PANIC ROOM!

I’ve noticed a trend of men in my life disappearing.  They, including my son, float around aimlessly until you ask them to do something. Then they disappear for extended periods until I send Search and Rescue!  Fortunately with the size apartment I occupy right now, it’s a short mission and more often than not, he’s commanding troops in his bedroom or locked in the “library.” I realized that this trend was not new – he learned from his elders. This used to drive me mad until, presented with the perfect storm, I was educated on the value of the “rest” room, or as I call it – the Panic Room.

SOUNDPROOF
Upon entering the panic room and shutting the door, it immediately drowns out sound waves in the upper decibels, referred to as whining!   It also filters out really low waves known as the, “I’m BSing you because I’m older” pitch!  With the warring siblings fending for themselves, the tension in my shoulders, from using them to shield my ears from those frequencies, relaxed for a moment.

IMPENETRABLE
In any other room in the house, the boundaries are clearly drawn, but often disregarded.  We enforce  open-door rules but respect people’s privacy.

However, propaganda still spills over the border and even if I am very obviously engaged in another operation, I’m sought out for fair and impartial peace-restoring missions.  The lock means that the panic room becomes an impenetrable tattle-free zone.  They haven’t figured out the way to jimmy the lock to penetrate the perimeter.

REGROUP AND REAPPROACH
Sometimes in the middle of the daily onslaught – especially when you are outnumbered two to one as I am, one needs to step back and regroup.  Besides the fact that the reading selection in those rooms are diverse and creative, the fact that for a few moments you may lighten your load and shift your thoughts from running interference to idling allows you to conjure up a fresh train of thought!

True, I wouldn’t want to occupy the Panic Room for days or weeks, although I suppose apricot scrub could sustain me in a pinch, it provides enough of a needed break for me to effectively manage code red alerts.

 

TIME LAPSE LIVING

Remember wandering through childhood, savoring each day?  From pre-school we crawled through each milestone year and couldn’t grow up fast enough!  I knew it all (you too?!) because I’d been alive for “forever!”  Then, with working-woman and wife routines, time blurred a bit.  When kids showed up, we all piled in the Millinivan Falcon traveling at light speed.

I hear time-continuum vortexes are in development to allow travel back to times after potty training and before potty mouths. Meanwhile, we can have kid-quality fun if we put up boundaries on the grown up disruptions.  While my goal focuses on extending my and my kids’ childhoods, this positively nurtures other relationships too!

Unplug

Turn off phones when hitting the road.  If you can’t do all weekend, just a few hours to give your undivided attention to the adventure and any traveling companions.  Your experience will have a stronger impact so when co-workers ask how your weekend was, you’ll count every smile!

At least do 30 minutes unplugged for yourself.  If you are on call, RESIST internet surfing or games.  Play-by-play announcements from my son enjoying his games are not conversation.

See things through their eyes

Remember how you felt at their age and what amazed you.  Sharing that sentiment recaptures your youth and you may spark something in their generation.  With someone beyond your years, notice how they appreciate the world.

Be Present

Whatever occupies your mind will wait and be just as powerful later. Push it aside, write it down – whatever stops your worrying and planning.  When you readdress it later, you’ll have the fun memories and a wider perspective with more focused energy.

Zoom in

Focus on the little things easily taken for granted – how it feels holding their hand, the taste of the love in the meal made especially for you, how exhilarated you feel after that roller coaster!  Collect these highlights and they provide pick-me-ups between adventures.

How can you have fun if you keep thinking is “I need to do…!” You lose more by missing valuable opportunities to be loved.  The balance works the other way too. How can you work efficiently if you keep thinking is “I need a vacation!”

TAKE TWO AND GET OVER IT, MOM!

The latest evolving stage of this cold involves stopped up ears. As a result, the occasional little snarky thoughts I encounter when confronted with challenging people don’t as easily pass in one ear and out the other, instead they ping pong in my head until I start to get cranky.  I hate this because it darkens my sunshiny day.

I swear Lela Lee’s Angry Little Asian Girl is my other gemini half!

When my kids were young and transformed into YoungKid CrankyPants, I simply enforced naptime. When they passed that age, threatening to force a nap upon them helped them come down a notch.  Now, I usually send them to their room to play alone for like 10 minutes to get them to separate, calm down, and try it again.

Personally, I do well on little sleep – at least I think I do, if I don’t, please call me on it.  I’ve gotten a little rundown, now that I’m blogging late, but usually coffee keeps me going.  This morning, I slept in a bit knowing Daylight Savings would rob me of an hour of sleep that was entirely necessary to help me get over this cold.

