Just wait until…

“..School starts…After Christmas…Graduation…The kids are a little bigger…I retire…Mom goes to a home…”

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Really, it doesn’t have to be this scary!

There are all kinds of reasons to put things off. There are a lot of good reasons to hold off on whatever is on your to-do list. This is what a bucket list is about — you have the list so that when it’s the right time you can jump at the chance and get it done.

But if you’re a procrastinator like I am, there are all kinds of reasons you shouldn’t put things off. I can pretty much always find something else to do instead of what I should be doing. If nothing else, there are ALWAYS dishes to clean and laundry loads to do.

So where is the middle-ground? If you can’t jump right now, but you still want to get it done, how do you make it work? How do you schedule so that it still happens?

Many people swear by The List. If you want it done, it has to go on The List. If it isn’t on The List, the likelihood of it getting done is next to nothing. There is no arguing the sanctity of The List, nor is it acceptable to mock, disparage, or ignore The List.

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..But it’s not usually this easy, either.

There are a lot of organizational tactics to use, and which one works best for you is the one you should use. It might take some working or finding to figure out what is your best method. Maybe you really DO work best with a pile of post-it-notes arranged by priority on your desk top. Maybe everything – and I mean EVERYTHING – needs to go on the calendar on your phone. Maybe your refrigerator can keep track of your entire family’s schedule, homework assignments, shopping list, and bowel movements for you and you can remain blissfully organized and equally ignorant.

But if you don’t start the effort, you’ll never find out what works for you. I’m realizing this a little late in life as I try to work on the harder side of self-employment. I’m finding what will work for me and trying to form the habits that will allow me to be a good business owner and independent contractor and citizen in general. I’m trying to teach my kids to find their organization before they get to my age and realize they have to completely create a system or their entire work or home life will slide gracefully into chaos. An ounce of prevention or something like that.

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Color-coding is my favorite part!!

Unfortunately, I don’t have any good answers yet, but I do intend to keep working at them until I find them. I wouldn’t worry about this becoming a self-help “Organize your entire existence!” blog any time soon. But if I do find a few answers in my search, I’ll try to remember to share.

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New Year, Old Me

Another time of year that encourages reflection (Or maybe it’s just me?). New Year’s Resolutions are abundant and often forgotten or ignored as February nears. By the time we’re getting our tax papers, they’re not even given a thought.

The impetus to start over again, to try something new that we haven’t tried before is

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He looks just as confused as I feel! From http://redcrosspharmacy.com/new-year-resolutions/

encouraged in our society as a way to make our lives exciting or interesting again. It’s certainly not a new concept – The Babylonians were making New Year’s resolutions 4,000 years ago. The idea of New Year, New Start, New You is perpetuated in every corner of popular culture and especially in advertising and media.

 

I feel a little guilted into making resolutions every year. I am generally happy with who I am until the advertisements start with, “Are you tired of saggy, baggy eyes?” or “Lose those twenty pounds once and for all!” that are encouraging us to make resolutions to ‘make ourselves better’ — or at least buy their products in an attempt to make ourselves better.

But it’s hard not to see a new year full of possibilities and make ourselves a few promises. I’ll try not to yell at my kids so much this year. I want to feed my family better this year — I’ll try to cook at least a couple times a week. I’ll sit down an write at least some more. These promises made to ourselves or our families or the universe are resolutions to take those possibilities and make everything better in our immediate surroundings.

 

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Don’t forget to be awesome!

For me, I seem to make the same resolution every year, because if I can continue to accomplish this one thing, it will hopefully make everything better in my life and therefore in my family’s life, my work life, etc. That one, ongoing resolution is this: to connect to myself and connect myself to all of the pieces of my life. I feel like if I can accomplish this on an ongoing basis, my work life, my home life, my external life, and my internal life will all find balance and work better together. There are some more specifics that crop up every now and then (a recommitment to yoga tends to come up often), but the overall goal is the same every year, every resolution, every time I remember that I need it. Not to find a new me, but to support and sustain the old me as best as I can.

 

Turning Inward

As the weather turns colder, there is a phenomenon that is pretty common in the continental climate parts of the world. I can’t speak for the areas with a steadier climate as I’ve never lived in one, but up here while the change to autumn is all around you – notifying all of your senses – we tend to become a people of philosophy right before the snow falls and locks us up tight for a few months.

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September on the Escanaba River Basin, Michigan

It might be because of the spectacular fall show. It’s one thing to describe the riot of color that slowly burns through all of the deciduous trees around you, and it is quite another to actually walk through the blaze and notice the few green branches that are still clinging to summer as the rest of the season has burned out around them. It’s amazing to note how dark green the pines are in the face of all that excitement, disapproving old caretakers that don’t understand what all the fuss is about.

It certainly is hard not to think about death when many things are singing their mortality as loudly as they know how. It’s easy to ask what your purpose is in life and why are we really here when you notice the things that will soon be gone.

