Catchup and Mayo


The first day back to work after an illness is always hectic.  There’s a stack of work to catch up on.  Prioritizing is mandatory, taking the more urgent items first.  Projects with the closest deadlines are at the top, and goes down the list in descending order.  A paying job is no different than a writing career.

Oh, I’ve earned a bit here and there for short articles, humor pieces and personal experience pieces, but it’s not the same priority as the work for which I am being paid.   The company is paying me to do work for them and therefore that pulls priority over my agenda for building an author platform, (see Michael Hyatt’s book Platform) or my self established writing routine to get my work out there.

  • Dealing with perfectionism, I feel that I must get everything completed accurately or I am a failure.
  • Being an overachiever I feel I must get everything completed to perfection or I am a failure.
  • Being a little OCD, combined with the aobve two is enough to drive any rational person insane, and yes; feel that I must complete everything to my own rigorous standards of excellence or I am a failure.

You may have picked up on the fact that the previous two weeks have left me feeling like a failure.  It’s true, even though I tried to catch up on the time that I lost being sick, I didn’t get everything completed.  Then I tried to catch up last week and was affected by the medications therefore not completing everything I wanted.

Me, the person that tells everyone:  “Writer’s write, it’s what they do.  Pretenders and wannabes talk about it but don’t write.”  I wrote less than 3000 words in the entire last two weeks.  Well, not counting  a couple blog posts here and not counting blog posts over at Storytime Trysts where I’ve been promoted to managing editor (Squeal!)  And not counting the hand written notes I made, and not counting . . . are you beginning to see a problem here?  Seriously I would never hold anyone else to such ridiculous standards.

I’ve excused others for minimal infractions of why they didn’t get their work in on time.  Yet, when I have pneamonia I lay down the law and slap failure on myself when I hae trouble following my schedule on the best of days.  It’s tight – I’m essentially juggling  a part time job with a full time career not to mention the parenting and wife part.  Unlike some famous authors that take a month on holiday in Barbados to write their next novel, I can’t.  No, I live in the here and now nitty gritty world dealing with teens that can’t seem to bend over to pick up a dirty sock much less the jeans shirt or candy wrappers that litter the floors oftheir bedrooms.  A husband that is old school in his thinking that a woman is responsible for the household – as in he doesn’t have to pick up his dirty underwear or socks,  or ever pitch in to cook an occasional meal, or heaven forbid any of them should ever help with clean up after they’ve inhaled the meal I worked for half an hour to prepare.

I know,  it’s part of life.  It’s part of my routine that I didn’t account for when planning me schedule.  It’s that big black void of time consumption that I wonder where did my time go?  One of the best exercises I’ve done recently is to sit and write daily for a week what I did, and for how long.  It hurt just barely less than the crunches.

It looked something like this:     Monday thru Friday:  6 am get up, make coffee, fix lunches, tidy   6:45 get kids on bus, hubs off to work.  7ish (depends on how long the previous takes shower, eat breakfast, start laundry   8:00 begin mlo work, go through emails, respond, answer customer   questions.  8:30 or 9 – depends on how long it takes to go through emails – go to YMCA and work out;  return home change over laundry, sort fold put away. 1030: finish MLO work or start on blogs,  work on books   1:00  laundry/ housecleaning/ research time  2:45 KIDS get home –   yeah then everything gets thrown  off the schedule .

Trust me that is greatly simplified, but there are those places where I had scheduled “writing time”  when actually I was scrubbing the bathroom, loading the dishwasher, cleaning the counter tops, and folding laundry.  Until I achieve a salary that I can hire a maid, it’s part of my routine.  I sat on the sofa with a big harumph – penciling in this big huge blob of time – SULKING – while I sat there depressed at my failings, drowning my sorrows in sugar free peach tea and rice cakes .  Trust me, less than satisfying when I wanted Black Jack cherry Ice cream topped with a big thick dousing of fudge sauce.  I watched mindless tv – Top Gear; How they Make That; Pawn Stars – sighing occasionally at my failure.

Once upon a time in a career far away I received a performance award for my organizationa skillls and teaching the new hires a “better way” to do their job efficiently.  I wondered where that skill  went.  After resolving that the rice cakes just weren’t cutting it and I wasn’t going to give in to the desires for decadent rich desserts; I forced myself to reengage and face my problems.  What was the solution?

You know, we can stare at our problems till we are blue in the face but until we  decide to look for a solution, nothing will ever change.  Entrepeneurs look for solutions. Witty inventions are made by looking for a solution.  Surely a solution could be found for my dilemma.

It was at that point that I switched from catch up  to mayo.

I may cut myself some slack for getting ill and not being able to manage things for a bit.  It’s ok, things will get caught up eventually.

I may slack off occasionally for some much needed rest.  In my original schedule I only scheduled 5 hours a night for sleep.  I need more than that.  I can be a grouchy bear without my sleep and it’s not productive.

I may in fact alow myself to be human.  Shocking I know.

I may be able to deal with everything much better now that I’m not doped up on prescriptions.

What about you?  Are you using catchup or mayo?

Write on my friends, write on!

 

Advertisements

Hazy Daze of Winter


There I was, minding my own business and I got waylaid by illness.  Yes, I know I’ve told you all about it.  Went over the practical applications to prevent in the future.  What I didn’t discuss is the drug induced haze I’ve been in ever since.  Prescription meds  mind you but they have the same effect.

