Monday, December 5, 2011

Motivational Monday #65 - When Your To Do List is Bigger Than You

This morning I wrote down my to do list.  Usually I love lists, but I had been dreading this list for days.  What I was afraid of turned out to be true...the list is bigger than I am!  It is HUGE!  There are so many good, worthy, needful, urgent and important items on the list that nothing can really go away.

And that makes me sad.

Very sad.

I was hoping for a short list.  An itty bitty teeny list.  A list that would be quickly swept under the carpet and finished off.

No such luck.

So what to do....hmmm.  I think I will start by refusing to buy groceries, I mean really, who needs to eat anyways?  From there, I think I will stop washing clothes.  I'm not a fan of laundry, so that's gone.  I think I will also stop paying bills.  That is such a boring job.  Maybe I can get away without completing my volunteer hours...do you think they will notice?  Oh!  I know!  I will also eliminate anything festive.  I mean who wants to do fun things when there are serious work things to do?

Okay, I admit, this doesn't sound much like a plan.  So, what do you do when your list gets longer than you can possibly ever tackle?

Monday, November 28, 2011

Motivational Monday #64 - Stuffed

After the long Thanksgiving Weekend I can wrap up all of my festivities in one word...Stuffed!  I cooked for 15 hours to provide a 45 minute meal.  I baked a cake (twice, as the first one burnt), a pie, and cranberry tarts.  The 20 lb turkey was moist, the sweet potatoes were yummy, the stuffing was flavorful and the gravy (from a rue) was delicious. I flexed my organizational skills to get everything in one oven and still be hot at the same time.

And now I am stuffed, and not just physically.

I am mentally full.  My brain is tired and my body is exhausted.  It was yummy, but now it's done.

How often do we stuff ourselves with things we may not need, experiences we do not need and stress we definitely do not need?  For me the feeling of being stuffed is not one of contentment, but one of discomfort.

So now it is Cyber Monday.  We were supposed to shop like maniacs on Black Friday, at it appears from the news many people did just that.  Now we are supposed to shop like crazy people again.  Of course I would love it if you wandered over to Prepared Binder and ordered a few binders...but all in moderation of course. 

So while I hope your holiday was wonderful, I also hope you are done being stuffed.  Here's to a pleasant week of moderation!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Motivational Monday #63 - Value

Value. It can be a noun or a verb. It has definitions in the dictionary, and personal meaning to everyone.  What I value may not be what you value.  What I give worth to, may not be what you give worth to.  In fact, I would suggest the term value is closely tied to each person's priorities.

Dictionary.com defines the noun value as "relative worth" while it defines the verb value as "to regard or esteem highly."  Both of these definitions are subjective.  If I am in a desert, I may value water highly.  If I am standing in waist deep flooding, well, then, maybe not.

Given these definitions, and knowing that "value" is subjective, I would suggest preparedness is one of those things people find value in after they make it a priority.  For some, it becomes a priority after they experience an emergency.  For others, it is after watching others face an emergency.  Then there are always those who prioritize preparedness just because it is a good idea.

The holiday season makes a lot of people think about priorities.  Maybe now is the time to see the value in preparedness.  Have a great week!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Motivational Monday #62 - Holiday Craziness

I think this is the craziest season of the year. Between the gifts, the parties, the decorations and the endless fa la la la-ing, it is easy to lose your holiday cheer...if not your mind.  Now, don't get me wrong, I LOVE Christmas time, but the older I get, the more running around I do, and the less enjoyment I see in return.

A few years ago I discovered the joy of online shopping.  Don't laugh, yes I own an internet based business, so you would think this would be obvious...but I had never tried to mass shop online.  My husband and I sat down and ordered all of the presents in one happy credit card transaction.  When the box arrived I was ecstatic.  My shopping was done and I hadn't been driving all over town like a crazy woman in search of a parking space.

While I try to remember "the reason for the season," we all know the traditions are what take a lot of time and focus.  Just planning the meal can cause a headache if you aren't careful.

So why do I point this out?  Well, the craziest part about all of this tradition making and festivity having is that often in our search for large numbers of presents (for people we only see once a year,) we wreak havoc on our minds and budgets.  What's even worse is the number of useless presents we all buy and receive each year.  (Electric socks or cable knit reindeer sweaters anyone?) 

When the flurry or wrapping paper has subsided, no one wants to be left with a gift that can only be described as next year's white elephant gift.  So what to do...?

I humbly suggest finding a useful gift.  I remember when I was a young wife I told my husband to NEVER buy me an appliance that would help me do more cooking, cleaning or housework.  Now I am begging for a blender.  I think my definition of a fabulous gift changed from luxurious to practical somewhere after kids arrived.

This year I would suggest combining a practical gift with the ease of internet shopping. Prepared Binder - Home Edition is a great way to give your family a useful gift they will actually use.

And who knows...maybe this year you will eliminate a little of the holiday craziness?

Monday, November 7, 2011

Motivational Monday #61 - Control What You Can and Let The Rest Go

Parenting is an odd thing.  When first hold your little bundle of joy you realize that you are completely responsible for their health, their safety, their ability to thrive...well, their everything. 

As they grow you make all sorts of decisions. You determine how they will dress, what they will eat, and what activities they will try.  You are in control of their universe.

And then it happens.  It happens to each and every parent in a different way and at a different time, but it happens.

We realize that we do not actually have any control over our child.  We may still buy their clothes, but that may be the end of it.  They have minds of their own.  They have wants, desires, fears, strengths, weaknesses and opinions all of their own.  They are in fact their own little humans.

And then something else happens.  It is something we all fear, even if we never put that fear into words.  Our child gets sick.  The doctors don't know what is wrong or how to fix it.  They aren't sure what medications will work or what side effects you will see.  This is more than the flu, this is serious.  You find yourself sitting at the hospital pacing the floor. 

Then it hits you...you can't control this.  It is an overwhelming feeling.  It is almost paralyzing.  How can a parent not be able to help?  You already know they have their own thoughts and opinions.  You know they don't always agree with you, but aren't you still supposed to be able to protect them?

This is when you realize you must identify what you can control and let the rest go.  I know I just said that as if it is easy.  I know firsthand that it is not.  Maybe you are not dealing with illness, maybe you are dealing with poor choices or maybe just random circumstances, but whatever the cause, you realize you can not control the situation.

This is when you need to fall back and think.  Many of us put energy into changing situations we have no influence to change.  In the end we are exhausted and mad, but nothing has been gained. 

Taking the time to identify our areas of influence and power may be the best thing we can do.  Can we find different doctors? Can we locate different resources? Can we find someone with new information or a new perspective?  What CAN we do?

You may never have been in a scary medical situation with your child.  Maybe it was your spouse or your parent.  Maybe it wasn't medical, but legal or maybe it just involved uncontrollable situations.  Either way, most of us have been left feeling helpless and out of control one time or another. 

I may be off base, but as I go through this situation right now, I am finding more peace by identifying what I can do than dwelling on what I can't.  I am more able to function when I have a plan of what I can contribute to forward motion.  Standing still only makes it worse for me.

That is my Motivational Monday thought.  Identify what you can control and stop spending energy on what you can't.  I know this isn't a new concept, but sometimes it bears repeating.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Motivational Monday #60 - Defining Emergencies

What does an emergency look like to you?

Prepared Binder - Home Edition
I think it is a valid question, because everyone has a different opinion.  For one person the lack of morning coffee can be considered an emergency, but for others it would take a power outage in the middle of a snow storm.  (I'm looking at you North East America...)  Others would consider sudden medical issues to be an emergency, while others would think of fire or theft.

