Tick Tock, Pokey Clock; time to earn a paycheck.  Tick Tock, Speedy clock; time to fix my lifewreck.

My life really isn’t a wreck, but my house is.  My ToDo list would wallpaper a large barn, which is appropriate considering how much love abides under my roof.

What I’m concerned about is the inconsistency with which time moves.  When I’m at work (the one away from what I do at home), time slows down.  I looked at the clock at 1:18 on Wednesday afternoon.  Three hours later, it was 1:43.  But after barreling in the door at 3:50, I blinked and it was 4:59 and the dogs were begging for their supper.

“Time flies when you’re having fun.”  True.  When I went to Disneyland, the hours just rushed by and all too soon it was time to head home.  However, sometimes time flies when you have too much to do.  Sometimes I’m so busy at work that I think lunchtime has passed without even a visit to vending machine.  But no, it’s only 9:45 and the rumbling in my stomach can’t be trusted.   But when I’m at home, with a mountain of laundry and the good intention of writing a blog post between loads while scrambling up a healthy dinner, paying the bills, and bathing a dog, time flies too.  I guess it sneaks right out the window, because I never catch it leaving.

Back in High School, I got in trouble for refusing to understand why people run in the rain.  My professor said they run to keep as dry as possible.  But consider driving in the rain.  You’re sitting at a traffic light.  Pit Pat on the windshield; the wipers chatter against the glass they’ve just wiped clean.  The light turns green and off you go; the wipers barely able to keep up with the torrent of water attacking your line of sight.  I insist: the faster you go, the more raindrops you hit.

Eureka!  I’ve got it!  “Time flies when you’re having fun or enjoying getting things done.”

The dryer just stopped.  Not so for the clock.

Wake up call

on January 13, 2014 in Musings | No Comments »

Nothing good ever comes on the rings of a mid-night phone call.  This past Saturday night, it was news that one of our kids had been in a car accident.  She was okay enough to make the phone call that jolted me out of my deep slumber, but she was rattled and high on adrenaline.  And she didn’t need me to come get her.  The tow truck driver would drop her off at her apartment, on the way to drop Minerva Minivan at a body shop.

As any mother knows, you can’t just go back to sleep after hearing that.  My thoughts were coming in compound sentences, my mouth was dry, and my heart was debating whether it wanted to race or to take the 2 mph scenic route.

Hours later, I was in the car, headed to get her and take her to the hospital to be checked out.  After the hospital, I called both our and the other guy’s insurance companies and then a lawyer.  I picked up prescriptions and comfort food from the grocery.  Then I was off again, because nothing soothes like The Bobbie from Capriotti’s.

When all was settled for the rest of the weekend, I breathed.  And I turned to my Gratitude Journal.

I started a new journal on January 1, 2014.  But, as I tend to do, I had already fallen out of the habit of writing in it every night.  The guilt I felt was overwhelming.  Was this a wake-up call?

Our daughter was not alone on the freeway that night.  Several people rushed to her just moments after she was hit.  The police officer assured her she had done nothing wrong.  The tow truck driver dropped her off and disappeared before she could even give him a tip.  Her roommate had take-out in the fridge waiting to nourish her.  And our family and friends were all sending love and light and prayers and happy thoughts.

I am grateful that I have been given so much to be thankful for.  And writing in my journal doesn’t feel like a chore anymore.  I am awake.


That’s me in the middle of the backseat!

A few years ago, I left my husband at home with the kids for three days while I went to Disneyland with my best girlfriend.  It was one of the most wonderful vacations I have ever treated myself to.

Money was tight but I picked up some extra work proofreading and editing papers for my friends and co-workers.  In the six months we had to prepare for our trip, we each put away $500.  We flew into California on an early morning business class flight.  We stayed at a cheap motel that included a buffet breakfast in the room rate.  At Disneyland, we ate cheap, shared everything, and had a terrific time.

I’m ready to do it again.  I’m craving a vacation where I can run and scream and laugh and dance in the street with a pirate again.  Tim doesn’t love Disneyland as much as I do, but I’m hoping I can persuade him to go with me the next time.

However, our financial situation is even tighter than ever before.  Can I justify  a vacation when there’s so many other places we could use the money?  There are repairs to be made around the house.  The dogs need their shots.  And I’ll soon have a room I can remodel into a home office.

