Monday, December 23, 2019

The Power of Prayer

Image result for golden light of hopeDo you believe in prayer? Do you believe there is a power waiting and listening and wanting to help us?
When I was younger I was often told I had a strong faith. While I struggled some during the college years (which for me was late 20s to early 30s-I chose to do the mom thing first), ultimately, even in times of darkness, I held on to the belief that there was something-Someone listening.

I have watched my husband struggle with this idea of a Powerful being, a God, because he sees the pain the world, the pain children go through, and it doesn't make sense to him. Maybe I am simpler. Maybe I wrapped up in my own life, I am not sure. I hate the idea that someone is suffering. I can't handle stories of abuse or the thought of children starving, or people are being locked up and used. It is sickening. But that doesn't make me feel hopeless or disbelieving.

And I guess I am different there. I don't really want to go too deep into my own religious beliefs here, but I have been thinking of the power of prayer today.

I think about answered and unanswered prayers. The truth is, we pray and things either turn out the way we want or another way. The real question is, is there something-is there energy or access to a higher power that actually occurs when we pray? Or is the change happening within us? Are we triggering actions which lead to the events which lead to the prayer being met or not.

Are met prayers just confirming our bias? Do we just kindly overlook the unanswered prayers? As a romantic, obsessive infp (I think-let's be honest, we are all a little fluid in personality), like Garth, I truly do sometimes thank God for unanswered prayers. Can you imagine the following of devoted, idealized men I would have if every prayer and wish upon a star came true. Good Lord!

But if there are not guarantees, what is the point of prayer? In the Christian film, War Room, which was only okay as far as movies go,  this idea of writing prayers down so you can see as they are answered is interesting. I always wrote my prayers in a journal form as a teen. Eventually, several years ago, I threw most of them away, (and the crushes and pleas for whichever boy I silently loved, the pleas for help controlling my temper and being kinder to my mom, even when she was unfair, and patience for watching my little brother are now lost to the world), but the idea of asking for help is still there.

But...I have had enough prayers answered to believe in prayer. There have been areas of growth I knew I needed, but was afraid to ask for help, because my gut knew it would be painful. Until I got to the point of grief and despair as I was sitting on a floor, crying, and asking for help (you know when your grief and despair drive you to the floor, it has gotten real) . And the help came.

And considering that I do believe in the power of prayer, I find it a great curiosity to think of the things I DON'T pray for. If my gut tells me prayer works, why is it a last resort? Curiouser and curiouser.

Saturday, December 21, 2019

The Gift of Time ~~ Edited

I woke up contemplating two whole weeks, if not to myself, at least with those who love me best. As a reader I started looking for some reading material which help solidify and validify the half-formed thoughts in the back of my head.
I stumbled across this sweet little post about giving the gift of time to your little ones.

If you missed that it was:

This spoke to me, because like so many other parents, it is hard to get lost in the moment. It is hard for me to ever get lost in a moment. I am only lost in emotion usually when I am just completely and utterly angry. The rest of time, I find my mind is working, looking at other perspectives, noting irony, and thinking about other things. But what a precious gift we can give our children by being completely present at least part of the day. We can play their games without rushing, but actually enjoy the moment as we are in it. While it sounds easy, to me it is not! I am always contemplating, thinking, wondering, dreaming, wishing, daydreaming, hoping, waiting-my mind is always somewhere else. But our children know. They know when they are jobs to be fulfilled and not valued as people we delight in. So I want to spend time enjoying them for the people they are. Not going through the motions and hoping they don't notice my disengagement, but being fully present for greater periods of the day with them.

And that is what I want to do. It will be hard. I like my creature comforts as much as I know I should go out in the back yard and watch the kids play even when it is below 60 degrees. I feel a little lost if I can't "research" a topic immediately that comes to mind. As Alec is slowly napping less and less, I find the day quite long without that break in the middle.
But I want to accept this challenge!

I think it is important to be present and involved with your little ones, and I want my actions to match my words!

How can this be accomplished?

First, I plan to leave my phone in my room. Maybe even hide it from the kids. I will only get on it when the house is quiet enough for me to sneak away upstairs.

I will only be on the computer when Alec is sleeping. Honestly, I don't know if I can accomplish this today. A lady has been asking for pictures of my in-stock items,which I promised to her today, and while I wonder if perhaps she is just lonely, I feel I should oblige. That will require the phone, for sure, and perhaps the computer.

Third, I am committing to take the kids somewhere each day and playing a board game with them each day. Since many of our pieces have been lost, I may have to go out and purchase some cheap games (again!). The somewhere doesn't have to be anything spectacular, it can be out for an ice cream cone. But what I need to commit to is actually getting out of the car, and making it an experience.

Check Progress
Now I have three solid goals which will be easy to mark, yes or no. We will see how I stack up! I will check in every other day with an update!

Okay! Day one, let's check my progress. I know I said every other day, but rules are made to be broken, baby!

1. My phone didn't stay totally in my room. But I was off it most of the day. I was on it enough to post a few things on social media, makes plans with my sweet customer to meet her so she could look at some clothing, and put up a new fun outfit I thought looked happy enough to be one of ours.

2. I wasn't on the computer much either. Yay me!

3. We didn't really go anywhere, except to the Walmart pickup, and after a rough and grumpy start (on my part-I have a cold and am cranky), the kids had some fun and got lots of outdoor time. My 9-year-old scuffled with a neighbor kid, and I am happy with how I handled it. He even broke down in tears over his own angry impulsiveness and we talked about that a bit. I was a hot-head as a child, which I have tempered tremendously as the years have gone on (with occasional, anxiety-induced outbursts), so I totally get it. And I get the guilt and self-disappointment when one acts in haste and anger.  So it was nice to get him to open up a bit.

Tonight, my husband I are going out to see Star Wars and then! tomorrow! Another great day full of plans!

Friday, December 20, 2019

Winter Vacation and it is TIME

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Every winter I reread Anne's House of Dreams  during the winter break. This was the book ever-present in my mind when I first moved to Massachusetts in the deep of winter, just prior to the New Year in December 1992. To me, this book is all the romance of a life-desired and I will never forget how Anne-ish I felt standing on the windblown New Hampshire Hampton Beach in the bitter cold as the wind raced around me. If you are an Anne fan, do me a favor Read the book and let me know what you think!
I always read it as an ebook since my paper copy has long-since disintegrated. Typically it feels more like a New Yearsy book, but I am starting early this year!

Sunday, December 15, 2019

The ABCs of reacting to stressors

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Early morning read with my two-year-old. I love the cozy depictions of domestic tranquility in these lovely illustrations. Our version looks like this, but it is out of print:
Image result for The night before Christmas

Sunday is the most bittersweet of all days. While technically a free day, the pull of the real world is hanging there, putting his knobby little knuckled fingers around the edges of your world, pulling it towards them. Or maybe that is just an introvert's lamentation.

An old coworker, on Facebook, posted dozens of pictures of her daughter's birthday party, and while admiring her cute home, I found myself wondering if she'd just go ahead and adopt me now. Probably not. I resisted the urge to actually ask, because you know that is weird. Really though, the difference in lives people living just miles apart can have is astounding. Well. That's the great mystery isn't it? Why some people seem to have manna from the sky falling at their feet each day, others trudge exhaustedly to maintain a decent standard, and others just crawl along, exhausted and lost. The world is unfair and unequal, and somehow I just have to accept that. This isn't to knock other people's lives. This particular coworker must have amazing energy for the amount of work she appears to put into living, it's just... you know. We all have to hold onto the belief that our lives have a purpose. Our place has a purpose, whatever that might be.

