Archive for the ‘Goals’ Category

Inching my way forward

Have you ever made a plan that you were sure was brilliant? And then have you watched that plan just crumble into dust?

Life lesson: Plans don’t always work out.

Have you ever watched your plan fall apart and then discover, perhaps years later, that things worked out better than your plan could have ever worked?

Life lesson: God knows more than you do.

When we moved back to the U.S. from Sweden, my husband was offered the job that we least wanted. It was so far from grandparents, cost of living was high, and we just didn’t feel certain about settling in New York. Watching the U.S. economy fall at an alarming rate has made me profoundly grateful for my husband’s job. We didn’t know it at the time but it WAS the right job for us.

Life lesson: Hold onto your faith.

Two years ago as we faced a stupid legal battle with a landlord who refused to work with us and ended up breaking our lease, I wondered if we could ever recover from the chaos and enormous stress. Now I know that moving was the best thing for our family, particularly one of my children who needed the specialized and individualized help that the new school offered.

Life lesson: It’s not just my own needs God considers, but the needs of every individual in my family.

Last year I constructed a tidy plan that I was excited about. A couple of months later, one dream burst in a lot of pain. Over the months, most of the details of my plan have blown up in my face. For the most part, it’s not dire. I still have my sense of humor. But I struggle with frustration. I can’t see the whole pattern. I know it is there, but my eyes can’t see beyond the small details. Ironically, there isn’t much I can do. I must wait and the waiting is more painful than doing work.

Life lesson: Wait patiently.

I’m still trying to allow the lessons I know and understand with my mind to sink deep into my heart and become a part of my soul. Until then, I’m inching my way forward.

What are some of life’s lessons that you are struggling to learn? How have you coped with your plans going awry?


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Getting Caught Up

My only goal this week is to get caught up with my regular work. Wish me luck!

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I suppose it was inevitable that I would crash and burn sometime in this happiness project of mine. I just hope that I can glean some lessons from the experience and rise again.

My week was HECTIC. I was booked every single day with appointments and meetings. I find doctor appointments draining. I try not to resent the fact that frequent and regular appointments are a part of my normal life. Usually I focus on the positive. Those regular check-ups are a very important part of keeping me healthy with my odd little/big health issues. But sometimes its hard not to resent the intrusion of appointments, lab tests, and medication. But can I really complain? Because, really, it could be much worse. (See my post in March 2009–when is this going to end?)

My husband was gone for a business trip. Usually I do okay. We typically face some major disaster, deal with it and move on. But this week I was exhausted by the time he came home.

Anyhow, the daily grind of taking care of my kids, going to appointments and meetings and the inevitable household chaos that ensues when I’m not on top of things wiped me out. By Friday, I was done. I sat around the house, in a bit of funk, just trying to recuperate. When I would start a project, I would get distracted on move onto something else. In the end I gave up and rested.

On Saturday I felt like I had to catch-up on everything. My stress at not finishing my normal weekly work grew as my kids complained about their chores. At one point, I found myself alternating between lectures and threats (half-yelled) at my kids and my husband. No one appreciated the verbal harangue, least of all myself. After lunch, my husband took four of the children to an Easter egg hunt and I took some time to collect myself.

As I thought about the morning, I felt like a failure. See, the point of this whole happiness project is learning how to be happy in the moment and creating happiness. My cleaning tirade did not fulfill either criteria. I hadn’t created happiness for myself nor had I contributed to the happiness of my children.

The rest of the day, the kids played and I finished the few projects I had left. I only accomplished a few goals this week. My other frustration with this week is that the whole point of establishing my routines is so that things run smoothly when my schedule gets crazy. 

So what have I learned?

1. I need to schedule my appointments for the afternoon. As hard as it is to take two children to the doctor, things run smoother when my work is done in the morning.

2. I need to take complications to my schedule in stride. Instead of rushing to catch up, I need to do what I can and let the rest go.

3. Stress is not good for my health. My lupus flares when I get stressed and thus I run at less than at my best.  

4. Family work goes smoother if I am not constantly pushing my kids. I need to stop looking at my schedule and just slow down. I’ve been listening to the book Contentment by Maria Covey Cole and realized that work should be a time when my kids and I can talk candidly. If I look at family work as family bonding time, I might feel better about the process.

How do you cope with failure? How do you collect yourself and get back on track?

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April Monthly Goals


1. Stay on track with New Testament reading. This is going to require reading 85 verses a day, which is a heavier load than I was reading before. I can’t miss days, because it will take too much time to catch up.

