Permission To Change!

Early this year, while training for a half-marathon that I would run in April, I signed up for the Detroit International Half-Marathon. I was sure I’d be able to run the half in April, take a couple of months easy, then ramp back up for the October race. I ran the half in April and it was a bit of a struggle. I’d had to do most of my training on my treadmill, but I’d gotten outside in late March and early April for the really long runs. I ran the race, no walking, and was happy to finish strong, if a bit slow.

Then summer came and my daughter played softball and travel basketball…fitting in a few small runs a week was a challenge. When that was behind me, I dutifully started into the Hal Higdon Half-Marathon Training Plan. I was fine for about the first half of the training, but then several physical setbacks got in my way in completing the long, weekend runs. At one point, I decided I could leap-frog the training and catch back up. That worked, until I had more setbacks.

Finally, I was faced with a decision…run the race even though the most I’d run in my training was six miles, or decide not to run the race. Now, I know I can gut it out…mind over matter, but why? I’ve decided not to run the race. Instead, I’m going to redirect my energy. It’s amazing how much more easily I can slip on my running shoes for a three-mile run than for a six to ten-mile run. The shorter runs are not only easier to schedule, but are energizing rather than draining.

With the specter of exhausting runs behind me, I’ve got time and energy to get back to my 50 by 50…or even to expand beyond that. National Novel Writing Month is coming up fast…I know I’ve tried/failed for many Novembers to get my novel down on paper, but this year I took a new step. This summer, I went to Northwestern University and attended a book writing conference. I have a lot of ideas about how to re-start and re-write my novel to make it better.

I’m feeling renewed energy to do the Holidays up right this year…my kids are getting older and starting to leave the nest…but not too far yet. They are still all home for the Holidays. So, I have pumpkins to buy, Christmas card photos to take, holiday fixings to plan, and in about a month, a Christmas tree to put up.

Mostly, though, I am gearing up to make a big change…and I give myself permission to change; to pursue a new course in my second adulthood. More about that later, but I will say that finally figuring out what I want to be when I “grow up” is liberating and exciting.

So, here’s to good health and good exercise habits, here’s to knowing my limits, here’s to trying new things…

Find the Joy in the Journey…and the Joy in finding that path that leads to your own road less traveled!



The Ten Year Plan

I think it’s about time for me to have a ten year plan. I’ve spent the last few years trying to figure out how to be a happy and fulfilled person. I’ve stumbled along the way and I’m still working on that project. I’m ready, though, to also start working on the end-game. By end, of course, I mean a new beginning. Or perhaps I will characterize it as my second adulthood. In any case, I’m already starting to plan.

I started by getting my affairs in order. Boring, a bit expensive, but a good foundation. I made a will, set up a trust for my kids, and made the (currently value-less) trust the beneficiary of all of my property, which mostly consists of my life insurance and retirement funds. I also designated a health advocate and created a durable power of attorney.

Next, I hired a financial planner and took the next steps, also boring and a bit expensive. I wanted to know when I could likely retire without having to work again. I crossed my fingers (not a proven method) and hoped for an answer of five years. The planner came back with a ten year plan. So, time to put that plan into action and see what I can do to shorten it.

Now that I have my foundation settled, I just need to revisit it every year or two to ensure it is still appropriate and to measure how well I’m doing at staying on track. So, if one of my kids wins the lottery, I can adjust my estate plan. As my kids get older, and more self-sufficient, I can think of other things to do with my money than use it to ensure they have a good start…I can direct it more towards charity. If I suffer a financial set-back, I can adjust my life-style or plan to work longer. If I get a financial windfall, I can speed up the plan.

So, with that set, I turn back to my 50 by 50…which I should perhaps rename as my 60 by 60! By reading back through my entries and going forward to try new things, I can fine-tune what I want to do here and now, and once those ten years, give or take a few years, have gone by. I’ve learned at least a few things along the way.

I like to be physically fit, but I really don’t enjoy training for half-marathons; three to six miles is a perfect run for me. I like running in cool weather. I’d like to live somewhere with an hour or two a day of temperatures between 50 and 70. I love to swim (ok, I’ve known this since I took my first swimming lesson at three years old), but I really don’t like to share a lane…too many bad experiences with that. I want my own lap pool…preferably indoors, or at least one of those treadmill-type pools.

