Saturday, December 27, 2008

Evaluation Time

At the beginning of this year, I set three goals --- not resolutions. GOALS. SMART goals. They were supposed to be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely. My goals were:

Number one: I will be healthy as defined:
1) BMI <25
2) Cholesterol range good
3) Thyroid good
4) BP good with medication

Number two:I will organize & clean my house.

Number three:I will become an enrolled agent.

Although I have taken steps in all areas, especially relating to my health & my house, I haven't achieved any of the goals completely. In these hard times, it is unwise to continue to carry employees who do not perform to the level of expectation. I'm afraid I'm going to have to let myself go.

Unfortunately (or fortunately), I can't do that. So I need to evaluate the situation and see what I need to do for next year.

First, the goals were pretty clear. I've had that first goal in some way shape or form for 35 years. The second one was added about 24 years ago. Number three... I'll hold off on that one.

Let's look at the good things:
Goal #1: my cholesterol, blood pressure, and thyroid levels are all within the normal ranges. I have lost a little weight. I am now merely "fat" rather than "really fat."

Goal #2: although I wouldn't want anyone to drop in without calling, I can have my house presentable in a few hours. I have my important papers filed (mostly.) I still need to clean out the workshop that's become a storage room. I need to get rid of clothes and other stuff. My friend Margaret suggested that I take pictures of things that are meaningful so that I can let them go more easily. I am going to try that. Oh.. wait, I'm getting ahead of myself.

Goal #3: after I bought the Gleim computerized study guide and went through a few lessons, I stopped. I don't really know why. I think I can still just take the business part, but even if I have to start from the beginning, I'm just going to roll this goal over. I need and want the validation that passing the test will give me.

I think that more than anything, I am terrible at making goals. I think I may make "ought to do" goals instead of goals based on what I WANT or NEED to do.

I think that even though I WANT and NEED to lose weight I'm going to let that one rest this year.

I think maybe I should make monthly goals instead of yearly goals.

I think maybe I should just DO stuff, then write retroactive goals and cross them off.

I think maybe I should read up on strategic planning.

I think I'll think on this awhile.

The Secret is in the Sauce: Win a Keurig Platinum Brewing System and $50 worth of K

The Secret is in the Sauce: Win a Keurig Platinum Brewing System and $50 worth of K
This blog is a gateway to other blogs. It's amazing how many interesting things are being said and done in BlogLand. I have a list of some of my favorite blogs on the right, but your taste & interests are probably different. Check it out.
If I win the Keurig Platinum Brewing System, y'all won't have to drink my muscle coffee any more. That will be sad.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


My life is full of stuffness right now. Stuff I have to do, stuff I have to buy, stuff I have to sort... In a manner completely unlike me, I get up every morning and start doing. I shower, dress, go to one job, where I plow through my things to do, drive to my other job, where I plow through an even larger list of things to do. I haven't stopped to think about THE BIG PICTURE recently, I have just done stuff.

This weekend, I will have some quality big picture time. I will clean and sort the files in the office to get ready for TAX SEASON. I will make lists of supplies, lists of procedures, lists of things to remember to tell people. I will also (I promise) clean my house, and maybe, just maybe, get a Christmas tree. Then I can think about what I need to do for Christmas.

For the rest of the week, I get up, I work, I sleep. And I guess that will have to do.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Thanksgiving parts I & II

Yesterday we went to Bob's parents' house for Thanksgiving. It was a wonderful meal with wonderful people (and that's not just the turkey talking). The meal was relaxed and friendly. The food was varied: aside from the necessary standards of turkey, gravy and stuffing, there were green beans, rice, pickled peaches, cranberry sauce, a fruit compote (Nancy), a salad with feta, avocado, and cranberries (Kathryn), carrot/cumin tart (Edward), succotash (Bob), potato salad (Rhonda), collards (good, but I don't know who made them), pumpkin & pecan pie, chocolate cake (Edward), and a fruit cake that I actually liked made by Nancy.

After dinner, some cleaned up, some played pool, some chatted. Bob pulled out his guitar and the family sang. It was very wise of me to marry into a musical family.

Today we will go to my brother's house for more Thanksgiving. This will also be relaxed and comfortable. We will have all of the foods that mean Thanksgiving to my family. We will talk and laugh and pick up last Sunday's New York Times and read about other people. We will remember Thanksgivings past and be grateful that they are past. We will think of Thanksgivings to come, and be grateful that we have them.

What have we come to? A Thanksgiving with very little drama and a whole lot of warmth. And that is what I am grateful for.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

My horoscope for today

Making a commitment to your long-term health can assure years of increased vitality down the road. Transformative Pluto is entering your 6th House of Routine, enabling you to ruthlessly eliminate old habits that no longer serve you well. Consider changes to improve your diet and exercise program while you can. If you wait too long, the negative effects of an unhealthy lifestyle will begin to take their toll.

Begin to take a toll? Huh. That bell has tolled. That bell is pealing in the tower and the pigeons are deaf.

How is this different from any other horoscope I have and will read? It's this line: Transformative Pluto is entering your 6th House of Routine, enabling you to ruthlessly eliminate old habits that no longer serve you well.

I don't know about Pluto, but I really need some help eliminating old habits. Coincidentally (or not), I recently told some friends that I think my aversion to healthy eating and exercise is no longer based on a deep-seated emotional need, but on bad habits I developed when I was needy.

I used to suffer from the "when I get thin, I'll be able to get a boyfriend, finish school, get a job, make friends, be happy...." Back then, I think I sometimes sabotaged my healthy eating and exercise plans because I needed the fat as an excuse for anything that wasn't working.

Now, I am married and out of school, I have lots of good jobs (some which pay in cash, some in satisfaction), I have great friends, and some days, when I am feeling very brave, I will admit that I am happy. Once in a while I catch myself thinking that if I were thin, I'd be able to handle a tougher situation better ---then I call myself a liar and just do it.

But I am still fat, and the health bell is tolling for me.

I know how to eat well. I like healthy foods. I like to walk, especially now that it is fall and the weather is perfect. So what is missing?

Habit. If I have good food at my office, I'll eat it. But on the days I'm not alone and someone offers to buy me lunch my mind perks up and my mouth says, "I'll take two chili dogs and small fries." My stomach and my brain are saying, oh jeeze, Kathy, that is going to sit like a pile of grease in your stomach and you won't get anything done. Just say no, or at least see if you can get a grilled chicken sandwich. But Habit wins.

Habit has me in my warm jammies and socks within two minutes of hitting my house. Habit has me eating ice cream when I really do like fat free vanilla yogurt. Habit has me, period.

