January 8th 2014 The 88 Day Countdown

8 Jan
Kitchen Table Before

Kitchen Table Before

Kitchen Table After

Kitchen Table After

To listen along, click here: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/betterlivingdaily/2015/01/08/the-88-day-countdown

Yesterday I began a countdown on the Better Living Daily Facebook page. I’ve done this before in other groups, and something about a countdown just energizes me. I don’t know if knowing there is a time limit or definite end helps me to focus, or if it’s the way a countdown feels like a game that appeals to me, but I’ve done it before, and it definitely helps. This particular countdown is to Easter Sunday, a holiday that I host for 40-60 people. To give you the quick math, my husband is the baby of nine children, all of whom still live in town. From there we have 29 grandchildren, and ours are the youngest three, and the grandchildren range in age from 14 to 47. Then we have the great grandchildren, who now outnumber the grandchildren. By the way, only one grandchild, who is single with no children, lives out of town. Everyone else is here, so if you add it up, we’ve got 9+29+43 plus my mom and anyone else who might tag along, which gives us over 80 but we know a few won’t show, so we count on sixty and enjoy the ride.

The biggest challenge is finding places for everyone to spread out. We have a nice home, and if the weather is nice, we have a long driveway and two porches for people to hang out. If it’s chilly or rainy, we have a few more challenges, so it helps my attitude and sense of peace if the basement is clear in case we have people, mainly children, needing to land there. It also helps to have my office clear because that is where all of the treasures for the Easter Egg hunts are stored. I have a lovely journal that I made to keep track of how much food and drink to buy, when to start collecting ice and even all of the little things I do like putting a disposable table cloth over the drink table so we can just throw it away. Remember, there are over 40 great grandchildren, and we learned years ago to put the drink table outside and just not worry about the spills. We have the day pretty much down, but there is definitely some prep work I would like to do before the big day, and since this is the time of year people seem to stay indoors more, it’s a great time to make some household magic.

Some of that magic will come from purchases, like new pantry doors and maybe a new sofa, if I save well. Some of that magic will come from elbow grease, like repairing and repainting my kitchen chairs and getting rid of the clutter. If you walked in my house, you really don’t see much clutter. Most of it is tucked away. It’s not the kind of clutter you haul out in a dumpster. It’s the kind that you decide just how much sentimental value it has and just how much you want more space. I’m leaning more and more toward space. Yesterday I started where I always do with my kitchen table. There is something almost magical about that space. When it is clear, I feel like I can conquer the world. When it’s filled with clutter, it feels almost hard to breathe. Maybe that’s because, when my kitchen table is covered, it means I’ve been procrastinating. Almost every piece of paper or item has a “to-do” item associated with it that I’ve been putting off either because I want to talk to someone in my family about it; I think it will require more time than I have, or I just don’t want to deal with it. Most of the time, it’s probably the last one. Today it took a couple of hours because there were bills to pay, papers to file and items to find a home for. I even read a magazine so I could recycle it instead of adding it to my already overwhelming list of unread periodicals. The only things left now are the napkins that belong there, the label maker I want to learn how to use and my sunshine in a box, a lamp my husband bought me to help me keep my mood up this winter. So far, the mood is staying lifted, and I’ll keep you informed as the winter wears on. The table looks great. If you would like to see it, the before and after pictures are on the Better Living Daily Facebook page and hopefully will be attached to the blog post I’ll be posting after the show. It was the logical place to start and I feel great about it.

The other great thing about a countdown is the accountability it inspires. When you commit to something like a countdown, especially if you dare to post your “before” picture, you feel an obligation to follow through. You know people are looking for the “after” picture, and not that you should do the work to please others, but you can use that pressure to help you move forward in a positive way. My greatest joy is to see and read about others’ successes when they spend just 15 minutes making a difference in their lives, and they can see and feel their own success. String that along for a few days and to some, it feels like a miracle. I know because I felt that way. On my own, I would never make consistent progress for more than a day or two, but when I was working in tandem with others, I would make twice the progress in half the time, and there is so much empowerment in making progress, whatever the task might be. One of the people I worked with online wrote the better part of her novel 45 minutes at a time. I have read about people clearing out pantries, bathrooms and basements. I have worked in my yard or vegetable garden, and because I hate weeding, it is such joy to not only make the progress but also to have a time that I can actually quit, whether I am finished or not. Countdowns help me to parcel out the work over time so that I prevent burnout. I learn to be ok with progress and let go of perfectionism, and letting go of perfectionism is a beautiful thing.