A  friend recently was having some issues with his pain medications.  The doctors had him on morphine and it wasn’t working for him.  He ended up having a very rough reaction and went through a month of anguish trying to get back to an even keel.  In a similar fashion, though not to the extreme I have been having issues with my prescribed medications to help me get over the pneumonia.

One makes me hyper like I’m an 8-year-old  that consumed twelve redbulls.  Another messes with my hormones and I’ve been on this emotional rollercoaster that I can’t seem to get off of.  It’s like the horror ride in a Scooby Doo cartoon, only for real! One pill makes me feel hyperactive and another makes me feel like I’m in a hazy nightmare, and the third  jerks my emotions around.  *One pill makes you happy and one pill makes you sad, . . . go ask Alice*

I was watching The Help and I”m crying because Mae Mobley is such a neglected child. I mean, sobs!  This is fiction people!  Then, later I was crying with Rutledge when Tanner had opened his car door for him to feel the effects of the tear gas on Top Gear!  that was when I realized it was the medicines affecting my hormones that  are messing with my emotions.  Be glad you’re not living with me right now.

I’ve written words and when I go back over them I think – what on earth was I thinking?  I have two more days of one medication, and today is last day of another.  Hopefully, I will get back to normal soon.  Well, or at least normal for me.

Write on my friends, write on!

Prevention and Recovery


sunrise

Quotidiandose does not own copyrights to this photo.

I had posts planned for last week.  I had titles, ideas, notes, and interesting videos to accompany them.  However, things took an ugly turn when the flu bug invaded my home, and gave me a beat down.  A little bit of a cough on Sunday afternoon rapidly advanced into full-fledged coughing fits.  sinus congestion moved into my chest first – never a good thing.  Then to top it off came the nausea and the fever.  It rapidly progressed to pneumonia which required prescription medications.  It’s amazing how fast things changed from feeling just a little run down to critical.

I can deal with sinus congestion and continue working, but the fever, chills, and sweats sent me to bed.  Being sick is such a waste of time!  I had no other choice but to rest.  One of the things that I found with this bout of flu was the inability to think.  It was scary!  Simple processes were mind-boggling.  I left my posts in draft as they weren’t  making sense.  The work I did for my paying job –  well I hope that I did that ok before I finally admitted defeat.

No one likes to be sick!  So I got to thinking.  Uhoh, now you’re in for it.  I had lots of time to think while recovering.

I’ve always been of the mindset that prevention is better than treatment.  I still stand by that, but had to ask myself what else could I have done that I wasn’t doing to prevent getting sick, or prevent my children from getting it. My lifeline to the world was my smart phone.  Don’t you dare even consider  telling me I am addicted to my smart phone, I am well aware of my dependency!  I’m not ready to seek help for that issue just yet.

I did discover a couple of things that make sense to me.  News reports are full of tips to guard yourself against getting the flu, promoting getting the flu shots, what “super foods” you should be eating.  I take them all with a grain of salt.  It’s like the cold remedies.  Truthfully once you get a cold  you’re in it for the duration of ten days minimum, it’s just a matter of what medications mask your symptoms.  I have to admit my Gramms old-time remedy of a hot toddy is sure helpful.  “If it don’t cure what ails you, by the third dose you won’t care.”  LOL

Here are three helpful things that make sense to me, that may actually help you avoid sickness during the winter months.

  1. Vitamin D deficiency – The main source of getting vitamin D into our systems is by sunlight. During the winter months we are inside more as the temperatures plummet outdoors, and typically the skies are cloudy, and overcast.   I know several people who claim to have SAD – seasonal affective disorder, and they claim it’s sunshine therapy.  I think they are wrong myself  –  however a vitamin D deficiency does make sense. Symptoms include depression, a general gloomy feeling, and lowered immune  system.  I suppose you could make an argument for fake baking during the winter months – but I have a simple solution that won’t turn you into walking leather luggage.  Take a vitamin D supplement along with an extra C supplement.  Milk has long been supplemented with vitamin D, but I am not a big milk drinker.   I heard this  little piece of advice while flipping through channels on the PBS channel, and it makes more sense to me than SAD.   I have to admit, one of the down sides of working from home is that I don’t get out as much and tend to stay indoors.  Aside from not having a tan, just think about how good it feels to get out in the warm sunshine  at times, to feel the light breeze over your skin, and smell the cool crisp air.  I’ve added this to my goal list in my fitness plan this year.   I began taking multi vitamins again, and added a few supplements such as calcium  (to prevent osteoporosis), extra C (works wonders in the prevention of colds), iron ( have always had to take extra iron supplements), and now adding vitamin D.    I figure it certainly can’t hurt!
  2. Oxygen Uptake – Argue with me all you want but think about it.  When we are sitting at a desk or doing whatever it is we do throughout our days, we don’t consciously take deep breaths. This is an easy fix.  Get up and move around.  Even if you don’t drink coffee, get up and get some water.  Take a walk down the hall, take a flight of stairs or two,  take the long way around and avoid the elevator.  Get moving!  Improved oxygen uptake also improves circulation and improves your joints, avoiding those aches and pains we get from sitting still like stiff joints.  Take five deep breaths before you begin working.  Take five deep breaths before you go for your bathroom break.  Immobility breeds immobility.  Improved oxygen flow gives you more energy, and it makes for improved brain function.  Now who doesn’t need that?
  3. Germs – They are real and they are everywhere.  There are sick people who aren’t as germ conscious as others.  A sanitizer that has at least 60% alcohol is a great product.  Also, those individual wipes that are treated with sanitizer are great for wiping down surfaces that can be germ infested.

