Even My Tired is Tired

The body begs “sleep”;
The mind succumbs to rubbish,
dressed as important.

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I am dog tired. I am a dog-who-was-left-on-vacation-and-walked-400-miles-back-to-her-owner’s-house-in-a-week-then-had-10-puppies tired.  There are three things responsible for this.

ok, so I made her pose for this, but you get the idea...

1. The Oscars.  I’m not all that into movies, but I love to watch the Oscars. The clips are fun, the jokes are usually ok, the clothes beautiful and the speeches touch me.  Last night we let Tivo get a head start on it, but still took us until 12:15am to get through the show (no matter how often I told myself to stop and go to bed, I just couldn’t look away). I really liked it. Loved Billy Crystal no matter what everyone else says. And I now officially have a thing for JLo.

2. My work. This morning, a Monday morning mind you, someone scheduled a global conference call at 7am. And this same person put me on the agenda, over and over again (actually, that was my own fault now that I think about it). Oh, and did I mention, it was a Video Conference! Yes, you guessed it, that means I had to be there in person. Now normally (wait! if we work together, don’t read this next part – promise me!) I take 7am calls while getting ready for work. For most calls of this nature, I listen for 90% and only talk maybe, at best, 10%, so I can finish my make up, even dry my hair (thanks to a bluetooth headset that automatically increases volume when surrounding noise increases), get dressed, kiss the kids/the man, grab my breakfast, and hit the road, all while people blather on and on about budgets and innovation and marketing. But today, as I’ve already lamented, it was a video conference, and I had several agenda items, so alas, I had to be in the office by 6:50am. This means I had to be out of bed by 5:15am.

3. My self. I’m not sure what is wrong with me. Last night at 12:15am, the Tivo’d Oscars having ended, I was clearly tired and headed toward disaster, as my alarm was already set for a mere 5 hours away. Instead of going upstairs to bed, however, what did I do? I checked WordPress. Then my email. Then a brief look through Facebook to see if my friend wrote back. Then, for some reason, I clicked on abcnews.com to see if anything exciting (other than the Oscars) had happened. Then finally, I went up to bed. However, upstairs it just got worse… I checked my work email on my then bedside-Blackberry (just because I really like getting emails late at night that remind me how much freaking work I have waiting for me in the morning as that always relaxes me). Then I headed to the bathroom to do the evening routine, which involves listening to an audio book while I floss, brush, wash, tone, spot cream, deep wrinkle cream, eye cream and moisturize.  (I work for a skin care company, forgive me…) Then comes the “hair hunt” which involves me looking into a magnifying mirror trying to find newly minted eyebrow hairs to yank mercilessly from my brows, which always devolves into mindless wrinkle inspection (…I wonder if I finally look younger than my older sister…) and hair-do imaginings (…maybe I’ll let it grow long and wear a pony tail…). Jesus-H-Christmas, 20+ narcissistic minutes later I emerge wondering where the time went.  After slathering a few more potions on my hands and feet, I crawl gratefully into bed only to grab my phone so I can pull up the Daily Dilbert App and the XKCD App to see any new cartoons.  A few pages of my hard copy book later, I’m finally relaxed and ready to sleep. It is now 1:15am. I am insane.

So when 5:15am came this morning, I felt like someone had hit me in the head with a 2 by 4 and poured salt water into my eyes. (No, there was no alcohol involved…) I crawled into the shower, got myself ready, did mostly well on the call and promised myself I’d leave work a little early given the early start.

At 6pm tonight I called my beloved and told him I was on my way home.

Not yet done with the self-delusion, I then promised myself that after the kids went to bed at 8:30pm I would NOT come downstairs and get distracted… I would go to bed myself and catch up on sleep.

Did I do this? No. Of course not. I came to this god-forsaken site to poke around and decided this topic was a good blog idea. Good enough to deprive myself further of sleep in order to get something posted because postings lead to clicks and clicks mean I’ll have some email to check and checking email means I’m worthy.

It’s 9:52pm. Help me. Please.

Thanks for the Nominations! Now it’s my turn…

Will they or won’t they…
Read me, follow me, like me…
Perilous, blogging.
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I have been very fortunate in my first few months as a blogger. A lucky posting that got Freshly Pressed has resulted in me connecting with more fellow bloggers than I would have imagined at this point in my writing “career”.  That good fortune has resulted in several of you nominating me for blogger awards, and to date, I’ve done nothing but say thank you… have not “passed it on” to others I’m enjoying reading.

