A Monday.

Here’s what I’ve learned in the first 7 days of November:

I have taken on too much, and though I’m so much better at staying on task and using my time, some days, time evaporates like water on concrete in Arizona summers.

It’s 5:35 p.m. as I write this, and in an hour I need to be on the road to west Omaha to attend a class on Judaism that will take up the rest of my evening. I have a list of tasks I didn’t come close to finishing today, tasks that really have to be finished by tomorrow night.

As frustrated as I feel near the end of the Mondayiest of Mondays, I’m trying to remember these things: laughing with my friends at lunch. My friend Mr. Reimer hanging out with my 3rd hour class while I tended to journalism business with Mr. Stueve–I didn’t ask Reimer to do this; he must have noticed I wasn’t in my room and commenced teaching my gaggle of writers. I’m remembering how much I adore my newspaper staff, and really all my classes. I’m feeling the warmth from my heater, after forgetting to turn it on and coming home to a 67 degree apartment. I’m sporting a new fleece hoodie, and my belly is full from a dinner of roasted chicken, green beans, and naan.

This November, I might not be posting daily the things for which I am grateful, but I’m trying to be acutely aware of how lucky I am. I send up periodic prayers of gratitude for all the little things in my life, where the whole is so much greater than the sum of its parts.

You should try it.

Friday Thanks.

I hit a wall of exhaustion at 4 p.m. today, the kind of fatigue that made me feel like I couldn’t possibly take another step, despite having “miles to go before I sleep.” One giant diet Coke and an exciting football game later, I’m awake and planning the craziness of my Saturday and next week. Taking a quick break to post two things I’m grateful for today.

The weather has been simply amazing. This makes me a little bit sad, because, you know, climate change and all, but I think I’d be a lot nuttier if I was already wearing my parka and mittens and scraping my windshield every morning.

My newspaper staff. They scheduled five stories to be posted at various times this weekend, and they’re working so hard. I’m so proud of them.

Life is good. God is good. Hoping you can find some good in your world tomorrow.

 

 

Whoops. Still Grateful.

I woke up this morning extraordinarily tired, and as I stumbled from bed to shower, I realized this morning was November 3, and I hadn’t yet blogged about anything I’m grateful for.

I’ve been doing mostly-daily gratitude blogging every November for years, in which I usually start strong and miss days somewhere in the middle. Pretty sure this is the first year I’ve missed the first two days.

I still have a long night ahead of me, but let me catch up on what I’m grateful for so far this week:

  • Parents who love me and, even though I am in my 40s, still listen to me through tantrums when I’m angry at the world.
  • Students who turn in their work on time.
  • Friends who make me laugh.

Quick story from today that I need to write down, lest I forget it: I walked into my Popular Culture class, set down my computer, and realized I’d left the copies for class in my other room.

“I’m an idiot!” I said out loud.

And a sweet young woman said to me, “No, you’re not, and you shouldn’t say things like that about yourself.”

Almost immediately the song from “Into the Woods” ran through my head: “Careful the things you say, children will listen…”

I would never want this student to call herself an idiot, and I am grateful for the reminder that I need to be a little more gentle with myself.

I’ll do better tomorrow.

Habits.

I recently finished Gretchen Rubin’s book “Better Than Before,” in which she explains how habits can be the engine of life. I checked out the book from the library and renewed it three times, so I could read it slowly and take notes. After the first 20 pages, I knew Rubin’s advice was valuable.

I’ve been implementing some of her tips, and they’ve made an impact on my life already. Two small changes that have already yielded results:

1) Eat dinner at my table and read. I complain that I don’t have enough time to read, but as I worked through Rubin’s book and reflected on the habits I’d developed out of default, I realized I actually did have time to read if I simply changed where I ate.

2) As soon as I’m done with dinner, I do the dishes and prepare my breakfast and lunch for the next day. Before I started this, I was waiting until 9, 9:30, 10 p.m. to take care of this. It never takes very long, but by moving this chore to the early evening, I feel like I’ve gained hours of time.

November is shaping up to be a hectic month. I just planned out next week and nearly broke out in hives for all that I have going on. Everything will be fine, everything will get done. It’s adding in other obligations that’s causing most of the panic. I’ll start attending a class on Judaism. I’m taking¬†Jazzercise classes. I have seven pieces of music that must be learned and perfected at various points between Nov. 6 and Dec. 12. Toss in that for years now, every November I’ve blogged daily about what I’m grateful for.

And I’m doing NaNoWriMo again.¬†

It will all be fine, and I will live, and even though it’s not November, I must say how grateful I am to my therapist, who spent 8 months fixing me, because there’s no way I’d be able to even fathom what awaits this month had I not sought her help last year.

November will be a month of adding to the habits I’ve already started developing, knowing that if a certain number of elements in my life are automatic, I’ll find time to really enjoy my life. By the end of Rubin’s book, that seemed to be the point of habits in the first place.

The next habit I’ll be adding? Earlier bedtimes on the weekends. And with that, good night.

So Long, November.

So another November is in the books, another month of focusing on what I’m grateful for.

In 31 days, it will be 2016, and so many people will take the hope and opportunity of a new year to make a new beginning. But I need more than just January 1.

I need April, and my church’s General Conference to recalibrate. I need June and the promise of 10 weeks of summer to set goals. I’d be lost without August and the start of a new school year to really try my hand at new beginnings. October brings another church conference, following by November and a month of gratitude.

I give myself multiple opportunities every year to start fresh, to restart, and I’m grateful for those multiple opportunities.