The Planner Failed To Plan

You ever know about something early yet nothing gets done? It isn’t entirely your fault, though. Life happened, kids got all needy with their needs and your financial sitch got dicey a few times. You knew none of that was going to get in the way. You saw said thing coming and then it all pretty much went to shit.

I am a little light in the pocket and on a normal April Thursday, I would not be phased. Only, this April Thursday is different. It is the wrong time. Graduation is a month away.

Remember said thing you saw coming? Imagine you saw it coming eighteen years ago and stood idly by while the slowest train in history pulled into the station. You had a daily reminder living and growing before your very eyes yet you didn’t plan. For shame.

On paper, before kids, it is easy to say “We will save $5 a week until he/she is 18.” Or “We after they are born we will start saving for college.” But when life hands you lemons and you have no patience for lemonade you wave off their little $5. Suddenly the furnace is broken or you need just one more day of gas or you have no job and you think ‘I have plenty of time.’ And instead of saving you start surviving.

Here, eighteen years later I realize (painfully) the planner failed to plan. Aint that somethin’? The one person who can compile planners, charts and papers at the drop of a hat didn’t prepare for this moment. And here I stand staring blankly at the nothingness I have to offer.

Life lesson #75: plan for the inevitable. There are a few things that happen in life we have the responsibility to actually prepare for death, birth, flat tires, car breakdowns, and at least one hospital visit. If you have kids, high school graduation always comes (at the same time in life…go figure).

Luckily, most high school graduates who are itching to take the real world by storm don’t care much about dinners or brunches celebrating their accomplishment. About 99% of these young men and women are clamoring to shed the flimsy gowns and uniform dress attire and head to the nearest party. Spending their first moments of freedom with their elders and parents isn’t exactly top of mind. And because of that, I release myself from all the guilt of not being planner perfect and responsible.

Even though I would prefer to have the graduation brunch of a lifetime with cloth napkins and delish chef specialties, I know it isn’t worth the trouble. He really won’t care. And even though I failed to plan for the inevitable, it isn’t decorations or amazing graduation gifts he is concerned with. Deep down, what matters to him most is that we are there. He cares that we are somewhere in the crowd proud of him for being his own kind of great.

~SM

Timeception

The Professor called on Saturday afternoon and was excited to share her latest journey in time management. She extended an invitation to join in the fun. Me? With all six of my planners? Of course, I would! This was going to be a piece of cake (an actual piece of cake and a full day of time sucks later, I was still lost).

Time blocking. It is terminology I had never heard before but practiced on several occasions (just a few months ago to be exact). I failed, of course, and set it for when I grew up more—well, until this weekend. Time blocking, for those who do not know, is the practice of—well—blocking time for daily activities. It goes much deeper than that, but for the sake of simplicity, we will leave it at that.

Start by writing down a list of your everyday activities—from the roota to the toota. Morning sex on Thursdays? Write it down. Daily 4 p.m. dump? Write that, too. Once you have your list written down, prioritize. Okay, now that is done, make an appointment for each task. Sounds easy enough, right? Workout: 5 a.m. – 5:30 a.m., Shower/Dress/Hair: 5:30 a.m. – 6:30 a.m., and so on. Morning routine time block, BAM! You know between the hours of 5 a.m. and 7 a.m. you are working out, showering, doing hair, getting dressed and eating breakfast.

But wait! There’s more!

Time batching is taking various tasks and grouping them together by brain power. Doing your taxes uses different brain power than, say, blogging. Go back to your nifty daily activities list and take a peek at all the things you do. Group the like-minded items together. By doing this, you will find it easier to focus and complete each task because you will not be wearing out your brain.

We won’t stop there, though!

Forgive me for forgetting the terminology, but when working in said time batch within said time block, it is best to set a focus time and a break time. From what I have been reading, most benefit from a 25 minute focus time and a 5 minute break time.

(Whew! I am spent just thinking about the timeception within the inception)

Needless to say, I failed miserably. I spent the majority of my day writing lists, researching planners (yes—stop judging), printables and the like. This means nothing work related got done. My brain hurt from all this time management planning and apparently (as seen in recent work productivity) I am getting nothing important accomplished.

I am still going to join The Professor in her quest to manage life better because the truth is I need to do better, too. Besides not working on actual work due to organizing my time, what do I have to lose (besides my legit job)?

~SM


Whatever Happens, Love That

“…you need a mantra…Whatever happens, love that…”

~Match Making for Beginners

 

For a few weeks now, the thought of settling into mediocracy has become more appealing. Even hamsters get off the wheel sometimes. The barrage of ideas, plans and what-ifs can make a person weary in their well-doing.

