My Goals for 2014 – Let it go! Let it GO!!

Let it Go, let it go, that perfect girl is gone. Here I stand, in the light of day, let the storm rage on. The cold never bothered me anyway. (Lyrics from the song Let it Go from the Movie FrozenIt is now the beginning of 2014 and I took my kids to see Frozen last week. “Let it go, Let it go!” is my mantra. It’s time to stop hanging on to the things, beliefs and behaviors that are not supporting me, not serving me. I’ve come to the conclusion that no one is holding me back but me.

I started by going from 5 drawers full of paper to 3 drawers. I signed up for e-statements from any merchant that offered them. I emptied my office of clutter and finished off a pile of tasks that have been hanging over my head for some time.

I’ve come to terms with the fact that have a tendency to bend over backwards to make things easier for other people (especially my kids). Then, I get frustrated when I’m at my wits end because I’m overwhelmed and doing things for other people but not finishing my own tasks. I’m terrible about asking for help until I’m at my breaking point. I’ve been making a effort to look at my weekly to do list and identify things that can be handed off to others. This also requires me to let go of my flawed perception that my way is the BEST way. I keep reminding myself that DONE is the best.

After the Christmas vacation that wouldn’t end (thank you Mother Nature for that little temper tantrum) I spent some time evaluating where I am and where I want to be. Now I’m working on how to get there. It’s a commonly held belief that sharing your goals publicly makes you more accountable. Gahhh that’s scary. I mean what if I fail? On the other hand, if I make my goals public, perhaps people will better understand why I have to regretfully say no when they ask me to do something. I tend to reflexively say “yes” or “I’ll do it.” I’m a firm believer that you don’t get to complain about the problem if you aren’t actively trying to be part of the solution. This year, I’m trying to narrow the focus of problems I’m trying to solve and as for the rest of them? “Let it go! Let it go!”

They are definitely still works in progress, but here are my goals for 2014:

  • I will devote 5 hours a week to non-contracted writing. Non-contracted writing is fiction, essays, blog posts for which I’m not paid. Yet.
  • I will find one more regular writing gig. No someone looking for a writer? Please visit my freelance writing web site.
  • I will place one essay in a new publication.
  • I will drop 10 pounds by 12/31/14 I have tried this in the past and had some success, but I suspect there are some physiological reasons why I’m not as successful as I’d like to be. I have an appointment to address this issue this week. I also have co-conspirator in exercise this time around and we share similar goals.
  • I will make a profit of $500 from Choffy sales (more on this in future blog posts).

What about you? What are your goals 2014? Don’t have any? Check out my post on Live to Write, Write to LiveI talk about several goal setting worksheets (Hint: Some of them are even free!).

It's time to see what I can do. To Test the limits and break through. No Right, no wrong, no rules for me, I'm free! Lyrics from Let it Go from the Movie Frozen

 

 

 

 

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Candles In the Window

'Candles' photo (c) 2010, Lori L. Stalteri - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/ Last month, we awaited the arrival of a late day snow storm, and my mind wandered back to the early 80’s in Pennsylvania. I was in 8th grade. I had science last period so we were in Mr Bauer’s room. I had my coat on, but not zipped. It was important to be ready to bolt as soon as my bus was called, but one had to balance that with comfort while waiting for what seemed to always be an interminable amount of time. The room hummed with adolescent energy. We were ready to be done with school long before they were ready to release us.

Unlike recent years, at that time, the mid-Atlantic states weren’t know for heavy snow fall. Precipitation in December was typically freezing rain or sleet. A white Christmas was a rarity. This day was no different. I can’t tell you whether what was falling was sleet or freezing rain, but it wasn’t accumulating, so we didn’t pay it much attention. Just. Let. Us. Go. Already! Five minutes past dismissal, no buses. Ten minutes, fifteen minutes and finally at twenty minutes past dismissal there was an announcement. The roads were awful and the buses were delayed.

Mr. Bauer told us to take our coats off and encouraged us to start on our homework. Yeah, right. We chatted, we read. Eventually some of us caved and begrudgingly pulled out our homework. An hour and a half past our normal dismissal time, the busses started to trickle in. Half an hour after that, my bus showed up. As I skated down the walkway to the bus, I looked out to the road in front of my school and saw nothing but taillights. Uh Oh.

It was 12 minutes from school to my house without traffic. With traffic, it typically took us closer to 20 minutes to make the trip. That day it would take almost two hours. By the time I stepped off the bus it was almost 7pm. I was toast, exhausted, fried, frustrated and hungry.

As I walked to the house, I almost burst into tears. In my absence, my mom had pulled out the Christmas candles and put them in windows. I had always lobbied, for brighter, more colorful decorations, but that day, I came to appreciate the simplicity of an electric candle with a white bulb on the windowsill.

I was home.

