Lesson Learned: Winter comes with or without you.

I’m never ready for winter. My body and mind skids to a stop when that first blast of arctic air hits the Minnesota/Wisconsin area. I step back, wanting summer. I don’t like being forced to embrace the cold season. And yes, I should be prepared. I am a planner, and I’ve talked about being prepared in my blog.

My first resistance to the cold starts in October when the frost ices the neighborhood houses and yards and the night sky becomes longer than the day. That is when I go into hibernation-mode. I want to curl up on the couch with a blanket and sleep. I think I was a bear in a previous life as hibernating until the spring doesn’t sound too bad.

After the frost comes the first snow. My attitude shifts slightly as I watch the white crystals fall elegantly to the ground. The first blanket with the sun reflecting off the crisp landscape is breathtaking, and I’m in awe. Maybe I do like winter. Until I have to drive in it. I don’t mind driving in the winter months as long as there’s less than two inches of snow on the road. I am a careful driver. I’m not so sure about others. People forget how to drive in the snow and some are reminded abruptly when they drive across an icy patch and their car does a little dance. First snow always creates more than an average number of cars in the ditch.

After the first snow, we usually get that little tease of warm air. The sun is out, the wind is calm, and the light jacket comes out again. Only to be short-lived. This year, for instance, my husband changed the oil in his daughter’s car on Thanksgiving day when she was over for dinner. He wore his t-shirt – no jacket – when outside in near 60 degree weather. In less than a few hours the temperature dropped 40 degrees. Forty frickin’ degrees! And it snowed!

Now, winter is here to stay. The temperature was 15 degrees above zero on Saturday. We were outside walking. We toured a deer stand, a gun range, and a beautiful lake, still blue with open water. A great day to be outside if you had on the proper boots, gloves, scarf, and hat; which I wasn’t wearing. I guess now I have to get out my heavy gear. It’s time to bundle up every day. And I can’t forget to add my scraper, blanket, and emergency kit to the back of my car.

Brrrr! In a week, I may be ready.

Lesson Learned: Holiday Dynamics

I remember when I was a child, we knew that we’d have Thanksgiving at our (my parent’s house), and we’d celebrate Christmas on Christmas morning. Then we grew up. We had boyfriends, we married, we had our own families, we had two sets of parents, we moved away, we came back.

My parents were accommodating to our needs. They continued to have a big Thanksgiving dinner (knowing that we may not all make it), and we changed our Christmas morning celebration to Christmas Eve. We kept this schedule for many years until two years ago when my mom and dad had to move out of their house. We no longer had that center place.

This year, we’re still trying to figure out our new holiday schedule. Last year it caused a lot of stress. This year, not as much. We realize that traditions can’t stay as we’d like. However, it does provide an opportunity to build new ones – or maybe even none (wing it each year).

As you begin the season, remember to celebrate tradition while you can, yet be flexibile enough when it has to change. It’s stressful for everyone. Make it easy on yourself and for your loved ones, knowing that they may not have control over their time either. Just find a time (even if it’s not on the actual date of the holiday that you celebrate) and enjoy.

Happy start to the holidays!

For Those Who Serve

People sign up to join the United States Military for different reasons. Some know at an early age that they want to join and what they want to do. If a dad or mom is in the military, their child may decide that’s the route they want to take as well. Some know they want to join after learning in school about the history of war or hearing someone talk about their experiences in the service. Others have been forced to join (remember the draft?), while others join as an escape or to get their life in order. Some may join to learn a special skill or to help pay for college.

Whatever the reason, these men and women have taken an oath to serve our country. They have stepped up to the plate to defend our rights, our freedoms, our land, and our people. They take pride in what they do, they take the pain and will suffer if necessary. They also form bonds with their comrades. A bond that I noticed is pretty strong.

No matter the person, the reason, the branch, or the duration of their service, these individuals deserve to be honored – yesterday, today, and tomorrow. To those currently serving and to those who served in the past…

Thank you.

Lesson Learned: Stay Organized

For the last few months my home office turned into a storage bin. It was easier to stockpile the assortment of papers on top of the desk and file cabinet than put them away where they belong. I also had receipts stacked in a cubby, waiting for me to enter into my checkbook, and torn out pieces of paper with websites listed for me to review.

My desk and cabinet weren’t the only storage-pile places in my office. The floor worked as well. I brought home documents from my old job that I set in the corner of the room. The pile waited for me to go through to see what was important to keep or not. My self-publishing information was kept in a separate pile and some notes for my next manuscript idea in another. I had pictures and frames waiting to be put together and then hung up on the walls.

Thursday night, I stood in the middle of my office and cringed at the mess. No wonder why I felt so scattered. I don’t like being disorganized, and I know that it affects me. I need to have my ‘stuff’ in order to feel good. That night, I knew I had to do something about it and took the first opportunity possible.

I dedicated most of the day on Saturday to organize. I went through the papers on my desk, put away most of the stuff that had been piled around the room, and I hung up the pictures on the wall. I even got out the drill to put up the whiteboard. Afterwards when I saw how nice my office looked, I wondered why it took me so long to clean the mess in the first place. And, I wondered why I let it get out of hand.

If you’re always busy like me, it’s easy to drop the statement or the letter on your desk. You can read and file later. You know where to find the information if needed. You know your little piles, what each one represents so no worries. Ha! How many times has that happened?

Even if it’s overwhelming, just take the task step by step. Set aside the time to figure out where the different pieces of paper need to go: recycle bin, shred, or file. Sort through the stacks, find the top of your desk, do some filing, and finish decorating the walls or shelves. When you do, you’ll feel better. You may even be surprised at what you find. For me, it was the recipe for my son’s EOD (End of Day) shot – four types of layered booze that their team in Korea created. I wanted to make the shot for my sisters when they were over for the day; however, I couldn’t find the little blue piece of paper that I wrote the recipe on. Now I filed it.

And I admit, I still have some organizing to do, I’m not quite finished. I started a new pile last night that’s waiting for me to file. I’m making it my next task once I’m finished with this blog.

Yep, gotta go!