Goals, Resolutions and Organization–Oh My!

Welcome to the second full week of the new year! Hope all is well with all of you. 🙂 As you can see, the holiday decor is down and all looks bare–kind of like my home. (I’m really missing the Christmas decor, more so than in other years, I guess.)

At the end of last week’s post, I alluded to some aspirations for this year. Since I didn’t do a New Year’s “resolutions” and/or “goals” post, I thought the comment below might apply. I left it in response to a recent post on staying organized at Jami Gold’s excellent blog. She is so dedicated to her followers. I’ve yet to fathom how she has the time to work a day job, stay on top of her many projects and write the detailed, ridiculously informative articles she posts for writers at her site. (Just scroll down the right sidebar. I promise you’ll find something that speaks to you.)

When I have the time and some structure, I can do very well in the organization dept, but mostly of ‘things’ or ‘duties’ (i.e., household papers, closets, notes for school, etc).

Re: writing and projects: I’d gotten insanely overwhelmed with trying to do too many other ‘writing-related’ tasks while working on developing some workshops I plan to teach. (Last year) I wrote some specific goals re: the workshops, and made a conscious decision to put the fiction writing to the side for a while. (Story ideas weren’t getting me anywhere either.) That helped big-time. Although one piece is missing (publishing the digital and paperback companion booklets), it won’t hold me back from starting the contact phase.

Goals: I jotted a few down last January. They’re on a word-doc somewhere. I revisited them once and found I’d made more progress than expected.

Every step forward gets me closer to my goal(s). I can slow myself up by judging the pace, or just keep on feet-forwarding it.

I also came across this: “The first and most important step toward success is that we can succeed.” Nelson Boswell, as quoted by Don Charisma at his awesome and highly inspiring blog.

Do I have the organization part handled? Eh, never so much as I’d like. Daily life keeps me very busy w/o the avoidance tactics I manage to throw in there on a regular basis.

Allow me to own this too: I think my biggest issue is the fear of failure/fear of success thing, so my newest goal is to hit SEND and initiate the contact needed to set up speaking gigs—with a spreadsheet to keep track of who I contacted and follow up via phone or email.

Here’s the irony: Whenever I do a workshop, I start out exactly the way I sing: a touch tentative up front, but get into the groove fast. I always come out energized and excited b/c my inner performer LOVES being at the front of the room. Just sayin’.

So what is the ultimate outcome behind resolutions and/or goals for you? Is it to forward your career or to self-improve? In the final analysis, I don’t see how one can truly be separated from another.

Awareness of one’s motivation, however, can make all the difference.

What drives you toward achievement?

Have a wonderful week,

Joanna

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When You Take That Step Back…

A solution often shows.

Hi all and welcome to the next-to-last Monday of June. We are six months into 2014. How does time keep going faster?

Wimbledon is underway today. All the best to Andy Murray, defending champion, and all the players competing, especially the qualifiers. This is the professional tennis world’s biggie tournament, especially when it comes to prestige.

Ma n Kev  Mamma and YS (18 months)

Younger Son is a great kid, but definitely a work-in-progress. Although not diagnosed, my inner occupational therapist notes a touch of each of the following: Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD); anxiety; cognitive inflexibility and decreased frustration tolerance. (Translation for the latter two terms: being able to conjure a Plan A, B, C, etc and staying cool when the going gets tough. Neither skill is among this 15.5-year-old’s strong points. He’s also true to his ADD in that if something isn’t of high interest or motivation, he probably won’t be bothered with it.)

Did I mention when he gets an idea in his head—as in, my-Xbox-isn’t-working-at-9PM-Friday-night-so-we-have-to-go-buy-one-now—redirecting him is next to impossible?

A little background: The kid loves football. He played in a recreational league at age 10 (?) and maybe picked up an allergy to commitment sometime after that. He quit after a second season. During middle school, he came home with papers for wrestling and decided last minute he wasn’t joining. Talked about football too, but never took active steps to join his school’s team or any league, for that matter.

