Saturday, September 30, 2017

Organizing MY Week

I have had several people ask me how I stay organized. So I thought I would share my planning tools, since I was up so early this Saturday morning and had some time.  For my calendar I use a google calendar, for my laptop and my phone.  In our family we all share our calendars so we all know where each other is, what times things are scheduled for, when appointments are and all of that.  The google calendar, for me, is just for appointments or meetings, anything that has a specific time and day.  I do include my exercise on my calendar, because it is a commitment I made to myself to get it done, so I do schedule it into my day, not negotiable. 

But for planning out my days so that I can see where I need to be and when, and what time is free, I use a written out plan.  I have it on my desk so I can see it.  The act, for me, of writing it out, helps me organize my thoughts for the day.  Let me show you a quick visual of what I have developed, over time, that works for me, then I can explain my process a bit. 

The page above is just a small checklist of weekly to dos, that are the same every day and every week.   I have a morning routine that helps me get motivated and moving in the morning, things I don't want to forget.  So if I am having trouble getting going in the morning I just look at my checklist and start at the top.   The checklist underneath is something I have developed over the last few years of the basics I need to get done for the house, so that I feel at ease.  When my house is cluttered, I feel like my brain is cluttered.  I do have other things I do on top of that, but these are the must dos for me, the basics for my sanity.

The following two pages are my weekly schedule.  I sit down Sunday evening and fill in any appointments I have, scheduled meetings, dentist appointments and exercise. If you look at the bottom of the page you will see where I keep my to do lists.  I have these separated by just a few categories.  It helps me keep my brain organized.  I have a hard time remembering everything, so I have always kept to do lists.  With this, I find it easier if I keep it separated into categories.  When I do something I cross it off.  Each week I move what isn't completed to the new week and add more as I need.  These are ongoing to do lists. 

If I have time in my day that is not scheduled, that time is when I finish up to do items.  So I look at my schedule every day.  Think about where I am going to be and add in to do items.  If I am going to be at the Democratic Party Headquarters, I will look at Committee items and see what I can get done.  If it is a nice day outside I will pick outdoor to do items to finish up.  It is simple but it works for me.  I do have a separate page for projects.  Those are larger projects I am working on that have many tasks.  So I just write out those tasks so I can see it all clearly.

I know many people can keep it all in their head, I am not one of those people.  And for years I just used to do lists.  I had sticky notes everywhere: on my desk, the kitchen table, my computer.  So one day a couple of years ago, I just decided to put them all into one place.  In doing this month after month I found there was a pattern to what I was doing.  So I created these pages to save time, since I was writing the same things out day after day.  A short cut for me, saves a few minutes.  And I just add them to a binder I have here at home.  I have found that I forget less, and get more done.  If any of these help you, wonderful.  Or maybe it will spark an idea, that is great.  If this type of organization isn't for you, that is great too.  Also there are so many planners out there you can buy, if you like.  Personally, I just couldn't find one that was what I needed.  I needed the space to fit my needs, so I created my own.  But there are plenty out there at your local Staples store. 

Here are links to the full size pdf pages if you would like to give any of them a try:

Hope that answers some of the questions I have been getting.  Have a great weekend all!

Thursday, September 28, 2017


I watched a little video clip a couple of days ago, of Eva Mozes Kor.  It was about forgiveness, her forgiveness of the doctor who experimented on her and her twin sister during the Holocaust.  Her story is powerful, but again brings me back to that word forgiveness.

I know I have blogged before about forgiveness.  For me it brings to mind the idea of "it is all OK".  For me, a part of forgiving a person is telling that person, what they did is OK. Or believing what that person did is OK.  Their behavior is OK.  That you are not only letting go of the wound, but you are at peace and releasing them from all blame or responsibility.  And please don't leave me comments about the dictionary definition of forgiveness, I have read them all.  I am only saying what is in my mind and what my heart feels when I hear the word.

