Let's recap - the ambitious goals I set to work on throughout the year were:
- Keeping a tidier, less cluttered house. I just can't stand the chaos of "where that thing?" as I'm trying to dash out of the house. But I work full-time, on top of several other large scale projects this year, so this goal involved finding a happy medium of “clean and tidy” versus “doable.”
- Money is a sore point with me – as it would be with anyone who has spent years clutching the trifecta ticket of frozen salaries, disrespect, and rising prices – so we decided (this decision had to be a “we” decision, so FryDaddy is in this one as well) to keep a realistic budget to lower our household debt.
- To strengthen my body, I decided to train to participate in a 5K race sometime this year.
- To improve my mind, I decided to read six "good books" that had slipped past me.
- Also to improve my mind, I decided to watch 24 "good movies" that had slipped past me.
To be honest, May wasn't a very good month, goal-wise. Between FryDaddy's graduation (no, I'm not calling him "master," in spite of the fact that he's got the funny sleeves), exam week, some required travel, and a host of other activities, it was a full-out crazy month. Lots of fun stuff going on there, but it seemed that everything took precedence over the goal-keeping. So what's that mean?
Well, after a bit of a breakdown - I have a nasty tendency to see things as "keeping score" instead of "this is going to make things easier, but there will be setbacks" - I think I can report some success, although it's been more in this most recent week rather than in May. Therefore, I'm not going to talk about my set goals as much as I'm interested in talking about setbacks and how to approach them. After all, this is something I know a fair amount about. (Read as - I know A LOT about setbacks!)
Read this until you believe it: the bad days and weeks and months are going to come. They just will. Unexpected expenses will crop up and play merry hell with your delicate budget and you'll think you're a failure because - golly gee, you could've saved money by recycling dryer lint into creative Halloween costumes but no, you had to go off and buy something. Food that's not especially good for you is cheaper and requires less prep work and it's tempting when the busy times strike. There's no time to clean and you can't settle down enough to concentrate on a "good read" and you just want to be entertained instead of watching a movie from your list. Nothing is working, you've gained ten pounds and you wonder what happened.
At the risk of sounding like I have things held together with peace and calm instead of duct tape and the use of Anglo-Saxon words as adjectives (look, it's been a few weeks of me yelling at the cats, okay?), when nothing you're doing is working, do nothing. Just stop. Look around. Reassess your goals (seriously - I've had three different people advise me to skip Thoreau's Walden which was my scheduled book. So I decided to read Beloved instead and still haven't started it, although I've read six other things in this period of indecision) and make course corrections as needed. Growth is not constant - that's why we have winter. It's a time in the natural year to recover from expending all the energy it takes to grow, blossom, and harvest to hunker down and consider the Next Step. If it works for carrots and bears, why shouldn't it work for people? (That made more sense before I typed it. I'm still going with it.)
For example, I went on a shopping trip with my mother this weekend. I mean a SHOPPING TRIP, the kind where you wind up with new everything. Here's the kicker - I asked my mom when the last time was that we did a trip like that. She carefully considered the timeline and said, "Right after you finished law school and took that job in South Carolina."
That was in 1998.
So the deal was that I had to go through my closet and ruthlessly get rid of clothes that no longer worked. I just did that and it was hard - I want to think I'll be that size again and/or that I'll be able to wear that style again and it's hard to be realistic about that sort of thing. (And there were a few things that are getting thrown away rather than being given away - I'd crossed the line from "frugal" into "cheap." Shame on me.) But I'd rather wear clothes that actually fit me instead of clothes that fit me in 1998 (and yes, I had still had some of those). I'll drop them off at Goodwill in just a little bit - the clothes will work for someone else and I believe in karmic concepts enough to think that giving away creates room in my own life for more good stuff to roll in. I'll get back to drinking water instead of diet soda and my other good habits. Sometimes life demands to be noticed more than the dust bunnies.
It's okay. Really, it is.