Monday, April 25, 2011

Soul-Searching PLAYshop

Where is my purse? Where are my keys? Where is that water bottle I just had in my hand?

We have to search for what is urgent.
If we can’t find our keys, we can’t go to work; so we search.

We even search when we don’t really know we are doing it.

We listen to a report on the news about an issue.

We search our hearts and our minds instinctively to decide how we feel about that.

At Playshop session three, we searched.

We searched for ways that we could connect with our Spirits. We searched inside to begin to find out what we believe about spiritual things. It may not seem like an urgent thing. You can go about your day with out doing it. But whether we realize it or not, we are instinctively searching our souls throughout the day. Those decisions we make about the issues are tied to what we believe about God. The messages we are telling ourselves about ourselves are tied to what we believe about who we are created to be. Soul searching is urgent.

Those of us who have begun the search can promise you that.

And speaking of promises, you may just remember some that you have forgotten, and you may just be surprised to see how some of the promises of your heart are beginning to come true as you live in the truth you come to know in the Spirit.

We also painted.

We stopped our minds from racing with thoughts of our to-do lists even if only for a minute or two. We learned from each other. We left with new tools to use so that we can begin to listen to something other than the surface static that tends to fill our minds.

We had fun.

Who says searching has to be boring?

Remember going to slumber parties and having scavenger hunts. Playshop session three is like that. It’s like a slumber party for a few hours where you go on a scavenger hunt to find items that are inside you. Everybody wins, and everyone ends up with a prize.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Manic Monday: the mom list

Is your brain as full as mine? I know it is.

We wake up with that list already running ahead of us. We have insane ideas of how much a human can actually accomplish in a day. We have the things to do and the things we thought we were going to do, but they rarely factor in time and energy for realizing our car is out of gas, or someone suddenly needs to be dropped off on the other side of town, or we are out of an essential ingredient for dinner.

So, while I am navigating my days and the many many unplanned needs that come up throughout a day, I am wondering if you can imagine what my brain does with the small bits of information that come out of my little people's mouths all day every day?


Mom, I need index cards for Thursday.

Mom, pizza day is Tuesday, I need money.

Mom, I don't have any socks that fit me.

Mom, you promised Michaela would get to sleep over this year and the year is almost over!

Mom, when are you going to pay me for that job I did last week (or last month or last year)?

I really care about my kids. I also know that these little things are really important. So I listen and I nod my head and I say to them, "Okay. I'll get to that." But the problem is that there is NO ROOM left in my brain to actually retain that information. I promise, it is not for a lack of caring, it is for a lack of brain space.

Thankfully, my refrigerator has some space on it. A few months ago, we created the mom list. At the top it says,


Then, the kids (who have all sorts of extra brain room) are responsible for writing these things down on that list.

My job is to check in with that list every week and get those things accomplished. I can't tell you how helpful this is.

1. My kids don't have to repeat the request (again and again and again) in hopes that it finally makes it to my memory.

2. Getting these things done is really not that hard, and usually it is only one or two errands that otherwise would have been several trips if I took requests one at a time.

3. It makes my kids responsible for what they can manage (they have to get it to the list).

4. It makes me do a little check in every week with what they are needing. Sometimes those needs are physical, but sometimes those needs reflect something else. Like asking for a date with me or with their dad.

You might be wondering, but what about those things that don't come up until the night before? These are some things I ask myself:

~Is it a reasonable request and something I can run to the store or borrow from a neighbor RIGHT NOW?

~Is this REALLY going to be the worst thing in the world for my child to not have index cards or buy something at the bake sale tomorrow?

~Is my child at an age where it is time to begin learning the simple lesson of, "If I forget something, Mom will not always be able to magically make it all happen."

Eating a bologna sandwich rolled up on a hot dog bun while everyone else is eating pizza will not shatter my child's self-esteem. And it won't shatter your child's either. We all have limitations of time, money and energy. Being a mom is not about making your child's life easy, but about helping your child learn the skills for managing life when everything doesn't go as planned.

When my kids are throwing these requests out to me while I am on the phone or navigating directions while driving, it is easy to miss what they are really trying to communicate. There is a new security now offered to my kids. Now they know that even though I can't get to it right this second, I will get to it eventually, or maybe they will find another solution in the meantime.

It is a good lesson for them and for me.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Manic Money: my secret relationship

I'm a user.

I run through my days, my errands, my meals and swipe my card at every stop. "Would you like your receipt?" the clerk or machine always asks.

"No," I say
and sometimes I admit to them my reason why,
"Because if I don't keep the receipt it doesn't seem like I've really spent the money."

