Not Superwoman After All

As we all know, I tend to heap too much onto my plate. I’m always coming up with new ideas for projects and things to do, and I love being busy. I work well with a deadline and can often get a lot accomplished in a short amount of time if I set my mind to it. For the past month or so, however, I think I set too many goals for myself — too many big goals, at least.

I often have difficulty accepting that there are only so many hours in a day. I want to cram as much as possible into each day. I also like to think of myself as superwoman, as capable of getting more done than anyone else. As a result, I never give myself time to just relax and breathe. It’s been a problem for a while now, but it’s only recently starting to really hit me, as I struggle keeping up with my many tasks.

With all that being said, I’ve been working on modifying my game plan for the next couple of months. I’m re-prioritizing based on urgency and importance, and pushing some goals that, while I’m anxious to accomplish them, are not very pressing in the grand scheme of things.

I’m also trying to figure out the best way to get in some relaxation time. The problem with relaxation time is that I always feel like I’m wasting my time, or that I should be doing something more productive. Unless I’m completely exhausted, I can’t just sit and zone out to TV. It feels like a waste to me. So I’m looking for ways that I can relax and still be “productive” in a soothing, relaxing way. I’m thinking crocheting, cross-stitch, reading, etc. I also have little projects that I’ve been putting off because they’re not urgent, but which may provide a bit of a release mentally — things like putting together project kits for Avery, making story and music CDs for the kids, filing, or searching for Usborne graphics for parties.

Originally Saturday nights were going to be my pseudo-relaxation time, when I took care of creative or more open-ended tasks, but as I started slipping in my regular weekly tasks, Saturday nights were taken over. I think it’s time to bring them back. I also think perhaps I should schedule “catch-up” time into my week, so if I start slipping in my tasks they don’t start seeping into my weekends.

I know I’m always rearranging and tweaking and adjusting when things don’t go according to plan (or when I schedule too much into an already-full planner). While I’ve made a lot of progress this year on learning about myself and what works for me, I’m still working on the scheduling and planning. All this adjusting is just me figuring out the best way to work. For me to maximize not only my time, but my efficiency, productivity, and mental capacity, I need a lot of trial and error. And I’ve certainly had that! I’m definitely still a work in progress. But I’m confident that I’ll find something that works at least most of the time — eventually.

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The Aftermath

I am truly terrified by the results of yesterday’s election. More than that, though, I am deeply, heart-wrenchingly saddened by them. I honestly thought our country was better than this. I thought we were moving in the right direction, toward a more equal, loving, kinder, welcoming society. Did we have a long way to go? Of course. But we were getting there. And now, in the blink of an eye, it appears we have suddenly been propelled backward. I’m waiting for someone to pop up and say “just kidding!” but, of course, that won’t happen. Instead we are left with the aftermath of electing a truly horrible person to a position of great power. Only time will tell what will happen now. I just hope it’s not as bad as I fear.

One of the hardest parts of this is knowing I have a very bright young son who is just starting to learn about the world. How do I explain to my loving, accepting, go-with-the-flow son that there are some people who hate others simply because they’re different? We’ve never discussed race or ethnicity or religion or gender equality. I’ve let my son be a child — and, as a child, he has accepted everyone for who they are. He has played with girls and boys, children of all races and ethnicities and religions. He has not judged them. He has not mocked or made fun of them. He has laughed and smiled and played with them. And I never want to destroy that acceptance. I certainly hope our country has not done it for him.

Through this whole ordeal I am reminded of an expression I’ve heard, something to the effect of: the best revenge is a successful life. Hating Trump and his supporters won’t fix the problem. If there are legal, moral ways to change things, by all means use them. But I think the most important way to fight back against the hatred and injustice is to rise above them. Be the best person you can be, show the world who you are, and break off the shackles that lesser people try to impose. Together we are stronger, more powerful than hatred.

I hope we can continue to move forward. I hope America can be great again — but not by the impositions placed by a fearful, hateful leader. I hope we can show the world that we’re not ignorant neanderthals who believe in crushing everyone who may be different. I’m scared, but I’m trying to retain that little bit of hope. And I know that, no matter what happens, I will continue to strive for a better life, for myself and my children. I can continue to be the best person I can be, and I can be accepting and loving and welcoming. No one else — certainly not an egotistical buffoon — can change that.

Gearing Up for the Holidays

It’s November! For many, that is the official start of the holiday season, and I am certainly no exception (though I’ve been shopping for Christmas all year, and I started watching Christmas movies in September). Now, though, is when I can start doing Christmassy things with other people!

Fortunately it looks like the holiday season may be off to a decent start, and I’m hopeful that the next couple of months will be positive ones, in all aspects of my life!

