Drowning in my ‘To Do’ List

 

 

Why do I always feel like I’m treading water?

I write a list which keeps chores, projects, appointments, and phone numbers handy, but…

This ‘To Do’ list never actually, you know, gets done. Which kind of defeats the purpose.

I continue to add to it until that cute, little notepad shaped like an owl or sunflower just won’t cut it and I have to break out the big guns. A huge, yellow legal pad. And still…I’m writing on the second then third page. This is usually for one week’s day’s worth of stuff.

If I complete something, I get that satisfaction of crossing it off. *ah* I love that. Sometimes, if I sweep the house and it wasn’t on the list, I’ll add it just to cross it off. That’s a perk of the dreaded list. (I know. It’s pathetic.)

What’s more pathetic is, when I complete a ‘work’, ‘home’, or ‘writing’ task, something else rushes in to take its place.

A ‘To Do’ list is helpful in certain ways but also serves as a tangible reminder that I WILL NEVER FINISH THAT LIST.

It’s like trying to scoop water out of a pool with a teaspoon while a waterfall splashes more in right next to me.

 

My Sunday thoughts in 200 words or less.

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Do you use a list to keep track of all the things you need to do? Do you have another (better) way? An app? A different way of approaching the traditional ‘To Do’ list? (Not including ripping it in half and throwing it in the trash – tried that. Doesn’t work.) If so, please share your wisdom in the comments. I need a life vest. Thank you…

 

 

We Are Living in a Distractible World and I Am a Distractible Girl

 

 

I just looked up a book about how to focus in a distracted world and I couldn’t make it through the description because I got distracted.

I wish this was me trying to be funny or something but, alas, that just happened. Seriously.

I’m not sure if this means I desperately need the book or it would be a bad fit because the author can’t hold the attention of his target audience long enough to buy his book.

In my defense, it’s a fairly lengthy description.

And I’m not always that easily distracted but… Ooh! Shiny!

When there is a lot going on (there is) and stuff keeps piling up on top my head (it does), I get overwhelmed then become easily distracted.

This got me thinking, as these things do, and now I’ve completely lost it and am in some deep philosophical discussion with myself about metaphysics and if the phone is actually ringing and if I’m even real.

So that’s the deal with my life right now. How are you?

 

My Sunday thoughts in 200 words or less.

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How do you focus with all the distractions out there? By the way, should any of you lovely readers like to check the book out, the link is up there and it’s called Deep Work. I (obviously) haven’t read it but Sacha Black recommends it. 🙂

 

 

Time, Time…Ticking Away

 

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Some people are always whining about not having enough time.

I am one of those people.

Inevitably, I’m subjected to someone telling me, “We all have the same number of hours in a day.” They then tell me I’m choosing to spend these hours not writing or reading or blogging and that, they claim, is my problem.

Uh huh.

Well, I’ve got to say, that really used to tick me off. (Get it? Tick me off? Tick. Tock. That was fun.)

But I guess, if you think about it, they’re right. I am choosing.

What they don’t realize is that the choices some of us make are significant: Write or eat? Read or sleep? Blog or bathe? Respond to post comments or spend time with our children?

While most avid readers would lose a bit of sleep to finish a good book, please… Be kind when someone says they are short on time. Because there are people who actually do have extremely limited free time due to circumstances beyond their control. And their choices aren’t always easy.

There are writers who are choosing between finishing their physical therapy exercises and finishing writing their next chapter. There are unwashed mums (and dads) who are missing out on a game of Monopoly with their kids to read blog posts and respond to comments.

There are meetings and appointments, science fairs and soccer games. There are art shows, recitals, school functions, and award ceremonies. This is in addition to yardwork, cooking, cleaning, laundry…

Sometimes, the choice isn’t between writing and watching TV, it’s between writing and attending their child’s play.

To me, that is not a choice. And for those who don’t understand that, there’s really nothing I can say. (Though I’ll probably still complain about lack of time.) #sorrynotsorry

Usually, I choose my health and my family over reading, writing, blogging, and social media. But not always. I’m ashamed to admit it, but there it is. And I know I’m going to regret it.

Yes. We do all have the same number of hours in a day but not always the same amount of time. In regards to how we spend that time, yes, we have choices. But some choices are easier than others.

 

Do you feel like you don’t have enough time to get things done (reading, writing, social media, blogging, commenting…)? Do you find it easy to make choices about how you spend your time? Are you one of those “we all have the same amount of hours in a day” people? Be honest. We’ll still love you.

