Friday, March 23, 2018

Friday Feature: Longer Weekends? Sign Me Up!

Do your weekends fly by before you've had a chance to kick back and relax? Don't you hate it when that happens?

If you're looking for ways to get the most out of your weekend, check out Happify's "10 Tips for Making the Weekend Seem Longer than it Is." I don't know about you, but on the heels of Daylight Savings Time, I'm thrilled to read anything that helps me to find time.

What will you do with your found time?

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

The Changing Face of My Snow Days

Reiseblogger via Pixabay
It is snowing. And snowing. And snowing. I finally got the snow day I've been hoping for.

And I am at loose ends.

When I was single (many, many years ago) and living by myself, snow days were a lovely gift. They came with permission to sleep in, do whatever I wanted and hang out in my pjs all day if I wanted to. And I often wanted to.

When I was a newlywed, this changed very little. My husband's office didn't do snow days, so my snow days proceeded much as they always had. Sure, a few household things made it onto the to-do list for the day, but I didn't feel too obligated to stray from my usual snow day plan, though I made sure to shower and put on real clothes before he came home.

When I became a parent, the rules changed. Suddenly, someone else was hanging around for the duration of my snow day, and she wanted to be entertained. This was fun most of the time, and indoctrinating my daughter into my "all day in our pjs" plan took very little persuasion.

As my daughter grew older, she took on her own snow day plans. Picking up wet clothes, making hot chocolate and trying to get a few things done around the plans she made began to impact my lazy day-at-home-plans. When the weather was bad enough to keep my husband at home, too, I managed to get some writing done during their jaunts outside.

These days, my husband and I are empty nesters and technology has made it possible for both of us to work from home on my snow days. As the partner who works from home for at least part of every day, this requires some adjustment on my part. I love having him here, but our work styles are very different. I work best in silence and I put on a sweater when I get cold. He sets the thermostat higher, likes music in the background and frequently makes noise in my quiet house. This is only fair, of course, since he lives here, too, and I have no right to complain, especially some of those noises come from things like emptying the dishwasher and running the snow blower. Still, as the person who works from home on a daily basis, I find myself struggling to accomplish the things I set out to do on my beloved snow days.

Jill111 via Pixabay
This, too, has changed. I'm less likely to curl up with a book, or stretch out on the sofa and watch a movie. The time available in a snow day, like currency, is finite and I want to spend it wisely. I usually sleep in, nearly always write and try to do some adulting (household projects, neglected to-do list items, laundry) as well. Still, these days go much too quickly.

As I look out on the beauty just outside my window, it seems only right to take a deep breath and seek to inhale a dose of the serenity the snow on the trees evokes. An antidote to the need to succeed that accompanies the lists I make and the tasks I set for myself, maybe it's trying to tell me something.

Like it's (still) okay to spend the day in my pjs.

Monday, March 19, 2018

To Do? Today?

Tero Vesalainen via Pixabay

I used to harbor the delusion that was actually possible to get to the bottom of a to-do list. Even more ridiculous? I believed that it was possible to do so in a single day.

Pretty funny, huh?

Now with the benefit of age, wisdom and just plain busyness, I've come to terms with the fact that behind every new calendar page lurks a whole new list just waiting to insert itself into my day.

This isn't always a bad thing. Sometimes the things that lurk just beyond today's calendar page are fun and exciting. Other times they're mundane and, every once in a while, they're not what we would hope for -- not by a long shot.  

With age, however, I've learned to trust God with my days, especially on those days when the list looks anything but humanly possible. Worrying, wringing my hands and otherwise stressing out about how it will all get done merely wastes energy I could be spending actually accomplishing something. I've come to believe that if something is really important, it will get done. Otherwise, it will sink to the bottom of the list, which is probably where it belonged anyway.

Parenthood helps with this attitude. Having a child taught me that sometimes the best things in life are the ones that interrupt our carefully scheduled days. Even more important, it taught me that life is more than just a giant to-do list. And, if the most important thing in my day is checking things off my list, then I'm probably missing out.

So, some days, homemade becomes storebought, blog posts get posted at midnight and things I was sure I'd get done get pushed to the next day. I'm still not 100% okay with that, but I'm working on it.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Friday Feature: 17 Quotes from Stephen Hawking

Anyone who's known me for any length of time knows math and science aren't my pursuits. Those same people have probably also heard me say that I had a fantastic physics teacher, and that if Mr. Faubl couldn't teach me physics, no one can.

My lack of ability in physics doesn't mean that I'm not fascinated by science, though, and some of that has to do with not just Mr. Faubl, but also scientists who brought their ideas into the mainstream.

One of those scientists is Dr. Stephen Hawking, who passed away on Tuesday. That day, I found an article in Inc. by one of my favorite business writersPeter Economy, featuring 17 of Dr. Hawking's quotes. One of the quotes was particularly appropriate for a positive psychology class I'm teaching, so I copied it and used on my slides for Tuesday's class:
"However difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at. Where there's life, there's hope."

