Minute by minute

my thoughts on making the most out of all of life's minutes…


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I will find my grove tomorrow but today…is today

I know this feeling well….it reminds me of mornings when I would drop off my husband as he was setting out on his deployments when he served all those years in the Navy.

In a little bit, our day will start…I will get out of bed, shower and start fixing breakfast. It is the first day of school, so I probably won’t have to wake them today…the little one is a little nervous to be starting first grade and the older one is excited to see his friends again. As a fifth grader, he is “ruler of the school”.

I will make lunches and pack them up. Tim will sneak away from work and come see them both get on the bus. I will kiss them goodbye and tell them I love them and will pray the sun is out so I don’t look foolish for wearing sunglasses. I will fight back any tears until the bus is out of sight. Tim will put his arm around my shoulder and give me a sideways hug and then head back to work. I will head back into the house…alone. And that is the feeling of which I speak. Immediate aloneness.

Today I will just be, accepting the change to our days and being grateful that it is only hours and not months until I see them again. I will find my grove tomorrow and start developing my new routine then. Today…is today.

I never had a tradition when Tim would leave, each departure was different. In turn, I don’t have a tradition for the first day of school. I have one friend who takes a long, warm bath on the first day of school. Another friend shares a beer with her friend on Skype. For a few years when TJ first started school, I met some fellow moms for lunch or breakfast. But as our kids have grown older, some went back to work, some went for a run…a tradition never stuck. Maybe I need a tradition.

I have plenty to keep me busy today; a call to my mom, a trip to the bank, dogs to walk, emails to write….all things to help the new routine take shape. I’m never without plenty to do, but today is today and I don’t need to accomplish all I didn’t over the summer by 3pm.

Today is today…I’m happy, proud, sad, nervous, excited, anxious and watching the clock all in one. They drive me crazy, just yesterday they got in trouble. I ran out of creative energy by mid-August. We’ve watched too many movies and played too many video games these last couple of weeks. They’re in need of school, of the routine and to fill those brains up. I’m ready too.

But today I will miss them.

 

1st day of school!

1st day of school!


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It’s Back to School – – -but I say ….”just one more….”

A few years ago my main focus of my blog and my Facebook page was to offer time management tools and tips to help active families and busy professionals find more time in their days.  And looking back at some of my writings from this same time of year – Back to School – I wrote some pretty good tips.

But if I were to write a blog today about what to do to prepare for Back to School this year – I would title it “Just one more…

Here are some suggestions:

  • Sleep late just one more morning….
  • Go to the beach/lake/pool just one more time…
  • Watch the stars just one more night….
  • Read just one more book….
  • Eat in the garden just one more time…..
  • Wear your PJ’s until 4pm just one more day…..
  • Put your swimsuit on just one more time….
  • Go barefoot in the grass or sand just once more….

You know what – this is the last summer it will ever be like this.  This is last time my sons will turn ten and six.  And while next summer, we will surely have a blast again – it won’t be this summer.  They’ll be a little older, I’ll be a little older, friends will mean more, it will be a different time.

In a couple of weeks, school will be starting, for some school starts in a couple of days.  Our next big break will be Christmas – but it won’t be the same.  Christmas break is busy, dark and rainy (or snowy if you live somewhere else besides Seattle) and exciting in its own right.

Ever since my  trip to Hawaii I’ve tried to change my thinking and I try (although I have to work harder than others) to remember to savor the days and to make the most of them.  We’ve had a great summer this summer and I’m going to make the most out of the last few days.

What about you – what is “just one more…” thing you might do?

~Amy


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I miss Calvin and Hobbes

Did you used to read the old comic strip – Calvin and Hobbes?

I loved it.

Oh the stuff Calvin would conjure up and Hobbes there, right by his side – his wing man, tag-a-long and many times devil’s advocate making Calvin reconsider things.

Oh – I just loved it.

