Sunday, September 23, 2012

100 Days to a Better Me - Check in #2

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.

Since the first update on September 9th, I've resumed homeschooling Sophia and Olivia. In addition, their activities (e.g., homeschool co-op, lessons, special education) all are happening. Work on the house (interior and exterior) also began to address water damage issues.

With all these additions to the schedule, trying to accomplish everything I hoped has been a bit say the least. For the most part, I was able to do everything. However, there were areas that I found more difficult to do or simply didn't have the time to do.

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.

With the exception of a couple of days, I ate at least three servings of fruits or vegetables each day.

Side dish with a variety of vegetables
for everyone to enjoy.

As I near the end of the month the amount of fresh fruits and vegetables has decreased, so having a wide variety like I did at the beginning of the month isn't an option.

Out of this part of the 100 days, I enjoyed fresh peaches as well as chick pea and cherry tomato salad the best.

Chick pea and cherry tomato salad I made.
- For the next 100 days, get at least 20 minutes of daily exercise.

The times ranged from 10-30 minutes of exercising each day. There were some days that the day went by so quickly that it was evening before I realized that I hadn't exercised.

What I need to remember is that my day does involve a lot of walking up and down stairs; moving around the kitchen to make meals; and taking care of the dogs, cats, and horses. Although it's not as rigorous as a cardio workout at a nonetheless is some form of exercise that keeps my body moving.

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

This has been much easier than I anticipated. I am finding that now - 23 days into the challenge - I am reaching more for water than for pop. On one of the days, I didn't even finish a can of pop.

I am going to go through October with the same goal of drinking only 1 can per day; and then aim to completely eliminate pop starting on November 1st.


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

I liked this part of the challenge because it seems like there is something new every day that I can learn. Some of the things I learned during the past 14 days include:

=> When grieving, if you do too much often times your body will get sick. Avoid the extreme of overwork so you don't have to deal with grief.

=> If your grief is new and raw, watch for signs of avoidance. Let the simple tasks of daily living comfort you. Find comfort in helping others and in hobbies. Find a midway point - between your mind and excessiveness. The path will lead you to a new life.

=> I learned what an Alexa rating is and that all websites are rated on their popularity...even blogs.

=> Learned how a metal rod in a person's back can be adjusted once it is in there. Saw how a child with severe scoliosis had a rod put in her back well over a year ago and the huge improvement in her posture. She now can sit upright and looks much more comfortable.

=> The pistil stitch is a straight stitch with a French knot at the end.

=> Berries will fall off the high cranberry bush if they are trimmed now. If I wait until the second freeze and then trim the cranberry bush, the berries will stay on the branches. Then, the branches can be placed somewhere else in the yard for the cedar waxwings and cardinals to enjoy.

=> A sub-flooring in the bathroom shouldn't be plywood. It should be concrete and/or have a waterproof coating so water doesn't get into the wood and rot it.

=> PEMDAS - order of math operations. Had never heard of this before. Parenthesis, exponents/powers, multiplication, division, addition, and subtraction. Go from left to right if the P and/or E aren't in the equation.

=> Carpet can trap moisture and lower indoor air quality. It also is a favorite home of dust mites.

=> Chiari Malformation is a degenerative neurological condition that dogs can get. I believe that's what Sydne had since the vet said that it is not a common condition he normally sees. Her head tiled to one side, she had trouble with balance, and walking was impaired near the end of her life. There were other issues, but these were the most apparent.

=> Black labs and lab mixes are euthanized at a much higher rate at pounds and shelters because people pass them up for lighter colored dogs.

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

Out of the past 14 days/2 weeks, I taught Sophia and Olivia 11 days. We are pretty much on schedule for each subject that they are studying.

We learned about hummingbirds.
Each of the girls and I did an entry in our nature journals.

Within the past two weeks, I took 3 days off. Although the girls did activities and learned something on those days, there were less intense than normal homeschooling days.

