Thursday, March 24, 2022

What Have We Here?

When I first realized that I needed to reincorporate into my daily schedule some kind of break(s) for mental, spiritual, and physical rebooting and renewal, I seriously doubted it could be done. I knew, though, that I needed to at least try.

I thought back to all the people I’ve ever known who “fixed things” — friends and relatives who did their own car or home repairs, mended or altered their own clothes, etc.

The one thing all of them did first was to assess the problem and consider the options available to them.

For the next week, that’s exactly what I did.

I started out by jotting down a very brief, open schedule of my days. On a piece of notebook paper, I created 5 vertical sections: early morning, morning (8-lunch), lunch, afternoon (post-lunch to 3:45), and evening. Then I created 3 columns: Sunday, weekdays, Saturday.

For 5 days (3 weekdays and a weekend) I paid attention to what I did in each of those blocks of time, and when I had a minute to jot down a brief note (“checked fb”), I did.

I wasn’t legalistic about this process. I didn’t keep track of how much time I spent doing what I did unless it was a chunk of time of approximately 15 or more minutes. Why 15 minutes? No other reason but that it seemed reasonable and doable. I was careful, though, to jot down (as soon as I had a chance) everything I did during each block of time.

Each night, I very quickly glanced at what I’d done all day and added a few notes while my thoughts and feelings were fresh. For example, on Tuesday I made 2 very quick necessary phone calls while my granddaughters played independently and I sat in the rocker watching them. 

Those calls took less than 5 minutes total. I remembered that evening that even though the calls themselves were positive in nature, I felt stressed because I knew that at any second one of the girls might need/want my complete attention, have an ouchie that needed a kiss, etc. So I noted “+ stress — save for lunch break”.

 At the end of those 5 days, I had a pretty complete list of all the tasks and activities that I performed in each block of time.  

If you’re trying to find ways to incorporate breaks into your busy days, I urge you to first assess — in whatever way works best for you — what you’re facing. Look at your schedule and keep a record of what you do throughout the day and week.

That’s it . . . for now. Next Thursday (or perhaps earlier, if time permits), I’ll share my reaction to what my “time log” revealed and how I easily found more than enough time for at least one dedicated break and one or two on-the-fly breaks every day, even the busiest ones. 

In the meantime, I hope you’ll share your own experiences, successes, even frustrations with finding time to step away from the busy-ness of your day. Join the discussion by commenting here or on my facebook page (Patti Miinch).

Thursday, March 17, 2022

Break Time!


I don’t know about you, but my mind is constantly inundated by sights and sounds, information, details involved in daily life, etc.

Even when that “stuff” is positive in nature — the beauty of the world around me, the sound of my granddaughters’ laughter, the request for “Nonni, play ring-around-the-rosie”, news of a friend’s all-clear after a medical test, etc. — there’s so much for my brain to absorb and process.

My body is also often overtaxed. At 60+, caring full-time for my two very-active — and dare I say, absolutely adorable — granddaughters (age 2 years 3 months and 11 months old) is exhausting. The last time I had 2 little ones in diapers, one running around and the other just beginning to walk, both of them excited and curious about the world around them and filled with more energy than I can begin to fathom, I was 31 years younger!

By the time 4:00 arrives and I’ve kissed my granddaughters good-bye for the day and am on my way to my quiet apartment, I am mentally and physically exhausted.

When I was teaching full time, I found ways to build into my day a few small pockets of time for pause and relaxation. After I initially retired, I was able to increase those few minutes into mini-breaks for Bible study, reading for pleasure, and healthy snacks. 

But now? An uninterrupted trip to the ladies’ room would be enough to make my day! :)

We’re still 5 months away from a 2/3-day-a-week preschool schedule, and finding a suitable woman (college age or above) to watch the girls one or two days a week until then has proven to be impossible (so far). As a result, it’s clear to me that I must develop some ways to incorporate even small pockets of spiritual and physical rest and rejuvenation into these busy days.

I know I’m not alone. Many men and women in their prime time years are still working full-time, caring for a home, etc., and many are also caregivers for an elderly or ill parent or spouse. According to statistics I’ve read, many are also raising — full-time, no less — at least one grandchild while working full-time and possibly even caring for an elderly or ill parent or spouse! 