Each of us has a worst case scenario.  We have that one thing we hope will never happen because we don't know what we would do.  If you are like most of us, you don't want to think about that worst case scenario very often because it scares you.

So take a minute and think about it anyway.  I know it isn't going to be fun, but try.  Think of the things you can't control, and then look at what you can.  Think of what you can do to make it more manageable.  Think of what you can do to prepare.

Now go act. Start doing the things you can now so that later you will have one less worry.

When my grandfather died we were glad to know he had everything ready to go.  Money was organized, bills were paid, a trust was written, an executor was established and the process was fairly seamless.  He knew that he wouldn't be able to control his own death, but he was able to control how his family would deal with the aftermath.

I know we are coming up on the holiday season, and for many of us that means we start thinking more of family.  We reminisce about the memories of holidays past.  We think of happy time and also those which were sad.  It may seem like an odd time to think about emergency preparedness, but really, it is the perfect time.  While thinking of those we care about it is easy to think about why we should prepare.  We prepare because we love them and want to make sure they are taken care of.

So identify your emergencies, think about who you are planning for, and get to it!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Motivational Monday #59 - And Here We Go Again

Every year I write a nice long post about why Prepared Binder is the right gift to give this year.  I have to admit is seems strange to do so.  Over the last two years I have written about many things, natural disasters, being prepared, getting involved, volunteering, gaining perspective, taking action, overcoming fear, and a myriad of other things as well.  Then it is time to write the annual 'Why you should use Prepared Binder' post and I get all tongue tied.

Silly, huh?

I believe in this product.  I know it can help.  I know it can take an overwhelming task and break it down into smaller and more manageable portions.  It can facilitate progress.  It can start conversations.  It can create an inner peace when you know you have dealt with the details.


I know all of that, but it still feels strange to tell you.

Maybe I feel awkward because I am asking you to love something I created.  There is a level of personal investment with that request.  Maybe I feel odd because there are so many ways to spend your hard earned dollars, and I am asking for you to consider Prepared Binder.  Maybe I feel uncomfortable because I would rather talk to you in person than over the internet.

Or maybe I am just being a ninny.

So here it is, my official pitch on behalf of my wonderful product:  Prepared Binder is a practical, useful and needed product.  It is a better gift than reindeer sweaters or electric socks.  It is more thoughtful than a fruitcake and it is a better conversation piece than a flocked tree.

Instead of rewriting what I have already said, here are links to some of my favorite posts that explain Prepared Binder:

Okay, there it is, my annual sales pitch.  Now go out there and order 5 of them and tell your family you care with the gift of preparedness.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Three Choices

I recently read a quote, and while I have no idea who said it, it had a profound impact on me.
"When something bad happens you have three choices.  You can either let it define you, let it destroy you, or you can let it strengthen you."
I have to admit I don't choose wisely as often as I should.  In fact, I wonder if the fourth choice is "or you can whine about it."  If so, well then I know which one I pick!  (hangs head)

So how do we take those things in our lives and change them from destroyers to strengths?  How do we make our own personal definitions and avoid circumstances dictating our personal narrative?

While I think it is true that we are the sum of our experiences, there is so much choice involved in what we add up to.  We can take disappointment and turn it into motivation, we can change heartache into poetry, we can convert despair into hope.  We really do have the choice.

When I read this quote I immediately thought of my grandfather and how he was defined by the death of his younger brother.  My aunt quickly pointed out that in spite of this he found strength from his trials.  

I then started to think about how I define myself and where those definitions come from.  It was strange to realize how seemingly small and insignificant moments have changed the person I am.

Sometimes I have allowed things to define me, other times destroy me.  What I want to focus on now is how I make them strengthen me.  I don't want my life to be a literary tragedy.  I want to look back on my life and see strength.

So here is my question, how do we all get from where we are to where we want to be?  I doubt I am the only person who wishes they could find more strength from their life's experiences. If you have any suggestions, I would love to hear them!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Motivational Monday #58 - Playing Dress Up Is Good For The Soul

I'm not sure why, but a big part of childhood is pretending to be someone else.  Little girls dress up as fairy princesses, and little boys dress up an ninja's or pirates.  If they are really adventurous they dress up as their parents and act out what it would be like to be an adult.

I was never a 'girly girl' but I did my fair share of dress up too.  It was a nice escape to be someone else.  It was fun to forget my own worries and enter the magical land of sugar plums and pixie dust.

As I watch my kids put on this year's Halloween costumes and run around the house lost in the magic of imagination, I wonder what creative world they have designed for themselves.  

I know that as adults we tend to make things a little too serious.  We look at the deep problems of the world and focus on the overwhelming obstacles in our way.  Sometimes I wish I could turn into a fairy princess and wave my magic wand. 

Today is a Motivational Monday post, and I bet you are wondering what these personal reflections will do to motivate you.  My hope is that you will take a moment and imagine what it would be like to be someone else, or have a super power, or live in a far away kingdom. 

I think the time we take in imagination opens our minds to the possibilities we ignore.  It reminds us of the dreams we have and the goals we strive for.  When we remember these little details it helps refocus our energies and improve our outlook.

While I may never be a princess with unlimited magical powers and a fabulous castle, I am a mother who has the power to make my kids smile and we all live in a castle exactly the size I am willing to clean.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Motivational Monday #57 - Making Old New Again

This morning was like so many Monday mornings.  I rolled out of bed and began the routine of getting kids out the door and on the bus.  And like so many other mornings my children had last minute "emergencies" that they "forgot" to deal with over the weekend.  Ahhh, the joys of Monday mornings!

Today's emergency revolved around the need for a clipboard.  I know this seems like a crazy emergency, and it was, but any way you slice it, my special needs child needed a clipboard and mommy had to deliver.

So what did I do?  I did what any self respecting mom would do, I climbed through the mess in the garage, and dug through dusty boxes to find a clipboard I had seen the last time I cleaned out the garage.  The good news is that I didn't come out covered in dirt...and I had a clipboard!

The clipboard I found was in a box filled with my father's odds and ends.  How I got the box isn't quite clear, but inside was a perfectly sized clipboard just waiting to be used.  To make it even cooler, my dad's name was printed in black plastic label tape and adhered to the metal clip.

As I handed this well used, but industrial strength clipboard to my son, I pointed out the name and asked him if he knew who that was.  Then I reminded him that he got part of his name from grandpa, and that this was now his clipboard.  His face lit up and off he went to school with his grandfather's clipboard clutched under his arm.

So what was only recently a dusty old clipboard taking up space in the garage is now a beloved treasure in the hands of a child.  It didn't take much to make an old thing new again.

How many old things do we have in our lives?  How many metaphorical boxes of odds and ends do we have stored away?  Do we take the chance to dust them off and bring them new life?  I would suggest we take the time to do just that.

I'm not sure if a clipboard can be considered part of the circle of life, but today an old clipboard was made new, and the past was linked with the future. Not too bad for a Monday morning...eh?

Monday, September 19, 2011

Motivational Monday #56 - Detours

I have a dear friend whose husband was just diagnosed with a rare form of cancer.  For an man who has always been healthy and active, this came as a shock.  It was not the path this family expected to take.  It was not the road they expected to travel.  This definitely qualifies as a detour.

Detours are crazy things.  By definition they take us off the path we were on and lead us into unknown, unexpected and often unwanted directions. Sometimes we get placed back on our intended path, but very often we continue in a far different direction.

Detours are not always bad, in fact they often have amazing outcomes.  They introduce us to things we did not know existed and offer us opprotunities we didn't know we could have.  Other times these detours test our strength and beat on our spirit, but leave us stronger and more capable than when we started.

