When life gets in the way…

I was doing great at the beginning of the year.  I had made resolutions and I was sticking to them.  I had a schedule every day and I was sticking to it.  I was getting things done.  Making progress.  It was all going so well.

And then life happened.  A new baby was born and I want to spend every free minute I have with her.  Work got busy, as work always does this time of year.  But several of my co-workers are on maternity leave and I’m covering for them.  So my busy season started earlier and is busier than normal.  J’s busy season has been…I think hellish is the only appropriate word…and when he’s up working late, I don’t sleep well.  Mostly because he’s laying next to me in bed with all the lights on and his computer propped up on a pillow, clicking his mouse every two seconds.  Click-click, click-click.  It doesn’t make for a conducive sleeping environment.  (It does make for excellent torture if you are ever looking for an effective method.)

Life has gotten in the way of all the great stuff that was happening.  My schedule went right out the window as soon as my clients started calling non-stop.  Also, when offered baby snuggling time, the plan to clean out the pantry gets much less appealing. Once I’m done working, I’m too tired to actually do anything but stare at the TV.  I can barely get through a show without falling asleep halfway through.  Reading…what’s that?  I’ve been reading the same book for a month and a half.  And while I have managed to keep up with some of my New Year’s resolutions, all forward progress on the list has come to a screeching halt.

The good news is that I’m actually keeping up with the things I started in January.  I’ve been getting healthy.  I re-joined Weight Watchers and things have been going great.  The new program really goes well with the no sugar plan I was doing before, but it gives me more freedom than the other plan so I can eat an English muffin for breakfast instead of a hemp/chia seed almond butter smoothie.  (God, those were so nasty.)

I’ve been taking care of myself.  I started getting weekly manicures and monthly massages and facials.  I bought anti-aging skin care products because I have come to grips with the fact that I’m no longer 20 and now I have wrinkles.  I stopped spending the entire day in my pajamas.  I mean, I’m only putting on yoga pants and a t-shirt most of the time.  But it’s better than just changing from one set of pajamas to another.

I got my finances back on track.  After months of not updating Quicken, I finally updated everything.  I put myself on a budget.  I restarted auto-savings.  I increased my 401k contribution.  I did my tax return the day my W-2 became available.

It’s definitely a good start, but there are more things on the list.  I have to make a couple of doctor appointments.  I have to start wearing sunscreen.  I have to go back to my morning exercise routine.  I have to finish a couple of books.  There are lots of things left to do.

Last night, as I was driving home from a 1st birthday party that I had almost completely forgotten about, I realized that things were starting to unravel.  While I know that life isn’t perfect, I also know it can’t be a complete disaster.  Complete disasters make me unhappy.  So as soon as I got home I sat down and made a schedule for the week.  I even scheduled out what time I would eat breakfast and when I would take a shower and when I would walk the dogs.  It’s probably overkill, but I thought it best to start with overkill and let it evolve into what works.

The point, I guess, is that life is always going to get in the way somehow.  Instead of letting everything fall apart, I just have to find a way to adapt and stay on course.  Maybe I am getting smarter in my old age.

Beginning again…

I am not a fan of New Year’s Resolutions.  I feel like I always aim to high, set myself up for failure and then get completely discouraged when I can’t meet my ridiculously high goals.  In the end, instead of making things better, resolutions always make me feel worse.  So many years ago, I simply stopped making them.

This year, however, is different.  Starting a new decade of life has made me stop and think about where I am and where I want to go.  While things are certainly ok, I’m not where I want to be.  So last week, during a few quiet minutes, I started to think about where I want my life to be and the steps I have to take to get there.  I made a list of somewhat vague things that I needed to do…