The question I ask myself (I suppose out of habit) is if I have so many bad habits, why can't I develop good habits? If my mind is so strong it can make me sick and sad, why can't I use that same mind to make me healthy and happy? What do I need to do to develop new habits?

Sunday, November 23, 2008


I really like Thanksgiving. Not just for the food, which is good, or the family, which is better, but as a sociological study. You can learn a lot about a person by asking what they do for thanksgiving.

Although I grew up in SC, my mother was born in Massachusetts, and so our Thanksgiving had a New England flavor to it. We had turkey & dressing, ham, mashed white potatoes, sweet potato casserole (no marshmallows), green beans, wild rice and cranberry sauce made with real cranberries. Until recently, we had a plain pumpkin pie and a plain pecan pie, with vanilla ice cream.

When I got married I found out that my husband thought white rice should be served at Thanksgiving. He also included pickled peaches (his father's favorite). He did not see the point of mashed white potatoes or wild rice.

I've since met people who insist that macaroni and cheese casserole is a traditional Thanksgiving dish. I won't object to mac & cheese casserole any day.

Another part about Thanksgiving is who does the cooking. My mom used to make everything, but once we got older, each child took a specialty or two and ran with it. My brother always makes stuffing --- often two kinds. My sister makes a wonderful sweet potato casserole that I depend on every year. I make mashed potatoes with cream cheese, white cheddar, butter, and sour cream that is probably a complete meal in itself. Thanksgiving has been planned, with a little tweaking necessary, since 1985.

My mother-in-law used to make the whole dinner too. She doesn't like to cook, so she started buying the prepared meal from the Piggly Wiggly. She added the pickled peaches, of course, and a couple of other things. When my sister-in-law joined the family, she started bringing a couple of side dishes. She does like to cook, and it is always a pleasure to taste the Swedish tradition she brings to food.

My friend Perry said he wasn't sure what his family would do this year. His aunt died, and she was the last of her generation. And she used to cook the dinner by herself. The cousins were talking about experimenting with family traditions, but Perry wasn't really happy with that.

Another friend tried to scale back the food, and polled the family to see what were the MUST haves. They couldn't get rid of anything, but sweet potatoes, and they added that back because what's Thanksgiving without sweet potatoes?

I guess we do have to move on. Give up the things we don't care that much for, even if they represent something. Let other people cook in their own way. Try new things. Welcome new people.

I am tankful for diversity of taste, tradition, and outlook. I am thankful to know so many wonderful people. I am thankful to be here.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Requiem for a Grandmother

The weather on Friday varied from morose to violent --- a dark gray drizzle that may have been a very thick fog followed by thunderstorms, followed by the drizzle. The clouds were low like a wet wool army blanket. Even I could have used a ray of sunshine, and I adore rain.

I drove to Varnville for my daughter-in-law Katy's grandmother's funeral. Through a combination of circumstances: packing and bringing the babies after taking scones, tea, and Devon cream to Mark's school for teacher appreciation day, the weather, the fact that Varnville has few street signs & have no sense of direction,... I was 15 minutes late. I missed most of the service, but what I heard was nice, comforting, and kind. The Baptist minister was a joyous minister who talked about Katy's grandmother teaching everyone to dance. He approves and said he couldn't understand why the Baptists ever frowned on dancing.

Katy, her sisters, her cousins, her niece who is old enough to know, her aunts and uncles were all very very sad. If there was a small sense of relief that her grandmother died before her Alzheimer's disease took away her personality, it was held close. She was an important, dancing part of their lives, and they will miss her.

Some people say they can't go on when a mother or grandmother passes on. I understand that feeling. There are times even now that I know I can't roast a turkey without calling my mother and asking her how long to cook it. There isn't a meeting that goes by without me wanting to call Mom and ask how to handle a point of parliamentary procedure or how to approach a sensitive issue and get the support I need. And no one can count votes like she can. But if I didn't go on, I would be denying my mother's life.

People come and go in our lives. Some leave us to move to Georgia, others leave us by dying. Some just drift away. And if we feel our life is diminished by their loss, we need to hold them in our heart, remember their lessons, and live a bigger, better life because they have given us love, experience, strength, skills, knowledge, and most of all our own Power.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


I took the Meyers-Briggs thing-a-ma-bobby the other day, and I am INTP. Introverted, Intuitive (100%), Thinking, Perceiving. My counselor told me that only about 1% of people (maybe just Americans, I can't remember) are this type, and most of them are men. That makes sense to me, since I've always known I think/look at the world differently than most people and that I often think "like a man."

The original group facilitator and my counselor gave me some insight on what this means to me and how I deal with the world. I think that, for me, the most important lesson is that other people (99% of the people I deal with) don't face the world the way I do. This explains a lot.

Jennifer told me that the IT part is what makes me very naive in dealing with people. If people tell me they are nice & do two or three nice things, I believe they are nice. If that person does something terrible, I get confused, wonder what I did to make them act so out of character, and try to fix myself. I need a feeling person to tell me that the person is NOT nice, even if she said she was and gave me a cookie. I need my feeling & extroverted friends to clue me: She was not nice, and don't take cookies from people you don't know.

The intuitive part is the reason I have brilliant ideas but can't figure out how to share them. Ideas appear fully (of almost fully) formed in a panorama in living color with a lovely soundtrack. All of my stories ultimately begin "well, first, you need to know that God created the heaven and the earth..." I will eventually tell you why I bought a particular pair of red boots, for instance, but not before side trips to China, Italy and a Mayan temple or two. See? No, huh.

I can envision a great concept. I can see it, but I can't figure out how to get there from here. It is too big, and I don't know how break it down. When I break things down, I break them into their atomic parts. I just need a list. I need the sensing, judging people to get me going, to take the ball, as it were, and run. If I could just get over the introverted fear of asking for help...

So I am told there are lots of strong points in preferences... I think big, I have good ideas, I support the homeless... I just need the balance of other-preference friends. I am fortunate to have that, if I don't drive them crazy...

Sunday, October 19, 2008


Goals really suck. The only one of my three goals I've come close to is organizing my house, but even then it's limited to the main floor. I haven't studied for the enrolled agent exam, and now it's almost tax season again. I haven't exercised, eaten better on a regular basis, or lost weight. I am very disappointed in myself.

Through out the year, my to do list trumped my to be list. I am a year older, maybe a little wiser, but not where I want to be. I have spent more time on other people's wants and needs than mine, and even there, I don't think I was very helpful.

