Sunday, April 27, 2014

Why Spring and Summer Are Not My Favorite Times of the Year


Almost everyone who knows me is aware of my love for Autumn and Winter.  I'm well-known for my "snow dance" that begins late in the Fall, and my constant tracking of any Winter weather that even hints at stopping at my doorstep. 

It's also true that I love the change into all of the seasons.  The transition from Summer to Fall is my most favorite, because we get some relief from the hot and humid days, and it's the coming of the cold, holiday season. Fall to Winter, as I've said, brings the chance of Winter weather.  It also brings my favorite holidays, Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Winter to Spring brings fleeting relief from the cold and dreary days and the possibility of me being warm.  Spring to Summer is not much of a transition in my neck of the woods, as they are very similar as far as temperature goes, but I do like the change of scenery -- trees are fully dressed in their grown-up leaves, and the pollen is gone.

For the most part, though, Spring and Summer are my least favorite seasons.  Here's why:
  1. I don't like pastel colors.  They're all over the place in the Spring -- in Easter baskets, in fashion, and in cosmetics.  Blech.
  2. I don't like showing so much skin.  It's not a body image thing, or a religious thing.  I just don't like it.  If I could get away with it, I would wear sweaters and turtlenecks year round.  I'm uncomfortable in my bare arms and blinding white skin.
  3. I don't like bugs.  They bug me.  (See what I did there?  :) )  I can't enjoy sitting outside in the evenings without being pestered by mosquitoes.  And being outside during the day means dealing with ticks and gnats and wasps and bees.
  4. I don't like to sweat.  Yes, I adore being warm, but there's a fine line between being snuggly warm and dripping with smelly sweat.  And I don't like crossing that line.
Yes, there are things that I do like about Spring and Summer, but for the most part, I don't enjoy them.  I've already begun my countdown to Autumn 2014.  It's on September 23 -- 153 more days -- in case you're wondering.  :)

Do you have a favorite season?  What do you like most about it? 

Until next time, be well.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

What I Learned During My Facebook Sabbatical


Hi there!  Happy Easter!  I hope you and your loved ones are enjoying your Easter weekend.

This day means several things to me: 
  1. It's a day to celebrate our Risen Lord, and to be eternally thankful for his greatest sacrifice.
  2. This day symbolically means (for me) the beginning of the Spring/Summer season.  It's not my favorite time of year, but that's for another blog post.
  3. This year, today is the end of my sabbatical from Facebook.
This post is to reflect on my time away from Facebook, and share some of the things I have learned.
First, full disclosure:  I did visit Facebook four times during my time away.  Three times to wish loved ones a happy birthday, and once to accept a friend request and look at the photos of her sweet baby boy.  Each of those times, though, I quickly did what I intended to do, and did not stray to look at my wall or any other posts.
Now, on to what I learned!

Most importantly, I didn't really miss it all that much.

Sure, there were times when I missed checking in with some friends to find out how they were doing and what they were up to.  And during the first few days, I had to stop myself from the habit of opening Facebook first thing in the morning.  But after the first week or so, I didn't really think about it.  Instead, I wrote in my journal, or read my favorite blogs or books, or read the news.

I CAN do something for more than seven days!

The second and most amazing thing I learned is that if I focus hard enough, I CAN do something for more than seven days!  I have always believed that I have a very short attention span, and that belief was based on facts.  I almost always lose interest in things after a few days.  There are many examples of this, but the one I like to regurgitate most often is the fact that I've never been able to use the teeth-whitening strips for more than seven days.  (If I'm honest, I've never been able to use them for more than three days!)  But here's the thing:  Your mind will do whatever you tell it to do!  If you tell your mind that you can't do something for more than seven days, well, your mind will abide by your wishes and not let you do something for more than seven days!  It's quite amazing, really.  In the case of my Facebook sabbatical, I told myself that I would stay away for 40 days, and I meant it.  It was important to me that I follow through with it.  (The fact that I posted on Facebook that I would be away for 40 days helped tremendously.  I had to be accountable!)  And because of my determination, I was able to do it without too much difficulty.

Go inward, share less.

Those who follow me on Facebook know that I've been going through some hormonal challenges.  And the reason they know that is because I've shared my hormonal outbursts on Facebook!  That's not cool.  There are some things that should not be put out there on the internet.  What I have learned (or was reminded of, really, because I already knew it) is that going inward in meditation is much more healthy than spreading grievances outward.  Going inward and reflecting on what I'm experiencing helps me to eventually deal with it, and learn about myself.  Going outward just makes me look like an ass.

Intimate relationships are more valuable than superficial relationships.

