Unfortunate Glitches

Sometimes things don’t work out quite as you had planned. It seems to happen to me a lot, especially lately! And right now I’m struggling with a couple of unfortunate glitches in my Usborne plans.

I had 3 vendor days all set up for my gifts business and Usborne. This Friday is all set to go — except that the book order I placed for cash and carry hasn’t arrived yet. I knew it was going to be close, but now it’s looking like it’s not going to happen in time. I can still have my tables — 1 for my gifts, and 1 for Usborne, but it looks like I’ll just be taking orders and scheduling parties instead of having books available for sale. That’s glitch number 1.

Glitch number 2 comes in the form of my crappy memory. Apparently my second event — the biggest event — I didn’t apply with Usborne, just my personal books and gifts. Of course I still have items to sell, but I was really hoping to have an impressive Usborne display, and now I can’t represent Usborne at all; they already have a rep there. I may have applied for the show before I signed up with Usborne, which is why the issue, but I really wish I had remembered! It didn’t occur to me until last week, when I realized I had inquired about the show for my gifts and books, not Usborne. I reached out to the person planning the event, and sure enough I had left Usborne out on my application. Bummer!

I’m hoping the third event planned will work out. That one will just be Usborne, and it may be the only event I have to sell the large number of books I ordered! Let’s hope the books at least make it for that one!

Because I have the books coming, and because I was really hoping to sell something and bring in some money, I’m now considering adding another event or two to the itinerary. I don’t really mind, but I have to consider schedules and child care. That means I would just be looking for evening events (like the shopping nights they hold at schools sometimes). If anyone knows of anything, please let me know! Otherwise it looks like I’ll be doing some creative brainstorming and marketing.

Considering how excited I am to be selling Usborne, I don’t seem to be having much luck! Is someone trying to tell me something? Or do I just need to get a little creative and work a little harder? I guess only time will tell!

Playing Catch-up

With a planner jam-packed full of stuff, it’s not uncommon for some things to get missed, forgotten, or just plain skipped due to a lack of time. Every once in a while you just need a catch-up day. And yet I keep forgetting to schedule one! So tomorrow, after a little Halloween fun in the morning, we’ll be running some errands. And hopefully I’ll be able to take care of some other miscellaneous tasks in the afternoon and evening.

It’s so easy to forget the small errands, and they have a tendency to start piling up after a while. Not to mention the quick paperwork-type tasks: filling out forms, writing out thank-you notes, sending e-mails. And yet those errands and tasks can have a big impact on our lives. If I forget to pick up juice and crackers at the store, suddenly Avery’s school lunches are all messed up. If I don’t remember to review and fill out a form, we can lose out on free money (like we almost did on an FSA contribution form with employer match).

I need to find a way to not lose track of these little errands and tasks. The simplest way is to schedule a catch-up day, but what happens if I forget what I’m supposed to do, even on a catch-up day? And what about the urgent things that come up between catch-up days? It may seem like a silly thing to worry about, especially with everything else I have going on, but these things are important, too. Does this mean I’m going to have to tweak my plans again?

As a part of my cleaning and organizing project, I plan on having a “station” where I can keep paperwork and important information. Bill stuff, forms, checkbooks, stamps — all the little things that can get lost in the shuffle. If I have a tray of things to do — an “inbox,” just like at an office, I think this would help. I wouldn’t have to worry about losing forms or information, and I could build in a little time each morning or evening to simply look in the tray and see if there’s anything urgent I need to take care of. I already have time set aside on Thursday evenings for bills and paperwork, so I could take care of any less-urgent tasks then. That should help clear up any paperwork-type tasks that build up. But what about the errands?

I try to run quick errands after dropping Avery off at school, or after I get out of work. It can be tricky to fit things in, though, especially with doctors’ appointments and other obligations popping up. Lately it feels I haven’t had time to go anywhere! I think that’s why the errands have been building up. With a little organization and planning, though, I think I can continue to fit them in here and there. Once I’ve played catch-up and stocked up on the necessities, we should be good for a while. And if I actually remember to schedule another catch-up day, that should help with anything new that builds up.

Sometimes I get so wrapped up in the bigger projects that the day-to-day tasks slip through the cracks. But those are important, too! I just have to find a way to make sure they don’t get left behind.

Failing or Just Flailing?

