My Must-Have Office Supplies

Planner – The most essential part of of my office arsenal is my planner . It is literally the heartbeat of my day. Even though I work from home, I try to maintain a very detailed cleaning schedule for my home, and am a full time online college student, as well as trying to schedule in time for my personal development practices, on top of having a full time job. My life would be hectic and stressful, as well as messy from having post-it notes strewn all over my house if it was not for having my one personal planner to organize and maintain all of my tasks that I need to complete. Having a functional planner is essential to planning out the monthly, weekly, and daily tasks of my life to keep me balanced and organized. I have tried a wide variety of different styles and brands of planners. I have some that worked for me in terms of functionality, and I have found some that just did not really vibe well with me. Finding the perfect planner set up is like finding the perfect pair of jeans. It needs to be comfortable to write in and yet stylish enough to encourage you to look at it every day.

Pens and Highlighters– Aside from the traditional black and blue inked pens for daily writing purposes, I also make a point to keep some colorful and pretty writing utensils on hand for decorating my journal and planner. Both the Paper Mate Flair Medium and the Click Inc are my top choices for use in my planner and journals. Along with an assortment of color highlighters to use, I try a variety of all things writing from packs I pick up at the local Dollar Tree to a pretty and fancy pen spotted while running into Staples to grab a pack of printer paper and ink. It pretty much goes without saying, that no office could be remotely functional without things to write with.

Accessories– You know, those little treasured trinkets that every self-respecting office contains- paper clips, binder clips, index cards, and such. In addition to those types of accessories, I also keep a collection of thumb drives on hand in my office. Between blogging, and taking my college courses, I tend to do a lot of writing assignments, and I have found from past experience, the hard way, that it a great value to save those writing assignments to an external memory drive in the event that my laptop takes an unfortunate tumble into the floor and all things on it are forever lost. Understandably, a memory drive is now considered a must have for my office so that in the event of a recurrence of such tragedy, at least I will still have access to all of my hard work. Finally, an understated office supply that I must have on hand is something to jot down quick notes, phone numbers, websites, or names to reference. I try to keep a small stash of memo pads and a few blocks of post-it notes on hand for such. That way when I am online researching something, and I just need to quickly write a name or address, or even a website to look up later, I can jot it down quickly on the post-it note, and not have to worry about having a bunch of random names taking up space on a full notebook page that I have to look at later and try to remember what it is for. The sticky notes are perfect to stick in my planner on future dates, in my notebook for future reference on pages where I am currently writing ideas on that particular subject, or to the top of my laptop when I need to return to a specific website when I get logged back online.

Notebooks– My home office would not be complete without a vast array of notebooks. I have everything from hard notebook binders, to basic dollar store composition books, to journal style notebooks, to a small collection of Happy Planner notebooks created from packs of Happy Planner brand filler paper sheets. I use them for a variety of purposes. I have some that I use specifically for journals, in which I jot down my daily affirmations, log my list of daily things I am grateful for, or just purge as my thoughts ramble on about life and all its mysteries. I have notebooks that I use specifically for work to jot down things to follow up on for the next day or to track my productivity from time to time to give myself a reality check about how much time I wander off from my actual work related work. I have several that I use for school, as I am currently enrolled in an online college to complete my bachelor degree, I keep a few notebooks to work out homework problems and jot assignment details for reference. And, I keep a few notebooks on hand for my personal development in which I jot down blog ideas, social media challenges that I wish to participate in, or note from any personal development online course I take or self-help audio books I listen to.

Desktop Calendar– I know it sounds crazy in a world where cell phones have taken the place of our calendars, our calculators, and even our alarm clocks. And, given that I keep a personal planner that I refer to on a daily basis morning and night. But, I work from home and there are times when I am working at my desktop computer and I need a quick reference to the date, either the current date or a future date, and it is just so convenient to not have to stop what I am doing in my work to pick up my phone and open the calendar app or go fetch my planner to flip through, but to just glance up to my handy, ever-waiting desk calendar. I do not write anything on the desktop calendar, but I do circle the weekend dates that I am scheduled to work, and that provides a quick and easy reference at a glance for days that I cannot plan anything, at least until that evening, for that day.

