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These are odd pieces that don’t fit anywhere else.

Sunday Prep Plan


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.



Day 16 Be Present: Inner Peace and Finding the Love from Within

Day 16 Be Present: Inner Peace and Finding the Love from Within

I have a funny (as in not helpful) habit of finding myself unloveable when difficulty arises. If my laundry has stacked up/the kitchen is gross, I bounced a check, I made a mistake at work, or I lost my cool with a kid, I turn that on myself, and feel unloveable, and then unloving is close behind. What is that about?

We think we have to be perfect to be lovable? And then, my silly brain goes from feeling unloveable to unloving, because if the world doesn’t love me, then by God, I will beat the world to the punch and be the first to un-love. Then Snarky Anne comes out to protect herself against an unloving world.

WHAT?!? That logic is more than flawed, it is a circle jerk backward approach. And self-fulfilling. If I think the world is going to push me down, then I shove first. I think I am not alone. Do you do this too?

What if, instead, we decided to love first? Would it help us to notice the love around us? Leave our opinions about ourselves and our lovability out of the equation and extend love regardless of our vision of ourselves.

Action Item for today:
-Say hello to the garbage man
-Smile and look the cashier in the eyes; ask how they are doing with sincerity
-Thank the police officer for being kind about giving us the traffic ticket rather than a power freak dude (?!)
-Laugh loudly at the joke someone tells
-Quietly listen to the kid’s complaints about the teacher rather than telling them to buck up and do it anyway (this is hard for me)

In short, find ways to be a blessing to others. Everyone has a big sign around their neck, wanting love. Let’s get out of our own shoes and be the one to give it to them. See what happens. And notice if we feel more love? (More on that tomorrow)

I have a great daily blogspot with a video for you to watch- very short:

Here is the video:

Day 11 Be Present: Keep Going No Matter What Fears Pop Up

Day 11 Be Present: Keep Going No Matter What Fears Pop Up

When asked, “What disturbs him now about himself?” E.B. White answered, “I am bothered chiefly by my little fears that are the same as they were almost 70 years ago. I was born scared and am still scared. This has sometimes tested my courage almost beyond endurance.”

-E.B. White, quoted in “Notes and Comment by Author,” by Israel Shenker, New York Times, July 11, 1969

You are here for Day 11! YAY! Give yourself a big star today for sticking with this blog, for continuing to read and question, and do the work of being present and working towards more inner peace. Nobody said life was going to be easy. But I still want it to be. And when I get scared, overwhelmed, criticized, or feel otherwise unloved or unappreciated, I want to run away. Single parenting doesn’t let us do that, no matter how badly we want to. The work and the situation are still there. The kids with their bright, shining faces, their hungry bellies, and yes, their hugs and love and forgiveness for our past mistakes are there, every morning. Thank goodness!

If E.B. White had little fears that still plagued him, after so much literary success, then perhaps we aren’t the only ones with fears and trepidation about our lives? Perhaps the bus driver and the guy you sit next to at work have fears too. Maybe the check out lady at the grocery store does too, or the postal worker, the teacher, or the flight attendant. Maybe we all just have to persevere anyway, despite fears of not being good enough, or not getting it right (again), or offending someone, or looking stupid.

Running away from our fears, rather than facing them, and shutting off/shutting down doesn’t do anything but remove us from the present. No one benefits when we don’t stay present in our lives and keep on keeping on.

Action Item: Describe in your journal what fears you have about today (just today). Decide what you can do to help yourself with your scary task. What can you do to prepare? Who can you ask for help? What can you remind yourself?

Affirmation: “I am capable, strong, and have just enough on my plate. I can handle it, one day, one moment at a time.”

Visualization: Stand with your hands on your hips and smile as you look out at the world you are creating for yourself and your children. Do this 3-10 times today, and smile with gratitude and pride for what you are accomplishing. (see, you are doing it!!)

Day 6 Be Present: Fear and Acceptance- Onions


Christmas is a fearful time for some. Birthdays and anniversaries are fearful for others. One day I realized that about the only holiday that didn’t have wreckage and memories I wanted to run from was Flag Day. The time-travel thing makes it hard to not fear the holiday coming up. We remember other holidays that went quite differently than this one will. And then we wonder how we can make it through. Time helps so much– getting one year under your belt away from the trauma/drama/divorce/loss can sometimes feel like a waiting game. So how do we get time between us and our trauma/drama/loss, and yet live in the present?

Many times, we have people depending on us figuring it out- those short people that live in our house, eat our food, and get rides to school every day from us depend on us figuring it out! That is what this blog is about- exploring ways that we can find the peace inside, the presence of mind to thoughtfully parent our children and live our lives, despite our lives not turning out how we expected.

Like in Alanon, where they tell you to try it for 6 weeks, and “take what you like, leave the rest” , I am asking us to just try these ideas out. Not all of them will work, but some might, and they might help us to live a little calmer, a little more peaceful, and a lot more joyfully as we continue on the voyage of single parenthood.

