Saturday, January 30, 2010

My New Thinking about Goals

Yesterday was the fifth Friday of the month, which meant that we didn't have our weekly homeschool co-op and yet I had the day off work.

I had planned that after working with Peter on some schoolwork in the morning, I would then spend part of the afternoon either meeting a friend or doing some of the weekly grocery shopping...or both. But the friend had something come up and I ended up moving the shopping plans forward to today.

It turned out to be a very productive day! Peter and I were able to work on a couple of important, time-consuming, homeschooling projects before going out in the evening to his semi-monthly teen group.

What a wonderful feeling I have when I feel like I am getting my priorities right. Do you feel that way too?

When we used to be in a certain multi-level business, we used to hear different motivational speakers. A couple of them talked about setting goals for each of six or eight areas of your life. I would try, but then I'd get overwhelmed and just forget it all. Of course, I did have unspoken, unwritten goals, just trying to be a good wife and mother and raise our children. Somehow I managed that without breaking it down into planned, written goals...except perhaps for the lesson plans I made for our children's schooling.

For a couple years now, I've been striving toward written goals. I keep thinking I should include a number of areas of life, that I should expand the list. But every time I start to get past the first two, I can't seem to get the wording right. I change my mind. I'm not really sure what I want to pursue in this area or that. Slowly, something has begun to dawn on me.

Two major goals are enough for me! What a revelation. Maybe someone else can handle six or eight, or maybe another person can handle only one.

I'm not advocating forgetting everything else. Yes, life definitely needs to be balanced. And we can improve ourselves. I'm not saying I won't make a change in my diet along the way, or find a way to exercise a little more, or keep learning new things for my job. But do we need to set conscious, major, long-term goals for all of it? For some of us, I think that can be too overwhelming.

My two major goals (in case you're curious) are:
1) To help our youngest son Peter get through high school, and do all we can to help him prepare for college to pursue his career goals.
2) To get ourselves out of credit card debt.

Yes, like any good goal, I have dates set for the culmination of both of these goals. Both of these goals generate enthusiasm for me rather than the discouragement I get when I start trying to set too many goals at once.

When we reach these goals, I will probably know what new goals to set. By then, I should have the emotional energy and mental clarity to set a couple of new and equally exciting long-term goals.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

A Morning Revelation

The earliest dental appointment I could get was right in the middle of my work-day. Since I work only part-time already, I decided to just request the day off.

Being a morning person, I was up early that day, as usual. To my dismay, I discovered that we didn't have any eggs or milk, and we were low on bread. For once, my kids' occasional complaint that "there's nothing to eat" almost rang true. I would run to Trader Joe's, even though I had hoped to have a quiet morning at home.

Driving home from the store I looked at the southern sky and what a delight it was! Sandwiched between the gray cloud cover and the clouds meeting earth's horizon was a band of light...a wide horizontal swath of color: blue and yellow. Running vertically through it all were vertical white rays of light. All I could do was gasp in awe at the beauty, and thank God for His creation.

While I drive to work each morning, I often pray, "Please this..." and "Please that...". "Please help this person" or "bless that person". And there's nothing wrong with that. It's all good. But sometimes it might be even better to slow down and look at His creation, too, do you think? The prayer that is worried, hurried, and harried is still prayer, and He wants us to ask. But how good for our spirit is the prayer that lifts our heart joyously to the good God!

If we take our focus off the cares of this world for a few minutes, what wonders we can see.

What beauties lift your heart to God and renew your spirit?

Saturday, January 09, 2010

A Man and His Dog

A Tribute to Chicago

Paul's guide dog was here with us only days before he got sick, so I remember him well. I remember his tail waving excitedly when he wasn't working and I remember his focus when he was.

The bomb-sniffing dog at the airport - brought to check an abandoned bag - barked angrily at Paul's guide dog; but Chicago, true to his training and his mild nature, remained calm and still. That day we waited in the longest lines I have ever experienced...and Chicago waited more patiently than any of us.

Finally we reached the counter, so late that a supervisor had to call the gate. There was still time, but I would have to accompany Paul to the gate myself. The agent came with us to security so that Paul could bring what was supposed to be a "checked bag" along on the plane. As we neared the security counters, our agent told Paul to take off his jacket. While he did that, she disappeared. In trying to find her, I ended up getting us into the wrong lane, so by the time she found us we had to switch lanes, and then switch lanes again. The poor dog was having to weave with us through crowds of irritated people and around narrow angles, but he went along complacently through all of it.

Finally we headed down the long concourse, the gate agent calling Paul's name over the intercom. I asked Paul if Chicago would mind running, and off we went. I'm guessing the run may have actually been Chicago's favorite part of the trip. In the hurry, I didn't get a chance to tell Paul good-bye properly, nor to tell Chicago good-bye at all. But I will always gratefully remember Chicago's faithful service to Paul for the past year and a half, and his loving nature.

Chicago's service may have been short but it was a life well-lived. He was Paul's ever-faithful companion as Paul finished earning his college degree. Chicago gave him moral support and the help he was trained to give, as Paul adjusted to his blindness and continued to attend classes, student government sessions, Knights of Columbus meetings, and Newman Club get-togethers.

Nor was Paul the only one who benefited from the friendship. Chicago could not have had a more gentle and affectionate master, cheerfully praising him for being a good doggy and for his good work...playing with him and petting him when he was off-duty. Chicago gave every sign of living a very happy life.

He will always live on in our hearts.