We were born to make manifest the glory of God within us.
It is not just in some; it is in everyone.
[Marianne Williamson]

Saturday, August 25, 2007

First things first

Back to Covey's habit's this week - I am up to Habit Three: Put First Things First.

Spend time doing what fits into your personal mission, observing the proper balance between production and building production capacity. Identify the key roles that you take on in life and make time for each of them.
[Quick MBA]

Covey creates "a framework for prioritizing work that is aimed at long-term goals, at the expense of tasks that appear to be urgent, but are in fact less important. ... Important items are identified by focusing on a few key priorities and roles which will vary from person to person, then identifying small goals for each role each week, in order to maintain a holistic life balance. One tool for this is a worksheet that lists up to seven key roles, with three weekly goals per role, to be evaluated and scheduled into each week before other appointments occupy all available time with things that seem urgent but are not important."

Here is a link to a blank weekly worksheet designed by Covey. Their way of scheduling doesn't really work for me as I am not available at consistent times, but I will be incorporating the ideas from it into the to-do lists which have become part of my FlyLady routine.

First I have to identify the roles which relate to my long-term goals (mother, wife, writer - to quickly name the most obvious ones) then I have to get into the habit of identifying three small ways to progress each role each week, and scheduling them into my weekly plan.

I also want to work on classifying my to-do list based on Covey's time-matrix. There are some more tools and ideas for doing that here, including a free spreadsheet - I just have to make sure I don't fall into Rimmer's trap (Red Dwarf fans will immediately understand) of spending so much time making elaborate colour-coded timetables that I never do any work!

This site has some more ideas on how to evolve a scheme of personal management that works for you. I was particularly struck by this quote:
In order to subordinate your feelings, impulses and moods to your values, you must have a burning "YES!" inside, making it possible to say "No" to other things. The "Yes" is our purpose, passion, clear sense of direction and value.

I also liked the way that site tied the first three habits together - being proactive is realising that I am the programmer; clarifying my long-term goals is writing the program; and now I come to the stage of executing the program - putting it into practice. Speaking of which, Wombat just woke up, and I still have to feed the chooks and the parrot before I can get him up, so I'd better get moving!

SMART habit progress:

  • Waking up Wombat = working on finding a happy medium - he's not getting an instant response, but he's not (usually) being left there until he gives up on me either!

  • Setting Long Term Goals = I've written out eleven goals, and have shared them with Yeti, so good!

  • Being Proactive = realising that I am in control - autopilot responses getting less!

  • Declutter = HABIT - made $25 on eBay so far this week selling old dressmaking patterns (and the auctions aren't finished yet)... and have burnt piles of treasure rubbish on Yeti's fires...

  • My Work is to Love = feeling good

  • Daily prayer = HABIT

  • Positive Parenting = getting back in the groove - mainly lurking on the 4RealLearning Forum and thinking about homeschooling goals

  • Exercise = HABIT - I miss a day here and there, but am getting fitter - now exercise-biking 4.5kms in 10 minutes, up from 2.5 when I started and the pulse rate is consistently lower ;D

Visit Lara at The Lazy Organizer to join in Smart Habit Saturday - it will change your life! (Find out more about Smart Habit Saturday here: Getting Started with Smart Habit Saturday.)

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Waking up Wombat

A short break from Covey's habits... something else needs work!

Lately I have fallen into the bad habit of letting Wombat stay in his bed for anything up to an hour after he wakes up, while I finish what I am doing. I listen to him on the monitor, so I know he is not too upset. He has a big, safe bed with toys and books to look at, and although he often cries a bit when he wakes, he generally plays quietly and goes back to sleep for a bit. Even so I don't think this is a positive thing for me to be doing. I notice that he cries more often during the night and is much less cooperative during the day, whereas if I get him up as soon as he wakes up, he is so happy to see me and tries very hard to be good. This has been happening both in the mornings and his afternoon nap time and it's starting to stretch out longer and longer. The crunch point came this week when I caught myself turning off the monitor so I wouldn't have to listen to him Yeti wouldn't hear him whinging because his teeth hurt and he has a wet nappy and he wants his Mummy.

