Friday, May 31, 2013

Summer Sliding In

Hello, blog. Yay, yay. My patchwork quilt collection of my thoughts and days.

From time to time, I read good writing/business advice, and I consider discontinuing this space. But then I remember how much of my self is scattered across these posts. And I think of what good energy is here in these words and photos, and what an amassment of raw material. And then I know that this is my journaling, and these are my observations.

Take them for what you will.

Even though May is only slipping out this evening, already the summer will begin for us. After two increasingly hectic months, all school has come to an end. We attended a promotion yesterday and another this morning.

Now my older daughter is asleep - exhausted - and the younger daughter and her dad are hard at work trying to tie a hammock up in the back yard. Nothing says summertime like being able to lie down in a nice hammock!

Carl Rogers - A Good Bit of Advice from Promotion Speech, May 30, 2013

"The only person who is educated is the one who has learned how to learn and change."

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Turning Back the Clock

Oh yeah. Did I tell you that I've decided to be younger?

Don't get me wrong. In many ways I actually like my age. I've worked hard to get to 44 years and my life has taken some fascinating twists and turns along the way that I wouldn't give up. I've been shaped and formed and enriched.


But, I found myself getting anxious about getting older. Particularly about the idea of hitting ages that seemed like deadlines to me. Like it was okay to mess around and be unsure about my life if I was still in my 30s and 40s but by my 50s I should have all these things ironed out. And I need more time than that.

I also caught myself buying into a mythology that my body needed to age and it was okay because I was "getting older." Which I am, indeed, and which is partially a reality. But which is partially determined by perception and then the effort (or lack of effort) that perception creates.

I just didn't want to excuse sitting around on the couch, not trying to succeed in publishing, or not finding another career (or two) with my decades ahead.

So... I moved back the clock. I am now 34. I am vibrant and in the middle of my youth. I have ideas and energy and goals. I am anticipating a great second act when my kids are mostly grown. And I have 30 more years to settle into my careers and prepare for retirement and hit all my goals.

I want to live to at least 95, so I need to keep putting in the work now while I am still so young.

How about you? Do you love the age you are? Or would you pick a different age if you could? How would that change the way you do things and the way you feel about your life? :)

I decided this last week. Two days ago, I got carded to buy alcohol in a grocery store. The cashier was insistent I show my ID and didn't believe my age. Yay!! See how well the mind can adapt to new realities?

The Projects are Done! The Classes are Ending!

What a glorious morning! It's the first time I've really felt that way in weeks and weeks. While mostly the last few months have been pleasant, and they certainly have not been horrible, they have been so very busy that I haven't felt too much of anything except pressure.

While I actively try to remember to feel and appreciate each moment as it comes, I know I've been tired and a bit numb of late. but, now, I feel so much better.

As usual, and as I knew it would, the passage of time has eased us through most of our responsibilities and brought more peace to our family. Specifically, I feel joyous that my eighth grader's school is almost done. She has her last full day of classes today; after this the school will be on an adapted schedule for final exams only.

All day yesterday and late into the night, she worked with my assistance to finish up missing and late work and to complete a HUGE project for science that came at the very end (thanks Science teacher.) I know he was trying to be cool by giving the students a super easy ABC of Science book to create. Just definitions and drawings. Problem is that he made it worth 33% of the grade for the entire semester. And my daughter's ADHD has exploded lately, leaving her with the concentration span of about 15 seconds of work at a time. So instead of lifting her grade up, the project had the potential to drop her from the A+ she's had all year to a B- in one swoop. Probably the teacher would not have done that - he is pretty cool and savvy. But she didn't want to take chances. So she spent hours yesterday finishing this late booklet.

Then we brushed up on math and moved on to a packet about The Outsiders that she had mostly completed but which someone threw away during a room cleaning months ago (probably her sister, by accident, but we're not sure which of us lost it.) I sat down with her to just at least get 2 or 3 of the 10 pages done so she could get even 10 points out of the 100. But we just kept going through the questions and the journal writes. She knew the book's plot and characters inside and out -- it's just staying focused and motivated on the writing that stalls her. It went so fast that we wound up going through all 10 pages - her dictating the answers and me typing. One hundred percent her words because I don't remember much about The Outsiders at all. So now she should get at least 50 points for that and cement that A in that class.