I think detours in life can be what you make them.  When you realize you are headed a direction you didn't expect, you can either attempt to get back on track or choose to learn from this new path.  Sometimes detours are out of our control, but sometimes they are a result of our actions.

I don't have all the answers for the detours in our lives, but my suggestion is that you learn the lessons available and keep moving forward.  There is a distinct difference between a detour and a dead end, but I think many of us forget that simple detail.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Frantic Friday #30 - Autumn Focus

It is official, I got cold this week.  Yes, it's true, I put on socks and snuggled in a blanket while I watched a little evening TV.  Now don't get me wrong, it is still almost 100 degrees during the day, but at night and early morning there is almost a chill in the air. (In the spirit of full disclosure, "a chill" means high 70's, but when it has been over 110 for almost 5 months, that does give you a 40 degree drop...thus a chill.)

I wish I lived in a place where leaves changed and people wore sweaters, but alas, I don't.  There is something magical about the changing of the seasons, as if nature is telling us it is time to focus on other things. For me, cool weather means it is time to plant a garden, (yep, I live in the desert) clean out my closets, (I must make room for the presents coming at Christmas) and start baking.  My focus changes and I feel the need to get closer to family and appreciate that which I have.

What do the changing seasons mean to you?  Does your focus change?  Do you find yourself doing things differently?  Well, whatever it is you do to commemorate the turning of the leaves, enjoy!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Preferences

I prefer cuddly puppies over kittens, juicy steak over chicken, swimming pools over ski resorts and capris over shorts.  (I know you were dying to know that.)

We all have preferences in life, and they usually make no sense to anyone but us.  Depending on our personalities, we may be very attached to our preferences...or not.  For some of us, things must be exactly as desired, while for others, well, it doesn't really matter.  (Just for the record, I am a "my way or the highway" kind of gal.)

When it comes to preparation, preferences do matter.  Some things obviously require a preference, for example, when completing memorial plans, knowing if you prefer burial or cremation is vital.  Other things may not be as important, like the color tent you have or the size of your binoculars.

While staying true to your preferences will ease a lot of stress down the road, it is important to remember that not all things can go according to plan.  Not all emergencies will happen on the preferred day, most interruption will not be scheduled, and the likelihood you will be given the option to decide which medial emergency to have is slim.  When these things happen many preferences go out the window and getting through the situation as quickly as possible becomes the driving factor.

So, is it possible to maintain some semblance of dignity when chaos is all around you?  Is there a way to etch out a little space to do things "your way" when all manner of nastiness hits the fan?  Of course, but it will likely be the small things you have control over. 

Having your preferences prepared ahead of time will give you back the smallest feeling of control in an emergency.  Things like stocking your glove box with a favorite brand of pen, (I admit I do have a favorite pen in the car, but for the record I would use anything that was handed to me.) keeping favorite snacks in your purse, maintaining a list of people you know your kids will enjoy spending time with, and knowing which hospitals your personal doctor has privileges at will keep your preferences available.

Let's face it, we all like to do things the way we want them.  We enjoy the feeling of "rightness" that comes along with having our preferences recognized.  With that said, the next time I have an emergency, I really hope I am given the chance to cuddle with a puppy, eat steak and lay by the pool in my capri pants. I imagine any emergency I had to deal with would go much smoother.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Motivational Monday #55 - You Can't Always Get What You Want

Life is not often what we expect.  As the Rolling Stone so eloquently put it:
"You can't always get what you want
But if you try sometimes, well you just might find
You get what you need."
My life can easily be summed up by these eloquent words.  I could never have seen my life's experiences coming...and it isn't always what I would have asked for, but amazingly enough, I am making it through and will be just fine.

When we prepare for emergencies in our lives we are doing our best to guess at what life may throw at us.  We are anticipating the future and hoping we will have in place what we need.  We are boiling our wants down into needs and cutting back the fluff to reveal the solid rock.

I think one of the reasons preparation scares us is that it can be hard to accept the differences between wants and needs.  If you have ever been in a crisis, you will know needs become obvious very quickly.  For some reason our vision becomes clearer and our priorities become obvious.

In movies I can always pick out the characters who will die during the crisis.  It is the doofus who goes back for his briefcase, or the guy who only cares about himself.  It is the woman who won't take off her heals, or the one who complains about moving to higher ground.  Those who quickly identify their wants vs. needs are the ones we see at the end of the movie all dirty and exhausted, but alive and well.

In life we don't always get what we want, but if we plan ahead, and prepare the essentials, we will have what we need.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Frantic Friday #29 - Being a Parent

I have realized that there are things you will do for your child you would never do for yourself.  There are mountains you will climb, fears you will conquer and questions you will ask for the good of your child.

I often wonder if parenting is more about refining ourselves than anything else.  I am sure my children could be raised by someone else far more amazing than myself, but if that happened I would never have the refining fire I experience daily.   

Being a parent is not always comfortable, nor is it always enjoyable, but if I was not a parent I would have missed so many things in my life. I would have avoided so many growth moments. I would have slept in so much more often. (Oops, did that last one sneak in there...?) 

So on this crazy day, one where I head off to do yet another thing for my child, I realize that personal growth is a daily opprotunity.  I may not always like it, but the opprotunity is always there.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Excuse #5 - There Is A Chance I Will Never Need to Prepare At All

I love being optimistic. (I'm just not very good at it.) It is nice to look ahead and see only good things coming your way...unless of course, you are wrong.  I know that most of us hope we will never be in situations such as fire, natural disaster or medical emergency, and if we never have those problems, there is nothing to prepare for...right? 

Today's blog is an ongoing discussion into reasons we hate to get prepared.  The original blog can be found here and you can find links to each of the reasons below. 
  1. Preparing is expensive.
  2. Preparation takes time.
  3. Being prepared takes emotional energy.
  4. Getting prepared means I have to focus on negative situations.
  5. There is the chance I will never need to prepare at all.
I really do think most of us cannot fathom having some of these emergencies happen to us.  Emergencies are for "other" people...who ever they are. It is hard to imagine needing to evacuate.  It is hard to wrap your head around losing a loved one. It is strange to think of disasters of any kind landing on our doorstep, unless of course it happens to you.

Right now, all across the United States we have tens of thousands of people who are dealing with unthinkable situations.  They are dealing with flooding, wildfires, loss of infrastructure, and loss of power.  Hurricanes, tropical storms, wildfires, drought, and excessive heat are all happening at the same time.  My guess is we have a lot of people who never thought they would have these issues. 

Just for a moment, let's imagine you chose to do no preparation.  Now let's assume you were in the north eastern United States when the hurricane hit.  I want you to answer a few questions.
  1. Did you have enough food to last the 5-7 days you were without power and stores were not open?
  2. Did you have enough batteries for flashlights?
  3. Did you have enough medication to wait until the pharmacy's computers were back up?
  4. Did your home flood?  If so, were you able to leave safely and did you have a place to go?
  5. Did you have flood insurance? Could you contact your agent?
  6. Did anyone get hurt? Were you able to get them medical treatment?
  7. Were you able to notify your family/contact list that you were safe?
I'm sure I could ask many more questions, but the point is a little preparation could have made each of those questions easy to answer.   While there is a chance you will never have to deal with these issues, is it really worth waiting for the flood to find out you were wrong?

I know many of us are overwhelmed by all of this, and if taken as one big preparation task, yes it can be very overwhelming.  Taking it one step at a time can make it all a little easier to handle.  You don't have to think about the emotions of a flood, only the things you need to do to make it easier when/if it happens.  Doing a single thing at a time will get you prepared, and sometimes that preparation is the difference between riding out the storm and being in trouble.

