Wednesday, June 26, 2013

A Lovely Distraction

Kat is attending inservice this week and is therefore on daylight schedule — a perfect week for me to increase production. This morning I hit my to-do list hard and managed to:
  • Research and write an article for the neighborhood newsletter;
  • Format, print, and summarize a financial report for a meeting this evening;
  • E-mail various people for last minute information for said meeting;
  • Wash and fold a load of laundry;
  • Play with the dog;
  • Do yoga.

Then right before noon I remembered that today was the day for the Supreme Court decision. I went to where I spent the next hour reading live blog updates and clicking on news reports from various agencies. Then I went to the Iowa web site to see how much their marriage licenses cost, because suddenly I think Kat and I should get married and start pushing for some federal benefits, like being able to file our federal income taxes jointly, and wouldn’t it be great to be married in the birth state of Capt James T Kirk? Then a couple of friends e-mailed and we went back and forth about how this might affect Kat and me, and then I looked at the time, and it’s four o’clock!! Shoot. So, a very productive half-day, but I’ll give myself a break :-)

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Mid-Year Goals

These aren't exactly mid-year goals. They are goals from the beginning of the year, and though I had them written down, I hadn't blogged them. So here they are, with updates --

Creative Goals:

Writing -
  • Revise and self-publish my completed middle grade novel
  • Submit the second novel (completed and currently under revision)
  • Write the first draft of the sequel to the second novel (up to about 5,000 words)
  • Start a writing/reading related blog (have name and URL; tinkering with the look and content)

Sewing -
  • Finish the Bichon quilt for Kat’s mother (blocks completed and sewed into strips; working with applique)
  • Make a quilt for the guest room bed 
  • Make a quilt for my niece
  • Make an art quilt

Other -
  • Make a fruitcake

Organizing Goals:
  • Tweak my work space, especially better organize my “active” files
  • Clear out filing cabinets, scanning and trashing files where appropriate (Started, barely)
  • Clean out and organize 1) my make-up drawer, 2) the kitchen cabinets, 3) the pantry

Financial Goals:
  • Review and adjust life insurance policies (Done)
  • Increase automatic contribution to Kat’s deferred compensation plan
  • Increase emergency savings account by 25%. (Making progress)
  • Fully fund cushion savings (Done)
  • Save and figure out financing if necessary for kitchen re-do (Have saved about $1900)
  • Start saving for vacation to Diagon Alley (Universal Studios) in 2014 or 2015
  • Lower cable and wireless phone bills 
Not bad, but I've a lot to do to meet goals before the end of the year. Some of these I can eliminate on a "get it done" day, such as cleaning out my make-up drawer and lowering the bills. Others will take weeks or months or more to accomplish. Of course I'm identifying and achieving (for the most part) new goals all the time, like the office closet clean-out and the sewing room renovation. 

For some reason, I tend to procrastinate on goals I've written down, which is the opposite effect writing goals is supposed to have. I suppose I let the impulse of the moment direct my days more than I'm happy with on reflection. Goal-writing and checking in are ways for past self (in this case, January self) to control her future and attempt to accomplish big things through thoughtful planning and follow through. Obviously present self isn't always cooperative, and I've let my project pages go unreviewed for a couple of months, when for a while they were a daily guide. I am updating and scribbling on them now. We'll see how it goes if future self bothers to check in.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Procrastination and Money

I drove back from Houston yesterday just in time to shower and dash to an HOA board meeting. I am one of three on the board for our neighborhood. Fortunately, we enjoy each other, and each of us is willing to work hard, so it's a good board and I don't mind the rather long meetings (only once a quarter) with our management company rep.

My least favorite part of the meeting is our executive session in which we review violations of the covenants and restrictions as well as homeowners non-compliant with paying dues. With the latter, we ensure that all notices have been sent, and if the homeowner is well overdue and has not contacted our management company despite all the notices, we vote to send to legal. Which adds hundreds and sometimes thousands to the homeowner's bill (over time), so that an original bill of $170 can balloon to two or three thousand or more (with late fees, title searches, legal costs, etc).

I HATE doing that. I know that some of these people are probably suffering some hardship or other, perhaps an illness or loss of job or divorce. The thing is, if they would just call and tell us what's going on, we could work with them and not have to send to our attorney. We have in the past asked our rep to contact each of them by phone, even though it's not required, in a last ditch attempt to communicate the financial consequences of ignoring the bills and many overdue notices. We've discovered this doesn't do much good.

Recently I saw an article somewhere, perhaps a blog post, on the high cost of procrastination. I'm not sure if this situation would fall under that heading or would belong more to the act of burying one's head in the sand and hoping the problem will go away. It doesn't really matter in this case, the consequence is the same, and it is quite costly.

I have to say, I've been kicking myself recently for some costly consequences to issues I've put off dealing with. Mine were due to classic procrastination. My term life insurance expired earlier this year, and I've had looking into a new policy on my to-do list for at least three years. THREE YEARS. Finally I had a "just do it" day and took care of aged to-do tasks, including the life insurance. Because of the skin cancer I had removed in April, I fell out of the preferred category. If I had done this two or three years ago, my rate would have been much lower. Ooooh, that burns.

I have a few other old tasks on the to-do list that have to do with money, including contacting the cable company about lowering our rate and visiting Verizon to ensure our plan is right-sized. I'm due another "just do it" day.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Melancholy and the Power of Gratitude

Simplifying my life has been a long-term goal for a while. Today I feel that I am failing and that I will never have a life of simplicity or live in the single-hearted way I crave. Why do other people seem so focused, achieving consistency and excellence while juggling work and family and home, and I can’t seem to get there? Comparing myself to others whose lives and struggles I don’t really know is not the way to go. “Run your own race” is one of my mantras. But today I am low, and my mind wants to travel those unproductive paths. 

I can’t help the melancholy, but I can control my reaction to it. 

First, forcing myself to write this post. Now that I’m started, it’s ok. 

Next, gratitude. For what am I grateful? What can I honestly say I feel true gratitude for right this minute? 


I am grateful for the hot cup of coffee at hand. I don’t normally drink afternoon coffee. This is a treat, and one I am savoring (more now that I’ve pointed it out to myself). 

I am grateful for my Kindle. Oh Kindle, how I love thee. How I love that you are filled with books, some read and some waiting to be read, all at my fingertips. 

I am grateful that I’m such a fast typist. I love to type, and have since I learned at age twelve. My typing speed has gotten me a few jobs over my lifetime.

This is better, but I’m noticing that a little voice within is trying to take my mind off the good things and steer me to what is bothersome. My messy desk, the overflowing mail bin, the . . . but no, I won’t go there now.

I am grateful for my cats. They make me laugh, and they are so beautiful. I never tire of my dear darling kitties (though you could do without the dogs, says my negative voice). But, I am focusing on cats.

I am grateful that the Spurs made it to the NBA finals. Woohoo!

There, I hit the tipping point. I feel a nice floaty bubble of happy in my gut. I still feel “down”, if that makes sense, sort of subdued, but no longer so self-critical. This gratitude stuff works!!