I don't mean to say that I consider my Facebook friendships to be superficial.  I value that reconnection with old school mates and work mates.  I love reading snippets of their lives, and seeing pictures of their families and adventures.  But there's a lot to be said about spending time with human beings face to face.  There's so much more to be learned from that intimate interaction than from reading status updates.

It's good to take a break.

The definition of addiction is "the fact or condition of being addicted to a particular substance, thing, or activity."  Before my sabbatical, I believe I had become addicted to Facebook.  I say that with all seriousness.  Facebook had become the first thing I thought about when I woke up in the morning, and the last thing I thought about before going to bed.  I felt the need to share every aspect of my life with my Facebook audience.  I no longer took the time to experience life through my own eyes, but instead focused on how to share the moments with my friends and followers.  Not cool, people.  Our life moments go by in a flash.  If we don't take them in and let them give us joy and knowledge, we are missing out, for sure. 

It's more fun to live my own life than to read about others'.

The last major lesson I learned, but certainly not the least meaningful, is that it's much more fun to live my own life than to read about the lives of others.  I had started to become envious of my friends.  They were having much more fun than I was.  Why couldn't my life be as cool as theirs?  Well, folks, I answered my own question.  I had to get my nose out of the Facebook community to realize that my life can be fun and cool and meaningful if I just live it.  Just LIVE IT!

I am really proud of taking the initiative to step away from Facebook for forty whole days.  It sounds simple enough, but it wasn't until I took that time off that I realized how it had consumed my life in more ways than I realized. 

I'll be rejoining the Facebook community today, after I upload this post.  But my time there will be purposefully limited.  I don't want to fall back into old habits.  There's too much to be done in this life; too much to be experienced.  I'm going to take in every moment that I can!

Until next time, be well.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

On the Words That Wouldn't Come

Sharon Drummond

This is how blogging, or writing in general, has been working for me:

Voice in head:  "Oh wow, I just thought of a great idea!  I'll bet others would be interested to know this!  I'm going to write about it."

Five days later (because I totally ROCK at procrastination)...  sits down to write post...

Voice in head:  "That is the dumbest idea I've ever heard.  Why do you think people would want to read that?  Just give up already."

This has been my writing life for so many years, including tonight. 

I can remember the days when I couldn't write or type fast enough to get all of the words out of my head.  And they were good words, in my humble opinion.  Certainly better than anything I've written lately.  And I didn't even have to try.  The words flowed like a river clear of any boulders or tree roots to hamper the path. 

These days it's hard to even form the words in my head, and those words that do form just don't want to come.  They are very stubborn words.

I think part of the problem is that I try to write for other people instead of myself.  I am constantly thinking about what others will think when they read what I've written.  I wonder what they will think about my words, and what they will think about me.  Even my journaling has succumbed to those thoughts.  So, now the words don't want to come, for fear of being judged or ridiculed or ignored altogether.  I don't blame them, really.  That's a horribly harsh environment for such fragile little words.

So, you can consider this blog post to be a sheet of lined notebook paper containing a few handwritten words, crumpled up into a tight ball and tossed at the trashcan.  (It lands just short of the trashcan just to mock me.)  I could just delete what I've written here, but I think I will leave it.  This is, after all, my personal blog, and I want it to be a chronicle of the hard, frustrating times of my writing life.  Because once that first novel is published and displayed in bookstore windows, I'll think back to days like this and just laugh and laugh...

Until next time, be well.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

365/30 List: Goals for This Month


This post is coming to you from my phone.  Don't you just love technology?

During the month of April, I am participating in 365/30 Lists.  It's basically a challenge for those who love to make lists to make those lists something meaningful, like a journal of sorts.  There's a list topic for each day of the week, and a different list for each month.

Today's list prompt is "goals for this month."  This is quite appropriate for me, since we are now in the fourth month of the year and I still haven't written out my goals.  Ugh.  Maybe monthly goals is the better way for me to go for now.

So, without further ado, here are my goals for this month.  I'll expand on each one in another post, as typing on my phone is more difficult than I thought it would be!

1.  Write a blog post every day.

2.  Ride the recumbant bike three times a week.

3.  Read five pages of fiction a night.

4.  Meditate for ten minutes every day.

5.  Drink three bottles of water every day.

So, there you have it.  I think these goals are quite doable, and hope to make each one of them a habit.

Do you like to make lists?  If so, you might enjoy the 365/30 List challenge.  I can't link to it here because I'm on my phone, but if you do a search for "365/30 Lists," you'll find links to the full list for April.

Must go for now.  My thumbs are getting tired!  

Until next time, be well.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Spring Has Sprung. Bye Bye Winter!

