Time Management

February 7, 2018

I am sitting in one my new favorite writing spots. I am near the window, my back to the rest of the room. I put on my headphones and tune out the work everyone else is doing around me. Snow is falling again today, a new norm. It is an Ohio winter, after all.  I look at the window across the rooftop. It looks into the gym where people are getting in their morning workouts and I dread the upcoming treadmill workout the snow has forced me to meet my four runs a week goal that I have proudly kept up for over a year (back patted). I am ready for the sidewalks to come out from hiding under their shelter of snow, salt and ice. I really miss the outdoor air and the feeling of actually running somewhere, rather in place, but the treadmill is a necessary part of keeping up my running habit. (and I am lucky enough to have regular company) I am at the age where I am starting to realize how much comfort I can find in steady habit. That’s how my sneakers get miles and my journal pages get filled. Here I am, every week, in the same spot by the window trying to get into as good of a writing habit as my running habit.

This should come as no shock – I have terrible time management skills. I blame it on my bad depth perception and apply it to poor planning. Or maybe it is lack of focus. I have spent the better part of my life feeling like there was something wrong with my nocturnal ways and my constant tardiness. But seriously, how do you manage something that seemingly slips away like literal sand through an hourglass. As I write this, one of my six alarms is reminding me that I will be, once again, pulled away from focusing on my time to get one of my children moving. I even got up early today, but there are still not enough hours in my day. Even if I did have a few extra minutes, they aren’t always spent doing activities of substance (thanks Facebook). Today won’t be the right day to focus on writing, I can already tell. Just like every other chore, I let it hang over my head on an endless to do list. Maybe my behavior is self-sabotaging, a mask for the fear of what “judgy” strangers may think of my exposed words. I am not even sure being organized would fix this problem. Another time management issue I face is figuring out how to schedule around my anxiety. Sometimes it is a daily cycle, sometimes a monthly cycle, and most times something that I am mostly afraid the world thinks I am making up. I want to work on this career, but I am also good at talking myself into thinking I am not any good. I want to make a phone call (networking, I think they call it) but I can’t get myself to hit send. I am not ready to leave my comfort zone. Not today.

Lately, I have buried my time into being a really good stay-at-home mom. The needs are basic, not complicated. Food, bathroom, entertainment, sleep. There is no question, or ambiguity of whether or not I am doing what they want; they let me know if not. I like to stay inside with them. In an outside world that can be filled with double meaning and passive aggressive statements that I will most likely over analyze.

Time leads way to habits. I promise myself. I am cutting time out, like paper snowflakes, beautiful and decorative, but filled with holes. In those holes, light begins to shine through and moments freeze. That’s what I’m good at: freezing moments. But adulthood calls for habits, organization and time management. Nothing functions just when “I feel like doing it”. I have read the books; I have tried the tactics and eventually let myself down. At home, I can catch a sense of accomplishment. The kitchen gets cleaned, the laundry gets folded and put away, the clutter is reduced and in those moments I start to make the strongest connection between physical and mental clutter. Then life will start to pound down on me. Appointments get made, kids schedules bulk up, work schedules, holidays, anything that is outside of the norm. As a mom, I love those days. I crave something different; a break from routine, a reason to put on jeans. As a writer, I struggle to keep my voice during times that fall out of the ordinary.

I look at time management as an essential part of adulthood. A bullet point on a resume, a subheading of so many self-help books, and the one thing I can’t quite get a grasp on. I started this year with a simple goal: to be a better version of myself. It is not a resolution, rather an evolution. Once again, my voice appears to be changing and shifting and I struggle to keep up with it. My priorities and interests are morphing into something different, something cleaner and more inviting as the home I am working extra hard to maintain. The only thing I can do is find time, and space within my busy mom bubble to keep up with the individual person I want to become: the inner adult I try to grow up to be.


Clearing mental and physical clutter



Blank Audience

March 17, 2017

My journal is open in my knit blanket covered lap. It is just another evening, all the things that may make this a Monday, but who knows anymore. My body is resting from the increasing time I spend behind the bar, pouring drinks, talking, running – fast on my feet and quick with my hands. With my pen, I am suddenly there. I look around the room, waiting for someone to eyeball summon me. This girl is telling a story. I don’t care to hear it, but I listen anyway like it is my job – to just listen. Other stories are swirling around like a mirage of conversation and small talk. Is it office politics or a Tinder date? It all meshes together after they drink enough whiskey, or after I do. Tomorrow is for shopping at Ikea but tonight is for eating pizza. A woman tells me to which I can only reply with unquestioning laughter. Two grad students chatter away about going to Iceland over spring break -because that is the new “it” destination. They clink their copper mule mugs together, to Iceland, to their youth. I pause to turn the page and I am back in my living room. I realize I am writing the same word, first in perfect cursive then in really neat print, audience. I am telling the story now and I am suddenly very aware of my audience.

