Enthusiasm in the New Year

This day last year, I was feverishly preparing to launch my new blog. I was so excited about it. For awhile there, I wrote every day without fail.

Even though I have allowed too much time to pass between entries, I do still love it. And I do intend to keep it up. AND furthermore, I promise to share all the grand adventures of living out in the country, raising chickens and vegetables, once we get moved. I guarantee some horror stories that will involve rats or spiders or frogs. If isn’t going to go well for me, but I still think I will love it.

I spent an hour or so on Saturday perusing thrift stores in Brandon while waiting for my boys to be done at a birthday party. I have come to love thrift stores because it is like searching for buried treasure. I often find neat things at ridiculously low prices when I went in looking for something else entirely. In fact, Beloved is wearing some blingy sketchers to school today because we found just her size, in like new condition, for $4. I don’t spend $30something on sketchers, but I will spend $4. And she couldn’t be happier. When I arrived back in the parking lot of the jump center where my boys were, I had to rearrange my area rug and night stand purchase. I either needed to repack the car or strap the boys to the top. I chose to repack. I pulled the night stand out and set it in the parking lot behind my van. Then, I got into the trunk, with as many body parts hanging out of the van as there were inside it. And I rearranged and got the third seat operational again. As I was finishing, a friend walked up. We’ll call her Flecky Bilt.

“For a second there, I actually wondered who the crazy lady was unloading furniture in the parking lot…”

As she said this, another friend, Baron Wetty, walked up and said, “oh, I knew EXACTLY who it was…”

I begged her pardon.

In other news, the best thing I’ve read lately, besides my Bible, is this blog entry. They are all good, but this one hit me in the right spot on the right day. Go read!

Living with Enthusiasm

Declaring a New Year. Again.

Marcus Aurelius was an outstanding emperor as far as the people of Rome were concerned. I’m not so sure he measured up in God’s eyes, as most of the famous Romans were pretty big scoundrels. But that’s not really related to this particular point.

His son was rock bottom evil. He was as hated as hated gets. It was a wonder that a dude like that could have sprung from a dad like Marcus. His son, Commodus, renamed the city of Rome Comodiana (anyone thinking of toilet seats here?) and renamed every month of the calendar to correspond with one of the twelve names he had acquired during office.  Wow. Now there’s a dude who’s impressed with himself.

I need to rename the calendar for different reasons.

On January 2, I started my new regime. I started my Finish List. I did well. On January 3, I did pretty good, though I got tired and fell asleep during my Bible reading. On January 4, I was a tiny bit decent fighting to get out from under the shawl of pathetic. And by January 5 I was rolling in the filth one might find on the soft ground near a septic tank.

Perhaps that is slightly exaggerated. I wasn’t out clubbing while drunk and carrying a weapon. But I had promptly forgotten it was a new year with new goals. And the Finish List was more like a “Did you even catch sight of the Middle List?”

Nope.

So at this point, I figured I’d do what I do every year: Give up until next year. Because if I can’t start fresh in January, what really is the point?

That logic is both idiotic and completely backwards.But since I can’t seem to get past that “i need a fresh start” mentality, I am changing the calendar.

February 1 is a new year for me. And we’ll see how that goes.

Today has been relaxing and nice. It is me and Snugglemonkey in Kentucky with friends. I loved driving places with only Snugglemonkey, because she doesn’t complain when I stop to take photos. On the way out to a friend’s house this morning, I stopped multiple times to take pictures of barns, birds, falling down buildings, etc. I love her for thinking it’s normal.

Here are a couple of the spots we found interesting.

I love the old piano on the porch. And the sign on the door. Only in the South…

Snow angels

I am 1000 miles north of my home right now with my youngest daughter. I am visiting dear friends. A long time ago, Southwest ran a deal for really cheap flights. On that day, I randomly selected this weekend and the child not in school and bought tickets. I didn’t know then that it was Martin Luther King weekend. I certainly didn’t know it’d be snowing here.

That is icing on the cake.
Literally.
Well, not literally.
Metaphorically.
If the Kentucky town is the cake and the snow is the icing.

