Posted in lists, Planning, Reflection

The Brown Grocery Bag

I was sipping coffee this morning and browsing the weekly grocery ads while I put together my shopping list and my meal plan for next week.

You know this is the time where I end up having random thoughts. Right? As usual my brain went into a rabbit hole and remembered that my grandmother loved brown paper bags. When we went to the store and the cashier asked, “Paper or plastic?” the automatic response was, “Paper.” While in this rabbit hole I sat and made a random list of all the ways I remember using brown grocery bags.

Back to School Time

One of the first that I remembered was my lugging every single text book home and covering them with the glorious brown sturdy paper.

It seemed like it took forever and I don’t recall ever loving the task. I sat at the kitchen table handing books, scissors, tape and grocery bags to my grandmother like we were wrapping gifts. Instead of nametags I used crayons and markers to label the new protective cover with the subject and my name.

When my son was younger it was unheard of to cover books with grocery bags. And to be honest with the more common use of plastic and rarely sweing paper bags at our local grocers we just didn’t have them handy. Instead we bought into the back to school shopping frenzy of buying plastic covers in various covers to help him know which book was which and hoped they didn’t get lost. Insert the next kid 8 years later we still bought covers but not as many. Why? Well schools only bought classroom copies and printed worksheets to save costs and today most textbooks are digital. I remember telling them both the “Back in my day, we….” I bet the first time they were in awe and wonder. But the third or fourth time I seem to recall they had glazed eyes.

Tomatoes

Before it started to get too cold in Missouri, we would pick every last green tomato off the vines and place them on the window sill or in grocery bags to help them ripen.

To this day, I love tomatoes. I want to grow my own here in Phoenix. It is possible in the desert if you do your homework and tend the garden diligently. Our season is much shorter and pulling them off the vine unripened would not be due to extreme cold. No. More like before the heat starts cooking them right there on the vine.

Onions and Garlic

By the way, paper bags speed up ripening of various produce. Did you know they also help onions and garlic last longer?

Small lunch bags and grocery bags alike are great for storing these amazing flavors on the counter or in your pantry for several weeks. If you do not have clay pots or Tupperware bins designed to store them properly, consider grabbing some bags and a hole puncher to ensure proper airflow.

Tip: Store each variety in separate bags like shown in the picture. Combining them in one bag will not extend the life as long.

Kitchen Trash Bin Liner

Let’s chat about rabbit holes. My coffee got cold when I went in search of any internet photo that might resemble the trash bin we used to have when I was a teenager. I have never seen a single one like it since. Maybe I never will. Imagine a black rectangulaelr bin (it was probably Rubbermaid) that is shaped to hold a grocery bag inside it perfectly. Its lid was like a white picture frame that sat on top fitting around the edge of the bin. It didn’t cover to block in the doors. Nope. It was open to toss rubbish right in. The one feature that was nifty was how it held the brown paper grocery bag to the edge of the bin while keeping it from folding in on itself. The downside was anything wet would obviously weaken the bottom. And coffee grounds were a common culprit. Have you ever had to clean up coffee grounds and other trash off of your kitchen floor? Yeah. Me too.

I hear the invention of plastic trash bags were revolutionary and made women very happy for several reasons. When I moved out on my own I never even looked for a kitchen bin like that one. I am guessing they were not a best seller. If someone has ome though, I would love a picture so I can at a later date update this article.

As the world is shying away from single use plastics, there may be a resurgence of ways to revisit reusing or repurposing paper. Studies show positive and negative environmental impacts of both. Today is not the day for that rabbit hole.

I am curious though. Do you use paper bags for crafts or creatively at home for other purposes? I would love to know more.

I have a shopping list to finish and a cold cup of coffee to finish sipping.

Have a great Friday!

Posted in Family, Goals, lists, Planning, Planning, Reflection, self-care, Vision, Writing

Managing Mondays – Finding Inspiration and Motivation

It is another week and I am eagerly sipping coffee after a short, brisk walk before the sun was brightly shining and heating up the pavement. Although it is September and many folks are starting to see signs of fall, those of us in Phoenix are still facing high temperatures around 100°. That means getting up early to beat the heat if you want to walk outside.