2. Start a prayer journal

3. Attend temple 2 times this month

This month I am starting the New Testament. I just want to stay on track with reading and writing my journal. I am starting a prayer journal where I take time each day to list things I want to pray for. I hope to be more deliberate and thoughtful in my prayers with this exercise. Brent and I want to alternate temple attendance by attending on Thursdays.


1. Make budget for the month of April

Include in my budget money for temple trips. Remember to save!


1. exercise 3 times this week

2. wear sunscreen moisturizer daily

3. eat fruit daily

4. Go to bed at 9:30

I need to sleep more and go to bed earlier. We are going outside more and so I need to get in the habit of wearing sunscreen daily. I found a good moisturizer with 30 spf. With my lupus, it is essential that I wear sunscreen. I need to eat more fruit, which I tend to save for my kids.


1. make cards for MIL and Mother

2. Make little album for mother

3. Finish 2009 album

4. edit 111 pictures and upload to snapfish

5. 10 pages of 2010 album

6. 10 pages of Israel album

In order to accomplish my create goals for this month, I need to step up my scrapbook work. But since I’m more organized, I think I can accomplish this.


1. Do four letters per week for alphabet book with Brooke

2. Josef read 12 books.

3. 8 faith in god goals with Walter

4. 8 scout goals with Trent

5. One act of service or affirmation for Brent

In order for my kids to earn their awards, I have to instigate the work. If I set a goal, we are more likely to set aside time to work on their projects. Brooke and I are going to create an alphabet book. I’ve got tons of scrapbook supplies and I think it would be a fun and meaningful project for us to do. I also want to start taking the kids to the park when the weather gets warmer.

My last goal is an important one. I think it is very important to continually nourish one’s relationship with one’s spouse. Several months ago I read The Five Love Languages  by Gary Chapman. According to Chapman, people feel and receive love in different ways. In order to love one another better, you need to learn what love language your spouse responds to and speak to that language. That has made a lot of sense to me. My husband’s love language is predominantly acts of service with words of affirmation following closely. Acts of service isn’t my love language, so it doesn’t come naturally to me. I want to make sure I do one extra act per day that shows my love for my husband in the way that is meaningful to him.


1. Argue less

2. Stop and listen to kids

I have a terrible weakness of being very argumentative–with my spouse, kids, online forums, etc. I am working to stop and listen more and try to understand with empathy instead of ways to deconstruct other people’s arguments.

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April to June 2011 Goals

 Maintain the following habits

  1. Daily scripture study
  2. Check in Weekly and monthly on my blog about goals
  3. Keep up the daily, weekly and monthly routines
  4. Keep the kitchen clean daily
  5. Plan and organize meals
  6. Wear retainer nightly
  7. Continue to create daily

 New Goals


  1. Read the New Testament
  2. Start a prayer journal and pray morning and night
  3. Attend temple twice monthly (work with Brent on this)


  1. Plan a monthly budget and stick to it
  2. Go through clothes
  3. Go through toys
  4. Go through stuff


  1. Exercise 20 minutes 5 days  a week
  2. Eat fruit daily


  1. Finish 2009 scrapbook
  2. Scrap 2010 pages for pictures I have
  3. Scrap 2011 pages for pictures I have
  4. Scrap 100 pictures for Israel album
  5. Scrap 100 pictures for 2007 album


  1. Spend time with Brooke and Jonathan in afternoons
  2. Josef reading
  3. Help Walter set goals for Faith in God
  4. Help Trent set goals for scouts
  5. Do one extra act of service for Brent daily


  1. Work on being less argumentative
  2. Listen better
  3. Work on not criticizing

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I hit the inevitable wall where goals aren’t as exciting and it is easy to put off doing things. I’m just grateful that I had already established some good habits, and so I pressed forward, even when I wasn’t filled with enthusiasm. Fortunately, the rush of completing an item still holds.


I organized and sorted all my pictures that I wanted, with the exception of one group. I’m still working on finding all my 2009 pictures that I want to use to finish my album. A batch of pictures is stuck on my old laptop. Each time I try to save the pictures to a disk or other source, the laptop shuts down. I’ve learned a valuable lesson. Back up your photos! I had saved photos to some sites, but I want and need an additional copy that I can always access at home.

I also managed to sneak in a bit of actual scrapbooking. Because all my pictures were sorted, I was able to take advantage of a 50 % off photo book sale. I now have a beautiful album of our 2007 European vacation. I also made another book of family heritage pictures. I haven’t printed that one yet, I’m waiting for another sale.


I’m still failing on my exercise goal. But I did wear my retainer! I did see my GP about my vision problem. I’m relieved that the problem is not a side effect of my medication. The doctor recommended that I see a neurologist for migraine headaches and said I’d probably have to have an MRI.


