A Woman's Got to Know Her Limitations #4: Choose Wisely

Limitation #4: Quadrants

Given my personality, I tend to only think it was a good day if my 'to-do' list is done, but no matter what your personality is, there's never enough hours in the day to do EVERYTHING on the list.  I recently came upon this very helpful way of looking at things in a book by Dave Ramsey, and it is SO helpful I wanted to share it with you.  (He credits Dr. Stephen Covey, who wrote "7 Habits of Effective People.")

We spend all our time in one of these 4 categories.

We do things that are:

1. Important AND Urgent
2. Important but NOT Urgent
3. NOT Important but Urgent
4. NOT Important and NOT Urgent

I'm sure you are already thinking of things for each category.   EVERYTHING we do fits into this list.  Activities can even move from category to category, depending on our goals.  Most reasonably responsible people will take care of #1: Important AND Urgent  Whether there is a school or business deadline, you need dinner, or your child falls down and gets hurt, we drop everything and get it done. 

Most people know to avoid spending very much time on #4 items: NOT Important and NOT Urgent  These are the morally neutral time wasters which can be different for everyone, but for me can include some Social Media, some T.V., and Crossword Puzzles.  Dave Ramsey calls these the "passive, unproductive moments and people."  I believe that some relaxation is necessary in everyone's life but it is easy to cross over from "relaxing" into "wasting time."

The problem areas are #3 and #2. 

#3: NOT Important but Urgent items are tricky.  They steel us away from what we should be doing, because they are urgent, so they SEEM important!  For me this can be the unplanned things that come up throughout the day that demand my attention such as; Ads that come in the mail or if one of the blogs I follow has a contest/give-away that requires a response. Or how about Email and Facebook notifications on my phone which may or may not be important, but the temptation to "check on them" immediately can cause me to loose my train of thought from what I was doing.  You get the idea.  There was book I heard of a while back called  The Tyranny of the Urgent   I haven't read it, but love the title.  Tyranny is defined as arbitrary or unrestrained exercise of power.  Why do we let these things take over our present time?  I want to say here, that these items may actually be important, once evaluated, but in my own life anyway, I need to come at them in an orderly way.  I can make decisions about them without deviating from the important thing that I am doing in the present moment.  For instance (and I have done this by the way): While I am making dinner, I get a little notice on my phone that I have an email coming in.  Let's say it's an advertisement from Christopher and Banks , my favorite online clothing source.  I have a choice...I can stop chopping vegies, and check on the ad, or I can "flag" it for later, when I need to have "relaxation" time and presently, get back to the chopping block.  Better yet...don't even check on it till later.  If I have already used up the clothing budget funds for that month, the ad is actually Not Important and Not Urgent and should not even be flagged.

(PAUSE:  Right now since this blog post is in the category of Important but NOT Urgent, I need to make dinner, so I will be back after dinner!)

OK... I'm back...

#2: Important but NOT Urgent activities are the ones we need to DO!  Dave's list is: "exercise, strategic planning, goal setting reading nonfiction leadership/business books, taking a class or three, relationship building, prayer, date night with your spouse, a day off devoted to brainstorming, doing your will/estate plan, saving money, and having the oil changed in your car."  We each have a unique list of things that are Important but NOT Urgent.  Mine include some of the same things...exercise, time with Gary, prayer, friendships, etc.  According to Dave, these activities are "the building blocks of a high-quality life and business and yet because they are not urgent, they seem to be some of the things we avoid the most."  He's right. He makes the point that if we avoid them, they will end up moving to the #1: Important AND URGENT category, because of neglect. If I don't get the oil changed regularly, my car will be needing expensive repairs...or worse.  You get the idea.
I'm trying really hard to budget time for #1 and #2 avoid and/or delegate #3 and avoid completely #4.
For a visual...here's the chart from Dr. Covey:
Lego Indiana Jones (Neither Important nor Urgent)

A woman's got to know her limitations #3: Five "W's"

Limitation #3: KNOWLEDGE

The Latest Mystery

Who? Gary
What? Inhale...hold breath...exhale with rhythmic interruptions (like throat clearing, but not) with a pained expression and a spike in blood pressure
When? Mostly in the afternoon or evening and at bedtime...when fatigued, until he is sound asleep.
Where? Anywhere, but always when going to bed

I can answer all but one of the fact gathering journalism questions I learned in high school. 

Ultimately it's because Gary has Alzheimer's Disease, but as to WHY this particular symptom is happening, I'm in the dark.  Gary can't tell me what it feels like, or why he does this when he's tired.  

Not everyone with A.D. does this, and in fact neither of his Doctors have seen it before.  It seems to me that "why" is the most important question to ask, because if there is a physiological cause, perhaps we could remedy it, to make Gary more comfortable.  I understand that there are many, many symptoms of dementia that are unexplainable, but that doesn't take away my "quest" to understand this one.  His other behaviors don't seem to make him uncomfortable like this one does.  (Just try holding your breath for 10 seconds, and then let it out slowly in short bursts.  Carry on for 10-15 minutes, if you want to see how tiring it is.)  Once he falls asleep, he goes back to normal breathing the same as when he is awake and rested.  The only thing I've found that shorten's the time, is playing instrumental hymns.  I think his mind focuses on the tunes he is familiar with, and he breathes more normally and falls asleep. 

