12 Personal Goals For 2019 and How I Established Them

Do you ever get tired of setting the same goals year after year, only to let them taper off somewhere between months three and five?

Whether you celebrate a new year on January 1st or are part of the growing trend of people who celebrate your new year on your birthday, if you’re like most people, you have “New Year resolutions” or goals that fall into one of the following categories: health & fitness goals, money goals, professional goals, or personal development goals.

Setting goals is the fun part, yes? In the beginning, you’re pumped up, your energy is high, you’ve given yourself a clean slate, and you’re ready to dive in head first. You start off doing great! You’re doing about 75% – 80% of the work. And then. . . .

Gif taken from tenor.com

So what happened? Two things: Your goals weren’t specific enough, and/or there was no end in sight. These are the two most important aspects of goal-setting. Keeping this in mind, I set twelve goals and gave myself roughly 30 days to focus on each.

Personal development has been the major theme in my life over the past year, and I wanted to continue down that path in 2019. I’m going to share with you some goals that I set for myself, and I hope that this will inspire you to use this method to set and accomplish some of your own. Here goes. . .

Getting Organized

goal setting 2019
Photo by rawpixel.com from Pexels

I started the year off with organization. I wanted to organize my home, school schedule, my time, get clear on my goals, and establish general order in my life and home. Getting organized was the foundation of 2019 and set the stage for me to do everything else I want to do. It was the most freeing thing. I threw out tons of stuff! I have a system in my household. Disorganization and lack of structure will be the death (or terminal illness) of anything you try to accomplish. Later, I will blog about the specific steps that I took and how they have helped me thus far.

Research Homeschool

how to set realistic goals
Photo by Pixabay from Pexels

This is a personal goal that I set because I knew I wanted to homeschool my son, but I didn’t know where to start. The whole idea seemed daunting. I’d actually asked my Facebook friends a few months ago and gotten a little help there, but I knew I needed to arm myself with knowledge and resources to feel completely comfortable. Being the procrastinator that I am (because school doesn’t end til May, right?), I needed focused time explore the idea and all of our options. My goal was to join groups, make homeschool family friends, and familiarize myself with Texas laws around homeschooling. I will also have a post up on that topic soon, so if you are interested in homeschooling, make sure to subscribe via the little black box on the right so that you can be notified when it posts.

Learn Couponing

couponing for beginners
Photo taken from thenextweb.com

Couponing is something I’ve been interested in and curious about for quite some time. I’m all about saving money! The goal was to go to YouTube University (isn’t YouTube great?!) and find a live class or two, then immediately put into practice what I learned. That was my March goal. I’m gonna be honest here. March was such a crazy month, I didn’t get to touch it. However, I am not beating myself up. Maybe I can squeeze in a little bit here and there over the coming months, but I’m not stressing about it. Each month the focus is the goal for that month. I won’t be derailed by being too judgy of my own shortcomings. If you or someone you know teaches couponing, or if you know of any resources that may be helpful, please reach out via the contact button and let me know so that I can share with other readers.

Improve Communication

nonverbal communication practice
Photo by Jairo David Arboleda from Pexels

This one may go against popular opinion. I’ve never liked the RBF (resting bitch face) for several reasons, one of them being that it reflects or dictates your mood. It can repel people who might otherwise be drawn to you for one reason or another, and while that may be the goal some (or for most people some of the time), I don’t generally want to be a people repellent.

Negative people are drawn to negative people, and pleasant people are drawn to pleasant people. I want to bring and attract light wherever I go.

So. . . .I invented my own term- the Resting Pleasant Face. Thirty days of conscious awareness of how I present myself in public and at home. If you know anything about the show America’s Next Top Model, you know what I mean when I say I’ve been practicing my smize. The lady in the picture above is a perfect example of smizing and Resting Pleasant Face.

Remembering to make eye contact with, smile at, and say “hello” to everyone who comes within 5 ft of me, because I love getting people out of their own heads, and most people appreciate it. I also want to practice intentionally speaking kindly to others and keeping my tone neutral even when I’m frustrated. This article explains something I’ve realized for quite some time now.

