Sunday, April 1, 2007

Attitude Adjustment

For the past several months I have been taking a class called “What One Person Can Do” so I can be re-certified. It’s free, worth three credits and taught by two guidance counselors. As far as I can tell, it’s a mish-mash of Deepak Chopra, new-age claptrap and plain, old-fashioned Power of Positive Thinking.

I do believe each of us has the power to change lives for the better. I love the saying, “Touch the future, teach a child.” I practice random acts of kindness randomly and I pay it forward when I have the cash. What goes around comes around, etc. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

But we’ve had some crazy assignments so far. Here are some examples:

Look at yourself (with no makeup) in the mirror for one minute a day and write down what you see and think. Very visible pores. Pimples at my age! My face is friendly when I smile, a little sad in repose, my brown eyes not as big as they used to be. I see my father, too. The fat seems to be keeping the wrinkles at bay, but possibly that’s because I’m not wearing my glasses. I can live with this face, but I’m coloring my hair again.

Pick a chore you don’t like and do it with e.e.l.i.m. That’s energy, enthusiasm, like it matters. My chore choice? Getting the dishes back on the shelves. I don’t mind washing them, but I never seem to get them out of the dishdrainer. I told my husband that was what I was going to do for class, and he said, “I never knew you hated to do that. I’ll put them away from now on.” Bonus!

Love your toad. Select a habit that your significant other has that drives you crazy. Then make it okay for a week. There are several, but we must discuss them in class, so I did something G-rated. We’re talking crumbs in the kitchen. Crumbs everywhere on the counter and under my bare feet. My husband doesn’t seem to notice them. He’s not wearing his glasses either when he fixes that midnight snack. I’m just going to clean up and shut up. He has put the dishes away, after all.

Monitor your energy level during the day. I found I’m not much good until I have my tea, toast and drugs. Then I fool around on the computer in my jammies, reluctant to leave home. I’m up all through work, though--- busy, multi-tasking, kidding around with kids. Then it’s supper and pajama time again. Fortunately my husband is just as tired as I am and doesn’t expect me to be a blonde-again bombshell. We’re giving our best to the public but not to each other. That’s something to think about.

How does this all relate to writing? I think it all comes down to accepting yourself for who you are, big pores and all, recognizing your strengths and weaknesses, letting go and doing the best you can. You really only have control over yourself. Success is a journey, not a destination. So I’m going to enjoy life in the slow lane and keep on truckin’.

What time of the day are you most productive? What do you do to motivate yourself?

What does your toad do that drives you crazy?

Have you ever taken a class you thought you were going to hate but it surprised you?


Ericka Scott said...

I am most productive in the morning. . .unfortunately, the time I have to myself is in the afternoon/evening. . . thus I sometimes don't get much writing done.

My toad. . . oh, I love him dearly. . . but, I'd never lose him. All I'd have to do is follow the trail of used kleenex, poptart wrappers, bits of plastic off the juice boxes (and any other remnants) to where he is . . . I've learned to just pick them up. Why? He does the dishes!

Lenora Bell said...

Great post, Maggie. I especially loved your description of looking in the mirror--very poetic.

I've found that I get the most writing done from 8:00 pm to 2:00 am. So I'm on a completely different schedule from my toad. It works for now, but when I get back to the real world I may have to change my habits.

My toad likes to not answer questions. So does my dad. I'm not sure whether it's because they're deep in thought, or because there is a certain type of question, asked in a certain tone of voice, that they've selectively deleted from their hearing range. Anyway, it drives me crazy. But fortunately it doesn't happen too often...

MistyJo said...

Maggie, I love changing into my pj's as soon as I get home in the afternoons. It's the highlight of my day.

All of my energy is in the morning. I've been known to awaken at 2:00 a.m, 3:00 a.m., or 4:00 a.m. to study for a test that day, or to write a paper that is due that day. I'm exhausted in the evening, unless I've had a nap. With a nap, I've been known to still be going strong on Beale Street or Bourbon Street at 2:00 a.m. ;-)Since student-teaching, there have many evenings where I have gone to bed at 6:30 p.m. or 7:00 p.m., sad but true.