I want her to get all A's. I do, I admit it. I struggle with letting go of that attachment to results. But at least I see that she truly does know the material. Especially in Algebra and Science which she loves. In the long run, that probably will lead to more success in life than any certain GPA will. And the older she gets, the more she will develop strategies for coping with and turning the fast, impulsive, reward-focused brain to her advantage.

Thankfully, the younger daughter is knocking the grades out of the ball park. As sixth grade ends, she has straight A's week after week. Elementary school is a bit different but she is still doing super well. So that is a blessing and she only requires maintenance supervision instead of intervention.

I think this is the busiest end of year that we are ever going to have. With both girls wrapping up their grade level and moving to another school next year, there are so many end-of-year events and activities. We have had band concerts and art shows, awards ceremonies, orientations, and special events. We've been at school or at an evening event almost every day for the last two weeks, and will be next week as well. No wonder it's been hard to get anything else done!!

But now, blessed day. The homework is done. The projects are over. Most events are behind us -- only a few loom ahead. And I can hear the bird song and feel the dappled sunshine.

And I can imagine having my own space in my brain again, to fill with my own thoughts and my own work, instead of running around worrying about everyone else's. : )

Monday, May 20, 2013

A Fresh Start

Another week has dawned upon us. Because next Monday is Memorial Day and a holiday, this is the LAST Monday of the school year. Whoo Hoo! I hustled my two offspring out the door and onto state-sponsored campuses in time, and threw picking up a friend's child due to some car troubles into the morning-commute mix.

This week is going to be much better than the last few -- I already feel it. Plus I'm determined to make it that way. I'm focusing on the positive and the productive. And the hopeful.

See, I'm already at my keyboard, even before my next job starts!

With only two weeks left of school, this is the last week with any resemblance of normalcy in schedule. And even that is toyed with by a band concert, an evening orientation, and a daytime sports event that we'll need to attend. Next week -- promotion ceremonies and closure!!

I have a nice schedule in mind for summer. I'm a notorious late-sleeper if given the opportunity, but this year I want to be up and out for the lovely part of the mornings. So my daily routine will be something like this:

6 am - Wake up and Start Writing Fun Stuff/Stories
7 am - Bike Ride/Walk and Yoga
730 am - Leisurely Breakfast
900 am - Grant Work (Study/Project Time for Girls)
1100 am  - Tidy/Clean House
Noon - Leave for Day's Activity
Out all day or
300 pm - Movies/Journaling/Naptime
530 pm - Evening Activity
8 pm - More Grant Work
11 pm - Bedtime

No driving, no drop offs, no lunches, no homework!! :)

What are your Summer Plans? Do you plan your time? How does Summer impact your work schedule?

Leave your comment below and I'll publish the best.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Two Weeks to Summer

I've been thinking a lot lately about our summer plans. We don't have any grand schemes for travel or fun, but it will be nice to have a break from external structure.

It's a great opportunity to define for myself what matters to me and how I want to spend my time. Top priority on my agenda is more writing and more variety in writing. I've already created a rough schedule for each day to get me working more across the genres.

I'm also looking forward to exercising a great deal more. Without the need to follow the school bells, I can work out when I want and write when I want. And still have plenty of time to hang out and have fun with the family. I'll also be teaching more yoga classes as I fill in for vacationing coworkers.

There aren't too many things that the girls have to do this summer. I want them to brush up a bit on their typing and writing skills; beyond that they are solid with their academics and their activities. No big household projects are on the horizon either. Looks like we've settled most of those in the last two years. And no refinancing - Yay! - or other big revisions of the finances. Whew. That's still a relief.

We'll have more time off this summer than we've had in years and years - since before the girls started school. Usually a big block of "free" time freaks me out. But this time I cannot wait. I already have so many fun things to fill the time up, and plenty of just drifting and napping, too!

To really get our money situation into the black, I want to up my earnings significantly. Or bring in random money - that works too! I plan to have $55,000 more by the end of this year. That means I just need a way to make $15,000 every month this summer. I'm open to ideas right now. I also don't mind waiting a bit for the money to come through to me, just as long as I do the work part of it while I have more time. :)

The obvious answer is more writing projects. Putting more out there. Maybe I can do something around the ADHD - that's useful to a lot of people. Hmmm.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Perfect is the Enemy of the Good

I don't really like cleaning our bathrooms. In fact, I almost hate it.

