Friday, October 15, 2010

Five Ways to Steal Some Time For Yourself

Since I've been both a working mom and a stay-at-home mom, I'll adjust my tips for each type of parent.
Sorry if my comments seemed geared more to the female parent, but they're who I know best.

1. Enrol your kid/s in an after-school or extra-curricular program.  Not only is this good for them socially, but it frees up some time for you to just sit down and relax or do something you have not had the time to do (and listen I don't mean chores).  Some programs are held right at school and some programs pick up after school.  Music lessons, sports, dance lessons or art programs are all things to consider.  If money is an issue try your local YMCA (which usually has a smaller fee) or find out if your community has similar programs.

2.  Wake up earlier.  If you and your snooze button are friendly, wean yourself off of this relationship.  If you get up just one half hour earlier than the rest of your household, that's time enough for a workout routine, a slowly sipped cup of tea on the balcony, a chapter out of that book you've been meaning to read, or a morning meditation.

3.  Get a manicure/pedicure or massage after work.  Find a spot that's on the way home from work and book an appointment ahead of time.  Who's going to miss you for the thirty precious minutes it takes for a quick salon appointment?  If you're a stay-at-home, then book a place that's on the way to your kid's school or book a later appointment for when your partner is at home and head out solo.

4.  Get lost.  When you're off doing one of those household duties everyone else expects you to do, take a detour through a park or just take a different route.  Even taking a drive on a long curvy road sometimes works for me (keep the GPS handy).  I would avoid shopping as this usually takes me far off the beaten path and I lose track of time.

5.  Take a real lunch break.  Stay-at-home or working, you deserve a lunch break.  Forget about grabbing a quick sandwich on the run.  Go be somewhere and really be there.  Take a bagged lunch to the steps of your favorite water fountain.  Walk around the corner to the nearest park, plop yourself down on a bench and actually enjoy what you're eating.  If nothing like that is nearby, then at least find a lunch place with some atmosphere and don't order it "to go".

Where would you like to be in five years?

    Recently in a job interview I was asked the question, "Where would you like to be in five years?"  I gave an answer that I thought they would like to hear.  It was somewhere along the lines of, "I see myself working for a company where I am necessary, in a position in which I am being creative and having an impact on the success of the company.  Titles are not as important to me as being valued and making a difference within the company." 
    But really, I had no clue.  I wasn't always this way.  For much of my life I could have answered that question quite frankly.   I was always a dreamer and I was never afraid to dream big.  The unfortunate thing about growing into adulthood is the more you grow the more you hear "no".  Now don't get me wrong, it's not the word so much, but it is what has happened to me after hearing it so often.  It caused me to keep readjusting my ideas of what I could really accomplish.  Could I really write a book?  Could I really own a publishing company?  If I never meet the right person, at the right time, in the right place will I be doomed to work at minimum wage?  Is it still true that people with degrees make more than those without a degree?
As children we are told to "follow our dreams", then when we become adults we are more often told to "be realistic" and "pay the bills".
     So, if i'm realistic in five years I will probably be working some job that helps me pay the bills and take care of my family.  If I'm allowed to dream still, then in five years I could be anywhere, doing anything.  I could be sitting in a plaza in Barcelona, Spain, sketching a picture as I take a break from teaching my English class at the university there.  Or I could be trekking through the Costa Rican jungle doing research for my new book, using the large advance I was given to cover my expenses.
     I mean really, in dreams the possibilities are endless and in five years...I just don't know.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

It's that time again.  A time when I find myself treading through a valley.  With each step I'm trying to hold on to my sanity and my faith in myself and God.

I am from a country constantly visited by hurricanes and tropical systems.  Presently I live in the southwestern region of the U.S. where a tropical storm is a rarity and yet, outside the rain pours.  It has been pouring all day because of a tropical storm.  And it made me think a couple of things.  First, did this storm follow me here?  And second, anything is possible, whether or not you believe it is.  

At this time my life has been as if in a tropical storm.  It's been hard to see the way ahead.  I've felt carried from one situation to the next as if I was caught up in a strong wind.  And I've been holding my head down watching every step I make, willing myself to keep on picking up my feet, despite the downpour about me.   Like many people right now I am without paid work.  But beyond that I am uncertain as to what to do next.  It has not been as simple as send a resume, get an interview, land a job.  Additionally my failures in my job search have left me with more time for reflection.  So, I have noticed quite a few shortcomings in my present life.  But still lies the question, "what next?"

I don't have the answer.  I simply do not.  But strangely as the day and the rain wanes on and thunder rumbles in the distance, I feel less weary.  Storms are happening not just inside of me, but everywhere, even where you thought they would not.  And so, won't I get through?  When the storm has passed, these days will be a memory.  Another kind of day will certainly come.  So as difficult as it may be, I surrender to the storm.  I don't resist it.  I listen to it tapping, pounding, then tapping again against the window pane.  I will ride it out until there's quiet again and sunshine.