After baseball, then lunch, I hoped that exercise + food = mellow kids.  At about 4pm when quite the opposite occurred, and I’d received my summons to appear in the Family Court as the Momediator, I made an unexpected ruling to retire to the judge’s chamber.  I told them I set a timer and you two work it out by the time I get back.  In their minds that means 10 minutes. I hoped for a 30-minute power nap.  I slowly shut the door to drown out the kids whining mixed with SpongeBob’s laugh and prayed that they wouldn’t kill each other in 30 min. and that I wouldn’t sleep through the night.

Later, my daughter carefully called to me from the door saying that the timer rang.  As usual I “hit snooze” for a few more minutes.  Fortunately the failsafe activated and, nearly two hours later, my daughter’s tummy reminded her to wake me.

While my cold still lingered, my crankiness did not.  We had a fun afternoon knocking off 1 of my 101 in 1001! What is your nap protocol?

Cards always know the perfect thing to say!

BEST DAY EVER – IT’S ALL IN MY MIND!

The Gift that keeps on giving… Love it!

Today’s continuation of 24 hours of doing anything I want, wound up being just what I needed although not from my original list.

Slept in: I finally slept in! Songs blared from my iPhone for minutes, but I snored on. I slept so late that I did not get any coffee until 3pm. I didn’t get caffeine=withdrawal headaches either!

Laundry: Really?! OK, not a purposeful addition to my list. The spin I put on it centers around my “rule” that when I fold the 4 loads of laundry, that gives me full freedom to watch reality TV!

Wayne Dyer, PhD DVD: In yesterday’s cleaning, a DVD emerged that I held captive at home for a month! I couldn’t send it back unwatched, plus on a slow, sunny, spiritual Sunday, watching Wayne Dyer would be more inspiring than Hoarders. This introduction to him felt comfortable and straightforward. Part of it a result of the fact that he expanded on a sentiment I’d brought up on my blog before – If I’m Not Worried, Don’t Worry!

He went one step farther suggesting our “problems” aren’t with the world around us, they are based on our perception, in other words – all in our heads! If you look at a situation, it’s simply a moment in time whether big, small, short or tall. When we mix in our ego, defining ourselves by what we have, what others think about us, what work we do, and feel we’re not measuring up to others, then our problems start and take over.

He presented many great things to reflect upon. It all hit such a big chord with me that I need to simmer on the ideas!

Daughter’s Softball: Sheer joy for and from her!

Sa-wing Battah!

Dinner and Wine with friends: A few school fundraising moms and I gathered and continued down our path towards our goal. We discussed and discredited a few “problems” we detected. Disengaging and absorbing the power that something has on us felt energizing

It also sent a strong message that my best days ever could be any day – with or without the mundane or big adventures, since it’s all in my mind and how I choose to see and feel things!

FCW: BE TACTFUL, DO NOT OVERLOOK YOUR OWN OPPORTUNITIES

Part of my growth involves remaining open enough while wandering to see the signs that the universe broadcasts. The message comes from people, whether friends, work-study students, or the Almighty O herself. Perhaps they come from social media status updates. Today’s wisdom presented itself in the oldest form of messaging with limited characters – fortune cookies! I don’t consider the fortune valid unless I’ve eaten half the cookie, otherwise, I am just cracking open cookies looking for fortunes to support my agenda.

Fortune Cookie Wisdom!

The cookie advised: “Be tactful, do not overlook your own opportunities” [in bed]. Do you still play that game?! Since the odds of those opportunities presenting themselves today seemed slim-to-none, I asked WWOD? while focusing on the message. The obvious place to locate opportunities was in my new, albeit temporary, job. After two weeks, I remain blissfully in the honeymoon stage not sensing any craziness. The only time I feel unsettled centers on contemplating this job’s fit into my career path. The exhilarating excitement of a new adventure mixed with the devil-may-care short-timer attitude creates bold creativity for facing challenges. To function well, even if short-term, one must know the processes, histories, and root oneself in the establishment.

First, I must be tactful: treat people well with respect and manners (Duh!) and don’t get sidelined by drama. Then, before I “don’t overlook my own opportunities,” I must identify them.  I know that I love brainstorming ideas and but don’t have the [insert one: patience/attention/balls] to carry them out before the next idea comes. Perhaps, it’s because I lack formal method training and not being young enough to allow a steeper learning curve with trial-and-error, I’m afraid to waste time guessing. I know that there are no guarantees. Miss O wisely points out that luck results from preparation intersecting opportunity.

So from my vantage point, I see experts who teach and mentor. Perhaps I’m backing myself into another position where I will, again, realize that I was meant to be here all along. This time, I’ll look over my shoulder to plot the journey some and enjoy the view. After backing myself up and positioning myself, I’ll launch forward in the direction meant for me.

Check all your mirrors to make sure you don’t miss something spectacular!

IF I KNEW THEN WHAT I KNOW NOW!

