Turning the Page

Here's to a new Chapter ~ 2011

A new year to me, is like getting a new notebook, a fresh piece of paper and a pretty new pen, opening the doors wide for the sunshine to come streaming in! I LOVE a new year because it opens up the doors to Hope.
Last year’s summary - was it a washout like mine? What did you learn about yourself and your agenda in 2010? Does that agenda still fit you, and where you see yourself now? Or did you take two steps back for every one forward? Well, that’s ok. Are you ready to pull up those bootstraps and put your best foot forward again?

My goals are based on things I enjoy and/or are passionate about – so whatever obstacles come, whatever rain falls down and drenches you, I’ll walk under a rainbow of hope in the results; whether there’s a pot of gold at the end of it or not, I can believe there is.
Sometimes that’s all we get is the journey (our life story) so it had better be a good read!

“What does 2011 look like when you tell it from the future?”
Shaping your present from the perspective of future is a very interesting idea that one blogger put forth. It is creating goals by writing them as if you’ve accomplished them already- and are looking at the end result, how your live is now, as viewed from the future. I love this idea of visualizing the end result and then fashioning the path that it ‘took’ to arrive there. (Present tense, the path you can take to get there in the future.)
 If you can do that kind of visualization, you can discern your values and priorities. Your goals become clear once you write them down from a future perspective. Being realistic,  because you know your limits and surroundings, you can then put thought and energy into seeing that vision through to its culmination.
You could do a 1-year plan, 2-year plan, and a 5-year plan –even a 10 year plan... straight through to retirement! What’s to stop you from planning?
If you, like me, still feel a little raw from the last two years of trying to get ahead, I can understand that, but don’t let it stop you in your tracks. You’ve got another year now to try again.
Go ahead, if at first you don’t succeed, try, try, again. It’s the only way anyway.

New Year 2011 for me, is about getting better focused and more intense about making the changes necessary to reach my dreams.
I’ll be truthful here, because everything feels so insecure these days, because we are living so close to the edge of all things... so the overall picture of our goal contains
Plan A
Plan B
Plan C
The rest is in God’s hands. (I've learned to be very careful of placing it there!)

Plan A: to make this place it’s most salable (longterm goal of 5 years or whatever it takes for the market to come back) to move to another location nearby, to a piece of property we can love and use – one that inspires the future that the land holds for us (toward the agenda of self-sustenance, as much as is reasonably possible in reality).  It's the means to an end, that's all. It's a place to practice & experiment in things, for the next time around. It's not permanent. I mustn't fall in love with it ever again.

Plan B: make this house and property comfortable and in some way work for itself by sustaining us in some way. For instance, using the trees for firewood, letting goats graze the weeds down, etc. Long term, retiring here to provide security for our children and grandchildren once we’re gone. Love has nothing to do with it- we simply work with what we’ve been given to work with.

Plan C: moving on without benefit of selling or keeping the house (due to circumstances out of our control). Starting over from scratch as one more of the possible 5 million other disenfranchised home owners. One never knows what the future will bring. If it comes to this, our plan is still the same only we do it better next time around.

My personal agenda is based on a rose-colored hue for tomorrow, and my version of Hope...what living the good life means to me, what I need to feel fulfilled, and successful while coming to terms with continued financial struggle. I continue to stand firm on the belief that God is near (whether things are going well or not) and will live as though what I do is significant and my life has an intrinsic value and meaning that is bigger than myself.

In reviewing what was accomplished from those 12 Folders from last year, I have a firm grip of how to assure myself a better future, first by taking better care of myself (transforming my physical self via personal Bootycamp!), then by upgrading the intensity of the creation processes - where dreams become projects by diligently planning ~(renewed dedication to the end results and actions toward my farmy ideals, and dream of horse ownership once again)
MY OWN PERSONAL MOON... yeah, that’s what I want.

2011 goals & agenda:
*To continue exploring farm themes and dreaming dreams of the possibilities. I’m slowly developing my own vision- the entire reason for this blog in the first place.

*To live without succumbing to the constant barrage of bad news – no despair this year, only the determination to stand up to each challenge as it presents itself.
If I am not wearing rose-colored sunglasses, then I can certainly put them out to remind me of this:

*Weekly Morning page journaling, media fasting, artist dates, actual exercising, eating better (better foods- on a schedule), creating and listening to a music soundtrack during writing sessions (must do this when painting or I simply can’t paint – TV background noise doesn’t do it for me, unless it’s a practical project- like diagrams of the garden or getting landscaping idea down). For me that is the difference between “artistic” and “creative” endeavors.

