Friday, March 20, 2015

The Perfect Patience Award

Admit it. You're losing patience just thinking about whether or not you've won.

So on Monday of this week, we were waiting to hear the results of a major writing contest Kate had entered. We have had it on our calendar for a couple of months since in January we thought it was being announced, only to find out that the novel writing contest was a national award and the other categories were regional. After watching Kate (and Stacy for that matter) anxiously await the announcement at noon, only to be confused by being told simultaneously that she hadn't won and that the novel awards will be announced in May, I decided that there was a need for a new blog award. Thus, the Perfect Patience Award was born.

To be clear, I am not awarding myself the award. I'm far too impatient for that. I am just doing the inaugural post so I can nominate people who seem far more patient than I am. Or at the very least, they are people I think are clever and have interesting things to say. On to the actual award!

* * * * * * * * * *

You have shown exceptional patience in the face of a frustrating situation. You are the embodiment of graceful waiting. The rules are simple:

1. Post this picture on your blog.
2. Answer the 5 questions I've asked.
3. Tag 3 friends whose patience knows no bounds (or from whom you want to hear, patient or not).

1. Is there something on the horizon that will arrive soon, but not soon enough for you? 

The first thing that comes to mind is the next season of "Sherlock." How can you have such a wonderful program, only produce three episodes (which really are more like 6), and then make me wait TWO YEARS to resolve a cliffhanger? What kind of sick, cruel production team are you?! Also, I'm looking forward to the next Mumford and Sons album (arriving in May). Oh, and I recently found out Daniel Craig is doing another Bond movie. Yeah, I want that to happen soon. Oh, oh. John Mayer is reuniting the trio for another album, too. So, I have lots of things that need to happen soon.

2. What are three things that absolutely try your patience? 

Illogical arguments drive me batty. I don't care if your opinion is different from mine in the end IF you have a logical reason to hold that opinion. Or at least own the fact that your belief is based on nothing more than a hunch or a personal "gut" feeling. Be honest about where your opinions came from.

Racism and bigotry are intolerable. Hate them both.

I also can't stand the "we've always done it this way" argument for anything, especially when it hinders progress or new discovery. Reference my thoughts on illogical arguments. If the old way makes sense, by all means keep doing it. If there is a chance to improve a situation through innovation, PLEASE consider it.

3. Do you have any nervous habits or rituals that may not be obvious to anyone around you, but that help you stretch out your patience? 

I get chatty. Just ask my wife about me accompanying her to OB-GYN appointments. Have you seen that episode of "Friends" where Ross goes with Susan and Carol to the OB for the first time and he touches EVERYTHING? Yeah, that's me.

4. In professionally-produced articles or writing, which makes you crazier: grammar errors or spelling mistakes?

Spelling drives me crazier, but only slightly. I can accept, on some level, that writing can approximate our speech, and so many of us speak well, but not perfectly correctly, so it seems natural that there will be some dangling participles and sentence-ending prepositions scattered about. But there/their/they're? C'mon people!

5. Sherlock Holmes or Sheldon Cooper? Which roommate would try your patience more? 

Sheldon Cooper in a landslide. At least I'd have some great adventures with Sherlock. Plus, his brand of brilliance is more my speed. Something about how he just doesn't care one bit about what anyone thinks is very cool.

Now that your patience has been sufficiently tried, I nominate Kate, Stacy, and Emily for the Perfect Patience Award. Enjoy!

* * * * * * * * * *

Here's what I wanted to say to Kate earlier this week, which then spawned this award. You're welcome.

"Monday must have been especially frustrating since we've had that big date marked on the calendar since the last time we thought the Scholastic Awards were being announced. Sometimes the life of the writer seems to be filled with hopeful anticipation and guarded optimism, so I'm especially proud of how well you are showing patience. This award won't make the actual announcement come any sooner, but maybe it will make you smile a little longer."

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Morning Meditation and Reflections

I did a little meditating and deep breathing as I ate my breakfast this morning. With Mark at work and both kids sleeping, it was quiet (except for Scout plaintively begging me to share my breakfast).

We have a lovely view from all the windows of our house - seriously all of them. When I sit at the kitchen table, I look out at a winding creek banked by many tall and beautiful trees. It's springtime, so the birds are getting very active - in the past couple of days, I've seen chickadees, robins, mourning doves, cardinals, bluejays, finches, blue birds (lots of blue birds!), ducks, Canada geese, snow geese, woodpeckers, and many more birds, including some I couldn't identify.

Another frequent visitor to our area, due to our proximity to the creek, is a very large blue heron. What a majestic bird! It sticks its legs straight back behind itself and flaps its gigantic wings gracefully as it takes flight and moves in a straight line across the sky. This morning, as I sat and breathed and meditated, it slowly flew right overhead, over our house, our kitchen, our deck, our yard, the trees, and down the creek toward where our business is (we could seriously jump in a canoe behind our house and ride the creek to work, since our business is also on the creek but down a little).

The sky had that morning look - overcast with wispy clouds, but not gray - so I got to see the blue sky peek out in snatches and slowly overcome the white-gray puffs as the sun broke through, aiding its presence.

