Home business, home education and health challenges: what makes us tic?

Posts tagged ‘Lists’

Musings on the nature of love

“I’ve got a little list!
I’ve got a little list!
Of people who eat peppermint and puff it in your face!”
– ‘The Mikado‘, Gilbert and Sullivan

How a little list saved my lifeWhen I was about 14, I made a list. It described the attributes of my perfect man. I hid it away, ready to pull out when (if) I ever met someone who I thought could be marriage material. I wanted to get it right.

Five years later, when I did finally meet someone who seemed to be Mr Right, I must admit that I rushed in and accepted his proposal before I even remembered that there was a list to be checked. I found the list when I was packing up my life to go and be his wife. Amused, and utterly convinced that I’d made the right choice, I compared Mr Soon-to-be-Mine to the Mr Right I’d concocted in my youth.

He ticked very box.

He even met criteria I thought no one ever would, and which I’d left off the list as being “too much to ask for”. (Honestly, can you really hope for a MacGuyver-type who does a killer John Cleese imitation AND knows all the words to every episode of the Goon Show? Yet that’s what I got! I’d have settled for “has once heard of the Goon Show.”)

In retrospect I may have put other items on my list which I could never have imagined as a teenager. Things like “loves doing dishes” or “picks up after himself”. I imagine I’m not alone there.

My point, though, is that I knew what I wanted, and I recognised it when it stood in front of me. Before I accepted Papa Bear’s proposal, there had been other contenders for the role. I’d nearly settled for a trainee teacher (I love academics) and a wanna-be fireman (brave!). I was diverted by a banker for a while, and even considered and actor/veterinarian. I didn’t really think I’d ever get everything on my list, and in a way that list was an insurance policy. Because I so adamantly did not want to get married, the list gave me a way out of every relationship. And then it didn’t.

We’ve been married for 16 and a half years. Of course we’ve had our share of trials, but we are still in love, and our relationship gets stronger all the time.

Not all of my friends are so lucky, and I recently found myself contemplating the nature of love. I believe that a big part of why we’re good together is because we’re a good fit. And a big part of being a good fit is intentional planning. The men I didn’t marry didn’t meet some key criteria that, to me, were non-negotiable. There were things like, “he must be able to spell”, “he must love to read”, “he absolutely may not demonstrate violence”. Those things might seem obvious to you, but each of the men I turned down (except perhaps the vet) barely read anything, couldn’t spell, and demonstrated violence in subtle ways. And as soon as those things became apparent, I lost interest. It wasn’t a rational act as much as a visceral reaction.

My less fortunate friends find themselves married or involved with men who are distant, unkind, uninvolved, and even violent. Men who don’t read or even value the written word. Men with little clue about what parenting involves or that it ought to involve them. I am astonished that they could have chosen those men in the first place, as I would have run a mile in the opposite direction from that kind of attention. I actually did. They kindly point out to me that they didn’t choose. They fell in love. It just happened.

How could that just happen? This single “fall” has the power to create a lifetime’s worth of joy or bring a seeming eternity of lonely misery. How can we leave something like that to chance? How can we let willful, capricious emotions – possibly created in a moment’s intoxicated weakness – take charge in such a critical aspect of our lives? Is it not far too important to allow a few months of chemical reactions to set us on a course for the rest of our lives??

And yet – didn’t I fall in love? Didn’t Papa Bear and I declare our intentions within days of our meeting? Didn’t we get engaged barely a month after we met? Wouldn’t we have been married a whole year earlier if the law had allowed it? And here, at last, we reach the culmination of my musings. Could it be that I rewired my brain when I made that list? I don’t know what I would have selected without the list, although the near-misses give me a fair idea. I knew my training and experience had set me on a course for self-destruction. I wanted better than that. And I got it. I got better than I dreamed, and better than I ought to have had.

I believe that marriage is hard work, and that any two people willing to put in the effort required can make any marriage work. I also believe that we foolish humans self-sabotage, and if we don’t take thoughtful and definitive steps to identify and circumvent our own personal brand of sabotage, we will be powerless against it. So my musings lead me to think that that little list of mine saved my life, and laid the foundation of my children’s happiness. I wish I could give them more, but I can give them love, safety and security. And that is more than most.

How about you? When looking for a mate, do you base your choices on how he (or she) makes you feel? Or do you know what you’re looking for? And how important is knowing when it comes to falling in love? Do you think you can programme yourself to make smart choices? Please tell me what you think.



2013. A lucky number?

For starters, I’m NOT superstitious, and I don’t believe in lucky or unlucky numbers. If I did, though, I’d pick 13 just to be contrary.

