Sunday, January 3, 2010

2009 Wrap-Up

One of the things I set out to do in 2009 was put my ideas into action. I have done a good job of that for the most part. I feel I have accomplished a lot. For starters, I finished the coursework for my dissertation. I also cleaned and re-decorated three rooms in my home that had been bothering me. The main area of my house had been fine, but I had a playroom that was such a disaster you couldn't even walk in there, had an office that was a mess, and I needed my kids to do some room-switching.

The toy room was a complete disaster area. Not only were toys in there, but other things that no one knew what to do with got thrown in there. I wanted this toy room to turn into a bedroom so that each of my kids had a room. My current situation was that my two older kids had their own room upstairs, and Lily didn't have a room, and slept with me. I was so tired of her kicking me, plus she needed to learn to sleep on her own.

In March I decided to remove everything from that toy room, got new carpet in there, mounted a flat screen TV in the corner and moved my older daughter in there. It was smaller than her other bedroom, so I had to bribe her. Yes, it cost me a few hundred dollars between the carpet and TV, but it was worth it to get things moved around so that everyone was happy. I then cleaned out my older daughter's bedroom and turned that into a room for my little girl with Down syndrome. I needed her to be in a room upstairs so she would be near me. This room switch was done over about a 5 day period. I had company coming from England, so I had a deadline and I met it. My office is another story.....

Okay, In June, I spent about 6 days in my office writing a huge paper for one of my doctorate classes. As I sat in my office, I looked around for the first time and said, "this is unacceptable!! I spend HOURS in here. It needs to look great." I promised myself that the moment my paper was done, that I would get this office looking great. The only thing I knew for sure, was that I wanted my carpet removed and to have the cement floor stained and acid treated. My friend Heidi had this done at her house, and it looked awesome.

What I did was I got several tubs and laundry baskets and moved books of mine with a common theme into these baskets and tried to be somewhat organized as I had all of the contents of my office moved to my formal living room. The computer and printer was set up at my dining room table and I was proud of myself. So, I had it cleaned out, and a few days later the guy came to do the floor. It wasn't exactly as I had ordered it, and he said he would come back. Never heard from him again. I got used to the way he did the floor and am actually happy he did it this way now. Funny how stuff just works out. I then needed to find new office furniture. I went all over. I finally found the set I loved. It was black with arches and looks very European. Beautiful. I then started to hang up art work, brought in plants. I am telling you, my office looks like an artist lives in here. How long did this take? You don't want to know. It took me about 5 months to get it all back together and looking good. In the end I had to have a few friends help me, because the task of putting this back together overwhelmed me.

I had a birthday party for myself and everyone LOVED my office. It rocks. So, my advice to you...clean up your house and decorate it so that it is amazing. We spend a lot of time in our homes, and they should represent us. If you can't get going yourself, hire someone to help you. I hired a friend who is really good at organizing things to come over and help me. We schedule 2 or 3 hours and we just start working on something that needs to be organized. Whether it be drawers, closets, cupboards, etc. I am almost all the way done with everything in my house and I am here to tell you that it is liberating. I finally know where things belong. I discovered that my problem was that I didn't have a home for things. I needed to bring in an organizer to help me think through where I should keep things. This cleaning/organizing has been a more powerful thing for me than anything else. I am so glad that I have worked on that this year.

I have had a cleaning lady for several years, but there is only so much they can do for you. You really need to do the initial organizing and sorting of your stuff so that they can come in and clean. Now my cleaning lady can actually make my whole house look great. There is a link I want to share with you that is sooo helpful when you are trying to get control of organizing and keeping your house up. Check it out:

Monday, November 30, 2009

Traveling With Kids When Alone

Many of my friends say, "What???? You are taking all three of your kids and going where...???" It's true. I am not afraid to travel with the kids, but let's just say that I have figured out what seems to work best. I am going to provide you with my list of thoughts on this. Trust me, I learned a lot of these the hard way.

1. Cruises are the easiest. There is free daycare and kids programs so that as the adult you can have some time to yourself.

2. Soda is not free on the ships even though the food is. I tell my kids that they can't have pop on the cruise. I occasionally buy them one when we are on land.

3. The food is mediocre. I have been on 3 different cruise lines, and none of them are very good. It's not so bad that you shouldn't go, but just know you will be eating at the eqivalent of the Hometown Buffet for your vacation.

4. The spas and gyms are nice on the ships. The rooms are quite small and have bunkbeds.

5. Don't sign up for the excursions on the ship, buy your own when you get off.

6. Don't take your kids somewhere where you are going to struggle with wanting to do your own thing. This happened to me once in Hawaii when I wanted to drink a glass of wine with my friend and watch the sun set. My daughter Lily decided she wanted to swim. Guess how relaxing that sunset was?????

7. Buy your kids a book to read while traveling so that they have something to do when you are riding on public transportation.

