Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Secret to Better Mondays

I woke up this morning after a full night of sleep, the first one I've had in ages (yes, my kids sleep through the night just fine. Their mom, not so much.). I couldn't believe the snow outside our window, but I just had to laugh at winter's last grasp. I made my walk to the train without slipping, and that's all that I wanted.

I was carrying a giant poster tube to be dropped off at the Old South Church, our venue for the show (TEN MORE DAYS OMG), on the same block as the Boston Marathon finish line. Yesterday was the one year anniversary. I walked around a bit, and one of the church congregants struck up a conversation with me as we waited for the church to open. We stood beneath the banners installed for the anniversary, that were damaged when left outside for days while the site was a crime scene. It felt good being there. I sat in the sanctuary for a few moments, just taking everything in.

I got to work and found out that I'm going to travel to *Paris* in a few weeks. It's going to be just like "The Devil Wears Prada" except with more numbers and less Prada. Far, far less Prada. But still, Paris.

Then my Australian counterparts randomly sent me cookies ("biscuits") and a nice note. I've worked with them for years and that's never happened before, so it was an especially nice surprise.

I had lunch with my lovely friend Kimberly of Red Shutters. She's my conference buddy and we started talking about BlogHer '14 and I so can't wait.

The afternoon passed quickly and I got a lot of work done. I even decided to get my nails done before picking up the kids from aftercare, as I'd stress-picked off all my Shellac.

So why am I telling you all this? It was a good day, sure. But really, I think I've figured out the secret to having better Mondays. The secret is that they should happen on Wednesday, when you also know you have off on Friday. And then have lots of great stuff happen too. :)

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Being Busy

It's been a while since I've had a chance to write here.

It's been busy, like always, and in the past few weeks there have been articles giving that word, "busy," quite a bad rap. It started with a new book that I really want to read, "Overwhelmed: Work, Love and Play When No One Has Time." I definitely have my moments of overwhelm. There are some unnecessarily difficult circumstances that lead to situations like the one I described in this post, "Perfect Storm." But the articles I found myself disagreeing with are the ones that claim we use busy as a status symbol.

I *like* being busy. Two months into my freshman year of college, a friend I'd just barely gotten to know gave me the book "Meditations for Women Who Do Too Much" for my birthday. She'd clearly picked up on something that I don't think I'd really noticed about myself yet. But I remember thinking to myself that I just wanted to experience as much as I could, even if that meant it looked like "too much" to someone else. Nothing has changed since then.

I'm not trying to make you keep up with me, and I'm not judging you for not doing as much as me. Whenever I look at my life, the things that give me the most pleasure are the ones that keep me the busiest: things like LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER, regularly going to synagogue with my family, making dinner plans with friends, writing on this blog. Deciding to be less busy wouldn't take out the less fun aspects of life, like sweeping the floor and dealing with car repairs.

So don't worry that I'm too busy. I could spend more time at home, doing less, but it wouldn't translate into a less busy life, just a less full one.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Let It Go

"Frozen" fatigue is all over the internet, but I promise, this post is about more than a song that has captured little (and big) hearts everywhere.

You see, way back in the fall, before we had this winter's earworm firmly lodged in our brains, I was telling people that I was going to let some things go. Because if I was going to produce Listen To Your Mother Boston, some things were going to be left undone. The next few months were going to be an exercise in letting things go. Like the crumbs on the floor.

At the beginning of the year, I thought I was doing well. January came and went, filled with snow days, and that helped me keep a good handle on getting things done. February brought its own challenging weeks, and four very full days of auditions, but I took a day off of work to spend time cleaning and sorting. I even wrote a blog post in my head (um, yea, there are a lot more blog posts in my head than on my blog) about how producing a show is a form of self-care, because I was so in love with the audition process and the highs of putting together our cast.

March, however, was a different story. Too much cold, too much snow, too many emails sent that never got responses. And, unfortunately, too much time spent cleaning and not letting things go. I just can't. I've still prioritized cleaning over other things. So what did I drop? Some sleep. A lot of TV. Blogging. I've made it back to the gym for three weeks in a row now, and I'm happy with that. But I haven't found a solution to the cleaning and the laundry. If I let them go, they don't actually go anywhere. I haven't been able to figure out if the tasks end up taking less time or longer once I've let them accumulate a bit, but they do feel more painful than my usual habits of staying on top of things.

So, it turns out I'm not very good at letting it go--not much of a surprise there. But would I change who I am?

Well, yea, I could use a little more tolerance for crumbs on the floor.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

3.17 Miles

In the past week and a half, I went to three Zumba classes, and today I walked 3.17 miles on a treadmill.

I hadn't been to the gym in months--maybe five?--and I could give you every excuse under the sun for that. Some of those excuses are legitimate even, but still, they're just excuses.

Hannah started a running program tonight, with the end goal of doing a 5K. She's really excited about it, and I want to be supportive of her efforts. One way to do that is by getting myself moving again too. This morning, I walked that 5K, just over 3.1 miles. It took me an hour. I don't know how to run, and the thought of it actually scares me when I think about my back and possibly injuring myself, so today I walked.

It's hard to not get bogged down by the difficulties of both the time it takes to go to the gym and the timing of it, blood sugar and insulin, gym-goer dynamics, how to work the machines, my insecurities about how I look while working out. There is so much I dislike about all this.

But today I walked 3.17 miles. It's something.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Instead of #BanBossy, Let's #BeBold

Unlike many bloggers, I don't get a lot of press releases. So I was pretty excited when last Monday, just before 9 am, I was included in the press release for Lean In's movement to ban the word bossy. The excitement quickly wore off though, as I just couldn't get riled up over the whole thing.