That out of the way, happy new year! The new year and new month and new week are all here, and with them come some goals:

  • This year I will break through the 5km run barrier – running non-stop for 5km (instead of about 1/3 of that, as I do now). And I will run it in 30 mins or less.
  • This year I will be more organised – in EVERYthing. School. House. Work. Exercise.
  • This year I will have a weekly date night with my husband.
  • This year I will keep my blogs updated more regularly.

This last one may result in some rather short, “light” posts, but I do want this blog to serve as a journal of our frugal home education journey, and it can’t do that if I never update it.

So there it is: 2013’s goals formalised and announced. The rest of today is dedicated to itemising the plans in detail – in spreadsheets and my diary. After that, all that remains is to follow through!

Today’s reading:

  • Gen. 1-3 (creation and the fall of man – a sobering way to start the day).
  • Phil. 4:
    Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice.
    Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
    13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.
    The message was: “choose a positive attitude and focus on the good God does in your life each day”.

Life Lessons – a list of lessons

Look at this great email I received today:

Written by Regina Brett, 90 years old, of the Plain Dealer, Cleveland , Ohio . (I haven’t verified this).

“To celebrate growing older, I once wrote the 45 lessons life taught me. It is the most requested column I’ve ever written.

My odometer rolled over to 90 in August, so here is the column once more:

  1. Life isn’t fair, but it’s still good.
  2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.
  3. Life is too short – enjoy it.
  4. Your job won’t take care of you when you are sick. Your friends and family will.
  5. Pay off your credit cards every month.
  6. You don’t have to win every argument. Stay true to yourself.
  7. Cry with someone. It’s more healing than crying alone.
  8. It’s OK to get angry with God. He can take it.
  9. Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck.
  10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.
  11. Make peace with your past so it won’t screw up the present.
  12. It’s OK to let your children see you cry.
  13. Don’t compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
  14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn’t be in it.
  15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye But don’t worry; God never blinks.
  16. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.
  17. Get rid of anything that isn’t useful.  Clutter weighs you down in many ways.
  18. Whatever doesn’t kill you really does make you stronger.
  19. It’s never too late to be happy.  But it’s all up to you and no one else.
  20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don’t take no for an answer.
  21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don’t save it for a special occasion. Today is special.
  22. Over prepare, then go with the flow.
  23. Be eccentric now. Don’t wait for old age to wear purple.
  24. The most important sex organ is the brain.
  25. No one is in charge of your happiness but you.
  26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words ‘In five years, will this matter?’
  27. Always choose life.
  28. Forgive
  29. What other people think of you is none of your business.
  30. Time heals almost everything. Give time time.
  31. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
  32. Don’t take yourself so seriously. No one else does.
  33. Believe in miracles.
  34. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn’t do.
  35. Don’t audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.
  36. Growing old beats the alternative — dying young.
  37. Your children get only one childhood.
  38. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.
  39. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.
  40. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else’s, we’d grab ours back.
  41. Envy is a waste of time. Accept what you already have not what you need
  42. The best is yet to come…
  43. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.
  44. Yield.
  45. Life isn’t tied with a bow, but it’s still a gift.”


Seven Steps to Stress Free Days (another list)

This is slightly modified from a much better and more comprehensive list supplied by those fine fellows at SCD Lifestyle. I’ve adapted it to suit me and I’ve seen a great reduction in my stress levels, after just 5 days! So I recommend at least giving it a go – with modifications to suit you and your lifestyle. Stress-free living could be just a week away!

  1. Pray every day. Read your Bible, and make this non-negotiable, even if it’s just for 10 or 15 minutes.
  2. Bad day make-over. If this was your last day on earth, would you like it to be this way? If not, take a step back, change your reactions to and perspectives on the events of the day, and make a concerted effort to enjoy the rest of your day.
  3. Get enough sleep. This has been very key for me and has made a big difference. I always find that a good night’s rest is like a reset button on my attitude and makes everything look less intimidating in the morning.
  4. Exercise. Get at least 30 minutes of exercise three times a week. Simply put, this is a lifeline and has giving me so much energy and an eagerness to get out of bed every day.
  5. Focus on getting 3 things done today. My “To Do” list often spans pages and pages, and results in the inevitable Stress Paralysis that keeps me from getting anything done at all. Choosing three important (as opposed to urgent) tasks to complete each day gives me a sense of accomplishment, makes my day seem manageable, and ensures that some of the important-yet-neglected items on that to do list are getting the attention they need.
  6. Stretch. I was giving neck exercises by my physiotherapist and doing them every hour makes me more relaxed and less stressed. It also clears my brain and gives me a needed break from whatever I’m busy with. For some reason I feel a lot less overwhelmed by my day knowing that these babies are waiting for me at the end of the next hour. It’s like I have my own Good Joint Health magic switch.
  7. Start the day happy. This one surprised me at first, until I analysed my day. I usually squeeze as much sleep into a “night” as possible (usually about 5 hours, from 2am – 7am). Then I try to get everything done before my assistant arrives – usually just before 8! Impossible? No. Practical and peace-inducing? Not so much. Since I started working out, I’m up at 4:45, exercising by 5:00-ish, and ready for the day (including a devotion!) by 7:30. It’s wonderful. The work-out gives me the time to reflect, plan, pray and peace out before the day begins. It’s also often the place where I choose my Three Important Tasks (don’t use the acronym ;)) for the day and get mentally ready for the challenges ahead.