Naughty Mummy.

My new habit for this week is to respond to Wombat as soon as I know he is awake, and not to make him wait for whatever it is that I think is more important, because really, it's not. I just need to be better organised so I get the important things out of the way first, while he is soundly asleep, so I am only doing the optional, easy-to-stop things around the time I expect him to start stirring.

SMART habit progress:

Visit Lara at The Lazy Organizer to join in Smart Habit Saturday - it will change your life! (Find out more about Smart Habit Saturday here: Getting Started with Smart Habit Saturday.)

Friday, August 17, 2007

The cockatoos are calling

Today's Poetry Friday Roundup will be held at Kelly Fineman's Writing and Ruminating.

The wattle is in full-flower, and the sulphur-crested cockatoos gather each morning to enjoy the sweetness of the new buds. They will stay with us right through the cycle, feasting on bugs attracted to the pollen-laden puffballs and then stripping the pods of shiny black seeds. In thier honour, I am offering an excerpt from a Banjo Patterson poem.

White Cockatoos

Then you hear the strident squalling:
"Here's the boss's son,
Through the garden bushes crawling,
Crawling with a gun.
May the shiny cactus bristles
Fill his soul with woe;
May his knees get full of thistles.
Brothers, let us go."

-A.B. (Banjo) Patterson

I have also rewritten my attempt at a poem for the cockatoo photo. It reappears as a villanelle...

In bright treetops white cockatoos screech scorn,
unheeding, scatter debris as we feed.
Our cacophonic chorus shreds the dawn.

We're raucous hostage-takers of the morn
demanding tribute - ripened fruit and seed.
In bright treetops white cockatoos screech scorn.

Is wattle scarce? Then feast on wheat and corn.
Whatever is in season suits our need.
Our cacophonic chorus shreds the dawn.

Get up, and feast! Come rend with beak and horny
claw. The time of plenty's here indeed!
In bright treetops white cockatoos screech scorn.

The spoilers soon will leave our chicks forlorn,
will satisfy with sharpened steal their greed.
Our cacophonic chorus shreds the dawn.

We'll strut and preen on monocultured lawn,
indomitable, the sulphur-crested breed.
In bright treetops white cockatoos screech scorn.
Our cacophonic chorus shreds the dawn.

- MW

Still not happy with it... but it's better than before ;P
As always, reading everyone else's brilliant offerings for Poetry Friday will highlight its shortcomings - it can only improve! I often feel my language is too literal for poetry... and yet I can't stop the urge to write or share it...

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

A birthday - and a brand new ending?

Saturday (August 11th) was my 34th birthday.

You know you're a mummy when you go out with hubby and son to choose a birthday present for yourself and come home with a pair of cute cherry-red boots and 10 Little Golden Books ~ and you're perfectly satisfied!

On a side note: I can't stand reading The Poky Little Puppy - negative, punishment based message all the way through, and then a grammatical double negative at the end... uggh! That one's going on eBay. Our favourites are The Colour Kittens and Where Do Kisses Come From... which have momentarily ousted Wombat's previous favourites - The Little Red Caboose, The Little Red Hen and Goodnight Little Bear (that last one has been amazing for awakening Wombat's imagination - as I read it, he acts out all the things Daddy Bear does while searching for Little Bear.)

On Sunday, we took Wombat for a birthday picnic to Symbio Wildlife Gardens. My Mum and brother came along as well, and despite some threatening-looking clouds, we had a lovely day. I hope you won't mind a long post with lots of photos - it might make up for my absence lately!

First, here is my darling Wombat enjoying his new boots.

He and I had a great time feeding the peacock that was wandering around the picnic area. I could spend hours staring at peacocks - they really are a walking embodiment of my favourite colour!

