Eating Frogs

Mark Twain famously said that if it was your job to eat a frog, then it was best to do it first thing in the morning.

Motivational speaker, Brian Tracy, published a book titled Eat That Frog! in which he recommends doing your most vital and difficult task first each morning.

My father felt the best way to “eat a frog” was to cut it into bite-size pieces and then eat a couple of buzzing flies first to build momentum. Since he was a man who accomplished a lot, I can testify that the flyflyFROG method worked well for him. But my father was clear that in the end you had to ignore most of the buzzing flies and just eat the frog.

I admit I find it difficult to force myself to eat the frog first each morning. Like my father I find munching a fly or two does help me build momentum. Unfortunately, I’m easily distracted by buzzing flies. So if I’m not careful, I can reach the end of the day with the frog still on my plate.

What about you? Do you eat the frog first? Or do you need a fly appetizer to build the momentum to eat the frog?

Posted in Regina's Journal

Best Present Ever Again

Last year my kids each gave me five hours of labor for Christmas. I used it to clean the attic and designate the four corners: one for each of the three children and one for camping equipment. This revolutionized my life.

As an empty-nester I want to maintain my kids’ rooms so that they feel at home when they return from college for breaks and holidays. Yet I also crave living lean, clean, and clutter-free. By designating an attic corner for each child, I was able to put the things they didn’t want or need right now but might someday in their corner. There it waits, out of sight, until they feel inclined to retrieve it. Their rooms are still decorated with some of their stuff. They’re just not stuffed with all of their stuff. And we’re all happy with the result.

But attics are catch-alls. Things seldom used tend to retire there. I was determined this great deed once done would not be undone. Those four corners would remain dedicated to their purposes. So how did I ensure the attic would not become a jumbled catchall?

It was surprisingly easy.

There is a shady bit of space in my backyard across a shallow dry creek bed. It once hosted the kids’ sandbox. College kids don’t need sandboxes so my husband and kids (more of those 5 gift hours!) built me a storage barn there next to the playhouse. They even installed a bridge and motion activated lamp post.

IMG_1634

(Sorry the picture is fuzzy. That blur on the bridge is my dog, Flash.)

Inside heavy steel racks, the sort bakers use to cool large baking sheets, line the walls. The shelves are adjusted to the proper height to hold large lidded Rubbermaid tubs that contain all the holiday decorations and other useful miscellaneous that used to be thrown in a gallimaufry in the attic. It’s now easy to see what I have, and simple and pleasant to retrieve it when needed.

As a bonus I left a couple of shelves empty. When the kids came home this past year for summer break or dropped their stuff off on their way to study-abroad sessions, it went neatly onto these shelves rather than cluttering up the house. When they returned to college, they simply fetched it again. They didn’t have to hunt for anything and I didn’t have to deal with it while they were away. We were all happy.

So those five hours of labor gifts for Christmas 2012 continue to be wonderful.

But if the kids gave me FIVE hours of labor last year and ended up cleaning an attic and building a barn, what did they give me for Christmas 2013? THREE hours of labor. That’s what happens when you send them to college. They get smarter. Darn!

What was your best present ever?

Posted in Six Sentence Sunday

Best Laid Plans

In true Murphy’s Law fashion, I got the flu for New Year’s. That set me back a couple of weeks. But the great thing about setting New Year Goals rather than making resolutions is that you don’t break goals.

With goals when you get off track you simply refocus and keep going. So that’s where I’m at this week. I am over the flu, refocused, and  moving forward. And I am NOT telling myself I am two weeks behind. Instead I know I’m progressing in a positive direction toward my 2014 Goals and that is producing and will continue to produce real and positive outcomes.

How about you? Have you had a Murphy’s Law experience with your 2014 goals yet? If so, how have you handled it?

Posted in Six Sentence Sunday

Happy New Year! 2014

A new year is so wonderfully lush with possibilities.  I’m ready to get started! So here they are, my 2014 goals and the steps I’m taking to help me achieve them:

Write! Write! Write!

  • removed the internet from the computer I write on.
  • created an outline of the novel I’m working on so I don’t get lost.
  • set up my email to only deliver early am and late pm so I’m not tempted to check it so often.

Exercise!

  • joined an exercise class I really enjoy.
  • bought enough inexpensive exercise clothing so something is always clean.
  • created a space in my closet where my clothing for the week is laid out by the day and waiting so there is nothing to hunt in the morning.

Primp!

  • set the hair appointments in advance on my calendar.
  • stocked up on my favorite “spoil me” products.
  • began building a new wardrobe with a couple of classic items which I hope to add to throughout the year.

Speak my Strategic Plan Daily!

  • wrote my strategic plan, hung a copy on the wall, and stowed copies in other places I frequent around the house.
  • posted reminders in two-inch tall letters at various places around the house to read it out loud daily.

