Tuesday, March 12, 2013


I have been plagued with forgetfulness all my life. It's a source of amusement and irritation to those who love and surround me. It's not such a big flaw that it brings great pain, but I recognize that it's inconvenient and annoying, mostly to me, but sometimes to others. Having gone through a whopping six phones in 4 months - two of which I personally lost - I have to say "this has got to stop!". But first, a little self reflection, a little digging into why this is happening, sprinkled about with some gratitude.

Why is this happening to me? I am a big believer in there being two sides to every character trait. So - let's start with the good news. I am creative, flexible and imaginative. The dark side to these traits provide a little insight into my forgetfulness. Creativity and imagination - often times I will have an idea and will be so internally caught up with and energized by my thoughts that I lose track of the mundane world around me. I have the ability to transport myself into a past or future time and place and imagine plans and details, but not notice that I am at that very moment putting putting my wallet into the same drawer that I just got a nail file from. Flexibility - borne out of my early life experiences in which my family lived around the world, and I went to 14 schools between Kindergarten and 12th grade - also has its darker side. My flexibility allows me to adjust to many situations and settings - I sleep like a baby in an airplane, car or hotel room. This same flexibility means that I don't have that bell clanging in my head when I walk away without a purse on my shoulder - sometimes I carry a purse and other times I don't, same for the phone. So, it may take me hours to even notice that I don't have some key thing (or keys themselves) that was left behind earlier in the day. 

Now for the gratitude. I have lost so many things in so many places and been extremely lucky to have things returned to me unharmed. This too has two sides. On the one hand, I don't crumble with panic when I misplace my wallet, because I've done that so many times and each time it has been returned - I have stories to tell. Once I left it in a public restroom at a mall on Christmas Eve. Several weeks later it was returned in the mail to me, intact, with a note apologizing for not returning it sooner. Versions of that has happened many times in my life. On the other hand - the fact that the Universe has taken such good care of me, makes me less vigilant about keeping track of my stuff. 

What to do? Well, I have some strategies that are helping me be better with this. 

* First, simplify - the fewer things I have to keep track of the better. This means that I carry only what I need to have on me,  and don't bother with things like umbrellas, sunglasses, water bottles, etc. that would be nice to have but that I will probably just leave somewhere. 
* Second, habits - with those all important items that I have trouble keeping up with (keys, wallet, phone) I use the Alzheimers strategies setting up routines to help me. So, I have places for these special items, a bowl in my entry way for keys, a spot in my car door for the wallet, etc. I recognize that arrival and departure times are the most prone to misplacing things, so I try to pay special attention at those times. 
* Third, and the most important, but hardest for me to do is to pay attention! Mindfulness is the real antidote to forgetfulness. Meditation, yoga and relaxation are the keys to mindfulness to me. Giving myself the time I need to just daydream, to make up elaborate plans in my mind, to journal, all these help me be more present and mindful in my daily life which then reduces forgetfulness. 

So next time I ask "Has anyone seen my keys? wallet? purse? phone?" I know that I really need to take some time to take a walk, read a book, daydream or write in my journal. 

DIY Happiness

Revelation - that ray of light through the clouds

During my recent drive to Austin I hawked the odometer, seeing it quickly reach the mileage required for an oil change. This used to be a source of dread for me, because I wasn't the one who changed the oil, someone else in our house was in charge of that, and it usually didn't get done. This time though, I felt something bordering on excitement, and once I got back to Denton I immediately took it in for service. It got me thinking, why the change in my experience of this same little thing - an oil change.

The answer begins with one of the many life lessons from my Dad. That is, the importance of maintenance - vehicles, property, equipment - and taking care of what you've already invested in. This maintenance was a source of irritation in my past relationship because I felt it was "the guy" who was supposed to take care of this - like Dad did for Mom. Here I am living alone, and rather than feeling lonely for someone to take care of these things for me, I feel happy to be doing this for myself.

That was my revelation: Do for yourself what you wish others would do for you. I recognized that I have wasted too much time wishing that the good people I have loved would do certain things FOR me like call, change the oil in my car, recognize my good qualities or remind me about things. When you are in a relationship or live with someone it's so easy to let the things that need to be done in your world slip into being that other person's responsibility, and feel resentful when it doesn't happen.

After one year of living alone it is clear that if something is important to me, I will get it done, and if it doesn't get done it wasn't all that important to me. In actuality, that's how my life was before I lived alone, just my perspective and expectations were different. Taking responsibility in this way frees me up to enjoy, appreciate and receive all those other things that people do, say and are. These gifts could easily be overlooked if I am caught up in expecting them to read my mind and heart and meet my needs.