Well, now it October, the fourth quarter of the year. I have less than three months to pass the exam, clean the den (and everything else), and lose 15 lbs. Hmm. Better get to work.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Brave New World

CSI has elected a new board. This is the third board elected by parents, faculty, and staff. The first board was elected by the charter committee.

Charter schools, like new nations, require great leadership, and the nature of that leadership is different at each stage.

Stage 1 is the inception, the revolution. A group of people, in our case parents and educators, decide they want a better place for their children to learn. They decide that this better way is so good, they want to share it with all children. They want to help improve not just the education of their own children, but all public education.

Once the idea is defined, it has to be nurtured into a plan. Someone must write the charter, which will describe the brilliant idea in a way that can be implemented and evaluated. The charter also includes the boring business part of education that most people in public schools don't have to think about. Buildings, food for children, insurance, access, funding.

The leaders have to sell this great idea to the Department of Education, to the local school district, and to parents who will be willing to send their kids to this new place.

And so a great charter school needs leaders who are visionary, charismatic, business-minded, persuasive, and trustworthy.

Stage 2: the first few years.

The school is new, but it is a school. Some new ideas will shine, others will fail. Because it is a charter school, ideas can be easily monitored, evaluated, and adjusted (within the bounds of the charter). Students & their parents will come. Some will love it. Some will hate it. New people will come and they will need to be acclimated. Teachers will have to learn a new way of teaching, an new way of thinking of themselves as teachers. They will have to see themselves as active decision makers in the class and in the school and not as employees who follow rules and fill out forms. (They will still have to follow rules and fill out forms, this isn't Utopia.) The teachers are leaders in a charter school.

The Leader, who is the principal or lead teacher or director, has to wear a lot of hats. She is the educational leader & curriculum leader as in any public school. She is also a business manager, a marketer, a personnel director, a lobbyist, and many many more things.

The Board of Directors is adjusting to governance over management. They have hired a manager, and it is to be hoped, she is managing. The board has to anticipate situations & set goals in order to determine what policies should be established. Policies are guidelines that help you deal with difficult situations. They are like the rules of death and a funeral --- it's already there so you can know what to do without thinking about it at a time when it's hard to think. This job is tedious, not nearly as much fun as building the actual school. Even though there are other policy manuals to crib from, it's still like reinventing a very boring wheel.

The Board leaders move out of the spotlight, but are still extremely important. They are watchdogs, cheerleaders, visionaries, business leaders, marketers, fundraisers, and policy makers. They make sure that the charter is followed, that finances are sound, that the future is solid, and most importantly: that children are learning.

I think that board members are acrobats balancing on a line of over-involvement in the management of the school by interfering with the manager, and under-involvement by trusting the manager too much and not overseeing the business of the school. Others don't agree.

Stage 2, the first few years of the school's operation, is a time of testing boundaries, trying on roles and figuring out what works and what doesn't work. The leaders need to be flexible, resolved, and ego-less. This is not an easy time.

Stage 3, which I believe Carolina School for Inquiry is entering, is more settled, although not stagnant. I have not been there yet, but I am hoping it is a time where we can concentrate on sharing our strength with other public schools. I'd like for us to show the state that an inquiry curriculum, an atmosphere of respect, & nurturing of family involvement can benefit all children. The children, the teachers, and the families at CSI are special, but they are not different. I'd like to spread the word.

So I see the board leadership continuing to oversee the sound fiscal policies & strong curriculum, while branching out into marketing & fundraising, so that we can let others know the good things that are happening at CSI. Stable, but not stagnant.

Since the beginning, CSI has had great leaders with the skills needed at each stage. The visionaries and the business minded have come forward. Some are still here and some have moved on. Everyone has left CSI a little stronger, a little wiser, and a little better. And for that and all of the great people who have converged in this time and space, I am grateful.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Friday Morning at CSI

I spent the morning at Carolina School for Inquiry. Mark asked me to come sit in on his class. He said that when I come to school, I end up everywhere else but there. So aside from tallying the ballots for the mascot (I can't believe no one picked the Iguana!), I just sat and listened and watched.

It is always a joy to watch the learning at CSI. I was there during the morning meeting. They went over their expectations and talked about what was going on in their lives. Chris read a book called Mr. Lincoln's Way, and they talked about bullying and disliking people who were different and why a kid would think like that. The genuine dismay and confusion the kids felt about prejudice was heartwarming. This is South Carolina, and all of the kids have seen prejudice, but it still seems to be irrational to them. Why would people think like that? It would be nice if they could keep that wonder into their adulthood.

As a Board Member, I have to be at the school once or twice a month. As a parent and an advocate of excellent public education, I choose to go to CSI as often as I can. My visits are a tonic I try to take at least once a week. Like fresh air, exercise, and good food, it is necessary for my health and well being. I thank the teachers, the students, the director, the staff, and the parents for everything they do to make the school the joyful haven it is.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Go Gamecocks. Anywhere but in the middle of 5:00 traffic

When the University of South Carolina plays at home there are several hours of tailgating before hand, as with many places. Whether the team is good, bad, or indifferent, the tailgating is first-rate.

There are these things called "Cock-a-booses" that are old train cars that are lined up on an abandoned train track. They sell for more than my house and are done up for tailgating parties. I've seen pictures of one that has a marble floor, mahogany bar, silk wallpaper, etc. It looks like the car in the Wild, Wild, West. The TV show--- not the movie.

There is a new condominium complex built simply so people will have a place to party before and after the games. For the less fortunate, there are wide parking spaces in lots (some with potties) that you can rent by the season or the game. And there is some parking beside the road.

For miles and miles around the stadium, there are parked cars, people staggering around, and an altered traffic flow. The traffic flows almost all in to the stadium before the game and out after (DUH). Everyone in Columbia knows that on Saturdays with a game, you do not try to go within ten miles of the stadium.

OK, so yesterday (Thursday), I leave my office at 4:30 to pick up Bob downtown at 5:00. I take my usual route, down Shop Rd to Assembly to Huger to Gervais. I remember there is a sink hole at Huger & Blossom, so I call and ask Bob how to avoid that. He says to stay on Assembly until I get to Gervais. I say, of course, I should have thought about that.

As I drive down Shop Rd, I see people buying or selling tickets. I don't think anything about that, since my boss had sold his tickets since he's going out of town this weekend. As I drive further down Shop Rd... did I mention that the Stadium is at Shop, Bluff, Assembly and Rosewood? I notice more and more cars and people, then the parking lots, then the traffic, then the traffic cones, then the... oh no...Williams Brice Stadium.