Every once in a while I feel on top of my game. Everything seems to be going well: the kids are happy, I’m making progress in my goals, I feel somewhat content. Most of the time, though, I feel as if I’m not being successful at all. Sometimes it feels like I’m just failing at everything.

Lately I’ve been in that last category.

Last night, after an afternoon of Avery acting out and not listening, I sat and talked with him a bit. And discovered that, much as I had feared, Avery is often acting out to get attention. He feels I’m always busy doing something else; I’m not spending enough time focused on him. So I made a deal with him: I’ll do better and spend more time with him, and he’ll do better and behave. We’ll work on more things together, so I’m doing what I have to but spending time with him, too. But I hate that I made him feel like acting out was the only way to get my attention. I feel I failed as a mother.

My house is still a disaster area. Our bills are barely getting paid. I’m not making any money with Usborne. My websites are stuck in the same places they’ve been in for months. I’m constantly busy, yet I don’t seem to be getting anywhere. In short, I’m failing at everything.

I know this is a very depressing train of thought. And if I let myself stay on the train I’m going to be very miserable, indeed. Then I really will fail at everything. But how do I get off?

I’ve heard and read in many places that having an “attitude of gratitude” can help keep you upbeat and focused on all that you have, rather than what you don’t. Some people recommend keeping a gratitude journal, where every day you write down something you’re grateful for. I’ve even seen people post these on Facebook. I don’t know if that would help in my situation. But I do know that when I’m in a more optimistic mindset, going with the flow, accepting what I can’t change right away, I feel better.

I think perhaps, instead of expressing gratitude (because I already know and appreciate what I have), I need to celebrate my accomplishments. I’m not talking about tooting my own horn. But so much of what I do goes unnoticed, unappreciated, unrecognized. Perhaps that’s why I feel like I’m not getting anywhere: I see all that still has to get done, and there’s no one there to point out what I’ve already done. Most of the time I don’t get a “thank you” or “good job.” I just go on living. It can be disheartening. So I think that instead of a gratitude journal I’m going to create a “pat on the back” journal. Every night I’m going to try to write down something positive that I did that day, whether it’s spending time with the kids or moving forward in one of my goals. Better than a check mark on the to do list that never ends, this will help me really focus on what I’ve done. And I can give myself my own “good job.”

It’s worth a shot anyway. And if I’m successful, I know this will help keep me motivated and moving forward. The more productive I am, the more productive I want to be. It’s like a snowball. The momentum keeps the progress building. So I’ll keep working. I’ll keep trying. And I’ll thank myself for what I’m doing. Maybe then I’ll stop feeling like a failure!