Continue reading Blank Audience


December 31, 2016

I am running around the house trying to prepare for another holiday gathering. Presents need to be wrapped bought, and my house is in its normal state of cluttered chaos. Why do they need to dump the toy bins to play with one little thing? Cece has attached herself to my leg and Jackson weaseled a bike in from outside and was running over my foot, again. The girls were just waking up and their faces were glued to some device. I was letting Josh sleep in since he was fresh off two double shifts. I stood there, looking down at my ratty sweat pants tucked into my slipper boots and stopped in the now familiar command: breathe

“Hell of a winter we are having, eh?” An imagined passerby calls out to me smiling at the two toddlers playing around in the back yard. I tell myself they are some how missing the piles of dog poop were buried under the snow then thawed back out. Another thing on my to do list. I sigh as I am oddly reminded of the three-inch layer of dust on my windowsill. Jackson and Cece are battling each other with sticks as the dog darts out of the way. They are probably too young to be playing with those sticks. Oh wait, I stopped giving a shit what people thought especially in the judgment free zone that is my back yard. The trees are shaking in the loneliness that comes about when all your leaves have fallen. The breeze causes a ripple shiver in my shoulder. My watch dings. Breathe. I inhale, my gaze softening on the babies giggling around the yard. I exhale these insignificant moments of my day that I
will most likely forget tomorrow. I just breathe.

Continue reading Breathe

The Nineties Paged

September 7, 2015

Liv: Mom- look! Its fruit loops. We have to have those!
Me: Why. Fruit loops are annoying. They always dry to the side of the bowl and are impossible to wash
Liv: because Shaq is on the box
Me: really? Shaq. Do you even know who that is?
Liv: no. But he looks cool.
Me: I will buy you these. But I am also making you watch Kazaam when we get home.
Lately it seems like things that were left in another time have suddenly made reappearance. I am talking about the nineties. The decade that I went from a shy awkward forth grader to a ready-to-take on-the-world (or at least Y2K) college student. Every generation has that decade, the one where everything changed. For me that is the nineties. Suddenly, I can relate to how my parents felt when I started wearing bell-bottoms and tie-dyes. I am pretty sure adulthood begins the moment you sympathize with your parents, so I guess I am finally growing up. Childhood: we have officially come to the end of the road. (And I can’t let go. Its unnatural, you belong to me and I belong to you….) If having a thirteen year old daughter is one constant reminder of what it was like to be thirteen then having these trinkets of my formative years around is meant to take me back to those years so I can relate to what she is going through
I should have started off by saying that I am obsessed with these little nineties novelties that keep trickling back into my world. A quick peek on the Urban Outfitters web page is a flash back to the issues of “Seventeen” I had taped all over my walls. Plaid, chunky heels, high wasted light jeans, Keds, Birkenstocks, Doc Martins, mauve, baby doll dresses, Nirvana Ts – it is a 90s bubble bursting all around and somehow they fit perfectly into mom life. What is the best kind of purse for wearing a baby? A backpack purse of course; coupled with a hip belt. (What the kids are calling a fanny pack these days) And the jeans. Call them what you want, slim high wasted, high rise skinnies, extra high rise; they are fucking mom jeans. Delivered straight to us from the cast of 90210 and I need to figure out how to wear them to cover my stay-puffed post baby mom bod. I love heels. Some days more than my kids. Heels are sexy and make me feel amazing and skinny. But they dont always fit into hard core momming. So I got the anti-heel, the thing deflates any shoe boner; a pair of Birkenstocks. Don’t get me wrong, they are like walking in heaven but they are rather clunky. Luckily they are  festival sheik for the summer so watch out Coachella..here come the Taylors.  Grunge may be the best friend of mom bod. Overalls- perfect for hiding that extra layer of fat that forms around the belly. Plaid shirts- loose and no clingy. Bonus: wrap them around the waist to cover muffin top. Head to toe black: could there be a more slimming color? (Insert chandler Bing voice).
Me: is that kid wearing a Nirvana shirt?
Layla: yeah. Lots of kids have that shirt
Me: do you even know who Nirvana is?
Layla: (snickers) one of the teachers asked a kid that. He bet that kid couldn’t name five Nirvana songs.
I look at my kids and their smartphones and their insta-duck faces and wonder how our lives would be if we had all this futuristic technology. Don’t get me wrong, I had the ultimate of 1996 technology..the pager. It was the original text message machine. How else can you send your friends a message to call you back..911 911; or just send the word “boobs” all in numbers 80085. Nothing says serious relationship like 143 (I love you) or tells all your friends you are ready to “relax” – 420. For $5 a month, I looked just like a doctor or a drug dealer. Not to mention I did my part in keeping the payphone industry going as long as I could. Looking back, it is probably best I didn’t own a smart phone in high school. (insert selfie of me drinking a Jack Daniel’s cooler, sporting the bleach blonde  Rachel and a belly shirt and extra wide JNCO cords flashing an extra white girl “West Side” sign)

