The “New” List…Managing Mommy

So I was thinking about the list part of 31DBBB of the SITS girls commitment I made. One of the days in the challenge was to blog a list. In my delayed attempt to post something, I made a list of the Things That Make Me Smile, which I am happy to have posted. But as usual with me I ruminate on things and think of how I might have done it better.

So here is my reason for the post and other list:

I started blogging because I wanted to find someone, anyone, to help me figure out how to work from home (I’m a freelance journalist) AND parent a toddler AND have a life. As is common with writers, it’s easy to get distracted without an editor and deadline looming in the background and I never started blogging the topic. But I feel that with the SITS girls and the 31DBBB Challenge, I am in the midst of genius. People who manage family and the “real” job of working from home. Please understand I mean no disrespect when I put the word real in quotes. What I am looking for are tips from people who work more at blogging, managing a business, freelance writing etc., than I DO, which is helter-skelter to say the least.

So one with my “other” list:

1) How do you manage your time if you have children that aren’t in school?

2) Do you set up an office at home and set hours? If so, then how do you manage the other aspects of managing home life, e.g., laundry, errands, meals, workouts, playdates etc.?

3) If you do set up hours how do you get your kids to let you work?

4) If you are interrupted by your kids, how do you get back on track?

5) Can you work in segments? Such as, an hour researching, an hour running errands, half an hour feeding kids, back to work, back to tending to skinned knees, banged heads and “mommy can you make this stick into a doll?”

6) Do you have clients, contracts or deadlines? If so, how do you juggle those with the needs of children, especially when they may be crying in background while you interview a client or lead?

7) How much time do you “work?”

8) Do you have a set routine? If so, what do you do when it’s knocked out of whack with a late sleeping toddler or the opposite, when said toddler or child is up all hours of the night?

9) What’s the thing that “gives” when push comes to shove between work, family, yourself?

10) Do you schedule time for yourself? Is so, how often and what do you do?

11) What’s your best advice for someone just starting to work from home?

I guess it’s less of a list and more of an interview, but hey, it’s hard to get the reporter out of me so there you go.

Anyway, thanks for your time and any input and suggestions, they are greatly appreciated.

~ The Newbie aka BjW

Lists…

we all have them. Sometimes they are in our head, sometimes on scraps of paper or as the techi-est of us all they may be in our SmartPhone. I’m guessing they are in all of the above.

I have on my check list that I am supposed to post a list on my blog for the 31 Days to Building a Better Blog that I signed up for. Sadly, my list kept getting edited. I didn’t know what to post as a list. Which is remarkable to me since I keep lists EVERYWHERE, just ask my poor husband!

But when I sat down to write said list – I came up blank. You know why? I’ll tell you: Because of the inner journalist/reporter critic.

See, when I was a reporter I had to work to keep my opinions out of the story. I was just to report, nothing else. So in my head I think, “who cares what I think?” Blogging isn’t that way though. I read many blogs and I love what their writers think, which is why I read them!

So, without much further ado and analyzing, here is my list – it’s of the things that make me smile (in no particular order):

1) The little red-headed bird that felt comfortable enough to just come on into my hotel room while I’m writing this. He hopped around on the floor chirping away.

2) When someone comments on on of my blog posts.

3) When I make my husband laugh out loud. He has a sharp wit and tends to be the funnier one of us, but now and again I say or do something that just busts him up. I love that!

4) My son, Henry, saying, “Let’s all be together” and then wrapping his arms around me and my husband and pulling us close to him.

5) Surfing a wave all the way to shore, especially when it’s the last one of the day.

6) Older couples walking hand-in-hand.

7) The Meanest Mom blog. She has me more than smiling, she has me busting a gut half the time.

8) Having nothing to do but watch the grass grow or the wind move the clouds in the sky.

9) A nap in the afternoon.

10) When my son tells me “You’re in my heart mommy.” That gives me the biggest smile of all.

Do you have a list of what makes you smile? If so, let me know so we can all share a smile – it’s good for the soul.

Love the Life you Live,

-BjW

"Let's be all together"

“He’s Living the Dream”

It’s Thursday, July 22 and as I sit on my balcony in Maui, Hawaii  watching the sun rise I wonder: What is my dream?

