Think Positive to Make Time

Let’s do an experiment. Instead of making lists of all the things we have to do, let’s try making lists of all the things we’ve done. Rather than striking out the scrawled items on the perpetual to-do lists, we transfer those tasks accomplished to an achievement sheet. That way, instead of thinking of all the things we haven’t done, we acknowledge all the things we have. It sounds trivial, but it feels tremendous.

Need a for instance? Today my list would include things as mundane as cleaning a toilet, doing three loads of laundry, checking my email, walking the dogs, doing the dishes, showering.

Looking at that list, I already feel better about myself. I mean three loads of laundry and a clean bathroom isn’t nothing. Let’s keep going! Today the kiddo and I made blueberry muffins, we ate a healthy lunch, I baked some bread, provided feedback to other writers I know, found time to listen to an audiobook that’s been on my to-read list for a while now, and started drafting a blog article AHEAD of schedule for once.

Phew! Now I’m feeling accomplished! And the best part is, I’m not done. I also edited a chapter of my WIP (work-in-progress) and listened to an inspirational talk that people have been buzzing about. I washed a pair of sneakers, and dealt with the little stains that appear on couch cushions (anyone else feel like there are small stain fairies that visit your couch late at night?). In other words, I stepped beyond the things I usually do and found time to do some things that were important to me. And the day isn’t done yet! But even if I add nothing further to this list today, I feel okay about resting on my laurels, because today feels like it’s already full of awesome accomplishments.

Don’t get me wrong. There are times for to-do lists. They’re helpful for organizing individual efforts into a more meaningful whole. They’re great for breaking a large project into manageable bites. And if your memory is like mine, they’re just a nice safety net. But don’t let them own you. Because those nagging to-do’s – the ones that say they need just five or ten minutes of your time – can eat up your whole day. Don’t let the list of mundane things crowd out the time you need for you, the time you need to be creative!

Which is why I like making the list of things I’ve accomplished. Yes, just seeing the list grow makes me feel good, but it also inspires me to want to use the time well. I don’t want to look at that list at the end of the day and see only the mundane. I want to see the meaningful too.

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I Love to Watch You Play

I have three busy boys who love sports. I spend an inordinate amount of time looking for uniforms, wrestling shin guards from the dog, driving to practices, and washing uniforms. My oldest is almost fourteen, and he started playing rec soccer when he was three – just the fun stuff where the kids all chase the ball up and down the field in a clump. So I have about ten years’ worth of observations on this crazed life we call organized sports. It doesn’t make me an expert, but it does give me some perspective. This post is for the mamas who are, or who will soon be, driving around minivans full of sports equipment and stinky kids.

I had more than one kindergarten mom come up to me this year and basically apologize for their kids’ lack of coordination and knowledge of the game. “I’m not sure this is going to be Evan’s thing.” “We’re going to help him practice at home.”  I was the coach’s wife (for basketball and soccer season), so I guess I’m the person who absolves all uncoordinated children and children who kick the ball into the other team’s net? The fact that a mom felt like she had to apologize for her precious little kiddo made me sad! It also made me remember what it was like with my oldest.

Wait.

Did I apologize for him?

I’m thinking I probably did. When it’s your first kid to venture into sports, you have no perspective. You don’t have the big picture yet. Kindergarten is the pinnacle of your parenting at that moment and you have no idea what lays ahead. You can’t. So, if your kid isn’t dribbling down the court and making every shot, does that mean she isn’t good at sports? Should you stop signing him up for teams? No, no, no!

The Big Picture

First, our children’s athletic accomplishments are not a reflection of their value as human beings. It’s crazy that I even have to say that, but this fact gets lost – fast – in the world of teams and games. In fact, the world is going to give them the opposite message: You win, you have more value. I think we have to be on guard against our kids internalizing this message, especially the little ones.

So, if you are sending your five-year-old out onto the field for the first time, remember:

  1. Your kid has been alive for less than 2,000 days. In that time, she has learned to walk, talk, and probably even read a little! And now, you are sending her out to learn new skills, in front of an audience. Be patient. Be supportive. She’s not going to master all the skills for this sport in one season. She may never master them! You’re there to have fun, right?
  2. There have been studies done asking collegiate athletes what helpful things their parents said to them after a game. One of the tops statements?

