Wednesday, January 30, 2013

From Mari With An Eye to Mari Moose to Massive Head Wound Mari: Aren't Nicknames Fun?

Photo credit: Enokson via photopin cc

I don't know what got me thinking about nicknames, but the more I thought about the various monikers that have either been bestowed on me by others or earned by me through multifarious measures, each represents my Real Reality at some point in my life. Thinking about these names and their origins provided a lovely stroll down memory lane. Enjoy!

Mary Had a Little Lamb/Mary, Mary Quite Contrary: While not really nicknames, these nursery rhymes pop up randomly throughout my life at the mention of my name. It still happens on occasion, which is a bit unsettling considering the words usually ooze from the lips of grown men.

Mary Magdalene: My Uncle Merle called me by this name throughout my childhood. The way he  said it, with a twinkle in his eyes, let me know it was a good nickname.

Mari With An Eye: Way (WAY) back when, when I was young, single and carefree, my also-fresh-from-college work colleagues attached this nickname to me. Apparently, it was a way for everyone to delineate between another group member who spelled her name with a "Y" and me. The name stuck, as all nicknames worth their salt should.

Massive Head Wound Mari: This one I earned the hard and dangerous way. Luckily, it only stuck for the duration of a weekend camping/float trip full of wild and crazy single people (same group that labeled me "Mari With an Eye"). The canoe I was in tipped, and the river current pulled me underwater. As I went under, I hit my head on a low-water, concrete bridge. Um ... ow. Obviously, and thankfully, all turned out OK.

Mari Moose: This one came about because I used to collect anything moose-related. I'm over it now, but the name still sticks among a certain group of people (yep, the aforementioned singles). It's fun to watch the reactions on people's faces when one of my old buddies yells, "Hey! Moose!" and a five-foot-tall, 107 lb woman responds. Not moose material.

Corndog: My friend, Diane the Diva, calls me this. My maiden name is Cornell and, well, somehow she turned that into Corndog. Which I'm OK with because I love me a good corndog.

What about you? I'd love to hear your nicknames and how they came about! Please share in the comments!

Wherever you are, whatever you're doing ... Keep It Real.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Art of To Do-ing

Photo credit: cathredfern via photopin cc

In my Ideal Reality, I'm a go-with-the-flow kind of gal. I love spontaneity and spur-of-the moment action. But, in my Real Reality, I'm a planned adventuress. I love exploring and discovering new things, but I need a plan and some idea in my mind, no matter how vague, of what to expect. That said, it shouldn't surprise you that I LOVE lists. I love reading lists, and I love making lists. LOVE. HEARTS. STARS. KISSES.

I make a To Do list (or three or four) every day. But awhile back, I realized I was not getting much accomplished. I set out to figure out why. Here's what I came up with. Maybe this insight into my swirlicious brain will help you out, too.

Set Limits. I used to keep a running To Do manifest that I added to ad infinitum. This activity caused me much grief and anxiety. Finally, I decided that I would put a max of 12 items on my To Do list each day. Obviously, I have to prioritize (Musts, Shoulds, Would Like To). If I have a gargantuan task to kill on a given day, my list contains fewer items.

Digital or Old School? I tried keeping my To Do list on the Cozi app for a long time. I love Cozi and use it every day, but keeping a daily task list on it just wasn't for me. I went Old School with pencil and paper. Believe it or not, it allows me more flexibility and instant access (see below). You have to decide what works best for you.

Create a List for Each Day of the Week. Like I mentioned before, at one point I had a running To Do list that I added to at will. the never-ending list tricked me into thinking I wasn't being productive enough. So when I decided to limit my list each day, I went in search of a weekly To Do list template. I found the perfect template at A Pair of And they said I could just have it! (You can, too, just click on the link). I printed it out, slid it into a pocket protector, paired it with a bright blue dry erase marker and Voila! I had a Weekly To Do list that I could easily add to or subtract from with the flick of a marker or a swipe of a paper towel. Simple and flexible. I keep it on a clipboard on my kitchen counter for instant access.

Create Separate Projects Lists. This is where Cozi comes in handy. I generated four separate To Do lists on it: Ongoing Projects, Home Improvement Projects, Ongoing Research and Kids. Since the items on these lists aren't pressing, I can keep a running list, check them from time-to-time and not have a freak out. When something does become a pressing issue, it's moved to my Daily/Weeky To Do sheet.

