Screamin’

As some of you may know I am utterly addicted to my niece, Charlie. I have shared a few photos and a video or two on my blog in the past few months. I constantly ask my sister to send photos and videos since we live in different states. Charlie is just days away from being 7 months, and is a hilariously happy, smiley, precious one. I can only hope my future kid(s) are as happy as Charlie. Yesterday, I got this text from my sister:

“Charlie’s piano playing sounds like the audio of a haunted house and it makes the cats flee.”

Her text was followed by this video and photo. Apparently, Charlie had on her own (while banging on the keys) found a “Scream” setting on the keyboard. I guess she is practicing for Halloween in a month.

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IMG_3807How can you not find her so adorable? Especially at about 12 seconds in where she turns and smiles at you and then turns back and plays more. Then at around 30 seconds she crouches down as though she thinks she can get out of the barricade they have created in the living room to keep her safe and from crawling to other parts of the house. When she realizes she is not getting out, she goes back to banging on the keyboard. I know, I know you already watched it, but I had to give my play-by-play. Can you tell how addicted I am?

Say no to 1,000 things

Everything in the universe at this moment is telling me that my biggest lesson in life is about saying “NO.” Each day I find an article, read a book, have a conversation that reiterates the ongoing dilemma I have with life. What can I truly handle? Have I bitten off more than I can chew? Yes, and no. It really depends. I do know that I need to figure out a way to scale back. Part of that means that I have to say “No” more and more and more. How does one do that when your modus operandi is to help others, solve problems, and to try to make the world a better place one day at a time?

I wanted to share a few of the ideas that have been bombarding my thoughts these last few days. I came across this Steve Jobs quote:

“People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. I’m actually as proud of the things we haven’t done as the things I have done. Innovation is saying no to 1,000 things.”

If I could truly do what Jobs said, maybe I could have a fraction of the success he had in life. It has become a common theme for me these past few weeks and months to figure out how to scale back at work and at home and yet life feels like it is a treadmill on the highest speed, and sometimes at the highest incline. At times it feels like the buttons are inoperable and I am not able to adjust to the appropriate speed, so it means running crazy fast and then wondering how long I can sustain the speed.

There was this Fast Company article called: “The Exact Amount of Time You Should Work Every Day” that shared this idea:

Make Realistic To-Do Lists: “We often bog down our to-do lists and make them not feasible for us to accomplish [plus] we underestimate how long it’s going to take us to do something,” says Sexton.

Prioritize tasks. Choose three major tasks to focus on for the day and add other tasks as they pop up throughout the day to a separate list, readjusting your priorities throughout the day if required. It’s a lot easier to look at a list of three tasks than 30. Once you knock off the first three items, choose your next three priorities from your lengthier list.

I do not feel like I have a problem with To-Do Lists, tracking what I need to do, or prioritizing my tasks. I feel it is having too much happening at once. Too many projects to track on, too many deliverables, and not enough time or bandwidth to execute or strategize on how to make it all happen.

How have you learned to say, “No?” Teach me. I want to learn. I want to know what has worked for you.

Savor

SAVOR. I have been thinking a lot lately about the word. Memories of amazing food come to mind. Such as goat cheese ravioli from a Portland restaurant called Lucy’s Table that is no longer in operation. When we knew it was closing we went and agonized over our very last serving of their goat cheese ravioli. They closed just three years ago and there is not a day that goes by that I do not remember the amazingness of that appetizer. If only I could recreate it at home.
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I can think of a plethora of other items that I savor. French fries (gosh, am I addicted to non fast-food french fries). Eggs benedict with fried green tomatoes or on corn cakes instead of english muffins (thank you, Daily Cafe). The King’s Choice at Veritable Quandary. Yum. Apologies for all the Portland references, but I have my little addictions. Noble Rot fries + burger. Decarli’s salted caramel cheesecake. Crab Rangoon from Shing Yee in West Newton, MA. The “Bill’s Seoul Show” sandwich at Hi Rise Bakery in Cambridge, MA. Okay, I guess I will stop, I could go on.
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I love the word savor. There is something downright sassy about it. To me it is anything that you mull over in your thought, crave, or cannot wait to consume. It is not just a word I associate with food. Maybe you savor the idea of a person, a spouse, or friend, or someone who just gets your brain juices going each day. Maybe you appreciate how creative and out-of-the box a colleague is and how that ups your game. You savor a collaborative relationship.
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If only I could have a meal of goat cheese ravioli, crab Rangoon, Bill’s Seoul Show sandwich, french fries, a great drink, and salted caramel cheesecake for dessert. Just the perfect meal for my taste buds. Oh, and some time with the people I savor in life.
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Critters you find in all the wrong places