 

  • For general use areas:  think about door knobs, handles, counter tops – (seriously how often do you think they wipe down the counter at the convenience store that you just touched when you set your coffee there to dig out the atm card? Then you have to scratch your nose).
  • Office areas:  a shared stapler, phones, the buttons on the copier, the handles on the supply cabinet,  the surface around the coffee pot, desk surfaces, and of course door handles.
  • Personal areas:  THE REMOTE – what do you use when you are sick?  The remote! There you are coughing, hacking, pushing buttons on the clicker, blowing your nose then touching the remote again and again.  EW!  wipe that baby down!  Cell phone and home phone – you breathed on it then touched the screen, wipe it down!
  • children’s toys, toilet handles, cabinet handles, the Wii remote; anything that is commonly used can be a germ factory.

 

Keep in mind, you can go overboard in the germaphobe thing.  Sometimes I think we undo ourselves by over doing the sanitizer thing.  When I was a kid and played outside, wiping my nose on my hand, then playing in the dirt, repeating for the many hours I stayed outside – I rarely got sick.  We’ve become so germ conscious and quick to use antibiotics I think we are undermining our own good intentions.  Just something to consider.

What are your thoughts.  Do you think I’m silly with my ideas?  Do they make sense to you?  If you’ll notice I haven’t referenced any medical journals or CDC statistics.  I’m just looking for preventative measures to avoid future bouts of illness and lead a healthy balanced life.

Now I am ready to get back in to the swing of things and tackle writing again!

Write on my friends, in good health – write on!

 

Conflict Resolution


Churchill

If you argue and rankle and contradict, you may achieve a victory sometimes; but it will be an empty victory because you will never get your opponent’s good will.   

                                                                                       Benjamin Franklin

Why is it that we would rather jump out of a moving car than communicate with our  spouse, significant other, or partner and face reality to resolve our issues?

We learn our methods of conflict resolution by observing our parents.  We learn what we lived in the formative years of our lives. What things did you learn?

  • discuss matters openly
  • withdraw
  • attack
  • never discuss it
  • give the cold shoulder
  • pretend nothing happened
  • discuss quietly after everyone calms down
  • nag until the other person discusses
  • snide comments and  sarcasm

The things we observed are compounded by our own temperaments. The  Type A personality is very unlikely to give cold shoulders or pretend nothing happened.  I have to admit, I don’t think I ever observed any quarrel that wasn’t dealt with in full force anger or rage, sarcasm, blame, yelling and screaming.   That was just on one side of the argument.  If left unchecked the anger will build and eventually kill relationships.

What causes quarrels and fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you?  You desire and do not have, so you murder.  You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel.  You do not have because you do not ask.

We are often driven by our inner passions.  Passion is derived from the Greek word for “hedonism”, the belief that pleasure is the sole or chief good in life.  We are wired to seek pleasure, but it should not be pursued at any cost. A relationship by nature demands that you set your self-fulfillment aside in consideration of the other person. That’s the main difference between single and being a part of a relationship.  In a relationship you take the other person’s needs and fulfillment into consideration as well.

Next time you have a disagreement think of some ways you can defuse the situation before it escalates into an all out war.  First of all, watch your language.  Words that can instantly escalate a discussion to a fight are:

never, always, unless, can’t, won’t, don’t, should, shouldn’t.

Words that diffuse a conflict are:

maybe, perhaps, sometimes, what if, it seems like, I feel, I think, and I wonder.

For being so small our tongue can set the world ablaze in the space of a heartbeat. Conflict is inevitable if you are any relationship for longer than  an hour.   Consider the cost, is it worth causing a conflict to bring it up?  Is it just a matter of how you would do things?  Are you demanding your own way with no regards to your partner?  What patterns or habits are you contributing to the problem? What is your motivation for the confrontation?  Are you trying to retaliate? restore? punish? pursue peace? Are you being truthful?

In the heat of battle I do not fight fair.  I go in guns blazing when sometimes all it would have taken was  soft-spoken words.  I have to choose my words carefully when I am angry, because my first response is to lash out and make the other person hurt, make them pay for making me hurt, or making sure they know my displeasure is a result of their actions or lack there of.  Yes, I have a sharp tongue that is doubly poisoned when engaged in a fight.  I don’t fight fair, I fight to win.  All rationality leaves my mind and my behaviour is more like the response of a caged animal.  Yes, there’s a whole load of psychology behind THAT one. Let’s move on.

Counseling suggests  a few things to help diffuse a battle before it escalated to the War of the Roses.

FOCUS ON                                                                                RATHER THAN 

one issue                                                                                   many issues

the problem                                                                             the person

behaviour                                                                                 character

specifics                                                                                     generalizations

facts                                                                                             judgment of motives

“I” statements                                                                         “you” statements

understanding                                                                         who’s winning or losing

As you can see I remember all the things the counselor said.  The trick is applying them when you need them.  I’m still working on that one.  I’m doing better, getting less confrontational over matters that really don’t matter in the grand scheme of things.

Another bit of advice was to remember why you chose to be with this person in the first place.  Sometimes it comes down to the pros and cons table, is it worth it?  Is it worth bringing up the fact that (fill in the blank) when he knows I  (fill in the blank)?  Asking myself some questions before I blast has saved quite a few arguments.  Unfortunately,  there are also things that I’ve just resolved myself to live with.

Remember:

  • You can win the battle and lose the war.
  • I can’t change him/her.
  • Treat others as you would like to be treated.

