Birthday Wishes

By: Jeanne Reynolds

By the time this posts, I’ll have only a few days left … in this decade, that is. Then my age will begin with a new digit. This is a REALLY. BIG. BIRTHDAY.

It’s weird to think the time I have left is half or less than the time I’ve already spent. (If you didn’t follow that, don’t worry, you’re getting older, too.) What I mean is, according to actuarial tables, my family history and my own state of being, I may have 30 years left – 20 good ones, if I’m lucky – to do some of the things I’ve always dreamed of.

Which made me think, what exactly are those things? I don’t want to call them a bucket list, because God willing and the creek don’t rise I won’t be kicking any soon. But here are a few dreams I have yet to realize.

I want to …

  • Drink dry rose in Provence and real Champagne in Paris.
  • Spend a week in Tuscany seeing everything … or nothing.
  • Make a hole in one.
  • Publish the children’s book I first wrote when I was 9 years old. (There’s a hippo in it, but I don’t want to tell you more and spoil the ending.)
  • Learn to paint well enough that I’d actually hang one of my pictures on my wall.
  • Be able to touch my toes without pain in my hamstrings.

There are some others I could add, like riding an elephant, seeing the pyramids or reading every book Alexander McCall Smith wrote, but I’m OK either way (and I’ve already jumped out of a plane). Still, it’s kind of a short list and even I have to admit it’s a bit self-oriented. So I’ll add two more:

  • Remember never to take for granted the kind, gentle, romantic man who is my husband.
  • Continue learning what God’s plan for me is and for what special purpose he has put me here.

Speaking of God’s plan, yeah, none of us knows if we have 30 years or 30 minutes left. Which means why wait for this birthday or any other to get started on my dreams? I put a yoga class on my calendar for this week (that toe touch thing).

It’s small, but it’s a start.

Not Official Until There’s a Bracelet

By: Mary Pat Baldauf

Recently, I wrote about my 2017 word of the year: Simplify. Am I complicating things by adding one more to the mix? Because while I am trying to keep my life simple, the thing I balance_every woman blogneed to work on even more is BALANCE.

As I approach the two year anniversary of my ruptured aneurysm – which I call the two year anniversary of my survival – my energy seems to be coming back in bounds. When I have a day with great energy, it’s hard not to take on too much. I can write a list of at least 50 things I need to do, but have to keep in mind that I can’t always accomplish it all in a day or a weekend. I have to prioritize with balance in mind.

Take, for instance, this coming weekend. I have supper club, a band party and church. But those are only scheduled events. I also want to cook for the week ahead, take a long walk, straighten the house (kitchen, bathroom and basement, in that order), work on my finances and get caught up on This Is Us. And, and I really need to wash clothes. What I’m learning is that I can’t do it all, even in a weekend. My energy is coming back, but I still need to rest and relax.

So I’m doing some refining of my list by way of this post:

  • Saturday evening Supper Club is a must. We’re going out, so I don’t have to clean or cook. And it’s much needed time with friends.
  • The band party is a wait-and-see. It’s an event for The Animal Mission, and a band featuring a couple of friends is playing. I don’t get to hear them play much anymore, and it’s a short set. Still, with my voice issues, clubs aren’t my best venue.
  • Church is a given. It inspires me for the week ahead, gives me a chance to see friends and gets me up and out. The service isn’t until 11:15 a.m., so I can still sleep in or get up early to get started on the cooking.
  • Cooking for the week ahead has been on my list for a few weeks now. I generally don’t do it on weeknights because I go to the gym after work, and time is already tight. For me to eat healthier, I seriously need to do this. Which means…
  • …Straightening the kitchen becomes a higher priority. There’s no way to accomplish this without at least clearing the counters, making some room in the ‘fridge and switching out the dishes. The bathroom and basement are medium priority, because I need to get a plumber out soon to work on a few projects.
  • The long walk is creating issues in my mind. I’d hoped to walk to the park and Trader Joe’s like I did before the rupture. But I don’t want to wear myself out and ruin my other plans. Maybe I can do it Sunday afternoon or evening, when it’s okay to be worn out. It might even help me sleep longer and a little better.
  • Working on my finances is easy. I can do that on my laptop in bed Saturday morning. Or even tonight.
  • This Is Us. It’s on Netflix now, and I’ve heard so many good things about it. I usually don’t turn on the TV on weeknights because it distracts me and prevents me from getting a full night of sleep. While I’m excited it’s on Netflix now, that doesn’t mean I have to watch it all on one day. This is definitely not a priority, and I may start watching (aka NOT binge watching) next week.
  • Washing clothes. A job that’s never done. I miss the days that I took everything to the dry cleaner, but my bank account doesn’t. Maybe instead of shooting for everything, I can do laundry based on priority, i.e. what I need for the week ahead.

