Our Impact On Others

Are our words helpful or harmful? Once spoken, we cannot take them back. While it is too late to take back words we have already spoken, we need to understand their impact. Once understood, we can improve our communication and have better relationships.

We can all remember hurtful words spoken to us, long after they were said. We can also remember caring words spoken to us, but the caring words do not negate the pain of the hurtful words. In fact, it is human nature for the negative to have more impact on us than the positive.

While sometimes it is the words used that are hurtful, at other times it is the tone of voice. There are also times that the words are harsh, and the tone of voice is as well. The combination of harsh words and a negative tone of voice can create a dynamic that permanently damages a relationship. And we may not even know it, until it is too late. 

Would others use any of these words to describe you?

Most likely many of us have said a harsh word, even in a negative tone of voice, perhaps more than once. But how often? The frequency with which our words build others up or tear them down is the question. And do not think that our intent in saying what we say excuses us. The point is the impact our words have on others. Is the impact of our words positive or negative?

I read a comment in a Facebook memory of a priest who perished on 9/11. The following words were used to describe him. Grace, Humor, Kindness, Forgiveness, Joy. This person’s memory, reflected in the words used to describe her friend twenty years after his death, painted a picture of someone who built others up. What a powerful and positive legacy.

What words would others use to describe you and me?  This is a question worthy of pondering. If we do not like the answer, we can change. Before our legacy is permanent.  

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We Must Never Forget

It is a dreary day in Raleigh. No sun, and it looks like it will rain. I know that my mood is affected by this, and I am doing what I can to shake it. There are reasons other than the weather for my gray mood. Since my readers have their own stuff to contend with, I will not share mine. And, I need to get this blog written, and writing always helps. This writing in particular lifts my spirits.

The 20th anniversary of 9/11 occurred last Saturday. There has been much attention paid to this anniversary. So much, that I almost did not add to that. But these photos are too good not to share.

The fire station in our coastal town of Southport, N.C. honored 9/11 with several displays. It is hard to look at these and even think for a moment about a gloomy day, or even, our problems. Anything I can think of pales in comparison to what the 9/11 heroes (not victims) suffered that day. Their families suffered that day and every day since. Life does go on, or we could not survive the pain.

But we should never, ever forget.       

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Fall Is In the Air

It happens so quickly. Summer ends and Fall begins. Well, not so quickly, but it seems like it. I realize that Fall does not technically arrive until Wednesday, September 22nd.  But today with lots of rain and no sunshine in Raleigh, and temperatures in the 70’s, and having just returned from the sunny and hot Caribbean, it certainly feels like Fall. If I didn’t have a trip to sunny Florida next weekend (I know, back-to-back sun is nice!), I would put up my Summer clothes and get out my Fall clothes. But not quite yet. Regardless of the weather, however, it feels like Fall, which means it is time to think about a few things. The first of these things is change, which the changing of the seasons represents.

Our oldest granddaughter, Mary Grace, who is 16 years of age, was talking about the changing of the seasons a few days ago when we were with her. Our daughter, Tara, and her family which includes Mary Grace, live in Georgia, as close to Florida as is possible. So, their leaves do not change colors like ours do in North Carolina. Mary Grace was talking about that, about how much she loves seeing the fall leaves when she is in N.C., and how Fall is her favorite season. That morning she came out dressed for school in a big orange sweater, although it was to be in the high 80’s to 90’s in her town later that day! The crisp morning and it being September encouraged Mary Grace to welcome Fall.

What does Fall represent to you? Are you excited about the change of the season?  Is there anything you embrace about Fall, be it the season, or something else? Are you getting mentally prepared for the busiest of seasons, which begins with Halloween, soon to arrive in October? After that, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and other holidays, all which can leave us exhausted. While we don’t yet know how the holidays will be this year given the ongoing concerns with the viruses and vaccinations, I sense that many people are ready to celebrate with family.

These first few weeks of September are a good time to think about what we want this precious time of ours to include. I am saddened by the recent loss of family and know that some of my readers have also suffered losses. For me writing this and others reading it, we still have some time, and the time we have should not be wasted. Which calls the question, what is wasted time?