I dream of a place to write with a door that closes.  I need a place to spread out my notes without fearing that the cats will rearrange them or the dogs will use them for chew toys.  I may want to type without a cat on my lap, or I may just want to allow the cats to take turns invading my sanctuary.  My collection of books should be on shelves, not in boxes.

The good news is that I don’t have to justify anything.  I deserve a vacation and a home office.  Just as I deserve love simply because I exist, I deserve a vacation and a home office simply because I work hard.  The necessities will be taken care off and I can save money too.

What I need is a plan.

A PLAN plus A GOAL equal SUCCESS.  I can say that I’m going to put $10 into savings every Friday, but without a checklist to remind me and a goal to work toward, I probably won’t do it.

This year, one of my friends sent me a simple plan that would be a relatively painless way to save.  The 52 week Saving Plan will put $1,378 away in a single year and I never have to save more than $52 in a single week.

Each week, you put the number of that week of the year into a jar or savings account. For example, the first week of 2014, you deposit $1.  The second week, you deposit $2.  The last week of the year, you deposit $52.

Here is a printable spreadsheet with a running total.  52 weeks of Savings

I am using a Savings Account for my plan, so I can earn interest on my money.  And I know that December is the most expensive month of the year, so I’m planning to put away those higher amounts in March instead.  I printed out the spreadsheet  and hung it on my bulletin board.  I cross off the individual deposits as I make them.

Since it’s still the first week of the year, I may start a second savings account, and go backward (saving $52 in week one, and $1 in week fifty-two).  Hmmm… then I could have my office and my vacation too.  YES!  That’s what I’ll do.

I’ll be running amok in the happiest place on Earth AND coming home to my very own home office.

2014 is here!

on January 1, 2014 in Musings | No Comments »

I just love fresh starts.  I’ve set my intentions for this new year; I just need to get them all down on paper.  Like last year, I have chosen a word to guide me.

My word for 2014 is CLEAR.

Merriam-Webster defines clear as an adjective, meaning very obvious, not causing or allowing doubt, easily understood, free from doubt or confusion.  Clear also means untroubled, serene, and clean, pure.

And that is why clear is my word.  I’m not allowing doubt to get in my way this year.  My memoir will be finished soon and I am anxious to get it into the hands of prospective publishers.  But my word applies to more than just my writing life.  I am clearing my home of clutter.  I am cleaning up my attitude.  My intentions are obvious.  It’s time to start living the untroubled life that I know is out there.

Like the clear water of a peaceful river, I will be continuing toward my goals.

Please visit http://christinekane.com/word/ for a copy of the Your Word of the Year Discovery Tool.  Christine Kane is an amazing woman that gives away this tool just because she wants everyone to “live authentically, courageously, and successfully.”

I didn’t win.

For those of you who don’t know what NaNoWriMo is… It’s a global sensation where writers put down 50,000 words in the month of November.  Check it out at www.nanowrimo.org.

In the thirty days  of November, I wrote 18,405 words.  While that’s no small feat, I think I could have, and should have, done better.  But I’m not going to beat myself up about it.

I wrote those 18k+ words while working a full time job, taking care of my wonderful husband, cooking, grocery shopping, washing dishes, doing laundry, writing critiques for the women in my critique group, feeding and picking up after 3 dogs and 6 cats, losing my six year old Beta fish, getting a new Beta fish, cooking all day on Thanksgiving, writing and delivering a Toastmasters speech, running errands, planning and taking a day trip, spending time supporting my friends, reading and listening to 3 books, walking for exercise, watching 4 movies, writing the December issue of our Toastmasters newsletter, and still managing to get enough sleep to function.

When I look back over November, I see little pockets of time that I could have spent writing.  But life doesn’t stop just because I want it to.  It’s not like I was playing games the entire time.  Months ago, I deleted Candy Crush and I’ve never looked back.  But I also haven’t stopped having fun.  Life is meant to be lived, and I’m living it.

It is important to have realistic goals and while 50,000 words was attainable for many, it was unrealistic for me.  As I look back, I can see two big reasons why.

I’m still learning that perfectionism in my writing isn’t necessary.  Although it’s difficult, I’m trying not to edit as I write, and to just get the words down.  I’ve already written and deleted so much in the name of perfectionism.  I literally started over on November 1st.

