Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Resolutions or to Resolve

At the new year many people start "New" things or make resolutions. I think I am the only person in the world who has had the same resolutions for at least 5 years, not joking, the same resolutions for 5 long years, maybe more. Of course in good ol' Lilly fashion I do not call them New Year's Resolution's, I call them "Life Changing Goals, that should be accomplished in at least one year".

Here is the list as I can remember it.

1. Get more excersize.
2. Become Debt Free.
3. Make healthier meals.
4. Spend more quality time with Astro and Honey (kids not dogs).
5. Spent more time in prayer and meditation.
6. Get the House completely Organized.
7. Stick to a night time schedule.
8. Be slow to speak and quick to listen and love.
9. Practice Love and Logic parenting.
10. Work on extra academics with the kids.
11. Learn to communicate better with difficult people.
12. Spend more time outside.
13. Vacation more.
14. Start taking better care of myself.
15. Learn a new language.
16. Make smoothies in the morning.
17. Start jogging.
18. Swim more.
19. Read 5 books.
20. Start a new wardrobe.

Ok, seriously!?! Did I ever really expect myself to accomplish all of this in one year?! Of course I didn't it was another way to complicate my life, this I can say was more of a wish list. Your probably asking yourself "well have you?", good question. This year I can finally say that I did scratch a couple of these off the list and few of these are getting thrown out with the day old donuts. Now that I know how accomplishing all of these "Goals" in one year is like trying to fit an elephant into a seat on an Air Tahiti flight or teaching Honey how to just say not to 7Eleven. I have first hand expience with both of them and they don't work (maybe not so much the elephant but something similar). Having an unfinished list was not a productive way to make myself feel better in fact every time I would look at the list, I would start to cry and wonder where did my life go? Why can't I accomplish anything. Was that dramatic enough. What I wasn't realizing is that I had accomplished many things, they just weren't on my list. Many of them should have been because they were a lot more important than making sure we had smoothies in the morning. For example, we got through the first year of middle school with Astro and no one was injured meaning I didn't accidently trip any middle school girl so she falls on her face. (That's an entirely different blog post)

So I decided to work on one goal at a time. Which of course is another simplify your life rule of thumb. Multi tasking is not always the answer. Sometimes life changes takes 100% of your attention and heart to accomplish. If the change is worth it I need to give it the attention it deserves. I need to make it a priority and finding time for priorities means re-evaluating what my purpose is, what I want for my family, and what do we all really need. Identifying what on this list is a priority and what is not. Making my priorities come first will mean I will have to say goodbye to many of the things that are holding us back. Extra activities, inconvenient meetings, clutter, and certain people are all things that are using up our down time where we can focus.  
OK I know you are SO what did you accomplish??? In 2015 I can say that I have become debt free, I have learned to communicate with difficult people in a more productive manner, and I went on one extra vacation. Some of the other items we attempted but not completed, like a read a couple books, I jogged for about two weeks, and I organized portions of the house.  
Will I be doing this again next year? No, I have a feeling in 2016 my life changing goals list (New Years Resolution) will no longer be a list, it will be more of a thoughtful process made of ONE priority so I can stay focused on what matters. I will resolve to care for myself and my family as whole and make that the priority and everything else should fall into place. Without trying to multi task and being honest with myself, I know I can resolve to start the new year with a resolution to simply remember my priority is my family.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Financially Free

Ahhh to be Financially Free. Doesn't that sound appealing? It sounds like an island where you sit on the beach reading a book, watching your children run around looking for sand crabs. A place where you pick up the phone but have no phone bill, where your mail magically disappears, and some unknown person picks up all of your restaurant tabs. It sounds wonderful doesn't it?! But there isn't a place called Financial Freedom, I checked the map, and nope, it's not there.