She met me at the door with a hug and helped me out of my stuff. She sent me to the living room where she’d lit a fire in the fireplace, a rare weekend treat that was unheard of on a week night. She brought me a mug of hot chocolate and left me alone by the fire to enjoy Andy Williams album Merry Christmas while she finished dinner. I was in heaven.

I haven’t spent Christmas with my mom in more than twenty years (not for lack of trying), but this year, as I made my way through the season, I am noticed her absence more than other years. I’ve carried on the tradition of candles in the windows and I smiled every time my house came into view. I still listen to Andy Williams Merry Christmas, albeit in digital form. I couldn’t change her and I can’t change the past, but I tried to focus on the good memories and let the bad ones melt away like the sleet and freezing rain. Some days I’m even succeeded.

Plan to Eat – Making my life easier every day

I am a planner. Some might say to the extreme, and now that I have a son who appears to have inherited the same tendency, I can see where this is sometimes frustrating for those close to me. *ahem* However, there are times when this trait comes in handy. The kids are heavily involved in karate (including weapons training), Cub Scouts, Student Council, Chorus and numerous volunteer activities. I take a kick boxing class 2-3 times a week and my husband is rarely in the door before 6:30pm. Fish’s food sensitivities make it hard to eat out, so if we are going to eat anything other than breakfast for dinner, I have to plan ahead.

Meal planning is not new to me, I’ve done it in various forms for years. Through Tsh at The Art of Simple (formerly SimpleMom.com) I found PlanToEat.com and that has radically changed my meal planning and grocery shopping for the better.

With PlanToEat, I can keep all of my recipes in one location. I can input recipes manually to capture those handed down on recipe cards and, there is even a handy clipping tool for my web browser so I can snag all the mouthwatering recipes on the Internet. I can also easily share them when people ask for recipes.

Yes, there are lots of recipe sharing platforms out there, but Plan To Eat is so much more! It makes my shopping list for me! Once I select the meals I’m going to make, I can click to the shopping tab and see everything I need to create those meals. I check off the items I already have in my pantry (olive oil, salt pepper etc.) and add the items not tied to a recipe (e.g. Gluten Free Chocolate Chex or toilet paper) and voila! I have shopping list. It’s web based, so I can access it from my iPhone. I bring it up in the parking lot just in case the store has bad cell service. If PTE can’t access the Internet, it will check off items as you put them in your cart and delete them from the list when signal is regained.

The cost is $4.95 a month or $39 for a year. (see below for a special offer), but my sanity says it’s money well spent. I also like the fact that I’m supporting a small business. Really small. Plan to Eat is run by husband and wife team Clint and Lisa, they live with their four children in the Rocky Mountains. You can learn more about them and their business philosophy at the web site http://www.plantoeat.com

I wish the shopping list would include bargin shopping features (i.e. pricing tracking by store), but I’ve been impressed with their response to questions and requests for new features, so I’m happy to stick with it.

There is a 30 day free trial (they don’t even ask for a credit card *gasp*), so you an try an out to see if it is fit for you.

Do it! Do it now! Take a look at PTE now, because starting November 29th, they’ll be offering 50% off annual subscriptions. That means 12 months of Plan To Eat is just $19.50! The special rate will be available until December 2nd.

I believe in this program enough to sign up as an affiliate so if you click that link above and sign up for PTE I’ll get a little thank you from them too :).  Check it out and happy meal planning!

Simple Meal Planning - Plan to Eat

Nana’s Earrings

Small gold hoop earrings with a heart in th emiddle and a snap claspA-Man’s Nana was his mom’s mom. She lived independently into her 80’s until she was killed in 2003, the day before Thanksgiving in a car accident. *

After Nana’s death, the family set about sorting through Nana’s things. One night the ladies gathered around Grammy’s kitchen table and sorted through Nana’s jewelry. Among other things, Grammy gave me a pair of gold earrings. They are small hoops with a heart in the middle.

I love them. They are simple, but a little out of the ordinary. I’ve worn them more or less non-stop since she gave them to me. I have several pairs of earrings, but I rarely change my earrings. I’ll change them for special occasions but even then that’s 1 or 2 times a year. Honestly, it just doesn’t occur to me. I realize that admission will get my membership to the National Fashionista Society revoked, but it’s the truth.

I’ve lost one of Nana’s earrings a handful of times. The way the clasp is made, sometimes they get caught on a sweater or something. One time, the earring flew into a glass of water I was drinking and I accidentally poured it down the drain in our bathroom. I. FREAKED. OUT. A-Man came to my rescue and took apart the drain to fish it out. Once, one flew out of my ear as I took off a bulky sweater. I knew it was somewhere in my bedroom, but damned if I could find it. “Help me out here Nana” I said out loud. The next day, the sun glinted off of something shiny under my husband’s dresser. Yup, the earring. It’s not that I’ve gotten callous, about them, they are still important, but over time, I’ve become less of a stress puppy if one disappears. I’ve been reassured, she would have wanted me to wear them.