I don’t need a big place (I have a big place right now…which was great when six of us lived here, but not so great with just two) and I certainly don’t need so much stuff. I have an attic and basement full of who-knows-what…I’ve tried to de-clutter it away over the last few years, and I’ll probably be struggling with that for years to come (need to include that in the ten year plan!). I’m not one for apartments (i.e. shared walls), so I’ll have to think about the possibilities.

As you can see, my ten year plan is a work in progress.

Find the Joy in the Journey…and the Joy in a new beginning!


I Need A Mental Health Day

I have so many things I want to do around the house, so many things I want to do to advance my personal health and well-being, and meanwhile, work is crazy and I still have some unbelieveable loose-ends to deal with. So, I decided to take a day off just for me. I decided to take a mental health day! I am fortunate that, after 25 years at the same company, I have a lot of vacation. I so wish I had the money to use all of those days to travel on international adventures, but, barring that, I may as well use them to advance other objectives.

So, of course, I made a list longer than my arm of things to accomplish. I chose a day when my younger daughter was on a school trip, so I didn’t have any chauffer duties. I could sleep in! And so it began. I slept in until about 6:30…after all, I am a creature of habit! I tried to turn over and fall back to sleep, and I did…until around 8. Ultimately, I got up and ate some breakfast then put on my running clothes. After a somewhat leisurely 3-mile run, I offered my older daughter a ride to her job and after dropping her off headed to the gym. I did my upper and lower-body workouts. I figure, why do just one if I’m there? I never do the core work. This is a problem. I don’t want to pull out a mat and do the work in the middle of the heavy lifters…but even though I can do the core work at home instead…I never do.

As I started my workout, I realized that I’d completely filled out my workout worksheets. So, after I finished, I went up to the desk to ask about new worksheets. They were puzzled at first, but then directed me to my fitness assessor. I headed for her office, but it was closed and I’d been advised by the front desk that she had an appointment. So, noticing another door into the general area of her office, I went through and approached her office from the other direction and found that she was alone. Knocking and entering, I asked for more worksheets. Of course, she wanted to sign me up for another fitness assessment. I demured at first…I’ve not done the core work. I’ve gained, not lost weight…but, I have done the strength training. She assured me that I couldn’t judge my progress without another assessment.

I have less than a month to kick myself into gear…start that core work, run more often, watch my diet. The problem right now is that I am so busy with my younger daughter’s sports schedules, softball and basketball practices and games, that I’ve not been able to commit to any races. I find that signing up for races is the best way to get myself out on the road and running, so this is the crux of my running problem. So, I will look for a couple of races that can fit into this busy schedule. I’ve also found a trick to get in some core work…a 30 day plank challenge. Now, I don’t know if there is any merit to it, but theoretically, it will get me from 20 seconds on the first day to four and a half minutes by day 29…then whatever you can manage on day 30. As for my diet, well that will take a little more work to figure out.

So, after my workout I drove home and took a shower, than met a friend for lunch. I spent the afternoon doing a little decluttering. Later I picked my daughter up from her job and made dinner. We relaxed as a family watching some crime drama TV. I enjoyed my “mental health day” and got a sense for how I could work on my goals on my days off without becoming overwhelmed.

Find the Joy in the Journey…and find the time for what matters.


Incrementality–Baby Steps Are The Key

When I started thinking of what to write about today, the psuedo-word “incrementality” came to mind and stuck with me for days. I thought maybe I made it up…but at least Urban Dictionary put the lie to that. It ascribes the following definition to the word:

The belief or mindset that anything can be accomplished if you tackle it one small step at a time. The frame of mind that is the opposite of “all or nothing” thinking. Phrases a person with a positive incrementality might use include “baby steps”, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time”, and “start small and build.” “Slow and steady wins the race” is the motto of the person who possesses incrementality. This is the tortoise, not the hare.

Now, when I hear “baby steps”, I crack up! This reminds me of What About Bob, the hysterical comedy starring  Bill Murray and Richard Dreyfuss. Dreyfuss’ character writes a not-so-scholarly, pop-psych book entitled “Baby Steps”. But, silly as the premise is, Murray’s character embraces it and makes it work. In the process, he causes his doctor to lose his mind just as he’s regaining his own sanity. Then again, perhaps the concept has some merit…which is why I am embracing it now.

I can run 13.1 miles…ok, maybe I’d struggle if I had to do it tomorrow, but I did it three times last fall and I”m almost halfway through my training to do it again in April. When I started out, I couldn’t even run a quarter of a mile. That was just 20 months ago. Even 10 months ago, the farthest I had run at one time (except once in high school) was 3.2 miles. Did I go from running three miles to running thirteen overnight? Heck, no. I built up incrementally.

