How to Never Achieve Your Best

Do you struggle daily to achieve your best? Ever feel like you are drowning in a sea of unproductiveness? Do you ever get to the day’s end and want to shout,

“Stop the clock! Today was the day I was gonna crush it, but, instead, I feel crushed and over-whelmed.”

Just like this Cuckoo clock.

Celebrating our high school graduation, my friends and I hopped into our fathers’ “land yachts” (what we called their very large 1970’s cars) and headed down to Florida to test out our newly-sprouted freedom wings. (We were basically rule-abiding girls, so the trip was super-fun, yet very tame.) One of the last bits of advice given to us, however, was from a dad who shouted, “Don’t pull off the road into the sand!”

This is the group I’m talkin’ about. Nothing could go wrong… right?

Answer: Well, yep, something could go wrong. We pulled off the road… into the sand… and got terribly stuck. Oops. Glad someone’s dad had thought to join Triple A.

Have you ever done this? No matter how hard you hit the gas, the tires just continue to spin. That’s called being really “stuck”.

Life is the same way. Sometimes we think if we work harder and faster we will get the traction we need to get back on the road rollin’ in the land yacht. But, this is not true.

Being on-the-road to achieving your best begins with pre-determining your priorities and evaluating how you spend your time based upon those priorities. If we all have the same 24 hours in every day, then, why do some people seem to accomplish more? Why are some people able to be the crush-ers rather than the crush-ees? The answer is: They are able because they know their priorities and live their life accordingly.

Hmmmmmmmmm. What does this “priority” talk mean?

I think I can best illustrate the principle by saying: There are many good things to do, but there are only a few best things to do. Deciding your own personal pre-determined priorities allows you to have the ability to decipher the difference between good and best.

Being a “joiner”, a “fun-seeker”, and a “pleaser” at-heart, I naturally spent most of my life saying “yes” to everything. In my immaturity, I lived my life running from one yes to the other, always filling my daily schedule from dusk till bedtime.

Until one day, I said “no”

… to the head Church Lady, of all people. You may know her. She is super nice and is in charge of everything and is really good at directing people. I’m pretty dang sure no one had ever told her “no”… in the history of ever. And, to make matters more difficult, she asked me to do a very good thing, “Would you please sign up to cook and deliver a meal to this infirmed parishioner?”

My reply was simple. The look on her face was pure astonishment. “No, ‘mam,” rolled out of my mouth, and, with confidence on my side, I did not even feel the need to explain myself. Years down the road, as I have been in different seasons of life, I have been pleased to cook and deliver meals. However, for that season and that time, based upon my priorities, cooking a meal was a good thing, but was not the best thing for me.

I matured about 5 years the day I said “no” for the first time.

What are your top 3 to 5 priorities? Answering this question may be super-simple for some. For others, it might take a few days of pondering to make your list. For many years, my husband carried his priority list in his wallet as a reminder to evaluate time commitments through his personal filter of best vs. good.

In my next post, I am going to tell you a story about two sisters with very different priorities. Jesus had something to say about each of them. Surprisingly, He commended the sister I thought was a slacker. A life-changing thing had to happen in my life to make me see the story differently.

Please come back! I can not wait to tell you how this story changed me!

Oh, and BTW, you can fill out the form to subscribe by email. I have a lot to say, and you won’t want to miss it.

(Enjoying the View) Chicken Keeping CityGirl-Style

Chicken keeping CityGirl-style is something around which many, including my husband, have difficulty wrapping their minds.

“Why can’t we just get a coop from the feed store parking lot?” my husband of a gazillion years asked the woman he should understand fully by this point in our relationship.

Hmmmmmmm. Does he not remember, when on our honeymoon,  I promised to go golfing only if he bought me the Lily Pulitzer golf skirt? With me, it is not about golf (or chickens), it is all about the total experience. So… chickens without an EPIC chicken coop?

No, thanks.

Which leads me to this: Do you have any idea how much an epic chicken house costs? I ordered plans for one. Besides that the architectural plans were way too complex for these kids with our collective”C” average geometry scores to decipher,  the cost was simply too high to be considered reasonable.

