Goal planning and Me

I’ve spent a bit of time lately considering my goals and wishes for my life. I find that I have a lot of “I wish” things. Things like “I wish I spoke German” and “I wish I could play guitar” and “I wish Justin and I could travel to Austria.”

The problem is that it’s tricky to look at my life today and figure out how to get from here to Austria, speaking German, and plucking away on a guitar. It’s this enormous situational gap and while I have all these wishes, I haven’t actually done a whole lot of planning out how to get from here to there.

So I’ve been thinking about how that would actually work. I’m sure that there are books and lots of resources that go into how to do this, but I haven’t actually gotten that technical yet. What I’ve been doing is this:

  1. I wrote down a huge long list of my wishes and goals for the future.
  2. From there, I tried to narrow down a handful of ones that I want to focus on right now, because it’s a really long list and I can’t work on all of them at once. There just isn’t enough time or brain space.
  3. And then I tried to break it down even further, into the things that I want to do in the next 6 months to work toward those goals.
  4. And from there, even more, I’ve got to break it down into things that I can do each week to get working toward those goals.

So the big wishes that I’m working on right now are (and several of these will be familiar from the Smoky Mountain planning):

  1. Be debt free
  2. Be a great seamstress
  3. Play guitar
  4. Run half-marathons
  5. Move to the mountains
  6. Grow vegetable gardens
  7. Find a career that I really enjoy
  8. Plan for the future better

That seems like a lot. In order to get to those goals, my 6 month goals are:

  1. Pay at least $200/month extra toward our debts
  2. Sew at least 1 skirt and 1 shirt
  3. Be able to play 3 chords on my guitar
  4. Be able to run 1 mile contiguously
  5. Visit Chattanooga
  6. Grow 2 plants for food/spice
  7. Look into Lean/Six Sigma certification training
  8. Learn how to make better goals

That seems more manageable. From there, my goals for this week look like this:

  1. Pull out the items for Craigslist and eBay that we were going to sell and get them looking nice, take pictures, figure out how much they’re worth, and get them listed.
  2. Review budgets for February and make sure we’re sticking to them.
  3. Look up the information about gored skirts again and work out the details on how to create a pattern for that.
  4. Pull out the guitar, re-learn how to tune the strings, and read though the book I bought about how to learn how to play.
  5. Go walking/do aerobics or yoga/go for a bike ride a couple times this week.
  6. Ask Justin if he needs/wants  my help with the Chattanooga planning.
  7. Figure out what plant to grow – I’ve got parsley already, if I can keep it alive. What else do I want to grow? Basil? Oregano? Strawberries?
  8. Remember to water the parsley.
  9. Look up what goes into Lean/Six Sigma training.
  10. Go to the library and look up books on goal planning (also pick up books on gardening and sewing).

It’s a pretty big list for one week, I think. And that’s not including the normal around the house things that I tend to do, keeping things tidy, organizing things that get out of order, all of our Present Time Plans compared to our Future Plans. Like, figure out how to actually get the most out of the limited space we have in this kitchen and keep the house clean and figure out how to NOT let the library just be a dumping ground for stuff we’re not sure where to put.

But it’s that’s also a sign of how badly I’ve done at working toward my big goals. I’ve spent more than a year with this guitar sitting in my living room and a book about how to play and I’ve barely touched it. It’s not something I’ll learn by osmosis, no matter how much I wish I could play. And it’s not like it’s this complicated trick – work on the small stuff to get to the big stuff. Stick within the budget and we’ll have money at the end of the month left over. Go for a walk today to build up muscles for running later. Water the parsley this week to keep it alive to next week.

But I have a tendency to be lazy. I get home and sit on my butt, playing a video game or reading a book. If it’s a productive evening, I’ll make sure the house is tidy and the dishes are washed. I get more done over the weekends, when I have more time to dedicate toward a project, or during the summer when there’s more light in the evening. But I’d still get to the end of the month (and the year) and wonder “What happened to the time? Why haven’t I figured out how to play that guitar yet?”

So this is how I’m hoping to address that problem – by intentionally setting up manageable goals. If I can’t make it at least partially through that list of things for the week, then I’ve got to figure out what exactly I’m doing with my time, and if what I’m doing is of more value to me than the end goals that I’m working toward, then I’ll re-evaluate my goals.

For example: Last week, I worked a lot of long, frustrating hours at work, covering for a coworker who was out of the office due a death in her family. I intentionally spent my evenings away from computers and doing things that I found extremely relaxing because if I didn’t, I wasn’t going to make it through the week. As it was, I found myself loudly venting my frustration about my boss toward Justin on Friday afternoon, raising my voice and behaving badly. Last week, my one goal for the week was just to make it through the week with my marriage and my job still in place. Having managed that, I took the weekend to really enjoy spending time with Justin. And now I have the brain space to consider my other goals.

