Minute by minute

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


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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.

 

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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.

 

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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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The New Footloose – My Thoughts

My husband has been out-of-town on business travel for almost a couple of weeks now.  Last Friday night I was so tired, but yet it was too early to go to bed, so I decided to see what movie I could watch that would be interesting enough, light enough and still entertaining.

There is a long list of movies I still need to see; Nebraska, The Wolves of Wall Street, American Hustle, Catching Fire, that’s just to name a few.  But these are all so heavy.  Plus, my husband wants to see them too, so I’ll have to wait until he comes home so we can watch them together.

I settled on the new Footloose.

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It’s been in my Amazon Prime watch list for a long time, and I decided to make Friday the day I would cross it off the list.

Here are my thoughts:

  • I wonder if I had seen the new movie first, would I have liked it as much as I liked the original?
  • I wonder if I was 12 when I watched the new movie, like I was with the original, would I have liked it as much as the original?
  • I wonder if I had seen the original when I was 42, as I am now, would I have liked as much as I did when I first saw it?
  • I wonder if they had actually put some dancing in the new version would it had made it any better?
  • I wonder if anyone could ever replace Kevin Bacon?
  • I wonder why they chose Dennis Quaid to play the Rev. Shaw?
  • I wonder why Andie McDowell didn’t have a bigger role?  I wonder if it took her less than half an hour to memorize the three sentences she said in the entire movie?
  • I wonder why do they want to remake movies that should never be remade?

Overall, the new version wasn’t the worst movie I have ever seen.  But at the same time, it won’t be going into my list of favorites, either.  Likewise, when the original plays on Lifetime or A&E and I will watch that one any day of the week. Even if the total number of times I’ve seen it approaches 200.

But I’ll pass on the new one.  Once was enough for me.

Did you see the new Footloose?  What were your thoughts?

~Amy


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Guns – My Thoughts

I remember an article from high school….

When I was in high school (almost 25 years ago, eek!) I remember discussing an article in a class one time about a little girl getting shot by her father.  I don’t remember all of the details, but what I do recall is the family had a policy of sleeping with all the bedroom doors shut and any of the children were supposed to knock before entering the parents’ room.

From what I remember, the youngest daughter, three years old at the time, didn’t knock one night and simply walked into the parents’ bedroom in the middle of the night.  Most likely she was groggy from waking up and didn’t remember to knock.  Maybe she was scared, or had a bad dream, or wasn’t feeling well.

The father, in his sudden awaken state, mistook his little girl for an intruder, reached for his gun in his bedside table and shot his daughter.

I was having a conversation with some friends….

Jump ahead about 15 years and I was having a conversation with some friends about a recent camping trip they had just been on.  My friend was telling me about a rowdy group of guys in one of the tent sites near my friends’ and how upset he was by this group.  I guess they were drunk and were being very loud, although contained to their site – they weren’t all over the camp site raising havoc.  Nonetheless, it was disturbing to my friend and it basically ruined the whole trip.

My friend said “I wish I had my gun on me, I would have put a stop to their rudeness.

I remember asking him, in my disbelief – “really, you would have gone over there waving a gun, just to shut them up?”   He said wholeheartedly  – “YES!”

I have another friend , when she goes fly fishing in the woods, she carries her handgun.  When asked why, she replied “because there are cougars and bear out there and I don’t want to be lunch.

I struggle with guns.

I completely understand the need and desire to want to protect yourself, your family and your home.  I think everyone feels these feelings.  After seeing the movie Contagion with Matt Damon and Gwyneth Paltrow, there are times when I think maybe we should have a gun in my house.   Did you see this movie?  It is really good.  And after hearing a recent report on NPR about a flu that can go crazy and spread all over the world in a matter of weeks and how this movie depicted a true representation of what might happen – I’m leaning more and more towards getting a gun.

For a little side-note – there is a scene in the movie where Matt Damon’s character is watching from him home, his neighbor get shot from looters.  The world in chaos and there is no order, people are ransacking homes, stores, everything.  In this lawless situation, I can totally see where a gun would be a matter of life or death.

