Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Can't Drop the Plates/Keep the Circus Going

Have you ever felt like you were in a circus and YOU were the one spinning the plates.  You know what I mean, that act where there are plates up on top of skinny poles and these plates are spinning and you have to keep them spinning.  Yeah, that's the circus act I mean.  

Well, some days that is exactly how I feel.  Like I have to keep my attention on so many different areas of political party life.  And that comes with the job of being a county political party chairman I guess.  OK so let me back up just a bit and clarify one thing, by job I mean volunteer position that I was elected to at our county convention.  I do not get paid, a common misconception.  

But yeah there are a lot of plates spinning in the air.  And there are different people helping out with different things, fundraising, GOTV (Get Out the Vote), voter registration, voter outreach, branding, events, volunteers, candidates, building and bills, precinct organization, polling and poll workers, etc the list goes on.   A lot is going on all at the same time, and most days I feel on top of things.  Not that everything I would like to get done is getting done, but I have my own system.  I know that I need to write everything down and set priorities and let go of the things I don't have time for.

But then there are days when I feel like those plates are wobbling some, OK maybe a lot.  You take your attention off one plate and it really starts to shake and almost fall, so you run over there and start it spinning again.  There are plates that I have to let fall, no matter how good the idea is, it just isn't going to happen this year.  And that's OK too.  

In a rural county, volunteers are limited, and we all work hard.  Another misconception is that there is this magical money and help flowing in from the state or national party.  

Yeah, NO!  In all the rural republican dominant counties I know, there is no help coming in from anywhere other than the Democrats within the county that want to see things change.   We want to see a brighter future for our families, we want everyone to rise together.  So we work, we donate, we hit the pavement, knock on doors, make phone calls, study the numbers, and do it all ourselves.  Volunteers every one of us.   

It is a lot of work and I would like to get into some of that work in other blog posts.  It isn't rocket science, there is no secret, just lots of hard work.  So even though I feel at times like I am dropping the plates, I know there are others feeling the same way.  I know there are Democrats right here in Burke County that will help me keep those plates spinning.  And we are in this together.  "Our best days still lie ahead."   And we are managing this circus, making progress.

Things that help me and might help you as well:

1.  Remember your mission statement

Always come back to that.  When things get busy, check to make sure the things you are doing are in support of your mission.  That is where it all starts and to which everything leads back.

2.  Make a list and set priorities.  

I keep many different lists.  I have a list of ideas, things I can look over if I need a fundraising idea or a different way to reach voters.   I have a list of ongoing projects I need to check in on from time to time.  And I know who is spearheading those projects and working on them.  I make out a to do list every week of the top three or four things I want to get done this week.  As well as a list of the top three or four things I don't want to do but NEED to get done this week.  I also keep a side list of things that I can drop if time or volunteers run short. With these lists I also.....

3.  Block off time each week to work on my lists. 

For me I am always working on things.  But I set aside Monday from 1-3 and Thursday from 10-2 when I will be in my office working on party stuff.  So people know they can catch me there if they have questions or ideas.  Like I said I work on things at home or I will go into the office for a few hours on other days.  But those two days I am always there.  

4. Keep a list of volunteers
This is critical.  Know your help and what they are willing to/able to help with.  I know who my volunteers are, what they have done in the past and what they will do now.  So if I need help with something I know who I can call on that might help.  I am also always working on that list to bring in more and more people.  This isn't something you can do alone.  You will need help. 

5.  Don't be hesitant asking for help or for donations.  

You aren't doing this for yourself, you aren't asking for money for a vacation.  You are asking people to work to help improve their community, you are just providing the opportunity and the training.  You are asking for money to work toward change.   So ask for what you want.  People might surprise you.

6.  Take a break.  

You need time to just let your brain rest.  A wise man once told me that this job will grow to consume the time available.  And it will.  There are an unlimited number of things you can do, if you want to put the time into it.  But always remember to have down time.  And that doesn't just include a family vacation.  It means time each week when you are NOT available.  As important as it is for people to know when you are in the office or available, it is just as important for them to know when you are not available.  Not answering your phone, not answering texts, not checking e mail.  That way they know if they text you at 10:00 at night, you will not see the text until the next morning.  People know that at 9:00 PM I am heading to bed.  If anyone texts or calls me after 9, I will not answer.  So have your down time.  