I put my weekly plan together last night while watching Sunday Night Football. It took longer than usual because I couldn’t take my eyes off of the fourth quarter madness as Green Bay made their way back to claim the win. Did you know I love football? No? Well, surprise! I had so much to think about this week because I have some lofty goals. I am working my side hustle hard this week and making some time to sharpen my saw. Me time includes reading because, well, to be honest I just haven’t been doing that much lately. And I have been looking at this book for weeks. I never put it on my bookshelf. No. I keep moving it from surface to surface through the house. That tells me how much I want to read it. So, I am planning for it. One chapter a day. I deserve that much me time. I know if I don’t write it in my plan I will keep putting it off and moving the book to, yet again, another surface. What book? This one…

The book is broken into 5 parts. My goal is to read a part each day and plan to add a little Badassery into my future planning. So excited!

My plans this week are pretty loose and functional with some key goals and important activities. The most important activities are the weekend. My son turns 23 on Sunday and I aim to make any free time we have as a family about him and his special day.

It seems lately that I am on the go and running on all cylinders from the moment I wake up until I crawl back into bed. I am making a point to have quality reading time to take my mind and my eyes away from screens. When I crawl into bed I want to sleep easy knowing my plans are clear and my mind is sharpened to be the absolute best person God made me to be.

I challenge each of you to plan the following into your week:

  • Sharpen your mental saw (read a book, learn something new, meditate)
  • Celebrate something or someone
  • Love everyone

Have a great week. Back to sipping coffee.

Posted in Family, Reflection

Tully – Hidden Gem of a movie

As I sip coffee some mornings, it is not unheard of that I might be binging on a really great television series or watching movies, new and old. However, nothing beats watching a movie on the big screen in a theater with popcorn, a soda (or glass of wine), and my two best friends.

This past weekend we met up to see Tully. I regularly go to the theater but I don’t recall seeing trailers for this movie which feels like a gem hidden in the early swell of the summer blockbuster season. It could be that Marvel is overshadowing this a bit. (I saw Avengers too!) Nonetheless, mothers, this movie is for you.

As a fan of Charlize Theron I was eager to see it but I had low expectations. Anything about being a mother, my most important role in my life, gets my attention. And Charlize portrayed a woman, a real woman, a woman I could relate to.

I am not one to publish spoilers, nor am I one to write a review that tells of the plot. (See the link above for the official movie website.)

I want to share how it made me think and feel.

At many points in the movie I relived my own struggles as a mother with all of its challenges. I remembered the days that I put aside self care because taking care of little humans was all that mattered or that I had time for.

Having a child who is “quirky” is probably something every mother can talk about. The quirkiness can be so profoundly challenging that it consumes your every day. My best friends and I all have children with quirks. Our stories are as unique as the quirks as well as our survival tactics when we tackle the challenges. Our common thread and how we connected with the main character, is that we, all three, put our quirky children before ourselves with special diets, routines, doctors, selecting schools, and showering lots of love.

Motherhood bond. Sisterhood bond.

What makes us different than the character is how we move beyond the care of others and remember that we have to make time for self-care in a rational and healthy way.

I walked away from the film remembering the struggles my best friends and I have been through and how we have always tried to be there to lift each other up, encourage, and help with the heavy lifting of motherhood. It takes a village. So find yours and make sure your children know who all their special “Aunts” are so that the support system and relationships are strong and powerful enough to transcend the generations. Be a Tully…in the healthiest and most rational of ways.

And always love one another.

I hope you see this movie. It is surprisingly great. Take a tissue because between the laughter there may be tears just like in real life.

Back to sipping coffee and meditating on how grateful I am for being a mother and for being blessed to have friends who are my Tully during the highs and lows of motherhood.

Posted in Family, Goals, Planning, Reflection

Managing Mondays-Mom Priorities

It is coffee time! Quiet time is so very precious to me. And this time at the beginning of every week as I sip coffee feels paramount to how the week can go. I take time to think on all that I need to do plus what I would like to do. It is my way of getting out of the bed on the right side.

The past few weeks have been a struggle in changing priorities and I have had to shift even more to remembering what matters most. This focus adds a perspective like no other. I want to ensure I balance Mom priorities over work priorities because the family needs that right now. It isn’t just about my schedule. It is more about being “present” in mind and heart more.