Time that isn’t planned can be wasted. Does all time need to be planned? Not really, but if none of our time is planned, then we are likely wasting some precious time. For me this means that I must follow through and do a task that I promised myself to do before the end of the year. I haven’t started on that task, so I should begin, or the end of the year will have arrived, and I will not have kept my commitment to myself regarding this.

Our time should be enjoyed. For me enjoyment can be as simple as spending time with family. That is why Mike and I rerouted from St. Maarten to Georgia last Saturday when our flight from St. Maarten was delayed, which would have resulted in us missing our connection to Raleigh. Instead of spending the night in Charlotte, we flew to Jacksonville, went to granddaughter Elsie’s soccer game, and spent time just visiting with family.  

Our time should be purposeful. Purposeful can be enjoyable, and fun can be the objective. Sometimes when we think about planning our time and that it should be purposeful, that sounds like work. Well, it does take work to make family a priority. Family work is the most important work of all. 

Think about it. What do you want your Fall to include? How are you going to plan for that? How will you know you have been successful with your planning and execution?

Perhaps you can set a couple, or even more goals, for how you spend your time these next few months. After all, the time will pass whether you plan it and make it purposeful or not.

Let’s get started.

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The Friendly Island

Greetings from Sint Maarten. Mike and I are spending our last couple of days of our two-week vacation here. Assuming a negative Covid test, we will return home tomorrow. We have had a very relaxing time. We have watched the news of all the devastation in the U. S. The hurricane devastation in Louisiana and the aftermath of that storm up the east coast is tragic, as are the fires in California and surrounding areas. Having lived through Hurricane Irma in Sint Maarten September 6, 2017, we are grateful that this trip has not had any weather disruption. We pray for a quick recovery for those areas dealing with the wrath of Hurricane Ida and the fires. We are very aware of the gift of being able to travel home to a secure dwelling, and do not take our blessings for granted.

While my mind is still in vacation mode, I will minimize the narrative of this post and share some photos of this beautiful island. We have been coming here since 2000 and consider Sint Maarten a second home. We have seen many changes in these twenty-one years. What has not changed, other than to strengthen, is the friendliness of the people. Sint Maarten-St Martin is known as the Friendly Island, and our experience confirms this distinction is well deserved.

Cruise ships are finally coming back to the island, but some only to allow private excursions, not shopping.
The Simpson Bay Lagoon.
Mullet Bay Beach
Iced tea, my drink of choice! While sweet tea is not usually available, simple syrup turns unsweetened tea into just the right sweetness.
A lovely meal of salmon and vegetables at the Holland House.
Dinner at Chesterfield’s with our dear Sint Maarten family. 15 year-old Sameer, 5 year-old Veer, and Muskaan. Ron is the cameraman.  
(L to R) Harry and Ron, our favorite jewelers for twenty years at Joe’s Jewelry in Philipsburg, #1 on Trip Advisor. 
At Kakao at Orient Beach for lunch.
If you can afford it!
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Resilience and Grace

“We were just starting to come back, to come back from Irma, then Covid.” She was not complaining, just sharing. Mike and I were sitting at the bar at La Rosa, a well-loved Italian restaurant In Sint Maarten, eating a light snack, and chatting with the staff. We were the only ones in the restaurant. This is more a factor of the season, the fact that this is the low season and hurricane season, than Covid. But there may also be a Covid factor. The island, now both the French side, St Martin, and the Dutch side, Sint Maarten, are listed at a Level 4 risk factor, related to travel. When Mike and I left the U.S., our side of the island, the Dutch side, was listed at a Level 3 risk factor. That changed to a Level 4 a few days after we arrived. We would probably not have come had it been at Level 4. So far, we see no difference from Level 3 to Level 4. Masks and social distancing are required. While there has been a mandatory 8pm curfew on the French side for a couple of weeks, that has not been the case on the Dutch side. Regardless, Mike and I are in by 8pm, which is more due to our age than Covid!

