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52 FEATS – THE END

2 Jan

In my original 52 FEATS blog entry, I said that I wanted these Feats to be “things that really encourage me to break out of my shell, to develop a good habit, or to break a bad one.”  I think I’ve accomplished that – and then some.  Never in my life have I put so much thought into my actions and choices, or taken so much time to think about what kind of person I want to be.

This has been a terrific adventure.  In some ways I’m sad to see it come to an end, but part of me will be glad to regain a bit of free time every week!

First, I want to sincerely thank everyone who has read my blogs throughout this year.  It was incredibly encouraging to read people’s comments, or to be asked what Feat was coming up next.  It has been a humbling experience to know I had so many people in my corner.

Second, I want to thank my husband for not only supporting me and helping me come up with ideas every week, but also for the great surprise of printing out all my Feats and compiling them into a book.  That was, without a doubt, the most thoughtful gift I’ve ever received!  (I sobbed like a baby when he gave it to me Christmas morning.)

A friend of mine recently asked if I continue to do all 52 of the Feats, all the time.  Nope!  I wish I could say each of them stuck with me perfectly and I never waver, but that’s not the case.  I still obsessively check email on my phone, and I definitely still need to cut down on fast food and sodas.  But I don’t see that as failing at all.  Without a doubt, I consider this whole year a terrific success.

So, down to brass tacks.  Here are some things I learned from my Feats, in no particular order:

  1. Giving blood doesn’t hurt all that bad. (But the finger prick for the iron test – yowch!)
  2. I can do anything, if I just put my mind to it.
  3. I can, in fact, stick with something for a whole entire year.
  4. Running is the worst form of torture.
  5. I am capable of big things, and perhaps I don’t give myself enough credit for what I can accomplish.
  6. Doing things in the public eye is a good incentive not to fail.
  7. The news is depressing and overly sensational.
  8. There is so much good in my life.
  9. Putting my goals in writing can help me make them a reality.
  10. There is always room for improvement.
  11. If at first I don’t succeed, I really can try again.  It’s OK.
  12. My iPhone is a wicked temptress.
  13. Shutting up and smiling is an appropriate – and helpful – response to just about any situation.

Now that 2011 is over, what’s next for me?  In 2012, I have decided – for the first time in years – NOT to make a resolution list.  I think the list of Feats last year was enough.  Instead, I want to try and ask myself one simple question:

How am I living today?

Am I being the best person I can be?  Showing my kids the best example possible?  Making the most of every day?  All of the Feats, taken together as a whole, embody this idea.

So even though this experiment is over, I still plan to live with all of the Feats in mind.  In addition to the cool book from my husband, I have all 52 Feats taped to my bathroom mirror.  They’re never too far from my mind.

Thanks, from the bottom of my heart!

Jen

P.S. I signed up for guitar lessons!

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52 FEATS – NUMBER 52 (Learning Something New)

28 Dec

For the original 52 FEATS blog entry, click here.

Aaaaaaaahhhhh – last Feat, can you believe it?  This one has been the toughest to figure out, which is why it’s Tuesday night and I’m just now getting this done.  I’ve been ruminating on this for what seems like an eternity.  This is my last chance for greatness!  The 11th hour in my quest to make a difference in my life!!

I suppose in some ways, I’m kind of reaching into the bottom of the barrel now, although I still have quite a few ideas that I haven’t tried yet.  I really want to go out with a bang – something meaningful.  But I also want it to be a true, honest Feat- something I’ve really wanted to accomplish.

So for this last Feat of my journey (and of this year), I’m going to dust off the old noodle and learn something new.  It’s not too late, I hope – old dogs can learn new tricks, right?  I haven’t quite decided what it’s going to be: Dance classes? A writing course? Guitar lessons?  (I’ve had “learn a song on the guitar” on my New Year’s resolution list for the last 5 years and still haven’t crossed it off yet!)

I’m going to do some searching around my city to see what’s available, and sign up right away.  I figure if I go ahead and pay for some classes then I’ll have no excuse not to do it.  And I want it to be something new, something I’ve never tried before.  What a great way to kick off 2012!

Stay tuned for next week, where I’ll be giving you an end-of-year update!

52 FEATS – NUMBER 51 (Not Complaining)

20 Dec

For the original 52 FEATS blog entry, click here.

I’ve had two conversations recently during which I suddenly realized I was doing nothing but complain.  In both situations, someone had asked me the simple question, “How are you?”  Several minutes later, I noticed that I hadn’t talked about anything but how busy I am, how overworked, how hectic life is, etc.  Complain, complain, complain…  Do I hate my life that much?  No!  And who wants to listen to that??

Plus, it’s the holidays, for crying out loud – it’s a wonderful, fun time!  I suppose it’s just the pessimist in me that immediately spouts off the negative, when I truly have so much to be happy about.

For my penultimate Feat, I intend to work on not complaining.  I’m going to be very mindful about what I’m saying and try my hardest to steer away from negativity.  You should try it, too – and have a very happy holiday season!

52 FEATS – NUMBER 50 (Making Friends)

13 Dec

For the original 52 FEATS blog entry, click here.