So, now I’m going to do this all at once. I know that this might make me seem brag-gy, but that isn’t my intention. I work full-time, I mother as much as possible, and I work on the writing in between, which means I must economize.  If you have a problem with this, then likely you haven’t enjoyed much of my blogging anyway, so let’s just part company now…

First, some thank yous:

http://shannonhowell.wordpress.com/ (Thanks too for the 7×7 award!)

http://imexcited.wordpress.com/

trippingdifferently.com

http://allaboutlemon.com/

Thank you for the Versatile Blogger Award. I really appreciate it.

http://beyondconfessions.wordpress.com/

http://thedonovanboys.wordpress.com/

Thank you for the Liebster Blog Award. Very thoughtful.

http://mightyinspiration.wordpress.com/

Thanks Barb for being a fellow traveler as we have some fun with this blogging stuff!

Each of your blogs is inspiring to read and I’m a better writer for the time we spend together.  Thanks for reading and awarding.

Now, on to the particulars. Each of these awards has some rules.

First, all of them require that I thank the award-er. So thank you!!

Some require you to post 7 (Versatile) or 10 (Kreativ) things about yourself. I’m just going to start typing and see how far I get…

1. I was raised in a small Georgia city. Even though the accent is long gone, most of the words I say that end in an -ing only get the -in pronounced. E.g. I was thinkin of you the other day. How’s it goin? Otherwise, my accent is as midwest as they come. That’s what happens after 20+ years gone.

2. Related to #1, I believe y’all is perfectly ok to use in any context. I often combine it with “you guys” just to confuse people.

3. I met my husband via the personal ads, nearly 20 years ago. That was before there were computer dating sites. His was in the newspaper, and frankly most of them were creepy at that time (“large, strong,  ex-Marine, 58,  seeking petite Asian woman, 21-29,  for discrete fun…” ewww). I am really thankful I found a good one. (By the way, my dad still doesn’t know this is how we met, unless my mom finally spilled the beans. Let’s see if he reads this… I don’t think he does…)

4. I don’t really like other people’s kids, for the most part. I like my own, but that’s about it. (There are a few exceptions, and those reading this know who you are…) The older my kids get, the more of their friends I like, but it’s been touch and go for years…

5. I’ve kept my toe nails painted for 90% of my life since I was 13 years old.

6. I really like men.  I enjoy their company and think they are delightful. Despite their pig-headed-ness at times, they are worth it. Don’t interpret this to mean I sleep around or have an open marriage – not my style at all. Rather just know that if I were trapped in an airport, I’d be just as happy to be with a man as a woman.

7. I hate being asked if having children was the best thing that ever happened to me.  They are one of many spectacular things that have happened to me, but to rank order them does a disservice to them all.

8. I really don’t have a favorite movie or song, but if you made me pick: Star Wars and The Incredibles would be in my top 10 movies. Music:  March Slave by Tchaikovsky and any violin piece by Joshua Bell (try this Puccini; it will make you cry, plus Joshua Bell is dreamy).  It’s Raining Men by the Weather Girls and Enough is Enough by Barbra Streisand are great in the car and when I need a pick me up. Can you say “child of the 80’s”?

9. I’ve never read the Harry Potter books, but I’ve listened to them all the way through on audio 7 times (I think I’m currently in the middle of my 7th round). The best version is the UK version, read by Stephen Fry. I listen while getting ready in the morning and in the evening, and sometimes in the car.  Whenever I finish the 7th book (takes about 4-5 months to get through them all), I am a little sad that he isn’t keeping me company any more (which is why I usually start them up again in about 6 months or so…). Fry is exceptionally talented in so many venues. I wish I could meet him someday. Watch this tribute to him – great fun and I totally agree. (I know this nugget about me may have weirded a few of you out…)

Enough about me, ON TO THE NOMINEES! Each of these awards require you nominate 7 (7×7), 15 (Versatile), 5 (Liebster) or 6 (Kreativ) additional blogs.  I’m just going to nominate the ones below, doing my own math. Sorry if I’m screwing this up for everyone.  If you read my blog on roles, you know that writing just made it into my top 5 roles I have, and unfortunately blog “reader” doesn’t get near the attention it should. So I don’t yet have a large repertoire of blogs I frequent.  See below for the ones, other than those from the above nominators, that I enjoy and want to share with you.