Laptop– My personal laptop is an older one that I purchased roughly about five years ago. I know, with the rate in which technology advances, I am sure it is darn near obsolete at this point. However, it still works perfectly and does anything I need it to do in order to complete my writing tasks or perform any homework assignment that I currently have to complete for school. Therefore, I see no need to update at this time. My laptop is a crucial part of my everyday life, however, and it is generally turned over every morning by 7:00 am at the latest. Ironically, I do not use my laptop to surf the internet or look at social media. I save that for my smartphone and look at Pinterest on my Ipad. I really only use the internet on the laptop to do research for a writing project or to access a website in which I will need to download or print something, such as when I purchased my annual parking pass for the beach. Laptops nowadays come in a variety of price ranges and can be very expensive to very affordable, depending on the purpose in which you intend to use the laptop. So, I know that when the unfortunate time comes in which I will need to put my current laptop down, I will have no choice but to replace it, as it is now a vital part of my daily existence.

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School’s In! Tips for Getting Organized for the New School Year.

It is with a degree of difficulty that we think about giving up that last little slice of the summer pie we have been afforded year after year. But, alas, as summer draws to a close and fall is upon the horizon, it is time to prepare for that ever daunting task of getting back to school The time doesn’t have to be stressful, however. And, I have created some tips to help get you organized and all set for the new school year with a degree of optimism and enthusiasm like never before.

Morning Routine– No matter if you are a busy mom with children heading back off to school, you are a college student, or you are a more non-traditional adult with no small children, but have a full time job and are working on college courses, either online or in a brick and mortar university, having a solid morning routine can substantially set you up for a more successful school year. Morning routines are as varied as the individual that is executing them. Perhaps, you are a stay at home mom who only needs to be mindful of the time in which the children need to be ready for the school bus or time to leave for the school drop off line; or maybe you work outside the home and have a specific time that you have to have everyone ready to leave the house in order to arrive to work on time. It is simply a matter of taking into account any times that have to be allotted for non-negotiable things, such as school times, work times, and commute times. My current morning routine consists of two components- house chores and self care. My morning house routine is to being my day with unloading the dishwasher, swish and swipe the bathrooms, make the bed, and begin a load of laundry. Likewise, my morning self care routine is brushing my teeth, applying my morning power serum, day cream with sunscreen, make up and hair. I’m both cursed and lucky in the regard that my hair is short and thin, so I do not have to allow for extra time for hair straighteners or curlers. My whole morning routine takes me less than thirty minutes to complete. I currently work from home, so I do not have to stick to a rigid time frame for completing my morning routine. However, that was not always the case. I used to work outside of the home and I knew what time I needed to leave to arrive to work on time, taking into account that I was in the heart of the rush hour commute in Atlanta traffic. I made allowances by getting up thirty to forty minutes earlier to provide the time needed to complete my morning chores and maintain my morning routine.

Make a Plan– I cannot stress enough the value of a functional planner. I put emphasis on the word functional, because it is all too common and all too easy to start preparing for a new school year by purchasing a crisp, clean, and gorgeous new planner to keep track of all of your important dates and reminders, yet after a few weeks or so, the planner seems to fall by the way side and gets written in less and less as you find yourself forgetting more important things. The planner system that I currently use is the Happy Planner brand. I chose it for its functionality as well as customization. I have played around with a variety of planners from the generic Walmart planners to Franklin Covey and I have a set up ready for 2020 from the Agenda 52 line to go back to a binder style planner. Regardless of what brand or style of planner you choose, it should be one that is functional for all of your needs and user friendly enough to inspire you to refer to it and write in it daily. The idea is that keeping a planner is essential to tracking appointments and assignment due dates.

Prep for the Evenings– As important as a morning routine is, having an evening routine can be just as vital. Evening routines include tasks such as dinner, cleaning the kitchen, baths, and laying out clothes for the next day. A good way to prepare for the evenings, and alleviate a lot of undue stress is menu planning. By planning out your menus in advance, you can adjust day by day, according to any after work or after school appointments or errands and prep easy to fix meals on the days that you have commitments that would otherwise take away time needed to prepare a complicated recipe dish. For instance, ball practice after school? Toss an easy roast in the crock pot, set on low, and when you arrive home dinner will be ready with only a quick side dish or two. Side note, steam vegetables make a wonderful quick side dish on those busy nights! In an effort to try and have an easy and stress free evening, try to implement planning for the evening and night routines as much as you can early on in the day or on a Sunday evening, to alleviate a lot of the juggling and panic to try and decide on a dinner choice or locate the baseball mitt on the fly.

