Five Minute Friday – Alone

Joining Five Minute Friday again this week.  I’ve made it through my first week of the Fall 2015 semester.  So far, so good.  Although, I will say that my house is an unmitigated disaster, so the keeping up with things at home while going back to work has been a little less than successful.  I’m hoping it is a just a first week thing.  I also had a sick six year old at home for a couple of days this week (running a fever with no other symptoms, so she may have just been teething again), so that definitely contributed, but it is my inability to maintain a daily routine.  I realize that and need to work on it.  So, there’s my confession for this week.

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This week’s prompt is “alone”.

Well, a while back I definitely could have dumped a lot out on this topic.  There have been times over the past few years when I have felt very alone, even in a room full of people.  But, I am starting to realize that I had somewhat done that to myself (put myself into solitary confinement so-to-speak).  I’ve been thinking about what is different this first week of the semester than past first weeks of the semester and I think the biggest is that I’ve actually had social engagements that I was active in not only planning but participating in.  I know that sounds strange, but I went through a period where I would often relegate myself to the “wallflower” position at public events, even those I staged.  I didn’t really participate.  I was uncomfortable at my own party.  I felt like no one really got me and I didn’t get anyone else.  I felt alone.  But, what I didn’t realize was I was the one in control of that.

So, last week, I hosted our regional coach’s conference here in town.  We went to a tour of Sierra Nevada Brewery and dinner at the restaurant there on Friday.  I felt myself falling back into that same habit of pulling back from conversation and I pushed myself to engage.  On Saturday, we had the conference and I socialized at lunch and during the meeting.  Then we had all the coaches to our house for a BBQ on Saturday night.  Our house is small, and slightly untidy and not really what I would call made for hospitality, but we set up the backyard, had some people bring chairs to help with seating and everyone seemed to have a good time.  We ate well and I enjoyed conversation and hanging out with people.  I let myself be part of things.  And it was good.

Tonight, I’m getting ready to head out to bunco with a group of women I’ve played with once before (some are from my church) and when I saw they needed someone instead of second-guessing whether I would “feel up to it” the Friday of the first week of classes, I jumped on it and said yes.  I thought of cancelling when my DD got sick, but decided to wait it out and she’s fine today, so I’m going.

That’s time, but just to summarize what I think the point was of this – sometimes we are not really alone – we are simply not letting ourselves be WITH others.  So, I’m really trying to be more aware of when I do that and to be engaged with others.

Think about joining us over at Five Minute Friday!

Stray Thoughts Sunday

Well, another week is gone.  My DD made it through her first week of First Grade and I start back to teaching tomorrow.  We had 18 people over to our house last night for a work event (regional coaches of Speech and Debate) and my house is already pretty much back to clean (amazing, considering what it looked like when I went to bed last night as the last guests left).  I am not totally where I want to be with my classes, but I have the major things done for them and I’m feeling like I have a good plan for each class.  So, overall, I’m feeling pretty good about Fall 2015.

Stray Thought Sundays

First Grade is now a thing in our lives.  And so far, its good.  My DD’s teacher mailed this to each of her students before school started.  Definitely an anxiety reliever…

Jitter Glitter

Second stray thought:  I have to admit that I’ve been more than a little disappointed in America’s reaction to some of Donald Trump’s (what I would consider to be) hateful comments, I found this to be an appropriate sum up of my feelings on the importance of considering not just WHAT you say, but also HOW you say it:

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 Next, I used to see this commercial for psoriasis medication and think that it was somewhat just a plea to vanity, like the Botox commercials used to be.  But, now that I have been suffering from this guttate psoriasis for almost a month, I get it.  It isn’t vanity.  It is the need to feel normal – like you won’t offend people with your appearance.  Luckily, most of mine is in places that are covered up by everyday clothes and I have no need to don a swimsuit for any reason.  I am sure that most people would think I was contagious.  And it just looks, well, unsightly.  I am going to go back to the dermatologist and I guess we’ll try the light box treatment, since the topical ointment hasn’t worked at all.  And if the light box fails (which it might because my lower legs have been exposed to sunlight quite a bit and it hasn’t gotten rid of the psoriasis there, which is much less than on my thighs, back and stomach area), I will have to take some immune-suppressing medication.  So, Bean and I will be suppressing our immune systems together…  great…

And this week, I will leave you with what may be my favorite article online…ever.  Murder She Wrote’s Primetime Feminism, from which my favorite line is (warning, bad language):  “But the reason the show works is because of what Lansbury brings to it: she plays the widow with equal parts charming comedic airs and take-no-bullshit feminism.”  I am going to be getting the Peter Fischer biography the article talks about posthaste.

