I've read that in any endeavor, it's important to set goals. Until recently, I'd been operating in "survival mode" and hadn't really had time, but now, the picture's becoming clearer.

According to the IHN website, the average stay in the program is seven weeks. That's a good goal to shoot for, although I'd better get to it. I've been here two weeks (or so) already. As John Wayne said in The Cowboys, "We're burnin' daylight."

Motivations help, and I've learned to take them wherever they present themselves. One motivator is the fact that we're living in close proximity to another family with different outlooks, disclipline levels and agendas. Sometimes these agendas clash (as they must whenever any humans are put in close proximity to one another), but so far things haven't become too bumpy. But a big motivator is graduating out of the program so the only agendas I have to worry about are those of my family.

Another motivator is regaining the little lifestyle perks we used to enjoy when we were independent. We spend nights as guests of whatever host church that has agreed to take us in that week. Of course, as guests, there are certain rules that we must follow while we are there. That's only fair and reasonable. The only things that get to me is that staying in a church puts a big damper on my speech patterns. I'm used to finding choice epithets to use whenever I get angry, irritated or frustrated, and I feel I can't do that in a church*. I'm terrified to think what will happen if I ever accidentally slam my hand in a door or something. Another perk is getting up at a time more of our own choosing. Each morning the van comes to transport us back to the Day Center, but one of the other children must be on her school bus by 6:30. That means, the rest of us must be up, dressed, fed and out no later than 6:15, neccessitating a wakeup of no later than 5:30. Before we were evicted, I wouldn't have gotten up at 5:30 if the house were on fire, since Nessie's school bus didn't arrive until a little after 7:00 and we had the routine of getting her up, dressed and ready in 30 minutes down to a fine art. Yet another perk is getting to watch what we want to on TV. Again, we're guests in a church, and we're constantly worrying what the volunteers and staff would think of our enjoyment of "the Simpsons", "Family Guy," "Supernatural", "Lost", "Invasion", "Smallville", or Mama's enjoyment of "Desperate Housewives", "CSI: New York", "Ghost Whisperer", and "Medium". And those are just the broadcast shows; we have many more shows on cable that we enjoy.** I have a tiny portable TV that a friend donated to us, so we can keep up with some of them, but we keep the sound low and make sure not to make much noise.

Mama's biggest motivation is getting her own space to practice her yoga in. She's getting a little irritated that she feels she can't put down her yoga mat (which is in storage anyway) and do her daily routine at will.

The final motivation is not having to mediate conflicts between children of two disparate discpline levels. Nessie is more refined and demure than the average eight-year-old girl (for which I'm eternally grateful), but the other children are, well, typical children. The usual squabbles erupt when the other little girls do something with abandon that we've taught Nessie not to do. When Nessie turns to me for help, I try to find a solution that preserves the peace yet doesn't give the impression that I'm intruding into someone else's affairs. But I confess, the caveman in me wants to simply favor my child over someone else's. I've got to watch my P's and Q's on that score, as that way lies expulsion from the program.

There are no doubt other little motivations that don't present themselves to me right this moment, but I'm sure they'll prick me and spur me forward when I most need them.

*Blame my grandmother, God rest her soul, who was a devout, fiery Christian woman who attended church every Sunday come hell or high water, and who made sure I did, too, whether I wanted to or not. Usually not.

**I've missed several episodes now of "Battlestar Galactica", "The Boondocks", and "Ghost in the Shell". I think I'm suffering withdrawal symptoms.

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