Tuesday, February 23, 2021

The Wheel Of Life Exercise

This is one of those posts that is real and raw, where I brave the critics, step out from behind the screen and say, "This is honest, this is me." In some ways 2020 and 2021 have been some of the hardest years of my life, and not even so much because of the implications of Covid. For me it's had more to do with being honest with myself about the things that I value and want, and more importantly, realizing that I can't have it all and that some things, even GOOD things, have to take a back seat for now to make room for what is best. That means that in recent weeks I've devoted a lot of time and prayer to assessing my life and being honest with God, myself and the ones that I love.

I know I've mentioned it some many times now that I'm probably beginning to sound a like a broken record, but this series has rocked my world and is dramatically changing my life for the better. That doesn't mean it's all been easy, it hasn't and it still isn't, which is one of the reasons I KNOW that God is in this. To be honest it's been hard for me to want for anything else, but thankfully my years of employing the philosophy of Charlotte Mason have taught me that reading / learning are best absorbed slowly.  So I'm pacing myself and taking my time, and while I did breeze a bit through the vision casting portion of the series (still HIGHLY beneficial), now I've entered into the learning and application of the spiritual disciplines. As this series was originally presented weekly, I've now set aside Friday's as the day that I listen to a new message, and then I devote the rest of the week to using the resources that are provided to guide me in practicing the disciplines and making them a part of my daily life. This is the first week of practicing silence and solitude and I am loving every minute of it!

With that, I've sought out other series and podcasts that peeked my interest and that are further expanding on the themes presented in Practicing The Way. Yesterday I listened to a the first part in a series from The Practice  called Invitation to Stillness and Response which I am very much enjoying.  The speaker is Fr. J. Michael Sparough, who is the retreat director and spiritual director at the Bellarmine Jesuit Retreat House.  I have a penchant for seeking out information about the speakers that I listen to, so that took me on a bit of a tumble down the rabbit hole, which is what eventually led me to this resource, The Wheel Of Life Exercise, which is what you see in the picture above. This isn't something that was mentioned or even recommended by Fr. Sparough in his message, just something that I eventually landed at, but I'm so glad that I did.

I was already become familiar with A Rule of Life which is scheduled to come up a little later in the Practicing the Way series, so The Wheel of Life of Exercise seemed like a good pre-cursor, I suppose, as it gives you an overall picture of how satisfied you are with your life in the present moment. Now, before I go into a very real and honest overview of my personal wheel, I will tell you that I am my own worst critic. I've been asked questions like, "Would you treat your best friend the way you treat yourself?"often, so when I look at this assessment my guess is I'm probably scoring myself a bit lower that perhaps what the reality of my satisfaction with life expresses. I'm a perfectionist and a pessimist, what can I say? The glass is always half empty and there is alway room for improvement. But with that, let's get to the wheel and my thoughts on each area represented.

The idea behind the wheel is that you rank your satisfaction, on a level of 1 (being least satisfied), to 10 (most satisfied) grading eight specific areas of your life, Career, Family & Friends, Significant Other / Romance, Fun & Recreation, Health, Money, Personal Growth and Physical Environment, so with that, here is where I currently see myself.

❊ CAREER - 4
As for a career, I don't technically see myself as having one. I'm a full time van life traveling, empty-nester wife and mother, although changes are on the horizon (more on that later), but as I am also in the process of writing a book and have a desire to devote more time to writing and developing this blog, I listed that as my "career". I think it may be the first time I've ever actually identified myself as a writer and aspiring author. That alone was worth the entire assessment. :) That being said, with the changes in our life over the past year both writing and blogging have taken a hard hit, so that's the reason I scored it so low. But, as I hope to implement a plan to improve both, I'm hoping that my satisfaction in this area will improve dramatically.

This was one of my lowest scoring areas, and the reason I scored it so low is because I don't believe I am very good at personally staying in touch with or expressing my love and appreciation for the people in my life. It is true that I'm an introvert, but that being said, this area needs some focused and intentional improvement.

While my extended family may suffer from a lack of interaction, my husband does not. After several difficult years of being separated, I would say that our marriage is now stronger than ever. Is it perfect? Not by any means, but I'm very happy with our relationship.  I did only score it a 6 out of 10 however, because I do think there are a number of areas where I could strive to improve.

You might think that since we just spent the past five months traveling the east coast that fun and recreation would have scored higher. And while I did enjoy myself very much, there are other things in life that I've missed dearly, like cross stitching and crafting, and writing! Those things have been pretty difficult to do in the van, and as much as I love traveling, if I'm honest, it doesn't give me the same satisfaction as crafting and making a home does, so that is why I only scored it a 4. There are some changes in our lives that are upcoming soon that will change this, so I'm sure that number will rise over the rest of the year.