I started my DS dollars program and the kids are excited about it. I still have to remind them to do things, but they feel motivated. I’ve arranged tutoring sessions for my son and we are reading in the evenings. I didn’t track my expenses.


I finished all four books by the deadlines. I’ll post about the books on a different day.

Lessons learned

My theme for this year is to be happy. With that in mind, I’ve made my goals to foster happiness in my life. Everytime I did something good, while hard, I felt a lift of happiness. I am becoming more organized and structured which allows me more freedom. When I have a plan, I feel less stress and am more patient and loving with my children.

Daily, I feel the lift that creating gives me. While I was organizing my photos I was able to relive some pretty amazing moments. When I take care of my health, I am giving a gift to myself and to my family. A healthier me translates to a happier me, which leads to a happier family. Teaching my kids good work  habits lightens my workload and burdens. As my children contribute to caring for our home and for themselves, they feel a sense of accomplishment that leads them to take more responsibility for themselves. Reading good books elevates my thoughts and causes me to evaluate life. Reading keeps my mind invigorated.

I didn’t accomplish everything on my list this month. It would have been better for me to report to my blog weekly. I don’t feel discouraged about my failures, because I know that I can do hard things. I do achieve my goals. I finish projects. It may take me a little longer for some of the harder things I’ve chosen to do, but I will do it in the end.

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Again, another boring post about scrapbooking. I’m mainly writing it to clarify my process about organizing my photos and preparing them to scrapbook.

Two facts that drive my process:

1. I scrapbook chronologically.

2. I function best when I am organized and efficient. For some reason, this creates an environment where I can be highly creative.

Photo Organization

Film Camera

Pre-digital camera days I had a film camera. I printed doubles and organized the photos chronologically in photo books. I saved my negatives chronologically in a box. I dated and labeled the negatives so I can easily retrieve them if needed.

Digital Camera

Organizing Photos on my computer:

I first make a folder on my computer labeled with the year.

I have folders on my computer labeled: 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011.

Within each year, I label 12 sub folders labeled: 1-January, 2-February and so forth.

Within in the month sub-folders, I organize my photos by date and activity or person. So for example: 1-1 Jan 2011 Ringing in the New Year,  2-3 Jan 2011 The baby plays with his toys, etc.

Downloading photos:

I try and download my pictures once a week, usually on Sunday. I use my Microsoft program because it keeps the folders organized the way I like it. I usually write an update and include pictures from the week.

I’ve started to edit my photos on Sunday. I use Picasa, Google’s free photo-editing software. I usually run a batch edit and then crop individual photos as needed. Picasa has a text feature that I’ve started to use. I usually just write a few words about the picture.

I use Picasa because it is free and easy to use. I know that Adobe Photoshop Elements is probably a much better product, but it requires more time than I am willing to give it to learn the program. Picasa is just at my level and still allows me to quite a bit. It’s also very easy to uploads pictures to email, blog or buy.

Organizing Photos to Scrapbook

This part takes two steps.

First, I go through the photos I want to print and make copies of them in a separate folder. I group them in groups of 50 or 100 so I can take advantage of photo printing specials I receive.

Then I make an Excel Spreadsheet. I give a title or them for a group of pictures, date of the pictures, number of pictures, and how many pages I think I will make. I also include a box for marking the page done. This way I can quickly see what I’ve done and what I have left to do.

Why the spreadsheet? Well, I am extremely frugal and often use double-sided cardstock. I hate not using the other side of the paper. So I have to plan spacing and themes. Doing this helps me make the maximum use of my supplies. I also have found that it keeps me focused and on task.

Case in point: I’ve been working on my 2006 album for a few years now. I made random pages and had created quite a few. But I didn’t have a cohesive plan or structure for the album. When I finally sat down, analyzed what I had and what I needed, I was able to print the pictures I needed and pull the album together very quickly. In fact, I was able to make almost 50 pages in a month.

I also find that this process helps me take pictures and supplies to a crop. I can easily pull out enough pictures to do a few pages and not bring everything I have.

If you scrapbook, what is your organization process? Do you work best with a free-form style or are you highly organized? Do you use a similar process that I do?

I suppose the whole process seems a little bit rigid, but it works for me. I function best with organization and purpose. It’s hard to make goals and meet them when you don’t know where you stand or how much you have to do. I’ve floated along for too long and now feel like I need to maximize my time. Ironically, all this organization and structure has opened the floodgates for ideas and creativity. I will streamline the process as I see fit.

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