I have to admit, I wouldn’t want to fight with me.  I wouldn’t want to be treated the way I’ve treated others out of anger.  It’s not something I’m proud of.  The good news is I can change this in myself.

How do you deal with conflict resolution? Have any of these points helped you to think about what part you have in the conflict?

Winston Churchill, the prime minister of Britain during World War II was known for his passion and brilliance.  His wife, Clementine, wrote the following letter to lovingly confront him about his uncharacteristically harsh treatment of others around him:

My darling,

I hope you will forgive me if I tell you something that I feel you ought to know.  One of the men in your entourage ( a devoted friend) has been to me and told me that there  is a danger of your being generally disliked by your colleagues and subordinates because of your rough, sarcastic, and overbearing manner.   .   .    .    I was astonished and upset, because in all these years I have been accustomed to all those who have worked with and under you , loving you – I said this and was told, “No doubt it’s the strain.”

My darling Winston, I must confess that I have noticed a deterioration in your manner, and you are not so kind as you used to be.

It is for you to give the orders, and if they are bungled . . . you can sack anyone and everyone.  Therefore, with this terrific power, you must combine urbanity, kindness, and if possible Olympic calm.  You used to quote “One can only reign over souls with calmness.”  .   .   .   .   I cannot bear that those who serve the country and yourself should not love you as well as admire and respect you. 

Besides, you won’t get the best results by irascibility and rudeness. They will breed either dislike or a slave mentality.

Please forgive your loving, devoted, and watchful Clemmie.

P.S. I wrote this at Cheques last Sunday, tore it up, but here it is now.

None of us are perfect.  We expect compassion and understanding from others,  we should extend it as well.  Extend a little grace to the one you love the most!

Write on my friends, write on.

Digging For Buried Treasure


treasure map

Quotidiandose does not own the rights to this photo. 

Goals are your friend!  A friend mentioned in a discussion before a meeting that setting goals at the beginning of the year was like a mental Garmin, or her mental Onstar system.  I can see her point.  By setting goals you’re setting your guidance system, then snapping the path to adjust for other obligations, just as you  would plan a course to drive to say The Grand Canyon.  Google maps can create a personal plan in a matter of seconds, and you have the option of adjusting your course, say for that side trip to visit The World’s Best Cone ice creamery outside of Denver.

I’d like to present another way of looking at it – it’s like your own personal treasure map.  THAT’S RIGHT!  There’s gold at the end of my map!   It’s usually not a direct path or even the most efficient path to get from point A to point B.  In my world life sometimes takes  me on a detour around mountain G, back through D,E,F, then jump over on the back road almost backtracking part of the distance to reach B.

Ever notice those treasure maps in movies or books?  I’ve never seen one with a single line from the left top corner to the bottom right hand corner.  There you go – hop a plane, fly over all obstacles and sky dive from said plane to land  safely ten feet from where a large neon flashing arrow  marks where the treasure is buried.  Doesn’t happen that way, regardless of how Lara Croft makes it look.

Typically treasure maps follow a sequence of short intervals to each landmark spot that is easily recognizable.  Treasure Island, Peter Pan, The Deep, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, National Treasure,  Into the Blue,  Sahara, Three Kings, Trespass, City Slickers II: The Legend of Curly’s Gold, and Easy Come, Easy Go  are all treasure-seeking movies or books.  Nancy Drew frequently used a map.  The Nancy Drew computer games incorporate mental games and treasure maps into many of her mysteries.  Treasure hunting is big business for Hollywood.

Why not apply that principle to your own life and mine your own treasures? You may find rare gems, gold, silver, or platinum even.

But I just can’t stick to my goals.

Twenty jumping jacks while reciting “I will not say I can’t!”.  Yes, you can if it’s important to you.  Which leads us to the first point: 

  • Make sure the goal is something you really want, not just something that sounds good.  Just becasue Tiffany and Shelby are setting a goal of losing twenty pounds does not mean you need to also.   Be realistic, and evaluate your life, and set your goals accordingly.
  • Your goals should never contradict another goal.  I want a $350K house, with a swimming pool and a gated driveway.  I want to earn a promotion at my job to earn $55K this year.   Please tell me you see the irony there?  If you have this type of non-integrated thinking, please pm me, we’ll talk.    There is no way realistically you can afford the payments for a $350K house on an income of $55K unless your spouse or partner is bringing down $200K.   Living like you want to be wealthy and being wealthy are often two entirely different things.  the same applies to every area – eating anything you want because you don’t thinki t’s  fair that your friend, the little skinny minx can semingly eat anything and not gain weight while you can smell food and gain weight does not change the fact that you need to make some changes if you want to reach your goal weight.    Maybe your skinny minx friend wants to put on a good 10 pounds of toned firm muscle.
  • Write your goals in a positive light – avoid negative.   

Human psychology here – if you write down:                            Your inner child hears:

Don’t eat fried foods.                                                                      EAT fried foods.

Don’t procrastinate.                                                                        Procrastinate.

Don’t assume any more debt.                                                        Assume more debt.

Don’t spend so much time watching TV.                                    Spend much time watching TV.