I spent most of my time sipping my first cup in a retrospective state and looked back on what did and did not go well over the past couple of weeks. I asked myself what I could do differently because I felt like I was being too hard on myself and others around me. I realized that my expectations were perhaps set too high or not communicated effectively which can cause conflict on the home front.

Setting my plan for this week I designed a motivational and functional week spread in my planner. I wanted to see reminders of what is really important at work so that I can keep the negative noise and nonsense from others in perspective. And in doing that I can avoid the negativity from seeping over into other aspects of life. Most importantly self care needs to be at the front of the train and not in the caboose as a back burner.

My spread is full of motivation and focus areas. It gives me permission to delegate nonsense to the back burner. I am reminding myself to be the servant leader by focusing on my team’s needs and being a positive in the storm. Recently I have had an opportunity to observe leaders who are in the trenches with their teams and leaders who stay back in the tent barking out orders and then hiding in the shelter waiting and watching. The latter leader style sometimes seeps negativity out beyond the team and affects the bigger goal. And it is simply not my style. So while I am in the trenches I want to remember to be positive and guide my crew to the best outcomes with encouragement, gratitude, and course corrections that take us along the journey to the finish line celebrating together.

This week I want to make sure that I am focusing on the behind the scenes planning that sets the stage for every act in the play my team is cast in so they can be stars. I want to ensure the setting is right, the props are in place, and that they know their lines.

At home, I want to keep the work from seeping in. I want to protect our time so that it is of such quality that we all feel accomplished and grateful.

These may seem lofty goals for the week but I don’t think so.

In any moment of negativity I plan to step outside of it and ask myself:

  • Am I the engineer on this train right now?
  • Is this helping any of my three focus areas?
  • Should this be back burner?
  • Will this seep beyond work?

Knowing the answers to these questions should guide me to the right energy level in the moment and maintain perspective.

At the end of the week I aim to have positive energy to tackle that garage with my family: A project that we never seem to get to with our conflicting schedules and energy levels.

Share your spreads for the week and share the why. I always want to understand others why.

Posted in Family, Reflection, Social Topics

Tuesday Thoughts – FAKE NEWS, Family Circle, and Elvis

Yesterday, while sipping coffee and picking up around the house I finally scanned the cover of my recently delivered Family Circle magazine.

Note: This post is the result. I want to stress that I am writing this as a part of self-reflection and how this article impacted me personally. I am expressing my personal views. Please do not share this as a fact based article. The links I’m sharing are part of the research and certainly not the be all and end all sources for the topics that I’m discussing.. (Sad that I feel I even have to include this in my post.)

Slightly Off Topic Musing Before I Dig In on the Headline

I have to ask. Am I the ONLY person who gets magazine’s anymore? I battle with this in my head. There is still a section in most grocery stores and they still hang out near the registers when we check out so I have to believe there are some like me who still enjoy them. How many of us actually have subscriptions and find them in our mailboxes? I know just like newspapers, they are smaller and chock full of advertisements. Why do I still get magazines and pick up the newspaper from time to time? Well…I love them. I love finding meal and recipe ideas. I enjoy the decorating and craft ideas. I enjoy some of the health and fitness articles. And I love the back parts where readers submit photos and articles. I love the feel of them in my hands. I love that method of exploration. I’m not having to think of a search term and I am giving myself a chance to disconnect from the web and social media and learn and discover the “old school way.” I am given options of items to read and not feeling them pushed at me one by one like the algorithms that drive topics to my in box or are “sponsored” and “suggested” by the bots. I still like to get some of my information the old school way. How about you?

Now I know all magazines also have digital versions, but a typical web search isn’t going to produce those results unless you subscribe to the site. And frankly that is too much clutter in an already advertisement and spam-filled world of emails. And really, is this blog not a magazine in a sense? I’m asking you as my reader to subscribe or draw you here from my posts on social media. I don’t have bots and algorithms. I’m not here calling a pot black when I am simply a kettle that is black too. I’m a blogger and I don’t know that I aspire to an audience as vast as the the circulation of Family Circle. I don’t desire to have to sell ad spots and bog down this site with my margins full of ads that I hope you as the reader click on and buy something. Not today. Not tomorrow. Maybe next year. Who knows? That is a blog post and decision for future me.