See “Plan B”.

Plan B usually arrives when I come to my senses, realizing I can not have everything I want, and that some things are just not within my reach. Dang. I hate Plan B. On the other hand, thankfully, I am extremely persistent and resourceful.

“Do with what you have” is Plan B’s mantra. So, I asked myself, “What do I have?” The answer: An unused tool shed in the middle of the rear acre. My resourcefulness + husband’s carpentry skills (- our collective geometry delinquency) = eventually converting the tool shed’s square opening into a cottage-y curved cedar door. I added some fresh paint and a light fixture, and I was pleased with the results. At this writing, the coop’s interior still needs nesting boxes and roosts, but that will come easily.

Phase two of the chicken complex is the chicken run. We are not looking forward to digging holes in our very rocky mountain-top soil. I will be writing about this process soon.

Bless our hearts.

 

The Coop

 

It was a scary day when I called a local chicken hatchery and actually ordered my chicks! I could not believe a thing which I had dreamed about for over 10 years; a thing which I had talked about ad nauseam ( I know all those around me had been thinking, “For pete’s sake! Order the durn birds, and quit talking about it!”); one of the main reasons I had wanted to sell my city house and head for the country, was about to happen.

No turning back.

At the chicken-purchasing point, I would have 6 weeks to finish the chicken complex.

Yikes!

I ordered six chicks( yada yada yada, if you are not into chickens): one buff orpington, one white rock, one black laced silver wyandotte, one barred rock, two lavender orpingtons, plus the hatchery gave me a bonus buff orpington. All were hoped to be hens. I am suspecting two may be roosters. More on that later.

For six weeks, the chicks have to be in a brooder under a light, kept at a very warm temperature. Their feathers are growing, and, little by little, they are able to keep their bodies warm on their own.

Currently, at week three, I am able to take them into the yard for a 30 minute outing. I carefully wrangle them into a large plastic tub (with lid) which I use to transport them to the grass. A large appliance box  shields any wind and keeps them from running away. I  plop myself inside the makeshift fortress. As I am on their level, they allow me to gently handle them. One of the sweet buff orpingtons (often called the golden retriever of chickens) has wanted to sit in my lap.

Yay!

Cleanliness is of the utmost importance as chickens are not the cleanest of creatures. I use sanitizer wipes, wash my hands, and use clorox wipes on door handles and everywhere I touch. I am overly cautious in this department.

First Day with My Chickies: Lavender Orpington

 

 

Buff Orpington Day Two

 

Week Two: First Time Outside Brooder

 

 

 

Week Two: Chicken Outing

 

 

nnnnMaking Friends with My Buff Orpington

This is my chicken keeping journey thus far. There is much more to learn and do in the near future. Thankfully, I planned this “chick season” to come when I had  time to devote to their care. They are babies that require lots of attention. I am very much looking forward to life outside the brooder.

I’m kinda “over” this brooder period.

On a more fun note, the chicks love playing “chicken soccer” with acorns. What a hoot (pardon the bird of prey term) to see the chicks play. Next, they had fun eating rolly-pollies (food + toy). And, any bugs sighted within the boxed walls were gone in a flash. One of the chicks, which I feel is second to the lowest on the pecking order thus far, found an acorn and ran quickly back and forth, whining as she ran, because she was afraid the others would steal her prize. What a whiner! She deserves bottom status.

Hilarious to watch their interactions with one another.

I am very much looking forward to getting them grown and settled into the coop complex. Come back to see how we are going to build the world’s most EPIC chicken run, on a Plan B budget, of course.

Week Three: Buff Orpington

(Enjoying the View) Empty Nest Probs and Chain Saw Observations

No one lives in the country without a chain saw… except city kids who have been putting off spending money on one. We have had a chain saw before… several times. Like when we lived on the Gulf Coast, and we had a hurricane, and lots of trees were down, and the very muscular men who chopped up our downed-tree just chop, chop, chopped it like butter. The men made it look so easy, I said, ” We gotta get us a chain saw… because who lives on the Gulf Coast (where there are frequent storms) without a chain saw?” We never got to use it because we moved.