And reach out to other party chairs.  They can be so helpful, especially if they have been doing this for a few years.  Together we can do this!  We can keep this circus going!

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Routines and Ritual

I was just reading some of my older posts and one titled Letting Go (you can read it here), from 2018 really caught my thoughts this morning.   It is about letting go of friendships, but it is so appropriate for what is going on today with COVID-19, social separation, and closing of so many spaces.  I know it has been tough for a lot of people.  I have really enjoyed being home more, but still have been trying to navigate my way around the whole new schedule for my days.  This older post
talks about letting go and opening up for new opportunities and that is what it feels like I am doing. 

Maybe I did learn something. 

This past week, maybe week and a half, I have been adding in my morning routine.  I have had a written down morning routine for a few years.  Just reminders of what feels good in the morning and starts my day off right.  I write it down because it is too easy for me to focus on what "needs" to get done, and I forget about what starts my day off on a positive note.  I guess I had let those slip for the past few months.  Seems like more and more each day I was setting myself aside, and doing work that I felt needed to get done.  Completely forgetting the oxygen mask for myself. 

So I dug it back out (well, it is on my computer, so no real digging necessary) and made some adjustments and added it back into my journal, so I will see it every day and not put it aside.  It is so important that we take care of ourselves so we can help others and accomplish our goals.  Here are some of the things on my list:

  • Get dressed in my work out clothes first thing (No staying in PJs.  If I am dressed in workout clothes, I am more likely to work out).
  • Drink water, take vitamins and make a cup of tea.  (Staying hydrated throughout the day is easier if I start out by filling up in the morning)
  • Write in my journal
  • Read at least 20 minutes from whatever book I am reading in the moment
  • Do some sort of exercise for at least 15 min (bike, treadmill etc).  
  • Yoga
  • Meditate
  • Morning smoothie
I say 15 minutes, at least, of exercise, because in my mind I can find time for 15 min.  If I tell myself 30 minutes, for some reason, in my mind it sounds like a lot of time.  But I say 15 as a commitment to myself, and I get going.  I almost always do more than 15.  But getting started is half the battle for me.  So it works.  

Then I can start my day off right.  It only takes me a maximum of an hour to do my whole morning routine.  And if the weather is nice, I take my smoothie and my book and go outside, let the dogs play and sit in the morning sunshine for a bit.  Just makes ME feel good and taken care of.  

I forgot how important this morning routine was to my overall feeling of wellness.  Even though in the moment, when I first wake up, I would rather stay in my PJs.  I feel better in the long run, if I don't.  If I stay in PJs, I tend to put off exercise until I am feeling more awake.  When I put off exercise I am not likely to do it at all.  I just don't like exercising in the afternoon or evening.  Once I get my day going, I really don't like going back to take care of something I should have done in the morning.   Sort of the "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie" syndrome.  (If you haven't read that children's book you should).   

So adding that back into my morning has really helped me get myself back on track and find balance in my day.  Makes my days run smoothly for the most part.  If you don't have a morning routine already, you should try it.  Not for a day or a week, but give it a good try for a month.  Your routine might look totally different from mine, but really think about it.  Think about things that make you feel cared for, things that you know you need to do, but have been putting them off.  Start small.  Have a simple 20 minute morning routine.  You might find you like it

Other parts of my morning routine include chores that I do after I take care of myself:
  1. Getting the dishes done if there are dishes to do, and cleaning up my kitchen.
  2. Starting laundry
  3. Making my bed (I just love seeing my bed made when I go into my bedroom and climbing into a made bed at the end of the day)
These just help me keep my household in some sort of order.  Clean kitchen makes it easier and more desirable to get in there and cook. Things that set my household right and again make life easier for me in the long run.  Simple 15 minutes for these items, but makes a difference when I am getting dinner ready or want to bake during the day.  

Do you already have a morning routine?  Do you write it down or do you have it solid?  Give it a try and let me know.  

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Reclaiming My Time!

I recognize the severity of this pandemic.  I understand what is going on, and I worry daily.  My husband is in healthcare and he is working daily in his office.  They are taking more precautions now and he is ready to be pulled to the hospital if necessary.  But I worry.  He sees patients all day.  They have a protocol for a suspected COVID-19 case, but what about the ones you don't suspect.  I know, I know they are taking precautions, BUT....I still worry. 