Aside: He finally agreed to join me on the tennis court this past weekend. If he practices and gets a feel for the court, his serve and winners have potential to take my head off. (Must be all that weight-lifting turning him into a power hitter.)

Back to the post: This past November, he asked me, “If I join a Saturday basketball league, do you think I’ll commit to football?”

Awesome question! (Showed insight into his issue.) “My suggestion: try and see where that takes you.”

That small commitment has so far resulted in having joined—and stuck to—training for football for the upcoming school year.

Hubby and I constantly express praise for how committed he has been to his decision.

He’s come up short in one place: commitment to his grades in school.

I’ll tell you true, folks, the boy is no stellar student. Not that I expect him to be, but a little effort here and there would be nice, especially when it comes time to studying for quizzes and tests, and especially since he gets a decent return when he takes a whole 15 or 20 minutes to look over his study guide nightly a few days before a test. (Homework isn’t an issue. He gets that done, usually w/o a hitch and w/o help, reminders, etc.)

Kevin kindergarten school pic Kindergarten

Long story short, I had to bite the bullet and step back when it came to freshman algebra. He was in danger of failing—and not having the necessary credits to play football come fall. I gave frequent reminders to pull out the material, do five measly practice problems a night, employ his older brother/math whiz for help as needed, go to teacher for extra help, etc.

The result? Viva la resistance. The only time he studied is when I hid the X-box controller. (Remember the high interest and motivation I talked about before? The grand irony: only the controller he liked went missing. He couldn’t be bothered playing with either of the other two sitting near his unit. “But I didn’t do anything!” he usually wails when he notices its absence. “Exactly,” Mom says. Then he’ll pull out his notes and come back, pleased as punch to claim an 82 on his Social Studies test. See what I mean?)

Anyway, I finally decided to stop “necking,” as he tends to say. In other words, if he failed algebra, he failed algebra. He wasn’t taking direction from me or his dad, and life lessons tend to stick better anyway, or so says MHO. (Besides, as a freshman, he has three years to make it up–he needs it to graduate. I figured if he loved the class so much the first time, why not sit through it another year? Or, better yet: rather than sleep late during vacation, he can get up every morning for summer school then go to football practice. 0:-).

photo (49)  One of my favorite pics, when YS played with the rec league. 

I also checked with his guidance counselor to find out if he has the credits to play next year. Somehow, I wound up getting a call from the supervisor of the phys-ed and athletics department.

I gave her some background on my guy and his lack of commitment to studying.

God (Universe, Higher Power, etc) provided the EXACT answer and direction I needed. The supervisor advised me to direct Younger Son to her office the following week. “In cases like this, I have the kids bring me their work on a weekly basis. If grades aren’t up to par, they’re not allowed to play.”

Woot! Younger Son will have to be accountable to someone other than his ma, his pa and himself. He enjoys pleasing teachers, coaches, etc, he likes (as long as the effort he has to put in isn’t overwhelming).

Being able to play and not be benched or not allowed on the team might be just the carrot that needs to be dangled in front of him to get him to commit to his schoolwork a tad more.

And mamma doesn’t have to be the studying enforcer.

Sometimes, you have to take a step back and be open to different ways a situation can work itself out. You might be pleasantly surprised at how life jumps in and gives you exactly what you need, exactly when you need it.

What are your thoughts on this matter? Do you get out of the way, let life take over and see where it takes you? Have you ever gotten what you need exactly when you need it?

Have a great day everyone!

Joanna

 

Mothers, Jeans and Self-Esteem

Welcome to another week, folks, and a new theme. Always a pleasure to be here and share with you! Thanks so much for stopping in 🙂

mothers day flowers 2014   Mother’s Day Flowers from all my men–I’m too short to get a good image if vase is on table, lol.

Joanna n baby boys  I’m thinking my boys were one and three (?) in this image. Now the big one is the little one, and the little one is the big one. Where did the time go?

Joanna n Niconus 05-11-2014  Older son and his ma on Mother’s Day–the other guy goes camera shy. 

joanna n hubby Mothers Day 2014   Hubby and me on  Mother’s Day :). Now why didn’t I insist on a photo with both my boys????