While we have an idea of a budget and we have most of our bills set up on auto pay from our account, for the most part, I have chosen to remain in denial about money.

I use it of course. I spend it on all the things I need and want. All the things that must be purchased to run this home, this family, this life.

"Denial is a defense mechanism postulated by Sigmund Freud, in which a person is faced with a fact that is too uncomfortable to accept and rejects it instead, insisting that it is not true despite what may be overwhelming evidence" (from Wikipedia).

My first step in getting honest about my relationship with money has been a simple one. I now ask for a receipt for everything I purchase. I not only look at the total but I allow it to find access to my brain. That's it. Nothing major. Just a nod of acknowledgement at this resource I depend on all of the time.

Today, I went through all of my receipts. Not for the purpose of balancing my checking account (I am not THAT serious yet!), but for getting a visual picture of not only how I spend my money, but how I spend my time and my energy.

Just a few of the uncomfortable facts that have kept me in denial about money:

1. Money is a limited commodity and sometimes there may not even be enough for my needs, much less my wants.

2. Meeting someones expectation especially when it comes to birthdays and holidays is often more important to me than paying that overdue medical bill.

3. My anxiety over not having enough space, time, understanding or MONEY finds a little relief in purchasing something that symbolizes comfort to me.

This secret relationship is a deep and complicated one.

How can I hate money and love what it gives me?

How can money be important to me and at the same time not be controlled by it?

How can I be a responsible "user" and not be stressed out all of the time about where it is going and that there never seems to be enough?

There are more questions that answers so far. But I am hoping that if I start respecting money, it might show me some respect right back (by not flying out of my bank account).

Monday, April 4, 2011

Manic Monday: grocery shopping

One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating.
~Luciano Pavarotti and William Wright, Pavarotti, My Own Story

I wish I felt a little more like Pavarotti when it came to food. I wonder if he made the meal plans, did the grocery shopping, carried the food into the house, put all the groceries away. Then cooked, served and cleaned up all of these meals he enjoyed so much.

Of course, I LOVE eating. If it is really good food. But I don't often make really good food. So mostly when I do love eating it is because I was eating out. somewhere. else.

When a week gets started before I have made it to the grocery store, our family ends up eating out meal after meal after meal. Which means we all enjoy the food, but our bank account does NOT.
Wow, it adds up fast!

So, today's Manic Monday Mission was to plan some delicious and healthy meals, buy the groceries and actually cook the food that I buy. It sounds simple enough, doesn't it? So, why is it so hard? Because meals get lost or preempted by everything else on my to-do. And it is a big thing to get lost, because everyone (including myself) is always hungry.

I have a few sources that help me:

Harris Teeter Express Lane
Do you know about drive-thru grocery shopping? If you hate grocery shopping (like me) or you just don't have the time to go to the store (or you would rather spend the time you do have horse-back riding, reading, or napping), you can place your orders online and pick them up for a $5 fee. This service has CHANGED my life. Go buy it. Go try it. Do it. Now.

Cook Your Meals the Lazy Way
I found this cook book in a clearance bin for $3.97 several years ago and it still remains one of my favorite recipe books. In fact, tonight I made the Cauliflower Curry (with chicken instead of pork) and it was yum. There are so many recipes I go back to in the book. They are always simple, tasty and the writers are quite funny.

Quick Pork Curry with Cauliflower

2 medium onions
3 T. oil
4-6 cloves garlic (pressed)
1lb. pork cubes
1/4 c. curry paste
1 head cauliflower
3 c. water
1 beef stock cube
2T. tomato paste

1. chop the onion
2. heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat. add onions and garlic. cook until brown.
3. add pork and brown, stir in curry paste.
4. break the cauliflower directly into the pot. add water, stock cube and tomato paste. raise the heat and bring to boil.
5. cover loosely, lower heat and cook for 20 minutes. serve with white rice.

Some other fun food books that I found at the library this week:

1. Relax, It's Only Dinner
by Cheryl Merser
She wrote this for people just like me, who get a little freaked out at cooking dinner every night and crazy freaked out at having company for dinner. Ms. Merser is also very funny and cares only about making good food without much of a fuss. I got some really great ideas from this clever book.

2. the art of eating in: how I learned to stop spending and love the store
by Cathy Erway
This is a story of a woman who lived in New York and stopped eating out and began cooking food for herself and her friends for every meal (something unheard of in NY where there are some apartments that don't even have kitchens). Although she includes some recipes, the most enjoyable part of the book for me was hearing how differently she had to think, plan and socialize in order to eat in.

So, for this week, all is good in our refrigerator and pantry. It really is one of the nicest things in life when there is food in the house and dinner on the stove. Even if I am the one who gets it there.