So what does Financial Freedom mean? If you google it, it asks the question "What does Financial Freedom mean to you?", with no definition. In other words that question can be perceived differently by whom ever you are applying it to. So does this mean there is no real definition? And if there is no real meaning then why I am I so eager to get to this intriguing place.
I can tell you that there are a few things I can say absolutely come with Financial Freedom. It is like when you play a country song back words...You get your money back in your wallet, time with your family back, and no more tears or anxiety.

Finances can be compared to shackles. They determine what you can do in life and how you can spend you time. These shackles are a punishment and a reminder of what you have gotten yourself into. Being financially responsible is the key that unlocks those shackles. Release the anxiety of not being able to afford to go on that trip or buy that dishwasher because at one point you made some financial mistakes.

Financial Freedom absolutely means you have reduced your debt and you NOW know exactly where your money is going because you have fewer bills to deal with and accounts to work with. When you are no longer putting money towards decreasing the debt you have accrued OR spending money and acquiring more debt, you will see more money magically appear in your account. When you have more money to wisely spend, you can spend it on things that will move your life in the direction you would like it to go. You can see how it all flows together.
Less debt = more money = more time = Simpler Life = you get to live the life you want and need!

I want financial freedom because it helps me feel encouraged when I know what the goal is. So what is the ultimate goal for me? It is to live on CASH ONLY! Cash only to me is not using credit cards but it does not mean that I cannot have a car loan or home loan. It just means if I cannot be responsible enough to have enough cash to save for the things I need OR want then I should not promising money that I DO NOT HAVE YET. In reality, are we all granted another day at work just because we showed up? No, we are not! So why should we agree (promise) to pay money for something when we cannot guarantee that we will actually have a job to earn that money when it is due?
Here is how I plan to reach Financial Freedom:
1. I will make Sacrifices. I will not buy myself something just because I want it, I will make do with what I have until I actually need it.
2. I will NOT go out to eat as much or go to events just because I want to.
3. I will find things to do that are Free and Fun.
4. I will put extra money towards my revolving debt for the next six months until 100% paid.
5. I will decline extravagant outings and birthdays that may require gifts (and a dinner outing).
6. I will stand strong to peer pressure when someone says "You can't pass it up! It is too good of a deal! Just buy it!" Because really how often can you tell yourself that lie. If you don't need it, don't buy it. Even if it is a good deal.
7. I will make sure to always use a coupon, look for the less expensive brand (but not less quality), and never pay full price.
8. I will post some items on craigslist or eBay since I have about two bins filled with stuff to sell.
9. I will keep track of my trips to the store (even the grocery store) and keep all my receipts so I can see where all my money is going.
10. I will NOT let my being financially responsible make me a total bore and a super grouch just because I want to save some money. Hello, I am not crazy here just want to be conscious of what I spend.
11. I will make every attempt to stay away from stores, even to the extent of doing some grocery shopping online. This will be a great way for me to itemze my purchases and keep track of my total.
I want to be debt free because I truly believe that I will get to that magical place that financial freedom sounds like. I vision my family being stress free, having the spending money to go on vacation, being able to find other interests besides spending money as a hobby, and being able to value our time together rather then all of our time trying to earn more money to pay down more debt. I want to sleep through the night without a worry on my mind. I envision me making our priorities the focus of life and making wise decisions about what I choose to spend money on so that my children can learn those values (right now they are completely money crazed demons). That doesn't sound like bad thing to me, it sounds exciting because I know it leads to a simpler life.
In a matter of only 6 months, I WILL be celebrating in a place called Financial Freedom, where ever it may be. Sipping a cool glass of water with lime, reading about Love and Logic parenting, enjoying the sight of Spike and the gremlins playing together with not a care in the world because our world no longer revolves around being shackled to the debt that keeps us bound.
So if you in, holla at your girl, because misery (and joy) loves company!

They're Baaaack!!

They're Baaaack! Can you hear the creepy little voice that goes along with that. Well I hope so!!

