Rainy Days and Mondays Always Get Me Down

As the old Carpenters’ song goes, “Rainy days and Mondays always get me down.”

Not really.

Fridays are my favorite day of the week; but Mondays don’t really bother me. I’m happy to have been given another day to live, laugh, and serve.

You too?

Growing up in the late 1960’s and early 70’s, I loved (and still love) the songs of Richard and Karen Carpenter.

Monday’s aren’t bad days by default; however, today was somewhat of a double-whammy kind of day. And it may not end well, either.

Read on.

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2014 : A New Year = Promises + Plans + Possibilities

 

2014 block of green

 

Ah, welcome to 2014.

A new year full of promises, plans, and possibilities.

Yes, I’ve been away for a while (too long) and my blog has a gaping hole in it.  But I’m not going to fret about things in the past.

And you shouldn’t either!

Let’s make this year a time for focusing on the important stuff.  {Click here to tweet that thought.}

For me, the next twelve months will have laser-beam focus on the following:

Grace — I want to extend grace and forgiveness to my family, my co-workers, and to the world in general.  God has extended so much grace to me.  I want to do the same.

Gratitude — I take too much for granted.  It’s time to look at the smallest things and feel thankful for them.  Examples:  the heated seats in my car on a morning where the temperature is hovering around 11 degrees F; when my kids get along.  They are great kids, don’t get me wrong; however, it is pure bliss when they can be in the same room with each other for more than 15 minutes and co-exist.  Oh, how I love that.

Giving — In 2014 I want to ‘give’ by helping out more at home.  My wife handles SO MUCH of the day-to-day home-keeping tasks.  She needs a break.  And I need to step up and do my share.  I also need to be a better manager and coach at work.  I depend on my team members to do a lot.  And I need to be there for them — teach them, nurture them, and discipline them so they can become better at what they do.

Simplification (which continues to include some major de-cluttering projects) — This seems to be on my list every year.  I struggle with keeping my world clutter-free.  The plan is to simplify:  file away papers, keep my closet in good shape, keep clutter from accumulating in all the popular places (kitchen counter tops, dressers, in the car, and a few hundred other places.  It never used to bother me — but now — it does.  There are plenty of opportunities for de-cluttering my world.  {Click here to tweet that thought}

What about you?  What are your plans for the new year?

 

What’s your Life Purpose?

Whats your life purpose

Preface:  This post is a bit longer than most.  But…it’s an important topic and I had to get it out there.  Thank you for taking the time to read it.

 

Over the past weeks, months, and (yes) years, I’ve been asking myself (and others!) what my Life Purpose is.

Some days, the question seems to take on a life all its own and absolutely puts me out of commission.  My mind is in a funk.  And I feel like I can barely breathe.

It’s a scary feeling.

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Life Lessons at College

Life Lessons at College Banner

College Days

My wife and I took our oldest son to college this weekend.

We’ve been preparing ourselves for this big event for many months.  And, we thought we were ready to ‘let him go’.

Let me tell you:  it’s a tough, tough act.

Oh, but the life lessons you can learn at college.

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CRAFTY DAD TIP :: Preaching the Planning Sermon Again

Organizer - daily planner over white

Today’s Sermon is All About Planning

I’ve been preaching this for a long time:  PLANNING is key to your success.

I tell my kids how important planning is.  I share the concept with my team members at work too.

Simple truth:  Winston Churchill was so right when he said, “He who fails to plan, plans to fail.”

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How a Laundry Basket Saved my Marriage

laundry basket

 

On the “Great Husband” scale of one to ten, I’m certainly not a ten.  But I’m pretty sure I’m far from a one.  I should check with my wife.  Or not.

In my mind, I’m maybe a six or seven.  Some days I might even make it to the eight or nine mark.  Some. Days.

As of late, I’ve figured out how to move up a few notches.  And it has truly saved my marriage.

A little background.

I don’t drink.  I don’t gamble.  (I swear a little.)

I’m a family man.  Love my wife.  Love my kids.  Love my dog.

Cleaning house?  Certainly.  I’m happy to.  Wash dishes?  Move over.  I’ll do that too.

Mop the kitchen floor?  Yes, thanks.  I find it therapeutic.   Take out the trash?  No problem, I was going to the garage anyhow.

Toilet seat?  Returned to the ‘down’ position every time.

Toilet paper?  I’ve replaced many, many empty rolls in my day, thank you very much.  (Now, if could just teach a couple boys how to do that – life would be good.  Really good.)