No Complaining

how to remain positive in the midst of turmoil
Photo taken from allforwomen.co.za

Gratitude is a trendy topic and practice right now, but that’s not what this goal is about. Have you ever caught yourself putting a “but” before your gratitude? Like needing to list everything that is wrong with life before conceding that things could be worse? That is not true gratitude. My goal with this is to practice nipping complaining in the “but.” I will practice remaining silent if and when I cannot think of anything positive to say.

Accepting Support

receiving support in completing your goals
Photo by Pixabay from Pexels

One of my long-time struggles that somehow became more of a struggle as a single mom is accepting support. The strong Black woman syndrome is real! After going through a really tough time a few years ago, I’ve gotten better at accepting support from people. However, I still struggle with asking. Why? I don’t know, and I’ve been exploring that. For thirty days this summer, I’m challenging myself to be consciously cognizant of opportunities to ask for and receive help when I need it and to challenge what a “need” looks like. If you’re reading this, whoever you are, I would love it if you embarked on this challenge with me.

Consciously Feeling

setting goals using your love language
Photo by Edward Eyer from Pexels

One thing that I have been actively practicing is feeling my feelings. You should try it. Make it regular practice to be still and feel. . .everything from the inside out. However, the focus with this goal is to feel from the outside in. To use touch in communication with others (and myself) to comfort, when appropriate and with permission, of course. To love on myself, give myself massages, nurture my hair and skin. I will use touch to communicate with nature, stopping to feel the texture of flowers and other plants, bury my feet in the grass, take any opportunity to feel the wind in my face. We live in such a time of go go go, and I just want to take the focus off of the next thing and put it back where it belongs- in the present.

Confident Posturing

setting SMART goals with confidence
Photo by Godisable Jacob from Pexels

This goal will be a focus on how I walk. It may sound funny, but this is a thing. Hear me out. First of all, if you’re a woman and busty like me, you know where I’m going with this. I sometimes catch myself slouching a little, because these babies need breaks! Lol! However, if you’re person with low self-esteem or social anxiety, you may find yourself doing the same as a way of sort of shrinking yourself. Don’t do it. Come along with me. My intent with this goal is to own the space I move within. To let my presence be felt, not only by others but by me. To move slower, purposefully, and put folks on notice with my gait that I’m coming. If this resonates with you, reach out via that contact button and tell me you’re in. I’d love to include the experiences of others in the feedback post.

Laughing

make laughing often a goal
Photo by Luis Quintero from Pexels

We often hear (or read) that laughter is the best medicine, and it truly is. There’s nothing like a good laugh to take your mood from sour to lighthearted when you’re feeling pouty, discouraged, or worried. The goal here is to look for opportunities to laugh and not take life so seriously. I will give myself permission to laugh and not to hold onto anger, fear, or worry, recognizing that they give me no power. I also just want to be always enjoying life. On the flip side of that, I will be conscious of that annoying nervous chuckle I sometimes do and use my words and feelings to determine how I should respond to any given situation. I will find the humor in my mistakes and let them be medicine rather than poison.

Try A New Dish

new year new recipes
Photo by Dana Tentis from Pexels

Or perfect an old one, because most of the “You Should Do/Have This In Your 30s” lists mention having a signature dish. Not sure which I’ll do yet, as I love cooking and experimenting in the kitchen. I cook many things well, but I don’t think I have one dish that I can say, unequivocally, I’ve made it mine. I just thought this would be fun. If you’d like to see me try a new dish, send me your suggestions. I may choose one and blog about the experience!

Be Social

setting dating goals in 2019
Photo by bruce mars from Pexels

As some of you may know, I am in school. The further I’ve gotten into my studies, the more I have cut back on social activities to focus on what’s important at the moment. I am on the homestretch, and I’m looking forward to regaining a social life!