The other day, I saw the documentary Dear Mr. Watterson.

It is a tribute to the “the best comic strip in the history of the universe”.

And you know  – many people say that is so true.

The documentary talks about the uniqueness of the strip, the originality of the story line, the dad.  It shares stories of young boys who didn’t fit in, weren’t doing well in school – yet found solace in reading Calvin and Hobbes collections. It talks about how Mr. Watterson, the creator of the strip wouldn’t sell his line to create merchandise or give the rights to cartoon makers or advertisers to use Calvin and Hobbes to sell their products.

The film addresses the frustration that the fans felt and still feel around that.  That once Bill Watterson decided to quit the strip, he did just that.  He didn’t sell the rights to anyone – and now he is nowhere to be found, won’t do interviews and Calvin and Hobbes only lives in our memories and in our collection books.

It both infuriates me and gives me deep respect for his choice to handle his success the way he did.  I, like many, want more.  I want to see Calvin and Hobbes on TV.  Wouldn’t it have been great to watch the duo on Saturday mornings – right after Looney Tunes but before Scooby Doo?

But I also have a deep respect for Bill Watterson holding true to his convictions.  He didn’t want to commercialize his comic.  He didn’t want to see Calvin selling Met Life Insurance.  He just wanted to share this little boy’s story.  And when he was done – he was done.

This is the final strip that Mr. Watterson gave us of Calvin and Hobbes – printed on Dec 31, 1995.  Wile I didn’t want the comic strip to end,  I like how he did it.  There is so much he is saying these four blocks.

 

clv1231c

 

On Easter night, I got to thinking of this documentary again while I was watching the Charlie Brown Easter special with my boys.  I used to love the Charlie Brown specials.  My boys don’t love them as much – they aren’t very action filled, they don’t have a ton of color – they mostly talk.

I feel a little disappointed with Charles Schultz’s last comic strip for the Charlie Brown series.  Over 50 years and 18.000 strips drawn, Schultz called it quits and on Feb 13, 2000 – the day after Schultz died, Peanuts ran for the final time.

I didn’t love the ending of Peanuts.  I sooo wanted it to be a two panel strip – – Lucy holding that football and Charlie Brown finally – finally – kicking it…and a huge smile finishing the legacy.

Alas – Mr. Schultz didn’t ask for my input and here is his final strip.

 

400px-Last_peanuts_comic

It’s frustrating isn’t it.  No one liked how MASH ended.  Did anyone like Seinfeld’s ending?  I have to admit, I thought Three’s Company and Happy Days ended sweetly.  Did the seven cast-a-ways ever get rescued?

I respect the creators of these shows and books and comic strips for putting themselves out there and letting us love them.  It must be hard to stay true to your values when your fans what something else from you.  And is it really that we don’t like the ending they chose or that we just don’t want it to end?

What do you think?  What is your favorite  – worst ending?

~Amy


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…my first step is kicking out the roommate who lives in my head

I’m going to kick out the roommate who lives in my head.

I don’t like her anymore.

I’ve outgrown her.

She is not helping me grow.

Do you have a roommate who lives inside your head? 

Mine talks non-stop.  From the moment I wake up until I hit the pillow at night – she is constantly yammering on and on.  Sometimes she even wakes me up in the middle of the night to nag me about things from my day.

The roommate who lives inside my head is my best friend and my worst enemy.  She lives in fantasy worlds that she creates – worlds that will never happen.  Like winning the lottery or having me lose an amazing amount of weight with no effort and in no time or having my business succeed over night that I’m in a whirlwind of things to do and I amazingly handle it all with no problem and still manage to get homemade dinner on the table.  She creates scenarios that are so unreal, yet they suck so much energy out of me.

She is my biggest defender in situations where I feel defensive or that I’ve been wronged.  She could get into a pretty good smack-down with the best that Jerry Springer could throw at her.  She relives situations over and over again until the reality is probably distorted.  And then she brings them up again.  She won’t shut up about it!

