30 Before 30 Update -Christmas Style

Christmas Update on my 30 by 30 project. What’s done, what’s in progress, and what have I given the boot from the list.

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ChristmasCardImage

Hi to all my Christmas Card readers! I wanted to be sure you got the full update on my 30 before 30 progress… but I realize (alas!) that none of you want to a 2 page Christmas letter.  I get it, don’t worry.

If you didn’t realize I was doing this project here’s where I first blogged about it.  If you click here you’ll find the last update I wrote in October.  April 3 is fast approaching to finish, but I’ll probably give myself until April 30th to complete the items.  One of my personal life philosophies is that “Getting there is half the fun.”  This is probably because I owned this suitcase as a kid.

care bears suitcse

Also because learning (and setting goals) in my personal life is something I consider it’s own reward.  I particularly like this quote in Warren Bennis’ book On becoming a Leader –

“Learning is experienced as a personal transformation.  A person does not gather learnings as possessions, but rather becomes a new person.  To learn is not to have, it is to be.” [emphasis mine]

Executive Summary. If you read nothing else, here’s what you need to know.

  • 9 Goals finished.
  • 8 Goals actively in progress
  • 2 Goals dropped due to obstacles.

Progress Report since October 3.

Goals I finished.

Although I originally planned to run the entire North Shore Trail Series (as both a New Years Resolution and part of this 30 by 30 list) some important things came up on the way.  For example, my brother-in-law’s wedding in Indiana, my final day of spring semester classes, and leading a board level retreat at church – an activity I consider to be one of my top accomplishments this year. The final race of the series was October – where I ran Ravenswood, in Gloucester MA.  I love that race, it’s beautiful.  Trail racing is also as hard as I remembered from HS cross country, and I’m not surprised that this year I racest my slowest pace times, despite actively logging more miles than last year.  There were other factors involved too, I’m sure.  Here’s the final NSTS point counts.

Floss Daily – I cracked down on my lax tooth care habits in November/December and worked hard on flossing every day.  How did I make this happen?  I started brushing my teeth with Ethan every night.  This is one of my favorite things about kids – they keep you real.  How could I not floss when Ethan wanted to as well?!  Attaching the new habit you want to do to an old habit is a proven method for making things stick.  After making this every part of my day, it’s pretty much routine now.

Goals Actively in Progress/ Half Finished

Meeting up with an old HS friend. Actively working on this… but scheduling old friends into your new routines is hard too.  Hoping to meeting up with plenty of old friends during Christmas break.

The Economics Course.   I completed the first 3 weeks of this Macroeconomics course… but then our internet was a little bit out of our control for about 5 weeks.  I couldn’t stream video.  When it finally got put to rights, I’ll be honest, I spent a week and a half catching up on my favorite TV Shows (Once, The Mindy Project, and New Girl) rather than learning more about the classical economists, supply side economics, and budget deficits.  The class wraps up this week… and there’s not way I’ll finished 9 weeks of material in the next 3 days.  We’ll see where this goal goes.

Recognize Influencers.  I ran into a woman I used to work with who really influenced how I build teams, achieve cohesive groups, and think about what it means to be inclusive.  We didn’t always see eye-to-eye when we worked, but she strongly influenced how I work with others and how I view leadership and success.  It was really great to let her know this, as well as apologize for some of my less than stellar behaviors. Two more to go!

Goals I dropped/ Am Skeptical I’ll finish.

Mentoring. I signed up to mentor a freshman at SSU this fall… but my student dropped the program and I was left without a mentee.  I’d still like to do this, but it looks like formal mentoring isn’t in the cards for me yet.

Graphic Design/Photo Editing. Depending on how I count this one, I’m either done… or it’s probably not going to happen. I has a really fun time over the summer reading more about graphic design theory.  This fall I spent an enjoyable evening completing this Skillshare Course in Lettering, and even produced this sign!  But, lately, I haven’t had very much interest in manipulating images.

Hand lettered Psalm SignReflective Summary

I could still probably pull off 25/30 of these goals… especially if I put more effort into the long term ones.  I spend a totally disproportional time job hunting compared with achieving any other goal.  However, this goal is also the most important to me.  Figuring out what to do with this blog/blogging future, then clarifying our family’s five year plan fall right under that.  The other goals are pretty peripheral… even if rock climbing would be really fun.

