Energy

Posted on January 13, 2010. Filed under: Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

I’m running out of the physical kind of energy.  Y’know, the kind that your body needs to stay awake and be productive.  But I just have to write this post tonight – the title for which has been sitting in my drafts folder for weeks.  How to pull this all together in a meaningful way will be a test of my writing skills…

As any of you who have been hanging around MLI for a while know, I have a real passion for life in general, but writing, making a meaningful contribution, parenting and connecting with others, more specifically. I’m learning that I thrive in life when any combination of those elements is present.  It is when I shine the most, personally and professionally.  I also feel strongly that positive energy welcomes positive things.  It’s a “when it rains, it pours” philosophy — without the negative connotation.

So here is the series of events that led me to this post: First, I’ve decided that MLI needs a custom design. In discussing that with a friend at work, I was put in touch with a woman he thought could help.  In one short phone conversation, she and I agreed that she isn’t the person to meet the original need, but that we should meet anyway just to see if she can add value in another way. I had no idea what to expect, but thought eh, what the heck?

Fast forward two weeks to this past Saturday.  I’m in the shower, thinking about the blog and decide I need to develop my personal brand.  I start to envision the platform, the design, the content, the brand.  And suddenly it hits me.  A brilliant book idea.  By the time I finish blow drying my hair, I’ve written an entire book in my head. (Now, I’ve never intended for my blogging adventure to lead to writing a book, but who am I to tell my brain no?)

Sunday, the creator of the Ning group I belong to and write for tells me she’s going to start advertising in the newsletter and share any profits with me.

Monday, I meet with the above-mentioned woman.  We hit it off instantly and spend the evening bouncing ideas around.  The meeting turned out to be mutually beneficial, and rather than me hiring her, we agreed to barter services.  Additionally, she’s interested in hiring me to write a weekly blog post on her website and possibly write her web content as well.  We also discussed other possibilities and opportunities.

She leaves, I check my email and find that my application has been reviewed and I have been offered a gig as Chicago Co-Parenting Examiner at Examiner.com.

What is going on here?

Tuesday I have a conference call with a friend of a friend who is just starting as a freelance writer as well.  We share ideas and discuss possibilities and networking opportunities.  My excitement is rising.

This morning, I check the status of my Suite 101 application and find out I have been accepted there as well.

Why am I telling you about all of this?  Because when I wrote my About page on Day One of My Life, Incomplete, I meant what I said: “I have a dream to write professionally. I am starting here, but hope to one day get published in a magazine and ultimately (don’t laugh) run my own…”  But I added in the “don’t laugh” because I thought I sounded ridiculous.  Today, I can see my magazine out there, in the future, waiting for me to come and get it.  I’m on my way!

The energy created just by getting started launched me into motion.  It seems the more I focus on the elements in my life that I am passionate about, the more those elements multiply.  And to tie it all together – a quote (by unknown) that a friend posted on Facebook today: “If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you will fall into someone else’s.  And guess what they have planned for you?  Not much.”

What’s in your life plan?  What are you waiting for?

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Thankful This Thursday: My Life

Posted on January 7, 2010. Filed under: Thankful This Thursday | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

Every day that passes, I become more grateful for the blessings in my life.  I haven’t always had such an appreciative spirit.  When I was a kid and into my early twenties, honestly, I think I was a bit of a brat.  And even once I had matured beyond that point, I still spent more time and energy wishing I had more than being grateful for what I had.  But over the past few years, I’ve learned to count my blessings.

What I didn’t expect, as I began to give thanks and praise, was that my blessings would multiply!  I have a very full life.  I am constantly trying to accomplish more than one person should in a given day/week/month/year.  And when I fall short, I know it’s because I have so many good things going on.

I have an awesome little kid, an amazing boyfriend, a family who I (usually) can’t get enough of and some really fantastic friendships.  I have a great job, beautiful home and food on the table.  I have hobbies and talents and passions.  I couldn’t possibly list all of the things that I’m grateful for — mostly because I’d accidentally leave things out.

So after closing on another holiday season and while opening a new year, I am feeling particularly grateful for my wonderful life.  I’ve therefore decided to share my appreciation on MLI in a weekly post called Thankful This Thursday.

This Thursday, I’m thankful for my life.  Next Thursday, I’ll be more specific.

