Friday, May 08, 2009

Criteria for LIFE

My beloved and I have been looking at lots of houses on the Internet. There are still many things that have to fall into place before we can get serious about this move we want to make, but we are doing lots of pre-planning to be sure we are clear on what our priorities will be when we are ready to make the move to Spudland.

When we look at houses we make two lists: first there is the list of absolute deal breakers - the criteria we MUST have (within a specific price range, all on one level, three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a garage, trees in the yard) and things we MUST avoid (busy streets, chronic smell of sugar beets being processed, one-butt kitchens.)

Then we have a whole laundry list of our PREFERRED criteria...things we would really appreciate but can negotiate around. Some are things we could add later if they are not in place when we buy it, some are things that if we had to we could live without.(separate living room / family room, pantry for food storage, fully fenced yard, underground sprinklers, dining room suitable for entertaining, etc etc)

As I think of those lists for looking at houses, it makes me ponder what sort of lists I would craft for my life.

What are the criteria I absolutely MUST have? What are the deal breakers that I am absolutely committed to avoiding no matter what?

What are the things that I hope to accomplish / achieve / incorporate, the things that I wish for and will look for, but can get by with if I do not have?

How do I decide which is which?

I've often heard the story about boiling frogs. It is said that if you toss a live frog into hot water it will leap out, but if you put that same frog into cold water and then increase the temperature bit by bit the frog will adapt to the changes until you have yourself a boiled frog.

Too often people are like that too. Circumstances that would absolutely violate our values if we were confronted with them all at once can creep up on us gradually.

From the physical realm to the metaphysical, I want to get clear on the bench marks I need to look to as guide posts of when I am on track and when I have lost my way.
In terms of physical health...I do NOT ever want to be one of those women who is obsessed with weight or size. But I do want to continue to work toward improving my health. In my 20's and 30's I was pretty trim. However, over the last 10 years I have gained about 3 lbs per year. Do the math. Uh, yeah. It was never a lot at once. Hardly noticeable. But the cumulative effect is that these days I'm a pretty big girl. I decided to do something about it, so I changed my pattern of diet and exercise and managed to drop thirty pounds a year ago. But then I changed jobs so I no longer had access to the college fitness center and I relapsed into emotional eating during stress. As a result,about half of that weight I worked so hard to lose is now back and more is creeping...

So now I need to decide. To what extent am I willing to make a serious commitment about what goes in my mouth and how much I move? How much will those changes be something I absolutely am determined to stick to and how much am I willing to wobble when my job or other circumstances change?

Then I look at other areas, from my prayer life to my finances, my involvement in my community to the ways I relate to family and friends. What are the standards in each of those areas that matter most to me? What ones are negotiable?

Obviously there are things I do not have much control over. It makes sense to be able to accept things that come my way on the winds of change that are outside my sphere of influence. But I am convinced that as I get more mindful of the places where I do have room for choice, I can craft a life by design rather than rolling over and taking whatever I get by default.

Sometimes I go to open houses in neighborhoods where I KNOW I would never choose to live because looking at different kinds of houses gives me ideas of things I might incorporate in other spots. In the same fashion, I look to my friends, my family, my associates for how they fashion their lives NOT so I can keep up or compete in any way. Instead I look to them as role models of both the qualities I might emulate and the characteristics I would NEVER want to demonstrate.

So I am getting more deliberate on my Moving Toward values...the things I want to invite into my life AND my Moving Away values...the things I want to reduce or eliminate insofar as it is possible.

I would love a life where I lived in total integrity every minute of every day.
I am not there yet. But I'm working on it.

I would love a life where I was in a conscious state of gratitude far more consistently than I currently manage.

I would love a life where I never said an unkind or hurtful thing to or about anyone ever again.

In these and a myriad of other ways I am seeking greater clarity by taking honest assessment of where I am now and where I would most like to be. Only by knowing both of those without distortion or bias can I make progress to get from one to the other. If I rationalize or justify or excuse any place I miss the mark as "not that big a deal" or minimize it by saying "it could be worse", then I am not likely to try to change it. This is not about beating myself up for being less than perfect or falling back into old habits of pouring angst over myself any time I think I am "getting it wrong". It's about taking stock in a meaningful way that serves me.

It is about being mindful and fully present in my own life. It's about seeking out the proper balance between introspection and going with the flow. It's about knowing when to accept things as they are and when to say no, I want to change that.

So I will continue my house hunting. I will recognize that I do not need a PERFECT house. I just need a house that is comfortable enough to be my next home. And along the way, I will look inside my head, my heart, my spirit, my body to see what things feel "just right" and what things I may want to shift a bit. I think it makes sense to consider myself a work in progress WITHOUT denigrating myself for my flaws.


Rozel said...

What is wrong with the smell of sugar beats? It smells like home! Just kidding, I would hate to live by the sugar beat factory. I LOVE that you are writing about Idaho things. Have I mentioned that I LOVE Idaho and I am proud to be an Idahoian? Such untapped riches!!!! We can't tell everyone about how fab Idaho is or everone will move here.

I like your thoughts on life - when is the tipping point for us to change? New Years? June Years?

Jaquandor said...

When you talk about looking for your next home, do you ever think in terms of whether it will be your last home? I only ask because you've moved a ton, not to suggest anything about your age. But I've seen people who move a whole lot and I always wonder if they're considering "settling" or if they have in the back of their minds the belief that they'll be moving yet again in a few years.

Belladonna said...


Sugar Beet processing is to Nampa what the Paper Mill is to Wallula. STINKY!

I absolutely want this to be my last house. The whole reason I am so adamant about getting a place all on one level is so that when I am a doddering old lady I won't have to navigate the stairs.

I know all to well that sometimes situations change beyond my control, but if I have anything to say about it, they will be taking me out of my next house in a pine box many years from now.

Amber said...

First, love this post. Second, you asked about Nampa vs Meridian. From a crime perspective (the cop's wife in me coming out!), Nampa is not the best city (but I do have friends who have lived there for years and LOVE it). Some would argue with me, but statistics do not lie. Meridian is a MUCH better city, but you will find higher house prices typically. We live outside of Kuna and love it. If you have any desire to look out in these parts let me know because there are some ridiculously good deals!

Tristi Pinkston said...

Awesome post, Belladonna - I really needed some additional perspective tonight. Thanks for providing it.

Ruth D~ said...

Catching up on your posts . . . I'm just struck by how busy you are, and how many decisions you must make. How many things you must wait to unfold. When you are finally settled . . . what will you do?

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