Posted in about me, ebb & flow, meandering

The joy of music in the house

Many converging roads …

1- Most of the music I listen to is on CD. I have a free subscription to Spotify, and we do listen to music there, but as a primary means of music consumption, I hate music subscriptions. (When the subscription runs out, I don’t have music. I paid to rent it, and I’d rather own it. But I do like being able to listen to something before I buy it. And I also like not buying some of the music that The Kid wants to listen to.)

2- I haven’t owned a CD player in several years. I did have an external CD drive on the computer that could, among other things, play CDs.

3- The external drive died the last time I moved. Two years ago. Not sure if it was done working anyway or if it didn’t like moving. Haven’t played CDs in this house.

For Christmas, The Climbing Daddy and I received a CD player. It’s a simple, all-in-one piece of equipment, with bluetooth capability, an FM radio, a CD drive, and two other means of plugging in.

It’s in the living room with all of our CDs.

There’s music in the house again!

I had forgotten how much I love having music on until I had it on again. Whether as music to listen to, music in the background, music to sing along with, music to dance to, I’m delighted to have music without commercials in the living room again.

(My job — teaching beginning band — is noisy. The Kid is noisy. I hadn’t been seeking more aural input.)

We also have several CDs from Maestro Classics that The Kid has been listening to. (not affiliate — I just like their products)

Also in progress is a project to hang the ukuleles. We each have one, and any of us is more likely to play when the thing is already out. There are issues with the wall and anchors not working and that kind of nonsense or they’d be up already.

But then there will be even more music! Hooray!

I’m debating bringing over the keyboard from The Tall Daddy’s house. Is it something we’ll use, or just something that will take up space?

Regardless, I’m happy to have music in the house again.

Posted in about me, connections, mental health, socializing

Socializing while busy

If you read Monday’s post on time organization, you know I feel busy too much of the time.

This is a sentiment shared by nearly everyone in my social circles.

(If you don’t, please go to Monday’s post, read it, and tell us your secrets in the comments.)

A while back, before Christmas, I had plans one weekend. I was getting together with one friend on Friday evening and another on Sunday afternoon.

It’s hard to schedule time to see people, and my socializing is often limited to people whose kids play well with mine. This isn’t all bad—I’ve met a lot of great people through school and play dates—and not all of the local people I’d like to see face-to-face fit this mold.

Anyway. I was excited to make plans with both of these people. (Sans children!) And then that weekend came and, as usual, I was tired and felt overwhelmed by All The Things and dragged my butt to my first date … and it was lovely. We had a great time, and I left feeling energized. My cup was fuller than it had been before we started.

Exact same story repeated on Sunday.

In either case, I would have felt some disappointment if they’d canceled but also relief. One less thing to do. Time to get done some of the other things.

Ultimately, it was good to squeeze in the time together. It gave us some face-to-face connection—something in ever-shorter supply.

If we hadn’t gotten together, I would have spent the time doing mundane things off the to-do list, and while there’s value in getting those done, they wouldn’t have fed my soul the way a couple of hours with a good friend does.

I guess what I’m saying is, even if you’re busy, make some time. Have dinner or coffee or take a walk or make some art or something with a friend or two. Your lives will be richer for it.

Posted in about me, audience participation, ebb & flow

How do people do it? Or do they?

One thing I know about myself is that I am somewhat time-disorganized.

I have trouble getting things done without scrambling. I have never successfully implemented a routine. My morning schedule could be considered a routine, I guess, but it’s more “how little time can I use to get done what needs to be done in the morning?”

The result of being a night person with a morning person job. And a kid at an even earlier-start school than the one where I start my day.

What got me thinking about this (this time) is that I haven’t been writing here regularly … or anywhere else. Since I stopped blogging daily, I’ve stopped writing daily. Other things have taken over.

The typical solution is to make a schedule, and in theory, I could do that. But what I want to know, from the people who actually do this, is — how do you take into account things that come up?

For example: I have 4.5 hours today from the time my last class walks out until the time that The Climbing Daddy brings The Kid over for the evening. That’s a good chunk of time.

But in it, I’ll need to do a little bit of work for work (I rarely walk out the door with the kids), I’ll need to drive home, I’ll need to eat lunch.

Because the weekend was full with one-off things, I’ll need to plan dinners for the week and go grocery shopping. Then I’ll need to prep at least today’s dinner, because we have taekwondo at dinner prep time and will be eating close to 7 if it’s all prepped ahead of time.