Stop giving me the stink eye and sending over mean telepathic messages, I can hear you! I know, I know, your sad we were gone for so long. I am very and truly sorry for being so far behind on my blogging but here is the good news Lilly is back. Bella on the other hand...it may take a while before she posts anything, she has major writers block. I had decided to simplify my life by taking a break from blogging, I think it became kind a task that we had to finish and thus did not make life simpler, more like another thing to add to the list. We were also both going through some life engaging activities (so to speak) that required our full attention. Yes, you got it right there was freaky poltergeist drama that kept on our toes.

The good thing about being gone was I learned something about myself. One I learned that Lilly love her some Spike! Two, I made a direct connection between blogging and myself. Mainly I saw that it really affected my emotions, my attitude, and my motivation. I have always been a writer at heart, someone who journals their gratitude, who enjoys having the outlet of writing a letter to my husband rather then a discussion. During the time that I was not blogging I also stopped my journal. I just realized because I no longer had any outlet to filter through my emotions and thoughts I was becoming A LOT more frustrated, easily upset, and easily discouraged. This is where the Spike lovin' comes in...Spike was wonderful enough to remind me when I was getting a little carried away and pointed out that it seemed to be more frequent. I was doing really well for so long and what changed? I do not want to be that person, I want to be the person who thinks things through first and is then able to approach life's "engaging activities" with dignity and grace like any real Princess would. That is when it hit me like a little girl attached to a static filled TV, I needed another outlet for my visions as I like to call them.

So there it is, I am back and I missed all 6 of you! Tell your friends but not too many...again we are trying to stay away from the Paparazzi.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Are you sure that's a Priority?

Recently, I tripped on a toy when I was snapping at my daughter because she did not want to get out of her nice warm bed (Really, who can blame her for not wanting to get of a nice warm bed?). Two thoughts came to mind: One - Who put that toy there? It was obviously my punishment for being such a witch. Two - I needed to reevaluate where I was. I needed to start from square one and get back to the un-crabby mom I know I can be.

A great place to start when you are as tired as I am, is sitting down, seriously. So I squeezed a half hour into my day and sat down. I needed to make a few lists:

List One – What do you do?

Take a good long look at what you do. Where has this life brought you? What is in the normal schedule? Write it down.

Children's Church Leader
Baseball Team Mom
Make dinner, breakfast, and lunch
Work full-time
Clean the house
School volunteer
Church service
Church volunteering
Son's sports
Daughter's Dance
Family events
Church Service
Grocery Shopping
Kids' Homework and Projects
Read the kids stories
Trying to get exercize
I will keep adding.....If you can think of more, email me at this_joyful_life at yahoo.com.

List Two – What's Important to Me?
On a separate piece of paper write down what your priorities are. What is important to you? The things that you want to do. The things you want to be a priority in life. Hint: If there are more then 10 items on that list then you may want to number them from most important to least and delete anything after 10.

1. Spending time with Kids
2. Attending church service
3. Work
4. Homework and reading
5. Healthy eating
6. Healthy activities for kids
7. Just relaxing
8. Enjoying nature
9. Exploring


List Three – You Are the Sunshine of My Life
Who is a priority to you? Limit the list to less than 20 people in no particular order.
1. Spike
2. Stitch
3. Rapunzel
4 - 8. Anyone who has had the label of Mother or Father in any of our lives (5 people)
9 - 12. Anyone who has had the label of Brother or Sister in any of our lives (4 people)
13. Shipwrecked
14. Bones
15 - 16. Princess and the pea
17 - 18. Two J's

I think the list is complete even though some of the people on the list I do not get to see often.

List Four – Goals
Write down your goals. Things you want for yourself and for your family, in the short term and long term.

Short Term Goals
1. Children to get along
2. Homework do be done in a timely manner.
3. Reading with kids every night.
4. Family vacation time to reconnect
5. Housework schedule and keep it

Long Term Goals
1. Debt Free
2. Travel
3. Take Photography class
4. Kids learn to play an instrument

List Five – Prized Possessions
Choose what items have the most emotional, physical, and nostalgic value. Limit the list to less than 20 items. A category of items like pictures or jewelry can be listed as one on the list.

