100+ Followers – Thank You!

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Hi there readers in blog land. I just hit 100 followers today. Thanks for visiting. I know we live in a busy, fast paced world and I appreciate you taking time out of your day to stop by my blog. It is so much more fun when you leave comments.  I have started something new on my blog: National Weird Day Writing Prompts. I hope you check it out, participate, share the prompt on your blog, comment on the writings of other bloggers and reblog. I usually spend 10 – 15 minutes writing mine., so it is not a huge time commitment. This could be your new writing warm up for the day.

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9026 + 899 = My Email

This is not a new math problem that can only be answered using Common Core Standards. Seriously, these were the numbers I saw when I opened my email on the desktop
counter top computer. I tried to access my email via my phone, but lately it has taken a long time to load. I was impatient so I booted up the computer and felt uneasy when I stared at the large numbers.

It reminded me of when I  was really sick a few years back and my husband was out-of-town. I was so sick I couldn’t walk. I had to crawl to the kitchen and told my small children they had to make their own breakfast and amuse themselves with television for the day. A week later, I was finally able to deal with the aftermath – mountains of laundry, a lot of dishes, dust bunnies as big as kittens, grimy counter tops, and dirty bathrooms. I felt so overwhelmed. I didn’t know what to tackle first because it seemed like getting my house back to normal was impossible. Eventually, I chipped away at the neglect  and little by little things were back to normal. Just like I had neglected my house during my illness, I have also been neglecting my email. Day after day and month after month I just let the emails pile up instead of deleting and filing a bit at a time. Most of it is e-junk mail. A hot deal only for today, a new collection out, a newsletter about local education issues, a class thread about homework. Instead of deleting these emails or placing them in the right folder, I ignored them until they grew out of control.

Well, I realized it was time to clean up the mess and not have a cluttered inbox. It’s just too distracting to my brain and prevents me from being productive. I began Friday afternoon and set my goal to delete 1,00 emails. Saturday, I spent the morning with my goal to get through to last October. While I was successful with both goals, I was not done. At this point I have good news and bad news. The good news is that I have less than 6,000 emails in my inbox and less than 300 in my folders. I decided that I couldn’t spend my entire weekend at the computer just cleaning things out. My end goal is to have 0 in my inbox by the end of this week.

It has been a tedious experience and I think I have learned a few lessons in the process. For the future I plan to do a few things differently:

  1. Delete as many emails a day as I can
  2. Try a weekly catch up reading folder  and see if a.) I remember to use it and b.)I am able to read through the emails/articles/blogs I am setting aside within an hour or so
  3. Schedule time once a week to clear/organize my email accounts (yes, I have more than one!)

I hope that I can keep a tidy inbox so I am more productive and spend my time writing and creating instead of dealing with accumulated electronic clutter. I also hope this overhaul will resolve the issues with my phone.

Am I the only one who has let an inbox get wildly out of control? I’d love to hear your stories or tips on how you tame your inbox.

Accidentally Running in Winter

The bright sun beckoned me. It ricocheted off the mounds of snow, lighting up the view outside my window. “Come,” it said. I returned to my cup of tea and thick novel. The light outside the window brightened even more as I rose to put my teacup in the sink a few minutes later. “Come outside. Delight in my winter rays,” the sun called again.

I put on my exercise clothes. I grabbed an old pair of sunglasses before bundling up to go outdoors. The air was crisp. I set off walking, feeling the itch to move at a faster pace, but many neighbors had not maintained their walkways. I soon arrived at the corner with the traffic light. I had not taken this path on foot since last November. On the other side of the four lane traffic, the noise stilled.  Trees now looked naked and lonely without their fiery autumn leaves. Two small, unattended dogs ran toward me, barking, excited, protective. I wanted to run away from their leaping and yapping, but the sidewalk looked dangerous. This was the route I used to run on before the weather turned bad. I walked as briskly as I could, heading toward the park. Could it be possible the path was safe?

As I got closer, I saw a strip of sidewalk, freshly salted, snow melted. It was wide open. I pushed off with my right foot, then followed with my left, my legs higher off the ground, stretched out, lengthening. I zipped my hood up all the way to my mouth and breathed in the warm air I exhaled. Happiness endorphins swirled around my body.

The park loomed in the distance. I turned into the gate, noticing the snow-covered  path. I accelerated slowly, testing my footing and the compact and even ground. I settled into a slow pace, faster than a walk, but not my regular pace. The snow crunched underfoot. My jacket made swishing sounds. The park was quiet except for a few sounds of pets and people and birds.  I was warm enough and I was running. Running in winter. My legs carried me around the big circle as I passed by barely discernible park benches, their backs peeking out from the snow. I didn’t have to squint as I propelled myself through the path. Families were sledding down a small hill. I started to go through my schedule for the rest of the day but stopped. I was running. It was my time.

I saw the gate. I paused, knowing I didn’t have time to make one more lap. I would have though. I unzipped the vents in my coat and slowed to a walk. Cars whizzed by me as I walked back home, their loudness abrasive to my former tranquil state. While taking off my shoes I wondered when the sun would come calling me again.

Hallway Makeover Part 2: Just What Exactly Did That Space Look Like?

Unless you have been to my house (and few of my blog readers have), you might have never laid eyes on my back hallway. Trust me, you weren’t missing anything. Before I unveil the final (ok not final because I am still adding little things here and there) space, I wanted to show you what I was working with. I realize my picture from the first post  about the makeover did not do it justice. I think one of those cool camera lenses would have come in handy. (Now that we’re talking about camera lenses, I’m wondering if my blog camera (aka my cell phone) has a panoramic option I could use for the last shot.)