A little over a year ago, I lost 26 pounds. Did I do it in one week? No, I did it in 13 weeks…a fairly steady 2 pound loss per week. I look back and I’m impressed. I want to lose more, and I am having trouble getting back into the patterns that I had that worked for weight loss. Meanwhile, I have decided to look at this 14 month weight-loss plateau as a positive…14 months showing I can maintain the weight loss. Time, though, to take more baby steps to getting closer to my real goal.

One of my other goals has been to learn another language and I’ve been indecisive about whether to study French (a language that I love and want to learn for sentimental reasons) and Spanish (a language of far more practical value). I know I won’t learn it quickly, I need to learn it incrementally. The choice of language has been a major stumbling block, but recently I’ve been told bluntly by two different people to learn Spanish.

photo (2)First was a someone from work whom I recently learned was fluent in German due to being an Army brat as a kid. He brushed off my excuses and told me I could easily learn another language from tapes during my commute (although he demurred a bit, knowing my commute is just a few miles). When I told him I couldn’t pick between French and Spanish, he scoffed at me and told me to go with Spanish. More recently, I had the pleasure of dining with two Frenchmen visiting Detroit. Language learning came up, and even though they are French, they told me to choose Spanish. That was the final deciding point for me…if a Frenchman can recommend that an American choose Spanish over French, why was I fretting?

My ultimate goal this year, is de-cluttering my house…and here again, the concept of incrementality could be my saving grace. If I treat de-cluttering as I’ve treated running, I know I can do it. I need to have a plan…preferably in writing. I need the plan to be reasonable, but challenging. I need it to be simple and “check the box” rewarding without tremendous effort on most days. With running, there are days of great effort, but there are more days of working at it for under an hour, and even days off. The question I have for myself is, can I do this for other goals? I think I can.

Find the Joy in the Journey…knowing what you want to accomplish is half the battle…and taking baby steps on a regular basis is the other half.

Whatever Happened To A Quiet Winter? February Is A Frenzy!

January flew by with an unusual flurry of activity and a record amount of snow and freezing temperatures. I was so happy to say good bye to it, but will February be any better? At least it is three days shorter!

The pace at work is not going to ease-up. That means I need to be that much more focused and organized both at home and at work. I have things to do and goals to achieve this month, and many of them really need to be done in February and not stray into March.

For one thing, I have to keep up with my training so that I can be successful at my next half-marathon in April. That seems a long time from now, but I’ve started my 12-week training program and have 10 more weeks to go…no slacking off now. I’ve kept up with the training even though I have done all of my running on a treadmill. I’m ready to speed up the treadmill just a bit this week to stretch myself to improve my time in the half by race time.

I had planned to run a 10k in February, but now I’m worried about the weather. I’m mostly concerned about the roads. Before I sign-up, I will try to reach out to the organizers to see whether or not there is an effort to keep the route clean for the race because I’m not equipped to run through ice-cold slush or over icy roads.

February is also a big “paperwork” month for me; time to do my taxes and, once again, fill out the infamous FAFSA. The FAFSA is not really too bad, and if I have my taxes done first, it should be relatively straight forward. I also, call me a nerd, like to do my own taxes. So, major goal for February is to do my taxes early, then fill out the FAFSA so that I can keep the ball rolling on college financing.

It turns out that February is also the start of the high school process for my younger daughter. She applied to two schools and was accepted at both…so, decision made, we have to notify the schools. I have one meeting to attend in February, mostly informational, and I have to make the deposit.  Meanwhile, she’s still playing basketball and hitting practice has started for softball. She’s also in a play, doing lots of activities with Girl Scouts, and preparing for Confirmation…she may be busier even than I am, but given that I do the driving, I think I edge her out.

I always thought of January and February as dead times of the year, with little activity. It was typically the time I would pick up a new, big commitment to relieve myself of boredom. No more! These days, winter is busier than ever for me. Fortunately I’ve planned some fun times too…I watched the Oscar Nominated Short Films already, I’m taking my daughter to a Piston’s game, I’ve been invited to a home shopping party, and a friend and I are taking a dancing lesson. Actually, that last one terrifies me as it is a singles mixer…but I’m pushing myself to say yes to invitations. If it is too weird, my friend and I can always skip out.

Find the Joy in the Journey…even in the midst of the frenzy!

What Is A New Year’s Resolution Anyway?