Thank you for clicking the link in the email or social media post that brought you here. You, my readers, make me so very happy when I know you have stopped by for a visit or a view.

Exit Stage Musing And On To the Point

Right now, I’m thinking more about this Fake News and that article I discovered, not while searching the web or sitting in social media. It didn’t pop up in any of my feeds based on algorithms. It came to me in my actual mail box. I appreciate the work of the hands that get the shiny, colorful pages to my home or local grocery store. I hope they never go away. And this week, I was interested in more than the recipes and healthy tips. Family Circle published an article that I tell you is very timely. The cover highlight, “FAKE NEWS & what to tell your kids” completely grabbed me. What a sad topic to appear on the cover atop those gloriously beautiful cookies. This reader didn’t even go to the recipes. Yep. I bypassed those and went straight to Fake News.

Fake news has always existed. We used to call is rumors and crap. It has always been in the media. Every week for decades if we stood in a grocery store, the check out stands were lined with the “rags” like The National Enquirer. My mother always picked them up to read them for the pure fun and humor. Well, maybe she was hopeful that Elvis was still alive and had been abducted by aliens. We have always had to discern fact from fiction. So why now has this become a problem so out of control that I was planning to read this article before the recipes? Why do I need to know what to tell my kids?

I have to admit that reading this article struck a chord with me. I am not sure if I took it personally or if it had me more worried about the state of our education system and parenting? Should I take this as a personal criticism as a parent?

Good grief! I mean, have we really come this far that articles have to be written to hopefully educate us on how to deal with this problem? Assuming positive intent, I realize that we have tons of information we have to synthesize and rationalize in a small amount of time. It isn’t like the weekly Enquirer of old.

What stood out were results from a study:

  • 82% of middle school students had difficulty differentiating between news and advertising
  • 75% of the time adults believe Fake news headlines

Shocking! Where did our critical thinking go? Did you ever see the Disney movie WALL-E? In my mind, the creators were predicting the trajectory of humans and our careless consumerism and decline in a key skill called critical thinking. In the movie, the setting was 100 years in the future and humans were conditioned to think and behave based on Big Data, algorithms, and bots. This movie came out in 2008, before the terms Big Data, algorithms, and bots became so common place. When I walked out of the theater ten years ago, I actually filed away a personal fear of where we were heading. I thought technology can and probably would change us and make us lazy. We would totally buy Hover chairs to get around and use screens for communication with other humans. They were hovering right next to each other but never left the chair or touched another soul. How many of us text a family member from another room in the house or heck across the room? It reminded me of how lazy we already were and that the folks behind technology could sway our purchases, voting, and opinions. The scene where the new color trend was announced and they could press a button to purchase and change shirts was shocking. Funny maybe. Let’s be real, Color of the Year is decided for us based on various factors and we buy into it. How do you think home decorating and clothing color trends happen? There is a science behind it and a whole team of smart marketing to influence us into buying to the trend. I wonder how many people who saw the movie saw the creators poking fun at us?

Do we buy into this or stop the madness? Can we stop the madness? Is it madness?

All great questions! Fake News? Where did that even start? Well I thought I would point you to Wikipedia and what it says, Wikipedia’s take on Fake News and this article from Family Circle on Fake News because they both drove home to me that a mere 10 years after WALL-E, we aren’t really 100 years away from needing to find another home away from earth nor are we immune to suggestive marketing and fake news. Are we not thinking for ourselves more each and every day? And when I think about it, it seems critical thinking as a skill is needed more than ever before. I know the people with the skill are behind the big date, algorithms, and bots. I guarantee that. So how can I ensure, that I’m honing my critical thinking and retraining myself and teaching my kids? How do I put into practice looking at news and discerning fact from opionion and fact from fiction? How do I talk to my kids more about what they have seen on social media, television, and hearing from their peer groups? And furthermore, how do I turn that conversation on to helping them be expert critical thinkers? I personally will not rely on formal education to do it all. I cannot expect that. It isn’t fair. I don’t send an employee of mine to a class and expect them to come back an expert? Why would I have the same expectation of my children and their teachers? Family Circle and Wikipedia both offer tips on how to analyze the information presented to determine fact, opinion, or fiction.