I get that Sheryl Sandberg was called bossy as a young girl, and she must have been affected by it on a deep level to still struggle with it all these years later and despite her mountains of success. I'm sure many others were called bossy growing up, but it wasn't until Sandberg brought it up that I've ever heard it as such an impactful word. Personally, I don't remember ever being called bossy, even when I made my younger brother play what I wanted for hours. So banning bossy didn't translate on a personal level, but I still felt it was something more that repelled me.

I've thought about it all week, and the conclusion I've come to is this: why focus on the negative? Why, if we're going to acknowledge the tremendous power that words have, should we just talk about the words you don't want us to say? Why not instead launch a huge, celebrity-filled campaign that actually encourages young girls to be leaders, instead of reminding them of what they're not supposed to be?

The videos the campaign has produced are very short, and the first half reminds us of all of the limitations that are out there, that girls can be socialized in ways that discourage them from raising their hand in class, from being confident in their abilities, to being stifled by labels. It's only in the second half of the videos that they say girls should be empowered to lead, and how many people actually bothered to get to that point in the message? I'm sure many more people heard that they should ban the word bossy and not much else.

If you're going to reduce life down to bite-size, hash-tagged nuggets, why not focus on the positive instead? How differently would the message be received if instead BeyoncĂ©, Jennifer Garner and Jane Lynch encouraged our girls to be bold? To embrace challenge and uncertainty with the sense that they innately possess the skills to handle it? Because sometimes, being authoritative, aggressive and yes, even bossy, is what it takes to get things done. Someone has to be in charge, so why not tell girls to be bold, and let them see themselves in those positions of power? 

Beyoncé broke the album release model with a surprise, complete album and music videos. Jennifer Garner portrayed a kick-ass CIA agent in "Alias," and Jane Lynch brought (okay, not the best example here) fearing your gym teacher to a new level on "Glee." I'm sure they all signed on to this campaign because of its ultimate message of female empowerment. I just think it's a shame that the good it's meant to do is overshadowed by a distracting focus on one word.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

My Seventh Blogiversary


Today, The Life of LilMisBusy/Busy Since Birth, you are turning seven...

Okay, okay, I won't make this identical to my annual birthday letters for Hannah and Max. Though, it is tempting.

This blog is a bit like my third (often very neglected and therefore lucky it's just virtual) baby. I've often said, when telling people that I blog, that it's my third life, after my family and real work responsibilities. And at seven years strong, it is one of the longest-running commitments I've ever had. Busy Since Birth has had over 100,000 page views (though my spamming friends in Ukraine have had a good deal to do with that). Through this blog, I've made many new friendships and strengthened existing ones, I've had a platform to discuss issues I care about, I've had my writing featured elsewhere and now I'm producing a show. I honestly couldn't have predicted all of that when I began. I just wanted to share my story, and sometimes convince you to share yours with me.

Thanks to all of you who have been reading along the way. I'd love it if you'd take a moment to "de-lurk" and leave me a comment, like Busy Since Birth on Facebook, subscribe to the email updates or just in some way tell me you've been here.

Unless you're in Ukraine. I promise I won't be offended if you've all got better things to do than keep up with me.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Stress and Strategies: Sick and Early Release Days


After a bumpy week and a week of all abouts and over its, things have calmed down some. It's been a normal level of busy for the past week and a half, and I definitely prefer it. But it hasn't been complication-free, and I'm wondering how all of you handle these little scheduling challenges. Here's how things are going down for this three week stretch.

Last week, Max got sick. It wasn't a huge deal, but he did have a fever. I figured it would mean missing two days of school, and so Marc and I compared calendars. I had a big meeting the second day Max would be out of school, so I took the first day of working at home and Marc took the second.

This week, the kids had two early release days from school, meaning school ends for the day at 12:30 instead of 3 pm. Our school district does this every Tuesday (thus my work from home Tuesdays), and six additional days throughout the year. Marc had an early morning thing for work on Tuesday, so I got the kids to school and then went in to my office, and Marc came home in time to meet Hannah from the early release day. Marc picked up Max from aftercare (he goes five days a week) and then did the Hebrew school carpool run and got Hannah. I worked late and got home just a few minutes before they did. On Thursday, the second day of early release this week, I'll be going in to the office for two and a half hours, mainly because I have clients coming in from out of the country, and then I'll be the one to meet Hannah at home again.

Next week brings another change to the plans. The state-run exams, MCAS, are going on, and one is held on Tuesday. Since the test can take longer than the normal school day, which again usually ends at 12:30, the Tuesday school day is extended until 3, and there will be a 12:30 early release on Wednesday instead. Our aftercare behaves similarly and pretends that Tuesday is Wednesday and Wednesday is Tuesday. However, the rest of the world doesn't follow this little scheduling quirk, and so life outside of our school goes on as usual. This means Hannah needs to get to Hebrew school on Tuesday (and here I'm praying our dear friends will help us out with that, as they usually do), and on Wednesday she'll be coming home as 12:30 with no plan for the rest of the day. Fortunately, I can switch my schedule and work from home on Wednesday instead, and we are very grateful to our friends for helping out with that Tuesday one hour childcare gap.

Now I'm not telling you all this to bash the schools or the systems they have in place (though I may not think they are very family-friendly, I know there are more issues at work here than I can adequately address). And obviously, kids get sick and taking care of them is part of the deal of parenting. But I find all of this juggling and scheduling stressful, and I'm one of the luckiest ones out there, with a supportive spouse and a (generally) flexible work environment. I think we've found some good strategies for coping with these schedule adjustments, but it's something we always make up as we go.

What about you? How does your family handle the unexpected and the expected scheduling issues? Share your stress and strategies in the comments!