To those of you I’m nominating: you decide which award you are getting from those above. You decide whether to pass it on or not (some of your blogs don’t really work with accepting awards, I get that…). I won’t be offended if you do nothing with this. Those of y’all reading, please check these guys out because that’s what really matters in this awards business — to share the great work of fellow bloggers. And these are ones I think are pretty great.

http://frominside2out.wordpress.com/ – a wonderful daily reminder of how to approach the world. Plus, check out her mandalas. This is a dear friend of mine, Lynette, whom I’m grateful for knowing and grateful for her teaching for over a decade.

http://mandalasofplace.wordpress.com/ – a companion site to the site above. More Mandalas, and you can see where the pictures originated. There is magic in here.

http://badlandsbadley.wordpress.com/ – The Life and Times of Nathan Badley. He is a very funny man. Someone I’d like to get stranded in an airport with for sure.

http://creepypants.wordpress.com/ – The Chronicles of Creepy Pants. I haven’t made it all the way through this, but this serial (not sure what to call it, a chapter blog?) makes me laugh, as well as be thankful I work at the company I do.  I also love love love the title of the blog.

http://michaelashleypoetry.wordpress.com/ – His poetry is amazing. If I were a real poet and had more angst in my life, this is what I hope I could write. Please don’t take this to be sarcastic… I really, really like his poetry. Thank you for sharing your work and yourself.

http://dubsism.wordpress.com/ – If I were 20 years younger and still on the market, I would read his blog and pretend his insights and commentary about sports were my own, just to impress a guy I liked. I don’t always understand his points since I don’t really follow sports, but they are well said and entertaining. A good read.

http://gingerjudgesyou.com/ – I like her writing. Plus, she defended me to someone who was quite negative about my freshly pressed posting. She didn’t have to do this, so bonus points to her.

http://susanwritesprecise.com/ – She just seems to be having fun and I like that.

http://psychobabblepants.wordpress.com/ – wonderful writing and a fellow Aquarius…

http://immacraftybitch.wordpress.com/ – Fun read (yummy food), plus one of the best blog names out there.

So that’s it. Enjoy!

Making Choices – My 5 Roles

Embrace the choices:
They map your way forward and
Soothe the looks backward.

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I learned something a few years ago from an executive at my company that has helped me with my work/life balance. He (yes, it was a he) hypothesized that each of us can reasonably have 5 roles in life that we are committed to. A role is something like wife or mother or tennis player or gardener.  If we decide to take on more than 5 roles, and want to fully commit to those roles (meaning we want to do them well), then he claimed something or someone will suffer.

I’ve been experimenting with this concept for a few years now and I think he is right.  Once I started thinking in these terms, I quit beating myself up for not “doing/having it all,” a self doubt-a-thon that I think many working moms engage in.  Instead, I decided that “having it all” was as simple as focusing on these 5 roles such that I was doing them well. Not perfectly, not full on all the time, but in a consistent way, with focus.  If I am able to do that, then I count myself successful, consider myself living the dream, and cut myself some slack on the things I’m not doing.  How powerful would it be if we could all see 5 reasonably well-executed roles as cause for celebration.

That isn’t to say that this is easy. Take a look at my current list of 5 roles.

  1. Wife (this is purposefully first, because it is too easy to make it last; I still struggle to give him as much time as I’d like)
  2. Mother (there may be a time when I won’t need to have this on the list, but not for a long time…)
  3. Employee (another “not really a choice” choice for our family, but still, have to acknowledge it is a role and it takes time)
  4. Healthy person (writing it down gives me permission to choose a work-out over coming home early)
  5. Writer/Blogger (new this year, yeah! Finally made it to the top 5)

These may seem obvious choices, to you, but to help dimensionalize how hard it is to pick the top 5, let’s list some of the things that didn’t make my list.

Daughter. Gasp! Really!?!? How can I do that? First, it doesn’t mean I don’t call my parents. It just means than I don’t focus time and attention on cultivating that role. Time and attention would probably mean more trips South to see them; a regularly scheduled phone call; more emails; home-made videos of the kids, etc. But I haven’t made this choice. So we talk about every 2 weeks while I’m driving home from work or on a random weekend when I get a moment. There may come a time in the future when their health drives “daughter” right back on the list, but I’ll clearly know it can’t be an incremental role, something will have to go.

Housekeeper.  If you ever visit me you will find dust. And likely a floor that needs to be swept assuming you can find it under the toys. If you are lucky enough to see upstairs, then you’ll see unmade beds and likely a dirty sock on the floor. Get over it. It isn’t a priority – I don’t put money or more than minimal time against this role. We don’t live in squalor (don’t worry, the kitchen and bathrooms are quite clean, the clothes are washed – even I have standards), and I do clean the house on a regular-ish basis, but I’m sure there are those out there who would frown if they visited.