I believe that perfectionism is what keeps most of us from living a much better life. We think we are too old, too young or too fat. We are not educated enough, pretty enough or smart enough. I know some of those thoughts hold me back. One of my goals is to speak to groups of women to encourage them to think differently and know their value. Another is to publish another book, and I realized that a publishing package I bought at a discount in October is set to expire at the end of this month. I have the material for my next book, but I haven’t begun writing yet. I guess it’s time to start that too. If I’m on a roll, I write about 1.000 words per hour, sometimes more. To have a decent book to publish, that would mean writing 1,000 words per day, each day of this month to have a 20,000 word book. Last month with Do Better December, I probably averaged 1,000 words per day each weekday and then took the weekends off, while I was preparing for Christmas. Writing a blog is so much different than writing a book, but I detest wasting money, especially the amount of money I spent on this publishing package, so it’s time to get to it. I have to tell you that it scares the bejesus out of me to put that out there, but I also know that announcing it publicly will again help me to push forward. There will be obstacles and challenges, but the possible rewards are so much greater, I’m willing to give it a go.

So what does giving it a go mean? For me, it means less TV. I hate to admit it, but TV is my biggest mind numbing escape from reality. When I don’t want to deal with life, I turn it on and watch reruns of shows I love and the time just slips away. Before I know it, it is dinner time or bed time, and I’ve wasted more hours than I care to count. I’m not saying that anyone needs to do what I do, but I will be much more conscious of turning the TV on because when it goes on, productivity generally stops. Now and then I can make it work with something that doesn’t take a great deal of mental focus. Those times, I play a game we call commercial roulette in our house. Every time a commercial break comes on, I, or we if my family is pitching in, get up off the couch and do something for two minutes or until the show comes back on. Last night, I cleaned up the kitchen during the breaks in a one hour show. I put food away, loaded and started the dishwasher, wiped down the stove, counters and kitchen table, and hand washed a couple of items. The kitchen looked great and all I missed were a bunch of commercials.

There are some other screens that will require less time as well. I have a few games loaded on my phone, and I spend a fair amount of time on social media. Some of it is beneficial, but some of it is to hide from doing the things I know would improve my life, like de-cluttering. I have asked myself so many times why I procrastinate about that and in addition to the perfectionism, I’ve discovered something else. As we begin to de-clutter, we unearth other issues; not just physical ones like home repairs that need attention, but emotional ones that we’ve ignored or covered over or allowed to be buried under mounds of stuff. I watch shows like Hoarders and My 600 Pound Life, and it becomes so apparent to me; those with the most pain cover it up with whatever works for them. Some people bury themselves under things. Some people build a shield of flesh and fat. Some people are wrapped in an angry and bold façade, and some lose themselves in hobbies or volunteering or taking care of others.

One of the most amazing things a mentor said to me was that it is easier to fix the world than to focus on fixing and healing ourselves, but that fixing and healing ourselves is the greater spiritual path. I’ve been on that spiritual path for a long time. Yes, I am, by nature, a fixer. If you present a problem, I will be looking for a solution even if you say you don’t want one. A friend shared a quote by Teddy Roosevelt the other day that said that presenting a problem without presenting a solution was called whining. I would agree with that, unless you are presenting the problem because you need input to find your solution, in which case I would say, “Bring it on” and let me help you find a solution that gives you joy.

So, as we move into this new year of 2015, I hope you’ll join us on the countdown to Easter. I hope you’ll find a reason big enough to make this your best year so far. If you uncover some pain along the way, I hope you find a healthy way to release it and be at peace, but most of all I hope you continue on the journey to being the best you possible so that you can share your gifts with the world. I am blessed to share your journey in whatever ways we intersect. As always, thanks for being you and have a great day, week, month and year.

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One Response to “January 8th 2014 The 88 Day Countdown”

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  1. January 8th 2014 The 88 Day Countdown | karenbemmes aka Better Living Daily - January 8, 2015

    […] January 8th 2014 The 88 Day Countdown. […]

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