 

What Ditching My Phone Did for Me

 

Soccer Ball & Piano - sig

 

In light of my recent technology fail, I’ve taken a major break from many of my devices.

While I was out this weekend, something was missing.

What was missing?

Glad you asked. My phone. It was zipped up inside my handbag.

Sure, I got the thing out to take a few photos but then it went right back inside the deep, dark, depths of my cluttered bag.

I didn’t have my phone in my hand the way I usually do. Like an extension of my arm. (Creepy…)

And my days were better for it.

I was appreciating my kid’s drawing at the school art show, watching him run after a ball with some sort of net on a field, listening to my other one play music at his piano recital.

Throughout these events, I’d normally be snapping photos, texting those to family and friends, getting caught up in a text convo about how it was going, and, inevitably, becoming distracted by a reminder about a dentist appointment on Monday.

You can guess what I wouldn’t be doing.

But, it so happens, without the blasted phone, I was actually paying attention to my life.

 

My Sunday thoughts in 200 words or less.

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Are you able to “be” where you are? Are you seeing it through your camera lens or looking down, missing something, because you’re texting or checking your calendar?


 

First Lines: Picture Books

 

Another First Lines post which was surprisingly enjoyable to compile. Also, it was a bit nostalgic.

This one is dedicated to my friend and fellow blogger, Norah, who thought a First Lines: Picture Books would be a grand idea. And she was right.

Some will argue that first lines aren’t important in picture books. Eh. Maybe. I’m not sure. They are a hook just the same as any other but you don’t need to keep the reader’s attention as long. (Which is not the point of a hook anyway.) Either way, it was fun to flip through these beautifully illustrated stories to find first lines.

Have you read any of these to your children? Did you read any when you were a child?

 

“There was once a Velveteen Rabbit, and in the beginning he was really splendid.”

The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams Illustrated by Robyn Officer

 

“The sun is tired. It goes down the sky into the drowsy hills. The sunflowers lean. They fall asleep to dream of tomorrow’s sun.”

The Moon Jumpers by Janice May Udry Illustrated by Maurice Sendak

 

“No one ever came to Bear’s house. It had always been that way, and Bear was quite sure he didn’t like visitors. He even had a sign.”

A Visitor for Bear by Bonny Becker Illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton

 

“Once, in a beautiful, faraway land…that was, somehow, not so very far…a land where every stone was a teacher and every breeze a language, where every lake was a mirror and every tree a ladder to the stars, into this far and lovely land there fell…a truth.”

Old Turtle and the Broken Truth by Douglas Wood Illustrated by Jon J Muth

 

“Once, long long ago…yet somehow, not so very long…when all the animals and rocks and winds and waters and trees and birds and fish and all the beings of the world could speak…and understand one another…there began…an argument.”

Old Turtle by Douglas Wood Illustrated by Cheng-Khee Chee

 

“Puff, the Magic Dragon, lived by the sea, and frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Honalee.”

Puff the Magic Dragon by Peter Yarrow / Lenny Lipton Illustrated by Eric Puybaret

 

“At the edge of every day, the Night Eater ran behind the moon. And as he ran, the Night Eater gobbled up the darkness.”

The Night Eater by Ana Juan  

 

“Mr. and Mrs. Mallard were looking for a place to live.”

Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey

 

“Tonight, when I looked under my bed for my monster, I found this note instead.

‘Gone fishing. Back in a week. – Gabe’”

I Need My Monster by Amanda Noll Illustrated by Howard McWilliam

 

“There once was a city without gardens or trees or greenery of any kind. Most people spent their time indoors. As you can imagine, it was a very dreary place.”

The Curious Garden by Peter Brown

 

“Oscar loved his boy. He also loved stinky cat food for breakfast and crunchy cat food for dinner.”

Oscar and the Mooncats by Lynda Gene Rymond Illustrated by Nicoletta Ceccoli

 

“Over 100 years ago, as the stars swirled in the sky, as the Earth circled the sun, as the March winds blew through a little town by a river, a baby boy was born. His parents named him Albert.”

On a Beam of Light: A Story of Albert Einstein by Jennifer Berne Illustrated by Vladimir Radunsky

 

“It was autumn. In the hush of the forest a lone yellow leaf clung to the branch of a great oak tree.”

The Little Yellow Leaf by Carin Berger

 

“Once there was a Little Rabbit who did not like himself. He had soft pink ears, bright red eyes, and a short, fluffy tail. He was a beautiful little rabbit. But he wanted to be anything except what he was.”

