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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


Life & Time

I stepped into a friend’s beautiful home, full of warmth and the air thick with love, lugging The Baby, bags and The Kids. I sat across from an old friend, his face a little older, middle a smidge softer, and gray streaking his beard. We talked about his job and kids. It was sort of surreal to see us in this space. My babies (save the last one) were no longer babies, neither were his. At one time, both sets could be held on a lap or in the crook of an arm, but no longer. They were too busy running by or engrossed by whatever technology held their interest. Somehow, the time had flown.

Somehow life had been lived in the space of these almost twenty years. A lot of life had been lived. Adventures had been had, ideals had been formed and then questioned. Morals had been strengthened or lost…God, Himself, had made a lasting impression. Time was a moving, living, breathing thing, and we had moved, lived and breathed right along with it.

When I drove away, long-legged kids folded in their positions, heads bowed to the iPhone god, I thought about how I had gotten here. How had I ended up with two young adults, a new tiny one and all the attached adventure and wisdom? How had I made it past the devil’s tricks and my own stupidity? How had I found God and lost Him? How had I face planted and gotten back up? How had it all come to pass, and I was still able to tell all about it?

The how will forever be a mystery. The why, too. The awe, though, continues to take my breath away. I have lived. Man, oh man, have I lived. No, I have not been outside the country or brought down Goliath, but in my own little way, I have lived. It has been a ride, let me tell ya. Yes, there are days I would rather just sleep through it until I am ready to deal, but overall, it has been a fun ride chock full o’ nuts and laughter and joy and love. Boy…the stories I could tell (wink), but I won’t. I will keep them as my own little treasure, and when the days get long and my heart is heavy I will dig them up and take a peek. I will grab a snack, settle under the covers, Lifeflix…and chill 😉

~SM

I’m A Whole Grown Up Out Here

I stopped licking my fingers (recently I might add). It was an automatic thing, me eating/touching something which left a residue of goodness on my fingertips and I would put them in my mouth. Then, one day—not sure when—I picked up a napkin and wiped off my fingers. Just like that, I suddenly saw what I had lost sight of so many, many times. Hot damn, I am an adult.

I am a grown up. I can come and go as I please. I can tell someone to kiss my ass and care not what they say/do as I bend over to make said ass more accessible. I can make choices and decisions and let that be that (take that kids!). I can speak or naw. I can pay bills or naw. I can say ‘or naw’ and not care how played the wording is or how old it makes me sound (take that children!). I can blast Young Thug on a Thursday and Beethoven on a Friday. I can clap each word like a Maury guest, and I can correct terrible speech (mines is not a word people). I. Am. Grown.

Being grown is a little rough. There’s a balancing act taking place we were never privy to growing up: being oneself yet appearing to fit into the world. Pfftt…I’m refusing to fit. I hate fitting in anyway. Fitting in is for suckas (take that jive turkeys!). Yup, we know this shit is hard AF. The Boy and Girl think its all Forever 21 and loud music, but nope. Its bills, balancing acts, arguments, eff you’s, make ups and breakups. It is lacking the understanding of the surroundings. It is watching body parts stretch and drop…but…on the flip side…

It is being who we want to be (fist bump!). It is allowing ourselves the moments to really sit into who we are and be okay. I know who I am, honey, and I’m aiight with all of it. I get to be who I want to be. I get to hold my mule or smack his ass and let him go. I understand the power held in every fiber of my being. I can bring humans into this world and still rock on like it’s nothing (she bad). I can be self-reliant. I can change the world or….naw (tee hee).

Hey, if you don’t know, now you know, Adults. Get with it. Understand your responsibility to yourself first, family second and give all props to whatever god you serve. Stand tall and be you. Take the blows. Absorb them and learn the lesson. Now is the time to adult. When it seems the roughest is when you are at your bestest. Grind until your fingers bleed. If you lose sleep, lose it. If you don’t eat, starve. If you have to drag yourself across whatever finish line lay ahead, get to draggin’. JUST DO SOMETHING. Do everything. Do what you have to do to make it. If you don’t even try, you will have wasted your power on excuses. No one stops you BUT you…you are grown after all (wink).

