Monday, June 27, 2016


It seems like forever since I last posted. I could make excuses, however, life ultimately comes down to the choices we make. I was busy, so I chose not to take the time to blog.

We spent a very productive couple of months facing the hurdles of remodeling. We started with this in the kitchen.

 Now, it looks like this instead.
We also revamped the master bath and replaced the all the carpeting on the main floor. We replaced light fixtures, a fence, and the water heater as well. It was complete chaos, but we are very pleased with the end results.

While all was in chaos, I read Marie Kondo's two books on tidying-and began the process of decluttering my life. I am examining so many of the things in my life and determining which still belong in my life and which can go provide assistance in other people's lives. We have made substantial contributions to PAWS (Yavapai Humane Society), CCJ, St. Vincent de Paul, and Habitat for Humanity. Habitat sent a truck to pick up cabinets and other items removed during the demolition for the remodel.

Professional organizers, including Marie Kondo, try to get us to declutter before we organize. If there is less stuff, it is easier to organize what remains. for me, the process is still ongoing. However, I am very pleased with how much easier it is to keep things clean and tidy-at least where I have come close to weeding out what is no longer needed.

I have achieved success with many categories of items, including cook books and piano/guitar music. I am sure I could part with more of the music, but I am not yet emotionally ready for that. the hardest area will be my books. I re-read so many of them that they are like friends. I am sure there are a few I will be shedding, but most will remain in the library.

As I am looking at the 'stuff' in my life, I am also examining habits, goals, and plans. I have a new opportunity to serve at church-teaching Sunday School to a group of teens. So, I am asking myself if I live in such a way that they can see what I believe from the things I do. I want to walk the talk. I know I am far from perfect, but I do think I have managed to incorporate many of the things I believe are important into the things I do. Because I was not raised with some of these habits, they have taken a number of years of effort to become habit.

I look at other choices in our lives. I had expected to work full-time until I reached the age of 70-right up to the time that I retired two years ago. That was significantly short of 70. However, I also made a choice to marry a man quite a bit older than I. He is mostly retired and wanted me to be free to spend more of my time with him. Because of other choices I made regarding savings and investing and not purchasing certain little luxuries over the years, we could make that choice. Our far more limited income is still adequate for the lifestyle we want. I hope that choice can stand, but if not, we will re-evaluate then.

We both have made lifestyle choices to include regular exercise, generally whole, natural foods, and eating very little processed food. However, we also allow ourselves to have treats that do not meet that criteria. We have chosen a healthy lifestyle, but not one that forces us to feel like martyrs. It seems to be helping as the hubby has been able to almost entirely eliminate his inhaler although he has suffered from asthma since childhood and has a limited lung capacity.

As we get older, the choices we face will change again. Do we stay here in Prescott? We both love it. Will we move closer to children/grandchildren? Will we need to assist with care for other members of the family? How can we stay engaged in the lives of our children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren?

All of life consists of choices. Even the decision not to choose is a choice although the consequence of not choosing cannot be escaped. I think it has become apparent to me that mindfulness, being fully present, and actively choosing rather than letting things just happen gives the best odds for the kind of life I want to live. Choose wisely.

Monday, February 29, 2016

Service may be more than you had considered

In our church, we try to give a lot of service. It may consist of taking in a meal, watching a child, cleaning someone's house, or helping someone move. We often pray for someone going through a hard time or add their name to the prayer roll at the temple so they can benefit from many people praying for them. In my service, I have an opportunity to teach regularly. I give my lesson twice-once to a group of women in the Pioneers Home, and also the group of women who meet in our church building. Most of the time, I give it first at church, then at the home. This week, it will be the other way around.

We serve for many reasons, but primarily in a effort to grow closer to and more like the Savior, Jesus Christ. Service helps us show our empathy and compassion for others. Our church just expects it.

There are always opportunities to serve. However, as I prepared my lesson, came to a realization that we have a service opportunity every time we attend church or school, and in many other settings. We have an opportunity to serve those who teach or speak to us. This does not necessarily require that we be physically fit. We simply must be engaged.

In the LDS church, two members of the congregation are usually assigned to provide the sermon or message to the congregation in any particular week. This assignment changes weekly, so over the course of time, almost every adult has the opportunity to preach to us. That being the case, as you might guess, some speakers are better than others. Some are wonderful. Some are terrified. Yet all have the opportunity to serve us in the message they prepare. The same is also true of our teachers. They are lay members of the congregation who do their best. However, even as they serve us, we can serve them.

Many of our leaders have spoken on the subject of our responsibility as listeners to support the speaker or the teacher. In a class, that means participating, sharing the insights that occur because of how the lesson applies to different situations that have occurred in our own lives. It means coming prepared to participate, not just to be entertained.