So get up and go get prepared...you can do it!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Frantic Friday #28 - Preparing to Relax

I don't know about you, but for me, relaxation takes preparation.  I can't relax if I have things left undone. My mind spins, I feel uneasy and it takes a long time for me to let it go.

With a three day weekend just in front of me, I realize I am looking forward to family time and relaxation.  I'm thinking a few hours in the pool with the kids (the doc decided not to cast my arm after the break, yippee!) and some burgers sounds wonderful.

In order to make that happen I need to make sure the pool is clean, that we have hamburger meat and that I have the goodies to go along with everything.  I also need to know my duties around the house are caught up and I have prepped for next week.

Wow!  Who knew relaxation could be so tiring??

I do find it funny when I think about how many parts of our lives need preparation.  It is true, I could forget a lot of these things and just 'wing it' but honestly I doubt I would enjoy myself very much.  So I am off to prepare for relaxation...and I am so excited!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Excuse #4 - Getting Prepared Means Having To Focus On Negative Situations

Negativity is all around us.  All you have to do is turn on the nightly news to figure that out.  Being upset about situations we have no control over is the cultural norm.  Reality TV makes every little detail into high drama, and 24 hour news channels beat every subject to death.  You almost need to live in a cave to avoid it all.

Unfortunately, when we prepare we are dealing with yet another thing that can be viewed as negative.

Today's blog is an ongoing discussion into reasons we hate to get prepared.  The original blog can be found here and you can find links to each of the reasons below. 
  1. Preparing is expensive.
  2. Preparation takes time.
  3. Being prepared takes emotional energy.
  4. Getting prepared means I have to focus on negative situations.
  5. There is the chance I will never need to prepare at all.
When it comes time to prepare many of us find the prospect of focusing on yet another negative thing overwhelming.  Emergencies aren't usually pleasant, because if they were we would call them 'unexpected celebrations' instead.  Here is a quick and dirty list of things we prepare for:
  1. Natural Disasters (can we say Hurricane Irene anyone?)
  2. Medical Emergencies
  3. Fire
  4. Theft
  5. Evacuation
  6. Death
I can honestly say I wouldn't enjoy anything on that list!  It is a little overwhelming and scary.  Images from the news come to mind, and horrible stories from friends and neighbors come back in vivid detail.  Ack!

Here is the good news, preparation gives you back some of your power in each situation.  Yes, it is true.  Just to prove it, let's look at what you gain by focusing on each negative thing on our list.

Natural Disasters - While you have no control of when the hurricane hits, or when the mud slides down the hill, you can be prepared.  Having emergency supplies stored and ready to use will allow you to avoid the rush on stores, the limited supplies and the emotion involved when you think you may have to do without.  Having a plan and resources gives you power and confidence, so one negative is now a way to take charge.

Medical Emergencies - I am not a fan of these.  I would much rather be cold that sick.  When medical stuff comes up you never feel good, and dealing with an emergency when you feel icky is never pleasant.  Prepare for medical emergencies by recording histories, documenting prescriptions and listing surgeries.  This is the information your medical team needs to treat you. Taking the time to research this information reduces the risks of giving an incomplete medical history.  It takes extra strain off of you, and lets you be sick without having to be a walking medical report.

Fire - My family has personal experience with this one.  I remember the day we got the call my Nana's house burnt down.  Once we were sure she was okay I started asking about important treasures that were inside her home.  Most of it was lost, but not all.  Taking the time to think about your 'treasures' and taking steps to protect them is empowering.  While you may not care about the clothes in your closet, you may care about Grandma's china or your birth certificate.  (Please note...you really should care about the paperwork...just say'n) After the fact, it is a little late, so consider this a 'burning' priority. (Couldn't resist!)

Theft - I can't begin to tell you how much I dislike people who steal.  I have a confession to make.  When I was really young I took a sticker out of my friends desk to see if she would notice.  She didn't, and then I felt too embarrassed to give it back. The sticker seemed to stare at me and condemn me every time I saw it. Even after the school year was out I still was haunted by this sticker, so I got on my bike and rode to her house to confess.  When I got there I realized her family had moved and I was forced to keep the offending sticker.  Whenever I think about theft I get the same sinking feeling I had while holding that sticker years ago.  Preparing for theft by taking pictures, documenting purchases, and properly storing valuables is a responsible thing to do.  Hopefully you will never have a 'friend' take any of your stickers, but being prepared gives you back a lot of power.

Evacuation - They say there is no place like home.  I would agree, unless of course your home is in the path of a hurricane, rising flood waters, or wildfires.  Being prepared to leave is an emotional, but solid idea.  Knowing where to go takes the stress out of last minute plans.  Having fuel, supplies and food makes the trip easier.  Having an evacuation kit ensures you leave with what you need.  You may not get to choose when you have to leave, but you can decide how prepared you will be.

Death - This is a biggie, as there are so many decisions to be made after a death.  If you have particular wishes, then documenting them is important.  Death is very emotional, so making the hard choices ahead of time frees up time and energy for personal emotions.  While death is inevitable, the uncertainty many people feel can be avoided.

So there you go...a nice list of how to take your power back from negative situations.  You may not be able to avoid them, but you can put yourself in a better position to deal with them.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Motivational Monday #54 - Be Grateful

This weekend I did a swan dive into the floor and broke my elbow.  It was a 9.8 for style and grace.  (I'm not sure if I get bonus points for the loud bang I made when I hit or the squeal of pain that erupted from my throat...)  I have never broken anything before, so I thought it was a "walk it off" type of pain.  Nope.  It turned out to be a "put a cast on it" type of pain. Delightful!

As I sat in urgent care later that afternoon I realized I had a lot to be grateful for.  First, I almost did a face plant, and I could have easily impaled myself on a wood slat, so my arm was a far better choice.  Also, it is my left arm, so I can still write, type, brush my teeth and do most daily activities with my dominant right hand.  I have joked with people that this injury will not interrupt my bid for the Mrs.USA pageant, nor will it interfere with my Olympic trials.  In fact, as the injury occurred at the end of the summer season, it won't even impact my pool time.

For these things I am grateful.

I have a sneaky suspicion that I will soon be a grumbly pile of goo.  I will hate the cast, resent the limited movement and rue the day I was such a klutz, so I am writing down now why I am grateful.  Hopefully that will help me remember the positives down the road.

As this is a Motivational Monday post, I want to urge you to look at something in your life you would consider unpleasant and find the positives.  Find the silver lining in the cloud.  Make lemonade.

As I sit here with my arm throbbing, I promise giggling is better than crying!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Frantic Friday # 27 - Time Out to Create

Sometimes creativity is the last thing we have time to think about...but today is that day!  I challenge each of you to find something outside your comfort zone, and go create.

Today I ditched my schedule and am going to paint.  Let's be perfectly clear, I am NOT an artist.  Finger painting is actually beyond my creative abilities, but today I don't mind.  I am going to stretch my creative muscle and enjoy life.

So what are you going to create today?  What normal and sometimes boring thing will you forgo to be creative?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Excuse #3 - Being Prepared Takes Emotional Energy

Let's be honest, there are things worth getting emotionally involved with, and things that are not.  My emotional energy is a limited resource, and I don't take kindly when people expect me to use it unnecessarily. 

For some people preparation is an emotional issue.  There are reasons we aren't prepared, and to get prepared we have to face those reasons.