I have been wrestling with mediocracy. I tell myself I just simply cannot be ordinary or I must dream big, but really…do I? What if all we were ever meant to be is exactly what we are? Not everyone was built to be an Oprah or a Michelle O or a Bey. Some of us are just meant to be exactly what we are, and that is okay.

We are taught from a very young age through various channels we should go beyond where we are. If you are fat, be skinny. If you are as flat as a teenage boy, buy body parts. If you are poor, get rich. If you are uncoupled, be coupled. In the years between vanilla life acknowledgment and the colorful just out of reach, we claw our way up. But should we though? Think of all the energy wasted on trying to be something not meant for you. Was it worth it?

Last night I watched a group of young men and women sing and dance. They were all amazing. The courage to stand in a crowded room and leave their talent spent on stage was beautiful to see. Afterward, I thought about what would happen to them in the next ten to fifteen years. How many of them would ignore the present and fight to get a toe onto the promise land? How many would be still be talking about making it when really they have already made it? How many would be satisfied with church on Sundays, meatloaf on Wednesdays, and a 9 to 5? My guess…hardly any.

They have been taught to pursue dreams and strive to get from their present point A to the magnificent point B. And that is not entirely wrong. We should dream, but we shouldn’t ignore the regular. And we shouldn’t abhor staying there (some of us). Some of the finest people I have ever had the pleasure of knowing lived normal lives. They paid their bills on time, punched a clock every day, loved others and were as full as a person traveling the world with millions in the bank. Who says greater is better? Shouldn’t it be more about loving what comes your way than trying to climb over it for the unknown? What if what is right in front of you is all you are ever going to have? Is it worth missing?

As I start the descent to cuarenta, I am coming to terms with vanilla. Whatever comes my way will just come. I am no longer in need to push the mountains. There is nothing wrong with setting up camp at the foot. I will sit there, outside the tent watching all those who dare to push or climb. I will gladly offer water to the thirsty and nourishment to the hungry. The homemade of flimsy canvas and dirt floor will offer rest to the weary. I will offer a smile and perhaps even a word of wisdom. I will be the cheer squad for those who need it. I am waving the white flag and surrendering to taking it down a notch. Finally, after all this time, I will accept what is present. I will not overlook it for the sake of something better. What I have right this moment is enough. And whatever happens…I am going to love that.

~SM

Running The Tree of Peaches

This is it. You are standing in a sea of people staring at the largest American flag you have ever seen. Of course, you have seen it for the past ten years, same place, same bat time, but somehow it feels different. This year, you have something to prove—to you. You started this thing as a challenge, you repeated it to prove to The Kids anything is possible, you ran this whole thing in emotional shambles, you reduced your run to a walk after injury and sadly, was benched by The Cheersquad while carrying new life. But this time…this year….it is about no one, no one but you……..

For the last ten years, I have run the Peachtree Road Race. I stand in a sea of runners at the starting line, stomach gurgling with nervous anticipation. Every year for a decade I have been a ball of nervous energy as I waited for yet another chance to make it to the end. Each time I get the “Congratulations!” notification, I am all too excited to join an area tradition that has somehow become such a huge part of my life. I have muddled around in the mud with my shoes off after it was over, drank beer in the rain at a pit stop, glided up Cardiac Hill and cried when I crossed the finish line knowing inside all would be well. This time around it should be no different….but, for some strange reason, it is. This year, when the acceptance email came, I was afraid.

Any woman will tell you after she gives birth her body just isn’t the same. I dunno about the Beyonce’s of the world who spit out a kid and bounce right back, but us regular chicks do not always bounce back—especially knocking on the door of forty. Eight months later and I can finally walk up and down the steps without feeling like my whole body is about to fall apart. My joints are back to where they should be and my Va Gina bones have finally stopped hurting. The baby blues have subsided and I think the uterus has no longer gone rogue. I am back to myself–finally. However, the thought of trying to make it 6.2 miles in the Georgia July sun with rusty head, shoulders, knees, and toes makes me a little fearful. When will I train? Hell, when will I sleep? What will I eat? Can I actually make it? Better question: What if I can’t?