It might go back to our farming roots. When you had to make sure that there was enough food to carry everyone through the winter, there was a LOT to be done in the fall months. After the harvest, there was a flurry of preparation that needed to happen, in the fields and in the house, to keep body and stomach together through the cold season. Once that is done, your brain is primed to planning and thinking with no focus to keep it occupied, and that’s when the philosophy starts.

Cozy Conversation

Always better with a lap critter.

Whatever the origin of this turn, our focus moves inward and we’re more likely to sit in coffee shops until all hours of the night talking over politics, religion, the past, the future… almost anything that we can imagine. It is truly lovely to have a soft cabled sweater and a cup of something warm and sweet to drink while these conversations are happening. A thick pair of socks or a handy lap blanket (or lap critter) adds to the cozy atmosphere and gives a boost to our creativity. After the harvest, somewhere between the start of school and mid-terms, and before the holiday season takes most of our attention, we turn inward and a lot of our most creative ideas come out.

So while the season is cooling, let’s get out there and… turn inward. Who knows, maybe you’ll think of the solution for world peace! Or maybe you’ll just figure out what to get Uncle Jim for Christmas. Either way, worth the effort.

I can haz accomplishment

I am an English teacher. On forced sabbatical at the moment, perhaps, but I am an English teacher. Moreover, I’m the daughter, niece, and granddaughter of editors, and just about everyone in my family compulsively edits everything and everyone around them. We are so known for this that friends and even family members purposely misuse words just to bug us (FUNNER IS NOT A WORD, COREY!!!). Ahem.

Netspeak

Whole phrases condensed down to three characters.

As a result, most people would assume that I am not a fan of netspeak. The shortening of words or substitution of numbers for letters so they are easier for people to type (especially on phones) has invaded every part of our written society. I have actually had to correct netspeak out of research papers, though not much.

Many think it’s a sign of laziness. Many also believe that it will cause kids to grow up not understanding how to write or spell anything because they are too used to abbreviations or substitutions and don’t understand that netspeak is not an appropriate form of communication in many settings. It has been suggested that netspeak and text speak will ruin all of the hard work of literacy programs for this current generation.

I don’t agree with any of those nay-sayers. Not only did I grow up in the generation that wrote the first netspeak, but I also have been part of the generation that has made texting a crucial technology for survival. I was one of the first people I know who knew where “I can haz cheeseburger” came from.

Studies have shown exactly the opposite effect to what aforementioned nay-sayers think will happen. This upcoming generation is one of the most literate, though perhaps not the best read. They spend their lives looking at text, most of which has automatic spell checkers actively looking for spelling and grammatical errors. Many of my students have had better grammatical skills than I have, and I have personally noticed a drop in misspellings and grammatical errors in un-edited papers that I’ve graded.

I also have always been fascinated by language and the ways it changes or stays the same. I would often tell people that I was going to college to get an English degree so that I could make up words.

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The Munchkin compels you!

So netspeak is just another form of communication. One that has its place in the world. One that really doesn’t belong some places, but that can be a really fun tool for those who are interested in using it. One should always be prepared, though, and find out how BEST to use it before they start spouting ‘L33t Sp34k’ or typing with numbers. I am an English teacher, after all, and I always encourage learning proper communication.

Tx 4 da r34d!

New Adventures

I’m reading a lot more lately. Like a LOT more. Not that I didn’t have stints where I was reading before, but usually, I’d get a book, obsessively read it, if there was a sequel, I’d find and obsessively read that, then I’d find something else to distract me for a while and I’d move on to other ways to spend my time.

But that’s not what I’m doing. I mean, I am somewhere in the beginning-middle of Battlefield Earth by L. Ron Hubbard at Corey’s insistence, but it has been put aside and just stares at me accusingly from the side table.

No, I’m not obsessively reading anything fiction, I’m reading books to prepare me for the life that is to come. I’ve gotten all of my school books for one class in the mail and I’ve started reading those. I’m through three of the six and mostly managing to stay awake (more a comment on my sleep patterns than my interest in the subjects, I assure you). I’m not sure how much reading of the reference book I’ll be doing, but they just sent me a ‘How to teach with’ book to go with it, so I’ll probably be using it in my reading, anyway.

Also, I’m secretary for a board that meets once a month, and my first meeting is this Sunday. “Robert’s Rules for Dummies” by C. Alan Jennings (Yes someone has to write the Dummies books; no it’s not the same person for every book) is the book that the board has chosen to follow for it’s understandable nature. I’ve never really been an officer of anything, so although I know the basics (“I move we…” “I second…” “All in favor?”), There are a lot more rules than I thought there were. Reading key sections of what is supposed to be a reference book is going a bit slower than I’d like.

So I’m gearing my brain up to be stuffed with new knowledge. It’s a little resistant at the moment, but once I get back into the swing of things, I’m sure I’ll regain my sponge-like memory (easily squeezed out by outside influence)…

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