Monday, April 6, 2020

Changing Thoughts on Productivity

So way back what felt like a year ago (actually March 18th -- I know you can relate) I put together a happy, chirpy list of awesome things you can do with your time. All the time you would have since you are now working from home. Not commuting through traffic, not tied up in sports or PTA or gym classes or whatever else crammed your calendar. 

Way back on March 18th, this was all doable, a welcome change of pace for a few weeks. Isn't this what we've always thought would be awesome? Now on April 6th, with weeks ahead of us, my happy chirpiness is fading. Days are going by and I am having a hard time figuring out where the time went (or frankly, what day of the week it is). Thankfully, some mindless Facebook scrolling helped me find this: "Stop Trying to Be Productive" from the New York Times.

The internet wants you to believe you aren’t doing enough with all that “extra time” you have now. 
But staying inside and attending to basic needs is plenty.

Thank you NYT! The people and pets in my house are fed and cared for. I spent some time zoom chatting with family and friends this weekend. The novel, the cleaned out closets, the many other projects? This can wait until I am ready.

PS: Please watch THIS and THIS - you will feel happier and will have accomplished something :-)

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Timeless Advice from My Son

Advice seems to be a theme this week :-)

Waaaaay last week (this now feels like months ago) my son and I were together when we got the news that the State of Virginia was cancelling the rest of the in-person school year. As a high school senior, this means no prom, no spring musical performances, no final award banquets, no graduation. Yuck. All I could say was, "I am so sorry dude. This just sucks."

Then he stunned me. "Don't say sorry. It's not your fault. It's part of what I learned at those fancy manner classes (cotillion) you made me go to."

Me: "Huh?"

"The two things I remember learning are: 

Never apologize if you are not at fault and 

Never deny credit if you're worthy of the credit."

Me still: "Huh?"

"Like don't say 'It's just from Target' if someone compliments your dress."

Me still: stunned. God bless the sweet women that hosted cotillion. I think of the approximately 1,000,000 times I have said "sorry" or "it was nothing" when I didn't need to. So glad that my kids are learning something different.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Timeless Awesomeness from My Pop

Even if you haven't moved around in a while, things get lost in your house. Since I have a lot of time on my hands (yet have done little writing in 2 weeks, ahem) I decided to clean out a few closets. While stuffing something in a box under my bed, I spotted another bin with picture frames in it. Hmmm. I had no idea that was there. Inside were some classics (no one need see that Glamor Shot from 2000, ever), a certificate from Women's History Month 2008 in Iraq, and a letter from my Pop that I had framed.

The letter was titled, "Pop's (Old Commander) suggestions for Daughter (New Second Lieutenant)." He sent it to me right after I arrived at my first "real" duty station, Yokota Air Base, Japan, in 1992. I had run into my first of many unexpected challenges, like my Captain boss admonishing me for not having my Master's Degree started. His attitude was generally sour because he was about to be separated involuntarily by the Air Force. Not so awesome a start to what supervision should be like.

My Pop's advice is remarkably applicable today, even if some of the vernacular is dated:

1. Remember, your most important relationship is with your boss.
2. Always make the boss look good.
3. Always tell the boss the truth, even if he doesn't want to hear it.
4. Find out what the boss hates to do then do it. It will probably have something to do with paperwork.
5. Get to know the senior enlisted person. Seek his advice. He'll probably be tougher on the troops than you but he'll probably be right. If you are lucky, he/she will take you under their wing cause they want to see you grow into a first rate officer.
6. Take care of the little stuff (like remembering the secretary's birthday).
7. Keep your office door open for anyone but watch out for sob stories that have no merit. The junior folks will be the first to test you.
8. Remember, you get promoted based on job performance. Not having a Mater's degree or some other thing is only an excuse by others for not getting promoted.
9. Always give orders as if they were coming from you. Do not invoke the boss' name to get something done.
10. Always be a good person and say your prayers. God really will take care of you.

My Pop died just three years later. I am so happy I found this!

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

What to Do with Time on Your Hands

Hello all - as more and more are teleworking/self quarantining/social distancing, you might need some fun stuff to keep you busy. Here are some ideas...

1.  Get into the kitchen and improve/dust off your skills. Forget what anyone says, carbs are the greatest defense against the blahs (science!). Try the pretzel rolls pictured above from Foodie with Family. I have followed this site for years, because her recipes are fabulous and totally attainable for the average cook, and include those tried and true helpers: bread machines and crock pots. If you just want to look at pretty food, look here, and here, and here.

2.  Have puzzles you've already done or gave up on, or board games you don't want any more? Get them on to Next Door ASAP! It's a win-win - you help another family pass the time and declutter at the same time. 