My sister sent me a text message the other day about a mouse and mouse nest her husband found in the glove box of their car. Um yuck. I can understand why it might happen. They live in an urban area and park their car in a garage that can easily be rampant with mice, as theirs has easy access from outside. He told her he has had that happen before and that their mechanic indicated that the mouse is able to get into the glove compartment through the engine.

However they arrive my sister and I both share a similar exclamation that we NEVER want to be the ones to open the glove compartment and have a mouse stare back at you. Especially if you are driving down the road and reach over to grab something from the glove box (yes, safely…but admit it you have done it before). If I was driving, and open the glove box, and see little eyes staring at me, I might drive off the road. Yuck, yuck, yuck.

It reminded me of a memory from when I was a freshman in high school. My sister was away for her senior year at boarding school (and she might have been home on break, I do not remember). I do know I was a freshman based on the apartment we were living in – if you can call it that. At the time, my mom was recovering from months in the hospital, and then months in a nursing home. We were broke, and somehow she had found a way to go back to school. Due to her classes, we were eligible for a small apartment (600 square feet), that was government subsidized. While I have no reason to complain, it was drab, drab, drab. The walls were made of cinder blocks, and most of the windows were high up (since we were on the first level due to my mom’s wheelchair).

I digress. The real intent of this story is that one day when I was making dinner for my mom, I opened the broiler drawer at the bottom of the stove. (Now let me assure you, we rarely used the boiler aspect of the oven. As it was, it was not a full size stove/oven. As Chris can attest I have never been great at cooking so I can only imagine what I was making for my mom in the broiler.) Yikes. What I saw looking back at me was not at all what I expected. It was a hamster, wood shavings and all. I freaked out, shut the door, and to this day I cannot remember what we did. Did I call the management company? Did I call a neighbor that had more confidence with critters than I did at 15? I think I did call the neighbor that had a ferret (who also irked me).

My sister’s mouse reminded me of the hamster that had been living in our stove. We believe it might have been from a neighboring apartment and been living in the walls. It makes you think a bit more about those scratching sounds you might have heard in the walls the other night…

Towards a happy marriage

11 years of marriage. I cannot tell you that marriage is a perfect place. It is full of love, laughter, frustration, emotion, and so much more. I love almost every minute of it, because I am walking forward with Chris. More than being lovers and spouses we are best friends. A best friend that I can truly say anything to at any moment. He might not always like what comes out of my mouth, but at least it is the truth. Here are a few ideas of what I think are steps toward a happy marriage:

Go to bed together every night. If you cannot orchestrate that, then if one is going to bed before the other, come and tuck the other in. I know that might sound old school, or childish, but do it. It will make a difference. It is a way to connect at the end of a long day and allows your spouse to relax. Having said all that, Chris is the night owl and I rarely get to tuck him in. Better yet, what we often do is go to bed together, snuggle, and then the one that is not tired gets to read and/or catch up on episodes of their favorite TV show on the iPad. A win-win situation.

Tell each other what you think as much as possible.

Try not to snap or react. Sometimes we are grumpy, have a poopy day, and we snap. Okay to be fair, Chris is WAY more patient then I am, and I snap way more often than he does. Do not take it personally. You know when your pants feel too tight and you plop down on the floor of the closest ready to explode with tears? Be there for each other at those moments. I know, I know 99% of the time it is the woman sitting on the floor. So to all those husbands out there. Sit down next to your wife and listen to her emotions, her hormones. Just love her immensely on those days.

Eat together at your kitchen table. Do it without your iWHATEVER device, your DVR, or Netflix. Absorb those moments together. We do not do it often enough, but when we do if makes life feel so different. Sad, but true.

Communicate, communicate, communicate. Just because you might have been with and lived with someone for 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 years does not mean that you should ever stop communicating. I should have made this point first because to me it is by far one of the most important aspects of marriage. Talk it out. Share what is on your mind. Listen. Discuss and resolve.

A happy marriage. No prescription. Just start with respect, love, and a listening ear. It is all up to both of you.