Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Are your goals set for 2015?

It is that time of the year that we start thinking about what has happened in the past year and start thinking about the new year to come. This is also the time that people think up New Years resolution's that get forgotten by January 2nd, I have already discussed the importance of setting goals and how to set them.I  also talked about a good planner to keep track of what you need to be doing. Today I am going to discuss putting them together to set your yearly goals and to make plans for the year to come.

Last year I had a small planner that was about 5X7 but it just did not work out the way I wanted it to. I found that I liked to have more room to put hourly schedules in and have room for important dates. This year I purchased a planner that measures 9X12 but is still convenient to carry around. This planner is an weekly appointment book that is broken down by 15-minute intervals 7 days a week and runs from 7am to 8pm.

In addition at the there is a monthly calendar at the beginning of every month. One feature that attracted my attention to this particular planner was that both the monthly calender and the weekly appointment sections have an area for notes that I can write my goals for that month and week into and see them every day as a reminder of what I am going to accomplish. I will have to say it sometimes scary to see how fast the calendar is already filling up and we haven't hit the new year yet.

Now that I have a planner that I like that allows me to put in my monthly and weekly goals there is the job of getting the yearly goals done. As I mentioned on the posts about setting goals there are long range (life) goals, medium range goals and your yearly goals with the yearly goals set up as stepping stones to those big life or long range goals.

Last year I accomplished several of my goals a lot sooner than I had planned for which means I set the bar too low so this year I am raising that bar. For example I hit my weight loss goal by the first of September and even though I do not have that far to go I want to hit my final weight by the time I attend an importance conference from April 17th to April 21st. While this is a tight deadline it creates a challenge to overcome especially since I want to buy a nice new suite for the conferance and don't want it to be too big after a few months!

Another goal I set up was to have an update set of life goals by April 1st. While I already have a set of life goals, they should be reevaluated every few years to ensure that you are on the right track or when you have major life changes that cause you to reevaluate your priorities in life. An example using a medium range goal is that I have a picture of a Ford Raptor on my desk as it was something I wanted a few years ago. Well life has changed and that Raptor no longer appeals to me so that goal has changed.

On the other hand there is also times that you may reevaluate how aggressive you are with a goal. I have mentioned previously that I added a goal during the year to read a book a week after seeing the that my friend Rich Hopkins was doing it. Well not only did I meet the goal I blew it away by reading 87 books this past year. While I could say I want to be even more aggressive this year instead I am actually sticking with the 52 from last year. While I love to read there was times last year that reading became a choir so I am going to work on enjoying it again instead of worrying about how much I am reading.

Now is the time to get those goals in order and ready for the challenges the of the new year.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Happy Holidays and Christmas memories

First of all I want to wish all of you the happiest of holidays, writing this as another Christmas Eve dawns.

The other day I was asked what kinds of Christmas traditions have we started with our family since we adopted our children and it took me a while to think about it. We have tried our best to give them a good Christmas experience but what defines our family when it comes to the Christmas tradition.

I then flashed back to my earliest Christmas memory which is not one that many people would want to remember. It was the Christmas after I had turned six years old and I spent most of the Christmas season at La Vina hospital which included having surgery. I was suffering from double phenomena, had fluid in my lungs, bronchitis and other things wrong we me and wasn't expected to live (fooled them...). But that set up what would become a Christmas tradition when the hospital allowed me to go home and decorate the Christmas tree.

Every year after that the decorating of our Christmas tree became a family tradition, Then after having worked retail for several years, my Christmas spirit was largely gone as I would often see the worst that our society had to offer. People pulling guns on each other to get the some poorly made piece of junk VCR that wouldn't last six months because it was made extra cheaply to be sold cheaply for Black Friday, people at the doors after we closed on Christmas Eve blaming us that their childrens's Christmas would be ruined because we closed and so on.

However, despite that there was still treasured memories including that cause you to truly remember which ironically usually involved when you give to others including the year that we worked at a homeless shelter making Christmas dinners and giving to organizations that help others during this time of year.

But now, as a father I can once again see the better part of Christmas. Of course we do our best that our children truly understand the true meaning of Christmas but in today's over commercialized world it is not always easy. What is something that we can do that will given them that precious memory that lasts a life time? Most of the time those memories are something that happen by chance, not something that is planned.

