Sunday, September 9, 2012

100 Days to a Better Me - Check In #1

Since September 1st, I've been doing a "100 Days to a Better Me" challenge in which I've been working on activities that seem most pressing at this time for me and are a continuation of what I have been working on during this pivotal year in my life.

I am keeping a chart for each the challenge so I can mark off and write about the 100 day journey I'm on. This also helps keep me accountable and on track with my goals.

Here's an update about how I've done with each of the things I'm working on:

Health - Food and Fitness

- For the next 100 days, eat three servings of fruit or vegetables every day.

I found that this was very easy to do. For some reason, I didn't think I was eating at least three servings of fruits or vegetables per day. My favorite: fresh strawberries and blueberries.

- For the next 100 days, get at least 20 minutes of daily exercise.

The times ranged from 20 minutes - 1 1/2 hours of exercising each day. The key for me is variety.

The walking path through the bog
at Itasca State Park.

I walked the dogs, did Keeping Fit in Your 50s (even though I'm not 50 yet, the focus was on stretching which is important to do with Degenerative Disk Disease), and walked/hiked multiple times at two different state parks.

Part of the hike we took one day involving
going up and down this rock staircase.

Even parking far away from where we were going to sit for a parade is a form of exercise. The walk was pleasant with cooler temperatures and a nice, crisp wind.

It's not every day that you see a gnome walking down the street.
He was one of the many participants in this year's parade.

- For the next 100 days, instead of 2 cans of Diet Cokes or Diet Pepsi, drink only 1 can. 

Surprisingly, I was able to drink only 1 can per day. The "big test" came as I had to drive Tuesday and Thursday for more than six hours. Normally, I can easily consume 3 cans of Diet Coke during the driving time just to stay alert.

What I did was stretch out drinking the can of pop and alternating it with Cucumber-Lemon Water, and taking breaks about every hour to get out of the car and walk around. That seems to do the trick in terms of staying alert.


- Make it a point to learn at least one new thing each day.

I enjoyed this part of the challenge. Some of the things I learned during the past nine days include:

=> Confucius believed people should live in harmony - with each other and nature. He felt he served as a creative transmitter of the wisdom of the past.

=> The northern part of Vietnam was one part of China around 111 B.C. Although they spoke Chinese, wrote it, and followed Confucian ideals, they clung to their identity - long hair, tattoos, black-lacquered teeth, and chewing betel nuts.

=> It is 233 miles from my home to Lake Itasca. It will take 4 hours and 19 minutes in driving time alone to get to the state park.

The headwaters of the Mississippi River actually 
is a dam that is covered by hand-placed rocks, boulders, and pebbles
that are pressed into concrete.

=> If you step on moss in a bog, it can leave a foot print there for an entire summer. //// Tthe house in Little Falls (Minnesota) is where Charles A. Lindbergh, Sr. spent the majority of his time...not Charles A. Lindbergh, Jr. (the aviator) who spent limited time there as a boy.

Went through parts of Red Lake Nation 
on September 5th.

=> "Minn" means "water" (it's a Native American word).  ////  The Mississippi River is one of the longest rivers in the world. The headwaters cover a man-made dam that is covered with sand, pebbles, and rocks that are embedded in concrete. //// There is a lot of poverty in the reservations that we drove through. The people we met there were very friendly. //// Saw how wild rice is produced.

Raw wild rice before it goes through the sorting process.
We were able to see this and get a lesson about wild rice
by going into the office of Gourmet Farms 
in Clearbrook, Minnesota.

=> The Old Timers Cabin was the first one built at Lake Itasca State Park. //// Read about how the Ojibwe were promised provisions and shelter at Sandy Lake. Over 3,000 people showed up. They never received what they were promised. Many Ojibwe died; and others had to hike back to their home territories without much food or energy.

=> Leech Lake is mostly in the Leech Lake Indian Reservation and all in the Chippewa National Forest.  //// Found out the name of the town where I spent the first few weeks of my life. The camp where Dad was a camp director is no longer there, but now I know where Mom and Dad stayed when I was about 2 weeks old to 5-6 weeks old. Mom said there was no running water in the cabin, and it was a struggle trying to care for me when I was so young.