Business

Friday I had the first vendor event scheduled for the season. While it wasn’t a spectacular show, I was fortunate to have received part of my book order prior to the show (that afternoon, actually!), so I had items to sell. And from my experience, I think cash and carry is the way to go at these events. I suspected it might be, and the show on Friday confirmed it.

This makes me happy, since I have a lot of books still on the way! And, in light of the “glitches” I posted about earlier with regards to my Usborne business, I made the decision to schedule a couple of additional vendor events. As long as the rest of my books come in in time (and they should, at least for the last couple), I’m confident I will be successful.

The show on Friday also taught me another thing: I do not want to do combination gifts and books shows again! In some ways, I’m grateful the big show on November 19 is only gifts. It’s just too much to think about — and too much to pack! — to do both at the same time. Two sets of inventory, two displays to set up, two sets of paperwork and signage and miscellaneous supplies to worry about. I’m definitely going to keep them separate from now on.

The House

OK, so my house is still a disaster area. I had hoped it would be in better shape by the end of October. While that isn’t the case, I did make progress, and I hope to keep it going. At the very least, I need to make room for the Christmas tree getting set up at the end of the month, and all the presents that are waiting to go under it!

I am confident, though, that I will get it where I want it to be. I am still working on it, after all, so it’s got to happen eventually! And if I can be diligent in working on it, however slowly it goes, I know I’ll stay motivated and be successful.

Family

This, of course, is the most important part. The holidays are, after all, time to spend with loved ones. And there are a bunch of events taking place over the next couple of months to have some holiday fun. While this past weekend was more work than play (though the kids had a blast jumping into leaf piles yesterday!), I know we have lots of fun stuff planned over the next several weeks — even if Mommy has vendor events mixed in, too. There will be plenty of time to gobble like Turkeys, make some crafts, meet Santa, enjoy the lights, sip hot cocoa, and play games. And this year will be even more fun, because Emily actually understands what’s going on!

All in all, I’m in a positive frame of mind. I hope I can keep it going! This is my favorite time of year, and I want to enjoy it as much as possible. And I want my kids to enjoy it as much as I do — if not more! With a little effort — and a lot of planned fun! — I know I can make it happen.

Another Year Older

There’s just something about a birthday that makes it the perfect time to evaluate and reflect. Another year older, but (hopefully!) many more years ahead. Am I where I wanted to be? Am I who I wanted to be? Where do I go from here?

Where I Wanted To Be

The simple fact that this blog exists, with the premise it has, indicates I’m not quite where I wanted to be. I’m married with two beautiful children, living in a house that with a little work could be more than adequate. My career, however, is far from established, and I’m still floundering a bit with that whole money thing.

I had pictured myself, by the time I was this ripe old age of 36, to be settled: married (check), with kids (check, check), in a house (check again), an established writer (well…), financially secure (LOL), and overall happy, living the dream (getting there). Still, I have to look at where I was. I went through a bit of a crisis when I turned 30: struggling having kids, struggling getting published, unsure what I wanted to do with my life. A lot has changed in 6 years! Finances are worse, true, but everything else seems to be moving in the right direction. I have two wonderful kids, four self-published books (plus a couple of short e-books) under my belt, several projects underway that help bring me fulfillment. Am I exactly where I wanted to be? No. But I’m a heck of a lot closer than I was. And I know I’ll get there eventually.

Who I Wanted To Be

That’s a tricky one. Who did I want to be? Who do I want to be? I want to be a good person, and I think for the most part I succeed. I want to help people, make a difference. I want to be a good mom, a contributing member of society, a hard worker, a successful woman professionally. I want to have it all. Who doesn’t? Do I succeed? Sometimes. Not always.

Over the past several months I’ve been doing a lot of reflection, self-examination. I’ve been learning more about myself: who I really am, what my needs are, what I can do to get me where I want to be. I’ve learned a lot about myself, and it’s helped move me in the right direction. Am I perfect? Of course not. No one is, and I know I never will be. But I know I want to be the best person possible. I want to be proud of the person I’ve become. I want to feel successful and fulfilled — not by having a lot of money or the perfect house, but by being happy. And making others around me happy. I want to feel like all the different parts of me — all the different things that make me me — are being satisfied, and that I’m helping my kids reach their true potential, too.

A tall order? You bet. But I’m worth it!

Where Do I Go From Here?

I think for the most part I’m moving in the right direction. I know some days I need to work a little harder with Avery, and I know sometimes I need to work a little harder to clean the house. But overall I’m heading where I want to be. We have a roof over our heads, food in our bellies. My kids spend a large portion of their days smiling, happy and playing. My many projects may be slow going, but I’m determined, and I know I’ll get there. Each one represents a little part of me, and how can I deny one from being fulfilled?

Overall I’m happy with who I am and where I am. I have work to do, but I thrive on challenge. And, really, who would I be if I didn’t have something to work on? That is who I am: the woman with a million projects. So here’s to another great year of progress! May there be many more.

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!