When we first walked outside into the Nashville terminal, the cold was nipping at us through the breeze and the drizzle. Two hours later it was biting us with fangs through the wind and snow.

I’m pretty sure Michigan would kill me, but I love this.

I was exhausted when I finally laid down last night next to my sleeping angel. A thin blanket of snow was draped across the blades of grass. The grass was reluctant to give up and never did. When I awakened this morning, that blanket was thicker, but still hadn’t erased the signs of grass and shrubs in the neighborhood. Even so, it was enough for me and I played out in it for maybe an hour.

When I came in, I amputated my own hands.

I didn’t really, but they weren’t working right anymore. It was 24 degrees.  And still, I love it. Maybe I wouldn’t love it if it were an extended 5 month shroud of gray and cold, but for a weekend, it rocks.

Thinking through the Finish List

If anyone wants to know how emotionally imbalanced I was at age 7, let me know and I will set up a play date for you to spend some time with Mama’s Boy. Bless his dear, fragile little heart (mine, also). He tries so hard. He is so intense about doing something perfect, immediately. Tonight we were discussing family resolutions and possibly ALL setting some goals. I always know right off when I have brought up the wrong topic. Unfortunately, by the time I realize it, it is always too late. Always.

“I can’t set resolutions!” he wailed.
“What’s a revolution?” Beloved asked.
“My teacher said we have to write out our resolutions in three areas: home, school, and personal. I can’t think of anything. I’m just going to sit there with nothing on my paper and then I’ll get in trouble!” And the wailing continued.

Wow. Great way to get 2012 started, Missy. Really.

I did my best to convince him that there was NO WAY he’d get in trouble for struggling with this assignment and to let some things go.

“I can think of one thing I really thing you ought to do for your personal goals,” I volunteered.

“What?” he asked, hopefully.

“Cut yourself some slack! You don’t have to be perfect at everything, all the time.”

“I can’t do that!” He cried again, this time smacking his own forehead in utter dismay.

Never mind. Forget goals. I think he might be better flying by the seat of his loose fitting jeans. We shall see.

Me, however, not so much. I need the goals. I need direction. I need discipline. And most of all, I need to FINISH.

So I’m working on my areas. I will pare down the list. I will not bite off more than I can chew, since that right there dictates failure. The areas for improvement are: Spiritual, Physical, Relationships, Domestic, and Creative.  The order of importance is Spiritual, Relationships, Domestic, Physical, and Creative. If creative has to go, it will go. I might just decide to blog this year. Nothing else crazy.

Part of my physical goals will be to go to bed on time and get up early. I badly need a better routine and I believe this will impact everything.

For Mama’s Boy, I have submitted the following list as a cheat sheet for him to take to school tomorrow:

Personal Goals:
Bathe daily. Try and smell like an angel.
Be perky and upbeat.
Get new hobby: laundry. Also mopping.

Home goals:
Get other new hobby: cooking dinners for the family.

School goals:
Do not make gassy noises with my mouth during school hours.
Make straight As. Mommy will not accept anything less.
Skip a grade this year.

There. That should keep him out of the hot seat tomorrow.

Happy New Year’s. Again. See ya tomorrow.

Happy New Everything

Well.
It appears I’ll need to relaunch this site from the ground up. I sure did lose it in the couch cushions somewhere along the way. No surprise, really. Part of it came from having to choose to either live life or write about it. The other part came from losing my sense of humor somewhat. I think I’m taking myself too seriously.

And while I am (taking myself seriously), I’ll just make a note or two about 2012. It’s obvious to everyone that we only have this year. The Mayan calendar ends at 12-20-2012, so we have less than a year to get it right. Or, it could be 5 minutes from now. In the last month, I have observed a lot of “bad news” unfolding in rather shocking ways. Every two weeks I clean house for an older couple. They are the sweetest people, truly. The lady of the house was 84. Her husband is 87 or so. They shuffled around together like peas in a pod. They got out and ran errands when they were up to it. Up until a couple of weeks ago. On Thanksgiving Day, the sweet lady became ill and went to the hospital for gall bladder troubles. Three weeks later, in the middle of the night preceding her release from the hospital, a blod clot got her and she was gone. Off to eternity. For her, great. For everyone else, not great at all. They just didn’t want to let her go. I don’t blame them. I don’t like her being gone either. The world isn’t the same without her.