This will be the first indication if I am the same because, to be honest, nothing about me feels the same. A lot of days the world is fuzzy and focusing is futile. My heart is sort of numb and everything is tasteless. My immediate responses to everything are either boiling hot or extremely cold with nothing in between. ‘I don’t care’ falls from my lips far too often and it seems ignorance really is bliss. This run will be a test of will and mental mind (as YG says). For a decade, this race has been about everything and everyone but me. It has been proof to others I am capable, proof anyone can do anything, proof I was strong enough to pull through, proof no injury could hold me back. This will be the first of many moments when no one and nothing matters except the one walking six miles in these shoes.

…….The buzz of the crowd swirls around like bees. The announcer has the crowd count down and suddenly, the swell moves. Your feet cross the red and blue line and you realize there is no going back. You have been counted. Your time has been started, and no matter how long it takes, even if you are last, quitting is not an option. And you know what? You don’t want to quit. You want to prove to yourself that you are you, this is you and no matter how far you get from home you will always come back.

~SM

Dare to Dream

“Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try!”

~The Doc Who Is Suess


 

The Girl roped me into watching Acrimony over the weekend. Not the best movie ever, but there was one part of the storyline that had me thinking (and jealous almost). The basic gist of the moving picture was woman met man, man used woman for twenty years as he worked to get his dream off the ground. At the end of the twenty years, said woman (who had the patience of a saint with him) booted him out. Shortly thereafter, his dream came to fruition and she missed the life he promised her by a hair. Yikes. The part that stuck out was how committed he was to his dream. He was absorbed by his belief he had something that could change not only their lives but the world.  He allowed his wife to work two jobs, quit school, mortgage (and foreclose on) a paid off home, and drain her inheritance. Nothing mattered outside of his dream. It left me wishing I had the balls to abandon all responsibility to work on a dream.

There are things I want to do before it is over, but to accomplish them even a little bit, I will (maybe) get two hours of sleep a day. No joke. Thoughts of spending hours upon hours writing and planning are so filling I could barely contain myself. Oh, how I want it. Need it. But then I am brought back to life, back to reality. As much as I want to be absorbed by the dream, I can not allow myself to get too carried away. Life comes with kids, husbands, and bills and I am not willing to toss them aside. (Well, maybe the bills)

The easy part is dreaming. The hard part is believing. It is tough to believe in something so much that causes tunnel vision. We believe in our vision, but depending on how long it takes, our cheerleaders run out of cheers and get weary in our well doing.  Believing in a dream means work, commitment, and dedication. Belief in the vision is a selfish act, and sadly I am not that selfish. I sure as hell want to be, but the way my spirit works….I just can’t do it.

The scorned ex-wife ended up going crazy and trying to kill the ex-husband. She toiled and troubled for half her life because she gave him the space to believe in the dream, but she also knew survival meant food, power, and water. As much as I  need to dream the dream, I need to not end up with a crazy ex-husband more. I need healthy children more. I need a regular paycheck more. I can chip away at what I want slowly and surely, but what I am not willing to give up for the belief of a thing is everything else. It won’t stop me from thinking left or right. But, it will slow me down a bit, and that is cool. I’ve got nothing but time…I just pray it doesn’t take twenty years.

~SM

 

Hard Head = Soft Arss

Oh, the joy of selfish, self-centered, selfish (did I say that twice?) teenagers. They are truly what makes the world go ‘round. Them and all their ‘Me Me Me’. It makes the world a much better place and it provides parents of said teens a respite from the everyday struggles of Life Life Life. Said no one ever.

Being a parent of a teen makes you question every wrong thing you ever did…EVER. I find myself sitting in the dark going over the boneheaded, disrespectful, annoying, self-centered things I ever did to The Parents. I was often met with general hissed words that went something like ‘as much as your mother/father does for you….the least you could do is…stop being so damn selfish….’ You know, typical parent to teen conversation.

But parents are dumb. They don’t know anything. They have no clue how it feels to be [insert asshole teenage issue here]. They are all old and stuff. What do they know?

Welp, parents know more than you, assclown…is what she doesn’t say to her eighteen-year-old-self-absorbed-know-it-all child. Instead, I stand down. I wave the white flag and snicker behind their back. Know why? Yea, you do. You know why. You know the moment they step foot onto that real-world sidewalk life comes fast. Cars break down, paychecks get sucked up by everything but wants, love hurts, food does not just magically appear in the pantry, and the decision between a gallon of milk or a gallon of gas is life changing. See, they don’t know that. They have no idea what they are about to walk into.

But those are lessons you just simply cannot teach. They just have to cut teeth on ’em, as the old folks say. It is a train wreck hard for us to watch, but for them it is necessary.

