Thursday, March 1, 2012

Why is bad news always at bedtime?


"I need a milk jug tomorrow for school."
"My ankle hurts."
"I forgot to do my spelling sentences for school."
"There's a party tomorrow and I said you would be there with brownies."
"The cat is trying to come into my room."

It's 8:30 pm. The kids are supposed to be in bed. I'm supposed to get an hour or more of work (and quiet) for myself. In this short amount of time, I get to try to finish my projects (grade school yearbook and other volunteer activities, photo sorting and finishing, coach practice plan for softball), email, camp signups, checks paid, calendar managed, and all those other to-do items, including finishing any work left over from the day, making my lunch and maybe spending two minutes talking to my husband.

But the litany starts. Homework, costumes, pain, hangnails, bloody nose, special stories, noises in the room, "bad news." It all spills out at bedtime. And I start out patient, but then I feel my evening slip away. That glorious 1.5 hours of non-stop efficiency.

It must be the same for them. The day is ending and all those unfinished ideas and projects are flooding back. Someone needs to take care of their problems. And it's us. Which we do. Some nights more graciously than others (depending on how much sleep we got).

I can't wait to find out what it is tomorrow night.

Friday, January 13, 2012

New Year's Resolution: No, No, Yes

Say no to say yes to myself.

I always feel guilt for not saying yes all the time. Helping a co-worker, bringing that dessert to school, coaching a team. Wait a second.

I forget that for three months of the year, I give a lot. I'm a softball coach for young girls. I try to make it fun. I try to make it a learning experience. I try to make it so that they want to play this sport again. I try to make it fair.

And this was harder than I thought.

And it's all worth it. The joy in making a play. In finally making contact with the ball. In getting a hug from a teammate. And, in hearing that they had a great time.

So, to make sure that I have enough of these times, I need to occasionally say "no." I can't do everything. No one can. This year, I need to say "no" more frequently. So that I can have more time for questions, updates on their day, calls with family, time with friends and more sleep for me.

By saying "no" to some smaller things, I think that I can say "yes" to some bigger things, including taking the time to be a coach. Then, there's also the homework, doing my job well, working out, making dinners and everything else that needs to be done. The list gets longer every year, but I don't want it to get shorter.

I just need to learn the balance to make it all worth it.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Talk softly, and make a big point

I really enjoyed this article by Scott Ginsbery, How to Give Yourself Away.  He suggests that to truly give yourself away, you believe that you are a gift to be given, and you do so without boasting or selling. I think there's a volume level to that.

It made me think of three conversations yesterday. The first was while at work. I was giving an update on a current project to a colleague. I started to talk loudly so that more people could hear. It was my chance to say "look how good I am at what I do!" But this wasn't the time. At this point, we were collaborating and I wanted to help him; to help him do his job better. When each of us does better, we perform better as a team.

The second episode was while coaching. I was one-on-one with a young girl, and realized that everything I saw can provide confidence. So my comments need to be girl-directed and in a soft voice. She needs to know that I understand and support her learning.

The third time was at dinner with my young daughter. We started to discuss something and I started to use a loud voice. Was I trying to sound like a "good Mommy," giving sound advice and encouragement? What I was giving, was myself to my daughter - genuine love, confidence and advice. It wasn't for anyone else and I shouldn't care who sees or hears. We went head to head (tete-a-tete) and continued.

For me, a good litmus test of my authenticity is the volume of my voice. If only the receiver can hear me, great - I'm giving. If I'm loud so that others can hear me - then I'm selling and not giving.

Friday, June 18, 2010

The dreaded email - it's YOUR turn to bring snacks

I was THAT parent. The one that forgot the snack. 

Why oh why was the snack schedule at the end of the email? I completely missed it. And as everyone knows, the hand-clapping, congratulations at the end of a game is really a sprint to get to the snack first. And our team has had some amazingly creative ones this season.

As one of the assistant coaches for my son's baseball team, I cleaning up a little after the game, as usual, but away from the snack location, so I guess that I missed the howls of hunger and disappointment. Since it was a hot Saturday, I had promised the kids smoothies afterwards, so the snack never crossed my mind. As we passed by the other team, I glanced around and though (as were a dozen other parents, I'm sure), "Huh? Our parent must of forgotten. how could someone forget something so important."  My kids put up a small ruckus , but were easily calmed when reminded of the smoothie. A small dark cloud passed through my mind. I'm sure it wasn't me, I told myself.

As soon as we got home, I rushed to the computer to check email. Yes, there was my name! Oh, the shame! Later, one of the coaches tried to assure me that only one kid noticed. Yeah, sure, but thanks for trying to make me feel better.

I did get the make up game snack. And of course, it was a nightmare week at work, my husband was traveling and we had to plan for my daughter's birthday party (and I had book club). My coolness factor went up a notch when the pizza truck drove up the curb, down the path to the baseball field. "Cool, pizza!" Yes, pizza can be delivered almost anywhere; even the diamond "in the back corner."