Delegate- As mothers, we tend to want to do everything for everyone. It is, in essence, in our nature to be nurturers. But, being a nurturer and being a martyr are two completely different things. While we love our families and love taking care of them, we do not have to do it all. It is possible, and essential to delegate our work to the other members of our family. Even small children can benefit from being assigned to pick up their own toys or put their clothes in the hamper for washing. Taking on everything can be stressful and limiting in the amount of quality time we spend with our families. So, take a few items off your to-do list, and graciously gift them to family members who can handle those tasks. The work will get completed much quicker, and you can enjoy a few moments of blissful silence relaxing in the bubble bath with a glass of chilled wine at the end of the evening. Oh yeah, and enjoy time spend with the family as well. Now, the important, and I do me the most important thing to remember when delegating tasks to the other members of your family is – do not expect perfection! Perfection is an illusion best saved for fools. Be grateful to them for the help they provide you. Do not go behind your children and re-make their beds or re-fold their clothes in the drawer. Just enjoy that you had the time freed up and enjoy sitting with them on the couch enjoying a movie before bed time.

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Finding One’s Self

            The quest to find one’s identity is the heartbeat of humanity. The quest for identity can be attributed to many things that lay the foundation to one’s identity, such as race, culture, sex, or even personal history. Daniel Keys’ writing of “Flowers for Algernon” is an example of one man’s journey to find himself. Everyone lives their life as a journey to simply find their one true self.

            Everyone deserves to be treated as though their life has meaning and value. Incidentally, Charlie Gordon defends his right to be seen as somebody. “” But I’m not an inanimate object” I argued, “I’m a person.”” (Keys p 89). This argument of his has the haunting element of the many peoples who have been trapped in the bonds of slavery over the years, proclaiming their right to be seen as equals, also that statement can be ingrained in a society of oppressed people such as the Jews who were horrifically persecuted and maimed simply because of being Jewish and their desperate cries to be seen as a real people, who deserved a place and a right in society as much as any other nation of people.

            Another standard by which some choose to use as a form of personal identity is one’s status. For some people, the more they have, whether it is friends or possessions, the more popular or revered they will be. Charlie Gordon believed that if he gained more intelligence, was smarter, everyone would like him more and he would have more friends. He recorded this theory as he was writing in his progress reports before he had the surgery to make him smarter. “If your smart you can have lots of friends to talk to and you never get lonely by yourself all the time.” (Keys p 15). This is much the same way of thinking by people who believe that the more nicer things they have, such as, expensive sports cars, boats, or expensive material things the more status they will have and therefore people will look up to them and admire them. It also correlates to the idea that others have, in that, if they “go with the flow” and do what the “in crowd” does, they will have more friends and not be lonely; such as, if they go clubbing or to bars and drink and party like everyone does, they will always have lots of friends around and never worry about being lonely. However, sadly enough, this way of thinking is shallow and generally lends itself to reckless actions that leads on to finding themselves in a much worse place than they were before they tried to use their status to forge friendships.

            Charlie learned after his operation that intelligence is also an identifying factor in one’s identity. People become categorized by the level of their education or intelligence and others react to them accordingly. Often times people of higher intelligence tend to look down or dismiss the validity of someone else because they are of lesser intelligence. In a conversation between Charlie and Alice, this idea was addressed as she pointed out to him that he, in fact, made her feel awkward following the operation because she could not keep up with him intellectually and stated that next to Charlie, she felt dull-witted. She went on to say to him that now, most days that they see each other, after she leaves him, she goes home with a miserable feeling that she is now slow and dense about everything. She explains that she reviews things that they have said to each other and thinks of things that she should have said and thinks of all the bright and witty things that she should have said, then feels like kicking herself because she did not think to say them when they were together. This kind of intelligence segregation begins early in life. One can see it in schools where the smart, or more commonly referred to as, “preppy” kids demean or simply ignore the lesser aptitude students. It is also prevalent in the workplace as higher up the management chain. The more educated and higher salaried employees do not really do any kind of socializing wither the lower educated and lesser salaried employees. In many cases, it falls back to the status ideology, but mostly in these situations, it simply rests on the principle that at different intelligence levels, they do not have very much in common and do not have the ability to communicate on the same intellectual levels.