It's not the cleaning itself that bothers me. I rather enjoy the physical work that goes into making my home look nice. Rather, it's the self-talk that I hear whenever I clean the bathroom. For some reason, I am super critical about how a "clean" bathroom should look. I want it shiny and sparkly. And perfect.

So as soon as I start to wipe, in my mind I'm already telling myself that I'm not going to get it right. I'm going to leave streaks on the mirrors. There are going to be water drops that won't wipe off the faucets, and grime or mineral deposits that cling around the edges of the sink. The floor won't be completely dust-free. And so forth.

Now you could hear all those directions and judgments as a challenge, I suppose, and then use that as the standard of excellence that you strive to attain. But for me, it doesn't work like that. As soon as I pick up the Windex and start hearing that stream of commentary, I just get completely discouraged. Drained of energy and hopeless. Like why even try?

So I don't much like cleaning the bathrooms.

But it has to be done at some point, or they keep getting dirtier and dirtier. So usually I just grit my teeth and force myself through it.

But, today, today, I remembered a quote that I had read. Today I told myself, Look, you are doing the best you can. Just do it.

I give you permission to just do a Good Job.

And I realized that that was exactly the key. I don't need perfection. I don't need superlative results. I simply need to complete a good job and keep the bathroom sanitary and livable.

"The Perfect is the Enemy of the Good. Don't let the Good Pass You By."

I'm going to write those phrases on 3X5 cards and post them on the bathroom mirrors to remind myself. In all of life, and especially my writing, I need to remember to just do a good job. And then move on.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Best Blowout Ever!!

It's been really hot here the last few days.

For some reason, yesterday I had a weird feeling about my tires. I checked all of them last week, and I checked them again yesterday. I didn't see anything wrong. When I left yoga, I didn't feel anything different in the drive of my car. Still when I stopped for lunch, I glanced at them again.

And when I got back in the car to head home, I thought, Gee, I hope they're okay. It is so meltingly hot. I would hate to have a blowout here on the freeway, hurtling along at 70 mph next to this concrete divider. In all this traffic. I hope I get home alive.

I picked up daughter 1 and came home. I looked at them again. Maybe the driver's front tire seemed a bit low so I planned to get some air in it later. I picked up daughter 2 and dropped off her friend. Two blocks from our house, we went through a dip in the road and I heard a weird noise. Immediately after I noticed the car felt slushy to turn. We got home and sure enough - Blow Out!!

The tire was completely flat and shredding apart.

I couldn't believe my good luck. After all that freeway travel and high speed driving, it fell apart right in front of my house practically. Within an hour, AAA had come out and put on the spare, and my husband took it down to the shop for a replacement. The tires are only one year old, but all the town driving I do kills them really fast.

I am so, so, so, so happy that it didn't explode while I was driving. Or leave me stranded somewhere far from the girls. It was the best tire loss that could have happened!!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Bleah Blah... and it's too hot too.

I'm going through a creative slump lately. I have plenty of work to do -- I just don't feel very motivated to do it.

Everything seems dull and ordinary, like just running through the cycles of the same tasks again and again. Just blah. I guess maybe I'm a bit depressed. I sort of feel like that in all of life. Nothing's really wrong. In fact, I almost think things are going too well. There's no challenge or drama. Just the same ole stuff day after day. Make people food. Make them get up. Take them to school on time or late. Hustle around to errands. Eat somewhere. Be out. Try to write. Hustle home. Pick up kids. Do homework/housework/play dates/dinner. More homework. TV. Maybe exercise. Get to bed probably too late. Get up and do it again.


It doesn't help that the last few weekends have been busy and committed so there hasn't really been a break. Mother's Day was nice, but it was tiring. It's really about what my mother and my mother-in-law will enjoy. And the fathers. I would choose something entirely different for my own day to celebrate me. My daughters try really hard though and I appreciate that. They are great and, besides being a lot of work which they really can't help, are really great kids. They are even fun to be around - rare for teens.