I went to her funeral on a Saturday afternoon. What a sweet experience that was. It was a lovely way to say goodbye. Then, after picking my kids back up from Todd, I took them to Target for a high-brow cafe dinner followed by some mini-fig shopping. While I was sitting in the Target cafe choosing a lobster for the family, my phone rang. It wasn’t a number I recognized, but I answered it anyway. A local friend identified herself and then said, “Have you heard anything about anyone today?” What a weird question. One that could only have a bad result.

“Noooooo,” I said, slowly, bracing myself. “What is it?”

A friend of ours from college, only 43 years old, had had a massive heart attack that morning. A heart attack got him and he was gone. Off to eternity. Again, here was a man who was ready to go. And again, here was someone surrounded by people who desperately counted on him for everything from financial support and leadership, to good advice, to friendship, to a simple upbeat smile. He always had one. He was always happy.

So a short 4 days later, I was back in the house of mourning for an even more somber memorial. And I haven’t stopped thinking since. I wouldn’t want to drop dead right now. I wouldn’t feel so great about that. Sure, I wrote 300 pages over the summer. Creatively, it was a big year. But as with everything, when one thing soars, another thing is down on the ground dodging the flying animal that needs to go potty (Sorry, Mom…and Carol). So one thing thrives and another flops miserably. In my case, one thing thrived and pretty much everything else sat in a corner neglected. Like–a whole lot of stuff.

Ahh, well. This isn’t a brow beating session. It’s just reflection. 2011 was a fly by the seat of my too-tight-gained-8-pounds-while-dieting-pants year. And 2012 cannot afford to be. Flying by the seat of tight pants is a bad way for me to live. And I won’t live that way this year. (OK, size of pants is inconsequential here…) When I started thinking about what changes I needed to make, I was hopping categorically all over the place. But one word sums up every needed change: DISCIPLINE.

My life needs discipline. I need to plan my priorities, my meals, my housework, my laundry, my spiritual growth, my relationships, my exercise, my sleeping, my toothbrushing…everything. If I just rein it all in a little better, it will flow like a happy little stream.

Sure it will.

And even if it doesn’t, the right things will be in place.

I’m working this week on something Jon Acuff calls a Finish List. It’s a good-looking cousin to the New Year’s Resolution. And since I have yet to complete a New Year’s Resolution (well, I did pretty well back in 1997), I think I’ll give the Finish List method a shot. I’ll be sharing regularly as I go.

It was a blessed holiday in many ways. Many people braved the holidays without the ones they loved best in this world. For them I am praying and mourning. It helps me know that each person I have in my life–each blessing–is all just on loan from the One I must love most. I must love the Giver more than His gifts. If I don’t manage that, my faith might not survive the loss of one of those gifts. My faith must be stronger than the worst this world has to offer. And so that is my primary goal as I enter the Mayans final year.

Of course I don’t listen to Mayans. You shouldn’t either. Unless they tell you to send me money. In that case, make it out to M-e-l-i-s-s-a. Sometimes the bank looks at me funny when I try to deposit checks with Missy on it. I know, I tell them. It’s a dog’s name. A dead dog’s name. People name their dogs Missy and then those dogs promptly pass this life, leaving a legacy of dog death behind them. And a trail I cannot follow.

It is clear that I am up too late. I should have gone to a party. Or had one. Or talked to humans. Or just gone to bed.

I watched True Grit and enjoyed it immensely while stalking twin beds on Craigslist.

One more goal for 2012: Be less of a loser. And if I must remain a loser, be less conspicuous about it. Appear winner-ish. Maybe ditch the gym shorts for something a little less elastic.

I will plod forward with discipline. Happy New Year, friends.