Saturday, August 31, 2013

Planks...and stuff.

Still doing the plank challenge but I had to adapt it for my own strength, or lack thereof haha. Here is how I've done it so far:

Day 1:    Plank hold 10, rest 10, 3 times.
Day 2:    Plank hold 15, rest 10, 3 times.
Day 3:    Plank hold 20, rest 10, plank hooooold darn almost to 20, rest 10, hold 15, done.
Day 4:    They think I'm ready to jump to 25? Ha! Repeat of Day 3.
Day 5:     Um, really, I tried to get to holding 25.
Day 6:    Plank hold 25, rest 10, 3 times, YES!
Day 7:    RESTED!

I've gone back to increasing my squat amounts along with this program and went back to using weights with my arms. Tonight will be a Plank night again.

Yesterday was just an off day with organization. As the week progressed I was doing less and less of the "extra" post-it notes, and by yesterday felt very down with accomplishing none of the tasks on the extras. I pulled out my planner at the end of the night to write in what I had done for the day. Before I started transferring the finished tasks into my planner (from the calendar post-it notes) I wrote "bad day" off to the side of the day's planner entry. I looked at the list in my planner and was pleasantly surprised to realize I had done all of my routine tasks plus a couple extras. Without realizing it! I had been feeling discouraged all day and almost let myself give up and chalk the less than stellar week of tasks off to my hurt foot...thankful I've kept up my "program" so I can see for myself that I actually am still getting things accomplished. Those are the days when I can see why Pam and Peggy ( Side-tracked Home Executives ) so strongly recommend attempting such big changes with a buddy (or several), to cheer each other on even when we feel like throwing in the towel.

Off to play some frisbee in the sunshine!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

What Happened to Customer Service?

During late spring I signed up for the Courier-Post, a Philly area newspaper. They were running a promotion in which new subscribers would receive an AMC gift card. My paper started but I never received a gift card. I tried contacting customer service for this paper but could never hit it at the right time. I called my carrier who said she had no control over the gift cards. 

I did not pay for the following subscription period so that I would end the subscription; the company certainly "reached out" to me then, with collection notices and emails! I spoke with someone and told her I would gladly pay AND renew, IF she would guarantee I would receive the gift card. She did, as did the supervisor that got on the line to verify the order. That was in the beginning of August and my subscription was to start the 2nd weekend of the month.

The weekend arrived but no papers appeared. The newspaper has a subscription line to call and report no paper...if you manage to catch the limited window of hours available to call. I used the website to send an email but got no response and, when another weekend came and went with NO PAPERS again I took to twitter, thanking them for the scam to get customers to sign up! (hey, I was really mad!) I did get a twitter response within hours with an email address, to which I sent the requested information. The person on twitter told me I'd hear from someone by the next day (which was last Monday). I finally got a call on Wednesday and the gentleman took my information, apologizing and explaining there was a new carrier that was working the route now but that he would forward my info to customer service. Thursday a voice mail was received by me and I was a bit too annoyed to return the call. The woman said that the gift card promotion required me to sign a premium form and, since they "still" had not received that from me (implying it was all MY FAULT!) they would send a new form to me and get my subscription straightened out. 

Hey guess what--that's right, nothing in the mail and no paper on Saturday. This morning I got a Sunday paper: laying on the sidewalk, no plastic bag, no special Sunday sections, no comics, no inserts, and NO COUPONS. I left the woman that called earlier in the week a voice mail and have tweeted. This is ridiculous and unacceptable. Where is customer service? Where is the thinking that "the customer is always right"? I understand that there are loads of people that stretch the limits of customer's always right and they have made things difficult for legitimately dissatisfied consumers; however there comes a point when a company representative needs to be able to look away from the computer screen and try a human response! I am taking to the electronic option since this seems to be the only way to get their attention. I hope I have reason to update this entry with a positive outcome. 

PS At this point do they still really believe that a $10 gift card is going to fix everything??

Friday, August 23, 2013

Plank Challenge Day 1, Done!

I would have been on Day 6 of the the plank challenge I had been doing, but with having found the one I posted yesterday and having at least one FB friend doing this with me, I decided to restart. It already feels more doable and I'm certain using this method is working my muscles more efficiently.

Getting my foot put in an orthopedic boot today (if that's what it is called) is NOT going to sideline neither my fitness nor organization goals, no way, no how! If I have to adapt some things a bit I will but as of today I am staying on track. Are you with me?

Here is the challenge in case you missed it yesterday :)

30 Day Plank Challenge

Okay I admit that I'm a little late to this party, but off I go! Youngest two are gleefully doing this, too. I apologize if I just made you spit out your drink or choke on something you just ate; let me rephrase to reflect reality--youngest two are doing this. Period. End of discussion. Hug hug warm fuzzies all around!

