Attitude: This will Help

In which I recount my first week participating in a blog challenge by the lovely Katie W.

Last week, I focused on reframing my attitude towards my house and the remaining improvements I want to make, as well as the on-going  maintenance and cleaning. Work has been insane lately, and has been draining most days and soul-sucking the others. So it has been hard for me to muster up any energy to tackle the remaining projects or routine work around the house. This is not a workable solution for me, since I am ALWAYS around the house. Seeing the mess and the stagnation was bringing my mood down — and every time I thought about attempting to change things, I put it off because I didn’t have time to change everything. I could sort these paper in the office — but why do that now, when I can’t file them until I go through everything else already in the files? I could iron these curtains — but I couldn’t hang them yet, so they’ll probably just get messed up.

I was creating an environment where things were slipping farther and farther out of control.  I was feeling guilty that my fabulous house and previous months of work were giving me no joy. Worst of all, I was defeating myself before I even got started making changes.

So last week, I actively tried to reframe those thoughts. I’d look at something and think, I could make up the guest room bed. And when “but the room still won’t be ready for people to come and stay,” followed after, I tried not to get discouraged. Instead, I told myself, “This will help.”

I didn’t need to put pressure on myself to get things done — I needed to pressure myself to do something. Anything. Anything that helped.

curtains

Even completing small steps towards an end result helped me to get excited about the eventual results again. Sometimes that was enough for me to find other pockets of time for other small changes — and they added up. I completed only one big project last week — ironing, hemming, and hanging curtains — but I’ve set myself up for increased progress. Activity breeds activity and progress breeds enthusiasm for more progress. Hanging something on the wall makes me want to make the bed, so that I can see things “done” to an extent. Organizing my bathroom makes me want to clear the counters to make sure I have a place for everything — and then, why not wipe those counters down, since they haven’t been clear in a while?

So, I have to say that each small action did help. It has helped my to-do list and it has really helped my mood. I am not feeling so trapped, and I’m really enjoying the small differences. Little things like going around to visit the new prints on the wall, admiring the new curtains, or checking in on my progress in clearing out our extra bedroom makes me happy.  Small differences are enough to keep me going — so I’m going to keep reminding myself that “this will help” as I shift my focus to my problem attitude for this week — one tied to my over-arching goal of feeling awesome.

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New Year’s Attitudes: A Challenge

In which I get pumped for a blog challenge by the lovely Katie W.

I haven’t been as focused on blogging this list, but I’m still working hard on my goals, listed in the 101 and implied by the big five. I’m completing things at a rate that I’m content with, and the list has permeated my life in ways I didn’t expect, and that don’t lend themselves to blogging. Which is exactly why I get so excited for the blog challenges that we’ve been posing to each other this list. They keep me on my toes, keep me reassessing my goals, and keep me redefining what exactly I’m hoping to get out of this experience.

The lovely Katie W. was recently doing some redefining of her own, and admitted that she’s been struggling against some of her attitude goals that turn out to be a little too general for her to recognize when she’s making progress on them. So she challenges me and the best friend: “Decide on an attitude (or four) that you want and believe you can change.  Really specify!  No more, “I want to be positive,” because that is too broad and you’re likely to feel that you missed the mark.  (I know I have.)  Instead, focus on one attitude each week and write about it on the following Monday to let us know what you’re doing and if it’s working.”

I’ll be tying these back to my five overarching goals because they still feel like the best descriptions of what I’m trying to do with this life-improvement effort. So this upcoming week, I’ll be focusing on improving an attitude tied to living in a home that fits the best of us. I’ve been struggling with this, swinging back and forth between feeling that our house is starting to be awesome, and feeling like the to-do list is endless.

Care to join us?

I Have my Moments: Week 4

In which I reflect on a final week for a challenge I issued to myself, Katie W., and the best friend.