I love waking up to a quiet house. I slept in today, until six a.m., then quietly awakened and did my normal things. Coffee, inspirational talk, meditating for a few, then starting breakfast. My typical weekday breakfast consists of an overeasy egg, a slice of whole wheat bread, and lots of black coffee. We are out of bread, so I made a sweet potato to go with the egg. I cannot digest eggs alone very well, so hopefully the sweet potato is starchy enough to help the egg go down well.I LOVE fried eggs, by the way. I am talking love-about an egg. I had two big, farm fresh eggs (my inlaws bring them from their neighbor a couple times a month), and even added some sweetened dessert creamer to one of my cups of coffee. It was nice, but black coffee is really my jam.

My inspirational talk today consisted of the speaker discussing the ABCs: Action, behavior, consequence. Something like that. It is very similar to the ABC of behavior we discuss in my day job. Essentially, something happens, we react in a certain way, and that mindset we take with us, can determine the consequences. For me, my struggle is interaction with others. I am always wary of being hurt, left out, stepped on. So when an action happens that sends off a warning light, my brain goes, Alert! Watch out! Protect yourself. Danger! The problem exists that when we are in self-protective mode, we aren't in loving mode. We aren't able to live out our best version of ourselves when we are waiting for Mr. Jones to stab us in the back. And that affects the outcome. Appearing paranoid makes one marginalized (I totally got this from an interaction between Andy and Dwight on the Office last night), and that doesn't lead to a great outcome. What to do? People can be mean. There really are backstabbers and people who have no issue hurting others. How do you protect yourself without going crazy?

And I think the answer is again, vulnerability. We don't have to share everything. We don't have to trust everyone. However, we have to be brave enough to show up with authenticity and kindness and also with the understanding that sometimes, we will get hurt. Operating with the assumption that we have the tools necessary to repair ourselves from potential hurt, we have to remain open to the world. We can't allow ourselves to be marginalized. It's no easy feat to accomplish. I work on this nearly every DAY of my working life. I am blindingly naive at times and have been spanked by it more than once. I also need attention and will happily take negative attention if that is all I can get. However, I also have some fantastic big girl panties and two strong hands to pull them up and keep going. We have to give others the benefit of the doubt, at least until they have made it clear they don't deserve it. And that is  hard, especially if, like me, you worry that your earnest sincerity is a wondrous source of amusement for others. However, I do feel, in spite of concerns and potential embarrassment, it is a necessary part of living one's fullest life.

Friday, December 13, 2019

On Pain

Several weeks ago I wrote about my struggle with the book I was reading, The Universe has Your Back, and the idea that pain was unnecessary. It just didn't seem to jive with the whole of human experience. However, while I cannot say that pain is never going to happen, I think I am beginning to understand a bit of what the author was referring to when she made this statement.

Disappointment Looms

In the past couple of weeks I have felt the underpinnings of yet another huge disappointment looming. I have been struggling with how to handle this. It makes me sad, and when I cannot figure a way out, I start to feel hopeless and angry. All the past disappointments come rushing back and the world just seems so unfair. And when one rages at the unfairness, others simply shrug it off and say, "Yep. It is."

What?! My problem-solving nature can't HANDLE this. It has to be fixed and made better, damn it!

Anyway, as I found myself spiraling down that painful path of realizing this goal seems ever-elusive to me, and I started to tailspin into the shame of "What is so wrong with me?" I realized that I have a choice. I can wallow in the pain and shame of not being good enough, or I can shrug it off and say, "All right. What can I learn here?" And the lesson cannot be that I am not good enough, smart enough, able enough, because I know myself, and I am all those things. The lesson is something else. So I choose to back away from the pain. To distance myself and try to look with fresh eyes. I don't have to feel pain. I may have to move on to something else. I may have to accept and focus somewhere else. But maybe there is a purpose at play here, perhaps one I cannot see yet, and I have to have faith in that. The purpose isn't to hurt me. It is to make me better and use my talents better. That is the promise I hold onto as I face the day.

Renewed Hope

I think this is what the author was referring to when she said we didn't have to feel pain. Hope and choice always exist. The opportunity to step back and grow is always present. It isn't easy. But it is there.

And  now two little boys are talking to me! Oh, the life of a mother.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Focus on Your Values

Today in my audio series on Simple Habit, the narrator talked about finding your own personal values and basing your life on those values. After contemplating what my values might be, I found myself disappointed in the knowledge that I wasn't necessarily living out what I valued in life.
It requires insight, clarity, and honesty to truly understand what you value.  I think often I jump on the bandwagon of other people's values because they are doing so well at being themselves and make it all look so good.
But when I sat, crosslegged and tired on the sofa, I tried to really get into who I was, and what I wanted to focus on, without the outside noise. Where do I want to spend my energy when all the other people, all the other influences are stripped away?

I tried to come up with three core values. Here are mine:

1. Family. I am family-oriented. I mean, I deliberately chose to have six kids. I love the idea of homey, family life, and I dream of winning the lottery so I can spend time exploring the world with my WHOLE family.
How am I doing?
I asked myself if the way I was living my life truly expressed this number one value in my life. And with a bit of shame, I have to answer no. Fatigue and  phone addiction continue to be the daily battle I have after work which keep me from truly focusing on this area. I think of the slapped together, eat-where-you-want dinners; the frustration over bedtime, and the messy house. I want my family to have a neat and tidy home because I believe that leads to neat and tidy thoughts.

How can I fix this?
A cup of coffee after school. I really need this step right now. Put the phone down. Nothing is happening there which can't wait until the kids are in bed. I will STAY out of bed. No matter how much I want to go introvert alone, I will remain downstairs and actively involved. I will also get my husband on board with getting the kids to bed by 8:30. He works until seven and after that I am just a basketcase. I cannot do it alone. He cannot read my mind. I have to step up and say what I need.

2. Self-Expression. I think I am doing okay in this area. I have my little blog where I can write about things. Learning to filter everything even more than I was is sometimes challenging, but it really relies less on a filter and  more on focusing. Focusing on the right areas. To me, self-expression is being true to myself and putting myself out there and thinking my thoughts and sharing them with the world. I am a slow thinker, and so writing agrees with me more, and this blog is where it happens. I also have a journal where it REALLY happens, but even that is filtered. Someone, someday is going to read it.
How am I doing?
I am doing okay. I could really step up my production of writing if I hope to accomplish anything with mywords.
How can I fix this?
Again, I am pretty happy with it. I could dedicate a specific time to writing, if desired.

3. Knowledge. I struggled with this last one. I wanted to say something impressive like leadership or innovation. Or maybe something feminine and sweet like kindness. However I have found that knowledge (along with honesty) is very important to me and the way I live my life.
I have always loved learning in school. I could never understand those kids who said a certain subject was boring. Now there are some subjects that are more dry than others, particularly at the lower levels. For example, I wasn't very fond of teaching basic government class at the high school level. However, I did love the political science courses I took in college. Beyond regular American government I also took public administration and politics of the environment. Both were very interesting, at that level. I didn't particularly care for the difficult level of problem solving in my general physics classes, however the concepts themselves were interesting. My year of general Chemistry was fascinating. I liked biology and LOVED all aspects of geography, even economic geography. I loved languages and writing courses, though the professional writing major left me feeling a little out. They weren't quite my people. History! Plains Indian history and History of the Middle East. So cool! Analyzing an author's intent in literature classes didn't tickle my toes, but learning about the author and quietly contemplating the meaning of the literature on my own was fascinating. And all the juicy social science courses with their people and their statistics and the applications to the world. So very yummy. I love to learn.
How am I doing?
I am not learning at the same rate I was 10 or 20 years ago. With a fulltime job, I am so busy.
What can I do?
I need to pick a focus and work on that. Occasionally I will become infatuated with an author and read everything I can about that person. I need to keep that curiosity alive whether it is about a person or a concept or a moment in time. This can be easily done.