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Women Who Do It All… Or Do They?

Posted on January 5, 2010. Filed under: Life Lessons | Tags: , , , , , , |

She is the the epitome of a successful woman.  She is a realistic life partner, a loving mom and a soaring business woman.  She is lover and companion to her husband; nurturer and provider to her children; leader and mentor to her staff.  Her background is expansive in all three areas.  Her life resume reads as follows:

  • Wife to one man.  Ex-wife to another.  Marriage counseling connoisseur.
  • Mother of two biological sons; one from first husband, one from current husband.  Step-mother to two step-children.
  • Professional, business owner, operating partner, lawyer, leader of companies, manager of staff, mentor to beginners.

And I haven’t even gotten into her other roles: daughter, sister, friend, writer, athlete, academic and more…

HOW ON EARTH DOES SHE DO IT!??

A very wise, extraordinary woman once told me that she declined a television interview on the topic of successful women who do it all. She didn’t want to mislead ambitious young women into thinking that they can do it all.  Her philosophy? A woman (such as her) has, essentially, three main roles: wife, mother, professional.  Because a woman must find balance in her life in order to succeed, she can only truly excel at two of her three main roles at one time.   There simply isn’t enough time, energy or enthusiasm to spread evenly across all three and pull them off with uber-success.

So what does this mean for married, working moms?  It means to cut yourself some slack. Be realistic in what you expect of yourself.  You don’t have to give up one of your roles, you just have to prioritize.

If you have babies at home and your income is crucial to family survival, you are likely going to be in a mother-professional phase of your life. I’m not suggesting you completely neglect him, so your husband will still be there when he becomes a front runner again.

If your family is at its peak bonding, development and activity era, you may be in a wife-mother phase. You still go to work and put in your best effort from 9-5, but you’re not climbing the ladder right now – and that’s okay.

If your children are self-sufficient teenagers and you get real personal satisfaction out of your work, you’ll find yourself in a wife-professional phase. Your children don’t really want you bothering them right now anyway!

A real power-house of a woman understands the need for balance.  If you try to do too much, you dissipate.   So figure out where your energy is best focused at this stage in your life, and give it your all!  You can shift your focus to the remaining areas when the time is right.  The result?  A well-rounded, focused woman with a fantastic career, a happy marriage and well-adjusted children.  They’ll think you’re doing it all, too!

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Bonus Blog Post – My 2010 Goals Have Been Set

Posted on January 3, 2010. Filed under: MLI Discussions | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

I’ve never posted twice in one day, but I figure a day spent on the sofa is better than any to try it out.  Really, I just want to prove that something productive came of my day – to myself more than anyone.  I’m leaving a few things from the actual list out on this post because, well, not everything is for the whole world to see!

And without further ado, my goals for 2010:

  • Write an action plan for each goal – Jan 15
  • Create some sort of schedule or weekly goal-planning method in order to fit in everything I want to do when I’m not at work (fun outings with Braden, quality time with Doug, play dates, time with friends and family, blogging, writing other stuff, reading, studying French, chores, errands, meal planning and preparation, exercise, etc.) – Jan 15
  • Update budget spreadsheet and USE IT – Jan 15
  • Volunteer at Feed My Starving Children – monthly
  • Train for Avon walk – ongoing until walk weekend
  • Raise $2000 for Avon walk – ongoing until walk weekend
  • Finish co-parenting plan – Feb 28
  • Get Braden in swimming lessons and t-ball (day camp, too?)
  • Clean out garage – March 15
  • Turn spare room closet into office area – March 31
  • Garage sale – April 30
  • Write Co-Parenting Plan Workbook – April 30
  • Finish decorating Braden’s room (pictures framed and hung, tracks assembled and mounted, shelf painted) – April 30
  • Write a “business plan” for my writing career (MLI, ezine, co-parenting, book about my dad, children’s books, eventual magazine, etc.) – April 30
  • Write first children’s book – April 30
  • Print and frame professional photos – June 30
  • Schedule an appointment with friends for Seanan photoshoot – June 30
  • Decorate Braden’s bathroom – July 15
  • Pay off cc debt – Dec 31

(I suppose the year is a little front-loaded.)

Fun stuff I’d like to do:

  • Go to U2 concert
  • Go on resort vacation w/ Doug and maybe friends (early xmas present to ourselves?) – fall

Here is the link to today’s earlier, related post, Today, I Am Struggling (MLI Discussion: Goal Setting and Time Management).