Trial and Error

Wouldn’t it be great if you could have a problem, feel determined to fix it, and the answer would just come to you? I’m not asking for the problems to just disappear; I just want to know how to solve them. Sure, I can come up with ideas, but how can I know what will actually work? How do I know which ideas to throw myself into so I don’t waste my time on all the ideas that won’t work?I know there’s no magic answer. We have to evaluate the situation, use our past experiences, and try to determine the most likely course of action. It’s the same for finances, dealing with the kids’ behavior, getting healthy…it’s hard work. But they say that anything worth having is.So in my current positions, how do I proceed? I mentioned Friday that our financial status is less than favorable. I mentioned in the post before that how I need to take care of myself and my health. And, though it looked like it was getting better there for a bit, we’re starting to have issues with Avery’s behavior again, so I have that to worry about, too. What do I do?Since there are no magic answers, I’m still trying to figure that out. With regards to finances, I’ve been attempting the Usborne stuff, though I’ve been less successful than I would like. I’m having difficulty booking parties and such, though I do have 3 vendor events coming up that I’m hoping will help. The problem is: the main reason I signed up with Usborne wasn’t to boost my income through home and online parties; it was to become an educational consultant and work with schools and libraries. That is what I really want to do. If I can make income working with individuals, I have no problem with that. But I really wanted to work in the education markets. Shortly before I started, however, the company switched over to a completely new system. While this system will help in the long term with their crazy growth over the last year or so, they’re still working out the kinks. And, as a result, they’re not taking applications yet for educational consultants. I hope that changes soon! I’m doing what I can in the meantime, familiarizing myself with the products and selling what I can, but I must admit I’m struggling. I’m still hopeful, though! Since I’m not bringing in the income very quickly, though, I’m going to have to find other ways. And that’s where I’m stuck. While I’ve sold some stuff on eBay, it’s a lot of work for not a lot of income. I don’t have high-end items. I know I have some things to bring to a consignment shop, but that’s not guaranteed income, either. Beyond that I don’t really have any feasible ideas. I’m going to have to keep brainstorming.With regards to my health, I’ve been more aware of what I’m consuming (or not consuming), but not much has changed since that post, either. The problem is, in part, finances, as money is particularly tight right now, meaning I don’t have money to run out and buy salad fixins, piles of Greek yogurt, a variety of fresh fruit, etc. I’m doing what I can with what we’ve got, which is less than ideal. Exercise is still limited due to the mess in the basement, though I’m making small bits of progress in the cleaning. Who knows? Maybe I can start something tonight. It’s a goal. One thing I can do — and haven’t been — is focus on my water intake. I’m still slacking in that, and there’s no real excuse. It doesn’t really cost any more to drink more. I’m just being lazy. I need to get back into it!And, with regards to Avery, I’m at a loss. The one thing I’ve thought about is looking into positive parenting techniques. Avery can often be a good boy, especially when he’s in a good mood. When he hears the word “no,” though, it can sometimes lead to a tantrum. And he struggles with listening, especially if we tell him not to do something. But I’ve heard about parenting techniques that focus on “yes” rather than “no.” From what I gather, it focuses more on redirection, positive reinforcement, and incentives, rather than punishment and taking things away. I have to look more into it and see if it would work. We met with a doctor to discuss the possibility of Avery having ADHD, and, while it is certainly a possibility, unless we want to jump to medication (which isn’t necessary at this point), the only effective course of treatment is behavior modification. And that means we have to find a way of discipline and encouragement that helps him be the best little boy he can be. It’s a process, and it will involve trial and error, which we’ve been doing anyway. We just have yet to find a process that works most of the time!I have my work cut out for me. I’m still trying, experimenting, figuring things out. I just hope something finally clicks one of these days! It would be nice to catch a break. Until then I’ll just keep at it.

Mad About Money

Money sucks. It just does. And, while I’m trying to get back on track with my projects and and health goals, it just keeps sneaking back in to throw a wrench in everything. We’re struggling financially. Surprise, surprise. That’s old news. But my determination to do something about it seems to be growing. For a while there I had been reluctantly accepting of our status, dishing out interest and scraping by to make ends meet. But I’m tired of it. I look at our credit card statements and see what we’ve paid in interest this year and it disgusts me. I see balances going up despite my efforts to get them going down. I see more acrobatics in my bill paying book than in a Chinese acrobatics team. I see new expenses popping up out of the blue, determined to make me go even crazier than I already am.

And I’m sick of it.

I’ve been kicking myself for slacking off on my cleaning project, for spending too much time working on my Usborne business, trying to figure out ways to bring in more money. I wrote it off as a new project, a new passion, and my interest in it typical of any new project, absorbing my time and thoughts. But upon reflection I think it’s more than that. I think my subconscious has been pushing me toward the Usborne stuff because it realizes that this is a real way I could earn some money and perhaps get off this hamster wheel. While the cleaning stuff is important, too, for my peace of mind and pocketbook, I need to focus more on bringing in income.

Is it any surprise I’ve been eating more? Is it any wonder I don’t have energy to get things done? I’m stressed! Worrying about money takes its toll. So if I want to get myself in a better place, I need to take that into consideration. Yes, I’m stressed about the state of our house, too. I hate looking around and seeing a disaster area. But when I start slipping into the frame of mind where it doesn’t seem to matter what I do, we don’t get ahead, I end up in a worse place. Maybe I should take out my frustrations in my cleaning. That would kill two birds with one stone! With the motivation I’m starting to feel again, that just might be the way to get through.

I have to remind myself that money does not control me. I will get through this. I will find a way. I always do! And I have to use my stress and frustration as a motivator, as a push from behind to get me going in the right direction. I need to take charge. Isn’t that what I’ve said before? To make the changes you want to make, you need to take charge of your life. And it’s about time I start doing just that.