Now I'm sitting by the fireplace, composing this post as I try to get myself back into the habit of writing more. When I was writing more frequently, the words came more easily and they flowed. Now I feel stunted, stagnant, staccatoed. I have so much I want to say, but feel stuck and unsure.

As I said at the beginning of the year, I'm actively working on being more present in the now, being mindful. I'm saying "no" to others more and "yes" to myself and my family - those I enjoy spending time with the most. It's been nice really. I'm even learning to accept and own that in the winter, I tend to hibernate and draw inward. Every time I fight that, I feel miserable and cranky. From about mid-January to mid-March, I don't feel particularly social. It's cold out and gray and I think there is a natural inclination on my part to withdraw. I used to get on my own case about it and see it as a negative thing. Only this year am I beginning to see it as a thing - with no judgment - and accept it, own it, and act on it. I am seriously considering having an "away/vacation" message on my email next winter and saying no to most every activity - "see you in the spring."

So, it's been good. We've been getting things done, though never as much or as quickly as we'd like. I've said it before, but we're horribly inefficient. We talk, we play, we watch shows, we research, we analyze . . . that's us. The biggest thing we've worked on these past couple of months has been an overhaul of schedule - mine, Mark's, our family's. For school, for personal time, for chores. For play, for dates, for down time. We've tweaked it here and there, once or twice, and overall it's going quite well. Yes, there have been some bumps, but the trajectory is certainly upward overall. We're trying anyway.

For instance, my email inbox got completely out of control these past few years, especially this past year. When we really sat down in earnest to work on it (and I say "we," because a lot of what's in there pertains to all of us and is due to us not being on top of things, so Mark is working on it with me), I had over 4000 emails. In the past month, we've whittled that number down to . . . let me go check . . . 371. Yep. There has been a lot to address.

I will say that the majority of those emails consist of texts and emails I send myself (I've said it before - I have a very distracted, racing mind) - mostly full of ideas for my books, ideas for school, and things to do. I often feel like most anything we do is on me, whether it's school, fun, activities, outings, vacations, house stuff, business innovations, yard stuff . . . so I find it difficult to relax and let go. I feel completely overwhelmed by it all. My mind races and I feel like it's too much to contain and so I write it down and make lists and, my god, the lists are endless. It's overwhelming. So yeah, many of the emails are notes I've sent myself and things to write or do. And many have to do with the homeschool group I organize. And many are from friends. But mostly they're from myself. And I'm trying to dig out. I'm feeling good about the progress. Now that I've got under 400 emails in my inbox, the ones that remain are the ones that need a bit more attention. I'm antsy to address them all, respond to those that need responses, and get my inbox to zero - and then keep up on it. That's the plan. That's always been the plan.

So, we're feeling good about that. Another big project is going through those extra moving boxes that occupy our garage and formerly occupied the 3rd floor of our farmhouse. Some of those boxes are from our move in 2007 from townhouse to farmhouse, so you can imagine what's accumulated. We've even worked on that - we've gone through several boxes and we've organized, donated, and even thrown out/recycled some stuff. Mad progress for us. It's coming along, though slowly. The inbox has taken precedence, but we've chipped away some at the garage, too. We've also done some small home projects and we've kept busy with school and activities.

Exercise. That's been better, too. We've been eating better (a priority we've had for years) and exercising more. We set up an exercise area. Jim got us an awesome new television for Christmas (thank you again, Jim!), so it's set up in the exercise room with two ellipticals in front of it. We also have a small trampoline and weights. I don't particularly like to exercise, though I do like how I feel when I exercise and I know it's important for physical and emotional health, so that's my motivation. Well, I've figured out that having a TV to watch while exercising? Key to my success with doing it more often. We're watching "Veronica Mars" and "Psych" while we work out and it's great!

So, I'm trying to do those three things - write, meditate, exercise - more. My constant quest, those 3 things. I'm writing some, but not as much as I'd like to. (I do think the inbox is what's mostly getting in my way. Once that's done, I see myself committing to writing more often.)  I am exercising more. And I am meditating more - casually, nothing super official. I have affirmations in 3 different places around the house (on my bathroom mirror, on my laptop, and as a bookmark in whatever book I'm reading) and I contemplate those every day in addition to deep breathing, mindfulness, etc.

Mark and I have often sort of dismissed the idea of a "date night," mostly because we've often seen couples religiously go on a weekly date night while being totally disrespectful to each other the rest of the week, so it always looked like a bit like a band-aid applied to a gaping, bleeding wound. Well, color us reformed, because while we do think it's important to be respectful always and to connect way more often than once a week, we do see how much life can keep us busy and make it difficult to have a conversation (there was one day this week that I don't think he and I got through a single thought without some interruption from someone or something - the kids, the dog, the phone, etc.), so we've been making an effort to do something more formal together weekly.