Wedding rings/jewelry
Angel Cards
Tea Cups
Cooking stuff

Re-evaluate your lists and your life
After I completed my lists I took a good hard long look at our life and figured out where I could start making changes, what I can get rid of, and who we really want to spend our time with. It was overwhelmingly exciting to have a place to start. The idea that saying No to things would get me closer to my priorities like seeing their grades soar while their spirits rise, teaching the kids about how we are just one in the world of many, enjoying watching their faces while a turtle swims by, kicking back on the porch with some sweet tea and a book, or sitting down for some good ol' fashion family game time. All of these things are prevented because we get caught up in all that we have gotten ourselves into. Sometimes we think we have family obligations but are they really an obligation or can we just tell that family member that we do not want to go because that function is not a priority today? This is possible!

So if you are where I was, jump off your broom and grab a pen, MAKE SOME LISTS and keep them with you as a reminder of what you need to do to make the priorities in your life A PRIORITY. You will be amazed at how you feel! I know I was!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Mona Lisa or Rubbish?

I have two children, or, shall I say, two heirs to the throne - lucky me. I was blessed with a boy, then a girl; the perfect order, some think. I tend to think it should have been the other way around because big sisters are known to be really loving and responsible. But anyways, I digress. My oldest is in third grade and my little one is in preschool and they are truly two of the most amazingly creative people I have ever encountered in my life.
They both love art and I too love art. I love real art, like a beautiful sculpture, a meaningful poem, or a Van Gough painting. You catch my drift. I also love my children and their art work, to an extent.
With children who really love art (especially Rapunzel) your house becomes a gallery for elementary school children. Rapunzel, my little one, (that is what she would like to be called) creates art everyday at school and then when she comes home she sits in the living room in front of the window so she can feel the warmth of the sun while she creates more art. That means everyday Rapunzel alone brings home at least 10 pieces of art work. Stitch mostly likes to invent contraptions and create art work at the house. Being that he is in third grade, there is less art work that comes home with him but what does come home is at an increasingly higher quality then years before.
Both of the kids love to share their beauty with the world. They have the idea that the entire universe should be able to view the miracles that come out when their fingers touch the paint, paper mache, or coloring utensil. They firmly believe that their art work deserves recognition and appreciation by all and that there is NO BETTER GIFT then a piece of art from Princess Rapunzel or Prince Stitch. In their eyes it is all a Mona Lisa.
BUT, there are 365 days in the year and if you times that by ten pieces of art a day,that means we are going to have to admire 3650 pieces of art work. My children do not believe that a prince's or princess's art work should be tossed into the informatory or be in any way, shape, or form damaged. The believe that art belongs in a gallery - a gallery that is equally divided between two countries; The Country where Boys reign on high and the Country where Girl's are the stronger of the species.  
How do I accommodate these demands? I must accommodate the requests of my sovereign. If I do not they become disheartened and they tend to cry while screaming the words "You don't love me!" Since we don't want to disappoint them, I had to come up with some ideas on how I can accommodate such high demands. 
Of course I would prefer to only display true works of art in all areas of my house, but we all have ideas of what is true art and I do feel that what my children produce is Art in the simplest and yet warmest form. Who doesn't smile after seeing a piece of art crafted by a small child?
First - I decipher whether or not the art is either rubbish or a Mona Lisa and if it is rubbish, it is briskly granted a silent demise. Rubbish would be the scribbling of circles on a plane white piece of paper or a out of the lines coloring by my eldest who is completely capable of coloring with in the lines.
Second -  I take all the art work that is brought home and enter it into the Art Gallery dungeon - a big Tupperware the size toy box.
Third - I place the art work that the Prince and Princess distinguish as priceless heirlooms for future generations on the gallery which you commoners call the fridge. This is art is considered that of the Mona Lisa, this would be art that I can look at it and clearly say "Wow, you took a lot of time to complete this and you were extremely creative with the colors." or the not as often "Oh My Goodness, you did this? This is brillance!".
Fourth  - I go through the dungeon every two months (twice the change of moons) and pick the most exquisite pieces to be displayed with the utmost respect - hung in the kitchen or living room. I also decide what pieces will make it to actually meet the heirs of my children. Many pieces succomb to a rapid demise, rubbish.
I have found this process quick and effective. The royal children do not seem to notice some of the missing pieces, but they do notice when art is not properly displayed in a visible area. For instance, last night Rapunzel asked "Mommy, how come Stitch has more art work on the wall then I do and why is my art not at your work also?" Because I have such an effective system, I was able to respond quickly, stating "Look right there honey you have just as much as your brother and I will pick out a piece of art and make sure to put it on the wall at work because your art work is better then the Mona Lisa." Rapunzel was pleased and asked "So your Boss can see?" I lovingly responded "Of course! Who wouldn't enjoy looking at how talented you are."
What do you do with your art? Do you decide Mona Lisa or rubbish?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Follow Your Bliss