What’s straying your thoughts this Sunday?

Hope you have a great week!

Five Minute Friday – Find

I’m joining Five Minute Friday over on Heading Home again this week.  Its a five minute writing exercise using the prompt provided and the community is wonderfully supportive.  Join us if you’d like!  Be sure to post your link over at the linkup!

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Here goes:

The first thing I think of when I read the word “find” is searching.  Maybe that is a sign of where I am in my life.  After all, it could just as easily mean something good you’ve come across already – a great “find” in the thrift store or book store.  But, for me – it is searching.  I seem to be searching for a lot of things these days…peace, comfort, stability, simplicity, organization, etc., etc.  Sometimes I feel like I’ve found one and then BAM! something knocks me back into the searching mode.

But, maybe this is a stage.  After all, we rarely find anything worth finding without first having to search for it.  I guess there are always those strange instances of instant satisfaction with something we just happen to come across, but most of the time we have to go out there and look for what we want.  Work for what we want.  Dig and dig until we get what we want.

When I competed in debate in college and when I wrote my graduate thesis, the searching was always my favorite part.  I would start re”search”ing a topic and I would be down the rabbit hole of search terms and dewey decimal (dating myself) numbers for the library and citations that would lead to even more things.  I viewed it as both a challenge and an adventure.  Never knowing quite what I would find, I would set out searching with an open mind and a total geek mentality!  Once found, it was never quite as satisfying to have to sit down with it all and try to make it into something usable for the purposes of academic debate or academic writing.  The search was the fun part.

Perhaps that is where I am in my life right now.  The search is what I’m finding to be exciting and challenging and fun, but when I find something that I need to make into something usable in my everyday life, it becomes a little less satisfying.  Its more drudgery at that point.  Perhaps I need to focus as much on the “finds” themselves and stop searching.  At some point, I had to write my debate arguments or my papers or my thesis (and that took a while to get started – not much time to finish, but a loooooong time to actually get started).  At some point, I have to start acting on my organizing, simplifying, stabilizing, etc.

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That was a little more than five minutes today – just needed to finish that last thought before signing off.  Hope to see you over at Five Minute Friday!

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday

I am beginning to think that NOT having to do something makes that thing more possible.  Deep, right?  First a couple of highlights from the weekend at the lake (which we never actually saw – the guys went fishing, but the rest of us did not make it to the actual lake)…

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My DD started First Grade and loves it so far.  I spent this morning going to the Farmer’s Market, eating tamales from said Farmer’s Market, making a smoothie, working and cleaning in a quiet house.  Praises to a week of DD in school without me having to teach!  Tomorrow will be a full day of meetings, meetings and more meetings, but today was bliss.

Weekly Goals – Attempting to Stay on Track

Well, in the interest of staying on track with my overall priorities (and post on the blog, too) AND participate over on Money Saving Mom (from the blogger who wrote my current favorite life-changing book Say Goodbye to Survival Mode: 9 Simple Strategies to Stress Less, Sleep More, and Restore Your Passion for Life – I know, I’m a little bit obsessed, but it really has made a difference for me already) for the weekly goals link up, I’m going to make some goals for this week.

My weekly goals

I have divided the goals into my priority areas.  I’m still working on the goal setting part of the book, but I feel pretty secure in the priority areas and what I can do in the short term to focus on achieving some of the things I want in each of those areas.

FAMILY/PARENTING:

  • Eat all dinners at the table together unless I’m working (which will be Friday, Saturday and Wednesday nights this coming week).  We’ve been doing this every night and I am AH-mazed at the amount of talking my 6 yo DD does about her day.  I’m really enjoying it.
  • Have a game afternoon/night with my DD and my hubby.  It will probably have to happen on Sunday this week as it is a pretty busy week.  But, I want to fit it in for sure.
  • Do a family walk three times.  This is something I really wanted to have already started, but something seems to get in the way.  So, I really need to make it a priority.

WORK:

  • Finish my class preps (this is a BIG undertaking that I really need to focus some time and effort on over the next few days) and get the Blackboard set up for all of the classes.
  • Get my email boxes (specifically my two work emails, but also work on my personal gmail) to ZERO!

HEALTH:

  • Schedule annual exam with doctor, be sure to get a full workup.
  • Call and reschedule teeth cleaning for Mac and make an appointment for myself.
  • Get a pedicure (decreasing stress).