When the teenage monster rears its ugly, hormonal, pimply, smelly head, I rarely say a thing. There will come a time when they are sitting in the dark and think back on every idiotic moment and cringe. They may or may not apologize. They may or may not pick up the phone just to hear my voice or come visit just for a hug, but I will know they know. Life isn’t so easy, is it? Can’t always have your way, can you? Pouting doesn’t work out there, does it? Mmmmhm…didn’t think so. It is okay, you needed to figure it out for yourself. No amount of yelling, grounding or PS4/iPhone snatching was going to get through that thick skull. Only life can do that (wink).

~SM

Settling Into Oldish

Whenever I would tease Mommy about getting older, she would smile and say she was happier to be getting older. At twenty years her junior, I could not understand. Older meant things were falling apart and wrinkles. Older meant menopause and drooping everything. Old age meant walkers and medicines. Why be happy about that? Seventy-four days away from the big four-oh, I think I get it.

As you age, you settle more into yourself. The tightly wound ball of confusion that once was you at twenty is now settled and relaxed at fifty. She was excited about the relaxing part. The settling. I get it.

Now that it is my turn for ribbing from youngins, I find myself thinking about Mommy. She hasn’t quite embraced the housecoat (with the snap buttons, ‘member those?) but she has settled in. She isn’t wearing weaves and lashes, but upon suggestion (from The Boy) she will listen to a little Chief Keef. She often proclaims her ‘too old for [insert foolishness here]’ motto and leaves it where they land, but she can entertain an in house Nerf gun fight foolishness, too. She is where she is and that is okay. As I slide into another year, another grey I find myself working toward okay as well.

I’m is what I’m is, all greys and droopy whatever. It takes a minute to remember things and I can’t handle too much nonsense (my patience is -5). I own a housecoat with snap buttons and side pockets. I listen to Young Thug religiously and I live to binge watch Riverdale. Yes, I know what Bitcoin is but I also remember when pay phones were a thing and they took actual coins. I groan when walking up/down stairs, and I swear when it rains my bones hurt. But as I come ’round the mountain, I am quite all right with all of it. With every year I am blessed enough to see, more wisdom and more comfort are settling in. Thank God.

~SM

Thou Shalt Not Give

The Baby laid in her crib wailing. It started as a soft “Hey, parents, I’m waking up” and graduated to a “Yo! Let’s go, let’s go!” It was about 2 or 3 a.m. I had been with her around the clock, milking myself like a cow, changing diapers, entertaining blank infant stares and nursing a body slowly coming back together. The last thing I needed (and wanted) on an early Saturday morning was another dirty diaper and a sleepy breastfeeding session. So…I let her cry.

I refused to get up. At that moment, I was being selfish and quite honestly, I did not care. Her father, snoring softly beside me, was just as capable of changing, feeding and patting to sleep like me. Not only was I in recovery, but I was also smack dab in the middle of my fall semester and dealing with a heap load of OPS (Other People’s $#!%). I lay there, pretending to sleep and listened as she wailed louder and louder until YG struggled from sleep. YG had worked all day and a part of me felt terrible, but the sensible twin ordered me to stay in position. “Be selfish,” she said.

Why when we need/want to do something for ourselves do we think it is wrong? Is sanity wrong? Is loving yourself first wrong? In all actuality, it is perfectly healthy to put you first. Children do it all of the time, which is why Big Bird and the like teach sharing is caring. And it is. Sharing is an act of kindness. It is love…but, err, are we expected to be kind all of the time? It is impossible. Even Big Bird has his days.

Giving to you is more important than doling out pieces of yourself to others. Sure, what they need may be urgent and of course, some self-sacrifice might have to happen, but no one is in constant need of your everything. It is okay to say no. It is okay to not do for others so you can do for you. You are in the right for turning that love and kindness outside in.

Don’t wake up with the baby if someone capable is within three feet. Let them gladiate. Refuse to not get in the shower first. Jump in and use all the hot water. Sorry, not sorry. Rebel against not spending that measly $15 on yourself. New planner? Why yes, you will. Stand firm and wave off the dinner inquisition with a loaf of bread and a jar of PB. They will live. Do. You. It is okay. The kitchen might be a little worse for wear or the fam might have to eat ramen noodles for breakfast, but taking a moment, your moment, will create a healthier, happier you. Because let’s face it, misery invites grays and wrinkles–and we are all better off without those.

~SM

There Is Good In Receiving

Rent is due, as of three weeks ago. The car is in the shop and there is only enough money in the bank to cover a pack of hotdogs and a pitcher of very much needed sangria. As you complain to a friend over said pitcher, she pulls out her checkbook, writes a check and slides it across the table. You immediately slide it back. You were just letting off steam, not begging. She sternly pushes the paper rectangle in your direction and you just stare. This money would help but…do you take it?