Do the laundry?  Whoa!  Wait a minute.  That’s where I draw the line.

I’ve been doing laundry for a long, danged time.  I helped my mom when I lived at home.

I did laundry in college too.  I did screw up once.  I put all my clothes in a ‘steam dryer’.  My dress pants lost their creases.  I had clown pants for the rest of that semester.

It was a life-learning experience.  For sure.

I used to help my wife (even BEFORE we got married) with laundry.  We spent many an hour in  the laundry room at Le Chateau apartments.  You can ask her!

It was AFTER we got married when it happened.

See, there was this time when I tried to help my wife by doing laundry.  And.  I failed.

It was an epic failure.

My wife’s favorite sweater came out of the dryer about 4,523 sizes smaller than when it went INTO the dryer.  It was awful.

My heart stopped.

And it was that day that I did my last load of laundry.

(Don’t tell my wife, but there are times when I will sneak in a load of towels or cleaning rags.  I feel pretty safe with those.)

 

Here’s the part about the laundry basket.

Still with me?  Okay, because this is where is starts to get really good.

While I consider myself an above-average husband (and dad too) I am in the negative zone when it comes to keeping my clutter under control.

Hello.  My name is Mike and I have a clutter problem issue.

I tend to collect things.  Empty boxes, bottles and envelopes.  Pieces of meaningful (and meaningless) paper.

I subscribe used to subscribe to too many magazines.  Coins and receipts and nuts and bolts and carwash tokens tend to come out of my pants pockets and onto the kitchen counter.

Where they die a slow death.  It’s a pitiful thing.

My computer bag overflows with papers and printouts and library books and pencils and pens.

The work surface of the desk in the master bedroom is many times covered with ‘stuff’.  Like camera bags, warranty information, spiral notebooks, calendars and maybe even a coffee cup.

The basement is full of electronics, craft supplies, tools, and gadgets and gizmos a-plenty.

Really.

 

Clutter bothers my wife – a lot.

Ask my wife and she’ll tell you that she really doesn’t mind cleaning the house.  It’s the time needed to clear the clutter that drives her into a frantic fit.  It’s a two-step process:  You have to de-clutter before you can actually clean.  Uggh!

Not to stereotype, but guys sometimes just don’t get it.  We hear the same message over and over again, but it never really sinks in.  It’s the old in-one-ear-and-out-the-other process.

Men should outgrow that.  As soon as they possibly can.  Preferably when the wedding band goes on the ring finger.  Just saying.

 

The light bulb moment.

Here’s where laundry and clutter come together.

Since I’m forbidden to help with the laundry.  Actually I get to fold clothes now.  But still can’t use the washer or dryer, okay?

It occurred to me that a laundry basket can hold quite a bit of stuff.  And with the two handles, it’s really easy to carry that ‘stuff’ around.

I wonder.  What if I used the laundry basket to help move my clutter (and my kids’ clutter) from where it isn’t supposed to be, to where it should be?  Ding! Ding!

Winner. Winner. Chicken dinner.

I’m getting better and better at the de-cluttering process.  Over the past few months, I’ve purges lots of stuff from the basement and garage.  Most of it has gone to places like Goodwill.

A lot of the junk-junk has been thrown away or recycled.  I’m a freak when it comes to recycling.  Please don’t let me catch you put a plastic bottle or glass jar in the trash.  That’s like fingernails on the chalkboard for me.

At least once a week, you’ll see me and my laundry basket making trips from room to room and going from upstairs to downstairs.  It’s AMAZING the amount of crap clutter you can accumulate in just a week.

Here are some tips that you might find useful to cut down on your clutter:

Eliminate or cut back on magazine subscriptions.  Do you really have time for them?  Can you subscribe to the digital version on your iPad or Kindle or Nook?

Process daily newspaper and mail – daily.  Don’t let this one get away from you.  Junk mail should be shredded, recycle or trashed.  With the crazy amount of identity theft that goes on, I highly recommend you use a paper shredder.  We use this one (link to amazon) and love it.

Bills and other ‘must keep’ mail should be processed daily (or as close to daily as possible).  I’m NOT a fan of buying storage containers to put your junk in, but I AM a huge fan of having an inbox or in-basket in your kitchen or home office.

Mail, important papers, field trip forms, etc., etc., should be put in the basket and processed daily (or as often as possible).

We have a built-in desk in our kitchen.  Our checkbook, debit card receipts, incoming mails (the important stuff) goes in the basket.  At least every other day we update the checkbook and shred the receipts.  We open the mail and, assuming it’s a bill, we make sure it’s accurate (especially the credit card and gasoline card bills).