~SM

Thank God for Baseball

Running through the day ahead, I stopped at the thought of the game tonight. My throat tightens, my eyes water and I wave tears away before they fall. For anyone who has children, it is safe to say they save you. There is a moment when the every day becomes too much and, as if they can read your thoughts, they come with a word, a smile or a moment. This act comes far and few between as they enter the space between being a child and putting away childish things, but it still does. And when it does, it means even more.

My children have saved me and they never knew. They have managed to take care of me just by being themselves. Seeing The Girl cross-legged in her bed in the wee hours, hair piled atop her head, laptop open, notebooks and text books strewn everywhere ignites hope. Seeing her see her possibility gives me life. Watching the baby rock back and forth on her tiny knees, raring to take off to nowhere, breathes life into my soul. And then…there is baseball.

Our lives have been lived on highways and byways, our Saturdays and Sundays swallowed whole. Our bank accounts drained for the purpose of investing in purpose. There is something to be said about the end of a long, hot ball game Saturday. Everything is dropped at the door, shoes are tossed in which ever direction they are kicked, everyone sighs with the release of home in their bones. The early 8 AM game and the late 8 PM nail biter have long since rolled off the shoulders and everyone is spent. And it will  happen all over again tomorrow. The long week of rushing from work to kids to drive-thru to practice to home to barely sleeping and repeat is also ahead of you, but you would never trade it for peace and quiet. You need this. You breathe this. You are a part of the dream and by proxy, you dream this.

I sat at work, waving away the tears thinking of him standing on the mound—smile slipping from under the game face and the arrogant walk off before blue even marks his last k with a barked “strike!” Today, he would save me. He would take away thoughts how’s, what’s and why’s. He would temporarily lift the weight. He wouldn’t know it as he leans forward, feet planted in the dusty red of the infield. He would never realize as he stands in the box trying like hell to hit his mark. Nothing about his glance to the bleachers and his wink would tell he knows, but I do. I know. For a few hours, I get to breathe. Baseball and all that comes with it has saved me…

~SM

The Possible Underneath

We are struggling pretty hard these days. We get paid on Friday morning and by Friday morning we are broke (yea, you read that right). I am barely keeping the car company off my ass, and most nights I spend the wee hours of the morning hoping the loud pickup trucks ambling by are not tow trucks. Rent is paid late, but seriously who has $1500 on the first, ever?  I slowly pass by the almond butters, the salmons and the exotic fruits and veggies for the staples: peanut butter, fish sticks and iceberg lettuce (or frozen brocc). We are in the sweet spot of making too much on paper but making too little in the real world. It can be hard to dream under these circumstances, yes? Ah…but I manage.

Don’t get me wrong, we have joyous moments. We play board games with the kids (when we tie them down) or throw caution to the wind and rent an odd movie or two (The Oath is so random). We forget about bills, empty bank accounts and pickup trucks rolling by for stretches at a time. A slobbery smile from Cookie or an out of place dance move from The Girl or an absurd comment from The Boy peek under the blanket of stress, for a moment. And in the quiet moments, when the house is quiet and the only sound is stillness, I dream.

Possibility is a constant. It never fades. It is always there to be rummaged through. It is why I lose myself in the stillness and dream. I dream of writing. I dream of creating a space all my own. I dream of vacations. I dream of being better than Sir King. I dream of my children rolling their eyes at the mention of my books from a stranger/classmate/teacher. I dream of big oaks and a conversation with Madam O. I dream about me, the little green sprout, pushing through the cold, uncomfortable blanket of snow.

It is not impossible. Nothing is impossible. It feels like it. My God does it feel like it, but underneath all of this heavy, there is something…possible. No, this isn’t comfy. It affects the sight and the mind. It makes things appear so much different than it is making it hard to navigate. It is easy to get lost when everything is covered. But the minuscule, lush green beacon of light poking through the blinding white is a reminder that everything is possible….I just have to hang on and dig a little deeper. I have to rummage through the possible and grab something, anything, and try it on for size. There is nothing to lose but opportunities not seized.