            From birth, one’s family, culture, heritage, and ethnicity begin laying the groundwork to their identity. As one progresses through life, factors such as education, work experiences, status, friends, and relationships mold the clay and help to define their one true identity. Each individual lives out their lives in a way so as to find that quest on one’s true self. Charlie Gordon gained just enough intelligence to realize that no matter how much one can alter their life, deep down, there is no changing who a person truly is. The core value of the idea is that all men are created equal, but society sets the standards by which all men are perceived.

Resources

Keys, Daniel. Flowers for Algernon. Orlando: Harcourt, 2004. Print.  

Setbacks, We All Have Them!

Weight loss is complex. That is putting it mildly. It is truly a never-ending series of ups and downs. Highly unlikely do you come across the successful person who entails no setbacks or struggles along the path of their weight loss journey. No, those who set out to lose weight or gain overall better health and accomplish such with no road bumps along the way are quite the rarity. For the rest of us, setbacks are as natural a part of the weight loss journey as is anything.

I am myself working through such a setback in my own personal journey. To give an accurate idea of the setback that I am working through, at this time, I need to paint a picture of how I got to the place that I am mentally in right now. About a year and a half ago, my daughter decided to leave home to move to Minnesota to be with her boyfriend. Now, we lived in North Georgia, and that was a very long distance, and given that she had never been away from me since birth, I was crushed over this. Shortly after making her move to Minnesota, my son informed me that he and his wife had decided at the end of that year to move to Utah. Again, I am in North Georgia, and am being completely blown away by the idea of both my children (and now my grandchildren) moving so far away from me. After some thought I told my husband that if the kids both moved away up north, we should just get us a condo in the Gulf of Mexico. That way, the kids would have a good excuse to come visit me- beach vacations! Within two months of my declaration to move to the Gulf coast after the kids moved, my son and daughter in law decided that Utah was too far to move the grandkids from their family. They had now decided to move to Florida, and instead of waiting until the end of the year, they were moving in a month. Yet again, overwhelmed, that set the wheels in motion for me to make some drastic changes with my own life. I am fortunate enough to work from home for my corporate office, and after doing some research and questioning my management staff, I learned that I could, in fact, keep my current job and move to Florida. My husband and I had begun the exhausting task of selling, giving away, and trashing everything that we owned that was not considered a necessity, in order to downsize and move to Florida.

Things had not worked out for my daughter in her job as well as she had hoped it would, and she had made the decision to move back home with me and my husband three months before our planned move to Florida. We had gotten my son and daughter in law moved down to their apartment and settled in. My daughter had applied for and conducted several phone interviews for work. Things were going smoothly in preparation for the move. Inside of one month before we were to load the moving truck and move our entire life to South Florida to be with my son and granddaughters, my daughter had decided not to go with us. She had gone back to work at the job she had prior to moving to Minnesota, and things were going well for her there. She had decided to stay with a coworker and friend for the time being. To say the least, I was crushed, yet again. I had envisioned this dream life of having my children and grandchildren with me enjoying all the tourist-worthy things Florida had to offer. But I had to respect her decision, and as much as it hurt, I moved to Florida and left her in Georgia.

We got settled in the first week of October and things were going as well as planned. I was always searching fun things to do in the weekends with the girls. We had moved into the same apartment complex as them, and I could walk down on my breaks to visit, or after work, my husband and I would go down and take the girls to the park or for a walk around the pond. It was indeed a nice life. The only thing missing was Bree. However, I did not realize it was not to last. By December, Ryan and Teresa had informed us that they had not taken to Florida quite as well as they had thought they may and had made the decision to move back to North Georgia. Already crushed by Bree electing to stay in Georgia, I was now utterly devastated. Teresa’s parents had also, during this time, moved to the same area to be close to them and the girls. However, they had a daughter back in Georgia as well who was still in college, and they, too, had decided to move back home. Now, Henry and I were in a strange city with absolutely no one. We now faced a life in which we were truly isolated- no family, no friends, and, for me working at home, no coworkers. It was, without a doubt, the third most terrifying thing I had faced in my life.