So last week I shared about jeans, finding that elusive, “perfect-fitting” pair (I’m sure I’ll look for a loooong time, lol) and some encouraging news on that topic via Charlotte Hilton Anderson’s blog, The Great Fitness Experiment. (Among the reasons I’ve always liked Jennifer Lopez too. In many ways, she put those of us whose back ends like to uh…hang out more than others on the map. She also very kindly helped designed a line of  jeans made to fit said folks. Thanks, J-Lo! )

Rather than drag y’all through a longer-winded post than usual last time, I figured I’d pick up with a related topic today. (I promise, people, I’m working on keeping these shorter. )

Much as I love jeans, I hate shopping for them. (I’m to the point where I’m NEVER in the mood to shop for anything—eh, maybe shoes every once in a while. I always seem to gravitate toward the same colors and styles anyway. Seriously, how many red jackets or purses can one person have?)

A couple of years ago, I was killing some time on a Saturday morning. Strolled into the local TJ Maxx and wandered over to the jeans rack. I wound up trying a tan pair of skinnies just for the heck of it, in a brand that tends to fit me better than others.

Danged pair actually fit okay, even in the trouble spots. Long story short, I didn’t like them enough to buy them. I did, however, feel encouraged b/c a pair of “skinnies” almost fit well enough to be a choice.

Met up with my mom later that day. Feeling good, I told her about the jeans. Her automatic (paraphrased) response? The jeans fit because they weren’t cut right and/or had stretched.

No way on the planet—in her brain—I could have lost a pound or two, or have walked and exercised my way into that cut.  Then I wonder why shopping for clothing is more distasteful than it should be, lol.

So go figure, a few weeks ago, Mama actually complimented me in a pair of skinny jeans. I believe she phrased it something like, “I don’t know if you lost weight or it’s the pants, but those look good.”

Whaaaat???????

Mama almost knocked me out. (Feel free to go a little LL Cool J here.  What can I say? My latest TV addiction is NCIS Los Angeles.)

Joanna n mom Mothers Day 2014   Okay. We’ll let Mamma have a spot on the blog b/c she said I looked nice in my jeans. 

So, my blogger-friends, shall we go there? Shall we talk about how our self-esteem relative to clothing all comes back to Mom, lol? If that’s the case, what helped you get past it? (For me, a single book changed a lifetime of perspective. This related blog post tells that story.)

Here’s the link to the post that got me started on this blogging jag. (It’s over at Charlotte’s blog.) I also came across this assortment of seemingly simple exercises  Charlotte authored for Shape magazine. I hope to have checked them out more closely by the time this post airs.

Have a great week, everyone!

Joanna

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Could We Possibly Have Done Something Right? (Part 3)

Happy Week after Thanksgiving, friends! I am truly grateful for every one of you, among the multiple blessings in my life. We had a wonderful day (somehow, without turkey to go with the leftover stuffing). And Younger Son turned 15 on Saturday. I had a houseful of loony boys, made five pizzas and a brownie version of a cake. Cleaned on Sunday. I definitely missed out on any ‘relax’ gene that might have been handed out in my family.

Thanksgiving 2013 Before all the sides dishes made it to the table. Too lazy to pull out the fine china and crystal this year. We got through. 😉

Okay, so we took a week off and now we’re back to talking the parenting thing. In case you missed them, here are links to preceding posts one and twoBTW, this series is not meant to be a tutorial on how to get kids to do chores.  I wanted to share  my own amazement at positive–unsolicited–behaviors from my guys of late, and how blessed I feel because of it. The rest, as the saying goes, seems to have taken on a life of its own.  

Here is where we left off: EXPECTING my children to BE responsible is probably the crux of what I hope to have taught them to date.

My end as a parent includes teaching–but more importantly–modeling responsibility. And, if possible, with a minimum of grumping. (An area in which I hope to have improved as they’ve gotten older. Not sure I always modeled graciousness, folks, especially when they were younger.)