I've been using this chart:
I just completed Day 5 and that jump up to 40 seconds was rough (trembling was so bad in the last 10 seconds I bet there's a heightened Richter scale measurement!), and looking at the Day 30 hold of 5 minutes almost has me tossing the whole idea. Hold a plank for 5 full minutes?? Seriously, who has 5 full minutes. 

With my panic in full swing that I would never be able to build to that I hit up good old Google and decided to blog about it, too, hoping someone will do attempt this with me. Hey, you'll be doing my kids a favor! I found this Plank Challenge and, with the hold times being broken up, I know I can do this! I love that this shows options for the plank positions, too.

The kids are sort of building their own challenge. I had them take the position and hold it for as long as they could the first day, and as long as they at least hold that amount or increase by at least 1 second each day, I approve. After seeing the above photos, I realize they could have been using their knees but um, well, we all make mistakes, right? Guess I'll take that drill sergeant cap and whistle off....

Let me know if you're doing this, too by commenting!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Progress not Perfection!

I have said and read "Progress not Perfection" frequently through the years. I've preached it to my children and to myself over and over and over; how shocked I was to realize I was preaching to the choir while I was the congregant with earplugs AND fingers jammed in her ears, stomping her feet in anger, frustration, and confusion at this message. No matter how many articles, books, blogs, statuses, tweets I read to support the statement, I could not accept this for myself.

Through learned behavior from different, well um, negative "life experiences" I believed that everything I did was just not good enough rather than baby steps forward. I could encourage anyone and everyone that they should be proud of each and every achievement no matter how small it may seem, yet if my own action was small I would berate myself for not doing it better. While I never used the word "failure" for myself it was always tossing around in my mind, sometimes a quiet but constant little whisper that was just enough to keep grabbing my attention away from whatever task was being attempted; upon distraction that whisper would become a screaming, screeching voice bringing a pain so deep I was at times reduced to tears. 

Lists were, to me, evidence of all the things I didn't do. While all "the experts" (many I truly admire, including my oldest daughter) kept insisting successful people make lists, my answer was always "yea, but..." or "they just don't work for me!" I could not get past those things that didn't get crossed off and the thought of carrying those items forward--adding them to the next day's already full record--was not only failing but also impossible and overwhelming!

I stumbled across another book, about a week into this jambalaya of techniques I'm implementing, called Organizing for Your Brain Type: Finding Your Own Solution to Managing Time, Paper, and Stuff , by Lanna Nakone . After only reading the first few paragraphs I thought, "She knows ME!" The descriptions of my brain type(s) seemed tailored just for me. Being able to connect accurately and directly to a specific "type" allowed me to further break free of the hard barriers I had built in my mind against organization, and left me with an empowered feeling with the knowledge that I can't possibly be alone in this if there is a published book! "Number of times a piece of paper is moved before it is tossed or filed: 8", writes Ms. Nakone. Reading her analyses and suggestions was like reading something in a language I hadn't realized was my native tongue.  Everything made sense and filled me with a sense of calmness in attitude I have never experienced in my life.

I am still a work in progress, I still have far to go. Last week I added several new post-it notes to the top of my calendar. Not every post-it was making it to the calendar day and I was starting to feel discouraged. Rather than scrap the entire project (as I would have in the past), I looked those post-its straight in the--well, okay, I looked straight at those still up top and said, "it is OKAY, I'll move you a different day!" And you know what? It really was okay, because still that calendar day box was filled with completed tasks! Realizing a couple of the notes were too broad or had more than one task on them, I began to erase certain things. My initial self-reaction was negative and punishing; I felt my throat begin to tighten and burn with the urge to cry making an attempt to surface. NO! I was not going to, and did not, allow that stinkin' thinkin' to have its way with me, I'm no longer that kind of girl!

I erased and edited. An example: one sticky note had "tighten legs of living room table" and "clean living room table". I erased the first part and changed "clean" to "straighten". Clean is a perfection word in my book (no, it's not written just!), but straighten is kinder and more flexible. I went to write the "tightening" on the next day in my planner but had the brilliant idea to write it 3 days further into the week, knowing that I still have a tendency (inexplicable--though it is attributed to my brain type!) to avoid something written down. I tricked my own brain into tightening the table the next day! Ron commented on my previous post how good rewards are; it may seem silly to need rewards at my YOUNG age yet perhaps by considering it "silly" was another way I was being far too harsh with myself. The journey continues...join with me!

My dining room table every night, and the most recent calendar day!

There's a website for Ms. Nakone's book! Organized World Website

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Oh Heck Organization continued

Here's the beginning of my, well for lack of a better word, system. On each sticky note is one daily task. I started with more than one task per note, however I quickly realized *for my preferences* the only thing accomplished there was feeling like a failure if everything on the note wasn't done. Now, one task per note only! As each task is accomplished I move it to the day it was done. It might seem silly but it makes me happy seeing them all piled up on any one day!                  

At the end of the night I pull out my planner and write each accomplished task for the day and cross of the day in the planner, then move the sticky notes back into the memo section of my wall calendar and cross the current day off on there, too. With this system I am getting not one, not two, but THREE affirmative actions each day to encourage me to move forward! 

