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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Lane Ends, Merge …

I’ve done a lot of traveling and driving in my time. As most sane folks can say, most of it was during the warmer months of the year when travel on roads was less dangerous and you could, for instance, cross the Great Divide without tire chains.

One of the less-than-pleasant aspects of driving that time of year is the road construction. Yes, I understand why it has to happen when concrete can cure and the ground under the road isn’t a solid block of dirty ice, but it certainly can make what seems like a short and pleasant trip a… not so either of those things.

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Surprise scenic route!

The worst, though, is when you’re driving along fine and all of a sudden, there are all these flashing signs and traffic backs up and everyone is trying to occupy the lane three over from you but no one is being polite about it. You feel like it came out of nowhere, but you know that they don’t usually do that. Usually, there are signs ahead, but maybe you were too busy to notice, maybe there were too many other things to pay attention to. Maybe you didn’t think that it would apply to you, but to another lane.

But it did apply to you, and now you have to try to barge your way into the other lane where there are too many cars and trucks who are probably more aggressive drivers than you are and probably will keep their spots to your detriment. Or there is that little exit up there going the other way entirely. There are a few cars going that way, but you get the feeling that they know more about the road that direction, that maybe they already know the secret route that will get there where you all want to go. Do they live around here? Or just have the good tip about how to get around the traffic?

This heavy-handed metaphor has reared its head in my life. In one week, I went from having two paying jobs this fall and trying to figure out how I would handle them both and still have time for my kids and family to having basically neither. Sure, there might be a few hours here and there, but realistically, there isn’t much, and those hours would only be for a while, anyway. Once the project is over, there go the hours.

So what are the options, here? My husband has a VERY good job for this area and makes more on his part-time hours than some do full time. But… he doesn’t make quite enough to pay for our lifestyle as it stands, and we’re going to be adding another child in dance class in the fall and all of the expenses that go with that. Man, kids are expensive.

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If only it were this clear…

I will admit that I’ve eyed that other exit for a while. There have been many opportunities for me to veer off that ‘beaten path,’ and in fact, it’s always been my intention to go off on my own and try to support myself and my family by an alternative means. Lately, I’ve been a bald tire with my regular schedule going to an office part-time. I planned to support myself with my creativity, but I didn’t plan well enough for it to actually work.

So I still need to stay on a road, but maybe not the road that I’ve been on, the road that is so congested with everyone and their brother, the road that has been giving me a regular headache and a hole in my heart. Or at least my gut.

That’s not to say I’m totally confident in this turn of the wheel. But I only have so many choices. So I’m turning the wheel the OTHER way, away from the regular, closer to the road that I’ve always wanted to forge, and closer to my family and my home. I’m excited, scared, and absolutely sure that this is the choice I need to make at this moment.

I just hope that there’s a Baskin Robbins out this way…

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.

 

Not-So-Back-To-School

I think I’ve mentioned on here that I went back to college with the intention of teaching. We have four or five colleges within reasonable commuting distance (I’ve driven most of an hour to get places from home for most of my life).

 

Pile of books and a laptop with an apple on top. http://straubroland.files.wordpress.com/2010/12/education_technology- resized-600.png

Books, technology, and fuel. Not necessarily in order of importance.

 

On a whim (or an empty bank account, anyway), I applied for a teaching position about six years ago and didn’t have the credentials to actually get it. That was when I realized that I really wanted to teach. This desire came as quite a surprise for me since I had spent five years of my Undergraduate career explaining to everyone that I was a writer and that I was NOT intending to teach.

I explored these feelings a bit more and realized further that I really believe that teaching is the way to make our world a better place. Teaching children to not hate someone out of fear or a misplaced sense of entitlement. Teaching people in our isolated part of the country that it’s important to reach out and become a part of the greater world surrounding us. Teaching and learning from a group of people who might not even LIKE English class.

Through Graduate school and a little bit after, I got to exercise those muscles and expand on the answer to, “Why is education so important?” I took entire classes that helped me figure out how to teach what I think my students need to know. I taught some incredible people how and why to have confidence on the page.

And it was just as awesome as I thought it would be. I was in a community and a position where I felt like I belonged and was doing something really important.

Misty 1st Avenue by Kathryn Morski. https://kathrynsopinion.wordpress.com/

The future is a little foggy

And now… I’m not. First I explored why I really really want to teach and finding all of those reasons to go back to school (taking the time a money to prepare myself for this career) and then I actually got to experience teaching. I loved the connection and education of a room full of people. Now, it is really hard for me to be in what I see as a holding pattern.

I understand that jobs in my specific line of work aren’t that easy to come by and I will have to be patient. I know that looking back I will probably be glad that I am not teaching three college classes right now while my children are small and need so much of my attention and focus. I keep thinking that maybe this is so I will take more time to work on my own projects (maybe finish my novel or get my Etsy page running) before I have to devote so much energy and attention to a classroom again. Or maybe I just need this time to focus again and reinforce myself.

Whatever the reason, I am not teaching at the moment, which is making this impending fall somewhat bitter-sweet. I love the change that the season brings even without the excitement of a new semester. It’s not gone, it’s just different.

 

And so it begins…

In like a lamb, except that I’m talking about a period of four months, not thirty-one days. I do hope that the ‘out like a lion’ isn’t going to apply to this school semester, but I’m willing to pay the price for my metaphor if that’s how it works.

But I do have to say, right now I am pretty sanguine. The difference between my nerves last semester at this time and this one are night and day. I’m coasting on a finished syllabus and a bare-bones first paper, and feeling pretty high and ahead of the game. I had to get to finals week (when there wasn’t anything I could do about anything, anyway) before I was this comfortable with my class.

Granted, I have a class under my belt. My greeness this time of last semester does not escape my memory. The sheer number of times I had to revise the schedule is proof enough of how untried my teaching skills were.

But now, after meeting my students and even getting most of their names, I am pretty calm about the whole thing. I’m looking forward to reading their papers, and I think a lot of them are looking forward to writing them. I supposed that’s a boon — this semester the students got to pick which section they were in, so they picked Narrative and Descriptive. Pair that with my penchant for that type of writing, as well, and you’ve got at least one explanation for my unexpected chill.

I know that the semester of teaching was most of it, though. I went through a class, I taught 24 students some things, I passed most of them, and I got good evaluations (except for one, but one outta 24 ain’t bad, right?), and none of them threw anything at me. My boss is happy with me, and so is her boss, and the whole department is still behind me. At least, that’s how it feels. Have I mentioned that I am EXTREMELY lucky to be at the school I’m at?

So, if I could tell my past self one thing, it would be, “This, too, shall pass.” I mean, I’d probably be annoyed with my future self for telling me something I already knew, but it really is the best advice I could give.

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