Posts Tagged ‘goals and habits’


This last month, I was very blessed to be able to take a visit to my parents farm, where I grew up.  While there, I attended two graduations for cousins of mine, butchered a beef, visited with lots of relatives and really enjoyed the time.   I was able to meet my brothers new girlfriend and talk to my youngest sister, who has estranged herself from the family.  It was a real blessing.

While I was there, I realized that I had completely lost sight of why I had begun this blog, and realized why it had become such a chore to even look at.  Now that the focus is restored, I hope to do some rearranging and share more often. 

Have a blessed Sunday.

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The Monthly KAL group is going get me into loads of trouble!  You don’t believe me?  New patterns, links to other knitter’s web sites, and constant talk of yarn– What thread connoisseur could resist? 

Considering all the patterns available to try out, I took advantage of being near a yarn shop this weekend and bought a new color: Shaded Brown.  I would have loved to bring home three or four new colors, but unfortunately, they had very little selection in the cotton yarn. 

Within 24 hours of being home, the new yarn tucked away for next months KAL, I came across a dish cloth knit in the waffle stitch…it looked so good, I followed the link to the pattern, and this morning I bound off the edge.  Now, the only problem is, three of my boys want this for their very own.  My husband likes it too.

I love the way the stitch worked up.  It is not reversible, but it is not bad from the back.  I know I will be using this pattern again.  I plan to make it in the other variegated yarns I have and in solid colors.  The original showed it with a stripe across the middle.  I think I would put the stripe off center, and crochet around the edge with the contrasting color. 

I am going to make my quota of Christmas cloths, several for my home, and some for the boxes for soldiers (we hope to send out a bakers dozen this year).  I also came across an organization that collects 7″ squares to make afghans from for children who undergo to correct their spinal disorders, in third world countries.  The boys and I would both like to help with that, so they will be honing their skills.  I hope to put together one afghan this winter.  It is not much, but one person is still something.


We all liked the tread so much that I decided to knit my husband a tie.  He does not wear a tie very often, so the need is questioned, but I am sick of his eagle tie.  He has worn it almost every time he has needed to dress up in the last fifteen years.  The other tie he owns is so 80ish; all I can think when I see it is Micheal J. Fox.  Yuck!  Gross!  Definitely time for something new.

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Order is not something that one finds an abundance of in my home.  It is not because I dislike order, quite the contrary.  I love a neat clean space, and everything set just so.  I like to decorate, using everyday objects as the stars of my home.  It is that I have trouble remembering what needs to be done. 

It is more than a case of ‘Out of sight, out of mind’.  It can be right in sight, and never occur to me that it needs to be done!  An illustration of this (the one that showed me what an issue I have with it), occurred about a week ago:  I was busy clearing the table, after supper, the kids were getting ready for bed, and my husband was doing some research on-line.  He called me to come look at something he had found.  I left the table, read several pages on-line, discussed it with him, and then looked at the clock, to see what I needed to be doing.  It was time to make sure everyone had their jammies on and that their teeth were properly brushed.  I completed that task, sending them to read the Bible with Dad, and went on to my next task: rating articles at Helium.com. 

I had been rating articles for half an hour, when I smelled something funny.  I turned to see what was behind me, and found that the table was still covered with supper dishes and left-overs.  YUCK!!! 

After correcting the problem, I looked at the clock, and realized it was time to knit.  As I was knitting, I realized the absurdity of what had happened:  I had walked by the table numerous times without ever ‘seeing’ the mess on it.  My time for clearing the table had expired, so I had assumed that the job was done. 

That is when it clicked for me, why picking up after myself had been a habit successfully acquired.  It had come with multiple time frames and triggers, as well as desire.

My desire for a neat, orderly home had kept me going and focused; but it was establishing triggers and time of the day that I would pick up after myself, that really made it a success.

I have always been very time oriented.  My parents almost confiscated my watch, for giving the exact time:  11:42:36 am.  When something happened is what sticks in my mind.  When, therefore, is a key word for me.  If something is going to get done, it must have a specific time set to it.  ‘Today’ is too general. 

I also realized that my ‘triggers’ are based on time.  Before, during, after, when and finished, are time words.  I pick up after myself–anything I used–When I am done with a craft.  Before I move onto another project.  Before we eat.  Before I go to bed.  I also do a check of the house at 5 pm, to make sure there is nothing that I have forgotten to pick up at an earlier time, before my husband gets home. 

Can you relate, or is this just me?  …another atypical moment…

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In order to learn a new skill, one must practice!  Practice is essential to becoming proficient at anything.  Practice is essential to staying proficient.