I don't know if this list will remain static or not. Time moves us, like a  plant in the water, whooshing and swaying with the current. Values change, hearts change. I think keeping open to the possibility of change, while focusing on truly living out the life we want to be remembered for living is key.

Do you know your values? Are you living a life which showcases your values? How can you get back to what you truly value?  Sometimes we all need to stop and think about how we are living our lives and whether we are living the life we think we want to live.

Monday, December 9, 2019

Focusing on Strengths

This affiliate link, which helps pay for the costs associated with blogging, leads to a great little handbook of ideas to prepare for the holidays.

If you are looking for fun ideas to get ready and organized for Christmas, I always love Alison May's series of kindle books on Amazon.

Today my daily motivational lesson from Simple Habit focused on Strengths. Knowing them and working with them and focusing on using them, instead of always operating from a deficit-based outlooked. This was nice for me, because I am very much a person who has focused on the deficit-based outlook. I totally blame this on a book I read, by some man, in my late 20s when I was going back to college. It specifically said to focus on your weak areas, so that you could become more well-rounded all around. So that is what I did.

I realize now, looking at the other people, and the amount of time and money they saved just finding what they liked and were good at and going for it, perhaps I shouldn't have taken his words so to heart. 270 credit hours later, I am still over here like, "Uh...what was the point again?"
Seriously though, I was never a math whiz (only a sad, sorry 27 on my math ACT), so of course, I had to get a minor in math. And I struggled. Calculus 2 and those damned series and sequences about did me in. Way too abstract for my brain. Oh, but rebel Jill stands up and say, "Hey, if you would have just sat down for several hours and really focused on getting it, you would have." Maybe. But I never wanted to. And maybe that is what I should have heeded. That part of me that said, "No, don't care." I loved history. I was good at history. I have at least 50+ hours of social sciences included 18 hours of history, with six of those graduate level. But I read, early in my career, history was considered an easy major, easy to get A's in, and I knew, that couldn't be the path.
I did end up with a psychology degree, when I ran out of money and had to just graduate already. And it was interesting, and at the graduate level would have been A-okay. But it was time to work. And so education it was. But education is what it almost always was growing up. I dont know if that was a calling (aside from wanting to write), or if it was that working class thing, where teachers were the first college educated people i really knew, and so it seemed most accessible. Or if that is what I was called to do. Old readers know I have been over all this before. Life runs in cycles, and so does the brain processes, it seems.
I am off track. My point was I should have focused on my strengths: Memory, writing. Languages (which I have forgotten from nonuse). Knowing what I know now, I should have double-majored in geology and antiquities, the science which really feels grounded to me and the a humanities-social science based degree which calls to my soul. But alas. Single mom with kids. I had real and practical decisions to make. And so, whoosh! Self-understanding and loving kindness wash away all the should haves and pride in how far I have made it take over. Perhaps it already is what it should be.

My strengths transfer to what I am doing. Who am I to say this wasn't the path all along? I just took the long and winding route.

So my The Universe has Your Back book, got weird on me. One day I am meditating for peace of mind the next, the lady is trying to send me on a guided meditation with my spirit guides. Not to knock anyone else's religion, but that was too far for me. If there ARE spirit guides (and that is very Embraced by the Light, Bettie Eadie-feeling), they are on the other side of the veil and not to be interacted with. Our feet are on the ground because they are meant to be on the ground. How does one distinguish between enlightenment and mental illness at the point? Not the path for me. I am still meditating. Sitting quietly, attempting to clear my thoughts, saying nice things to myself. I am just not verbally inviting the unseen to travel along with me. If they are there, they are there. If not, well, okay.

I am feeling a bit apprehensive. I want a day to stay in bed. I have a meeting today, so I am going to get up and get it done, but I don't feel ready for the world today. It will be okay. It is just winter's hermit mode setting in, most likely.

Have a beautiful day. Maybe purchase the ebook and get a few ideas.

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Another Thanksgiving

Dawn is still holding off, and now that we have moved the desktop upstairs to make an office, I have a glorious view of the east from the window behind the computer. I awoke early, certain I did not want to work on paperwork for school. I must get to that tomorrow morning. I don't want to scramble on Sunday. Plus the waiting makes the time off less satisfying, because I know it is there.

Thanksgiving is a marvelous reminder to be grateful for the many things we have.Sometimes I will more publicly list my reasons to be thankful on social media, but often that feels slightly indulgent. So I will keep my list a little quieter, in my heart, this year.

I find I miss my mother on Thanksgiving. Whether we had a meal together or I visited her later in the evening, she was always up for a movie or some sort of fun. I miss her energy and the warmth of her voice. Sometimes I still feel her breath on my shoulder or the softness of her skin.

My son, Caleb, isn't wrapped up in Thanksgiving memories. If he was home, he was likely hiding in his room, and would come out to tell me which foods he hated. I think he liked turkey, though one year I lied and told him it was a really big chicken, in order to get him to eat it. He was so fussy. But he rarely participated in festivities, and I think he spent Thanksgiving evenings with his dad and later working. So no tears of remembrance fall in that regard.

I am thoroughly enjoying meditating for calmness. I like the heady feeling of power when I find I can completely change my mood. I have watched others do it, an old retired coworker when I would get frustrated and worked up, would interject with questions about my children, knowing that would change my mood. I could see her doing it, and part of me was like, Wait! I need to hang on to this anger, and part of me was like, Well, alright. I will play. Learning to let go of anger is no easy feat. Everywhere around us we receive messages: Go get yours. Don't get mad, get even. And so on. This idea that we fight and struggle for every tiny bit of real estate in the world is prevalent. I am not saying to let go and be a doormat. What I am saying is, not everything is worth the fight. Not every negative feeling, slight from others, or rejection, requires a huge emotional investment. Sometimes, acknowledgment and shrugging it off is the answer. And the true ding! ding! ding! million dollar answer is learning to shrug it off and give others the grace your ego doesn't feel they deserve.

Giving grace to others when you are hurt, is so hard. Maybe you were hurt on purpose and maybe not. But true peace can only come to yourself when you learn to give others the same benefit of the doubt you wish to receive. It isn't easy! Ego stands up and demands to be heard. But just like my coworker could turn my head away from anger, ego can be turned to something more productive.

It isn't easy. It takes a lot of practice and falling down and failing. But we have a lifetime to learn.

So thankful for the words to express myself and this magical space in which to do it!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Butterscotch Blondies

I came home from work craving a little sweet treat, but sadly there was nary a bit of chocolate to be found. Next best thing? Ooey, gooey butterscotch blondies!

I chose this recipe because it was made with oil and I am economising on butter. I did substitute a glass pie plate for the 8x8 pan.

The recipe can be found here.

It was super easy to whip up in a matter of minutes!

First I mixed the wet ingredients. I just used a big spoon.
Next I added the dry . 
Finally, I put it all in the baking pan!
Less than 30 minutes later, a sweet and easy treat for the kids ( and grown ups, too!).

Actually, it took almost an hour. Between my two-year-old messing with the lock on the oven door, my seven-year-old and hisneighbor friend running around , and my nine-year-old asking me to look up molecular formulas for various acids, I somehow turned the oven off . I realized my mistake eventually and finished baking the Blondies. They were just a smidgen brown on the bottom😁

Monday, November 18, 2019

Popular- A book

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I just picked up this book and read it tonight (it's a fairly short read). It was exactly what I needed at this time. The author, Mitch Prinstein looks at how popularity continues to greatly influence life outcomes, even though the subject is almost taboo. Popularity continues to exert a  huge influence regarding who is listened to, who is taken seriously, and who is ignored or neglected.
Seeing it in book form was both exciting and slightly discouraging, as if you are one of the unpopular, you tend it hope it is all in your head. He also explains how popularity is linked to income, retaining one's job in tough times, getting one's way over others, among other things.

