Monday, November 23, 2015

Ask The Busy People

There's a saying I've heard many times when I needed help with a project or a ministry- "Ask the busy people". I never really understood why I had to ask the busy people. They're busy after all!

I used to think I was busy. Mentally I might have been, but if I'm honest here, I wasn't truly busy. Most of my days were filled with busywork (not the same as a true, purposeful busyness) and time-wasters on the computer. If someone came to me for help, I had trouble offering my services because I was just too darned slothful to leave the protection and comfort of my house.

I was lazy.

Now my days are filled with actual work. I'm truly busy for the first time in a long time. Yet I can still make time for people- more than I used to when Jabba the Hutting at home. Why? Because I am busy. 

I've managed my time better over all.
I have a sense of purpose in what I do.
I'm more focused on the work I'm doing.
I schedule my free time and use it wisely.

Now I know why people say "Ask the busy people". Because the busy people will figure out a way to get it all done. 

No, I don't have a lot of free time. Yes, sometimes I do use my free time to veg-out at home. Sometimes I take a nap, or play a computer game, but the time spent now isn't even close to the time I wasted in front of a screen just a few months ago! Just thinking about it makes me mad. I had all of that free time, and I wasted it!

The good part is I don't have the spare time to berate myself about it. Lament, get over it, do it better, get stuff done. Period.

I just make sure that I do schedule free time, otherwise I'll burn out faster than a microwave cooking tin foil. Sometimes I have to remind myself- even God rested on the seventh day!

I'm busy. I'm productive. I'm sometimes in need of a nap. But when I come home to my home and family, I appreciate them more- even the cats! I think God likes to see me busy- I feel His smile upon me every time I collapse into bed each night.

And let me tell you, that's an awesome feeling!

Monday, November 16, 2015

Stop the Calendar- I Wanna Get Off!

Once upon a time I had free time. So much free time that I squandered it shamelessly. I dallied on the computer, played games, and sat around waiting for the muse to tip me off on what to write.

Until I did the family budget. I needed to get a job. Fast.

I didn't get a job. I have four. Yet all four jobs play nicely with each other. Don't ask me how that happened- I've no idea!

Job one is driving for Lyft.
Job two is driving for after school care.
Job three is editing and writing.
Job four is face painting.

This doesn't include the volunteer stuff I do like bread ministry (twice a week) and the big rec center yard sale (twice a year)

Let's take a look at the schedule, shall we?

Monday through Friday
Wake up at 4:30. Pray, Do the morning stuff. Take Schmoopsiepoo to work by 6:00.
6:00 to 11:00- Job one.

11:00 to 2:00- eat lunch, Job three, prep dinner (my husband cooks for the most part now...Yum!)
2:00 to 3:30- Job Two Pick up. (except Friday)
3:30 to 6:00- Job one or Job three (except Friday). Yes I write in the car, since it's too far to drive home and back.
6:00 to 7:00- Job two drop off. (except Friday)

This is where it gets interesting. In the evenings....
Monday- get daughter from therapy horse ranch (she volunteers there.) 8:00
Tuesday- Bread pick up 9:00
Wednesday- get daughter from therapy horse ranch 8:00
Thursday- Nothing?!? How did that happen??
Friday- Bread pick up 9:00

Basically I come home, eat, go out, come home, collapse into bed. At least I sleep like a brick now! 

I have no schedule for the fourth job (face painting) but most of the work is done on nights and weekends (mostly weekends.)I joined up with a party planning company, and since this is the lean season, I don't expect many jobs until Christmas and New Years. 

January starts the planning for the Yard Sales for the year. I'll worry about that in January. I might catch my breath by then!

God says for every time there is a season (I think that's how it goes!) This is my You-Better-Make-Some-Money season, and when things pick up with the face painting (most likely in the summer, I won't have the after school care, since that's based on the school year. My calendar, though full, is a well-oiled machine right now, and even though I'm tired, it's a good tired. 

The best part is, when we start getting caught up and are in the positive zone financially, I can wean off some of the jobs bit by bit. And when I have the extra time, I plan on using it well this time!

Monday, November 9, 2015

Let The Son Shine Through!