Today's blog is an ongoing discussion into reasons we hate to get prepared.  The original blog can be found here and you can find links to each of the reasons below. 
  1. Preparing is expensive.
  2. Preparation takes time.
  3. Being prepared takes emotional energy.
  4. Getting prepared means I have to focus on negative situations.
  5. There is the chance I will never need to prepare at all.
Today we will discuss the concept of emotional energy.  (I hope I didn't just see anyone burst into tears.)  Unlike physical energy, which can be restored by eating well, exercising and sleeping regularly, emotional energy has a far more complex maintenance regimen.  For me, emotional energy is expended every time I care about an issue. Every time I have to correct my children, call customer service to resolve an issue, plan an event, rush around town to get errands completed, or deal with family issues, a little more of my emotional energy is drained.

Preparation for emergencies is, on the surface, a very logical activity.  However, for many, it is an exercise in facing unhappy events.  We will talk more next week about the concept of focusing on the negative, but today I want to acknowledge the emotions we face when thinking about illness and death.

When I put together Prepared Binder I called a funeral home and spoke with one of the employees at length.  I asked about the information needed to quickly get through the process of burying a loved one.  I asked about insurance, about funeral plans and prepaid arrangements.  I asked details about burial vs. cremation and even asked for detailed descriptions of where the body goes from the moment of death until the funeral.  I asked to see the paperwork required at the time of death and who was allowed to fill it out.  I wanted to know it all.

Then I got off the phone and cried.  I stood in my kitchen, hung my head and sobbed.  I was a very young mother at the time and I saw the ramifications to my family if I died.  I also thought of all the things I still wanted to do, the projects uncompleted and the things unsaid.  I wondered if my life had meaning, and if I was living up to my potential. I thought of not being able to hold my babies any longer, or kiss my husband.  And then I cried harder.

What had started as a logical information gathering exercise had turned into an emotionally draining afternoon.  Was I glad I had the information...YES!  Was I glad I knew what decisions needed to be made...YES!  Did I feel empowered to protect my family from the heartache of misinformation and confusion...YES!  But was I also emotionally drained, a little overwhelmed and very sad...YES!

So I did what any sane person would do, (I hear my family and friends laughing that I called myself sane - so stop that!) I let myself cry, and then I wrote the section about funerals for Prepared Binder.  I set out to help other people get prepared.  I could write a lot about how our end of life decisions affect others, but that will be in another blog, another day. The important thing is I got past it and was productive.

I chose when to ask the questions.  I chose when to learn about a difficult topic.  I did it on my terms.  I ran the show, I directed the conversation.  I was the master of my ship.  If I had waited until a close family member died I would not have had that luxury.  I would have been overwhelmed, emotionally exhausted, and pressured for a decision.  I would not have had the luxury of quietly sobbing in my kitchen.  I would have needed to pull it together and make choices immediately.

If given the choice, I want to decide when I am emotionally involved.   Taking the time to get prepared gives me the power to schedule my emotional involvement.  I am able to assign myself tasks I know I can handle, and get help on those I am afraid of.  If I wait, I may not have that power.

Being prepared does take emotional energy, but it also gives us power.  I choose to use the process of preparation, which I already know will have a positive outcome, to strengthen those parts of me which are week and help me face those things which I find hard.

So here you go, a challenge...Schedule a time to start preparing, and find power to face that which frightens you.  In the end, you will be stronger, and you will be glad.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Motivational Monday #53 - The Devil is in the Details

We are trying to remodel our kitchen, which means there are a lot of moving parts to this process. After selecting just the right counter top material, we had to select the company to fabricate it and install it.  Then came selecting the sink...oh my! That was about the moment I realized the sewer stub out is unusually high.

Basic laws of gravity insist that water runs downhill, and this applies to sewage as well. So, long story short, I can't install a regular under mount sink without knocking a hole in the wall and re plumbing the sewer tap.

May I repeat, the devil is in the details.

Preparation can be just as overwhelming, but don't despair.  Look directly in front of you and take a deep breath.  Take one detail at a time. You can do it!  The task may seem overwhelming, but in reality, it is just a set of individual details strung together.  Preparation doesn't have to be complex, so only take on as many details as you can at any given moment.

And when in doubt...remember, water runs downhill.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Frantic Friday #26 - Finding Time

I have always wondered about this phrase..."Finding Time."  Where does one find time?  Is it under the couch cushions or behind the bed?  Does time hang out in the TV room or in front of the computer. (Ouch, I think I just winced...)

As I was recently told, we all have exactly the same amount of time...24 hours in a day.  We all spend every second of it.  Even if we are doing nothing, we are using our time.  It is not possible to lose it or find it, because it is always there, even if we are unaware of it.

So maybe what I really want to do is be aware of it. Once I am aware of it I can make conscious decisions on how to use it.  I can reclaim it from the abyss of oblivion and make it work for me.

So what would you do with time...assuming you could "find" more of it?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Excuse #2 - Preparation Takes Time

Way back in June I started a series entitled "Why I Hate Being Prepared." I promised to follow up on each and every one of the reasons, but then I had a kiddo go in the hospital.  It is amazing how much life changes when a kid is in the hospital.  So now we are back on track, but for those of you who do not remember what the reasons were, here they are again...
  1. Preparing is expensive.
  2. Preparation takes time.
  3. Being prepared takes emotional energy.
  4. Getting prepared means I have to focus on negative situations.
  5. There is the chance I will never need to prepare at all.
Preparation Takes Time...I think I just saw a few of you shudder.  Yes, it does, but the question is how much time?  Is it more or less time than it will take you down the road to deal with a situation you weren't ready for?

I guess we could also ask, what are you preparing for?  If your goal is to feed a small nation for a month, then it could take a really long time.  If all you want to do is gather a 72 hour kit, then your time requirement is substantially shorter. 

From what I have learned, you need to sit down and look at your ultimate "pie in the sky" preparation list, and then order it by priority.  For my family, I feel very motivated to learn to use basic camping gear.  I want our family to be able to survive outside our home.  For me, this means finding a tent to purchase and learning how to set it up.  Then we need to test it in our back yard and then make the leap to the great outdoors.  I remember doing all of this stuff as a kid, but let's be honest, that was a few days ago, and I am a bit rusty.

Given that I want to learn how to camp again, I have a few preparation items that are just not going to get worked on any time soon. Right now I am not going to work on food storage (for the record I already have some...) and I am not going to buff up on my first aid skills.  I am just going to focus on camping.

Preparation is something that can easily fit into your family goals.  While the end result is a tent and the ability to sleep in it, the method of getting there actually meets another goal of ours, family time.  My kids love nature, and camping together allows us to be in nature.  My kids also love to spend time with both parents.  Camping gives us solid family time without the distractions of cell phones and TV screens.  We may just read books by lamplight and enjoy each other's company. (Wow, I know.)

Sometimes preparation takes time because you are not organized enough to prepare.  Paperwork can be buried in drawers, garages can be over run by junk, and finances can be overwhelming and scary.  If this is the case for you, look at preparation as the catalyst for positive change. If you really have missing paperwork, overflowing garages and mismanaged money, how would you handle an emergency?  You really do need to get it taken care of, and setting a preparation goal is a wonderful way to get started.

Sometimes preparation is not a simple one step process.  Sometimes it starts with us cleaning out the junk drawer or purging the garage.  Sometimes it means making smarter financial decisions, or maybe just owning the decisions we have already made.  My mom went back to school in her late 30's.  I remember someone asked her why she would do that at her age, and she told them that in 4 years she would be in her 40's one way or another...but she wanted to have a college degree when she got there.  I think preparation is the same, in five years you will be five years older, and you will either be prepared or you won't.  The same time will pass, what you choose to do with it is up to you.