A bonus is I'm looking at both calendars each night which keeps me aware of upcoming events. Perhaps you'll see us on time and on a more consistent basis...hmmm, I hear the footsteps of people running for the hills...

I'm doing the same with the kids. The teen girl is resistant. Wait, let me rephrase that--she DESPISES this! Not only is this a change, she sees this as an attempt to comply to societal rules and we all know that teens are against those!! The preteen boy is enjoying the feeling of accomplishment with the movement of the sticky notes (I have the kids' notes on one side of the bathroom mirrors), though he is very happy to see only one or two move over. I've bitten my tongue so many times I'm surprised I can still speak; I am determined to let them work through this system and find what is "good enough" for them (for now lol) to allow time for the new habits to form. 

Beginning next week I will assign points to each task based on the approximate amount of time required to complete the task. This idea is from Pam and Peggy's book "Get Your Act Together", and I will be working on what/how exactly the points will be used over the week, most likely combining the point usage ideas from the book and adapting to our own lifestyle. Wish me luck and please please please share this journey with me! 

Pam & Peggy's book is available on Amazon!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Orga...Organiz...Or....oh heck.

If I can't even type out the word, clearly I have trouble with "it". That O word is an elusive idea that everyone else has and can maintain, except me. I've joked about it, I've lamented about it, I've attempted it, I've cried about it; I have never maintained it. Maybe, just maybe, I'm beginning to chip away at the key to that lightbulb. (yes, those were intentional mismatched cliches)

The Flylady system has worked for me in the past but as soon as I'd feel stuck or as if I wasn't progressing I'd give up. It has just occurred to me that I AM MY OWN WORST ENEMY. Why it has taken this long to figure out is beyond me--I can tell anyone else they need to be easier on themselves and give themselves credit for trying yet not give myself the same courtesy! I'd just allow myself to believe that Marla's (Marla Cilley, Flylady founder) system just did not work for me and forever be in search of a better system. I've tried email groups and online only sites, read books and blogs...all through those years of searching I'd at least hear "just 15 minutes at a time" in my head, and even use the timer to keep focused on the task at home. Starting at the very beginning of May I started leaving a shiny sink every single night, and have only missed three nights over the past 3 months. Did I let myself see that as progress? No! At the same time I also began an exercise regimen, slowly building from 10 squats that first night, to now 80 squats, 100 crunches, and several different arm exercises. Surely I saw that as progress--nope. That stinkin' thinkin' of just not good enough apparently ran deeper than I thought.

Today I have finally realized I am making progress. Is it in the form of any one particular program? No, it isn't, though the sticky notes and calendar use and 15 minute work timers sure do resemble you a whole lot, there Marla lol! I'm not sure why I can't acknowledge I'm beginning to fly again, but I can at least say that something is beginning to work, and all I can do is keep moving forward. I'm also using Cozi calendar on my computer and phone. Will you take the journey with me? Tell me what's working for you. Born Organizers (BO's) please be kind if you comment or share :)

Today I'm celebrating that I've moved each morning sticky from the microwave to my calendar, including the zone mission for the day. I'm not organized, but I'm facing my challenges and forging through, and that is good enough!

FlyLady is
Cozi is

Rapping Mannings!

Heck yea! Don't know F.O.Y.P.? Consider yourself educated, and you are very welcome:

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Education Freebies!

A couple great free resources were posted on one my local homeschool groups today, so great I had to share them! While I can't vouch for what will be received because I just signed up today, the potential for what will arrive is terrific!

First is from the Nutrients for Life Foundation . You can order the FULL CURRICULUM, in all or any of 3 levels: elementary, middle school, high school. You can order a hard copy and/or a flash drive loaded with the curricula. Below is from the "What Your Students Will Learn":  
  • How many elements are essential to both plants and humans?
  • Why is it important to improve the health of our soil?
  • How much of the world’s land is available for food production?
  • What can farmers do to preserve our environment’s forests and other fragile resources?

There are posters (including a poster of the periodic table of elements), postcards, workbooks (again, for all grade levels), recipe cards, bookmarks and lots more. You can order as many as 75 of some items! All items are available for download AND hard copy orders, and all are free. This is fantastic for all types of schools, co-ops, and homeschoolers. 

UPDATE August 15, 2013--We got our box and it was even more than I imagined! As far as I know they are still accepting requests. So, GO! Nutrients for Life Website

Next is from NASA. Do I need to say anything? I hear free things from NASA and start drooling at the mouth and just about jumping out of my chair in excitement. Today's offer is three FREE DVDs, available for instant viewing or hard copy mailing:

  • 3D Sun 
  • Journey to the Stars 
  • Cosmic Collisions 

When you go to the website NASA Educator's DVD Collection you can select "view online",  or order hard copies of the DVDs.

**********I just found out that the DVD's are no longer available, along with many other resources formally available, however you can still watch online.