I call Bob and say, "Is the game TONIGHT?" He says, "Oh yeah, it is." Then he giggles. I say, I'll see you when I see you.

I get turned off Assembly at Rosewood and have to go about ten miles out of my way to get back to Gervais without hitting game traffic. Then I hit the regular five o'clock "help, I'm in my car and I've forgotten how to drive" traffic on Gervais.

Since Columbia isn't a big city, this didn't take more than 40 minutes all together, but it certainly was a lesson. To me at least.

Friday, August 22, 2008

A Culture of Respect

Many years ago, I taught social studies in a high school. A new principal was assigned to the school in rather unpleasant circumstances, but being Pollyanna, I decided to welcome him and give him a chance. I commented to a friend that it was nice of him to sit in the teacher's workroom every morning welcoming all of the teachers. She gave me THE LOOK.

"Kathy, does he say good morning to you?"

I said, "Well, no. I don't think he likes me."

She said, "He doesn't say hello to anyone. He is checking to make sure that we don't sign in other teachers."


Over the next couple of years, it got worse. He told teachers that he knew they were only there for the paycheck and that only he cared about the students. He refused to talk to some teachers and lavished praise on others, for no obvious reason. Many not so hot teachers left (including me) and many more excellent teachers found better places to be. The school's test scores plummeted from Death Valley lows to someplace I didn't believe existed.

He is not there any more. He is at another high school in the district, working his magic yet again. Mr. Fixit.

The purpose of this is not to exorcise my personal demons (although it looks like I have some meditation to do), but to note that Richland School District One has a new superintendent. I have heard good things about him from teachers, parents, administrators, and community members. Hopes are high.

His job, as I see it, is not just to improve test scores. It is to revamp the entire culture of Richland One.

Although almost everyone gives lip service to "it's all about the children," and the vast majority of employees on all levels in Richland One believe that with all of their hearts, there is a powerful minority that views public education as a zero sum battle among parents, teachers, administrators, and central office. Notice there are no children in the equation.

There are many models (as close as Richland Two) of school districts that empower teachers, administrators, and parents, respecting their professionalism & knowledge while holding them accountable as professionals.

No zero sum games.

No condescending "lessons" in the ways of "these students."

No excuses.

A culture of respect for students, teachers, parents, and administrators.

Because we are all it this together. Because it is all about the children.

Monday, August 18, 2008

The First Day of School

Today is the first day of the school year. We are all very excited. Even the kittens seem to be especially annoying this morning. Mark will be in the upper elementary class, the oldest grade at the school now. He will be joined by Shayna, his sister-in-law's niece. This is her first year at Carolina School for Inquiry, and we are really happy she is joining us.

I can't think of a better place for my child to be. Every teacher cares about the children. The lead teacher/director knows every student and every family. They know or are learning how to interest each child in learning, how to get the child involved. They know when to push and when to pull back.

The kids know that they are responsible to themselves and to the community. They take care of each other, help each other in the classroom and out. They argue of course. They are kids. But their teachers help them find their words and work out the problems. And when that doesn't work, they find the lead teacher's office is a nice place to think.

Off we go...

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

People like me

Someone was talking about Minnesota, commenting that it was a very homogeneous society, and that that could be very comforting. My sister said that it was strange and in a way comforting to go to Ireland and see almost all of the people looking like you. I have heard people talk of tracing roots to parts of Africa and seeing people who looked like them. There was a feeling of homecoming in each of these cases.

I am not sure where I fit in this, because I don't feel really comfortable with people who look like me. I do, however, feel relief when I can be around people who think like me. When I don't have to argue, to defend my basic beliefs, to define my presumptions. I suppose that is what I would call narrow-minded in someone else.

I am thinking about this now, because it is raining and my head hurts, and I feel as if my world has been redefined. What I knew is not and what I believed is questionable. I need the balm of the society of people who think like me to reassure me and revalidate me. And then I might be able to readjust.

But not today.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Normal schools, co-eds, and reverse racism

Isn't language an interesting thing?

Like how "co-educational" means men and women in a school, but the men are the students and the women are the "co-eds." This is even true at formerly all female colleges. What's with that?

In the old days, before integration, there were Normal schools and black schools. Although, I don't think they said black. Huh?

And racism means disliking someone because of their race. What is reverse racism? LIKING someone because of their race? Yet, it is used to describe a non-white person who dislikes white people. See, that's just racism. No reverse.

And how come groups that lobby for the interests of women or people of color (other than white) are SPECIAL interest groups?

All of these terms or words work on the assumption that White and Male is normal and other things are NOT.

And to conclude my musings: why can white men get away with saying that a woman or a black man couldn't represent their interests, when they have seen no problem with white men representing women and people of color (other than white) for centuries?

I'm just asking... :-)

Monday, August 4, 2008

Happy Birthday Barack!

I am trying to get my mind around having a president who is a year younger than I am. That makes me feel older than the birth of my grandson did. Hmph. My husband suggests that the solution to my discomfort is to vote for McCain, but that doesn't work for me. I guess I'll adjust.

My mother used to ask me how old I was, then announce "Wow, you're old." I'd reply, so are you old woman. It was a family tradition, handed down from her mother. I have pretty much dropped it so far. Some traditions should die, don't you think?

So Happy Birthday Barack. I hope you will be the first president who is younger than I am. A very important first... for me at least.

PS: The spell checkers need to add "Barack" to their dictionaries.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Back to School

It is almost time for school to start again and thoughts turn to ... standardized testing. Somehow that doesn't seem right, does it?

Our school is an inquiry-based, child-centered, public charter school. (Note the PUBLIC part, some people whose job it is to tend to the needs of ALL children seem to need reminding.) We started it because we support public schools, but reject the cookie-cutter, silent-lunch, accelerated-reader model that is popular. That works for some kids, but not for all. Not even for most. We wanted children to have a place where their curiosity, ingenuity, and responsibility were honored and nurtured. We wanted the learning to go on long before and long after the TEST.

Ironically, because we are new and untried, the TEST is what people see. And that is not a good thing.

Have I told you my favorite TEST story? I could scroll back and look, but I'm not going to. OK, here it is. When I was in school, I LOVED STANDARDIZED TESTS. Three or four days of silently bubbling in circles. Three or four days in which I did not have to talk to my teachers or other students. Three or four days in my element: me against the TEST. And I always won.

One year, when I was in high school, something happened. I decided I didn't want to take the TEST. I wasn't up for it. On the first day, I took the TEST but I wasn't happy about it. The second day, I was "sick." I stayed home and watched soap operas and game shows. The third day I returned with a better attitude and took the TEST some more. Sometime the next week, I got out of class to make up day two.