After lunch, we went for a walk to look at all the animals. My Mum fell in love with the Marmosets, who had apparently been sitting up against the glass talking to her just a few minutes before, but who suddenly became shy when the camera arrived.

The Meerkats were very cute as well, though Yeti thought it was a bit rough that they didn't have at least one wall that the humans didn't have access to. They seemed to like him, as wherever he stood, they would come running over and look up at him.

They weren't too impressed by the cold weather, either - but they did look gorgeous sunning themselves under their little heat lamps!

The most recent editions to the park were a pair of Red Pandas. They were busy having their lunch of fruit - looking very much like a cross between a cat and a bear - I have more photos of them climbing through their trees, but don't want to bore you totally ;P

There were lots of Australian native animals too. A pair of koalas who were quite friendly and climbed down to see Wombat (who was sitting on my shoulders at the time).

A very sleepy pair of Tasmanian Devils.

Lots of kangaroos and wallabies, many of whom had Joeys in their pouches.

Wombat particularly liked this female Eclectus parrot - the main aviary was closed for renovation, so we didn't get to see most of the birds. He didn't like the male so much, because it clung to the bars and squarwked at him ;P

Yeti's favourites were the two Eagles - though he would have liked very much to have seen Arnie, their Barking Owl, who must have been in the closed-off aviary.

Printing off the map of the park from their website entitled you to one free bag of critter food. I will spare you all the photos of feeding the sheep and other domestic animals. Here are some very greedy deer, who kept trying to snatch the whole bag of food in one go. Yeti hung onto ours, but another group nearby lost theirs within seconds! Wombat was too scared to feed them directly (probably a good thing as they would have taken his fingers off!) but he picked up little bits of food (and stones) off the ground and threw them in, and was quite happy that he was doing his bit to help.

Some of the kangaroos were also keen to get at the food, though most were happier to stay in the background. The camel seemed to be telling us he wanted some better sand to roll in - as dustbowls go, it was hardpacked and didn't seem as comfortable as it could have been.

At the end of the day we got to pat this fluffy little Dingo and watch him running around like any little puppy, which was the highlight of Wombat's day.
Here is Wombat with Yeti and my brother - the photo is unfortunately out of focus, but is the only reasonable shot I got of my brother, who was generally trying to stay in the background.

All in all it was a very fun family day out - and we are going back there in about a week, to take my mother-in-law.

In fact, there's a chance you might be hearing quite a lot more about Symbio. In our recent discussions about long-term goals and where we want to build our future, Yeti and I have decided that when we move from here, we need to move into a business - something that will provide the lifestyle we want for raising children. As we were leaving, Yeti asked the owner if Symbio was for sale - he said he had been working there seven days a week for seven years and was ready for a break. It is all just a big maybe at the moment, but we are seriously considering becoming zoo-owners! It would suit all of us down to the ground (except perhaps MIL, but it is only ten minutes drive from one of her favourite beaches, so there's a chance of convincing her to live nearby if not with us)! Yeti is overflowing with ideas for landscaping and improving the gardens (Steff, if this does happen, we are going to be having some long discussions with you about habitat enrichment!!!) and there would be lots of legal and administrative work for me as part of keeping it running and sourcing funding... I'll let you know what happens when we go back - at the moment there are just lots of unanswered questions but it is a quietly exciting possibility.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

A sense of purpose

It has been quite a difficult few weeks, culminating in an explosion of tension. However, my new habit of being proactive has seen me through it (along with a lot of prayer) and I now feel ready to move onto the second of Stephen Covey's habits:

begin with the end in mind.

It is more urgent now than ever before for me to clarify my long term goals - I have a week to go until my 34th birthday - I still want to have two more children before I turn 40 - and we have decided that at 86, Yeti's mum should be enjoying herself rather than providing for us, which is going to require some substantial and imaginative reconstructing of family finances - in one way it is liberating to feel we will be cutting the apron strings and relying on our own resources, but in another it is petrifying, especially when we are contemplating getting pregnant and a major house move as well.