I am afraid.  Family love is supposed to be unconditional, but sadly, that’s not my reality.  I accept that I will be judged because of the things I am writing about in my memoir.  Susan Brooks, a beautiful and powerful woman who spoke at a recent SSWW (Scottsdale Society of Women Writers) meeting, told me that not only do I need to let my mother read my memoir, I must give her a copy.  She’s right.  It’s the only way for the healing to begin, or to end.

My goal is 75,000 words, or as many as it takes to tell my story.  I have a feeling that 75k will be just about right.  If I break it up into 20k per month objectives, that means I’m more than a quarter of the way there.

Where do I go from here?  That’s easy.  Back to work.  If you need me, I’ll be at my computer, or at work, or at the grocery store…  But I promise you, and I promise myself, that I’m going to get to the end of this journey, one month at a time.


on November 8, 2013 in Musings | No Comments »

A few years ago, I was lucky enough to hear Jean Auel speak.  Her final Earth’s Children book had just been released and a small crowd had gathered to listen to her and get their books signed.  Jean spoke about the research she had done, which included traveling to many ancient painted caves.

Her books (The Clan of the Cave Bear, The Valley of Horses, The Mammoth Hunters, The Plains of Passage, The Shelters of Stone, The Land of Painted Caves), follow one woman’s life as humans evolve.  Each book is massive in length.

Jean told us about her family.  She raised her children while researching and writing hundreds of thousands of words.  One brave member of the audience asked her HOW she managed that.  Her response was simply stated, and powerful.

“What does that mean, HOW?  There is no HOW.  You just do it.”

When my own responsibilities get in the way of what I really want to be doing, I tend to get angry.  Feeling overwhelmed is a daily occurrence.  I feel alone as I unload and reload the dishwasher, day after day.  The mountain of laundry never seems to get any smaller.  And the papers.  Oh the papers!  When will I ever learn to take care of something the first time I touch it instead of stacking it, moving it, and sorting through it later?

I make massive To Do lists and I expect way too much of myself.  My children are grown (but not all gone) and I have a husband.  We have 3 dogs and 6 cats (and a fish).  I work a full time job.  I also write at least twenty hours each week.  I’m Vice President of Public Relations for a Toastmasters club.  I belong to a writing group and a critique group.  My friends ask me to proofread their college papers.  I enjoy reading and watching movies.  I have even been known to play Bunco every once in a while.

Father Time refuses to put extra hours into my days.  And I’m tired of asking him to.

I hereby banish the HOW.  I don’t need to know how I’m going to get through all the things that need to be done.  I already know that I will get through the important ones.  And that is enough.


We only get so many hours on this earth.  And of those hours, we cannot control how we spend a great portion of them.

A while back, I mapped out two days of my time. I wanted to know exactly where my time was going.  From the hours at the computer to the minutes I spent brushing my teeth and feeding the dogs, I sure looked important on paper.  But I couldn’t easily see where I could gain more time.

Sleep seemed to take up the biggest blocks.  Since my happy hysterectomy, I’ve been sleeping six to eight hours most nights.  And, I’m taking at least two hours each day to sit in front of the TV or curl up with a book and enjoy myself.  I’m done with school, so there haven’t been any late nights spent rushing to complete assignments at the last minute.

Even with my decreased activity level and with the increased sleep, I’m still tired more often than I would like.  The amount of sleep I get does not correlate with the amount of energy I have.  Without the energy, I work more slowly, taking more time.  Here we are again.  I must just need more time.

So, I started today by asking myself, “What could I give up to make more time?”  I deleted some of the games I used to distract myself.  Candy Crush was the first to go.  I was stuck at level 165, and while my friends may say I quit because some of them passed me, I know the truth.  The only way to advance was to spend more time in the game.  Try and try again.  Five lives at a time.

There it is.

Time Spirals



Spiraling out of my life.

Because of the decisions I make.

What I need isn’t more time, it’s more discipline.  Motivation gets me started.  That’s never been the problem.  I am inspired.  I am motivated.  Staying on task… that’s where I go wrong.  I start everything… and finish nothing.

We’ve all heard that the first step of any journey is the hardest.  But the last step is just as important as the first step.  Standing just outside of our destination isn’t good enough.  We have to take every single step.

Action plus effort equals progress.


My new motto.

I have the time.  I have the motivation.  I have the To Do lists.  I have the determination.


He said.  She said.  They said.  You said.  I said.

Words were said.  Words meant to hurt.  Words that we didn’t really mean.  Words that we can’t take back.