One minor thing that we started doing is to go look at Christmas lights on either Christmas day or Christmas Eve. Because I have to get up early on Friday this year we are going out tonight. They even get a bigger thrill because we allow them to go out in pajamas and bathrobes when we take the drive.

What are your special memories of the holidays?

I hope that everyone has a wonderful Christmas and create some special memories.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Death and Life...

DSC_0022.JPG (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There is times that we seem to go through certain activities in our day that become so routine that we often don't think about them. Then comes a day that not only changes that so common routine but also has a major impact on your life. It is a day that you think about what is most important in life, makes you think about those who are most important to you, and may have an impact on your very future. Yesterday was one of those days for me and it started first thing in the morning.

At least three, and usually four or five a days a week I head to the Portland Community College track and exercise as it is just a short walk down a trail from where I live. I arrived at the track at about 5:30 and was about to start my first walk around the track when I noticed something laying along the track about a quarter around from where I start. At first I thought it might be some garbage that was dragged there by the neighborhood foxes or coyotes that live in the area but as I got closer I realized it was a person lying on the ground.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Things to Look at when Considering being a Foster Parent...

Length of stay in U.S. foster care
Length of stay in U.S. foster care (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Children sleeping in Mulberry Street (1890) Art.
Children sleeping in Mulberry Street (1890) Art. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Think about the gambit of emotions and you have what it means to be a foster parent. It can be joyful, a handful, frustrating, depressing, exciting, and everything in between, however in the end you will be helping children that are in need and there is not better feeling in the world although it is not for the faint of heart to say the least.

Here are some things to consider before becoming a foster parent:

1. Are you ready for all the responsibility of being a foster parent? Not only is it taxing on the emotions but it it also requires a great deal of time. Not only do you attend classes in order to prepare you for being a foster parent (and no matter how much they try it is difficult to teach you all that you need to know), but when you have the children you are their taxi service which means running them to school (often their school will be far away), time to take them to meetings with their family, court dates and so on.

2. Are you emotionally ready to handle the responsibility of taking care of someone else's children that are not able to take care of them at the time and the problems that they may have? In our time as foster parents we had a 14 year old girl with a 5 month old boy and her sister who was 15 and a alcoholic, we had a boy who was possibly sexually molested, we had children whose father was told by his girlfriend that it was either her or his kids and he chose her,  and a 6 year old girl whose father would beat her so bad that his hand would bleed. The other emotional aspect you will have to deal with is when the children leave, if they have been with you for many months it can sometimes be hard to deal with when its time for them to leave, how well will you be able to handle that?

3. Once you get past the first to questions you need to decide how much room you have available for foster children. Every state is different but under the regulations we fostered under you needed to have at least 60 square feet of space per child. Sometimes under special circumstances such as you are willing to take in a large group (we took in a group of 4 at one time even though we technically had enough space for three). You also have to consider that you must purchase all the furniture for the children which can add up. In our case we bought a set of bunk beds, three dressers, a standard bed, a crib/bed combo, lamps, night stands, and clocks. Other things that you will be required to have is a locking cabinet for any medicines and potentially harmful chemicals that you may have in your house.

4. The next thing you need to consider is what ages of children are you willing to foster. As you can probably tell by some of the stories I mentioned we fostered all age ranges. Some people only want to take infants hoping that they will be available for adoption at some point. The thing to take into consideration is that the wider range of ages that you are willing to take in, the more likely you will be getting foster children. Once again it depends on what you are ready for and looking for out of foster care. No one way is right, it just must be right for you.

5. Do you have a support network? You need to have people who you can call on to laugh, cry, vent, and just be able to talk to. Our foster care system had a network in our neighborhood that we could call on and they would also have times to get together and have some fun. You also need to have a someone that you can talk to one on one to deal with personal issues that may arise. In my case the crises time occurred some time after we adopted our kids, but fortunately I had a very special friend who was willing to listen and give advice, and just be there when I needed them. Have that support network in place ahead of time.

