Never Forget the Value of Your Personal Routine

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When I have a crappy day, I try to remember that tomorrow is another day.  I can go to bed tonight, get up when my alarm goes off, and start all over again.  New fresh clean starts, washed by the darkness of night, surrounded by a little routine activity like hot tea and meditation 1st thing, dog walk 2nd thing, etc. get us all going in the right direction again.  My morning routine involves quite a list: meditate, thanks, write, read a little, teeth, walk dog, workout, shower, drive. Sometimes that takes me 3 hours. Gulp!

Some evenings I just fall to pieces.  The shear volume of work, the lack of rest and rejuvenation, the dirt on the kitchen cupboards (still!), the unfolded laundry on the kitchen table is a metaphor for the undone-ness of the weekend.

7:30 pm is NOT too early to call it.  Go to bed and get a good fresh start on tomorrow :).

 

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Photo by Acharaporn Kamornboonyarush on Pexels.com

 

That Mom

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Some Moms just aren’t nice.  Some ladies are bitter, mean, resentful women who think life gave them a raw deal.  Some women believe their life is harder than everyone’s around them. Some Moms aren’t satisfied no matter how much we do for them. That Mom isn’t happy and may not want to be. We can allow that. But we need rules:

  • Don’t be That Mom – you are too strong and too beautiful to succumb to self-pity
  • Don’t live near your Mom if she is That Mom. She will outlast you.
  • Don’t believe That Mom. You really are a wonderful piece of work!
  • Don’t buy into That Mom’s world. You know better than that!
  • Don’t believe you can ever be enough or do enough for That Mom to see things differently.
  • Be bigger than That Mom.  Find the antidote to her. She is a depressant.
  1. Cook a good healthy meal
  2. Write a kind letter to another Mom
  3. Paint a beautiful scene; look at beautiful scenery
  4. Take a walk
  5. Sing a song
  6. Hug a Dad
  7. Hug That Mom and walk away, she probably IS depressed, and needs your help. But just for today, you need self-preservation.

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Boundaries and Lines

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Such a frightful gray area between forgiving someone, letting it all go, and holding boundaries tightly to “maintain dignity”, to “hold firm”, or just to protect oneself against it happening again? Where is the line?  Where should we call it?  How do we be loving and yet not a doormat?  How do we stand tall and stay solid (i.e. not a wet noodle inside?) We explain expectations, and yet “it takes time”.  Where oh where My Dear is that line?

Wherever it is, do not cross it!  Oh damn it. I think I just invited you across the line…

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4 Years!

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It has been 3 years, 50 weeks and 2 days since I last published a post.  I have not lost the dream, but I certainly got sidetracked.  So we will see what happens if I start publishing again. Will I like it?  Will it come together?  Will I feel better? Will publishing thoughts about serenity struggles help me? Help you?  I don’t know.  I have a lot going on in my little noggin, so I will just try it out.

Journaling to Write

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From my friend Patti’s site:

Serenity is not just an escape, but a precursor to acceptance, courage, wisdom, and change.~Bill Crawford

As you know, I attempt to find serenity through writing.  I journal in a leather bound notebook, a spiral with unicorns on it, on backs of page-a-day calendars, in little 3 x 4 composition notebooks, and on backs of gasoline receipts.  I am a writer.  Sometimes I don’t know what I am feeling until the pen hits the paper.pen and paper 2

I am old school pen and paper. I like lined paper best. My daughter uses unlined journals which feels too loose and roly-poly to me.  I aspire to feel comfort in one of those.  My colleague Gabrielle types at Mach 10 on her computer, her long fingernails tapping faster than the eye can see.  However we do it doesn’t matter, as long as we work to access our inner inner person, our subconscious maybe? Or do we scribble away our conscious chatter onto the pages so that the subconscious can finally take a breath and have a little space to assert herself?  I don’t know.  Maybe both.  But I do know the act of writing, whether o focused questions or stream of consciousness, it helps me do better and it gives solace too.

 

Sunday Prep Plan

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Monday morning, waking up late, pizza boxes on the kitchen counter, out of milk, he won’t get out of bed, and she can’t find her tuba mouthpiece to practice for the concert the very same night I have promised to go shoe shopping with the other one.  Someone starts moaning, another starts panicking, and parent starts shouting.  Been there?  Me too, all too often.  Monday mornings can really suck for single parents. 

 Busy parents need a system that allows us to standardize routines.  This tip has taken me too long to figure out, so I hope you can take advantage of it sooner than I have.  