One story he told was how an impassioned mother fought for six months, lobbying, researching, and working towards getting a gifted program in her local school. The school board repeatedly denied her. Then a more popular lady whisked in, and using nothing but her own personal power, persuaded the school board to start a gifted program within 15 minutes. I know many of us can relate to this, and the helplessness we feel when we are on the "unpopular" side of such circumstances.

The author splits people into five groups: the average, the accepted, the rejected, the neglected, and the controversial.
The average make up about 40% of the population, with the accepted being the popular and well liked people. The rejected are the ones who are not liked, although, they may not even know they are rejected or disliked, but they are known. Ouch. The neglected simply tend to be forgotten, and finally the controversial may be high profile or high status, but aren't particularly liked by peers. Of these, of course, the accepted fare best.
Seeing which group one falls into is fascinating, although as stated early, it isn't really a huge surprise. Additionally even among the average in the center, each person has tendencies towards one of the other groups.  Instead, the book takes what is probably experienced day to day, and occasion to occasion, and puts it into terms and words which lend validity to the experience.

The author isn't without hope that people who fall into the less desired corners can change and become more popular. He does, however, note that during times of stress or in new situations, we all have a tendency to revert to the feelings of adolescence, thus making true change difficult (although not impossible).

Personally, I enjoyed this book because the stories told contrasting different people and their outcomes was fascinating. I could find myself and see my own experiences in the five groups of people, and could quickly identify the two I lean towards . If you are slightly on the nerdy side, and want a book which validates your experiences in the world of grown-up cliques and power structures, it's a fun read.

Quotes for business hurdles

Sophie's World was required reading for my Intro to Philosophy class in college. Not too challenging and made the history of philosophy accessible and interesting.
This is an affiliate link which could result in compensation for me, should you choose to purchase.

If you are anything like me, you love a good quote! Quotes remind us of truths, give us insight, and sometimes simply give us a positive direction to aim our thoughts. While sometimes quotes can become empty platitudes full of saccharine goodness without any real truth and weight to them, the right quote can truly impact your life and day in a positive manner.

Whilst looking up information regarding something someone said in a post on Quora, "Buddha doesn't belong in the boardroom," I stumbled upon these inspiring quotes. Not all fit. Certainly not all fit all the time. However maybe if you are feeling a little discouraged, you can find a nugget of truth in them.

Business Relevant Quotes from Ancient Philosophers

Sunday, November 17, 2019

The "I Don't" List

This week, a link to Holly Wainwright's blog post, "Every Woman has an 'I Don't List...' came into my feed. And it's great. And it's true. Noone can do everything. Those sports-crazy parents whose kids are awesome athletes on the rise, probably aren't getting hours hiking in the woods and sitting around the campfire. Those quiet, hygge families who are cozy at home playing board games and designing their own latch hook rug patterns, aren't out there as movers and shakers in the public eye.

I felt so empowered when I first read it. I thought about my own I don't list.

1. I don't do PTA.  I will join.  I may even volunteer from time to time (although the last time I totally forgot and was an hour and a half late😓. However I don't go to meetings, call people, or gather shoes for charity.

2. I only shave my legs when I have to. First razors are crazy expensive and second, I am getting to the age where  balancing one leg in the shower with the other perched up on the shower wall, just doesn't seem wise.

3. I don't have to advance in my career.  I am in a field where it is perfectly respectable to remain in the same place, as weird and pathetic as that seems.

4. I don't have to decorate for every holiday and share pinterest-worthy pictures.

5. I don't have to feel bad for being introverted.

6. I don't HAVE to become famous at something, make my name, earn some bucks. The concept that it is okay to live a mediocre life fits here.

7. I don't have to exercise if  I don't want to.  Being a soft and squishy granny isn't illegal yet!

And at first I was like, "Yes!" But then that little pulling started-the tearing at the edge of my skin saying, "Yeah, but!"

What can I say? I was raised in Puritanical, work-'til-you drop America.

And  I started to think, I don't HAVE to be active in PTA, but wouldn't my kids benefit from increased popularity and social connections if I were?

I don't have to shave my legs, but who doesn't love that silky soft, shaved all-over feeling as you go about your day?

I can "just" be a teacher, but why should I let other people who don't really know me define my value? What if there is something tailor-made for me just around the corner? What if I am capable of actually making a difference and influencing with my views? I think that is why the internet and internet-based businesses are so attractive. The gatekeepers are losing influence.

These are my kids' memories. Of course, I should decorate for holidays. My hands are useless-it won't be pinterest worthy:).

Extraverted people have friends. And fun. And get invitations! I want to be involved and active and make a difference, and enjoy people. And yet, my energy level shrinks at the thought. Like how does one remain interested and pleasant without that time to hide away and think about things? How does one write?

And no. I don't have to be famous. I don't have to become an author, or write thoughts which inspire others, or have a successful business. But my heart desires it. If I give up, I will never get it.

And exercise. I want to be comfortable and slimness is pleasant, but what I really desire is time to go out hiking in the hills without dragging a ton of stuff to keep the kids happy. Someday.

All these ideas saying it is okay not being perfect, are hit with all these other ideas that I should never give up! Always keep striving and doing more and growing and being more.

But, then I sometimes wonder-what if there isn't more? What if the only people benefitting from all this work is the money collectors at the top. What if it is all a plan to keep us on the wheel, pushing pushing pushing with the rainbow promise at the end. And then as we think we are getting near, it all evaporates, because it was never more than a ray of light-hope, with no material value ever existing?


And that I think, is where the true "I don't" list comes in. Realizing it may all be an illusion, we can really focus and ask, "What, of all this confusion and mess, is worth striving for?"
When we think about what we want so badly we can taste it, suddenly we know what it is we MUST do. What our soul call to us to do. And then we can take all those dropped balls, the ones that didn't really matter, and add them to our "I don't" list with the true confidence of self-understanding and knowledge.

On that vein, one of my favorite reads when I was in college:
Note: This is an affiliate link which could result in compensation for me, if you follow the link and make a purchase.

Saturday, November 9, 2019

All Right, Universe! I'm Back.

As I continued in my reading of The Universe Has Your Back last night, I read on to discover the truths I had been needing this week. Last night's reading had to do with Universal Lessons, such as being completely present and leaning towards joy. There were six steps for how to live more present and in your truest sense of your self. I am going to focus on Step 1, because it gave the aha moment I needed last night, as my energy levels were drawing close to the bottom.
Note: This is an affiliate link which could lead to compensation if you choose to click and purchase.

Step 1: Focusing too much on the presence of fear is getting in the way of our presence of love. And suddenly, just by reading this one step, where the author, Gabrielle discusses being "caught up in her crazy (p.56)," I realized that was exactly what I was doing. I was getting caught up in my crazy, by focusing on my fears rather than love. I was focused on not getting what I want out of life, on jealousies, and inadequacies, which wasn't leaving any room in my life for love. Now, granted, I get a LOT out my slightly negative introspection. First, it feels a little closer to the truth, so I feel like I am stumbling upon something more real. I enjoy it. I enjoy being critical of the way the world is set up and discovering the flaws in it. The problem is, of course, while I can play there a little while, it is exhausting and painful, and makes me not much fun to be around. Sometimes you have to whitewash a little, shrug things off, cut yourself a little slack, because joy and survival are real and important things.

Gabrielle's solution is to step back and pray using the affirmation, "I step back and let the Universe lead the way." For those of us in the bible belt, who may feel a little uncomfortable with the "Universe," just reminding oneself that God is in control, can be helpful. Just stopping the crazy introspection and saying, "I step back and let God lead the way," can remind us there is a bigger, better plan that what is currently swimming in our gray matter, and we need to relax and let it unfold.