I think we sold it.

In our next city, far from the coast, there was a huge ice storm. I mean HUGE. Trees were snapping all around us. People were without power for days. It got so cold you could see your breath INSIDE our house. A very large tree limb smashed our deck. A very large tree fell in our yard. Large limbs were resting precariously against our house. The sound of chain-sawing could be heard all around the neighborhood, so I said, ” We gotta get us a chain saw… because who lives through an ice storm clean-up without a chain saw?” We bought a chain saw. When we cut the limb which was resting precariously against our house, the very large oak appendage  ended up smashing like a torpedo INTO our house. Physics. You know that subject which deals with matter, energy, motion, and force? We should have paid more attention in college.

After that, the chain saw rusted and rotted in the basement.

Fast forward… we live in the country. We heat our house with a super-cool, fancy, wood-burning central heating system. My husband actually enjoys loading it several times a day. We have the NICEST wood man in the county. He promptly delivers whenever we call. However, our wood pile frequently looks forlorn and bare at times because city kids don’t like to think about wood. It’s not in our DNA. Where we come from, wood-burning fireplaces are for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and, sometimes, when company comes over and we want to look all hearth-y.

But… in the country… wood means our house is warm.

The daffodils are blooming here at HC Farm. This has been an excessively cold winter, and I am holding out for spring. The other day, I said, “We gotta get us a chain saw… because for the price of several truck-loads of wood, we could cut-up about ten downed-trees right on the edge of our 19 Acre Wood. We will pay for the chain saw in no time!”

Chain-sawing is backbreaking work. Hauling chopped wood up a steep mountain hill is hard labor. But, we did it, and no one chopped off their leg. When we piled up the fruits of our sawing… we figured we are worth about ten dollars  an hour ( in Wood Pile Land). Depressing. We are gonna have to make a lot more trips down to those trees before we can pay for this new chain saw.

Hard work is… hard.

And so is raking leaves (When we rake leaves, both my husband and myself morph into 10 year-old grade schoolers. We whine and complain and get grumpy like you would not believe.) and preparing a garden (Easy to dream about all winter and draw up plans and look through seed catalogs…hard to accomplish) and digging up the front sidewalk (I did this today, and I lasted 2.5 hours, and it is still not done).

I’m really missing those three sons (who grew up and flew out of the nest) about now. It is so awesome when your boy turns 12. He is all-about physical labor, and ten dollars will get the job done. We had some really good years with really good help. But, the day comes when you look at each other and say,

“Well, it’s just you and me again.”

Slightly older now..

 

Empty nest problems.

 

 

7.5 Incredible Insider Secrets of Why Cruising Will Rock Your World

I completed my first cruise. I am now (because the internet allows me to self-proclaim whatever I desire.) an expert, an insider, a person who possesses all cruising secrets I now have the authority to tell you cruising will rock your world.

Me, having my world rocked:

I had some pre-cruise fears, of which I had previously written: sea sickness, weight gain, onboard charges, bathing suit, white skin, sun damage, a tsunami, unknowns, bathing suit, and bathing suit.

World Rocker #1:  I am happy to report zero sea sickness. Even though I have cruised exactly one time and (because: internet) I am now an expert, my entire 7 days at sea was smooth sailing. Still… no sea sickness. I wore the sea band the first day, but as I looked around and saw no other cruiser wearing  sea bands, I took them off.

World Rocker #2:  My ship had a walking track. Yay! I think being able to exercise helped me to not feel “stuck on a boat”. Walking several miles daily also whispered in my ear,”You earned that chocolate molten lava cake!” Double yay!

Port Days also helped me to not feel stuck:

World Rocker #3:  It took me a day to figure out the best way to get coffee and whole milk (not creamer in those small plastic things) and how to hoard cereal and milk cartons, in case I needed a midnight snack.( We had a refrigerator in our cabin!) I also watched how other cruisers were doing stuff and, being a college graduate and part-time genius, I figured  out how to keep my expense account to a bare minimum. I’m not a drinker, so this was pretty simple. I did, however, get a bit lax with my Ben and Jerry charges the last two days.