In all my years of test taking, the lowest I'd scored was the 97th percentile. On the day I had a bad attitude, I scored in the 86th percentile. Day three I was back up to 98th and on the make up day, I was at 99th percentile. The point is not that I am bright, or I am a good test taker (although thank you for noticing). It is that the scores were affected by a BAD MOOD. If that had been PACT or the SAT, my life could have been changed because I was in a BAD MOOD one day. And that is not a good thing.

Let me go back a bit and say, I understand and support the need for accountability in ALL schools. These are our children here. We can't subject them to the Education Fruit of the Month club and not check to see if it's working.

But who are the geniuses who make these magic tests that can tell us whether a child is learning with one test, delivered to one learning style, on one day? And to be fair to the geniuses, they don't necessarily think their test should be the end all and be all of accountability. This ain't law school.

The SC legislature, with the help of the SC Department of Education, is trying to come up with a new plan for assessing progress of students and insuring accountability of educators. Unfortunately, the legislature wants a single number they can look at and show on a 30 second television ad. They want to be able to compare apples, oranges, and roast beef. They want a definitive, concrete, cheap solution.

Bless their hearts.

But let us remember the children--- the ones today, the ones tomorrow, and the ones we once were.

Saturday, August 2, 2008


I finished Jane Eyre. It was pretty good, although I thought I'd finished it about 10 or 15 pages before Charlotte Bronte thought it was finished.

In high school, I didn't read the books I was supposed to read. Dickens or the Brontes or Henry James. I did read Jane Austen. I didn't have the patience or interest to slog through stilted formal writing. Now, I don't have much more patience, but I have the interest.

I think the main thing I take from Jane Eyre is that the world changes in some ways, but the characters are the same. Kindness, bitterness, smugness, arrogance, intolerance, fondness, curiosity.

I think it is interesting that Bronte painted the characters in a much subtler way than an author would now. I kept thinking, "How can she stand that pompous ass?" or whatever, and finally realized that was the point. Some of the characterizations are as ironic as Voltaire or Swift, but it took me longer to get it. About 30 years longer.

Now I'm going to re-read some of the books I did read when I was younger. My viewpoint has shifted, and I wonder how I will see the books I DID like as a teenager. I think they will still be great books, but I think I will be slightly less smug in my reading. One would hope.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

The day after...

Yesterday was my birthday. I started it out by messing up the computer system at St. Michael's and All Angels, which I'm pretty sure is a sin. It was a sin of enthusiasm, though.

Tuesday I went to a workshop to learn about the upgraded church accounting software. I kept thinking, that is so great! That's what I want to do! Just imagine the beautiful reports I can prepare! I can hear the Vestry now: "Yes, NOW I understand Fund Accounting." OK, you can see I was suffering from irrational exuberance as well as a severe case of accounting geekdom.

So I went into the church at 6:30 a.m. and backed up the old program on the only available media: floppy disks. I upgraded, and was surprised it worked. Then I tried to add the patch and found out I'd blown my RAM on both the network and the workstation computers. I knew my own computer wouldn't be able to upgrade. My computer had been put together by Jesus and Judas when they were teenagers.

So ellipse the computer tech having to cannibalize his own computer to save us, me feeling really bad about it, going to my other job and coming back to the church after lunch, and I have a nice computer borrowed from the Christian Education Director.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

No Goals...

What is it with me and goals? I am an intelligent, adult woman. I set the goals for myself. But mention goal and BOOM! I don't do it. If I set brushing my teeth as a goal, I'd have green fuzzy teeth in a week. What is it?

I eat veggies ALL THE TIME. I love veggies. I especially love veggies in the summer, when they are so pretty and I can get them from my friends' gardens or from the produce stand down the road. I really love eggplant. It is so PURPLE. But have I had a veggie, other than lettuce & tomato on a fake fish sandwich? NO. I didn't even have the fried okra. I write a simple goal: eat well three days this week. I have an entire week without a vegetable. Can you explain this, beyond general orneriness?

I had lots and lots to say last week, but I didn't sit down and write once. Not one time. I wrote a snippet in my red suede IRL journal, and that's it. I LIKE TO WRITE, but make it a goal and it becomes a chore and I'm out of here.

OK, I did read. I finished Labyrinth by Kate Mosse and read Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen and Personal Demon by Kelley Armstrong. All really good books. I have started Jane Eyre, which isn't as bad as I thought it would be. I glanced at the Board book.

I have probably gained 10 lbs, although my lying scale says I haven't. I feel like a beached whale. Someone around me must be on a diet. I always gain weight when people start talking about dieting. Maybe it's that a friend of mine and my daughter-in-law are both being encouraged to gain weight. I'm being a good role model. A good beached whale role model.

This is what I have to say about all of that: No New Goals. For awhile. And I think I'll go eat some pineapple.

Friday, July 11, 2008

More goals... less goals... more or less

One or two of my horoscopes this week have told me to put my long term goals on hold. I was shocked! shocked! I say. No one puts long term goals on hold. Long term goals hold us. How can I continue to exist without long term goals?

Same as always, I guess, considering the state of my long term goals right now. As I mentioned, I'm not sure my long term goals are working for me right now. I am so overwhelmed with short term tasks that I am neglecting the long term.

Of course, the long term will come, with or without my help. But I think I deserve... no, I NEED a break. So these are my short term goals.
  • Write in my blogs at least three times next week.
  • Eat well at least three days next week.
  • Work as hard as I can four days next week.
  • Stand (or sit or swing or walk) outside at least ten minutes each and everyday next week, even if it rains.
  • Forgive myself as I would forgive others.
  • Expect as much from others as I do from myself and respect & trust their ability to perform as expected.
  • Read one light novel. (At least.)
  • Read Boards that Make a Difference by John Carver.
  • Read one novel my high school English teacher would have wanted me to read (I'm thinking Jane Eyre.)
  • Refrain from killing anyone.

I'll let y'all know how this works for me.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Best laid plans

I am still in the process of cleaning my kitchen. This process started last weekend... Friday, June 27. We cleared out all of the cabinets and put everything into the living room and dining room. Yesterday and today, we are scrubbing the cabinets themselves.

I am not thrilled to admit that we have a cockroach problem. Now, most people in SC have bugs in their houses. Ants, spiders, and of course Palmetto Bugs. Most people in SC have a cockroach now and then. But not like us.

And so, I am using every natural and unnatural method I can to get rid of them. My son Joseph has wisely suggested that if you poison them, they grow stronger and we are probably contributing to the destruction of the planet. One day the world will have nothing but cockroaches, Easter grass, Christmas tree tinsel, and Peeps. And so we are exploring natural means to repel and possibly kill (yeah, right) all of the cockroaches.