Pray, Learn, FLY!

  • Praying comes naturally after all these years so I’ll just keep at it.
  • Learning is a craving I must constantly feed so that also is just a matter of keeping at it and reminding myself to focus on specific topics.
  • FLYing used to be an ingrained habit, but I’ve fallen away. To retrain myself to it I’ve placed my FLYbook (a book of checklists of household tasks done by zone at various times throughout each month) open on a stand at eye level above the kitchen sink. So I won’t be able to say I forgot.

Remain in Ketosis until I reach my preferred size!

  • continue to attend my counseling sessions
  • keep the house free of forbidden foods
  • continue to add recipes to the ones I’ve been gathering and practicing since November in anticipation of this next phase in my return to optimal health.

Spoil my husband rotten!

  • since it’s my favorite thing to do and comes rather naturally this one is easy.

Those are my goals for 2014. What are yours?

May 2014 Bring You Love,  Health, Success, and Goodness!

Posted in Six Sentence Sunday

Remembering

With all the kids away at college now, DH and I are doing a purge of the house. I came across this memory from long ago when I was pregnant with my oldest and thought I’d share.

I stopped at the top of the aisle, blinded by the sudden change from bright lobby to dark theater. Eager to see the premier of the newest thriller, movie goers streamed in behind me, squeezing past me in their rush to win seats in the already packed house. Those unable to get around my distended belly waited with nervous impatience.

I should have counted the rows when I left our seats, should not have insisted on going to the concession stand myself. But this third trimester had made me fickle about food. Sending my husband would have been pointless since by the time he returned I’d have changed my mind. Worse I would’ve been secretly cross with him for bringing me the snacks I’d asked for rather than the ones I wanted.

An elbow nudged my back. The people behind me were getting vocal with their frustration. I scanned the crowd. There. Even in the darkness I recognized the shape of that head. I waddled down to the row where ten seats separated me from my goal and began to wade through a human obstacle course. Alternately showing the unfortunates seated there my butt and bulging belly, I twisted my way through protruding knees and floor-parked purses.

“Hold these,” I commanded and thrust a large soda and a bucket of popcorn at my husband. When he failed to take them I rattled them at him and then pushed them into his hands. Up on the big screen the coming attractions trailers were beginning. I sat down, opened a package of chocolate almonds and poured them over the popcorn. Then I took back the drink.

A woman seated on the other side of my husband leaned forward. In the darkness I couldn’t quite make out her face, but her body language spoke volumes. Had I been too noisy? I smiled an apology at her and stuck my hand in my husband’s lap for a handful of popcorn.

“Who are you?” the woman demanded.

Had she been saving this seat, I wondered. Surely my husband had explained it was taken.

“I’m his wife,” I said. I rested my soda on my mountainous belly and stuffed popcorn in my mouth.

“No, I’m his wife!”

Several rows down a familiar silhouette stood up. “Reggie? Reggie!”

I shot to my feet as fast as an enormously pregnant woman could, grabbed my popcorn bucket from the still mute man, and did a rapid butt-belly-butt twist back through protruding knees and floor-parked purses.

Posted in Six Sentence Sunday

Where Have I Been?

My apologies for being absent so long.

There’s a long, complicated version of why, but I’ll leave a lot out and give you the short version.

Thirty-plus years of horrible debilitating pain. Many doctors. No help. Worse and worse. Finally an answer! Severe Gluten intolerance. Stopped eating gluten. No more pain! Hallelujah!

But intestinal damage from years of gluten intolerance led to mal-absorption. That led to binge eating run amok as my body tried to get enough nutrition. Add in the sugar addiction most of the U.S.A. suffers from and the resulting insulin resistance plus a host of other troubles.

Fat. Exhausted. Frustrated. Went to an eating disorder therapist. Over many, many months transitioned from 16 binge incidents per month to 8 to 5 to none. Hooray! But, uh-oh, still had mal-absorption and now there was less food to wring nutrients from. A progression: exhaustion, difficulty concentrating, pain in large muscles, wrenching muscle spasms, pain in small muscles, awful pain in bones, horrible neuropathy. Blood tests. Prescription vitamin injections and capsules.

Neuropathy and bone pain vanished after just a week of vitamin injections. Wow! Wow! Wow! I can write. I can exercise. I can live again.

Anyway, that’s the abbreviated version of where I’ve been, and I am so happy and so very grateful to be back.

Posted in Six Sentence Sunday

Get Lost in a Story

I am so excited! I’m being interviewed today on Get Lost in a Story. Please stop by and enter my drawing for a set of rose-tipped pens. Hope to see you there.

http://www.getlostinastory.blogspot.com/

Posted in Six Sentence Sunday

Best Present Ever (part II)

In lieu of presents for Christmas 2012 my children each gave me five hours of labor. For weeks I stewed over the best way to use those precious hours. Then I asked myself this question: with empty-nestdom approaching, what could I do with that time to that would have the most impact on my new life. The answer was obvious.