There are many times in my life when I have forgiven someone for something.  Really understood where they were coming from, why they did what they did and was really OK with it and accepted an apology.  I am really a "let it go and move on" kind of person.  But in that instance of molestation from my youth, there is something that I can't forgive.  I have certainly worked on the feelings attached to this period of my youth, and that time in my life does not impact my present or future in a negative way.  I have moved on in a wonderful way, that period is part of my growth, my evolution, and has played a role in making me who I am today.  I am a strong, talented woman.  But it holds no space in my life, it holds no control over my life.  But I have not forgiven that person.

I have heard many people say that the forgiveness is for me.  That I will only be free from the incident and/or the person if I forgive them.  But I have not found that place in my life.  And I am not sure that it is even true.  I am truly happy with my life.  I think I live such a joy-filled life.  I don't feel a need to let go of any baggage from my past, it is what made me who I am today.  I have lived through some traumatic things in my life.  And loads of great/happy things.  All of it adds up to a well-lived life.  I don't want to let go of any of it.  I want to carry it around as proof that I have lived, proof of this multi-dimensional, ever-changing, love-filled, enormous beyond measure, life that I am living.

I can't imagine it getting any better. I don't feel a need to forgive.  I don't need forgiveness to move forward, to release anger, to take control. So remember, that forgiveness is something you control.  You can choose to forgive or not, and it is completely up to you.   Take that control and make that decision yourself. 

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Making a Change

Many of you know that I work with herbs.  I have for about 19 years now.  When I first became a mom, my interest in more natural remedies, organic foods, vegetarianism etc all started bubbling up. And I just allowed my interests to guide me down certain paths.  So back then, 18 or 19 years ago, I signed up for a distance learning herbal course with Heart of Herbs.  I was enjoying the process, but becoming involved with the homeschooling and unschooling communities took priority.  So I continued to learn on my own, which has been wonderful, but stopped taking the formal lessons.

Just a few picture of part of my home Apotheke

Now that my boys are older and doing their own things, I find I have more time to myself.  I volunteer with the Burke County Democratic Party, and really enjoy my life there, and the friends I have made.  But I am also thinking about revisiting my formal herbal course study.  I really like Heart of Herbs because it is a self paced program.  So I don't have to dedicate a huge chunk of my week to study, I can take it slow if I need to.  Another benefit is that they offer a better price if you sign up for the herbal course AND the aromatherapy course at the same time.

I have, in the past couple of years, started working with essential oils in conjunction with my herbal work.  So the thought of doing both courses, with no time table, is appealing.  Then there are the other considerations, and I wouldn't be myself without going over every detail many times.  I need to decide if this will take away time I spend with my family and volunteer work?   And if so, is it acceptable to me, as those are important.  Will it benefit me in the long run, will I learn anything new, will I use this information in the future?

I can say for certain, that thinking about this brings a sense of calm and peace.  So if I am stressed, all I have to do is think about the possibility of taking the herbal course, and a feeling of stillness comes over me, and everything is right with the world.  (and maybe that is my answer right there)

While I mull it over a bit and decide, I am excited about the upcoming Southeast Wise Women Herbal Conference.  I have attended this particular conference every year for many years now.  With one exception, for some reason I could not attend a couple of years ago, and it just so happened that it was the weekend we had horrible rain, the place was almost submerged in water.  That was the one year I did not attend.  This year's line up looks amazing, as usual.  So I am looking forward to the conference and learning so much more.

Have a great weekend everyone, and what changes are going on in your life?

Friday, September 15, 2017

Back to the "Real World"

I hate that phrase, real world, like vacation isn't real.  But in all seriousness, I am starting to feel the structure of my day to day activities creeping in.  Don't get me wrong, I love my daily life, I love volunteering, exercising with my friends and taking care of our home.  Those are things that bring me joy.  Yet, I find myself sitting here on the balcony, looking out at this amazing view and thinking about the things that I have waiting "to be done" back at home.

