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 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?