You’re probably wondering what this picture has to do with being social. I’ll tell you. The focus and intent of this goal is twofold: 1. To regularly put myself in places to meet more guys while I’m out. 2. To come out of my introverted shell and be more open and inviting around said guys. I mean, I’m dating to be taken. How else is a girl supposed to be taken off the market? I’m all for being a little hard to get, but I want to make sure I’m not hard to approach.

Learning Makeup Techniques

easy makeup techniques for women who don't wear makeup
Photo by Pixabay from Pexels

I’m not a “wake up and slay everyday” type of woman, but I do like wearing makeup from time to time. I had gotten pretty good at doing my own makeup at one time. However, it’s been at least two years since I’ve worn makeup, and I feel like the whole makeup game has changed! Like, where did all you regular people learn these apprentice mua techniques? I will need the whole thirty days just to be basic! YouTube University, here I come! I definitely want to take my going out look up a notch. If you’re reading this and can suggest some vloggers to watch, I would really appreciate it. FYI, natural looks like the one above are more my speed.

So these are the twelve personal goals I established for myself in 2019. I wanted them to be bite-sized, manageable, and attainable. It’s said that it takes 66 days to form a habit. I think 30 days is a good start, and the intent is to begin habit-stacking. I may or may not write a separate post on habit-stacking, but it’s basically building on your habits one at a time.

If you struggle with juggling and trying to maintain consistent actions toward all your goals at once, I encourage you to break them up into manageable parts that you can reasonably accomplish in a 30-day time frame. Be sure to switch up what you’re focusing on from month to month; otherwise, the work can and will still feel monotonous and you’ll become fatigued and discouraged. If this post helped you in any way or if you would like to join in one or a few of the 30-day goals, send me an email via the contact page and let’s talk! Be sure to subscribe for updates, as I’ll be writing about my experiences and takeaways from these each month.

The People’s Prince. . .or Jester? Why the Royal Couple’s Moves Are Anything But

I commend Harry for doing what he felt he needed to do to protect his wife. Protection is a man’s main responsibility to his family. I also recognize that Meghan understands the influence she has with her husband. As she should. But this ain’t it.

Courtesy of Hello.com

This is why the type of woman a man chooses is important. Harry has a weakness. He lost his mother at a young age and never got over it. Especially since what he knows is vague memory and secondhand info. I can’t pretend to know what it’s like. But…. Meghan knows these things about Harry.

Now because Harry is a man, he is taking full responsibility for his decisions and continuing to protect his wife. As he should. That’s honorable. But…..

This. Will. Not. End. Well.

You can’t pull a man away from his mission, his sense of purpose, his family and legacy, all the things that ground him and think everything’s going to be kosher. It won’t be.

Meghan signed up for this. It’s what she wanted. This woman is almost 40 years old. She’s worked for years in Hollywood trying to gain stardom to finally land a role as somewhat of a B-List actress on a show no one talks about, despite growing up in Hollywood.

Maybe all the attention came as a shock, since no one was checking for her before. But that’s what happens to A-List celebrities all the time. It comes with the job. So going from B-List actress to royalty, what did she think was coming? NO ONE gets only good press. It’s the nature of the beast.

This is not a Black or white thing. Princess Diana was WHITE, and the crazy paparazzi was implicit in her death. This is a white-hot blind spot for Harry, and in my opinion, the only reason moving away from the very systems that can protect him and his family seems rational to him.

Now let’s take a look at this. They stayed in Canada for a little while after leaving England. Now they are living in L.A. L.A.? L.A.

This.
Ain’t.
About.
Privacy.

They will have about as much privacy in L.A. as two monkeys humping at a zoo. It is what it is.

ESPECIALLY if they plan to do a reality show. Are you kidding me?

Courtesy of dailysoapdish.com

American media can give a flying you-know-what about who Harry is……or was, since essentially, he’s removed them both from that and it they have been stripped of their royal titles.

They left Royalty to come to America and pimp their privacy out for TV, social media, and the very media attention Meghan claims she doesn’t want. Make it make sense, fam.