I think it’s important, too, to realize that goals change over time. I might decide that playing guitar just isn’t my thing. And that’s okay. It’d be silly to keep trying to be able to play guitar if I decided that I just don’t enjoy it. And maybe that’s one of those “Well, d’uh!” things, but I think it’s worth saying anyway. I think sometimes people get an idea stuck in their head that they “ought to” do or be something and they keep working toward that idea when it’s just not what they really want to do. They just feel like they should.

This post got a whole lot longer than I had originally intended! I guess I had a lot more to say about this than I thought.

For anyone who’s interested, I keep my To Do list on Wunderlist. It’s an online, desktop, Android-device compatible list-thing.  I find it super-easy to use, pretty to look at, and I can share my lists; I’m just not sure with how many people I can share them. I’m going to try to keep on top of my goals using that tool. If you want more information about that, I can try to get that to you.

Keep warm up there!!

To all of my family who are living in cooler weather than me today (meaning EVERY SINGLE ONE OF YOU), please stay safe and warm for the next couple days!

We’re getting slightly cooler weather down here — meaning we’re expecting it to get down into the low-20s, upper teens. The talk at work was how to keep the exterior faucets from freezing overnight. My coworker went out and bought some faucet protector cover things like these:

Faucet cover

I decided that I wasn’t willing to go to the store and spend $2 on a piece of styrofoam. So I went home and did the same thing out of cardboard with a shoelace, duct tape, and a craft bead.

Homemade faucet cover

We stuck a cloth diaper rag under that to help with more insulation. All in all, I think that works pretty well! I’m stupidly proud of that.

Things here are still busy. Justin’s mom and grandma are still here. I’ll try to write more about the holiday break sometime soon. But for now, I’m going to go back to talking with his grandma and watching her hem pants.

Take care all of you! Stay warm and safe!!

Refinishing the trunk (post 1 of possibly more)

Several years ago (13 March 2010, to be exact) Justin and I rescued a trunk from a little knickknack shop that was going out of business. It was painted this hideous color beige, but it was solid wood, unfinished on the interior of the trunk, and the hardware marked it as unlike anything I’d ever seen before.

We brought it home intending to remove that hideous paint, restore it to its former beauty, and stain it a darker color to match our décor. We love natural wood grain, but we prefer mid- to dark tones instead of the more blonde colors.

We did some research into what we’d need to do, went out and picked up the things we thought we’d need, and then mostly just sat there looking at it. Justin spent some time on it, fighting with it and getting really frustrated. I sat and watched his frustration, wondering if there was a way I could help without stepping on his toes and taking over his project.

This is the before shot from when Justin started working on it. It’s dated 9 November 2010.

And then the trunk sat there in the living room for a long time, half stripped, half not, mostly looking ugly. But with potential.

Until Sunday when I said that it was a beautiful day and I’d like to give it a shot trying to get that thing cleaned up.

And I did a little research, but not very thorough, because I failed to read about what you’re supposed to do after you’ve applied the paint remover and scraped it off. So I tried that, got frustrated, didn’t know what I was doing wrong, got wrapped up in our vines project (almost literally), and let it sit overnight while I went and did more research on the internet.

Turns out, I was on step 1 and 2 of a 32 step project or something like that. It’s not just put on the paint stripper and take it off with a scraper. OH NO. It’s much more involved than that.

Now, I did have the first bit right, at least:

  1. Apply paint stripper to the painted surface and let it sit there until the paint starts to bubble and is easy to remove with a scraper.
  2. Remove all the loose paint using a scraper.

Here, let’s include some photo evidence. First off, this is the paint stripper that we’re using:

I put it into a throw-away container to dip my brush — an old one because apparently this stuff eats brushes.

This is what the paint on the trunk used to look like:

And this is after the paint stripper was applied and removed too soon, or the paint was too thick, I’m not sure.

This is the tool I used as a scraper:

And yes, I know those are not the right gloves for this job because they have cloth on the back, but the rubber ones I was using either got a leak or started collecting chemicals another way because my fingers got drenched in more than just sweat and I got chemical burns on the back of my knuckles.

Anyway, I applied a second coat of the paint stripper, waited again, and went at it again with that scraper. This is how that one went:

Better, right? But still not good enough. There’s a lot of paint left.

So here are the next steps that I was missing (and I would number them 3 and 4, but WordPress doesn’t let me change numbering, apparently).

  1. Take some steel wool or a scratchy sponge, dip it in mineral spirits (or paint thinner, I guess; we’re using mineral spirits because that’s what Justin bought – I think it depends on what stripper you’re using) and take that to the surface to scratch away the remaining paint.
  2. Once the paint is gone, go over it again with mineral spirits on a clean cloth. And then dry it with another clean cloth.

Doing that takes it from the picture above, to this picture here:

So much better!!! The first time I did that and saw how great it turned out, I was just amazed at how much better it looked!

