, while I am on the subject of cleaning that bathroom, I am removing it as a task for Thursdays because I have only accomplished it once since I started scheduling my time which was the very first week. It keeps getting pushed to the weekend, so that is where it will be scheduled in the future. Additionally, I spent a great deal of time researching my next movie marathon which will start tomorrow and run through the end of April (details are forthcoming). I basically fell down a rabbit hole researching movies and did not crawl out until later in the evening. Consequently, those two chores and scrapbooking have been added to today’s schedule.

I know you are probably thinking, dear reader, what’s the big deal? In the grand scheme of things, it’s not a big deal. Be that it may, it IS a huge deal to me. While not receiving the musical was clearly out of my control, spending an additional two and half hours on my blogging course was definitely within my control. I could have easily honored the time on my schedule (work 6:30-8:30 a.m. on the blogging course), completed by chores, gone back to my blogging course until 2:00 p.m., spent two hours scrapbooking, and then fallen down the movie marathon rabbit hole. Honor the time on the schedule. Now that I have been schooled, it is time for me to schedule my upcoming week.

Two more weeks until Daylight Saving Time and currently experiencing warmer temps has gotten me super excited. More daylight in the evenings and warmer weather is a gamechanger for me. How about you? Enjoy the remainder of the weekend. Happiness!

“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” ~ Maya Angelou

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Sunshiny Sunday Morning

Today is the last day of my vacation. Despite being gloomy and wintery for a good portion of my week off from work, it was pleasant being at home. The inclement weather easily swayed me to slow down and recharge. My hubby and I basically hibernated in front of the fireplace until Thursday. I scrapbooked one of the days, read a bunch every day, napped, and watched a couple of musicals.

The time off made me realize that I needed to adjust one of my goals (#6 Declutter and organize each room in my house.). The first quarter of the year is always difficult for me with lack of sunlight and colder temps. It makes me lethargic, and I generally shut down when it gets dark in the evening. I should have known better, especially with my weekly commitment with RCIA including a number of weekend commitments in March. Additionally, I was chosen to participate in Laura Vanderkam’s Tranquility by Tuesday Project which started on Wednesday. Both RCIA and Vanderkam’s project are worthwhile commitments that will end by mid-April. Therefore, decluttering and organizing each room in my house will be put on the back burner until that time. Of course, this does not mean that I cannot declutter if the mood strikes me. However, I’m giving myself permission to back off on that one goal temporarily. It’s purely a mental thing for me.

Only one week left in February, dear reader. Daylight Saving Time is three weeks away with the beginning of spring right on its heels. Hopefully, warmer weather will arrive soon. In the meantime, I will continue refining my habits, meeting my daily and monthly goals, and investing my time wisely. Happiness!

 “Be practical as well as generous in your ideals. Keep your eyes on the stars, but remember to keep your feet on the ground.” ~ Theodore Roosevelt

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Happy Valentine’s Day, dear reader! In my neck of the woods, it is frigid and weather conditions are expected to get worse by Monday. Thankfully, my hubby and I are on vacation all this week. We have no aspirations to be out and about today. Instead, we plan to stay at home relaxing and enjoying a warm, crackling fire. I believe my sweetheart also mentioned cooking a pot of gumbo. YUM! We will celebrate Valentine’s Day by simply spending some quality time (a precious commodity) together.

While romantic love gets all the hype on Valentine’s Day, there are different forms of love that are expressed every day. Love is a powerful feeling and most often extends to those closest to us. Most of the time, showing love to the special people or even the fur babies in our lives is easy. We share a deep and significant connection to our loved ones. Still, there seems to be a need for more love for humanity in general. This type of love may be harder to express for some because it requires empathy for everyone and anyone in any situation. In addition, it is given without the expectation of anything in return. A great way to share this love with others is through random acts of kindness and being aware of our own actions towards our fellow human beings. Therefore, today and every day, spread more love and compassion into the world.

Love and hugs to you, dear reader. I am grateful for YOU. Have a splendid, heart-shaped day spending time with someone you love or spending time doing something you love. Happiness!

“We’re all a little weird, and life’s a little weird. And when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall in mutual weirdness and call it love.” ~ Dr. Seuss

Hot Chocolate Bombs: a Valentine’s Day gift from my friend Helen

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On Saturday morning, I finished reading Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones by James Clear (#11 on my 21 for 2021 list). Terrific book! If anyone wants to develop good habits or break bad habits, I highly recommend this book. James Clear gives practical ways with readily comprehensible steps to build better habits and provides helpful resources.

If you’re having trouble changing your habits, the problem isn’t you. The problem is your system. Bad habits repeat themselves again and again not because you don’t want to change, but because you have the wrong system for change…Atomic habits are little habits that are part of a larger system and are the building blocks of remarkable results.

James Clear

One important idea from this book that has resonated with me is the difference between outcome-based habits and identity-based habits. Instead of asking myself what I want to achieve, I need to ask myself who I wish to become. This makes a huge difference. Instead of saying “I want to be amazing at managing my time so I can accomplish my goals,” I need to say “I want to become an amazing time manager which will allow me to reach my goals.” Easier said than done, right? Wrong! According to Clear, “the process only takes two simple steps: decide the person you want to be and prove it to yourself with small wins” (39).