So yes, preparation does take time...but then again, so does everything else.  Look at your value system and see if you can work preparation into what you already value.  Maybe, just maybe, your tent will look a lot like family togetherness...or at least a cleaner garage.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Motivational Monday #52 - Early to Bed, Early to Rise

I have always hated getting up early.  From my childhood I have been a night owl.  I used to read into the wee hours of the night, falling blissfully asleep as the light crept into my bedroom window.  If the world was up to me, I would make regular business hours from 1 until 9 pm.  Nothing says relaxation more than slowly opening your eyes to realize it is 11:30 in the mid morning.

And then I had kids.  (I think this sentence deserves an entire paragraph, as the implication could fill volumes.)

Gone are the days when I can sleep in, where I lay in bed stretching like a cat and pondering the peaceful joys that await me that day. Now I wake up at a dead run and hope the boogie man doesn't catch me before I get everything done. It is just not the same...sigh.

For years now I have calculated exactly how many minutes I could stay asleep before I HAD to get out of bed or risk the kids missing the bus.  Each morning was filled with panic, raised voices and utter chaos.  I absolutely hated each and every morning.  I felt trapped in a pit with no likely chance of escape. (Have I painted this picture well enough yet? Are you jealous??)

This year we had some changes at our house.  One of my children is special needs, and I realized (albeit, a little late) that I needed to be prepped and ready for him BEFORE he woke up.  This meant I needed to be fully awake and dressed, with lunches packed and a smile on my face before his alarm even went off.  In order to make that happen I needed to start getting up an hour and 15 minutes before him. (Can you see me wimper?)

So that is what I have been doing and I quickly realized a few things:
  1. I like my personal quiet time each and every morning.  It is wonderful to get showered and dressed without "help" or the constant worry that mayhem may be ensuing in the next room.
  2. I enjoy watching the sun come up.  I never thought I would say that, but there is something energizing about watching the house get lighter and the world outside become clearer.  I have even noticed the wildlife that comes to nibble each morning.  The bunny and I are becoming buds.
  3. I get no complaints about what I pack for lunch when they don't see me do it.  I know this sounds sneaky, but I ask at the beginning of each week what they want to eat, and then I don't ask again.  This really cuts down on the whine factor each day.
  4. I get a ton accomplished after I send them out the door if I am already on the move myself.  Who knew laundry didn't have to be a multiple day marathon?  I am finding that my chores are accomplished quickly when I am already up and about when the kids leave.  I don't waste time waking up or getting motivated.  It is wonderful!
  5. I am more aware of how I spend my time. Now that I am not intentionally wasting my own time, I am more guarded with how other people spend it.  I find myself saying no to things I don't want to do or have no time to fit in.  I also find myself getting off the phone so I can accomplish the things I need to do.  I think this has a lot to do with me deciding how to spend my time and not letting time pass while I avoid the things I don't want to do.
  6. I want to climb in bed each night.  This is huge, as I have always loved staying awake.  I find myself excited about sleep time, and because I had personal time in the morning, I don't need to have as much in the evening after the kids go down.  When I do climb in bed I rest well because I know I have finished the things I need to do and will do the same the next day.
Ben Franklin is quoted as saying, "Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise."  I can't speak to the wealthy or wise parts, but I feel good and my family is running smoother.  Who knew getting up early could do so much?

Monday, July 25, 2011

Motivational Monday #51 - By Small and Simple Things

It has been a month...yes an entire month since you have heard from me.  Sorry about that.  We had the "opprotunity" to have a child in the hospital, and let me tell you...that is one crazy roller coaster ride!

I have learned a lot of things during this time, so I thought I would share just a few of them.
  1. Ask for help.  I am not usually an 'ask for help' type of girl, but when it comes to kids and illness I will gladly ask for help when I need it. Shuttling back and forth to the hospital each day can be hard on the family, and having a little break for siblings is a huge bonus.
  2. Eat.  You would think this one was obvious, but you would be surprised how many times I forgot to do just that.  Eating is something we do as part of our routine, but when that routine is thrown out the window, little things like eating are forgotten.
  3. Sleep. Getting enough rest during these times can be a challenge.  Not only is your regular routine completely gone, your emotions are on edge, your goals have been rearranged and you are out of the 'groove' of your life.  Do it anyway.
  4. Prioritize. When dealing with something as out of the ordinary as an extended hospital stay, it is important to do the needed things in life. You will still need clean clothes, you still need to clean the kitchen (well, at least every once in a while), and you still need to pay the bills.  If it isn't vital, let it go.  If it is vital, don't forget to do it.
  5. Enjoy the change in routine. I know it sounds odd, but even during stressful times like this, find joy in the change in routine.  Sleep in if you don't have to go to work. Read a book while waiting for doctors. Cuddle with the other kiddos when you are waiting around.  Things like this tend to slow you down, and using that time to enjoy the things you usually are too busy for can be a blessing.
So there you have it, my pointers on how to handle unexpected changes in your life.  Hopefully you don't have any unexpected hospital stays coming your way, but if you do, see what you can learn from the experience.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Excuse #1 - Preparing is Expensive

Last week I blogged about the reasons I hate being prepared, and today we are going to talk about reason/excuse #1...preparing is expensive. Each week I will add another excuse to our list, until we either run out of excuses or you beg me to stop.

Many people think that getting prepared is expensive, and I think it is all relative.  If you are struggling to put food on the table and make rent...well, now may not be the right time to invest in an estate plan, but you can become aware of your medical histories and gather personal documents.

I also think preparation is a matter of priority.  If you spend $6 a day getting coffee, you are putting about $1440 a year into tasty caffeine.  That money could easily pay for a will/trust, extra food supplies, camping gear, training classes, or organization supplies.

In many cases it is not that we don't have the money, it is that we would rather spend it on something else.

An important thing to remember is we don't need fabulous designer supplies to get prepared. There is no need for matching sleeping bags, coordinated emergency backpacks, or cutesy organizing bins.  Using what you have and building from there is just fine.

Here are a few ideas of how to get prepared in an economical fashion:

Food Preparation - Every time you go to the grocery store add a few extra cans of frequently used food to your cart.  Wait for sales and stock up.  Mark the tops of the cans with the date you purchased it, and set it aside.  Closets and under bed space make for wonderful storage areas. A few cans a week will add up, and you will increase your food supplies quickly.  Aim for a 3 month supply to begin with.  Look at what you already eat to decide what to buy.  Don't forget to store all the ingredients for the recipe, for example, store pasta if you get spaghetti sauce.

Paperwork Preparation - Paperwork can be overwhelming, but start slow.  Identify a place to put papers.  It could be a large envelope, a dedicated drawer, a file folder, whatever works for you.  Over the course of a month, pay your bills and put the receipts in your pile.  If you get online notifications, save them to a single folder. Collect statements from utilities, banks, service companies, mortgage companies, and wherever else you pay money to. This generates a quick and dirty list of contacts and account numbers.

Medical Preparation - Start keeping a copy of medical records.  Ask you doctor to have a copy made when you do lab work, or have other tests run.  Organize this information in a folder, labeled by person. Write down a list of current medications, the prescribing doctor and the pharmacy you use.

Survival Equipment - I think this scares people as the big expense.  You do not need to be outfitted for an expedition to Mt Everest to consider yourself prepared.  Also, it will do you no good to buy things you don't know how to use and don't need.  Start with the basics, like sleeping bags and back packs. Make sure you are comfortable using them. Then add shelter, usually a tent.  Learn how to set it up and practice sleeping in it. Add items as you learn how to use them.  Older household items are great for camping purposes and can be dual purposed if needs be.

I know there are many other ways to get prepared and tons of economical ways to do that.  Please add you comments and suggestions below.  Next week we will go onto the next excuse...so be ready!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Motivational Monday #50 - Your Burr In The Saddle

Today I headed to the dentist. Yep, it was that bad...