Boom. I’ve created a simple solution for the weekend that includes plenty of balance of those things Maslow told us were important. I’ll let you know how it goes.

So what’s up with the bracelet headline? I’m a highly visual person; I like visual reminders close to keep me motivated. I have a SIMPLIFY bracelet, but need one for balance. Thus, the addition of a “new word” won’t be official until I get one. Perhaps I need to add THAT to the list.

Is your life “in balance?” What do you do to maintain a balance in your life? What do you need to work on?

Try a Guiding Word Instead of Resolutions

By: Mary Pat Baldauf

Resolutions are for the birds. Until last year, I made them every year, and like many of you, had abandoned most by the first week in February. Last year, I decided to select a single word that summed up the essence and focus for the next 365 days of my life.

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My guiding word for 2017 is “simplify.” The textbook definition is to make less complex or complicated; make plainer or easier. It literally applies to nearly every facet of my life that I would once try to tame with a resolution: my weight, my finances, my house, my health, my relationships and more.

Simplifying isn’t as easy as I thought; I really have to re-think things. I keep the word on the top of my mind, and try to use it when applicable. Here are just a few examples:

  • After searching high and low for a lost FSA card, I simply requested a new one. Most things can be replaced easily and with little hardship. Simpler and much less stressful, for sure.
  • When I have a store return, I keep it in the car until I pass the store I need to visit.
  • simplify-mugInstead of keeping a travel cup whose lid has a design flaw and leaks, even if it does keep my water cold for 10 hours, I gift it to someone who will appreciate it and get one better suited for my needs. (Stanley has a great one. The lid shifts shut AND has a straw hold!)
  • When I couldn’t find my Just Wanna Melt scrub bars at the usual spot, I just ordered them online instead of making additional stops. (Sometimes a shipping fee is worth the time and money you’d spend on an extended search.)
  • When I get a new coffee mug, I get rid of an old one to make space for the new.
  • Instead of taking time to search for a “legal” photo of a pause button, I make do with two images of my own. (See what I just did there? Simplified when writing a blog post on simplifying.)

What can you do to simplify your life in 2017? Any tricks or tips to share?

Resolve…

By: Angie Sloan

Every Woman Blog - New Year New You

This may sound like a snarky post, but that’s not my intent. The new year is here! Two weeks into 2017 and there’s not a single parking space at the gym and my Pinterest board has been filled with tons of pins on how to keep those “New Year’s resolutions.” And this year, I have decided to not buy into the hype. I don’t begrudge those who do, but it’s not for me. It’s the word “resolution” that bothers me. In its bare form it is just “re” meaning (to do again) and “solution” meaning (an answer to a problem). And you know what? That is precisely the problem.

Each December, as the new year approaches, we realize that we need to “fix” ourselves, again. We make promises to lose weight, get in shape, eat healthier, keep a tidier house, read more books, watch less TV, etc. But what if we are not broken? What if we aren’t the ones with the problem that needs to be resolved? Hear me out. I am not saying, by any stretch, that like Mary Poppins, I am practically perfect in every way. I am far from it. But why do we as women put ourselves through the misogynist torture of conforming to the expectation of New Year’s Resolutions?

