Simple. Quality. {week 33}

simplequality

Sunday night and school starts this week.  I always feel like I’m standing at the edge of a diving board at this time of year, knowing that the water is familiar, knowing that we will swim through it just fine, knowing that it’s no big deal, and yet still needing to pause, collect myself, prepare for the impact and the cold of the water.  Somehow it’s still a big deal.  Wanting it to be a smooth &  beautiful dive, praying it won’t be a belly flop, knowing it will probably be just a regular old dive with basics done right but little things to work on all over the place.  Knowing that everyone around me is diving at the same time, too, into the same water to learn the same things… and yet.  It is still so individual for all of us.

Tonight we sat together as a family while my husband gave each of the children a Father’s blessing to start the school year.  What a wonderful perspective it offers me to listen to these.  I always run for a notebook afterwards to record the specific things I now need to focus on with each child.  I feel encouraged and like I’ve already got my homework for the year.

It’s been a rugged month so far.  More disappointments and struggles than we hoped for have made me feel weary instead of refreshed and ready for the adventure of a new school year with seven students.  Yesterday my father-in-law had a series of heart attacks which resulted in heart surgery and while we had a good conversation with him today, these far away events change little things about how you look at your own here and now.

And yet.

We are so very blessed.  I’ve reminded myself that my life is no worse on the hard days – it’s just my perspective that changed.  So you keep working and things come back around.

With school starting I went back and re-read three posts I’ve written this year.  They have helped me re-focus and get back on target with my goals.  First I read this post.  Then this one, and finally this one.  I ended feeling grateful for the “slow craft” of raising a family, grateful for the joy of setting goals and working towards them, grateful for this gift of motherhood.

A quick status of my Simple and Quality goals:

S – smile and savor.  I did a little review this week of some happiness research and reminded myself to smile more.  Several times my kids asked me why I was smiling at random times so I must be doing it more.  Last Sunday provided lots of moments to savor with a birthday girl in the house.

I – Influence.  I wrote this in my first post of the year: “I am the creative force of my own life.  This year I will not withhold any action I could take to be a positive influence in my relationships, even if my offering feels insufficient. ”  It was a good reminder.  In some relationships I have improved my influence; in others I am found wanting.  And I’m still working on thank you notes from my birthday, which obviously need to be moved WAY up the priority list.

M – my health.  This week I altered my workout time and started getting up at 5 am to go jogging.  It’s the only time that will work when school starts and it’s nice to have a head start on the early hour.

P – participate.  I went to my quilt group meeting yesterday and found a familiar face there, which was really fun.  I haven’t done well with book groups this summer and look forward to doing more.

L – live ahead.  I feel like I’m way behind in this area, but when I re-read my original goal I remembered that I committed to choose 10 events/days to be prepared for 2 weeks in advance and it made me feel better.  I need to go count how many times I’ve done it and make some real commitments for the coming months.  One I will commit to is finishing a wedding gift right away.  I worked on it this weekend.

E – embrace technology.  Hmm.  Not too  much here, but I did clean out thousands of emails from my account and it felt good!

Simple.  Lots of room for improvement!

Q – quality of life factor.  We have continued to improve here over the summer.  I have a schedule sketched out for the school year which I hope will keep things rolling with this goal.

U – urgency in important things.  It was a good week for this.  I got the kids to the temple, made sure we did the gospel study I had planned, had some important and good conversations with the children.

A – aim higher.  We have a plan in place to help all of our children achieve academic excellence this year and I feel good about it.  I have specific goals on the calendar with two week deadlines.  I’m sure we’ll need to tweak it as we go, but I’m excited and optimistic about my plans.

L – laugh.  I did more of it this week.

I – inject the spirit.  I worked at this, and had some great moments.  Did they happen every day?  No, but again, it was so helpful to remember why I chose those words in the first place and renew my determination.  I can say that I have felt a deepening and strengthening of my will this year as I work to make things happen simply because they are right.  In this area I am proud of my growth and also anxious to be stronger.

T – take inventory.  We always do some of that with clothing and other essentials at this time of year.  I still have shopping to do, but essentials are taken care of and some items I can wait to buy when things are on clearance in the next few weeks.

Y – yes to youth.  I need to work harder at having our house ready for teenagers at any moment.  I haven’t done as well in this area lately and feel motivated to improve.

Quality.  I don’t know that the results are getting better, but I am working harder and I think I’m working with the end in mind.  I know I’m in the middle of many things and will remind myself of all the good things we do in the middles.  Life is good, if exhausting.  Lately I’ve been thanking my Heavenly Father every day for the blessing of having more to do than I can possibly accomplish.  I’m so grateful I don’t have to twiddle my thumbs and wonder what to do with myself next!  It is awesome to have a lot that needs attention.

Ok.  I did it.  I’ve done a terrible job of typing this post all summer, and part of correcting my course means getting back on board with reporting.  I also need to be more specific about what I will do in each area from week to week.  I’ve promised myself an awesome planning session this week and hope it is fruitful.

Have a great week!
Jennifer

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