On one of my days off, we went out to eat with friends visiting from Massachusetts.
After lunch, a man who was a falconer was standing in the parking lot 
with a red-tailed hawk. Sophia, Olivia, and I were able to pet it.
(Its feathers were incredibly soft.)
He captured the hawk and is raising it during its first year of life.
This time period is the most critical, with many hawks 
dying during their first year.
He will release it after the first year.

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.)

I did about an hour of decluttering over the past two weeks. It's not much. However, I did clean two drawers in the upstairs bathroom; removed boxes and bins from the upstairs hallway from another decluttering project and put them in the trash or recycled them; and cleaned my desk.

At this point, I want to do 2 hours and 55 minutes today to make up for the time I didn't spend on this goal. This will get me back on track and moving forward with this goal.

- 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.

I continue to empty the two dehumidifiers that are running continuously on the 1st and 2nd floors. I also check the big dehumidifier in the basement on a daily basis. The bucket doesn't need to be emptied since I have a hose that drains in the sump pump/well area.

The humidity level in the basement is down to 65% from 95%. This is major progress. The main floor is still at about 60% humidity (down from 75%); and the second floor is at 55% (down from 75%).

I opened the windows of the house on the 13-15th since the weather was nice and humidity was low outdoors. I'm not sure if this helps or not, but it was nice to get some fresh (and non-humid) air flowing through the house.

The gutters were installed on September 17th. This should make a major difference in directing the water away from the foundation of the home, and preventing it from seeping through the walls and having water in the basement.

Gutters on one section of the house.

The trees around the house and yard were trimmed on the 17th and 18th.

A fan with light was installed in the upstairs bathroom. It was not working, so all the moisture from when we took baths and showers stayed in the room. Needless to say, that wasn't a good thing. The electrician also fixed the light/fan switch so now it is working.

I met with the tiling guys and looked at the jobs that need to be done in the bathrooms and kitchen. Went to the flooring store on the 20th and picked out five tile samples that I brought home to decide which one looks best.

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.

For a more untraditional form of prayer on two days, I filled the bird feeders and bird bath; and enjoyed watching the many birds that came to eat, drink water, and take a bath. It raised my spirits to see: cardinals, house finches, robins, goldfinches, northern flickers, red-bellied woodpeckers, downy woodpeckers, black-capped chickadees, nuthatches, and blue jays.

Blue jay at the bird bath.

I believe the hummingbirds have now migrated south. Nonetheless, I am keeping the hummingbird feeder up until it freezes, especially since the red-bellied woodpecker enjoys drinking from it.

Red-bellied woodpecker at the hummingbird feeder.

I continued reading passages in three meditation books. Rather than reading them each day, I'm finding that I'm reading 2-3 passages from each book on a particular morning. This isn't as effective as reading only one passage from each book daily. I would like to get back to reading each day rather than when I make the time.

Another morning, I ended up simply relaxing in bed for about ten minutes and listening to the wind move the wind chimes. The chimes are all hand-cut and hand-tuned, and of varying lengths so the sound is much more melodic and beautiful than normal chimes.

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.

For the 3 in 30 Challenge, Sophia, Olivia, and I have tried a variety of new recipes as part of the meal plan I did for the first couple of weeks of September.

Sandwiches on a stick that we made for lunch.

During the third week, I wrote a meal plan, but then balanced the checkbook and looked at upcoming expenses for the week (had quite a few due to home repairs). I wasn't able to do the meal plan as I had hoped. Rather, I will need to use what I have on hand until the end of the month. The positive thing about that is that I use food that I already have and thereby save some money.

One of the meals we made using items we had on hand.

I also have been using up leftovers rather than always making something new for each meal. In this way, we use what's on hand and don't waste food.

One of the goals I had during this time period is to organize all the fabric that I have in bins and bags. I have done this yet, but want to complete this by the end of the month.

I wrote two posts about my progress during this time period. Also commented on other participants who are doing the 3 in 30 Challenge.

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

The 30 Days of Lists definitely has fallen by the wayside. I have completed lists through September 15th. One day I cut two pieces of scrapbooking paper for each day and glued them into the booklet. I also dated each journal entry and included the prompt. At this point, I need to do 7 lists to be current.