Being a foster parent may be one of the most rewarding things you can do. The task will not be easy but knowing that you will be providing a ray of light to a child that needs is worth it. A foster child may only be with you a short time, but you can have a dramatic impact on that child's life even if you don't see the results, know that you will be making a difference.

This past June we celebrated 3 years since adopting our children and later this month we will celebrate the time they came to us. It has not been an easy journey, but I wouldn't change it for anything.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014


Custom Moleskine Planner & iPod touch
Custom Moleskine Planner & iPod touch (Photo credit: Mike Rohde)

In the last couple of entries I talked about the importance of goals, what they should include, and how to set them. Today, I am going to talk about something that goes hand in hand with goals and that is scheduling. When I talked about setting goals I mentioned that you needed to find the system that works for you when setting goals and that goes for creating a scheduling system also, and frankly I have to admit that finding a scheduling system that works for me has been difficult.

It is not scheduling itself that has been difficult but finding a system that would fit my needs. Despite all the modern electronics that are designed to make scheduling easier, I just have not found one that I like. I started by using a software program that created schedules but then realized that Microsoft Outlook basically did the same thing. While Outlook worked for a while, I hated having to getting on the computer to check my scheduling. I know that modern cell phones can also but I quickly realized that I liked having something I could look at more thoroughly than a phone.

After deciding that a software program wasn't working for me I started using an planner that my wife had laying around that was given to her by an old boss. I decided I like the idea of the planner and having it written down so I can see it all the time but this particular planner was very large ringed binder that took up a lot of room and weigh a lot and I already have enough to carry everyday so I decided to start using one of the spiral bound planners that come out every year.

While I have been using the planner on regular basis I couldn't get a system down that I really liked until I saw what one of my friends did in their planner. This person has their planner neatly organized plus has different colored sticky notes for important things and highlights important things in the planner. This gave me an idea that I have started to use in my planner.

The first thing I do is to put in all the important dates that I have coming up into the planner. For items such as important projects that are do I go through the book and put reminders in at weekly intervals that the project is coming up and then I highlight them with green if they are more than 3 weeks out, yellow of they are one or two weeks out and red for the day that they are due. This way I have regular reminders that I have something coming up so that I can be working on it and have it done before it is due.

This coming year I am making one change and that is going from a weekly planner to a daily planner due to the increased commitments and the importance of having things scheduled in a more detailed fashion. As I said before this is my system and you need to find a system that is going to work best for you so good luck.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Setting Goals

Crow Peak summit. Chugach Mountains, Alaska
Crow Peak summit. Chugach Mountains, Alaska (Photo credit: Paxson Woelber)

In the last posting I went over the essential elements of a good goal. Today I will go over how you go about setting goals and the different time periods affecting goals. This is the system I developed that works for me but you must find your own system but this gives you the essential elements. What is important is to establish a system that will work for you and one that will motivate you to continue with goals and make them a part of your everyday life.

Every little goal is a stepping stone to your big goals so I start off with the big goals, sometimes called you life goals or I have also heard them called your a life value statements. Sometimes these big goals will be a long range goals but most of the time long range goals are the final stepping stone to your life goals. These goals are often times the hardest to follow the rules of goals because they are so far out but are important because they create the big goal that the little goals lead up to.

I would not suggest trying to write down these goals in one setting, instead take some time, maybe an extended period of time to really figure out where you want to be in 20 years, 30 years or even longer. We have become such an instant gratification society it is often hard to think that far into the future so don't worry if you have a hard time coming up with them right away.

It should also be noted that these life goals will also be the most flexible and changeable of your goals. While you would like to think that once you set your goals they are going to be in stone and that is what is going to happen, but in reality there is many things that can change your long range goals. That is not to say that there is something wrong with your life goals, on the contrary they are an important element of helping you achieve but we change as people so our goals may change as well. There are many things that change our perspectives on life including finding true love, death of someone we care care about, or realizing that the goal is truly not what we are looking for. Just don't let these life changes stop you from setting goals.

Each goal under your life goals are stepping stones toward that life goal and that is why you want to start off with the life goals because the rest of them are going to work up to that life goal. The next set of goals is your long range goals. As mentioned above sometimes it can blur between your long range goals and life goals but long range goals should be goals that are longer than five years out that work toward your life goals. For example say your goal is to have substantial savings for retirement, a long range goal would be to have your mortgage paid off in say seven years which is a step toward that life goal.

