Tuesday, January 29, 2019

January - Check!

January is coming to an end this week and it's time to review how I did on my January goals - and set February goals.


Going pretty well. I stuck to my January goals with at least a 95% success rate. I missed 10k steps a couple of times but those days still had 2 workouts in them. I've stuck to the no soda thing except for 1 time when Diet Pepsi was the only option when I just wasn't in the mood for water.

I'm discovering and exploring the emotional response of eating - I am an angry eater. I get frustrated or mad with work or my family and that is when I want to shove all the bad things in my face.


Still working on Frankenstein. I'm not loving it but I want to see it through. And my not loving it is actually about the story itself. When the creature is first created, there is a moment when Frankenstein has run away from his apartment - which contains the creature that has come to life and he is freaked out by. Then he comes back to the apartment with a friend he hasn't seen in a couple of years. His reaction to entering the apartment and realizing the creature is gone? He's relieved because he can invite his friend in. Not worried because he doesn't know where the monster is. Not concerned or scared.

But I will stick it out.


I've done the January Vitality focus pretty well! I intend to stick with these habits and also move forward - which means it's time to read February in the book.

Go to bed earlier - check
Exercise - check
Declutter - check (I have a stuff in my car to go to Goodwill)
Complete tasks - check but still work to do
Act energetic - check

February's focus is Marriage. The author's list doesn't feel exactly right for my own marriage so I'm spending some time thinking about what can be better - and also asking Jeff for his input.

For anyone following along, I plan to share Feb goals on Feb 1. Setting my final list over the next day or so and then preparing my journal and such for the new goals.

Until next time,

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Accountability and 9 Days

I have to admit that making myself check in weekly on my goals is a good thing. It doesn't necessarily cross my mind in the midst of a week but it does give me a boost to start the new week well.

Our routine was off this past week due to my husband traveling and due to a winter storm keeping us mostly at home for 3 days. 

As I sit down to write this, I feel like I've been failing.

I could have used that time to really make progress on my January goals. But I didn't.

I look back now and regret that I didn't use any of that time to read. Or complete tasks.

I've slipped on my 10k steps per day goal - that one becomes more challenging when you are spending all your time at home.

But I have been working out two times per day.

I'm fully back on water as my all the time drink. Which feels good.

For this final week, I must focus on reading. I need to make time for it.

I've been going to bed earlier.
I've been exercising.
I have a bag of stuff to go to Goodwill.
I haven't used being tired or feeling lazy as an excuse to say no to things.

Complete tasks... I'm definitely behind on this one but I have 9 days left in January to make progress. I did make an eye appointment. And when it hit a snag, I worked through it and made it happen.

Side vent - my employer uses VSP for our vision insurance. For the last 2 years, I've gone to an optical department in a big store. They've always looked up my insurance, said they found me and had it taken care of. I never questioned anything. VSP made changes in July so that if a provider is out of network, the provider can't find you in VSP. Thanks to that change, that previously used optical department couldn't find my insurance. So I cancelled with them and went elsewhere. I had a very good experience and ordered new glasses and plan to order contacts once we know these are the right ones.

Side fun - I'm now moving into progressive lenses / multi-focal contacts. Yay for getting old! Because of that, I decided to order glasses that are more FUN. I did informal polling on Facebook while at my appointment - mostly to make sure people thought I could pull off the ones I knew I wanted. I'm going RED!

Funny, I had thought I was failing at my goals for January. But it seems that maybe I'm not doing so badly after all. There are areas where I need to focus and make progress - but I have time to do that. Just need to adjust and make it happen. I've got 9 days left to read and to make progress on my tasks.

Until next time,

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Choices Become Change

It's a pretty normal thing, I think, to want to improve ourselves.

Lose weight.
Be more present to our kids.
Be a better spouse.
Move forward in a career.
Deepen our faith.

And we have lots of ways to achieve those goals. Diet, exercise, go back to school, date nights, go to church, and so on.

I've always focused on making that first choice to get started. But I'm thinking that it's all the other choices that come after that really matter. I've made the first choice many times and then I stop making better choices and I end up failing.

I was exercising yesterday - one of those healthy choices I've been making to achieve my goals to lose weight so that I am stronger and healthier - and it occurred to me that sometimes, that first choice isn't the hardest.

It can feel overwhelming to start. But so many times before, I've wanted to lose weight and be more active and I get my plan together and I start and I do great for about a week. Then I start making different choices and I'm no longer making choices that support my desired goal.

So maybe the harder choice is 6 months after starting when I don't want to get out of bed at 5:15 to get my workout done.

