Saturday, February 9, 2013

The Taming of a Nemesis

I have been struggling with my nemesis for decades. This entity creeps into a home or work space ever so subtly. It's body presents itself in stacks and piles that at first seem so innocent, even logical. Initially, the face of this dreaded, foul creature can cause a smile, outpourings of love and sometimes moments of joy. It's voice often creates a source of information or security the first time it is heard.

"What?" you ask.  "How can something that brings such good feelings, and seem so helpful, be thought of as your enemy? Your personal nemesis?"

The creature starts as something small. An invitation or picture. A statement, sales flyer or catalog,  or something one of the kids has created, accomplished or needs. The innocent item would soon find it's host. The desk, table or counter. I am sure the host varies in different environments. After some time it begins to grow. Slowly, day by day. From time to time it is rifled through, but overall it is left to grow? What would I do with the growth?

The Paper Monster. When I could no longer be blind to the pile on my desk or table, my first impulse would be just to slide it all into the trash. That would be too easy. I actually had to deal with this stuff. About once a month, I would plow through it, grudgingly, and get the bills paid. The trash was shredded or recycled. But there was often a surplus of things I needed to keep for future reference or a later action. The surplus would get dealt with about every 3 or 4 months. Papers were filed and slates were cleaned. All was well. I'd made a great accomplishment. The feeling would last for several weeks, until the next time I'd need to use my desk. The angst returned. Moments that would otherwise, I can only imagine, be serene. Carefree. Spent sipping tea on my patio and reading the next book on my reading list. That realization that I now have to encounter said monster and deal with it or not meet my responsibilities. Bit by bit the things in the pile have lost their face and pleasant voice and are connected to the rest of the body that is leaching to the silent, overwhelmed host.
Over the past few years, and especially in the last months, the monster has diminished greatly, but still rears up with all its ugliness when I am ready to work at my desk each week. I have persevered. After many attempts to search for a system to do it better, and experimenting with a few ideas, my mind is still  a bit unfocused. I have some good ideas in play and am still tweaking until I get this working for me. I have mapped out a path to work on different paper "systems" until the monster becomes a pet of sorts. Needing frequent, even daily, maintenance, and yet a necessary part of my life.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

A New Year and I'm on a Roll

Yes, I am missing my Washington family, and this picture of the New Year in Seattle is a definite "Wish I Was There" moment! The fireworks in the picture represent the energy I feel as I begin this new year, 2013! My wish to all my readers is that you enjoy good health and find contentment in the days and months to come. Be kind to others, but as importantly, be kind to yourself.

It is a new year, and I am ready to gear up for my yearly home maintenance at Organized Home's New Year Grand Plan Challenge. I am highly motivated thanks to the eighteen weeks of focus offered by House & Holiday Plan based on CEO (Cynthia Townley Ewer)'s book Houseworks. I have used this plan for the past couple of years, and when they say practice makes perfect, I feel that I was much better equipped to keep up this time around and had a very calm and enjoyable holiday season including hosting/co-hosting two large and a few small family or friend get-togethers. I have also spent the last week of 2012 on a challenge to get the house Clean By 2013. With the help of my Twisters (Twitter Sisters) I entered the new year with a clean slate; literally clean floors, drawers and more.

I have been doing some form of the Grand Plan for a couple of decades now. It was originally developed by a fellow SHE, Katie Leckey, on the SHE message boards in the days when computer networking was message boards and list serves. The plan was a sequel to her Holiday Grand Plan. The SHE boards were my life line a few decades back, just as my FLYfriends and Twisters (Twitter sisters) are today. 

So I started reflecting yesterday during a reorganization of my storage closet, where I store tubs of Christmas decor and other seasonal items, as to why I have so much more energy to get things done and follow through with my routines. I didn't make any resolutions this year, nor did I set any new goals. I think that having made neither might be a first for me. Tweeting with my online community is a big part of why I feel motivated. They have really inspired me on good days and shared challenges on bad days. I have also built the habit of focusing on one area to improve on each week and also continue maintaining my routines (well the basic ones anyway), and have done a much better job delegating the things that I just hate doing. I still am responsible for toilets being swished and swiped, as everyone here seems to hate that routine. Of course I now do it without thinking about it. Amazing how a mindset can change over time.

So I am rolling on, and the nice thing about momentum is that it takes a lot to stop me once I start rolling. I just need to make sure that I don't get off the track of what I want in life. My goals that I set for myself in the past are still in full force today. I guess that is a benefit of gaining years of experience in getting and staying organized, attempting to live life to the fullest, and remembering that people are far more important than any things can ever be. Getting control of my home was the first step for me in gaining control of my life, or at least making sure I control what I have the power to do for myself, my family, friends and neighbors. I still have moments, or even days, from time to time when I feel stressed, off-beat or simply in need of a swift kick in the tush. I also have times when I get side-tracked. I did tell you I was a SHE, right? The important thing is that I just look towards living better and being the person that can deal with whatever comes my way.