I encourage you to read this article on Fake News, and not just to know what to say to the kids. I needed it. Honestly, I was pleasantly surprised to find it in Family Circle. (Yay for the magazine in my mailbox!) Future generations can become critical thinking masters if given the chance. Fake News discernment starts with the individual. As we allow our kids access to a vast world of fact and fiction in the digital age we need to talk more about what is being digested. Some may suggest keeping kids off digital longer. I don’t know if that is the right way either. My kids have the ability to surpass me in so many ways if I educate, communicate, and foster critical thinking. They can be a powerful force. The article reminded me that my generation can really help be mentors and guides to the future. So I want to step away from the screens and talk and share an interact more. It will be these moments of connecting where I can find teachable moments. I can walk away with a stronger ability to identify fake news and so will my family. I can ensure that if what I’m seeing is really an opinion, that I won’t choose to adopt the same opinion because I agree and think it is fact. Talking with my kids about it will help me and in turn hopefully help them be stronger.

I may have thought I was doing this already, but the article made me pause and think on it. And I thought a lot. I even talked to my 13-year old about it. I recognize that I can be better. I was disappointed in myself. Because I realized, I am just so annoyed with the amount of fake news that I give less attention to a lot of it and in turn, talk less about news in general. And it got me to this rant. And honestly, I will take my in-hand magazine any day of the week.

I have to ask: What do you do with Fake News? Are you concerned about friends, family, and your kids not knowing the difference? Were you surprised by the statistics from the study that was shared in the article? Do you ignore Fake News? Do you agree with the article on why and how to talk to our kids?

Now…I am off to finish my coffee and look at the recipes and crafts in Family Circle.

Posted in Family, Holidays, Reflection

Happy Valentine’s Day!

I am sipping coffee and contemplating why I always have loved Valentine’s Day. I find it to be one that can evoke many feelings based on your personal season in life.

Many of us as children exchanged cards and candy with classmates. We all had those teachers that creatively guided us through many art projects made from the shape of a heart.

My mother (I miss her on holidays) never missed an opportunity on any holiday, even St. Patrick’s Day and 4th of July, to give gifts. When I woke up on these “little” holidays, I would make a beeline to the kitchen to see what might be waiting. There was always a card. Like many Valentine gifts, there was likely a heart shaped box with a few chocolates and a little something else with the theme of hearts: barrettes, bracelet, earrings, or a shirt. It was never anything fancy yet I loves it. I loved incorporating a gift I could wear into my outfits that day. My mom was my favorite Valentine every year. Even in later years with boyfriends, best friends, and crushes, her gifts were the highlight. I wonder if I ever told her that?

As a Single Mom, I continue this tradition with my family. I didn’t plan ahead this year, so after being out of town for two weeks, I made sure last Sunday that my errands included picking up something for my children. Yes, my son is 22, his girlfriend is 21, and my daughter is 13. Like my mother, my children are never too old to gift. And like my mother, anyone in my home is part of the tradition. As a parent, we are our children’s first and continuous Valentine. Don’t you think?

So, they have Skittles and Russell Stover chocolates waiting for them.

And like my mom, I made sure I wasn’t left out.

I have these candy hearts to play with and nibble on throughout the day. I love these and conversation hearts. Perhaps this was the origin of my love for words. Thanks to my first and continuous Valentine: Mom.

Do you have Valentine’s Day traditions? Anything special planned for today? Whatever you do, I hope it is special and in the years down the road provides happy memories. Life isn’t about things. It is definitely about shared memories. As you can see I don’t remember the “things” in detail but the memories, they are quite vivid.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

P.S. It is also Ash Wednesday. Are you doing anything special this Lenten Season?

Posted in Reflection, travel, vacation

Happy Mardi Gras! History, My First Krewe Parade

Growing up with a French speaking Grandmother, I always knew that Mardi Gras was French for Fat Tuesday. I also knew that it was the day before Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the Lenten season. Being raised Catholic Grandma made sure that I remembered to eat a big “fat” dinner that Tuesday every year because Wednesday meant a day of fasting and giving up something for Lent.

Over the years, I saw images and scenes depicting Mardi Gras festivals in places around the world. Even in school we were briefed on its history.

Mardi Gras is a season every year that really starts as Carnival and climaxes on Fat Tuesday. In places like New Orleans it has a very long history and more meaning than just the crazy costumes, beads, revelry, drunkenness, flashing and parades.