I'm sitting on the couch, the balcony doors are open, and the birds are singing frantically before they bed down for the night.  We've had gentle rain showers off and on this evening.  While the rain is falling, the birds are quiet.  But as soon as the rain stops, the birds start chattering away.  I think they are rejoicing because they know that the chilly days and cold nights are on short time.

It definitely feels like Spring now.  We've had a few warm days early in this Spring, but they've been followed by blasts of nasty cold.  This day, however, has felt different.  It feels like a real Spring day, and not like Winter is trying to trick us into putting our winter coats and ice scrapers away.  The weather forecast for the next week is full of late afternoon thunderstorms and warm days and cool nights.  I'm looking forward to that.

Those who know me know that I really love Winter, and most especially the snow.  During the Winter months (and sometimes in the late Fall) I start publicly wishing for snow and doing my snow dance.  We don't get a lot of snow in these parts, so I'm often a disappointed pouty face.  I should know by now not to get my hopes up.

What I've come to realize, though, is that what I truly love is the change of seasons.  Spring and Fall are my favorite, because they are the most drastic of changes in our neck of the woods. 

Summer is sweltering, with hot and humid days and nights, so the transition to Fall is most welcome.  Fall soon transitions to Winter here, which really has less to do with cold temperatures and snow, and more to do with the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons for me (yes, I know Winter doesn't happen until just before Christmas...).  They are my absolute without a doubt favorite times of the year, for reasons I've outlined in previous blog posts, and if I haven't, I will outline them in a future blog post. 

Even after a dreary Winter which includes much less snow than I wish for, I'm ready for the warm air, and so in late February I start to look forward to Spring.  It usually doesn't really arrive here until late March or early April, and I think this year She is right on schedule.  By now I'm tired of the sweaters and turtlenecks and throw blankets, and am ready for sunshine on my skin.

So here's to a lovely Spring to come.  I'm looking forward to the blooming flowers and bushes and trees (okay, not so much the yellow pollen carpet that will cover our world), and the warm days and nights, and the thunderstorms.  And I'm looking forward to the kids coming out to play with their bikes and scooters and soccer balls (just don't hit the cars, kids!), and getting more of that precious Vitamin D myself.

Until next time, be well.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Daily Planner Pages - January 2014

Hi there!

Part of my monthly review and planning includes removing the previous month's pages from my planner and archiving them.  I usually do that during the first weekend of the month.  (For example, during the first weekend of April, I will do my monthly review for March, which will include taking the March pages out of my planner and archiving them.) 

I thought it would be fun to show you how I use my daily planner pages.  Because I use two pages per day in my planner, it's just not practical to show photos of each page.  So I filmed a quick video (really quick -- only 3 minutes long!).  Check it out!

Do you use a paper planner?  I'd love to see how you use your pages.  If you're not a paper planner user, what do you use to keep track of your day-to-day?  Please share in the comments below!

Until next time, be well.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

On Missing My Filofax Peeps, and OMG I Miss Facebook

Hi there!  I have a couple of blog posts in process, but I haven't been able to finish them because of work and errands and such.  I hope to finish them up tomorrow.

In the meantime, tonight is really the first time that I have missed Facebook.  Partly because we purchased some goodies for the upcoming St. Patrick's Day parade, and my impulse was to take a photo and post it.  Typically I post photos to Instagram, and Instagram automatically posts to Facebook for me.  But APPARENTLY that would be cheating, so I can't even do that!  Oh this is hard.  This is very hard.

Really, though, the biggest reason I'm missing Facebook, and the reason I came here tonight when I should be doing other things, is because I miss being able to participate in the Filofax groups I belong to.

If you don't already know, I am a paper planner junkie.  I'm a lover of the Filofax brand, and have a couple of Filofax binders that I adore.  However, I'm using a Franklin Covey binder right now for my planner needs for various reasons.  At any rate, I am really missing the interaction I have with the like-minded people that I am friends with in the various Facebook groups, and I am really hating not being able to participate!  I've been six days so far without Facebook. (That's it?!  Seriously?!  I just went through this whole exercise of recounting the days until Easter Sunday, and even got Mr. Babycakes involved because I didn't think I was coming up with the correct number.  As it stands now, I have 34 more days to go.  O. M. G.) 

Aside from the Filofax groups, I'm going to experience the St. Patrick's Day parade without posting anything to social media.  That is harsh.  Because we have a really fun time at the St. Patrick's Day parade.

But honestly, now that I'm thinking about it, I really miss the interaction with my Facebook friends and family.  There are some who I interacted with almost every day.  I'm starting to wonder how they're doing, and what they're up to. 