Clean the attic.

Okay, that may not seem like an obvious win at first, but let me explain. The kids are leaving home. But they haven’t established permanent homes of their own yet. They live in shared spaces with an ever-changing parade of roommates. They want only what they need today, because like most college kids they live entirely in the present. That high school yearbook, those favorite novels and toys, mean nothing. When I talk about repurposing their old rooms, they say with absolute certainty, “I don’t care about that stuff anymore. Just throw it out.”

But one day they’ll settle down in homes of their own and they may feel differently. What then?

“Mom, I can’t believe you got rid of my baseball card collection!”

“Mom, how could you sell all my Legos? I wanted to pass those on to my kids.”

“Hey, Mom, whatever happened to my…”

You get the drift.

So I gathered my trio together and used my five hours of labor gift to clean the attic. Three van loads hauled off to the charity store and an embarrassing number of filled trash cans later, the attic was empty. What remained were five clearly labeled boxes per child of things I had a suspicion they might want again someday. We assigned each child their own corner of the attic. Finally, as insurance against any future exclamations of, “Oh Mom, you didn’t give that away, did you!” we made sure we had photo evidence of their presence during the process.

As time passes, hubby and I may eventually turn their rooms into a home gym, an office, or guest rooms. And we won’t need to wait for them to come and claim their stuff before we can do it.  That stuff can simply join the stuff already in the appropriate attic corners. There it can sit, out of our way, patiently waiting for the day the kids have permanent homes of their own.

I can almost hear you thinking, “You’re delusional. That plan is doomed. Attics are catchalls and as time goes by those neatly labeled boxes in their separate corners will be lost beneath a jumble of new things added to storage.

Won’t happen. And I’ll tell you why. Next week.

In the meantime, do you find yourself storing things for people who no longer live with you and where do you put those things?

Posted in Six Sentence Sunday

Best Present Ever (part I)

For Christmas 2012 I asked my kids not to buy me gifts. Instead, I asked each of them to give me five hours of labor. Two are in college so I knew money was tight which is why I thought that labor in lieu of a gift would be a good thing for them. They all agreed and I don’t know how good a thing it was for them but for me it was the best present ever!

For weeks before Christmas as I waited for the two oldest to come home from college, I plotted how I would use those five precious hours. While five hours times three kids sounds like a lot of time, when I started to divide it among all the things I wanted done, it began to look pretty puny. I admit I became a little obsessed about not wasting it, about making it really count. What should I use it on?

A family portrait? Yard work? Closet cleaning? Rearranging furniture? Cleaning blinds, windows, kitchen and bathroom cabinets? Detailing cars? Getting them to do their wills and healthcare power of attorneys? Attending a Christmas movie or play together? Getting them to pay attention while I teach them a few things I forgot to teach them before they reached young adulthood? (yeah, right, dream on mom) Cleaning out the garage? or, or, or…

The possibilities seemed endless.  It was so hard to choose! I finally decided it needed to be something that would help me move into my quickly approaching new life as an empty-nester. And once I looked at it from that angle the answer became obvious.

So what did I choose? Find out in next Monday’s post. But here’s a hint. It was none of the things I mentioned above.

In the meantime, if you had a crew of three young, strong adults willing to labor for five hours apiece for you, what would you choose?

And why?

Posted in Six Sentence Sunday

Resolutions, Resolutions

I no longer make New Year resolutions because I rarely kept them.

Instead, I decide on goals for the coming year and create a simple plan to achieve them. I don’t always reach my goals, but I do make real progress and have more success with goals than I ever had with resolutions.

I’ll spare you the sharing of my personal goals. But I will fling out my writing goals. We can check back next December to see how well I did. Here goes.

2013 Craft goal: Improve my self-editing skills.

My plan to achieve this goal is threefold: take an editing workshop, spend time each week with the Chicago Manual of Style, and read (or listen to) one book each month on writing and editing. I will conscientiously apply what I learn to my work.

2013 Business Goal: Raise my daily word count production to 2000 words.

My plan to achieve this goal is something I call the Ten Percent Solution (a hybrid of Tom Connellan’s 1% Solution and NaNoWriMo). I will begin each month by writing as much as I comfortably can that day and then add 10 percent to that count the next day. I will continue to add 10 percent to each previous day’s count until I am writing 2000 words a day. I will record my progress daily and I will report my total monthly word count at my chapter meetings.

So there are my 2013 writing goals. What goals do you have for the New Year?

Posted in Six Sentence Sunday