3. Pick a movie and have a Netflix Party. I just read about this and am dying to try it. It synchronizes video playback and adds group chat to your favorite Netflix shows (must use the Chrome browser). It sounds like movie studios are going to be streaming movies just now in theaters early, so there will be great new stuff to watch "together."

4. Pick a series of movies and take a deep dive...Star Wars, many iterations of Star Trek, Fast and Furious, Harry Potter, the Marvel Universe are all good ones. It's worth doing a little goggling to figure out the best order of movies in a series, date in theaters is not always the best order (this is an input from resident knower of nerd culture, my son) (the links I added will help)

5. Now is a great time to dive into a binge of something that passed you by. Right now I am in to The Good Fight. The Crown and The Marvelous Mrs Maisel are a few others worth checking out. Did you miss the Baby Yoda craze? Now's your chance to catch up. And since you need to subscribe to Disney+ to do that, you can also check out Encore! It's a show that invites people to come back and perform their high school musical -- utterly charming. If you are a reality TV fan, my daughter highly recommends Love is Blind.

6.  Go outside! Also Home Depot in my town is still open. If I plant everything I just bought seeds for, my summer garden will be lit!

Monday, March 16, 2020


Bananas - the world has just gone bananas hasn't it? I'm generally a calm person, and personally crave less busy-ness in my life, but wow. A black swan event, as my husband has been saying. He works in the airline industry, so these last few days have been extra super bananas for him.

On the one hand, it's a hassle, and stressful, and causes anxiety. Who knew it would take so much time to undo all the things on the calendar? On the other hand, this complete upending to how your life is normally organized could be a gift.  Like the chance I had today to take a bike ride on a weekday with my husband. Or reading through the e-mails with my work partners above.

It makes me very thankful that I am not worried about where my next paycheck, or meal, comes from.  Please keep those that are in your thoughts and prayers.

p.s. - if you really want some perspective on the coronavirus impact, read the comments on this post. Those minor inconveniences will seem way more minor-y.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Slippery Slope: A Mini Rant

(source - a great academic blog on 
judgement and decision making)

I listen to a lot of podcasts, and live near Washington, DC, and the term I am hearing more and more is SLIPPERY SLOPE.  For example, this exchange on a recent It's Been a Minute podcast (host Sam Sanders was interviewing architecture critic Kate Wagner):

WAGNER: ... And this became, like, a big enough phenomenon that the New Statesman published an article about these accounts and how they're, like, weirdly, like, crypto-fascists.

SANDERS: Crypto-fascist - what do you mean by that?

WAGNER: Talking about things like the downfall of Western society and how, like, modern architecture's degenerate, which was a dog whistle used by, for example, the Nazis in order to go after institutions like the Bauhaus and sort of, like, a cultural purge. And there's a lot of sort of cloaked rhetoric about the supremacy of, like, Western aesthetics.

SANDERS: As soon as you begin to talk about the supremacy of the West, you kind of wade into territory of the supremacy of white people.

WAGNER: Yeah. It's a slippery slope.

Note - this was a discussion about the architecture of government buildings. Ugh. 

Slippery Slope is code for "lean slightly that way and you will fall directly into a very bad dark place." Avoid those slopes at all costs!

It's a judge-y way to tell you that you dare not compromise, you dare not even listen to anyone not saying or agreeing with exactly with the speaker. 

It's a cop out.

It's SLIPPERY because it's hard, yes. But it shouldn't be a barrier. There are lots of tough issues out there, and categorizing any kind of compromise as a slippery slope is just lazy.

As soon as any one or any organization says even thinking about a compromise is a slippery slope, I'm out. 

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Unwind This Way

I’ve spent the long weekend out visiting my mom in Tucson. A hidden gem of being an almost empty nester is the freedom to spend solo time with your mom again, and it was a lovely visit. We were stationed here in the mid-90s and I had forgotten how blue blue blue the skies are.

Our trip to the airport Monday morning, however, was a little fraught - road construction required a detour, we got “tapped” by an unrepentant driver at an intersection requiring we get out of the car and inspect for damage, and I managed to splotch coffee all down the front of my shirt (not caused by the tap). My ability to spill out of no-spill cups is amazing. Really NBD in the great scheme of things, but still.

If you are having one of those days, I have three recommendations to soothe the soul.

Next in Fashion on Netflix - like Project Runway crossed with the Great British Bake Off. It's hosted by Alexa Chung and Tan France who are delightful.

Table Manners with Jessie Ware podcast. Ware and her mom serve a home cooked meal to a guest and their relaxing chat about their lives, favorite foods and favorite restaurants is amazing. They ask every guest what would be their last meal, "starter, main and pud." The hosts are British so if you are an anglophile at all this is for you. The link points to Apple Podcasts but it's available on most podcast apps.

And last but not least, give a listen to this song my son introduced me to on our drive home from the airport, Sunday Best by Surfaces. Ahhhhhh.