Saturday, December 19, 2009

An Funny Thing Happened On The Way To My Computer...

I picked up a copy of Jack Canfield's book The Success Principles several months ago. I knew I needed a little kick-in-the-pants inspiration that only he seems to be able to provide. Lots of other authors/life coaches and motivational speakers do what Jack does, but for some reason I seem to relate to his philosophies better than others. He's pretty no-nonsense and I like that kind of approach.

So, I bought the book with the best of intentions. The only problem is, the book sat on my counter for months. I was sidelined by something else each time I thought about reading it. I was looking for the perfect time with the perfect setting to sit down, engulf myself in positive vibes and ponder the infinite ways of success. Before I began, I wanted to eliminate all other outside factors competing for my attention, figuring I needed some quality reading time to contemplate his message. Considering I have a husband, two rambunctious boys, a dog in desperate need of attention, a household to run and various volunteer activities to fulfill, my alone time is at an all-time low. I get up two hours before anyone else does every morning just so I can exercise and do my crossword puzzles in peace.

Even though I couldn't find the time to read Jack's book, I still managed to peruse lots of magazines and school papers and newsletters. I read newspapers and blogs. I created photo books on my computer, wrote a few essays here and there, updated my son's teacher's website, read some articles and other books on writing techniques and kept up with my email. I kept looking at Jack's book on my counter and kept feeling a twinge of regret. Was I procrastinating on purpose or did I really not have the time to read this particular book? Days passed. Months passed. The book sat idle.

My time had also been consumed with trying to fix some computer problems I was having. I wasn't able to find the source of the issues by myself, so I took the computer into the repair shop. A simple operating system restore seemed to repair what was most likely a computer virus infestation. After I got my computer back and spent several hours reinstalling software and getting it back to normal, my screen went blank and an ominous message appeared. "Hard disk failure is imminent! Please back up your hard drive and have it replaced."

I was confused by the message because after running initial diagnostics my hard drive was given a thumbs-up for good condition. Why was my hard drive failing now? Needless to say, my computer went back into the shop. And the hard-drive did indeed need to be replaced. I was told it might take up to a week to repair by the time the hard drive was ordered, delivered and installed. I felt a little lost as I contemplated seven more days without my computer. It was like imagining another week without using my right arm.

The next morning as I was pouring my first cup of coffee, I saw Jack's book out of the corner of my eye. Well, I guess now is as good a time as any to start reading this book, I thought. My computer was out of commission as was any excuse to delay reading what I intended to read months ago.

After reading the first few pages of the book I realized that the timing of my computer's hard drive failure and me starting to read the book was not a matter of coincidence, at all. I think the computer malfunction was a very clear, in-my-face, red-light-flashing sign that if I wasn't going to find the time to sit down and prioritize my to-do lists and start setting some goals, someone was going to find the time for me. I'm pretty good at making lists and following through with my to-do items when they concern everyone else, but I can become a procrastinator extraordinaire when it comes to focusing on me. Couple this awareness with the fact that a brand new year ripe with new beginnings is right around the corner and I can plainly see now that everything happens for a reason.

I knew when I bought the book that it would be the kick-in-the-pants that I needed. I was obviously not ready up until now to feel the brunt of Jack's steel-toed boot on my backside. He is very clear in the philosophy that one is 100% responsible for the life he or she leads. Period. I agree with him wholeheartedly and I do take full responsibility for my actions and my decisions. That is not at issue. The tricky part is figuring out what I want to do with my life (deciding what success means to me), setting goals to achieve that end result and following through. I won't bore you with the minutiae of my personal goal-setting, but I will tell you that I am taking the time now to focus on my future.

Message received. Loud and clear!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Baby, It's Cold Outside

The Farmer's Almanac is predicting a "numbing winter with below-average temperatures" for us here in Michigan this year. Hmmmnnn....sounds suspiciously like most of our winters here in Michigan. People are all abuzz about how cold it's going to get this year and how miserable it's going to be. As if winter is ever really that much different from year to year. It's cold. It snows. We freeze.

I'm not a huge fan of the cold, but I have lived here all of my life so I at least know what to expect. I wear long johns under my pants when necessary and sometimes wear an extra sweatshirt jacket underneath my winter coat for added warmth. I have different hats and gloves for different events like a simple after-dinner stroll or a snow-in-your-face swoosh down the sledding hill. One must be prepared for all different levels of cold in the Midwest.

I'm not sure, however, that I can take another winter of people complaining and moaning about the cold. It
is cold. No need to debate the issue. Like I said, not a big fan. But, in order to get myself through at least seven months of it, I have to train my brain to like at least something about the winter.

So, without further ado, here is my Top Ten list of reasons why I will gladly welcome the wintry weather his year:
  1. My Morning Walk. Inhaling my first gulp of frigid-cold air on my way out the door jars me to attention like nobody's business. If I'm not fully awake by the time I open my garage door, I am raring to go after I swallow a few icy shards of air. I feel so alive!

  2. Watching My Kids Watching Their Cold Breath. Another fine example of paying attention to the little things in life. Do you ever stop to look at your cold, winter breath puffing through the air like a smoke stack anymore ? It is pretty amazing.

  3. Snow Angels. It's so fun to see my little angels layered so tight they can barely bend a knee trying to make their own little angels in the snow. Pure Kodak moment.

  4. Snow Covered Branches That Shine Like Diamonds. Some days I can walk outside and see the beautiful snow glistening on the branches in the trees and an immediate calm envelopes me. Nothing seems so pure and tranquil as newly fallen snow.

  5. Building Snowmen. There will come a time when building snowmen will not be on my kids' list of favorite things to do. For now, I will bundle up, happily seek twigs for arms and rocks for eyes and hold these moments close to my heart.

  6. Hot Chocolate After Building Snowmen. Family traditions are what keeps us close. Hot chocolate after a cold day outdoors is a must!

  7. Christmas. We have had snowy, white Michigan Christmases and we have had warm, sunny Florida Christmases. Christmas just isn't Christmas at the beach. Bring on the winter wonderland!

  8. Sledding and/or Ice Skating. Need I say more?

  9. Movies in the Middle of the Afternoon. You just can't justify snuggling up under the covers in the middle of the day and popping The Aristocats into the VCR during any other season. Winter is the only time we get to rationalize being as lazy as hibernating bears.

  10. Indoor Water Parks. When the arctic conditions have reached gloomy proportions one heads to an indoor water park. It's like you're in the tropics but with a really cool water slide.
What are your favorites things about winter?

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