Have a set list of tasks to do on Sundays to be ready for the week:

1. Meal plan and grocery shop for the week (don’t shop without the plan).

2. Have the laundry washed and folded. I actually try to get this done by Friday so that weekends are free days.  I do no more than 2 loads a day (and often do none), but I tend to do it when I am brain dead and numb (before 5 am or after 8 pm, and bring a bribe with me) to preserve neurons for interactions.  At any rate, have your portion of that chore finished by Sunday night (anyone over 16-years old does their own laundry).

3. Pick up the living room and clear off the dining room table for dinner on Sunday night (Gretchen Rubin says every night, and I am working on that one).

4. Have bills in line for payment if not paid already.  I paper clip the envelopes to the bill and keep stamps at my office to make it easy to fill and mail envelopes from there.  I read mail at home nearly every night, and it all goes either in the recycle, the payment pile, or in a slot to reply/do later.  Ideally, I would deal with it immediately when I open it- and I am working up to that.  Sunday nights, have the paper pile thinned down in a small box (the bigger the box, the bigger my paper pile. Go figure).

5. Dinner together in a relaxed format to talk and laugh over things and share highlights of last week and plans for this week.  Sometimes we have breakfast out instead.

6. Calendars synced so that the choir concert and PT conferences are on the radar.  I need lead time for evening activities, and he needs some warning about locating/ironing his tux shirt for the concert.

7. Kitchen cleaned up.  This can take me hours sometimes, I have no idea why. Please tell me.

Of course I mess up and sometimes end up at the grocery store on Tuesday nights at 9 pm , wandering the frozen pizza isle with bills stuffed in my purse to read at the stoplight.  But if we could do this Sunday Prep Plan consistently, that won’t happen as often, and Monday morning arrives with everyone perhaps not happy, but at least a little more prepared.

  

Transitioning to a Meal Plan for the Unplanned Time

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 Transitions are hard for me, and I don’t like moving quickly from one thing to the next. After 5 pm, my brain is usually limping on fewer neurons than I need to multi-task.  So the afternoon transition to home and dinner from quiet work is tough.  Remember when they called it “the witching hour” when our kids were toddlers?  That 4-6:30 pm timeframe is rough!  I feel (and look) like a dehydrated frog, gasping for some air, brain befuddled, and lost in a totally new world (my own home, invaded by hungry and grumpy teenagers). If I had unlimited funds, I would hire a chef to prepare each meal and have it deliciously on the table at 6 pm each night.  … to arrive home to a healthy fresh meal all laid out for me.  (Of course, in this fanatsy, no one whines that we are “having chicken again?”, “broccoli is not their favorite”, and “the milk tastes funny”)

Instead, I do the next best/cheapest thing- I have a meal plan.  Ugh, I hate feeling pushed and routinized.  I really don’t like feeling in any way like a robot, and I hate taking orders, but…  When I have a plan for the next 5 nights of dinners, I find I can come home from work in a daze, able to follow my own directions, while also checking in emotionally with my teenagers.  One of them tells me everything that is going on, with no prompt from me, and I love that. The other, I have to do a little more observing  and listening to the ocean’s undercurrents to check in on his day, more deductive reasoning and open-ended questions. But I am up to it, because my hands are on auto-pilot. 

The meal plan gives me the flexibility to listen and observe while also getting healthy food on the table quickly, and actually enjoy the process! The dinner plan has to be easy, so home made lasagne is not an option, and salad in a bag thrown on the table for all of us to make while sitting is perfectly respectable, especially if hard boiled eggs are thrown in too.

Amazingly, I got this dinner plan concept from Dave Ramsey.com as well as mint.com to save money on groceries!  Woo hoo!  So it is a double bonus.

And, as my friend Liz pointed out “Some nights Anne, you just need to eat tuna out of a can to keep the whole kit and caboodle together”.  So I do giving myself a huge break when kids are not home for dinner.  I eat a bag of popcorn and a glass of orange juice and call it balanced.

Fresh20.com is my favorite meal plan.  It calls for fresh ingredients efficiently organized into a shopping list, and it gives me a list of items to do on Sundays to prep for the week (which I always plan to do, but never quite get around to, my loss!).  The website will give you a free week to try it out.  And, if you want to string a few weeks together to try it out, you can sign up for the vegetarian one week, the gluten free the next week, and the classic the follwoing, and so on, until you have tried all of their sample meal plans!  $10 a month.

Next tip- Sunday Prep Day (not my favorite, but it does bring me more peace of mind)

Hang in there, Baby, Friday is coming!