Mike and I have been coming to the beautiful island of Sint Maarten-St Martin for twenty-one years, usually for two weeks each year. We have seen many changes in these years, some good, some not. We were here when Hurricane Irma hit on September 6, 2017. You can read about that in my blogs about that experience at http://www.fralixgroup.com, as well as in the book I wrote about it, Changing Me from the Inside Out: My Hurricane Irma Experience on St. Maarten and Other Life Changing Events, published in 2018.

We usually come to the island in late August and are here until early September. We have come at other times, including last April when we came for our anniversary. The island is always beautiful. The juxtaposition of the mountains and the water is breathtaking. That was one of my earliest memories of the island, and every time I am here, I am spellbound by that all over again. The island’s natural beauty is unparalleled. Hurricanes have not changed that. Covid will not change that.

Despite hurricanes and Covid, the people of Sint Maarten-St Martin remain resilient and full of grace. Their economy depends heavily on tourism, and specifically tourism from the United States. Just when tourism was rebounding from Hurricane Irma, Covid hit. Travel was devastated all over the world from Covid in 2019 until 2020, then it began to rebound. Then the Delta variant occurred, and tourism took another hit. We can’t really predict what will happen to tourism in the foreseeable future. But I believe we can predict how the people of St Martin-Sint Maarten will respond to the ongoing challenges of the assaults to their economy of natural disasters.

The people of this lovely island will come to work, even if their restaurant is empty. They have no governmental bailout. They will not be sitting home collecting unemployment. They will be serving their customers, even though there are less customers to serve. We will not find them complaining. They are grateful for the people who continue to come and look forward to their economy returning to prosperity. They see signs of that, with cruise ships returning.

Resilience and grace are behaviors that best describe the lovely people of Sint Maarten-St Martin. We can learn a lot from them. We need to help them rebuild their economy, not because they depend on us, but because the beauty of their island is worthy of our attention.         

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Reach Out and Touch Someone

I have been a member of WW (used to be Weight Watchers, now WW) off and on since the mid 1970’s. I have made Lifetime twice. My last recommitment to WW started on May 16, 2019, and I have been faithful since then. To maintain Lifetime and not have to pay, the rules are simple. One must gain no more than two pounds over your goal weight, and weigh in once a month. Since Covid, the meetings were virtual until a few months ago, and weigh-ins could be at home and recorded online.  

I made Lifetime the first time in 2002, the year of our daughter Tara’s wedding. I did not want to be overweight in wedding photos that are kept forever! Unfortunately, I regained the weight and have photos of me with that extra weight in daughter Chatham’s wedding five years later in 2007.  

I spent several years paying my WW monthly dues and was not really serious about it. In January of 2019 I began to get serious again about losing weight, when I hit my all-time high weight. Between January and May I lost thirteen pounds. I weighed every day and began to watch what I ate. But I wasn’t yet serious about WW, until May 16, 2019, when I went back to a WW meeting and made a commitment to myself to lose the weight. I weighed in at 145 pounds. I set my goal weight at 130 pounds and made Lifetime July 13, 2019. I have continued to lose, maintaining my weight between 101 and 106 pounds most days in the past eighteen months. I reset my goal at 110. I do not want to weigh any less than 100 pounds, which is still an ok weight for someone of my height and overall body size and shape.

Even before Covid, I rarely attended WW meetings, although whenever I did, I always learned something helpful. WW believes that those who attend meetings are usually more successful at losing their weight and maintaining the loss. The group support is deemed helpful to most people, even more so than the meeting content. I am not a “groupie,” and found more value in the content than the group support. I never attended a virtual meeting, although I recorded my weight once a month at least.

So, I have been a member of WW off and on for at least forty-six years. Still, it was recently that I received my first personal touch from a WW staff member, ever. Before this, no one who saw me at WW seemed to care if I attended a meeting. I was a number, and they had a job to do. Their job did not include making me feel important to them. Until Coach Leslie G. This blog is not really about me and my weight loss. It is not even about WW. It is about customer service and Coach Leslie G.