We are quirky creatures, subtle nuances are often lost, and our mental games undermine our best efforts.  We have to learn to state things in the positive to “trick” our inner child.  It’s akin to the reward / punishment theory by B.F. Skinner. If we percieve it as a good thing, we are more likely to do it – hence reward.  If we perceive it as a  bad – DON’T is setting limits, it immediately prompts us to rebel – hence punishment.  If you don’t believe me think about the last diet you went on.  Let’s say it was a low carb diet, that restricted your carbs  to nothing for the first week.  What did you crave?  The very thing that was restricted. It’s the same thing with  making a resolutions – I am not allowing myself to have soda.  Dude – you just sealed your failure, you’re going to crave soda every single day until you can’t stand it. Then you are going to have more of that item  than if you’d never  restricted it.

But won’t my inner child know I’m tricking it?

Drop and give me twenty pushups counting off while saying “I will not whine!”

You’d think so wouldn’t you?  But it’s not the case.  Even though we may know  in the planning stage – ok, I have to word this in a positive light to appease “the child”,  that same child doesn’t want to focus and before you know it – ooh shiny!  Our mind is a million miles away on something else.  When the child comes back in from playing it’s all new and fresh as long as they don’t feel like we’ve set a bunch of rules:  Don’t do this, and don’t do that, and don’t do that other thing eitehr.  Instead you say:  We are going to eat tasty nutritious foods,  We are going to set a budget and allocate some for entertainment – (yeah!), We are going to tackle things right away and get them done so we have time to play.  By this time your inner child is jumping up and down wanting to be a good helper.  Just remember, children have short attention spans.

  • Write your goals down!  3% of the population utilize this little tool.  Those 3% succeed while everyone else scratches their head wondering why things went so well for the 3% and not for themselves. Meanwhile they are wandering aimlessly with no map!  You can’t find the treasure until you have the map!

Don’t argue with me just do it!  You’ll thank me some day.

Now, here’s the tricky part: Keep them private!  Do not freely share your goals with others. You do not need an opinion poll as to what others think of your goals.  I know, you want to be praised for accomplishing something and want approval from family, friends, coworkers and neighbors.  Just don’t.  Not everyone is going to agre or understand your goals.  In fact their negativity may undermine your efforts. Lemings – the lot of them.  they don’twant you to rise above, they will pull you back donw, sometimes pushing you below themselves.  Get your own self talk going, and if your goals are valid and something you really want (see first point above) you will be stoked to work towards them.

*shock face*  But, but how am I going to achieve my goals without support of others?

That’s it, we’re going on a road run.  Get on your running shoes.  While we are running you will recite the above points.

Isn’t it better to be praised for accomplishing something than seeking approval of what you plan to accomplish?  There comes a time when you have to make your own decisions and go rogue from the lemming crowd.

Review your goals frequently.  I review mine daily to keep me on task.  Of my goal list for last year, the ones that I had written down and reviewed daily were accomplished.   Visualize your goal, visualize the path your treasure map is taking you on and you’ll find these landmark obstacles aren’t really  as difficult as you thought.  If you follow this process you will be well on your way to achieving success and finding your own buried treasures.

I didn’t come up with this plan.  I have used it for so many years that I’ve forgotten where it came from.  You can probably find something similar from Zig Ziglar, or Dan Miler, or even Michael Hyatt.  It’s an old lesson but sometimes they bear repeating.  We learn by repetition, and sometimes it seems some of the things we knew fell off the back of the mental  bookshelf.

Write on my friends, and go dig for your treasures!

Setting the Stage


The beginning of the year is the perfect time for organizing.  A fresh start for the new year, right?  Well my organizing efforts are focused on my writing area. I don’t have an office.  I did for a short while then the hubs moved a tv in there and a leather love seat and it has been the man cave ever since.

I spent many hours on the family pc, but it wasn’t really work conducive, there are people to talk to in the family room. I am a social creature and if there is anyone to talk to I will talk and not work.  Which is part of why I put in earbuds with my tunes to “tune” everything else out.

This year I am setting the stage, or the staging area.  Step one is cleaning off the bookshelf.  In theory it should be easy.  I am removing my fiction books from this bookshelf making the top shelf grammar and writing which includes my thesaurus and dictionary, the second shelf is resource and history books, the third is some miscellaneous books like Writing prompts,  manuscript guidelines and coffee table books I picked up on clearance about Scotland, Celts, druids, and vikings.  I have three magazine holders for the writers magazines I can’t bear to part with.  that will leave enough space for my stack of notebooks and sketch pads.

Step two is the desk itself.  As I pulled out my drawer with hanging files I realized I’ve saved every little scrap of paper that I ever wrote a single note on.  Yes, there are napkins from restaurants in there.  Which explains the sudden urge for pizza.  This daunting task of tackling my files will take at least double the time the bookshelf takes.

Restocking my supplies will come next then finally the decor. I had maps on my office before it became the man cave, so I”m thinking my maps will soon migrate over to my nook.  I’m planning by the end of the month to move my laptop from the family room into this nook to be able to concentrate better.

Will it work?  Time will tell.  If not I’ll be posting the revised plan.  What works for you? What sort of work area do you have?

Write on my friends, write on!

 

A LIfe Plan


You may have heard this before from Zig Ziglar, from Dan Miller, from Michael Hyatt – I’ve mentioned  that I try to read uplifting and encouraging authors to help me stay motivated.  Some things never get old nad bear repeating.  With each of the above authors, they’ve put their personal spin on this.  LIkewise, that’s the key element here.  My life plan should be unique and different from anyone else’s life plan.

Work is love made visible, and if you cannot work with love but only with distaste, it is better that you should leave your work and sit at the gate of the temple and take alms of those who work with joy.