What are you proficient at?  What do you do, without even thinking?  What things ‘come naturally’?  Are these things that you ‘practice’ regularly?  When you act in certain manners, do you think of your behavior as ‘practicing’?  What am I really getting at?

We live our lives out of habit.  Habits are the things we practice regularly.  Do you habitually clean up after yourself?  Then it is something you practice, many times a day.  How about yelling, snapping or grumbling?  Do you practice that daily, also?  Why?  Is it how you want to be?

I know it is not how I want to be.  I want to speak kindly and  with wisdom.  I want my words to be a blessing… so why do I ‘speak loudly’?   Why do I make so much noise… especially at home, with those I love most?

Understanding the Problem

I could blame it on my upbringing:  I grew up in a loud house.  My dad is loud…  We once took a decibel meter to him, while he was on the phone, and from a room away, he registered as loud as a rock concert!

We drove noisy vehicles…one had to speak very loudly to be heard.  We shouted up the stairs and down the hall to announce meals, or anything else, of importance.  We liked our music.  We worked cattle, and needed to be heard…

It was not cruel.  Mean things were not said.  It was just loud!

I could blame it on my own family:  This is a house full of boys and noise!  They are not calm and quiet…why should I be? 

The older relatives are mostly deaf…   My conversational tone does not carry…  The dog doesn’t listen… 

The excuses could go on and on, but the real reason I yell is because I practice yelling.  I practice shouting, instead of going to where my family is, and speaking to them.  I practice yelling, instead of calmly directing my children.   I practice yelling, instead of buying a muzzle for my noisy dog.

Change:  How to be Different

The simple answer is to stop practicing, since practice is needed to maintain any skill. 

Two years ago, we bought a piano.  I had played some, growing up, as we had a little keyboard, and I had learned what I could on its 44 keys.  I was eager to learn more, and to teach my children to play, so set to practicing daily.  I was progressing quite well, until the day I got a phone call while playing, informing me that one of my friends had died. 

Her sudden death was suddenly linked to playing the piano, in my mind.  For over a year, I was almost unable to play.  Because I quit practicing, all the skill I had gained was lost.

Form New Habits

How does one change? 

  • First, one needs have a reason for changing. 
  • Second, one needs to know how they would like to be different. 
  • Third, one needs to reprogram their thinking.  –Decide what the outcome will be and find inspiration!

To begin playing again, I needed to remember all the reasons I had started, in the first place:  The joy of music in the home and the ability to be a blessing to others, amongst others.  Then, I needed to reassociate my feelings about playing the piano. 

For me, that meant remembering the good things about my friend, not just her death.  Now, when I play, I remember how beautifully she played.  This has not only helped to heal the hurt, but inspired me to really perfect each piece as I learn it.  It has inspired me to not be haphazard or lazy in my learning.  Playing the piano, is once more a joy!

How does this apply to other habits? 

This is how I have applied it to  my ‘loud speaking’.   

  1. I have realized that my yelling has trained the children to only listen to loud noises.  This is evident in the way they listen to stories on CD and in the way they speak to each other: loudly! 
  2. I have determined that it would be best if I spoke in a conversational tone, kindly and directly. 
  3. To change my thinking (and theirs), I need to expect to be heard at a conversational tone. 

This means I will have walk up to the person I am speaking to, instead of yelling across the room.  It also means that I will not continue repeating myself, louder and louder, until I am responded to.  I will get the person’s attention, before I begin speaking.

I will expect (and train for) obedience upon the first command.  This is a kind thing to do for my children:  It will make them most pleasant to be around and could save their lives in an emergency situation, because they will be able to listen to the quiet sounds as well as the loud noises.

By forming this new habit of speech, I will become a more respected individual. 

“Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far.”

-Theodore Roosevelt

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There are so many things I want to do with my life!  It is hard to keep a focus. So, with that in mind, I have chosen the 13 habits and 13 skills that I believe are most needed to move me forward in this next year. 

The habits list is based according to my values.  Some are habits of the heart, some of the mind, and some are there, just to stretch me and take me beyond my comfort zone. 

The skills list is based on areas of weakness or ignorance, where I currently have an interest.  My interests do not come and go quickly, so to have made it on this list, they have been interests for more than a year.  As I read it over again, I see only one that has been an interest for less than five years, and it is the one that I am most proficient at.  Hmm…impulsiveness can be good.

So, why 13? 