Want to read the other sixteen quotes? Click here.

Rest in peace, Dr. Hawking.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Leading with my Heart

It is nearly 7 pm on a weeknight. I have a pile of partially graded exams on the table in the family room, 2 stacks of papers to grade and a class to prepare for. Tomorrow, I collect another stack of papers. And where am I? 

At the mall. 

A few feet away, my daughter, who is home for spring break, is in a dressing room seeking to upgrade her wardrobe. I am one part fashion consultant, one part financier and completely delighted that she still wants me along for the ride.

Even if it means this blog will get posted tomorrow.

My daughter was home on spring break this week. Initially, we weren't expecting to see her, so having her around has been an unexpected pleasure. Between spending time with her and losing an hour of sleep on Saturday night/Sunday morning, my usual efficiency, a bit tenuous at times as it is, has taken a hit, especially since my spring break has already come and gone.

This morning, I'm more tired than usual, and more behind schedule as well. The slides for my classes needed more work than I anticipated, meaning that grading got pushed aside for both my sake and my students'. (They really didn't want me grading their short answer questions at midnight. Trust me).

In addition, I also felt the eensiest bit guilty that the exams aren't ready to be handed back, but you know what? I shook that off. 

So often in life, we do the right thing, the practical thing, the expected thing (a.k.a. the grown-up thing). These are often good choices and, when they merge, it's pretty easy to do them all. 

But yesterday, they collided. The right thing to do was to spend time with my daughter.  Was it practical to go shopping instead of checking things off my to-do list? Probably not. And as for the expected adulting, my daughter's only here for one more day, those papers aren't going anywhere and besides, adulting is overrated.

Am I sorry the papers aren't graded? Yes. Am I sorry I spent time with my daughter instead? Not a chance.

Sometimes, you just have to push practical out of the way and lead with your heart. 

Monday, March 12, 2018

Unsegmented Saturday

Last Saturday, I had an unsegmented day. And it was wonderful.

For the past few weeks, I've had Saturday commitments. They've been valuable, fun things. A concert with my daughter. An evening out with friends. A lunch with another set of friends. I enjoyed every one of them, and would not have traded them in, even for that most precious of commodities, free time.

But last Saturday, the day and evening stretched out before me like a lovely, country road. Winding and meandering, it offered landmarks along the way, but I could visit them as I pleased, stopping where I wished, continuing past one and onto another, then doubling back if I wished to later on. Since we lost an hour Saturday night, the road might have been a tad shorter than usual, but with nothing to obstruct me, it felt long and luxurious.

Throughout the week, I move from classes to class prep to writing to meetings to appointments to household responsibilities to errands. Where I once had a job that reliably took the same chunk out of my day, making me unavailable for anything else from 8 to 4, I now have a patchwork of teaching, planning and writing. With the exception of the teaching, I can schedule everything else into whatever time slots I choose. This sounded great at first but, in reality, it means that some days, I get a lot of little things done (which usually ends up feeling like a lot of nothing), other days, I get a few big things done and most days, I don't accomplish what I set out to do at the beginning of the day and/or I'm up much too late checking things off my list.

But on unsegmented days, those rare days when I have no place to be, I feel free to meander from item to item on my list because rather than feeling boxed in, I feel as though time is plentiful. I often find myself still in my pajamas late in the day, having checked a lovely variety of things off my lists and having tackled at least one item from each of the teaching, writing and household/errands lists. As a result, I feel more relaxed because there was no point in the day at which I had to stop short to move on to something else. On unsegmented days, I get a sense of completion.

Unsegmented days are a luxury, yielding relief and relaxation beyond the 24-hour period they encompass. Even though I work hard to preserve one of these days several times a month, life intervenes, sometimes with activities that are necessary and sometimes with activities that are pleasurable. As a result, I find that these magical days arise much less frequently than I would like, and perhaps also less frequently than I need them to. (Perhaps that's why snow days are such a valuable, if sometimes inconvenient, commodity).
ProSmile via Pixabay

Yesterday afternoon offered a nice stretch of time to tie up loose ends, and this morning arrived bearing the list that seems to pop up every Monday. Today, the list seems less overwhelming than usual, however.

When's the last time you treated yourself to an unsegmented Saturday?

Friday, March 9, 2018

Friday Feature: Imposter Syndrome

Have you ever had a crisis of self-confidence? That nagging feeling that maybe you really can't live up to everyone's expectations, including (or maybe especially) your own?  Demoralizing though it can be, it happens to most people at one time or another. Strangely enough, the people most likely to fall prey to this Imposter Syndrome are people who actually are good at what they do.

Want to know how to overcome these nagging doubts? Check out this article from Fast Company.

And have a little faith.