It's a countdown to summer and then a whole bunch of time is going to open up. I have a hunch that I will fee entirely differently if I simply get two good full nights' worth of sleep in a row!

Thursday, May 9, 2013


I think I'm going to look for a job. I love writing grants, but I miss having coworkers and a work place. I would like enough of a job that I get to go somewhere, see people, and do cool stuff, but not so much of a work commitment that I feel overwhelmed or can't take care of my family.

I have been thinking that being a bit less available would probably be a good push to my oldest daughter to grow up a bit more and be more responsible. Right now she knows that she can rely on me quite a lot.

I love doing my grants, but really I can do very well with that career in only part time hours. I have plenty of time to do something else too. And I think it would build up my energy a bit more. Sometimes now I sort of feel like I am just drifting along, from child care chore to child care chore.

I already found a good opportunity. I just need to think it over and decide if it is what I really want.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Instant Mood Lift

Good Idea.

I just spent 30 minutes looking at ocean scenes from Google. Even looking at photos of water is shown to be soothing and calming to the brain.

Then I flipped through some of the photo albums I have stored in my hard drive. Aaahhh. We have certainly had a lot of fun together. 2010 was a really good year. The girls were old enough to travel well, but they look so little compared to now! They were so cute when we went places, with these elaborate outfits and poses. B was still carrying stuffed animals and dolls sometimes. I can tell what month it is by what city I see in the background, in the vacation spots and events we attend year after year.

Okay, my life is very good. I'll try to breathe and be happy. :)

You too.


Although things in my life are going very well lately, it seems like I have so much anxiety the last few days.

I think it's just a result of being overtired. Perhaps even low on some of my brain chemical stores from pushing myself all the time. The school projects just keep coming and the pace is relentless. Just day after day of having to get up and out the door.

If I could get to bed much, much earlier, I could adjust and catch up on my sleep. But I can't. There is just too much to take care of every evening. So I feel like we are always just that little bit behind.

And I know that I am not getting enough exercise either. That is such a mood lifter, but it's the first thing I let go of if my day gets too filled up. Ack.

I sooooooo do nnnnnooooootttttt like our school system. I just don't. I feel terrible saying that. After all the years I invested in it and was a big cheerleader for it. But I feel like it is trying to pigeon hole kids into spaces they cannot fit. It forces everyone to be alike, and roughs them up if they can't be, Agggghhh. My kids are doing really, really well. But it comes at a price of constant effort.

Which is making me anxious. :)

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Project Creep

Part of almost every day last month was spent helping my eighth grader compose rough drafts for a huge Civil War Journal project that was due yesterday. You would think that after that 20 hours or so of labor that she would have been done.

But, no, finalizing the project and putting all the artifacts together took almost the entire weekend! Everything had to look "authentic." That meant me running out to the craft store to buy leather swatches and cords so that she could bind her journal in them. With all the editing we did Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, way more than I ever wanted to know about the Civil War was emblazoned in my mind. I couldn't close my eyes without dates and state names like Virginia and  Pennsylvania dancing before me.

She had a field trip yesterday, so today I helped her transport her project to school for presentation. She had a huge leather hat box, filled with actual antiques my parents loaned her from their business. It must have weighed 50 pounds!

Somehow, this project got away from both of us and went WAY over the top. I'm glad that she's finally done. I'm sure she did well, but I'll be glad just to have some time free to do other types of writing!!

Friday, May 3, 2013

And Now, the End of the Week...

Wow. It has been one long busy week in the working mom writer juggle that is my life! A good one, very good. So much nice family time and tons of good work assignments too.

You can tell it's been a bit hectic by the fact that it's 9:20 pm on Friday, and I am "relaxing" and "kicking off the weekend" by standing in my kitchen laptop searching for new funders WHILE I watch our evening TV shows. Ahh, the bliss?

Anyway, I did have one nice break in my evening. I got to send back an email with my newest author bio. To accompany the STORY THAT I AM HAVING PUBLISHED SOON! Yes, I know it's happened before, but it is still exciting to me. I sent it in, and they took it. Yay. Soon my words will be out there in another format.

And the bio was fun to write. A bit whimsical, and absolutely a break from looking for health care funding. :)