I always struggle with making New Year’s Resolutions…I like to have goals and know that writing them down helps. New Year’s seems as good a time as any to rethink my life.  My whole 50 by 50 project is a way for me to set goals and accomplish them, though, so what’s the point of New Years? Well, just a good reason to re-evaluate my progress. Frankly, I’ve found that making goals and working towards them works…I don’t accomplish everything I think of doing, but I accomplish way more than I otherwise would.

So, I did a little search on resolutions and found several articles on kindness…apparently it is the new New Year’s resolution for 2014. The world could always use more kindness. I can’t say I try to be kind, but I do think that for the most part, I am…or so I’m told. Even so, a more conscious kindness is certainly beneficial and the more people who jump on the kindness bandwagon, the better. So, count me in.

I have laid out so may different goals for myself, spanning the mundane to the seemingly overly-ambitious, that I don’t really need any new ones…I just need a perspective that helps me to achieve them. I think I found it with my weight-loss (and maintenance) and my running. You’ve heard it before, and so have I…Take small steps, don’t give up, don’t let set-backs break you. Yup, that’s it. It worked for losing the first (hopefully I will achieve a second) round of weight loss in the fall of 2012. It helped me get from “Couch to 5k”. It helped me achieve “Bridge to 10k”, and it worked to get me through the Hal Higdon training to run not one, but three half-marathons this past fall.

Isn’t it weird that I can achieve so much and then feel as if I’m starting from scratch with every new goal I set? Well, so be it. Somewhere deep inside me, I know I can achieve any goal I set, as long as I take one small step today, another tomorrow, and keep on keeping on. I can lose more weight. I can run another half-marathon in April. I can write my book…yes, I can write my book…such an elusive goal!

But for this New Year, I have a new viewpoint. First, I want to keep up with what I’ve accomplished. This means, no backtracking on my weight. This means keeping up with this blog. This means that I continue to run. Second, I want to pick one big goal at a time, and focus on it. Simple!

So, I really want to de-clutter my home and fix it up. I need to start with one simple thing…get rid of all the paper clutter and get it organized and under control. So, that’s my goal for the next several days…I want to get it under control by the end of my stay-cation, before I return to work on January 6th. It’s something I have wrangled with for decades…but now is the time. Gulp!

Find the Joy in the Journey…and the joy in taking the first step!

Stay-cation Indulgences

My new mantra is reading, writing, and running with a few other things thrown in for balance. So, as I start day 3 of my 23-day stay-cation, I want to do a little of each every day. I didn’t start out too well on Saturday, getting no running and little reading in, but I did write my blog post. For the “other”, I made a donation to St. Vincent de Paul which also helped in my de-cluttering efforts.

On Sunday, day two, I did a bit better. I ran on my treadmill for three miles at an easy pace. Then I went to church, walking through the mostly snow-covered sidewalks to and from. The streets were finally clear, I’d heard the plows come through around 6 a.m. Back home, I got out the snow shovel and started clearing my very long driveway. About a quarter of the way through, I went in for lunch and recruited my younger daughter to help me with the rest. After over an hour, we finally cleared the driveway and sidewalk. The apron is always the worst as the plows throw compacted slush which is very heavy and hard to move.

I definitely met the running/exercising portion of my day. Later, my daughter and I went out Christmas shopping and I realized just how far behind I was. I also realized that Christmas shopping with a child is a challenge. Although we were looking for gifts for her siblings, she couldn’t help but point out all the things she wanted and that I should buy her “right now’. Sigh.

As for writing, I worked on the first draft of this post. I do want to put aside some major chunks of time during my time off to write more extensively. I have so many ideas about my novel that I really need to re-write it and build on my latest ideas and learnings. That is my challenge to myself over the next few weeks.

For the reading portion, I picked up Divergent by Veronica Roth. Yet another dystopian series of young adult books which is now a major motion picture. I happen to like young adult literature and I also like dystopian literature, so it’s a natural for me. I sped through the first seven chapters in one sitting.

Cookie RecipesI still wanted to get to some household project, but I was tired and rather sore from shoveling. Even so, I’d bought baking ingredients the day before, so I decided to make cookie dough. I made three kinds: Chocolate Drops, Russian Tea Cakes, and Sugar Cookies. The dough is in the refrigerator ready for baking.

This morning, I got up in time to run on the treadmill before taking my daughter to school…I see people running outside, and the cold (and it is really cold, in the single digits) doesn’t stop me. They are invariably running in the street, as it is now plowed and salted and a more predictable surface than the sidewalks, but it just seems too dangerous for me. I’m catching up on some favorite TV shows while I run, anything to get my mind off of the treadmill.