But I can’t help but think….

I think Trayvon Martin would be alive today if George Zimmerman hadn’t been carrying a gun that night.

In addition, Chad Oulson would be alive today if Curtis Reeves Jr. didn’t have a gun on him that night.

Guns change a person’s way of thinking….

Here are my thoughts – guns change a person’s way of thinking.  I think guns give an inappropriate sense of confidence.  I think guns make people paranoid but then not worried, because they are carrying a gun, they have nothing to worry about, they can protect themselves.  I think gun get people into situations they wouldn’t normally find themselves if they didn’t have a gun.  I think guns allow people to provoke a situation, almost creating a situation that isn’t really there.

I think if George Zimmerman hadn’t had a gun on him, he probably wouldn’t have provoked Trayvon Martin to the point of feeling threatened.  He might have just called the police.

I think Curtis Reeves should have moved seats if Chad Oulson’s texting (to his babysitter, mind you) was bothering him so much.

I think the little girl in the article would be almost thirty years old today and would have had a beautiful life with her family.

I think my friend’s camping story might have turned horribly different if he did have his gun on him that night – instead he has a really good “bad camping story” to tell.

I wish we didn’t live in a world where we felt so threatened.  I wish we didn’t always have to be right.  I wish we appreciated life more – and that means appreciating someone else’s life, even if you don’t agree with their actions, as much as your own.

As I watch the news these past few days, I see Curtis Reeves’s adult daughter weeping on the witness stand, pleading for her father’s life.  She is most likely around my age, my dad is in his seventies too.  But I can’t help but cry a little for Chad Oulson’s two-year old daughter…she will never get to see her 70-year-old father.  She will never see her father again.  Because Curtis Reeves took it upon himself to say he had more rights than Chad Oulson.  Because being quiet in a movie theater was more important than texting a babysitter.  Because Curtis Reeve’s had a gun and felt more powerful  – so much that he used his gun and killed Chad Oulson.

I don’t think gun control is the answer.  It will never be in this country.  I don’t think registering guns will work.  The pro-gun movement is too powerful and too rich.

I think we need a mind change instead.  I think we need to change our thinking.  I think we need to care about each other.  Value each other.  Even if we don’t agree.  I think we need to stop being so paranoid.  I think we need to stop feeling so threatened.

But how?

~Amy

PS – I know that George Zimmerman was found not guilty – I refuse to say innocent because I feel he wasn’t innocent in this situation.  I understand that I’m judging Curtis Reeves before he has had his day in court.  These are simply my feelings  – guilty or innocent in the eyes of a the courts it doesn’t change how I think guns change people’s perspectives.

 


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I saw Gretchen Rubin – in person!

We all know how much I love Gretchen Rubin!  I have both her books and now I have two copies of her latest book – Happier at Home.

When she came to Seattle about a year and a half ago, promoting Happier at Home, I missed the opportunity to see her.

When I heard she was coming to Portland to promote the paperback version of Happier at Home – I didn’t want to miss her a second time.

So I packed some snacks, checked out the audio book Wicked from the library.  It is a little over three hours to drive to Portland.  So this past Tuesday I drove six and a half hours for an hour to listen to Gretchen and an hour to stand in line waiting to get her signature on my book.

But it was worth it!  And why not!  I didn’t have anything pressing at work or at home.  My husband took care of dinner and swim lessons for the night.  And Wicked – well, it’s wickedly long and a tiny bit boring so far – but I’m only five CD’s into the 20 CD collection.  (Maybe I should skip it and just go see the play next time it is in town).

Here’s what I got out of my experience.

I love Gretchen Rubin!

We knew that, but I still do.  She is so genuine and real.  I get that from her writing and her blog and the videos that she publishes.  But in person – she seems the same.  I love that.

She’s also classy.  This part I really loved about her  – when a question was asked from the audience, she repeated it so the rest of the audience could know what she was answering.  I loved that!!!  Don’t you hate it when the speaker doesn’t repeat the question?