The short answer? Yes.

Accepting help is one of the hardest things we get to do in this life. Yes, I said get. Young versions of us were taught that giving is better than receiving. During Christmas, sure but what about when you are drowning? Is it better to waive help?

The short answer? No.

When people help people it is not (generally) out of obligation or return. Helping others helps them. If we think about receiving from the perspective of being helpful to the giver we would have less of an issue accepting the help. If we felt as though we were worthy, we would be able to accept the gift without the extra mental baggage, too.

Oh, yes, receiving has to do with worthiness. You are worthy of help and love. Something about you and your struggle touched the innermost part of the person extending their hand. Why insult them and yourself by refusing it?

Battling foot and knee pain recently, Young Gun and I concluded it was my shoes. For our anniversary, he took me to the mall and, against all protests, bought me a new pair. I refused to wear them. My intention was to purchase a cheaper pair and return the more expensive ones. Upon further protest, he said “Fine. Do what you want. I just won’t buy any more. I’ll give you the money and you can do what you want.” I felt two inches tall. All wind had been sucked from his sails–and I was the sucker.

The gift was not 100% about my needs–it was about his, too. He needed to be able to take his wife’s pain away. He needed to be able to provide a fix to the need.

When someone asks you for help if you can you do without hesitation. If you can fulfill a need or fix a problem, you do. There is something within your heart that swells when you are able to make shit happen. If I got it, you got it, you think. You need to be able to provide a fix. And you do. Kudos! But, uh, if the shoe (no puns intended) were on the other foot, could you also be willing to accept? Could you see their heart’s need to swell, too? Are you able to stand down and be willing to be helped?

The short answer? You’re definitely going to try (wink).

~SM

Late Is Right On Time

I am always late. Even when I don’t mean to be, I just am. I am late to lunches, brunches, dinners, parties, weddings and sometimes funerals. It never fails. I live life behind the clock. Tick tock…tick tock…

LinkedIn (much like Facebook) is the devil. Or, it is to someone who always feels like the last one to the party. The back of the line bringer upper. I got sucked into the LinkedIn vortex the other afternoon, scrolling through forgotten invitations and messages and noticed a few familiar faces. Men and women I had known long ago as silly teenagers and bundles of hormones were all professionals now. Like serious professionals. Lawyers, doctors, rocket scientists, teachers, heads of departments, therapists and owners of things. There was no mention of meager titles like poop scooper or wanna-be novelist. Nope. They were all pretty impressive.

I imagined somewhere in their corner offices and big palatial homes, their degrees printed on expensive paper were tucked into equally expensive wooden frames. Each degree hung as a reminder, to all those who entered, the accomplishment. I did this. Did you do this?

I spent my high school years playing and running headless. Meanwhile, everyone else was keeping their eyes on their own personal prize. I knew what I wanted I just didn’t work hard enough to get it I suppose. Then, before I could wrap my head around my potential to be great, marriage, two kids, a cat, a dog, and a house came. Full-time jobs and the importance of medical insurance lept into my life before I was legally able to drink. The constant back and forth, up and down of littles and their activities ruled my life. All the while, those silly teenage boys and girls were growing up and gaining college credits and snazzy job titles.

By the time I picked up the pace, the class had moved light years beyond the starting point. There she is again, the back of the line bringer upper. Late, as usual. Always struggling to keep her foot in the inner circle, not fitting in and most definitely never on time.

Yesterday, one of the teachers at the school came and wrapped me in a hug. “Thank you,” she said. “Your book has blessed me so much.” She had told me this before, but never like this. I stood, trying to focus on what she was saying, but I couldn’t. I was too busy wondering Who, me? I didn’t do anything special. I am nothing special. I have no amazing titles it stories to tell. I have the bills and scars of adult living to share, but nothing beyond mediocre. But her words and her spirit was so sincere, I could only smile and nod. Her excitement ensured me whatever I didn’t do compared to others was just fine. What I had done was right on time for her, her spirit and her family.

Life does not keep score. Neither does God for that matter, but we do. We secretly keep score and carry our measuring sticks where ever we go—especially when we venture into the past. But here is a thought: what if everything we do or don’t do is actually placing us exactly where we are meant to be? What if our tardiness to the party is exactly how it is supposed to go? Who you are, right where you are is right on time, every time. Maybe, just maybe, the back of the line bringer upper isn’t so late after all.

~SM

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