I’ve been trying to make more time in my life for things I enjoy. Way too often, I “punish” myself (for not doing the things I think I have to do) by not letting myself have any fun. As a motivating technique, it is pretty useless; all it does is make me sad and make me resent my life.

This week, I took the huge step of taking the shrink wrap off a couple of things I got at Goodwill eons ago: a roll-up puzzle mat and a cool puzzle of London. This is a multi-purpose activity. Working on puzzles is fun; it’s almost like meditating, because you are focused so completely on the task; and, in this particular case, it’s a lesson in London geography that I really need.

Over the years, I’ve probably spent six or eight weeks in and around London, but because of the Underground, I never know exactly where anything is in relation to anything else. I just magically pop up from below ground into a mini-land around that Tube stop, then go back down and pop up again somewhere else. (Not to mention that the Thames is so curvy that you can go from being north of the river to east of it, without crossing it at all. That’s how they get you.)

Yep, this puzzle map is gonna change everything. I’ll be having fun in the short term, and I’ll be impressive as heck the next time I’m in London.

My one-year blogiversary!

Can you believe it?

I’ve been blogging for over a year here at Lighten Up!

Okay, technically it has been one year and eleven days, but I just realized it, and I think it is time for a celebration!

Let’s take a behind the scenes look at what’s happened since this time last year…

270 posts.

I posted almost every day until I left on this trip, and I plan to get back to that schedule when I get home.

5,000+ views…

Wow. That doesn’t even count any of you who read in an RSS feed like Google Reader.

…from 57 different countries.

WordPress.com started tracking the countries in February, so who knows! I may have gotten that 58th country prior to that. 😉

30 comments a month, on average!

Thank you so much for each and every one. I love comments. Love them. Love, love, love. Drop in and say hi, anytime.

Come join the party!

Oooh… let’s have a party game. Tell me your favorite way to relax, favorite party treat, and favorite day of the year… It’ll be fun to see who is out there!

xo – Lori

Mission check-in: Lighten My Heart

Hello, and welcome to Introspection Week here at the Lighten Up! blog. I am sitting here in Croatia with time on my hands, and I have decided to think long and hard about what I want and why I want it.

Yesterday I looked at my attitude, and how I want to relax, reduce stress in my life, and worry less. Today’s topic: relationships, otherwise known as the category “Lighten My Heart.”

Why in the world do I want to improve my life so much? Why worry less, be healthier, live in a beautiful home, manage my time well? Do I think there is some kind of scorecard, and I am going to get bonus points for doing things right? Or am I trying to make time for what is truly important to me?

Although I sometimes lose sight of it, I know the second answer is the correct one. I want to be a healthier, happier person so I can enjoy the people I care about, and I want to organize my life and my time so that I have the opportunity to do so.

Isn’t this what life’s all about?

Isn’t this a dream come true?

(OK, sorry. No more 80’s musical references. Yeah, I know… that’s a lie. But they just come shooting out!)

So, yes, I know that the people in my life are my highest priority… yet I am not very good at making time for relationships. I hold “spending time with people” out in front of myself as a carrot when I get behind on everything I think I need to do… and then (because I am rarely satisfied with anything even when I do complete it), I never feel that I have gotten enough done to merit the reward.

In addition, I am a very neurotic hostess, so I have trouble throwing parties. I am a terrible cook, so (unless I am ordering food in) having people over for a meal is a dicey enterprise. I am usually flying by the seat of my pants, so my less-spontaneous friends are already booked up when I get the inspiration to call. You can see where I might have some trouble.

We tried to solve the “We Are Antisocial” problem a couple of years ago by holding regular parties, sort of like a serial open house. But Odd Fridays (as they were called since they took place on the odd-numbered Fridays) sort of fizzled out. For one thing, they morphed into Game Nights for David and his friends; for another, we saw a lot of some people (which was great!) and very little of others (which was disappointing).

I was talking to my friend Nicole about that failed experiment when I saw her in Hannover last month. Her take: she prefers to be specifically invited to do things with just me/us, as opposed to mass gatherings to which everyone is invited, because it is more special that way. She loves me, so I took that criticism as it was intended – and I could see that she was right.

So that’s my goal: to make time for my friends and family, and to let them know how important they are to me. I’m not as worried about the joy and laughter part; if we get together, that will come.

Daily Check-In:

  • I’m grateful! Listen to what my husband said to me today: “I love you. Loving you is the best decision I ever made.” Isn’t that so sweet? Of course, because I am me, I didn’t hear him the first time and he had to repeat it. (Deafness? ADD? That poor guy…)