Maybe the harder choice will be in a year when I don't want to keep thinking about and planning vegetables in my daily nutrition because a burger and fries is easier. 

We want so badly to have results - we really want the results first. It isn't even an instant gratification thing for me. I like watching my body change, for example. It's more that I want the choosing to be easy.

But to achieve change... I have to keep making better, healthier choices. Every day. Every meal. Doesn't mean I don't treat myself now and then. But if I choose to start treating myself daily, there is a different kind of change that will happen. Doesn't mean I don't take a day off from exercise. But if I choose a day off every day, a different kind of change will happen. 

Every choice I make has a consequence or a result. That can feel overwhelming and heavy, honestly. But usually it helps me break it down into just making the next right choice. Instead of focusing on the end result that might take 6 more months of work (and thousands of choices), I'm just going to focus on the next choice I need to make.

Right now, I had a workout defeat me. It was intense and it was hard. I got through 15 of 20 minutes. I don't usually quit and I don't usually get angry. But I sure did today. So now I have the next choice to make. I need more exercise than the struggling 15 minutes. Do I do the last 5 minutes of the workout so I can say I completed it? Usually I do another 30-40 minutes of cardio - should I do 50-60 instead? Or should I throw in the towel for today and take it as a sign of needing a day off?

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I'm not sure yet if I will go back and do the last 5 minutes.

I will choose a longer cardio workout.

I won't take today as a rest day.

Every choice I make makes me. So what is it that I want to be? Do these choices still get me there?

Until next time,

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

15 Days In - January

January is halfway through. The first month of 2019 is halfway done. Can you believe it?

Time for my weekly check in on my January goals! 

To review: 

Physical Health
10,000 steps per day
Drink water (no soda)

Brain Work
Read the classic Frankenstein

The Happiness Project
Go to bed earlier
Complete tasks
Act more energetic

Physical health goals are going great! I lost weight July - Oct in preparation for our trip to Disney. I gained at Disney, came home and lost most of it, then the holidays hit. I basically maintained over the holidays and now it's time to get back to losing. In January, I've lost 5 lb and am back to where I was when we left for Disney. Daily exercise meets my daily 10k steps goal and is part of my Happiness Project vitality focus to exercise daily. I've started a new Beachbody Program - Shaun T's Transform:20. 20 intense minutes, 6 days per week. It's a step program but not like old school step aerobics. It's also about transforming whatever thing inside of you holds you back from achieving, succeeding. In order to make my step goal, I workout twice. Once is the new program and then I do whatever I choose. Walk if I can or I've been enjoyed some old school Shaun T like Hip Hop abs. 

In December, I had the same daily goal of 10k steps per day and I tracked and measured daily. In January, I'm still focused on the daily goal but if I miss a day, I am confident I can balance out the miss over the next day or two. I want the weekly focus to show 10K steps on average per day. 

My other physical health oriented goal is No Soda. I had slipped into enjoying diet soda in December. For me, it's a bad habit because it can lead to regular soda. I'm also not a fan of artificial sweetener. Water is the healthiest option so that's what I've been sticking with! I like to add fruit - lemon, lime, or pineapple.

Keeping my brain healthy is another goal this year. January's goal is to read the classic novel, Frankenstein. It takes serious focus to read the old language and style of writing. I'm really enjoying it. I am delayed in reading because I misplaced my copy for about a week. Thankfully, I found it again and am back to it. 

Vitality is the focus in January for The Happiness Project. I have to say that I am feeling the most success so far with the going to bed earlier. Over the holidays, being able to sleep later in the morning meant that bedtime was getting later and later. Focusing on getting to be by 10 or 10:30 so I can get up at 5:20 to workout means I'm getting around 7 hours of sleep per night. Which works well for me! I'm clearly exercising regularly so that one's pretty easy. And keeping up with that 10k step and exercising goal means I don't have time to act like I don't have energy - all I can do is act energetic! 

So the other part of vitality comes down to organization and such. Not my areas of skill. I have not tackled a decluttering or organization project. However, over the holidays, we did major purging and organizing in our home. So I've adjusted this goal to mean that I keep up with maintaining the work we've done. And I have! I feel like friends could drop by anytime and I'd be comfortable inviting them in. There is still mess and my home certainly wouldn't meet the standards of some folks - and that's ok. 

And finally - completing tasks. Or what feels like Adulting. I've made a list of things to get done. I've completed one thing - packing up and putting away Christmas stuff. A project finish in the bathroom (installing baseboards) is in process (we bought the stuff, now Jeff just has to finish it). The other things on the list - I just have to get serious and make them happen. To hold myself accountable, I'm sharing the rest of the list. 