Over the weekend I got something stuck under my gum line and it created a sore in my mouth.  I think I now officially understand the term "Burr in the Saddle" because Oh My! Something as small as a strawberry seed has caused me a ton of pain.  Not a fan!!

I think we often get burrs in our proverbial saddles, those little things that irritate us, but don't seem like they should have much power over us.  Be it strawberry seeds, annoying people, unfinished projects or a simple pebble in our shoe, small things can really change how we act and feel.

Why is it that small things change our lives so much?  I know that in the case of the seed, it was the pain that got my attention, and I think as humans we react to pain all the time.

So what to do?  If you have ever seen a horse with a burr in his saddle, you know that things can get bad fast. How do we keep the small irritants of our lives from being huge issues?
  1. Identify what is irritating you. You can't stop the pain if you don't know what is causing it.
  2. Eliminate the offending object/situation.  If at all possible, take the time to remove the irritant.  While it may be inconvenient to sit down, remove your shoe, and dig the pebble out, you will walk a lot farther if you aren't in pain.
  3. Take the time to heal. Some times little things cause huge wounds.  Once you have removed the things that were causing you grief, the pain may not stop immediately.  Our bodies and our minds  require time to recover.  Give yourself the permission to heal.
  4. Evaluate what happened...and prevent it if possible.  Sometimes the things that annoy us are easy to identify and avoid, sometimes not. If there is a simple fix, take the time to make it happen.
What are some things you consider "burrs in the saddle?"  Do you have situations that drive you nuts or people who get under your skin?  Do you have projects that are unpleasant or events that make you insane?  I want to hear all about it, so hit the comments.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Why I Hate Being Prepared

I hate being prepared...in the same way I hate having a will, carrying insurance on my car, and putting money in a rainy day account.  Being prepared means I think something bad may happen.  I much prefer to stick my head in the sand and forget all about it.  From now on, I declare that life will be rosy, happy and sparkle like glitter.

Okay, that little rant was brought to you by my sad, insecure and maybe, (just maybe,) my petulant child self who does not like to think about bad things.  I don't like to read the news very often for the same reason.

Now that I have the whining out of the way, I really do want to talk about why we don't like to prepare.  Here are a few things I thought of:

  1. Preparing is expensive.
  2. Preparation takes time.
  3. Being prepared takes emotional energy.
  4. Getting prepared means I have to focus on negative situations.
  5. There is the chance I will never need to prepare at all.

Off the top of my head, these are the top reasons I can thing of for talking yourself out of getting prepared.  Each and every one has been on my mind at least once.

So here is what we are going to do...we are going to look at each one of these issues over the next few blogs, and learn how to get over it.  I am sure I have left reasons off the list, so feel free to add them.  I may just put your reason in an upcoming blog.

So go ahead...let me know why you don't prepare, and let's shed a little light on the subject.  Ready. Set. Go!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Motivational Monday #49 - Time Honored Torture

When I was growing up my mom had a crazy way to celebrate summer vacation.  Every year she would drag out the workbooks, and proceed to teach me to spell correctly.  I guess I should be honest and tell you she attempted to teach me to spell...it never did work, and spell check is now my best friend!

I remember long hours (okay it was probably 20 minutes) sitting at the table trying to make it through the world's most boring spelling assignments.  I was sure she was trying to bore me to death. It was torture by spelling, and I hated it.

Fast forward 30 years, and what am I doing?  Yep, you guessed it!  I am torturing my own child.  As I type, he is sitting at his desk, staring at worksheets and wondering why I hate him so much.  In fact, he admitted today that he thinks I make him learn just to make him miserable.

So what is it that I learned from my mom?  I promise it was not how to spell...

I learned that if you do not use your knowledge, you lose it.  If you do not continue to add and subtract, you forget how.  If you do not spell challenging words, you forget how.  If you don't use a second language, you forget how.

This is true when we are in school, and it is true our whole lives.  We must continue to practice our skills so that we can keep the knowledge we have.  If we walk away, be it a week, a few months, or years, we lose the knowledge we had and erode the skills we fought so hard to achieve.

So I have taken up the torch, and decided to torture my children, just like my mom tortured me.  They will stretch their minds, sharpen their skills, and develop their talents.  Just because I never learned to spell doesn't mean my kids won't turn out to be rocket scientists...or at the very least, another generation of tortured (but educated) children.

P.S. Please don't think I have them chained to tables spending their days with an abacus.  The learning is nestled nicely in between swimming, crafts, library trips and game time.  I'm really not that mean!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Frantic Friday # 25 - Getting in the Car

Some days the hardest thing I do is get the family out the door and into the car. I am sure there are military campaigns that require less planning and tactical support than the simple act of leaving the house.

You may wonder why this is so hard for me...or you may have kids yourself. For some reason, the need to change location is a big deal for kids and the adults have to be prepared. If you are going to the park you need sand toys, snacks and drinks. If you are going to the pool you need towels, suits and snacks. If you are heading to camp, you need sun hats, tennis shoes...and you guessed it...snacks.

I have found that if I have the bags packed and in the car long before I load the kids I am much more likely to get out the door on time than if I don't. To make this work, I have the following suggestions:
  1. Create a GO bag. We have multiple backpacks ready to go in the hall closet. There is a bag for swim lessons, a bag for day camp, and a bag for movie days.  I keep the standard supplies inside, so I don't have to hunt for things as we run out the door.
  2. Keep ice packs frozen.  When needing a lunch in a hurry, having a cold ice pack can really open up your options.  If you aren't paying attention, ice packs can get left in the last lunch box they were used in.  Make sure to keep them frozen after use.
  3. Make the kiddos responsible for adding desired objects to the bag.  We have church activity bags, and while I verify the objects are appropriate, I do not choose the items.  I found that we had a ton of wailing and crying when they realized I had left behind a treasured toy or activity.  Now they know what they have and everyone is happy.
What suggestions do you have for getting out the door?  I am always eager to learn tricks of the trade.  Chime in and let me know!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Watching Your Own Lane

I am enrolled in an endurance swim class, which I love.  The class has really helped me stretch myself, emotionally and physically. I am exhausted by the end, but I love it.

This week, as I was swimming a drill, I looked over to the lane next to me and realized the woman swimming there was doing the wrong thing.  She was completely missing the point of the exercise, and was not exercising the correct muscles.  I was startled because I often look to her to make sure I am doing the right thing.  For a moment I almost stopped her to make sure she knew about the problem.

And then it occurred to me, I had no idea why she was swimming differently than I was, but I was willing to completely stop my progress to point out what I perceived as her fault. Oh my!  What a sad reason to sabotage  my own efforts.

I realized that if I had been keeping my eyes on my own lane and focusing on my own progress I never would have noticed her at all, let alone have spent enough time to evaluate her movements.  By taking the time to evaluate her, I was losing focus on my own movements and my own progress.

What a shame!

So, how often in life do we focus too much on what is going on around us, spend our energies on things of no importance, and divert our attention to trivial and useless issues?  It did not really matter why her stroke was different than mine, it changed nothing about my workout, or for that matter hers.  I was so worried about her choices that I stopped caring about mine.

The good news is that once again I have learned a lot from swimming.  I expanded more than my stroke during that class.  In the future, I hope I can keep my eyes on my own lane, on my own progress, and my own capabilities.  I bet I will excel a lot faster if I can!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Motivational Monday #48 - It Is Good To Be Recognized!

It is very motivational to be recognized for what you do, and even better when someone takes the time to let you know.  Today I was given the "Stylish Blogger Award."  Who knew I was stylish?  I sure didn't!  Many thanks to Karen!