I’m happy to announce that I did great with last week’s Feat!  Based on a more consistent schedule, Jenna has already improved so much with her reading lessons.  And that definitely makes me feel like I’m doing a better job as a mom!

Last week I was at a restaurant with my family when I happened to strike up conversations with two complete strangers – something very unusual for me!  They were both very nice – one was an older man telling me about his grandkids and his love of Christmas lights, and the other was a young mom asking me questions about local schools.  We talked for at least a couple hours.

Maybe the romance of the season is getting to me, but I think I need to do this more often.  It was a nice thing to do, connecting with complete strangers who turned out to be very friendly.  I actually enjoyed talking to them; surprisingly, it didn’t feel like a chore.  Maybe my little grinchy heart is ready to grow three sizes!

52 FEATS – NUMBER 49 (Making a Commitment)

5 Dec

For the original 52 FEATS blog entry, click here.

Well last week I did a terrible job of keeping my trap shut.  Here’s a great example: As we were leaving for a playdate, my daughter put on a dress-up gown she had borrowed from a friend, only to find a huge rip across the front.  I went on this ridiculously long rant about being responsible for things we borrow, told her she owed her friend an apology, and said she would have to help pay to replace the dress.  We get to our playdate, she runs up to her friend and says she’s sorry for the dress, and her friend says nonchalantly, “Oh, my brother did that.”

Oops.

I think I’m going to make a t-shirt with a Nike-style swoosh across the front that says, “Just shut it.”

So obviously I need to keep working on not flapping my gums so much.  I found that goes awfully well with the previous Feat of smiling – I can paste a smile on my face, which instantly shuts me up and actually does sort of melt away any bad feelings.

On to this week – making a commitment.  Obviously I’m not a total commitment phobe – I mean, I did get married and have kids.  But there are a couple of small, important things that I’ve been letting slide lately.  The MOST important of those would be my daughter’s daily reading lessons.  Because they’re self-paced and not on any particular schedule, they keep getting pushed to the bottom of the list.  Sadly, most days we end up not even having time to do them at all.  Boo on myself.

I feel SO strongly about doing these lessons right now (and doing them the right way), that I have to make them more of a priority.  Twice a week just won’t cut it.  I was very diligent about doing these with my son, and I owe my daughter the same commitment!

52 FEATS – NUMBER 48 (Shutting Up)

29 Nov

For the original 52 FEATS blog entry, click here.

As I’m nearing the end of my year of Feats, it’s about time I tried this one:  Shutting my piehole.  Clamming up.  Zipping it.  I hate those moments when I’ve realized I should be listening instead of talking.  I’m not sure if I’m occasionally trying to fill awkward silences, or if I’m trying to prove something to someone, but sometimes I just don’t know when to shut up!

I noticed this a week ago when I was on a business conference call.  Much to my chagrin, it seemed like my mouth was talking before my brain had even formed anything concrete to say.  A couple times I completely lost my train of thought, and I wondered later if I came across as a total nincompoop.

I also have this problem with my kids, though in a completely different way.  When they misbehave and I get upset with them, I tend to go on and on and ON AND ON in correcting them.  I know I’ve read in more than one parenting book not to keep beating that dead horse.  Say what you need to say, and end it.  But in the heat of the moment, I tend to run off at the mouth until I’m sure I’ve put them into a stupor and the lesson is lost.

And I think the most important thing is, when you’re talking, you’re NOT listening.  Instead of seeing what you can learn or absorb from the situation, you’re stomping all over it.  So this week I’m going to concentrate on holding my tongue.  Who knows what I may learn?

“Wisdom is the reward you get for a lifetime of listening when you’d have preferred to talk.” ~ Doug Larson

52 FEATS – NUMBER 47 (Zooming Out)

22 Nov

For the original 52 FEATS blog entry, click here.

OK, I realize that the phrase “Zooming Out” may seem a little bit odd.  Please bear with me while I try to explain.

I am a very task-oriented person.  Not goal-oriented, necessarily, but task-oriented –  living and dying by my calendar and to-do lists.  I am constantly writing new things on my list, and checking them off is one of my greatest personal thrills (sad, I know).

But the problem I’ve noticed recently is that I’m totally bogged down by the minutiae.  I’ve become fixated on every little thing that needs to be done, repaired, or cleaned.  I’m in a rut.

For example, I am so focused on the crumbs under my kitchen table that I don’t even notice the table itself, a treasured heirloom from my deceased grandparents.  I’m so worried about decorating for the holidays that I overlook the fact that I already have a beautiful, warm home.

It’s like when I’m driving – I’m constantly staring at the road right in front of me, lost in thought about all the things I need to do that day, never bothering to look around a bit.  Yesterday I decided to “zoom out,” and noted with surprise that we do in fact have some lovely fall colors right here in north Texas!

I suppose it’s like the saying about not seeing the forest for the trees.  I’m so busy with the endless small details of life that not only am I having trouble enjoying it, I’m having trouble even seeing it for what it is.  Time to change my perspective and spend some time admiring the big picture!

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