Understandably, after Ryan and Teresa had moved the girls back to Georgia in January I had gone through a really deep depression. I had lost, for the most part, any motivation to do anything. I did not clean house, except what was absolutely necessary to function, I did not go out and walk around the pond- I tried, but I would just start crying every time I would walk past “their apartment” or think about silly things Elli would do or how Kenlee wanted to race around the pond, and I took to comfort eating. This went on for some time, and I knew it was not fair to Henry. He was devasted too by being here alone. He had to give up a job that he loved and good coworkers who had become great friends to come here and take a huge cut in pay with complete strangers to do this for me. I began talking about wanting to lose weight and researching ideas. Henry suggested that of the ideas I was tossing around, joining the local Weight Watchers made the most sense. He thought the idea of having a reason to get out of the apartment and socialize with other people would be good for me. Not only for support and encouragement in my weight loss endeavors but would help with the depression. So, I signed up.

He was right, the people at the weekly meetings were so supportive and welcoming. My WW coach is phenomenal and such a great leader for our group. I started out my first month really amazing, I had lost sixteen pounds. Things were going great again. I still missed my family terribly but was losing weight, so I was feeling better physically and mentally. Henry and I began getting out on the weekends to go to the local parks for hiking and walking. We started setting challenges for ourselves like getting twenty thousand steps in a day, then twenty-five thousand, and eventually thirty thousand steps in a day. As of this writing, we are still working on accomplishing a forty thousand step goal. I had regained my interest in going to the beach and doing things that I had basically stopped doing altogether after the kids left.

Then, the crash happened. We did not have a weigh in or meeting for Easter Sunday. That is when I go to my weekly meetings, on Sunday morning. It seemed harmless enough. The next week, my daughter and her boyfriend (yes, the same boyfriend from Minnesota) came down to spend a week with us. It was so wonderful to have them here. We did so much to enjoy their time down. We went to the beach, went fishing, showed them our favorite parks, and just all around basked in their presence. They left on that Saturday morning, and as it always is, it was so sad to watch them go. The sadness sinks in and takes a hold unlike anything else I know. I worked that Sunday, so I did not get to attend my weekly meeting. I worked the following three Sundays and elected not to attend any of the other weekly meetings during that time from Easter and Bree’s visit until the Sunday after Mother’s Day. What was the underlying reason, the reason of which I did not wish to truthfully admit to anyone, was not that I was working. I did, in fact work for three straight Sunday’s. But after Bree and Ryne left, the reality of missing my family and being isolated hit me again, just as hard as it had in January when Ryan and Teresa left. For two weeks, I did not want to get out of bed, let alone work out or track food. I had gained back six of the sixteen pounds that I had lost. This time, Henry was crushed to see me so broken and giving up on all the hard work that I had put into losing the weight. So, by week three, he had started going to the gym at our apartment complex, going for walks around the pond after dinner, and getting out on the weekends for a hike. Encouraging me to join him, he helped me snap out of the deep sadness that I was experiencing, and in that last week and a half, I had lost back five of the six that I had gained.

That following Sunday when I went to weigh in, my tracker recorded a 1.2 lb weight gain. I wasn’t happy about having any gain at all recorded in my official tracker, but I knew that I had busted my ass the previous week and a half to keep that number from reflecting the entire six pounds that I had gained. I share this story not to make excuses or to make out that I blame my family for my depression or my struggles with my weight. I chose to move to Florida to follow them, and I cannot make them decide to live here or to love it here. I can only control my choices and actions. No, I share this to say that we all encounter setbacks along the way in our weight loss journey. So, the question is never really if the setback will come, it is when will it come and how prepared for it will you be? I did not anticipate Bree’s visit setting the stage for a setback, and I was not prepared for how I would feel after her visit ended and she and Ryne had left. But after working through this difficult time and seeing for myself just how hard it was to get the weight back off, I know now that I need to be more mentally prepared for the next time. There are countless other things to do to work through being sad over missing my family. I could go for that walk around the pond, go out and lay by the pool, listen to some positive affirmation, or journal about my feelings. Also, I could always FaceTime them when I am sad and miss them the most. Now, that is a novel concept!