Where does Harry even fit into all of this? Hollywood and tv is not his thing. That’s Meghan’s world.

In addition to all of this, Meghan’s “world” is in a state that allegedly has some of the worst numbers for cases of coronavirus. How is this a wise decision? I’ll wait….

Meghan is very selfish and self-destructive. She wouldn’t understand the impact being separated from his family has on Harry because she’s estranged from her own family. She gained a family and a place by marrying Harry, and I don’t think she sees or appreciates that. How could she? Dysfunction breeds dysfunction. Now she’s also denying her child that family structure and security from damn-near birth. SMH.

harry and meghan photos
Via The Telegraph

To add to all of this, no way you can be such a strong and outspoken “activist,” but can’t stomach unfavorable media attention. I don’t buy it.

Harry lacks foresight, fortitude, and keen judgment. He needs the close counsel and guidance of elders, because he is about to become the main clown in the sideshow that is part of the larger circus of Hollywood.

I’m aware that Meghan Markle is a sacred cow for many of you, and I’m telling you. . .

This whole situation is a hot mess unfolding.

There will be a Part II to this, quite possibly on my upcoming podcast. So stay tuned for that and follow me on Facebook at A Pen for Loren’s Thoughts.

Homeschool Taboo? Q & A

Since I’ve written my first article about deciding to homeschool, I’ve gotten a lot of questions while out in public from people who’ve read the article and from people that I or my son mentions it to in regular conversation. I’ve grappled internally with some of the questions, so I’ve decided to answer some of the more popular ones here.

A question I get asked a lot is “How is homeschool going?”

Answer:

Well, for one it’s summer, and we are both on break! Lol! But even before the schools went on summer break, I hesitated to answer this question. It felt like pressure. I literally withdrew my son at the end of April with only one month of school left. We weren’t “doing” anything. I felt like I would be judged for that. I felt like I was judged for that. Maybe it was just my own lingering insecurity about it.

But then I wondered why the hell I even cared what anyone thought. My child went to school all year. By the time May rolls around, no one is at school because they want to be- teachers included. So yeah, no school work for the last month of “school.” Hopefully everyone’s ok with that. If not, I am!

Next questions. . .

Question: So what/how are you teaching him?

I’m teaching him whatever I want and whatever he wants to learn! And sometimes he’s teaching himself. And sometimes he’s learning without “teaching.” Like when he was three and learned that Walmart was Walmart before he could read because he paid attention.

I’m teaching him the same way I taught him the alphabet and how to count. The same way I taught him his name and how to write it. I’m teaching him the same way I taught him baby sign language when he couldn’t talk. The same way I taught him to look both ways before he crosses a street, but not to cross a street without a grownup.

I’m teaching him the same way I taught him to potty. The same way I taught him to brush his teeth and bathe. I’m teaching him the same way I taught him to iron his clothes. The same way I’m teaching him to drive.

I am his first and best teacher.

Question: What curriculum are you using?

Answer:

We’re not using a curriculum. In the beginning, I felt shameful about this answer, too. I made the decision in confidence, because I know what is best for my child. But I felt like we would be looked at as a delinquent family. I have gotten a couple of weird looks about it, but guess what? I got over that, too. I don’t know if or when we will use a curriculum. It won’t be soon, as far as I know. I have other plans. When we are come off of our break, we will focus on reading and identity/self-discovery. There is no curriculum for how I want to teach it. The foundations of this may take six months or the entire year. I am okay with slowing down to speed up.

Question: How will you know if he’s on par?

Answer:

With whom? Allowing children learn at their own pace is a huge reason for homeshooling, whether your child struggles or is advanced. What I do know is that lots (most that I know or have read about) of homeschooled children matriculate early. Being “on par” is not one of our concerns or focus.

Question: What about socialization?

Answer:

Your children aren’t socializing at school. If they are, you’re probably getting calls or notes sent home. They are not allowed to talk in class except to answer questions or when they work in groups. They are not really allowed to talk in line when changing classes or going to lunch. Teachers take up precious minutes of eating time to get students to be quiet before they proceed to the cafeteria.