OK, so killing the cockroaches is only step one. Cockroaches are very sentimental. Every month, they join a Cook's tour of Cockroach cemeteries and toilets. They get their little cameras and take pictures of the place Uncles Albert thru Zebadiah died. Then they stay. If you want to get rid of cockroaches, you have to clean up all of the cockroach poop and pieces in your cupboards, cracks and counters. I am not kidding. One single cockroach leg wedged in the wheel of the drawer pull and BAM!!! Here come the tour buses.

This job is harder and grosser than we had expected. Joseph gets to clean the upper cabinets because he is tall and I am not. Mark cleans the shelves that come out. I clean the lower cabinets, because I can. I sit on the floor when I can, but mostly I am kneeling on a towel wondering why I thought ceramic tile floors were cool and scrubbing deep into the recesses of cabinets. The good part is that my cabinets are all white, so I can see when they are clean. The bad part is that the cabinets are white, so I can see when they are dirty. Oh well.

So we worked for several hours yesterday and will (the good Lord willing and the creek don't rise) be finishing today. Then we get to wash every dish, spoon, and pan; throw away pieces and parts that don't go to anything; marvel at the cool stuff we have (panini anyone?); put the flour, sugar, rice, beans, pasta, more pasta, and more rice into glass containers; and rearrange all of this so that we can cook & eat in our kitchen once again.

I seem to say this a lot, but: Wish me luck.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Half way through the year

Look, it's July 1. Where has this year gone?

I sit here at work with a sinus headache, trying to concentrate. This isn't happening. It will be ok. I am a firm believer in OTC medication, and I've taken Corisidan BP for colds. I don't know if this will help, but I also have chocolate and tea. One way or the other, I'll feel better. Or not.

I am still considering my goals, as I set them last January. It is interesting to me that the least defined goal, the one I was pretty sure wasn't going to happen, is further along than the others. I am organizing my house.

I am usually able to organize one or two areas of my life at a time. My house has always been the lowest priority. That is unwise, since your house is your base, your sanctuary, your home. Its comfort or chaos can affect your whole life.

So now, I am slowly weeding out junk. It isn't being a Junk Junkie, and harder to quit, especially if you have raised your kids to think that some day a broken Star Wars light saber might be fixed and come in handy. If I try to throw out too much (or give it away--- it doesn't matter), I start to hyperventilate. I am convinced I have just handed over something that will show up on Antiques Roadshow. "Yeah, the lady just handed it to me, and it's worth $10,000. All I had to do was clean off the cat poop."

I am not really very far in the junk junkie department, really. But what I have done is organize books on bookshelves and set up a shelf/desk system in my kitchen, which is my work area. What this means is that if I want to pay a bill, I can find the bill, the checkbook, a pen and (and this is a biggy) A STAMP. If I want to pay on-line, I can look in my book and find my user name and password. If I want to write a letter to a friend... oh, wait, what did I do with that address book? Ok, well, I'm working on it.

This weekend, after the July 4th barbecue, after my sinus headache goes away, after I finish this book I'm reading... I will clean my kitchen cabinets, put stuff in these cute glass containers I bought, throw out pieces of blenders I don't have and warranties for telephones with dials I don't think I've ever owned. I will put the three different bottles of chili powder, four bottles of cinnamon, two bottles of something without a label back on a shelf and USE them.


Monday, June 23, 2008

Goals, dreams, and wishes

It is now summer, and I am not really going anywhere on any of my goals. It seems that the little bits of life have interfered, or maybe I let them draw my attention away from my goals. Life is important of course, but were these things I wanted to spend time on? Maybe my goals weren't really my goals, just dreams or wishes, or even "shoulds" I have placed in my life. I'll have to think about that.

In the mean time: Goal 1: I haven't lost a pound. The scale hasn't budged, and I think it may be broken, because my clothes are actually TIGHTER!!! I am embarking on a healthy eating plan (never say diet, remember) which involves mindful eating.

When I went on the Best Life Plan (not a diet), I lost weight in the preliminary stage. I kept careful track of my eating, typing it into the Best Life calculator and meal diary. It worked really well for me, because I like to see those numbers. So I thought about what I was eating and what I needed to eat more or less of. I didn't give up anything, I just thought long and hard before I ate some things.

The second stage of the Best Life Plan involved giving up certain foods. Some of it wasn't a problem for me. I eat whole wheat, brown rice, and whole wheat pasta. I like to try new grains. But the Plan asked me to give up all caffeine and full fat cheese. And it was tax season. And that wasn't going to happen. I decided the plan wasn't great for me, because I can't work with any plan that tells me to completely avoid anything. I know I'm contrary, but if you tell me NOT to eat liver, I'd probably crave it, even though I hate the stuff. Since I've only seen I cheese I wouldn't eat one time (it had volcanic ash in it), I'm not going to fare well on a diet without cheese.

So now, I am taking my thoughts and the thoughts and insights of others, and trying to eat mindfully. Annie from writers and witches, and words, oh my! has talked about eating the angel way. It is intuitive, mindful eating (at least as I see it. I'm less spiritual than Annie.) She speaks of eating a rainbow, which ties in with my mother's belief that your plate should be pretty, look at the colors of food and see what works together. By eating a rainbow (fruits and veggies of different colors), you can pretty much cover your dietary needs for vitamins, minerals, and other good things fruits and veggies have. She also talks about white foods, which are protein. Because of her, I realized I am really protein deficient, which explains a lot.

The plan, or lifestyle, is really pretty simple, and makes mindful eating much easier. It's not a matter of eating whatever I want (like the Karmal Sutra dinner plan), but eating what I really need to eat, and being aware of what my body and my mind need and want. Interestingly, I find myself craving pineapple, juicy peaches and strawberries, without the ice cream. And knowing I can have Karmal Sutra means I don't HAVE to have it.

So we will see what eating more protein and lovely fruits and veggies does to my energy levels. And later I'll talk about Goals 2 & 3.

Thursday, May 22, 2008


I am feeling pretty optimistic these days. Is it the weather? Warm and sunny with an occasional thunderstorm to keep my blood flowing? Is it that school is almost out and Mark and Roslyn will play croquet and badminton all summer (with a time out for pottery camp, zoo camp, soccer camp, and vacation Bible school)? Is it because I've almost caught up with Not Tax Season?