(Yes, I could schedule a quick-to-make meal, but four out of five week nights have something during the dinner-prep time.)

That accounts for most if not all of that chunk of time.

Once The Kid gets home, there’s not enough time to do all the things I’d like to do with him, so there’s definitely no writing or anything-ing in that block.

Once he’s in bed, I’m working on making a habit of powering down devices, reading for a bit, chatting with The Climbing Daddy for a bit, and going to bed early enough that I don’t feel exhausted all the time. (Except this now reduces or eliminates text-chatting with friends, because “after the kids go to bed” is when we have time to connect.)

OK, so we could back up. Make sure you get the planning and shopping done over the weekend.

Great! But we had stuff going on over the weekend. We had people over Saturday night and needed to prep for that (and got some other chores done in the process that are not ever done on a consistent basis). Sunday, we moved the fish tank from our house to The Kid’s school then went straight to a brunch/play date with a few families from school. The Climbing Daddy and I left early (while The Kid and The Tall Daddy stayed to play more) to go to the Home Show to see if we could get any decent information about our yard from a landscaper. (The answer is no, we couldn’t.)

So which of those things do we skip so that we can get the meal planning and shopping done?

Other things that happen in the afternoons include other errands, appointments (there’s been physical therapy in there twice a week for a while), occasional coffee dates, getting work for work done (Friday, for example, I worked two hours past my last class). Some days exercise needs to happen in that window if it’s going to happen at all. I am still squeezing in photography stuff occasionally (though you might have noticed there were no photos this week—haven’t done anything since last weekend).

So, if you’re one of those people who has a routine and sticks to it easily: how? How do you accommodate the incidental stuff? I could make a schedule and stick to it on the days that I can stick to it, but looking at this week’s calendar, that would be … hang on, checking the calendar … no days. There are no days this week that there’s nothing in that window. (Today is the only day there’s nothing actually scheduled, and shopping and eating well is important, so that time goes to meal-ing first.) None of the things are always happening. And they’re not at the same time, or for the same duration.

I wonder if there are people who work and have kids and have hobbies or side hustles and have social lives and exercise regularly and prepare most of their food at home get it done in a relatively structured manner.

I’m definitely not one of them!

(When I was writing regularly, writing time was all over the place. And I didn’t actually write every day, but there were some days—usually Sundays—where I would write for a long time and then short days just edit. But since the WordPress app has stopped working in a useful way, I have to be at my computer to write/edit/publish, which makes writing here happen less.)

So… where are you on this continuum?

Posted in about me, ebb & flow, meandering, motivation

Competition … and how I’m mostly over it

Tomorrow, The Kid is competing in his first taekwondo tournament. Because I’m taking classes as well, I was also invited to participate, but I’m not interested.

Competing doesn’t do much for me these days.

I like to play games, and I like to play hard (sometimes), but mostly, I’m not super-invested in winning.

I like to get better than myself.

It’s exciting when I occasionally accidentally win in pursuit of being better than myself. Like once when I came in second for my age group in a 5k when I was just trying to beat the clock.

Now, I concede that perhaps I don’t enjoy competition in physical things because I’ve not ever been especially good at them.

I have not learned nearly enough about taekwondo form to put mine in front of judges. (You can tell me that the playing field is level, but then you’re not hearing what I’m saying: I want to be better than I am before performing.)

Maybe it’s being raised a musician. Perfection is the goal in any performance, is what we strive for in practice, is essentially unattainable because every skill subset can be honed well beyond anything I’ve ever come close to reaching.

I’ve walked into auditions unprepared.

It feels like shit before, during, and after.

I don’t do that any more. And so, I’m not competing tomorrow.

The Kid? He doesn’t have that baggage. At least not yet.

I just hope for him to enjoy his experience, regardless how he performs.

(I don’t think the same would be true of a musical performance. I would want him to perform well—relative to his skill level—and enjoy it. But not just enjoy it.)

Hmm…

The more I think about this, the more I’m sure there are a million angles that I’m overlooking. But for now—doing my best with what I’ve got. Trying to hone skills in some areas. Enjoying being a hack in others. And not needing to beat anyone else in any of it.

Posted in about me, audience participation, ebb & flow, know better do better, motivation, parenting

I’m tired of being busy

Variables confound.

As a kid, I was interested in a lot of things. In the six years of junior high and high school, I did band, orchestra, jazz band, marching band, flute choir, show choir, flute lessons, art lessons, basketball, softball, school plays, school musicals, German club, student council, creative writing. Not all of them every year, for sure, but that was all in there. Probably others I’ve forgotten in the intervening decades.