=> In Thailand, Myanmar, and Laos, there are lock-shaped pendants that are engraved and put on a neck ring. It is believed that these "soul lockers" protect a person against illnesses and keep the soul inside the body when s/he is sick.

- Homeschool 5-6 days each week, and take one day off to ensure I don't burn out from teaching.

I took one day off during this time period, though some of first few days of September were not as difficult since I hadn't officially started homeschooling.

Sophia lighting a bulb using a battery and 
a piece of tinfoil that has scotch tape on the inside.
It was part of the lesson on electricity this week.

 Nonetheless, we made food for some of the girls' lessons and spent part of one day hiking at William O'Brien State Park.

Sophia and Olivia having dinner by the cabin
we stayed in at Lake Itasca State Park.

After Labor Day, we began the year by doing our annual "Not Back to School Trip" to Lake Itasca State Park. This was a great opportunity to learn about geography, history, culture, food, nature, map reading, and science.

The girls wanted to do something, so I had them work together
to make brownies. The recipe is from the Iowa chapter
in "Eat Your Way Through the U.S.A."
These are probably the best brownies I've ever tasted!

Organization and Home Maintenance

- Declutter one area in the home. (Spend an average of 15 minutes per day on this project or 105 minutes per week.)

The first five days I didn't do anything with this goal. When I returned from Lake Itasca, I spent 110 minutes on the 8th organizing paperwork and receipts for taxes. All of the these items which were in a drawer or in a bag to be filed are now in an expandable file divided by category (e.g., medical records, mortgage, electricity).

The expandable folder that holds paperwork
for 2012 taxes.

- Work on the list of items that need to be done to address water damage. Do at least 10 items on the list (there are 74 projects) over the next 100 days.

The main thing I did was continue to empty the two dehumidifiers that are running continuously on the 1st and 2nd floors. The big dehumidifier in the basement, which also runs continuously, I checked on daily to make sure the hose was draining in the sump pump/well area.

The deposit for the gutters is in, and gutters are going to be installed next week. With the rain this past week, I saw exactly where the water is leaking into the basement. Once the gutters are installed, it will be a test to see if they address the leaking or if exterior drain tiling is needed.

Spiritual Growth

- For the next 100 days, make a point of doing some form of prayer each day in preparation of and during the Wellspring program.

Starting on the 1st of this month, I've been taking time each morning (anywhere from 20-30 minutes) to read the daily passages in three meditation books and/or do the prayer beads I created this summer.

One of the many flowers at the 
rose/flower garden in St. Cloud.

I also took pictures of the hummingbirds; walked the dogs and thought about Dad; walked in state parks and  appreciated the natural beauty of each area; walked around a flower/rose garden in St. Cloud; walked through a bog and took time to notice a little stream and waterfall as well as the beauty of Lake Itasca; and listened to crows cawing and watched a pileated woodpecker fly overhead.

On September 5th, I spent some time sitting by the fire
reading, writing, and reflecting.

September 5th marked the eight-month anniversary of Dad's death. Eight months later, I was camping with the girls at Lake Itasca. I think of all the camping Dad did and how much he loved nature. Going over the headwaters was something we did as a family when my sister, brother, and I were kids. It is a memory I've now given to Sophia and Olivia. A legacy essence...from their grandpa.

We took a short hike to see the tallest white pine
in Itasca State Park.

Caring for and Connecting with Others

- Continue participating in the 3 in 30 Challenge as a way to stay accountable for setting three goals per month and reaching them.

During the first week of September, I focused on the goal of setting up and following a meal plan. That worked very well, and we ended up trying a lot of new recipes.

I also finished organizing all the paperwork and receipts for taxes. This will save a lot of time at the end of the year/beginning of 2013.

- Begin participating in the 30 Days of Lists and Autumn Blog Challenge.

I have kept up with doing each day of the 30 Days of Lists. I have posted the majority of them on my Flickr site, the 30 Days of Lists forum, and blogged about them HERE and HERE.