~SM

Humble Much?

Each of my children is special. Yes, most parents believe that and they should, but it is clear to see from an early age that each of my littles has a serious purpose. One was born with a spirit of observation and understanding. Another the spirit of pure, easy joy. And, another with the spirit of accomplishment. Only one, however, was born with the hardest of heads and the softest of…

The Boy was forced into this world (after deciding in utero that being in there was way better than being out here). Shortly after he was rolled out onto the scene (literally), his brain was trying to make the body do the impossible. Crawl? Please. I would rather walk. Walk? No thank you. I would rather run. And, eventually, when his body and mind began to work in tandem he did just that.

The Ex and I endured years of him running, jumping and dare deviling. On any given day, strangers stop him to shake his hand or wave hello. “How do you know them?” I ask. As a youngin I would get a direct answer like “Oh, he’s Coach so and so” or “I played against him in [insert sport here]”, but today I get a cocky smile, a wink, and a “Cmon Mommy. I’m [The Boy].” Humble much?

As he grew into a young man and life started getting a smidge difficult, I would remind him to attempt humbleness. To him, everything is easy because…well…he’s [The Boy]. Until it isn’t. And when it isn’t we are subjected to fits of silence and the banana face.

There is something peaceful about being humble. The action of stripping off the ego and admitting you are not [insert egotistical thought here] feels freeing. Breath comes easier, shoulders lower, muscles relax. We are no longer fighting against what we truly don’t know. We are no longer swimming upstream.

Last night, his room washed in darkness, his long body sprawled across the bed, and his head covered I wanted to tell him to be humble. His most recent nemesis (the driving test) had him pouting and struggling to understand why he could not pass. He was [The Boy], after all. “Yes,” I wanted to say, “you are amazing. Yes, you are special. Yes, God blessed you to be a master in your gift, but not everything in your path will be easy. Sometimes, son, you have to step down, tamp down the confidence. Humility is most important because in the humble is where the learning happens.” Instead, I just stood in the doorway and watched him ignore me. After a moment, I shut his door and walked away without a word. This time he would have to find it out on his own. Hard heads make for soft behinds. Pretty soon, he will get tired of having a sore ass.

~SM

Ms. Don’t Wanna Be Right

I am not right 100% of the time. I wish like hell I was, but I’m not. If I was right I would be pretty close to perfect. I chuckle at the sight of my know-it-all eighteen-year-old self believing that all was right because I knew it. I was it. Having matured just a tad, I realize it takes more courage to be wrong than it does to stand in rightness. Take that, younger me.

In my first marriage, I made mistakes—one of which was always being right. Or, appearing to be. For any given question, I always gave The Ex and The Kids three options. No matter what they chose, it would be my version of correct. I took what I knew about life and made it make sense, and me being correct about everything made sense (duh).

Don’t get me wrong (pun completely intended), more often than not I was actually right, but I never wavered in the moments when I was unsure. I never once said I didn’t know what to do. The words “I told you so” were hovering over every mistake or misjudgment everyone else made, never spoken but always to be implied.

Fast forward twenty years, divorce papers and some growth later and I find myself saying less. Oh, really? I say. Hmmm, I hum thoughtfully. Well, if that’s what you think you should do, I shrug. I am not sure when it happened, but I found out I wasn’t always right. My way was not the way. I also realized the need to be correct was just my fear of not being enough. If I knew what I knew and it was right, I was right. I was perfect.

Nowadays, I don’t bother being much of anything. I just sit back and watch the chips fall where they may. Ask me a question, I will certainly give up the answer—popular or not—but I won’t worry if it is right. There are no “I told you so’s” hovering above.

So, hey, I am not always right. Yup. It is true. I am riddled with wrongness, and I stand in it proudly. My way is, indeed, not always the right way. And that’s okay. I am okay.

~SM