Having said that, this time at home under the Governor's "stay at home" order has helped me reclaim that part of myself that was missing.  Those parts that I love.  I have journaled about this very subject often enough.  I want to do it all.  But what I couldn't capture on paper, and didn't know was missing until now was time.  When I was being extremely successful at time management and I was getting in all the things I love to do.  I was happy, very happy.  But I had forgotten how important it is to have the time to just be, to enjoy, to relax, to take things slow, to be in the moment, fully enjoying what I am doing.  How much I love having a cup of tea outside, feeling the warm sun on my face.  Or spend a couple of hours on the mower.  Just getting lost in that zen like hum, knowing I have no where to go.  I need days like that in my life. 

I have so enjoyed my early mornings on the computer, working on BCDP things, and blog and Kindred Vegans stuff.  I have loved being in my kitchen, planning and cooking and staying on track with my weight loss goals.  My afternoons filled with spring cleaning, talking with my boys, gardening, knitting and videoing, have been lovely.  Life feels easy and seems to flow. 

There is one piece that is missing, and that is exercise. I have been slacking.  I have walked the pasture....ONCE....I have done a couple of fitness blender videos (if you haven't checked out fitness blender on You Tube, you should).  I have done a couple of yoga videos.  But nothing consistent. Nothing sustaining, nothing motivating or strengthening.   I miss that.  And it seems like if I don't do it in the morning, I don't do it at all.  I mentioned before that I joined Beach Body On Demand, for the workout videos.  But it is the same as any other workout video.  If you don't turn it on and press play, nothing happens.  And I really feel like I can get the same workouts for anywhere.  Although I still have my membership until July, so I will try a few other videos.  But in all honesty, outside the 3 Week Yoga Retreat series, these have done nothing for me except give ma lower back issues.  I still miss Curves, and the 30 minute workout that really worked for me.  But I will find something. 

So that is how my social distancing is going.  I am reclaiming my time!

How about you?  Have you discovered something about yourself that was a surprise, something you were missing or are missing now?  Please let me know!

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Thinking of Mom

Today has been such an amazing day.  The sun is out the temps are warmer, the windows are open and things seem brighter.  With this Covid-19 coronovirus, things have felt very off.  Jackson is working as hard as ever.  Looking at what is to come and dealing with patients today.  I kiss him goodbye every morning and just remind him to be safe.  Like I have to remind him.  I have to laugh at that.  I guess it is the mom in me coming out.  "Be safe" is a way of saying "I love you".  My family is safe and here. 

I took the time today to turn off the TV and get outside, as well as do some baking inside.  I am writing this as my youngest's birthday cake is baking in the oven.  Tomorrow he turns 23, wow! how did that happen.  I have sheets hung out on the line, awesome that it is warm enough for that.  But it so reminds me of my mom.  Growing up we hung clothes out, except in the coldest of winter.  If it was hovering at freezing or above, our clothes went out on the line.  They always smell so fresh coming from outside, love that smell.   I miss my mom a lot, especially in times like this, when I wish I could talk to her just one more time and hear her say everything is going to be OK. 

Made some homemade granola this morning.  My family loves it homemade.  Do any of you make your own granola?  That is a simple thing, but so good to be able to control the ingredients and know exactly what is in it.  Had it for brunch today, granola, soy yogurt and banana.  Gotta have banana, my favorite fruit.  I know it isn't local but seriously, gotta have banana. 

Today also felt like a baking day.  Things have been so busy in my life the last few years that I have gotten away from baking bread and taking time to make everything from scratch.  But I love it, and being at home, I can get back to some of these things.  So even though we do have store bought "Dave's Killer Bread" I made my chickweed and onion bread.  Chickweed is everywhere so it is time to include it in my cooking.  Feeling so accomplished today. 

I am glad Jackson is home today.  Right where he needs to be.  All my worries seem petty in comparison to what is going on in the world.  But they are huge to me.  At times like this I am grateful we live on almost 12 acres.  I am grateful we live in a small community.  I am grateful I have amazing friends and family.  Even in times of crisis I love my life!