If you follow your bliss, you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. Wherever you are -- if you are following your bliss, you are enjoying that refreshment, that life within you, all the time. - Joseph Campbell

A few weeks ago I joined a gym. Since then I have been going to spin class twice a week and I. Am. Hooked. 

There is no doubt in my mind - spinning is my bliss. This is why I love it:

I get to class a few minutes before it starts and join the group of people waiting to get into the room. The previous class lets out and the janitors enter with their mops and buckets to clean up the pools of sweat that have accumulated under the bikes. One of the great things about spinning - it makes you SWEAT.

We enter the room and start adjusting our bikes - seat, handlebars, etc. A good setup is important. If your bike is not set up properly, you will pay for it the next day. 

The teacher starts the music and a fast song with a heavy beat blares out from the stereo as we begin to peddle. 

"UUUUUUP," he yells. We rise from our seats in unison, bend over our handlebars and peddle to the beat. Left, right, left right; 22 bikers in perfect synchronization. In this moment, the day's stresses fall from my mind. For the next 60 minutes the only thing that matters is the ride.

A girl hurries into the room a few minutes late. She quickly adjusts her bike, grabs the handlebars and hops sideways onto the seat. "What a badass," I think. I know if I tried that move, I'd miss the seat and fall to the ground. 

By this time we have been riding for about 5 minutes. My heart is pumping, I can barely catch my breath, and sweat is oozing out of my pores. 


The music changes to a slower song; still loud, still a heavy beat. 


Next to me a short, Latina girl yells out, "HEAAAAAAAAAAAAVVVVVVVVVYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY!!!!!!!" I call her La Sirena - The Siren. She mimics the teacher's instructions in a loud, echoing voice for the entire hour. At first it annoyed me, but now it makes me laugh, and when she misses a class, we all yell out echoed instructions in her place. 

We adjust the tension on our bikes and begin the slow climb. Legs shaking, muscles burning, we struggle for each turn of the peddles. Left, right, left, right; we shift from side to side in perfect, military formation. 

As the song tapers off, a new one starts - faster than the last one, and with a frantic, techno beat. It's time for sprints. 

To be fair, "sprint" may be the wrong word as these are not short burst of momentum, but rather long, unending, torturous stretches of speed. They maybe last 2 to 3 minutes, but at 120 or more rpm, it feels like a lifetime. Sprints are pure torture, but we all do them diligently.

Most teachers would give you a break after 4 rounds of sprints, but not this one. 


We rise shakily from our seats, panting and struggling to keep our momentum.


This position is a teaser. Standing in a crouched position, hovering inches over the seat, your instinct is to relax and sit. No can do, buddy. Fire up those glutes and hold your position! 


Pop-ups are my favorite part of class. We ride in standing position for four beats and then switch to a low standing position for four beats. Back and fourth, four beats up, four beats down; it is an obsessive compulsive's perfect workout. 

The class goes on with variations of these exercises for about 50 minutes. Then comes the final workout.