I am drawn to people like me, people who are kind, generous, helpful and loving. So, I'm not saying that I'm the only one that does anything in my relationships. Just that we each do what's important to us, and if you're lucky those things overlap with what those you love think is important too. These ways of being are our social capital - that we share with others, and can also lavish on ourselves.

I am not waiting for "that perfect person" to come in my life to fulfill all these real and idealized needs and wants. I don't have to wait or look for that because I am already that perfect person. This means that everyone I love is officially off the hook. It's my responsibility to find, identify and enjoy the qualities and actions of others that make me happy, and surround myself with people who bring the most joy, love and happiness to my life by just being themselves.

Monday, March 04, 2013

USE IT UP With Heart

Heart Art Installation - Using up a glossy magazine

Frugal February is officially over, and was a great success! Find out more here. Marching on! Please forgive that, I have a tendency towards cheeziness and alliteration (Mend-it March was sorely tempting). Well, this month I am changing course to a less practical and more reflective iteration of my USE IT UP theme.

On the month that promises springtime and new beginnings, I'm taking a look at my relationships and social connections. I will be using up some Social Capital, both generating it, sharing what I have, and accepting what's offered to me. Social Capital involves social and interpersonal human networks of exchange, interaction and support. Having worked my entire career in the field of education and human development it's really easy to feel like "I already do that at work". I'm resisting that this month and am going to USE UP some of my artistic and interpersonal skills in a more social way. You see, my independence and self-sufficiency can isolate me, and while I don't feel lonely, I do feel insulated at times.

So, my goals for a heart-filled USE IT UP March are as follows:

* engage in positive social experiences and exchanges
* practice and accept random acts of kindness
* communicate love and regard for the lovelies in my life
* ask for and offer forgiveness
* practice generosity by identifying a cause to contribute to for the rest of the year

If I think of other things as I go along - you'll hear about it!

Friday, March 01, 2013

Confirmation and Temptations

home made deodorant - feels and smells so good!

It has been surprisingly easy to not spend any money this month, for the following reasons:
  • It's only a month, how hard can that be? Makes me feel like taking on other monthly challenges on things I've been meaning to improve on.
  • I've travelled for work a few times this month which had me eating out - which I do a couple of days a week at work normally and would have missed.
  • I already have everything I need anyway.
  • I watched Zeitgeist, wow, major confirmation.
  • Natural Grocers opened in Denton and I got some great snacks and groceries, which have made home made lunches awesome
  • When I ran out of deodorant and laundry soap, I had so much fun making my own!
Here are temptations that I managed to resist:
  • One dollar donuts at Denton Square Donuts - "donuts" does not do them justice, they are kolache type pastries, and absolutely delicious!
  • A second pair of Puma sneakers
  • A vacuum cleaner, I've been in my digs for a year...it's time...
  • $10 ticket to theater production of O'Keefe
  • A can opener - will probably have to get one now, but I borrowed and met a new neighbor!
  • An iron for crafty projects (you don't think I iron my clothes do you?) - I put the word out I'm doing an exchange with a friend, her old iron for some handmade earrings! 
True confessions time, here are the temptations that I have NOT resisted:
  • Postage on mailing some Valentine goodies to my sweeties
  • A LARGE Starbucks Misto on a rainy drive from Austin to Dallas
  • $3 car wash, which may not have really been cheating but it felt like it so it probably was
  • $35 for technical assistance for Toshiba to fix my TV signal (should that "count")?
  • $15 for lunch - a lunch meeting for work that had already been set up long ago
I had several breakfast/lunch meetings that had been set up before I decided to go frugal in February. That's where it gets interesting - as mentioned, one of them I went ahead with and spent about $15 on and that was fine. The other two I went ahead with and the other person insisted on picking up the tab! That was so generous of them, and normally I would have put up more of a fight, but I thought it was so cool that they took care of me like that. (No, I didn't mention to any of them beforehand that I was being frugal in February). I will definitely be paying it forward!

Bottom line on the savings: $428. How did I calculate this? Well, in January I spent $681 in various expenses other than bills, but including groceries (I couldn't tease that out because I use cash for groceries). I had $400 in cash that I was supposed to use for groceries and miscellany and  I used that plus $281 in things such as shoes, gifts and eating out once the cash ran out. In February I spent a total of $253 including groceries and the $51.25 in miscellany that crept in. 

What have I learned from this? Well, I've learned that I am pretty frugal already. To get even better I think I need to get a little more cash to spend every month, and then when it runs out it runs out. I'm going to try that and not use the debit card at all if possible. If I can do that, and save some cash on the side for extras, I think I will do better on the miscellany. And, I am going to continue to bring my lunch to work every single day, rather than eat out. I have plenty of opportunities to eat out when I travel for work, I'll make the best of that, and I will save eating out for weekends with the girls and friends. Other than that, I feel like I'm on the right track!