The reality is, that it is called a weight loss journey for a reason. It IS a journey; a process. There will be good days and there will be bad days. But everyday is a day to push through and remember what you are working for. To think about how much better I can be for my family when I am in better health. How much more I can enjoy seeing my grandchildren when I can run and play with them without getting winded and feel like I have been hit by a truck. But mostly, how they do not need to feel guilty for their decision to stay in Georgia because they have to feel that every time they see me, it makes me depressed and I spiral out of control. That is not their burden, and they must see me be strong, so that we can enjoy seeing each other and love each other. It is important to keep finding the things that keep me uplifted mentally and physically. Self help books, daily affirmations, journaling, and just sitting outside by the water and being in nature are the things that I have found that bring me back to a safe and healthy place. They say that the true key to long lasting weight loss is in that it is not a diet, but it is a lifestyle change. That is true, and this will be a lifelong journey, and a daily process. But, a process in which I am fully committed to giving my everything to.

When the Water Recedes

Life throws a lot of things our way. Life will send the storms; the flood, the fire, and the rain. But I believe the most important thing to consider is, when the water recedes, what does your character say about you? I have literally been through some of life’s storms. My son and I were trapped in our severely damaged home after the Palm Sunday tornadoes in 1994, and most recently my family survived a devastating flood. Having to jump from a window because we were in danger and getting to higher ground to watch our life literally floating away before our very eyes. They say, “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” but I like to take that a step further and say that I believe what doesn’t kill you can make you kinder.

One who learns to value how fragile life is can in turn learn to appreciate even the smallest gestures of kindness. Since the flood, I have seen my sixteen year old daughter really grow in her maturity. She has ministered to friends at school, and even to those in school whom she does not consider very friendly. She makes posts on Facebook and Twitter that get hundreds of likes and retweets. She has become quite the inspiration to many, and she is without doubt the most uplifting person I know. Her character speaks volumes of the wonderful person she is, and people are naturally drawn to her because they feel better just being around her.

 Since the flood, I have become more aware of people, as in their actions and reactions. I recently took my car in for service at the dealership, and while I was there I planned to catch up on some of my reading. I found myself getting sidelined by people watching instead. Mostly I was watching and listening to the employees of the service department. Many of the “grunt” workers of the department were coming into the main area and mingling a bit. As I watched them and caught bits and pieces of their side conversations, I gathered it was lunch time and the service department manager had lunch catered in to them every day. I was highly impressed by this. Not by the fact they were enjoying BBQ sandwiches as much, but rather in how they responded to him and him with them. He was more than a boss to the men in his employ, he was a leader. Many places would think nothing of the employees clocking out, fighting traffic to get to a place of choice, and waiting to get their meal before finally eating only to fight traffic getting back. But there was no “every man for himself” attitude in that service department. I could easily see the employees not only respected him, but admired him, and they followed his example. I was so impressed by witnessing of the service manager’s character, that I called my daughter right there in the lounge and bragged emphatically over the place.

I’ve also taken notice of people’s reactions to you in checkout lines. Of course employees are taught to say the generic “have a nice day” as part of their customer service training. But how many people going through those lines, actually appreciate or take time to reciprocate their “have a nice day?” I have started a habit, sadly I do not remember to do it every time while in checkout lines- I’m far from perfect, but when the cashier says for me to have a nice day, I reply with “thank you, and you have a blessed day as well.”  I have had quite a response to this. I’ve had many people take a double take, light up, and say, “Thank you so much!” with gleaming smiles.

am I being Kind

We all have bad days, bad weeks, and bad years, but the trick is, not to let the storm make you bitter. Besides, we never know when someone else’s day is worse. Are they still in their time of flood season? Maybe just a simple gesture of kindness can make a difference in someone’s storm. So when life throws her perils your way, and the waters recede from the flood, what will your character say about you? Anyone can learn the mundane task of repeating “have a nice day” as part of your routine. But I believe people should be sincere in their delivering and receiving of even the simplest acts of kindness. I believe that once the dust settles and when the water recedes, people have the ability to learn valuable lessons from the story, and even greater, the ability to grow from the experience. Just like glass is put into the fire to refine it and make it something beautiful, I believe we can use our trials by fire to refine us and build the kind of character that legacies are made of.

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