I have a friend who received a new fitness tracker for Christmas to help her “stay on track” with her resolutions. She literally lives, eats, breathes and sleeps by this new tracker. She uses it to measure everything and I worry that’s she is beginning to use it to measure her self-worth. I think many of us measure ourselves by numbers on a scale, on a screen, on our paychecks, on our mailboxes. The new year is a perfect time to change that behavior!

(Give me a minute as I descend from my soapbox.) Here is my point, dear readers. Let’s all realize that we are good enough, pretty enough, thin enough, tidy enough and smart enough. Simply stated, we are enough. If we choose to improve ourselves, that’s a great thing. But we don’t need a new year to do it.

If we are going to make a resolution, let’s resolve to love ourselves. And let’s actually keep that one!

Happy New Year!

Feeling Grateful in 2017

By: Ashley Whisonant

The beginning of a new year is exciting. I love the fresh start and new beginnings. Instead of the usual New Year’s resolutions of losing weight, saving money, eating better, etc.….I decided to do something different than I have ever done. I want to focus on being grateful for the blessings in my life. This certainly does not mean everything is wonderful and picture perfect 24/7. We are all dealt tough hands and have not-so-great-things happen. My goal for this year is to change how I view the negatives in my life.

While getting ready for work this morning, I noticed my few gray hairs. They were shining so proud in my mirror under the bright fluorescent lights. Old Ashley would have freaked out and made the fastest hair appointment. With my new outlook, I tried to focus on the positive. Having gray hairs means I am getting older. Look at all the amazing things getting The Gratitude Diariesolder has given me: financial security, a strong, healthy body, a loving husband and two great little boys. Getting older is not too shabby.

I recently finished reading The Gratitude Diaries by Janice Kaplan. Her year of grateful living has been an inspiration for me. She has seen improvements in her marriage, work life, and health. This book is certainly a must read for the New Year.

Will everyday be perfect? No, impossible. But in 2017, I am going to focus on making my outlook more grateful.

It’s Never Too Early to Celebrate

By: Mary Pat Baldauf

lmc_race-medal

One thing I’ve learned over the past 19 months is that if you’re lucky enough to get a second chance, you shouldn’t waste it. In that spirit, I’m already thinking ahead to the two-year anniversary of my aneurysm rupture.

Y’all know that since I started working out about five years ago, I’ve been wanting to do a 5K. I was starting to train right before the rupture, then everything went south. During the first three weeks, my muscles atrophied, and I couldn’t stand up or walk. Even at Shepherd, the consensus was that I would probably end up having to use a cane. (As an aside, my doctors credited my health and fitness level as one of the reasons I survived!)

I learned how to walk again, and since I came back home in July, 2015, I’ve been working with a trainer to regain my balance and increase my strength. Sadly, due to the damage done to my vocal cords during the intubation, if I overdo it – in the gym or just walking down Main Street – I lose my breath. My voice specialist is working wonders, but for now, she says no to running and/or training to run.

Recently, I saw a blurb about the Five Points Get to the Green St. Patrick’s Day Race, on (get this) March 18, 2017. On the spot, I decided to walk it just because I can! I looked at GTTG2015_ShoeprintLogo_VectorBWthe race website, and saw that you can register a team. Since this recovery and rehab has been a team effort, I decided that a team would be quite apropos.

Fitness friends, please join me in celebrating on March 18. We can meet up before the race and perhaps toast ourselves with a beer afterwards. I’d love to have some company for the walk, but if you’re a runner, I don’t expect you to slow down for me. Registration for Get to the Green is only $30, and you save $5 if you register on a team. You’ll also get a t-shirt, medal/bottle opener and free admission into the festival. The team name is BAMFs for #MPBStrong.