She replays comments I have said and makes me doubt them, questioning my motives and my intelligence.  She creates situations about family and friends where somehow at the end of it I end up depressed, sad, lonely, pissed off and just feeling yucky.  One time she had all my family, my two sons and my husband, killed in a car accident.  It left me crying real tears and sad for hours.  WHY does she do this?  WHY is this necessary.  Do I need to imagine what my life would be like without my family?  NO  – I don’t need to imagine that.  I don’t want to imagine that.

Another time she had my mom and my sister gang up on me about something and I was so pissed off I didn’t want to talk with either of them for days.  Talk about WTF!  Shut up, I tell you – shut up!!!

Other times, she can write the best blogs, ones that will go viral the minute I hit publish – yet when I sit down to write – she is nowhere to be seen, leaving me with an empty brain wondering what to write.

I’m tired of her.  She won’t shut-up.  She is zapping my energy, my creative juices, my soul.  She just keeps talking!!!

This is a bad segue – but stick with me…..

I recently listened to Dan Harris’ (ABC News) book – 10% Happier.  In it, he talks candidly about how he has struggled with his ego and his motivation and drive to get to where he is today in the very competitive world of TV News.  He talks about his love of being on TV, his drug use, his addiction to adrenaline and how it ultimately lead to an on-air panic attack.

Through his research of various stories, he started to investigate the power of meditation.  And over time, he, himself started to practice meditation.  And over time, he started to feel more focused.

Here’s where I make the connection….

I’ve dabbled in meditation.  Unlike Harris – I am/was not skeptical of its benefits.  But I admit, I’ve never fully gotten into it to reap said benefits.  I guess I didn’t fully understand what I was trying to accomplish.

But Dan explains it in his book – – meditation quiets the mind.  I never thought about quieting the roommate who lives inside my head.  To be honest, I didn’t even realize she was there – she was just always there.

In the last couple of weeks since finishing his book, I’ve been making a deliberate effort to quiet my mind.  I’ve been making a conscious effort to quiet the roommate who lives inside my head.  She is not helpful, she is not useful, her comments are not worthy of my time and energy.

It’s hard shutting her up.  Sometimes, I literally have to shake my head and say “STOP!”  “I don’t want to hear about this.”

I’ve been trying really hard to just listen and to notice the things around me as I’ve been trying to shut up and shut out my roommate from taking over my thoughts.

What’s that old saying by George Washington? “It is better to be alone than in bad company.”  

I’m going to try to find some ways and some time to dedicate to meditating.  After reading 10% Happier, I’m intrigued.  I want to quiet my mind, become more focused and 10% Happier.  My first step is kicking out the roommate who lives in my head.  She is gone, she is not welcomed anymore.

What about you – have you ever noticed the voices in  your head talking and talking and talking?  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

~Amy

 


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Tip #28 – Pick a number, any number…

Tip #28 – Pick a number, any number.   28 Days of Decluttering

 

My friend Shannon asked me the other day – “how do you get started with decluttering?”  

This is a great question.  As you can tell by all that I shared this past month, it seems that all I really have time for is running the vacuum and washing the dishes.  I certainly don’t have the time or energy to dedicate to decluttering.  That is unless I am doing a series on it and find some inspiration.

I think the easiest way to make a little impact without too much time invested is to pick a number – let’s say FIVE – and try to trash, put away or organize that many things.  It might be five toys, five books, five pieces of paper on your desk, five shoes, five worn t-shirts, five throw pillows.  Go around your house and just find five things in different categories that aren’t in their home and put them away.  If needed, give them away.  Or throw them away.

Maybe do this every day for a week and see where it gets you.  I would think that after a short while you will see a big impact with very little effort.