Oh this is tough.  I shouldn't have started this post, because now I'm REALLY missing Facebook.  I'd better stop now before I cave.  (For the record, I have not cheated one single time.  And that is HUGE for me.  Because typically I have a really hard time doing anything for several days in a row.  It's funny, because I'm at six days without FB so far, and usually when I start to squirm is around seven days.  Bingo.)

So I know this post had very little substance, and I appreciate those who are still hanging in.  This is a good sociology experiment.  On myself.  Can you even do that?  Should you?!

That's it for now.  Until next time, be well.

Friday, March 7, 2014

On Surviving the Facebook Cleanse (Day 3)

dr. motte

Hi there!  I hope you all have had a great week.  It's been cold and rainy here for the past few days, but the weekend is supposed to bring Spring-like temperatures.  I love Winter, but I think I'm ready for some warmth and sunshine!

So, if you read my last blog post, you know that I've given up Facebook for Lent.  Today is the third day, and I am proud to say that I have not cheated once!  I removed the app from my iPhone, I removed the shortcut from my browser, and I have a big ol' Post-It note on my laptop to remind me:  "No Facebook until Easter!"  I did find myself going through my day yesterday thinking of little snippets to use for a status.  I thought that was interesting.  I don't think it's a bad thing that I think of posting to Facebook throughout my day, because really I just want to share my day with my family and friends.  Anyway, I'm really happy that I've given it up for a while, and have not regretted my decision once yet.  I'm finding that I really do have more time to do other things.

As I mentioned in my previous blog post, I intended on spending that extra time on my writing -- writing here on the blog, writing in my journal, and working on my novel.  Now, granted, it's only been three days, and I've been pretty busy at work, so the only spare time I've had has been after my work day and after my home stuff is finished.  Still, though, I haven't gotten much writing done.  In fact, this post and my previous post have been the only writing so far.  I'm not worried.  There's still plenty of time.

I have had one project on my to-do list for quite a while, and finally got around to starting it last night.  I started working on my family tree at  And oh my goodness it has turned into something pretty cool!  I'm going to write about it in detail in my next post here, but let's just say that I came across my father's baby book -- that I didn't even know I had! -- and discovered three handwritten letters from 1945 from my grandfather to his baby son (my dad).  I was completely stunned when I found them!  This project has turned into something that I wasn't expecting, and I'm so excited to see where it will take me. 

Well, I think this is all for now.  I just wanted to pop in with a quick update.  I hope you all are well and happy, and have fun things planned for your weekend!

Until next time, be well.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

On the Meaning of Lent and Giving Up Facebook

Tonight at midnight marks the first day of Lent.  For those who do not know about Lent, it is the spiritual time for Christians that spans the 40 days before Easter.  It is a time of reflection and repentance, moderation and sacrifice.  It is a time to reflect on the life of Jesus Christ and the mark he left on the world.

I was born and raised a Catholic, but fell away from the church in my adult life.  Some would say I am a "non-practicing Catholic."  Mind you, I in no way fell away from God, and in fact I feel a stronger spiritual connection now more than ever.  I just fell away from the Church.  But that's another story for another day, and is not really important in this context.

What is important is that the Easter season is my favorite "spiritual" season.  Next to Christmas, of course.  :) 

During Christmas, I am always excited and rejuvenated.  I enjoy thinking about and celebrating the birth of Jesus.  I feel like a kid again during the Christmas season, because I am reminded of all of the traditions my Mother started for us while we were young, and the new traditions that were started as we grew older.  It's a time filled with family and friends and traditions, and is generally a very happy time for me.

Easter, on the other hand, is more of a reflective time.  I tend to go inward, and think more about my spiritual life and my relationship with God.  It is a somber time as I remember the horrible punishment Jesus endured, and how poorly he was treated, and how he was ridiculed and discriminated against.  I get very sad when I think about how alone he must have felt.  Yes, he was the Son of God, but he was also a human being.  And the pain he endured, both mentally and physically, must have been unbearable.  And then I am reminded that there are many in our own neighborhoods who are experiencing the same kind of emotional and physical pain today.  It is all very sad, really, and makes me extremely grateful for the life I have.

So, getting back to Lent, it is a tradition for me, as for many Christians, to "give something up" during Lent.  It is supposed to be something that is very hard to do, and will be very uncomfortable.  Usually I try giving up chocolate, or swearing, or some other superfluous thing.  And usually I can't make it to Easter.  Forty days is like an eternity for me to try to do something consistently.  Heck, I can't even succeed with seven-day whitening strips!