❊ HEALTH - 3
My health has definitely taken a strong hit recently, and while they are not anticipating my current struggles to be anything that I can't recover from, it's certainly made me aware of some changes that I need to make to help restore and maintain my health going forward.

❊ MONEY - 2
This is another area that tied for the lowest score, and the reason, I've NEVER been good with money. I remember growing up I got an allowance once a week, typically on Friday, and most weeks by Saturday morning, it was already spent. They say that in every marriage there is typically a spender and a saver, and I've got that spender role wrapped up. Please tell me I'm not alone! I'm ashamed to admit that even at my late age spending is still a problem and it's high time I addressed it.

In the area of personal growth, it tied for first, which makes me very happy! I attribute that to my relationship with Jesus Christ and especially to Practicing the Way. I'm learning so much about myself right now, and it's impacting every area of my life. As I mentioned at the beginning, it hasn't all been easy, and there are still some hard challenges ahead, but I don't recall another time in my life when I felt more challenged and yet more successful than I do right now! I still have a long way to go and these are just baby steps, but I'm very optimistic!

This also made a three-way tie for dead last, and this is where life is getting real for me. I've had to be honest with myself and my husband and admit that van life is not for me, at least, not full time. This admission and decision has been so-very-very-hard for me.  I love Bill so much, he's my best friend, and as much as I love going on vacation, living on vacation is just not for me. I'm too much of a homebody, and I need that "base" so to speak, to ground me. Being a wife and mother and managing my home was the the only "career" I ever aspired to when I was growing up, and even though the girls are grown now, home is still where my heart is and making a home for my family to return to is still very much at the core of who I am. So in the coming weeks we'll be making some adjustments and finding a place for me to make us a sweet little nest that our children can visit, and yes, that Bill can likewise come home too, because traveling is still very much his dream and he will be gone at times. That won't be easy, but we both feel that this is the decision that is best for both of us. I'll still join him from time to time, and for the time being it looks like our youngest daughter will be sharing the space with me. I would say "moving back home" but she prefers to view it as more of being "room mates", which I understand, she IS 22, as hard as that is for me to believe! It's a good decision for everyone right now, and I'm excited by the prospect of a new place and all that entails. Once Bill is done traveling then we may do something different, but for now we're just looking for a little apartment to call home. But because we aren't there yet and I am currently splitting my time between the van and Kate's apartment, I scored this one pretty low. I love the van, but it's not home, and as much as I appreciate being able to hang out with Kate in her space, it's still not the same, so that's the reason for the low score. But, if any area has the potential to improve, it's this one!

So there you have it, this is me, up close and personal, I guess you might say. Doing this exercise was hard as it forced me to take a real and honest look at how satisfied I was in each of these areas, and furthermore to ask myself why. It's part of what helped me to come to terms with how unhappy I've been not having a home, and to realize that it's time I got more serious about taking better care of myself and working on managing money better, hard, but necessary. And while it feels a little risky putting something so personal out there, I did so because its also important to me to never present myself as if I'm living some perfect, fairy-tale life. I've followed bloggers like that over the years, and even seen a few of them tumble. I personally find that discouraging and I only want to be an encouragement which I believe means keeping it real. I'm hoping that maybe you might find this exercise insightful as well. If you're interested in doing this yourself, just click the link below!


Maria said...

Excuse me, Kimberley, but the link doesn't work. Thanks.

Kimberly Lottman said...

It is fixed now, my apologies. Thank you for bringing this to my attention!

Anonymous said...

I have enjoyed following along on your journey.... I appreciate your openness on your blog, too.

I think I'd mentioned before how my husband, Bill, also had a dream of traveling the US in an RV, and how to me, being a complete nester and homebody, this does not sound like anything I'd want to do, so I can perfectly relate with you in that.I think it's really commendable that you guys have worked out a plan where you both are able to meet your individual needs in this. I also can relate with the spending money, that is up until recently. My mom passed away in Sept. and as an only child, I received a generous inheritance.