This is a relief to me, as I feel it is time to shift away from ultra-seriousness after a challenging week. It's a welcome break, and a good reminder to focus on love and joy. This week, let me suggest,  as the challenges of your life unfold, step back and remind yourself who is in control. Remind yourself someone with a greater understanding is pulling strings all over the place, and relax into who you are meant to be when you are operating in love, rather than fear.

Friday, November 8, 2019

A Challenging Time

I  am continuing to go through a challenging time. Disappointments keep popping up in my head, and sometimes it is a true struggle to keep them from coloring my worldview. The current book I am reading, the one I mentioned yesterday, The Universe Has Your Back, refers to the Universe as loving and good and supports the idea that pain isn't necessary.
Note: This is an affiliate link from Amazon, of which I could receive compensation. But this is where I guess my bitterness comes in, becomes um, look at the author. She is lovely. Is it even possible we are living lives which could even remotely be related? There was a conversation yesterday, where I mentioned something about not wanting to be liked, I just need to be respected for my brain. Well, of course, that is a lie. Another person stated, "You are such a Ravenclaw, that's what I like about you."
But I felt this sadness. Of course, I want to be liked. Of course, I want to be in on the thick of things. I hate feeling like an outsider. I have just sort of given up on the hope, I guess. In the past I could reconcile myself with the idea that this pain was molding me into a better person and that there was a purpose. And then little-nosed blondie comes along and writes a book saying the pain isn't necessary? The conversation continued and we discussed how a couple Slytherins we know always seem to get what they want so easily. "Well," my coworker said,"They are cute. And petite." And that's it? Whether you get what you want can be boiled down to how aesthetically pleasing your face and form are? That is so disappointing.

And I keep trying to find meaning in that. Of course, when you are lovely and are treated better, you are also going to be sweet and treat others well (for the most part). It creates this vicious cycle (vicious for the less than lovely among us), where we feel unwanted over things we can't control, it pisses us off, and we act unlovely.

But there is not purpose in pain? What does that mean?

So I am struggling with this. The typical outsider feelings-the what to do on Thanksgiving feelings. My desire to belong fights against my feelings of never belonging.
I want this blog to be about positivity and living one's best life, so I have to face this struggle and come to a resolution I can understand and support.

I think, perhaps, it is about giving up the struggle. Accepting what is coming your way, and letting the bitterness seep away with each breath you exhale. Perhaps it is about breathing in with gratitude over what you do have, and not struggling with the idea of what is fair. And part of me, stands there, hand on hips and says slowly, 'Wha-?" It almost sounds like the people sweeping up the jewels of life and gathering them in their overflowing arms as they have parties where they compare the glittering goodies they have taken, are impatiently nodding towards a crushed gem on the floor and saying,"Sweep up that powder for your little purse, and show gratitude for the Universe which knows what is best for you."

But thoughts and feelings are different things. Maybe one drives the other, but one is pure and one is intentional, and I have the power to mold the intentional somewhat. And I guess that is where I make that choice. To let go of bitterness is surrender. It is becoming what they want, so they can gather their goodies without unpleasantness (that is how it feels). It is also a soothing balm to the soul if I change my focus. It is the belief theat everything is going to be okay. The idea that I am receiving exactly what I need.

And sometimes I can step back and just think, "Wow," at the richness of my life. I have a large family and many people can't have families. When Christmastime comes and I see parents of one or two kids struggling to get their kids home for Christmas celebrations, I will be quietly sitting in the family room surrounded by people, several of which I MADE, and enjoying their company. I am female which is a blessing when you are insecure and lonely, because someone will always keep you company, at least when you are younger (I don't know what will happen as I age and crone out on everyone, but I can guarantee I will feel it and write about it) if you desire their company. Now that doesn't mean I just picked up random guys for temporary comfort. I am so picky. But the option was there and that was enough. My brain is good enough I can do most of what I want (theoretical physics aside--but do I really want that? Or I am just intrigued by the romanticized idea of that?) and learn from my mistakes. I still struggle with being naive, but that is a choice on my part to believe most people are good and want what is best and want to be moral and fair. My head may know differently, but my heart just doesn't want to believe that. INFP struggles and all. And I have had amazing experiences, good and bad, which have become part of me. Whispers of fallen-leaved Novembers-past swirl through castles steps I have climbed, and past laughing days with friends and joy. Parties I have chatted happily through, quiet forested paths I have walked, the precious agony of birthing new lives and watching a new soul stumble forth, and sea water I have tasted on different sides of the world, and books which have moulded and shaped me-have tempered the pure wailing red-face soul which came into this world raging at the injustices. And I think, well. The loneliness sucks. But all in all, it is a pretty good ride.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Bad, Bad, Bad, Bad Vibrations

 According to the book I am reading, The Universe has Your Back,
(note: this is an affiliate link, which if you click and purchase can lead to compensation for me)our thoughts influence our feelings, which influence our energy and world and experiences-nothing new right? I mean whether you believe it on the mystical Universal level or whether you just think, "Duh! Happy people bring happy days (and vice versa)," this is probably old news to you right?
But still the past few days have been hard. Part of it is overeating and sugar. It is a vicious, addictive cycle that just has me feeling bad. There have been more treats in the office and once you start, you can't stop. At least I can't. I also keep fizzling out on calorie counting. I am going to have to bring my fitness pal up at work, even though I am terrifed admin is snooping and somehow they will see my weight (because you know, what else are they going to do all day?). But I need to just bring it up and use it.
Also I discovered I am lacking a personal system for completing a part of my job effectively. For the second time in as many weeks, I look really incompetent and stupid. I know this could be fixed by creating a system that works for me (and as soon as I fix the problem, I am going to do that), but I still a bit embarrassed and careless. But the creating a new system is sort of exciting. It's going to be so smooth-running and failproof, this problem will never happen again. And that is a powerful feeling.
But underneath this issue, is a feeling of deep hurt.
And the problem is when you start dwelling on the hurts, even though it is important to acknowledge them, it becomes hard to see past them. And sometimes you may find, you WANT to be stuck. To not be stuck means letting go of  your pride and pride is so so hard to let go of. If you let go, they win. They win. The people who hurt you, win! So you see the trap. So how do you get out of these self-imposed traps? Breathing and affirmations, of course. Prayer. Making the connection to what is bigger than the emotions swirling around in your heart, influencing your brain. And a lot of fortitude. It's hard to let go of things. And they have a way of rising back up under stress. There is this constant need for vigilance and renewal. My brain patterns were formed in negative feelings. Whether it is nature or nurtures fault (and it is probably both. I was probably a ticked-off petty little toddler), the brain tries hard to revert to what it is comfortable with when in stress. You PERSONALLY have to put your hand up and say stop, give yourself a big hug (because you exist and thus deserve it), and make changes. No easy feat. But worth it.

Anyway, I went to pick up the other book I was reading (I have about four going on right now-who knows which I will finish), but only saw this one by my bed, so I picked it up and read a few pages. And then-refreshment.
I had to stop reading because one, whenever I get a little reminder of a truth, I have to write about it, and two, a rainstorm with a bit of thunder struck and scared the two year old.
And then there is that head-shaking shrug, and wonder how one can forget.

I need to make a guidebook, I think. Something with the truths I have gathered which I read through regularly.

So I guess I have two assignments for myself:

System for my work issue
Guidebook for like you know, living

While the work plan won't be shared, as it is rather irrelevant here, once I get the guidebook underway I will share it.

Note this blog contains an affiliate link which can lead to earnings for me to maintain this site.

Monday, November 4, 2019

Twix cookie recipe

I tried out the Twix cookie recipe. First of all, my cute little gingham half-apron did nothing to keep my clothes clean.  Second, sugar and I are not the close friends we used to be.

