Intentional Living Week Six: Setting Lifetime Priorities

by Christine

"Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible".      Tony Robbins

For the last 5 weeks you have been laying the ground work to define and set priorities. Setting your priorities is not the end of the process; but it is the singular key to living an intentional life. If you aren't clear on what you want from life, how can you get it?

Stephen Covey in his hugely successful book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People used a word picture that has stayed with me since reading the book in 1989. He said, imagine that a mysterious limo driver dropped you off in the center of a city that you did not know and handed you a paper map with the instructions to find your way to the airport. (Keep in mind this was before the days of personal computing devices and GPS systems.)  And then imagine that no matter how hard you tired you could not find the airport.  Can you picture how frustrated you would be? Than visualize how you would feel when you learned that you were in the city of Detroit and that the map was of Chicago.  Whoa. No matter how organized, responsible or smartly you approached the task of getting to the airport, that map was never going to help you do it.

Setting priorities is like creating a map that will help you navigate your life and your world. Clearly stating what you want to achieve will make it easier to obtain and will make you happier in the process. Also, if and when you get side tracked, you will know it and get back on plan. 

There are multiple ways to categorize your goals including basing them on Maslow's hierarchy of needs. But experience has taught me that we need to start with Lifetime Priorities. What is a Lifetime Priority? They are goals that last for the duration of your life. A Lifetime Priority for me is to have a close and loving relationship with my family. Under that global goal is daily, quarterly and even yearly goals but the overarching priority remains constant. 

Week 6 Assignment: List your Lifetime Priorities.

This week list your Lifetime Priorities. You aren't necessarily looking to limit the number of priorities but these are goals that you will come back to year-after-year as you craft your life. We will drill down to a subset of goals that support these priorities but for now, compile your list of Lifetime Priorities.





An iPhone App for the Whole Family

by Christine

Two weeks ago I launched Footsteps's first App, MMI-MyMedInfo. As I shared with you, I created the MMI after struggling with managing my mother's medical information during the end of her life (which involved multiple hospital and rehab visits). MMI is my real world response to coping with the mounds of information that is generated during a serious medical event. 

Though the app was inspired by the situation with my mom, it's really a tool for the entire family. Since the release of the MMI, I have heard from multiple parents who now use it to manage the healthcare information of their children. The notification feature for Medications is particularly helpful. You can schedule an alert that reminds you that it is time to administer your child's medication. Notifications not only serve as helpful reminders but are great for managing multiple kids with different medications.

Additionally, the Allergies feature has been a big help to parents of children with different kinds of allergies. MMI allows you to segregate an allergy by type which, acts as a gentle reminder to include environmental allergens as well any medical or food substance that can cause an immediate hypersensitive response. 

These are just two elements that are helping parents manage their children's healthcare information. To learn more about the app or download it, visit the iTunes store.



Decorating With Mom's Christmas Ornaments

by Christine

{Matthew, my son, and me shopping for a Christmas tree}

Unlike the multitude of retail stores in the mall, I don't decorate for Christmas until after Thanksgiving. I want to experience and rejoice in one holiday at a time. The colors of Thanksgiving are the warm shades of autumn. Decorating with burgundy, yellow and orange mums along with the traditional and not so traditional pumpkins evokes a cherished atmosphere. I wouldn't want to miss it by rushing the season.

Now that the last of the Thanksgiving turkey is simmering in the stock pot and my mums have started to fade, it is time to climb into the attic and pull out the Christmas decorations. Trimming my tree is not just about decorating my home but it is also a time to remember. Now keep in mind that my memory in general is spotty. Marty is forever asking me to recall various life events and I just go blank. On ocassion I wonder if he has me confused with someone else because I got nothing, a clean slate when it comes to certain events. But as I unpack and place each ornament on my tree, I can give you its entire history. I know where I purchased it, what city I lived in when I found it, who came for Christmas dinner and other assorted facts like the color of my hair that particular Christmas.