There you have it! How about you? How do you keep yourself organized? Leave a comment below!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Make It Count: The Theme For Living My Life in 2013

A few weeks ago, a video of Maurice Sendak's final interview circulated around Facebook. It was heartbreaking yet inspirational. The above video features the last five minutes of that interview, put to illustrations and music by Christoph Niemann. The interview ends with Sendak repeating,  "Live your life, live your life, live your life." A beautiful theme, is it not? It got me thinking about life and themes, and I decided to try one out (a theme, not a life ... I have one of those ... kinda) for 2013. I think I'm going with MAKE IT COUNT. Here's what I'm thinking ...

Connect. As much as I love social media, I miss real conversation. For those of you who know me well, you will find this strange because you know conversating can give me the willies. Especially small talk. But I'm realizing that I miss meaningful phone calls and snail mail letters. I have one friend I talk with for about an hour a month on the phone, and I cherish that hour. I have two friends with whom I still exchange snail mail. Real letters. I love opening my mailbox and finding that little surprise! So, this year I want to connect with people in more meaningful ways. I want to take time to make phone calls, schedule meet ups, and write letters/notes/birthday cards.

Pay Attention. I'm not tuned in. People mention important events in e-mails and social media quips, and I just let them glide by. I want to be present. To listen. To be mindful of and more appreciative of the people in my world and to acknowledge more of the events that make up their lives.

Direction. I love that I have varying interests. I hate that I have varying interests. Because I never know which direction I want to go. I feel like I have to choose a path and stay on it. But that's no good because I get bored too easily. I want to find my one true thing. Is that possible? 

Experiences. I want more adventure. I used to go, do, risk. Now, it seems like I hermit more than anything. Although, I did zipline for the first time last year. You can read about how that went here. How do I take the ordinary to the extraordinary? How do I say YES more and be excited about it? The adventures don't have to be exotic or dangerous. Just new. Explore. Find. Discover. Marvel.

That's it. I should probably print this out or write this down and paste it front and center in my life. Otherwise, I'll just go dripping about the same way I always do.

What about you? What is your theme for the year? What do you want to accomplish?

Wherever you are, whatever you're doing  ... Keep It Real.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Behavior Charts Aren't Just For Kids ... At Least Not at My House

Several months ago, we created behavior charts for the peeps. We wanted to make them more mindful of their behavior and instill an element of personal responsibility and accountability to their sweet little lives. We use a rudimentary system of stars and X's. Attaining a certain goal means earning some sort of extrinsic reward. Sometimes they choose a toy from a dollar store; other times they get to play on one of our phones. We'll still working on transitioning them from extrinsic to intrinsic rewards as well as getting them to take care of chores without us telling them to do them. It's a process. Apparently, it's a long process.

For all these months, I've walked around in my Ideal Reality, the one in which I am model of perfect behavior. But last month, I checked into my Real Reality, where I realized that I, in fact, do not exhibit some of the positivie behaviors that I expect my peeps to demonstrate. Hello, hypocrite. Worse yet, I think the peeps pegged me as a hypocrite. They never called me out, but I could sense it in their expressions when I gave them an X for some negative behavior that I myself had displayed just  moments before. So, I put myself on a behavior chart.

I chose Junie B. Jones because that is who  my peeps are into right now. I would post a pic, but the "Choose File' button is missing from my Blogger photo upload screen. GRRRR. My categories are: Using Kind Words, Keeping My Temper, Using My Patientce, and Not Biting My Nails. For the week, I got X's in every category on almost every day. (This week, I've started off with all stars!!) And while I fail, and fail, and fail, I do notice that  my chart is making me more aware of  my behavior. When I hear myself speaking harshly, I change my voice. When I feel steam about to pour from my ears, I start breathing. When I realize I'm about to lose my patience to the point that I'll never find it, I walk away.

Putting myself on a behavior chart may seem odd to some, but it's working for me because I'm a visual person who likes to physically see her progress. The chart motivates me, and it constantly reminds me of my goals. It works for my family because it shows the peeps that everyone has areas in which they need to improve. And, they love it when we talk about our day and who earned stars! Although, I think they get a bigger kick out of me getting X's!

How about you? What are your areas in need of improvement and what strategies do you use to tackle them?

Wherever you are, whatever you're doing ... Keep It Real!