The due date is written on the outside of the envelope and the envelope (with the bill inside) goes in the ‘bill drawer’.  We keep our bills rubber-banded together in due date order.  The bills that are due the soonest are on top.

I can hear many of you asking, “Why don’t you handle your bill-paying electronically and avoid the paper mail altogether?”  Great question!  The chief bill-payer at house is my wife.

If your wife prefers to handle bill-paying the old-fashioned way:  with paper bills and paper checks, you just stay quiet and go with the flow, okay.  We’ve been married for almost twenty-six years.

Some things you just don’t question.  (Ask me how I know.)

I’m doing okay now.

Me and my laundry basket have a great thing going.  And I’m moving higher and higher on the “Husband Scale” every week.

 

What is your best advice for keeping clutter at a manageable level?  You can leave a comment below.  I’d love to hear from you.

 

 

Planning is a GOOD Four Letter Word!

500x500 tipstricks plan your week ribbon

This is big.

Probably the biggest and best thing you can do for yourself on the weekend is to make plans for the upcoming week.  The payoff is huge.

I know:  it cuts into your weekend free time.  But once you get in the hang of it, it really doesn’t take that long.  And I’m telling you, you will be SO glad you did it.

What kind of plans, you ask?  The important ones:  meals and kids are the two biggies.  Work and social obligations are also items worthy of a good planning session.

Sitting down on a Sunday afternoon and plotting out the next week takes some time.  And it takes time to make the habit stick.  But, take it from me, it is a habit worth creating.  You like to eat don’t you?  You don’t want to leave you son or daughter stranded at school do you?  Didn’t think so.

There’s nothing worse than sitting at your desk at work when 4:30 rolls around and you’re wondering to yourself, “what are we going to have for dinner?”  My wife and I have been there and done that a few too many times.  You too?

But we’ve gotten better.  A lot better.

To get a handle on the new week, here’s what we look at on Sundays:

Food plan (grocery lists, cooking schedules, etc.)

We do most of our grocery shopping on the weekend.  Before we drive off to the food market, we make a list of all the items we’ll need.  Going to the grocery store without a list is asking for trouble.  Trust me.  : -)  My wife and I figure out the meals for the weekend and (at least) Monday and Tuesday’s dinners too.  Many times, there’s leftovers from the weekend that will get eaten up on Monday night.

Weekend Food Prep

This weekend, we make two meatloaves, a big pot of chili and shredded taco chicken.  I also made up a batch of chicken salad (love that stuff).  I’m doing the low-carb diet these days and chicken salad is a great option for me to have around.  By the way, you can follow my low-carb journey here.  Yes, I’m blogging about it.  I’m sort of that way:  when I really get “into” something, I have to create a website and blog about it.  I’d love to see you tune in.  Comments are ALWAYS appreciated.

Appointments (doctor, dentist, etc.)

Life is busy.  There seems to be at least one appointment during every week that we need to plan for.  With a family of four, that’s not unusual.  Especially with the horrible cold and flu season we’ve had this winter, it seems like one of us is at the doctor’s office every week.  It’s crazy!  (Note to self:  add “I appreciate my medical insurance” in your gratitude journal tonight.)

School (sports practice, band concerts, etc.)

Okay, so with two boys (one who is infatuated with sports) there’s ALWAYS something going on.  Matt is on the middle-school wrestling team (much to his parents’ chagrin — a topic for an entirely different blog post).   He has either a practice or a wrestling meet pretty much every day after school.  And sometimes on Saturdays.  Intense.  That’s our Matt — intense! :-)

Since I work 45 minutes from home, my wife handles 90% of the transporting needed to get people where they need to be.  (Thank you honey!)  Even so, we both keep our calendars in synch with the week’s activities.  Things come up and if she needs to stay late or meet with a client, I can pinch hit and make sure Matt gets picked up.

Winston Churchill once said,”Failing to plan is planning to fail.”  And boy was he right.

Your turn:  how do you keep track of all the things you have to do?  Share your tips in the comment section below.

 

 

We Are All Accountable…to Ourselves.

I am responsible for:

  • my thoughts
  • my attitude
  • my performance at work
  • my relationship with my wife and kids
  • the food I put in my mouth
  • the words that come out of my mouth
  • my children’s education
  • the exercise that I get (or don’t get)
  • the kind of kids my kids hang out with
  • the upbringing of my children
  • the friends I choose
  • my success or failure
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