The Little Rabbit Who Wanted Red Wings by Carolyn Sherwin Bailey Illustrated by Chris Santoro

 

“Imagine a place…

where you bend and sway, leap and land, right where a story begins.”

Imagine a Place by Sarah L. Thomson Illustrated by Rob Gonsalves

 

“Imagine a day…

when you can dive down through branches or swim up to the sun.”

Imagine a Day by Sarah L. Thomson Illustrated by Rob Gonsalves

 

“Imagine a night…

when snow white sheets grow crisp and cold, and someone whispers, ‘Follow me’.”

Imagine a Night by Sarah L. Thomson Illustrated by Rob Gonsalves


First Lines PictureBook

 

Next up:

First Lines: Epilogue

As a reader (and a writer) how important are first lines to you?

 

Missing the Point (Business with Heart)

 

Both my kids attended a day camp last week. On Friday, parents were invited to come by and see what their kids had created then watch a slideshow of students having fun and learning stuff. Cute. ThoughtBubble

After all the iPhones were put away and children carted off by their parents, my 11-yr-old showed us a rocket he made from an upcycled paper towel tube. It was pretty cool.

My 8-yr-old showed us, with a huge smile, all the things he created. They were…interesting. I’m not an artist and have not passed any artistic gene on to him. What caught my eye was his “business” venture.

I asked him about it and he told me students were supposed to think about something going on in the world that inspired them to start a business. Key word here was “business” and, as my 11-yr-old pointed out, my 8-yr-old had done it wrong. Technically, he did. This wasn’t the assignment at all. He missed the point of entrepreneurship entirely. And it wasn’t the prettiest project.

But I’m not sure that his homeless shelter, upcycled on a granola bar box, wasn’t the most beautiful inspired business on display.

 

Upcycled Homeless Shelter

 

My Sunday thoughts in 200 words or less.

 

Harry Potter or Sidewalk Chalk?

 

I’ve been seeing a lot of blog posts about SUMMER! As in no school, no learning, no teachers, no pressure. And the “Woo-hoo! Yay!” of that.

This reminds me of a post I wrote last year about summer reading (posted below). I’m going to be the wet blanket here. I think kids should continue learning during the summer. What I don’t understand is why kids can’t learn and have fun. Why is there such an extreme separation between these views? I don’t think there needs to be. ThoughtBubble

Going to the beach, riding bikes, blowing bubbles, swimming…these are all wonderful parts of summer. That doesn’t mean kids can’t read or use some of their outdoor time learning about nature.

My children are out of school, and it is officially summer break around here. They both love reading and willingly grab books daily as a fun activity. But what about those who would rather not read? Summer Slide is real.

After you’ve dried off from the pool or wiped sand from between little toes, sit down in the sunshine and have some DEAR time or read to your kids.

Who says you can’t have a picnic and read Percy Jackson?

 

My Sunday thoughts in 200 words or less.

 

Summer Reading Book (s)

When I was in school, we had required summer reading lists. Every year. With multiple books we were required to read. End-of-summer / back-to-school meant buying clothes, pencils, notebooks, and a backpack. It also meant preparing ourselves to prove we did our summer reading. In grade school, we had to write book reports. When we entered junior high, we were tested on the reading.

I suppose I’m old(ish) but, wow, have things changed that much? Get this. My kids have to read a book over the summer. One. Book. AND they don’t technically have to read it—this is a request not a requirement. Reading a book is “great!” and “encouraged!” but not “required”. Consequently, my kids will not be tested on or even asked about the book(s) they read because they weren’t expected to read any.

CharlotteWeb

Also, there is a page trying to talk students (or parents?) into this one book by spouting “Summer Slide” statistics and research about expanded vocabulary and increased success in school.

There is a list of book suggestions, yes, but they are popular books including many comic books and magazines. I’m not looking for a fight. My kids read both of the above and some of them are fantastic but I’m talking summer reading here. I don’t understand how we went from a required list of specific books to a suggested list of popular books in one generation.

Okay, it’s been twenty thirty years since I was in grade school and things are bound to change a bit in that time but, honestly, taking away summer reading? It’s still there, technically, but it’s really not. Not with the mild, mousy voice of it-would-be-so-neat-if-you-could-maybe-possibly-read-one-book-or-something-with-words-on-it-this-summer.

 

Did you have summer reading when you were in school? Do your children? Are they going to read this summer? If so, is it for fun or because their school required it? 

 

Mother’s Day Dilemma

 

I wrote the following post last year and, while I still believe there are two approaches to Mother’s Day, this weekend I am firmly in column B. I am going for a pedicure at a spa where I can order a glass of wine while my feet are scrubbed and polished.