So how do those of us in our prime time years and facing such demands find time and the means to give their spirits, minds, and bodies the rest and reboot they so desparately need?

That’s what I'll be focusing on in the next few weeks. I’ll be posting here every Thursday, sharing with you what I’m learning; I’ll also be sharing tips and links to helpful information during the week on Instagram and Facebook (Patti Miinch, on both sites).

I hope you’ll join in the conversation, sharing your own challenges, any tips or solutions you’ve found, or simply whatever comes to mind. 

Monday, March 14, 2022

My Year of Less — important update and change

 As of this week, I’ll be posting My Year of Less updates on Facebook. Come on over to my page Patti Miinch and “like” and “follow”. See you there!!

Thursday, March 10, 2022


As 2021 drew to a close and I began considering my “one word” for 2022, it became increasingly clear to me that renewal was the perfect choice. I was excited and envisioned starting out the new year strong, creating checklists and action steps in my bullet journal. I could almost see the old habits, behaviors, and routines being replaced with better ones. Ones aligned with my values and goals. 

That’s not quite how things panned out. Instead, I spent the first 79 or so days of 2022 preparing for, getting through, and then settling in from my 3rd move in 27 months. I’ll spare you the gory details; trust me, it was stressful.

Renewal was never far from my mind, but I thought of it as being on the back burner, waiting for me to have the time and energy to give it my attention. Because, after all, I was the one whose responsibility it was to determine the new habits, behaviors, and routines; I was the one who needed to implement and maybe fine-tune them as well. Right?

But yesterday, while I was rocking Little Little (my youngest grandchild), it dawned on me that the past 9 1/2 weeks did not put renewal on hold; rather, they had been instruments of renewal.

And I’d had neither the time nor the energy to focus on renewal, much less take a single step in that direction.

While I was looking elsewhere — at packing and finding an apartment and setting up utilities and . . . — routines and habits were stripped away and behaviors have been changing.

I felt as if a huge weight had been lifted from me. I finally got it.

I don’t have to figure it all out and create a meticulous plan. 

I’m not sure yet what I need to do, but I know Who is in charge of that, and He’ll let me know in His own time.

And I’ll be ready to listen and to obey. 

Monday, March 7, 2022

My Year of Less (weeks 6-9)

My recent (completed 02-11) move was/has been, as I explained in a brief post last week, far more difficult than I anticipated. I've put my head down and focused on what *had* to be done, but I kept notes of my spending, so I'm ready to get caught up.

Weeks 6-9 Recap


I continued to purchase food and, fortunately, only had to buy 3/4 of a tank of gas this entire 4 weeks.  

 When I moved into a mother-in-law's apartmentette just over 2 years ago, the plan was that I would use my daughter's washer/dryer and her spare-room double bed, so I sold mine. When we moved here, she offered to let me keep her bed, but I knew she needed to have a spare bed so when her in-laws (who live several hours away) come to visit, nobody is forced to sleep on a couch or air mattress.

As I shared in the week 5 recap, I ordered a new bed; it arrived last week, and I love it! After doing laundry at my daughter's house twice while babysitting, I knew that wasn't very feasible, so this past Saturday I purchased a washer & dryer at 20% off. 

I also ordered new oven mitts and a new bathmat -- my old ones seem to have disappeared somewhere through the 3 moves (in 2 years 3 months). So I've stuck to the necessities-only requirement. 

No purchases from big box stores:

The washer & dryer were, unfortunately, purchased from a chain store. There is only 1 independent appliance dealer within a 2-hour radius of where I live, and due to supply chain issues, they had only a few washers & dryers in stock. Those units were too pricey for my budget. I did shop via fb marketplace and fb sell/swap groups in my area but found nothing. 


Using items from my stashes:

I knitted several times over the last 4 weeks, so I'm using up yarn (finally!). 

Getting rid of stuff:

As I unpacked, I did some sorting and culling of items I knew I no longer needed; I donated 10 items to a local charity shop. I also chose 5 designer-label purses in excellent condition to take to a local designer-brands-only resale shop here in town. I plan to take them in on Friday, and they're already in the trunk of my car, ready to go. 

Weeks 6-9 have been exhausting, but in terms of this challenge they have been rewarding. My only disappointment was having to purchase 2 major appliances from a chain store, but because of the circumstances I'm okay with it.