For if you bake bread with indifference, you bake a bitter bread that feeds but half a man’s hunger.  And if you grudge the crushing of grapes, your grudge distills a poison in the wine. 

And if you sing though as angels, and love not the singing, you muffle man’s ears to the voices of the day and the voices of the night. 

All work is empty save when there is love; and when you work with love you bind yourself to yourself, and to one another, and to God.   – Kahlil Gibran, THE PROPHET

How do we determine a clear path, a clear direction for our careers?  First of all let’s define the difference between a job, a vocation, and a career.

JOB – what you do day-to-day to earn money to pay the bills and put bread on the table.  It’s the most specific of the terms, and is essentially what your daily activities that produce income is.

I’ve held many jobs over the course of my life.  I’ve worked as a  waitress, a pizza delivery person, a day care worker, a secretary, a receptionist, a mapping technician, a cartographer, and a mortgage loan officer. I never intended the waitressing to be my career, it was what I did to earn money while attending college.

CAREER – a line of work, a specific “track” such as nurse, physician, attorney, engineer, etc.  You can have different careers at different points of your life.  My first career was as a cartographer working for the defense department. At certain times I really miss the financial security that career brought.  My second career was being a stay at home mom – the stay at home part never happened. My third career is a hybrid mix of my Mortgage Loan officer job and working hard to build my writing career.    In the vein of “calling”, I feel in my heart that writer is my “calling”.  Just as years of college prepare us for “track” careers, life has been building and preparing me for my “calling” of writer.

VOCATION – This is the most profound of the three. It combines your calling, your purpose, your personal mission, and your destiny.  This is the big picture view that many people never take the time to examine for themselves.

We want to live, to love, to learn, and to leave a legacy, but how do we ever leave a legacy if we don’t get out of the daily rut to examine the bigger picture?  this is how people get trapped in dead-end jobs.  By the time you go to work, put in 8 hours or more,  deal with life at home you’re tired weary and don’t have the energy to pursue other things.  Then the cycle continues, and the longer it continues the less energy you have to break out of the rut.

A job will never give you true satisfaction.  A career will not necessarily give you satisfaction.  But when you combine your life passions, the desires of your heart with  a vocational direction – you’re well on your way to leaving a lasting legacy.  Vocation then is not so much of pursuing a goal as it is listening for that inner voice. HOw can I tell my life what I want to do with it when I don’t even know who I am?

Ah, here’s the secret litmus test.  You have to “find yourself”.  Listening to your own heart, your own desires, your own dreams and letting them be your guide to set your sights on  that distant horizon.

“Where the spirit does not work with the hand there is no art.”  – Leonardo da Vinci

Vocation should combine these three critical areas:

  1. skills and abilities
  2. personal tendencies (temperament)
  3. values, dreams, and passions

You’ll never truly be satisfied with your career choice, or your job unless these three areas overlap.  Without the combination you’re stuck on the hamster wheel of the workforce.

Work is necessary to provide income, income is necessary to pay your bills, paying your bills means you’re a productive part of society.  The  key is seeing beyond the daily grind, and not letting it grind you down in the process.

Write on my friends, write on.

Love and Romance: Why We Marry


The first bond of society is marriage.   – Cicero

Happy Valentine's Day

Many still choose the traditional route of marriage, and often for good reasons. Yet the divorce rate climbs each year.

Marriage is not the ‘happily ever after’ that we were sold in the fairy tales.  It takes real effort to make a marriage last.  It takes a strong bond to survive some of the storms that life throws at us.  Some of our idealism comes from the fairy tales, some from our societal views, some from religious upbringing and sometimes from a deep caring of our partner.

In a 2008 survey on marriage and cohabitation, the following statistics are from a poll for why they married:

  • love 91%
  • companionship 88%
  • to signify a lifelong commitment 82%
  • security for children 79%
  • to make a public commitment to each other 77%
  • legal status or financial security 66%
  • religious beliefs 62%
  • response to family pressure 50%
  • desire for a special occasion 45%
  • arranged 27%

In American society it is the norm to marry for love, but this isn’t always enough to make a marriage last. Once past the honeymoon phase the couple has to learn to deal with sharing life with another individual.  The becoming or disillusionment stage is fraught with conflict at every turn.  From clothing left strewn on the floor to the toilet seat being left up, even the tiniest of things can cause conflict.  We learn our conflict resolution from observing our parents and how they handled things.

My mother was a hot head and blew up over the smallest of things out-of-order in her world. I was often out-of-order.  My dad was passive aggressive and I could write you a book on devious acts of the passive aggressive that provoke the hotheaded type A  into a fire-breathing dragon.  Neither approach worked well.  I can imagine psychotherapy attempting to fix their marriage.  The therapist would need a therapist. However, they must have done something right as they managed to last over 50 years together.  Trust me it wasn’t 50 years of wedded bliss.  There was bliss at times, but in between was vast stretches of death valley.

My own marriage has lasted over 25 years.  A milestone to be certain, but again not every moment has been bliss.  We try to work things out, try to be rational but there are times when rationality goes out the window and the gloves are off.  It’s amazing how infuriated the person you love the most can make you over seemingly stupid matters.  After the dust clears we can look back and realize how ridiculous we were, but in that moment of battle it’s on like donkey kong!

Lack of love is never an issue.  Lack of passion hasn’t been an issue either.  Misdirected passions often are.  Not the sort of infidelity passions, but misplaced as far as thrown into being right or getting our way.  It is just as important to BECOME the right person as it is to FIND the right person.  Learning to think outside of yourself is difficult, taking the other person into consideration isn’t our first nature.