This year, though, I want things to be different.  I need things to be different.  I'm not a young chick anymore.  I'm getting older, and each year goes by faster and faster and faster.  I'm spending too much time on unimportant things, and not enough time on the things that mean the most to me.  I am busy with work and family, and I'm not spending the extra time I have on the things that are most important to me.  I'm so, so afraid that I am going to reach the end of my life and be filled with regret.

So this year I am going to do something different.  I am going to give something up for Lent, but at the same time I am going to honor myself by doing something for me.  For forty whole days.  Some may say that this is not the "proper way to honor God," but I would disagree.  How best to honor God then by honoring myself, who was made in His own image?

So here's my plan for Lent:  I'm giving up Facebook.  For forty whole days.  I'm not going to visit Facebook to see what my friends and family are up to, I'm not going to visit Facebook to play the time suck that is Candy Crush, and I'm not going to post status updates.

I will, however, use that time to write and reflect.  And some of that writing will include daily updates here on this blog.  Trust me, I spend a LOT of time on Facebook, so there will be much time to spare.

In some eyes, this might seem inconsequential and not really a sacrifice at all.  But you have no idea.  As I said, I spend a lot of time on Facebook, and zero time writing.  Which is my passion, and what I feel my Soul wants most to do.  Giving up Facebook will be very hard.  Making myself sit down to write will be very hard.  I don't hold much self-discipline, so this will be a true test for me.  But I really want to do it, because I feel that it holds some real value for my life.

So, as of midnight tonight, I'll be away from Facebook.  (That's just a little over three hours!  Eek!)  And I'll plan to go back on Easter Sunday.  Maybe.  I may find out at the end of this exercise that my priorities have shifted, and that growth will have occurred.  That is my prayer.

I invite you to follow along on this journey of mine.  You can subscribe to this blog over there in the side bar -- you can subscribe for email updates, or RSS feed updates.  Or you can just add to your favorites and check in every day.  It's up to you!  But I hope you'll join me either way.  I have a feeling I will need LOTS of encouragement.

Thanks for reading.  Be well.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Catching Up

According to the most popular blog tutorials, you're not supposed to apologize for a delay in posting on your blog.  But c'mon, it's been six months!  So, I do apologize.  I have no excuse other than blogging was just not my priority.  But I hope that will change for 2014, because one of my goals is to post here more regularly.  I'm not promising anything.  We're almost three months into the year -- and you guys obviously know my record.

So, I thought I would use this post to update you on where I am at this present moment in my life.  There's nothing spectacular, really, but one man's mundane life is another's life of excitement.  So here goes.

My work life is ever evolving.  One day I will be working on expense reports, and the next day I will be traveling by air to a northern state who has SNOW, and the next day I will be tasked with preparing training materials for five different training sessions that I will need to deliver over a five-week period.  But that's how I like to roll.  I get bored very easily, and the unpredictable nature of my job is what keeps me going.

My home life is ever evolving as well.  One of the affirmations I have in my planner is "I want my house to be full of order and happiness."  Do you know how hard that is with two girls who are preteen and teen?  And who are on a shared custody schedule (meaning we have them half of the week and their mother has them the other half)?  But I'm adapting.  The whole experience has been one massive growth experience for me, and I feel like at the end of each lesson I come out with an A.  Or maybe a B.  But that's still honor roll status, right?!

My personal life -- you know, where I'm supposed to focus on ME -- is pretty lacking.  And I'm starting to suffer the consequences.  Honestly, when I'm faced with a to-do list that includes work items, household items, and family items, the "Me" items just seem to fall to the bottom of the list.  And there are only so many hours in the day I have to spend before I conk out in a state of exhaustion at 9:30pm.  As a result, I'm falling behind in my writing, and everything else I want to accomplish.

I haven't even written out my goals for 2014.  Let me say that again.  I HAVE NOT WRITTEN OUT MY GOALS FOR 2014.  I'm sorry to yell, but you have to understand that this is very, very wrong.  And so out of character for me.  Usually that part of my planning for the coming year is complete by mid-December.  I just haven't been motivated this year.  Most of my goals for 2013 were unfinished for 2014, and that makes me feel sad, and is probably the reason for my stalling.  But never fear.  They are mulling around up there in my head, and I plan to get them down and into action before too long.

My perimenopausal self has been rearing its very, very ugly head lately.  My Facebook friends have endured that wrath a couple of times (I'm really, really sorry about that!).  I'm working hard to get that under control, for the benefit of myself, and my family and friends.  :)

So, I think that's it, really.  That's where I am in life as of this moment.  And I'm hoping that this post is a jumping off point to a long sprint of regular, entertaining content on this blog.  Let's all pray for the planets to align appropriately. 

Hope you all are well.  What's going on in your world?