10 New Year’s Resolutions I wish I’d made

10 New Year’s Resolutions for 2014 that I didn’t make, but had 100% success meeting.

Ah… the smell of New Years Resolutions!  The scent of goal-setting for 2015 is in the air.  Which is why I thought I’d take a minute and list the 10 New Years Resolutions I should have made in 2014 for ultimate successful achievement.

  1. Learn 90% of the countries in Africa.
  2. Volunteer over 100 hours.
  3. Make at least 3 new mom friends.
  4. Set aside money for Christmas gifts each month.
  5. Gain 5 pounds.
  6. Participate in a Craft Fair.
  7. Be the #1 NSCBC church softball fan.
  8. Take a business strategy MOOC (and pass).
  9. Read over 75 books and listen to at least one book on tape.
  10. (make my husband) Paint/Update the bedroom.

I’m getting sick of my New Years Resolutions practices, which have basically been the same the last 3-4 years.  This isn’t to say they haven’t been effective, or that I haven’t learned something.  Any time I’ve made a goal, and reflected on the process of achieving or discarding that goal, I’ve learned something about my habits, personality, motivation and abilities.  In fact, in most years, the practice of setting and attempting NYR has been most of the fun.

But… next year I’d like to try something different.  At the moment, I’m trying to decide between going with a word/phrase approach – like many bloggers who have set themes like “Simplify” or “Take Risks.” Approaching the daily business of life with a specific lens certainly appeals to me… and provides a specific way to reflect each month.

Or, there’s always simply filling out a chart, or other cute resolution template that I can search for via Pinterest.

Who knows, maybe I’ll abandon the idea of New Year’s Resolutions totally!

Learning how to use Facebook

I started re-thinking my facebook usage after reading this post in Relevant a few months ago. Why it’s time to Stop Facebook Lurking.  That article made me blush, laugh, and think.

I’m not quite a digital native at 29, but almost.  Sometimes it’s a toss-up which of my friends will text, and which won’t.  I remember that first cell-phone (at 20), it was a flip phone, and didn’t have a camera.  When I first entered college people still brought telephones to their dorm room and plugged in a LAN cable.

I knew from the moment I heard about it that facebook would be a time-suck. Which is why I held out exactly five months after what felt like everyone else at my college had joined.  Until November 2005. Then I dove straight in.

Creating groups like “I can only draw stick figures.”  Joining groups like “Myspace is for trashy hoes.”  In general I was embarrassing myself in ways that only 20-year-olds can do.  And it’s preserved for posteriority, which, in my case, now has a name, face, and charming three-year-old sense of humor.

Over the last nine years I’ve used facebook in a lot of ways. To invite others to events. To stalk others. To find babysitters. To find out both local and world news. To congratulate myself with how well I’m doing in life.  To feel as though my life is going nowhere.

But, lately I have decided to stop lurking on facebook. The Relevant article makes many points I agree with – that community is a two way street, that facebook takes up real time you can’t get back, and that facebook many create unattainable ideals of faux friendship.

However, I disagree with a few of the possible (but unstated) conclusions – that facebook is a) Generally a negative or neutral use of time. b) You should use it less.  The author leaves the conversation without suggesting positive ways of using facebook, of which, I believe there are many.

How to use Facebook to build Community:

1. Stop talking about facebook as a waste of my time.  After I did the quick calculation that I spend about 60 – 90 minutes on the site every day (albeit, multitasking) it’s still time spent. If I am intentionally choosing to do something for 90 minutes a day- I make certain to be mindful. No more scrolling through dozens of posts.  The recent tweaks to the layout helped me to be more intentional about this.

2. Share memes, blog posts and quizzes with specific friends that will enjoy it, rather than the entire facebook universe as much as possible or as often as you would like.

3. Use facebook for a specific purpose (like those listed above).  Double points to if it’s to make real life plans possible.

4. Try to engage multiple people in conversation through messages or tagged posts on topics that spark conversation and invite (polite) discussion.  Maybe this one only works for me, but I certainly enjoy using facebook in this way.