  1. Get healthy – I hate doctors and dentists and all things medical so I’ve been avoiding it all.  Except, I’m old now and things are starting to fall apart.  This is not the time for me to ignore the fact that I am six months overdue for a routine exam and nine months overdue for a teeth cleaning.  Also…I can no longer read menus in darkened restaurants and sometimes I can’t read what’s on the bedroom TV at night.  A trip to the eye doctor is overdue as well.  So I resolved to take better care of my health.
  2. Take better care of myself in general – I was lucky enough to inherit my grandmother’s smooth, wrinkle-free skin, but lately it hasn’t looked so great.  It’s dry and there are some new creases popping up.  Apparently, my ten year old skin regimen is no longer doing the job.  And it’s finally time to admit that I can’t go 8 weeks between hair colorings anymore…at least, not without a big white stripe down my head.  It’s time to start treating my body like it’s 40 and start doing more maintenance.  I’ve already got an appointment for a facial.
  3. Organize the house – we have so much stuff.  Too much.  It’s starting to make me crazy.  We don’t need this much crap and the stuff we do need has to be easy to find an accessible.  So I have started reading the Marie Kondo book and I have started purging.  I’ve only done the closet so far, but the resolution is to do the whole house.
  4. Get my finances back on track – you know that story about the shoemaker who has holes in his shoes because he’s so busy fixing everyone else’s?  Yeah, that’s me.  I loathe updating my Quicken accounts.  After working on that kind of thing all day, I have zero interest in sitting down to do more of it at night.  I used to be ok about it, but I’ve let it slide.  I’ve also started spending more and saving less, which is completely contrary to all the advice I give my clients every day.  It is time to get the financial house in order and get back on a budget.
  5. Finish my 101 list – my first attempt to tackle the 101 list was only about half successful.  I’ve got about 16 months left on this new list and while I don’t think I’m going to be able to finish everything due to budget and logistics, I want to get close.  So I need a plan to finish.
  6. Start a new business – I love my job and have no plans to quit, but for a while now I’ve thought it would be nice to have a side project.  Just a little something I can use as a creative outlet and that will provide enough funds to support itself.  More on this one later.
  7. Have more Me-time – I’m bad at this…doing things to make myself happy.  I’m much better at worrying about everyone else.  But my friendships are often neglected…as is my sanity.  So I’m resolving to make time for myself to do what is important to me.

That was my initial list, but some of it is pretty vague and I knew I’d have to be a little more specific if I wanted to actually accomplish these things.  The next day, I got more specific.  I sat down with a notebook and I made an action plan.  I broke each of the resolutions down into mini goals and then further into steps that I’d need to complete.  After that, I bought a planner and made a schedule (more on that later too).  I also decided not to start my plan on Jan 1…because that was too much pressure.  I decided to start today.  So far, so good.  I’ve done almost everything on the list for today and it’s only 2:40.

Stay tuned for updates as I accomplish my goals.  At least, I hope.

If you’ve made resolutions of your own, I wish you luck.  May you stick with it and have the best 2016 yet!

I have a new list…

I have to work tomorrow, but then I’m off for the entire week…something I could not be happier about.  My stress level at work is normally pretty low, but these last two weeks, it’s been really bad.  I work in a really small office…there are only 4 of us…and one of the other gals had a baby on January 3rd.  I’m so thrilled for her and the baby is so cute!  But she is my right hand…and my bitching partner…and I’m dying without her.  I’m counting down the days until she comes back…I cannot wait!!!

So, with a few days off, I should be able to tackle this week’s to do list with no problems.  Here it is…