Putting Myself First

I find myself floundering a bit lately, struggling with sticking to my plans. I’ve been tired, which doesn’t help, but even when I head to bed early it seems even that plan doesn’t work — the kids or my bladder end up waking me up during the night, so I don’t get a full night’s sleep. I’m still being productive, but it’s with more computer-related, passive tasks. My cleaning project seems to be stuck on hold, as I just don’t have the energy or motivation to get much done. And that’s not good news for my goals!

So what’s a girl to do? I’ve already made some adjustments in my planner. I’ve attempted to get more rest, to no avail. I make half-hearted attempts at pushing myself, but I don’t seem to get anywhere. The only times I’m interested in cleaning are when I’m at work or busy doing other things. During my actual free time I find I’m drawn toward other activities.

This has happened before. It happens periodically. And the best way to break the cycle is usually to grab hold of even the slightest bit of motivation and push myself to be active. The less I do, the less I want to do — I’m pretty that’s the same for everyone. So if I let myself get away with not cleaning, I’m not going to want to clean. But if I start getting back into the routine, then I’m more motivated overall. It’s a solid strategy that has worked in the past. Still, I think this time around more is going on.

I have a feeling that at least part of the reason this has happened now is that I haven’t been taking care of myself very well physically. Yes, I’ve pushed myself to get a lot done, resulting in fatigue, but that’s not the problem. The problem is a poor diet, lack of exercise, and low water levels. I’ve been eating too much sugar, drinking too little water, and the exercise plan I set for myself months ago has long since fallen by the wayside, a byproduct of a messy house; I need to clear out space in the basement (a big part of my cleaning project) so I have actual room to exercise.

So here’s the plan: grab hold of any motivation I can get, get cleaning again (with the focus on the basement to start), begin again on my exercise plan, and cut back on the snacks (and work on portion control — I know I’ve been eating too much overall at meals). I also need to start using my water jug again so I drink more water.

The good news is that this plan doesn’t really require more work. The cleaning was already planned, and, technically, the exercise plan was already written down in my planner, too (it just wasn’t getting checked off). Snacking, portion control, and water consumption are a mental adjustment, not a schedule adjustment, so they won’t take up any more time than eating and drinking usually do. If I can get myself in the right mindset, things should just fall into place.

It’s easy to get wrapped up in work, the to do list, the many projects I have planned. But, obviously, if I don’t take care of my body, the rest just falls apart. Sometimes I just need to put myself first. Maybe it’s time to add that to the to do list.

Pushing and Prodding

Sometimes I lack the energy, motivation, or desire to do what I have scheduled in my planner. Not surprising — I am human, after all. When this happens, though, I have to decide how to proceed. I am very committed to my projects and goals, but I don’t want to be miserable in the process, either.

Often I’ll give myself two options: push myself to start the project anyway, or let myself do something else productive. If I push myself, my experience has been that I’m usually fine after a few minutes. Once I get going on something, my energy and motivation pick up, and I’m able to make progress on that day’s project — sometimes even more than I had originally planned. But, if I really don’t want to push myself (or I lack the resources, such as time and energy, to work on the project), I will let myself work on a different task or project, as long as I’m being productive and still moving toward my goals.

A day or two of working on something else won’t set me back much, especially if I swap days (work on something I was going to do a different day anyway, then plan on doing the original plan on that day). But if I keep pushing off the original project, then I start slipping and falling behind. That, unfortunately, has been the case the last few days.

While I have been productive — making items for my craft fairs, updating one of my websites, taking care of some smaller tasks that needed doing — I’ve been falling behind in my cleaning project. I had had it penciled in to my planner for the last two weeks, and this coming week, and then I had hoped to have the bulk of it done, leaving me open to work on another big project and fit in cleaning periodically in smaller doses. But, since I have been doing other things instead, I may have to extend the cleaning project, pushing everything else later (and setting me back in other ways).

So what can I do to get back on track? The original plan I had had for myself was carefully though out, letting me meet goals I had set for myself in a timely manner. If I push things back, I will either have to scramble to meet my goals or have them met late. Since I have certain deadlines (like the craft shows I have booked in November), making them later may not be as beneficial. It seems, then, that the better option would be to fit in some extra cleaning time when I hadn’t had it scheduled. That will mean pushing some other items I had planned, but, if I push items that are not as pressing, it should work out.

It looks like I’ll have to sit down with my planner again and really figure things out. If only I had complete control over my energy and motivation levels! But, since I don’t, I’ll have to take care of things as best I can. And hope it all works out!