Phone call to health insurance 
Schedule mammogram
Schedule annual eye check   Done as of 1/15!
Get patches sewn onto Teagan's TKD uniform
Shampoo living room/dining room carpet
Schedule a painting or pottery painting thing
Figure out living room light switch (in other words, nag Jeff about replacing it)

Overall, I'd say it's going well! 

Until next time,

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Guest Post: Disney Magic Kairos Time

Today's post is from my friend, Andrea. She's an unexpected Disney fan just like our family. She just got back from a trip and wanted to share why Disney is magic for her family!


Kairos (καιρός) is an Ancient Greek word meaning the right, critical, or opportune moment. The ancient Greeks had two words for time: chronos (χρόνος) and kairos. The former refers to chronological or sequential time, while the latter signifies a proper or opportune time for action.--Wikipedia

“You are going to Disney again?” I know what they really mean to ask when they say this. They mean, “Wasn’t once enough?” or “Why don’t you go someplace else.” “Aren’t the kids too old for Disney now?” Maybe we should go somewhere else. But was once enough? Nope. Disney is magical. Disney is Kairos time, sacred time, a time carved out of ordinary time where regular time is suspended.

We just returned from a Christmas holiday trip to Disney World in Orlando, Florida. It was our 7th (?) trip in about 15 years. We had never been there during Christmas time, however, always preferring to go in October during fall break. With one kid in college now and breaks not lining up the way they used to, the only time we could fit the trip in was Christmas. Initially, I was not happy about it. The most crowded week of the year? Give up my relaxing time at home between Christmas and New Year’s? Not at all what I preferred to do. But, we make sacrifices for our children. And for those moments of Kairos.

A well-planned Disney trip (thanks to our wonderful Disney planner, Katie Dixon with Hi Ho Vacations) sets the stage for Disney Magic Kairos Time. Despite the schedule, jam packed with early morning Magic Hours, fast passes, and dining reservations, this year I really tried to pay attention. I wanted to drink in this family time, knowing that it may be one of the last trips we take as a whole family together. I wanted to pay attention to who the kids are and who we are as a family.

One of the best things about Disney is how it grows with you. When they were little, the magic of meeting their favorite characters “in the flesh” was just about all the excitement they could bear. We would seek out the characters at the various meet and greets. Armed with their little autograph books, they would bask in the glow of a hug from Pocahontas or a high-five from Mickey. What a treat to meet Buzz Lightyear and Woody after riding the Buzz Lightyear ride! As they grew, they tackled the more thrilling rides like Rock n Rollercoaster and Space Mountain. This year, the youngest kid started really noticing all the work and attention to detail that Disney puts into creating each one of its rides and environments. Disney goes all in with the theming, no two dimensional facades for them. In Pandora, he noticed that even the railings for line control at the Na’vi River ride were designed to look like natural materials instead of just standard metal railings. We all marveled at the way the Banshee in Flight of Passage “breathed”. Still, at each stage, they love to return to the old favorites… Buzz Lightyear, Pirates of the Caribbean, the cheesy Jungle Cruise. They even humor me in my assertion that you have only really been to Disney once you’ve ridden It’s a Small World.  

Three boys, ages 20, 16, and 12. Different stages and very different personalities. In real life, the two oldest get along ok. Jake tends to be very critical of his younger brother, Griffin, but they share an interest in sports and their deep involvement in DeMolay, a Masonic youth organization for boys and young men. Jake also tends to be critical of the youngest, Owen, but has more patience for his quirks than Griffin does. In real life, Griffin and Owen do not mix. They are the proverbial oil and water. Or, perhaps, a more combustible mix like cyanide and some kind of acid that creates a highly toxic hydrogen cyanide gas that can kill all in its path. Griffin lacks any patience with Owen and can’t believe Owen doesn’t like sports. Griffin sees Owen’s youth as stupidity instead of inexperience. They have DeMolay in common as well, but Griffin’s advanced age, bossiness, high expectations, and selective memory make him extra critical of Owen in that arena. Life in ordinary time with these two is rife with conflict, hateful attitudes, toxic conversations, and generally surly teenage attitudes.