If your child, like mine, is getting bullied, he or she is not learning socialization skills. They are likely trying desperately to find coping skills that work.

My son is an only child and the oldest grandchild who spent the majority of time during his formative years with family, which means 98% adults. It’s why when he did start talking, his vocabulary was advanced. And even before he could talk, his comprehension was always well beyond his ages and stages.

He also has friends and activities he does outside of school. I promise you homeschooled children are not hermits.

Question: What are your hours? How do you have enough time to teach him?

Answer:

If you’re asking whether I have set hours for my child to sit down and look at books all day, the answer is no. School is not from 8 – 3. That method wasn’t working for him.

Question: What about when it’s time to graduate?

Answer:

We’re not there yet. I have a lot to learn. I don’t know everything, but we’re committed to the process. What I do know is that homeschooled children successfully graduate every year, and that a lot of the child prodigies you read about in the media are homeschooled children.

Question: Have you thought about private school, charter school, or Montessori?

Answer:

He’s gone to two different charter schools. I liked different things about each. However, homeschool is not a last resort for us. It is a first choice. In fact, public school was a last resort. If I’d realized years ago that homeschool really was a viable choice, I never would have sent my son. I thought putting him in school was something I “had” to do. Homeschool is first choice for us.

Question: Are you going to put him back in school later?

Answer:

No. See previous answer.

There is a world of options and support out there for parents who want to homeschool. It’s not right or wrong or good or bad to homeschool or to put your children in regular school. Decide what works for your family and when. Maybe you want to homeschool and can’t right now. Make a plan for it and stick to it. Whether two-parent or single-parent household, talk to your children about it, and involve them in the process. If you’ve just been curious about homeschooling and puzzled about how it works or why people do it, I hope I’ve been able to shed some light.

If this post has helped you in any way, please share it with others you think it would benefit. Leave a comment to let me know how it helped. If you have more questions, hit the contact button. I do reply to comments and emails.

30 Days of Organizing: Part 2

If you’ve been following my journey, you know that I outlined 12 personal goals for 2019 and shared my methods with you. You also know that I started the year off with 30 days of organizing my entire life. In part one, I shared how I totally cleaned and decluttered my space. Today, I’ll share how I organized a chore system in our home, my time management techniques, how I set myself up for success with my diet, and how I stay motivated to work out. These are all areas that I am determined to improve in after trying and starting over. I’ve found that the key is to know how you’re going to do what you’re going to do. So here it is. . .

Keeping It Clean

I know how challenging it can be to keep a clean house with children. I only have one, and it’s not any easier. Children don’t like to clean. They like to play. I’m assuming most parents don’t like to clean, either. At least not behind capable children. So I created a simple system that keeps the load mostly light for my son and for me. For those of you who want the footnotes version: We divvy up chores into small daily bites and do bigger things 2x/week. Here’s the breakdown.

  • Obviously, we are each responsible for our own bedrooms- basically bed made daily (I cheat by sleeping on the covers lol) and keeping stuff off the floors. You know the stuff I’m talking about. All the stuff. Dirty clothes go in hampers. Clean clothes go in drawers and closets. Toys and crafts go back to their respective places when you’re done. Simple. This practice alone makes cleaning so much easier.
  • We do the same in the living area. We both use the space to work and create, so the rule is put things away as soon as you’re done.
  • The problem areas are tub, toilet, and dishes. These are probably the most consistently dirty. Since my son is the reason for the toilet being a problem area, he gets the honor of being assigned the bathroom to clean (we only have one). His job is simply to make sure the seat, rim, and area behind the seat are clean every time he goes to the bathroom. During the week, we each clean the tub after ourselves for the next person’s use. I make sure that dishes are not left in the sink overnight.
  • On Wednesdays (our least hectic day of the week), we do laundry and sweep the floors. On Saturdays, we clean the whole house, but this doesn’t take as long since we’ve been keeping up with little things throughout the week. We do the bulk of the laundry, wipe down/sanitize surfaces and mop the floors.