Now that I can afford to buy whatever I desire, (within reason of course- it's not like a lottery win or something) it is AMAZING how my views on money and spending have shifted. Everything that my mom had preached over the years about handling money, the things I thought were silly and "I"d never do that" suddenly clicked and made sense. I now have a strong sense of need/ vs. want, pay cash or use a debit card so I can actually "feel" the money leaving my hand (or see my checking account balance go down as I subtract out my debit card purchases), I write down in a ledger book each evening what I've purchased that day and the cost, I think twice about every purchase I make~ is this a need and do I want to give my money to this business? I've dropped my Prime, for a couple of reasons actually, but 1 reason being that the one click and have something in 2 days was just waaaay too easy. I had absolutely no disciple in this area. I now have a strong desire to steward our money well.

I have to tell you, it has been SO empowering and freeing to FINALLY learn to handle my (our) money in this new way. (and of course my husband is just loving it!) I think because my husband was the one who handled all things related to money (he's a banker) I just never for some reason felt invested in the process of it all. It's like the I was spending wasn't even real to me. It's hard for me to put into words what I'm trying to say, but maybe you can see what I am mean. I feel badly that it's taken me to 59 years old to actually have some self discipline in this area. I really regret my spending habits of the past and not working as helpmeet with my husband in this area. I want to encourage you that it is NOT too late for you to change your habits, Kimberly. (if it's something you feel needs to be addressed and want to do) I was the WORST you can imagine in this area. Really, I was. And the feeling of getting it under control has been one that I hope you, too, are able to feel. Best of all, I have been able to GIVE generously. (in addition to what we've already been giving) I have myself on a pretty tight "allowance" and each month I've had money left over, and that's even with the additional giving each the month.

One book that I recommend on this subject is Money, Possessions, and Eternity by Randy Alcorn. This was actually a life changer book for me.

I'm praying for your upcoming tests. I know it must be incredibly hard to feel in limbo and now having to wait longer on this. I'm praying for your process of waiting.

Also, did you get the Betsy book I mailed? I had put it in the mail the Monday after we had "talked".


Kimberly Lottman said...

Oh, Pam! Your sweet comments just warm my heart! Sometimes if I didn't know better, I would think we were twins separated at birth! Thank you so very much for your kind, encouraging words, and yes its a little embarrassing that at the ripe age of 59 money and spending are still a struggle! My mother was not the most affectionate growing up, but one way she did express love was by buying me almost everything I wanted. I was SPOILED materially as a child, in spite of the fact that we were a lower middle class family. All of my friends wanted to come to my house to spend the night because I had so many toys, books, etc. My parents lived with debt and to be perfectly honest I think a large percentage of that was to shower me with all-the-things. Because of that I've always associated the acquisition of stuff with love. So anytime I am sad, anxious, angry, all it takes is a click on Amazon (and yes, we have PRIME!), and within 24/48 hours my prizes arrive. If I think I can't wait that long, Hobby Lobby and Target provide a faster cure. It's sad and awful, really, and like you I wish I could gain back money I've spent over the years on stuff that I didn't need and to be perfectly honest, don't even own anymore! It's always a temporary fix to the problem and it's past time to deal with it. I love the idea of giving myself a budget for this, and to be honest I could do with not even spending that since I already have SO much! Lately when I feel sad or anxious I've been looking to the abundance that is already mine and making something with my craft supplies, etc. That is part of what has been nice, not being in the van, because I have these things again and they are the things that bring me so much joy! Thank you again, so very, very much for your kind comments! And YES! I received the book. I left a message on another post, but I should have emailed you instead. And by the way, I'm sorry to hear about your mother, my thoughts and prayers are with you! <3 - Kim

Anonymous said...

I do think we are twins separated at birth; however, we did not have the same mother!!! (although my mom did not show affection either) My dad made a very comfortable salary, but my mom was SOOOOO extremely frugal that I always felt "denied" going up. Now, I DID have everything I needed,I was certainly not neglected or anything like that, but I never really got any of my "wants," so from the time I had my first job, and then through my marriage, I've always made sure that "MY wants" have been provided for. And that's been the problem.

My dad died at age 44, and left my mom (the same age) with enough money that she did not have to go to work after he died; and she didn't. She was able to take that sum, which was adequate, but not huge by any means, and live off of it until she died at age 82. Not only did she live off of it, she was able to grow it into a pretty nice nest egg. But boy, she scrimped and saved so much. She received her greatest enjoyment from watching her money grow. I am now a very grateful beneficiary of all her efforts. But I want to handle things differently from her, but certainly not how I had been handling things, so this has been a real learning curve for me~ to learn a healthy relationship with spending and money, to handle God's money, God's way, and to be a good steward of what he's allowed me/ us to have.

Anyway, sorry to ramble.....

Kimberly Lottman said...

I love your rambling! I LOVE getting to know my readers, who then become the dearest friends, like you! RAMBLE ON! <3