Life Planning Session (Because We All Know How Well Our ‘Best Laid Plans’ Go)

Before I begin this stream-of-consciousness ramble/organizational session/why-am-I-sharing-this personal post… a poem:

To a Mouse
Robert Burns
(audio version here)

Wee, sleekit, cowran, tim’rous beastie,
O, what panic’s in thy breastie!
Thou need na start awa sae hasty,
Wi’ bickering brattle!
I wad be laith to rin an’ chase thee,
Wi’ murd’ring pattle!

I’m truly sorry Man’s dominion
Has broken Nature’s social union,
An’ justifies that ill opinion,
Which makes thee startle,
At me, thy poor, earth-born companion,
An’ fellow-mortal!

I doubt na, whyles, but thou may thieve;
What then? poor beastie, thou maun live!
A daimen-icker in a thrave
‘S a sma’ request
I’ll get a blessin wi’ the lave,
An’ never miss’t!

Thy wee-bit housie, too, in ruin!
It’s silly wa’s the win’s are strewin!
An’ naething, now, to big a new ane,
O’ foggage green!
An’ bleak December’s winds ensuin,
Baith snell an’ keen!

Thou saw the fields laid bare an’ wast,
An’ weary Winter comin fast,
An’ cozie here, beneath the blast,
Thou thought to dwell,
Till crash! the cruel coulter past
Out thro’ thy cell.

That wee-bit heap o’ leaves an’ stibble,
Has cost thee monie a weary nibble!
Now thou’s turn’d out, for a’ thy trouble,
But house or hald.
To thole the Winter’s sleety dribble,
An’ cranreuch cauld!

But Mousie, thou art no thy-lane,
In proving foresight may be vain
The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men,
Gang aft agley,
An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
For promis’d joy!

Still, thou art blest, compar’d wi’ me!
The present only toucheth thee
But Och! I backward cast my e’e,
On prospects drear!
An’ forward, tho’ I canna see,
I guess an’ fear!

Och! I, too, backward cast my e’e, and forward, tho’ I canna see.  I am not foolish enough to believe (anymore) that my life operates by my “best laid schemes”—no, life can only be lived one minute, hour, and day at a time.  My good intentions are nothing unless I choose to live out those intentions, now.

That being said, I’ve been in need of a life planning session.  And what better way to do it than write a blog post?

Commence the meandering babbling and gossamer strings that form the inside of my world.  Now’s your chance to exit the premises.

Really.  I mean it.

Still here?

Aaaaalrighty, then.  You may stay.  But don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Onward and upward.  What are my priorities?  Thank the Good Lord, the crazy that has governed the past several months is starting to abate.  And while I did my best to keep first things first, those first things were too often truncated.

(Witness the crazy:  I just spent two minutes Googling the proper way to use “truncate” in a sentence, because what I wrote doesn’t seem right.  Stop the madness, woman!)

My soul is fed by prayer and Sacrament, by the “renewal of my mind” and by fasting, by the enjoyment of beauty and the power of sacrificial love.  It’s more than having God at the center of my life; God is my life.

God is all love, all peace, all joy, all laughter and goodness; all tough love, all hard knocks, and definitely all business.  The more I am drawn into Him, the more my life radiates His attributes.

Marriage?  All Him.  Motherhood?  All Him.  My writing co-vocation?  All Him.  My interaction with the people I love (and the few people I’m not fond of)?  All Him.

Spending time being still and encountering Our Lord radically changed, changes, and will change my life for unity, for truth, for goodness, for beauty.  For Him.

So that’s priority numero uno.  It’s not so much that I’ve given God short shrift but that I haven’t made as good of use of the time and resources I have to encounter Him better.


  • 12:10 Mass on Monday (sans kids),
  • Tuesday Holy Hour (rotate with Jared),
  • Thursday or Friday morning—15 mins. in Chapel before going off to write.
  • Continue with Fulton Sheen’s Life of Christ for morning meditation and Gospel/Scripture reading in afternoon.
  • Think through: Rosary.
  • Confession as needed.  (Perhaps more than I think I do?)
  • Intellectual formation.  Reading the Weddell book felt good.  Will keep reading the Compendium on Social Teaching piecemeal. Maybe throw St. Francis de Sales into the mix?  Or more Louis de Granada?



Next priority: self.  Can’t give what I don’t have.  Put that oxygen mask on myself before assisting others.  Etc.

Problems I’m seeing:

  1. A host of autoimmune and autoimmune-related disorders that continue to plague me.  The solution to this, as far as I can tell, relates largely to diet.  Problem is, diet requires time and money.  Not sure how to proceed here.
  2. Exercise.  I’m walking a fair bit but not running. My strength and flexibility are waning, too.
  3. Sleep…


  • Maybe start jogging with the kids in the double jogging stroller (hence the name jogging)?  Going to L.’s house would be a good destination (long, straight sidewalk; trampoline at L.’s house for Ben).
  • Make appointment with Dr. B. to discuss food options.
  • Continue working on human formation (behavior, emotional growth, etc.).  Journaling and working with both my mentor and my therapist.
  • FOR THE LOVE OF PETE GET A HAIRCUT before going to the CWG Conference.

Up next: Marriage.

I’m thinking Jared and I need a weekly lunch date. Or something.  Maybe start with that gift card to Butch’s?

Next:  Kids.


My mom just sent this to me. Ben’s not quite two years old here and was very interested in helping me with my yoga stretches. Isn’t he so sweet?

This area of life is kind of up in the air.  Ben’s starting classes and therapy and all sorts of stuff, which means that my kid-time schedule is up in the air.