I do a lot of driving. When I sit at the lights, I people-watch. And do you know what I see?


No one seems to notice anything. No one acknowledges each other. No one smiles.

I wanted to test out this theory, so I decided to make myself up as a rabbit for one of my shifts. Here is the picture:
My riders loved it!
However, very few people outside the van windows noticed there was a rabbit driving. Some did noticed, and avoided looking at me again like I had Rabbititis- or fleas or something.

But there were a few who saw me and smiled. Some even laughed. And that made me smile too.

I was surprised by the results. I thought surely, people were more observant and interested in the real world that this! But no, people really weren't and that's sad, really.

However, I did another experiment. I took a walk along those same streets and made sure I said 'Hi' to as many people as I could, smiling the entire time. (This time not in the rabbit makeup.)

Most people acknowledged me, some muttered a reply, and some ignored me- but the ones that responded had smiled back- and their smiles lit up their faces. Smiles are small but amazing things!

I truly believe when we smile- not just our mouths but with our entire faces, eyes included- God lets a little of Himself shine through. Each one of us was made by God, saved by His Son, and filled with His Spirit, so we all have the potential to let the Son shine through every time we share a smile with someone.

I want to offer a challenge- Take a good look around you in a busy, bustling place and just start smiling and saying 'Hi!" to everyone you make eye contact with- and see what happens. Smiles are almost as contagious as laughing- if you start it, it might just make an entire crowd start smiling!

And then they smile at those in the parking lot, and they smile at those in traffic, and they smile at those in their workplace...oh boy, can we do some serious good stuff here!

Let the Son shine through. Smile. You never know what a difference you can make in someone elses day!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Don't Mess With The Recipe!

My husband and I are bakers in a microwave world.

Our relationship started as friends, and that friendship slowly built up into a relationship that eventually turned into marriage.

We added the ingredients, stirred until smooth, let it rise, then kneaded it and let it rise again. Then we baked that sucker. Our loaf has lasted eighteen years so far.

Today's generation tends to slap everything in the bowl without measuring, stirs it once and tosses it in the microwave for thirty seconds. Then they wonder why it doesn't feel or taste the same. Their loaf lasts about as long as it takes to make it to the trash can, and the misshapen mound of dough barely cools before they are ready to toss stuff in the bowl again.

Young people of the universe, you need to stop messing with the recipe!

Good bread takes time. Sometimes it might take a few years, sometimes a decade- but if you aren't patient enough to let the dough rise, all you'll have is a trash can full of loaves resembling Quasimodo- and a broken heart.

I used to be a microwave baker. I went from loaf to loaf, looking for the right blend of ingredients. When I thought I found the right recipe, I tossed the ingredients in the microwave. Why was I surprised when the loaf never turned out right?

Then I met my husband. He was a true baker. He taught me how to slow down and let the dough rise. And our loaf is still good nearly twenty years later.

Yes, it's a microwave world. But people love to go to those fancy restaurants to enjoy food prepared right. Why spend all that money? Because restaurants don't cook really good food in the microwave. They take time to prepare it, season it, and heat it to the right temperature to make it moist and delicious. Wouldn't you love to live life like that every day?

Let the dough rise.

Start out as friends. 

Don't rush into a more serious relationship.

Commit when you're sure- and you won't be sure for a few years- trust me.

Then bake the bread. It will last a lifetime!

Monday, October 26, 2015

Where Did I Go?

One day you're just speeding along, doing what you need to do every day, when suddenly you realize something. 

You lost yourself.

I don't mean 'lost yourself' like being deeply involved in a book. I mean when you're so darned busy, you forget you're a human being.

I have utterly, completely lost myself these past few months.

For the first time since our marriage, I had to work outside of my home. I worked at a fabric store eons ago, more for getting out of the house than a financial need so that doesn't count. This time I have to work- it's a totally different dynamic.

It's more of a culture shock, really. I no longer have the time to do the things that keep me sane. The things I like to do define me. And for the past few months, I've not had a chance to delve into the things that make me my creative, oddball self.

I miss me!

Some of you can understand how I feel. Some of you might think I'm whining. After all, I had eighteen years to do something with the talents God gave me...right? So what did I do with all that 'slopping over' talent? Not much, really.