Walking through campus today reminded me of when I worked at the happiest amusement park on Earth. As part of the cast, my role contributed to the highlight of a lifetime for many, while not distracting from the moments. During their visits, guests shared their personal or collective biggest thrills, chills, challenges and happiest day in the sun. When their time ended, they left permanently touched, often changed, by the experience all the while, blind to what magical extremely complex operations happened behind the curtain.

Allow me to expand your mind suggesting that going back to school felt like not simply a full-circle moment, but what I think a circular moment in time feels like! With every great first and ongoing impression, every wise use of my time searching out great opportunities, and rubbing elbows with connected people I am not only benefiting my future ultimately, but also redoing my past at the same time.

Maybe the perm frazzled the well-laid plans I had at the time!

How many “If I knew then what I know now” moments do you look back on in college or life? I’m grateful for the opportunity to be back in the welcoming, familiar college environment. When I attended college, I went to classes, stayed up for a few all-nighters and hung out with my roommates. I truly did not go out of my way to find parties, mentors or career connections. Being fully submersed once again in the exuberant, hopeful and hungry energy of students, with the benefit of adult perspective, brought me full circle.

I greet my colleagues as we pass on campus, pausing occasionally to catch up – having been gone six weeks between assignments. Out of the corner of my eye I see the co-ed I was shadowing my behavior with other students or professors.  If asked, my shared wisdom to students is “It matters who you know.”  College presents the unique opportunity to not only increase the numbers of people you know face-to-face, but also the chance to expand your horizons and make the borders friendlier. While every student travels a similar path, individual’s life experiences and lessons learned along the way are invaluable. Also, never forget that “Lessons appear anywhere” and “It’s never too late to start.”

Anytime is a great time to start the rest of your life!

JANUARY’S GEMS IN BEING UNEMPLOYED

Determined to keep crazy in 2011, I resolved to live this experience as it reveals itself, focus on every gifted moment, feel each emotion and pay attention to lessons offered. After a leap of faith, a break-neck turn, we experienced a little turbulence but no sinkholes! Occasionally, I reality checked myself to make sure I didn’t drown in denial either. Here the gems January presented:

Stolen gem from my friend’s Project Reconnect 2012!

1) Each trip to Red Bullseye does not cost $100! Truthfully I found it easier to resist it completely, but there were a few trips where we escaped with just what we came for. Turns out, I didn’t need every cute nail polish and the kids survived without recruiting more futuristic $1 soldiers.

Despite having no new recruits, the general was pleased with the month’s outcome!

2) Food prepared by me ranks with that prepared by others! I used to sing the praises of anything prepared by other people. You could serve me anything (but liver and onions) made by someone else and I savored it as if gourmet. Turns out my simple recipes can taste amazing in a short amount of time!

3) Farmer’s Markets – Fresh Veggies and Fresh Perspective!– Want to get back to nature during the week? Hit a Farmer’s Market for veggies still warm from the sun wrapped in the flavor of rich soil! Plus they were usually cheaper and more likely to be organic (where I shop).

Juicy January Gems!

4) Opening your blinds feeling the sunshine warming your PJs is almost as great as a triple, venti, skinny hazelnut latte. It doesn’t have to be fancy to give me the kick and I don’t need the kick when my senses lure me into each day reminding me that I’m alive!

5) Escaping is not quitting – When looking for work, I hit a stride where every living moment was spent finding a resolution to my problem. Upon hitting a point where the job-search became a dead-end mosh pit, I found a trap door, leaped through it, found a space where I could breathe, reconnect with friends, remember who and what I love then return with a fresh perspective.

Cheers to great friends (here or running the Tinker Bell half!)!

The reward was 3 job opportunities in 1 day.

Crazy how that happens. Let’s see what February finds – hopefully not a Groundhog shadow.

LIFE LESSON LEARNED FROM CUT AND BAKE COOKIES

I confess, I did not make our Kindess cookies from scratch. Another confession; instead of giving cookies to random people, having scrapped that plan for a new crafty direction, we took them to Boy Scouts to fulfill our snack duty. When closing, one parent said “Those cookies were really tasty!” I responded with, “Oh, those?! I just cut and baked them, no biggie.” They very kindly replied, “You didn’t have to tell me that, I wouldn’t have known. They were still good.”

Instantly, in my head, I repeatedly smacked my forehead saying “Stupid, stupid!” although smiling outwardly. One last confession; I’m horrible at accepting compliments. Previous friends also mentioned this to me, too, so I need to force a change.

1) My initial thought reminded me of a Scout who earlier whined, “These cookies are hard!” I knew some darker cookies got in the midst, so perhaps feeling that I’d failed them – I didn’t believe the compliment.

