managing email

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Between the time I logged off my computer at the end of a work day last week and logged back on the next morning, I received 20 emails. Not an alarming number, but quite enough for the overnight. What I receive during the work day varies, but one thing’s for sure: there’s a lot to manage.  Day or night.

More than I have time for.

And I’m really not managing all that well, truth be told. A fly-by read at 10 a.m. is almost always buried by the 3 p.m. inbox viewing, for example. So sometimes, I’ve been misremembering  important dates, directives, deadlines, apppointments, and meetings or worse … not remembering at all. And folks wait … probably much too long … for my responses.

It’s hard to stay on top of the inbox and just as hard to find time to write for the outbox. Read. Act. File. Respond. Unsubscribe. Delete. The verbs of email. Notice “manage” is not among them.

So I scheduled a 45 minute chunk of time to do just that. Manage. In less than 60 minutes, here’s what happened:

  • Over 150 emails deleted
  • 4 emails received responses
  • 13 meetings/dates/deadlines recorded in calendar
  • 2 emails filed in ongoing folders
  • 3 notes taken for future action
  • 2 emails printed for future action

Forty-three emails remain in my inbox, acting at this point as a filing cabinet of sorts. I’ll be needing to do something with those 43, just not today. I don’t want to file them … because out of sight, out of mind… so they’re in an email limbo of sorts, and I’m okay with that.

So here’s the new email plan I’m promising to live by:

I will only check email when I have the time to act on its contents, i.e., Read. Act. File. Respond. Unsubscribe. Delete. And manage.

Up next: personal accounts.

Stay tuned.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

postcard: billings farm

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Step into the 1890 farmhouse and make yourself right at home.

Can you smell the biscuits in the oven?  Feel the curve of the pump handle in your hand?

Don’t get too comfortable though, there’s work to be done.

Maybe the cows are ready for milking.

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Or it’s time for butter-making in the creamery.

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Could be there’s ripe tomatoes ready to pick in the heirloom garden. Or supper to cook on the kitchen’s grand black stove.

There’s always work to be done, but be sure to make time for a quiet moment to graze awhile and simply smell the sunsoaked grass.

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Are you ready to receive visitors in the front parlor?

Or is it time for bed after a long day’s work?

Early to bed, early to rise is a way of life on the farm.

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There’s so much to explore at Billings Farm and Museum in Woodstock, VT where blue skies and green pastures meet at the horizon and the rural history of Vermont is a  just short walk back in time.

An interactive museum, the Billings Farm features films and exhibits on farming history, maple sugaring, ice cutting, and life in the farm community.

The farm animals befriend visitors right there at the pasture fence or back in the barns: draft horses, dairy cows, chickens, and sheep.

The 1890 Billings farm house offers you a home and hospitality from the past: the business end of farming and function in the farm office with its majestic standing desk,  family living quarters, and the glorious pastoral views from every window.

Billings Farm is owned and operated by The Woodstock Foundation, Inc., a charitable nonprofit. An interactive museum and working dairy farm, be sure to try some of the Billings Farm cheddar cheese!

Open daily, May 1 through October 31, 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM.

www.billingsfarm.org

802-457-2355

 

 

A Lick and a Promise

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Sometimes living, quietly and without much fanfare, takes over my whole house. Bananas brown in their bowl. Last Sunday’s flowers wilt and dry on the kitchen island next to half a week’s mail, and yesterday’s lunchbox. I’ve kicked off a pair of sandals (or two) at the tired end of a day and left them right where they landed.  And despite my very best intentions to maintain order, it’s time to admit I’ve somehow lost all control and the detritus of life, my life, is utterly in charge.

(Again.)

This post is not about down and dirty cleaning. Let the dust bunnies stay where they lay. This is about giving the house a lick and a promise, as my Nana used to say.

A lick and a promise cleaning restores order, plain and simple. It’s straightening the couch cushions, starting a load of laundry, and giving the throw pillows a quick lesson in who’s the boss. It’s about hanging the dish towel nesting next to the sink and hauling upstairs whatever’s been sitting patiently on steps one, two, and three for a week or so.