As for my toad, he smacks in his sleep! Drives me bonkers! Snoring is one thing, but smacking is a different culprit. I used to pinch him, poke him, slap him, hold his nose, pull the hairs on his arm, anything to make him stop, but now I'm nice. I move to another bedroom when the smacking becomes unbearable. Yes, I'm mellowing in my thirties.

Hellie Sinclair said...

No, pretty much the classes I was pretty sure I was going to hate--I did. Actually there was a 18th Century British Literature class that I thought I'd hate--mostly because I hate reading literature, and it would be hard to fool this particular professor. He knows better and could trick you into your own confessions...but it was a really good class. One of my favorites actually.

Things I do to motivate myself? Eat chocolate. Bribe myself with chocolate. Promise myself so many ounces of Pepsi if I just finish THIS page...or allow myself to watch this movie if I finish this chapter.

Tessa Dare said...

Forget anything I ever said about wanting you to adopt me - because you're always giving me another reason to have highly improper thoughts about Mr. Robinson (as in, he gleefully puts away dishes with NO nagging!)

I read this to Mr. Dare this morning, adding in the facts that Maggie's husband fills her car up with gas every week, and Maggie's husband sends her roses on their anniversary, and Maggie's husband sold his own blood to pay for their first date... etc.

Mr. Dare's response? "Wow. Maggie's really lucky."

If Mr. Robinson's a toad, I think Mr. Dare is, like, a grub or something.

Maggie Robinson/Margaret Rowe said...

Tessa, tell Mr. Dare he's right! I am lucky. Your post made me laugh, and it will make Mr. Robinson blush...but believe me, he has many, many toad tricks that are far less benign than crumbs. Much like Ericka, I can follow his trail with no special detective skills whatsoever. And Lenora, Mr. R doesn't like to answer questions either but I believe he was trained by the ghost of a Spanish Inquisitor because he's constantly asking me stuff. Misty, maybe you need to start sleeping with a helmet and pads! Hellion, Coke will work as a motivator for me, not the diet but the real, hard-core stuff. Even without the rum.

Terri Osburn said...

I could not do that look at yourself in the mirror thing. It would just depress me. I thought I would like Marketing but I hated it. I thought I would like this Logic class I'm just starting but now I'm not so sure.

I seem to get a good bit of writing done in the afternoon. I do have a job but no job duties (long story) so I play online in the mornings and then get down to writing in the afternoon.

I don't have a toad which is good on most days. The lily pad does get a little lonely sometimes. But I don't have to listen to anyone snore (except my daughter) or pick up after anyone (except my daughter) or deal with someone ignoring me (except my daughter). Is anyone else seeing a pattern here?

irisheyes said...

Great blog, Maggie. I’ve done the standing in front of the mirror thing and it’s very enlightening. It also gets easier the more you do it. LOL

My toad does the same thing your toad does except with everything… clothes, crumbs, pop, juice, water from the sink (drips it across the counter and floor and doesn’t wipe it up), and the worst - pickle juice. Do you know pickle juice stains counters? Well it does! Drives me crazy. But he does so many right things that I have a hard time complaining (although I still do). Plus my DH has a bit of a sadistic streak and if I complain too much about any one thing he does more of it and thinks it’s funny. He also thinks he’s doing me a favor by teaching me not to sweat the small stuff.

The time of day I am most productive is probably mid morning after the kids have gone to school and I’ve had my shower. I hit a wall right before they come home and I have to nap or I can’t make it through to bedtime. I have an auto-immune disease that is sort of like chronic fatigue. So, I totally get so many of your comments about only having control over yourself and accepting yourself for who you are. It took a long time to come to terms with my limitations, while at the same time, not giving myself too many limitations and pushing myself every once in a while. I’ve also had to really prioritize what is important in my life. Is it more important to do the laundry and clean the house or take a nap so I can spend quality time with my kids and husband?

My motivations are usually giving myself time to read or a nice soak in my tub. I’m trying to stay away from motivating myself with food, except of course chocolate, because no rules apply when it comes to chocolate!

It’s been so long since I’ve taken a class I can’t remember what I thought of them. I know I went to a couple of workshops when I was gainfully employed that I dreaded going to, but it turned out I really got a lot out of them. Most of the ones I enjoyed focused on how to deal with people and personality typing (kinda what The Vagabonds were blogging about last week.)

Janga said...