These are the moments that struck me from last week…

… to live in a home that fits the best of us.
Last week, I just felt lucky to live in a house that was still focused on us. Despite years of planning and research for buying a house, years of choosing what we really wanted and needed, and making a reasonable purchase that didn’t stretch our money or seem to require too much work … buying and moving into this home has been such a challenge to our relationship. We’re working to make the house reflect our style and our lives, but it has been challenging to keep any of that joy or perspective in our daily dealings with each other. At the end of the day, we’re always grateful for the work the other has put in and, of course, thrilled in our choice of mate in general. But in the middle of the day, it’s been more likely to hear streams of cursing and frustration than any expression of love or affection. (Not aimed at each other, but we do a lot of avoiding each other during those times to keep that from happening.) So, our home is turning into proof of how good we are together even when we’re not good to each other. I don’t think that’s particularly the best of us, but it is light at the end of this tunnel, at least. I’ve heard that getting married, buying a house, and having a kid are the three most common stressful periods in a couple’s lives … I believe it!
… to feel awesome.
I’m going with something entirely shallow: I got dressed up for one day last week, and it was a treat to feel put together and attractive. Definitely not something I’ve been thinking recently in my paint-covered, grubby clothes.
… to have routines that support but not restrict me.
I’ve been working on a new routine this week. After the hubs leaves for work for the day, I take my first cup of tea into the room we’ve got set up as a library and read or work on my computer. (I’m writing this in the library now.) It’s my favorite room in the house by a lot, and I enjoy taking a bit of time each morning to relax before the rest of the day. I’m not sure how that will fit in with my eventual return to exercising in the morning, but I’m sure that I can have both moments, even if I have to slightly reduce my relaxation time.
… to be active and present in my life.
I feel like I’m missing this one a bit these days, since I’ve been so focused on our to-do list. I’ve been stretching towards this or that being completed, and not really taking joy in the regular days. I hope that trend is on the down-swing now, as I’m really making progress on the house chores and planning to host friends and family this weekend to celebrate. I think that will be the turning point to getting my focus back in the present.
… to live broadly.
To celebrate being free of our townhouse, which really became a weight after we gave our notice and our management office stopped being nice to us, the hubs and I headed out to a community theatre production of AIDA. The show was … ambitious. We had a great time, but we enjoyed some scenes for reasons that I don’t think they intended. It was a small production of a show I know well, but I made an effort, and it was broader than my recent focus. And it did remind me how important it is to remember that the chore will wait until tomorrow some of the time.

I Have my Moments: Week 3

In which I reflect on the past week for a challenge I issued to myself, Katie W., and the best friend.

These are the moments that struck me from last week…

… to live in a home that fits the best of us.
I am thinking more this week about what I don’t want our home to be like, especially as we finish packing up and cleaning out our rental house. I’ll be thrilled when we only have ourselves to deal with, but I’m also reminded how short cuts can come back to bite you down the road at a time when I’m tempted to start making some in our own house. I’ll continue trying to do things as correctly as I can, and hopefully that will make our improvements last longer.
… to feel awesome.
Over our visit at Thanksgiving, I helped my nephew ease into sleep a handful of times. My extensive knowledge of Disney and Broadway song lyrics came in handy, and I felt awesome. He’s sweet all the time, but those moments when he’s dropping off are extra cute.
… to have routines that support but not restrict me.
I spent several hours reading over the holiday break, and I love love loved it. Just sitting there for a long time was so much more relaxing and enjoyable than trying to squeeze reading in around all the other distractions and chores. I should make it a point to have more extended reading time and break some of the less than stimulating routines I’ve fallen into: putzing around on the computer, watching worthless TV to fill the time, working in circles around the house and accomplishing less in more time.
… to be active and present in my life.
I spent a lot of time talking to and playing games with my family last week, which made it easy to feel present in my life. The holidays can blur by, but I really got to enjoy this one.
… to live broadly.
Courtesy of my in-laws, I’ve tasted and brought home a bottle of Lemoncello to experiment with. So my alcohol selection has broadened to accompany the nice new bar that we had delivered last week.

I Have my Moments: Week 2

In which I reflect on the past week for a challenge I issued to myself, Katie W., and the best friend.

These are the moments that struck me from last week…

… to live in a home that fits the best of us.
This week, even though we have a ton of large projects that we’ve not started around the house yet, I spent a lot of time working on the small, finishing touches for the projects we’ve already got in progress. It’s really tempting to just call things “good enough” and move on, but I’m excited by how much of a difference those little touches make. The extra hour at the end of projects is consistently raising my level of enjoyment of them — especially this week.
… to feel awesome.
I struggled to think of a moment for this when I first jotted down notes for this post. I haven’t been feeling all that awesome lately, but I think that isn’t entirely true. I just haven’t been feeling that consistent lately, and somehow that translates to consistently bad in my head. But upon further reflection, I realized that there were a lot of bright and fun spots in the week. So, this week I’m citing the moments when I made the hubs and myself laugh and enjoy each other. That is an awesome feeling, no matter how fleeting it is.
… to have routines that support but not restrict me.
Last week, I slowly returned to the land of the meal planning, and it has been extremely helpful. I don’t stress as much, and we certainly eat better when we don’t have to come up with the ideas at the last, tired, frustrated minute. This week is easy with Thanksgiving, but I’m hoping that I can continue to reconnect with my old supportive routines, including meal planning, over the course of this month.
… to be active and present in my life.
I took a bit of a break on Saturday morning this weekend to stay in bed pretty late and have a bit of a lazier start to the day. It was the first time in what feel like forever that the hubs and I have really lined up on feeling present in our crazy, to-do-list-ridden lives. It was a breath of fresh air, and I got up early on Sunday with new energy and enthusiasm for our projects.
… to live broadly.
Once again, I’m thinking about reading broadly. I recently flew through Double Cross: The True Story of the D-Day Spies. In a few short days, it added to my conversations and trains of thought immensely. Double-crossing spy PIGEONS, guys. I think I need not say more. I love that even when I am feeling like my life has narrowed to a very small, four-bedroom focus, I can learn something new to bring up a dinner and challenge the way I see the rodents of the bird world.