Therefore, I’ve read the book, been given the tools to reshape my habits, and now it is time for me to do the work. My first task is to make a list of my daily habits and rate them as good, bad, or neutral. Thankfully, Clear provides free resources on his website, so I was able to get a template to create my own Habits Scorecard. I will be working on this task throughout the week.

Analyzing my habits goes hand in hand with time management. The key to being a good time manager is being efficient and effective. One observation that I have made in the past couple of weeks concerning my morning routine is the impact the order of my habits has on my overall time in the morning. I wake up at 4:30 every morning (Monday-Friday); however, there are some mornings I am struggling to get out the door on time while other mornings I have 15 minutes to spare. One contributing factor is when I take care of my fur babies. If I can use the first 10 minutes of my morning getting myself moving (going to the bathroom, taking my medicine, brewing my coffee, starting my breakfast), I will be much more effective with my time than if I start my morning taking the dogs out and feeding Puar. While the dogs are eating, I can unload the dishwasher, cut Andrew’s strawberries, and transfer laundry from the washer to the dryer (if applicable). A further factor is getting dressed for work. Instead of my clothes being in one central location (my closet), they are in different locations, requiring extra time to gather everything. Of course, my untidy closet is the culprit. Well, in all honesty, I am the culprit for keeping my closet untidy. Another factor that plays a part is what I decide to bring for lunch. My lunch decision determines the time it takes to prepare it. Putting together a salad (especially if you have to wash the lettuce) takes longer than making a sandwich which takes longer to make than grabbing already packaged leftovers. All of these factors can be adjusted quite easily. Making a few adjustments to my morning routine will be another task I will be undertaking this week.

I will continue to schedule my time, dear reader. Overall, it is working. The two areas that I struggled with this week were housekeeping tasks and my decluttering project. I did not declutter the office at all this week and do not see it even happening today since I will be using the time to catch up on chores that were not done during the week. I was able to keep up with laundry and cooking. I swept instead of vacuuming. My hubby is taking care of the grocery shopping this morning. I had the opportunity to proctor the ACT test at SLU yesterday morning and make some extra money, so I did not get to work on my blogging course or my scheduled chores. I could have done them when I got home at 1:00; however, I wanted to get some financial stuff done and finish writing out my Valentine cards. The remainder of the afternoon/evening was spent with family.

Obviously, the world did not end because I did not complete everything on my schedule for this week. Clearly, it is more satisfying when everything is accomplished and runs smoothly. Except, I am incapable of controlling unexpected situations (gastro distress, for example). I could have turned down the proctoring job; however, that would have been silly considering my schedule on Saturday could easily be adjusted to take advantage of making some extra money. The bottom line, dear reader, is about making good choices that enhance a richer and more joyful life, one worth living. Happiness!

“Time magnifies the margin between success and failure. It will multiply whatever you feed it. Good habits make time your ally. Bad habits make time your enemy.” ~ James Clear

Schedule: Week 3

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Since February is a short month, I have chosen it as a “no spend month” which is #8 on my 21 for 2021 list. Basically, this means that my family and I will not spend money on wants (non-essential spending) but rather only on needs. We will temporarily freeze spending in entertainment/hobby/social related categories (movies, eating out, books, etc.) and hold off on major purchases until after February. This also means NO impulse buying! In addition, I generally cover non-essential items for Andrew (mostly books); however, this month he and I agreed that if he didn’t need it and couldn’t wait until March, he would have to pay for it himself. Psst, he only made it until Wednesday evening. HA! I jest because Andrew is pretty good about saving money, so I don’t anticipate this occurring again this month.

The purpose of me wanting to try this for one month is to evaluate our spending habits, get an idea of what we really need to spend monthly, and help us see how little we can get by with in a month. Additionally, with all the uncertainty surrounding us with the pandemic, if something changes with our household income, we know where we can adjust our spending habits and concentrate on the bare necessities.

Another aspect of this financial experiment is taking the time during the month to audit our monthly bills and track our spending at the grocery store with revamping our budget in mind. This will help us reflect on and revise our financial goals for the remainder of the year. With regard to spending money at the grocery store, we can examine ways of saving money throughout the month by taking advantage of sales, coupons, or using up excess food in the freezer. In fact, I already have a recipe to use up the ham left over from Christmas dinner.

With all that being said, I have found one loophole to dining out this month (#18 on my 21 for 2021 list: try one new restaurant per month). For Christmas, my hubby and I received a gift card for a restaurant that happens to be one that we have never tried; therefore, we will be able to try a new restaurant this month without spending any money allotted for February. Last month, I included extra money with the gift card to cover the tip. By doing this, the money for the tip was technically spent last month and not in February. I call that planning.

Even though this item on my 21 for 2021 may not seem fun on the surface, dear reader, I do think that it will give me a happiness boost when I see how much money we saved at the end of the month. And, I say this because I got a glimpse of the potential savings last spring when everything shut down due to the pandemic. Thus, I plan to approach this month of frugal living as an adventure. Happiness!

“By sowing frugality we reap liberty, a golden harvest.” ~ Agesilaus

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