I close this post with a word of thanks to my fitness friends, folks I worked out with back in the days of those 5 a.m. workouts. My gym friends have been so supportive; they visited, prayed, sent cards and lavished me with love. Even now, they continue to encourage and motivate me.

One friend, Jenny, ran the Palmetto Half in April 2015, and then came to the hospital to give me her medal. At that time, she challenged me to get better so I could do that run. I don’t know if she thought I’d ever be able to do it, but the encouragement and tangible symbol kept me going. (And that medal STILL hangs in my room.) And while I may not run, I am gonna do that 5K, two years to the day that aneurysm ruptured.

Is there something that has always been on your to-do list? What is it and what steps can you take today to move you closer to achieving it? It’s never too early to start planning!

A Change in Plans

By: Mary Pat Baldauf 

It’s ironic that my last post was Putting My Aneurysm Behind Me. While I am ready to put it all behind me, there’s no getting around the fact that I have some deficits, such as a shorter attention span and a tendency to get overwhelmed. And whether temporary or not, I need to address them.

In rehab at Pathways, we had a session on goal setting. When we did sessions on calendaring, goals and such, I probably “checked out” a little. Those sessions, I rationalized, were for the folks who had “more deficits” than me. I’d never needed those things before, so I why I would need them now?

SMART GoalsOur session on goals focused on SMART:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Timely

I recently pulled up a book I’d purchased before the rupture: The Power of Less: The Fine Art to Limiting Yourself to the Essentials…In Business and In Life. The author is Leo Babauta, whose blog, Zen Habits, I discovered years ago.

I skimmed the book and put many of Babauta’s suggestions to work as I journaled on the computer. I listed all of the projects I want to complete. That in itself was a relief of sorts. Projects are different than a “to do” list in that they’re things that take more than a couple of hours to complete. Washing my bedding is a “to do;” getting my bedroom organized is a project. (And then some, LOL!)

Since coming home a year ago, my room has suffered quite a bit. So getting my bedroom organized was one of the three goals that I decided to focus on. I pulled out the SMART goals list and got to work.

SPECIFIC: I want to organize and de-clutter my bedroom.

MEASUREABLE/ACHIEVABLE/REALISTIC: I broke the project into smaller goals: the many facets of my bedroom that needed work, i.e. my closet, the stack of clothes at the end of my bed, the shelving unit under the window and more. From those goals, I picked a weekly goal. This week, it will be stack at the end of my bed. I will then designate a daily goal to help me accomplish the weekly goal.

TIMELY: I gave myself a deadline. I want to have my bedroom organized by September 24, my 50th birthday.

A funny thing happened. Once I laid out my goals, I found a new surge of energy. I felt less overwhelmed. I tackled the stack and made a huge dent in it, just in one day.

“Duh,” you might be saying. It’s not rocket science. I know that, and yet it’s like a brand new concept. I used to be able to do all of this without having to set goals and break them down into bite-sized pieces. But now, I need a little more structure. (Gasp! he pre-rupture me HATED anything that resembled structure. It stifled me. It definitely didn’t give me energy or help me be more productive.) In this way, it’s easy to see how the post-rupture me is a new and improved version of the “old me.” Mary Pat 2.0 may be a little more structured, a little different than before, but that is okay.

I need to end this post with an apology to my rehab therapists. A year later, it is crystal clear why I (yes, I) needed those sessions. I didn’t understand then, but now I do. While my recovery was miraculous, I didn’t get out unscathed. I’m more easily overwhelmed now, and the things I used to do without a second thought do require some thought now. My attention span is also a little shorter. Deficits aren’t a bad thing to have; in fact, when I’m able to see them, I’m able to address them.

Happy Planning!

Are you a planner and/or goal setter? If so, what has worked well for you? Do you have a favorite planner and/or system? Do you think you can be a planner and still be spontaneous?