This came about because yesterday I had a gentleman on my flight that his seat mate said, “was living the dream.” The gentleman he was referring to was a soft-spoken, extremely well-mannered southerner that grew up in South Carolina but now lives on the island of Maui.

His soft, honey-dripped accent drew you in as much as his sparkling aqua eyes. His baby white hair and sun kissed skin gave him a boyishness that made me think of my own blue-eyed, blond little boy back home.

“South Carolina,” as I thought of him, knees bounced constantly as he picked at the hem of his madras shorts. South Carolina also talked “a lot” his seat mate said.

I think he was a nervous flyer.

This soft-spoken, tan, possible nervous flyer was also a surfer.

“He surfs all day and is a pharmacist at night,” his sate mate told me, “he’s living the dream.”

After more probing and conversation I found out that the seat mate also lives on Maui. He’s a promoter, DJ and radio manager for one of the stations on the island. I think it’s 91.7, but I cannot remember. Never-the-less, I told them they both were living the dream. That most of us want to just be able to live on one of the islands. They laughed and agreed. But, “Radio Man” as I have gone to calling him, and I both think South Carolina really is living the dream.

Which is why I’m sitting here this morning sipping my Kona coffee watching the sun rise over the ocean wondering: What is my dream really?

Am I living it and missing it because I’m too busy fighting my current state? Always questioning, “what should I be doing and why aren’t I doing it?”

Or, am I to busy searching for it, the “perfect” routine, that will allow me to make my life fall together and live my dream that I don’t even knowwhat my dream is?

I don’t know.

What I do know is this: I LOVE the life I’m living. I have a wonderful, generous husband (who is doing what he loves), a happy, healthy little boy, and the opportunity to sit here on this beautiful island sipping coffee waiting to surf.

But is it my dream? Am I living the dream and does it even matter?

I sip more coffee, lukewarm now, the sun is almost fully awake. My daily meditation book, The Book of Awakening by Mark Nepo sits on the table beside me and quietly calls my name.

The cup is empty when I set it down to pick up my book. I start my morning read and think after this, a little yoga and some Hang Ten time. Maybe there I might begin to find the stirrings of my dream.

What’s your dream? Are you living the dream? Or do you ever wonder if you too are missing it or if it even matters?

I’d love to hear your thoughts and insights, so please share.

Live the life you love,

BjW

Unplugging Mommy

I have recently been contemplating my digital life. I have felt too overburdened by all of the “connections”as of late. It started with my iPhone and the trouble the old thing (it’s a second generation) has been giving me lately. I got excited thinking that AT&T would give me a free iPhone4 and man I could see all the great things it would do at lightening speed.

I got even more excited when I thought about handing down my old phone to my 3-year-old to play games, videos and music on.

Then reality set in. No, no free iPhone4, but I could get it at a reduced rate. Well, my phone isn’t in that bad of shape so I let it go.

But it did start me thinking: Why do I need all these features on my phone? Which led to me question all of my dialed in devices and time I spent plugged in.

Then as luck, or the stars, or Universe or whatever you want to think, would have it, I came across Janet Lansbury’s post “Do Wired Parents Need Time Out…Or Less Guilt?”

This resonated with me. I had been struggling to do all the wired in, dialed in, plugged in things and finding time to spend playing with my son.

Too many times I would get frustrated with him because he was interrupting me while I texted, phoned or surfed the Internet. Then I realized maybe I don’t need to be that plugged in so often. I am not a CEO with a Fortune 500 company, I’m not an emergency room physician, I’m not even employed by any major media company that demands I watch my smartphone or email 24/7.

I decided I needed less guilt and less “stuff” to be plugged into.

Then, of course, I was checking Twitter and found another great link to another article from Lansbury again (she’s good!) on NPR. The article is a review of William Powers’ new book Hamlet’s BlackBerry’: To Surf Or Not To Surf? The book is about finding peace and balance in life in the digital age.

I realize the irony between my state of getting unplugged and finding these great ideas on being unplugged from the Internet. But I also realize there is a lot of information out there that I don’t need.

What I plan to do is to be less connected and when I am set time limits. This way I will be a better “surfer” and get the important information that I need quickly so I can do the thing I love more: spend time with my family – guilt free.

How do you feel about being plugged in and parenting?

I would love to hear how you balance home life with working from home.