Find the Joy in the Journey…do at least one thing you enjoy every day!

Procrastination: My Nemesis

I think to really grow, we must take on our nemesis head-on. For me, that is procrastination. I think, in part, my procrastination problem is related to being an introvert…in other words being internally motivated. If I cannot figure out what motivates me, I end up procrastinating and not accomplishing my own goals because I just don’t know that I truly know what they are or knowing them, don’t know how to believe in them. So, like any other INTJ, that is an introverted, intuitive, thinking, judging human being, I did some research into procrastination.

I learned from Psychology Today in an article titled Can Procrastination Ever Be a Good Thing?  that there are psychological benefits from procrastination…otherwise why would we do it? These are obvious…

  • You get to put off unpleasant tasks in favor of more enjoyable things
  • Problems may end up getting solved without any effort from you
  • You can avoid the possibility of failure or success
  • You get to avoid the discomfort of doing something you dread
  • You can avoid the anxiety you feel about the task
  • Someone may come to your rescue and do it for you
  • The demands placed on you get lifted because you drag your feet

I can relate to each and every one of those, but I think there is something more. I believe that sometimes, we just need to be unproductive for a while; to get off the fast track in at least one area of life. Perhaps procrastination is the psyche’s way of telling us, “enough already”! After all, don’t we all need a reprieve at one time or another? It’s one thing if you are just a lazy soul who never follows-through on anything versus a productive person in one sphere of life who finds it difficult to be productive in all spheres at once.

The article made me curious about procrastination and how to overcome it. It turns out that there is an entire sub-genre of self-help books on the very subject. Looking through some of the descriptions, comments, and reviews, it seems a waste of time to me. You can buy a workbook and work through all the reasons why you procrastinate, thereby pushing off your priority list further, or you can just go ahead and get a few things done. There is even a sub-sub-genre for procrastinating women focused on anxiety and the fear of failure. Is that a particularly feminine problem? A post for another day…

After searching some more, I came up with a delightful blog called You Are Not So Smart: A Celebration of Self Delusion which included a post titled Procrastination . His recommendations were more direct than undergoing psychoanalysis or filling out self-help workbooks to figure out the underlying psychological problems preventing you from getting things done. In essence, if you make a choice for your future self, you will make an idealized choice. When that future arrives, you’ll make the same choice you would have made if it had been an immediate choice. For example, eating a brownie instead of a salad or watching a low-brow movie instead of one that requires you to think serious thoughts about humanity. If you are asked to plan ahead you’ll plan to have a salad and watch a high-brow movie next week. But for today, a brownie and a comedy will do just nicely. When a week goes by, guess what? You still won’t want to eat salad or watch an emotionally difficult movie. The author ends with this:

Capable psychonauts who think about thinking, about states of mind, about set and setting, can get things done not because they have more will power, more drive, but because they know productivity is a game of cat and mouse versus a childish primal human predilection for pleasure and novelty which can never be excised from the soul. Your effort is better spent outsmarting yourself than making empty promises through plugging dates into a calendar or setting deadlines for push ups.

The bottom line is that you have to think about thinking to get yourself to make the harder decision to delay gratification. I realized that I have done this successfully in at least one area of my life: running. Instead of telling myself I would be come a runner starting in the future, I broke my goal into such small pieces that I really had no reason to procrastinate. Once I got to the point where I could run for 5 kilometers at a stretch, I needed more motivation. I signed up for a race. That was my current self telling my future self that I had an obligation to run the race and therefore my current self was compelled to train. I still procrastinate about running, but not to the point of paralysis…I actually do go for a run most of the time that I plan to.

So, now I just have to think through how to make myself do all the other things that I’d really rather not do! Cleaning up my house is the main thing. I can picture such a lovely, peaceful place to live in…if only it cleaned and maintained itself. Perhaps throwing a party would do it…

Find the Joy in the Journey…and the way past procrastination to a life well lived instead of frittered away.

Taking A Breather

I’m all geared up and enthused about starting my training for the half-marathon. I’m going to use the Novice 2 plan by Hal Higdon that starts 12 weeks before the race, which is 13+ weeks away. In the meantime, I had planned to continue my running 6 miles, 3 times per week, but in listening to my body, (and my biggest fan, my dad), I’ve decided to cut back a bit and take a breather.