I’ve felt that I’ve been impatient with my kids lately—a slow slide into impatience.  You know what I’m talking about.  Anyway.  The best time I’ve had with my kids has been when I’m planning ahead for how we’ll spend our time.  When I’m both organized and just a bit creative/varied in our activities, everyone’s happier.  It’s a way of loving and enjoying them.


  • Critter Barn, Outdoor Discover Center, DeGraaf Nature Center
  • Playground at Christ Memorial, now that I have my Chromebook (read: I can write while they play).
  • Think about how Mimi and I are going to spend our time while Ben’s at C for CD.  Two whole hours!
  • Take kids to chapel before we walk to the library.
  • Think about: start Spanish-learners mom’s group at church.  Hmm?  NOTE:  This is important to consider—how might this play into our parish’s community-building initiatives?


Oh, goodness.  I think my friends know that I’m terrible about the phone!  No, really, I do love you!

Action: Pick up that phone and CALL.  During chores, perhaps?

Because it’s not that I don’t care.  It’s that the telephone has this awful habit of staring me down and making me cave in on myself.  I love chatting with my friends on the phone, once I overcome my antipathy toward it.

Introvert problems.


Call T. at parish about visiting the sick, now that I can leave Mimi with someone else.

Next priority: Work


Happily, this is starting to settle into a happy pattern. My design work is almost off my plate—can I get an AAAA-MEN?—and I’m no longer so busy putting out Real Housekeeping fires that I can focus on mid- and long-term range goals.  I mean, I I opened a RH bank account on Thursday!   A real bank account!  That’s been on my to-do list for MONTHS!

God is good.

I’m learning to say no to outside projects.  It’s hard.  Interesting people are proposing interesting opportunities and I want to say yes.  I can’t.  No, people, NO!

Here’s what I have going on:

  1. The novel.
  2. Real Housekeeping and all it entails: writing, editing, and promoting.
  3. This here blog. Not that I’m worried about “keeping it up.”
  4. Dappled Things. I’m the new Art Director.
  6. I’d like to write an article for my friend M.A. Zapp’s new emag, Altar & Hearth.
  7. I’d like to write that one article about evangelical poverty that I’ve been meaning to write for eight months.
  8. NEW BOOK IDEA.  Research it.  Float the idea by a few people.


I do best when I get up early.  I haven’t been up early lately because of fatigue because of allergies.  Bleh.  Then I stay up late.  Repeat cycle.  So that whole GET TO BED thing I said earlier? Yeah.  I meant it.

Wake-up.  Prayer, journaling, then work until 6:30 a.m.  Stop, take care of kids and house.  Babysitting times?  Work like a madwoman.  Down time with kids?  Play it by ear.  It’s almost never good to multi-task.  One exception: Christ Memorial playground.  And now I’m equipped to go (thank you, new computer).

Work, in order of priority:

  1. Housekeeping stuff—my own house.
  2. NOVEL.
  3. Real Housekeeping—editing.
  4. Real Housekeeping—promotion.
  5. Real Housekeeping—housekeeping (heh).  Business stuff.
  6. Blog.  Short and sweet (not like this post).
  7. READING.  Can’t write without something going on upstairs.
  8. Articles.  RH, CM, and others.
  9. Design work, as I have it.
  10. Research new book idea.

How should I do this?  Novel in the morning.  Definitely first thing.  Once my day is rolling it’s hard to come back to it unless I’m going out to Lemonjello’s with the express purpose of working on it.  And even then…

Then blog. Not because it’s more important than RH, but because if I don’t do it, I won’t do it.

Then Real Housekeeping.  Put the post of the day up on G+ and Pinterest.  Get on the horn and remind Ethel to tweet.  Then turn to editing.  Edit and post.   On Mondays this takes a 2-4 hours, plus whatever else is spread throughout the week.

Answer email.  Answer some more email.  Then hop on Hootsuite and check out the social scene.

On non-RH-days, work on articles.

Reading in the evenings.  TURN OFF THE COMPUTER IN THE EVENINGS (speaking of…).  It’s so awesome to read.  And read during the day!  Sneak it in during Mimi’s naps and Ben’s “whatever” times.

Last priority: hobbies.

The Minimalist Mom suggests having no more than three hobbies going at once.  I think this is wise.

Hobbies:  Knitting, foreign language (Spanish at the moment). Writing and gardening are both work-hobbies.

Knitting:  Ongoing.  Have to have something to do with my hands when in in-between situations.  Keeping it in my purse.

Spanish:  Bought DIY Spanish for my Kindle and gave a hardcopy to Dad for Father’s Day.  Once he has it, we can work it together and review over Skype.

And… that’s it.  Are you tired yet?  It looks like so much is going on, and, frankly, I’m tired after writing it, but it really NOT that much.  It’s when you break down everything into its details that it looks so overwhelming.

I like details, though.

It’s time to take myself up on my offer and get to bed.  If you made it this far, congrats!  (???)



  1. colleenmurphyduggan says

    This does!!!! make me tired. And inspired. I’ve been thinking about jotting my own list of priorities down but my priorities overwhelm me. :)

    Good for you for doing the hard stuff. That’s what gets us to heaven (and a whole lot of time in the Confessional…or maybe that’s just me).

    • says

      “Priorities overwhelm me”—hee hee! You know, it’s really only a few sections of life: God, me, hubby, kids, others, work, and fun. It doesn’t seem so bad put like that, right? It’s when I expand and expound on each… yikes.