  1. Renew my driver’s license – this is bad.  My license expired on my birthday in December and I actually have to go to the DMV to take an eye test before I can get a new one.  But between the holidays, work and my brother’s wedding, I haven’t had any time to go.  I’ve been avoiding driving, but it’s starting to be a pain.  So I have to go do it while I’m off.  No excuses.
  2. Get my glasses fixed – the last time I got new glasses, they gave me a prescription that was a little too strong.  Whenever I wear them, they give me a headache.  So I’ve had expensive, new glasses sitting in a case while I wear the old ones.  Brilliant…I know.  I’m taking those suckers back to get fixed before my eye test at the DMV.
  3. Renew my CPA license – it’s just that time again and before it expires like my driver’s license I think I should get on it.
  4. Complete my continuing education for the year – I am required to complete a bunch of hours every year – so is J.  Every year, we scramble to get it finished during the last week in December.  Well, not this year.  This year, I’m getting it out of the way early.  I’m going to take an online course to brush up on my mad tax skills just in time for April 15th!
  5. Prepare for my Thursday meeting – the meeting is a secret for now, but cross your fingers that all goes well and maybe I’ll have some big news to share later in the week!
  6. Hang up the dog prints and the awesome engrave platter – it took me almost a year to make the dogs’ foot prints with the kit I bought J.  I finally did them, but I still haven’t gotten them hung up.  I’m going to do that while I’m at it I’m going to hang the awesome engraved platter my brother and sister-in-law gave me for my birthday.  It has this great quote about how awesome sisters are and it makes me tear up whenever I read it.  It’s got to get hung up so everyone can know how fabulous they are to me.
  7. Start my 2010 scrapbook – J bought me a Cricut scrapbooking machine for Christmas and the thing is awesome…and I’m a dork, but whatever, I love it.  I want to get started on my 2010 scrapbook with all the wedding stuff.  It was such a fun way to start the new year. 
  8. Returns, returns, returns – I have a lot of them.  I love to buy, but hate to return.  However, right now there is way too much stuff here to keep putting it off.  I have to take it all back before I can’t any more. 
  9. Research new furniture for the den – I want some kind of desk and modular storage system for in there and I’ve seen a few, but they were either poorly made or really expensive.  I’ve got to scour the internets to see if I can find something better. 
  10. Nag J to death until he cleans up the bedroom – his finally unpacked clothes are still in piles all over.  There are sweatpants here from his college days…which were 15 years ago.  And I think they’ve seen the inside of the dryer too many times, because they look like they might fit me perfectly…but J is about 6 inches taller that I am.  On him, they will be capris.  I think the punishment for not cleaning up is going to be that he has to wear them to work on Monday!

I’m also really excited – Marisa and I are going to see Hair on Wednesday night.  We are going to go have a girls night…dinner and a show.  My Cosmo horoscope for this month said that on the 20th I was going to have a wild night out with a friend and we were going to meet some hot men.  I think that’s probably not going to happen, but I’m sure we’ll have fun anyway. 

Off to bed to snuggle with my puppies.  Goodnight everyone!

A little help up here, please…

So I am afraid to go into the attic.  In the two years that we have lived here, I’ve only been up there three times and on all three occasions, I was dragged up against my will. 

It’s not the attic, itself that I have a problem with.  I actually love the attic – it’s huge, with high ceilings and it’s quiet and peaceful.  My problem is a combination of a fear of heights, a lack of coordination and a rickety attic ladder.  The thing is…I’m clumsy.  If there is a way for me to fall or trip or injure myself somehow, I will find it.  And my fear of heights is more of a fear of falling from high places.  

Generally, I can get up into the attic without too much of a fuss.  The real trouble comes when it’s time to get down.  There’s a little twist and climb maneuver that scares the hell out of me.  The first time I had to do it I sat at the top of the ladder and J spent ten minutes trying to coax me down. 

This week, I had a long list of things to accomplish and J was out every night, taking a class for work.  I did every single thing I could possibly do that didn’t require a trip to the attic, but it finally came time to take down the Christmas decorations and I trip to the attic became unavoidable.

I needed to get the ornament storage boxes down, so I pulled the ladder down and held my breath and started climbing.  Luckily, when J put them up there early in December, he put them right next to the opening, so I didn’t actually have to go all the way up.  What I did have to do, however, was carry heavy, bulky boxes backwards down the ladder.  It was a scary twenty minutes, but I got all the boxes down and I de-Christmased my house. 

Unfortunately, the full ornament boxes were too heavy to put them back up alone.  But I did have some wreaths and garlands from outside that were light and I couldn’t justify not putting them away.  So up I went, all the way into the attic.  I put my outdoor decorations away – neatly organized in the corner.  Then I had to get down.  I was alone in the house, so there would be no one to catch me if I fell.  I will admit, there was a two-minute hesitation where I considered staying up there until J came home.  Then I realized that would be two more hours, so I sucked it up and…SLOWLY…did my little twist and climb.  I was holding on to the ladder railing so tightly that I gave myself a splinter.  Otherwise, I made it up and down without incident.  I was so proud of myself…I know, I’m such a loser!