Knowing I was going to be in New Orleans during Carnival my planning included web research to brush up on the facts and found this Mardi Gras history lesson to be pretty concise and informative. I got lost in web land and remembered reading a book a few years ago, Downfall of a Good Girl. This sweet romance really piqued my interest in this annual event. Every time I see an NCIS: New Orleans episode around the week of Mardi Gras my yearnings persist.

2018 is my year. The Tri-Centennial Year of the city of New Orleans. Me. And my friends. In the Big Easy for Carnival.

Comparing my itinerary with the official Mardi Gras 2018 calendar brought out giddy girl excitement. Why? Well, the moon and stars aligned for me because the first parade of the season in the French Quarter hosted by Krewe du Vieux was the Saturday I was going to be in town. Yahoo!

Fast Forward to my trip. We went.

We stood in the crowds.

We met new people.

We had a great time experiencing a satirical and quite traditional Krewe Parade.

Satirical? Really? Oh my! Yes! This was not a parade for the narrow-minded. Nor was it a parade I would take minor children to. (This is certainly a parental choice. I did see a few children there and I am certainly not judging.) This year’s theme, in my mind was a sufficient warning.

The Krewe’s satire was bawdy and suggestive all while poking fun, or not so fun, at the Local Water and Sewer Commission. Some Krewes in New Orleans now steer away from some of these traditional satirical themes. Many use modern ways of pulling the floats. Krewe du Vieux (wikipedia.com) still holds to tradition with horses and mules.

History of Krewe du Vieux

Krewe du Vieux is quite known for bringing along the best Brass Bands in New Orleans.

better parade images than mine (nola.com) warning…some of these images are graphic and may be deemed inappropriate.

I loved the entire experience and pretty sure my friends did too. The throws ran the gamut from pieces of candy and mini frisbees all the way to these raucous fans.

I captured a few videos I have uploaded to my YouTube channel, She Sips Coffee. Feel free to stop over and take a peek. You will find them here.

Knowing what I now know about Krewe history in New Orleans and seeing a parade, I have a whole new respect for the hard work done by these organizations. Not just during the Carnival season, because the work gets done year-round. Many work to raise awareness and many drive philanthropic agendas. They plan themes and floats probably almost as soon as they tear down the last one. As millions of people swarm the Bayou to party, I wonder how many know the history and honorable work of many of these men and women in these organizations? The annual parades and balls boost the local economy each year and lots of crazy stuff happens. I wanted to learn another side, or the why behind a theme. I watched for the message the Krewes were sending to the local politicians. Colorful images with creative puns and bawdy humor were prevalent from float to float tying to the theme and proving the hard work of the smaller Krewes that collectively form Krewe du Vieux. It wasn’t about the best Brass bands marching in between although they set the pace and gave us a party rhythm. We danced. We laughed. We were shocked. We were awed.

I wish I could have seen more parades and taken part in a Krewe Ball or two. Guess I just have to plan another visit to The Big Easy and soak more of it in.

The day after the parade, I saw this on a corner in the French Quarter. (It wasn’t raining.)

I immediately thought about why they chose their theme. Ten years after Katrina and essentially with NOLA being 300 years old, I believe there is work to be done to ensure a sound place to live. And don’t you want to believe New Orleans citizens want to offer a great city for you and me to visit? I appreciated the satire even more. Seems the opinion of the Krewe is that it is time for change.

Have you been to Mardi Gras or Carnival in New Orleans or other cities? Share your stories and memories in the comments below. Please!

Posted in lists, Planning, Reflection, travel, vacation

New Orleans-Day 1 Reflections

Are you ready to travel along with me and hear about my 2-week adventure? You helped me pack and plan. Now I am ready to explore.

I didn’t even sleep a wink like I suspected. I don’t know about you, even at 47 years old I still anticipate the trip and stay awake the night before my vacation. I tend to watch movies and triple check the packing list because the last things to pack are important: hygiene, health, and beauty items.

So with no sleep I headed to the airport with my bestie Trish. And on each flight our giddy inner-selves emerged. And we met fellow Rock Boaters along the way and made sure everyone in social media circles knew we were coming.

We skipped fruit juice with breakfast and opted for the adult version in-flight. Why not? And even better, they were free.