Who knows. I think I'll enjoy it. Lounge in the hammock and read the ten thousand books I got from my friend. Think about a yard sale, a garden, a summer party. And take a nap.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Goals again

I am still struggling with Not Tax Season, trying to catch up with all of the things I couldn't get done before April 15. I am making progress in some areas, though.

I bought a study program from Gleims to help me prepare for the Enrolled Agent Exam. So far, it seems to be really helpful. I can find out what I was missing right away, and figure out why I was confused. I am learning a lot, clarifying more, and feeling pretty confident that when I take the business portion of the SEE in June I'll pass. That is all I need as far as the exam, since I passed the other two parts last year. After the exam, I submit one of the IRS' clear and simple forms asking to be an enrolled agent. They will do a background check to make sure I'm not a criminal, and bam! there I am.

The healthy eating stuff isn't going so well, in large part due to the two for one Breyers ice cream sales the past month. Although my scale hasn't budged up or down, my clothes are shrinking. I'm afraid I have to admit that the scale is wrong, not my clothes. Bob is at least theoretically committed to a walking plan. I mapped out a route that is slightly more than one mile from our house and back. It has some hills, but the neighborhoods are quiet and shady, so it should be a pleasant walk. We'll see. I think we'll start Wednesday morning.

Starting tonight, we eat yummy healthy foods. Really. Bob suggested tostados, which surprised me. When we first married, his idea of a good meal was meat with a side of meat. Now, he likes veggies and more veggies. He doesn't even complain about the whole wheat pasta and brown rice any more.

Organizing is still going on. Cleaning is happening, sort of. Goals are getting closer. And now it's time to get to work.

Friday, May 9, 2008


I have been thinking about the way that memory works. There are lots of reasons. For one, I am utterly amazed that two people can see the same thing and remember completely different things, down to directly contradictory direct quotes. But that isn't what I've been thinking about this morning.

I have memories from childhood and beyond that are just bits. I don't remember what happened right before, I don't remember what happened right after. I have other memories that are complete episodes, with scene changes and sound. Why is this?

I like to talk about my experience riding the school bus as a first grader, but I have been thinking about the two memories I have, and I wonder what went in between. I remember getting on the school bus and trying to sit down. A big girl (who was probably 10) told me I couldn't sit there because seats had been assigned. Then the bus driver (who was probably 16) yelled at me to sit down or get off. Since I can't see myself getting off, I must have sat down. I don't remember where or anything else about the bus ride. I just revisit the image I saw, standing in the aisle, staring at a white blur of a face telling me I couldn't sit. I remember the mouth moving. I don't remember the eyes. I know it was a girl.

I also remember hiding behind the bushes, waiting for the bus to come, then going home and telling Mom that I missed the bus. Since I remember the wait being pretty long, I have to think that my parents must have been suspicious. I was wondering if those were my only attempts to ride the bus in first grade. I know we joined a car pool at some point, which was pretty traumatic for Mom. I wonder if I ever rode the bus or if this was what happened in the first two days of school. I remembered just yesterday that before I was yelled at, I had really wanted to ride the bus. Maybe Mom had finally relented, then I changed my mind. I guess I'll never know, since Mom is gone and Dad doesn't remember that sort of thing.

As I write this, I think, good grief, where's your navel? I wonder why this small piece of memory sticks with me and affects my life even today.

I rode the school bus through middle school and part of high school, with many more traumatic incidences, but it is first grade that came to my mind when I decided not to make my kids take the bus to middle school. I decided that there are character building exercises, and there are exercises which tear your soul to shreds in such small ways you don't notice until you go looking for that piece of you. I'm still not sure what the bus ride was. Did I learn compassion because of that cruelty? Or did I become more timid and afraid? Or both.

But that's enough of my navel lint for today.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Listens well and follows directions

I always received high marks for listening in school, because that is what it looked like I did. From first through fifth grade, I ventured into class participation three times. Each one ended badly. I learned that even though the sign on the wall says “There is no such thing as a stupid question,” no one really believes that. I learned to research and ask books my questions rather than ask people.

Sometime between 9th and 12th grade, I became more open with my opinions. I became a debater. I learned to listen in order to think of a response. I listened to argue and the point was to win, not solve a problem, and certainly not to be convinced.

In an attempt to become a good listener, I picked up on the idea of echoing what a person says to make them realize you can relate, or something. I think I got it wrong, because I turned into one of those boors who responds, “Oh yes, I knew someone who had triple by-pass surgery like you are getting. He died.”

I developed into a person who needs to solve problems, even if they aren’t my problems and even if they don’t want to be solved. (And, no, I am not a man.) If you tell me your problem, my mind goes to work trying to fix it. You want me to listen; I am too busy solving your problem to hear you. As part of this, I often feel defensive about a problem. Even if it isn’t my problem and even if it doesn’t want to be solved, I feel that I have failed because I can’t solve it. See? This attitude isn’t conducive to listening.

And so, at an embarrassingly late age, I developed the ability to listen without thinking about solving the problem, without thinking of my response, without planning a counter-argument. It is a struggle. I had to realize that listening is a skill that is not inborn, but learned. I had to practice. I had to bite my tongue. I had to fail.

Now that I have developed this nascent skill, I have another problem.

Being open-minded can lead people to believe that I am easily swayed, simply because it is possible to sway me. Sometimes when I do a really good job of listening, others quit listening. Give them an inch, man…

I feel like I’m doing all the work. Compromise becomes the breakfast the chicken asked the pig to help her with. She said, “I’ll supply the eggs, and you supply the bacon. That’s fair, isn’t it?” And no, it isn’t fair.

And so, even as I approach 50, I still stumble between appearing to be a bully or a toady. I try to be an open-minded, calm, rational, mother-earth goddess type, and I end up stomping my foot and saying, “That isn’t fair. I’m listening and you should too.”

Oh well. As Jimmy Carter said, “Life isn’t fair.” And I’m not always fair either.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Promises promises

Now that it is NOT TAX SEASON, I will write more on this blog. I will eat better and more regularly. I will walk more and sleep less. I will plant the seeds I bought. (The pepper seeds I planted have sprouted!) I will think about what I want to do and where I want to take my life. I will search out new sources of information and knowledge.

I bought a used book yesterday. It is about the beginnings of the study of prehistory. A study on a study. It is interesting. Surprisingly well written. You know how social scientists are. If they write a readable book, they are accused of being fluffy, so they write tortured, convoluted sentences that last longer than the 100 years war. Like that one there. Bless their hearts.

I will study studies and other new and exciting things. I will... hmmm... nap time.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

March 1

Is it March 1 already? Although the groundhog saw his shadow last month, the daffodils didn't get the news. My yard thinks it's spring, and so do I. I'm ready to get into the garden and dig, plant, clip, and enjoy.