I did manage to complete most of the items on my to-do list this week.  The house is clean, the coupons are sorted, the calendar is updated and all the cards are ready for everything happening through March.  I cleaned out my closet and put away all my Christmas presents.  All the decorations are packed away, but the boxes are still sitting in the living room, waiting to go to the attic.  I’ve unpacked everything that I could, but J is only half way done.  At least I got him to start!!!

I did start organizing my photos, but I’m not finished yet.  And the baking class is on hold.  I found out when I called to register that the class I wanted to take is on Fridays from 10 – 3.  That would require days off from work and now it’s just a bad time for that.  So it’s on hold until May. 

Overall, I think I did a good job this week.  Right now, I’m going to watch Jersey Shore…it’s like a car accident…I just can’t look away.  I’ll be back later with this week’s list.

Finally some progress…

I finished sorting my coupons and I made some serious progress on the house cleaning.  J decided to start unpacking…all over our bedroom.  I never knew it was possible for one man to own so many J. Crew sweaters!  I’m forcing him to sort through things instead of just putting them away, so right now there are piles of clothes everywhere.  However, everything outside of the bedroom is clean and sparkly.  I even got on my hands and knees with some Clorox and a scrub brush and scrubbed the grout on the kitchen floor until it was back to its originally intended color!  It hadn’t been that color in all the time we’ve lived in the house.  I absolutely despise cleaning so this was a pretty big feat for me and, honestly, it looks so nice that it was almost fun…almost. 

J and I also accomplished something that was not on the list.  It requires a little back story, but I’ll try to make it short.  J and I really like to watch TV.  J also loves his toys.  So we have a 50 in plasma TV mounted on the wall in our living room, over our fireplace.  It’s the focal point of the room, unfortunately.  While it is not my first choice in home decor, it is certainly my first choice in TV watching and I don’t know how I possibly enjoyed TV before the plasma. 

The first time my grandfather came to our house, he was in awe of our television.  He couldn’t get over how big it was or the clear picture or anything about it.  Every time he comes over, that TV is all he talks about.  My grandfather, aka Poppy, is not the kind of guy that really cares about “things”.  He drives a 15 year old car that is practically falling apart.  He wears socks until they have holes in them.  He is firmly in the school of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

This is Poppy at my brother's wedding on NYE. He refuses to smile in pictures, but isn't he adorable?

The thing is…Poppy doesn’t get out much these days.  He had some medical setbacks over the summer and he just doesn’t feel comfortable driving.  So he stays home a lot and watches sports on TV.  The TV he had was pretty old and had something wrong with the tube…yup, it was that old…and it messed with the picture. 

To properly explain what my grandfather means to me…well, we’d be here a really long time.  Let’s just say he’s the shit.  He’s awesome and generous and kind.  He’s been there for me my entire life with advice, company, help of any kind.  He’s loaned me his car, his tools, his expertise, his money…you name it.  So I try to take every opportunity I can to give him back a little of what he’s given me. 

Early in November, I devised a plan.  I was going to buy him his very own giant TV for Christmas.  He’s very hard to buy for, so I was happy to come up with this gift idea.  I started looking for good sales and, indeed, I found one.  Target had great Black Friday door busters on 40 inch LCD HDTVs. 

So my sister-in-law and I stood on line at 4 am in the freezing cold the day after Thanksgiving and when they opened the doors we ran in and grabbed a deeply discounted TV.  Now, I have to hand it to my SIL…she’s little, but she’s scrappy!  She pushed people out of the way and sprinted all way from the door to the TVs.  If not for her, I would have been paying full price. 

Anyway, we gave Poppy the TV on Christmas Eve and he was so excited.  It’s all he talked about and he told every single person he knows about his new TV.  because of my brother’s wedding and the surrounding craziness, it took us two weeks to get there to get the TV mounted on the wall and hooked up to the new cable box, but we finally did it yesterday.  He was thrilled and my mom said he stayed up until 2am watching movies. 

Yesterday was five years since my grandmother died.  She was the love of his life and he truly is lost without her.  The fact that I could make his day a little bit brighter with such a small effort…it made me happy that I could do that.

Ok – I guess I didn’t really keep it short.

18 pages…front and back!