Recently, we drove to Ohio. While there, I bought a cool scarf at Old Navy. If my neck is warm the rest of me much more likely to be warm. The earrings kept catching on it. Oh the things we do in the name of staying warm. On the way back, we stopped at a Radission in Utica, New York. The next morning, not long after our first gas/bathroom break, I realized my left ear was earringless. I did the body pat down, checked the scarf thoroughly and looked all around me. All for naught.

Nana & A-Man Before our weddingWe weren’t going back. I couldn’t have told you where I lost the damn thing so there was no point. I was sure that this time the earring was long gone. “Sorry Nana.” I said looking skywards. A confused A-Man, needed me to explain what to him, was an out of context utterance. He agreed the earring was gone, but pointed out they’d had a good run of almost 10 years (hard to believe she’s been gone that long).

When we got home (after a few more stops), we gratefully, rapidly, exited the car and unloaded all our gear. I made one last trip to the passenger seat to clear out my travel detritus. Wouldn’t you know it, there was the earring on the floor of my car.

Thank you Nana!

 

*The other driver admitted that she a) didn’t have a license and b) was looking down at the time of the crash. Still she was never charged with a crime. Sometimes life’s not fair.

 

Things I Discovered on a Road Trip to Ohio

Last weekend, we drove from New Hampshire to Ohio to celebrate the 80th birthdays of two of my Aunts on my Dad’s side. We don’t see this side of my family often, so it was really important to me that my whole family attend. Even early on in the planning airfare for four would have been North of $1,200. Ouch. The decision was made to drive. We lived to tell the tale, but I learned a few things along the way.

  1. My cousins, their spouses and their kids are quite a talented bunch. For publicly available examples see Carmen & Ginna Maugeri, Michael S. McGinn,  Christine Guillott Ryan and David Ryan. You’ll have to trust me on the other stuff.
  2. When given the choice between Route 90 and Route 84, Route 90 wins. Hands down. EVERY. TIME.
  3. The little sliver of Utica, New York that we saw reminded me of Concord, New Hampshire.
  4. Once you get out of New England, the terrain is flat. REALLY flat. A corollary, it IS possible to be on the same highway for more than 450 miles. For those outside, New England, our roads frequently change names or designations after just a few miles. There’s nothing quite like getting onto the Mass Turnpike at 7pm at night and hearing the GPS say “Stay on Route 90 for 460 miles.”
  5. Tim Horton’s is what Dunkin’ Donuts used to be. Best damn glazed donut I’ve had in 2o years!
  6. The New York Thruway (a.k.a. Route 90) is worth the tolls for the rest areas alone.
  7. My kids are good travelers (and for that I am grateful!).
  8. When Google says it’s a 12 hour drive, add an additional two hours for gas/bathroom/food breaks.
  9. Even with good music and kids who travel well, a 14 hour drive is too damn long. Turns out we really are air travel people.
  10. Sometimes, no matter the price, the trip is worth it just be with family.

Me with five of my cousins (we're two short of a complete set)

 

 

 

 

Jeff & Nicole

A photo of my nephew at 4 years old resting his chin in his handsThis is my nephew Jeff when he was four. I took this picture at Disney’s (then) MGM Studios. It was my first trip to Disney with my boyfriend/fiancé’s family (Side note: A-Man and I had gotten engaged the night before I took this picture, but that’s a story for another time).

It was a warm May day and we were waiting for a parade to start. He’d just finished telling me that he didn’t want to get wet. I was confused, but after getting over her shock, Grammy explained. Apparently, he remembered the Aladdin’s camel’s spitting on him when he’s watched the parade two years earlier. For what it’s worth Aunt Lee got wet that time, Jeff did not.

He was the one we spoiled when we were double-income-no-kids (sorry buddy you got gipped after we got married and bought a house and once we had our own kids? Oy!).

He was second only to Grammy on the call list for baby sitters.

He dotes on his little brother and the feeling is mutual. Jason is extremely developmentally delayed, but Jeff ranks as his all time favorite human.

He’s the first one I thought of when my kids’ pre-school needed a teacher. He’s THAT good with kids. He had the nerve to follow his interests and leave education for the business world, but he’ll make an amazing father some time way, way, way, way, way, WAY down the road.

He’s got one of the largest collections of Nerf weapons of any person of any age that I know.

Jeff & Nicole on their wedding day Holding H, the cutest flower girl ever.*

I took this picture a few weeks ago on his wedding day. That’s Jeff and his bride Nicole. Holy cow time flies! He’s married AND a homeowner. They’ve been together for five years. College sweethearts as it were. They’ve definitely faced some challenges and persevered. She’s good for him and he for her.

They are cool in the eyes of my kids and I’m happy they have them as a role models.

Congratulations Jeff & Nicole!

 

 

* They are holding H, the bride’s cousin, the cutest flower girl ever and Jeff’s shadow for the day. I don’t have her parent’s permission to post her face on the Interwebs, so instead you can enjoy the lovely leaf and trust me when I say she was TOTALLY adorbs!