One more thing – she’s a tiny little thing.  And so is this picture, but she the one in the aqua sweater – facing forward.

GR Speaking in Portland

Overall her speech wasn’t anything new.  I mean – I’ve read her books and like I said I follow her blog and her Facebook page – so really, there wasn’t much I hadn’t heard.  But that’s what I love about her books and her mission – it is worth repeating.  Things that she says might resonate with me differently at different times.  Her books are probably ones that I’ll revisit from time to time and try different things at different points in my life.

Here’s some of my takeaways from her talk:

  • You can’t make anyone else happy.  You can only change yourself and your perceptions and your reactions.  Trying to change your family or  your co-workers isn’t going to work but hopefully, they will react positively to your changes.
  • If you want to change one thing, but not sure where to start  – ask yourself – “what are you lying about?”  Take that one thing and either own or change it.  I used to feel very guilty that I took a power nap every afternoon, never admitting it to anyone other than my family.  Then one day I decided – “who cares? I can do what I need to do to feel better without being ashamed.”   And now I owe it!  I take a power nap almost everyday!
  • Some people view “being happy” and acknowledging it as being selfish.  Side note – why do we do this to ourselves?  Why do we live in a world where it is acceptable to be miserable and shameful to be happy?  Anyway – Gretchen explains that studies show that happy people are actually more apt to volunteer and help people more than unhappy people.  Probably because unhappy people are too caught up in thinking about how unhappy they are to think about anyone else.  So in a sense “being happy is actually unselfish” . (that got a chuckle out of the audience)
  • Just because you are happy doesn’t mean you won’t have unhappy moments.  In fact, projects like her Happiness Project might teach you how to deal with challenging and stressful situations.  She gave the example of how maybe you are dealing with an ailing parent.  No doubt that is a stressful situation.  But there is nothing wrong with taking care of yourself like going to see a movie or going for a walk to take a break and refresh yourself during that challenging time.

There was much more that she spoke about, and I would suggest reading her books or even just joining her Facebook page and maybe signing up to get her blog.  She is also working on her next project – habits.  I can’t wait!

The only drawback to the evening was when I turned into a boob when I finally got to her table.  I froze!  My mind went totally blank and I couldn’t think of one thing to say to her when I was waiting for her to sign my book. UGH!

Happier at home - signature

But – in her true classiness – she asked me a question!  I still fumbled it – – but I did  manage to ask to get a picture with her.

Amy and GR

Hope ya’ll have a great weekend!

~Amy


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It’s more about distractions….

Happy New Year!

So it’s day six in the year 2014 and I’m six days into my No Wal-Mart and No Yelling resolutions.  I have to admit – – so far – so good!

I’ve not once been to Wal-Mart although there was an occasion on Friday when I was right next to Wal-Mart but remembered my personal goal and diverted to a local grocery store instead.  That was easy.  I don’t really see this one being a hard one, it’s mostly just getting out of the habit.

The no yelling portion is going well also.  My patience was even tested one night with my boys refusing to listen to me and would not get ready for bed.  After six or seven times of saying “it’s time to get ready for bed” and them ignoring me, I finally told them  that I was getting upset and I didn’t want to yell – so they had better get moving.  It sort of worked, it still took a few more attempts to get them motivated and it was tempting to raise my voice.  Alas – I prevailed and held my cool.

One tip my friend Sally suggested was to come up with a code word.  Something that anyone can say and once it is said – everyone stops what they are doing and listens to what is being said.  I have to admit, my first thought of this was “oh – like a safe word in S&M?”  (Jeez, Amy – read 50 Shades of Grey much?)  (Not really, I hated those books…..I digress).

I’ve been thinking of a good word to use on these occasions.  Of course when I mentioned the idea to my boys their suggestions were “chupacabra” or “butt”  – – remember they are nine and five and little boys love to say and giggle non-stop at any mention of the word “butt” or any combination or similar word.  I don’t get little boys.