This system keeps us on track about 75% of the time.

I keep an abbreviated version on the whiteboard.

Time Management

This one has been a major pain point for me- not only from the perspective of keeping time, but also effective use of time and burnout. One of my biggest complaints is feeling overwhelmed with work/home tasks and spacing out or just procrastinating altogether. This year, I’ve really become obsessed with productivity and started faithfully listening to what has become one of my favorite podcasts, The Productivity Show by Asian Efficiency That’s where I learned about the Pomodoro method of time management. It has changed the way I do things and given me my time back. Basically, how it works is like this: You set a timer to do tasks in 25-minute increments. (You can go longer if you’re more disciplined, but this is the exact method, and it works perfectly for me.) You focus only on the task at hand for those 25 minutes, then take a 5-minute break. Stretch, walk around, go to bathroom, drink some water, whatever it is you need to do and can fit in those 5 minutes.

You do four cycles of this before taking a longer break of about 25 minutes. Use this time to clear your brain, reset, and focus on something else. I heard or read somewhere that it’s a good idea to focus on a specific detail in nature during this time- something like watching a bird or butterfly flit around or noting the blades and veins in leaves- to help clear brain fog. On days I work from home, I use this time to throw a load of laundry in the washer and straighten up a bit.

Repeat these cycles. If you can get a full 4 hours of focused work done for the day, you’ve done great!

This is how I structure my days. I have specific things I work on for specific days. This really helps me to budget my time, also. I look at my day in bite-sized slots, instead of guessing what I can fit in around any “big” important things. If I see a 25-minute slot in my day that’s unfilled, I can sometimes squeeze in something trivial that’s on my waitlist, if it doesn’t cost me extra energy. My waitlist is a list of things I need/want to do that aren’t urgent.

Another thing I’ve learned is to let distractions have their moment by taking a few seconds to put them on the waitlist. . . .or adding them as a subtask if applicable. In another post, I’ll talk about some of my time organization tools.

How I Keto

Yes, I know. Keto is all the rage. I’m writing this section with the assumption you already know how keto works. Honestly, it’s one of the easiest diets I’ve tried. What I like about it is that I generally have so much energy and don’t feel like I’m starving. It’s enabled me to work out early mornings without having to wake up 90 minutes before camp to eat. I absolutely cannot workout a full hour on an empty stomach, and I need at least a good 45 minutes for digestion between eating and working out. With keto, I wake up still full from the dinner the evening before. It’s amazing.

I set myself up for success from the start to begin my new diet. First, I did a 14-day cleanse. I made a list of keto-friendly foods that I enjoy and ones I’d like to try. I purchased a bulk meat special that I could freeze, so I’m never unprepared or running to the store last minute for food and wasting time. My meal prep days are mostly on Sundays and sometimes midweek. I keep my preferred fats in supply and purchase veggies to last at least two weeks.

Sample grocery list and steps I need to take.

I have a digital grocery list in one of the apps I use, so I never have to think about it, just replace what I need. I also have a sample menu in my journal that I pull from to decide what I’m eating for the week. This site explains keto well and also has a sample menu, which I’ve pulled some of my menu items from.

Workout Motivation

Ok. I knoooow y’all feel me on this. Working out consistently can be a challenge. It goes hand-in-hand with diet too, and if you’re like me, you like to reward yourself sometimes with cheat days- diet and workout cheat days. To avoid this blatant self-sabotage, I implemented a reward system. I set workout and weightloss goals, then I reward myself with more motivation to workout. A goal might look like working out 3x/week all month or decreasing my run time/increasing the number of sprints I can do in a time frame. When I meet these goals, I reward myself with things like a cute new workout outfit, heavier dumbbells, a jump rope, or some other tool that will help me maintain or reach my goals. Or I will purchase ingredients to try a new healthy meal that I previously deemed a waste of my funds. Lol! I like buying new things, and it beats rewarding myself with brunch, then getting totally off track. I’m probably most proud of my little reward system, because it’s a form of self-care for me, and my motivation is coming completely from within. I bought new workout clothes a few months ago, and I’m due for an upgrade in dumbbells now. Wish me luck!