Because.

I’m the mum and I say so.

This tree (which blossomed basically overnight) is what greeted me when I walked out the front door. I took it as a sign that mother nature herself was giving me flowers—and I’m taking them.

Happy Mother’s Day

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My Sunday thoughts in 200 words or less.

 

There are two schools of thought regarding Mother’s Day:

  • I am spending every second of this day with my children.
  • I wouldn’t go near my kids today if you paid me!

A) It’s Mother’s Day. That’s me! I’m a mother. And I want to celebrate motherhood by being with my kids– playing games with them, talking to them, going out to eat with them, and hugging them. A lot. After all, my children are the reason I get to celebrate this day in the first place.

B) This is my day. I am going to soak in a bubble bath, pick up the book I’ve been meaning to read for two months, drink a glass of wine on the porch, and relax. After all, it’s a day meant for me so someone else can take care of the kids and house today.

For some, this is a simple decision. For others, we bounce between the two options.

Notice the “we”? Because I’m one of those moms who want a little from column A and a bit from column B.

I want to be around my kids. I want to play cards or Candy Land with them. I want to play win at Wii. I want to look at old photos and see how much they’ve grown. I want my annual handmade crayon cards with hearts and flowers and smiley faces all over them.

I also want to be a little spoiled. I’d love to get a massage or a pedicure. Some sushi and a nice glass of Pinot Grigio would be wonderful, too. Sitting outside, alone, listening to the birds chirp and just relaxing, is a beautiful way to spend the day.

Here’s what I did. I dipped my little toe into column B by having my husband take care of the crappy things like cleaning toilets, making lunches, sweeping crumbs, and wiping noses. All this while I slept in late, read a good book, sipped some Sam Adams Summer Ale, and took a long shower during which I actually shaved my legs and used that incredible strawberry sorbet scrub that’s been staring at me from my bathroom counter since December.

And then I embraced a bit of column A. I hugged and kissed my kids. I told them stories they’d heard before about when they were little. I teared up quite a bit. I felt my heart grow like the Grinch’s when I opened the cards they drew for me. I played games with them and read to them and spent some time outside enjoying the day with them.

That was a good mix for me. A very happy Mother’s Day.

 

Where are you? Firmly in column A? Column B? Somewhere in the AB area? What did you do for Mother’s Day?

 

Why?

 

I’m usually careful how I phrase things with my children but, when they do something ridiculous, I do something equally ridiculous: I ask them why.ThoughtBubble

“Why would you kick a huge rock?!” (Excuse me if I don’t get you an ice pack for your stubbed toe.) 

They never have a good answer. They say “I don’t know”.

Why do I keep asking?

The other day, hanging out with my son on the swings, I heard a mom call to her child in an I-am-not-happy voice. She said:

“Why did you come to the playground when I told you not to?” Then, get this, she corrected herself and said, “Never mind. The only good answer to that is ‘I’m sorry’ so just get your things and let’s go.”

And good golly, the girl got her stuff and they left. It was magical. I chased super mom down in the parking lot and tackled her with a big bear hug. (Daydreams can be awesome. And weird.)

I’ve caught myself asking my husband and parents this. It’s not really a question. Yet it’s not rhetorical because, at the time, I’m expecting some sort of explanation. Why do I continue to ask why?

 

Why (2)

 

My Sunday thoughts in 200 words or less.

 

Words, Don’t Fail Me Now

 

Why am I stuck? I’m trying so hard (first clue) to put my feelings into words (second clue) for this momentous occasion (and…there’s the third). ThoughtBubble

What happens when you sit down to write something inside a book or card for a special event? A birthday, wedding, or anniversary? A letter to your newborn or college-bound child?

These things leave me utterly speechless, in a writing sort of way, and I wind up with an embarrassing outpouring of unintelligible sentences or an empty page.

When I’m forcing myself to write, I often can’t. Simple as that.

When I attempt to put deep, profound feelings on paper, I find the words aren’t meaningful enough.

The pressure of finding a sentiment that is perfect and unforgettable sends me running from my keyboard and diving under the covers.

Words are my world.

They can’t fail me when I need them most. This is the irrational thought I have before I beat myself up.

Why can’t I write this?!

Though I’ve basically answered my own question and outlined the reasons why, I still have a nagging feeling. And I think to the words, “Please. Don’t fail me now.”

 

I can't write - sig

This is what I have so far…

 

My Sunday thoughts in 200 words or less.