Sunday, July 30, 2017

The Key To Happiness Is Time

Today was a  typical Sunday - my normal one day off per week. Me and the kids did the usual grocery shopping, house cleaning, back to school shopping, yard work, laundry and meal prep that normally happens on our "day of rest".

Just as I was about to start dinner, the one night per week I try to make a sit-down healthy family meal, I stepped outside first to find kid 5 teaching his puppy to jump through a hoop. I've been telling him for awhile now that I really think this dog could learn some neat tricks.

She's a rescue pup, so we aren't totally sure of her lineage, but based on the way she can jump we are thinking she definitely has some Jack Russell Terrier in her.

Well, after just a quick minute, he had that dog jumping through the hoop almost a foot off the ground!

I bet we stayed outside almost an hour just playing with the dog and taking video of her jumping.

Eventually we remembered we were hungry and I came inside to make dinner.

After dinner I stepped out back to talk to Kid 3 about coordinating all our schedules for the week. Each of the kids drifted out to follow me and we all sat outside for over an hour as the sun went down.

Not only was it the first Memphis night that wasn't sweltering hot, it's also the last weekend we have before school starts back again.

We all just felt laid back, relaxed and unhurried. Of course, though, being siblings it can never stay totally relaxed. Kids 4 & 5 challenged each other to a race, then a rematch, Kid 6 got a little loud trying to make everyone laugh and the dog was running around like crazy in the middle of it all.

It was fabulous.

I realized the key to everything tonight was time. I took the time to enjoy being outside, the time to just be with the kids without having a schedule or accomplishing a to-do list. I had the time available where I wasn't working, wasn't worried about getting back to work and wasn't worried about how to make more money  -- I just simply took the time to enjoy life for a bit.

I'm normally so busy trying to earn enough money just to get by that I don't feel like I have time to take time off.

I've always heard that money can't buy happiness. My response has always been I am willing to try! But tonight I realized that if money could just buy me more off time, more down time, I could be happy.

Money would relieve so much of my stress. Allowing me to enjoy the time I do have.

I realize that sounds like a greedy statement. But the reality is I am raising 6 kids on a single mom budget. I'm one of those Americans who has way too much credit debt, not from family vacations or shopping sprees, but from buying gas and groceries and kids sneakers. Not to mention school fees, car insurance and everything else that comes along with raising a family. Those expenses that you can't just cut back on.

Financial stress affects every part of my life. It even seeps into the fun times by making me think I shouldn't be just sitting here doing nothing, even if it is enjoying time with my family.

Down time is time that could be working. A nice meal is nothing more than another charge to my account. I keep a running total in my head of expenses during trips away for graduations or dance competitions. Believe me, adding up costs really takes the fun out of fun times.

But somehow tonight I forgot all that for a little bit.

I just enjoyed my time with my family and remembered that is why I work the way I do.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

When Multitasking Doesn't Work

As a freelance writer, I have to fit in my writing any time and any where I can. Late at night is the most common writing time. With a close second being while my girls are dancing.

Most of the time that works out pretty well.

Except for when it doesn't.

I am currently sitting in the back of a conference room as about 75 teenagers participate in a tap dance workshop with some well-known tap teacher I've never heard of but the girls were quite excited about. I am currently supposed to be working on current science-backed research to promote yoga as an optimal alternative health practice for low back pain.

Yeah, this isn't working too well.

The music is loud

The tap is loud.

The girls are thirsty.

And hungry.

And tired.

This is day five of their National Dance Competition and these girls are wore out. These workshops are supposed to be their reward for a week of intense dance competition. Except my girls, and our dance school, have done so well we have been invited back to dance again tomorrow in the big showcase where all the first place winners compete against each other.

It's actually quite an honor for our little dance school.

But, we are tired.

Ironically, I volunteered for parent duty for this, as well as the next two workshops spanning over six hours. My theory was I would look like the good mom volunteering to sit with the girls for six straight hours of booming music while at the same time have six hours to do nothing but write.

I am reading current scientific research, but in my head I hear step ball change, step ball change,  shuffle shuffle out. Good now do it faster!

And of course when I hear, now put it together go!, I have to look up and watch as they dance to the choreography they just learned a minute ago.

I'm not sure how much scientific writing I'll get accomplished today. I may need to let the girls know I'll be just outside under a shady tree somewhere if they need me.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Rule #1 Of Writing

July 5 Question: What is one valuable lesson you've learned since you started writing?

The writing doesn't actually happen unless you sit down and write.

Just sit your ass down in the chair, the bed, a comfy couch - it doesn't even matter where. You just have to sit down and starting putting words to paper / blank screen.

You can think about writing. You can plan to write. You can make time to write.

But you have to actually do the writing.

I spend A LOT of time thinking about writing. I normally have posts written in my head while exercising, driving or even mowing the grass.

Yet lately I haven't taken the next step to actually write them down.

In fact, I've done more writing about not writing these past few months than I've actually done any real writing.

A few years ago I wrote an Elephant Journal post titled Being A Writer Is Easy. Re-reading it has inspired me to once again be a more disciplined writer.

This post is a part of the Insecure Writer's Support Group, a monthly meeting of writers who over think, under write and just want people to like them.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

YouTube Tutorials are #FakeDIYNews

My kitchen counters look terrible.

Really, they're bad.  The original counters were installed in 1994 the year the house was built. A couple years ago I decided to believe a Pinterest lie and I painted my counter tops as a cheaper alternative to replacing them.

There actually is no alternative possibility of replacing them. It's just way too out of my nonexistent budget.

I really liked the way the counters looked painted and I was so proud of myself!

For about a week.
Peeling paint over old counter tops

And then the places on the counter tops that got the most use started peeling and flaking. And it got
worse as time went on. And then more worse.

I am honestly embarrassed by the looks of my kitchen counters.

A realtor friend told me about the new trend of self adhesive granite film. It's like old fashioned shelf paper, but more durable and for the counter tops.

At just $10 per roll I figured if it didn't work I wasn't out anything major.

But, of course, I did my due diligence first.

I read the product reviews, watched a couple YouTube tutorials, and followed the pre-cleaning instructions.

And then I opened the first roll. Here is what I learned:

  • A 17.71" x 78" roll is not as much as you think it is and does not cover as large an area as you think it will.
  • Using a DVD case to push out any air bubbles (as recommended by the YouTube tutorials) actually makes small scratches in the brand new granite-looking paper.
  • Which leads me to believe it is, in fact, not more durable than shelf paper.
  • I am unable to cut in a straight line.
  • Air bubbles are not easy to see when looking down, but are really visible when looking from the side. 
  • I think the YouTube lady lied about how easy this would be.

After all that, I'm undecided whether I like the new look or not. Obviously it's better than the old wore out look.  And I will probably like it more once it is complete.

I ran out of paper so there are some patches not covered. I'm going to wait a couple weeks though before buying more just to see how durable it is.

What happens after it gets wet? After someone puts a hot pot on it? Or doesn't use a cutting board? How well is the self adhesive stick? Will the edges start to peel up?

If any of the above isn't good, I'm not sure what to try next.

I think it looks good. I'm a little concerned about the corners
peeling up though.

I'm going to leave it looking messed up for a
couple weeks to see how durable it is before
I finish the project.