These is the mineral spirits I was using for this part:

I poured that into a container, too, and then used a scratchy sponge exoskeleton (I pulled out the actual sponge and just used the scratchy outside) for most of the flat surfaces, an old tooth brush for around the detail bits like the hinges and the moulding at the bottom, and a wooden skewer stick to really get into tight spots.

And, of course, nothing works better for good thick rags than cloth diapers.

We ran out of mineral spirits before I could finish the last two feet of the trunk and go over it one last time to make sure it was good and cleared. We picked up more mineral spirits when we got the truck on Monday, but with all the other projects that day, I never got back to the trunk. But sometime soon, I’ll be able to go back and finish removing the paint.

One of my problems is that I can’t remove the hardware so I’ve got to figure out how to get the paint from around and on top of those things. The hardware is all connected to the wood by long nails that go through to the other side and then got  bent over and pounded down into the wood.

There’s no way I’m getting those things off. Eventually I’ll have to figure out how to make those surfaces look better. But I’m not even sure what kind of metal they’re made of. This is the latch faceplate on the front.

Here’s a hinge.

So it’s not a swift process, by any means, and I’m still a LONG way from being done with this.  I’m not even sure what all the steps are going to be yet.

I do know that the next step after all the paint is removed is to sand the whole thing. We did some research on Monday and figured out that we want a random orbit sander (the round-headed one) with  three different sandpaper grits. There’s no way we have the patience to sand this whole thing by hand three times over. So we did some research into the one we want to buy and have that sitting in our Amazon cart while we think about the expense a little bit and shuffle around our budget a little bit.

But I’m excited! This looks SO MUCH BETTER than it did just a couple days ago! I can finally really see how beautiful it’s going to be in the end.

Happy birthday, Mom!

I have to post again so I can get that story about the spiders away from being the first thing on the page.

First off, Happy birthday, Mom!! I hope you’re having a wonderful day!  As soon as I finish this, I should call, I’ve just lost track of time.

In other news, Jessi got all moved into her dorm last week, so we haven’t seen her since Wednesday. Wendy’s flight leaves tomorrow morning, so she’s been hanging around, but since Jessi’s busy with getting set for school and Justin and I have both been working, she hasn’t had anyone to go do things with.  This afternoon, she went to Savannah to take pictures, so she’s been gone most of the afternoon/evening.

Over the weekend, Justin and I both came down with a bug that kicked us on our butts. I got it first, which is never a good sign. If I catch something, with my immune system like a German tank, then it’s a hefty bug. And Justin is always going to catch something after I catch it. Saturday, I was awake for a whole 6 hours. All day. Sunday, I was awake longer, but still very tired. And today, I tried to get up for work on time, but then took 2 Advil and went back to bed until 11:00. I made it to work for the afternoon, but it wasn’t my most productive afternoon ever.

Justin’s also been sleeping a lot. We’re having slightly different symptoms when it comes to how our GI track is handling the bug, with the exception that we’ve both experienced the same stabbing pains in our abdomens. It’s a fun one, l tell ya.

I have, however, picked up a new hobby and since I’ve mostly been sitting around feeling sick all weekend, I had plenty of time to poke at it. I’m getting into embroidery. I like the idea of making handkerchiefs with extremely geeky things hand-embroidered into the corners. So I picked up a kit on Friday and I’ve been working on that, just to get an idea about it. It shares a lot of things in common with the plastic canvas I used to do years ago. I remember not feeling so excited about the counted cross-stitch projects that I tried to do, and I lost enthusiasm for the plastic canvas projects. But the embroidery work I did over the weekend was soothing and I enjoyed it a lot.

I think it could be a lot of fun to get into machine embroidery, too, but more expensive and I’m not ready for that kind of commitment yet.

And that’s where I’ll stop this so I can go try to call Mom.  Have a great evening!

Over the weekend:

Over the weekend:

  • We helped move my sister-in-law’s belongings out from the apartment where she had been storing them for the summer since the girl who will actually be living there needed to be able to move in.  We moved it all to another apartment, where the girl who will actually be living there won’t be moving in until Thursday.  On Wednesday, she will be able to move it all into the dorm where she’ll be living for the school year.  So on Wednesday, it’s all going to move again.
  • I finished the curtains for Becky’s trailer!  We haven’t figured out yet how to hang them, but she’s going to figure that out later.  At least she has the curtains now, or will as soon as I get them to her.  She’s going to a thing in January where people who have made modifications to their campers will also be, so she’ll try to get some help when she’s there.
  • I learned this morning that the youngest daughter of the gentleman who was in charge of the 5S committee over in my previous job was murdered in a shooting in Savannah over the weekend.  So far as anyone can tell, it was just a random shooting that hit her and the other person the car early Saturday morning.  It’s a tragedy and it makes me sick to my stomach thinking about it.

And that’s it for today because that last one is just so sad I can’t get any further.