NOW, please...I'm not sharing all this to get everyone worried or send you all on a hunt for answers.  Gary's doctors say it's not cause for alarm and doesn't sound like sleep apnea, because he doesn't "gasp for air".  Even so, I sometimes have a hard time pulling myself away from Google in my search for information on this behavior.  It remains a mystery to me. That is the point of this post...many things in life are mysteries. 

This morning I was reading in Genesis 36-46 about Joseph. Here's what stood out to me in the narrative.
  •  Because of his brothers' jealousy and hatred, they nearly killed Joseph, and ended up selling him to some traders who took him to Egypt. KIDNAPPED!  SLAVERY!
  •  Next, he became the property of Potiphar, the captain of Pharoah's bodyguard.  But the Lord was with Joseph, so he became a successful man and trusted to be the overseer of all that Potiphar owned, but Potiphar's wife was chasing after Joseph.  When he rejected her sexual advances and  "fled" from her presence, she falsely accused him of rape.  This landed him in prison...unjustly.  FALSE IMPRISONMENT!
  • In prison, the Lord was with Joseph and extended kindness to him.  Again, he was put in charge of things.  When a couple of Pharaoh's officials landed in jail too, Joseph helped them out by correctly interpreting their dreams, but when released instead of helping him in return, by reporting to Pharaoh, about Joseph's kidnapping and unjust imprisonment, he was FORGOTTEN!
Was Joseph a victim?  A dupe?  God's pawn?  There were many times when Joseph's tribulations could have logically ended...One brother wanted to rescue him, but didn't get there in time.    Potiphar should have believed Joseph, since he had proven his character already.  Pharaoh's official could have remembered Joseph's unjust imprisonment. What must Joseph have thought?  Did he doubt that God was hearing his prayers? 
  • Two years later, Pharaoh had a dream...It turns out that none of his "magicians" could interpret it, so that's when the official, who had been in prison with Joseph, remembered him and told Pharaoh that he knew a guy that could correctly interpret dreams.  TWO YEARS!
  • So, NOW Joseph is released to come interpret Pharaoh's dream which has incredible significance for the entire country of Egypt and the surrounding lands.  There would be 7 years of prosperity, followed by 7 years of famine.  Joseph's suggestions about managing the produce, landed him a position of authority in Egypt..."So Pharaoh said to Joseph, "Since God has informed you of all this, there is no one so discerning and wise as you are.  Pharaoh said to Joseph, "See I have set you over all the land of Egypt."  STRATEGIC POSITION!
  • When the famine struck, Joseph's father, Jacob, back in Canaan, heard there was food in Egypt and sent his sons to buy some and bring it back.  Joseph of course recognizes his brothers, but they don't know him, and after a series of fascinating encounters, reveals himself to them, and brings his entire family to live in the best land of Egypt at Pharaoh's invitation. 
  • Joseph said to his brothers, "I am your brother Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt.  No do not be grieved or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life.  For the famine has been in the land these two years, and there are still five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvesting.  God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant in the earth, and to keep you alive by a great deliverance, no therefore, it was not you who sent me here, BUT GOD..."
  • Even though the famine could have wiped out God's chosen people, the nation of Israel was preserved.  "Now Israel lived in the land of Egypt in Goshen, and they acquired property in it and were fruitful and became very numerous."  All because of a young guy being hated by his brothers.  
  • Years later after Joseph's father died, the brothers worried that Joseph would seek revenge.  His response to them was reassuring, and made an important point about God.  "As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result to preserve many people alive."  Genesis 50:20 

There are times that God puts a limit on our understanding.  He is Creator.  I am created.  He has full knowledge about everything.  My knowledge is limited!  God did not "rescue" Joseph until the time was right...Pharaoh needed to have his dream.  Joseph needed to be in charge of the food during the famine.  God was at work saving the nation of Israel from destruction again.  He had promised to make a great nation of Jacob's descendants, and He was working out His plan.  I believe the providence of God is the greatest miracle of all.  God is using the "free will" choices of people every where to work out His plan, all the time.  When he was kidnapped, falsely accused, imprisoned, and forgotten, his knowledge of the plan was limited.  What a thrill it must have been for Joseph to at last see the plan unfolding.   

When I am unable to understand why Gary has strange behaviors, that seemingly make him uncomfortable, and I am not given the key to unlock them, I too am limited.   BUT!  I worship the exact same God that Joseph did.  He loves Gary, and He loves me.  I know that He is good and He is always at work. He may not reveal the details of His plan to me, but better yet, He reveals Himself through His word, and I see His character displayed in His care for us!  Of course I will continue to monitor Gary's latest symptoms, try to see what can be done to help him, and do what the Doctor's suggest, but I am not going to fret about them.  I know where this disease is headed, and so for those of you who love Jesus, I would ask for your prayers for Gary's comfort, and my peace.  Meanwhile, the narrative about Joseph, reminds me that the hand of God at work in the lives of men, God keeps His promises, gives us the strength to be faithful during trials and wants us to be closer to Him. My limited understanding of the "created", is the pathway to knowing the Creator.  This comforts me.