Here is the recipe link:

Twix cookies

Here is my cute apron:

Rolling and cutting the shortbread cookie base with my daughter and youngest grandbaby, Peter. Ignore the abused cookie sheet. I have little boys who use them for serious experiments and thing, you know.
Finally the cookies 

I didn't get a final picture, because the chocolate was ugly and made a mess. I will say the cookies were okay. But much, much too sweet for me. I literally crashed and had to nap afterwards, and woke with a headache. No more body abuse for me today!

I am not sure I would recommend these. Although they were tasty, the shortbread base was sort of meh, and the caramel chocolate was a sticky gooey mess. Plus they were hard cut and chew. I had something that tasted similar to a twix yesterday, but was made more like bars in a square pan, and I think that is the recipe I would like to find and try. It was softer and easier to eat.

Drink the water: Day One through Seven

Day One:
It is a bit after noon and I am about two glasses of water in (and about six cups of coffee). I feel awful, but I am sure it isn't the water but rather the super sweet twix cookies I made. I am feeling the after sugar drop, headachy and fatigued. I should take better care of myself. As to that the fact that we have been burning of the branches that feel a month or so ago and my hair reeks of smoke (of weed came up in auto fill- pretty sure I didn't poor that in), and I am feeling yucky.
Keep on drinking that water.
Six cups in. My ibuprofen has kicked the headache. Otherwise I feel pretty normal.

Day done. I drank the water. I feel pretty normal. Life hasn't changed yet. On to tomorrow!

Day Two:
On day two I was more comfortable with the water, but only had seven cups. I did drink many cups of coffee, however.

Day Three:
Didn't happen. I think I had a glass or two when I woke up, but it was coffee for the rest of the day.

Day Four:
I just woke up and had two cups. The first went down easy, but I really had to push the second cup down. However, now I am a quarter of the way through my goal, and it is only 4:19 a.m. Yeah, I am not happy about that!

Update: That was it. It was coffee and a glass of wine for the rest of the day. I will have to try harder on day five.

Day Five:
Again two in the morning and about two before bed.

Day Six: I woke up and had my typical two (well, really about 16 ounces in one big glass) galsses of water. It goes down pretty easily in the morning, although I have to force the last half-cup or so. Really, it will be easy today. I usually have about six cups of coffee. I know I should probably get that down to four or less, but it is hard for me to drink water during the work day when I am also drinking so much coffee. I have 90 minute block classes where I simply cannot go to the bathroom, and don't want to struggle through the time. In previous years, my class was closer to the our department office, so I could just call someone on conference to slip in for a minute, but now, I am on the other side of the building and that just isn't an option. Since I am not giving up coffee, it's the water than ends up on the chopping block. A few week's ago, I had a doozy of a UTI, apparently from staph, and boy, that was lots of fun at work! Most of the time when symptoms arise, I can just up my water intake, and it goes away in a day or so. This however, lasted several days, and started on a Monday, so drinking lots of water wasn't happening due to the reasons listed above. But I got meds on that Thursday, when I realized it wasn't getting better, I survived, and I continue down this difficult path of the inconveniences and pains of being a woman. Totally rocking it, right?

Actually I think I am ready for my second two cups. Easy breezy, drinking water on the weekends.

Has it changed my life? Not really. First, I didn't follow it as well as I had planned. Although I hear all sorts of debate on whether coffee hydrates you or not, I do drink a LOT of fluids through coffee. I think I am adequately hydrated anyway, although perhaps the coffee is more acidic to my system than water would be. I think my goal will be to cut back my coffee drinking to four cups. I guess that would be two before work, and getting two when I get to work. It may need to be five. I just really need that pick-me-up after work sometimes.

Water! Water! Drink more water!

Image result for water photographyEveryone everywhere (it seems to me) is saying to drink more water. Apparently drinking water is the cure-all which helps with weightloss, energizes you, and apparently cures cancer (I made that up). I feel frustrated because water is gross. I know, I know. I can add things. I can infuse it with berries and fruits (berries don't last long with my two little ones) and fruit, meh. I would rather just eat my fruit, thank you.

But I am going to try it this week. Since I am a very enthusiastic coffee drinker, I am always in the bathroom anyway, so why not just add some pure H2O to the mix and see what it does. Will I feel better? Will it make a difference? Is it all just placebo effect?

Let's see, shall we?
So starting today, I am going to focus on just the eight-eight ounce glasses. I will update this post on Saturday so we can look at the results!

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Losing it!

My weight loss has dropped off to only about a pound a week this month. While I know that is a still a good, healthy drop, it seems frustratingly slow, especially since myfitnesspal predicts a slightly greater loss.
Looking back at the month, I am trying to figure what is going wrong. I think first, I have been slipping a few extra bites here and there. A bite of this, cleaning this up on a kid's plate, or just a nibble of that could add up to 100 calories over the course of a day. These bites and tidbits do not tend to get logged. Additionally I may have had too many higher or at maintenance days.

Because watching the pounds drop is fun for me, I want to keep making progress at a steady pace. I need to watch those bites-as in cut them out completely. So no more stray Ramen noodles for me! Also, I am not sure about the calorie count of my baked goods. I can whip up chocolate chip cookies and brownies in a matter of minutes, and while I try to estimate the number of calories in a bite of brownie batter (me, afraid of salmonella? Ha! I laugh in the face of salmonella!), I might be getting more than I think. On the other hand, I AM still losing weight, so I might need to just cut myself some slack. I guess it always falls off fastest the first month.

I am one of those people who gets an idea (in this case weight loss) and wants it to happen yesterday.

And myfitnesspal is just invaluable. It isn't THAT big of a deal to log calories, despite what I told myself when I wasn't losing weight. It isn't THAT big of a deal to go to bed a little hungry.

The hardest part is keeping the weight loss mentality. We have all lost weight and regained it. It is maintaining focus and remembering the skills you have to continue practicing to keep it it up.

The Joys of Madame Chic

I have written about Jennifer L. Scott's writings before on other blogs, I know. However, this morning, when my phone and the computer had been hijacked by short males, I found myself searching for a book and picked up my trusty At Home with Madame Chic. I was first introduced to Jennifer's writings through an eBook Lessons From Madame Chic. As a lover of all things French, fashion, beauty, lifestyle (Taryn may be right-I may be a Sensor after all, or an INFJ (sigh), the are known to like the finer things), I instantly loved this book. I cringed when she cringed over the reception of her worn and holey pajamas, and I rejoiced at the idea of just doing things more beautifully.

I am not going to lie. I am currently sitting in a room with cheerios, a wet diaper and numerous crumpled papers strung out on the floor. However this mess happened when I was at work, in my defense. I will clean it today, but I work fulltime and as Alec's first words were this morning, "Mom home?" I am home, and I am taking it easy this morning.

If you like the idea of living with grace and as Jennifer puts it, "Poise," these books are just a good read. I like her understated style and she is someone you would just relish and invitation for morning coffee and a long talk. In addition to her books, she has a facebook page and a Youtube channel! Look up The Daily Connoisseur if you get the chance.

Or click the affiliate link above to help cover this blog and we can talk about the book together.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Feet First

I have been busy lately. Although my heart longs to sit and write all the swirling thoughts, reality has kept my hands on the wheel. And frankly, writing the thoughts isn't always helpful. When others are involved, you have to do a lot of assuming to figure things out, and if you assume the worst, well you might be quite wrong about someone's intentions, and if you assume the best, well you might again be wrong. As much as I love to think and figure things out, when it comes to other people and why they do what they do, I think a good lesson learned is shrugging it all off with a head shake and a "Whatever."

We are trying to basically be the people we want to be. So as an outdoor enthusiast in my mind, I am trying to take the kids out and hiking more as a family instead of waiting to be in shape or until they are older. We are just going to do it and see what happens.