RELATIONSHIPS:

  • Go to church this week.
  • Send cards out (I have a list of four cards I need to send)
  • Schedule a date with my hubby – we’re having people over on Saturday for a BBQ, but I’d like to do dinner out without the DD as well.  I don’t think we will actually be able to HAVE the date this week, but I want to get it on the calendar.

LIFE MANAGEMENT:

  • Finish decluttering the house (this is another big undertaking, but I’ve got the kitchen, dining room and living room mostly done, so its coming along).
  • Do MOMS app daily.
  • Follow posted routines for morning, afternoon and evening (I made routines for both my DD and myself – I’ve been good at reminding her of hers, but not so good at sticking with mine).

It is quite a bit, but I look forward to seeing what I can do this week!  I’ll check in again next Monday or Tuesday and report on what got done!  Wish me luck!

A Quick Update – Back to School!

Well, today was Back to School day for my DD:

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I haven’t been posting here much lately for a couple of reasons.  First, we went away for the last four days with family and the internet was spotty at best.  Second, one of the exercises in Say Goodbye to Survival Mode: 9 Simple Strategies to Stress Less, Sleep More, and Restore Your Passion for Life was to list out my priorities.  When I did so, this blog was not on the list.  I didn’t think about it until afterwards when I went back to review them to set goals and realized the blog was not even on the list, so no goals were needed.

I am a little disappointed as I like the THOUGHT of blogging on a regular basis and forming a community and maybe even making some money from writing one day, but this made it clear that this is just something that is not important RIGHT NOW.  I do like that Crystal Paine (the author) talks about seasons of life and how some things just don’t fit with what you’re doing at THAT TIME.  It doesn’t mean I will never be a “blogger” in some serious way or that I can’t blog when I have the time here, it just means that right now it isn’t really something that is a priority for me.  It is kind of nice to see some things fall away that would stress me out (yes, even though I don’t have a ton of followers or a big demand, I would stress out about missing blogging days).  Blogging when I have so many other things to do is one of them.  Maybe when I get my routines down and time starts to become more available, I will be able to devote more time to it.  But for now, I’m going to aim to do Five Minute Fridays (because I love that exercise and that community) and Six Word Saturday  (because who can’t write six words?) and maybe one other day a week if I have time.

I haven’t found a lot of other things I can just let go of so easily, but I am working at making my classes manageable as far as grading and prep is concerned (trying to do a lot of front-end prep work right now).  I am also NOT volunteering to do things I might have done before because I realize that I need to figure out my schedule and time management and priorities first before I can start adding things in (even those things that are on my priority list).  If you’re curious about my priorities, here they are:

Family/Parenting:  Spending quality time together as a family everyday.  Includes: eating meals – breakfast and dinner together.  Game night once a week.  Family walks three times a week.

Work: Prepare and perform to provide my students the best possible experience both in and out of class.  Includes:  Be prepared!  Start each week with a clear plan for each class and time set aside for grading.  Being present in class.  Focusing on students – their learning and experiences in each class.  Use office hours for work projects.  Focus on advising, grading and Forensics projects.  Finally, stay on top of email!  Zero inbox every three days is the goal!  Respond, Refuse or Refer!

Health:  Get and maintain the best possible health to protect me now and in the future.  Includes:  Do regular check ups for medical and dental.  Eat right – healthy food and 4-5 meals a day.  Exercise – weight resistant/bearing exercise 5X/week and cardio 3X/week.

Finances:  Get all accounts in order/paid up or off and then maintain a budget and spending plan.  Includes:  Get taxes done for 2014.  Conserve money for only things we REALLY want/need. Question everything!  Meal plan to reduce food waste.  Do online points programs to make extra money each month.

Relationships: Establish and maintain relationships with God and good people.  Includes:  Attend church at least 2x/month or more (whenever not traveling for work).  Do morning devotional every day.  Do Bidwell Pres prayer list everyday.  Go out with friends at least 1X/month.  Send 5-10 cards each month to friends, family and coworkers.  Do friends trip 1X/year at least.  Date with my hubby 2X/month.

Life Management: Manage my household responsibly to have a clean, peaceful and enjoyable space, physically, mentally and spiritually.  Includes:  Do MOMS App for daily household duties.  Set up and keep routines that WORK!  Purchase only what you love and declutter all else.  Continue working on simplicity and minimalism in my home and life.

So, that’s not much, huh?

I did include blogging when I did my weekly time block planning (I allowed for seven hours – one per day), but that time block is not going to work unless I get my act together and do the things above.  So, there is blogging in my future – maybe pretty immediate future, but for now, it is not going to be done unless the other stuff is done above.