8. Don't take your child who doesn't like to walk a lot to a place where there is a lot of walking. (Go ahead and laugh, but this can really cause stress)

9. Give your kids a set amount of money so that they can decide what they want to buy and when their money is gone, they are done buying. I give my kids $20. each. This will buy them snacks and small things I won't buy at the time.

10. Airlines are charging for suitcases now, so pack accordingly. If I am going to check in a suitcase I make sure it's a big one so that I have room to buy things.

11. Read about the place you are going with your kids ahead of time so that they know where they are going and its significance.

12. Don't travel again until your credit card is paid off from the first one.

13. Look at the deals Costco has on trips. A friend of mine got a great deal for Hawaii.

14. Make sure you show your kids a variety of things. Check out historical things, natural beauty, cities, and rural areas. Don't just go to the beach. Take a good look around and help them foster an appreciation for the different places and people of the world.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

My other pot

This pot was made using broken antique plates and a few stones. It was so fun hammering away at the dishes. I dyed the grout, but it didn't turn out the exact shade I envisioned, but it still looks okay.

Mosiac Art Class Finished

Can you believe I made this pot? I actually made two. I will post both of them.

When I was a kid I never thought of myself as someone who could make art. It's probably due to the fact that most of the types of art work we did were not my thing. I wasn't a good drawer. You should see my handwriting. Anyway, as an adult I have decided that art comes in many forms. It's in the way you dress, wear your hair, the jokes you make, the food you cook, and the way you organize things. I decided in 2009 to take a few art classes. My mosaic class just ended and I would like to share my two pieces with you.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Notes From Workshops I Have Attended

Dr. Alan Cohen-SpeakerBuilding Great Relationships

Relationships are a journey to where you want to go with another person. Great relationships are developed.

9 keys to finding a good partner:

  • Great relationships are natural. Refuse to accept relationships that hurt you in any way. If it feels too good to be true it is good enough.

  • You get what you let. Willingness to receive. Let it flow.

  • Search for the beloved is a search for self. You must be whole to attract a whole person into your life.

  • Before you can "know" your souldmate, you must know your soul. Would you marry yourself?

  • Relationships are a journey and are fluid.

  • Ending a relationship does not equal failure. It ended, graduated. You gathered data during that relationship. You are wiser now. You build relationship consciousness over a lifetime. It eventually breaks through and you meet someone.

  • Realness rocks. Don't compromise who you are. If they don't like you "oh well".

  • Your essence is what people fall in love with. Who are you? Looks don't matter like essence matters. Essence is deeper than personality.

  • Be a love finder rather than a love seeker. Be loving. Walk in a field of love and let people catch "peace" from your essence.

  • Your heart always knows. Go where you are valued. Work with those who are willing. Don't push yourself into places you aren't appreciated.

Pat Rodgast-Emmanuel

  • Be patient, be kind, and you will heal. Be gentle on yourself.

  • Light a candle for yourself. Baby yourself. Hold ceremony for yourself.

  • Don't let fear edit your wisdom.

  • Be who you really are~eternal and perfect love.

  • Music is a faithful form of communication.

  • "What do you want?" versus "Who do you think you are?"

  • Bodily pains relate to spiritual issues-back pain=symbolically backing away from trouibles. Fear of death is held in the knees.

  • Never compare~everyone is unique

  • Individuality makes your life significant~you are divine.

  • You are never separated from your source~God.

Deepok Chopra-Happiness

  • Scientists have found that your heart cells actually do have the ability to think, feel compassion, etc. This is why you literally feel emotion in your heart.

  • Ultimately all goals are of a spiritual nature.

  • People often have stipulations about being happy, when actually the opposite is the reality...if you are happy, you will likely get all you want.

  • U.S. ranks low in overall happiness.

  • Your brain set point defines happiness. Creative people see brighter side.
    Meditation wil change set point for happiness.

  • As for cognitve therapy, you are holding onto an idea that is limiting you-release it.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Trumpet Lessons

Seve started Middle school this fall, and with that came the opportunity for him to take band. He decided that he wanted to play the trumpet this year. I bought him a trumpet on Ebay and was excited to see him start to learn to play. He tried playing it a lot the first week or so, but was not doing well with it. He came home from school somewhere around the 4th or 5th week of school and said he wanted to quit band. He said he hated the band teacher and wanted out. All sorts of thoughts entered my mind.

I admit that the fact that I had bought the trumpet, and I wanted to get my money's worth out of it was one of the first things I thought of. A second thought, was that he hadn't been playing long enough to decide yet, and the last and best thought I had, was thinking about using this as an opportunity to teach problem-solving. I decided to teach my son how to brainstorm this problem. My hope was that he would learn from this and have a strategy for future issues. He has a history of getting mad and throwing in the towel. It came to me that this would be a good opportunity to help him with that.