World Rocker #4: The answer to the bathing suit fear: my very stylish cover-up.

White skin: I am very late to the party on using bronzing lotion. It looked super real and was just enough to help my skin out a bit.

I am 99.9% faithful in using sunscreen to protect my skin. A tsunami did  not happen. There was one unknown which I will explain in a minute, and bathing suit, bathing suit… oh well. Added Bonus: I took ZERO selfies and, quite frankly, NO ONE was noticing me.

Except this selfie, I took this one:

World Rocker #5: We made friends with our cabin steward. An experienced cruiser friend had given us a dry erase marker for mirror note writing. We encouraged our cabin steward friend daily (and she encouraged us!) We also tipped her (in addition to the standard pre-paid tip) at the beginning of the week, as well as at the end. All this friendliness worked to my advantage when my diamond earrings, stored stupidly in tissue paper, were thrown away. We called our cabin steward, and she dug through the ship’s trash to retrieve my earrings! Wow.

World Rocker #6:  Private Balcony. It is the only way to cruise. My balcony was peaceful and…well…private. It was the place where I sunned, read, and napped. A true vacation. Being on the top deck was LOUD and way too people-y.

Can’t you just feel the peace:

World Rocker #7: The food in the main dining room was super good. The portions were small, but we could order as many courses as we wanted. The food at the casual buffet was ehhhh, but we only ate there twice. The food in the pay-extra restaurant was definitely worth the splurge. The pay-extra desserts were definitely a notch up from the main dining (5 star for sure). And I give out my stars according to the desserts.

World Rocker #7.5:  Would I go again? Of all the vacation choices in all the world, I would probably choose an active vacation (skiing, bicycle touring, hiking) over cruising.

Look at this amazingly peaceful view:

HOWEVER, was cruising a true vacation? Yes. For this reason alone… cruising will rock your (fast-paced) world. 

I think you should go.

One last beautiful view. (Good-Bye, Jamaica!)

P.S. Yes, I know it is called a “ship” not a “boat”. (Emoji with tongue stuck out.)

P.P.S. We took zero excursions (At least $100 a pop, and, in my “expert” opinion, not worth the price.) We shopped on our port days, ate at the local restaurants, and returned early to the quiet ship. If you like spa treatments, this would have been a good time to snag a good deal.

 

 

(Enjoying the View) I’m Going on a Cruise and I’m Scared Because

Not necessarily in order of fear:

1. Sea Sickness – Car sickness, vertigo, inner ear probz are all realities for me. I have the Sea Band, ginger tea, and will hydrate LOTS. I’m not getting “the patch” because I don’t want a doctor visit in order to get said patch, but I will have plenty of dramamine, both drowsy and non-drowsy.

2. Weight Gain – Too much food talk in regard to cruises. Quite frankly, I only eat one major meal a day. Quite frankly, I have a problem passing by chocolate anything.

3. Onboard Charges – I know I will be super- paranoid about any extra charges. “Is that included?” will be my mantra.

4. Bathing Suit – Really? Does this even need any elaboration?

5. White Skin

6. Sun damage – Can not afford any new sun damage. Period.

7. Tsunami – I am a child of the 70’s. “Poseidon Adventure”.

8. The Unknowns – In my ignorance, I am certain there is more to fear, but I am yet to know what it might be.

9. Bathing Suit – I am a girl who knows my limitations. This is not good. See #2 chocolate.

10.Bathing Suit

Will report back post-cruise.

(Enjoying the View) Snow on the Mountain

January is the BEST Time for Snow
A Snow Walk Around the Farm
I love it so much… for a few days

The Southern girl in me loves an occasional snow. Living in the country makes the snow even more delightful. Cheese dip, chili, soup, coffee, and hot chocolate. However, after a few days, the Southern girl in me is ready for the snow to be on its way.

We had one night of -2 degrees. No words.

The melting has arrived! I am ready to be back to my walking routine and to human-like temperatures again.