Decorating this year will be no different from the past except that now I have my mother's decorations.  Of all her belongings that I inherited, her Christmas decoration hold the most memories.  Each Christmas as part of my gift to Mom, I would give her a Christmas ornament. She received a dozen or so lovely artisan crafted decorations. The blue hand-blown glass tear drop triggers memories of Christmas 1977. That was the year that my daughter Kathryn was born and the first time she met my parents and sister. We drove in from Alabama to spend the holiday with my parents. My mother and sister rushed up to us as we parked the car, took Kathryn from my arms and swept back into my parent's home. They barely acknowledged us. I smile today thinking of their excitement over meeting Kathryn and their total indifference to her parents. 

Some of Mom's ornaments are old; they are my age. One of my favorites is the aluminum Christmas bells. I am sure many families of my generation owned these mass produced muted gold and silver bells with the tinny sound. The fact they were made of aluminum symbolized the strength of the times as families moved into the suburbs. 

I love the addition of Mom's ornaments to my own and while there is a little sadness mixed with the joy of decorating this  year, I know I will cherish the memories. I would love to hear about your decorations. Do you have the same sentimental attachment to your decorations? Or do you change the "look" each year?  


Intentional Living Week Five: Are You Moving Forward?

by Christine

{Hot Air Ballooning in Wyoming}

Four weeks ago, you committed to living a more intentional life. Are you moving forward? This week I am going to recap the process, reviewing the objective of each week. Take a moment to appraise your progress and your successes. 

In week one, you learned about the Morning 30.  The Morning 30 is your personal commitment to take 30 minutes a day, not necessarily in the morning, to sit quietly and think. It is a time to quiet your mind and reflect upon the life you are living. You also made the commitment to create a comfortable place in your home to spend your Morning 30. 

In week two, you started to ask the right questions about your life. Do you feel you are in control and/or gladdened by the way you are living? Are you content and/or heartened by the way you treat other people including your significant other, children and other family members?  Do you sense that change is coming your way? These open-ended questions functioned as a tool to help you personalize your journey as you created your own list of key questions about your life. 

In week three, you took your Morning 30 to evaluate and document what is working in your life and what isn't. Building upon your answers to the questions in week two, you complied a written list of observations about your life. You were honest with your assessment about what was working and what wasn't when creating your Life Lists

In week four, you began to list your personal priorities. You started by reviewing your Life Lists and identifying priorities from the 'what was working' and 'what is not'. The purpose here is NOT to limit priorities at this time, so add additional ambitions that you believe will lead to enhancing your life. 

Week 5 Assignment: Review

Take this week to review each item. Do you feel you are on target? Do you find that spending 30 minutes a day in quiet time is making a difference in your life? Are you beginning to articulate your vision for you life throught the Life Lists? This week is a time for quiet review. In week five, I will discuss how to begin to cull and clarify your priorities. 



Honoring Those Who Came Before Us

by Christine

Tomorrow I am beginning a new tradition in our family. As we gather together, we will take a moment to acknowledge those who came before us and are now no longer with us. Nothing overly dramatic or maudlin, just a gentle reminder that who we are today was built on the foundation of our parents and grandparents. Whatever your Thanksgiving traditions, take a moment to remember those who made you who you are today. 

Happy Thanksgiving from my family to yours. 



How to Avoid Stress and Enjoy Thanksgiving

by Christine


My excitement level is topping the charts. This year I am hosting Thanksgiving at my home. I will not be making the annual pilgrimage to my parent's home in Florida; those days are over. My kids and grandchildren are coming for their first Thanksgiving in New York; I hope the first of many. I plan to prepare our family's traditional Thanksgiving meal with all our homemade favorites. Marty and I have been discussing kid friendly activities as well as how to "entertain" the adults while caring for twin grandbabies. However my number one priority of the holiday is to enjoy the time with my family. 

I know for many preparing a holiday meal is a tradition and can feel like a personal challenge. One that can be lonely and result in a feeling of "Oh, all that and over in 20 minutes".  I recommend the following three steps to avoid the pressure of creating the "perfect holiday meal" while spending the day alone in the kitchen.