I made my fair share of money. I've made handmade gifts for folks. I've even donated my work. My kids have quilts to keep them warm at night, my husband has a quilt that we share when watching movies, and my friends have their kids face painted by me at their parties, with their lady friends wearing my origami jewelry...

Hey, wait a minute. That's more than 'not much'- isn't it? Maybe my talents weren't wasted after all?

Maybe that's what I'm missing!

I like creating things. Oh sure, I like selling my work too, but I really love making crafts that others enjoy. I love writing, brainstorming, and creating new crafts, new characters, and new story ideas.

And that's what's going wrong. I haven't been able to create anything for almost three months!

Where did I go? I went to work. I get up, I work, I come home, I work, I cook, I go to meetings, I come home and sleep. The weekends are a little different, but not by much. 

Creative minds need outlets. I haven't given mine any outlets lately, so it's shutting down and sulking somewhere in my mind- probably by the 'where did I put my keys' section.

I really need to get those creative juices going again!

It won't be easy. But it needs to be done. All work and no play makes Jacqueline a really tired, grumpy old sot. And nobody wants to be that when they grow up!

I still haven't decided what I'll be doing when I grow up- but whatever it'll be, it'll be creative! 

Monday, October 19, 2015

You're Getting Old When...

I didn't think I was old until I had a conversation this morning with my husband. Now I wonder if I'm on the verge of OldCootsdom.

So I decided to write down a few of the latest things we'd been talking about, and overheard from other Cootites.

You're getting old when....

Retirement plans are closer and a lot thinner than you thought.

The kids are almost adults.

The cats are becoming fashion accessories- especially in winter.

You have more than three cats- and you want more!

Having a great poop makes the entire day seem better.

You brush two sets of teeth- the second set is in a glass on the sink.

The kids ask what you'll be leaving them every time you're sick. 

You actually consider what you'll be leaving them.

Your grey hair begins to look sexy.

You have to roll your boobs up like socks to look 'perky' again.

You look into the mirror naked, and realize your body looks like it's melting.

Age spots become beauty marks.

You're no longer afraid to laugh at yourself!

I'm not old yet, just youth impaired. And that's okay too. I've not arrived at OldCootsdom yet- I'll stop off at Fogeyville for a while.

Do you have a Fogeyism you're like to share? Post it in the comments!

Monday, October 12, 2015

The New Vaudeville Act

This week was like some ironic little Vaudeville act.

This is my husband Sick, and I'm Tired- together we're Sick and Tired!
*cue applause*

Today's act features: 
Husband Tossing Cookies- His accuracy is amazing! 
Wife Falling Asleep While Making Dinner- Watch her snore while she cores! Sleeps as she slices! Dozes as she dices!
His fever is so high, she can use his head as a stove-top! Yowza!

Okay, maybe not.

This was a week of sickness.
My son was sick.
My husband was sick. 
I was tired, then I was sick.

I still am. The Vaudeville act continues. This time it's a solo act.

At least I have enough brain cells to write- writing doesn't require much movement- and right now, that's a very good thing. I don't want to take over my husband's act!

He's feeling better now so I took him to work. And that was the extent of my workday thus far. I'm recovering, but that doesn't mean my stomach is ready for calisthenics just yet.

Yet I can still claim that being sick was a blessing. I know what you're thinking. "Wait...What?"
Yep, it's been a blessing.

My husband though sick, got to rest. Yes it will hurt the budget for a bit, but it was rest he needed. I managed to make some good home-cooked soup before I succumbed to the flu, so everyone was pretty much fed when I was down and out. And I lost five out the the seven pounds I just recently gained.

God is so good!

I feel well enough to get the house out of the "disaster zone" stage, and since the kids are off today, they are definitely helping- or maybe I'll help them instead. We're going to do an extra good job on the bathrooms, doorknobs and banisters- you'd be surprised how much better everyone gets when these "handy" parts of the house are scrubbed down. 

Soon the Sick and Tired Vaudeville act will be over. The curtains will come down, and I can work on my next acts- Budget Balancing and Job Juggling- or maybe a clown act with the cats!