Unfortunately, it's still tax season, so there isn't as much time for that as I'd like. Something I might want to consider, as I consider my career choices. It would be nice to see spring one year. Not just through the window as I stare out wondering how much Lowe's stock sold for when it was bought, "Oh, I don't know, four or five years ago."

My new years resolutions are not going so well. I don't even eat breakfast unless I pick up a steak, egg, and cheese biscuit from Bojangles. (Which sounds good right now, as I get ready to head to work on a gorgeous Saturday morning.) I have lost weight, but that has more to do with overwork and a slight case of pneumonia than any healthy eating on my part. The only green thing I ate last week was an M & M.

I have begun to organize my space, even though I never did manage to solidify that goal. I bought a cool white cube shelf and some red and blue bins and stuff. I can find paper, pens, folders. By next week, I will have a file for bills, letters, and to be filed. Some day, I may have what I need to write a thank you note, sympathy card, or birthday greeting AND mail it. We can dream, huh?

OK, off to work. Maybe I'll write some more later. That would be something.

Friday, February 1, 2008

February 1

Since it's February 1, it's time to evaluate my progress toward my goals for this year. I suppose I should be 1/12th of the way toward completion. And guess what? I'm not.

Theoretically, you could say I've made a little progress on each of them. For goal #3, becoming and enrolled agent, I have explored some possible courses I might take. I didn't expect to do anything serious until after April 15. No tax preparer does. Ever. So that's ok.

My second goal was to be organized. I am planning to clean my room and sort clothes this weekend, so I have hopes for this one. All of my horoscopes and inner feelings and counselors have told me that getting rid of junk, literally and metaphorically, is important to me and that this is a good time to do it. We'll see. In the mean time, I have a great plan for a desk, bookshelf, and baskets in what is now a breakfast nook holding a computer. I think I'll like it better as a mini-office. I like to work in the center of things, with light and warmth and air. The den, which I had planned to use as an office, is dark and cluttered. This will be better.

So if planning and good intentions are 1/12th of complete, I'm ok on that one for now.

#1 involved health and well-being. I am not eating any better, although I did buy green apples and oranges, and have eaten an apple. Today at lunch time, I thought about my goal and how to achieve it. Then I ordered some sort of super stuffed potato bites at Arbys. I can't really say that in any way helped me reach my goal.

I can blame TAX SEASON on the slow start on Goal #1 as well, but I am not going to wait until April 15 to improve my exercise and eating habits. I just have to remember that even little steps are good. And that taking care of myself, eating better, getting some exercise, will help me maintain the energy level I need to survive the next few months. It's a marathon, and I need to be fueled.

So my baby step goal for this month is to eat a nice breakfast (whole grain cereal and a banana, yum! yum!) and to walk for 15 minutes a day. The walk will probably be a stroll around my office yard (a large, woodsy yard) with a telephone in hand, but it will be a walk. And better than nothing.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Goal v To Do List

As I try to sort through my goals to figure out what I want my world to look like on December 31, 2008, I keep running across things that need to be done now or soon or yesterday that don't necessarily have to do with my goals.

I am struggling with how to take care of business while keeping the larger goals in my view. I am already bogging down in the minutia of the year and drowning in a fear of failure or, heaven forbid, success.

And I wonder if I am thinking too much and doing too little. Or doing too much and thinking too little.

Oh well.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Goals 1 and 3

I have established my 2008 goals. Numbers one and three are ready. Number two is going to require some honing.

Number one:
I will be healthy as defined:
1) BMI <25
2) Cholesterol range good
3) Thyroid good

4) BP good with medication

Number three:
I will become an enrolled agent

Both of these are on a pretty chart with an action plan & resources needed. I feel pretty good about number three. I feel OK about number one, even though it's a variation on the same goal I've had for 35 years.

Number two is harder. I will organize & clean my house.

This is hard for several reasons.

Like "being healthy," it requires a change of habit in order to sustain any changes. Unlike being healthy, it requires the cooperation of my household, who share my current sloppy habits. While some of them are more than willing to cooperate (at least in theory), some are comfortable with the disorder. They don't even want to change.

A second problem is that having a clean and organized house has become a great specter for me. It's the THING that stands between me and happiness. You know what I mean? If I lose weight, I'll be happy. If I get my degree, I'll be happy. It's the THING that lets me put my life on hold, spending energy planning for after the THING (craft projects, baking, writing). But life goes on even with the THING in the way, and I need to find a way to do what I want and need to do now.

The third problem may be related to the second. I can't get rid of things. I donated boxes of stuff to a yard sale which was not very successful. Instead of immediately calling the Sunshine House to pick it up, I decided to go through it one more time to see if I might need something. Not only did I come home with all of my junk, I ended up bringing home other people's junk as well. Admittedly, I got a nice baby bouncer for Gabe, but at what price? My "den" is now almost as packed with boxes as my "workshop."

So this goal is about more than cleaning my house. It is about freeing my mind and giving myself permission to let go. And while I understand this in theory, it does not make it any easier for me to throw or give away things.

In the next week or so, I'll set as my goal to find a way to make the Goal more concrete, measurable, and sustainable. Wish me luck.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy happy new year

I have decided to make my resolutions in the form of SMART goals. It is a method of employee or project evaluation used in education and probably elsewhere. I'm going to give it a go in my life.

Since it comes from the education community, we know that SMART is an acronym.
  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Action-oriented
  • Realistic
  • Timely

The idea is that a professional cannot be evaluated with a cookie-cutter evaluation form. It gives the executive/professional responsibility for his/her performance and establishes clear expectations from the beginning. It is flexible, and unless the organization is stagnant (and probably needs to get a new executive), the goals will change every year. An important part is that the supervisor/evaluator and the professional/executive agree that these are valuable things to accomplish this year. Together they set the goals and determine how success will be measured. They will begin on the same page and there will not be any surprises at the end of the year. "What do you mean, I didn't keep the teacher's lounge clean? When you said improve the morale of the faculty, I sent them to Cancun."

I don't know if SMART goals work for personal goals. If I don't succeed, that doesn't mean they don't work for anyone. (DUH). I just know that my previous attempts at action plans and resolutions and charts and 8 X 10 glossies with the arrows... no wait, that was Alice's Restaurant...anyway, that hasn't worked. And as someone has pointed out here before, doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is nuts. (But he/she said it in a nicer way.)

I'm still working on my SMART goals. I'll post them and let you know how it works for me. This may take some thought.