The verdict so far? Excellent.

List: Things I love about Papa Bear

I have a list. I love lists, and make them about everything (what to do, what to wear, what to pack, what to eat … you get the picture). I love my husband and often it’s enough just to say that, but lately I’m finding that it pays to be specific. My computer has that Sticky Notes application Microsoft introduced with Windows 7, and one of my stickies is a list of the things I love about my Man. I update it every few days, whenever I remember something else that I love about him, or he does something new that I love.

Here’s the list at the moment. Papa Bear is:

  • Honest;
  • Hard working;
  • Passionate;
  • Deeply caring;
  • Sweet & kind;
  • Clever;
  • Good @ fixing stuff;
  • A loving and wonderful father;
  • Funny, and has a good sense of humour;
  • Willing to eat the food I make (this is a biggie at the moment, when some of the experiments include puréed carrots with banana. For dinner. Not recommended);
  • Intelligent;
  • Able to spell very well (important to me);
  • A lover of books and words;
  • A lover of God.

This list is by no means exhaustive, but having it on my desktop reminds me of just how special he is to me, and what it was that I loved about him in the first place. I didn’t marry him for his willingness or ability to wash dishes (for instance), and on the days when all the domestic stuff falls to me and I feel tired and overwhelmed, I remember this kind man who ticks all the boxes on my “Mr Right” check list. Then I praise God for giving me who I needed, despite my incomplete list and selfish tendencies.

Lesson #9: I can do all things through Christ.

Last week Sunday night our pastor decided on the spur of the moment to do something different. Instead of our usual Bible Study, we all shared how God was working in our lives and what He’d taught us that week. As usual, I was teased for whipping out my notebook, but that just added to the fun. There weren’t many of us there and it was an intimate, gentle sharing of trials and triumphs, and the power of God in our lives to heal.

Then the pastor asked us, “What are you facing this week that’s really on your mind?” We didn’t have to share it with the group, just ponder the biggest hurdles that lay ahead of us.

Next, he said something that has stuck with me all week. He said “now tell yourself this: ‘I can do [insert challenge] through Christ who strengthens me.'”

That simple, powerful statement has really encouraged me this week. I told myself, “I can pay the rent though Christ, who strengthens me!” And we did.

Here are some other things I’m contemplating this week:

  • I can finish my work through Christ, who strengthens me.
  • I can meet my deadlines  through Christ, who strengthens me.
  • I can give my children the time and attention they need through Christ, who strengthens me.
  • I can be the wife my husband needs  through Christ, who strengthens me.
  • I can wait for the Lord’s timing in ministry through Christ, who strengthens me.
  • I can find my way to my meetings and not get lost or be late through Christ, who strengthens me.

I am grateful to our Lord that He loves me, cares for me, died for, lives for me and strengthens me.

5 step stranger-danger protection

As a paranoid parent I spend a lot of my time warning my children about potential dangers. The rest of the time is spent clamping them firmly to my sides! Today I found this useful 5-step check list on Parents.com. Simple and useful, I like it.

  • Chances. Don't take them.

    Chances. Don’t take them.

    Instead of: Don’t talk to strangers
    Say: Check with me or your dad or your babysitter before talking to another grown-up.

  • Instead of: If you get lost in a store, ask a trusted adult to help you find me
    Say: If you get lost in a store, stay in the building and find someone with a name tag to help you.
  • Instead of: Don’t take candy from a stranger
    Say: Don’t take anything from anyone except your parents, babysitter, teacher, or friend’s mom or dad on a playdate.
  • Instead of: Don’t leave my sight
    Say: Don’t go where you can’t see me.
  • Instead of: Don’t keep secrets
    Say: A surprise is the only secret that’s okay to keep.
  • Don’t Send Mixed Messages
    Be careful not to undermine the safety lessons you’ve taught your kids. Take these three precautions:

    • Avoid talking to a child you don’t know. Address the parent instead. Otherwise, your kids might think that it’s okay for strangers to talk to them.
    • Even though it’s cute, resist monogramming your child’s name on his backpack or clothes. If a stranger addresses your kid by name, he may think he knows the person.
    • Don’t push your preschooler to give a hug to anyone — even relatives. Children need to realize that it’s okay to say “no” when they feel uncomfortable.
  • Find more at Parents.com

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