A lick and a promise cleaning isn’t about doing more, or even doing better. It’s about doing later.

It’s about promising to dust the very next rainy day. It’s noticing the disorganization of the pantry cupboard, and planning to rearrange it this summer when you either have more time or more inclination. It’s about understanding you have better things to do today, and giving yourself permission to put off all the rest of the stuff until tomorrow.

A lick and a promise is knowing what you can live with and what you can’t.

For me, that means a clean counter and no dishes procreating in our sink.  And I don’t much care about what’s going on behind the scenes in the cupboards. Not today.  I’m okay – today – with laundry in the basket, but I’ll be sure to gather any left stranded on the floor. Maybe I’ll make the bed, but I’ll leave changing the sheets for tomorrow. Could be I’ll sweep, but I won’t vacuum.

You get the idea.

Because a lick and a promise gives you permission. Permission to enjoy today … because today, I’ve got places to go and the world out there is sunny, and warm, and spring!

And so I’ll give the house a lick and a promise, and leave – knowing at least it’s peaceful and tidy when I’m ready to return.

life lessons: at the far end of mothering

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I almost never see a dandelion patch without thinking of a little child – student or son – arm outstretched with a loving fistful of droopy, yellow dandelions for me. And since it’s been awhile since I’ve received one, I’m caught a little surprised at how nostalgic I feel about the prolific yellow bane of our backyard.

There are scads of books on mothering and parenting and raising children.  How-to tomes. What to expect, what to avoid, how to be hands-free and all that. Maybe mothering today’s a bit more complicated.  Or so it’s probably always been to anyone who’s living it.

Personally, I’m at the far end of the mothering spectrum. And I’ve found few books to guide me. There’s a few about boomerang kids, but not much else beyond transitioning through the teen years and we’re past that too. And as far as flying objects go, I’m not much worried about boomerangs and more concerned with balloons.

I’ve had a whole handful of four, beautiful, bright, helium-filled, boy balloons and one-by-one each string loosens from my grasp. One day soon, the final of the four will lift, floating off free. And away from me. As should be. After all, independent, self-sufficient, productive citizens are the end-zone goal.

It’s just that when it comes to expecting … no one ever talks about what to expect at this point in the child-raising timeline. Saying goodbye is  not something you think about as you rock your infant, chase after your toddler, or sit across from your child’s teacher at a parent conference. Honestly, raising children is about as in the moment as it gets. Who has time or energy to think about the future when the here and now is so very consuming.

Truth is, the little dickens start leaving and living their own lives from the very first defiant, No! They have thoughts, dreams, and ideas of their own, and sooner or later – you’re in the way. You know it’s coming, but somehow you don’t expect it. Each milestone stands on its own, a point on the timeline toward departure. And once that last balloon wrests itself free, you watch it float skyward and wonder whatever in the world you’ll do next.

It’s been a wild ride couple of decades through each age and stage, but no fair lasts forever. Near as I can figure out, mothering young adults feels no less puzzling than the first years did. It’s another stage, another question mark in the life-long series I signed up for. I’m guessing I’ll be finding my own way just as my children find theirs – each of us simultaneously starting a new stage of life, on our own – together.

#the100dayproject

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100 days.

A roly-poly, friendly number.

100 days.

Start to finish: April 4 to July 12 … the day after my birthday.

(A sign, for sure.)

Oh my. This project is so exactly what I need.

It’s a hopeful project. A heart project. A passion project.

#the100dayproject is a pledge, promise, and vow … to myself.

It’s a happy, healthy, and can-do adventure of discovery and purpose.

And it’s all waiting for me right at the crossroads of should and must.

It’s been two years since Elle Luna’s book THE CROSSROADS OF SHOULD AND MUST Find and Follow Your Passion was published, and it’s been a little over a year since I read it: itching and aching for more creativity in my life.

Did I mention yearning?

I wasn’t ready for last year’s project, too jam-packed with excuses why I could not and should not. But this year … this year is the year of why not?  So I’m all in.