5. Remind yourself that the friends who pop up in your newsfeed are not necessarily your closest friends now, but that doesn’t mean in the past they weren’t meaningful people in your life who still deserve attention and care. Use facebook for what it’s good for reconnecting with past friends, as well as present.

6. But… Re-organize the people you want to hear from the most into lists and groups.  Although I personally don’t care to “de-friend” people, I also don’t care to see run-of-the-mill memes from people I haven’t seen in person in over two or longer years.  I have no qualms about hiding old friends from my regular newsfeed.  But I do love to see their babies!…

In general my latest facebook philosophy has been what most of my life is about – living according to my deepest convictions and beliefs – including ways to improve communication, authenticity, and deepen community.

What about you? Is facebook something you are intentional about? Don’t care about?  What other social media do you use to stay in touch?

PS: I’ve blogged about social media and the internet before, like when we didn’t have it for 79 days two years ago! (I’m still shuddering in horror), and how a theologian from the 1950s taught me something new about the internet. AND you could always follow All Growing Up on facebook too.

New Years Resolutions 2014 – 6 weeks In

You know that question people always ask you – and it’s awful because the standard response conveys nothing?

How’s it going?!

And you reply “Good.”

And things are, in fact, going “good.”  Because, generally, most of us have pretty good lives most of the time (except for those 2 or 3 nagging problems everyone hits once in a while that seem to linger around for months: unemployment, 5 pounds to lose, and depression.)

So, for the most part – answering “Good” feels pretty accurate.  Because no one asks you “How’s it Going” when someone in the family dies, or they know you’re having a hard time – they only ask you when their confident you’ll reply good or great.

But, well, good doesn’t really happen to express how you’re mind was blown recently by reading a cool book, or how you’re puzzling over whether or not to apply for consulting internships.

And frankly, you, like me, are sure that you’re spiel of “how its going” is uninteresting to anyone but you. After all, by and large my inner monologue these days is “How can I explain to potential employers what Industrial Organizational Psychology is and why that makes me a good fit for their job.  And how can I explain this in under 5 minutes?”  Which, I know is boring, because I can see eyes glazing over and really can’t seem to cut down the explanation to under 5 minutes despite rehearsing in most of my free time. (Which is also why you don’t see more interesting blog posts around here).

Anyway – aside from that inner monologue, I realized it had been 6 weeks since New Years Resolutions so I thought I’d poke around at them and see what progress I’ve made.

New Years Resolution Review:

Better family communication: I figured the best way to tackle this was to start the year out by focusing on quantity.  I’ve been calling one sister every 10 or so days, and fbook chatting the other every week or so.  I’ve been commenting on sister-in-laws fbook page every week.  I still should call my mom more, at least 2x a month. Which, I can hear gasps out there because you realize, if twice a month is improving quantity, things are pretty dismal. I usually email my dad about topics rather than newsy personal information – which from what I gather by reading women’s magazines aimed at people my age, is pretty standard.

To work on in the next 6 weeks: Emailing my dad every 10 days. Sharing more pictures with family.  Setting up a family dinner.

Networking – In order to get a job: I was pretty busy over the last couple weeks. I only attended one event,but reached out to 3 people I respect for regarding common interests and asking for advice about internships and career.  I also applied to 2 internships, and have plans to apply to another 3-4 this week.  Currently I’m balancing how much effort I devote to “stretch” internships (which are highly competitive and recruit from bigger name schools) and to those I think I have a more reasonable chance.  I have been considering offering my 2c on LinkedIn groups more frequently, in an attempt to enter the public forum… but haven’t quite worked a good strategy for this yet.

To work on in the next 6 weeks: Join a professional association/ Attend a professional event.  Identify and apply to the rest of my “stretch” internships, then devote more time to achievable ones.  Reach out to 2 industry leaders I respect with targeting questions. Continue to work on cutting back that 5 minute speech to 3 minutes or less.

North Shore Trail Series – Dates are up for this year!  The first race is both earlier than I thought and longer than I expected – 10 Miler on April 12 – so about 8 weeks away.  Right now I’ve been at “maintenance” physical levels – which I consider exercising 3x per week for 40 minutes. I can easily run 3-4 miles, but much beyond 5 would by physically exhausting.  I downloaded Hal Higdon’s 15 Intermediate training plan and intend to follow it for the next 9 weeks as much as possible.