The online clothing store we started has branched into the catalog online and also more direct social media sales.We are still very much in the red, but we are learning new skills and it is fun, too. Eventually we may have to pull the plug, but the things we are learning can be transferred to new endeavors. I love the problem-solving aspect of running a business. Trying to figure out what will work,what will get people to look, how to make it profitable (profit margins are not as big as you'd think). It's all interesting. The tax stuff is confusing, though.

So I only have a few minutes before I have to pick up these darling middle schoolers from PE. Cheerio!

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Midweek Planner Look

Here is a quick snapshot at my week so far. I am trying to leave the notes on the left margin for recapping what happened.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Take It Easy-Managing energy levels

If you are now singing the Eagles tune under your breath, you're welcome!

This morning I woke early, early, early suffering from both a bad cold, and my-six-year-old-got-in-bed-with-me-and-left-the-door-open-and-the-hallway-light-was-on-itis. So, I wrote in for a sub for work, because I cannot be effective and kind, which are starting points for an acceptable workday, and I am in pain and dying (probably not). 

Part of me started running over all the silly things I have read and my head tried to tell me this was nature's way of telling me to relax and take it easy. But upon further thought, I realized it was probably that a cold virus got on a doorknob or shopping cart, I touched it and touched my face and voila! Sick! And I do take it easy. I can relax with the best of them, although apparently only about certain things. A few weeks ago, my husband and I got into an argument, because, as I let him know, he wasn't "being efficient." He found great humor in that, and it did sound a little silly coming out of my mouth, but at the time, it was seriously irking me.

But it did get me thinking about the work/life balance and how much is enough and how much is too much. I suppose this is a very individualistic thing. 
I am extremely work-oriented (meaning I derive my identity through work, not family) and at times get frustrated because I feel like I am not successful enough in that arena  When I come home, however, I want to sit and soak up the sun. Or rest on the couch catching up on the newer episodes of the X-Files. But I have these kids, and man, they need attention, too! We just signed my nearly seven-year-old for gymnastics (he wants to be a ninja) and the thought of dragging my introverted self out to sit with a bunch of other parents every Monday night isn't fantastic. But if I have learned anything from past regrets it is that I need to do it. On top of that, while my house is a mess, I can only tolerate so much mess, so there is regular daily work to be done on maintenance.

Getting Started
Mindtools has a great article Finding the Right Work-Life Balance which could be useful if you are just getting started or like to have a structured plan.

My personal struggles include Time-Energy and People-Energy. What do I mean by this?

Time Energy
First, I am a morning person. I have been this way all my life. I try to make the most of it, by writing in the morning, working on my small business in the morning, and getting to work as early as possible. I can whip things out in the morning like noone's business.  But come afternoon, I am done. My body is ready to just stop. One drawback to early morning work, is noone sees it. If I get to work an hour early, noone else is really aware of the time I am putting in because most people are not morning people. They only see the afternoon slump and there is still a lot of time left and things to do in the afternoon and evening. I am a mess by the kids' bedtime. In the past several months, I have become more productive by having one or two targeted cups of coffee after work (but cutting down during the day) , and cutting back on calories. Surely having a little less to carry around has to be helpful. 

People Energy
I work a very extraverted environment. I am sort of not. Although I can concentrate when I put my mind to it (to the point of not even registering the people talking to me), when I am sitting in my office surrounded by people, my play center is activated and I get very stimulated . Sometimes I think about just taking my laptop and locking myself in a small bathroom somewhere, but then, how would I access the printer? Additionally, after interacting all day with people, I am out of energy and words for people. I am tired of listening to tone and inflection and reading faces and body language.  I just want to sit quietly and not talk.  However, I then go home and have to interact even more with the people who it is actually all about and I am beat.  Now those two things may seem contradictory, but they are happening. I don't know how to fix this just yet. Some people wear headphones, but that is so pink-collary. Maybe just changing my expectations, and nodding and smiling, whilst tuning people out is the way to go. But. I. Always. Get. Sucked. In.

The two things I have found especially detrimental are too much coffee (because I get jittery, weird, and anxious), which I love, and too much sugar. I have been cutting calories, but allowing myself to eat whatever I want over the past 5 or 6 weeks (11 pounds down!), and I have found sugar is the biggest enemy of energy. It feels amazing at first and munching on a chocolate chip cookie makes my brain light up with joy, however, after eight cookies (I counted the calories!) and an hour or two later, I feel awful and sluggish and just want to go rest in bed.
Also if I have a feeling I might have trouble sleeping all night I take a Benadryl. This is usually hormonally related for me.  There always seems to be a week or so when anxiety is high, sleep hours are low (which I firmly believe causes more anxiety), and emotions are raw (because so very tired). Making sure I get enough sleep during these times is imperative, even if I do get a Benadryl hangover which makes getting out of bed painful (I'll still do it. Such a morning person, I am ). 

The Takeaway
  • Figure out your high  energy times. Pour your energy into those times and accomplish as much as you can during that time.
  • Balance your people time. You know your needs. If you are an introvert working in a highly extraverted environment-take care of yourself and your needs. Plan some down time, even if it is just taking the long way home, or a nature walk before you pick up the kids. Sometimes I have to just go find a place to hide during my conference times, even if people think I am angry.
  • Check your diet. Too much caffeine and sugar can exacerbate energy problems.
  • Use caffeine, but use it wisely.
  • Do what it takes to get enough sleep. One night without enough is doable, but two or three can lead to problems with emotional regulation and anxiety. If you need help talk with your doctor. I take the occasional Benadryl during that PMS week and it has helped a lot (but sometimes I forget-and it shows!).
And of course, "Take it easy."

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Pre-week Planner Check. July 8-14

Alright! Let's get this week started.

Sunday, June 30, 2019

End of the Week Planner

I didn't wake up today until after the sun was shining well (how I wish my eastern wall had a window), and lay luxuriously in bed until almost seven a.m. Then I got up with the realization that such luxuries mean less time for all this stuff I like to do in the name of doing something more with my life. Tradeoffs.

So I used my planner nearly every day. Mostly I used it to mark my weight and calories and push the planned chores on to the next day. Honestly, I started to wonder why I was even using a planner. First of all, my weight calories are safely recorded in My Fitness Pal. Do I need to put them in writing as well? Secondly, I always just pushed the house cleaning off. After doing regular maintenance work of laundry, clothes, sweeping, vacuuming, and so on, I just don't feel like doing extra house cleaning on top of everything. So I won't win Susie-homemaker of the year.

Additionally, I wanted to use my planner as a sort of bullet journal of all the things we had done. And this week-we did nothing. The first half of the week was dominated by my nine-year-old's severe sunburn. He missed three days of summer school. Then Thursday rolled around and we did not get ourselves out the door to hike as planned. My husband works until seven Friday and Saturday, and my two-year-old is usually in bed by 7:30, so those days were a bust. Today we planned to do a local amusement park or hike, but my son-in-law and daughter are laying laminate planks in our upstairs hall (yesterday they ripped up the carpeting), and will need help watching their little boys.  Maybe we will pull in an evening hike.

Yesterday, my husband and I both stopped with guilty looks and the feeling that summer was passing us by and we weren't living it. Granted the boys both have neighbor kids near their age and play long into the evening hours. That is a good thing. But we want to do more. See more. And fatigue, bad work schedules, and timing have been working against us. It isn't too late to start. We still have July and half of August.

This week, I plan to talk with Karl and write in what we want to do. I think with him on board, it will be easier to get things accomplished. Sometimes it takes two adults encouraging each other when the body is fatigued. 

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

This week's planner

I am trying to use my planner more each week. This is my beginning of the week look (note the illustrations my six-year-old added!) and after the week has ended, I will fill in with my progress. One thing I noted is that using pencil doesn't really pop. I need to use pens or fine-tipped sharpie in order to see the writing more.

