Clean!

“Wow, you’ve got a very clean inbox!”  That little message brings me joy!  🙂

No reason not to be tidy!  🙂

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Triple Blades, Two Thirds Less

venus

Why do I love grocery shopping at 7:30 in the evening, rather than right after work or on Saturday?  Because I can have the razor aisle to myself!  I can stand in front of the razor blades for 15 minutes, without being in anyone’s way, as I ponder the benefits of shaving my legs with a razor that costs me about $2.40 a week.

I have loved the Venus faithfully for about eight years.  Well, there was the short affair with the Intuition for a few months back in 2003.  And I had just a little fling with Venus disposables about a year ago, when they were cheaper than the original Venus cartridges.  But the vast majority of the last eight years, I used my Venus every day.

However…it is hard to buy a package of 4 cartridges for $9.56!  (Or an 8-pack for more than $17…yikes!)  And then, when I do, it’s hard to change my razor blade every week like I’m supposed to.  (I know, you’re supposed to change it every two or three shaves, but come on!  Things cost money, you know!)  So I’m using this cartridge for a few weeks, until it’s dull and uncomfortable and I’m risking more cuts than if I had just used the single blade cheap disposable in the first place!  (Which I really could afford to throw away after two or three uses, come to think of it…) 

So tonight, after choosing the $5 two-pack of Equate brand contact solution over the $12 two-pack of Bausch and Lomb, I decided to also make a sacrafice with my razor choice.  I have spent much time in the razor aisle, pondering the choice between the Venus 4-pack and the 8-pack, but I must have never looked outside the Venus area.  It turns out there are many choices in triple-blade women’s razors.  Tonight I chose the Noxema Super Smooth Triple Blade disposables with pivoting head, a 4-pack for $2.97.  Let’s find out if the magic is in the things that make Venus unique, or simply in the three blades!

Purpose

I love the word purpose used as a verb, don’t you?  “We purpose to start our studying at 8:00.”  “So I purposed to get out of debt.”  “I am purposing to finish this project by Thursday.”  It is a verb full of action.  It’s like the combination of goal, hope, and what you will do.

“We purpose to start our studying at 8:00,” doesn’t just mean we are aiming for 8:00.  It means that which we do before 8:00 is moving towards beginning at 8:00.  It means that the hope of starting at 8:00 is more important than just a wish or desire, it is so important that we must purpose it.  If, in order to start our studying at 8:00, we must take a shower at 6:30 and have breakfast at 7:00, starting at 8:00 is our purpose for doing the prior activities.

I am purposing to get out of debt.  To be fair, I go through these phases every so often, usually when I’m in transition in my budget.  Right now I’m transitioning to a new car payment and a new monthly salary.  At this moment, I am not extremist about this.  While it would be very freeing and wonderful to pay for everything outright, it’s not possible in every situation.  A mortgage can be good debt.  Car debt seems pretty much inevitable.  We’re taught that student loans are good debt.

Wouldn’t it be nice to own a car and not make a car payment?  I did, for about a year while I was student teaching and awhile after.  But eventually, you need to buy a new car.  So you’re either making a car payment or saving for your next car.

Wouldn’t it be nice to own a house, free and clear?  But how do you get there?  Just by month after month of paying for it.  You can pay extra and get there sooner than 30 years, but you can’t do it overnight.

Wouldn’t it be nice to be free of student loans?  Well, that ship has sailed!  When you’re 18 years old, a loan that you have to pay back for 20 years, but not until 4 or 5 years from now, when your life is wonderful and you make, like, a bazillion dollars a year, sounds great.  You don’t realize that a bazillion dollars doesn’t go as far as you think it will!  🙂  “But the minimum wage for teachers in this state is $25,000 a year.  Twenty-five THOUSAND DOLLARS a year!  How much could it possibly cost to live?  I’ll easily have my student loans paid back in two years!!!”  What was I thinking???  🙂

So, yes, I’m still purposing to get out of debt, even after all those disclaimers.  One, I don’t own a house, so at this moment, that’s not an issue for me, even though I do think of it as a good debt.  Two, I am well aware that it will not happen tomorrow.  It takes time, and you have to purpose for it.  Three, I am at a stage where life is very changeable and the situation will probably be different before I am done.  But even if I get 1/3 of my debt paid off and then the situation changes, won’t it be nice to enter into the new situation with less debt?

I know some women who blog about their specific financial goals.  Maybe I should.  I’ll think about it.