I challenge you to reevaluate or choose your goals and pick a plan, be it following FLYLady's focus areas or jumping in for The New Year Grand Plan Challenge. Find an online or real-life network of fellow SHE's to share your ups and downs and that will help keep you accountable, inspired and encouraged. If you are not sure where to start, you can do a Twitter search; #FLYLady, or on Facebook "like" FLYLady or Organized Home to begin a search for a network. 

What plan do you use to Get Organized? Where do you get your support and inspiration? Having these as a part of my life has made all the difference in helping me to become more organized.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Living Life on Hold

There are many lessons I am learning during this period of time that I am convalescing after a recent surgery. For a person that is normally running full throttle with my job for much of August through May each year, I kick it down several notches and redirect my focus to family and home for the remaining two months of the year. Things were thrown out of the norm when I had an unexpected illness in March that brought me to a quick stop and a slow restart. This uncovered another health condition which lead to the need to have surgery during my summer break. I normally make plans during the early spring months for many summer activities including day trips, vacations and entertaining family and friends throughout my warm weather break. Projects around the house and time to just hang out with my kids at home are also planned around a few training days and professional development opportunities for work. This year was different. I didn’t plan much, if anything for the summer break time, but I did invest in memberships to the zoo, the children’s museum and a season pass to an amusement and water park. My surgery was delayed several times, so I took advantage of the month between the end of the school year and my surgery date to do some family activities that I knew I would be unable to do later in the summer. It was not really an ideal situation, as I didn’t know from week to week how long it would be before my activities would be restricted, but I tried to make the best of it with several impromptu day trips. 

My first lesson has been in patience. The act of waiting for others to decide the “best” time and conditions for my actual procedure was frustrating. I thought that I was ahead of the game by getting recommended tests and consultations scheduled before the school year was out. Since I was expected to need a full 8 weeks for recovery and my break is just shy of that, the plan was to have everything scheduled for a week or two into my break. This would leave me with time to prepare and do a few fun things with the kids and ample time for recovery before I was back at work with a heavy workload during the first month to six weeks of my annual contract. Regardless of what I tried to plan for, there were delays. I was expected to go through further tests and wait a bit longer. What I have learned about myself is that I am not patient. Patience is a virtue that I was forced through circumstances beyond my control to accept. I am still working through my patience during recovery. I have a long list of what I would like to do, but most of it is not practical with my current restrictions. I have a list of down time activities that I thought I’d be able to do, but haven’t had much of an attention span although that is finally getting better. I was planning on doing some reading, writing, scrapbooking and watching a few movies. I have yet to stay awake through any movie and can barely focus on reading a blog, my friends’ social network updates or even magazine articles. I hope my attention improves as the medications diminish in the days and weeks to come. Scrapbooks are very impractical as I am not able to sit at a table and layout pages, pictures, etc. yet. I hope that that condition improves as well, as I would love to get some progress while I have days of time to invest in the next few weeks.

Another lesson has been in giving up control. Someone else is doing the shopping, cooking, cleaning, etc. and although I can tell others what I want, it sounds awfully ungrateful to complain to my family, who are nearly waiting on me hand and foot, that they are not doing things my way or to my standards. This acceptance that all is fine the way my family is doing it, leads me back to my first lesson, which is patience, as I must wait until I am able to take these tasks back in hand. I am grateful that my lack of control is temporary. Even when I was in the hospital, I was contemplating why I can’t just enjoy someone else doing all this for me. But I could only think that it will be x number of days until I can get home and then x number of weeks before I am back to my old self. Almost two weeks ago, I read a blog about a mother that went into the hospital to have her second child and gave an amusing account of how it was like a vacation for her. She noted that she and others thought of a hospital visit as a bit of a mini vacation with meals prepared and cleaned up, kids being cared for somewhere else by someone else, plenty of time to read. My view of hospitals is far different. I so wanted to avoid the place that I had my youngest two children at home. Yes, if I had the choice I would vacation at a spa or resort and it would probably cost much less in the long run, the food would be better, and I would not have to deal with the fog that comes from the drugs that the hospital must administer to keep me comfortable. 

There is another lesson that is peaking my attention as I am at day 12 of my actual confinement. I need to keep focused on living my life to the fullest I am able despite what it brings. My mantra to live and love life must come to a head every day. This starts with appreciation of the people that love me and are here today, whatever the given day that I am blessed to live. I must also make sure the activities I choose are positive and I must live in the moment and not miss what lessons, opportunities and gifts living this day brings. This sounds a bit sappy, especially for me, but if I don’t focus on loving my life, and the people that are on this living journey with me, then I very easily fall into being quite pessimistic and once I start focusing on the faults that can be found in any situation, I find myself feeling dissatisfied. This is not a new lesson for me, but something that is back in focus after the fog of anxiety, anesthesia,  narcotics and being totally off track has set the agenda to just surviving day to day. I want to live life. There is a big difference.

So even though the restrictions of my current situation still have me on hold with many of the things that I think I should be doing, I need to be patient with myself, let go of control of what I can’t do and decide what I can and will do today. I can write today. I still am experiencing a short attention span, but through multiple attempts at the keyboard, I have written this blog. It should be enough for me to be satisfied if I actually live well and make accomplishments despite my limitations.