Running shoes and weights bought as a reward for meeting goals.

I hope you’ve gained some insight and inspiration from this post. If you have, let me know! I’d love your feedback and to know what else you’d like to see on this blog.

It’s Our First Day of Homeschool!

Today is our first day of homeschool!

I started entertaining the idea at the beginning of the year when my frustration with the public school system reached an all-time high. But I’m not a stay-at-home-mama yet, so I had serious doubts about being able to homeschool and work. It felt impossible, and I thought I’d be judged harshly for doing things a certain way. By whom, I’m not sure. I’m being very transparent right now. It was just an irrational fear, and I’ll be the first to tell you that most of our fears are irrational.

I knew I had to do something though, so I made a Facebook post to get feedback from my network. As expected, my Facebook peeps came through. I got everything from “I wish I could!” to I do/did it, but not while working” to “Try private school or a different school district.” I even received offers for consultations. And while all were meant to be helpful and taken as such, my heart began sliding into despair as I read through the comments. What I wanted to know was “Is it possible? Can I homeschool while being a working mom?”

Wait.

Scratch that. Let me rephrase.

I needed to know, to be told, that I could do it. That someone else had done it, no matter how hard it was. My spirit needed that. I could take it from there.

I joined a local homeschool group on Facebook that someone had suggested. Then I listened to this podcast. It changed my whole perspective and validated everything I’d been thinking and feeling regarding homeschooling and my son’s education. Suddenly, I knew I could do it. I knew it was the best thing to do. And I determined that we would begin homeschooling in the upcoming school year. I began researching homeschooling methods, unschooling, curriculums, etc. I joined a bunch of homeschool groups so I could begin friending other homeschooling families and stay in the know.

I’m going to be honest here. I work. During the day. Outside of my home. I own a small business, and it pays the bills. I’m also a single parent. I will have to be strategic about how I manage my time and take on clients. I don’t know how I would do this if I had a regular 9-5, but knowing myself, I would make a plan and a way. My son’s education and life are that important. That brings me to why I decided to homeschool in the first place.

Academics

Quite simply, traditional schools are ill-equipped to meet my son’s academic needs. It took me awhile to realize this. Growing up, I excelled in school because the environment and the methods were conducive to my learning style. I had pretty good memory recall. My grandmother used to say I had the memory of an elephant. I was a great test taker. I loved to read and write, and that’s how I learned. School was a breeze for me! It was reading, writing, and test taking. Straight As and honor roll! Great! I was always praised for this, as though it was something I’d done. I used to say, “All I did was study. Anyone can be ‘smart’ if they study.” And while that is true, I never realized that traditional ways of teaching and study methods catered to my style of learning. . . .until my son came along. My son is very intelligent. But he learns differently. Even with wraparound services, which I feel were poorly executed and maintained, it wasn’t good enough. I don’t entirely blame the school. the whole system is flawed. Teachers and students are casualties of that system.

Bullying

The bullying problem was out of control, and seemingly out of my control. My son has been bullied for three years straight, and despite encouraging him to tell me and his teachers so that we can make it stop, what he’s learned is that no one can make it stop. As a parent, it’s such a bad feeling to not be able to protect your child. What’s worse is experiencing an erosion of trust between you and your child due to your seeming inability to protect him. That alone is worth homeschooling.

Identity & Control

There’s very little cultural representation and zero reinforcement of self-identity. My son told me that there are no brown people in his history lessons. Imagine going through six hours of study everyday and never seeing yourself represented, while also being teased about your hair (even by kids who look like you, which is a whole other issue).

Not to mention, public schools guard children like dogs against their own parents. I never was sure if they were guarding the children or the classrooms. I’ve never been comfortable with that.