I told Seve that we were going to try to solve this problem, and if we weren't able to, he could quit. I told him that quitting is okay after you've truly done your best to figure out the problem. He agreed with me. I think he was sure we wouldn't be able to solve it and he would get out of band. I was ready and prepared to keep my end of the deal on this.

First, I asked him to define the exact problem he was having. We established that he was a bad player and the teacher wanted him to change instruments. I then asked him what he thought about that. He said that he wanted to play that instrument, but agreed with the instructor that he was not a good player.

I told Seve I needed to talk with the teacher so that his teacher knew we were working on this issue. I talked to the teacher, who had no idea how upset he had made Seve. I was very nice, yet let him know that Seve was sensitive to the information he gave him, and that we were prepared to work on his trumpet playing. (Sometimes teachers forget about student's feelings. I think in particular, teachers forget boys have feelings.)

The teacher mentioned Seve switching instruments. His concern was that if a kid isn't picking up how to play an instrument by that point in the year, that to keep them from dropping band, he suggests switching to a new instrument. I agreed with him, but felt that we really hadn't tried enough to justify quitting just yet. I asked him if we could try some things first. He was very nice and suggested I try a few private lessons. He gave me the name of someone he knew. This ended up being a great lead.

After talking with the teacher, I asked Seve to sit with me while we figured out the game plan. I asked him what we could do to solve the problem of him not playing the trumpet well. He said he needed to practice more. I said yes, but how can we make the practices be more fruitful. I played the trumpet when I was a middle school student, so I knew the basics of that instrument and offered to help him. I mentioned that we could try me playing a note, and then hand it to him to try to play it. I also said that we might try a private lesson or two. Maybe a professional trumpet player could tell him what he was doing wrong. This discussion went well.

We made an appointment for a private lesson. A few days later we met Kent. What a gem. He is working on a doctorate in music at ASU and proved to be a fantastic teacher. He was so nice to Seve and recognized anything and everything that Seve did well. I had a private discussion with Kent prior to the lesson and shared my ideas and what I wanted from the lesson. I think this helped set the tone for Seve's lessons, but honestly Kent is so nice, he probably would have been the same regardless. He never criticized Seve, and made him feel very comfortable trying.

He quickly noticed that there were two problems with the trumpet. One of the valves was not screwed in right, and the felt was missing on one of the valves. This made the trumpet very difficult to play. He fixed it on the spot, and Seve was instantly able to make a note that sounded much better. We ended up working once a week with Kent for the next few months.

Seve's trumpet playing has actually gotten to be quite good. He and I have never discussed quitting band again. He is not the best player, but he is holding his own now. It was priceless to see his playing develop and his self-esteem improve.

The biggest thing, of course, is that he also has had practice in problem-solving. I knew Seve would like band if he could get over this hurdle of not being able to play his instrument, which is another reason I wanted him to stick it out for awhile. He now sees that sometimes we aren't really good at something right off the bat. Sometimes it takes some practice. Quitting is okay if you gave it your best. The key is to be able to really create a plan that should move you to where you want to be and to truly put the effort into it. Some people say they "tried" when they really didn't. It feels really good to "try" and see that it works. On the other hand, if "really trying" doesn't work, it's healthy to quit.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

My Visit to a Buddhist Temple in AZ

I have a good friend named Julie whose late father is Japanese. Her mother attends the local Buddhist temple on a regular basis and Julie and I decided a couple of weeks ago to expose our kids to some different churches around town. I really enjoyed visiting that temple, and I enjoyed New Vision.

The Sunday before Christmas we went to New Vision church, and the message there was a Christmas message. It talked about how Santa could be viewed as a symbol of generosity. The Reverend said that the more spiritually in touch one becomes, the more they have to give, and the more generous they are. She also talked about the elves. Elves are the helpers who do the work. Ideally we have a bit of Santa and elf in us.

Last week we went to the Buddhist Temple. The Buddhist message was "I am you and you are I". This speaks to the oneness of all people. We are all one, and when we harm another we harm ourselves. I sort of get it. This is a difficult concept to wrap yourself around. The natural tendency is to think, "What? How can I be you? I have a separate body, you have traits about you that are not me, etc." I admit that I am still working on this, because I don't completely get what Buddha means by all this. I do understand the concept of loving other people unconditionally. I will continue to work on this one.

There was one thing I did notice about Buddhist people that was related to the service I had heard at New Vision the week before. It was their generosity that I noticed. The potluck dinner that was held after the service to say goodbye to their current priest was phenomenal. I have never seen so much food, and most of it was homemade. Tons of food. People brought more than they needed to. Some people go to potlucks and they don't bring enough really. They have several family members and they just bring one medium-sized item. In other words they bring less than what their group will consume. My observation was that Buddhist people bring more than they will consume, because they want to make sure everyone gets some. There is a sweetness about that. I think this may be one way that demonstrates what it means that "I am you, you are I". I'm still learning.