Southwest last minute repairs had us departing late and worried about our connections. Juggling passenger flight changes while we waited so lots of people, including my bestie, ended up on different flight which coincidentally was my connecting flight. We met up with our other friends in NOLA baggage claim and headed to the hotel together.

The first day was packed full of fun. We stopped in at Famous Door and listened to music.

We waited with anticipation for our first parade.

I will write a separate post about the parade. I promise. That experience was amazing.

We ended up visiting bars on Bourbon. We loved Ticklers the most. We spent about 8 hours there with the dueling piano guys. And ran into friend after friend who would be joining us on the cruise. Sing alongs and drinks and merriment make for a great day. We made our way to famous Pat O’Brien’s because you have to have a Hurricane from that place. You just have to! And ran into more friends. Such fun.

I found out the next morning I did a few shots and we are a late night breakfast close to the hotel. Ummm. I would say day One was amazing fun. Wouldn’t you?

Have you imbibed in New Orleans on Bourbon Street? What was your experience like?

More tomorrow…I am sipping coffee now.

Posted in Family, Goals, Planning, Reflection, Vision

Managing Mondays with Weekend Wisdom

“Six o’clock already…I was just in the middle of a dream.” Do you remember that song, “Manic Monday” by The Bangles? What about, “Rainy Days and Mondays” by The Carpenters? Why do we let Mondays or whatever day is the start of our week influence our moods such?

There are some Mondays when the unthinkable happens and it just seems that Murphy’s Law presides. The alarm clock didn’t go off or I slept through it. I am out of coffee! (Gasp!) The kids refuse to get up. My dog (any of the three) took off with one of the shoes I planned to wear hoping that keeps me from leaving. It is pouring rain. I can’t find my lunch box or my work I.D. Some Mondays just seem like the worst day ever before I step foot out of the house. Tell me I am not alone.

It always seems that Manic Mondays turns into a snowball of a week that continues to get bigger the next day and the next. On a week like that getting to Friday seems to be impossible and all I want to do is crawl under the covers each day in defeat asking if there is a “do over” button somewhere.

Here I am. Another Monday. It has a way of sneaking up on me. Today is not rainy. It is not manic. I am sipping coffee and I am enjoying my quiet time. I am working from home. There is no school because it is MLK Day. But not every Monday is so simple. I decided last year to do my best to take back Mondays from Murphy’s Law. To do that I had to find a way to manage the day. And step one for every Monday starts with some pre work over the weekend.

Weekend Wisdom

I am like many folks and I have certain tasks I plan to do every weekend. I run errands, launder clothes and complete other household chores. I used to feel accomplished but I also became annoyed because it didn’t feel like we were enjoying weekends as a family or with any rest.

My kids are older now and can share these responsibilities. Communicating expectations to everyone is important. So Sunday is my planning day. I plan menus, I set a cleaning schedule, and I batch cook ahead a few meals. I post these lists on the refrigerator and everyone knows what is for dinner and when I would like things to get done. We share the load. With work, school, activities and busy schedules deciding who does what when is something we each own our personal share. I also note important days to remember and post it on the fridge. Then, we can enjoy time together and I nag less. Who wants a nagging mom?!?

Here are this week’s beauties. (As you can see, I don’t make these pretty every time. I should use a pen that erases and I am sure a sticker or two with a splash of washi would be good. Depends on my day and how I am feeling. The kids don’t seem to notice or care.)

Visualize the Week Ahead

Sundays relax me. I love cooking and being in my kitchen. It gives me time ro meditate and start thinking about my upcoming week. I also love the thirty minutes or so I set aside on Sunday to create a visual for my week. Goals and lists. Planner crafting! These tools help me focus. Having a visual plan helps me Manage Mondays. I have more time to sip my coffee when I set my mind at ease knowing what to expect. I spend more time meditating which reduces my stress at the beginning of each day. Next Monday, I will share how I make my weekly visual, another secret weapon in my arsenal of managing Mondays.

Do you have secret weapons to help you plan and organize your days and weeks? Do you menu plan or have a cleaning list every week? How do you Manage Mondays? Please share below in the comments.