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

The Cut was Made

OK so I know you all were hanging on the edge of your seat waiting to know how my day went yesterday.  I did make a decision and there was a sacrifice.  I am glad to report it was not self-care that took the hit.  NOT THIS TIME!

I thought about it for a long time really.  I am not used to slashing things I think are important.  And I have a plan for that as well.  My first meeting yesterday was NOT something that required my attendance, I am merely an observer.  But the information I gain is important.   So I decided to cut that meeting out.  Just freeing up those two hours in my morning yesterday allowed me time to go to the gym (got in 30 minutes on the treadmill and also some of the weight machines, with a few minutes in the sauna to relax).   It also gave me time at headquarters to work on fundraising issues and events, also critical for what we do at the BCDP.  So it was the best decision.

Moving forward I am going to look for someone who is willing to fill in for me at these meetings, and take notes, when I can't be there.  It felt really good to put myself first and go to the gym.  I am meeting more and more Democrats just being at the gym.  Yes, I wear my BCDP T shirt when I go to the gym.  I like to ruffle those Republican feathers, group of older men that seem to gather at the gym in the morning, whenever I can.  So the Democrats there identify me and come up to chat.  That feels reassuring. 

That was a wonderful start to my day, and even though I have more on the to do list than I have time in which to do it, having that extra time made a difference in the outlook of my day.  We all need to remember to make ourselves a priority. 

On top of all that I had a few minutes in the middle of the day to spend with this old man:
HAHAHA You thought it would be a picture of Jackson right?

I had forgotten about an 8 PM conference call until after I blogged yesterday.  But really, that conference call is recorded, so I can catch any important information at any time.  I skipped it.  My 6:00 meeting was to get a new precinct up and organized.  One person showed up, yes one.  A little discouraging, but this one person is really interested.  He and I are going to work together in the next week or so and see what we can do, see if he knows other Democrats in his neighborhood, see if we can't make it work.  Precinct organization is a post for another day.  I don't think people realize how important it is to organize if you want to make a change.  OK I lost track.  So instead of my 8 PM conference call, I came home from my 6:00 meeting, made a wonderful veggie pizza and spent time with my hubby.  Didn't think I would forget about him did you!

I took on this position, with the Democratic Party, because I really believe in the Democratic Party Platform.  And I can't stand the way things are going right now, I don't like what I am seeing here in Burke County.  I want to try to move us forward, even just a little progress would be awesome.  But it does take work and I really enjoy the work I do. 

It is so important to be thoughtful in our day.  It is easy to just keep doing what I am used to doing.  To get caught up in the every day busy things, and forget about what makes me shine.  Why I take on projects in the first place.  Evaluate the day, week, month. Figure out alternatives if things are not how I want them to be.  Set priorities and remember that someone else's emergencies are not *my* emergencies.  It will all work out in the end. 

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Busy but Back

Gosh, life has been busy lately.  Many of you know about the new volunteer position to which I was elected and accepted.  I am the chair of the Burke County Democratic Party.  I have volunteered for many things over the years, organizing and leading in different ways.  I was hesitant about this position as I have never done anything quite like this before.  I preface this blog post with this tiny intro because it has a lot to do with ideas about which I am going to be blogging.

On my blog, as you know, I write about whatever is on my mind, maybe some would say I overshare.  But it helps to get it out of my head.

Someone wiser than I once told me that the job will expand to fill the time allowed.  And that is so true.  But every volunteer job with a higher purpose, does give one a sense of accomplishment, and that feeling of working for something greater.   Again, time consuming, thus the lack of blog posts the last couple of year.  But that changes now, as this blog in particular is a great outlet for me and I think I need that, especially now.

I also want to chronicle my issues around weight loss.  I have blogged about that many times.  But the intensity of this position has brought unexpected challenges with regard to weight loss.  Before I took this position, I had lost 60 pounds in the previous 3 years...yes 60.  It felt great.  I felt amazing, I was stronger than ever, working out every day, hiking on weekends.  And now it seems like my weekends are filled with meetings, or getting caught up on the "stuff" I used to do during the week, because my week was filled with meetings and an ever growing to do list.  And the weight loss has not only stalled, but I have gained back 30 of the pounds I lost.  I think some of that had to do with the closing of the gym, I attended, not long after I started this new position.

