Going for the gold(en) nugget

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[Graphic image: smokedsalmon]

Typically when I travel — especially back “home” to visit family and friends — I learn something new.  In a past post entitled Quality or quantity …, I discussed the importance of enjoying any time we’re afforded to spend with our loved ones, as we never know how much time we’ll have.  For instance, I discovered it doesn’t matter if my dad and me are sitting on the sofa holding hands and laughing as we watch America’s Funniest Home Videos, or if I’m savoring a moment with an old friend when no words are even necessary.  And sometimes if we’re lucky, we’re presented a golden nugget — an unexpected prize.  Maybe it’s in the form of a story you’ve never heard before, or a deeper connection formed between you and your sister or great nephew or best friend.  Whatever it is we gain, it’s ours to do with as we will.  These are the pieces that make up the whole of us.

What golden nugget have you been presented lately?

Never settle for second best

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[Graphic image: Victor Habbick]

Always be a first-rate version of yourself,
instead of a second-rate version of somebody else.
~ Judy Garland

Thinking you’ll never measure up is a tough cookie to swallow.  Maybe it’s a job you’re going after, a relationship that’s hanging on by a thread and either needs mending or cutting free, or perhaps you believe it’s not possible to achieve first place in whatever capacity you’re aspiring toward.  In your eyes no begging, screaming, cajoling, promising — not even compromising — will change where you stand.  That’s okay, because this is when we need to take Garland’s advice, move out of our backseat mentality and get comfortable behind the wheel.  Cast aside those feelings of frustration, rejection, self-doubt and second-guessing.  Maybe what we’re striving for isn’t worth it, after all.  But if it is, then Someday the reward will be greater because we were nothing less than ourselves.  For me the hardest part is accepting that it may not be until tomorrow, next month or a dozen years from now before I receive the prize.  But that doesn’t change who I am.

Are you always striving to be the best you can be?

A stitch in time saves nine

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[Image credit: Salvatore Vuono]

I don’t like cleaning  (big surprise).  Dusting is my least favorite of the tasks; scrubbing down the master bathroom is starting to rank up there, as well as dust vacuuming and washing the floors.  One thing that helps me get through these chores faster, however, is the cursory cleaning I perform each day: wiping down the toilet, towel drying the tiles after each shower, dust mopping, etc.  And then when it comes time to do the more time-consuming stuff, it goes quicker because I’ve kept up throughout the week.  I could do better — the clutter gets a bit high on my counter in the kitchen.  But overall, life is easier when I exert a little preventive-maintenance elbow grease into my days.  As with so many things, perfunctory “checks” — consistent communication with loved ones, regular vehicle servicing, daily exercise and wise food choices — keep the bigger things in balance and running smoothly (or at least help minimize the breakdowns).  In other words, a little extra time at the beginning saves more time in the end.

What is your favorite “stitch in time?”

Facing the music

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[Image credit: Danilo Rizzuti]

I noticed something about myself a week or so ago.  I can be a feet dragger when I have something I need to do — whether work or non-work related.  It could be tackling a chore on my list, making a phone call, dealing with a relationship that has run its course or any number of things.  On this particular day in reference, I was dilly-dallying before I was supposed to leave for the gym.  Perhaps subconsciously I was thinking if I wasn’t ready to go on time, I wouldn’t have to go.  And then after work I had a half-dozen things I needed to do, including dusting my office and cleaning the master bathroom.  Oh, but first I should fold the laundry.  Did I preheat the oven for dinner?  What about getting the mail?  In a past post I referred to this as making excuses to avoid the inevitable, which is exactly what it is.  So I decided from now on, either I don’t schedule it, or I suck it up when it’s time to face the music.

Are you a feet dragger or always ready to tackle things heads-on?

C is for compromise

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[Image credit: sippakorn]

I live in the Southwest where we don’t turn the clocks back an hour for Daylight Saving Time, or set them an hour ahead in the fall.  And most of my family and friends live in the Midwest or East Coast, which means we are up to three hours off.  So scheduling visits or making phone calls can be challenging and oftentimes doesn’t happen because we missed that “window” of opportunity.  Not too long ago, an East Coast friend would wait until I tried to accomplish all of my tasks before we hopped online.  It finally got to the point where compromise seemed a better solution; i.e., visit while it’s still relatively early on their end, and I can finish what I need to once we’ve said our goodnights.  Of course it’s tempting to visit longer, but keeping disciplined allows my friend to log a sufficient amount of Zzzs and me to get my stuff done.  Compromise doesn’t mean we have to sacrifice our friendship; it simply means making concessions for the good of it.  Imagine all the areas in life that could benefit from a little bit of compromise.