30 before 30 list: It’s shaping up – I’ve got about 26 items on the list.  You might recall I’m trying to make most free/cheap – because money’s an issue – otherwise visiting my sister in France would be on the list. Some are silly, most involve learning something new.  I’m excited to check off a bunch of stuff – serious shot of serotonin coming up.

By the way – What would you put on a list of things to do before you turned 30? Links appreciated.

2014 Resolutions

In 2012 I resolved [among other things] to lose 15 pounds, be a better friend, and become a better blogger.

In 2013 I resolved [among other things] to pay off 1/3 of our student loans, teach Sunday School, and make more collages.

I had WAY more success with my resolutions in 2012 than 2013.  Which is the number one reason I’m sitting hesitantly poised over my keyboard, slightly ashamed at revealing that I’ve made more resolutions for 2014.

Although I confidently announced to friends last year that I usually attain what I resolve, well, one lesson I learned the hard way in 2013 is that you have to resolve to do realistic things.  I really truly wanted to pay off an extra part of those loans.  But I also really truly wanted to continue going to grad school.  Those two desires weren’t able to coexist, so I picked one over the other. And so the New Years Resolution didn’t occur.   End of story.  Was it failure? Was it just poor planning? Depends on how you call it, but at the end of the year, I feel good about the choices we made.

This year, I’ve got 2 BIG resolutions, and 3 small ones.

BIG:

1. Network Network Network!  The end goal of which is to find a job, or at the very least find some clarification on defining the ideal job for me, and my skills and getting it put into place.

2. Foster better communication among my family members.  There’s some seriously silly stuff going on because we’re not being good communicators.

small:

1. Plan and start a 30 before 30 list.  On my birthday in April, I’ll be 29, and I’m so excited about doing this traditional blogger checklist of completing a list of 30 items before you hit 30 years old.  I’ve been thinking about it for the last two months, but I want to look over some of my old journals and figure out what my younger self would have wanted to do too.

2. Reduce my ecological footprint by practicing more pre-cyling at the grocery store.  That means (so far) – making more snacks at home, buying in bulk, and remembering the produce bags during the non-CSA part of the year!

3. Run the 2014 North Shore Trail Series (except for that marathon – no interest in that whatsoever).

This year, as in 2012, I hope to check up a little bit on my progress throughout the year.  You manage what you measure, as all these business books I keep reading tell me.

Complicate the Holidays!*

Two years ago I finished Bill McKibbon’s book Hundred Dollar Holiday and received my first Center for a New American Dream‘s newsletter in my email inbox.  They both issued clarion calls to Simplify!

Today I realize, I still want urge other to contemplate something more counter-intuitive – instead – Complicate your holidays.

complicate the holidays

Here’s what I mean.

What both of these speakers want is a reduction of stuff at the holidays, particularly some sorts of technologies, expensive new clothes, mass produced cheap shit, and anything else you might buy on Black Friday.

But, they aren’t alone in those types of sentiments.  Actually, everyone wants a simplified holiday! That’s the advice on the cover of every single magazine in November and December – how to make your hosting simple, cooking easy, and workouts lightning fast, and still lose five pounds!But the real reason you’re trying to cut down on the stuff? So life can be little more complicated. How so?

Because the things we’re talking about replacing those items with are Complicated.  Things like:

  • Friendship
  • Gratitude
  • Volunteering
  • Thought
  • Celebration
  • Peace

The list of suggestions to simplify your holidays starts with something extremely personal and precious, and yes, complicated.

 It starts with giving your time.  Whereas I can always earn more money, and will, I can’t earn back any of my time.  In giving time, suddenly we find ourselves committed to drawing closer to that person.  By engaging with other deeply by sharing our time – we may find out the truth behind the easy veneer we all often paste over our messy lives.  We might be pulled in – and in the process bind ourselves more closely.

Though choosing the perfect holiday gift for someone does require some knowledge of their preferences, so often we don’t think about what we give at the holidays.  We just pull what looks good off the shelf, to fulfill an obligation.  Spending time with others instead, is a surprisingly one-size-fits-all gift that is tailor-made.