For whatever reason, and I do not even know why, I decided to go to a WW meeting in Raleigh a couple of Sundays ago. Coach Leslie G was the Leader. It was a very small group. The content was interesting, as was the discussion. I recall being impressed with Coach Leslie G as a Leader. I have been less than impressed with some others over the years.

I had already been thinking about whether to attend the next Sunday’s meeting, when an email from Coach Leslie G came through on Saturday evening and made my decision for me. The email was “Connie (the other WW staff person) and I look forward to seeing you tomorrow at the WW meeting.” It seems that there was another sentence or two, but “We look forward to seeing you” was what connected with me the most. Someone knew I was there and looked forward to seeing me at the meeting! Coach Leslie G’s message reached out and touched me in a way that made me feel important.

Now, I am still not a groupie, and do not think I am “needy.” But I was very touched by Coach Leslie G telling me that she and Connie cared that I was there. As a customer service teacher for many years, as one who believes in the power of good customer service, that customer service experience was so meaningful to me. There was no question at that point about whether I would be at the WW meeting on Sunday, for they cared if I came. I promptly registered for the meeting.

On Sunday at the meeting, I thanked Coach Leslie G for her email, and told her how important it was in getting me to the meeting. I also told her that she was the very first WW staff person in my many years as a member who “reached out and touched me.”

How can you and I reach out and touch someone?

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We Can Be Right, and Still Be Wrong

We have three choices when faced with conflict. We can avoid it, ignore it, or confront it. To “confront” it does not mean to be confrontational, it means to address it, to deal with it. Sometimes the best approach is to ignore it. Sometimes the best approach is to confront it. It is never a good idea to avoid conflict. Our personality, experience, and confidence (or lack of it) often govern which approach we select. To manage conflict effectively, we need to dig deeper. I have written before that I write what I need, which I hope also benefits my readers. This subject is one that I am facing presently in at least three situations. Hopefully, it will help others as well as help me to clarify what I need to do in the situations I am facing.

First, what is conflict? As I often do when analyzing something, I looked up the word in the dictionary. I do not think the dictionary definitions (“an extended struggle, battle, and a clashing disagreement”) of conflict are complete enough. But of those choices, I select “disagreement,” leaving the “clashing” out. The disagreement can range from unspoken to clashing. Conflict can be overt, which is out in the open, or covert, which is hidden. Of these two, overt is healthier, if it is managed well.  Covert conflict can eat us up from the inside and do nothing to resolve the conflict. Overt conflict can be damaging and not resolve the conflict if certain principles are not followed. The following information can help us manage conflict overtly yet respectfully.

Let’s start with our personality, and how it effects our “natural, or instinctive” approach when faced with conflict. As a result of our personality, (which is more complex than just this aspect of it) our “natural” behavior is either non-assertive, assertive, or aggressive. Of these, assertive behavior is best in most situations, although not all. I will leave this part of the discussion without further analysis, or we will get too much “into the weeds.”

After clearly understanding our natural style via our personality, we need to do the same analysis for the other person, the one with whom we have (overtly or covertly) a conflict. We may be assertive to aggressive in our style, while the other person may be non-assertive to aggressive. Or our personalities may be more alike or different than what has been mentioned. To accomplish our desired result, the expected behavior of the other person becomes more important than our natural behavior. This is where we implement the Platinum Rule instead of the Golden Rule. (A good explanation of these can be found in a previous blog of mine, found at http://www.fralixgroup.com. “Which Do You Prefer, Platinum or Gold?” posted on March 3, 2015.)

Dr. Stephen Covey, world renowned philosopher and teacher, chronicled in his book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, the best information I know for managing conflict. The first habit, “Begin with the End in Mind” is our starting and ending point. This basically means that we should determine our desired result before deciding if we will ignore or confront the conflict. A couple of examples will help to understand the importance of this.

If our desired result, or outcome, is to maintain the relationship, we may choose to ignore some things that we do not want to ignore, or that we would confront if doing so would not damage the relationship. To “not damage the relationship” has two components, one which is practical, and one which is emotional. The practical component can include that by doing so we will not get what we want. The emotional component includes that the relationship may be irrevocably damaged. We need to be very clear about our desired result, the other person’s natural style, and how best to work with that, to accomplish our goal. If our desired result is to exert control and we are not concerned or are less concerned about the potential damage to the relationship, we may choose to be assertive or aggressive.   