When we were little, we would protect ourselves from bullies by chanting, “Sticks and Stones may break my bones, but Words will never hurt me.”  We were lying to ourselves.  Words do hurt.

Once a word escapes our lips, we can never take it back.  When we are hurt by things other people say, it is difficult to move on.  Those words echo over and over in our minds.  But we can over-write that message with a message of our own.

By repeating positive affirmations to ourselves, we are changing the messages that replay in our heads.  When I post yet another positive quote in my cubicle, I am adding another powerful message to my surroundings, allowing others to share it if they want to.

We don’t know how much time we will have on this earth.  Spending hours rehashing the past and trying to force our viewpoint on others is wasted time.  Every day is a gift and I choose to welcome each dawn with the joy of a childhood Christmas morning.  I choose to breathe a thankful sigh before I lay my head down each night.

An old Indian legend tells us that two wolves live inside of each one of us.  One wolf is good and the other is evil.  The good wolf is love, peace, hope, acceptance, generosity, forgiveness and compassion.  The evil wolf is anger, jealousy, greed, arrogance, lies, guilt and resentment.

Every day, the wolves battle each other.  The thoughts we think feed the wolves.  The choices we make are driven by the thoughts that we think.  This means that we have control over which wolf survives the daily battle.

The wolf that survives is the wolf that you feed.

I believe that if we continuously feed one wolf instead of the other, the weaker one will get tired of losing every day and won’t put up much of a fight anymore.  I have chosen the wolf that I am going to feed.

Every story has more then one side.  None of us can actually tell you exactly what happened because our perceptions were each unique.  We must accept that our own side of the story is not the side that is pure truth, even if we know that we remember every detail.

Time doesn’t heal every wound, but it does make the pain seem more bearable.  When we can bear the pain, we can work through it.

I am reaching out to everyone that I love.  If I am turned away, I will allow some time to pass before I reach out again.  But I will reach out yet again, if I have to.  The good wolf in me knows that it is possible to move on.

I have Pollyanna Syndrome.  I am proud of my ability to find the good in any situation.  Sometimes it takes a while, but I stick with it until I find something good.

Recently, our family has been going through a rough time.  My usually sunny attitude was clouded over and I got bitter about having to look for something positive.  I didn’t want to spend the time nor the energy to go find the good.  Why couldn’t the good come and find me?

I hired an editor to help me with my memoir.  I’m so close to being finished that I’m no longer objective.  We’re not working my manuscript front to back; we’ll organize the chapters later, although we’re following rough outline.  When I sent her what I thought would be the last chapter, she sent me a short email. “Write the next chapter.  Regicide is not how your story ends.”

Regicide?  What does that mean?  Is that even a word?

I couldn’t find my dictionary.  Yes, there are a million online dictionaries, but I wanted to look it up in mine.  Full of post-it bookmarks, my dictionary is an old friend.  I knew no one else in the house would have touched it, and that only left me and my messy, cluttered, unorganized habits to blame for the dictionary’s absence from its spot on my desk.  It was the last straw.

Everything that had been raining down on our family immediately drowned me in tears.  It was 3:15 in the morning and I didn’t care if I woke up the whole neighborhood with my sobs.  My storm of self-pity broke when anger dawned.  I tried to list all the people that had contributed to my misery, vowing to cut all ties with them.  It was a short list and my own name was at the top.  And in the middle.  And at the bottom.

The 4:30 alarm went off (my reminder to quit writing and start getting ready for work).  It forced me to swallow my feelings.

As an emotional eater, I knew my diet didn’t stand a chance.  Numerous trips to the vending machine cleaned out my change purse.  I wasn’t allergic to it, I ate it.  And, as my workday progressed, I regained some of my Pollyanna sunshine.  I also kept repeating my ‘tough times’ mantra.  Everything is working out for my highest good.  Out of this situation, only good will come.  It will create miracles in my life.  I am safe.  All is well.  By the time I left early to go to the ear doctor, I was feeling better.  I had a renewed motivation to organize my workspace and eventually the whole house.

Fate had one more blow to throw.  It hit me as soon as I walked in the door.

Later that night, as I was filing some papers, I found my dictionary.  It was just sitting there.  I couldn’t even remember what I wanted to look up in the first place.  I opened my beloved old friend, without any purpose in mind.

ser·en·dip·i·ty  [ser-uhn-dip-i-tee]  noun
1. an aptitude for making desirable discoveries by accident.
2. good fortune; luck.