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Today, I Am Struggling (MLI Discussion: Goal-Setting and Time-Management)

Posted on January 3, 2010. Filed under: MLI Discussions | Tags: , , , , , , , |

Proof positive:  I typed in that title about an hour ago and I’m just now writing my first sentence.  I’m overwhelmed by the abundance of things I’d like to do today, this week, this month and this year.  It’s all swimming around in my head and completely paralyzing me from doing any of it.

While I haven’t made a “New Year’s Resolution” in about a decade, I have decided to set goals for myself in 2010. I have always set goals at work and have set more unmet weight-loss, diet and exercise goals than any person should in a lifetime.  Yet, I haven’t made it a regular practice to set well-defined personal goals.  I have so much going on in my life right now and so much that I want to accomplish, that not setting clearly defined goals with action plans would completely undermine any efforts I put forth.

So today, I woke up with an inner conflict:  Enjoy some quiet downtime on this cold winter day, or get some things done.  Awaiting my attention is a huge pile of clean clothes that needs to be folded, hung and put away; a sink full of dirty pots from the New Year’s Day shin-dig a chez moi; a stack of bills to pay; Christmas decorations to store away for the next eleven months; a Mama Mondays post on Community of Moms; and a Co-Parenting Plan that I need to prepare. Yet, still I sit here with my second cup of coffee and my laptop…

To justify my sofa sitting, I’ve decided to spend this day outlining my goals and action plans. (I’ll save the chores for late afternoon/early evening.  Y’know, after my nap.)  Here’s the problem: I don’t know where to start.  I don’t know what is realistic to expect from myself, as I have clearly been unable to “fit it all in” in the past.

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As I’m contemplating this, I get a phone call from my sister pointing out that if it weren’t for her efforts, I’d never see her (and Braden would never see his Auntie Nen-Nen).  I don’t drive to her house or do things she wants to do when she wants to do them.  We see each other because she makes a point to come over regularly.  She views this as selfishness; I view it as a matter of convenience.  Essentially, when I’m not visiting Doug in his town 2-3 weekends a month, I’m doing my thing — whatever it may be: taking care of Braden, writing, reading, cleaning, running errands, etc.  I simply don’t have the time to add in unplanned time away from home.  She argues that it is my job to make time.  I get her point; I just don’t know how to reconcile.

I went to her house two months ago.  I have plans to go again this week.  If she never came to me — Braden and I would have seen her twice in three months.  That’s not enough.  Even if she came only as often as I go to her, we’d have only seen her four times in three months.  Even that’s not enough.  I am aware that this has been an issue in our relationship since we moved out of our parents’ home, but I really don’t have any desire to drive to her place more often.  Can I justify this with “I am busy, and that is how I am?”  Or is it on me to make a bigger effort?  If I make a bigger effort, what else will suffer?  There is only one of me.

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Recognizing that I just went off on a tangent – I’ll get back to my originally intended post.

Time management has been one of my major personal and professional deficiencies. While I probably wouldn’t mention it during an interview, I share this openly with my superiors, peers and subordinates at work — and there is no need for me to share it with my personal contacts, as they are all well aware.  I share openly at work because I aim to improve in this area.  If it were a flaw I chose to accept, I’d probably try to hide it – but how am I going to learn and grow if I don’t put it out there?  By being open about it, I help others gauge what they’re dealing with, and I also invite advice, best practices, etc.

I’ve learned a lot in the past three years, as I’ve come to acknowledge this flaw and opened myself up to improvement.  Most of my growth has been in the professional arena.  I’m still trying to hone my time-management skills in my personal life.  And when I really think about it, I must conclude that my biggest barriers to efficiency are 1. the conflict of quiet downtime vs. productive time that I describe above and 2. analysis paralysis — I over think it and become overwhelmed, and therefore accomplish little to nothing.

Needless to say, my first goal that I’ll be outlining today is to improve my time-management skills as applied to my personal life.  I ought to go get on that…

Some questions for you:

What are your personal goals this day/week/month/year?

Do you have any personal time-management and/or goal-setting and action plan tips you can share?

How do you deal with the two barriers I mentioned above, when they threaten to impede on your productivity?

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