For now, goal #1 is an emergency fund.  This will come as a huge disappointment to those who have taught me better, but I have $12 in my savings account.  I’m sorry, teachers!  I am learning that having an emergency fund is more important than paying more than the minimums on debt.  First of all, if you have an emergency fund, there is a security and comfort that no matter what, you will be okay.  If you have $12 in the bank and you are trying hard to pay off debt quickly, you are looking forward to the day when you can have that security and comfort.  It’s this underlying stress that isn’t made better by the fact that you are working towards freedom from debt.  You should build your emergency fund, then pay more than the minimums towards debt.  If you have to draw from your emergency fund, you should then pause your efforts to pay off debt, (still paying the minimums of course), and replace your emergency fund before you resume paying more towards debt.

The information I read stated basically the following steps:  Emergency fund, pay off “bad debt” (consumer credit, cars), build 3-6 months of expenses in savings, pay off “good debt” (mortgage, student loans) faster.  BUT…one step at a time.

The Work of the Soul

Victoria Moran on meditation and spiritual practice:

If this puts your work ethic on red alert, remind yourself that the work of the soul doesn’t always look like much from the outside.  The spirituality of everyday life includes listening to another person without a time allotment, watching the seasons change outside your windows, and being with your own musings without chiding yourself for inactivity.  It includes knowing that any time spent by conscious choice is never wasted.

Victoria Moran, Shelter for the Spirit

Everything is in a hurry now.  Get up, hurry up and take a shower, race everyone on the freeway to get to work, hurry and fit as much as possible into a day of school, come home, eat dinner, rush off to choir practice or yoga or whatever, rush home, hurry and finish whatever household chores or work tasks need completed, go to bed, start all over again.  Every part of life seems to assume we want the fastest, most efficient method.  At the grocery store, we try to choose the fastest check-out line.  We record our t.v. shows so that we can fast-forward through the commercials.

I don’t think it needs to be this way.  In the classroom, I am changing my thinking a little bit.  You can’t hurry kids.  You just cannot do it.  They will take as long as they take, no matter how many times you say, “Hurry up, it’s time to go!”  So I asked myself…What are the nonnegotiables of our day?  Arrival, lunch, and dismissal.  And the odd, out-of-routine things like assemblies.  Everything else can be different from day to day.  What if our morning large group time goes longer than usual, and they only get 15 minutes to play in centers?  So what if we speed through morning message and they play in centers for an hour?  Even the “routine kids” don’t need set times, they just need things in the right order.  Isn’t a low-stress environment worth much more learning than a certain number of minutes of centers or large group or small groups?  The work of the young mind doesn’t always look like much to the untrained observer, either.

In another chapter of Shelter for the Spirit, Ms. Moran points out: 

We savor life by expecting nothing and experiencing everything.  When we go at high speed, we miss it.  An evening or a Saturday or a three-day weekend is, when lived slowly, a luxuriously long time.  Slow living means paying attention.

I think this principle can even be applied to the busy workweek evening.  No matter how busy, you can only get so much done in five or six hours, right?  So, first, what is essential for this evening?  Second, what can you do to make it peaceful and joyful?  Do you need to sit in silence for 10 minutes first?  Do you need to stop at Starbucks for a cold drink while you are in the grocery store?  Do you need to put on some music while you do housework?  Do you need to find a good movie you’ve seen a hundred times, or some t.v. on DVD to watch while you do the work that you brought home?  Whatever it is, it’s your life, and you deserve to let go of “hurried and stressed” and be joyful and peaceful.  The work of the soul goes on, whether you are sitting in silence or not.

Random Ramblings of Blogs, Simplicity, and Fake People

I have many small, unimportant things to say tonight.  Don’t be surprised to find many categories at the top of this post when I am done writing it!

One…blogging.  Here I am, blogging.  And yet, I am unsure about blogging.  What I love most about this blog are the posts that are more like scrapbooking for the glue-frustrated.  🙂  I loved posting my pictures from Seattle and Las Vegas.  In fact, I might post more pictures, and date them back to when they were actually taken, and keep a “scrapbook” category.  I’ve actually been considering doing that, and then deleting all the other posts, and just having a picture memories blog. 

On the other hand, my heart and soul went into many of these posts, and I don’t want to just delete them forever.  I’ve been blogging for several years!  That seems like too much thought and emotion and memories of life to just throw away.  I want this blog to fit into a nice little category.  But like everything else in life, it won’t.  This blog is a reflection of me, and I am a real person.  I don’t fit into a neat, organized, focused publication.  Blogging is a microcosm of life, for most of the blogs I read.  Mine definitely is that.