The next topic is fear of accepting. In order to cultivate being present habits, we could think about what we really fear, and how it steals peace of mind from us, slowly and stealthily, we build habits up to protect ourselves from what we fear. And that protection, those walls, keep us from our hearts. The walls we build in fear keep us from experiencing our lives fully.

Action Item: Write down or discuss with a friend what you are feeling fear about today. And notice the shape and size of that fear. Describe it, and then peel back what is under it. What do you fear under that? Like an onion, keep on peeling… and see what the kernal of fear is in the middle.


When you get to that kernal of fear, think about it, pray about it, write about it, and come back to it later. Then give yourself a hug and smile. You are very brave, and you can do this!!

Day 5 Be Present: Accept and Allow


Day 5!!! Woo Hoo!!! Do a Happy Dance for you. You are still here, and still willing to take on the new habit of Being Present in order to have more Inner Peace. Your life is not easy, this quest you are on is not easy, and no one ever said it would be easy. But we still whine when it gets hard… (I do!)

What if we let go a little more, and let The Man (which is also The Woman, The Universe, the Divine, The Spirit) help us out?

“Surrender and Release. Either it will be washed away from you and replaced by a better situation, or the situation will heal in a miraculous way. Let go and let God help you!
-Doreen Virtue, PhD

Action Item:
Watch this music video and smile today.


Day 4 Be Present: Accept and Allow


In my second marriage, I was blessed to be married to a recovering alcoholic. As a result, I realized I am attracted to people who drink too much (I went 2 for 2 marriages; odds are I will make it 3). So I traipsed off to Al Anon while my ex went to AA meetings. And I learned a lot there!! I discovered that I have very little control over my life, much less than I would prefer. My ex-husband, children, friends and parents rarely do what I think is best (shocking, eh?).

I really love control though. I like it when my son takes classes I think he should, and I like it when my daughter eats and dresses like I (sometimes) suggest. I love it when my parents react the way I want them to when I tell them stories.

But what a boring, unpassionate endeavor, to do something because someone else thinks it is best- Ack!!! I want my kids to find their own passions, to find their own sports, and food and loves (legal, of course).

What would it feel like for us to let go of the reins of control a bit? To stop “driving the bus”, which sometimes feels like “dragging the elephant” to get my family to do what I want them to do? What if I take a deep breath and watch instead of intervening next time my parents instigate a family feud?

Al Anon literature says “we are powerless”over others and their decisions, especially in regards to alcohol. But what else can we let go? What else can we decide to accept and allow in order to let more inner peace into our lives? (E.g. shut the door to the messy bedroom rather than taking on that argument). Al Anon says we can only control our own behavior…

Action Item: Write down 10 items that “I have no control over”
Visualize: Drop those items that you acknowledge you have no control over. Take a walk, and let them float off into the sky, or drown in the lake, or jump into the wind and follow the wind.

My C+ Plan for the Day


Some days, I can only strive for a C+ grade on my day. It just feels too overwhelming to be an A student in the Game of Life every damn day. So, I do the minimum work to get a passing grade as Mom/Woman/Parent/Homeowner and I call it good enough (emphasis important there). We are the only ones who grade ourselves, so what would it feel like for you to give yourself a break from the Wonder Woman/Superman cape for a day, and have a minimum day? Or let’s even call it a Good Enough Day…

  1. Run one block, or do one push up/sit-up/exercise thing
  2. Put one dish in the dishwasher
  3. Fold one shirt
  4. Floss one tooth
  5. Pay only one bill
  6. Kiss and hug as often as you can
  7. Make one phone call that is needed (not the whole list)
  8. Do one chore on your list

We cannot get out of being responsible at work where they pay us to be A people.  But some days, we wake up and the prospect of the double duty day feels like glue on our backsides. The pillows won’t release us to get out and get going… It feels like the list got too long- she needs a Dr. appointment, dishes are everywhere (who leaves them by the couch?!?), no clean underwear, Mom needs a phone call, he needs a tux rental, the bread is gone, and the office is still an 8-hour day… and then ZOOM- we are transported to Overwhelmville; a quaint little town where we feel sorry for ourselves, and get really grouchy (Don’t ask me to be light and loving in that place.  There is no room for that in Overwhelmville).

BUT- if we promise ourselves when we wake up that we can be a C+ person today, and THAT IS GOOD ENOUGH, the pillows untangle a bit from our head, we can take a deep breath, one tooth gets brushed, one load gets washed, we have space to hug and kiss and hear the story about lunch yesterday.  Most of all, we can imagine that all will be ok. We have enough to give our relationships, to give ourselves, and the world won’t stop spinning if I only wash one dish today*.

Progress, not perfection…

*You know, the sneaky thing is, if we take the pressure off of ourselves, suddenly it is ok to clean the entire kitchen, because that is “extra”, above and beyond the C+ Plan for the day, and we are CHOOSING to do it.  So don’t worry, the house won’t fall down around you if you let up on your expectations of yourself.