Marriage is not about you.  It’s not about your happiness or your self fulfillment.  It’s not even about getting your needs met.  If that’s what your idea of marriage is you’d better hold off.  We are selfish beings.  You are and whoever you want to marry is also.

“Oh no, not my luvvy dovey benjy wenjy.  He’s the most thoughtful loving guy that ever lived.”

Honey, sit down we need to talk. If he/she is human then essentially they are selfish.   NO, no need to cry. I’m not making a personal attack on benjy wenjy. At some point the person you love the most will hurt you the deepest.  There is the true challenge in a marriage.  Working through the deep hurt and pain to resolve conflict and solve your problems together without killing each other, without accusing each other, without running back home to mommy or daddy, and without an all out war.  It’s difficult but not impossible.

Remember why you fell in love with them.   Remember the good times.  Never stop enjoying each other and remember that this is the mate you have chosen.  It is possible to work through the difficulties.

BUT, there sometimes comes a point when you’ve hit the wall, given all you can and tried everything you know of to try and just can’t seem to mend the damage that is there.  At the end of the day you have to be accountable for your own actions. We each have to make our own decisions, and live with the consequences of them.

I am not a marriage counselor, I am simply a wife that’s been married for 27 years.  I’ve made sacrifices and so has he.  When things are good they are amazing, and when they are bad, it’s the worst maelstrom imaginable.  I will emphasize one point – the person you love the most can hurt you deeper than you can imagine.  It’s part of making yourself vulnerable to another. That’s the part that is the hardest for me, exposing myself, making myself vulnerable.

You have to see that it’s a difficult scenario for him as well, it’s a minefield fraught with dangers; a damaged childhood, an independent streak, a rebellions streak, a mean streak – sometimes resembles a wild zebra! I guess all those rodeo trophies he has may count for something after all!

Whatever your reasons for marrying in the first place are, remember them.  Don’t be hasty to throw things away that can be repaired but don’t continue to put yourself in a  situation that is irreparable.  Abuse is abuse and any bit of it is reason to leave.

What does this have to do with writing ?   Romance? Love? Erotica?   I knew you were smart readers!

Write on my friends, write on.

 

 

The True Cost of Clutter


20120730_163856

Getting rid of stuff is difficult for many of us. It takes time to sort through our accumulated stuff.  It can be very overwhelming to the point of not even knowing where to start, so we close the door, let our pulse return to normal and postpone it for yet another day.

Most Americans suffer from ‘stuffitis’ in various degrees.  The people who show up on that show Hoarders take it to absolute extremes.  I don’t want to find myself there, the overstuffed closet is enough for me.  But wait, I have stuff overflowing out of my basement, and in my garage, and it’s taking over my house as well!  EEK!

Shame keeps us from calling in reinforcements to tackle the growing pile of stuff, while anxiety keeps us from tacking it.  It’s a conundrum: we own stuff, when did it shift that the stuff owns us?

There are many reasons why people hold onto their stuff.  It takes courage to let go, but if we don’t let go you limit what new things can come in. What are your reasons?  Here are a few:

  • Emotional attachment: parting with an item doesn’t mean parting with the memories.
  • Status and security: Feng Shui principle here – your thoughts create your future.  If you get rid of an item thinking that as soon as you do you will need it, inevitably you will.
  • The advertisement said I needed it – whether you were suckered into buying, pressured by the salesman, victim of the propaganda or it seemed like a logical solution at the time – if it didn’t work or doesn’t serve any purpose now get rid of it.
  • It’s how I was raised – Trust me I got the handle on this one.  My parents were children during the depression.  The great depression of the twenties not the recent one.  When my mother passed away and I had to clean out her house; the house they lived in over 50 years; There was a metal cabinet filled with plastic containers. Every butter tub, every cottage cheese container, every piece of Tupperware ever purchased – it was all stuffed in that cabinet.  That was only one 6 ft  by 2 ft by 4 ft cabinet, can you imagine the rest of the 2500 square foot home? They kept everything.  She reused aluminum foil.  I”m not one for wasting things and creating more trash but there’s a point.  How many butter dishes does one woman need?
  • It’s a distraction – well of course it is but some people use it as a distraction to not deal with other aspects of their lives. Stuff is never going to fix emotional issues but a good counselor, a  box of tissues, and getting them out in the open will.
  • You want your money’s worth – owning an object is not the same as getting a good return on an investment.  You have to actually use it in order to get value out of it, and if it’s got a 1/2 inch layer of dust covering it in your basement I’d be willing to lay odds you aren’t using it.

Getting rid of clutter is freeing.  If we lose the emotional attachment to stuff, and the other reasons why we have let it accumulate, it’s liberating to let it go and pass it on.  There are consignment shops, eBay, Craig’s List, flea markets, Goodwill, Salvation Army, and a variety of other places that  you can either sell or donate your stuff.  It doesn’t have to go in the trash to leave your house.  Repurposed items can find a good home with someone else that will actually use them.

After you’ve tackled the closet, or basement or even full house and parted with the dusty items, employ the greener way.