Far as I can tell I started when they were very young. (At least I think I did!)

Cant’ say it was all that complicated either. (It shouldn’t be, especially if you want to insure success.)

One of the first things I did was have the kids make their beds daily. (BTW, I do too, or Hubby does.) I always kept the job simple: all they had to do was straighten/fluff their pillows and pull up a comforter. (Note: Their beds only had a fitted sheet. I’ve never used a flat top sheet b/c it’s a bit much for kids to handle getting the bed done the way this mamma likes, so I skip it to this day.)

They also dressed themselves. Can’t remember who picked out their clothes—knowing my controlling self I’m sure I ‘guided’ them to outfits I liked, especially since I most likely picked out most of them at the store. ;).

My other biggie: I handed each kid his backpack to carry from Day One. Every now and again one or both would ask me to hold them while they ran a race with other kids walking home. No problem! I did, but gave them back immediately upon completing the race.

(That’s subtext again. What I didn’t say but showed through my actions. Speaks way louder than words, folks.)

One after-school episode stands clear in my mind pictures: that of a mom—I’m sure a very kind-hearted and compassionate one—leaving the playground after school ended for the day. THREE backpacks hung off her shoulders while she simultaneously balanced a very wide box of cupcakes with both hands. Her daughters walked in front of her twirling umbrellas. ‘Nough said.

And just the other day, my neighbor stopped to chat. She’d just picked up her kindergarten-aged twin boys. She was carrying two backpacks.

I bit my tongue and chatted about how big the boys are getting.

Next time: Not being afraid to do what you have to do.

Hey, It’s My Anniversary–Again!

Hi all! Hope Monday (and the rest of this week) finds you all well. I’ve been dealing with a sinus infection all weekend and haven’t had energy to do much. At least Saturday ran an NCIS marathon; Sunday brought the Barcelona ATP Masters Championship featuring Rafa Nadal in the final. That worked-and the maestro of the clay courts won, too. Yay! (Thought I was linking to a single photo. What the heck–enjoy!)

Back to today: married eighteen years to my hunny and beginning to get the whole ‘depth’ thing that goes along with a long-term relationship. He and I are known for our differences, but we work hard at being respectful of what makes each of us who we are on the day to day. I promise too, that opposites really did attract on every single level, even down to us viewing my laptop screen: him with reading glasses, me with distance glasses, lol. Yet, one day at a time, one situation at a time, we’ve made it to Wedding Anniversary #18 (and even like each other today).

What keeps us strong? Speaking only for myself, choice.  As I’ve written in previous anniversary posts, choosing to be committed on those rare days I not want to be. Truth is, no matter how wonderful a relationship, it takes work. True, some might take less work than others, and there are those who find themselves in a situation in which only one person is doing most of it.

That’s par for the course. Ideas about a 50-50 share of the work is common, but most folks may not consider that 50-50 is an average number. And those of you who are mathematically inclined understand that an average is gained by adding varied sums and dividing by the total number of sums used.

What does that translate to? Simple, math-wise anyway. Sometimes I do more of the work. Sometimes hubby does.

Honestly, I may be more blessed than some. Hubby and I rarely fight, as in it gets nasty and/or ugly between us. (Maybe five or six times in eighteen years? Not bad, right?) Despite our disagreements and fundamental differences as people, we try to talk things out and approach each other as friends. I’ve also come to know that I need to explain my point of view the next day, or when we’re not in that angry moment, when one or both of us might not be thinking clearly. (That’s just plain-old impulse control, friends: an imperative life skill to practice no matter what the situation or setting, i.e., work, home, etc.)

Neither of us likes being at odds. Fortunately, those ugly times usually last little more than a week, and even when the stretch has been (much) longer, we’re still respectful when dealing with the matters a household and family bring. No directing the kids with, “Tell your father…” or “You can let your mother know…” Fights (between almost anyone, I think) are often about control issue(s) anyway. Being aware of that makes a huge difference—period.