Paul prayed for the Colossian believers that they "would be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God strengthened with all power according to His glorious might for the attaining of steadfastness and patience; joyously giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in light."(Col. 1)  Sounds like Joseph, doesn't it? 

"A woman's got to know her limitations" #2: Rice in a basket

Continuing the series on limitations, here's a fun one...

Limitation # 2: POINTS

I don't know what it is about visual aids with me, but I need to "SEE" things in order to understand.  I have been needing to get rid of some excess poundage, for some time, and decided that I needed a good motivator.  SO, knowing I needed to loose some weight, I bought a large bag of rice at Stater Brothers.  I was in shock to feel how heavy it was!  REALITY CHECK... I would NEVER voluntarily strap that on my back and go about my business.  BUT I had been willingly walking around with it every day for several years!  SO, when I got home, I measured 1 pound of rice into multiple ziplock baggies.   Well, you guessed it...when a pound is lost, a bag of rice goes from the basket to the jar.  When I need motivating or encouragement, I pick up the basket to see how much I have left to loose.  The jar is nearly full, I'm happy to say, and the basket is more than half empty.

I have done LOTS of different kinds of diets, but I have really been enjoying the Weight Watchers plan online since January 1st.  No foods are off limits, and the point system is calculated for you for just about every possible food.  If it's not in their online list, you can fill in the fat, carb, fiber, and protien content, on the website's calculator, and find the point value.  You are given a set number of points for each day, based on how much weight you want to loose, and also a weekly amount that can be used anytime you want in one week, so Grandkids birthday parties, can be enjoyed, and an occasional cookie, or bowl of chips.  These "treats" are fun to look forward to.  I think this kind of a diet is really good because it helps retrain good habits, and choices.  If you choose to blow all the points on a hamburger and fries for lunch, you're going to be very hungry at dinner, so best to choose something more nutritious.  Now an occasional hamburger IS ok, but only within the points you've been given, so hold the cheese please, and maybe cut it in half, and split the fries with someone.  You get the idea.  Instead of the big bowl of ice cream, limit it to 1/2 cup.

Of course exercise is encouraged, and so I have been brisk walking 3 times per week, when Gary is at the Adult Day Health Care.  20 minutes earns 2 points, which can be traded for 2 points of  food, or not.   I like to use that time to pray and enjoy our beautiful Friendly Valley, or Bridgeport Lake in Valencia.
Bridgeport Lake

Friendly Valley

I've been enjoying my food more, the flavors, and the seasonings.  I feel more energetic, and am slowly regaining the use of a few items in my closet.  2/3 of the rice bags are already in the jar, and 1/3 are still in the basket, so I'm not done, but I am looking forward to new habits forming.  Lifestyle change. 

So, along with budgeting TIME,(see last post), I am also budgeting POINTS.  I've got a few more limitations I'm going to share with you in upcoming posts, so stay tuned!

"...do you know know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?  For you have been bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body."  1 Corinthians 6:19-20

"Whether, then you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God."  1 Corinthians 10:31 

"A woman's got to know her limitations" #1: Rocks in a Jar

"A woman's got to know her limitations" is a series I'm starting.  Do I sound like Clint Eastwood?  I hope not.  Anyway, I've been thinking about constraints for several weeks, and decided to comment on the current limits in my life.

Limitation #1: TIME

To quote Jim Croce..."If I could put time in a bottle..." well, more of that later, but right now I just want to put some of our Moonstone Beach rocks in a jar...

Empty jar and collected stones

They don't fit...RATS!

OK...let's get organized.

"What's my secret?" you ask?
You must load the jar in descending order.  If you start with the small pebbles there will inevitably be no room for the larger stones.  First load the big ones then finish with the little ones.

When Gary was first diagnosed with A.D. his Dr. gave me a book for caregivers called The 36 Hour Day.  I would LOVE to have a 36 hour day and the appropriate amount of energy too because this is a busy season of life for me.  (I'll spare you the details, because many of you are in busy seasons as well, and I'm sure you understand.)  There used to be a time when Gary would help me sort it all out, being very logical, and would help me decide what tasks were most important.  Now he rarely speaks so I have to rely on what I think he would say.  I'm sure he'd tell me to do the most important things first, so they would be sure to get done, and let the less important things sort themselves out.

I never get everything done that I want to, and never will, but I'm comforted by the fact that there is always enough time to do the things God wants me to do.  I want to spend the 24 hours He has given me making a priority of the things God considers most important.

"Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you." Matthew 6:33 

"Go to the ant, O sluggard, observe her ways and be wise, which having no chief, officer or ruler, prepares her food in the summer and gathers her provision in the harvest." Prov. 6:6-8
And now...for something completely different:   
I'm smiling just thinking about it...