 Being Pollyanna wasn’t the only way to find the good.  It could happen accidentally!  I immediately decided to stop looking so hard for the good.  It could (and would) find me.

The word comes from the Arabian Tale, The Three Princes of Serendip.  The princes go into the world to find fortune and knowledge to bring home to their father.  They dress as common men, knowing they will be treated differently if it is obvious that they are royalty.

The three princes came to a river where a man in merchant robes was crying.  He told them how he loved the river and built his home along its banks.  The river flooded and took away almost everything he had.  The princes tell the merchant that he has been blessed.  They tell him if he searches for the good in his misfortune, he will surely find even greater fortune.  And they continue on their journey.

On their return trip, they come to the same river and wonder how the poor merchant is.  A servant runs up to them and asks them to come dine with his master.  The servant leads them up the cliff overlooking the river to a beautiful palace where the merchant greets them at the door.  He is overjoyed to see them and thanks them over and over for their advice.  When the princes left the merchant on the riverbank, the merchant was still in despair and he looked to the heavens for guidance.  He saw a shelf in the cliff face that may be suitable to rebuild his home.  When he and his servants reached the shelf, they found a field of gems.  The merchant was now richer than he had ever been.  He had found the fortune in his misfortune.

When the three princes return to their father, they tell him of the lessons they have learned.  Like the story of the merchant, every lesson reveals that only good comes out of misfortune.  To honor their journey and the lesson they have shared, the king decrees that a new word be made.  Serendipity.

But Serendipity isn’t just a fairy tale.  Famous examples of accidental discoveries include

  • Penicillin
  • X-Rays
  • Velcro
  • Corn Flakes & Wheaties
  • The Microwave

There are many examples that prove Serendipity is real.  I lost my dictionary and found a new way to look at the events in my life.  I’m still going to look for the good, but I’m not going to look so hard that I miss the accidental discoveries that will reveal the fortune in my misfortunes.

I am a planner.  Checklists are one of my favorite ways to plan.  I can break just about any task, goal, or project down into individual steps.  Checking off these ‘baby-steps’ gives me a sense of accomplishment.  But at some point, I have to say, “Enough.”  I have to get moving or all I will have is an extremely thorough list.

Done is better than Perfect

My word for 2013 is ACTION.  While I was thinking about my goals for this year, I realized I have more to get done than ever before.  My habit of starting many projects (and finishing few) has got to be broken.  Tasks need to be finished.  It is not enough to just start.

For most people, the first step is the hardest.  Not for me.  I love to start.  But that’s often as far as I get.  I have searched for a reason for this annoying habit.  Perfectionism may be to blame.  I always believed that it was better to leave something undone, than to have it done imperfectly.  Where did I get this crazy idea?  The Flylady (www.flylady.net) teaches, “Housework done imperfectly still blesses your family.”  2013 will be the year my family is finally blessed in the housework department.

The last time my house was really clean was when my mother-in-law spent Christmas with us.  That was 2006.  But even then, the house wasn’t perfect.  My mother came over and we did what we do best.  Crisis Cleaning.  Random stuff was thrown in laundry baskets, boxes, and bags that we stuffed into the shed in the backyard.  I am ashamed to admit that most of them are still there.  This is not the way I want to live.

A couple of years ago, we turned an old bedroom into a sitting room.  Two love seats, a recliner, and a TV made for a cozy place to escape.  That room stayed neat until my last two classes.  I had to have a place where I could leave my books out.  Then came Christmas, and I used that room to hide and organize presents.  I also bought some pictures to hang on the walls, but they haven’t made it there yet.

The old master bedroom has turned into a storage room.  It’s going to be a guest bedroom, although I still dream of having an office with a door that shuts.  But for now, it’s no good to anyone or anything, except the breakables from the front room and the extra paper towels and groceries from our last two Costco trips.

My memoir sits unfinished in multiple files on my computer.  I also have a notebook of notes and paragraphs.  And there’s a binder too….

Action (noun): the process or state of acting or being active, something done or performed, an act that one consciously wills and that may be characterized by physical or mental activity, energetic activity (from dictionary.com).  The opposite of action is rest or inactivity.  I’ve had enough of that.

My new plan is to devote a specific amount of time each day to one or two projects.  How much time does one extra load of laundry take?  I can sort through a bag of papers in less than 15 minutes.  I’ll use my checklists when I have to, but perfection doesn’t matter right now.  It’s time for action.