Does anyone else feel nostalgic for the CD? And not the actual medium itself. All of mine skipped ; probably because I had the portable CD hookup in my car so every time I hit a bump it would advance to the next song or create an instant remix. But I used to actually listen to my CDs. From beginning to end. Now I buy single songs here and there or listen to some mix that was created especially for me because I like some other song. I have “Dark Side of the Moon” on my phone. If I listen to the album it will shuffle by default. Has anyone else ever listened to “Dark Side of the Moon” on shuffle? It’s just not the same. And what about “Jagged Little Pill”? Can you even find the hidden track by downloading the album, or is the only way to find that little secret gem to wait twelve minutes after the CD is over? I rediscovered the beauty of listening to whole albums the way I used to when I would buy a brand new CD.  I guess I am even in a hurry to get through my music so much that I don’t hear everything and am really missing out. If the CD is a metaphor for my modern life, then I need to slow down and experience a whole album the way the artist intended. No shuffle, no single download.

Layla: I love these jeans. Look at this fun new print
Me: That is called stone wash.
Layla: really?
Me: yes, that’s the kind of jeans we wore when I  was a kid.
Layla: oh wow. Lemme guess, you are going to tell me how you feel old? 

Just Like Riding a Bike

August 13, 2012


We compare many things to riding a bike. Getting up in the morning for school, working out for the first time in a while, even sex. It is both cliché and whimsical. Who doesn’t have fond child hood memories of that first grasp of independence? Riding a bike is one of the few things where there is instant gratification. You spin the pedals faster, faster..climbing a bit, a burst of energy raises you out of the seat. Thighs start to burn as you push your legs to spin even faster. Then you hit the top. There it that last turn, that second you know that it is time to stop pedaling, it is time to coast. For a brief second you free fall…you taste the wind (and try not to taste bugs), everything lets go, all the intensity from the climb, the struggle to turn the pedals and gain ground. That is the point of the climb, to reach that free feeling. It is an instant reward to the effort. If only everything worked like that. An intense five minutes of work out resulted in the immediate loss of a pound, every hour your boss would hand over a paycheck, every time you yelled at the kids they look at you and say “thanks for that valuable lesson. If it weren’t’ for you, I would grow up to be a giant ass hole.”

Unfortunately, life doesn’t work like that. Lately, I have been making the comparison that so many things are like riding a bike. Moving has stripped me of what is normal. My old every day is gone. I don’t wake up staring at the same ceiling, I don’t step into the same shower and I don’t look out of my window and see the same neighbors. It is different now…I have a different life. My kids no longer have that same expectation of what a new school year will bring. We are still the same people, just living in a new world. There is regular contact with the old world…we have glimpses of their lives and how they are different with out us. We have new every day interactions with people we only used to see on occasion. Things are not the same. Learning to live life in this new scope of every day is like riding a bike. Slowly, I am adapting to the new everyday. My car points to the same direction of what I can now call home. I sit on my couch and feel its comfort as it used to exist in my old life and followed me to this new one. There is some excitement about getting on the bike again. The beginning was a struggle. My mind was struggling to turn around the everyday like my legs would struggle to push the pedals on a climb. My hands were clenching onto every obstacle, like that would be thing that causes me to tumble off the bike and land on the side of the road. After a while, my climb became less steep. A new reality became my normal and I began to accept the way things are going to be. I stopped comparing what my life was to what it is now and started to be thankful that I have then and now. (insert Spaceballs quote here…). I am learning to enjoy the wind blowing in my hair as I breathe in the rewards of hard work. If I want an instant reward, I just think about riding a bike. There is a struggle to get up the hill, then a feeling of peace as I coast down the hill. It doesn’t have to be a big hill to enjoy the coast, but it does require a bit of work.

One part of creating my new life, I have made an effort to take more bike rides. It has become our family bonding time. We ride to the library or the park or to get ice cream. Some days we just take a ride into the woods and enjoy the warm summer air. This summer became defined as a series of bike rides. We pedaled along brick roads, and sidewalks and dirt paths. We pedaled for the wind at our feet and the comfort of knowing the four of us were equally trying to create a new reality.

Now that we are settled in a house, my schedule is becoming more normal. I had a lot of my stuff scattered around at least three locations. I had to adapt my style a bit to reflect my new life. My job is a slight notch less formal than my last one. (The sort of slight not noticeable to the average eye…). I had to get into a new rhythm of make up and accessories that reflect my new reality. And to prove I am ready to take on anything new that comes my way, I even bought a romper. Once I got by the constant need to adjust it and answered the question “how much do I plan on going to the bathroom while wearing this…?”, I found it to be a little whimsical…just like riding a bike.




Romper: Forever 21
Sandals: Teva