First, start early. I assembled the menu and shopping list, designed my table centerpiece, pulled out the holiday dishes and table cloth and ordered the turkey last week. All the shopping was done this past weekend so that I could start baking pies. In short, everything that can be done will be done before the kids arrive. 

Next, the preparation and cooking of our Thanksgiving meal will be a family affair or as we say in our family, "All hands on deck". I am already planning for my granddaughter Lucy and me to make the table centerpiece together. It involves pumpkins, glue and glitter...what three year old wouldn't like that? My son excels at most everything he does, including making an apple pie. His name is next to that task. Everyone will be asked to help make our Thanksgiving meal special.

Third, set realistic expectations. I am not Martha Stewart (though I admire her work and use her as a resource regularly). Thanksgiving is about coming together with family and friends and sharing a good meal together with a thankful heart. If you forget the dinner rolls, save the rolls for Friday and prepare miniature left-over turkey sandwiches. Give yourself a break; you would do the same for a friend. 

Finally, enjoy the day. At the risk of sounding like a cliche, life goes by fast. Take the day to hugs those you love, laugh together and maybe even play a little touch football.





Intentional Living Week Four: Do You Have Your Priorities Straight?

by Christine

“Good things happen when you get your priorities straight”.  Scott Caan

This past week you have been compiling your list of what you like about your life and what you don’t like about your life. Were you surprised at what you wrote down? This week we will start the process of setting priorities that will help you achieve your goal of living an intentional life.

Several weeks ago my sister said to me that her number one priority in life was to get all the clean clothes in her house folded and put away. We laughed and hung up the phone. Some days are like that; a major success is just getting the laundry folded. However Julia’s overarching priority is to create an organized and comfortable home for her family and herself. Folding the laundry is one step to achieving that priority.  

Identifying and stating your priorities proclaims that you recognize you have finite time and resources and that it is necessary to direct your energy and attention to one objective before addressing a competing alternative. This is important because if you don’t verbalize and set your priorities opportunities will be missed. Or worse yet, someone else will set priorities for you.

To consciously implement your life’s vision, you must first be clear on what your priorities are and how you are spending your time. I would venture to say that those areas where you life is working, you are consciously spending more of your time. Understandably, not so much on the other side.  I regularly test what I am doing at the moment against my stated priorities. If I find I am involved in too much busy work or spreading myself too thin, I pull back and refocus on my stated priorities. To do that I first had to be clear on my priorities.

Week 4 Assignment: List your priorities.

As a starting point, take out the Life Lists you compiled last week. Based on those observations, what are your priorities? If you said, “I exercise regularly”, would you include that as a priority?  Additionally, if you want to include something from your 'what is not working' list, do so. As an example, you stated that your finances were a mess and you want to make changing that a priority, include that as a priority. 

Once you complete your review of the Life Lists, identify any other aspirations that you would like to add to your priority list. Again, this is not the time to limit priorities; you will do that down the road. Right now you want to capture those ambitions that you believe will lead to enhancing your happiness. Next you will start to cull and clarify your priorities.


Footsteps Launches an app!

by Christine

I was confused. My mother’s blood pressure had been managed for years by a daily blood pressure medicine. Now it was completely out of control. Each time my mother stood up in rehab to practice walking, her blood pressure rose dangerously high. Maybe it was because of the strokes, maybe the medicine had become ineffective or maybe there was something else going on that we did not know. 

When I met with the rehab doctor, I asked him why Mom’s medication was no longer effective. As he reviewed her charts, he stated that mom was not on medication for high blood pressure. I was stunned. After shuttling from the hospital to rehab multiple times, the fact she took blood pressure medication had “fallen” off her chart. She had gone cold turkey off a medication that she had been taking for years and was essential.

At that moment the light bulb came on. I became an active participant in my own healthcare as well as my mom’s. It was dangerous not to. It was vital that I develop the mindset and the tools to be a partner in managing my medical care and the medical care of those I love. Also it was crucial that the solution be easy and accessible.