  • Reduce – don’t impulse shop, don’t buy those items that you really don’t need and even though they may be a clever invention you know you will never actually use it.
  • Reuse – instead of buying the latest  organizing containers in the cool fashionable colors, use what you already have.  Instead of buying specially made magazine holders use that basket that you have more stuff stuck in. ( I know, it forces you to tackle the stuff in the basket as well.)
  • Recycle – donate, use consignment shops, charitable donations, . . . That table-cloth that has a big rip right down the middle can be made into place mats, or if you’re not so handy they can be torn into cleaning rags that you can reuse  replacing about twelve rolls of paper towels.
  • Remove – remove the amount of stuff that comes into your house.  All that paper from junk mail – remove yourself from mailing lists that you can.
  • Rethink – rethink you r spending, your lifestyle, and your consumerism. don’t be a marketers dream that buys because of the shiny packaging.  Think – do you really need it?  It will help your budget as well.  Then you can afford that dream vacation in a tropical setting with Javier bringing you fruity drinks .  Oh wait, that’s my dream vacation – get your own.

So the true cost of clutter is not only the emotional drain that it wears on you day in and day out. It also costs your finances.  Just one example – a torn table-cloth provided me four place mats strategically cut and resewn; and ten cleaning cloths that are washed and reused saving me the expense of  – so far – twenty rolls of paper towels.  Every little bit saved is a step closer to having a dream vacation, or whatever savings or investment you are considering.

My biggest problem with clutter is paper accumulations.  I have reams of notebooks with notes, sketches, and ideas.  If they were all confined to one or two notebooks that would be good, but they are not.  this is a really bad part of my making notes in margins or at the bottom of a page or what not as it occurs to me.

I’m looking at a cleaner, leaner, clutter free existence in 2013. What changes do yu need to make?  What sorts of clutter are you dealing with?

Write on my friends, write on!

Confessions and Accountability


IMG-20110421-00029<—– Taken 6/2009  Jan 2 2013

Taken 1/2/2013  ——>

I’m not happy with where I am.  However, considering that in June of 2009 I was 289 pounds,  that’s nearly 300 pounds; I am reminding myself that progress has been made.  I mentioned last year that I had a plan and I expected my friends to hold me accountable.  As embarrassing as it is to share my fat pictures, I feel it’s necessary to  be honest.

The first picture is when I let life happen to me.  Mourning the loss of parents, marital difficulties, emotional battles, and putting myself on the back burner to be a mom were all contributing factors to eating myself to a state of morbid obesity.   I’m not exaggerating – 289!  I had a friend ask if I doctored the number.  My response: Have you ever known a woman to lie about her weight by adding MORE to it????   No!  As pathetic as it is, or was, that is where I was at.  That (notice expression above in picture A) was my happy face.  I had won two box seat tickets for the Cardinals vs Cubs game.

When you are carrying around the equivalent of another person all the time, you tend to be tired constantly.  For all those people who think I’m just a lot of hot air blowing around, honey I’ve been there.  I’ve been so low I had to look up to see the gutter.  I was at the bottom of a pit that I couldn’t seem to climb out of.

As you can see I’m still a work in progress.  By the way, the expression in picture B is before coffee.  Don’t leave me comments about the mess behind me. don’t leave me comments about my lack of expression.  I am up and dressed and my bed is made!  That’s as much as I can muster at 6:30 in the morning.  No one died in the taking of said picture  because they were on their way to school or work.  I have never nor will ever be a morning person.  Laughter and smiles happen after 10 am, and after at least two cups of coffee.

My determination to make fitness improvements in 2013 is at the top of my goals list.

  • Weight loss goal: 40 pounds.
  • Fitness goal:  to be able to run a 5K whether I compete in one or not.
  • Size goal: To fit into an American ladies size 12.  (First picture were size 24’s and yes they were tight. Second picture is a size 16 – 18.)

I”m not where I want to be, but I’m not where I started either.  It’s been a series of steps forward and backwards for me, but this isn’t a diet program.  This is my life.  I deal with everyday issues.  I didn’t get to run away to Biggest Loser ranch and have a team of medical experts on call, a personal chef to design an eating plan for me, or a personal trainer to design an exercise program for me.  I’ve expended my own energy, my own brain power, and reason to matters that I live with every day.  I can do this!  So can you!  Anyone can, it’s just a matter of daily choices.  Make better choices and do it over a long period of time.

For me, it’s a very long period of time.  Obviously, I’m not on a crash diet because the time it’s taken me to lose this weight seems astronomical compared to Biggest Loser results.  I’m not as hard after it as I could be, but I’m dealing with it.  One day at a time, one choice at a time, one decision at a time.  Sometimes I choose the comfort food that isn’t as healthy but overall I have a pretty healthy eating plan.  I hate the word diet – the first three letters is DIE!

Diligence day after day, month after month, and yes year after year.  It takes a lot more to undo the damage that giving up on myself caused.  I may get down on myself and mentally beat myself up but I will never give up on myself again.

I hope that in some way, this will benefit at least some of my readers.  We all have our struggles, mine is weight.  I’m not even setting my sights on a number on the scale, or a clothing size  but rather a level of fitness I once had.  Muscle memory – it affects my workouts and my mindset.  I will know it when I achieve it.

There are other goals that I have set myself for the year, and I am just as determined with them.  The weight issue however is a long time battle with me.  It colors everything I see about the world around me, and how I feel about myself.  I know I am perfectly capable in many areas but the weight goals have eluded me thus far.

Do you have that one thing that hangs over your head like the dust cloud that follows Pigpen?  Does it color your view of the world? Does it make you feel inferior?  Does it cause you to hold back and not give it 100%?

The biggest obstacle to weight loss is not what you eat, or the lack of exercise.  The biggest obstacle is what goes on in the six inches between your ears. How are you handling it?

Write on my friends, write on!