*Re-vamp all my Binders to serve current purposes

*raise and store more foods, shop more efficiently – use the crockpot more often and serve up more bean dishes

*Freeze chicken carcasses for baking and then boiling into rich soup stock (to be frozen in coffee cans).

*I want one basic soup stock recipe memorized –so soup recipes should work no matter what the vegetable I have (within reason) - butternut squash, canned peas, dried lentils, canned tomatoes, frozen broccoli... whatever it is.

*I want to have a standard muffin recipe I can memorize, that works perfectly for the high altitude - and then just switch out the ingredients based on what I have on hand.

*I want one basic bread recipe memorized - for consistent results (this has been a haphazard and not too hilarious inconsistency). Sometimes I want to add cheese and jalapeno or onion and pepper, sometimes not.

*I want better meal planning to use up remnant leftovers in stew/soup/quiches... and no more tossing what isn’t edible – create a compost pile.

*Dehydrate and freeze-store serving sized (like ice-cube sized frozen herbs and juices, citrus zest, soup stocks, etc.) I could probably pickle boiled eggs by saving pickle juice!

*Create flavored vinegars, homemade salad dressings

*Make a habit of juicing and smoothies (goal is daily)

*I plan to container garden on the deck. Watering 2x a day in summer is not adequate- so I’ll have to plan better with a better system. I used thick plastic coffee cans before – but would rather have terracotta pots. Need to work this out.

*Build shelters and obtain fencing for animals (goats, whatever) and a chicken coop

*cook up a pot of black beans, pan of seasoned ground buffalo, pan of rice with cilantro, a bowl of pico de gallo (fresh salsa) and some mango-habanero salsa- so that we can mimic the tacoria lunches we go out for anytime during the week. (save about $40. a week)

*Paint - paintings I can sell at the numerous venues available in our area

*Finish a novel and get it sent to agents by October (I have 2 stories in the works). If accomplished, any money goes toward a horse.
OK, ½ of the money.

To Do:
*build chicken coop & get at least 6 chickens (following year: add duck yard & duck house for Khaki Campbell and Muscovy ducks)
*create a Pantry
*try homemade essential oil insect repellent
*finish the attic, build stairs to it
*paint cement floor
*container garden on the deck
*plant 6 apple trees
*plant 8 berry plants (4 in pots on deck, 4 in yard below – blueberry, blackberry)
*build & maintain compost area

Challenges & Skills:
*dipped candles
*load, shoot, and clean a shotgun (without fear)
*sew my own tops for summer
*finish a story (I'm not doing this alone by a seat of the pants! I'm under the wing of a great writing coach, Larry Brooks at Storyfix.com - I can't emphasize the quality of his outreach & strategies enough - his is the best of any writing site I've run across because he doesn't just say he knows things... he shows, proves, his points and explains in detail! )

*tortilla press
*a hand-pump for the water well – for emergencies without electric
*a burnishing tool – for decorating  plain wood picture frames and stair railings, logs...
*apple peeler/slicer/corer
*storage containers for the freezer
*pie plates
*apple press 

I’ve learned to divide the year Seasonally - into Quarters - 3 months dedicated to each Season:
Spring – starts March 20 (Mar Apr May)
Summer -  starts June 21 (Jun Jul Aug)
Fall – starts September 22  (Sep Oct Nov)
Winter – starts December 21 (Dec Jan Feb)

Each quarter, I backup PC files to disk, label and store in a CD sheet in my binders.
I may begin to divide my chores into Seasons (quarters) rather than monthly agendas, simply one more way to simplify. We’ll see how that goes.

For now I’ll continue with the “12 Folders” system of monthly agendas.  I like having some flexibility rather than creating more ‘to do lists’. Within each month the focus topic can be evaluated and acted on with whatever time and energy I want to allot to it.
I might spend all day every day or only 4 hours a week on each topic. They work to keep things interesting and BALANCED, yet focused. (That’s #1 importance to stay on task!)
Obviously I really, really, need that- but the bottom line is I need to always be able to see where I'm going. Just like I always have to have a clear view of what weather is coming.
Some people are claustrophobic- I do ok in small places like elevators and MRI machines... what I can’t stand is not knowing what’s coming. I panic if I can’t see ahead to prepare for it- whatever it is.