And what about using our time to make gifts, something crafted, baked, or constructed?   If we choose to give gifts made of our time and materials we will also need to redefine our values.  Especially the ones we’ve received from unceasing advertising.   We will no longer be able to stomach slick and (worse still) cheap.  We certainly can’t prize perfection, because home made isn’t mass produced with machines.  If we’re complicating things by preparing a meal from scratch, we can’t prize efficiency too much.  No one wants a microwaved TV dinner for Christmas, however fast it might be.  And, if we’re complicating things by purchasing used gifts, we had better not have too much pride.  Giving someone a gift that has been used is a little exercise in humility.

Simplifying Complicating the holidays boils down to community – which is messy, time consuming business. 

So, Complicate on folks, it’s only December 5th November 24th and there is one more month filled with plenty of complication left (and 12 more after that if you like to keep on celebrating past Epiphany as do my Anglican readers.)

*This post was originally posted on December 5, 2011 – but updated on November 24, 2013.

Keeping the Sabbath?

SAbbath KeepingMichael Sleeth came to speak at Gordon College, my alma mater, and I was giddily excited to see him.  I really enjoyed his book Serve God, Save the Planet, and have recommended it to many people since then (here’s the blog post I wrote about it.)

The focus of his talk though, was his newer book “24/6: A prescription for a happier healthier life.”  This book details the benefits and reasons for engaging in a weekly Sabbath which includes practicing several things (eg; hospitality, reflection, study) as well as abstaining from many things (eg: extended travel, commerce, hyperconnectivity, work (however you define it.)).

I agree with him on all those points.  But… bottom line – I can’t incorporate a “full-on Sabbath” into my life right now.  There isn’t a single day of the week that I can set aside to practice ALL of the recommendations AT ONCE (for multiple boring reasons you don’t want to read about.)

BUT, I do work hard at incorporating each principle throughout my week, and my long standing interest in the issue of rest and leisure (stemming from, unsurprisingly, my time in New Zealand wwoofing) means that in the past, I HAVE practiced “full-on Sabbath.”

Here is my short list of Sabbath practices and what they look like during my week, as a contrast to what they can look like on a single day.

Time for Reflection: Knowing that I would be busy during the school year, I purposely scheduled a time to reflect on the week, lessons learned, and changes to make, as well as a time to puzzle out interesting philosophical questions that arose.  For me, this meant giving up one of my son’s naptimes as a time for work, and instead allocate it as a time for reflection.  Adding on one extra hour of study to two other study sessions fixed the time difference with minimal sacrifice.

– No Emails on Saturday – (self explanatory, right.)

Limited hours on social media sites all week.  I have found that I am better able to manage my time, motivation, and productivity when I set aside time to browse ridiculous buzzfeed articles, watch movie trailers, and read blogs rather than taking “breaks” from study by indulging in 10 minutes here and there.  Inevitably I am distracted for much longer than I want.  Furthermore, I NEVER (okay, very very rarely) multitask between spending time with my son and the internet.  I know that won’t work for many others, but I have found it to be extremely free-ing to simply limit my computer hours to those when he isn’t around, or isn’t awake.

– Time for friendships – I agree with Michael Sleeth (and others) that part of the Sabbath should be time spent practicing hospitality and strengthening friendships, and making new ones.  I am sure to set aside at least 1 – 2 nights/afternoons a week for time to actively connect with others.  Generally, I also try to authentically engage with others during these time on more than simply a surface level (ie: ‘tell me about your day’) – though, there is nothing wrong with that if not done exclusively!

Limited Commerce – The average American spends 45 minutes a day shopping, so I read in a recent newsource.  (Whether that’s online, or physical stores I’m not sure, I didn’t dig into the numbers, nor did I dig into whether it included services (like haircuts?) as well.)  That’s about 5 hours a week.  Since I make it my goal to spend less than 5 hours a month in stores, this one is waaay to easy for me to make a habit.  Of all of Sleeth’s suggestions, this one is the easiest for me to see the benefit of.

And you – what are your thoughts on the Sabbath? On rest?  On practicing these elements of life?  Is what I’m doing technically not Sabbath keeping?