Next up is your medium range goals which are from one to five years out. As you can probably figure out by now these medium range goals should be stepping stones to your long range goals. To continue the idea from the long range goals, a medium range goal could be to have all debts but your mortgage paid off in 24 months.

As you probably already figured out the next step is your goals of one year. I set these during the month of December for the next year although sometimes things can get added during the year. I then set monthly, weekly and daily goals. Your weekly and daily goals will most likely have items on there that do not directly relate to your life goals but are things you need to get done but in the long run will benefit you achieving your life goals. I will often end up with about 30 to 35 items on the weekly goal sheet although only a handful actually fit neatly into my life goals although any goal can indirectly be tied in.

On your daily goals you may want to try scheduling things by time in order to get everything done however that has not always worked well for me. I do better by just having my list of goals for the day and checking them off as I get them complete. What I will do is prioritize my goals for the day by listing them by A's for the biggest priority, B's for medium priority, and C's for the lowest priority. Being a C doesn't mean something isn't important but is not a priority. I then break down each letter by priority and assign them a number from one on. While these may seem like it would take a lot of time to do, time that you could be using to achieve those goals, I have found it takes only a few minutes and it allows me to prioritize my day better.

Now you have the basics of setting goals. As I mentioned before this is designed to be guide to get you started but you need to tailor the system to work best for your personality so that you will stay committed to make things happen.

Good luck and set some goals.

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Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The Elements of a Goal...Part 1

The Mid American Stock Car Series flagman wavi...
The Mid American Stock Car Series flagman waving the checkered flag at the end of a series stockcar heat race. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
goal (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)

My last couple of blog postings talked about goals and the ones that I am trying to achieve this year so I decided that it would be good to go over what a goal is for those of you that are having trouble getting started or working toward those important things in your life. Today I will go over what a goal needs to contain and next time I will discuss the different types of goals and how to set them.

As I mentioned a goal must have some critical ingredients and I will discuss each one of these one at a time: specific, have a time limit, be written down, achievable and challenging.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Hitting the Books...

Anyone who says they have only one life to liv...
Anyone who says they have only one life to live must not know how to read a book. ~AuthorUnknown (Photo credit: Nick Kenrick .)

Last time I talked about goals and mentioned that about a goal that I originally didn't start off with but was influenced by an acquaintance. That person is Rich Hopkins who is an outstanding public speaker and motivator who set a goal of reading one book per week for the whole year and gave a list of some of the books he was thinking of reading.

At first I didn't think that I could even come close to reading a book a week but I decided to put my one hour back and forth to school on TriMet Route 44 to good use. While we still have a couple of days till the half way point of the year, I have actually read 28 books so far this year and am currently working on one although I don't know if I will have it done by Monday.

Friday, June 27, 2014

The Year is Half Over...How are You Doing?

nanowrimo, day 16 goal
nanowrimo, day 16 goal (Photo credit: paloetic)

Hard as it is to think about, Monday will mark the half way point in 2014. While many people let it pass by without even thinking about it, I consider it a good time to look at what has been accomplished so far and what goals are you lagging behind in.

At the beginning of the year like every year I wrote down a set of goals. These are not New Years resolutions they are goals because the have the necessary qualities of a goal: specific, have a time limit, written down, achievable, and challenging.

I started the year with 18 major goals which all work toward my life goals. Then every month I set goals that work toward the yearly goals, weekly goals that work toward the monthly goals, and finally daily goals that work toward accomplishing those weekly goals. I will often end up with about 30 to 35 goals every week and will accomplish anywhere from at least 20 to often more than 30 of them.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Dump the stuff

Clutter (Photo credit: spykster)

     In this months NW Examiner newspaper which covers the northwest section of Portland, my friend Kate Washington has a great article on how she and her husband had to downsize their stuff when they moved from a house in Washington State to a apartment in Portland's Pearl District. The newspaper is in PDF format and the article itself can be found on page 16.