It’s a commitment to personal passion:  100 days of ___________

So watch for it here: 100 days of  photography and writing.

I’m especially interested in the intersection of the two – how one inspires the other. A which came first chicken and egg sort of experiment.  I’ll be exploring it with my students too.

I’d love to tell you more, but the beauty is: I don’t know where I’ll go over the the next 100 days … and I certainly don’t know where I’ll be at the end.

Won’t it be fun to find out?

You can register for and connect to #the100dayproject HERE.

Follow 100 Day Project co-founders on Instagram: @elleluna and @lindsayjeanthomson

Follow my posts here and on Instagram: @1hopefulyear

 

 

A Day in the Life of a Woman

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I work hard. Sometimes too hard. But hard as I work, I almost never give myself credit. No stars on my sticker chart. No atta girls or pats on the back. I’m never entirely satisfied … self-satisfied.

I thought a lot about women yesterday. Me, sure, but me in terms of all the rest of us.

Are you like me? Is well done never quite good enough?

I’ve reached an age where I don’t feel the need to self-psychoanalyze why I am who I am. It doesn’t much matter anymore how I got to be the me I am.  I’m more forward thinking these days and want to know where I’m going next.

But back to the credit. Can’t we all give ourselves a little more credit for all the good we do in the world? Credit for all that gets done because of us? Let’s give ourselves a moment of self-satisfaction for the crying babies we soothe, the corporations we run, and the patients we care for. Let’s tally points in our plus column for the words we write, the dishes we wash, the bills we’ve paid, essays we’ve read, and the fires we literally and metaphorically extinguish.

Let’s thank the women who do what we cannot: the chefs, lawyers, sales clerks, teachers, and child care workers. The all of us. No matter what I do or you do, not one of us can do it all. (Despite our very best efforts.)

I’m so grateful to the kind, young woman at Ulta who steered me in a better cosmetic direction without ever once making me feel old or less than. So grateful. It’s hard to be an aging woman, and she didn’t make me feel like one. Thank you for seeing me and not my age, Ulta woman.

Let’s remember and reach out to the women who feel forgotten, looked over, or invisible. Let’s say hello to the elderly, smile at the mom hauling a dozen birthday balloons from the dollar store, and start a conversation with the woman who looks so sad or lonely on the subway.

We’re all in this together – some alone, others with partners by our sides. Some of us are raising children and wonder about their future just as others of us get ready to retire and wonder about ours. We worry. We dream. We love. We grieve. We think. We vote.

We’re thin and not. Young and not so young. We’re blond, brunette, and chemo-bald. We’re store-bought and homemade. We’re mothers and mayors. We’re sometimes forgetful, always busy, loving, intelligent, brave, and beautiful. We’re a country of women, a world of women, and a culture of women. To try to define us somehow limits us for we are not and will never be a type, a party, a race, or one-size-fits-all.

We will resist judgement, criticism, and definition. Believe me, we’re probably already busy judging, criticizing, and defining ourselves over and over, day after day. At least I am. And I’m probably feeling not quite good enough.

I cannot speak for all of us, and I’m not sure I need to tell you my story. But I’ll listen to yours. I see you. I recognize you. And I know you.

Because I’m a woman too.

 

Snow Day

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There’s something pretty special about a snow day.

Whisper of disbelief:  It’s a … Snow Day.

Like all of the very best of good fortune, a snow day is really sort of magical.

Dream-like and unexpected.

And, of course, I had all the very best intentions to use this sudden abundance of time so wisely, so well.

But magic simply won’t permit such practicality. Or allow itself to be managed.

Because magic is … well, magic.

With a spirit all its very own.

And so, I wasn’t all that productive … but here’s a list of my very favorite picture books about snow… because the spirit and magic of a snow day never grows old.

1.  The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats

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2. The Snowman by Raymond Briggs

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3. The Big Snow by Berta Hader

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4. Snowflake Bentley by Jaqueline Briggs Martin

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5. Over and Under the Snow by Kate Messner

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Photo credit for book covers to Barnes and Noble. 

Note: The links I’ve provided are for the love of literature … not profit.