In the past three years I have not found that balance.  But I need to.  I need to carve out time during my week to get things done.  I need to make time on weekends to hike again.  I need to make sure I am going to the gym daily.  But how does one squeeze it all in.

Just as one example.  This morning I have a 10:00 meeting.  But before that I need to go to Staples and pick up a few things, then get back to the meeting.  I am not sure what time Staples opens but I am hoping it is 9:00 (fingers crossed).   This meeting usually wraps up around 12:00.  I have a 12:00 meeting so that works out perfect.  At the 12:00 there is a lot to accomplish so it will probably last until 2:00 (at least).  If I go to the gym before the 10:00 meeting that means I have to leave my house by 8:00.  To go to Staples, I have to go to the gym now (or really 10 minutes ago) It is now almost 7:00.  I was up at 6:00 and have spent some time catching up on e mails, and just trying to figure out how my day is going to go, and then started writing this. This is important to me, so I really want to make time for it.   But I still need to finish here (editing can wait), then get something for breakfast, shower, and get ready for the day.  I like to spend a few minutes journaling in the morning, and I need to do exercises for hip.  So I am not going to make it out of here by 8. 

Do I give up my time at the gym?  Or do I just not have any time for myself in the mornings before I go to the gym?  Do I try to get in some time on the treadmill here at home?  (that is a possibility). And what about lunch?   Part of my problem is not eating when I am out and about, then when I get home at 2-4 I am just so hungry I eat all the food.

I know many of you are saying to yourself "you have it easy, at least you are not working 8 hours a day".  And that is true.  I have done that before 8 or 12 hour days at work, come home exhausted.  I love my life now.  I just have to make it work for me.  Too many things I want to squeeze into a day and not enough time.   There are things I want to do for the County Democratic Party, that will go undone, because I don't have the time.  I have prioritized.  Curve balls keep slipping in there, just to keep me on my toes.

I know it will all work out in the end.  It always does.  I keep plugging away, doing what I can, trying to figure it out.  I am not a writer, but this helps.  And I hope as I try to figure things out, maybe someone out there will see something they can relate to, and will just know you are not alone.  We are all in this together.   And you can see now, in what direction my future posts will probably take me.  Although, no promises here.  But I hope you stick around while I try to figure things out and get it all done!

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Election Day

So it is election day.  I am sitting here at the Burke County Democratic Party headquarters building, answering phone calls, talking to voters on their way to vote.  It is a gray day, drizzling a little, overcast.  Cars are whizzing by, faster than they should be here on Sterling Street.  I am wondering if these people are even thinking about voting today, did they vote early, will they make time in their busy day to voice their opinion at the ballot box this year.

This has been an amazing year, I have learned so much from all the wonderful, wise Democrats here in Burke County.  Met wonderful people who work hard for change, every day.

I know these are rambling thoughts, but I wanted to get them down while I had a minute before the next person walks through that door with questions about the amendments or who is running for which race.  I wanted to just reflect, as I do yearly on this occasion. 

I voted early.  I voted on the first day of early voting.  We voted as a family this year.  Which is unusual, my boys and I are early voters, we want to vote as soon as we can.  My husband is usually a last minute voter, he likes to stand in line, in the evening, on election day.  So it was nice to have Jackson join us this year and vote early. I love voting, it is such a personal experience for me.  I always take a few seconds while I am standing there at my voting station, every year, to reflect on all the women, on whose shoulders I stand, that have sacrificed that I might have this right.  I do get teary, and I know people are probably wondering what in the heck I am doing, but I just need to take that moment and honor the choices I am making. 

I hope every day, that in my own small way I am adding to that chain of strength.  I hope I am making life better for my own children and working toward a better future for Burke County. 

So now, several people have come and gone with their questions, and I must get back to the job at hand.  I hope you all take just a minute while you are voting, to reflect on the people that have brought you thus far.  I hope you take seriously the choices you are making at the ballot box, and truly believe you are making the best choices for your family, and for the future of your community.  Voting is more than partisan politics.  It is a responsibility that more people need to take seriously.  We can all move forward together if we are all part of the process.  Make your choices wisely, and thoughtfully, because we all live with the consequences.