Friday, January 9, 2015

7QT: Seven Quick Takes (Volume IV)

I'm linking up with to do Seven Quick Takes this week.

New Year.
I haven't blogged since the New Year, but my mind is swirling with thoughts.  In years past, I haven't so much done "resolutions" as a theme for the year.  This year, my theme is Be Not Afraid.  This is the title of one of my favorite hymns, based on verses from Isaiah and elsewhere.  Also, if you're a Catholic, you may know that St. Pope John Paul II loved to remind us to "be not afraid."  It reminds me of someone else who said that a lot...that's right, Jesus!  This little phrase is hopefully going to help me this year stay out of fear and enter more deeply into love and into faith.  I am faced with some new challenges lately (as we all are), and "be not afraid" is a great reminder.  (Also - side note, John Paul II died on the eve of Divine Mercy Sunday in 2005.  I had been reading about and considering Catholicism for a few years by the time he died.  I remember thinking to myself when he died that I had to become Catholic.  He was pope my entire life, and I was very drawn to him.  It felt like a big loss, and it prompted me to move forward.  I was confirmed one year later, on the eve of Divine Mercy Sunday.  It wouldn't be until last year, 2014 - 8 years later! - that I made that connection.  I think he was already praying for me and others like me.)

It's amazing how much energy, resolve, and positivity I had when coming into work on Monday with almost 2 weeks off.  I was rested, refreshed, and ready to go.  Traffic wasn't bad, and I was ready to conquer the world.  It's Friday of the same week, and I am already back to cranky, low energy, not as motivated.  Sometimes I think it's the circumstances of the job, and sometimes I think it's me.  I guess it's a little bit of both.  Most of life involves hard work.  I need to redeem the moments.  "This is the gift - to have the wonderful capacity to appreciate again and again, freshly and naively, the basic goods of life." - Abraham Maslow

The "B" word.
Budget.  A new year is a great time to dust off those higher principles of living and fix everything.  But, seriously, it is time for me to implement some serious B-word...budgeting.  I took Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University class a few years ago, and got completely out of debt (about $6500, if I remember correctly).  This was while living on less than $30,000 income.  (I don't mind sharing numbers because I remain somewhat anonymous on my blog).  I now make more money (about $39,000 take home pay), and I'm in WAY more debt than ever before (about $25,000)....I know, that's terrible.  Really scary to see it on paper, huh?  Well, I have a payment plan, and it may take about 3 years, but I will get out of debt again, never to go back.  These expenses mainly come from work on the house, some medical emergencies, and the wedding.  I guess I don't "regret" any of them, but it just astounds me how much things cost.  They can add up quickly.  I put a bunch of big expenses on the credit cards, and I will be paying them off as soon as possible.  No eating out.  No adding more to the debt.  No more fluff.  Back to Baby Step 1 for me.  My husband and I are not 100% sharing all finances.  We are still combining our lives, but it will help to have his extra income to throw at this problem, although I make more money than he does, so we share percentages of payments, not dollar amounts.  (this is per Suze Orman, not Dave Ramsey)

Life Makeover.  
So, I was reading some books, blogs, etc. on time management, and I really want to "re-vamp" my life according to my greatest priorities.  Rather than giving God and my husband the last of what's left, my remaining energy at the end of the day, I want to give them my best.  Sometimes that's not possible, but I do believe it's possible for me to keep more of a balance.  It's so much easier for me to feel optimistic about life, to have energy, and to be patient and kind when a few non-negotiables are in place: sleep, exercise, eating regularly, no caffeine.  Also, I'm going to schedule a few repetitive tasks that always seem to sneak up on me as non-negotiables.  (Tuesday night is now laundry night!)  This helps me keep from getting way out of hand.  Now, this week didn't go so well with the new life makeover.  My car broke down Tuesday, and I was unable to go workout.  Then, I was unable to do laundry.  Then, I basically had a panic attack later that night (I think due to hormones and lack of sleep).  No bueno.  I can't live like that.  I am going to schedule everything I have to do according to my ongoing to-do list and my highest priorities and really try to stick to it.  I will keep you posted.  

My husband and I were talking about the concept of empathy.  He said that he thinks the first step toward evil is a lack of empathy.  I think he's right.  I thought about that long and hard, as I have a few people in my life that are very difficult, and I have a tendency to sort of ignore them or discount them.  I can feel a cold-heartedness toward them, and it's not right.  They are people too.  God loves them too.  Then, I thought of the phrase that "you can't give people what you don't have." I thought of the tragedy of people who have no empathy for themselves to the point where they even hurt or kill themselves.  That's when I sort of stopped dead in my tracks.  I can be so cruel to myself sometimes (in my mind).  I really don't want to share some of the thoughts that come to me.  I don't feel like they are from God.  They are not helpful, loving, kind.  There is no empathy there.  If I said or treated others the way my mind has treated me sometimes, it would be so wrong.  It's still wrong, and it's something I want to work on.  Kicking out the demon voices.  (See Amy Poehler's book, Yes Please, for more on this reference.)  But, regardless, I need to have more empathy for myself, and in turn, for others.  I was raised a Calvinist.  In Calvinism, even the good things/works you do are considered meaningless and worthless to God because they think works are not important in the life of faith, and they think that humankind is so totally "depraved" that we can do no good.  This is a dangerous and harmful mindset.  It's a huge reason I am not a Calvinist.  I have found much healing and wholeness in the Catholic Church.  However, the healing is ongoing.  This is so ingrained in me and so damaging, I sometimes wonder if I'll ever be rid of this particular thing.   

Caught up.
(Think of Usher's song...but only those two words of it).  Anyway, caught up.  I am SO not caught up.  I haven't unpacked from Christmas travels, I haven't put away all of our wedding gifts, I am literally wearing my last clean pair of underwear today (sorry, TMI?)  But, there is no such thing as caught up.  This is such a revelation to me, and it's probably obvious to the entire rest of the world, but it was really freeing to realize that.  It's part of my "life makeover."  Instead of having things all the way done and caught up, then swing to nothing done and disaster, I'm going to schedule the ongoing tasks of life - meal planning, cleaning, laundry, yard work, bills, etc.  Does everyone else do this, and I'm just a moron at adulthood?  I seriously am so excited to implement this.  I know it'll take a while, and this week I only did about half of everything, but I'm so SO hopeful and optimistic that in realizing there is no "caught up," I will actually be in a state of maintaining and staying on top of things.   

That's all I got, folks.