The song starts as people grab for their water bottles, wipe off their faces, and prepare to dig deep. It's one of those songs that is deceptively slow in the beginning, but after a few seconds, the beat starts to pick up.


We all scream, "YEAH!"



"IN 3..."

The beat gets faster.


The song gets a little bit louder.



The beat takes off and so do we. Spinning our legs as fast as we can, hearts pumping, blood pounding, we give it everything we have and then some. Faster and faster, we reach our top speeds and struggle to hold on to them.


The teacher's yelling gives us all a burst of energy and we pick up the pace, the motion of our legs blurring. 

Finally, mercifully, the song ends and we slow to a human pace once again.

After a brief cool down and some stretching, the teacher tells us to give ourselves a hand and we all clap and cheer. 

It's at this point that I grab my empty water bottle, my sweat-soaked towel, and my keys and slowly drag myself to the car. 


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

It's The New Me, Haters!

WARNING: This post may not be as joyful as it could be. OK it is an all together complaining rant where I am about to go on a rampage about judgemental critical people - Enjoy!

I realized a long time ago that even though you can try to teach people how to treat you, who you are, what you are about, and what you want, some people never change their minds about who THEY want you to be.

I want to be a new me. A new me who has a spirit filled with joy, love, and strength. A new me who is organized. I want to be the woman whose household has peace and order. I want to be the person who can sit with a clean mind and read a book. I want to be the mother who helps make memories and holds traditions together for her family. I want to be a woman of wisdom that others can see as a someone who is there to help lift them up when they are down. Those aren't bad things, are they? Then why would someone want to ignore THE FACT that I am slowly making changes and always always trying.

Is it not fast enough for them? Is it because I sometimes take two steps forward and one step back? Is because I am not perfect?

I see myself working towards these goals by slowly but steadily simplifying my life. The three major ways I am working on it are by saying no, decluttering, and financial freedom.

All three of those things take time. With the children that I have who grow like weeds, the decluttering is not that easy. There are obligations that take up my time that I have to fulfill until they are over or until they find someone to replace me, so that cannot be done immediately either. AND, as all we all know, financial freedom is a constant battle. I do admit that I could kick the decluttering up a few notches. But other wise I am doing as much as I can at one time. I have a purpose for all of my actions.

So why are some people so hard on me?

Why don't they see that there is a purpose for this journey?

I am going to grow into the version of myself that God has intended me to be. I am letting go of my past and enabling myself to move forward. I teach others who I am by what I do and how I treat them.

So what up wit it? Why they hatin' on me?

I can only think of one good reason. It's because they are not, they are not trying, not working towards anything better, not forgiving themselves.

They are hatin' because I am fighting a good fight. I have something they don’t have AND they don’t want ME to have it. Haters can't hate on me unless I am doing the right thing. If I were doing something wrong, they wouldn't need to make themselves feel better by making me feel worse. But it is when I am doing the right thing that I get attacked. When I am going the right direction, when I am saying the right things, that is when I get attacked. So handle business, go on and have the time of your life talking about me! It gives me joy knowing that I am doing the right thing.

You are probably wondering what I am going to do about it. The answer is NOTHING and some more nothing and a whole lot of nothing. I am not going to try and fight back or defend myself. I am going to stick to the plan, stay on my journey. I will not fight the haters because if I try to play their game, I will get distracted and I will start thinking about the haters not the plan. So I will let it go. It is not my job, to take on all the haters of the world, that’s God’s job.

In fact I am just going to get even nicer and really get them cooking when I don't respond to their efforts to start a battle with me. Your gonna have to learn to love it one day.

When you have a purpose you can focus without being distracted. A purpose is having a clear sense of what you are supposed to do. Your purpose is not defined by what others think about you.

Here is a little message to all of the haters. Haters can keep hatin' BECAUSE I have a purpose and plan. I will be a NEW me! I am on a journey! You can join me if you want or just sit back and be left in the dust.