Do you demand your own way, or is compromise your middle name?

Word-of-the-month: phlegmatic (adj.)

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[Image credit: Arvind Balaraman]

This month’s word is phlegmatic, pronounced fleg-‘ma-tik.  This is an adjective (used to describe a noun); derivatives include phlegmatical (adjective) and phlegmatically (adverb).  According to the The Free Online Dictionary, the definition of phlegmatic is 1) Of or relating to phlegm; phlegymy or 2) having or suggesting a calm, sluggish temperament; unemotional.  Synonyms include composed, unflappable, apathetic, indifferent, placid, impassive, undemonstrative and matter-of-fact.  Historically speaking, a person with this type of character was said to result from having an overabundance of phlegm.  For the sake of my post; however, the sample sentence is based on the second definition, which reads:  The typically energetic author appeared phlegmatic, showing no emotion upon hearing her book announced as a New York Times Bestseller.  

Do you consider yourself phlegmatic or unemotional when it comes to life?

No use crying over spilt milk

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[Image credit: Idea go]

Before I left on vacation, I was making my lists and checking them twice and I don’t know how it happened, but something fell through the cracks.  Apparently I had recorded a couple of tasks on the wrong days, which almost affected a deadline.  Thankfully, someone else noticed the oversight in time and things quickly got back on track.  Tasks we perform can become second nature to the point where we rarely give them a further thought.  But this situation reminded me that as together as I may look on the outside, I’m still human. Just like the next person, I find myself distracted, derailed or flustered and say or do things I can only shake my head at after the fact.  Instead of obsessing about or beating myself up over my blunders, however, I’m working on wiping up each mess as I go and moving on.   I’ve got too much to do to get hung up over spilt milk.

Do you obsess over your mistakes, or can you easily shake them off?

Grammar lesson #12: than or then

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[Image credit: Stuart Miles]

The focus of today’s grammar lesson is two words — than and then — which are so commonly misused that I think people may simply be unaware they are two separate and different words.  Or, if they know they’re two words, then they just have no clue which word is which.  Of course, the words sound almost the same, but that’s where the similarities end.  Than is used in comparative sentences.  For example, Other than her four cousins, most of her remaining family resides in the Midwest.  And, Her dream is to live in beachfront property rather than in the desert mountains.  The word then is either used with a sequence of events, or as a time marker; i.e., I always work extra hard preparing for my trips, so then I’m able to kick back and relax once the plane takes off.  Or: Back then I needed a vacation from my vacation.

Do you get these two words mixed up, or are you able to keep them straight?

Replacing discouragement with hope

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[Image credit: Stuart Miles]

While it is wise to accept what we cannot change about ourselves,
it is also good to remember that we are never too old to replace
discouragement with bits and pieces of confidence and hope.
~ Elaine N. Aron

More and more lately, I’m realizing that the only thing I can control is myself and my reaction to others’ actions, as well as the situations I find myself involved with.  While there are certain qualities inherent in our personalities, for the most part I’m okay with my own personal “quirks,” if you will.  It obviously doesn’t help to wallow in a self-defeatist attitude; however, for those areas which I know can be improved upon, this is where I can exert some control.  So while I’m unable to change another’s circumstances to benefit myself, or to rush or slow down time for my own agenda, I can make a choice to replace any discouragement and frustration with confidence that I’m doing the best I can with the tools I possess.  And hope that my future will be better for it.

Do you beat yourself up over the things you cannot change about yourself or others?

Following through

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[Image credit: tungphoto]

Follow-through: doing what you say you’re going to do, when you say you’re going to do it.  It really bugs me when people don’t practice this common courtesy.  It happens all the time — those who say they’ll call back, deliver the goods, make something right, etc., and never do.  A while ago my daughter had her windshield replaced in her car and, within that same week, I needed mine replaced too.  When I called the company my daughter used, the representative asked if I had been referred and I gave them my daughter’s name.  They promised to send a couple of free movie tickets as a thank you.  Mentally, I didn’t hold my breath.  Weeks went by and no tickets, and then one day the envelope arrived.  I wish I could say I wasn’t surprised, but in my experience, it was one of those exceptions to the rule.  Now if f anyone asks me if I know a good windshield repair company, I won’t hesitate to pass along their name.  Not for the free movie tickets, of course.  But because they made good on their word.

How are you at following through?

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