House rehabber. This was a role last year (when writer wasn’t on the list). That’s because last year was our first full year in this amazing 86-year-old house which requires a lot of time and attention (not to mention money). Last year we focused on the house. This year, we don’t need to as much.

Sister.  Just like my daughter role, I don’t make this a priority.

Friend. There is an amazing women’s group that I get together with once a month. But I don’t have “girl friend” time the rest of the month for the most part.  Facebook keeps us connected, but I don’t foster the relationships like I see other people do.  I work with people I consider friends, and I like the moms of kids at school, so the itch gets scratched in those ways, but that’s it.  Sometimes I miss this…

Are there drawbacks to these choices? Sure there are. If it were painless, then it probably wouldn’t really be a choice.   But what keeps me committed to this concept is this:  when I think about how (even more) stretched I’d be if I also tried to put effort against more than 5, I realize none would be done well, and that is something I’m not willing to sacrifice.

Do I do some things outside of my roles? Of course, but I recognize that they will get less investment and thus lower returns. Or, I rethink my definition of it. For instance,  I’m a girl scout troop leader. Is that a new role or a “mother” role? I did it at my daughter’s request, so frankly I think of it as something special we do together – mother role, check.   I also keep a garden in the summer – is that another role? If you saw my garden you would agree it was NOT a focus area for me. Instead, I get the kids involved (harvesting carrots this year was a riot) or I treat it as exercise (healthy person role).  Again, you might see this as cheating, but I approach it holistically and it makes it easier. This doesn’t need to be any harder than it already is.

Lastly, you might ask “where are you on the list”? Healthy person – that is broadly defined to cover all the things I do to take care of my mental and physical health. Sleep in when I can, no work in the evenings when possible, Pilates class, etc.  Make sure you have you on your list too.

My Blog is Giving Me the Finger

Laughing at myself:
Required medicine for
getting through each day.
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So I’m new at this blogging stuff.  I have wanted to write for a while, even started writing essays before I had a venue to publish. And so with some trepidation and a lot of excitement, I started this blog.  On December 19th at 10pm-ish, I announced to my friends and family that I had a blog, please visit, blah blah blah.

And then I became enamored with “site stats”. This is a fun aspect of Word Press where you can see the number of blog views, comments, external links and so forth. On that first evening, December 19, I watched as the number of views climbed 10, 15, 20, 30.  I went to bed having found the Android Word Press app and joyful in my 36 views that day.  The next morning, before I left the bed (yes, before I even pee’d) I pulled up the app to see my views. Already had 10 that morning, December 20th.  Wow! People were reading my stuff! How cool was that. 

It was on that seemingly quiet December 20 that my addiction to site stats came into full bloom. I watched all day. I would ask Frank “Guess what?” and he dutifully replied “What?” knowing exactly what I was about to say… still, he paused to hear me recite the latest number of views… 39 (“more than yesterday!), 48, 57, 65, 76!! I was ecstatic. I was hooked.

More than hooked, I became a junkie. And the hard part for a junkie? When the buzz wears off and there’s no more juice.  So December 20 ended with 102 views. And December 21 came in with its cooling breeze. 38 views. Worse yet, December 22: 11 views. After that, double digits weren’t frequent.  I was a failure. No one liked my stuff enough to return. How could I go on.

Now, just like “pretty is on the inside”, I know that writing a blog isn’t about the number of views you get, it is about writing for the fun of it, taking the chance, livin’ the dream. Yeah yeah yeah. These stats were cold hard facts that I couldn’t deny.  Worse yet, my ongoing failure kept showing itself to me in the “views timeline bar chart” Word Press provides – a visual of the number of views each day in your history.

And guess what the bar chart shows now? Well, it shows my blog giving me the finger.

Yes, every time I go to the stats page, until enough days have elapsed that this view of December 19/20/21 goes off the page, I have to see my blog flipping me off.  Well har-de-har-har.

So today, when talking with my friend Sandra (who gave me the title for this post) I decided to see the humor and humility in this circumstance (both words derived from the Latin “hum” meaning laugh at self and get over it).  Site stats be damned.  I welcome the Word Press finger. It will remind me of what is possible and compel me to post more often and perhaps get more friends who will read me more than once.

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