~Amy

PS – I hope you enjoyed this series, I know I got a lot of out of it for sure.  Over the course of this past month, I’ve sorted through my closet, cleaned my junk drawer, am applying the 30 Day Method to my kitchen utensils, and cleared away a corner in my office that hasn’t seen the light of day in months.  Thanks for coming along with me on this ride!

What’s up next – stay tuned to tomorrow – I’ll announce our next 28 Days Series.

 


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Tip #27 – It’s not me – it’s them

Tip #27 – It’s not me – it’s them – – 28 Days of Decluttering

 

Whew – it’s spring break out here and I’ve fallen behind with stuff.  Talk about distractions – I should have included in that series – “don’t plan anything when the kids are out of school for a week“.  Geez!  I can’t get ANYTHING done with them around.

But I digress – because I am determined to finish up the 28 Days of Decluttering series – so I can quickly jump into April’s series (it’s a good one – stay tuned to tomorrow to find out what it is).

Sonya wrote….

Sonya wrote on my Facebook page the other day – “I’m doing this thing that asks me to declutter my home as part of a bigger process. My own stuff is daunting enough, but here’s my problem: My wonderful husband has a case of the what-if-I-need-it-someday-itis. I assume kids are the same way.

I’ve been thinking about this and yeah, it’s a hard one.

Confession:  I used to over buy boxes of chicken stock and canned tomatoes.  Like – a lot.  At one time, I think I counted that I had over 22 boxes of chicken stock in my pantry.  Every time I went to Costco, I would buy another case.

What was I afraid of?  Running out of stock?  Because if I used up the last box today, would I not be able to go to the store tomorrow and buy some more – assuming I would be using chicken stock two days in a row?

And I live in a suburban area – Costco is literally less than six minutes away.  And there are two grocery stores closer than that.

I think when you get into the mindset of “what if we need this some day” and are trying to declutter – it is a snowball waiting to happen.  Unless it is emergency supplies…really – do we really need it?

Here’s is what I would suggest to help combat this concern:

  • Employ the 30 Day Method.  As a reminder – – this is where  you place said questionable items in a box for thirty days.  As you need the items, take them out, use them and put them away in their normal place.  At the end of thirty days, whatever is left in the box can be discarded or donated.
  • If the 30 day rule is too short – lengthen it to six months.  This should take away the concerns for seasonal items.
  • Create an “only one” rule.  Do you really need three step stools, four crock pots, six dustpans, eight bottles of hairspray.  Probably not.   And really, one of each of these items will be sufficient.

My situation is the opposite of Sonya’s.  My husband tends to get rid of things too quickly in my opinion.  What about you – do you battle with your housemates about clutter and what to keep and what to discard?

~Amy

 


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Tip #26 – 28 Days of Decluttering

Tip #26 – Pick a corner

office pile

That’s my dog in there too.

I feel like I’ve been over sharing all of my dirty secrets of my house and how much clutter is in it.  And here I thought I was pretty neat and tidy and pretty well-organized.

I’m not going to beat myself up about it.  It happens.  Life happens. And junk drawers, Tupperware drawers, kitchen utensils and more take a back seat to the other demands of our days.  I hope you have gotten some benefit out of this series and tried your hand decluttering the space around you.  I know, I have.  And I’m inspired to do more of  it!  I’ll probably keep going even after our 28 Days.

So for tip #26 – pick a corner.  Or a table, or a counter and just get started. Order a pizza and put some tunes on and tackle that one section. Even just a little project and a little decluttering can make a huge difference in your outlook.

The picture above is a corner in my office.  In all honesty, it will probably take me less than an hour to sort through the stuff here and figure out a game plan for the items.  Nothing in there is important and nothing is time sensitive.  And probably because of that, I’ve forgotten about it – so much that I don’t really see it anymore.

But it is still clutter.  It needs to be handled and cleaned up.  So my weekend project is to declutter this corner and get it clean it up.  Stay tuned to Facebook and I’ll post a follow-up picture soon.

Happy Friday!

~Amy