I don’t want a word that is necessarily funny, I want something that will get their attention yet not annoy me.  We’re working on this part.  I’ll keep you posted when we agree on our word.

My friend Sally also sent me this article, The Important Thing About Yelling.  I, in turn, had other friends post it on Facebook.   The timing of the article was ironic and the fact that a few of my friends shared it  made me think that when they read the article, it resonated with them on some level too.

That’s because the author is spot on!  My situation isn’t exactly like hers – but I know exactly what she is saying.  I’ve seen the fear in my sons’ eyes, I seen their eyes water up with tears, I’ve seen them withdraw  – – all because of me.  And my yelling.  I have to say again, I’m sharing this with you – but it is hard.  And I’m so ashamed….

But another thing the author mentions is – distractions.  100% of the time that I’ve yelled at my husband or my sons is because I was distracted.  Sure – sometimes they are just not doing what I’ve asked of them – – yet my reaction to their non-compliance is because I’ve been distracted with something else and annoyed that they aren’t doing what I’ve asked.  So, in a sense, my reaction in yelling – is my frustration with too much going on in my head.  Maybe I’m tired, maybe I’m hungry, maybe, like the author, I’m distracted with something else on another level – – – it doesn’t matter.  It’s the distractions that leads to yelling.

So – the non-yelling thing isn’t just about not yelling.  It’s about taking control of other influence in my life and learning to leave those at bay while I’m dealing with another situation.  It’s going to be hard but it’s a life change I need to make.

I wonder if we cut out distractions in our lives, how will that improve other interactions?

For 2014 – I’m introducing my 28 day series.  Each month and for 28 days I’ll share a tip on a topic of the month.  I know by my implementing short and easy changes to my daily routines, I will see improvements.  This is an exercise for me that I’m sharing with you and I hope you find some value in it too.  I’d love to hear your thoughts along the way.

One way to make sure you keep in touch with each daily tip is to subscribe to my blog (see the button on the right?) or like me on Facebook.  Up and onward – – stay tuned for the 1st day of the 28 day series on reducing distractions.

Happy Monday!  Happy New Year!

~Amy


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I hope this tiny part of our world is a good part in your day

I woke up to emails this morning from different organizations I follow stating “last chance“and “don’t wait” .  It is their end-of-year donation push – but geez, when you get five or six in a row, it makes one think – – “dang, do I have any time left?

I think the great thing about the turning of the year is the fresh beginning.   How do you mark your New Year?

Do you set a theme for the year?

If I set a theme for 2014 it would be “improvements“.  And I mean improvements in all sense of the word – personal improvements like no yelling.  Home improvements like a new master closet and bathroom.  Health improvements as I start a journey to running a half marathon in June.  Professional improvements like improving my writing and building my pet sitting business back up.

Do you close the book of 2013 and start a new book in which the title is “2014- The Year to End All Years” 

If I wrote a book my opening line would be “it was the best of times, it was the worst of time”.  It would be a comedy.

Do you count the minutes make plans to make each minute count?  

There are 525,949 minutes by the way.

Do you see what I did there – Just a Minute…the name of my blog…counting minutes….get it?

Do you not make a big production about the New Year and instead continue, one day at a time? 

Tonight my little family of four is going to a Japanese Steakhouse – you know the ones where they cook in front of you?  We’ll come home and watch a movie and probably play a game.  We’ll watch fireworks on TV and watch the rest of the world celebrate before it is our turn.

Tomorrow, I’ll burn some sage and cleanse the air in and around the house getting rid of any bad ju-ju and making way for the good stuff.  I hope to take a little hike if it isn’t raining.  We’ll continue to take down Christmas and clean the house – that seems to be a bit of a theme for this past week.

I’ve starting working on the “no yelling” already and I’ll continue my quest on savoring all of life’s minutes (I did it again).

Before I close for the year, I want to send out a thank you to everyone.  Thank you for reading my blog, for sharing your thoughts and experiences.  I hope this tiny part of our world is a good part in your day.

Best to you and your family for a wonderful 2014.

See you on the flip side!

~Amy