June NW Examiner 

     I have to be honest and tell you that for many years I was a major extreme pack rat. I would keep every scarp of paper because I knew that I would need it some day or it might be valuable some day. Of course all those papers, magazines, books, souvenirs, post cards all started to pile up. Now this wouldn't be so bad if you lived in the same place for your whole life but I moved 5 times as a child and have moved 15 times as an adult so all that stuff can really add up.

     My first big change came in 2004 when my father passed away when stuff just didn't seem to be that important anymore. Then the week before Thanksgiving in 2005 my mother suffered a stroke and ended up in a nursing home where she passed away in May, 2007. My brother and I had to make a trip up to Spokane where my mother lived and clean out her apartment. While we put much of it in storage we still ended up taking a couple of truckloads of assorted stuff to Spokane's Waste to Energy plant to dispose of it.

     After she passed away it fell to me to give take care of what was left. When it came down to it none of the family wanted what they were giving in the will because it meant nothing to them. All that stuff that my parents had saved over the years had was of no value or meaning to anyone in the family. It was eye opening to see how stuff we treasured as being so special ends up being nothing but something that someone else will get stuck hauling away some day. While there might be a treasure or two to be found in someone's life collection, most of it is pretty worthless.

    It was also about this time that TLC's show Clean Sweep came on the air along with a similar show on HGTV which really brought to life for me how much crap I had. While shows like Clean Sweep were dramatized, it did show what can happen with the stuff has control of you instead of you having control over your stuff.

    Over the next few years I cleaned out a large amount of my stuff but some of it still lingered because I was going to sell it online and make some money off of it. Then a couple of years ago we rented a house that was the biggest house I have ever lived in and of course you have to fill it up so it doesn't look so empty right? While that may be fine if your planning to stay in a place for 20 years and even then it can be a dangerous trend, we very well could be moving by next June which will probably be into a much smaller space. Therefore we have started purging in order to get the amount of stuff down by the time June rolls around next year.

     If your one of those people that is drowning in stuff, get help now. It has been proven that clutter can have detrimental affects on your health and productivity. Don't leave it for someone else to clean up after your gone, take care of it now and make life more enjoyable.
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Saturday, May 31, 2014

Your Never Too Old...

Images of custom amirugami, an amirugami gradu...
Images of custom amirugami, an amirugami graduate in cap and gown. Self-made. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Three years ago I made the decision to return to school which is never easy for someone that is not the typical college age. In fact during a three month period my wife and I adopted a sibling group of 4 children out of foster care, moved to Portland, Oregon and then I started back to school.

Being older than the average college student I was nervous that I would stand up but as it turned out for the first two years I was only the oldest person in a class one time, other times there was always at least one and usually more than one person older than me. This year as I pursue my Master's degree I am now the oldest in my co-hort and there is a person in the same program that started last year who is one year younger than I am so it is not too bad.

However, despite the difficulties of going back to school might be, I have my father to look for inspiration and the knowledge that you are never too old to head back to school.

My father grew up during the Great Depression. After the 8th grade he was forced to leave school in order to help the family earn money. He then served in the Army during WWII in New Guinea and most of his friends did not come back. After the war he started a family and became a carpenter. He went to work at F.W. Woolworth stores where his hard work paid off and he eventually became a superintendent overseeing opening, remodeling and closing of their stores in the western United States. It always bothered him that he did not graduate but it never stopped him from working hard and doing what he felt was best for his family.

He also dealt well with the unexpected. Just as he thought he was done raising kids as my siblings were adults or close to it, my mother ended up pregnant with me and he ended up going through it all over again, but we both survived.  

In 1999 he was diagnosed with Prostate Cancer but after radiation treatments it went into remission. During the period of remission he (with some convincing from my mother) decided at age 81 to fill that void that had been there for so many years and get his GED. It took a lot of studying over a few month period but in 2001 my father officially became a high school graduate. Once he was done with the high school diploma he was ready to take on college! However, in 2003 the cancer returned and this time it was Bone cancer which can be one of the most painful forms of cancer but he wouldn't suffer long as he passed away on January 4th, 2004.

Its been more than 10 years since he passed away but he will always be an inspiration for never being too old to accomplish something you dream of.

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