Back during the New Year and with the ever present resolutions circling rampant, my friend Candace of Lucky Scarf and I were talking about what word we needed to focus on for the year ahead. Candace blogged about it here: Refine.


From the Merriam-Webster dictionary, it means “to improve something by small changes”.

Easy peasy, right?

Not so fast cowboy.


I had great intentions of starting off strong and using the word refine in all aspects of my life: personal relationships, in my career, at home, in my health, and more. Recently, as I began to feel a bit bogged down again, I chose to reflect and circle back to the beginning of the year and my ideas of filtering my life. Two-thirds of the year 2014 is now in the past, how did I fare?
Hmph. Depends on who you ask; I, for one, am not impressed with my level of cleansing my life. However, I am also that person who has sky-high expectations for myself so how do I calibrate a reasonable refinement?

My home is Clutter-City, USA. I have great intentions of clearing the Great Wall of Clothes in my bedroom. I do! Not a day goes by that I do not wish for a peaceful bedroom without mounds of clean laundry strewn about. I wash. I dry. I try to fold. I try to re-fold. I try to put away. Time is of the essence, people. Yes! I had grandiose plans of purchasing more plastic tubs to put LAST winter’s clothes away for good. No! I never got it done. (But we live in New England where summer was barely an eight week reprieve and lookie here: the cooler 50 degree mornings of late require some of those clothes that never got put the eff away. I saved myself of that time! <insert my typical eyeball roll here>.

Source: Tina Fey, 30 Rock
Source: Tina Fey, 30 Rock

Let’s not talk about my basement. Please. What you do not see will not hurt you! (Right?)
My career has been a bit better. Sure, I have refined my ways to provide more efficient work and I have zero clutter on my desk. My mind remains cluttered as I still navigate a post-cancer career path. I over-analyze each day: WHAT am I doing with my professional life? WHAT path should I be on? WHAT career move is best suited for my uber-Type A personality but extremely important life-balance needs (aka checking out of work at 3 pm to head to job number two as Momma).
Should I be engrossed in a life of charity and advocating for those that struggle; particularly in the world of cancer? Absolutely, but then how do my bills get paid? Should I abandon the charity route as maybe, just maybe, my time is “up” riding this path?

Should I make the sacrifices necessary to pursue a life of health and fitness by working out and possibly coaching others to do the same, all while spending hours in my kitchen cooking wheelbarrows of delicious and healthy food? You know, does it *really* matter if MY kids eat?
Should I be focusing on writing that book I dream about? Am I living a pipe dream? Who would be interested in reading about how many times I have fallen and yet, somehow managed to get back up and persevere? I am not the only one who was abused as a child. I am not the only one who has a profound hearing loss. I am not the only one who was pregnant while battling breast cancer. I am not the only one who has had ups and downs in marriage. I am not the only one who finds the parenting thing to be supremely challenging. I am not the only one to have lost her parents young. Who would read that? <insert another typical eyeball roll>.

Source: Tina Fey, 30 Rock
Source: Tina Fey, 30 Rock

My personal relationships have felt a little bit cluttered. I promised myself in January to refine those relationships that are bogging me down. If someone is not allowing me to be the best version of me, I challenged myself to make better choices about that person’s spot in my life. How did I do? Eh. I removed two half-siblings from my life as they were toxic. Simply put. Maintaining some type of relationship with these two seemed the *right* thing to do, but *right* by whom? The value add of their presence in my life was nil, zero, nada and once our shared mother passed away last year, I determined there was no positive contribution to my life, or my family’s life, by having them in it. As I learned with my relationship with my mother, simply sharing a bloodline (albeit a partial bloodline in this regard) does not mandate a forced relationship.


Friends. I have whittled away at some of the relationships that were one-sided or simply non-existent. I made it a directive of mine to purge of the relationships that were not worthy of my time investment. Does that sound harsh? Selfish? Perhaps, yes, however, justification ran rampant in my mind as I used the time otherwise in helping support the weekly conversations I engage in with breast cancer survivors.
As I struggled greatly this summer with some very deep personal problems that are inappropriate to be shared here, I isolated a bit and found that some friends were none the wiser. In fact, some friends seemed somewhat disappointed or angry with me that I did not find the time to engage with them. Ah, had they only checked in on a more personal level versus just assuming I had no time for them. Alas. Do I just do a good enough job of keeping my personal life private and putting on the smiley face that I fool the outside world? Perhaps certain people are not in-tune enough or made the choice to assume that my pulling back was just me being me, too busy for them instead? Food for thought on what further refinement is necessary or not. <Sigh, eyeball roll.>

Source: Tina Fey, 30 Rock
Source: Tina Fey, 30 Rock

One area that I made refining strides in is my health. Yes! Post-marathon injury and recovery set me back to June; however, as an outlet to my personal life, I continued to focus on ensuring I found time for me at the gym. Burpee after burpee I sweated out the tears. Deadlift after deadlift, I dropped the monstrous weight. WOD after WOD, I challenged myself to push the limits and let go: see how far I could push myself to new heights. I refined myself from wanting to do it all (i.e. run races, seek PRs at Crossfit, hike, bike, and more). My body, the one vehicle that houses my very being – the body that I sometimes feel betrayed me by having cancer is really pretty amazing. Once I refined my goals, my body has been rewarding me ever since and I am confident I have much more in the tank.
My nutrition continues to be an area of tweaking and modification. In addition to my workout modification, I recently challenged myself for twenty-four days: I came out bearing less weight and several inches smaller. The particular challenge I did has been life changing and stay tuned as I blog about that in the very near future. Next week brings yet another new challenge for optimal health for this gal, more refinement and I am super excited to share that along the way. I am nervous, but refine has been a pretty good word for me this year.
Perhaps the lesson is right here in front of my too-busy rolling eyeballs! Is it a monumental effort to hone all areas of my life in one year? Sure, there are 365 days to allocate to the mission! Should I have further over-analyzed and set mini-goals for each quarter of the year to accomplish? Should I take that forsaken chill pill and *feel* accomplished with the strides that I have made?
My thoughts have runneth over.
About face and recall the definition of refine itself: to improve something by small changes. Literally, I have made small changes in all aspects – so yes, yes, I have had success in improving my life this year. Perhaps, for 2015 the word of the year shall be persistence or perseverance, so that I can continue to chip away and chisel out the very best version of me in all aspects.
What about you? Have you chosen to enhance yourself in some way (i.e. career, personal relationships, health, or other)? Where are you in your refinement? Do you over-analyze or get bogged down my high expectations? What should you do to de-clutter your life?

tell me