If I could read, write, and research from 10:00 p.m-6:00 a. m. and sleep from 6:00 a.m. -noon, I'd be happier and more productive. Unfortunately, my life does not allow me that option. :)

Maggie, I taught high school English for fifteen years before I went back to grad school, and I well remember those re-certification courses. Most were deadly, but I actually had a life-changing experience because of one. We had to take a course on teaching special ed, and one of the things the instructor did was have us examine our own lacks. She had a long list, but the two I remember (because they applied to me) were an inability to carry a tune and a poor sense of direction. We were told that if any of the descriptions applied to us, we were "learning disabled." It was an humbling and illuminating moment for me to think of myself in that way, and I have never again been as arrogant about my own abilities or as impatient with those who have abilities different from mine as I was before that class.

And, Misty Jo, several decades after my student-teaching experience, I still remember it as one of the most exhausting times in my life. Good luck!

Maggie Robinson/Margaret Rowe said...

terrio, you do so have a's your sweet little daughter! But don't tell her I said so; I don't want warts. Your toad can be anybody you live with or are close to. I want to hear the story of your workless work sometime. I'm overwhelmed with guilt if I stop to read a newspaper or magazine as I process them.

Irisheyes and Janga, thanks for your thoughtful posts. I,it looks like your problem got you to a solution most people never arrive at---knowing what's really important. Most of the time we can't see the forest for the trees. Janga, I worked with sped kids for years before my current "easy" job in the library, and every time we got one of those lists I saw so many traits that pertained to me, especially some of the behaviorally challenged and autism ones! I'm just going to chalk it all up to being a spoiled only child and leave it at that.

Erica Ridley said...

I told my husband that was what I was going to do for class, and he said, “I never knew you hated to do that. I’ll put them away from now on.” Bonus!

LOL, sweet!

Although I don't consider myself a morning person, I think that's when I'm most productive. Maybe my brain hasn't woken up enough to dream up any good procrastination schemes.

My toad... won't leave me alone. He's very needy. And sometimes I snap at him, which only increases the cycle. Maybe I'll practice not getting testy for a week, and see how that goes... =)

lacey kaye said...

OMG, can I tell you how much I LOVE that painting? Gorgeous! What is it of?

LauraT said...

"We’re giving our best to the public but not to each other. That’s something to think about."

Maggie, that is totally something to think about... it's been like that for awhile here, and I just had a burn out. I love your post, because even though these are assignments for a class who knew that they have such an important meaning under them.

Especially when your hubby puts away the dishes. That's fabulous! Makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

My toad is either going to "sell me on ebay" or put me on "step 5"

haha. what a sense of humor.

Maggie Robinson/Margaret Rowe said...

Lacey, it's by Sir Frank Dicksee, called The Mirror. I just love the mother-of-pearl chair and the sheen of the fabric. You can find it on Google images (I downloaded it from an online art museum site but I forget which) and see it larger in all its glory.

Erica, let me know how it goes with your needy toad!

Maggie Robinson/Margaret Rowe said...

Laura, you're right---our assignments seem weird, but they've been very revealing. One of them was to acknowledge people who've made you who you are. It was important to realize even people who gave you trouble contributed in some way to how well you turned out.

And I bet you won't get auctioned off on E-Bay. You're too valuable. No one could afford you!

RevMelinda said...

At our house I am the Toad. I am the one who messes up dishes, floors, counters. My husband is the one who cleans them up. I never notice the dust on the floor or the splatter in the microwave. I also never notice when my husband gets a haircut. Amazingly, he loves me anyway. The Age of Miracles is not yet past.

Courtney Milan said...

My toad makes me dinner and gives me back rubs and feet rubs and neck rubs when I'm falling asleep. My toad cleans out my bathroom and washes my car. He sends me flowers and e-mails. He reads my work and comments on it, and he tells me I can do anything and that I'm wonderful.

The only thing my toad does that is even remotely toad-like is this: He eats dry pasta, with salt, in bed. Salt gets everywhere. Little teeny tiny grains of it. It's as if he's having a secret affair with Lot's wife, post-Gomorrah.

Also, my toad is in another state for now. I miss my toad dreadfully.

Maggie Robinson/Margaret Rowe said...

Melinda and CM, you lucky toads! Love is indeed a miracle.