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Taking time with friends - through running

Often in our busy lives, we put off doing something with friends. Today I just finished a half marathon with a friend and I'm grateful for so many parts of the morning.

We met at 6 am, and were home by 11:30. There was not a lot of impact to our families, but we got caught up on so many things. During the drive up, we covered topics like homework, bullies and yoga (I need to do that more!). On the way back, we talked about meeting our husbands, plans for the rest of the day and week, and a promise on when to next run together.

The best part is that we had to put all that aside to focus on our own performance for a few hours. I got to test my self a little - I started slow (too slow?) but was able to really push myself at the end; I got to swallow my pride, when my friend ran ahead and then feel truly proud of her at the end of the race; I got to share the glory of finishing and feeling that I (we!) accomplished something.

It's nice to have friends to do these activities with. I have a sounding board for worries and get ideas for how to handle situations - with work, family and me. I also get inspired to do new things. I haven't done yoga in awhile. We really could meet for a movie and I can see another Oscar contender before it's too late.

And, I get my exercise too. There's nothing more motivating that having to meet friends early in the morning. You can push each other during the run (or not, if it's a bad day). Sometimes, I get so many ideas of things to do or try, that I have to write them down before driving home - easy dinner idea, new book, or a way to deal with one of my kids. Often, this is the only way we get to catch up, so when one of us is sick or injured, the rest have to patiently wait for the other to rejoin.

Part of my motivation for staying uninjured is to keep up this part of my life. It's a great way to enjoy the scenery, friends and life.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Remodeling and the Joy of ....Lists

I never knew how much I would miss my kitchen. Not that I had been cooking much lately, what with a crazy work schedule. But the convenience. Want a snack? Walk to the fridge. Through a single door. In the same warm space.

When we started the remodel plans, we were starting in the summer. How fun! Summer barbeques; picnics; warm weather salads. And then I got laid off. So we put off the remodel and suddenly it was late fall and the first thing to go was the heater. So now we had to run down the walkway outside, if the kitchen wasn't loaded with holes in the subfloor or exposed wiring, to the cold garage. Want a quick cup of coffee? That would mean getting the coffee from the garage, and then heating water in the living room. A $3.00 latte is looking pretty good.

Suddenly, came the goodness of friends. We had no fewer than three offers to either share a house or to use a house while families were on extended trips. All for the convenience of a kitchen. Having a sit down meal. Having the ability to continually get up and easily get the things you forgot for dinner. having more than one room to huddle in.

This packing and unpacking, to get to a different house each week, and then home on the weekend, has led to a need for lists. Every day we seem to need to run home to get something - a pair of shoes that go with the outfit, binoculars for the last-minute hockey game, pasta sauce for the dinner we planned two days ago.

Now I have lists for what I will do for work, what I need to do with my life, my daily errands and what I need to pick up from home. If I don't make a list for exact work outfits, I could be like my daughter and re-wearing yesterday's outfit. I need a list to also remember what to take back, just so that I'm not taking so much home at once or possibly lose things because they accumulate. I also need lists for the kids - outfits, school needs, meal requirements (do we really have to have soy sauce for that?) and books.

And my blog? I need to put that on the list. Or I will never remember.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The never-win circle of sleep vs. working out

The alarm goes off and I hit snooze. The alarm goes off again and I have to make a major decision in my sleep-fogged mind. Do I get up and work out? Or feel better and sleep in? No matter what I choose, I have an argument with myself later that evening - because I chose wrong.

I have found that I need to work out in the morning. With kids and a full-time job, not to mention all of the extra errands that go along with these, I will never get going at lunch or after work. An impromptu meeting happens. I stop to talk to someone when picking up the kids. I forgot to run an errand. By then, one of us needs to be starting dinner or helping kids with homework. I do not feel like heading out the door. It's like the hole got deeper and I can never get enough energy to get out.

Whether or not I got up early that morning to workout, I will be tired early in the evening. But then I get a second wind and want to squeeze in a few more things before bed. I never seem to figure out how long it takes me to get ready for bed and then I resent not having any reading time. And, then I forgot to feed the cat. And my laundry needs to go in the dryer. Whoops...there I go again. It's late AGAIN.

So here it is, early in the morning and I am too tired for a full workout. Either I get up and get through it, knowing that a good night sleep will give me a better result; or I sleep in a little bit, exercise a little bit and have to rush through my morning to get out the door. Either way, I feel cheated. I'm always glad when I do get up because after the workout, I feel good. And, I'm up and most people are not. But by mid-morning, I'm tired.

Every day I tell myself will be different. And every night is later than I wanted. And every morning, the alarm seems to be too early. I'm not getting more hours in the day, so I have to realize that everything takes time and planning. I'll start tomorrow.