Posted in audience participation, connections, mental health, parenting, socializing, thoughtfulness, tips, vulnerability

School. Virus. Sadness. Self-care. Hope.

Here in Arizona, the governor recently announced that public school buildings are closed for the rest of this school year. (Schools aren’t closed; the buildings are closed.)
Teachers and principals are still working.
I’m sad for all of the kids and teachers and parents who had something in the fourth quarter to look forward to. This is many seniors (remember: not everyone likes high school, so for some, this is a relief) and others moving up a level. Performances, dances, ceremonies, awards. “My last ____” just disappeared.
I’m sad for all the kids who go to school to get structure, to get love, to get consistency who are now looking at five or more months at home (spring break plus fourth quarter plus summer).
I’m sad for all the kids who are now working manual labor to try to help their families make ends meet. (Yes, that includes elementary-aged kids.)
I’m sad for the parents who are stressed out about trying to make their kids do their schoolwork (when really, love and connection and emotional safety are way more important — now and always…though those are different than “do whatever you want; another post for another day).
I’m sad for all of the lost birthday parties and quinceañeras and bar mitzvahs and  playdates and baby showers and weddings.
I’m sad for all of the people whose anxiety has shot up.
I’m sad for all of the people who have lost someone (virus-related or not) and can’t seek comfort in community.
I’m sad for all of the people who are separated from loved ones who are hospitalized (whether because of the virus or not).
I’m sad for all of the people who continue to mingle with others because they are so unwilling to accept their own vulnerability.
Stay in touch with people.
Do things at home that make you feel good.
If cleaning the house is a “should” and creating art is a “want,” create art. There’s enough to do that needs to be done (work for some, dishes, cooking, dishes, keeping other people and animals alive, dishes, laundry, dishes … so many dishes). When you have time outside of the needs, spend time on the wants. The shoulds can get done later.
Truly.
(If cleaning the house feels good, then do it! I know sometimes cleaning is a drag, and every now and then, a cleaning bender is mysteriously inspired. Wait for inspiration. And if you’re never inspired … it’s OK.)
Play.
Create.
Soak up beautiful things.
Take advantage of so many arts being available online (performances, galleries, etc.).
Turn on some music and dance and sing in the living room. (And make a house rule that no one makes fun of anyone else for how they look or sound doing it—emotional safety is important and “harmless teasing” erodes emotional safety.)
Get outside. Not socially, but sun is good for you in a myriad of ways.
Read. (Books, magazines, whatever. We were pounded with what “counts” as reading when we were in school, and it was bullshit. Read whatever interests you.)
Exercise. Go for a walk or a bike ride or do yoga or weightlifting or aerobics in your living room or your yard or on your patio.
Support the people around you and let them support you. We’re in our own little cells now, but we can still reach out and stay connected. Talk on the phone. Talk via video chat. Text. Email. Write letters.
So when it all passes and the fear settles and the anxiety reduces and we can gather again, we have changed the world for the better in the mean time.
In the mean time … stay home.
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, 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?

Posted in audience participation, differences, hope, know better do better, mindset, socializing, thoughtfulness, vulnerability

Generational differences

So many people discrediting each other based on their age. “You are [young/old] so you don’t know anything” attitude.

Take age out of it. Is the person informed? Experienced in this? Depending on who/what the conversation is about, are they articulate? Do they look at things from multiple vantage points?

People at any age can have a legitimate point. Life isn’t as simple as the media (or your crotchety neighbor/coworker, or your kid) makes it out to be, and the good ol’ days weren’t necessarily better. (Nor were they necessarily worse—depends on who you are and where you’re from.)

Everyone has experiences we can learn from, and I want to hear your tales and your advice… and maybe some of it will resonate and maybe none of it will and it will have been an interesting conversation and that’s all.

In spite of having aged, you might actually know less than someone younger and you might want to also listen and consider their advice. Age is not greater than knowledge. There are 15-year-olds who know more than I do. And they might know more than you, too, depending on what you’re talking about.

Making this a little bit broader…

In several classes and trainings I’ve been to in the last handful of years, I’ve had to take a questionnaire titled, “Can you survive in a different social class?” Someone put it on Survey Monkey; you can see it here. (I don’t know who gets the answers—I share it just so you can look at the questions.)

Unless your experience has been broader than most, there’s plenty you could learn just about societal basics of classes that aren’t yours. Or you could learn about what it’s like to be the opposite sex. Or a different sexual orientation. Or a different race. Or religion. Or mental health status. This list could go on and on because we have such a wide variety of ways we pigeonhole people.

So. Listen and think. Be thoughtful—don’t take something in or reject it without processing it first. There’s so much to learn.

Posted in about me, audience participation, differences, mindset, parenting, thoughtfulness

Birthdays, and the wide variety of reactions to them

It’s my birthday today!

Except that mostly, it doesn’t matter. Work, chores, appointments, etc. all happen regardless. Which is fine (and reasonable).

The number changing doesn’t make me feel any different. I know quite a few people on both sides of that fence—some who don’t care about the number turning over and some who react pretty severely.

Where are you on that spectrum? What’s your thinking behind it? I’m curious if people with the same result as me have the same process. And if my guesses are truth for people who are different than I am.

I like to celebrate my birthday, but for reasons unrelated to my age. (More about that on another day.) Again, I know people all over the spectrum on that, from “I don’t like/need/want to acknowledge my birthday at all” to “I like to celebrate all month!”

Where are you on that spectrum? What’s your thinking behind it? I’m sure these answers will be all over the map, and I’m very interested to know where those points are.

For people who celebrate both birthdays and Christmas, Christmas is usually a bigger deal (for a lot of reasons that make some sense) but I would rather do more presents, bigger celebration, etc. for birthday. It’s a day to celebrate the person, that they were born, that they’re part of our lives. Reason to celebrate indeed!

I’m a little sad that I didn’t start any great birthday traditions with The Kid before he got old enough for them to be unpalatable. We’ll see what I can come up with, maybe starting now (his birthday is soon) and going forward. Hopefully something that The Climbing Daddy would like, too, and that they would put in place for me.

Any suggestions?

I’m in a conversational kind of mood today. Leave a comment and answer one or more of those questions. Especially the first two.