The change must start from within.

There are no short-cuts here. To engage in this habit, you need to have a dream, define your own vision and get into the practice of setting goals which will allow you to make measurable progress toward the dream. ... Until you have defined your vision - the big dream to which you will be working - you will be unable to move on to habit 3 which provides a basic framework for you to re-align your efforts so that you will ultimately achieve your heart's desire.
White Dove Books

It's time for this little energizer bunny to get out of her rut: "stuck on a wrinkle in the carpet… using a lot of battery power… but… going nowhere."

"Begin with the end in mind: Develop a principle-centered personal mission statement. Extend the mission statement into long-term goals based on personal principles."

When I thought about what I wanted as my mission statement, I came up with... you guessed it... MY WORK IS TO LOVE!

So my new habit for this week is to start writing down what I personally want to achieve - the big gold stars I want to award myself - and more importantly, discussing them with Yeti.

I think I've been doing really well with the proactive habit - I'm amazed at how many niggling things have been disposed of. Things which have been waiting months for someone else to 'get around to' are now no longer on anyone's list - I've been adapting The FLYlady's advice to my own needs, and I'm amazed at how big a job can disappear in just 15 minutes! I still need more work on the stimulus-choice-response cycle, but I have at least thought before reacting a few times. I even have my timer ticking down now to make sure I don't waste spend more than 15 minutes on the computer before getting on with real life!

SMART habit progress:

  • Being proactive = excellent & enjoying it (more work need on choosing my response to stimulus)

  • Declutter = babystepping - the proactivity is really helping here

  • My Work is to Love = ditto on the proactivity, and this week's habit as well - it's all coming together!

  • Sacred Space prayer = fell apart with no computer or internet access, but I pulled out my weekly missal and am reading daily scripture for myself so excellent

  • Positive Parenting = in my mind and trying to practise it, though haven't had time to read anything new

  • Exercise = consistent 20 minutes a day - am going to add another 10 minutes to my afternoon routine starting today to celebrate losing 5 kilos since I stopped studying and reACTIVEated my life - wooohooo go me!

Visit Lara at The Lazy Organizer to join in Smart Habit Saturday - it will change your life! (Find out more about Smart Habit Saturday here: Getting Started with Smart Habit Saturday.)

Friday, August 03, 2007

Tales from toyland

It's been a while :) First my computer developed a bad case of the hiccups. Once it was up and running limping again, I had to spend every spare minute saving anything I wanted to keep onto CD in case its problem proved terminal. After that, the modem decided that being swapped back and forth between my computer and Yeti's was too much for it, so it took a couple of weeks off as well.

Surprisingly, I actually enjoyed my break from the electrical monstrosity, so correspondence from now on will probably be sporadic. I am no longer getting up at 3am, so there is less time to procrastinate in the mornings - and my routines for getting me and the house tidy take priority. Wombat naptime is likewise generally overbooked in the 'to-do' department.

Poetry Friday is here again, and I am jumping in with a short but punchy piece from Canadian Fantasy Writer, Charles de Lint.

Today's round-up will be held over at The Miss Rumphius Effect.

The Puppet

The puppet thinks:
It's not so much
what they make me do
as their hands inside me.

~Charles de Lint

If you have kids, you have probably heard by now about the Fisher Price toy recall, due to lead paint used in their manufacture. Yeti hunted around and buried deep within Mattel's site, he managed to find a list of the recalled products, with pictures for easy and fast identification. Elmo and Dora the Explorer seem to be the primary culprits, and it is confined to toys made this year, but if you've bought or been given any Fisher Price products since May, it's worth checking against your toybox!

We had an adventure this week - a three hour drive into town to visit a friend - who wasn't home - so we took Wombat to the beach instead.

Windswept, salt sand specked,
plucking snails from a rockpool,
stroking a starfish,
peeking at a purple-clawed
crab in a crevice.