In the context of listening to a speaker, we rarely have to actively participate. However, we have an active responsibility to pray for the speaker and prepare our own minds to receive the message that has been prepared. If we do our part, even if the speaker was not one of the best, we still have a good experience and learn.

Before preparing for this lesson, I had never really considered how my prayers and active listening to a speaker might constitute service. However, I can now see that by listening actively and praying for them, I enable them to better deliver their message. The prayers might help them better deliver it to others, but will definitely help them better deliver it to me. So, if I do what I should, I allow the speaker to better serve me, which also allows me to serve that speaker.

It helps us to grow if we can offer a speaker or teacher respect, our prayers for their message, and our attention. Even if it is in a setting where we disagree with the message being delivered, we can still pray and serve them. Perhaps, if we pray that their message will be delivered clearly and clearly understood, rather than convincing the audience of the truth of the message, that clarity might do the opposite. In this climate of rhetoric, that might be a service to all who hear although the speaker would not necessarily enjoy that. However, I believe that all of our actions that tend to help others to understand truth and do good are important acts of service. If I am correct, and this post has caused you to think about how you might service through your thoughts and prayers, then even this post has performed an act of service.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Simplifying-a January follow up

So, in a follow up to my last two posts, how am I doing on simplifying and my resolutions? Not too badly.

We did keep it simple for the holidays. I did not send out lots of cards. I did just enough decorating for me to feel festive. We limited the presents we purchased. This allowed us the freedom to visit our family in two different areas-California and Nevada. It was lovely to see everyone and nice not to have to worry about trying to juggle too many things.

I set some goals for myself every year. Some remain, others change. this allows me to reflect back on progress I've made or lack thereof.

Combining the resolution and the simplifying, I decided to tackle a de-cluttering and organizing project this month. Unfortunately, shortly after starting, I got out of commission with a cold. However, once that passed, I got back on track.

There are a number of bloggers who have some great suggestions about tackling clutter. The fact that these exist suggests that this is a very common issue for many of us. One that is helping me this month is from Overstuffed Life at

As I considered why I clutter, I know that at least one reason for some of it is that I need visual reminders of things I need to do. Unfortunately, they pile up and I lose the reminder. To fight this tendency, I am using more of the features of my smart phone for reminders.

Looking at the list of areas to tackle, I am pleased that some of those were habits I already improved in the past. Others are sadly apparent in my life. I am pleased to say that I have made a great deal of progress and have some hope that I might maintain this change in habits and thus enjoy the freedom that lack of clutter brings.

One result of all this industry is that I have managed to rid myself of a lot of paper. I also have a pile of things to take for donation which should be going this week. I have switched from paper to digital for a number of items, but I still had a lot to shred. As more becomes digital, I see this chore decreasing.

One thing that is nice is that all this work on my de-clutter project is not taking a lot of time each day. I am allotting from thirty to sixty minutes each day for the task. This way, it does not seem overwhelming, and I can see definite progress each day. In the areas of I have already finished, it takes only a few minutes to maintain the sense of order.

De-cluttering might not seem like simplifying, but for me, it is a first step in moving to a simpler life. In some ways, simpler means less complicated. In others, it is less commercial or processed. I think in some ways, I am simply old-fashioned even though I made a living in high tech.

Some of my choices are not easier, but they simplify in one way or another. For example, I make homemade yogurt about every two weeks. I do so because it is relatively easy, takes only a little time and some milk, and creates a product without any artificial additives. We use yogurt in our smoothies every morning, so we consume quite a bit of yogurt, and besides giving us fewer additives, makes the cost very reasonable. 

I also make my own laundry detergent and have for many years. this allows me to decrease chemical exposure and again cost. This has been very effective for us.

We eat very little processed food. I make most of our meals from real food-fresh (sometimes frozen), often locally produced. I find it satisfying to create a comforting and healthy meal for our family. I am lucky that my husband enjoys most of my quirks in this area although he does not like ethnic food quite as much as I do. However, we both agree on choosing to eat healthy, real food.


Monday, December 28, 2015

Why resolutions can help us move forward

Do you make resolutions for the new year? Are they always the same-get healthier, go to the gym, lose weight, save more? I find the review of the year and setting of goals for the next to be very helpful. I try to set at least one goal in different areas, which I then break down into more manageable chunks over the course of the year. I try to have goals for physical, spiritual, and mental health, financial goals, and relationship goals.