In high school, I maxed out my electives, including getting permission from the teachers to take two at the same time one year (just keeping up with work in each for the days I was in the other).

I’ve always looked for approval, and all of these feed that. Is that why I was doing All The Things? Or was I really just interested in a lot of stuff?

Hard tellin’.

Still, I’m interested in a lot of stuff. It took me years to be able to put things on the “to do later” list instead of trying to do as much as possible all at once.

I don’t have a lot in common with people who spend a ton of time watching TV or who retire and don’t know what to do with themselves.

I got better. I became pleasantly occupied—not so much as to be overwhelmed, not so little as to be bored.

It’s been a while since I’ve been pleasantly occupied.

Having a kid plays into that, for sure. But even without the kid, if I work, exercise, and cook dinner every day, there’s not that much time left. Weekends, I suppose.

In addition, though, I’m writing, and I’m learning photography. I play ukulele but not as often as I’d like.

And the list gets longer.

I would like to spend time every day meditating and reading and stretching and foam rolling. I’d like to spend time regularly (though not necessarily daily) in visual art: drawing, calligraphy, even just coloring. I’d like to spend time daily book-learning Spanish, in addition to the practice I get here and there.

It just doesn’t all fit in a day or a week.

I’m in the process of making a routine for us during the week. Make sure his homework gets done. Make sure he has time to play. Make sure we all eat well. Make sure there’s time to exercise. And to do something from the list of “things that make me feel like more than a worker bee/home life secretary.”

It still feels like a lot. Just the main stuff. I think, though, it’s because other stuff is weighing in. Housecleaning. Projects around the house. Stuff that comes up that isn’t part of the planning—because there’s always stuff. Maybe I should block out time for “stuff that comes up.”

It’s overwhelming.

Somewhere in there, I want to find time to spend with friends, and sometimes I can make the time … but do my free time and theirs match?

In that way, having kids makes it a bit easier, because we get together, the kids play, the parents (usually but not always moms) talk.

If those times line up. And if the friends I want to get together with have kids. Who he likes to play with.

So I’m still trying to figure it out, how to have life that doesn’t always feel frantic.

One way? We need to get rid of at least a quarter of the stuff in the house. Probably more, but a quarter would be a good start.

That would reduce the time spent on Stuff Maintenance: organizing, cleaning, etc. And along with that, if we could work on acquiring less, we’d spend less time shopping, we’d spend less money shopping, we’d waste fewer resources and produce less trash.

Of course, cleaning out a quarter of the house takes time. “Clean out [something]” has been on the to-do list maybe forever. Some of it has gotten done. Some of it needs to be done again. Some of it hasn’t gotten done yet.

Some of the cleaning out has technical blocks. For example, I haven’t looked into how to get my old cassettes, if they still work, into some better format, whether CD or mpwhatevernumber. Then I could get rid of the bin of cassettes. One more thing gone. But that’s nowhere near the top of the priority list … which is why now, years later, it’s still not done.

I’m getting better about “what if I need it?” and giving away things I’m realistically not going to need. Things that are used occasionally are generally well-organized so I don’t go out and buy another of a working thing I already have.

I’m getting better about getting rid of things that I don’t really want but have some sentimental value.

Both of those, I have ample room to improve but I’m not nearly at the level of packrat that I used to be.

It’s easier to resist buying something than to get rid of it after it’s bought.

I am a wanter of stuff in waves. Right now, I have a list of fairly random wants. Other times, I’m content with what’s here already.

Most of that list? I’m not going to buy.

Then I get stuck in: would my life be better (by whatever metric) if I did buy All The Things (and use them), or am I just fine without? I mean, I feel fine, but every now and then I acquire a thing and it just makes my life better.

For example, I have a friend who has always given me great earrings. I never ask for jewelry because my tastes are a little quirky (I know, hard to imagine), but she is amazing in that way.

I have another friend who has often given me great kitchen tools—sometimes things I didn’t even know would be useful that I now use often.

So that’s what I mean. These things make my life better, but I would have gone on just fine without them. Are they now part of the problem? I don’t think so, but I’m really not good at making that distinction at the point of sale, so most of the time, I err on the side of not buying.

Wow! I’m a long way from where I started. (Tangent city indeed!)

I need to purge my stuff and I need to purge my schedule, both to the end goal of having time for what I want to have time for … at least sometimes.

Anyone here not overwhelmed by their schedule? How do you do it?