The idea behind my planner is to have a concrete place to put my calories for the day and weight for encouragement (although I am using My Fitness Pal throughout the day to keep track. My name is blueberryjill if you want to add me. If you CAN add through the name. I haven't ever tried! I also wanted to have a rough housekeeping outline and a place to put my workouts.

At the end of the week, I can repost what I actually accomplished, since I am marking off and adding notes as I go.

Usually I don't use a lot of stickers, mainly due to cost, however Runwith Craftscissors, aka Lesley, happens to be my coworker and gave away a bunch of stickers, so I can really play with them a bit. Although I am not as skilled as many at decorating my pages, they do add some nice color!

I am curious what other people put in their planners and what their style is.

Personally I like a lot of clean white space, and I often lament my messy handwriting. I am not the type to feel bad if my to-do lists aren't done, I just move 'em to the next day. This is obviously a personal planner. At work my to-do lists tend to consists of post-it notes with the steps and dates my paperwork is due (with the name of the accompanying person). I don't know why, but it works for me! I may step it up to a legal pad this year, we will see.

Check back in Sunday to see how this week went down or if you just want a sneak peek at my weight and calories!

Sunday, June 23, 2019

The Most Influential Books in My Life

Most people who know me, know I love to read. In high school, as soon as I had a free moment, I would pick up whatever novel (usually a young adult historical romance) and get lost in another world. Lately, my to-do lists are so long (and they are mostly theoretical, I don't usually have a to-do physical list at home-I do at work, of course), I have trouble focusing on a lot of fiction, but I still do  indulge when I can.

Below are the top 10 influential books I have read.

This post contain affliate links in order to help with the costs of running this blog.

The Little House Series

The Little House series. Although these have fallen out of favor in the past few years, due to certain racist elements, the books themselves have had a tremendous influence on my life and the choices I have made. As a child, I smarted with the jealousy and unfairness over Mary's golden hair and good choices. As a short-tempered, brown-haired gal myself, I got it. Darn that smug Mary and her ability to behave. I see this with my own two boys. Gabe can give a little, while Liam will never give. As a parent, I appreciate Gabe's willingness to sacrifice and delay gratification. As a child, I would have been pretty annoyed with him.
The Little House books probably led to my strong desire to be a stay-at-home mom, after teaching in a one-room school house, of course. Special education is probably as close to the one-room school house experience one could have. Theoretically (although this hasn't happened of late) I would have smaller classes and more autonomy over what I are teaching (guided by IEPs and state standards naturally). I didn't know anything about this coteaching thing when I went into special education. It would have changed my mind. Note: I am a Liam, not a Gabe. But more importantly, I remember Ma with her routines: Wash on Monday, Iron on Tuesday, etc. and I desired to create that cozy, rhythmic home life. Then there was On the Banks of Plum Creek and during times of hardship, the girls learned at home, with Ma overseeing their lessons, and I had the desire to homeschool implanted in me. And later, These Happy Golden Years, where Laura first teaches school, with terrible living arrangements, and is courted by Almanzo Wilder, added the romance my teen self craved. I doubt you could bring up anything in these books which I couldn't remember.

Little Women

I first read an abridged version of Little Women on a snow day in fourth grade. I enjoyed it so much I had to check out the full version from the library and was hooked since then. I loved this book! As a girl there were aspects of each of the March girls I could relate to and it was easy to see myself living out the life of each one (well, maybe except sweet Beth). Being a struggling young homemaker like Meg, an ambitious, spirited writer like Jo, or a lovely, spoiled artist like Amy- who couldn't relate to these girls? Of course, like Wilder, reading this book only led to a greater interest in the author herself and reading biographies about her real life.

Sunfire Romances

The Sunfire romances were MY books in high school. The best, by far, were Amanda and Susannah. In Amanda, a spoiled Boston girl travels the Oregon trail and falls in love. In the second, a Southern girl faces the challenges of the Civil War and falls in love with a Union soldier. Good stuff, people. As the series continued, the books got much shorter, and less interesting, but overall, I learned a lot of history from these novels while fulfilling my feminine desire for romance. These weren't Literature, and I caught some flack for reading them, but truly, they greatly influenced me.

The Tightwad Gazette Books

The Tightwad Gazette books were created from a series of newletters which the author produced from her home. These started before the Internet Age, and were chock-full of practical information on how to save a penny, and how that could add up. I believe they did so well, she ended up retiring early. Although I have a love of luxury, which is always in conflict with my tightwadding ways, these books helped through those very lean years of living as a air force wife and later a divorced college student with three kids.

Ahab's Wife
Oh! This book! I loved this book. It is the tale of the wife of Captain Ahab, from her point of view. It is a romance, but also an ambitious book where the protaganist herself survived a challenging Kentucky log cabin childhood with an unbalanced religious zealot for a father, and eventually found intellectual and social stimulation on Nantucket. It was a bit too long, dragging in parts, but truly inspired my interest in Astronomy and the idea of being a Renaissance woman.

Color Me Beautiful

Listen. I am all girl. And I love this color theory stuff. I don't always abide by it, but I read it, I study it, I absorb it. This is the original book with its awesome 80's photos and glaring colors, but truly, if you don't know whether you are a Winter, Spring, Summer, or Autumn, where have you been all your life? Now, there are numerous other books out there that build on this idea, and many website, and pins!

Please Understand Me

I adore personality theories. There are so many out there, and they may all be unscientific and silly, but I will tell there are hundreds of thousands of us, many very intelligient, who just eat this stuff up. This is based on the Myer's Brigg's temperament test and gives you a four-letter code with insight into your personality. I liked this book because I finally felt like someone understood what it was like to be me, and make decisions the way I do. These books and ideas are a HUGE part of me.

The Well-Trained Mind

My educational theories in a nutshell. I believe in a nature-based, Waldorf without the religious stuff, preschool, and then a structured classical education. While I think project-based learning has its place in education, I do not believe in child-led learning at an early age. Children do not know what is best for them, and well-educated minds are not encouraged by following the whims of childhood. And this is why, I so often lament not being able to homeschool. I simply cannot live the life I believe in due to our insane societal structure and cost of living a normal life.

The Anne of Green Gables Series

These should have been first. My Gosh, nothing has probably influenced me greater than the Anne books. I will never be Anne. She is more clever, kinder, and lovelier than I can be. I will forever be destined to be a Katherine Brook, bitter, thwarted and jealous-but oh how I can love Anne and desire to be more like her. These books are great. They are laugh out loud funny, can move you to tears, and how many times have I stopped to wonder, What would Anne do in this situation? Every aspect of my life, which in childhood was filtered through the Little House books, is now filtered through the Anne series. They are my rock.

Women Who Run with the Wolves

Such a great book! This book brought to mind a deep richness and romance which had nothing to do with men. It promised an existence so deep and primal through the idea of archetypes imprinted in our brain-I couldn't help loving it. I haven't read it in several years, and maybe it doesn't quite belong on this list, but I am out of time.

Now, I have probably overlooked crucial books, and I am sure some of you are disappointed I didn't include the Bible or the Harry Potter series. However, I tried to be as honest as I could be in the moment, with kids fussing in the background.

I cannot fathom what my life would be like, or who I would be, without books to influence and guide me. We all have to build structures in our brain, ways to process and respond to the world around us. I believe reading, both fiction and nonfiction, helps us scaffold our thinking and responding in a way that differs from what Disney or YouTube shows young people. I believe our best thinkers and deepest feelers are those who can dig into books and think critically about them (not in the way literature majors do, I could never be one of those people-trust me, I have tried), but who let the words sink in, and throw out what doesn't work, and bring that book into the fabric of their flesh. I believe reading and thinking and feeling what it might be like to walk in another person's shoes makes us more human than we could be without.