My New Year’s Resolution is to fix my life and get my shit together, right?  The problem is there is so much wrong that I’m totally overwhelmed and I don’t know where to start and I totally lost my motivation to do anything.  So I thought I should get a little more organized and make a list.  I sat down this morning and started a list of all the things I want to accomplish this year.  When I got to the second page I started to panic and realized that this was the wrong approach.

What I really need to do is break things down in small, manageable lists…more like what I want to accomplish this week, rather than this year.  It’s what I do at work…every Monday I update my to-do list and I only include things that I know I can reasonably finish in a week. 

I decided to tackle 10 tasks per week and see how that goes.  My tasks for this week are:

  1. Clean the house – because it’s usually a little messy, but right now it is downright dirty.  There’s no one here but J and me, but I’m totally embarrassed at the state of things.  I haven’t vacuumed since Christmas Eve (the last time I had company!) and I can see the fine layer of dust over on the credenza.  It’s bad.
  2. Clean out my closet – It is literally packed to the point where I can’t even walk in there.  I’m not quite ready for an appearance on “Hoarders”, but I have a lot of crap that I don’t need.  Especially purses and bags.  J says that I have an obsession with bags and could be a bag lady.   It’s time to start throwing things away!
  3. Put away the Christmas presents – I’m sorry to say that we still have presents all over the place.  There are three boxes right next to me on the dining room table.  A few things are still under the tree.  The rest are piled up on the dresser in the bedroom.  Christmas was two weeks ago…damn I’m lazy.
  4. Update my calendar – Part of the reason I forget everyone’s birthday is that none of them are written on my calendar.  In addition to the calendar in my phone – which has a very helpful reminder feature – I have a calendar hanging on the fridge.  But both are far from updated and I’d say, only have about 1/2 the information they need.  I’m never going to be able to remember the birthdays if I don’t write them down.
  5. Buy cards for all the events happening from now until March – I’ve done this in the past and I’ve put the card aways and then totally forgotten where I’ve put them…rendering them entirely useless.  This time I’m going to put them in order, address the envelopes and keep them on my desk in plain view. 
  6. Organize and clean up all my photos – I used to be very careful what I took pictures of because photo processing could be a little expensive.  However, the invention of digital photography has enabled me to take pictures of anything and everything.  And I do take pictures of everything…and anything.  Which results in a lot of too dark, too light, very blurry or just bad pictures.  And they are all stored on my hard drive taking up valuable space and making it really difficult to find the good pictures.  I’ve got to clean it up and categorize them so I can find what I need when I need it.
  7. Finish unpacking – We’ve lived here almost two years and not everything is unpacked yet.  The good thing here is that I’m not the biggest offender on this front.  J has got more clothes than anyone else I know.  Sweaters, shirts, pants, shorts, sweats, pjs – you name it, he’s got it.  And it’s all sitting in bags and boxes on the bed in the guest room.  Last week, his mom stayed over.  We gave her our bed and we had to sleep on the couch…because his clothes were sleeping the guest bed.  That’s never happening again.
  8. Take down the Christmas decorations – I love Christmas and I LOVE my Christmas tree.  There have been years…when I was single…that I left it up until February because I like to look at it.  But that is excessive and Christmas is over, so it’s all coming down and going back to the attic.
  9. Sort through my coupons – I’m a coupon cutter.  I think it’s because I’m competitive, but I look at grocery shopping like a competition and I get mad at myself if I don’t save at least $30.  So I cut coupons for anything I might ever need.  Thing is…I only buy about half of what I have coupons for.  Then I put the rest in my little coupon wallet and that’s where they live until the expire.  I used to go through them weekly and throw out all the old ones.  I haven’t done that in months.  My guess is that half of them expired in October!
  10. Register for my baking class – A few years ago, J and I took a little break and to keep myself from going nuts I took baking classes at the Institute of Culinary Education.  I loved it – a stocked fridge and pantry filled with anything and everything I could ever want to use.  Every single utensil I needed.  Someone to wash my dishes and clean up after me!  It was heaven.  I’ve wanted to go back ever since, but I’ve never gotten around to it.  For Christmas J gave me a gift certificate to take Techniques of Cake Baking.  I can’t wait, but if I don’t register soon it will sell out.

So there is it – my list for the week.  Wish me luck!