I decided to make a rough sketch of the space with dimensions. This might help you to appreciate what I have done with it:

My 40 inch x 136 inch space to work with

My 40 inch x 136 inch space to work with

As you can see, it is pretty narrow, almost like a galley kitchen. Stay tuned to see the spectacular results.

The Long Overdue Fitbit Write up

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Several months ago I received a Fitbit Flex for my birthday. I couldn’t wait to start using it to see how active I was on a daily basis and what sort of data I would see. Like most new things, it was fun and I logged in multiple times a day to see my latest results on steps taken or hours slept. Then I hit a bump in the road and the Fitbit was still worn and the results still looked at, but I was no longer super motivated to check daily results. In fact some days I purposely avoided logging into my account because I knew I would see disappointing stats. Sigh.

Now, as the recurring polar vortex rears its cold head and since I live in Chiberia, I am only semi motivated to use it to help me improve my physical fitness. Right now it is a battle in my mind, two opposing sides are trying their best to persuade me. The Fitbit Girl reminds me how easy it is to make my daily goal of 11,00 steps (by the way, you can choose how many steps you want for your daily goal. I began with 10,000 and then a month later moved it up to 11,000) by exercising on a machine at the gym for 30-40 minutes and then walking somewhere in the neighborhood. Homemaker Girl is on the other side reminding me how cold it is outside and don’t I want to spend my time doing things like baking bread and cooking homemade soup. Usually someone wins. Lately it has been Fitbit Girl, but Homemaker Girl is hard to ignore, especially on really cold days when I have to bundle up extra to venture outside. I have thought maybe they could start compromising more.

So, the best parts of having a Fitbit so far are 1. Being able to view my daily step progress and take action if I have not moved very much during the day. 2. Being able to see how much sleep I was getting on a nightly basis 3. Being able to change my goals for steps, active minutes, distance, etc. There are many other things you can do with the Fitbit, but they require a bit more of your time. These included keeping track of your calorie intake, water consumed, body weight and body measurements. There is even a journal you can write in. I have tried these options, but mostly during the first month. I was fairly inactive for about a month due to some family circumstances so I am no hurry to remeasure my thighs and see if there has been a change. Recently a friend of mine started using a Fitbit and has befriended me. Now I occasionally check his step count to see if I am ahead or behind. Sometimes a little friendly competition is enough to get me to move more.

I think in another month when the clocks change for Daylight Savings Time and Spring is a bit closer I will see myself more motivated with my Fitbit. I definitely enjoyed exercising more outdoors in the Fall. How about you – Do any of you have a Fitbit? Does it help you with exercise and fitness goals or is it just another tech toy? What are your thoughts on it?

A Hallway Makeover – Part One

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When we bought our house a  few years ago, it wasn’t for the stellar floor plan, it was for the neighborhood. In fact the floor plan is rather odd, probably because the building used to be a 3 flat back in the day. Instead of having the doorway open into a room, several of our doorways open directly into hallways. Very. Looooong hallways. Did I mention they were long? Initially we used the upper back hallway  to store boxes and bins of items we had no place to store because not only was the floor plan crummy, the house had minimal closet space and no garage. Little by little I have gone through the bins and tried to clear out unnecessary items, or find homes for things now that we are fairly settled. Still the hallway remained filled.

Last Fall I had an idea to turn the hallway space into a usable space – for me. I wanted a place to write and work on projects and keep some of my things that did not work in the main shared areas of our home. A place where I could leave myself post it note reminders and not get repeatedly asked if it could it be thrown away (No, not yet, , I just haven’t had time to do it, but if I throw it away I will forget all about it.)

In order to accomplish this, I had to go through all the bins again and figure out what to do with the contents. This was a great exercise in “What the heck do I/you/we still have that for?” because let me tell you, I found things from the last century (husband’s undergrad text books!!!) and things I/he/we no longer needed. I spent the  better part of November and December taking care of that and used some of our attic space for items we needed to hang on to, but did not need on an every day basis.

Stay tuned for Part Two – A Space For Me.

I am The Producer. Who are You?

TIME FLIES.....................*

TIME FLIES…………………* (Photo credit: Neal.)

My earliest memory of being late was in fourth grade. I couldn’t find my other shoe, or my homework and I still had not brushed by hair. My Mom was ready to walk out the door and I wasn’t. She knew this would make her late for work and I knew it too because she gave me an earful as I stumbled around trying to hurry, trying to prevent the unavoidable. Can you believe I still carry this memory around with me years and years later?

I stumbled upon this article while I was on my way to check e-mail. Checking my e-mail was one of the many things on my “to-do” list. Reading the article was not. It caught my eye because  I am always late. . This article was about being late and included seven categories of the type of  late person you are. I felt compelled to read it because maybe I could still change and rid myself of this bad habit that annoys me at times.  According to the article, I am  The Producer:

The Producer needs to get as much done in as little time as possible. She feels better about herself when she’s checking things off a massive to-do list. Producers tend to engage in “magical thinking,” consistently underestimating the amount of time their tasks will take. They hate wasting time, so they schedule themselves to make use of every minute of the day.

Other categories of late people include: The Deadliner, The Absent Minded Professor, The RationalizerThe IndulgerThe Evader, and The Rebel.

I enjoyed this article because it gave me things I could try to do to help myself overcome this bad habit while not feeling so guilty. I was wondering how practical it would be to keep a record of how long real tasks take. I think I can make it happen if I add it to my “to-do” list.

Are you always late? What kind of late person are you?