Posted in Reflection

Reflect and Reset

It is the last day of 2017 and I’m sipping my coffee. With each sip, I reflect on the good

and bad of 2017. It has been an interesting season of life. I look throughout my home and see the barren places that used to don holdiay decorations and think of the reset that happens at this time each year. Do you have this same imaginary button with the word “Reset” on it? Do you take time to reflect?

Reflect

In 2017, I did not take time to write out resolutions. The week before Christmas 2016 my maternal grandmother passed away. The passing of that 95 year-old powerhouse of a woman who stepped into my mother’s role for more than two decades really knocked the wind out of my sails blowing into 2017. She was always the first person I called on any holiday right after I poured my first cup of coffee. January 1, 2017, I remember sipping my coffee and tearfully meditating on her amazing life and the legacy she left for all of us. Her recipes, her creativity, her wisdom, her dignity, and strength are like pillars of support each and every day. As I reflect on 2017, I realize that she was the catalyst for many of the milestones and moments that mattered.

Musical Moments & Memories

I took my annual mom only vacation, The Rock Boat (2018 is coming soon). This really is a music lover’s ideal vacation. Being out on the ocean completely disconnected from every day life is a reset time full of the escapism that lets me recharge and come back refreshed. It gives me a chance to really miss my family.

I focused on more fun with my children this year. My son and I went to Vegas. My mother made sure that she took me when I turned 21. Traditions have to have a beginning. I look forward to repeating this with my daughter in 8 years. Music matters in our world, so we crossed the generational gap and enjoyed a Billy Idol VIP experience concert that included the meet and greet. I felt 16 again. My daughter, and future daughter-in-law joined me and friends in Isle of Palms, SC for Hazlenut Hang weekend where we explored history, beaches, and music. 2018 may see a return to Hang. I went with friends and my daughter to see U2. I supported Rock Boat artists that came to Phoenix while on tour: Sister Hazel, Carbon Leaf, Michael Franti, and Will Hoge. Spending this time immersed in music and surrounded by friends is memory making that never gets old to me.

T

The year ended with a bucket list item of major proportions for me. Carol Burnett. Ironically, her stop in Phoenix was on the one year anniversary of my grandmother’s passing. I watched that variety show every week with her and my mother as a little girl. What a tribute and way to honor all of the great women in my life than ending a year in a theater listening to her share stories, sing and answer audience questions. Spectacular.

Major Milestones

I bought a house! At age 47, this single mother bought a house. This is something my grandmother really wanted for me and for nearly all of 2016 we talked about these plans and how I thought I would have financial strength to make this bold step 2017. I’ve always rented. I wanted to do it earlier, but in 2013, I had a major setback with a house fire in a rental property and we had to reset priorities.

I found out I enjoy DIY and crafting. I love making wreaths for my new doors. And inside décor.

My grandmother and I would cook and craft together when I was younger. Over time, I didn’t think it was cool to craft. What may be more accurate is that I thought time was better spent on other pursuits. And sadly, I cannot tell you what I wasted time doing. I also reconnected with my joy of writing while sipping coffee. Each morning of quiet time, the only quiet time in my new home, is spent writing, reading, and meditating while I sip coffee.

I am celebrating a rare holiday feasting and eating season without gaining 10 pounds. I maintained. In 2017, I lost almost 30 pounds by making better choices. Yay!

Reset

I’m ready for January 1st. January is my reset time. I go back to work and hit the ground running on Tuesday. It is expected. Corporate America doesn’t have an “off switch” so we start right back where we left off with a fast and furious pace New Goals. New Priorities. More Changes. But personally and professionally, my reset button is already starting today. In my morning quiet, I’ve meditated and started thinking about my Vision of 2018. Instead of writing resolutions, I’m focusing on Proverb 31: 25. In that verse there are three key words that resonate to me: Strength, Dignity, and Laughs. This verse is much like the legacy my grandmother left me. She is Strong. Elle est forte.

Wednesday, is Vision Board day and I have been gathering images and words that will help me reset for 2018. My house will be filled with friends and crafts as I teach a workshop. All through the month of January, I will be goal setting for all the areas of my life, not just professionally. Watch for the posts as I share the steps I take to reset. I hope they will help you reset too.

Are you making resolutions? Do you make a vision board? What are your goals for 2018? I would love to hear how you reflect and reset in the comments below.