I will say that reading this book (I am now on page 83) is making reminding me how much I live my life in fire fighting mode.  I simply wait around for the three alarm fires to get so bad I can’t ignore them anymore and then I fight to put them out.  Exhausted after all the effort it takes to get the blaze out, I collapse in a mess and wait for the next three alarm fire.  I need to do some prevention now and make my life calmer, more satisfying and less exhausting.  It won’t be easy.  I’ve been living this way for a while now.  But, I’m looking forward to living a fire-free life!

So, that’s where I am.  You will see me on a somewhat irregular basis for a little bit (hopefully not long).  And when I am here, I hope to be focused on this space and better at writing, sharing and saying things that matter.

Ch…ch…ch…changes – taking first (baby) steps

Welcome to Monday, which right now looks a lot like Saturday and Sunday in my world.   But, that is all going to come to a screeching halt next week and we’ll be slammed forward into a new school year – no air bags provided.

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I’m not.  I hope to be more ready six days (!) from now when my DD starts back to school (I can’t believe she’ll be in First Grade…there was many a day when I wondered if she would ever come home from the hospital, and now she’s going to be a First Grader!).  I hope to be even MORE ready when I start back to teaching thirteen days from now (holy cow – that’s less than two weeks people!).  BUT…I’m not going to try to do the same things I’ve done in the past (which haven’t worked and I think Einstein was a pretty smart guy and he says its insane to continue doing the same things and expect different results).  So, I’m really trying to do things differently.  What am I doing differently?  Well, let me tell you!

  1. I am NOT trying to do every possible Pinterest perfect project for back-to-school.  We got my DD’s First Day of School outfit today and I’ll make a sign for her to hold before leaving that morning so I can take a picture.  That’s it.  No best breakfast or special lunch or crazy pre-first day party.  So, in a more wholistic view of things, I am being REALISTIC.
  2. I am starting a routine THIS week instead of trying to start on the first day of school.  My DD THRIVES on routines.  She loves a list and completing the list is a serious big deal for her.  So, I took an archived Kid’s Routine from My Simpler Life, changed it up a small bit and printed it out for her last night.  I posted one upstairs and one downstairs and she has one she can carry around with her.  It includes all the things I need her when school kicks in, but she is doing all the other stuff this week.  So, when school starts, she will already have a routine and will just add in school.  Brilliant!  She’s loving it so far.
  3. I am prepping my classes COMPLETELY for at least the first month of school.  I’m hoping that I can get even further than the first month, but four weeks being completely done and posted on Blackboard with notes in my day planner for what needs to be printed out or added in, etc. will be awesome.  Most of the time, I’m trying to do this the weekend before school starts and I never get it done, so I end up flying by the seat of my pants in at least half the classes and trying to make technology work for things that it doesn’t really work for and getting frustrated and overwhelmed.  So, now I have almost two weeks to get it all done and I think that will be enough time (I already have one class done through Week Three and just a couple of more things to add for Week Four).
  4. I am really looking for places to delegate.  This is a HUGE weakness of mine.  Part of it is my lack of organization makes it difficult for me to hand things off to other people.  I’m either so late doing things that I need to do it myself because it would take too long to bring someone else in on it or I can’t get my $#@! together enough to make it understandable to someone else and when I do, it is an abject failure which makes both them and me feel bad.  So, I’m trying to get ahead of the game, figure out where I need help and asking for it in plenty of time (e.g. babysitting in three and a half weeks – I need that…and I can start figuring out who is available now; having dinners figured out so I can tell my hubby what to do to get it on the table while I’m at work).

The book Say Goodbye to Survival Mode is really changing my life.  And I’m only through 41 of 220 some pages!  I feel like Crystal Paine GETS me.  I’ve read other books and they always seem to be saying, “just do this and everything will be great.” and I would try to do the things and it wouldn’t be as easy as they said and everything was not great.  But, she makes it clear that it isn’t going to be easy and its going to require changes and we need MARGINS (spaces for us to make mistakes and still recover – time cushions, planning for disasters that are sure to occur, etc.).  It isn’t something that I haven’t heard before, but the way she says it is in MY language.

Anyways…I’m really trying to get to bed by 11 p.m. every night and up by 6 a.m. everyday.  Getting on that schedule/routine myself before school starts.  So, I’ve got to hit the hay.  Although I’m terrified, I’m also excited about the new school year and what it will bring.  I just hope I can stick with some of my new found baby steps!

What about you?  What are you doing, if anything to prepare for the new school year/new season?