Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Tuesday Slice: Five things I used to think

Five things I used to think:

1)  I used to think that planning out every minute of my day meant that I had control over my life.  And then my firstborn arrived fourteen weeks before my planner said she was due.  I quickly realized that the saying "we plan, and God laughs" just might be true.  I didn't touch a planner for six months afterward.  I still plan, but leave lots of room for God's sense of humor.

2)  I used to think that racism was a thing of the past, having grown up in a home without racial epithets and on diverse military bases.  And then I went to college, and heard it with my own ears, saw it with my own eyes.  I still do, and it makes me sad.

3)  I used to think that in many ways, I screwed up as a mother.  I still think I did, but now that my kids are young adults and thriving, I think that my good moments outweighed the bad ones.  Either that, or my kids have really good coping skills.

4)  I used to think of the Church as a family home when I was younger, a constant in our military lifestyle.  Then we moved into a parish that was blatantly misogynistic and unwelcoming of our Masonic participation, and the foundation of that home started to crack.  Then the pedophile scandals broke loose, and more evidence of domineering patriarchy in my own parish...it no longer felt like home.  But that's okay, because God is everywhere.

5)  I used to think I had to know everything, do everything on my own.  But then I married a man who is great at the things I'm not, like fixing stuff and killing large bugs in the house.  He's a great dad, too, which is probably why our kids turned out okay.

I'm sure if I really thought about it, there are a lot of things I used to think but don't anymore.  I hope that I never stop learning.


I love the raw, honest humor of Beth Woolsey .  Her acceptance of our flawed humanity while we strive to be better people just makes me feel better.  This Slice is inspired by one of her recent posts, "10 Things I Used to Think...What About You?"

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Tuesday Slice: Places past, shattered

I came of age at that mall
Wearing lip gloss and tight jeans
Got an ear pierced 
Watched movies
Shopped for school clothes
Sang in the bar with friends
   over a pitcher of beer


I had never been that far north
Until a boyfriend invited me
A whirlwind road trip--a day up, and
A day back, his uncle proclaiming 
(behind our backs)
That I would be the one for him
He was right

El Paso, Texas was my father's last Army post. I spent the last three years of my high school there, before heading east to college in Austin.

My husband is a native Ohioan.  His home city of Cleveland so far from Dayton, yet still jarring to see his mourning state featured in the news.

This past week has pulled at the heartstrings connecting us to those places.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Tuesday Slice: Observations on the week past

1.  I had a conversation with a friend who was lamenting over the state of our country, based on the news and social media she consumed.  While I agreed with what she was seeing in the news, I reminded her that the headlines did not show the whole picture of our country, the day-to-day acts of compassion and kindness that I see around me.  

I was reminded of something I read in one of Christiane Northrup's books decades ago--we are not physiologically capable of handling constant negative news without negative effects on our body, mind, and spirit.  A downside of this Information Age is that we are inundated with news which doesn't directly impact us, over which we have little to no control.  My friend was having a hard time walking the fine line between staying informed and feeling overwhelmed.  I told her to read the headlines, ignore the talking heads, and take a break from the news every now and then and use the time to pay more attention to the good stuff that was going on.  

Here's a more recent article about the negative effects of too much news consumption.

2.  I was referred to as "grandmotherly" this past week, for the first time ever.  It was meant as a compliment, and I took it as such...but it gave me pause.  I felt like I had just been invited to a secret circle, one crone acknowledging another, marking me as a woman of experience.  Trying on this new identity may take a little while, but I'm enjoying the process.

3.  I've "adulted" fairly well this week.  I participated in an online workshop about money, got kudos from my doctor at my annual physical, presented some professional development, and prepared to present a bit more.  I caught up with an old friend, the kind with whom three-hour-long conversations go by in a blink.  I spent quality time with my college-boy.  I'm setting my big goals and forming action plans.  I'm making peace with the tasks I didn't complete this summer as I head into my first day of work today. 

What gave you pause this past week?       

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Tuesday Slice: A messy start

Two weeks ago, I wrote about setting big goals before setting SMART goals, since it's the big goals that motivate us.

Last week, I wrote about feeling discombobulated, not quite reaching that relaxed summer vibe educators aspire to in order to recharge for the coming school year.

Since the last post, I started working on setting those big goals, using a planner specifically meant to make you dig through the "stuff" of your life and focus in on what really matters.  (The planner is from the "Cultivate What Matters" website, if you'd like to take a peek at it.)  

It's a bit of work; I've watched five of the six short videos the founder, Lara Casey, made to guide you through the prep work--sixty-seven pages of thinking and writing and filling in sentences, of which I've completed forty-three so far.  I'll admit that at first, it felt a bit self-defeating.  What was really important for me--health, relationships, home, finances, energy--came up time and time again, and I had to face how I was lacking in those areas.

Casey doesn't see the deficits as negatives, though--she frames them as the dirt needed for us to grow and bloom.  It's the old you-need-to-know-where-you-are-before-you-know-where-you're-going lesson, setting the baseline, marking your starting point.

How else are you going to know how far you've progressed, unless you can look back and see where the journey began?