I could probably go on and on but I most certainly will not! 😀 I will, however, point you to a pair of previous posts on commitment. (Find those here and here.) Please, also take a moment and visit April Cassidy’s Peaceful Wife’s Blog. She covers a range of related topics and shares much wisdom.

This was taken at my bridal shower. Geez, my favorite Frannie Drescher   (as Fran Fine) got nothing on this big hairdo!
This was taken at my bridal shower. Geez, my favorite Frannie Drescher (as Fran Fine) got nothing on this big hairdo!

And before I forget, happy anniversary to my hunny! My humble gratitude and love to the guy who has shown his own side of love and commitment to this looney lady all these years! I am blessed.

Until next time,

Joanna

Did The Kids Figure This One Out on Their Own?

Or do they just “get” something the rest of us don’t?

Happy Thursday after Easter, friends!

I apologize for not getting this up last week. Impending Spring Break messes with timelines for school-related paperwork, which has to take priority. (I always wonder though: God-forbid something serious happened to the person doing the write-up a few days prior–i.e., an injury–doesn’t the paperwork NOT get in on time? Does life stop because of that? Just sayin’… :))

Anyway, these thoughts were inspired by a conversation between me and my older guy a few weeks ago.

Most Friday mornings I drop my sixteen year-old son off at school. Our other regular passenger is his ‘girlfriend.’ I keep asking myself why I still put quotes around that word; they haven’t broken up once, and she’s been around three years (plus).

Yep. 1/26/10: that used to be part of my older guy’s text signature. This year, that date fell on a Saturday. It wasn’t until AFTER I picked them up at The Olive Garden that I realized why they’d made dinner plans and just assumed someone would drop them off and pick them up. (Yeah, the mommy in me got a little cranky with them doing that, but I’d missed the bigger picture up front. I got over it soon enough. And I got on my kid’s case about getting her flowers. Won’t tell you he’s lazy, but he can be a bit lackadaisical when it comes to doing things.)

Back to Friday mornings. He was doing his hair for school—I swear he’s the daughter I never had when it comes to his appearance—and I happened to ask about a woman who is best friends with the girlfriend’s mother. (Names are made up.)

“How’s Melanie?”

“She’s good.”

“Did she and Henry get back together?”

“Yeah. They’re back and forth all the time. They fight over stupid stuff. They’re like teenagers.”

“Have you and Fiona ever have a fight?”

“Not really. Her mom and Melanie are envious of us. They want to know what our secret is.”

I laughed. “I’ll tell you the secret: control. You and Fiona don’t try to do that to each other. You let each other be.”

“Yeah. I guess.”

Funny. I’ve got a pair of teen sweethearts who inherently get that. (Hubby and I do okay in that department, but every now and again it creeps up. Then we deal and hopefully have learned something new about each other, eighteen years down the married line.)

I’ve watched these kids in action over the past three years. Like her mom who grew up the youngest of five and the only girl, Fiona’s friends are mostly boys, the same ones who are my son’s core group. (Doesn’t seem to phase him none, to his credit.) Her appearance matters but she’s no diva, which is nice.

She and my son spend a ton of time together, but neither cares if one does something without the other. And—thank God!—there’s NONE of the ridiculous, “You can’t talk to that girl” or vice versa. (I’d probably bean either or both if they did. Can’t stand that nonsense.)

We’ve spent vacation time with her family and she’s come away with us. Spend that much time with someone, s/he’s bound to get on one’s nerves. Not so with this girl. They’re a lot alike—even resemble each other a bit—in how overall easygoing each one is.

Got me thinking about how much control gets in the way of having ANY relationship, and not necessarily a romantic one.

When one lives and lets live, life is so much easier on both sides. I can be me without worrying about feeling judged. Disagreements are seen as differences of opinion and not as a personal affront (most of the time anyway). I can do what I need to do without worrying someone else is going to get bent out of shape. When that goes both ways with a spouse, parent, child or friend, I’m can pretty much guarantee a respectful, peaceful and mutually satisfying relationship where two-way interaction just flows naturally.