Next, we need to decide if our communication with the other person is direct or indirect. Direct communication is bottom-line oriented, to the point, using less words, but words that are definitive. Example. “I am not satisfied with that answer.” Indirect communication uses qualifiers, yet still needs to be clear, just not too definitive, or direct. (The “too” is a qualifier.) Example. “I am not sure that your answer is complete enough.” (“not sure” and “enough” are qualifiers.) Qualifiers are used to “soften” what is being said, not to be unclear, but so the other person does not hear what is being said as aggressive. When one chooses direct communication, word choice is especially important, and the person speaking should “own” what is being said, not “accusing” the other person. Example. It is better to say, “I am not satisfied with that answer,” than “You are not being transparent.”

Other important aspects of managing conflict effectively are timing and location. Location means that a neutral location is better than a location that would make the other person less comfortable. Example. A round table in a conference room is better than one’s office with the authority of a desk between the two people. The best timing may be at the end of the day when no work follows instead of the beginning of the day. Other considerations related to timing and location many need to be considered.

To this point it is assumed that managing conflict is best done in person, not by email or text. While that is true, it is not always possible or even practical. It may be done virtually given our current reality. Is virtual as good as in person? No, but it is better than written. If it is necessary for the “discussion” involving conflict to be done in writing, decide if email or text is best. Email is best if it is lengthy or complex, text if it can be short. Anytime written communication is selected as the method for managing a situation involving conflict, it is even more important to determine the best communication style, direct or indirect, and that words used are not negative or likely to precipitate a negative reaction. Written communication magnifies words used and style and does not include the opportunity for most of the non-verbal aspects of communication to modify, or soften, what is being communicated.

This is by no means a complete or even thorough discussion or analysis of managing conflict. It is only a starting point. However, the points included can help you accomplish your goal in managing conflict.

Unless your goal is to be right. If your goal is to be right, expect that the goal of the other person may become to prove you wrong.      

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Making Progress

Last week’s blog (How Much is Too Much?) was about my increased recognition that I/we have too much. I will not repeat that story, but if you missed it, you may want to go to itsinthesauce.com and read it.

This week, Mike and I have been cleaning out, and it is slow going. We are surprised at how much there is to get through. We have uncovered some major memories, some of which are hard to throw away, although that is exactly what we should do with most of it. I am sure that no one else would ever want most of it, and even we will not even remember that we have it if we don’t throw it away. Having been through the recent death of a loved one, and still dealing with some of his stuff, this process of cleaning out is a priority of mine. My dear Uncle Barry did not have much stuff at all, yet I wish, and he would have wished were he living through the cleaning out of it, that he had made some decisions about his stuff.

A few things Mike found in his home office in his desk drawers:

1. My mother’s checkbook. My mother died in 1998. I have no idea why we kept her checkbook, and certainly have no need for it twenty-two years later. I threw it away.

2. A newspaper copy of Mike and my marriage license from 1984. It also lists many other marriage licenses granted in Wilson County, NC that week. Again, why did we keep it? We certainly do not need to keep it. There are many other tangible memories of our marriage. I threw it out.

3. My Will from 1981, which I think is (terrible for me if it is, and even if I don’t know if it is!) my only Will. This was before Mike and I even met. It grants trusteeship to good friends, as well as guardianship of my daughter, Tara, who was five years old at the time. While I have not thrown it out yet, I will, since it is no longer current on any level. My commitment to myself is for Mike and me to have a current Will and other important documents before the end of 2021. Uncle Barry who died recently did not have a Will, and his estate is unnecessarily complicated, even with his limited financial resources. I do not want our children to be saddled with trying to figure out our holdings, debts, stuff, etc. I know it is irresponsible for us to not have done this long before now. (Not that this should make me feel any better, but I imagine some reading this can identify!)