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Off on a Tangent

We opted to call this blogspace ‘The Space Between” but it could just as easily have been called “The Path Forged.” One focuses on the knowns – the place you were, and the place you aim to be; the other focuses on the unknowns – the new terrain you have to traverse to get there. Both are necessary for the journey. Sometimes, though, you find that you’ve meandered from the path less taken to a dense jungle that requires a machete. This article is about one of those side paths I accidentally found myself on a couple of years ago, and which still occasionally spirals back over the more comfortable ground I prefer to tread.

I’m talking about prepping. Not sure what I mean? Think how-you’re-going-to-survive-that-doomsday-scenario planning.

Whoa! I hear you saying. How did we get HERE?

Yes, exactly.

That’s the same thought that went through my mind as I found myself purchasing MREs and stashing them in my basement. I imagine it will be the question that plays on continuous loop in my head if any of the several dozen apocalypse scenarios that get Hollywood excited come to pass in my lifetime.

The answer is that sometimes the things that invite us to step from the known path in the first place end up take us on some really weird routes. For me, that was deep into the world of post-apocalyptic literature. My first novel ended up being a young adult post-apocalyptic tale, evolved from the fertile concoction of NaNoWriMo, my second full month as an unemployed SAHM, and reintegration into the U.S. during one of the nastiest Presidential campaign seasons I’ve ever experienced.

It was great fun to write. As I stared out the kitchen window at our back yard, deciduous trees in the full thrall of a warm fall, it was thrilling to imagine what it would be like to try to survive in this mini-wilderness with no electricity, no running water, no grocery stores. A world in which political turmoil takes a back seat to actual survival. It felt like a puzzle that needed to be solved, and my new mom-mind was hungry for the task.

I’ve got basic survival skills. I’ve been a Girl Scout and been through land navigation and emergency medical courses. I can fish, and if it meant not starving, I could hunt. But it turns out, my knowledge amounts to a hill of beans compared to those in the prepping community.

This is a thing I didn’t even know was a thing until I started to do my research. And then, OH! How quickly one can fall down the rabbit hole!

Suddenly I was faced with a raft of decisions to make and short-comings to address. Would my family and I hunker at home or would we bug out to some more secure location? I took a look at what was suggested for a BOB (bug out bag) and decided hunkering at home was the less challenging option (despite the fact that we have no heat source for our house that doesn’t rely on a functioning gas line and electricity). Besides, I’d read too many stories about people having to face the apocalypse while on the road. (Read One Second After by William R. Forstchen. Not for the faint of heart, particularly because it is just so plausible.) No thank you. It never goes well for the out-of-towners.

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Staying Connected When Life Is Busy

Thea and I had planned for this week’s blog post to be about friends. It turns out nothing could be more appropriate this week as I’ve had to rely on friends for help in various emergencies! We’re good now, but I’m even happier to write about keeping in touch with friends.

There have been many studies on the importance of friends. Friends contribute to your physical and emotional well-being. Friends are good for you!

As we move through jobs and life stages, it can be a challenge to find time for to connect.  Schedules, demands from small people, and basic adulting can make friendships take a backseat. TTYL (talk to you later) seemed much more immediate when we were pre-kids.

I’m in no way pro at this, but I have a few tricks I use to keep in touch with bffs from kindergarten, people who knew me when I “did” my bangs , and friends from old careers.

1.  Send a Note

Everyone loves mail when it isn’t requesting money. It doesn’t have to be a long note. “Hi. I was thinking of you because you’re awesome. Hope today is great!” That’s all it takes! You don’t have to promise to get together soon because we all know how many planets have to align for that to happen. Now, if you’re an overachiever, you could always write an old-fashioned letter. My friend surprised me the other day with a letter that looked suspiciously like the subversive notes we used to pass during class in high school. (You didn’t think I paid attention in Geometry, did you? Numbers make me cry.) She sent a multiple choice quiz. This time, instead of all boy-related questions, there were fun mom questions. Best. Mail. Ever!

2.  Five Things

This is just what it says. I text five things to a friend and she texts back five things. These are usually cries for help and totally random. Which makes them that much more fun.

Sample text:

Five Things

  1. I may be raising sociopaths.
  2. The washing machine is making a strange sound. So I’m not using it.
  3. My sugar-free diet lasted ten minutes. It’s not natural.
  4. I binged Stranger Things Season 2 instead of sleeping.
  5. I can’t help with math homework anymore. It’s too hard.

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