Disney Magic Kairos Time, is different. Disney Magic Kairos Time brings out the best in all of us. It begins the moment we settle into the car to get on our way and generally lasts until a few miles away from home at the end of the trip. Nope, not even 16 hours of confinement in the car (each way) can disrupt Disney Magic Kairos Time.  I mean we aren’t perfect, even in Disney Magic Kairos Time. We are just better, nicer, more helpful, more enthusiastic, more patient versions of ourselves. There is no room in Disney Magic Kairos Time for surly teenage attitudes. Nobody is “too cool” to ride It’s a Small World. They won’t ride it more than once, mind you, but it is part of the Disney experience. Griffin, the king of 16 year old attitude, insists that we start our Disney vacation with the Ohana breakfast at the Polynesian. He happily embraces Lilo, Stitch, and Mickey when they made the rounds at our table. Those Mickey waffles do something to a guy… Despite my reluctance to see that abomination, Donald Trump, defiling my beloved Hall of Presidents, my boys convinced me to go anyway. And we didn’t hate it. My husband thought Disney handled it well. There was no eye rolling as we stood in the short line for the Three Caballeros ride at Epcot. Soarin’ just makes us happy. There was genuine awe and joy as we looped, dived and flew through the Flight of Passage at Animal Kingdom.

Perhaps the best and most important realization that I had during our time out of time at Disney this year, was how connected we are as a family. It is at Disney that I notice most that we are truly a unit. At Disney, I can see the invisible threads of love and devotion that connect us. It gives me hope that those bonds will endure even after they are grown and gone from our home. In Disney Magic Kairos Time, Griffin leads the way consulting with Jake, checking the Disney app for wait times and the best route from here to there to make sure we get to our next fast pass on time. He leads, but he never leaves behind. He is never more than three or four yards ahead, always checking back to make sure that we are still with him.  

In Disney Magic Kairos Time, I notice how physically connected we are. We hold hands, walk with our arms around each other, and occasionally hug. Owen, at 12, is still not quite taller than me, despite what he says, and still enough of a little boy that he doesn’t mind frequent hugs and hand-holding with his mother. Griffin, firmly entrenched in the teen years, shows his affection with pats on the back that are almost a little too hard, playfully bumping into us to move us along or get our attention and, occasionally, he puts his arm around me and leans. Jake, almost 20, mature for his years, seems almost protective and solicitous of me. He frequently puts his arm around me as we walk and talk, staying connected in the midst of the bustling crowds. They do the same with their dad. We stick together. There is no splitting up, Jake makes sure of it. We all go or none of us do. In Disney Magic Kairos Time, the older brothers put their arms around the baby brother to guide him and encourage him, rather than to choke him. It is a beautiful thing to see and even more beautiful to be a part of.

We stay in warm bubble of Disney Magic Kairos Time during our trip home, for the most part. Everyone is reluctant to go back to normal. If there were a way to conjure it up when we are back home and back to our daily lives, I would. I find myself looking at our pictures frequently. (Love that Memory Maker.) My new Disney tennis shoes on a Monday morning brighten my day and conjure up just a little bit of the Disney Kairos Time. My husband holds on by keeping up with the updates on Disney parks throughout the year.  And there is always planning the next trip. Maybe next Christmas? Star Wars Land, anyone?


Thank you, Andrea! I love this because it really captures why I also love going to Disney. It's unexpected but we are really a version of our best selves when we go. Not every moment is magic, of course. But I can more easily see our goodness and joy and love for each other. I like the spirituality of calling that Kairos.

Until next time,

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

The Year of Happiness

It may sound cheesy.

It may be setting myself up for disappointment.

But I've decided that the goals I'm working on this year are leading me to focus on Happiness.

2012 was the start of a lot of years of upcoming hard stuff. Layoffs and big changes at work. Unexpected new job (same company) at work. Leaving our church after 11 years. Finding a new church. Zach's cancer scare. Various health issues for me and Jeff. Illnesses for the kids - typical stuff but it seemed to come in waves.

Something about this year feels different.

Not that life is going to be sunshine and roses and no problems. Life is all about handling and surviving hardships.

But this year, as 2018 began to fade and 2019 was coming into view, I began to feel like I had the opportunity to make things better.

A big part of this adjustment is taking some control over my physical health. At the end of June, I decided it was time to take back this part of living. I'd last been successfully and consistently healthy and active back in (you guessed it) 2012. In 2012, I did the Dirty Girl Mud Run, I took a spinning class and did a long bike ride (The Girlfriend Ride). The year before, I did a half marathon.

Life got super hard and I just let it slip away. And I gained weight. Quite a bit of weight.

So in June, I knew it was time to get really serious about taking back control of my health as best I could - with a good nutrition plan and with daily exercise. Thanks to finding Beachbody and Shakeology, I had help in getting both of those things under control.