Love the Life you Live,

~ BjW

The Haole is Home

Well the overnight flight from Honolulu, HI was shorter today than our trip out but eegads it was hard to stay away this time. I didn’t get much sleep before we checked in downstairs at 8:35 p.m. I had only 2 1/2 hours sleep for my nap. Oh well, I had lots to read while the passengers clocked in their REMs. My favorite read last night was “The Girl’s Guide to Saudi Arabia,” by Maureen Dowd in July’s issue of Vanity Fair.

Her deadpan delivery of things such as when young Saudi girls come of age, they won’t get the same kind of thought provoking book On Becoming a Woman like Ms. Dowd received from her mother, no, these Suadi tweeners will “…have a black tarp thrown over their heads.

The imagery creates for me a Bugs Bunny kind of picture, part disbelief part chortle. Yet, her years as a skilled journalist allow the reader to really know the depth of the problems and see the “real” Saudi through Ms. Dowd’s encounter.

She even  entertained herself  by trying to see how long it would take for a male Ceberuses to dash in front of her to block her movement to the front area – the men only area.

I am now more intrigued by the lifestyle of the women of Saudi and thoroughly enjoyed Ms. Dowd’s tone and take.  I look forward to many more interesting reads that also give me a good chuckle. I was able to stay awake on my midnight ride home over the Pacific thanks to Ms. Dowd and her “wit-full” writing.

I can only hope to write half as well as her someday.

~BjW

Malnutrition in the US

Today I read an article about the growing problem of malnutrition in developing  countries. According to the article in voanews.com,

Hungry and under-nourished children find learning difficult.  Their growth is stunted, their brains fail to develop properly and they suffer life-long health problems.

Although we have an abundance of food in this country (we have a staggering amount of obesity), the quality of food available today is pathetic.  In developing countries children go without food because of the lack of it and in turn end up malnourished.  Here in the United States many children end up malnourished even though they are eating three or more meals a day.

The devastating effects of under-nourshiment not only impacts the individual but the economy in which they live. They end up earning less for themselves and by extension their economy. This cycle only makes it harder for the people of said economy to reap the benefits of living better.

Poor health and impaired mental and physical development associated with under-nutrition reduce people’s ability to learn and work. Economists estimate that every child whose development is impaired by under-nutrition will lose up to 10 percent in lifetime earnings, according to the article. You can read more here.

Now granted, this may not create huge changes in the way we live here in the US, but is that really the point? The point I’m making is that it is a shame we live among such wealth and opportunities that children of all classes can be under-nourished.

Take a look at the labels of most prepared or packaged food. If you are shopping the average grocery or warehouse store what you will find is mass produced crap. Air, garbage, empty calories and chemicals (read: fake food), make up a large portion of those products. We spend loads of money on them and in turn it makes us fat and stupid and lowers our children’s health.

It isn’t easy to eat better. I have spent a lifetime in the health and fitness world. I returned to college to become a dietitian and sports medicine doctor and even I get stumped by the ingredients list.

We have to learn to read and think for ourselves, so what I propose, since most of us don’t have a degree in bio-chemistry, is that if you can’t pronounce at the least the first five ingredients, put it down.

Start there and in six weeks look into your pantry and see if it’s different. Then follow me, I’ll be looking for good real food and easy recipes and maybe together we can help our kids get the nutrition they need to be at the top of their game.

I found my tribe

tribe |trīb|noun 1. a social division in a traditional society consisting of families or communities linked by social, economic, religious, or blood ties, with a common culture and dialect, typically having a recognized leader : indigenous Indian tribes | the Celtic tribes of Europe. Source: Apple dictionary.

I have found my people. More specifically, my “moms.” I am an older mom, I had my first and only child at the young age of 41. Which puts me in an odd place. Moms of first children my son’s age are about 10 years younger than I am. But moms that are my age have kids somewhere in their late teens or beyond.

But thanks to my dear friend, Lindsey Murphy (whom I think is the leader of said tribe), I have found moms that are my age AND have kids my son’s age. These moms have more than one child, and consequently are closer to my age which means they think more like me. That and they are what my husband calls “co-op” moms.

Co-op moms are by definition moms (or dads as the case may be) who spend a part of each month working in their child’s classroom. At our school, Discovery Tree, it is a requirement.