Quite honestly, we haven't ever really been able to go on a whole heck of a lot of dates over the years. We haven't ever lived near family and we aren't particularly trusting when it comes to people watching our kids. There have been a couple of times I've wanted to do something special, like a getaway, but when I asked for help with that (something I am loathe to do), I was turned down. We have always made a point of spending time together daily at home, usually before bed - playing a game, watching a show we both like, talking. Now that the kids are older and don't really need sitters, we can get out more and do things out together. More often than not, we go out for sushi - it's my favorite date together. Sometimes we play Mario Kart. Sometimes we watch a movie. But yeah, we're focusing on ourselves more, because I've worn myself out taking care of everyone but myself these many years. My biggest issue as I do this is GUILT. I often feel uncomfortably guilty taking time for myself. Clearly, I have a problem, I know. I'm working on it.

We're having regular, weekly business meetings, too. Before, they were sporadic and we didn't keep up that well. Now, it's near-weekly and regularly and we've got lots of ideas that we're implementing. I've been taking a more active role in our marketing and advertising and promotions. With the spring weather, I'm feeling more inclined to get out there and network and connect better with complementary businesses and see how we can help one another.

Well, anyway, those are my reflections on how the year is going. More to say, more going on, but I better go get ready for the day. As I was writing this, our St. Patrick's Day cupcake delivery showed up at the door. Color us GREEN with excitement!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Happy Birthday, Stacy!

Stacy with her good buddy

Happy Birthday to a wonderful wife, mother, and friend!
A day doesn't go by that I don't think of how lucky I am to have you in my life.
Thank you for making me smile every day.
I love you!

Monday, March 2, 2015

Reflections On My 40th Year

Well, I turn 41 tomorrow. I find myself looking back over this past year and thinking about the whole turning-40 thing. What have I learned? What wisdom do I have about this milestone age? Uhhh, not much?

Confession? I started making a list a year ago. A list of "40 Things To Do In My 40th Year." I didn't ever finish the list, nor did I work on completing the things on that list. So maybe what I've learned is that a lot of things are the same as we age.

1. Like how I am constantly making lists.
2. And how I sometimes don't finish them.
3. And how whether or not I finish making them, I don't always look at them.
4. Or do what's on them.
5. How at 40, I find that one of the most challenging things for me is to keep up on life in general!
6. I feel behind a lot.
7. I make a lot of efforts and attempts to stay on top of things,
8. But there are always so many things that I don't get to.
9. Home repairs, car maintenance, check-ups, activities, goals.
10. I try. I really do.
11. I heard that it's not healthy to think things like, "There aren't enough hours in the day!"
12. But I admit that I often feel that way anyway.
13. I work hard every day to take care of home and family, keep up on school, business stuff, relationships.
14. Inevitably, I don't get to it all or do all I'd like to do.
15. My vision seems to always be bigger than my ability to make it so.
16. I suppose that's a good thing,
17. Always striving, always pursuing.
18. But there's something to be said for being content, too.
19. And that, I really am.
20. And isn't that what counts?
21. I see Facebook pictures of friends who travel all over the world and I'm happy for them,
22. But I don't sit here and wish it were me.
23. I don't.
24. I like my life, my simple pleasures.
25. Nothing makes me happier than spending a day at home with my family playing games, watching funny TV, and eating good food.
26. That's what counts in my book.
27. I don't have a grand working career.
28. I am not some big shot in a fancy field.
29. I haven't won any grand awards.
30. I try to be careful how we spend, conscious of our student loan and other debts (my parents were debt free by 40 - uh, yeah, that was clearly a different era).
31. I worry and fret and feel restless sometimes.
32. Nearly constantly, I think about and hope we are doing right by our kids with our life choices.
33. But if there's one constant in my life,
34. It is how much I love them.
35. My husband is, without a doubt, my best friend.
36. There is truly no one else with whom I'd rather be and I feel incredibly lucky that we have each other.
37. I've got a daughter who sometimes feels like a sister to me and always is my friend.
38. I have a son whose love for me is more than he can express, though he tries with hugs and words and gestures all the time.
39. I have the world's cutest, spunkiest, cuddliest, most adorable, most loving dog a family could possibly ask for.
40. So this 40 thing? Not too shabby.

There. I finished a list. And I feel pretty good about all that is on it - faults, flaws, and joys. It's the whole not-perfect, but perfect-for-me 40 package.

Very Inspiring Blogger Award

Thank you, The Magic Violinist, for nominating me! 


  • Thank and link the amazing person(s) who nominated you.
  • List the rules and display the award.
  • Share seven facts about yourself.
  • Nominate some other amazing blogs and comment on their posts to let them know they have been nominated.

1. I am a pretty open book, so I don't know what I could share that people don't already know.
2. I'm enjoying watching "Veronica Mars" with Mark and Kate.
3. We recently discovered (by accident) a goofy cartoon called "Clarence" and we all love it.
4. I have a mind that can race at speeds you wouldn't believe. It's rather stressful.
5. When seasons change, no foods sound good and I hate that.
6. I think I'm part bear, because I draw inward in the winter and feel like hibernating from the world.
7. Um, I can't think of a 7th thing. I'm afraid that's not very inspiring, but thanks for the award! :P

I nominate . . .

Jimmy and LMW (you can answer in the comments if you'd like to play along)
Sherri at "seventy-two fishes"
Emily at "Emily's Something
And whoever else would like to participate!