Part of accepting the award is that I share 7 things about myself.  I will do my best to come up with 7 random and completely unexpected items. hmmm..... Okay, here we go:
  1. The first activity I remember from Girl Scouts was when we used shoe laces, brown vinyl and newspaper to create 'sit upons.' I think the theory was to sit on these creations instead of the ground when we were camping, however since they always made us sit in chairs or on rocks because they didn't want us muddy, I don't remember getting a lot of use out of my sit upon.  I do remember wondering what one did if the newspaper padding in the middle got wet (and what doesn't get wet when camping?) because sitting upon a wet soppy mess did not seem like fun.
  2. As a child I was crowned 'queen of the slide' not because I was amazing at sliding down the rickety metal death trap, but because I had formed an alliance with a boy (the king) and he brought all his friends into our tribe.  It was like survivor, but waaaaaay ahead of its time.  In fact, there was eventually backlash and the slide was forcibly taken by revolt.  I was an ousted leader by second grade.  And yes, if you were wondering, I lived in exile on the playground for a full school year.
  3. I have a weakness for Krispy Kreme Doughnuts. I do not believe an explanation is required.
  4. As a teenager I only sneaked out of the house once...and it was lame!  One night my dad made corned beef for dinner.  This was a very rare treat, and the leftovers were carefully divided and labeled so that no one ate more than their fair share the next day.  Later that evening I found out a dear friend (yes, he was a boy) loved corned beef as well.  I waited until my dad was in bed, creeped into the kitchen, took my share, let myself out the front door, ran the mile to his house, knocked on the door, handed the shocked boy the baggie of meat and ran home. That was it.  I climbed into bed, read a book, and went to sleep.  I can't even sneak out right...oh well.
  5. I once threw an L.M. Montgomery book in the pool.  L.M. Montgomery is one of my favorite authors.  (She wrote the Anne of Green Gables series, if you don't recognize her name.) When I was in college I had taken one of her books to the pool where I was spending time floating in a recliner.  I was blissfully floating around when I felt something tickle my arm.  I didn't think much about it when I brushed at my arm and continued reading.  The tickle remained, so I brushed again.  This time I felt something, so I glanced at my shoulder and a HUGE black hairy spider was sitting on the back side of my upper arm.  I screamed, threw my book, and jumped into the pool.  I realized what I had done, saved the book and then killed the spider with prejudice.  It took weeks of TLC to dry out the book and get it flat again, but the book still sits on my shelf to this day...just with no spider!
  6. My hair was accidentally died orange two days before I got married.  Thinking I was being so intelligent, I had my hair highlighted a month or so before I got married to make sure I liked it.  Well, I loved it, so I made an appointment with the same lady to touch it up the week I got married. Unfortunately, after she put me in the dryer she got sidetracked with another client and forgot about me.  What should have been light brown hair with blonde highlights turned into OSHA orange with neon orange highlights.  I thought it looked a little odd, but thought I was probably just tired, stressed and a little too picky.  So I paid her (yes, you read that right) and went home.  My fiance looked at it, and even being color blind, he knew something was wrong.  After lots of strange looks at work the next day I went back and talked to the owner of the shop.  She took one look at me and gasped.  The only way to fix it was to dye my hair dark brown with a temporary dye.  So the only week of my life I have been a brunette was the week I was married. (Now it is red, I know, that little thumbnail makes it hard to tell.)
  7. As a child I always won the game "two truths and a lie."  My real life was so very odd that no one ever guessed what I was lying about. My favorite set of statements was, 1) I have been to Paris, 2) My grandfather is 34 and 3) I have 3 aunts.  Which was false? (Remember I was about 9 or 10 at the time...)  You guessed it!  #3.  I only had 2 aunts.  Now, in all fairness, I was referring to Paris, Texas, and my grandfather was really my step grandfather...but true none the less.
So now it is time to pass this award along.  I think I am going to hand it off to Esther at Laugh With Us Blog.  Her posts are funny, she has a great way of looking at things.  So here you go Esther!

    Wednesday, June 8, 2011

    Things I Learned at Scout Camp

    This week I have had the *cough* enjoyable opportunity to attend Cub Scout Camp.  Where I live, Cub Scout Camp is outside in the intense heat and dust, and does not wrap up until almost 10 pm each night.  Can we say good times? (Was that enough whining for you?)

    Okay, it really wasn't all that bad, and the boys all had a great time.  As soon as I recover from the pulled muscles, the sore feet and the dehydration, I am sure I will have fond memories.

    As much as I was not looking forward to this adventure, I have to admit, there are a few lessons I have learned.  Here they are, in no particular order:
    1. Have a buddy.  I don't think many people really want to go through life alone, but maintaining a relationship strong enough to keep a buddy can be hard.  Watching the boys these last few days, I can see how buddy responsibilities can become overwhelming.  It isn't enough to stay with your buddy, you also have to help your buddy, take care of your buddy, and support your buddy. This gets harder as the day wears on, you find out your buddy walks slower that you do, and that your buddy is not as 'cool' as some of the other buddies.  Still, you need a buddy.
    2. Know where the restrooms are. You would think this would be obvious, but it isn't really.  In life it is always a good idea to know where your resources are, but sometimes we get so caught up doing the fun things, like launching water balloons or water rockets, that we forget to look around and find the things we need.  When emergencies come, and they always do, knowing where to go is very important.
    3. Pack enough food and water.  Once again, you would think this would be really obvious, but when there is fun to be had, it is easy to forget the necessities.  When you are hungry and thirsty is not the time to realize you have nothing with you.  When you are taking about health and survival, you really can't depend on someone else having enough to share.  A little preparation can go a long way.
    4. Know your limits.  In the last few days I have watched the boys do crazy things.  Some of them have been a little less intelligent than others.  I have seen kids try and swim farther than they know how, run faster than they are able, and eat more than they can hold.  I promise it wasn't always pretty.  While stretching yourself is a great way to learn new things and grow, over stretching can leave you injured, scared and a little hesitant to try again.  Knowing when it is time to stop and get help is a talent learned over time.  If you don't know your current limits, it is hard to set goals for the future.
    5. Get enough sleep.  Coming home from this adventure each night I have realized my body needs more time to recover than it did when I was younger.  I am grouchier than I should be and I definitely know I am out of shape.  When you have to get back up and do it all over again, it is important to let your body recover each day.  Far too many of us push ourselves beyond our limits without letting ourselves recover.  The stress of everyday life can be just as physically taxing as practicing archery, hiking rocky hills, and participating in world class water balloon fights.  Bodies and minds needs rest, and if we don't give it to them we will not have as much fun the next time.
    Okay, I think those are the highlights from my week.  Anyone out there have any other pearls of wisdom they would like to add to the list?

      Monday, June 6, 2011

      Motivational Monday #47 - Expand Your Knowledge

      There is an old saying, "You don't know what you don't know."  How true. How very true.

      Sometimes the thought of putting time and energy into learning more can seem very overwhelming, but in reality, learning can be a simple task.

      Just because I am a bit crazy, I added the website StumbleUpon to my daily routine.  I added in my topics of interest, and then StumbleUpon finds sites I have never looked at before, and would never think to find.  Today I ran across something quirky and I thought I would share it with you... It was a website detailing how to turn a regular soda can into a stove.

      In under 5 minutes I learned something new.  It was painless and actually fun. Who knew I would learn that little tidbit today?

      My humble suggestion is that you continue to learn each day.  With the internet, there are so many topics at your fingertips.  You can read classic novels for free, you can research countries near and far, and you can learn details on subjects that interest you. By spending just 5 minutes you can be connected to a world you never imagined, and maybe, just maybe you will expand yourself...