2) My next thought went deeper recalling how I’m always the one whose son catches up on requirements as the Cub Master reminds me to, so I’m not deserving of the compliment when my home schedule feels behind. I know, stop the madness!

3) Sometimes I don’t trust the compliment asking, what does this person really want?

4) Sometimes I don’t trust my motives. Although buried in a thick blanket of genuine generosity, I’ll admit my competitiveness gets hungry, so when I bake, or do philanthropic marathons, part of it is sincere kindness; part lets me stand out from the crowd. I think it’s an eldest child trait.

5) Perhaps I’m trying to deflect responsibility for my successes so I can do the same for my failures. I’m hoping that if it’s a group effort that ended well, perhaps the spotlight does not shine as hot, if it ever ends badly.

Does it matter why or only how I’ll change this? This week, if I’m paid a compliment, I will instantly, in my head, give myself a “Way to go!” punch on my arm while smiling outwardly, thank them and simmer on the sentiment. Who knows, maybe I’ll even punch my arm for real – since I deserve it.

Collect compliments in a jar, like fireflies, for a warm glow!

IF I’M NOT WORRIED, DON’T WORRY!

Simmer on this idea…

When I left my job in the double-dip recession, I was determined, a bit crazy, but surprisingly, not worried. In my self-exploration, I discovered that by staying calm, not drowning in “What ifs?” then my efforts remained more logical, strategic and energetic.  When people flipped out around me, it raised blood pressures and drained everyone.

I get it – people worry because they care for others and to prevent failure. Might I suggest a few tips that I’ve compiled for more productive worrying and less panic:

1)    Breathe before responding. Whether you’re stressed or someone just plopped something in your lap – just breathe! Be proactive, not reactive.

2)    Do they need help or simply to vent?  When someone shares a quandary, don’t immediately try to fix it. Listen carefully and if they don’t specifically ask “What do you think I should do?” then simply offer support.

3)    Identify how best to help them, not you.  Scale back your automatic grand scheme “problem-solving” skills. Consider that this person probably already poured over their plan, so respect the plan, and focus on what they need from you.

4)    Make sure your comments are helpful.  Don’t say “Look for a new car!” Offer  to introduce them to your car dealer or buy an Auto Trader.

5)    No matter how amazing your advice, people may ignore it.  If someone doesn’t heed your advice, it doesn’t mean that they don’t respect, value or like you.  Everyone travels down distinct paths and what worked for you may not work for them. Trust that they know what works best for them.

6)    If you disagree, stand back and let them try! Nobody learns as much getting their dreams grounded as when they try. You can’t control outcomes to guarantee success but at least they’ll own the confidence of having tried.

We regularly strive to use these tactics at home but feel free to take them or leave them.

Briefly I’ll share that on most days I worry that my kids eat breakfast (my larger nighttime worries are another story).  I finally found a new favorite recipe: Pineapple Banana Bread!  Makes great comfort food Treat yourself to a loaf! – if you want to!

DO YOU BELIEVE IN CARMA? (YOUR BAD DRIVING WILL COME BACK AND REAR END YOU SOME DAY)

Life rushing by

Ever try to get out of a ticket?  I recently avoided a fix-it ticket and I tried to get out of my first-ever speeding ticket but after approaching the car with his gun drawn, the officer wasn’t chatty.  That is another story for another time.

At our recent garage sale, my neighbors and I chatted, raising eyebrows or fists at drivers to slow down.  One neighbor mentioned how often drivers don’t stop at all. While near the local school, she witnessed cars driving carelessly, closely missing a student. She approached a cop mentioning the potential ticket gold-mine. His assured her that they’ve written many tickets there, but that the people’s influential friends excused their tickets. I still can’t decide which is more unbelievable and troublesome.

That very night, I witnessed someone barrel through a signed intersection!  Today, another close call (safe from my driveway) but the street driver punched his pedal to the metal, laid into his horn, nearly catapulted his dog from the car window, and endangered our kids and his dog.

I try to drive a mile in their car before drawing conclusions and I don’t usually judge. I know how busy we are dropping off children, rushing off to our day then home at night. After no tickets or accidents in 17 years, a job forced me to race home cursing every night, trying to beat my childcare’s deadline.  After getting 2 tickets in a month, and 2 late charges 3 months into the year (they drop your child after the 3rd time), I moved on.  There are other options besides a new job.  Ask for a modified schedule, form carpools, pay high school kids to be on call to pick up if you’re stuck – many will volunteer their time.  Find a way.

In regards to reversing tickets, I believe Oprah when she points out that the universe knocks softly first (ticket), then louder (accident), and so on until you are forced to pay attention (fatality). We’re all adults, so look at the offered lesson and change your behavior.  You may be above the law for a California roll, but for anything larger, if they don’t get you for that, Carma will.

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