What I’ve learned or experienced rather, is that these co-op moms really do become the village that raises your kids. Because we moms spend time with the kids each month, we get to know them on a deeper level. We become invested in their well-being. And, not ironically, we moms (and dads) become closer to each other by default.

To come back to my declaration of finding my tribe, I mean that I am more “old school” in raising my son. I do not worry about him eating dirt, hugging his teachers, or playing naked in the backyard with his friends (who may or may not be naked). I have found that these co-op moms, even the younger mothers, think the same way. We are linked by a common culture of beliefs in child rearing.

We are also linked by our socio-economic standing. My tribe moms have, at a minimum, a four year degree, worked at their career before having children and chose motherhood as their next career. Don’t get me wrong, some mothers still work at their careers, but they are careers – not part time gigs of interest. These moms juggle work, preschool, and playtime without the help of a nanny.

These women are my tribe.

Not because I judge the mothers who do it differently, but because these mothers are like me. These mothers believe the best place for kids to play and learn social skills is in the backyard with their friends.

Tribe moms focus their time at home with kids running in and out the door, dripping popsicles in hand as opposed to running around from gym-time to music sing-alongs to play-dates at the mall. Rather, a tribe mom encourages the love of music by impromptu concerts with dancing, lip-syncing and costume changes. Tribe moms cheer for the kid quick or nimble enough to dodge the mud bomb or hose wielding naked screaming banshee in the outdoor gym, aka backyard.

This is how I grew up and I loved it. I want my son to be able to do the same. To experience life in the real sense, to feel the mud between his toes and the sticky, drippy, sweet taste of melting popsicles down his arms – even if he is being yelled at to take it outside – because that’s really life.

Muddy

Bugs!

What the hell are these little bugs that keep landing in my wine? Okay, so I could probably find what these pesky nat-like flying creatures that hover around my browning bananas and softening grapefruits are, but I don’t.

We live in central Phoenix (also called CenPho buy some), a neighborhood with fruit trees, irrigated lots and massive trees, things which don’t readily come to mind when thinking of the Arizona desert, unless of course your family owned an orchard or you grew up around the irrigation canals as a kid.

I didn’t notice the bugs then.

Of course, now I do – as they continually land in my delicious and reasonably priced red wine (Layer Cake’s Malbec for the curious). I keep slipping paper towels or my SPF’d fingers into my Ikea wine glass to give them a raft to float on or mash them into bits. Either way, the irritation of them landing in my glass creates more frustration than the fact of Hawaiian Tropic or bug gusts mixing with my wine.

Then of course as I write this, I wonder to myself, hmmmmm…. what DOES that say about me?

It says this: I LOVE my wine, I’m practical and well, I’m not too hung up on germs.

Do what you fear

On of my most repeated phrases is, “You have nothing to fear but fear itself, so do the thing you fear the most.” It’s my version of a line from former President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s First Inaugural Address.

I’ve said it for as long as I can remember. I’ve followed it maybe half the time. Yesterday those words came back to haunt me, and quite “Frankly” they surprised me.

As I sat in my stylist Jody’s chair at Sachi Salon in Scottsdale, I read last month’s Elle magazine. In it I found an article that subconsciously I must have been looking for.

Kristen Wiig, currently of “Saturday Night Live” (SNL) fame, was quoted as questioning her life.

“What am I doing with my life? It sounds so cheesy, but there’s something very powerful about looking in the mirror and asking yourself a question. Because I think it’s really hard to lie.

I had to be honest too. I had to ask myself , “What am I doing with my life?”

As a late bloomer, late college graduate and late decider of things I saw this as a wakeup call. So, it’s with that simple, but insightful article I have decided to do the thing I fear. To leap into my “new” career and just do what I’ve always wanted to do: write.

blogger.journalist.writer.

So I have, honestly,  I can’t remember how many blogs. I’ve been trying to find my blog “voice” if you will. I’m still not sure what I want to officially blog about, which is why I came up with the name BJW Post, my initials tied in with post in an homage to  Arriangton Huffington, Huffingtonpost.com.

Not that I think I am her in the least, but not only is she an icon, but she is a journalist that I admire and respect. So here with my first post with my official new name, I think I will just blog. Whatever comes out, comes out. So be it.