That experience motivated me to design and produce MMI-MyMedInfo. MMI is an iPhone app that allows me to store all my medical information, and any family member or friend's medical information on my phone. And because it's in my phone, that information is always with me. It helps me answer all the key questions whether I'm in the emergency room or at a routine medical visit. Right now all my medications and dosages are easily accessible in one place. If I need the number or address of my pharmacy, it is grouped in MMI with the rest of the key people on my medical team. Those are just a few examples among the many benefits of MMI. Check out the Apps page for an in depth overview.

I encourage you to take a look at it. I would very much like you to avoid the stress and frustration that I experienced, as I was caring for my mother. Check out MyMedInfo in the app store.




Do You Have a Thankful Heart?

by Christine

My mother's premier Thanksgiving dish was her mashed potatoes. They are legendary in our family. She attempted to teach my sister and me how to prepare them just as she had but it never quite came out the same. Maybe it is because we were impatient or maybe it was because food always taste better when someone else prepares it. Sadly, this will be our first Thanksgiving without her. 

The memories of my family holidays are warm and wonderful. Laughter, good food and the kid's table were standard fare at our Thanksgiving gatherings. Keeping traditions alive takes work and commitment and I am grateful that my mother and father valued our family rituals.

So many around us proclaim what we don't have instead of highlighting what we do. The constant barrage of negative chatter and the buy, buy narrative conspires to take the joy out of what is real. I know differently. I live in a bountiful country. I have loving family and friends. I have a job. I have a roof over my head. I have the opportunity and means to help those around me that need help. In short I am blessed.

This year my children and grandchildren will gather at my home to celebrate Thanksgiving. My signature dish will not be mashed potatoes; I am known for my macaroni and cheese. But just as my parents worked to create family traditions that bound us together I will do the same. Furthermore as I prepare for our family time together, I will do so with a thankful heart. My life has not been without struggle; I am human. But this Thanksgiving I will consciously take time to count my blessings with a thankful heart.


Intentional Living Week Three: What is Working in Your Life?

by Christine


"Accuracy of observation is the equivalent of accuracy of thinking."    Wallace Stevens

Last week's assignment was to use your Think Time to explore three key questions. These questions were designed to help you examine multiple areas of your life. What did you discover? In week three you will use the answers you compiled last week to create a list of what you like about your life and what you don’t.  

In week 1, I shared with you a snapshot of my life when I started an organized process to living intentionally. I was pretty harried and taking the time to think about my life was the first step in reducing stress and creating the life I desired. What I learned from exploring the questions I shared with you gave me the foundation to change those elements that weren't working for me but it also helped me to identify and hold on to the really good parts of my life.

I wrote down my observations but clarified my feelings by asking why I felt or thought a certain way. One of my first observations was that I no longer liked my job. When I asked why, I saw that many aspects of my work were fulfilling and rewarding but my company micro managed the sales team and was not a creative environment. After further reflection I came to see that it was not just my company that lacked these elements but the entire industry. I was able to acknowledge I needed to change my career field.   But it all started with identifying what was working for me and what wasn't. I wrote everything down because I was working to capture the tangible and intangible observations and feelings I had about my life.

Not every observation I wrote down was as life altering or as important as the one I have shared with you. Nor in the beginning could I always succinctly answer why. But in asking why I was eventually able to find the kernel of my happiness or discontent and start the process of change.

Week 3 Assignment: List what is working in your life and what is not.

Drawing upon your answers from last week's questions write down your observations. It is important to actually write them down and not just list them in your head.

The first list includes those areas you believe are working. I am happy in my marriage, I exercise regularly, I am good at my job are just three examples. The second list are those areas that aren't workings so well. My 13-year-old daughter and I are always arguing, my financial budget is a mess and I want to lose 10 pounds all qualify for the things that aren't working so well list.

Don't force an arbitrary number of items on either list. Just write until you run out of things to write down.  Don't try to balance the numbers observations on each list. Maybe more is working for you than not. Maybe only little things in your life are annoying but the big issues are working for you. Just don’t force it; write freely and honestly.

This week compile your lists and in week 4 you will begin to set your priorities.