Each month of the year has a manila folder dedicated to it where I can focus on one aspect/topic of concern or interest. I've shared this before, but if you don’t want to go back - it goes like this:

1) January –WELLNESS: all Health improvement categories ( muscle conditioning and flexibility exercises, etc. Dietary: add to diet/ remove from diet/ foods and recipes to try, etc.)

2) February – IMAGE & APPEARANCE – self care & improvement (hair/ style/ clothing & make-up/ colors/ etc.)

3) March –WORK & BUSINESS: time management, business direction, customer relations improvements: streamlining office paperwork and general efficiency, incorporating policies and protocols, marketing tools and ideas (personal marketing is very effective)

4) April --HOMESTEADING: practical self-sustenance skills & practice (canning/ archery/ gardening/ sewing/ etc.)

5) May-- LEARNING: language/ horseback riding lessons/ dog training (anything above and beyond how-to’s)

6) June –MARRIAGE/ RELATIONSHIPS: improvement tactics/problem resolutions, etc. (our anniversary month)

7) July –GETTING OUT: life enrichment and entertainment (expanding quality of life: picnics, camping out/ vacation time/ socializing/town events, etc.)

8) August-- FINANCIAL: deal with bills, budgeting, long-term goals, etc. (it's too hot to do a lot outside)

9) September-- HOME: management & improvement efforts, actual work on the house

10) October –NOTEBOOKS: revamp and reorganize master lists, tune-up household binders, etc. (getting prepared to cocoon for winter)

11) November --ARTS & CREATIVITY: try new techniques and create gifts for giving in Dec.

12) December --GIFTING/SOCIAL: be involved, show appreciation and give back

*My 4 evening hours are all spent either painting or writing- (mostly toward financial gain) so daytime hours are open to practical and personal pursuits.

I’ve also got each room of the house and storage area, etc., dedicated to each month so that once a year each area is completely cleaned and organized, repurposed or revamped, according to need. One aspect per week of the month for each room:
Week 1 – De-Clutter
Week 2 –Deep Clean
Week 3 –Re-Organize/Repair
Week 4—Decorate
1) Master Bath/Master Bedroom
2) Art Room (for now a spare bedroom filled with music equipment)
3) Theater/Game Room
4) Laundry Room/Kids rooms
5) Main Living Room
6) Garden Area(s)
7) Storage & Utility room /Storage shed & other out buildings
8) Back Yard & Livestock areas
9) Deck (and porch under the deck) /Vehicles
10) Kitchen & Pantry
11) Closets/ Stairs and Hallway/Entry & Front of the house
12) Office

Sorry I haven’t yet figured out how to do the embedded links, but I want to share what Brin wrote on her blog:
http://messythrillinglife.blogspot.com/2010/12/sugared-cranberries-or-story-of-my-year.html (I love her honesty and candid revelations, but it’s not just that- mere stories. It’s how she finds the profound kernels of things).
You know how there are religious traditions of eating bitter things on certain days to commemorate a date in time? Well, she sugars cranberries – a mix of “bitter and sweet”- which is succinctly perfect tribute for the tail of a year past, and what it represents- both the bitter and the sweet in one fell swoop.
Strung on a toothpick, a long one, this idea presents both beautifully and simply. This is, a wonderful way to kiss away the past, savor it’s elements, gain something healthful yet slightly indulgent... and easy!
But I think I would use pretty crystalline vanilla sugar...

I’d really love to see YOUR vision for 2011, or your Plan A, B, and C, or what methods of goal tracking works for you - and of course, what you’ve brought to fruition! Send me a note, or a link to your site!


Jayme, The Coop Keeper said...

Hey there! Finally popping over to thank you for visiting my blog recently - I have to say, I'm quite impressed by your list of goals. I wish you the best in achieving them. Today on my blog, I'm going to be talking about a big goal of mine, and the drastic measures I'm taking to achieve them. God bless you this year!

Christy said...

I love your idea about making each month focused on a different topic and a different room. I think this would make things much less overwhelming. I always have so much I want to do but it seems overwhelming a lot of the time.