When I realized how stressful it was for me to advocate for my son’s education and safety, I began to question why I was even waiting to withdraw him. Yesterday, I kept my son home and sent a withdrawal email to his principal and a few other key staff. His principal responded in acknowledgement and simultaneously put a crack in my heart. Somewhere deep down I was hoping that I’d have to check in with the school verbally to verify that the withdrawal email was received.

Just a month ago, I’d sent an email to the principal and attached two voice clips of a conversation I’d secretly recorded between my son and me, regarding the bully situation at his school. I knew my son wouldn’t have been so open if he’d known he was being recorded. In the email, I also included details of an incident of bullying that he’d told me happened that very same day and expressed my concern for his safety. I ended requesting a scheduled appointment. I have not received a response to that email.

A week or so after the email, I went up to the school and asked the administrator to have the principal call me at his earliest convenience to schedule an appointment. I never received a phone call. So to receive a response to the withdrawal email within hours. . . .deeply saddened and disappointed me. It also reaffirmed that I made the right decision.

Welcome home, Son.

My 30 Days of Organizing: Part I

If you’ve read my previous post, you know that I started the year with my first goal being organization. I typically do this 2x/year- my birthday and the start of the new calendar year. My birthday is my BIG new year, and I always want to make sure I’m entering another year of life with as little baggage as possible. I usually spend the week leading up to my birthday cleaning and organizing my personal space. January is sort of a check-in time to keep myself on track.

This January, I wanted to completely overhaul my life and establish structure in every area- home school, how I manage my time, get clear on my goals, and just generally establish order.

I want to first note that I didn’t start in January. No. I wanted to start the year off in a clear space so that I could have the intentional focus to do everything else. So during the final week of December 2018, I began decluttering and cleaning my house. I cleared away large trash bags of STUFF- old mail, toys, books, clothes. I didn’t know I had so much stuff in my house. This is because I went into the hidden spaces and opened up things I hadn’t opened in ages. The stuff that was already “organized,” but were really just condensed junk. Whew! That’s a sermon! For later though.

take out the garbage
photo retrieved from https://www.rd.com/advice/work-career/garbage-collector-secrets/

I threw out everything that was useless or hadn’t been used or even looked at in the past three years. Yes, even the old business cards that I was going to eventually transfer into a database (eyeroll). Also, the old clothes that were gonna be so cute on me when get back down that size. I boxed up clothes of mine and my son’s and drove them down to Once Upon A Child and Plato’s Closet. Got a few bucks to give the kid for spending money.

I threw out old food containers- you know the ones with missing or broken or melted tops? Yeah those. Utensils with broken handles. Bottles of shampoo, soap, etc. with half-ounce quantities of whatever substance was supposed to be in them, because I hate to waste and was gonna shake the bottles until I was sure there was nothing left. Old makeup. I even threw out books. If you know me, you know that is historic.

All of the old mail that contained sensitive info was put into a book bag so that I could later have my son run them through the shredder. He gets a kick out of shredding paper. He can have at it! By the way, if you live in Dallas or Houston, here are the dates for Resource One Credit Union’s Shred Day events.

Once everything was decluttered and organized,I went about cleaning from top to bottom. I placed new plugins in every room of my house. Then I moved to the car, throwing out the junk, wet-wiping the seats and dash, vacuuming, and putting in a new car scent.

New Year’s Day was spent taking care of me. I washed my hair, gave myself a nice long, hot bath, and put on my favorite scent. Then I saged the entire house and spent the remainder of the day meditating, enjoying peaceful music, writing, and napping. It was so sweet and exactly the loving and pampering that I needed.

Photo by bruce mars from Pexels

Later, I also saged the car.

So all of that created the perfect environment for me to focus on organizing the rest of my life.

In my next post, I’ll share my time management tips and the system I implemented to stay on top of keeping my house clean. If you enjoyed this post, drop a line letting me know what your takeaways were and what else you’d like to see talk about here. Thanks for reading!