What are your thoughts on this? Any experiences come to mind that you’d care to share? If positive, what made them so? And if not, how did you deal?

My little home in the woods. Water to go on in about a week–that means we can actually start going again! I’m psyched! 😀

My little home in the woods. Water to go on in about a week--that means we can actually start going again! I'm psyched! :D

Have a great day, all!

Joanna

Is YOUR Family on Technology Overload?

Hi all! School is underway, things are busier–again–and this parent is often (uh always) trying to keep up. Ever-evolving technology adds more pressure to our time-crunched situations. Here are some tips/ideas for staying sane in a world that moves way too fast and never seems to sleep. 

Parenting Issues Caused by Technology Overload. Help!

   

Summary:  Therapist, author and Positive Living Expert Diane Lang addresses a common question clients ask her: “How can I be a good parent with all these distractions? Between my cell phone, texting, e-mails, etc. I feel I never get a break.” Today’s technology overload creates three main fixable problems that parents should address with these specific tips listed below.

Fixable Problem #1: We Are Always “Plugged In”: Parents always felt overwhelmed and busy, but now with all the added technology, our work weeks are much longer and we feel like the world never stops. The new work week looks way different then the days of 40 hours a week. Most people work 60-80 hours a week due to longer commutes and always being “plugged in” due to technology. But this is just part of the battle…

Fixable Problem #2: Communication Issues Within Families:Technology also causes communication issues within families. I hate to tell this true story, but it nails the point. I was at dinner the other night and I saw a family of four sitting around the table waiting for their food. The mom was reading the menu but the dad and the two kids were all texting or searching on their phones. It made me sad to see a family actually have the opportunity to spend quality time together and not take advantage of it. Unfortunately, this example is quite common and becoming the norm. I know in my own household if I’m in the house and my husband is outside in the yard, he will call me on my cell before walking inside to talk to me.

Fixable Problem #3: Instant Gratification and Laziness: We have created a society of instant gratification and laziness. We see the problems in kids as a result. Their lack of physical exercise, social skills and obesity are big issues today. It’s one thing to have a group of friends, but nowadays we hear kids say “I have over a 100 friends on Facebook” but yet they only have met a few in person.

Five Tips to Fix: Because of the technology overload, we are up against new issues in parenting and relationships in general and there are no new rules or handbooks to help families handle this situation. However, some basic tips still apply to keeping a happy, healthy home:

1. Communicate – we always tell parents to spend quality time with their kids. It used to be have family dinners together. We now have to add to the dinner that there should be no technology! The dinner table should be a sacred time where everyone joins in the conversation: parents, children and other family members. Ask open ended questions that cannot be answered with a “yes” or a “no.” 

2. Be an active listener – in the world of technology, we don’t have as much face to face time BUT when we do it’s important to be a good listener. Make sure to have direct eye contact. Watch your non-verbal language, show you’re listening by nodding your head, facial expressions, etc. Listen to the whole story or question, pause to think about it and then answer. Really listen when someone talks – don’t think about your answer or another topic while they are speaking. Show you care.

3. Socialization is a key factor in our happiness.  Join in with family events, the community, friends, etc. Make sure a lot of your socialization is in person; we need face to face interaction.

4. Lose the attachment – all the latest technology is great and helpful, but we don’t NEED it. Don’t allow your life to be controlled by technology. Have technology free times such as after 8pm at night and during dinner time as mentioned above. This is your time to spend with family, read a book, etc.

5. Be a good role model – you teach your kids through your actions. Kids are visual learners so if your kids constantly see you on the phone, texting, etc. they will follow suit. If you’re ignoring your kids to text or sitting at the dinner table with your laptop or TV on, you will have your kids repeat the same behavior. Kids will imitate what they observe. What do you want them to see?

Visit Diane at her website: www.dlcounseling.com.

As always, pertinent, practical information that’s right on time! Thanks to Diane for sharing her wisdom and for allowing me to pass it on to you! And please feel free to SHARE below–I thanks ye!

Have a great day,

Joanna