Sunday, April 25, 2010


The moment.  This moment.  Lately a lot has been said about living in the present moment.  I'm sure some just see it as another fad, maybe even phony-baloney (did I spell that right).  But, it has in fact been a way of life for many and for many years. 

For me it is one of the most obvious truths that there is.  All we have is the present moment.  And such power is in this moment.  We decide what to do right then and there and whatever comes after, simply comes.  When I think of some of my moments, well let's just say they were all action and no thought.  But, you know something?  That's a large part of why I enjoy life.  As embarassed, or foolish, or crazy as I may have felt seconds, minutes or hours later, after the consequence showed up, rarely have I felt regret. 

Let me not oversimplify.  I am not talking about being impulsive.  But, instead listening to myself and when there is nothing there to listen to, I am okay with doing absolutely nothing but existing in the moment - not the "what ifs" of the future or "how could I or he or she have...?" from the past.  I simply get through the present, one moment at a time.

Currently, I find myself at a sort of crossroads, considering making a decision or two with the potential to change my life dramatically.  In fact, I lost it a few days ago, on my knees and at my bedside.  Desperately I prayed for a sign of which choice to make.  But as the silence grew in the room, then in me, I remembered.  I knew.  That day was not the day to make the decision.  And as soon as I knew that, I was able to get off my knees and get on with the rest of my day. 

I could let these decisions loom over me, but why take the power away from this moment? Besides when it's time for me to know I'll know and I'll make the choice and it will be the right one for that space in time.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

New Year, what now?

So it's 2010 and like most folks I have taken the time to jot down my goals for the year.  I don't use the word "resolutions"  because it just doesn't have much motivation attached to it for me.  Although I jotted down what I would consider a significant amount of small goals (eat balanced meals, meditate, exercise in some way everyday) my main goal for the year is pretty simple - make the decisions that will make me happy.  Let me be clear (to quote my favorite U.S. president), I don't mean decisions that will one day lead to happiness or that will make everyone happy.  I mean if there's a decision to be made, I will ask myself "will it make me happy" and then I will decide whether or not to follow through.  Sure, this may not work in every circumstance, "will washing those dishes make me happy?  Hmmm...nope." but if I'm completely honest with myself it will work out.  Even in the case of dishes, will leaving them there for someone else to not wash and therefore piss me off make me happy?  Probably not.  Washing dishes doesn't really bother me anyway.  But let's talk about something real.
  Will it make you any happier to nag your partner about the clothes he never picks up?  Or to sneak a peek at his dialed and received calls or emails?  Will you be happier after you find out you caught them in a lie?  Will you be happier for scolding your child yet again about throwing that same toy around in the house or singing that same old song at the top of their lungs?  Probably not.  BUT, and this is big for me, what if instead of finding something to be unhappy about I choose to do something that makes me happy.  Just me.  I mean really it's only my happiness that I am 100% in charge of.  I think this year if I can choose more things that make me happy I just may know myself better and be able to smile that much more.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

My commitment to write on this blog everyday has been like many things in my life--sidetracked. I could sit here and blame others, make excuses about having too many chores, etc. but who am I kidding? I am, in fact, a procrastinator. And in saying this I know I am not alone. Procrastination is something many of us joke about, but it is a crippling affliction. How many things have I wished I had done earlier or at all? How many good intentions have fallen by the wayside? The Christmas cards, the thank-you notes, the phone call to the used-to-be-close friend, the visit to the elderly relative who has passed now. They are all symptoms of procrastination and then what results is a heap load of guilt or for me in some cases anger or defeat.

I know that I cannot possibly do everything, but I also know that that is not the key. It's not so important how much we get done, as much as what value those things that we do accomplish holds. So the next time I decide to put something off, I hope I have the strength to ask myself, "Which is more important to you? Checking that email account full of meaningless forwards (for example) or phoning my friend that I haven't spoken to in months?" And further to follow through no matter how much easier it would be to "do it later".

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Where did she go?

It occured to me this week, as I sat on the train or bus people watching that for maybe the third time in my life I have become in a sense invisible. That girl wearing the funky scarf and the not very sensible pair of shoes sitting by the window, chatting away, that used to be me--well of course she and I were never the same person. But I wore the wrong things for sexiness alone. I gave out the wrong phone number. Flirted with a guy took his number and never called. I bought purses for no other reason than they matched this one outfit I might wear.
I went out alone, traveled alone and thought little of it.
But, here I am now sitting with my legs tight together with my practical purse and my comfortable boots and my neat hairstyle and I realize that I have disappeared--no better yet dissipated because I feel what was me has scattered somehow and become not much of anything at all.
And so I wonder, do I make the perfect wife because I'm safe? I won't do anything too crazy. I'll never really stand up and take a stand. The good wife. The good mother.
You know I miss that screwed up chick who thought she was invincible and didn't care if her hairstlye or clothing fit the mold.