4. A life insurance policy taken out in 1981 by my mother on my daughter, Tara, who was five years old at the time. The policy was paid up until Tara reached the age of 23, then for the policy to remain in effect, additional payments would have needed to be paid. I have no recollection of this policy at all, so no additional payments were ever made. If #2 above did not already make me feel totally irresponsible, this did! I threw it out.

5. Two collectible pens, both rollerballs. One is a limited-edition Platinum Mont Blanc pen, and the other is an Invincia Rose Monteverde pen. Neither seem to have ever been used. There is no way to tell the age of either. Mike thinks the Monteverde pen was a gift he received as a speaker at some event. I seem to recall giving Mike the Mont Blanc pen. It is hard for me to find that he has never used it. I received a Mont Blanc pen for my 60th birthday, (almost ten years ago!) and I use it often and protect it well. I suppose we can agree that Mike has protected his collectible pens also, since they have not seen the light of day! These will not be thrown out, regardless of whether Mike uses them or not. I may confiscate the Mont Blanc pen, and might even sell the Monteverde!

There is much more that was uncovered in Mike’s cleaning out, but so far, these are the most important and/or valuable things. Most of the stuff that has no value has been or will be discarded. 

You may wonder what I have cleaned out this week. Not much, really. I have had a bad cold/flu and have protected my energy level. In case you wonder, yes, I did get checked for COVID, and thankfully, it was negative.

You may not wonder, but I will divulge, Mike and I both had the COVID vaccine back in the spring and are glad we did. Yes, we also know some people who also had the vaccine and have subsequently had COVID. One of those is a close family member, whose doctor told him had he not had the vaccine, he probably would have died from COVID. Just one person’s opinion, of course. Everyone in the U.S. has the right to make their own decision about being vaccinated.

We also have the right to make our own decisions regarding whether to drown in our own stuff or clean it out. While this may not be as controversial as the COVID vaccine, I doubt that it is much easier for most people to do! 

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How Much is Too Much?

I have been home more in the past couple of weeks than I was percentage-wise the past few months. I have cooked more, cleaned more, and lived in our home more. Doing so, I have had to face what I have known for a long time. We have too much stuff. We have so much stuff that I can’t easily find or get to what we have. A few examples.

Our freezers are stuffed with food, so much so that I must take much of it out to try to find what I am looking for. The “try to find” is intentional. I knew I had some mozzarella sticks in the freezer because I had recently moved them from one freezer to another. But as much as I moved food around to try to find the mozzarella sticks, they escaped me. I was looking for them for our middle granddaughter, Elsie, who loves anything cheese. I found them today when I wasn’t even looking for them, and Elsie left days ago.

I have several pounds of different kinds of coffee in the freezers. Not the kind that I prefer, but good coffee, nonetheless. So instead of ordering my favorite coffee today, I decided to use up the coffee in the freezer before ordering more or throw out what I have that I am not using. I am on day three of this plan, and I miss my favorite coffee, but I am going to stick with this plan a few more days. My coffee is important to me. I do not know how this plan will ultimately go, but it is worth a try.

Since the freezers (and cupboards) are so full, I am refusing to go out to dinner, choosing instead to eat what we have. This will accomplish three things. One, money will be saved by eating what we already have. Second, the freezers and cupboards will gradually be more manageable, and we will know what is in them, and reduce the volume. Third, points/calories will be saved, since I will know what I am consuming, and not have to guess, which is more accurate.

I am hoping this will be true about my scaling down of stuff.

Our cabinets and cupboards are full of different sizes of serving dishes, some that haven’t been used in years, if ever. This reminds me of the clothes in my closet. I realized as I looked at so many dishes that many of them were purchased because they are pretty, and at the time they connected to my need for beauty. I am realizing lately that just because I love something, or just because it is beautiful, does not mean that I need to buy it, or if I already have it, keep it. Nor do I need to purchase something because it is on sale, or a good price. While I am getting better at not purchasing so much, I have not really begun to clean out. It is easier for me to admit the errors of my ways than to correct them.