I have been so busy the last few months and much of that will come to an end around the time I need to start training for the half-marathon. So instead of continuing to push myself right up to the start of training, I decided to try to get the rest of my life back to normal and catch up on my sleep.

My younger daughter has two more basketball tournaments and two more softball games followed by a softball tournament. Hopefully the schedule conflicts won’t be too bad. I’m looking forward to it all being over, although I’ve enjoyed watching her develop new skills (sliding into base and smacking a resounding double-turned home run).

I’m also grateful that my son, who gets new glasses today and therefore can drive again, volunteered to take my daughter to the furthest of the basketball tournaments this weekend.  They’ll have to leave at 7:30 a.m. and won’t return until 3 on Saturday and 5 on Sunday. As much as I want to watch her play five hours of basketball, I don’t really want to make the four-hour roundtrip two days in a row. A free weekend…what shall I do!

Work should also be easing up when I start my training…the end of the second quarter has been rough, and having met my goals, I’m hoping for a soft-start on the third quarter. In the final week of the quarter, everything has to be buttoned up at the same time that we are making a physical move to another location. Nothing like chaos to make things interesting!

The next weekend we get a break from sporting events, but my older daughter and I will be traveling to St. Louis for her summer orientation for college. We’ll be there the first two days of my training; nothing like a challenge to start off a challenge! Which is all the more reason to take it easy in the meanwhile.

So, for the next 10 days, I’ll do a little running and I’ll sleep more. Maybe I’ll get in a swim and a few walks too. I’ll get started (again) on de-cluttering and making my home more a haven in which to retreat and less of a mess to run from. I’ll take advantage of non-game nights to sit down for family dinners and connect with my teens before the flurry of fall hits us.

The training plan starts off with short runs and builds slowly and I know I’m ready for the challenge…but first, a little breather!

Find the Joy in the Journey…the rewards will come along the way; you don’t have to race to the end to find them!

Is It Wrong To Use Lent To Reach My Goals?

I managed to make it through Fat Tuesday with nary a paczki, or other sweets, and even lost a pound. I am hoping this is the start of breaking my 6+ week weight-loss plateau. Surely, if I give up empty calories, which in my diet are primarily found in red wine, won’t I lose weight? I have given up alcohol for Lent before, with no weight loss at all, so we’ll see.

I find myself contemplating what to give up, or what to do, for Lent that will help me with what I am already trying to do. Frankly, I am overwhelmed these days with work and personal problems and adding something new would not be helpful. Instead, I am looking over my 50 by 50 and looking for things I have started to work on that will support my physical, emotional, spiritual, and mental health.

Giving up Wine without Whining About It

Ok, maybe a little whining! This supports my physical health, although detracts from it too as red wine is heart-healthy. I suppose I could substitute pistachios and blueberries to get the same supposed benefit (I’m allergic to red grapes, so they are out). To the extent that drinking wine is an emotional crutch, I’m out of luck. I suppose this is where exercise is the correct answer. Back to my physical health, I could look at this as a win/win…as long as I can stop whining about all the exercise.

Going Back to a Regular Spiritual Practice

This is a common Lenten promise, one that in the past I’ve not even needed to make. Recent events and crazy weekend schedules, combined with a bit of turning away on my part have interrupted my spiritual practice. So, going to church tonight and back to my regular weekend schedule are in order. The rewards are better spiritual and emotional health. If I can learn to give my worries over to God, I will find much peace.

Tending to the Nutritional Needs of My Family

With our crazy schedules, my girls and I have resorted to too many nights of unbalanced meals. It’s time to be more thoughtful about what we eat for dinner. This will take some time and gradual changes, but I promise to work on this over Lent and come up with more healthful dinners that my kids will actually eat. My physical and mental health can benefit from this change.

So, I am setting up my Lenten promises to align with my existing goals. Is that wrong? I’m too tired to answer that question, so I’m going to say no. It is a wonderful way to get closer to God and benefit myself and my family in the process.

Last year, in Someday Maybe I’ll Go To Carnival—Meanwhile There Are Always Paczkis, I made the statement:

“I am a very uneven Lent practitioner, so for this year I intend to be more intentional. I intend to make a personal sacrifice, to be observant of the fasting days, and to figure out how to quiet my own mind so that I can be open to the path that is meant for me.”

This year I am being more specific. Let’s see how it goes. In the same words I used last year:

Find the Joy in the Journey and even though “thou art dust, and to dust thou shalt return”, in quiet reflection may we find that Joy is always there.