So in 2018, I started to take control.

In 2019, I want to take it to the next step. I want to be happier. I want to continue to improve my physical health but I also want to do maintenance checks and work on happiness. Enter the book "The Happiness Project." I also want to keep my mind engaged and sharp by reading more - and maybe reading better. I blogged last week about my January goals.

How am I doing?

10K steps per day - check

I've also kept to my goal of only drinking water, tea, coffee. No soda!

Reading - Because I have to be able to concentrate when reading Frankenstein, I have not made as much progress this week as I'd like. I think I will need to get creative on how to get more reading time in - like, dinners where we can read while we eat or something. But I definitely need to find times to read more where I can really concentrate.

Go to bed earlier - I am getting the amount of sleep I need (see the Fitbit review above). I'm making an effort to get to bed between 10-10:30. It definitely takes effort.

Exercise - definitely meeting this goal.

Declutter/organize - Meh. We've done a lot of purging in the past couple of months. I think I'm seeing this goal as more about making the effort to stay on top of keeping our living spaces livable. I'm doing ok but again - it will take more effort.

Complete tasks - I have made my list. Now I have to work on completing the tasks.

Act energetic - I have made myself be active at times I didn't want to be. I definitely do believe in the "fake it until you make it" way of thinking.

One week of the new year is done. I feel good about the progress I've made!

Until next time,


I used to blog very regularly. Now, not so much. Which means I may be disconnected from you. Or maybe we haven't met before.

I'm Liz. I'm married to Jeff. We live in Indiana. Our kids are Teagan (she's almost 14 years old) and Zach (he turned 11 recently). Our dog is Bandit - he's a rescued chihuahua-esque cutie with his own hashtag #BanditioPoochito on Twitter and Instagram. Jeff and I both work full time. The kids go to the local public school. We are very involved in our church. We are a liberally minded family. We also love Disney - movies and World. In a lot of ways, we are just a basic, typical, white, suburban family.

Sometimes, I blog about faith. Or about life in general. Sometimes, I write about my political opinions or issues about social justice. Sometimes, I blog about healthy living and getting healthier. I like to dive deep into life and faith and trying to improve myself as a parent, a spouse, a friend, and so on.

In 2019, I am focusing on improving my physical health (diet and exercise), sharpening my mind (reading consistently), and improving my happiness (The Happiness Project).

Things I might blog about include:

Parenting a teenager and a tween is not for the faint of heart or those without a backbone.

Faith is fluid. It shifts and changes. Sometimes that can be scary.

Friends are vital.

Surviving parenthood and keeping a marriage in tact and happy is a unique challenge. I want my husband to be my best friend. I want us to like each other after the kids are gone.

Rekindling or finding new creativity.

Until next time,

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

One Choice

It's the New Year and that means many people are setting goals and resolutions. I'm no exception. I don't have a vision for all of 2019 but I do want to set monthly goals.

Here are my overall 2019 areas of focus.

Body - Health
In 2018, I lost 35 lb. I want to lose more. At least 15-20 more lb. The best way for me to achieve this goal is to break it down into manageable steps.

January Goals
10,000 steps per day - achieved through working out and walking.
No soda - drink water, 1 cup of coffee per day, hot or iced tea is ok.

Mind - Reading
I grew up reading constantly. I enjoy reading. But in the past few years, I tend to stop and start and not consistently read. Instead of just setting a goal to read 1-2 books per month, I plan to commit to a specific book each month. 

January's book is the classic Frankenstein.

The Happiness Project

My sister-in-law recommended this book and I received it for Christmas. While I know that I'm supposed to figure out my own path to Happiness, I like the idea of reading this book month by month since I happened to start it exactly on New Year's Day and it's written with monthly themes.

January's focus is Vitality.

  • Go to bed earlier
  • Exercise
  • Declutter/organize
  • Complete tasks
  • Act more energetic

It might feel like a lot to take on. But most of these things are already in place in my life. This just helps me sharpen the focus. Prioritize.

As I made my breakfast this morning, I was reminded that goals are achieved with each choice I make. If I choose to sit down and watch TV instead of exercising or reading, I am choosing not to focus on my goals. Sometimes, that's ok. But with each choice, I either stay focused or I don't. When I make a meal, I either make healthy choices or I don't. When I put water in my cup instead of Diet Coke, I'm making a choice. So it's just a matter of intentionally making choices throughout the day. Sometimes that feels less overwhelming. One choice at a time. Even if I make a bad choice, I don't have to throw away the whole day. The next choice can be better.

The next choice can always be better.

Until next time,