One of the entries for the 30 Days of Lists Project.

Out of 14 prompts for the Autumn Blog Challenge, I chose to write about four of them:
=> 3 Things that are Important to Me
=> 5 Short-term Goals to Help with Grieving
=> Phy Ed: My Least Favorite Subject in School
=> Art: My Favorite Subject in School

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

We did a couple of things on the 12 in 12 Challenge:
=> We continued to fill the bird feeders and clean the bird bath.
=> Purchased 24 packages of soup to be donated to a food shelf.

- 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 enjoying this project. I think during the next couple of weeks I should begin typing what I wrote so that it doesn't get so overwhelming near Christmas when I present each person with the list of 100 positive things about them.

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

I mailed a box of food and recipes to my Foodie Penpal and she said she received it. She seemed very excited about what I sent. She will post about it on October 1st. My penpal said she mailed the box to me on the 15th, but it has yet to arrive. I'm hoping that it comes on Monday.

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.

There were two stitches to learn during the time period - the pistil stitch and the drizzle stitch. The former stitch I learned and enjoyed.

A trio of flowers done in the pistil stitch.
They are included in my embroidery journal.

The latter stitch I didn't even attempt. The stitch requires a lot of threading and re-threading of the needle and sits up from the fabric in a rather unattractive manner. I wouldn't use this stitch in my embroidery in the future, so didn't want to waste my time learning it. Instead, I picked an easy stitch that I knew I could remember and use in the future.

I did both journal entries which include a personal reflection, gratitude list, and collage of images that represent the week: Week 37 and Week 38.

- 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. As I noted on the 9th (when I did the first update), I usually wait until the third week to start working on 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.

My embroidery floss box.

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

I did 2 mandalas during this time period - on the 13th and 19th. I'm keeping up with this goal.


- 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 14 days, I didn't spend anything on 6 days (43% of them)! I'm very happy about that.  There were even days that we went out and did free activities. Even though there were things that I could have purchased, I chose not to do so. It was a good feeling.

Olivia buried herself in a soybean pit.
The pressure of the soybeans is great for kids 
who have sensory processing disorder (which she does).

There were days that I did spend money on things that we needed:
=> Food - only the groceries that we absolutely needed or could freeze or can (thereby saving money during the winter and spring when produce prices will invariably go higher).
=> Gutters - only on the critical areas where water goes over the edge and seeps into the basement.
=> Tree trimming - for over 3 years I haven't had the trees trimmed. It may be even longer for some of the trees and bushes directly by the house. These were aggressively cut back to allow more air flow against the side of the home and help dry out the ground which is saturated in some areas even though we are in the middle of a drought.
=> Gasoline - for the car.
=> Electrician - to fix the switch that controlled the fan/light in the bathroom; to fix another switch by the bed; and to install a functioning fan/light in the bathroom. The first and last items are critical to keeping the humidity low and moisture out of the bathroom. The fan hasn't worked for years so the level of moisture in the bathroom was very high. The walls were blistering in some areas, indicative of water damage.  This small expense now will help save money in the long run.

There was so much trimmed from the trees that a forklift
had to be used to haul the branches to the burn pit.

Some of the things that I purchased that I didn't absolutely need were:
=> A meal at church festival for Sophia, Olivia, and me.
=> Food and postage for my Foodie Penpal.
=> Two small gifts for Sophia and Olivia that will be put aside until Christmas. One was a pair of earrings ($2) and the other a handmade scarf ($5) that were at the craft sale at the festival.
=> Harp lessons for Sophia. Technically, this is an educational expense so I consider it a need. In reality, it is something that is a luxury...a "want." To balance the expense, she has performed for no fee at a nursing home and church. She is practicing a song "On Eagle's Wings" to play for her grandma in memory of her grandpa (my dad) near the one-year anniversary of his death. We are hoping that she will be able to play the piece at a day-time mass in his memory.


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.

1 comment:

Rita said...

Wow! This covers just about every aspect you can think of. Kudos to you! Fine job! :):)