Vacation is that special place where these things don't exist.  Where I put my "to do" list on the back burner and just absorb all the nothingness I can.  I sit and listen to the waves crash on the shore, watch the seagulls fly by, and feel that wonderful ocean breeze on my skin  I know as I leave tomorrow morning there will be that pit in my stomach, I can almost feel it now.  As we are driving away from the coast, I feel like I could live here forever.  And maybe I could, or maybe it is that complete relaxation that I would miss more than anything.  And I know I could never "live" in that state.  I would get bored easily.  And I know that once I am home and my dogs are jumping up in my lap, I will feel at peace.

So maybe it is the transition that I am resisting.  That change from vacation to home.  And in reality I probably need to work more "nothingness" or "complete relaxation" into my daily schedule.  For now, I am going to sit here and watch the waves while I still can.  I am going to plan my upcoming week so that things are smooth, and I will be easy on myself and my family.  I hope you all have a great weekend!

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

The Ocean Always Feels Like Going Home

Do you ever have the feeling when you are traveling?  Like you are going somewhere special, somewhere important and you just need to be there.  That feeling always comes over me when we travel to the coast.  I almost said traveling to the beach but really it isn't the beach, lakes don't do it for me.  And it isn't the sand, because I can be going to the Maine coast, which is rocky and get that same feeling.  That pull, like you just need to be there, and nothing else is as important in that moment but seeing the ocean and getting your feet in that salt water.  I love looking out and not seeing anything but wave after wave of gorgeousness.  Not seeing anything.  But seeing complete freedom and endless possibilities.  That is how I feel, like typing this and watching the waves, I could conquer anything, do anything.

We drove in late Saturday night, but I could smell the ocean.  And I couldn't wait to get my feet wet.  Walking along the beach the next morning was spectacular.  Not many people out, as the hurricane was headed toward Florida and everyone here was preparing for bad weather, although now bad was not known.  So we almost had the beach to ourselves.  I stood at the shore and just felt a surprising calm take over, like I was home.  Even though this coastline isn't the same as home in Maine, it is the same ocean, and the same feeling.  Watching the crashing waves on Monday was eerily so much like home, wave after wave beating the shore line, amazing sound.

I felt calm, like my dad was right beside me telling me everything was OK now.  I started tearing up as we walked along the waves.  I know he would have loved this place.  He loved and lived the ocean.  I so remember going out with him on the boat.  I remember feeling the spray of salt water.  I remember watching him work.  When I am here at the coast, I hear my dad and know that life is good.

I do love where we live in North Carolina.  More and more, as we hike the mountains there, I feel like we made exactly the right decision as to our home.  I am feeling like those mountains called my name, and I am so glad I listened.  But this ocean is always beckoning me home, with its powerful memories.  So I know I will live my life between the two.  Traveling back and forth, touching old memories and making new ones.  Taking what I need and leaving the rest for others.  Enjoy those moments, wherever you are and wherever you call home.

Most of you know that I lost my dad to suicide 20 years, 10 months and 13 days ago.  I miss him every day, it is something I walk through this world with, and without.  I will be walking in the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention's Out of the Darkness Walk, again this year in Asheville on October 8th.  If you would like to help me, help the AFSP in reducing suicide, please consider donating to my walk.  Here is the link to my page.  Any amount is appreciated.   Also this  week is National Suicide Prevention Week.   Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the US.  On average there are about 121 suicides per day.  We can change this, you can make a difference, please consider donating to the link I listed.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Beacon Heights

Beacon Heights is really not a hike, although all the web sites say it is a 1 mile total in and out hike, I bet it is about 1/2 that and it is an easy in and out.  The views are amazing, although we felt a little like we cheated to get them.  Much more rewarding if the hike is difficult and ends with amazing views.  This is a well traveled path, there are some rock "steps", and you will not be alone on this one.  Obviously a popular spot, there were many people out here talking, picnicking, gathering and sitting on the rocks.  But if you are looking for an easy hike and beautiful views, this is the hike for you.  And it is so close to Boone, you might as well stop into Coyote Kitchen for lunch afterward.

In this photo you can see Table Rock and Hawk's Bill in the background

This view is in the other direction, looking back toward Grandfather Mountain.