Why don’t strangers read my blog?  Why is it only people I know in real life?  How do I enter the “blogosphere?”  🙂

Two…simplicity.  I read a post at Zen Habits today entitled The Many Paths to Simplicity.  The parts of the article that appeal most to me remind me that my best path to simplicity is simplicity itself.  What I mean is, whenever I want to make a change, my greatest temptation is to change as much and as drastically and as immediately as possible.  But that is the opposite of simple!  It is difficult and complex and usually, impossible!  For me, any change must begin with one small step, and any change requires patience.  Lots of things in my life require patience. 

Sidenote coming on…  People always say, “Wow, you teach preschool?  I couldn’t do that, I just don’t have the patience!”  I almost think it’s the opposite.  I need to teach preschool, so I don’t forget how to be patient!  Remembering patience in my classroom breeds peace, and forgetting it breeds hurry and stress.  The peace that comes from patience in my classroom infiltrates other parts of my life.  Whether you are a babysitter or a teacher, and I assume for a parent as well, I think the most important thing you need to know about kids is that everything takes time.  You can’t change it.  Whether you tell them to hurry or not, whether you are running late or not, it will take time.  And it’s much happier to just allow the time.  Start earlier.  Who cares if they wash their hands for 10 minutes before lunch?  Start 10 minutes early.  Who cares if you’re a little late to recess?  So they’ll play for 25 minutes instead of 30.  You’ll get to the end of the school day much more happily if you just breathe, and let it flow as it will.  This is what I know about teaching preschool.

Okay, back to the topic of simplicity…  My point is, there is always something I want to change.  Right now, I’m thinking about my daily routine and the things I want in it, and how best to arrange them.  Obviously, I have to go to work.  I have to take a shower, and sleep, and eat.  Those are requirements, and they won’t go anywhere.  And then there are priorities.  My number one priority is time with the Lord.  I’m trying to make my number two priority getting some exercise every day.  I’m not trying to be an Olympic athlete, but just to build a healthy habit.  And then there are things that are important to me…people.  Sleeping, eating, working out, all those things can work around opportunities to spend time with my family and my friends.  It’s complex.  Work is not more important than my friends, but it is a requirement, and it does have set times that cannot be changed.  On the other hand, my time with God is very important, and with His grace will not be left out for any reason, but the time of day is flexible.  So instead of revamping my entire daily routine, the simple way to do it is to adjust a little, see how it goes for awhile, adjust something else, etc.  Another temptation is to think ahead, way ahead, before I do this.  Not just what will work this week or this month, but what will continue to work next summer, and if I am married, and if I have a different job, and if I win the lottery and become a professional football player!  🙂  You see my point.  I need to simplify my thinking, more than I need to simplify anything about my life.  What will work for me, today?  What will work for me, at this season of my life?

Topic number three…t.v.  One Tree Hill.  It’s back!  There is heart and soul in that show, and I am addicted for life.  There is no amount of growing up that will make me not want to watch the first seasons, when they are in high school.  There is no amount of “soapiness” that can distract me from the soul of the show.  The writers always told the fans to “have faith” when things were going badly for the characters…when we were watching all the “soap”…and they were always right.  It is hard to watch the rough parts, when Nathan and Haley were separated, when Lucas was trying to marry the wrong girl, but it has to get bad so you recognize how great it is in the end.

And, I’m discovering, that’s the same with Grey’s Anatomy!  They even use some of the same music as One Tree Hill.  That show is soapier than I realized back in Season One.  Will Derek and Meredith get together permanently or not?  They convince you yes, and then they convince you no.  In the middle of last season, when Derek kissed Rose, the nurse, I stopped watching.  Just completely stopped.  Didn’t watch another episode.  It truly seemed like they were done, and I couldn’t bear to watch them move one.  But, on the advice of my friend Tara, who wouldn’t tell me anything but just said, “Oh, you have to keep watching!!!” I am now watching the reruns.  For the first time.  And I still don’t know what will happen with Derek and Meredith, but I see that they are still meant for each other, in this world of Seattle Grace Hospital.

Ross and Rachel were obviously meant for each other, and they didn’t end up together until the last episode of Friends!  Maybe both Lucas and Peyton on One Tree Hill and Derek and Meredith on Grey’s Anatomy will be the same situation.  And, yes, I realize that it’s very possible that Ross and Rachel ended up together because it was the last episode.  If it had gone on, they could have been ripped apart and put together many more times.  The tearing apart and coming together is what keeps us watching, of course.  But it’s much more fun not to think about that, and to just get caught up in the fake world with the fake people!