A few months ago, Mike and I began to discuss whether it is time to sell our home in Raleigh. We have much more space than we need. We even interviewed a few realtors. We put the decision on hold for a few months for a couple of reasons. One of those reasons is no longer a variable. It will soon be time to revisit that decision. In the meantime, it is time to begin to clean out, so if we decide to move, the process will not strangle us. It is time to cull some of the casserole dishes, platters, and cooking utensils. If we decide to stay put, we will feel at more peace being able to use what we have without feeling overwhelmed by the volume of our stuff.

I follow several experts on Minimalism, taking inspiration from their work. Two of my favorites are Joshua Becker and Courtney Carver. One point they both make is to not hold onto something for guilt reasons, because it was a gift from someone, or because you spent a lot of money for the item. I struggle with that, on both levels.

How about you? Do you have too much stuff?

How much is too much, anyway?  

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How Do We Spend Our Time?

My Happy Place

Summer is passing quickly, and you may have a lot left that you want to do before fall arrives. Whether you have children who will be back in school soon or whether you are back working physically at an office, most likely you have enjoyed the different pace of the summer. Once fall comes, the holidays are upon us, and our ability to take things slow and easy disappears. It is sometimes easier in the summer to do those things that we put off at busier times of the year. I did one of those yesterday, something I have rarely, if ever, done.

I stripped and painted a cabinet. Well, I stripped the cabinet and my cousin painted it. I planned to finish it today, which would include painting a little more, but my plan changed. More about that later. This physical labor was needed, not because the cabinet needed the stripping and painting, although it did, but it has needed that for quite a while. I needed the physical work to get my mind off the sadness I felt because our daughter and granddaughters left after having been with us for almost a week. It is always so hard when they have been here and leave. The sadness I felt while doing the laundry and putting the house back in order was more than I could handle when they left. I had to get outside and do something physical other than laundry. While the physical labor did not make the sadness go away, it did help.

There are usually more things that we need to get done than there is time available. I know that you know what I mean. How do we choose what to do with our time? While there are some obvious priorities, a lot of what we spend our time doing are not really priorities, but things that just need to get done. But do they need to get done more than those things that are our priorities? And how do we differentiate between the things that are really priorities and things that aren’t? My best answer to this is that we should spend our time on things that matter, based upon our values and goals.

Our values should determine how we spend our time. I had no difficulty prioritizing time with family this  week. Everything else took a back seat when our daughter and granddaughters who live in Georgia were in town. Our daughter who lives in Raleigh and her family were also with us a lot this week, as were other family who live in Raleigh. I spent a lot of time in the kitchen, and since that is my happy place, that was fine with me. Since spending time with family is a core value of mine, my priorities were in clear focus. There was nothing else that I needed to do that was more important.

How do goals affect how we spend our time? To me, goals are priorities. We should have written long-term and short-term goals. When focusing on the short-term, we should have monthly, weekly, and daily goals. The focus of goal setting does not need to be complicated. It can be as simple as setting three goals for each day. Think of these goals as priorities. The number three does not need to be thought of as a concrete number. But many more than three goals per day is difficult to manage. And less than three is probably not a sufficient number of priorities. So, three goals per day is a manageable number. If we consistently set and meet three goals/priorities per day, we will accomplish much of what is important to us.  

Our short-term goals should be directly related to our long-term goals. We should set our long-term goals first, then make sure our short-term goals are consistent with those. A quick example. If one of our long-term goals is to be debt free, one of our short-term goals may be to reduce spending. We should quantify the “reduce spending” goal, such as “eliminate all unnecessary spending.” To be successful with this goal, it will be helpful to be even more specific, such as qualify what is “unnecessary spending.”

Back to the cabinet that I planned to finish painting today. That plan changed. Our son-in-law mentioned the possibility of lead-based paint on the cabinet. Sure enough, when I tested it for lead, it was positive. So, there is no need to paint anymore.  And yesterday’s work was wasted effort. Well, not really, since I did accomplish doing something physical to free my mind from the sadness of family leaving.  

But I am not happy about my cabinet, although I did learn a valuable lesson. Before doing work on an old piece of furniture, test for lead.

Now, what should I do with the cabinet?

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