  • I have read all the advice about choosing only a few things to work on at a time, but I find that my focus can become so narrow, I forget everything else.
  • I don’t plan on tackling everything at once. 
  • These are not a “New Years Resolution;” they are things that I want to be part of my life, regardless of the work and effort they may take to achieve.
  • And 13?  It is a baker’s dozen.  It correlates with the number of moons in a year.  It leaves no room for procrastination, and I don’t believe in bad luck!


13 Habits–make/maintain

  1. Read Bible, daily.
  2. Pray about the important things, daily.
    1. Family
    2. Finances
    3. Friends
    4. Government
  3. Make bed, daily.
  4. Inspect the entire house, including food stores, daily.
  5. Make deposits and pay bills as they come in.
  6. Pick up/clean up after myself.
  7. Spend time with each member of my home, daily.
  8. Speak Kindly!
  9. Make meals a joyful time.
  10. School, five days a week, September through May (except holidays).
  11. Read with the children, from some ‘extra’ (non school) book, daily.
  12. De-clutter for 15 minutes each day.
  13. Practice the Piano.

13 Skills–to learn or improve

  1. Fars-isle knitting–Tyger’s afghan.
  2. Cable knitting–Manny’s sweater.
  3. Tatting!
  4. Piano–practice daily, for 15 minutes.
  5. Improve my spelling and punctuation–practice daily and read more.
  6. Tanning!
  7. Spinning wool!
  8. Processing Flax!
  9. Spinning Flax!
  10. Dying…from natural materials!
  11. Weaving on a loom–start by building one.
  12. Letter writing–write to at least one person each month.
  13. Article writing–tackle one new subject each month, and work out a well written, informative piece…essay, research, directive, etc., as will be needed for writing books.

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Last night, I was decluttering my magazine/catalogue rack (now that I have placed all my Christmas orders), and came across these: 

Unread Magazines! 

Now these are not just any magazines.  These are woman’s home decorating magazines!  These are magazines I subscribe to.  Magazines, that a year ago, you couldn’t pry out of my hands, until they had been read cover to cover, at least twice!  Magazines that are a priority to file and keep in good condition (even if I don’t know where last month’s bills and tax info. got stashed)!

Yes, strange things are afoot…

This last week I sold my first article! 

A woman’s magazine bought it.  I don’t know which one, as it was bought through a third party, and the name used was a pseudo.  What I do know is that it is a print magazine, making me a ‘published’ author.  Okay, so that is a little premature, since it hasn’t been printed yet, but it will be!

…I have gone from reading magazines to writing them.

My husband and I had a good laugh over this.  We were both thinking of the days when I would read anything, just to be reading, because my addictions (none considered dangerous) ruled my life.  We were also thinking of my love/hate relationship with dead-lines that led to procrastination, and my perfectionist attitude, which kept me fearful, making it difficult to have an orderly home.  I am not saying that all of this has changed, but things are different than they were a year ago. 

The biggest difference is my attitude.  I decided that exhibiting addictive behavior was not all bad, because it helped me to stick to things, even when I found them boring…I kept coming back.  Between my addictive behavior and my perfectionist attitude, I was willing to learn new things.  Both have helped me to become a proficient knitter and writer within the last year. 

Believe it or not, last year at this time, I only knew how to knit and pearl.  I had never followed a pattern, and thought a garment was beyond my ability or patients.  It was a few days before Christmas (2007), that I undertook my first knitting project…beyond a dish clothe.  I knit a bath mitt.  It turned out so well that I was inspired to knit a Daniel a pair of mittens…  Knitting is now one of my favorite, most useful pass-times.

A year ago, the only things I wrote where Thank You letters, personal notes, and a journal.  My spelling and grammar were atrocious.  I disliked dictionaries.  I thought I would always be a failure in the English department.  Then a friend showed me a book writing challenge for the kids.  It looked like fun, so we dove in.  We missed the deadline, but I realized I enjoyed the process, and that teaching the children was going to require a different attitude on my part.  So, I took my sister’s advice (the sister who has always dreamed of being an author), and began to write daily, even if it was just a list.

In both instances, my perfectionist attitude has served me, as long as I allow myself room to not be perfect, the first time.  This attitude, coupled with addictive behavior, has kept me trying, until I am happy with the results and have learned the skills I need to do well. 

These same attitudes have been bent to help me use my time productively.  To achieve goals and dreams, and keep my home on track.  Sites, like the Fly Lady and Zen Habits, have helped me to take little bits at a time, and really make progress.  An exceptionally helpful article is here.

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This is the last of my Christmas sewing, for friends and extended family! 

Thanx for cheering for me.

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