Two of my big goals for the upcoming six months are time management (SMART goal--leave work by 4:45p each day) and health (SMART goals of 7 hours of sleep each night, healthy eating, and exercise).  I think focusing on these and other big goals will have positive effects on my energy level at work--and hopefully avoid the feeling of dissatisfaction next summer.

Educator readers, what goals are you setting for yourself this coming school year?

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Tuesday Slice: Discombobulated

adjective: discombobulated
  1. confused and disconcerted.
    "he is looking a little pained and discombobulated"

--Google search result

I never really achieved a summer mindset this year
Work tasks always looming, even if left undone
Decluttering my house, not a favorite pastime
Too many decisions to be made to be enjoyable

There were a few hours, here and there
Where I lived in the present moment
Enjoying the company I kept
Swept up in the conversations

Morning meditations of mere minutes
When I focused on my breathing, the ticking of the clock
Present, until a rude thought interjected
Often a snarky reminder of some unfinished project

My Achilles' heel-- a propensity to procrastinate 
Especially when overwhelmed, or feeling put out
As the marching on of time gets louder
Trampling over the anxiety, the resentment

Forcing me to complete some tasks, meet others' deadlines
But the discontent still lingers
With no one to blame but myself
Summer coming to an end, with little to show for it.

It was easy to plan summers when my children were little.  They were filled with places to go--parks and playgrounds, the library, the neighborhood pools.  We visited museums, monuments, and out-of-town family.  I didn't schedule every waking minute, but planned enough activities to fill their summer weeks with arts and crafts, music, reading, and outdoor time.  It was fun, and relaxing, making memories together.

As I'm writing this out, I realize...I need to do this for myself.  Now if only I can remember to do so, in the busy-ness of the school year, and that mad end-of-year rush that leaves us breathless and discombobulated as we slide into our summer break.  I'll print this out and stick it in the March section of my planner, so I don't feel the need to write a repeat of this post next July.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Tuesday Slice: Big thinking vs SMART

When  the same idea presents itself to me from three different directions, I consider it a cosmic slap on the face:  it's time to stop and pay attention.  

I read it once, and thought, "Eh, I don't even know where to start."  So I skipped those pages in Leonie Dawson's Shining Life workbook.  For several years.

I read it again, and thought, "Surely, it's a waste of time.  I need to focus on what I can get done now."  But I bought the Cultivate What Matters goal-setting planner anyway; it was on sale.

I heard it again in Ruth Soukup's webinar on "Balanced Productivity".  And then I thought, "Ahhh, that makes sense."  And bought her Living Well, Spending Less planner for 2020.  (It was on sale, too.)

So what is this idea that took me by the shoulders and gently shook me awake?

We need BIG goals before we set SMART goals.

We need something to strive for, get excited about,  rattle our nerves a bit.  You know, the same feelings you got when you started your first days of elementary, middle, high school.  The feeling when you were exploring colleges and careers.  Heck, even when you purchased your first vehicle, or decided to get married or have a child.

Each of those events were BIG, life changing opportunities for growth.  Looking back, I don't recall actually writing down "I want to go to college", except maybe on a survey in high school.  And someone else laid out the SMART steps for me:  talk to the counselor, take the SAT, get your applications in on time.  The BIG goal was always there at the forefront, spurring me on to complete those SMART steps.

It's not the SMART goals that keep us going.  It's the BIG goal that gets us motivated to complete those small steps to the finish--though I hate to say "finish", because the BIG goal could be the beginning of something even greater.  The bigger the goal, the scarier it seems, the bigger the smile you get when you think about it--the better.  Keep them in plain sight every day, and set those SMART goals to get there.

As for myself, it's a lot more exciting to think of renovating our home than to constantly think of decluttering; going on a vacation is more exciting that saving money each month.  But in each case, the latter must happen before the former.  So I'm off to write some BIG goals, followed by some SMART steps.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Tuesday Slice: When will I learn?

Once again, I went to sleep too late.

Once again, I turned off the alarm, said to myself "It's summer, sleep in."

Once again, I am still in pajamas at 10a, whiling away the coolest part of the day indoors when I should be walking, gardening, enjoying the fresh air and sunshine that I so desperately crave at this time of the day in August and September, April and May.

Once again, I've put too much on my to-do list for the day, knowing full well I'll only complete a third of it, at best.

Once again, I've borrowed and purchased books to read, knowing full well my to-read pile is already several years long.

Once again, I've purchased clothes I don't need, a weight-loss program I could probably do on my own.


That weight loss program may just be the kick in the seat I need to get healthier, and those clothes may make me feel better about how I look in the meantime.

The books at home AND the books I've just gotten are all at my fingertips, ready to be enjoyed, learning to be gained.

Even completing a third of my tasks is better than none at all, and moves me forward.

Sometimes it is okay to be in pajamas at 10a, after ten months of being three hours into work by this time.  The summer sun will be up for awhile yet, still time to throw on those walking shoes and head out the door (though it might already be too hot for gardening).

It was nice to catch the tail end of a dream, instead of waking up in the middle of one.

Tonight is another chance at an early bedtime, which means tomorrow is another chance at waking with the alarm.

All is not lost.