One of the lists I did for 
30 Days of Lists.

Out of 8 prompts for the Autumn Blog Challenge, I chose to write about five of them.

- Complete the 12 in 12 Challenge that Sophia, Olivia, and I are doing by December 12, 2012 (12-12-12).

Olivia and I filled the bird feeders and cleaned the bird bath.

One of the hummingbirds visiting the feeder.

I also prepared the hand-embroidered toy that we will put somewhere for someone to find by packaging it up in a bag with a note that the toy is free.

- For the next 100 days, actively look for something positive in each person in my family every day, and write it down. Use these for Christmas gifts.

I have done this each day, and am so excited to be working on this project. I think when the people see and read 100 positive things about themselves, they'll each find meaning in the gift. Hopefully it will be an uplifting and memorable gift for each of them.  

- Continue with Foodie Penpals as a way to introduce others and myself to healthy food options.

I was assigned a penpal whom I contacted to see if she had any food preference and/or dietary restrictions. I also was contacted by the person who will be sending a package of food to me.

While I was on the trip, I found a few things that I want to include in the package to my penpal. I will be looking for more items and/or making food during the upcoming week since the package needs to be mailed by September 15th.

Creative Expression

- Continue with Take a Stitch Tuesday; and do a weekly journal entry which includes the stitch of the week, personal reflection, and gratitude list.

I read what the challenge is for the week, but have not done any stitching or the journal entry yet.

- Continue with the Embroidery Journal Project and do one embroidered quilt square for each month (September, October, November, and December).

I did not start working on this yet. Usually I end up waiting until the third week to start working the EJP because I want to see what stands out as the most important and meaningful things that happened during the month. Then I search for images to reflect those things, and begin doing the embroidered square.

- Complete Coloring Mandalas - For Insight, Healing, and Self-Expression.

I did two mandalas this week - on the 1st and 6th. As I looked at the dates of when I had colored the other mandalas, I realized that I stopped doing them during 2011 and until now - the time that Dad's health was steadily declining; he died; and Mom was hospitalized/in the Transitional Care Unit/Assisted Living apartment.

It feels good to begin doing the mandalas on a regular basis. I'll look forward to seeing the book completed - a reflection of creative expression from 2008-2012.


- Don’t buy anything that I don’t absolutely need for 100 days. Use any money I save to do one of the following:
=> Pay down my debt.
=> Put it toward my six-month emergency fund.
=> Put it toward a car to replace the one with 214,000+ miles on it.

Out of the 8 days, I didn't spend anything on 4 days (50% of them)! I'm very happy about that.  On 2 days, we spent only what we needed:
=> Battery for Sophia's camera (the camera is used for homeschooling and 4-H - for educational purposes which I consider a necessity).
=> Gasoline - for the car and mowing the lawn.
=> Cat and dog food.
=> Cat litter.

Because of the trip, 2 days didn't go so well because I spent money on things that we didn't truly need, but wanted to get:
=> Treats at Dairy Queen on the trip to Lake Itasca.
=> Food for my Foodie Penpal.
=> Gift for a friend's birthday.
=> Breakfast at Douglas Lodge at Lake Itasca.
=> Ice cream treats on the trip back home from Lake Itasca.

What I need to remember is that depriving myself and the girls isn't healthy behavior either. That will only result in reckless spending. Responsible spending is key.

As I wrote in the journal/checklist I'm keeping: "We ate breakfast at Douglas Lodge. Wanted to give that experience and memory to the girls so they had it. Was it needed? No. But it's a legacy gift and memory...and to me that is equally as valuable."


All in all, I'm very happy with the progress I'm making. It's good to have these goals and be making a conscientious effort to reach them.


Rita said...

Don't beat yourself up about spending on a vacation! Breakfast and ice cream treats--deprivation isn't good, either, like you said.

You've been doing amazing on the 100 days!! Wow! congrats!

Greener Mommy said...

What a great time! I'd love to do just one of those things! And way to go on the 100 days.

Shai Smith said...

I love this! Where did you get your categories for the list?