I need my resolutions to be very specific. They may carry over for a number of years until they become habits or they may last only a month or two. For example, I read uplifting material every morning when I get up. It took many years to get this established as a habit. Now, I find I need it to start my day right, so, while it is no longer a separate resolution, it is part of my standard routine.  I have increased this reading to about thirty minutes each morning.

One year, I made a resolution to stop piling stuff up on the bathroom counter. I am a clutterer and it was just too easy to make piles of things on the counter. That year, I managed to break that habit. Although I still make little piles, I also put them away more quickly than I used to. I no longer focus on that goal, but it does stay at the back of my mind. I set other goals about the house to try to give at least a little order to my day.

A few years ago, rather than eat better, I set a goal to eat more real food. I have always cooked most of the food, but now, even less comes from any kind of package. Most of the produce is fresh with just a little frozen. This change has meant that I spend less money for food and more time to prepare it. It is fresher and healthier. We occasionally try something different, like Hello Fresh, and enjoy the challenge of something different. However, hubby is not terribly fond of exotic flavors, so that is an occasional treat.

When I quit working at the dance studio, I recognized that I required a regular workout routine in order to feel good. Over the years, I have also realized that this helps me to maintain my mental health as well. What the routine is changes, but trying to work out at least 5 days each week does not.

My current workout goals are: MWF-weights followed by dance, yoga, and pilates routines; TTS-full body workout routines also followed by dance, yoga, and pilates routines. These all work on strength, cardio, and flexibility. As a result, in many ways, I am stronger and more flexible than twenty years ago. 

I do not wait until January 1 to make a change or set a goal. During the course of the year, if I see an area where I would like to make a change, I try to work on it. However, as the year changes over, I find it helpful to assess my progress and which resolutions should continue, which need some tweaking, and which need to be discarded.

I find the process of self-assessment and review very helpful. If I am honest with myself, I can see where I have made progress, where I need to focus, and can move forward in an optimistic frame of mind. As a result, the years only keep getting better. May 2016 be your best year yet.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Holiday season reflections

The end of the year is often a time of reflection. We think about those we love as we try to determine what would be a perfect present. We attend holiday parties-and try not to gain too much weight as we enjoy holiday treats. Many of us spend time considering what we have accomplished and what we plan for the upcoming year.

How did I do? Well, I continued to write and finished two books and have much done on a couple more. Did I finish all I hoped? No, not even close, but I truly enjoyed the journey.

We managed to accomplish a few things around the house. i am pleased at those and excited for some remodeling that is coming soon. Once again, not everything got accomplished, but progress was made.

I offer a great deal of service at church. I am doing the best I can, but as in other areas of my life, I cannot do all I would like. However, I am pleased at the effort and growth. Service offers much opportunity to grow.

I taught a lesson at the beginning of this month about examining our lives and finding areas in which we can simplify. for us this year, I chose not to send out Christmas cards to people who are also friends on Facebook. Although I love cards, trying to get them done can get stressful. So, we sent very few this year.

Holiday traditions can become overwhelming. For years, we have received new sleepware on Christmas Eve. However, we both have all that we need. So now, we simply wrap something we already have and open that on Christmas Eve. We've modified the tradition to fit our current situation.

Some years, we try to visit many family members. Other years, we stay home or visit only one. This year, we are doing some visiting, but we are keeping the visits short. It is not that we do not want to see everyone, we are simply trying to simplify our lives.

I see people complaining about the commercialization of Christmas and the need to put Christ back into Christmas. This is not a new complaint. Since the Catholic church co-opted the pagan solstice celebrations, Christmas celebrations have been only peripherally been about worship. They started as big parties and continue in that tradition. This tradition is why the Puritans banned the celebration-it wasn't about worship at all. The secular tradition is an important to the history of Christmas as the religious is. Given the dichotomy of our world, that is probably as it should be.

Any celebration that causes us to reflect on the blessings in our lives is truly reason to celebrate. I love Christmas music and am grateful that every year, more is written and performed. I love it, from medieval to modern, classical to big band to rock and almost everything in between. For me, it is an affirmation of my belief in a Savior and the hope that brings for the future. However, I also appreciate the other seasonal celebrations as well. 

I love that we can celebrate Thanksgiving as a prelude to a holiday which causes me to feel so well-blessed. Life is a wonderful blessing, even with all of its challenges, messiness, and difficulties. At this season, I am grateful to look back on the journey as I plan for where I would like to head in the coming year. I plan to finalize a few resolutions to work on in the coming year before the end of the month. I do this each year as I take stock, but do not limit my ability to make changes in my life only to this changing of year. As I see an opportunity to make a change, I try to start then. Resolutions to me are goals that help me see the direction I would like to take.

I hope your holiday season is full of love and fun and that 2016 is your best year yet.